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.

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.

Cleaning Away Allergies and Asthma

Spring is on its way, which means allergies are too. However, two-thirds of allergy sufferers have probably been experiencing symptoms throughout fall and winter as well. With the windows closed and the house sealed off from fresh air during the colder months, irritants have been building up.

Airborne allergens don’t disappear when the weather is cold, they stick around in the house in the carpet, on surfaces, and more. One way to combat this is with a deep clean of the house.

  • Clean furnishings such as blinds and curtains, upholstery, throw pillows, and other items that don’t usually get washed or vacuumed as often. Dust and allergens can cling to their surfaces and get stirred up causing problems for allergy sufferers. Sheets, pillow cases and other bedding should be washed weekly in hot water. This can reduce the presence of dust and dust mite waste.
  • Vacuum carpet weekly to remove allergens that sit in the fibers. Also consider having the carpet professionally cleaned to remove everything trapped deep down inside.
  • Wipe down hard surfaces with soap and water such as walls, counters, tables, and other flooring as well. It’s easier to see when dust and other particles settle on these hard surfaces than soft surfaces.

After a thorough cleaning of the home, talk to the air experts at Diamond Heating and Cooling about their solution for allergies. To filter out sub-micronic particles from the air and increase Indoor Air Quality all year long, they recommend investing in a Micro Power Guard Air Cleaner.

It’s not just a filter, but an electronic polarized media air cleaner. The difference? It can filter out particles as small as .3 microns. This is important because 98% of airborne particles are invisible and below one micron in size. Normal filters can’t remove particles this small.

Avoid suffering from allergies all year long with the help of Diamond Heating and Cooling. Give them a call and experience the Diamond difference.

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.