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Indoor Air Quality

Indoor Air Quality (18)

Proper drainage and maintenance is the key to preventing AC mold problems.

Preventing air conditioner mold problems
Summers in Connecticut can be hot and very humid. With the air conditioner running and the home tightly sealed. It's important to ensure that your central air conditioner is operating properly to prevent excess moisture build up that can lead to the growth of unhealthy mold and mildew. When your central air conditioner is running, the condenser, the part located inside the home, creates condensation that accumulates into a pan before emptying down the condensation drain tube. This pan is called the condensate drain pan. If the tube that drains the water from the pan becomes clogged, water can accumulate allowing unhealthy mold and mildew to grow. By checking the drain pain occasionally and taking some basic maintenance steps you can prevent mold from growing.

IMPORTANT: Before doing any work near the air conditioner always turn off the power to the unit first.

1. If you notice water accumulating in the evaporator pan, check to see if the drain line is obstructed with dirt or debris.

2. Clean out the evaporator pan with hot soapy water. A small amount of bleach can be added to disinfect the surface and kill any existing mold and bacteria, and a sponge.

3. Next, Pour bleach through the pan's condensate tube to kill mold and algae, which can obstruct the drain tube and cause the pan to fill up and overflow. Check the tube's outside end to make sure it's draining freely.

4. To prevent future mold and algae growth, a chlorine tablet and be placed in the evaporator pan. Note that this is the kind of chlorine tablet used for swimming pools and hot tubs, not the kind used in toilets.


Have questions about preventing mold in your air conditioner? Call Air Specialties. We can help identify the cause of the mold and offer effective solutions for preventing future mold growth. We also offer whole home dehumidifiers that can reduce excess humidity and improve the air quality and comfort in the home.
Furnace Air Filter

If you want to find out how effective your air filter is at removing contaminants from the air, check the filter's MERV rating. MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. MERV is a standard that rates the effectiveness of air filters. A higher numeric rating means the filter will remove finer particulate matter from the air.

Filters are tested for for their ability to trap pollen, dust mites, mold spores, dust, pet dander, bacteria and tobacco smoke. Here are how effective the different MERV ratings are at removing various contaminants from the air.

1-4 : Filters out pollen and dust mites.

5-8 : Removes mold and dust.

9-12 : Traps lead dust and most bacteria

12+ : Filters out all bacteria and tobacco smoke

When choosing an air filter for your HVAC system it may seem like a good idea to buy the filter with the highest MERV rating, since you want to have the cleanest air possible, right? In most cases, you should use a filter in the 5-8 range. The reason is that filters with a high MERV rating will have the smallest pores for air to pass through. This can make it harder for the HVAC system to push air through the filter, reducing system performance. To avoid restricting the air flow, filters with a higher MERV rating should be changed more frequently (at least every three months) to prevent damage to the HVAC system.

Ultimately, if your home's air is dirty enough to require a higher MERV rating, or you're changing air filters more than once a month, you may be better served by having a whole home air filtration system. A furnace air filter is really just designed to keep your HVAC equipment clean to prevent wear and tear. A whole house air filtration system is designed to actually clean the air inside the home.

Have questions about air filters? Call Air Specialties Air Conditioning and Heating. We can help answer all your questions.
Connecticut Whole House HumidifierAs the temperature outside begins to drop, the air inside our homes will become drier. When the heat is turned on the humidity level can drop to desert-like levels, leading to a host of potential problems.

Health Problems From Low Humidity

Dry skin, itchy eyes and respiratory irritation are some of the most common conditions caused by low humidity in the home. With dry mucous membranes your body becomes more susceptible to infections and you're more likely to catch a cold or the flu.

Home Damage From Low Humidity

Wood furniture, floors and other woodworks are most susceptible to low humidity levels. If humidity levels fluctuate widely wood can swell and shrink as moisture is absorbed and lost. Musical instruments, paintings and electronic equipment can also be harmed be overly dry conditions.

Use a Whole-Home Humidifier to Increase Humidity

The solution to low humidity levels in the home is a whole-home humidifier. By working in conjunction with your home's HVAC system a humidifier will provide consistent, healthy humidity levels throughout your home. A humidity level of 40-60 percent during the winter months is best for most homes.

