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!

 

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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.

Don’t Close Air Vents

In an effort to save more money by using less energy, many people close their air vents in rooms that get little or no use. However, instead of saving money, it could cause some serious issues. Read on to learn why closing vents does not have the desired effect on air distribution.

The blower in the HVAC system pulls air from the house through the return ducts, cools it, and pushes it back out through the supply ducts. The blower in high-efficiency HVAC systems is powered by an electronically commutated motor, also referred to as an ECM. This type of motor can adjust its speed. Those that are not high-efficiency are permanent split capacitor or PSC powered, which cannot adjust speeds.

Both systems are designed so that the blower pushes against some maximum pressure difference. If the filter is dirty or the supply ducts are restricted, the blower has to push against a higher pressure.

In the ECM system, this will make the motor increase in intensity to maintain proper air flow. As it works against the higher pressure, all efficiency is lost. A PSC motor will keep spinning, but its speed will decrease as the pressure increases.

When air ducts are closed in some rooms, the system becomes more restrictive. A higher pressure in the system will either ramp up the ECM blower, or move less air with a PSC blower, while also creating duct leakage.

This can also have an impact on the coil or heat exchanger. Lower airflow means a lower rate of heat exchange will occur. This will cause less heat to flow over the coil, making it colder, and possibly freezing. The refrigerant may not properly evaporate either, meaning it would come back into the compressor,  possibly ruining it.

In summary, here are 5 problems that can come from closing air vents:

  • Duct Leakage
  • Lower Air Flow/Increased Energy Use
  • Comfort Issues
  • Frozen Coil
  • Dead Compressor

Don’t close vents to save money. Instead, use an adjustable thermostat and be mindful of the energy being used.

Debunking IAQ Myths

Indoor Air Quality is something everyone should consider. Breathing in air full of debris, dust, and allergens, as well as dangerous pollutants is dangerous to a person’s health, and more so for those with allergies, asthma or other respiratory issues.

Not everything circulating online about indoor air quality is true, and wading through the myths can be difficult. We’ve outlined some of the more common myths related to indoor air quality, and what is actually true.

1. Indoor air is better than outdoor air

According to the EPA, indoor air is often 2-5 times more polluted than outdoor air. Houses are sealed so tightly that there is less air exchange, keeping pollutants inside and circulating them throughout the house.

2. Air filters are for improving IAQ

The primary function of air filters is not to increase the quality of the indoor air but to protect the HVAC system. However, cleaner air is a byproduct of their filtration if the filter is properly sized, correctly installed, and replaced regularly. The higher the MERV rating of the filter, the better it is at filtering out debris and pollutants.

3. Noxious gases are noticeable

Many noxious gases are colorless, odorless, and tasteless, making them even more dangerous. Monitoring devices need to be in place to catch leaks such as carbon monoxide. This highly toxic gas can cause major health problems, and fires if a leak occurs.

Diamond Heating and Cooling doesn’t just care about air temperature; they care about air quality. That’s why they found a product to help allergy and asthma sufferers, and improve indoor air quality all around. It is called the Micro Power Guard Air Cleaner. It’s an electronic polarized media air cleaner that can filter out sub-micronic allergens that normal filters cannot remove.

Visit Diamond Heating and Cooling’s website to learn more about the Micro Power Guard Air Cleaner and read testimonies from local Boise customers.

5 Ways HVAC Maintenance Reduces Allergies

The sun is shining, flowers are blooming, and people are starting to sneeze. Allergies are already on the rise, and it is time to get rid of allergens inside the house. The house should be the one place where allergens can’t affect those who are allergy-prone, and HVAC maintenance can help.

  1. High Quality Filters

Remember to change the furnace filter out consistently, and also look for higher quality filters that are capable of filtering out more allergens. If a filter isn’t enough, talk to Diamond Heating and Cooling about the Micro Power Guard Air Cleaner.

  1. Clean Both Units

Clean off the outside AC unit to prevent as much debris from coming into the home as possible. Keep dirt, grass, leaves and other debris away from it. Also clean around the indoor unit to reduce allergens from circulating inside the house.

  1. Check for Mold

During furnace and AC maintenance Diamond Heating and Cooling can check the system for mold. Mold loves humid, moist places such as the furnace ducts, condensate drip pan, and evaporator coils. Also keep an eye out for mold around the house in places like the attic or basement where water damage may occur. Some types of mold not only cause allergies, but serious illness as well.

