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.

 

Hazardous and Non-Hazardous AC Smells

As the weather slowly gets warmer in Boise, homeowners are getting ready to turn off the furnace and preparing the AC for the months ahead. When the air conditioner is first turned on homeowners might notice some smells emanating from the system. Some of these smells aren’t cause for alarm, while some could be hazardous. Learn the difference below.

Non-Hazardous Smells

  • Musty

Homeowners commonly notice a musty odor, especially when turning on the AC for the first time in the spring. Lingering moisture or dust in the system might produce this musty smell. If the smell persists, you will want to have your duct work checked for evidence of mold

  • Something Rotten

It’s entirely possible a small animal has become stuck in the air ducts over the winter and is now deceased, causing the horrible smell. It’s not necessarily dangerous but something that homeowners will want to take care of right away.

  • Cigarette Smoke

If someone in the house smokes or did smoke, the smell might get stuck in the condenser coil. It will then blow the cigarette smoke smell throughout the house. Cleaning the coil is an easy way to fix this smell.

Hazardous Smells

  • Rotten Eggs

This is an indication of a natural gas leak. While the gas itself doesn’t smell, most companies put a rotten egg-like scent into it so that leaks can be detected. Get out of the house immediately and seek contact Diamond Heating and Cooling to check the air conditioning system.

  • Burning

If it smells like something is burning, there could be a mechanical problem. Call Diamond Heating and Cooling right away to get the problem repaired and avoid a potential fire.

  • Sewage

This isn’t a common smell coming from the AC. If a sewer-like smell comes through the vents, it could mean there is a backed up sewer line near the ductwork. A small amount of methane can produce this sewage smell.

Many of the issues associated with these smells can be prevented with annual AC maintenance from Diamond Heating and Cooling. If any of these smells are present when turning the AC on for the first time this spring call Diamond Heating and Cooling and right away. We are available 24/7 for all your heating and air conditioning needs.

Installing a High Efficiency System

Homes with HVAC systems that are more than 10 years old should consider an upgrade. This is especially true for those that have experienced frequent repairs and uneven heating or cooling throughout the house. Replacing the current system with an Energy Star-rated model before it fails can bring a lot of benefits.

  1. Lowered Utility Bills

Replacing an old system that is inefficient, with a new high efficiency model could save homeowners at least $115-$200 annually according to Energy Star. Homeowners could also qualify for tax credits for investing in energy efficiency.

  1. Less Maintenance

Older HVAC systems tend to have more problems that can lead to costly repairs even with regular maintenance. Investing in a newer model will cut down on repairs and maintenance costs.

  1. Comfort

Higher efficiency systems heat and cool a home and with less effort. Homeowners will experience evenly distributed heating, more consistent temperatures, and steady air flow throughout the entire house. Comfort is important, especially during the winter and summer months.

  1. Environmentally Better

Models with high efficiency have a minimal impact on the environment compared to their older counterparts. They use less fuel to operate, which helps to conserve energy.

  1. Increased Value

Buyers are starting to take more notice of the HVAC systems in houses they are considering for purchase. They tend to be willing to pay more for a home with a high efficiency system, correctly programmed thermostat, proper insulation, and sealed ductwork. When homeowners are thinking about selling, a high efficiency heating and cooling system will help bring a better price for the home.

Diamond Heating and Cooling wants everyone to be warm this winter and not have to deal with a system that’s breaking down. Talk to them today about finding and installing a high efficiency system to start experiencing the benefits above.

Cigarette Smoke Traveling through the HVAC System

In some apartment buildings, the HVAC system is linked together. That means what’s in one apartment can leak into the neighbor’s ducts and cause allergies or asthma. One of the things that can leak in is cigarette smoke if the neighbors smoke indoors.

Airborne second-hand smoke can be bothersome and cause health issues, but it isn’t the only thing to cause apartment dwellers concern. The dust that accumulates on surfaces is partially remnants of smoke that was hanging in the air. That means it is full of carcinogens and other dangers that are lingering on the surfaces.

One way to combat this is by dusting regularly. However, dust can linger in vents for a lot longer than it stays on surfaces. When the vents are in use, they can blow all of the dangerous dust around the apartment.

Here are some solutions to get rid of as much of the lingering smoke and dust as possible:

  1. Air Sanitizers

This will help remove the smell of cigarettes, but not the contaminants. There are a few options like chemical sanitizers, or natural ones like baking soda.

  1. Changing Filters

The air filter traps the cigarette smell and contaminants. Because of this, a dirty filter in the HVAC system can spread contaminants into the apartment when it is in use. Change the furnace filter often to combat this issue. It may have to be done more frequently than every three months.

