AC Maintenance Isn’t Worth ItThere are some who, for some strange reason, seem to only believe they should spend money on their AC or HVAC system if something is visibly wrong. If they can’t see any problems, why spend money? This is the wrong way to look at these systems. Many of the most common issues in AC or HVAC systems begin as small, easily-remedied concerns – but if they’re left until you actually notice them, they’ll be much worse by that point. Regular HVAC maintenance, however, helps you spot these issues well in advance, which in turn allows you to avoid them growing too large. By spending a very small sum on a yearly or bi-yearly HVAC inspection, you’ll be saving yourself much larger amounts down the line.
Bigger Always Means BetterFor those who are looking to upgrade or replace their AC, or those building a new construction home from the ground up, there’s an unfortunate tendency to assume size is the only relevant factor for a new AC unit. The bigger the unit, the better it will be, as the thinking goes. Not so fast. There are many AC units that will simply be too large for a given home, using way too much power and causing major cycling issues. You certainly don’t want an AC that’s too small, but one that’s too large can be just as detrimental.
Closing Vents HelpsSome figure they’ll be saving themselves some money and air by closing the vents in rooms where they don’t spend much time. Rather, however, this messes with the air distribution balance in the home, often leading to cycling issues or creating problems with the vents themselves. You should leave vents open even in areas that aren’t frequently occupied. For more on avoiding common air conditioning myths this summer, or to learn about any of our HVAC services, speak to the staff at Airtime Heating & Cooling today.
Lower Setting = Faster CoolingFor those looking to cool their home or a given space as quickly as possible, there’s a tendency to try and turn the AC down as low as possible to speed this process up. However, you should know that this method doesn’t actually work – and actually might hurt your system. The HVAC system can only blow so much air at once, and this doesn’t change even if you drop the temperature even further. Forcing it to an even lower number might cause it to work harder just to achieve the same level of cooling, and will not speed things up at all.
Constant Running Saves You MoneyWe’re all looking for ways to save on HVAC costs, but anyone who tells you that running your AC constantly will help in this realm doesn’t know what they’re talking about. The thought here appears to be that constant running saves the energy of turning the system on and off regularly – but this is a misconception, and the opposite is true. Allowing the system to turn on and off as needed is a big part of what keeps its operational strain low, limiting your energy bill.
Thermostat Placement is UnimportantFor those designing a new home or replacing their thermostat in an existing one, you may not think the placement of this item matters all that much. In reality, though, it does: If it’s placed too close to vents or other cooling areas it may think the home is cooler than it really is, or the opposite effect could take place if the thermostat is in a sun spot, near the oven or in another area that’s hotter than the rest of the home. The thermostat should be located in a neutral area that represents as close as possible to average home temperature. For more on debunking common myths regarding your air conditioner, or to learn about any of our heating and air services, speak to the staff at Airtime Heating & Cooling today.
Filter IssuesThe first area to look at if you’re experiencing dust issues is your HVAC filter. Filters should be changed at least once every few months, and sometimes more often depending on the filter type you used – for washable filters, these should be cleaned regularly as well. Failure to do this will result in filters accumulating dust and other materials over time. When they build up too much, they become ineffective and allow dust to spread throughout the home, including in your ducts and vents plus within any room where air is pushed to.
Humidity LevelsWhile this is less common in a dry state like Utah, high humidity levels within the home or a certain part of the home are still easily possible. These often lead to dust building up, plus to the formation of mold and mildew. If you’re concerned this is the cause of your dust, purchase a basic hygrometer to test for humidity levels, plus consider a whole-home humidifier or dehumidifier.
Air Duct LeaksIn some cases, your filters will be clean and working well – but dust will still make its way around because it was already present in your ducts. This often is due to leaks that cause dirty air from your attic or other spots to enter your standard air supply, including within ducts that are supposed to be supplying recently-filtered air.
Window CracksAnother of the most common causes of dust in the home is major gaps to the outdoors, and maybe the most frequent situation here is a crack or gap around a window area. You might be surprised how much dust will be prevented simply by re-caulking any small crack or gap areas in windows.
