How Wood Burning Stoves Impact IAQ

Stoves

In an effort to save money on the energy bill, many turn to their wood burning stoves for heat during the colder months. While they have a positive impact on the energy bill, they can have a negative impact on the indoor air quality.

Using a properly vented, clean-burning wood stove usually isn’t harmful enough to cause symptoms such as headaches, coughing, and asthma attacks. It’s when the stove is old, hasn’t been properly cleaned, and the chimney is clogged that using the fireplace becomes potentially harmful.

This can lead to the buildup of carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, and particles in the air. These can be very dangerous, causing health risks and in some cases death. Here are a few ways to prevent indoor air pollution from wood burning stoves and fireplaces:

  • Choose a properly-sized wood stove or insert certified as meeting EPA emissions standards
  • Check that the door gaskets are in good shape, the door fits tightly, and the stove is free of leaks
  • Make sure the flue is the correct diameter and height, and have it inspected and cleaned annually
  • Use wood that has been split and dried for six months minimum and do not overload the stove.
  • Install a smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector in the room where the stove or fireplace is located.

Doing these things can help ensure that the stove burns correctly, is properly vented, and minimizes the amount of pollutants inside the home. Improving indoor air quality isn’t just about cleaner air, it’s about creating a healthier environment for everyone.

Talk to the team at Diamond Heating and Cooling for more tips and products that can help improve indoor air quality all year long. We also have a media air cleaner and UV lighting system that can remove pollutants and bacteria in a residential setting.

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Safely Using Space Heaters

Space Heater Safety

Space heaters can be a great way to lower energy bills while staying warm. While they are good at warming up a room, they can be dangerous if not used safely. To avoid potential issues, follow these safety tips:

  1. Plugging It In

Space heaters need to be plugged directly into an outlet. Plugging them into an extension cord or power strip increases the chance of overheating, fires, and electrical shock injuries.

  1. Clearance

When finding a spot to put the space heater, make sure it will have at least three feet of clearance around it. This means it is three feet away from furniture, window treatments, rugs, and anything else combustible. Proximity to these items will increase the chances of a fire. Space heaters also needs to be set on a hard, level surface.

  1. Turn Off

When leaving the room or going to bed, the space heater should be turned off. Many models now have programmable timers for those who might forget.

  1. Avoid Water

Space heaters should not be used in damp or wet areas like bathrooms or humid rooms unless they are specifically designed for that purpose. Using them in these areas increases risk of electrical shock.

  1. Safety Features

When purchasing a space heater, look at the safety certifications. Also, finding one with a tip-over switch that automatically shuts the heater off if it falls over and an overheat protection switch can minimize the chance of fire risks and injuries.

In drafty houses, space heaters can be a lifesaver if they are used safely. However, a well-insulated house with an efficient heating system will heat the home better and with less energy usage. For help staying comfortable and warm this winter, talk to the HVAC system experts at Diamond Heating and Cooling.

 

Plants That Clean Air and Brighten the Home

Indoor Air Quality

While everything outside is turning brown and losing leaves, bring in some new, vibrant plants to brighten your home. Green plants not only create a cheerier atmosphere, but can improve the indoor air quality as well. Since some plants are better at cleaning and scrubbing the air than others, here’s a list of some the best plants for improving the air in your home:

  1. Aloe Vera

This plant is beneficial in a variety of ways. It removes benzene and formaldehyde from the air, absorbs carbon dioxide while releasing oxygen, and can be used to treat burns and other ailments. As a succulent, it shouldn’t be overwatered and needs sunlight, but is hardy and can be placed in any room of the house.

  1. Peace Lily

Want some flowers with the greenery? The Peace Lily can provides beautiful white flowers. It also removes many chemical vapors like acetone, ammonia, and xylene. In addition to removing toxins, the Peace Lily also helps raise indoor humidity levels. It is a great houseplant for beginners to start with and requires little sunlight.

  1. Rubber Plant

Rubber plants can grow to be eight feet tall in some cases, but that isn’t what makes them special. They are known for removing formaldehyde from the air. Bright, indirect light and regular watering can help this plant reach its true height potential.

  1. Snake Plant

Another good plant for beginners, the snake plant removes formaldehyde, smog, and trichloroethylene from the air along with taking in carbon dioxide and expelling oxygen.

  1. Weeping Fig

Looking for a more exotic plant variety? Check out the tropical Weeping Fig. It can remove formaldehyde, toluene, and xylene from the indoor air while bringing a unique look to the home. Keep it in semi to full sun and water it regularly.

Plants can clean the air and bring a little greenery inside while everything outside is turning shades of brown for fall and winter. If plants aren’t improving IAQ enough, talk to Diamond Heating and Cooling about other products that can help.

Why Is There Water Underneath the Furnace?

If there is water pooling around the furnace, it could be a sign that something is wrong inside the furnace. The issue could be one of many problems, such as:

  1. Condensation

A condensation problem is the most common cause of water underneath and around the furnace. Both high-efficiency and standard-efficiency furnaces can experience condensation issues, but they stem from different causes. High-efficiency furnaces, also called condensing furnaces, produce condensation that is supposed to be channeled into a floor drain. If it is pooling instead, the tubing or drain could have become clogged. The tubing might also have a crack in it.

A standard-efficiency furnace is not supposed to produce any condensation. If it is producing condensation that means the flue pipe may not be properly sized and it should be corrected as soon as possible.