  1. Dust Regularly

When dusting, most people hit visible surfaces like the mantle above the fireplace, side tables, etc. However, the heating and cooling registers and return vents should be dusted just as frequently. These vents circulate air and when dusty, could circulate dust around the house.

  1. Call Diamond Heating and Cooling

It’s time for AC maintenance! Make an appointment with the folks at Diamond Heating and Cooling. Yearly service gets the system ready for warmer weather and helps to reduce indoor allergens by getting rid of dust and other possible debris.

Diamond Heating and Cooling wants everyone to have an allergy-free spring and summer inside their home. Talk to us about our allergy solutions or scheduling spring AC maintenance.

3 Tips for Cleaner Winter IAQ

house-plant

In winter, homes are sealed up as tight as possible to be energy-efficient and stay warm. However, this limits the amount of fresh air in the home, raising concentrations of both allergens and pollutants. For those who suffer from allergies or asthma, it could mean more breathing problems.

There are many ways to clean the air inside of the home to reduce allergies and asthma attacks. Here are a three tips:

  1. Living Plants

Plants produce oxygen, while cleaning and purifying the air. They are an inexpensive way to improve indoor air quality, while adding some beauty to the space as well. For homes with pets, they need to make sure those plants are pet-friendly. Here is a list of plants that are not toxic to pets:

  • Aloe Vera
  • Yucca
  • Bamboo
  • Snake Plants
  • Ferns

Sufficient air cleaning can be accomplished with at least one plant per 100 square feet in the home. Different plants filter certain elements out of the air, so getting a mix of plants will be most effective.

  1. Cleaning

Airborne allergens such as pollen, dust mites, and mold can be minimized with regular cleaning. Dust and vacuum so allergens cannot pile up on surfaces. Wiping down the walls is something homeowners might not think to do regularly, but walls and ceilings also attract things like pet dander or other pollutants.

  1. Change the Furnace Filter

The furnace filter needs to be changed regularly. However, if a normal filter isn’t doing the job, ask Diamond Heating and Cooling about the Micro Power Guard Air Cleaner. It isn’t just a filter. The Micro Power Guard Air Cleaner is an electric polarized media air cleaner that can filter out submicronic allergens, which make up 98% of airborne particles.

Winter doesn’t have to be a time for runny noses and sneezing. Keep the air clean with the tips above. Visit Diamond Heating and Cooling’s website to learn more about allergies solutions.

Winter Tips to Stay Warm in Boise

With Boise and the Treasure Valley forecast to get snow this weekend, it’s definitely time for some winter HVAC tips. After getting the HVAC system serviced by Diamond Heating and Cooling, the work isn’t completely over. Here are some additional things homeowners can do to help keep their heating system running efficiently this winter:

  1. Change Air Filters

Air filters need to be changed at least every three months. Remember to do this by writing it on the calendar, putting an event in a cell phone, writing the date on the filter, etc.

  1. Thermostat Check

The thermostat should be tested to make sure it’s still working correctly. On a cold morning, turn the heat on and set the thermostat to the preferred temperature used in the winter. If the furnace doesn’t reach the desired temperature, it could indicate an issue.

  1. Install a New Thermostat

One way to lower bills and keep the house more comfortable during the winter is to install a programmable thermostat. If high energy bills were a problem last winter, this could help. The experts at Diamond Heating can help with the installation too.

  1. Air Vents

Air needs to have a clear path out of the vents to circulate throughout the house and maintain the optimal temperature. Walk through the house and make sure none of the vents are being obscured by furniture.

  1. Keep an Ear Open

Winter can take its toll on HVAC systems, which is why many breakdown during the colder months. Be aware of how the HVAC system is supposed to sound and act. If it begins to behave differently, like short-cycling, or making odd noises, contact Diamond Heating and Cooling right away to diagnose the problem.

Along with keeping the furnace health and happy, here are some other tips homeowners can enact to stay warm this winter:

  • Cover doors or windows that aren’t in use during winter with plastic to help keep the heat in.
  • After using the oven, leave the door slightly ajar so the heat can escape into the kitchen, keeping the house warmer.
  • Weather-strip doors and windows if air is leaking out or in.
  • Bundle up! Layering clothing and using blankets instead of cranking the heat up really high can keep everyone warm, while keeping the heating bills a little lower.
  • Use space heaters if everyone is gathered in one room. Be sure to keep the area around space heaters clear to avoid fires.

Diamond Heating and Cooling wants everyone to stay warm this winter. Talk to them about furnace maintenance, or installing a new one if necessary. Their team is available for emergency HVAC issues 24/7.