Warning Signs of HVAC Problems & What to Do Before Summer

You rely on your HVAC system to keep your home feeling cool and comfortable when the mercury climbs to “Scorching” during the summer months. The last thing you want is to run into problems with it on the hottest day of the year. It’s important to be aware of the warning signs which indicate potential problems and to follow a regular maintenance schedule to keep your system working at its best all summer long.

Warning Signs of HVAC Problems

These warning signs indicate a possible problem with your HVAC system. If you notice any of them, you should schedule a service call.

  • Your HVAC system is making unusual sounds, such as knocking or banging.
  • The air in your home is either too dry or too humid.
  • There are hot or cold spots in your home.
  • The breaker on the HVAC system keeps tripping.
  • Your energy bill increases significantly without a corresponding increase in use.

If your air conditioner is more than 10 years old or your furnace is older than 15 years old, you may want to consider upgrading your system to a new, energy-efficient one. You will use less energy, which will save money on your energy bills.

What to Do Before Summer to Keep your System Running Smoothly

  • Replace your HVAC filter at least every three months.
  • Inspect the intake and output vents to make sure they are clean and free from debris
  • Make sure that your furnace is vented to the outside and that there are no obstructions that might interfere with this process.
  • To protect yourself and your family from carbon monoxide (CO), a colorless and odorless gas that may be produced by the heating system, be sure that you install a CO detector in your home. Test them every month to ensure they are working properly.
  • Schedule an appointment with an HVAC contractor for a tune-up. You’ll want to make sure that your system is running properly and that any minor problems are caught and dealt with early.

Having access to uninterrupted air conditioned comfort is something you don’t want to leave to chance in the summer. Contact us to learn more about our HVAC maintenance program today.

Ways to Improve The Air Quality In Your Home

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has identified indoor air pollutions as one of its three greatest environmental concerns.

Most of us spend 80-90 percent of our time indoors, at home or at work, breathing air that has been contaminated by chemical traces from cleaning products, exhaust fumes from nearby highways or factories, mold spores, airborne bacteria, crumbling insulation, decaying books and magazines—the list goes on and on.

What Are Ways You Can Improve The Air Quality In Your Home?

Here are a few suggestions that will help you improve the air quality in your home or place of business.

Develop A Cleaning Routine

Clean weekly in the areas you occupy the most and monthly everywhere else (basements, attics, garages, store rooms, etc.). Dust with a damp cloth, use non-chemical cleaning solutions and don’t neglect any areas where dust or debris might accumulate.

Get The Air Flowing Throughout The House

Open windows instead of turning on the air conditioner. Put in screen doors and use them when the weather is good. Install ceiling fans or a whole-house fan to boost your home’s ventilation. If you’ve been closing off some rooms open them up again, and open the windows to air them out.

Bathe And Groom Your Dogs And Cats On A Regular Basis

It’s especially important to do this in the wintertime. Of course you don’t need to put your cat in the bath tub (good luck with that if you try), but both cats and dogs should be thoroughly brushed at least twice a week.

Ventilate Damp Areas

Mold and mildew are your enemies and they thrive on excessive moisture. Fans in bathrooms or basements or other spaces where moisture is prevalent will help, and you may want to purchase a dehumidifier for those locations as well.

Eliminate Sources Of Dirty Smoke

Don’t smoke indoors, and if you use candles purchase the non-toxic types. If you have a fireplace keep the chimney and flue as clean as possible and only burn dried or cured wood.

Wash Your Drapes, Blankets And Fabric Shower Curtains

Dust collects everywhere in our homes and these sources are frequently overlooked.

Stop Using Commercial Air Fresheners

They often contain potentially harmful contaminants. Get vaporizers or diffusers that use essential oils instead, or boil a pot of cinnamon and let it simmer in a central location for a few hours.

Remodel For Cleanliness And Better Air Quality

If you have the opportunity to remodel choose hardwood floors over carpet, add windows and wall vents if you can, remove any walls that restrict air flow and build additions that can be used to store any sources of airborne pollution you’re currently keeping in your home.

Get Some Plants That Filter Out Airborne Toxins

Did you know some houseplants can do this? Some good choices include English ivy, peace lilies, snake plants or chrysanthemums.

Replace Your Hvac Air Filters Every Other Month Or As Needed

Most people forget to do this, and as a result their air filters get so clogged they can barely function at all. When you buy new air filters don’t get the cheap fiberglass kind, they’re ineffective and need to be changed constantly.

Purchase Air Quality Improvement Products

Air purifiers, ventilators, humidifiers and UV lamps can eliminate prodigious amounts of indoor contaminants. Contact your HVAC contractor will be glad to consult with you and help you choose air quality products that meet your specific needs.

Breathing Bad Indoor Air? Act Now And Don’t Delay

If you’re breathing contaminated air it can and will make you sick. A passive approach to the problem is a losing strategy, and the sooner you get proactive with your indoor air quality the better off you and your family will be.

The Sheldon’s Heating and Air Conditioning is here to help, please call us today so we can make sure your air is the highest quality in your home.

