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6 Easy Ways to Improve Indoor Air Quality

air qualityWhen we think about air pollution, we usually think about being outside, maybe in some large city. However, According to the Consumer Product Safety Commision, there is a growing body of scientific data indicating that the air inside our homes may be more seriously polluted than the air outdoors, even in the largest and most industrialized cities. Other studies also show the average person spends about 90 percent of their time inside.

Effects of Poor Indoor Air Quality

Exposure to indoor air pollutants can have many adverse health effects. Some of these health effects can be caused by a single exposure to a pollutant. Eye, nose, and throat irritation, headaches, dizziness, and fatigue are a few immediate effects of pollutant exposure.

These immediate effects are generally only short-term and are easily treatable.  However, long-term exposure could lead to several serious conditions, including some respiratory diseases, heart disease and cancer. These conditions could be debilitating or even fatal. That is why it is important to take measures to improve indoor air quality even if you and your family do not show any immediate adverse reactions.

6 Steps to Improve Indoor Air Quality

Here are few easy steps you can take to immediately improve the quality of the air inside your home. Implement some or all these and you’ll be well on your way to breathing ea

Add Houseplants to Your Living Space

Plants are nature’s natural air purifiers. They help remove carbon dioxide from the air and replace it with fresh oxygen, improving the quality of the air for the people who live inside your home. They also help  remove many toxins and other pollutant from the air, working like a filter to clean your air. As a bonus, plants are also an attractive, visually appealing addition to your living spaces.

Consider adding some of the following plants to your home for cleaner air:

  • Aloe
  • English ivy
  • Peace lilies
  • Snake Plant (also known as Mother-in-law’s Tongue)
  • Red-edged Dracaena
  • Cornstalk Dracaena
  • Barberton Daisy
  • Janet Craig
  • Aloe Vera
  • Weeping Fig
  • Broadleaf Lady Palm
  • Devil’s Ivy
  • Bamboo Palm
  • Boston Fern

Keep the Floor Clean

Dirt and particles that collect on your floors and carpets will eventually end up in the air. Regular sweeping, mopping, and vacuuming will help reduce the amount of dirt on your floor and prevent them from becoming airborne.

Another way to help keep your floors, and therefore your air, clean is to remove your shoes. By immediately taking your shoes off when you enter your home, you will limit the amount of outside dirt and debris that enters your living spaces.

Let In Outside Air

When the outdoor temperatures are mild, open your windows, even if only a crack. This is particularly important if your home is relatively new. Newer homes are constructed to be more air tight and most do not breathe well. When your HVAC system is running, it is just recirculating the same air over and over.

New homes may still have construction materials that are off gassing. Fresh paint, new carpet, laminate flooring, and chemically treated wood all emit toxic particles into the air you are breathing. By opening a window, you can help ventilate your home and reduce the amount of chemicals that become airborne inside your home.

Change Your Air Filters

Air filters are your home’s first line of defense against potentially harmful airborne particles. A typical HVAC system circulates about 1,000 cubic feet of air every minute. As the air circulates through your system, it must pass through your air filters. Those air filters work to remove dust and other potentially dangerous particles from the air inside your home.

During the months your HVAC system is working hardest, you need to change your filters at least once a month. This will help keep dirt and debris from clogging up the filtration  material.

When air filters are clogged, the system handler must work harder to compensate for the blockage of airflow. A clogged filter not only drives up your utility bills, it can also contribute to chronic allergies and negatively impact your overall health.

Use a Dehumidifier to Control Humidity Levels

Humidity levels can rise dramatically due to simple everyday activities like cooking, showering, and even simply breathing. High indoor humidity levels create a breeding ground for many forms of dangerous mold and mildew.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) suggests a humidity level between 30 and 60 percent for indoor living areas. If the humidity in your home is consistently above the recommended level it can cause mold to proliferate, releasing millions of spores into the air. These spores can trigger respiratory problems in many individuals.

You can have a whole house dehumidifier installed inside your duct work to help maintain optimal levels. These dehumidifiers are controlled by wall mounted humidistats. These humidistats work to control the humidity level in your home much the same way a thermostat works to control temperature. As your HVAC system circulates the air in your home, it passes through your duct work and the installed dehumidifier removes excess moisture from the air before it is circulated back into your living space.