ShoesFinally, one of the simplest dust causes in some homes is dust being tracked in by occupants, especially in homes with several people living in them. This is simply avoided by requiring shoes be taken off before entering the house. For more on the common causes of dust in your home, or to learn about any of our indoor air quality solutions or other HVAC services, speak to the staff at Airtime Heating & Cooling today.
How Particles Enter Through the AC SystemIn some cases, the mode of entrance for allergens and various related particles into your air supply is based on cracks or other seal issues with your air conditioner, ducts or related components. When these issues are present, air that has not yet passed through your filter system will be able to make its way into breathing areas, meaning contaminants like allergens and others have not been removed. In addition, however, it’s important to note that having a proper exhaust system for your HVAC system is also vital. This allows various contaminants or particles that have not been caught by the filters to exit the home properly – these particles will be present no matter how good your filters are.
Filter FactorsSpeaking of filters, you should be sure that the filters installed in your HVAC system trap allergens – most do, but some on the cheaper end do not. Also be sure areas like pet dander, which may carry allergens, are caught as well. As we noted above, however, not all the air in your home necessarily makes it to the air filter before reaching your lungs. For this reason, those homes with significant allergy sufferers may want to consider additional measures.
Other MeasuresHere are a few such options available for both allergen prevention and other areas of indoor air quality:
- Whole home filtration: We offer the “Clean Effects” filter system from Trane, arguably the top home air filtration system in the world, which will remove all pollutants, allergens, bacteria and viruses within the entire space.
- UV lights: There are also UV air cleaner options that attack mold, mildew and other bacteria within your air ducts, common collection locations for these contaminants.
- Electronic purifier: A different purifier system that charges particulates in the air and forces them to stick to metal surfaces, which can be easily cleaned.
Time and Money SavingsFor starters, you’d be surprised how much time and money you can save by arranging furnace replacement in spring. For one, furnace replacement schedules tend to be far less filled at this time of year, meaning you’re more likely to get your ideal appointment time range within a few days of calling for an appointment. You also might be able to get good deals on installation or even sales, as some manufacturers offer discounts on furnaces during their slower season. Additionally, choosing the spring offers you more time flexibility on your end. If you decide to wait on signs that replacement is needed, you could suddenly be staring at a late-fall cold front – and all of a sudden, furnace replacement appointments are much harder to get. Taking the time to cover this area now allows you a full range of product choices, plus ensures you aren’t chasing the game.
Maintaining ComfortAnother benefit of replacing the heater during spring is the comfort retention the process offers. We’re mostly past the point where homes need to have their heaters on to keep the temperature comfortable – this means it’s no big deal if our pros have to turn your heating system off for a few hours while we replace the system. If you wait on replacement, however, this process might take place during a cooler period where things won’t be so convenient.
Signs It’s TimeSome general signs your furnace or heating system is giving you that it’s time for replacement:
- Common repairs: If you’re making the same kinds of repairs over and over again, this is a sign that the heater has worn down and needs to be replaced.
- Age: Any furnace or heater that reaches above 15 years of age should at least see replacement considered.
- Lost efficiency: If you notice your HVAC costs rising compared to previous years, or if you can’t seem to get the proper heating levels, this could mean the furnace is worn down and needs a replacement.
- Noises: Finally, some malfunctioning furnaces make loud noises like rattling, clanging or electrical humming, all of which may signal replacement needs.
Dry Air and HealthFirst and foremost, it’s important to realize that dry air is more than a nuisance for many people – in plenty of cases, it actually has a direct impact on human health. This is often the case in relatively minor areas, such as dry skin, chapped lips and related areas. However, in some cases these risks will be even more significant. Many, especially those with previous respiratory conditions or weakened immune systems, will experience coughing, sore throats and even sometimes illness due to mucous membranes that have dried out as a result of extremely dry air.
