Do I Need a HEPA Air Filter in My Home?

Air pollution affects more than just the air you breathe while outdoors. When you enter your home from outside, you can bring with you a variety of contaminants including dust, pollen, and other air pollutants. When these pollutants enter your home, it can impact your indoor air quality, affecting the air that you and your family breathe.

HEPA filters help add an extra layer of protection for you and your family, helping to filter out more of the pollutants in your indoor air. The question is, do you really need a HEPA air filter in your home or is a standard air filter enough to keep your family breathing easy year-round?

What is a HEPA Air Filter?

High-efficiency particulate air filters, or HEPA filters, help filter out harmful pollutants in the air like dust, pollen, and pet dander. In order to be considered a HEPA filter, U.S. government standards require the filter to remove at least 99.7% of particles from the air. HEPA filters are often found in air purifiers and vacuum cleaners and are used to help improve the indoor air quality of homes, hospitals, and commercial buildings.

Benefits of HEPA Air Filters

HEPA filters can provide many benefits to business and homeowners. These filters are specially designed to trap more of the harmful pollutants that enter the home or building, keeping more contaminants from entering the air and impacting indoor air quality. These filters are a great option for those with weakened immune systems who may feel a more significant impact from air pollution, such as small babies and elderly family members. They can also make it easier for those with respiratory conditions or issues breathe easier year-round.

Do You Need a HEPA Air Filter in Your Home?

When it comes to HEPA air filters, the decision depends on your needs and the needs of your family members. For most homeowners, the typical air filter filters out enough contaminants to provide sufficient indoor air quality. However, those who suffer from asthma, severe allergies, or other respiratory issues may benefit from upgrading their indoor air quality products since they often have trouble breathing and can be affected by the slightest number of particles in the air.

If you decide that you want to use a HEPA filter, it is important that you learn more about your options and the capabilities of your current HVAC system. Most standard HVAC systems are not designed to handle HEPA air filters, due to the way that they restrict airflow. Homeowners may want to opt for a standalone air purifier with a HEPA filter or contact their HVAC company to install a whole home system.

If you would like to learn more about HEPA filters and whether or not they may be right for your home environment, contact Sheldon’s Heating & Air Conditioning today. Our HVAC experts would be happy to discuss your home comfort options and suggest the ideal air filters and HVAC upgrades for your home comfort needs.

3 Ways to Reduce Allergies and Improve Home Comfort

If you suffer from allergies, then you know how hard it can be to get comfortable even in your own home. Though you may not be able get rid of your allergies completely, there are ways that you can make improvements to your home to reduce allergy triggers and make your home more comfortable.

How to Improve Home Comfort

If you or a family member have allergies and find it hard to get comfortable, here are just a few ways that you can reduce allergy symptoms in your house and improve home comfort levels:

  1. Keep your home clean with natural cleaning products.

One of the best ways that you can reduce allergy symptoms is to keep your home clean. No matter how much you try to avoid it, dust and dirt find their way into your home one way or another. By cleaning your home regularly, you can prevent these allergens from building up in your house and affecting the air you breathe.

When it is possible, try to use natural cleaning products when dusting, mopping, and cleaning up around the house. Many standard cleaners contain harsh chemicals that can circulate in your home air and affect your ability to breathe easy. To avoid introducing new contaminants into your home, try to avoid using chemical cleaners.

  1. Use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter.

Part of keeping your home clean and allergen free is making sure that your carpet, drapes, and furniture are free of dust and dirt. Vacuuming regularly helps keep your home and your air much cleaner by preventing the build-up of allergens like dirt, pollen, dust, and pet dander. However, the most effective vacuum cleaners are those that use powerful filters to trap these particles rather than releasing them back into the air.

Those who suffer from allergies should use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter. A high-efficiency particulate air filter, or HEPA filter, helps trap 99.97% of particles that pass through the air. Vacuums with these filters trap more dirt and dust that a standard vacuum cleaner to help make sure that this material does not end up back in your home.

  1. Purchase an air purifier.

For many homeowners, a standard air filter is enough to provide sufficient indoor air quality. However, those with asthma, severe allergies, and other respiratory issues may find it difficult to breathe and maintain comfort with just a standard air filtration system as even the smallest amount of pollutants may cause symptoms to flare up.

An air purifier provides an added layer of protection from air pollution. Whether you use a standalone air purifier or an air purification system in conjunction with your HVAC system, these devices use strong filters to filter out a majority of the dust, dirt, pollen, pet dander, and other indoor air pollutants that affect your breathing. Using one of these devices can help significantly reduce the build-up of allergens in your home, helping you breathe easier.

At Sheldon’s Services, we know how important it is to create a comfortable home environment. If you or someone in your family suffers from asthma or severe allergies, contact us today to learn more about our selection of indoor air quality products.

What Is a Zoning System and Do I Need One?

The temperature in many homes fluctuates from one room to the next. Electronics, sunlight, airflow, and more can affect the comfortability in a room. For a long time, people have simply lived with this as an unavoidable part of life with an HVAC system.

What are HVAC Zoning Systems?