Schedule Regular HVAC Maintenance

You should have your HVAC system checked regularly by a qualified HVAC technician. He or she will make sure your system is working properly. During this regular tune up, he or she will clean your system components.

If you have concerns about your indoor air quality, these trained professionals can help you identify problem areas and suggest potential solutions.

I you have questions about indoor air quality or need to schedule regular system maintenance, contact your local HVAC professional.

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The Benefits of Proper Attic Ventilation

attic fanIf you’ve spent any time in an unfinished attic during the summer, you know just how hot that space can get. Because attics rarely have air conditioning vents, temperatures rise quickly, especially with the hot summer sun beating down directly on the roof right overhead. It isn’t uncommon for attic temperatures to reach 150 degrees or more in the middle of summer.

What are the Benefits of Good Attic Ventilation?

The benefits of proper attic ventilation extend beyond cooler attic temperatures. Here are just a few of the surprising advantages to having good ventilation.

Cooling Efficiency and Lower Utility Bills

Properly balanced attic ventilation will help your HVAC system run more efficiently all year long.

In the hot summer months, attic ventilation helps your home to breathe. Without proper air circulation, the air inside your attic rises like an oven, causing your air conditioner to work harder to remove the hot air that accumulates there.

Circulating air will lower attic temperatures by cooling your roof deck (the underside or base of your roof). This simple act will allow your air conditioner to cool the inside of your home more quickly and efficiently.

During the cold winter months, a balanced ventilation system in the attic will keep humidity levels in check. By minimizing condensation in the attic spaces, you also reduce the risk of developing potentially dangerous mold and mildew.

Condensation in the attic will also dampen your insulation and cause it to compress. This reduces the efficiency of the insulation and can cause your heating system to work harder to heat the inside of your home and raising your utility costs.

Preserving Structural Integrity

As proper attic air flow reduces the accumulation of condensation and maintains proper humidity levels, it helps prevent wood rot and moisture damage.

How to Achieve Proper Attic Ventilation

Unless you plan to turn your home’s attic into a usable living space, it isn’t cost effective to install HVAC vents. If your attic is only used for storage, installing an attic fan is the more practical solution.

Attic fans work continuously to circulate air, replacing stagnant air with fresh air from outside. This help keep your attic space from turning into an oven.

There are two types of attic fans you can have installed to ensure proper attic ventilation.

Rooftop Attic Fans

Rooftop fans are installed right on top of your home’s roof. Solar powered rooftop fans are a popular choice. The sun is already there, beating down on your roof. Harnessing that power to help ventilate your attic space just makes sense. And since these fans run on solar power, they won’t add to your energy bills.

Gable Fans

Gable fans are also designed to circulate air. Unlike rooftop fans, this ventilation system is composed of two separate fans. They are mounted on the gables of your home, each on opposite sides. One fan works to blow out stagnant attic air, while the other blows in fresh air from outside.

Make Sure to Seal It

In order for an attic fan to work properly, it is important have a tight seal between your attic space and living space. If this tight seal doesn’t exist, your attic fan could actually have a detrimental effect on energy efficiency. The circulation created by your newly installed attic fans could suck the cooler air from your living space through small cracks and gaps in your ceiling.

Have your home properly inspected before your attic fans are installed. If there are any significant cracks in the barrier between these spaces, have them properly sealed. This will prevent the air conditioned air in your home’s upper level from escaping through your attic.

 

If you have any questions about attic ventilation or how to make your home more energy efficient, contact your local HVAC professionals.

 

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How Repainting Your Home Can Affect Energy Costs

One of the perks of being a homeowner is getting to picking out paint colors However, it may be more complicated than simply selecting colors that catch your eye, especially if your eye is drawn to dark, deep colors.

It may be thrilling to think about letting your inner angsty teenager to paint your bedroom walls solid black, but there is a reason your mom never turned the teenage you lose with a paint roller. The colors you choose for your home’s interior and exterior can have a serious impact on your heating and cooling bills.

How Colors Affect Heating and Cooling

Some colors absorb radiant energy, while others reflect it. When the sun hits a dark surface, like a black bedroom wall or a deep brown home exterior, some of the sun’s energy is absorbed. The absorbed energy is transferred into the home through conduction. The result is ambient heat gain.

Black and other dark colors absorb 70 to 90 percent of the radiant energy. In contrast, light colored surfaces, including whites, beige, and pastels, reflect most of the heat away from the surface. This reduces the amount of heat transferred into your home.

