- Have your air conditioner serviced. In addition to making sure your air conditioner is in top shape, a good cleaning of the evaporator coil can remove dust, allergens and other pollutants that otherwise could enter your home’s air.
- Change your AC filters. Changing your one-inch filters every month or thicker filters twice a year will also help keep dust and allergens from entering your living area.
- Clean the vents. Allergens can also grow in your vents and then invade the air in your living area. So cleaning your vents yourself of having a professional do it will make the air in your home cleaner, and can also lower your utility bills.
- Let fresh outside air in. Open your windows on cooler, breezy days to let fresh air into your ventilation system.
- Keep humidity out. Damp air from outside can raise humidity and promote mold and mildew growth. The most humid parts of your home are your basement, attic, crawl spaces and closets. You want your indoor humidity to stay at 30% to 50%. The best ways to keep the humidity down are to fix cracks and gaps in your home’s insulation and to buy a dehumidifier.
- Keep dirt out. Make sure there are mats at every entrance to your home. It’s also not a bad idea to have people take their shoes off before entering your home.
- Keep your carpeting clean. Despite your best efforts, dust, allergens and other pollutants will enter your home and settle into your carpeting. Vacuum regularly, using a vacuum cleaner with strong suction, rotating brushes and a HEPA filter. Also vacuum walls and upholstered furniture. Vacuum two or more times a week, and wash out your filter regularly.
- Same with wood floors. Mop them, preferably with a micro fiber mop.
- Avoid harsh chemicals to clean. Natural items like lemon juice, baking soda and vinegar are quite adequate to clean and disinfect and will not release harsh chemicals into the air.
- Avoid synthetic fragrances. Chemicals in many common air fresheners can irritate your nasal passages and lungs. Instead, use fresh flowers or essential oils to create a pleasant fragrance.
- Use plants. Plants can remove toxic agents such as benzene and formaldehyde from the air. Try placing a plant every 100 square feet.
- Test for radon. Radon is an odorless, colorless gas that significantly increases the risk of lung cancer. The chance that your home has radon increases if there is a smoker in the home.
- No smoking. Of course, the best alternative is not to smoke at all. Cigarette smoke has more than 4,000 chemicals, and poses grave health risks to the smoker as well as others due to second hand smoke.
Now that summer is here, you’ll be spending a lot of time outdoors. But when you come indoors, you’ll want to breathe air that is fresh and clean. It’s more comfortable, and healthier. Here are 13 lucky tips for improving your indoor air quality in the summer.
If you’ve been considering purchasing a new air conditioning unit, you’ve undoubtedly heard about how much better they are than models even just a few years older. Here are a few reasons.
Your air conditioner is 15 years old. Or it is making funny noises or requires more frequent and more expensive repairs. So you decide to take the plunge and buy a new unit before the weather gets super hot. Here are some things to consider.
It starts by making sure you are buying from a reputable contractor. Make sure the contractor and technicians are licensed and insured. Check Better Business Bureau ratings or sources like Angie’s List and Best Pick Reports. And talk with family and friends.
You need a unit that will adequately cool your home. One that is too small will not cool your home adequately, and one that is too large will simply waste energy. Your contractor should perform a load calculation to determine the appropriately sized unit. Units are measured in BTUs, or British Thermal Units, which measure the amount of heat they can remove from your home in one hour. As a general rule, one ton of cooling can cool 500 to 600 square feet. But that number can vary widely depending upon insulation, windows, walls, floors, etc.
SEER stands for seasonal energy efficiency ratio, and is the measure of how efficient the unit is. The higher the rating, the more efficient it is. Higher SEER units may cost more, but that increased cost will be offset over time by lower utility bills. Even though 13 SEER is the minimum, look for a rating of 15 or higher.
Energy Star Ratings
Some of the most efficient air conditioners also come with an Energy Star certification from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Energy Star-rated units may qualify for a federal income tax credit.
Single-Stage vs. Two-Stage Compressors
It is generally recommended to purchase a unit with a two-stage compressor. Single-stage compressors, while less expensive, run on one speed – high – resulting in higher electricity bills. Two-stage compressors cycle from high, when a higher effort is needed, to low, when less effort is required, resulting in more consistent temperatures and lower utility bills.