Have questions about maintaining healthy humidity levels in your home? Call Air Specialties Air Conditioning and Heating, we can help.
As the dry, cold weather arrives in Connecticut you may be turning on your whole house humidifier.  A humidifier can help make the winter air much healthier and more comfortable. Like your furnace and air conditioner, a whole house humidifier needs regular maintenance to ensure it is operating at peak efficiency. Here's what to do:

1. Check the Drain Line – Ensure the line is clean and free of clogs. Over time minerals and algae can buildup and obstruct the line.

2. Replace the Media Panel. The media panel, or water panel, works by mixing water with the flow of hot air from the furnace. Most manufacturers recommend replacing the panel at least twice a season. If you allow the media panel to stay in the humidifier for too long, it will reduce the performance of the unit and potentially harbor unhealthy mold and bacteria.

3. Clean the Humidifier’s Fan. Also clean off the fan’s intake vent and enclosure.

4. Solenoid Valve – The solenoid valve allows water to flow to the humidifier. When the unit is operating, ensure the the valve is opening and that water is flowing.

Finally, when the warm weather returns in the spring, remember to turn off the humidifier and discard the used media panel.

While you furnace air cleaner does a good job of trapping the larger particles in the air, its primary function is to keep the inside of the furnace free of damaging dirt and debris. For truly clean and healthy indoor air there are additional parts to the indoor air quality system. These include:

Electronic Air Cleaners

Electronic air cleaners work by charging the particles and killing pathogens like bacteria, viruses and mold. By continuously filtering out pollutants, allergens and pathogens in your home, you'll have cleaner, healthier air.

Humidifiers

When the air inside your home is too dry you may experience dry, chapped skin, upper respitory irritation and increased allergies from dust and airborne particles.

A Carrier steam output humidifier is a good choice for larger homes or when you want more precise control over humidity. The humidifier flows water between electrodes to create steam which is then dispersed into the ductwork. This design uses an easy to replace canister system and can be managed by your system's thermostat.

UV Lamps

Germicidal UV lamps use ultra violet light to kill mold and bacteria. They kill the organisms that can grow on the indoor coil of your cooling system. Eliminating these germs will not only improve your air quality, it will increase HVAC system performance as well.

Ventilators

During the hot, sticky summer months, ventilators quietly replace stale indoor air with fresh outside air using the outgoing air to precondition incoming air, which helps keep your system efficient. Using specially designed, treated paper cores, they are also able to reduce humidity from the air before it enters your home.

Carbon Monoxide Detectors 

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, tasteless, odorless and highly toxic gas. The Carrier® CO alarm uses sophisticated sensor technology to detect and record levels of CO.

You can monitor the current CO level in your home on a large, easy-to-read digital display. When dangerous levels of CO are present, a loud, audible alarm alerts you and your family automatically.

When it comes to choosing the right furnace air filter, there are many options available. The efficiency of furnace filters is measured on the MERV scale, or Minimum Efficiency Reporting Values, which rates filter efficiency on a scale of 1-20.

On the low end of the cost scale and MERV scale with a rating of 1-3 are disposable fiberglass filters. Made of 1-inch thick fiberglass, these filters are designed to prevent larger particles of dust, lint, and other debris from damaging your furnace.

Disposable pleated furnace filters
are probably the most popular option. These filters are made from polyester or cotton paper and remove smaller particles like mold spores and mites, but should be changed frequently to avoid clogging and reducing airflow to the furnace. Pleated filters have a MERV rating of 6 and cost more than fiberglass filters.

The most effective furnace air filters are disposable or permanent electrostatic filters. With a MERV rating of 10 or higher, they offer highly effective filtration and are recommended for homes with persons with allergies or upper respiratory conditions.

Have questions about furnace filters and indoor air quality? Call Air Specialties Air Conditioning and Heating, we're here to help.

When it comes to choosing the right furnace air filter, there are many options available. The efficiency of furnace filters is measured on the MERV scale, or Minimum Efficiency Reporting Values, which rates filter efficiency on a scale of 1-20.

On the low end of the cost scale and MERV scale with a rating of 1-3 are disposable fiberglass filters. Made of 1-inch thick fiberglass, these filters are designed to prevent larger particles of dust, lint, and other debris from damaging your furnace.