Keeping it Cool with Dark Paint

If your goal is to reduce summer cooling costs, the decision is an easy one. Pick light paint colors for both your home’s interior and exterior surfaces. However, if you just don’t like light colors, there are ways you still enjoy the darker side of the color spectrum without increasing your energy bill.

If dark colors speak to you, consider using them on the walls of an interior room with few windows. In this case, the color choice may make no difference since the room will have limited sun exposure.

Also, choose your window treatments wisely. Heavy curtains or drapes that cover the entire window will do the best job of blocking radiant heat. If you choose dark colored window treatments to match the room’s walls, make sure the window-facing side is a lighter color. This will help reflect light away from the room and minimize heat absorption.

If your heart’s desire is a dark color on your home’s exterior, consider using the power of sade trees to keep energy costs in check. Well-placed deciduous trees like oak, elm, and maple will provide a leafy shaded canopy in the bright summer months. This will help reduce the amount of sunlight that hits your home’s exterior surface.

In the fall, these trees shed their leaves allowing your home to be exposed to more warm sunlight. This is a way to passively heat your home and could potentially save you on heating costs.

Consider the Accents

If you are concerned about dark paint colors increasing heat transfer, there are other options. You can still enjoy dark colors as a contrasting accent.

Dark colors make a bold statement as accents in rooms with lighter colored walls. Building elements like door and window frames can be striking when painted a dark color to contrast the lighter color of their surroundings.

An accent wall painted a single bold color also makes a bold design element. Choose a wall that doesn’t face any windows to reduce the amount of heat the dark wall absorbs.

Check Your Paint’s LRV

Before deciding on a new color for your home, be sure to check the paint’s Light Reflectance Value, or LRV. LRV is measured on a scale that ranges from zero to 100 percent. Measuring the percentage of light a paint color reflects, the higher the LRV the more light it reflects.

Darker colors have a low LRV and lighter colors, like white, have the highest. To save on cooling costs, be sure to choose a paint with a high LRV.

Most household paints have the color’s LRV printed on the swatch cards or pint cans. This makes it easy to know how much radiant heat will be absorbed or reflected with any specific color.

Check with the Professionals

Your local HVAC professionals aren’t likely to help you with painting or other home remodeling tasks. However, if you have large remodeling plans in mind, it is always a good idea to check with the experts to determine the impact your renovations may have on your HVAC system’s efficiency and effectiveness.

 

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Essential HVAC Tips for Pet Owners

pet ownersIf you are a pet owner, you understand how an animal companion can enrich your life. You probably also understand how much work a pet can be. Keeping a pet healthy and happy will help you both live longer.

When you adopt a pet as a family member, it can out a strain on your HVAC system. If you have a furry friend, whether canine or feline, indoors or outdoors, there are certain steps you should take to keep your pet safe and your system running smoothly.

Groom Your Pet Regularly

Not only is routine grooming good for your pet, it is also good for your HVAC system. The hair your pet sheds can get sucked into your system, settle in your ductwork, and get blown back into your living spaces.

Grooming will significantly reduce the amount of airborne fur in your home. But regular bathing and brushing can also make you healthier. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, frequently bathing your furry friend helps eliminate microscopic pet dander, dust, and pollen, all leading causes of pet allergies.

Change Filters Often

Cleaning or replacing air filters is an essential part of HVAC maintenance. It helps keep dust and hair from bogging down your system. A clean filter is necessary to keep your system running efficiently and effectively.

How often you need to change your filters depends of the size of your HVAC system, the filter it requires, and how much dirt and debris needs to be filtered from the air in your home.

If you share your home with a pet, you will probably need to change your filters more often as pet hair and dander can quickly accumulate in your filters. Pet owners, especially those with multiple pets or pets that regularly shed, may need to change filters monthly to keep their system running at peak efficiency.

Consider upgrading to a HEPA filter.

For some homeowners, especially those suffering from allergies, frequent filter changes may not be enough. By upgrading to a HEPA filter, you can reduce airborne allergens by up to 99 percent. Drastically improving the indoor air quality of your home, a HEPA filter will more efficiently trap microscopic dust and dander and keep it from be recirculated into your home.

Vacuum Regularly

Vacuuming your home will also help reduce the amount of pet hair and dander that gets sucked into your vents. It is just one more step you can take to reduce the amount of hair that floats around your home and makes its way into your HVAC system.