Make sure your new unit uses R-410A or similar approved refrigerants. The old R-22 – otherwise known as Freon, has been restricted from all units.
Make sure your unit comes with an adequate warranty. A good warranty should be for 10 years and should cover the equipment and parts in the unit. Your contractor should also offer a warranty to cover the labor for any repairs.
Rebates and Credits
Many states offer credits and manufacturers offer rebates. This can save you thousands of dollars when you purchase your unit.
Make sure the contractor from whom you purchase the unit offers some sort of service club. That way, you may receive discounts on annual service, receive priority service if an emergency arises, and/or receive extended warranties.
Now that winter is finally over, our thoughts turn to spring and eventually summer. Even though it may be too soon to turn on your air conditioner, that time is not far away. So before it gets too hot, ask yourself: should I replace may AC? Here are some reasons to consider it.
One of the more common things people ignore in their homes is their ductwork. You see the ducts, but really aren’t sure what is going on inside. There are a few ways these systems can cause problems.
Dirty or clogged
If your ductwork is dirty or clogged, the following can happen:
You can identify whether your ductwork needs cleaning by doing the following:
If your ductwork does need to be cleaned, make sure it includes:
The other thing that can happen with ducts is they can leak if they are not properly sealed or insulated, resulting in a 10% to 30% heating or cooling loss. This also makes your unit work harder and results in higher utility bills. Leaks can be due to the following:
Here is how to fix leaks:
If you are uncertain of what to do, call an HVAC contractor.
One final point not having to do with the ductwork itself is to make sure the vents and returns are not obstructed by furniture or other items.
You’ve undoubtedly been reading a lot and hearing from your friends and family about WiFi thermostats, which are thermostats that connect to your home’s wireless network and let you control your home’s temperature through an app on your smartphone or tablet.
Here are some benefits of a WiFi thermostat.
Here are some features you can look for when considering a WiFi thermostat.
One last important note. If you have an existing furnace, make sure the WiFi thermostat you purchase is compatible. If you are buying a new furnace, make the thermostat part of the package so you know it is compatible.
Winter air is dry air. If the air is dry throughout your home, you may want to consider a whole house humidifier (https://raviniaplumbing.com/blog/whole-house-humidifiers-2/). But if the air is only dry in certain rooms of your home, you may be able to get by with a portable/tabletop humidifier or a console humidifier.
Here is some information on a few types of humidifiers.
Ultrasonic humidifiers are generally considered to be the best option. These units increase humidity by agitating water and turning it into mist which is emitted into the air. These are also considered the quietest humidifiers and require less cleaning than other units. Ultrasonic humidifiers can generate cool mist or warm mist. Cool mist humidifiers take the water from the unit and disperse a room temperature mist that generally covers larger areas while using less electricity. They are also less expensive than their warm air counterparts. Warm mist humidifiers will use slightly more electricity because they heat the water to boiling and emit a warmer mist. The advantage is that the warmer mist may produce healthier moisture because the boiling process kills germs and impurities. Warm mist humidifiers will also increase the humidity quicker.
Air Washers use water in conjunction with rotating discs to both add humidity and remove airborne impurities such as dust and pollen. These humidifiers are reliable and can cover larger areas than other types of humidifiers. But they only produce a cool mist, require regular maintenance, and must be rinsed on a frequent basis.
Evaporative Cool Mist humidifiers are affordable and easy to operate and maintain. They also can humidify a large area. However, as the name implies, they only provide a cool mist. They also tend to be noisy.
Steam Vaporizer Warm Mist humidifiers have a heating element that heats the water before dispersing it in the air. A key advantage is that by heating the tank water, these units destroy bacteria and organic compounds before the steam is emitted.
So the next question is: portable/tabletop humidifier or console humidifier? The answer depends on how much large of an area you need to cover.
Portable/Tabletop Humidifiers (also known as room humidifiers) are the smallest and least expensive units and are best for a single room like a bedroom, or a smaller area such as a workplace or where you sleep. They fit nicely on dressers, counters, desks or tables. Since these are smaller, they will require the most refilling. Some of these units come with germ protection, multiple speeds, built-in gyrometers, combination warm or cool mist outputs, and low water indicators.
