According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the concentration of air pollutants inside the typical American home is two-to-five times greater than what the average American is exposed to outside, and in many homes pollution density is much higher.
The good news is that this problem is solvable, through an expanded use of ventilation.
What is Ventilation and Why is it Important?
Ventilation means air movement, specifically the removal of stale, polluted indoor air and its replacement with cleaner, fresher air from outside.
Indoor living spaces contaminated with dust, dirt, moisture, pet dander, pollen, mold spores, bacteria, smoke, fumes from nearby roads or adjacent garages, chemical traces from cleaning products, bathroom and kitchen odors, and other sources of airborne unpleasantness require frequent ventilation. But if your home is like most, chances are your ventilation is inadequate.
Our homes are a refuge. Nevertheless, maintaining acceptable air quality inside of them is a constant challenge. Without proper ventilation unclean air can fill your lungs and nasal passages, putting you and your family at risk for allergy attacks, asthma, skin problems, bacterial infections, and eye, nose and throat irritations.
Ventilation is preventive medicine, and if you neglect to provide proper ventilation in your living area you can pay a heavy price for your neglect.
Three Types of Home Ventilation and How They Can Work for You
There are three sources of ventilation that can clear your home’s air: natural ventilation, mechanical ventilation, and air infiltration or exfiltration. The first two can be powerful allies, while the latter can help you as well if you give it a little boost.
Windows and doors (especially screen doors) are your natural ventilators, and if they are kept open and unblocked they can do good work. To increase natural venting efficiency, you should keep windows and doors open on opposite sides of the home and on separate floors. This will draw air through and maximize air flow.
To boost flow further, electric fans can be strategically placed near windows to increase the speed of the air’s movement.
If you can’t keep your windows open all year long, you can supplement natural ventilation with one of four mechanical ventilation system options:
- Supply ventilation systems. Supply fans bring fresh air from the outside through intake vents placed at various locations around the home’s perimeter, piping it throughout the home via ductwork. Supply ventilation systems aren’t suitable for cold climates, since they can pressurize indoor air and increase indoor heat loss through air leakage in winter.
- Exhaust ventilation systems. These systems use exhaust fans to expel air through outtake vents, depressurizing indoor spaces and making it easier for fresh air to re-enter the home. Exhaust ventilation systems are not ideal for hot, humid climates, where penetration of outside air can create moisture problems on the interior of the home.
- Balanced ventilation systems. Exhaust and supply fans are both installed and operated in unison, to keep air constantly flowing in and out. Because of their four-season efficiency, balanced ventilation systems work well in any climate.
- Spot ventilation. Exhaust fans placed in bathrooms, kitchens or garages can ventilate specific rooms vulnerable to odors or other types of contamination.
Mechanical ventilation systems must be properly sized to meet the ventilation needs of each individual home, and trained indoor air quality professionals can help assist with that task.
Infiltration and Exfiltration
Infiltration and exfiltration refer to air leakage into and out of your home through cracks, holes, and crevices in walls, floors and ceilings, or under and around doors and windows. This air movement helps but is not sufficient to fully cleanse indoor air, and you should supplement its action by purchasing air cleaners or air purifiers.
Air cleaners use fans to pull in air, which is then passed through a filter to remove microscopic (or larger) particle contaminants before the air is recirculated into the room.
Air purifiers work similarly, and some models use filters. But other models use ultraviolet light (UV) to neutralize living bacteria and other microorganisms, and still other models use an absorbent material (often activated carbon) to “soak up” the pollen, spores, dust particles, chemical traces and so on that can make your home’s air virtually unbreathable.
Air cleaners and purifiers come in a broad range of sizes, capacities and prices, depending on your needs and preferences.
At Rheem Pro Partners we specialize in the restoration and preservation of indoor air quality. We can offer advice about ventilation and solutions for your air quality needs, and if you are in Colorado or Wyoming we invite you to contact us today to schedule a consultation with a Rheem air quality expert.
Two important home improvements you can make this year can keep your family healthy indoors during the cold and dry winter months. Individually, each solves an indoor air quality problem, and together they are a complete solution for your home.
Whole Home Humidifiers
In winter, the air tends to be drier than at other times of the year. In our Rocky Mountain climate that means our already dry air is especially dry. This is hard on skin, eyes, throats and nasal passages and contributes to worsening cold and allergy symptoms.