If you suffer from pet allergies, consider purchasing a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter. Vacuum cleaner models with a built-in HEPA air filter clean the tiniest allergy-causing particulates from your home’s surfaces. This extra filtration is highly important for pet owners with allergies, asthma, or other breathing difficulties since pet dander irritates those conditions.

Protect Your Outdoor Unit and Your Pet

If your pets have free rein outdoors, you will want to take measures to protect your pet and your outdoor unit from each other.

Fido may think your outdoor unit looks like a great place to lift his leg, but pet urine can cause corrosion and other damage to the unit.

Pets may also dig or claw at the fins in your air conditioning condenser. This can cause expensive damage to the unit and could cause your pet unnecessary injury.

The outdoor unit also moving parts that pose an injury risk to your four-legged friends.

To protect dogs and cats from the condenser, and vice-versa, consider erecting a fence or planting dense shrubbery around the unit. This can discourage your pets from getting too close and give Fido other options for relieving himself.

Plants and shrubs can also be an attractive addition to your yard. Keep plants and shrubs at least three feet away from the condenser unit to ensure adequate airflow.

Secure Electrical Cords and Wiring

Since many pets, especially puppies, like to chew, be sure to enclose any exposed electrical wires and conduits. This will prevent electrical hazards to both your system and your pet.  Pets like to chew on electrical wires and cords, which is dangerous for them and can cause damage to the wires. Enclose electrical wires in conduits.

Schedule Regular Maintenance

An annual tune up for your HVAC system has many benefits. A well-maintained system will run more efficiently, lowering your monthly bills and saving energy. Also, a system kept in good operating condition will last longer. Regular maintenance will help pinpoint potential problems before they become expensive, emergency repairs.

Pets are a wonderful addition to any household. However, they do put added strain on your HVAC system. Pet hair, dander, and dirt can clog up vents and ducts causing your system to work harder than necessary. If you follow the essential tips above and schedule yearly maintenance, you can keep your system running smoothly and enjoy the company of a fine furry friend.

If you have questions about how your pet affects your HVAC system, or if you need to schedule routine maintenance, be sure to contact your local HVAC experts.

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5 Signs That You Need to Replace Your Air Conditioner

licensed havac technicianIt may seem a bit early to be thinking about your air conditioner, but summer and warmer temperatures are just around the corner. Spring is the time to schedule routine maintenance to ensure your air conditioner is peak condition before summer starts heating things up.

If you have an older or inefficient unit, Spring is also the time to think about replacement, otherwise you will find yourself pretty uncomfortable once summer vacation rolls around.

One of the hardest things about being a homeowner is deciding when it’s time to replace your home’s air conditioning unit. A brand new unit is a huge investment. However, the cost of recurring repairs and inefficient operation could end up costing you more in the long run.

Is It Time To Replace Your Air Conditioner?

If you are experiencing any of the following signs, you should consider replacing your current air conditioner.

Sign #1: Your Air Conditioner is more than 10 years old.

According to Consumer Reports and the National Association of Home Builders, the average air conditioning unit can be expected to last about 10-15 years. Regular professional maintenance will help lengthen the life of your air conditioner. However, if your unit has reached double digits and is need of expensive repairs, it is probably time to retire it.

Sign #2: Your Air Conditioner is Inefficient

With recent advancements in energy efficiency, a new AC unit could save a significant amount on your monthly energy bill. A modern system may use as little as 1,710 watts of electricity per hour. That is an amazing 250-percent increase in operating efficiency over the typical air conditioner of twenty years ago.

If your old air unit has a low SEER rating, it could be a drain on your budget. All newly manufactured AC units are required to have a SEER rating of at least 13. If your current  air conditioner has SEER rating lower than 13, you can save big on annual energy costs by replacing it with a newer, more energy efficient model.

Sign #3: Your Air Conditioner Breaks Down Frequently

Even small, inexpensive repairs add up over time. Also, frequent breakdowns and repairs are inconvenient, often leaving you and your family sweltering while waiting for the repair technician. If you find yourself holding your breath waiting for the next system failure, save yourself the headache and replace your old unit. It will save your sanity and your bank account.

Sign #4: Your Air Conditioner uses R22 Freon

To conserve energy use and lower harmful impact on the environment, the federal government is phasing out use of Freon. This once common refrigerant is gradually being replaced by R-410A, a refrigerant that does not contribute to ozone layer depletion.