  1. Faulty Exchanger

Another possibility in a condensing furnace is that the secondary heat exchanger is faulty. This type of furnace usually has two or three heat exchangers instead of one like standard furnaces. If the secondary heat exchanger has a crack, water can drip out onto the floor. This problem could result in the need for a total furnace replacement.

  1. Humidifier

Some furnaces have a humidifier inside that adds moisture to the warm air blown throughout the house. This humidifier could be leaking, letting the water pool on the floor beneath it. This issue can usually be caught early on during furnace maintenance.

Don’t dismiss water pooling around the bottom of the furnace. No matter if the furnace is high efficiency or standard efficiency, it could mean there’s a serious problem that should be repaired right away. Make sure to schedule annual furnace maintenance with Diamond Heating and Cooling to catch these issues early or call us at 208-608-5050 if water is present.

What Causes Short Cycling?

When the furnace starts and stops frequently, it is call short cycling. This decreases the furnace’s efficiency and could be a sign of a serious furnace issue. However, the most common source of short cycling is a clogged air filter. Check the filter first, replacing it if necessary. If that doesn’t stop the short cycling, it could be one of the following problems causing it:

  1. Thermostat Location

If the thermostat has been poorly located, it can cause short cycling to occur. It should be placed away from drafts, effects of windows and air vents. To see if this is the issue, place something in front of the thermostat like a piece of cardboard. If the short cycling stops, it needs to be moved to a new location.

  1. Overheating

Many modern furnaces have a safety device that switches the burner off if the heat exchanger starts to overheat. This can also cause short cycling. If the heat exchanger is overheating, there’s a possibility of it being cracked, which should be repaired right away.

  1. Improper Furnace Size

Furnaces that are the wrong size for the home will short cycle trying to keep up with the desired temperature. To correct this issue, it will require a new system to be put in place that is the correct size. While expensive, it will save homeowners money on energy bills and keep the home at a more comfortable temperature.

Don’t live with a short cycling furnace. It could be increasing energy bills and not achieving the desired temperature. Continuing to let it short cycle could lead to lasting HVAC damage as well. Call Diamond Heating and Cooling if the furnace starts short cycling this fall and winter.

Also, be sure to schedule annual furnace maintenance. Check out Diamond’s Silver Club Membership and learn how to save on all things HVAC.

Use a Heat Pump This Winter

Heat Pumps

Heat pumps can be an energy-efficient alternative to furnaces during cold Idaho winters. They work by extracting outside heat and transferring it inside. Even air that seems too cold, like during winter, has heat energy present for the system to use.

Because heat pumps move heat instead of generating it, their biggest advantage is energy efficiency. They can provide the same comfort level as a conventional heat source for as little as one quarter of the conventional source’s operating cost.

While there are three types of heat pumps, the most commonly used is the air-source heat pump. This transfers heat between the home and outside air using electricity. It can reduce electricity use for heating by about 50 percent when compared to electric resistance heating.

Before, heat pumps were only sufficient in moderate climates where the temperature didn’t drop too low. With recent technology developments, they can now provide sufficient heating in colder climates too. Often, a heat pump is paired with a furnace for supplemental heating if needed in subfreezing temperatures.

In homes without ducts, a mini-split heat pump, which is a type of ductless air-source heat pump, is a viable option. These can operate in climates as low as -13 degrees Fahrenheit to keep the home warm all winter long.

Heat pumps aren’t just for heating in the winter, however. They can also be used to keep the home cool in the warmer months by reversing the process, extracting the warm air from inside the home and putting it outside. It pulls double duty year-round to keep the house comfortable while using less energy, helping homeowners to save money.

Diamond Heating and Cooling can install a heat pump or mini split heat pump for homes that want to save on heating costs or when a current heating option is unavailable. Call us to learn more about these heating options.

 

Finding Your Perfect Fit

Furnace Efficiency

Having a well-running, efficient furnace makes Idaho winters a lot more bearable. An efficient furnace starts with size. Bigger isn’t always better, and finding the right size is the best way to stay warm without breaking the bank. Here’s what happens when the furnace doesn’t fit the home:

Too Large

When furnace shopping, remember that bigger isn’t always better. A furnace that is too big for the building it is heating will continuously cycle on and off. This can lead to several problems. First, it creates hot and cold spots in the home because the air closest to the vents will actually become too warm while other areas, where the thermostat is located, still may not be up to temperature.  The over-sized furnace will also need maintenance more often and is likely to have a shorter life span because of the constant cycling.  It will also be costlier to operate because the furnace is least efficient when it first fires up and the constant cycling means it will be firing up more often.

Too Small

Homeowners trying to save money might consider purchasing a smaller furnace than they really need. A furnace that is too small won’t be able to heat the home comfortably. It will constantly run trying to reach that desired temperature, using up energy and costing homeowners a fortune. It will also require more maintenance over its shortened lifespan.

Finding the right size is easy with the help of Diamond Heating and Cooling. Their HVAC professionals take into consideration a number of variables to find the right size furnace. These variables are the home’s building materials, windows, size, insulation, the direction of the home and more.

One size does not fit all when it comes to furnaces, which is why the team at Diamond Heating and Cooling is here to help find the perfect fit for any home in the Boise area. Don’t go through the fall and winter with the wrong size furnace.

Call Diamond Heating and Cooling about furnace sizing, finding the perfect fit, and yearly maintenance once the furnace is installed.