Unlike portable humidifiers, which don’t offer much control and are limited to a single room, whole home humidifiers add moisture to your entire home by connecting to your heating and cooling system. The humidity level can be monitored and adjusted through your thermostat, allowing an even level of moisture to be released all year long.
The benefits of whole home humidifiers include:
- Preventing viruses that thrive in low humidity.
- Reducing the severity and incidences of many common illnesses, such as colds and flu.
- Protecting your home from the adverse effects of dry air. Furniture, plaster, paint, artwork, electronics and musical instruments all benefit from the right level of humidity.
- Increasing comfort throughout your home. Adding humidity will actually make your home feel warmer at lower temperatures, so you can save energy costs – as much as 4% for every degree you lower your thermostat setting.
Whole home humidifiers can be installed in new or existing homes, and even homes that have baseboard or radiant floor heating.
Whole Home Air Cleaners
Concerns about the effects of poor indoor-air quality have increased, as more and more of us rely on recycled air in our tightly sealed homes and offices. Quality air purification in the form of whole home air cleaners is an effective and affordable solution. These units can be incorporated into almost any HVAC system.
The benefits of whole home air cleaners include:
- Drastically reducing allergens, particulates and toxins throughout your entire home. Whole house air purification eliminates allergens, bacteria, dust and smoke up to 100 times more effectively than conventional furnace filters.
- Removing particles as low as .003 microns – the smallest particles that exist.
- Eliminating fan noise typically associated with portable units.
Whole home air cleaners require little maintenance and the average filter life is up to 3 to 5 years.
Ask us how a whole home humidifier and air cleaner can improve your health and comfort. Call us today for a free estimate!
Our homes are more energy efficient than ever, tightly sealed against the elements so that our heated and cooled air doesn’t escape through cracks and leaks. As a result, paying attention to indoor air quality is more important than ever. Heating and cooling systems typically recirculate air and can inadvertently create a situation where the air inside a home is many times more polluted than the outdoor air. There are ways to prevent this. We find that many of our customers in Colorado and Wyoming benefit greatly from installing electronic air cleaners.
How do Air Cleaners Work?
An electronic air cleaner, when installed by a professional in conjunction with your HVAC system, can help to eliminate over 99% of contaminants.
These are the two types of air cleaners:
Particles (dust, allergens and other contaminants) gain an electrical charge as the air is drawn into the unit. The charge is created from ions moving back and forth in the system. The charged particles then accumulate on two flat plates, inside the unit, that have the opposite charge — effectively taking those irritants out of the air you breathe. The plates typically need to be cleaned every one to three months, depending on how quickly the particles accumulate on them.
Rather than charging particles inside the unit, ion generators send ions out to charge the particles in the room. The charged particles then cling to surfaces around the room such as curtains or walls. This takes them out of the circulating air you breathe. The particles are then removed from the room during normal home cleaning.
Benefits of Air Cleaners
Air cleaners are extremely effective
If you or your family suffer from seasonal allergies or other respiratory illnesses, or if you are just concerned about breathing clean air in your home, a whole home electronic air cleaner can give you peace of mind and make you more comfortable. Air cleaners have been shown to be extremely effective at removing particulates, odors and microbials.
An air cleaner will protect your whole house
By working with your HVAC system, whole home air cleaners provide comfort and safety throughout your entire home. Air cleaners go a significant step further than traditional air and furnace filters which only trap medium-to-large particles and have little to no effect on gases, vapors, bacteria and viruses.
Air cleaners are safe and reliable
Air cleaner technology is safe and effective for everyone and can be especially beneficial for children and seniors.
Air cleaners are easy to install and maintain
Once professionally installed into your existing heating and air conditioning system ducts, the air cleaner requires very little maintenance.
Contact a Rheem Pro Partner today to protect your home’s indoor air quality. We serve all of Colorado and Wyoming.
Maybe it is on your to-do list, or maybe you’ve thought about putting it on your to-do list… If replacing your furnace filter is not part of your regular home maintenance, though, it should be. This is one of the simplest, low-cost steps you can take to protect one of the most important investments in your home.
