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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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.

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.

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.