Knowing When to Change the Furnace Filter

Furnace Repair Boise

Everyone knows the furnace filter needs replacing, but they might not know exactly how to tell when it needs replacing. Here are some things to look for when determining if the furnace filter needs replacing:

  • There’s built-up dust and dirt on the filter, making it grey in color
  • The house is dustier than usual
  • The HVAC system is cycling longer

Watch out for these telltale signs by:

  1. Examining the filter regularly

Often during seasons with extreme temperatures, the furnace filter will need to be changed more frequently to keep up with the HVAC demand. It’s a good idea to check the filter at a minimum of every 4 weeks during winter.

When examining the filter, check for excess dirt and grey color. Also, take note of the sound of air moving through the furnace before taking out the filter. After removing the filter, if there is a significant release of air pressure, the filter is too dirty and has lost effectiveness.

  1. Monitoring the Environment

Keep an eye on the dust level in the home. If it seems ledges and surfaces need to be dusted more often, it can be a good sign to check the furnace filter. The buildup means the filter is clogged, and can’t remove dirt and dust as well anymore.

  1. Watching for Health Issues

In homes with allergy and asthma sufferers, clean air is even more important. If allergies and asthma attacks are starting to become more frequent, the furnace filter might not be effectively doing its job. It’s time to check the filter to see if it is dirty.

The best thing homeowners can do is set up a routine with the furnace filter. Have some sort of reminder each month to check it for dirt and dust. It should be changed every three months minimum, but might require more frequent changing if the furnace has to work harder this winter.

Advertisements

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.

How Colder Weather Can Affect IAQ

Indoor Air Quality

As a chill creeps into the air, residents in Boise will begin to close off their houses to outside air to keep the cold out. Trapping in warm air and keeping out the cold is good for furnace efficiency, but not as much for indoor air quality.

When people begin to close off their homes during fall, it traps indoor air, which leads to a buildup of pollutants that can re-circulate through the house for months. The solution isn’t to leave windows open year-round, but has to do with implementing these three tips:

  1. Increase Ventilation

Newer homes are designed to be sealed off for energy efficiency, but that can have a negative impact in IAQ. Increase the ventilation in the home with a whole-house ventilation system or use window and bathroom exhaust fans. This will allow fresh, outside air to come in, removing some pollutants and keeping the humidity levels in check.

  1. Maintain the HVAC System

As pollutants move around in the home, they become lodged in the air filters used by the furnace and heat pump. Check the filters each month to see if they need changed. At a minimum, the filters need to be replaced every three months.

Also, schedule annual maintenance for the furnace soon. The better it runs, the better it can remove pollutants, reduce humidity, and produce cleaner air.

  1. Clean Often

Dust particles and other pollutants settle on surfaces in the home. When they are disturbed, they fly into the air and can be inhaled. Cleaning and dusting on a regular basis reduces these particles, keeping the air cleaner.

Closing off the house for colder weather doesn’t have to decrease indoor air quality. Ask Diamond Heating and Cooling for more tips and products to improve IAQ and don’t forget to schedule furnace maintenance!

 

Reducing the Effects of Smoky Air

smoke

As the month of August begins, so does the air quality warning from fires surrounding the Boise area.. This time of year can be especially difficult on those with asthma, heart disease, and children, elderly residents, and pets. Here are some tips to reduce exposure to smoke-filled air as much as possible:

  • Seal the House

Shut all the doors and windows to seal up the house. Close any fresh air intakes from furnaces, fireplaces, or stoves. Set the air conditioner to recirculate as well. This will stop most of the outside air from coming in, lessening its effects.

  • Humidifiers

Using a humidifier can help remove the smoke from the air that might have already gotten inside. It also helps to keep the air moist, which is important during this time of year.

  • Limited Activity

Even those who don’t have breathing issues and health problems might find it hard to be outside for long periods of time. It’s best to limit psychical activity and stay as hydrated as possible while outdoors.

  • Car Windows

While driving, keep car windows rolled up. Make sure the air conditioner is on recirculate to limit the amount of smoky air coming into the car.

  • Air Cleaner

Consider investing in an air cleaner. Poor air quality due to smoke occurs almost every year in the Boise area, and being proactive is better than being reactive when it comes to indoor air quality. An air purifier is also beneficial year-round, especially in homes with family members who have asthma and allergies.

Talk to the team at Diamond Heating and Cooling about how we can help improve indoor air quality, not just during fire season, but all year long. Visit the website to learn more about the air cleaner we offer and how homeowners can get a free air filter during maintenance trips when they become part of the Silver Club.

3 Common Allergens to Worry About

Allergens

People worry about the outside air they breathe, but actually their main focus should be the air inside their home. With indoor air carrying 2 to 5 times more pollutants than outdoor air, poor indoor air quality is a concerning problem that should be addressed.