How a Furnace Works
While there are different models, most furnaces work by drawing in air from return ducts throughout your home, warming it over a heat exchanger, and then blowing the heated air with a fan through ducts that open into the various rooms. This is known as “forced-air.”
What a Furnace Filter Does
When the air comes into the furnace through the return ducts, it typically carries with it dust, hair and other debris. The purpose of the furnace filter is to keep all of that dirt from collecting in the blower fan. This has several benefits. It prevents damage and excess wear on your furnace; it helps keep your furnace running efficiently; and it keeps all that dirt from recirculating in your home, reducing allergens and improving your indoor air quality.
The furnace filter is only effective until it becomes full, however, so to keep your furnace, functioning properly, it should be replaced with a new one every 1-3 months, depending on the type.
How Filters are Rated
Furnace filters are rated on the MERV (minimum efficiency reporting value) scale, which runs from 1-16. The higher the rating, the more particles the filter will trap. Higher ratings aren’t necessarily better, however. The highest rated filters may not allow enough air to flow through and can make your furnace work harder (less efficiently). Most furnaces work best with a filter rated between 8 and 11. Check with your furnace manufacturer to determine if your model has a recommended maximum MERV rating.
The most common filters are the disposable, pleated variety. These are made of paper and polyester. They vary in price from a few dollars up to $40, depending on the rating, size and brand. Pleated filters should be checked monthly, to make sure there are no blockages, and replaced every 3 months.
Another type of disposable filter is made of fiberglass. This is the cheapest, but also the flimsiest. Fiberglass filters have the lowest MERV rating and should be replaced monthly, so consider that when you are pricing them against longer-lasting pleated filters.
Permanent reusable filters are expensive, but last up to 5 years with proper cleaning (every 3 months). Also called washable filters, they have either an aluminum or plastic frame and are more efficient than disposables. Clean them with a vacuum and water.
Both disposable and permanent filters are available in electrostatic versions, which self-charge as air passes through them. The charge allows them to collect more particles. Homes with pets or smokers can benefit from electrostatic filters. Make sure that they are safe to use with your particular furnace.
Furnace filters are sized by thickness, height and width. Check the old filter for the size (typically printed on the frame) before buying a replacement. If your furnace takes a custom size, check with the manufacturer for where to purchase.
How to Replace Your Filter
Replacing your furnace filter is simple, but it helps to do a little preparation. First, turn off the furnace while you are changing the filter so it doesn’t turn on during the process. Next, have a trash bag ready for the old disposable filter, as it will come out full of dust and dirt. Then open the filter compartment door (between the air intake and the furnace), and slide the old filter out. If you have a permanent filter, vacuum it off before cleaning it thoroughly with water and let it dry completely. Vacuum the outside of the furnace and around the filter area if it is dusty before inserting the new filter. Look for the arrow on the filter that indicates the direction of airflow. The arrow must face the furnace side of the compartment to work properly. Slide the new/clean filter into the compartment and restart the furnace.
Check your furnace filter every month, and replace it (or clean it) every 3 months. Doing so will help keep your furnace running properly, reduce the risk of breakdowns, and keep your energy bills low.
Still need help or interested in upgrading your filter? Rheem Pro Partners are here to assist you. Contact us today.
Do you have any of these common problems associated with your HVAC system?
- High energy bills
- Air conditioner or furnace runs constantly
- Musty odors or fumes
- Rooms that are too hot or too cold
- Excessive dust or humidity
If you are experiencing any of these, the problem may not be your HVAC system at all. The likely culprit is leaky air ducts.
Aeroseal Colorado can help. Aeroseal is an innovative, award-winning, highly touted, patented technology that stops leaks from the inside out.
Leaky Air Ducts Cost You Money
The biggest energy loss in your home may well be hidden behind your walls, ceilings and floors. Leaks happen regardless of age. They are common (up to 90% of buildings in North America are estimated to have leaks) and expensive (sucking up nearly 30 cents of every dollar spent on HVAC costs).
Aeroseal Saves You Money
Aeroseal saves homeowners an average of $300 per year on energy costs and makes your home more comfortable by
- Preventing cooled or heated air from escaping to the outside or areas of your home where it isn’t needed.
- Increasing energy efficiency.
- Keeping your HVAC system from overworking and wearing out prematurely.
- Reducing excess humidity and the damage it causes.
