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Posts Tagged ‘HVAC’

Clear The Air: Signs That Your Indoor Air Quality May Be Lacking

There’s a saying that goes, ‘You are what you eat,’ but even more true for residents everywhere affected by poor air quality is, ‘You are what you breathe.’ The indoor air quality in your house is a major contributor to the status of your health and your home, yet it is too often overlooked by homeowners across the country. Clean air is considered practically a given for many Americans, as emission standards have kept the country’s outdoor air clean and healthy, an expectation they maintain within the walls of their own home. 

Unfortunately, indoor air quality is seldom as clean as we’d like to believe, which can be detected through several signs of which everyone should be aware. 

Monitor Your Home’s Indoor Air Quality

About Indoor Air Quality  

Indoor air quality, as defined by the United States Department of Labor, describes how inside air can affect a person’s health, comfort and ability to work, including factors such as temperature, humidity, poor ventilation, mold from water damage, exposure to other chemicals, and more. 

The effects of poor indoor air quality range according to the affected individual as well as the severity of the causes. Sometimes, immediate effects occur that can be either mild or severe, whereas other cases develop over time through repeated or consistent exposure to pollutants. As the EPA explains, the likelihood of an immediate reaction to poor air quality depends on subjective factors such as age, preexisting medical conditions, and individual sensitivity. Others may become sensitized to biological or chemical pollutants after repeated, high-level or sustained exposure, minimizing the types of immediate reactions that they would otherwise notice, but also increases the likelihood of far more problematic symptoms and signs. 

The sooner you realize your home suffers from poor indoor air quality, the easier it will be to rectify the issues, sparing your health and your house from long-term damage. 

What Affects IAQ 

There are many things that may affect the air quality of your home, such as poor ventilation, a lack of outside air, inability to control temperature, high or low humidity, as well as activities in or near your home, such as recent remodeling. As the Occupational Safety and Health Administration explains, construction and renovation create dust that may cause poor indoor air quality. Cleaning supplies, pesticides, and other airborne chemicals are just as viable to contribute to declining air quality that may lead to a sick home. 

A “sick house” is defined as a residence with poor air quality that may cause its inhabitants to become ill. Houses can become “sick” through a buildup of air pollutants from causes such as household products, building materials, formaldehyde, and respirable particles. Researchers at Georgia State University explain houses in cold climates are more prone to becoming “sick” during the winter because the cool air holds less moisture and replaces air with moisture and contaminants. Conversely, houses in warm or humid climates are more likely to become “sick” during the summer, as the moist outdoor air may increase mildew in the home.  

Though the best cure for a sick house is proper ventilation with clean, outdoor air, if your home is not properly air-conditioned with sufficient dehumidification, the moisture outside may contribute to poor air quality inside. 

Signs Of Poor Air Quality: Your Health

 

 

There are several signs that the air quality in your home is deficient, but your own body is the clearest indicator of any potential issues. Often, you’ll experience symptoms that mirror side effects of a cold, such as a runny nose, sore throat, sneezing, and coughing. If the air quality is severely poor, you may even experience more serious symptoms such as headaches, nausea, fatigue, and dizziness. 

As the experts at Allergy And Air explain, preexisting allergies may flare up when exposed to irritants like pollen or dust that are contaminating the air quality of your home. These reactions may be signs of a less severe contamination, but if you notice new or unusual symptoms, there is probably a much more dangerous problem with your air quality. These may include dizziness, nausea, rashes, fevers, fatigue, or even vomiting, muscle pain, shortness of breath, or hearing loss.  

Because a lot of these symptoms mirror effects of other common problems, it’s important to understand exactly how issues with air quality might affect your health. 

As you inhale particles from the air, such as dust or pollen, you may become congested with a cough as your body combats the foreign agents; accordingly, if you frequently become congested after coming home, your air quality may need to be addressed. More alarming symptoms such as fatigue and dizziness are often signs of a more serious problem, such as fumes, carbon monoxide, or other chemical and gaseous air contaminants affecting your air quality. 

The irritants in the air will affect the most sensitive and vulnerable parts of the body first, such as the eyes, nose, throat, mouth, and tongue. Your mucous membranes are the most susceptible to contaminants, so these areas may begin to itch, water, run or even burn when exposed to poor air quality in the home. The next most likely part of the body to be affected is the skin. When spending a prolonged period of time in a home with poor air quality, your skin may start to dry, peel or flake, as well as develop rashes or redness on sensitive areas of the skin. This is especially true for any who already struggle with skin conditions like eczema or acne. 

Poor indoor air quality may lead to a myriad of health concerns, including a rapid, acute onset of symptoms that can act as signs that indicate a problem that needs to be addressed. Other symptoms may be slow and more difficult to detect, so it’s important to look for other signs beyond your health, too. 

Signs Of Poor Air Quality: Your Home

In addition to health symptoms, there are signs around the home that may indicate a problem with the air quality. The odor is an important sign to pay attention to, as a bad smell around the house may suggest that a filter in your air conditioning unit needs to be changed. Other unpleasant odors like a musty, stuffy smell may be signs of a mold or mildew that has infiltrated the home and affected its air quality, as Georgia State University explains.  

Oftentimes, there will also be visible signs of poor air quality, such as black or green spots to indicate a biological growth. Additionally, the EPA states that inconsistencies in air distribution through the home may indicate a problem with the air quality. If one area is colder or warmer than another, there is likely a problem affecting the purity of the airflow. 

“Most of the things that cause [air quality] problems are odorless,” says Dr. Nicholas of Harvard-Medical School. “So, in many cases, there’s nothing to alert you to the problem.”