If you’re having issues with your AC, and your Freon needs to be replaced, you should consider replacing your unit. 

Sign #5: Your Air Conditioner is Not Doing Its Job

You should expect your air conditioner to keep you and your family cool. That is its job. You should consider replacing your AC unit if it isn’t keeping your home comfortably cool.

 

If you have questions about whether your AC needs to be replaced, contact your local HVAC professionals. They will help you choose the right model for you.

 

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Troubleshooting Guide for a Short-Cycling Furnace

routine hvac maintenanceWhen your furnace is functioning properly, it will regularly cycle on and off to maintain a comfortable indoor air temperature. As the temperature drops below the setting on the thermostat, the furnace will come on and produce heat. When the desired temperature is reached, the thermostat will cause the furnace to shut off. This cycle repeats many times throughout the course of a day, as your furnace works to keep everyone in your home comfortable.

What is Short-Cycling?

Short-cycling occurs when the furnace turns on and off repeatedly in a short period of time. The system may turn on for a few seconds, or even a few minutes, and then shut off again.

This rapid cycling is generally ineffective at sustaining a satisfying temperature. It can also be expensive as the rapid cycling uses more energy. Short-cycling can also reduce the lifespan of your heating system, putting undue stress on the starter and other internal components.

A properly-sized furnace turn on and off anywhere from three to eight times in an hour. The number of times your furnace cycles on will depend on the outside temperature, if your home is well-insulated, as well as other factors.

In extremely cold weather, a properly functioning furnace will typically run for several minutes before shutting off. If your furnace only runs for less than a minute or two, it could mean your system is “short-cycling.”

What Causes a Short-Cycling Furnace?

There are several things that will cause a furnace to short-cycle. This can be a potentially serious problem, so isolating the cause quickly is the first step to resolving it. Some potential causes include:

  • Inadequate airflow. Dirty air filters or blocked air vents can restrict indoor airflow and cause your thermostat to register temperatures incorrectly. Replace air filters regularly and check to make sure your air vents are not restricted by drapes, furniture, or clutter.
  • Improper thermostat location. Thermostats are easily affected by drafts from windows and doors, as well as the cooler temperature of an exterior wall. Be sure your thermostat is mounted on an interior wall in a regularly used room.
  • The heating unit is the wrong size. If your heating unit is too large for the space being heated, it can cause the furnace to cycle on and off continuously. A qualified heating technician will help you calculate the proper unit specifications for your home.
  • A damaged furnace. If a furnace overheats, a safety switch will automatically cause it to shut off as a preventive measure. However, the thermostat will cause the unit to turn back on in an attempt to maintain the temperature inside your home. Then the cycle repeats itself. A crack in the heating exchange or dirty coils will cause a unit to overheat. These problems require attention from a qualified technician.

The Importance of Regular Maintenance

As your furnace heats your home, it causes regular wear on the unit’s internal mechanisms. Regular maintenance will help reduce the wear and tear on internal parts and ensure your unit runs safely and efficiently. Scheduling an annual check-up with a local HVAC professional will help prevent potential problems. Ultimately, regular maintenance will save you money on your energy bills and prevent expensive repairs before they occur.

During a regular maintenance visit, a qualified technician will inspect your unit for cracks, corrosion, leaks, or other potential problems. Regular professional maintenance will prevent a short-cycling furnace and optimize your system for the cold winter months.

 

 

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Understanding Furnace Energy Efficiency (AFUE)

AFUEIf you are considering buying a new furnace, the first step is to understand your options. If you’ve done any shopping or product comparisons, you have probably noticed that different furnace options have different AFUE ratings.

AFUE stands for Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency. This rating is basically a measure of how efficiently a furnace operates. Since efficiency affects your home’s impact on the environment as well as its impact on your bank account, it is important to understand the AFUE rating of any furnace you consider purchasing.

How to Determine the AFUE Rating

All new furnaces are required by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to display their official AFUE rating. You should easily find this rating on the side of your furnace.

The AFUE rating is a ratio that represents the amount of heat produced by the furnace compared to how much fossil fuel energy it consumes. If you like math, there is a simple equation to compute this ratio:

AFUE = (Total heat output) / (Total energy consumed)

If you plug in the proper numbers and do the math, you will end up with a percentage. If your furnace has an AFUE of 90 percent, this means the furnace uses 90 percent of the fuel it consumes is converted into usable heat for your home. The other ten percent escapes through exhaust or up the chimney.