- More effectively heating and cooling all rooms in your home.
- Eliminating musty odors and improving indoor air quality.
The Aeroseal Process
Aeroseal’s trained technicians use specially designed software to measure the amount of duct leakage in your home. Next, they seal all the registers to make sure air is only escaping through the leaks. Aeroseal’s innovative process injects sealant into the ducts, then introduces tiny polymer particles that first stick to the edges of the leak, then to each other, until the leak is completely and permanently sealed. Finally, they complete the computer program to analyze the result and verify that all the leaks are sealed. The entire process takes just 4-8 hours.
Aeroseal Colorado is recognized by numerous public and private entities, including the Department of Energy, Popular Science Magazine, the 2016 AHR Expo and Consumer Reports.
Don’t let leaky air ducts rob you of your comfort and your hard-earned money. Protect your investment. Contact Rheem Pro Partners or Aeroseal Colorado today to schedule a free consultation.
Your home should be your sanctuary, but did you know that the air inside your home (and other indoor spaces) could be 2 to 5 times more polluted than the air outside? In some cases, it may be much worse.
Chemicals, mold, particulates and poor ventilation compromise indoor air quality.
Many of the items that make their way into your home emit thousands of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and particles into the air. Although these compounds can contribute to a number of health problems, they are not generally identified on product labels. VOCs are used in many household items such as furnishings and building materials, as well as cleaners, laundry products and air fresheners containing synthetic fragrance.
Additionally, dust, dirt and debris containing pollutants and irritants come into your home on people’s shoes. Mold, which is caused by moisture, is another source of VOCs and particulates.
- Use cleaners and laundry products that don’t contain harmful chemicals and synthetic fragrances. (Fragrance-free products are a great option.)
- Don’t use aerosol sprays.
- Keep large doormats at each entry to catch the majority of dust, dirt and pollutants on shoes. Consider making your home a shoe-free zone.
- Choose a natural alternative to pesticides. If you must use harsh chemicals, do so sparingly and with great caution. Always read labels and follow directions carefully.
- Maintain a healthy humidity level (30%-50%) to keep dust mites, mold and other allergens under control. Fix leaks and moisture problems to prevent mold growth.
- Keep indoor plants to clean the air naturally and brighten your space. Ferns, spider plants and aloe are excellent natural air purifiers. (If you have kids or pets, choose plants that are safe for them.) Be sure not to overwater your plants; overwatering can result in mold growth.
- Vacuum, mop and dust often. HEPA filters in vacuums prevent dust and dirt from blowing back through the exhaust. Microfiber dusters and mops trap dirt without the use of cleaners or chemicals.
- Don’t smoke. Tobacco smoke contains more than 4,000 harmful chemicals and secondhand smoke poses a serious health risk to children.
- Open your windows. Fresh air can prevent the build-up of toxic chemicals.
- Maintain your HVAC system. Be sure to replace your furnace filters regularly.
- Talk to an HVAC expert about a whole home air cleaner and humidification system. A whole home system is the best solution to getting rid of 99% of indoor contaminants, as well as maintaining that healthy humidity level in your home to alleviate allergy and asthma triggers.
HVAC professionals can help you with your questions regarding the best indoor air quality solutions for your home. And don’t forget to schedule your regular maintenance appointment.
For more information, contact your Rheem Pro Partner in Colorado or Wyoming today.
There are many positive reasons to consider sealing air ducts in your home, office or commercial building. Even if you have an excellent HVAC system installed, it may not be able to maintain a constant indoor temperature – and the problem might be leaky air ducts. It’s essential that your air ducts have the ability to transport air effectively – and this can be difficult or impossible if the ducts are leaking. Sealing air ducts is an effective way to help with indoor temperature control, indoor air quality and several additional positive factors.
Air duct sealing is growing in popularity and is often recommended by HVAC companies because it can help your air conditioning, heating and ventilation system create a more comfortable and healthier indoor environment in your home or commercial building. If your HVAC company recommends air duct sealing, make sure to learn more about the process of sealing air ducts and exactly how air duct sealing can benefit you and the people that live, work or visit your home or building on a regular basis.