Disposable pleated furnace filters are probably the most popular option. These filters are made from polyester or cotton paper and remove smaller particles like mold spores and mites, but should be changed frequently to avoid clogging and reducing airflow to the furnace. Pleated filters have a MERV rating of 6 and cost more than fiberglass filters.

The most effective furnace air filters are disposable or permanent electrostatic filters. With a MERV rating of 10 or higher, they offer highly effective filtration and are recommended for homes with persons with allergies or upper respiratory conditions.

Have questions about furnace filters and indoor air quality? Call Air Specialties Air Conditioning and Heating, we're here to help.

 

Each year thousands of people are sickened by carbon monoxide. Because the CO gas is colorless and odorless, it's important to take steps to prevent CO poisoning in the home.

Never use portable gas or charcoal grills indoors

Ensure that your heating system is operating safely by having an annual cleaning and safety inspection performed.

Check appliances and vents for visible soot stains, blockage and corrosion. An improperly vented appliance such as a gas water heater or dryer can cause exhaust fumes to enter the home.

Never use a gas oven to heat your home

Carbon Monoxide Detectors

It's important that every level of your home have a CO detector installed. The detectors should be installed near bedrooms. When a CO detector detects and elevated level of dangerous gas, an alarm will go off alerting you of potential danger.

If you suspect you have carbon monoxide poisoning

The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include: 

  • Dull headache 
  • Weakness 
  • Dizziness 
  • Nausea 
  • Vomiting 
  • Shortness of breath 
  • Confusion 
  • Blurred vision 

 If you experience these symptoms get out of the home and seek emergency medical treatment immediately. Keep still to conserve oxygen in the blood.

During a typical Connecticut summer the air can be hot and muggy outside, which can mean excess moisture inside. Excessive indoor humidity is not just uncomfortable, it can lead to unhealthy mold, musty odors and condensation that can damage wood surfaces and paint.

In today's tight, well insulated homes, excess moisture can make your air conditioner work harder to keep the air cool and dry. To help keep the air dryer, a dehumidifier can be an effective solution.

How does a dehumidifier work?

As warm, humid air is blown across a cold coil by a fan, moisture condenses into liquid, which can be removed through a drain pipe. The dry air then passes over a warm coil and is added back into the room. Dehumidifiers are controlled by an instrument called a dehumidistat, which turns the unit on and off depending on the amount of moisture detected in the air. The level of moisture is controlled by a dehumidistat, which turns the unit on and off. A dehumidifier's capacity is measured in pints of water removed every 24 hours.

Carrier Whole Home Dehumidifers

A whole house dehumidifier is designed to work in conjunction with your home's heating and air conditioning system by monitoring and controlling the level of humidity. It operates quietly and is easily maintained by cleaning a filter.

Have questions about controlling excess humidity in your home? Call Air Specialties, we're here to help.

Indoor air quality is dependent on many factors, but there are three important steps that you can take to keep the air healthier, safer and more comfortable inside the home.
3 Ways To Improve the Quality of the Air In Your Home

Air Filtration

One of the most important steps you can take to keep the air clean is to change your furnace air filter on a regularly. For most 1" pleated filters, that means replacing the filter once per month to keep the air clean and the furnace operating efficiently. If there are pets or allergy sufferers in the home, consider a whole house HEPA air filtration system to reduce pet dander and allergens.

Maintain Proper Humidity Levels

During the summer, a central air conditioner will do a good job of removing moisture from the air. In extremely humidity environments, excess mold can form, leading to health problems. If the humidity is over 50% you'll likely be feeling uncomfortable and may benefit from a whole house dehumidifier.

In the winter, humidity levels between 30-40% are ideal. If humidity levels are too low, you may experience dry, cracked skin and a upper respiratory irritation. A whole house humidifier is a better option than standalone units, which are less effective and can harbor mold and bacteria.

Exhaust Systems

Many of the most harmful contaminants in the home are unseen. Carbon monoxide and radon are colorless, odorless gases that can cause serious health problems or death. Gas furnaces, water heaters, dryers and other appliances that produce carbon monoxide exhaust must be properly vented to the outside of the home.

Have your home tested for Radon. If your home tests high for radon gas, special exhaust systems can be installed to improve ventilation to reduce exposure.

Have questions about indoor air quality? Give us a call, we're here to help.

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