Because problems to air quality can be difficult to spot, it’s important to stay cognizant of these warning sign, and contact the professionals as soon as you notice them. 

5 Mistakes You’re Probably Making With Your AC Unit

Once considered a luxurious feat of science, controlling temperature for your home with an affordable AC unit is now an everyday expectation, but still one that requires a bit more attention than you may be giving it to keep your home nice and cool.

There have been many advances in HVAC technology through the decades, since the first modern electrical air conditioning units to hit the market in the early 1900s. A century later, nearly 50 percent of all energy consumption in American homes is a result of cooling and heat, according to the Energy Information Administration. It’s hard not to take for granted all the advancements that led to the modern AC unit that cools your home today, all of which must be more diligently cared for than most homeowners understand.

A little TLC for your AC unit can go a long way in ultimately saving you a lot of time, money and hassle.   

Start Handling Your AC Unit Like a Pro and Stop Doing These 5 Things

You’re Not Considering Your Way Of Life

While AC units may seem like a “one size fits all” appliance, each home and the family that lives therein affects how to adjust, clean and manage it. If you have pets or many individuals living in the home, extra dust, dander and dirt will likely circulate through the ventilation system. Smoke in the home, from either cigarettes or a fireplace, will tax your AC unit further. If you live in an arid climate, or if you simply prefer a cooler home, you probably run the AC unit six or more months out of the year. Thankfully, it’s easy to manage your AC unit to accommodate all these lifestyle choices — simply chance the air filters in the AC unit once per month. Otherwise, if your home is free of pets, smoke and excess debris, simply change the filter every ten weeks.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, 37% of homes in the Midwest use central air conditioning all summer, twenty-four hours a day, every day of the week, which jeopardizes both the condition of your AC unit as well as the state of your wallet from all those electricity bills. In the Southern states, that rate nearly doubles to 67%.

To prepare for summer, it’s recommended to set the thermostat of your AC unit higher at night than when you’re awake, as your body can tolerate the difference much more comfortably while you’re asleep, according to the National Sleep Foundation.

You’re Treating Your Thermostat Like A Television Remote

As nearly every ‘90s sitcom portrayed, fidgeting with the thermostat can cause a lot of household drama, but every change to the AC unit has greater effects, too. According to Reliant Energy, you’ll cut up to 3% off your AC bill for every degree you raise the temperature. One can easily cut their costs by 10% without hardly breaking a sweat. Additionally, if you wish to cool your home considerably right away, resist the urge to dial your AC unit far lower than you actually want it to be. Patience is not simply a virtue — it’s also a requirement for treating your AC unit properly.

More than anything, however, it’s recommended to install a programmable thermostat that lets you set your AC unit to cool the house at lower temperatures while you’re home and higher temperatures while you’re away. According to the EIA, less than 50% of homes in the Midwest have a programmable thermostat to manage their AC unit, which are designed specifically to reduce consumption by automatically and routinely lowering the temperature whenever necessary. Plus, with the rise of smart technology and mobile compatibility, many such programmable thermostats may be managed while out of the home, making it a doubly sensible investment.

You’re Not Properly Accounting For Drainage, Leakage & Water

As with many modern appliances, your AC unit does more for your home than you may think. In addition to keeping it cool, the AC unit also removes moisture from the air to decrease the humidity level in the house. Over time, that moisture accrues into condensed water that drains from the AC unit through a pipe that leads outside the home.

While a great convenience, this extra moisture can also account for extra hassle if not monitored and managed properly. If the water is not effectively drained from the AC unit, a flood of problems may seep into your home. Improper insulation on indoor tubing may lead to beads of moisture that drip as the AC unit runs, which can easily go unnoticed until water damage has already occurred. Further, drain pipes that don’t successfully carry the water from the AC unit to a clear and suitable exit can result in extensive damage and costly repairs. Thankfully, it’s an easy problem to avoid with simple vigilance. Check the drain pipe often, especially after storms, construction or other circumstances that may have caused structural change to your home’s fixtures and ensure the drain pipe is indeed draining all the excess water unimpeded. If the end is at all obstructed, the water, as well as yard waste and debris, will clog the drain pipes, damage the AC unit and compromise the structural integrity of your home as well.

You’ve Not Accounted For Positioning

Though you may want to consider décor as you select the placement for your thermostat and AC unit, pragmatism should take precedent over prettiness. If positioned in direct sunlight or lamplight, the thermostat may be adversely affected and even misread the temperature of the home, causing you to twist the dials far more than you may have intended. Additionally, ensure furniture, curtains and belongings do not obstruct any of the AC vents, as these may limit air circulation. Finally, for the households with outdoor condenser cabinets for their AC units, you may be tempted to hide the appliance behind shrubbery or decoration; however, it is recommended to give it two feet of clearance on all sides to permit the fan to properly circulate air and release heat.

Though it may not be the most decorative addition to your home, your AC unit must be given just as much consideration as any other household fixture, if not more, to guarantee a safe and comfortable home.

You’re Not Giving Your AC Unit Proper Care

Whether you consider yourself a DIY homeowner or if you’re more comfortable holding the flashlight for someone else to do the dirty work, it’s easier than many may think to keep your AC unit up to snuff.

Change the filter at least every ten weeks and as often as once a month, as a dirty filter can lead to much more damage, such as freezing the AC unit’s evaporator coil and adding up to 15% to your air conditional bill, according to Purdue University’s engineering staff. Additionally, scrub and soap-up the fins of your AC unit, an easy project we walk you through on our site [link: https://stadtlerhvac.com/services/air-conditioning-maintenance/]

Though a simple task, even the hardiest of homeowners needs to have the AC unit serviced professionally periodically, no matter how chill they like to keep it.

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