Now, there is another option on the market: HVAC zoning systems. These new types of heating and cooling systems allow for precise room-by-room control over temperature. With a zoning system, only rooms that need to be warmed or cooled will be.

Zoning systems put a thermostat in every room or zone. These thermostats control not only the central air conditioner, but also a damper that is set to that zone. When the damper is closed, no hot or cold air is blown into the room.

Increasing Comfort with an HVAC Zoning System

A zoned HVAC system does away with home “thermostat wars,” where family members disagree about what a comfortable temperature for the house is. Zoning systems allow each person to cool or heat their room to the level that is most comfortable to them. Common areas may still be a point of contention, but with a zoning system, every member of a family has a place they can go to be most comfortable.

Zoning systems are also useful for maintaining the temperature in rooms that need to be warmer or cooler than the rest of the house. Keeping a baby’s nursery heated, a gym comfortably cool, or the master bedroom warm are all possible with a zoned heating and cooling system.

Decreasing Costs with an HVAC Zoning System

These new HVAC systems can do more for homeowners than just increasing the comfort of their home, however. A zoning system also can result in dramatically increased energy efficiency. The U.S. Department of Energy predicts homeowners can save as much as 30 percent on heating and cooling costs with a zoning system over a conventional HVAC setup.

This is because of increased control over the temperature in specific rooms. With a traditional HVAC system, every room in the house is being cooled at once, even if some rooms don’t need it. A zoning system allows homeowners to customize airflow for each room, resulting in greater system efficiency.

Should a Homeowner Get an HVAC Zoning System?

If a homeowner is considering replacing the old air-conditioning system with a new one, a zoning system is going to be much more expensive than traditional systems. This is because of increased labor costs associated wiring thermostats, running ducts, installing dampers for each room, etc.

A zoning system in new construction or a home undergoing major renovations typically is not much more expensive than installing a conventional HVAC setup. The exact cost of a zoning system will vary by the number of separate zones on the system, the size of the house, the ease of wiring and running ductwork, and other factors.

Homeowners must decide whether to invest in a zoning HVAC system. In most cases, a zoning system provides numerous benefits over traditional systems and is the better choice unless the increased cost is too high. If you need help making the right decision, contact us, and speak with an experienced HVAC tech who can help explain your options.

Detecting the Invisible: Finding Carbon Monoxide Buildups in a Home

Carbon monoxide is odorless, tasteless – and potentially lethal. Proper ventilation in homes and businesses usually keeps levels well below the point where it can cause harm. However, when ventilation is not set up properly, is blocked off, or carbon monoxide is produced in large quantities, people can be in danger.

Dangers of Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide can affect anyone when it reaches dangerous levels, but infants, the elderly, people with chronic heart disease or anemia, and people with breathing problems are especially vulnerable. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that more than 20,000 people visit the emergency room each year for carbon monoxide poisoning; 4,000 are hospitalized and 400 die.

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning begin with headaches, dizziness, nausea, chest pains, and confusion. Continued exposure to high levels of the gas can lead to a loss of consciousness and eventual death.

Producers of Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide is produced by many household items and various equipment used in many industries. Any time fuel is burned, carbon monoxide is produced. This means stoves, cars, furnaces, water heaters, lanterns, grills, etc. all produce the gas.

Harmless levels of carbon monoxide are present in all homes and nearly everywhere else. It is only when carbon monoxide is allowed to build up in an area that it poses a danger to humans.

Detecting Carbon Monoxide and Preventing Poisoning

Installing a carbon monoxide detector is the best way to detect potential buildups of the gas in a home and prevent poisoning. These detectors should be place near all bedrooms and be maintained regularly to ensure correct functioning. Not all carbon monoxide detectors are equally effective; research detectors online before choosing which to buy.

Having detectors is only part of a system that needs to be in place to prevent carbon monoxide buildups that can lead to poisoning in homes.

Other Prevention Methods

  • Never start a fire in a fireplace without first opening the flue and inspecting the chimney for buildups.
  • Have chimneys cleaned regularly to prevent blockages, which can prevent ventilation of carbon monoxide.
  • Never start a car in a closed garage. Car exhaust contains high levels of carbon monoxide, which can build up quickly in an enclosed space.
  • When using a wood-burning stove, ensure the doors close fully and it vents correctly so the gas does not escape into the house.
  • Always use appropriate fuel in kerosene heaters.
  • Inspect all gas appliances in the home regularly and have them serviced by professionals.
  • Heating systems, especially furnaces, need to be inspected yearly by an expert for any damage or other problems.
  • Never operate gasoline-powered machines indoors.
  • Never bring a grill indoors and start it.
  • If you have a gas refrigerator and smell an odor coming from it, contact a technician immediately; this may be a sign of a carbon monoxide leak.
  • Do not use a gas range or oven for heating.

Carbon monoxide typically does not pose a threat because detectors, ventilation, and simple safety measures usually are enough to prevent incidents of carbon monoxide poisoning. If you need to make sure that you are protected, call us for more information about preventing carbon monoxide poisoning.