Home and HVAC System ImpactIn addition to having a potential impact on your health, dry air may also have an impact on your home. This begins with the HVAC system, which often has to use far more energy to warm the home during the cooler months – this is because warm air and humidity tend to go together, and vice versa. If your air is overly dry, you may find your winter heating bill is far higher than it should be. In addition, there are other home areas that could be damaged due to dry air. Spit wood is a common occurrence, for instance, as is damage to electronics, chipping paint and split wallpaper due to static shock or related factors.
Humidification BenefitsLuckily, we offer the “Clean Effects” system from Trane that provides a whole-house solution for several items, including humidity control. Offering the proper levels of humidity to your home not only keeps you more comfortable and healthy on a daily basis, it also improves your HVAC system’s efficiency by limiting its strain, particularly during winter months. Using a whole-home system also prevents dry air issues from cropping up in certain areas and then re-appearing in others, as the entire space is covered. For more on dry air and its impact on your health and home, or to learn about any of our indoor air quality or other HVAC solutions, speak to the staff at Airtime Heating & Cooling today.
Cleaning AreasFor starters, there are two major cleaning areas to perform before spring hits:
- Outside unit: Many homeowners take good care of the interior elements of their HVAC system, but neglect the vital unit outside the home. This is the AC condenser, the one in charge of cycling out warm air and providing cool air during the summer – you should take the time to clean off all dirt, debris, branches, leaves or other items from this area. This will prevent costly maintenance on this unit that may arise due to built-up deposits, which can slow the unit down and damage it.
- Air ducts: It’s also vital to clean your air ducts and visible vent areas of all dust and debris, allowing the system to work without any strain or air loss.
Changing FilterHVAC filters should be changed regularly throughout the year, including during the winter-to-spring transition if they have not been swapped out recently. Filters that are left too long will build up significant blockages and clogs, slowing the passage of air through the system and raising your monthly energy bill. In the process, they will also diminish your air quality.
Test RunChances are, your air conditioning system has been completely unused for most or all of the previous winter. Take the time to switch the system to cool and run it for around 30 minutes – check in individual rooms to ensure cooling is taking place, and listen/look for any issues that may come up. If you’re scheduling professional maintenance, be sure to mention any such issues to your HVAC expert.
Schedule a Tune-UpFinally, as we noted above, there are few better ways to guarantee the quality of your AC and HVAC system headed into spring and summer than to hire our pros for a quick, affordable tune-up. We’ll inspect and clean basic elements of the system, plus check for minor issues that have arisen over time to ensure your unit is in tip-top shape headed into cooling season. For more on pre-spring HVAC tips to consider in your home, or to learn about any of our heating and cooling services, speak to the staff at Airtime Heating & Cooling today.
Candle Materials and Air QualityWhen it comes to determining whether a given candle is good or bad for your indoor air quality, the primary theme is assessing the materials the candle is made from. Specifically, research has shown that candles containing a substance known as paraffin – one of the most popular types available, sadly – emit toxic chemicals such as toluene, benzene and even formaldehyde. These chemicals can lead to everything from respiratory concerns like asthma to nervous system disorders and even heightened risk for certain forms of cancer. Now, not all candles are made using paraffin. The same research showed that soybean candles or beeswax did not have the same outputs of toxic chemicals, though there is still debate about whether these types are truly safer. Overall, researchers noted that even for paraffin-based candles, occasional use is generally okay and will not pose a health or air quality threat. If you constantly are lighting these candles, however, especially in spaces with poor ventilation, this is when issues can begin.
HVAC Filter ImpactOne note for those who burn candles often, even if you’re burning beeswax or soybean candles that don’t emit toxins: Soot and smoke released from candles will generally clog up your HVAC filters faster than they would have otherwise. You should check your filters often and replace them more commonly if you burn candles regularly.
General TipsSome general ventilation and other tips for burning candles safely and without health or air quality risks:
- Stick with beeswax or soybean candles, and cotton or paper wicks
- Ensure candle wicks are trimmed down to limit smoke and soot output
- Use a lighter instead of a match for lighting candles – the former emits fewer toxins
- Burn candles in a properly-ventilated area
- When possible, choose odorless candles and use essential oils for improved aromas