Some of the many benefits of sealing air ducts include:
Sealing air ducts can save you money. If your air ducts are leaking, the warm or cool air produced by your air conditioning system or furnace may not make its way to its intended destination. Instead, the air may leak out of the air ducts and into the attic, ceiling, floors, crawl spaces, etc. This can cause your HVAC system to work harder, which can result in a higher monthly utility bill. Air duct sealing can help alleviate this problem.
Air duct sealing can improve your home or building’s indoor air quality. When air ducts are properly sealed, they are the less susceptible to inadvertently transporting pollutants throughout your home or building. Air duct sealing can prevent various harmful particles, allergens and fumes from entering into your ventilation system.
The people living, working or visiting your home or building will benefit from a more consistent indoor air temperature. When air ducts are sealed and effectively able to carry warm or cool air to the vents that release air into various rooms, the indoor air temperature will remain more consistent. Leaky air ducts can create a inconsistent temperatures in between rooms – which can be uncomfortable and undesirable. Air duct sealing is an excellent solution.
Air ducts that leak can be highly problematic. One of the biggest issues with leaky air ducts is that many people do not realize the problem exists. Years can pass before any bothers to investigate whether their air ducts are problematic. Sealing air ducts is often a simple solution to indoor air temperature inconsistencies. In fact, you may believe that something is wrong with your HVAC system, but the problem is actually air ducts that leak air. If you would like to learn more about how to sealing air ducts and the air duct sealing process, make sure to contact a reputable HVAC company.
Indoor air quality solutions are extremely important if your home or office building air is polluted. Many people do not realize that indoor air pollution can be just as prevalent and dangerous as outdoor air pollution. Most people that either live or work in an environment that has polluted indoor air want to know how to improve indoor air quality. One of the best lines of defense against indoor air pollution is proper and adequate ventilation.
Because indoor air quality can affect a person’s lungs and overall health, the American Lung Association is a proponent for indoor air quality solutions and has a considerable amount of information on its website related to how to improve indoor air quality. It also contains numerous indoor air quality facts.
Here is some of the information the American Lung Association has published on its website about common air pollutants:
Indoor air pollution caused by plants, animals, and other biological organisms: Indoor air can be polluted by various types of particles that stem from living things. When such pollutants are allowed to circulate in an indoor environment, they can cause people to become sick or develop an infection. Biological pollutants can be removed from indoor air through a proper ventilation system and through adequate cleaning techniques and various indoor air quality solutions.
Secondhand smoke from cigarettes. When a cigarette is smoked in a confined indoor area, the environment’s air can become polluted. It’s important to avoid smoking indoors in order to improve the indoor air quality in any home or building.
Harmful gasses, materials and chemicals. From carbon monoxide to asbestos to radon, harmful gasses, materials and chemicals are very dangerous pollutants that can infiltrate an indoor environment. If you suspect that your home or building might be harboring harmful gases, materials or chemicals, make sure to have the indoor environment tested for air quality problems.
Too much humidity in your indoor air. Excessive humidity indoors might not be a concern in certain climates. But if you live or work in a humid climate, excessive humidity can cause mold to grow. The existence of indoor mold can lead to health problems for individuals living or working in the building.
Indoor air quality solutions are important because indoor air pollution can adversely affect the health of anyone living or working in the polluted environment. Millions of people around the world suffer as a result of being exposed to indoor air pollution. This is precisely why it’s important to pay attention to indoor air quality solutions, and methods on how to improve indoor air quality.
It may not be easy to detect that there is a problem with your indoor air quality. But if anyone living or working in the building has unexplained headaches, feels exhausted for no explainable reason, has trouble breathing or coughs and/or sneezes excessively while in the building, you may want to have the building’s indoor air quality tested.
Unfortunately, there is not one single test that can detect the source of every type of indoor air quality problem. A visual inspection and various specific tests might be necessary. For more information about indoor air quality solutions for your home or business and additional indoor air quality facts, contact your local HVAC company for an evaluation.
Do you suffer from fall allergies? If so, it’s possible to control allergy symptoms with a residential HVAC system. If anyone living in your home suffers from allergies, it’s important to understand the important role a well-functioning residential HVAC system can play in your indoor air quality. The best HVAC systems are able to filter and eliminate a large percentage of allergens from your indoor air.