The Importance of Changing Your HVAC Air Filter

If you remove the grill that covers your HVAC system’s primary return air duct, you’ll find a flat, square screen that’s probably covered with a decent collection of dust and debris.

Unless that screen hasn’t been changed for a long time—or ever—in which case the collection of dust and debris is likely to be quite substantial.

The screen you’re looking at is your HVAC’s air filter, and the fuzzy gray stuff that blankets it’s surface is potentially breathable pollution that’s been removed from your home’s air space.

You may not have known it but those air filters are supposed to be changed regularly, perhaps as often as every other month, and if you leave them in too long they’ll stop capturing contaminants that can trigger allergies, asthma, general respiratory distress and many other symptoms of illness.

Clogged air filters will also put extra stress on your HVAC equipment, forcing it to work harder and increasing your energy costs in the process.

HVAC Air Filter Options

If you haven’t been changing your HVAC air filters now is the time to start. It’s not hard to do and new filters are usually not as expensive as you might think, although obviously you’ll have to pay more to get something good. But better air filters will last longer and that might make the extra investment worthwhile.

Here are the most popular air filter options:

  • Fiberglass panel filters: These are the cheapest HVAC air filters, which has helped make them a best seller. But they only trap larger particles and will clog up so quickly they’re virtually useless beyond two months (at the most).
  • Electrostatic air filters: They are not as efficient as some other options, but they never clog or block air flow and sometimes come in models that allow for cleaning rather than disposal.
  • Media air filters: Not as well-known as most options, highly-efficient media filters are the preferred choice of HVAC professionals, who often stock and supply them directly. As you might imagine they’re more expensive that most air filters.
  • Pleated air filters: Very popular among those who want something better than fiberglass but don’t want to pay an arm and a leg, pleated filters are fairly similar to media filters but must be changed more often.
  • HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filters: More expensive than most, but with air filters you get what you pay for. HEPA filters will capture up to 99 percent of mold spores, pollen, allergen, pet dander and small dust particles, making them the best choice for those with allergies.
  • Activated carbon air filters: A special type of air filter for use in buildings with heavy bad odor problems.

Never Neglect Your Air Filters

Clogged HVAC air filters will compromise your indoor air quality and your health in the process, and if you’ve been ignoring them up until now that is a habit you should work very hard to break. If changed on schedule HVAC air filters actually work quite well, especially if you select a better option than the cheapest.

To find out more speak to a representative from your HVAC contractor, he or she will be able to explain the pros and cons of each type of air filter.

Continue to follow the Sheldon’s Heating and Air Conditioning for more informative discussions about HVAC systems and the value of good indoor air quality.

The Adverse Effects of Poor IAQ

The air inside our homes and other buildings isn’t good for our health. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 4.3 million people die each year due to household air pollution. The American Lung Association estimates has estimated that 164 million Americans are breathing air that is not healthy. When you consider that that Americans spend the vast majority of their time indoors (90 percent), the likelihood of exposure to unhealthy air is very high.

Poor Indoor Air Quality a Serious Problem

Most people have no choice but to spend the vast majority of their time inside buildings. They are unaware that they are in an environment that is between two and five times (and sometimes more than 100 times) more polluted than the air outside, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Spending time in this environment can lead to a number of issues, such as:

  • Health problems
  • Poor student performance
  • Discomfort inside homes
  • Reduced employee productivity

Research has shown the effects of poor IAQ end up costing the US economy $168 billion per year.

Causes of Indoor Air Quality Issues

The quality inside our homes or a commercial building can be relatively clean or full of particles, gases and contaminants. There are a number of reasons for this buildup that lead to poor IAQ, which include:

  • Failure to adequately maintain HVAC system
  • Not enough ventilation in home or building
  • Excess dampness or moisture due to high humidity, leaks or flooding
  • Construction activities
  • Mold spores, which can become airborne
  • Pet dander

If there isn’t sufficient ventilation in the building, the level of off-gasses from contaminants will build up. Sources of these contaminants are:

  • Carpets and flooring
  • Furniture and fabrics
  • Paints, finishes and sealants
  • Construction materials
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Our clothing
  • Chemicals from using toiletries (soap, shampoo, shaving cream, cologne, etc.)

The Adverse Effects of Poor IAQ

The effects of unhealthy air in our homes, schools and commercial buildings has a number of adverse effects on our health.

  • Allergies, asthma, coughs and headaches
  • Skin irritations
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Respiratory problems
  • Nausea
  • Loss of coordination
  • Irritation of the eyes, nose and throat
  • Damage to the kidneys, liver and central nervous system
  • Issues with the nervous and endocrine system

Household air pollution also includes the risk of exposure to carbon monoxide, which can be deadly at a high enough dose. At lower doses, it leads to headaches, drowsiness and lack of energy. A moderately high concentration can lead to a significant impairment of a person’s decision-making ability.

How to Improve Indoor Air Quality

Thankfully, there are things you can do to improve the interior air quality in your home. Sheldon’s Heating & Air Conditioning offers a number of indoor air quality services to give you the clean, pure air you want. Contact us today to schedule your personal consultation.