  1. Clean

Like stated above, dusting can help eliminate some of the contaminants. Regular vacuuming will also help eliminate carcinogens and other dangers from the carpet. Lastly, get the ducts cleaned. Dust and contaminants can reside there and spread when the HVAC system is in use.

Keeping the apartment dust-free and changing the filters often can help to reduce the amount of smoke inhalation due to smoking neighbors. Since most apartment dwellers do not have access to the air filters and duct work, mention Diamond Heating and Cooling to your landlord and have them also ask about the Micro Power Guard Air Cleaner to better filter out contaminants.

Retrieving Items from Ductwork

Accidents happen and sometimes items are dropped into the floor air vent. This is especially common in households with children. Don’t give up hope. The item is not likely to be lost forever. Also, leaving it in there could damage the ductwork. Often retrieving whatever was dropped down the vent can be easy. Just follow these steps:

  1. Unscrew the cover

To gain better access to the vent, the cover needs to be removed. Find the right screwdriver to take out the screws and place them in a safe area so they won’t get lost.

  1. Use a vacuum

If the object is too far out of reach, or the vent is too small to safely stick a hand into, a vacuum can be used. Simply put the hose into the vent and turn it on. Check the vacuum bag to see if the object was successfully sucked up.

  1. Use a spider grabber

If the item is visible, this could be a better way to retrieve it. A spider grabber, is a long pole with a claw-like extension. Insert it into the vent and gently close the claw around the object to bring it to the surface.

  1. String and gum

If the item is hard and will stick to something, the string and gum approach could work. Generally this should be used on items that are visible. If the item isn’t visible, there’s a possibility it could be pushed farther into the ducts. Take a piece of string or fishing line and attached a piece of chewed gum, tape, or anything else sticky to the end. Lower the sticky end into the vent, and try to stick it to the item before gently bringing it upward.

  1. Call in a professional

If the item is out of sight and the above ideas haven’t worked, it’s probably a job for the pros. The ducts the air vents connect to can turn sharply, making it difficult to retrieve items from them without the proper equipment.

Homes with small children or clumsy occupants can try to limit these instances by placing air deflectors on the vent covers. While the vent is still open on one side, anything that falls directly on the vent is likely to hit the air deflector, instead of going directly in the vent.

Don’t let lost objects stay in the vents. They could damage vents and restrict air flow of the A/C and furnace. The harder they have to work, the higher the energy bill will be.

Dealing with Smoky Air

With fires popping up all around the region, smoke is beginning to affect the quality of air. This can especially be an issue for those with asthma or other lung/heart issues. It’s best to stay up to date with the air quality reports in the area to help avoid problems.

Often, older adults and children are more likely to be affected my poor air quality. Older adults have an increased risk of heart and lung disease while children’s airways are still in development. This means they require more air than adults.

To reduce the negative health effects from smoky air, limit outdoor exposure and have proper medication handy. Those most affected should follow their respiratory management plan set by their health care provider.

When inside, keep the air as clean as possible. Windows and doors should be kept shut when smoke or allergen levels are high. Set the air conditioner on re-circulate to keep outside air out. Diamond Heating and Cooling also recommends and installs two air filtration systems to improve home air quality; the OxyQuantum LED- Unit and the Micro Power Guard Air Cleaner both help improve the air quality by removing airborne particles and allergens.

In addition to filtration systems, staying hydrated and avoiding physical exertion can also help keep asthma symptoms at bay when smoke is in the air. Staying hydrated keeps the airways moist, making it easier to breathe.

With wildfire season in full force, it’s important to say alert and be prepared for air quality warnings.

Obstructing Air Vents

Blocked air vents can create a variety of problems. Air conditioners are not creating air, they are merely recycling it by drawing it through the return vents to cool it and then sending it back out. By blocking the vents, the efficiency of the air conditioner is diminished.

When the vents become blocked, the air conditioner uses more energy to perform its job. This creates a strain on the components, which in turn increases the energy bill in a home or business. The strain might also lead to a need for more repairs to the system.

Another problem that can occur due to blocked vents is a frozen coil. If the vents are blocked so severely that the air conditioner cannot pull an adequate amount of air through the return vents, the lowered amount of warm air flowing across the cold evaporator coil will not be able to increase the temperature of the refrigerant inside the coil. The refrigerant will then freeze the condensation along the coil, blocking heat absorption and creating more ice. This will prevent the air conditioner from being able to cool the home or business.

To prevent either of these problems from occurring, make sure nothing is blocking the return air vents. This can include long drapes, rugs or pieces of furniture. Even one blocked vent can drastically throw the entire system off balance and increase the energy bill.