Common Fall Allergies
People can experience allergy symptom flare-ups at specific times of the year. During the fall, some of the most common allergy culprits are ragweed, other types of weeds and molds. If you or someone living in your home suffer from fall allergies, you are certainly not alone. Millions of people living in the United States dread the fall season because each year they must endure the effects fall allergies.
Many people do not realize that warmer fall temperatures can result in a longer allergy season. If you suffer from allergies, and you cannot find relief, make sure to utilize your residential HVAC system for relief. A residential HVAC system can be used as an effective tool to reduce the allergens that can infiltrate your indoor air during high-allergy times of the year.
Allergens Float Through the Air
Many allergens float through the air. When a person with sensitivities breathes in allergens, their body reacts. Typical reactions can include sneezing, coughing, itchy throat, and other cold-like symptoms. If you have allergies, it’s important to ask a medical professional for the best way to treat the problem. However, there are several methods that can be utilized to reduce your exposure to allergens. Some examples of preventive measures include:
- Keeping your nose and mouth covered when allergens are high.
- Dusting and vacuuming the inside of your house as often as possible.
- Keeping your doors and windows closed so that allergens cannot enter your home.
- Running your residential HVAC system round-the-clock so that it can filter your indoor air.
The Air Filter in a Residential HVAC System
During high-allergy times of the year, it’s especially important to maintain a clean air filter in your residential HVAC system. A clean air filter is more effective at catching allergen particles that float through the air in your home. A dirty or full air filter is not optimal, and can cause particles to permeate into your HVAC’s system’s ductwork. Replacing the air filter in your residential HVAC system is simple, and can make a huge difference in the quality of your indoor air.
If you have questions about how your residential HVAC system can be used to help rid your indoor air of allergens, call your local HVAC company. An efficient residential HVAC system can be very helpful and effective at eliminating bothersome allergens from your indoor air. An experienced HVAC company should be able to provide you with guidance and advice on which type of air filter might do the best job at eliminating allergens in your home.
Energy.gov is an excellent resource for information related to air conditioning repair service and all types of facts about heating and cooling systems. The Energy.gov website is maintained by the United States Department of Energy. The mission of the Department is: to ensure America’s security and prosperity by addressing its energy, environmental and nuclear challengers through transformative science and technology solutions.
There are many useful and helpful articles published on the Energy.gov website related to air conditioning, central air conditioner repairs, and heating and cooling tips.
An article published on the Energy.gov website titled Tips: Air Conditioners contains a wealth of detailed information. Following are some points from the article that can be useful to homeowners:
It’s important to have the correct size central air conditioning system installed in your home. A system that is either too big or too small for the space it is expected to cool can lead to inefficiency. Therefore, it’s important to use a professional air conditioning repair service company to help determine the proper size system for your home.
If you live in a relatively low-humid climate, use a whole house fan to help cool your home. A whole house fan can help draw cool air into your home when outdoor temperatures drop during the evening and nighttime hours. A whole house fan can sometimes be used as a substitute for a central air conditioning system on a mild day.
When looking for a replacement air conditioning system for your home, consider a unit that is energy efficient. An air conditioning system that is labeled as energy efficient can use a significantly lower amount of energy to run.
Utilize ceiling fans and portable fans to your advantage. Fans can be used to help circulate the cool air produced by your air conditioner.
Another article published on the Energy.gov website titled Spring and Summer Energy Saving Tips contains the following points about how to conserve energy with your air conditioning system during the hottest months of the year:
Take advantage of cool outdoor air. If you live in an area that cools significantly at night, consider opening windows and cooling your home with outdoor air instead of running your air conditioning system all night long.
Remember to set your thermostat at a higher temperature when nobody will be home. Increasing your thermostat by a few degrees when nobody will be home is a good way to conserve energy and potentially reduce your monthly energy bill.
Keep your HVAC system maintained. Hire an air conditioning repair service company to complete a regular tune-up on your system on a regular schedule. This can help reduce the possibility of requiring central air conditioner repairs in the future and can help ensure your system runs efficiently.
Make sure your home is properly insulated and sealed. Air leaks can allow warm outdoor air to seep into your home. When this happens, it can make it very difficult for your central air conditioner to cool your home efficiently. Proper insulation in your walls, attic and crawlspaces is essential, as is sealing cracks and making sure weather stripping is applied around windows and doors.