Console Humidifiers sit on the floor and can cover both large single rooms and multiple-room areas up to 3,000 square feet. Room humidifiers are available in all types described above. Because you’ll want this unit to blend in with the room decor, they also come in a variety of designs and finishes.
Winter is coming. We’re putting away the hoses and covering up the lawn furniture. We’re raking the leaves. We’re trading the lawn mower for the snow blower.
Winter also means we will be spending more time indoors. To that end, we want to make sure the air we breathe indoors is free from unhealthy pollutants that can cause sneezing, sniffles, sore throats and other irritating symptoms. Pollutants include:
Here are several tips to improve indoor air quality:
o Don’t overwater houseplants.
o Vent the clothes dryer to the outside.
o Use mild cleaners that don’t include artificial fragrances.
o Avoid aerosol sprays in deodorants, hair sprays, carpet cleaners, furniture polish and
Maybe your furnace is 15 years old or more. Or you are constantly repairing it. Or your utility bills are soaring. Or your furnace is making weird noises. For whatever reason, you’ve decided to invest in a new furnace. Here are some important things for you to consider.
Perhaps the most important thing you can do is make sure the furnace is the right size. A too-small furnace will not provide adequate heating or will have to work too hard to warm you home; a too-large furnace will waste energy, drive up costs, and shut down when it overheats. Your contractor should perform a load calculation to find out how many BTUs you need. This calculation factors in square footage, insulation, window efficiency, etc.
Type of System
You can either have a split system or a packaged system. Most people have split systems, which consist of an outdoor condensing unit, furnace and coil that sit on top of your furnace. However, if you do not have a basement, crawl space or attic you might want to explore a packaged system. These systems contain all heating and cooling elements in one outdoor unit, freeing up space in your home.
Go with the most efficient system you can afford. The more efficient the system, the lower your utility bills will be. Efficiency is measured by AFUE, or Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency. Furnaces must reach 80% AFUE is order to comply with regulations. But there are furnaces that have much higher efficiency – 95% or above.
There are three types of fuel sources:
Also note that switching from one type of furnace to another can be expensive.
If you are experiencing hot and cold spots in your home, a zoning system can help. These systems divide your home into “zones” that are controlled by separate thermostats.
Variable Speed Blowers
Variable speed blowers are preferred over fixed speed blowers because they can vary the speed air is distributed through your home. This can reduce energy costs. Variable speed blowers can also be quieter.
Get quotes from three reputable contractors. Examine not just the price, but also the underlying assumptions about size, etc. Be leery of any quote that is way higher or way lower than the others.
Rebates and Incentives
When getting your bids, make sure you ask about rebates and incentives that can lower the cost.
Also carefully check out the warranty. Look for a furnace that offers a long-term warranty on the heat exchanger (at least 10 years) and a 5-year warranty on other components.
Some furnaces may come with programmable thermostats. If not, consider purchasing one. They can deliver maximum comfort, efficiency and energy savings.
While it’s not quite fall yet and we still hopefully will have some great weather, it is also time to prepare for the changing of the seasons. Step one is to have your furnace tuned up. Here are just a few reasons
Your HVAC technician will check for combustion gas leaks. If your furnace does have a combustion gas leak, it can emit dangerous carbon monoxide into the air, which can lead to severe health issues or even death.
Your System’s Life Expectancy
Annual furnace tune ups can extend the life of your system.
Fewer Repairs/Saves Money
The majority of expensive and untimely (when it is freezing out) repair calls could be prevented with routine maintenance. During a maintenance call, your technician will clean the furnace, which will prevent small problems. Your tech can also identify small problems before they become big problems. This of course will also save you money.
Increases Efficiency/Saves Money
The inspection will result in a clean and more efficient system. This increased efficiency will help you cut down on energy costs.
Proper Air Flow
Professional HVAC contractors will check your venting system to make sure it is evenly distributing air throughout your house. Poor air flow puts a strain on your furnace, causing unnecessary repairs and possibly a shorter life span.
Some manufacturer’s warranties will not cover repairs or even replacements if you have not had your furnace maintained annually. The tune up will validate the warranty.
Now that you know the reasons to have your furnace checked, here is what we do when we come out.
Bishop Heating & Air Conditioning
Family owned since 1943