There are many allergens floating around both inside and outside, but some can be more troubling than others. Here are three of the most common allergens found in homes, and how to get rid of them:

  1. Dust Mites

Dust mites feed on human skin flakes and thrive in rooms with 40% humidity and above, and temperatures around 70 degrees. While they are commonly found in the bedroom, they can thrive anywhere in the house if it matches these conditions.

To eliminate as many dust mites as possible, wash all sheets, blankets, pillowcases, and bed covers in hot water. The water should be at least 130 degrees Fahrenheit to kill the dust mites. Use dust-proof covers on mattresses, box springs, and pillows to prevent their return.

  1. Mold

Mold loves wet, dark places in homes. The easiest way to keep mold spores from entering the air is to eliminate their chance of growing. Keep a fan on in the bathroom during and after showers, fix leaky appliances and faucets immediately, and use a dehumidifier when necessary.

If mold is found, call someone right away to get it looked at. Some mold can be toxic, causing even more serious health problems than an asthma attack or allergy flare-up.

  1. Pollen

While pollen has a huge impact outdoors, it can also have an impact indoors. Pollen can travel inside by clinging to clothing and shoes. Wiping down pets, keeping the windows closed, and using a media air cleaner can combat the issue of pollen inside the home.

Those with allergies or asthma shouldn’t have to suffer inside too. Take precautions to eliminate these three common indoor allergens and make breathing a little easier. Talk to Diamond Heating and Cooling about what they can do to help improve indoor air quality.

 

Learning About MERV Ratings

To get the most out of your HVAC system, everyone says to look at MERV ratings. What exactly is MERV and why does it matter? Here’s the rundown:

MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. It’s essentially measuring the effectiveness of the air filter in question. A filter can have a MERV rating ranging from 1 to 16. The higher the rating, the fewer dust particles and other contaminants can pass through it.

When filters are tested for a MERV rating, they use common particles like pollen, dust mites, carpet fibers, mold spores, pet dander, and more. Most residential systems can remove airborne contaminants like those listed above with a filter that has a MERV rating of 7-12. Filters with a rating of 13-16 are generally used in hospital-type settings.

The higher the MERV rating, the less particles that can get through the filter. This means the most efficient filter must have the highest rating, right? Not exactly. Filters with higher MERV ratings have smaller pores, which lets less air through. It can create resistance in airflow that the HVAC system can’t handle. The system will then have to work harder to pump air through the filter, lowering the efficiency and increasing the energy bill.

Every HVAC system is different. Find out what MERV rating the system can handle and still allow for maximum airflow. This will help homeowners get the most out of the HVAC system and get the cleanest air possible.

It’s also worth noting that filters with higher MERV ratings need to be changed more frequently than those with lower ratings. Because these filters are catching more contaminants, they are more likely to get clogged and restrict the airflow. Be sure to check the filters frequently and change them often for the best results.

Not sure which filter is best? Talk to the technicians at Diamond Heating and Cooling when they come out for an annual HVAC check-up. They’re happy to help and educate their customers.

Relieving AC-Caused Sinus Congestion

AC Sinus

The weather in Boise and the surrounding areas is heating up. For those who haven’t turned on the air conditioner yet, the 90+ degree weather this weekend might push that button. The cool air from the air conditioner is a sweet relief, but it can also wreak havoc on the sinuses for some people.

The first week the air conditioner is running, it might trigger runny noses or congestion. It is a common and natural reaction to the cold, dry air in the home. The cool air can trigger nervous system reflexes in the nose. These glands begin to produce mucus, causing either a runny or stuffed up nose.

The congestion should only be brief while the body is adjusting to the new temperature and humidity of the air-conditioned house. However, those who suffer from allergies might have a harder time adjusting.

If the air conditioner filter is clogged with pollen, mold spores, and other allergens, they could be getting released into the air and irritating the sinuses even further. Therefore, it is extremely important to check and replace the filter a minimum of every three months.

If the sinus congestion becomes too much too handle, try these tips:

  • Salt Water

Flushing out the nose and sinuses with lukewarm salt water can decrease sinus infections, or relieve symptoms related to the air conditioner. This can be done with a nasal spray, irrigation kit, or a neti pot.

  • Humidifier

Since the sinuses are reacting to the dry air, investing in a humidifier can help. The humidifier creates moisture in the room that can relieve sinus congestion. Humidity in the home should be kept between 30 and 50 percent for comfort.

  • Drink Water

While it sounds so simple, water is key to sinus health. To keep mucus flowing smoothly, drink enough water. During warmer days, people usually need more water than normal to stay hydrated.

When the filter on air conditioner is clean, it can reduce sinus issues and allergies. However, the temporary runny nose and congestion that comes from turning the AC on might be unavoidable. Just keep some tissues nearby for the time being and try the tips outlined above.

For any air conditioner or indoor air quality issues this summer, call the team at Diamond Heating and Cooling.