Obviously, the higher the AFUE rating, the more energy efficient the furnace will be. Any furnace with an efficiency rating of 90% or higher is considered high-efficiency.

Replacing Your Furnace

If you currently have an older furnace in your home, it probably has an efficiency rating that falls somewhere between 56 and 70 percent. This means a large portion of the fuel used to heat your home is being wasted. It’s like throwing money out the window.

Modern heating systems can reach efficiencies of up to 98.5 percent, converting nearly all the energy consumed into actually heating your home.

Upgrading your old, inefficient furnace and replacing it with a high-efficiency heating system could potentially cut your fuel bills (and your carbon footprint) in half.

Consider the Type of Fuel

When shopping for a new furnace for your home it important to make sure you are comparing apples to apples. When comparing energy costs, AFUE rating should only be directly compared to systems that use the same type of fuel.

AFUE rating can vary greatly between models. However, most furnaces that use electricity as their main fuel source generally have an AFUE rating above 95 percent. However, this doesn’t automatically indicate that specific electric furnace will produce lower energy costs. While the electric furnace may use most of the energy it consumes to heat the inside of your home, in some areas, electricity costs more than natural gas. In this case, a furnace with a lower AFUE rating that runs on natural gas could save you more money than an electric furnace with a higher rating.

Before You Replace Your Furnace

Before you purchase a new furnace, you should first improve the energy efficiency of your home. Consider upgrading insulation and sealing leaks around windows, foundations, and doors. This will help keep the heat produced by your furnace from leaking out.

Improving the energy efficiency of your home could make it easier for a smaller unit to heat your home. This could save you money.

A furnace that is properly sized for your home’s needs will run most efficiently. Make sure you choose a dependable unit with a good warranty. If you are in the market for a furnace upgrade, get in touch with your local HVAC professionals. They will help you make an informed decision and help you find the right model for your needs.

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How to Light a Gas Furnace Pilot Light

pilot lightWintertime is when your furnace works hardest, so it isn’t unusual for an older furnace to show its age this time of year. One of the most common problems with an aging furnace is the pilot light going out. Depending on the source of this problem, it could be a recurring issue or a one time thing.

If your pilot light goes out in the middle of harsh winter weather, it can be an uncomfortable problem. Thankfully, re-lighting a pilot light is a relatively simple task.

What is a Gas Furnace Pilot Light?

On a typical gas furnace, the pilot light is a small flame that acts as an ignition source. While gas is the fuel source for your furnace, it is the pilot light that ignites the gas to create the heat necessary to warm your home.

For some solder furnaces, a small breeze or draft of air can be enough to extinguish this tiny but necessary flame. Once the pilot light blows out, it will not reignite on its own.

How to Relight a Gas Furnace Pilot Light

Since some pilot lights can blow out fairly easily, relighting it can be a frequent issue, but the procedure to fix it is easy to learn.

  1. Locate the instructions label on your furnace.

Most furnaces, even older models, have a label with specific relighting instructions. However, these instructions can sometimes be difficult to read either due to fading or low light conditions. Having a flashlight with you will make reading these instructions easier. However, if your instructions label is missing or too faded to read, keep these alternate instructions handy for future use.

  1. Locate the Pilot Light and Switches.

Near the bottom of your gas furnace you should see a switch. This switch is typically labeled with the word “pilot.” It may also have the words “on” and “” off.” Before you attempt to relight your furnace’s pilot light, turn this switch to “off” and wait at least five minutes.

This waiting period allows any lingering gas to dissipate from the area around your furnace. Handling an open flame when there is gas in the air could cause a fire and subsequent personal injury or damage to your home.

  1. Locate the Reset Button

While you wait, look for a reset button, switch, or knob. The reset button is usually located near the pilot switch. If you have trouble locating it, refer to your owner’s manual for help.

  1. Light the Pilot Light

Once enough time has passed for any lingering gas to dissipate, it is safe to light your furnace pilot light. Turn the switch to “pilot.” As you hold the reset button, bring a flame close to the pilot light opening. Once the light is back on, you can release the reset button.

Make sure you use a long handled lighter to relight your pilot light. This keeps your hand away from the flame and the pilot light so that you are not burned when the pilot light reignites.

Safety Guidelines

While relighting your gas furnace pilot light is simple and easy, it is important to follow instructions to avoid burning yourself or your whole house.

  • Never attempt to light the pilot light without first turning it off. If your pilot light has been out for some time, your furnace has been continuously running gas which accumulates in the area around your furnace. Even a tiny lighted flame near natural gas can cause a large amount of damage to you and your home. Even if you are in a hurry, you should never skip this step. 
  • Always use a long match or long-handle lighter to light your pilot light. This will put enough distance between you and the igniting pilot light to prevent painful burns. 
  • If you have followed the above steps repeatedly and your pilot light will not ignite, it is time to call in a professional. If the pilot light will not remain lit after you release the reset button, there may be something seriously wrong with your furnace. Contact your local heating professionals for diagnosis, repair, or replacement. 
  • You should never attempt to fix a broken furnace yourself. Gas can be dangerous, even when it isn’t burning. For your safety and the safety of your home, furnace repairs are best left to qualified professional technicians. 
  • If you have to relight your pilot light frequently, it may be a sign that your furnace is failing. You should consider replacing or updating your home heating system.

 

Lighting your gas furnace pilot light isn’t a task that you need to often perform, but knowing how is a useful skill. Relighting your pilot light is a cinch when you know how. Follow these simple steps and your home will warm and cozy in no time at all.

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Dealing With Dry Winter Air

dry air As winter sets in and the temperatures fall, so do humidity levels. It is annoying, and probably something we take for granted, but as the weather outside gets colder, the air inside gets drier.

We easily see the effects of dry winter air in irritating static electricity. However, the trouble low humidity levels cause stretch well beyond clinging clothes and the ability for kids to shock each other.

The Effects of Dry Winter Air

One of the major effects of dry winter air is a cooler feel to the indoor temperature. The optimum humidity for comfort is around 40 percent. When the relative humidity is below that level, you may be tempted to turn your thermostat up a few degrees to feel warmer.  And for every degree you bump up the thermostat, you’ll see a 4 percent increase in your heating bill.

But your bank account isn’t the only place you’ll feel the negative effects of dry winter air. Low humidity levels can also have a negative impact on your family’s health. Some of the adverse effects of extremely dry indoor air include:

  • Irritation to the body’s mucous membrane. We feel this as dryness and itching of the eyes, nose, and throat.
  • Lowered immunity. The mucous membrane is the body’s first line of defense against infection. When the mucous membrane thins due to dry air exposure, you become more susceptible to colds, the flu, and other illnesses.
  • Asthma. Dry air can make asthma flare-ups more frequent and severe.
  • Skin irritation. Dry and scaly skin, especially on the hands and feet, can become severe, causing them to crack and bleed.

Long-lasting low humidity can also have a negative impact on your home. A few of the effects dry air can have on your home include:

  • Flaking or peeling paint.
  • Cracks in wooden surfaces, including floors, walls, ceilings, cabinets, and furniture.
  • Excessive static electricity can cause damage to sensitive electronic devices.

 

Dealing with Dry Winter Air

Winter air is naturally dry because as outdoor temperatures fall, the air contracts. Because the air molecules are more compact, the air has less capacity to hold moisture. This dry air gets inside your home through open doors and windows and causes your home’s relative humidity to fall.

But dry indoor air doesn’t have to be inevitable. There are steps you can take to restore relative humidity to a comfortable level and help protect your home’s interior and your family’s health.

Sealing Gaps and Cracks

First, seal cracks and gaps around doors and windows. Adding weather stripping to tighten door seals and caulk to seal cracks around windows, will go a long way to keeping dry winter air outdoors.

Other Small Ways to Increase Humidity

You can also add moisture to the air by allowing water to sit and evaporate into the air after you take a bath or shower. You can also leave bowls of water out to provide moisture as the water evaporates. Add a few drops of essential oil to the water to give a nice scent to the air in your home. Cooking on the stove can even help increase indoor humidity levels.

Add a Whole House Humidifier

One of the best ways to maintain comfortable humidity in your home is to have a whole house humidifier. A whole house humidifier works with your existing heating system to add moisture to the air inside your home.

Once installed by a qualified HVAC technician, a whole house humidifier brings water vapor into the duct system through a distribution tray. In this way, it helps adjust the indoor humidity level. You can monitor and control the level of humidity with simple adjustments to your thermostat.

For more information about how a whole house humidifier can work for you, contact your local HVAC professionals.

 

Dry winter air is a serious concern that should not be ignored. However, there are steps you can take to maintain humidity and protect your home and your family. Follow these steps and be comfortable all winter long.

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Tips for Improving Indoor Air Quality This Winter

Winter Indoor Air QualityMost homeowners spend a considerable amount of money heating their homes during the cold winter months. Maintaining a comfortable, cozy indoor temperature can be difficult when the temperature outside begins to plummet. It becomes important, for our warmth as well as our wallets, to hold heat inside our home while keeping the cold air out.

Cold outdoor temperatures prompt homeowners to tightly seal cracks and gaps that allow cold drafts to get inside. While this helps save money on heating bills and keeps the family warm, it also seals off an essential flow of fresh air. Because we seal up our homes tightly to fend of Old Man Winter, our indoor air quality suffers.

Effects of Poor Indoor Air Quality

Poor indoor air quality can have a negative effect on your health and well-being. Even brief exposure can lead to dizziness, headaches, fatigue, and irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat. Allergies and asthma can also become worse when the indoor air quality is poor.

Long-term effects of indoor air pollution can include depression, anxiety, respiratory disease, heart disease, and cancer.

Sources of Indoor Air Pollution

Indoor air quality can be up to 10 times more polluted than the air outside. This is especially true during the winter season when fresh air entering the home means cold air is getting in.

Indoor pollutants come from many varied sources. Understanding where pollutants come from is the first step in improving the indoor air quality of your home. Here is a list of common sources of indoor air pollution:

Furniture and building materials. Insulation, carpeting, and pressed wood used in cabinetry and furniture can emit dangerous volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Exposure to some VOCs has been linked to certain types of cancer. Furniture and carpeting can also harbor mold and dust mites, both of which contribute to poor indoor air quality.

Cleaning and personal care products. Air fresheners, hair spray, and many household cleaning products release dangerous pollutants into the air.

Craft and home improvement projects. Paint, varnishes, and many adhesives release dangerous chemicals into the air we breathe. Most of these products should be used in well-ventilated areas. Adequate ventilation is hard to come by when your home is sealed up tight for the winter.

Pets. People tend to stay indoors more when it is cold outside, and so do their pets. Pet dander can aggravate allergies and asthma, especially in the wintertime.

Combustion sources. If you burn wood, oil, or kerosene in an indoor fireplace or stove, it can have a detrimental effect on the air quality in your home. Dryers, water heaters, and stoves can also contribute to indoor air pollution. Even you heating system, which relies on combustion, could have a negative effect on your health.

Ways to Improve Indoor Air Quality

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)recommends three basic strategies to improve indoor air quality: source control, ventilation improvements, and air cleaners or purifiers.

Source Control. By removing as many sources of indoor air pollution as possible, your air quality will improve drastically. When possible, purchase furnishings and building materials that do not contain VOCs. Treat and remove sources of mold and mildew. Choose non-toxic cleaning products and stay away from chemical air fresheners.

Ventilation Improvement. The easiest way to improve the quality of the air in your home is to open windows and doors. This action can improve indoor air quality almost immediately. When weather permits, allow fresh air to circulate by opening a few windows and doors. However, this isn’t a practical action step when the outdoor temperature is near freezing.

Air Cleaners and Purifiers. The final recommendation by the EPA is to use a product to clean and purify your indoor air. While there are many air purifiers that you can use, some more effective than others, few work to improve the air quality throughout your entire home.

Air Scrubber PlusOne convenient and effective option is the Air Scrubber Plus. This is fully integrated into your home’s HVAC system and works 24/7 to purify the air in every room of the house. It not only removes chemicals, contaminants, mold, and other dangerous pollutants from the air, it also neutralizes unpleasant odors, eliminating the need for chemical air fresheners.

Air Scrubber Plus uses  specialized germicidal UV light waves along with a proprietary catalytic process that creates enviroscrubbing molecules of oxygen and hydrogen, just like nature’s outdoor scrubbers. This technology helps eliminate indoor air quality risks by reducing air pollutants, like VOCs , cigarette smoke, dust, pollen, mold, and odor-causing bacteria.

Contact us for more information on how the Air Scrubber Plus can work to improve your home’s air quality and the health of your family.

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