Tuckers Air Conditioning, Heating & Plumbing Blog: Posts Tagged ‘Indoor Air Quality’

Why an Air Purifier Might be a Good Idea

Monday, November 28th, 2016

Every time you take a breath in your home, you’re inhaling millions of microscopic airborne contaminants. Some of these contaminants include dust, pollen, germs, mold spores, and dander. Normally, these contaminants are widespread enough that your body can easily defend against them. During the winter, though, people tend to seal their homes to make it easier to stay warm. When that happens, it makes it much more likely that you will experience the negative effects of those contaminants. Prolonged exposure to high enough levels of these contaminants can result in allergy attacks, flu, asthma, and a range of other health problems. The best way to handle these issues is to install an air purifier in your home.

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Purify the air in your home with the Air Knight

Friday, March 9th, 2012

Kill bacteria, mold, and odor  in every square foot of you home. Now the same technology used by the US Government, hospitals, cruise ships, and restaurant chains is brought to your home by Tuckers Air Conditioning & Heating through Carrier Enterprises. The Air Knight’s Ultra-Violet Light technology works to purify the air in your home, noticeably increasing indoor air quality. This PHI Cell technology provides, “low energy air purification that has been proven to kill mold, odors, bacteria, and 88% of an airborne sneeze at three feet. Also VOCs, viruses and up to 99% of MRSA, H1N1 and the Norwalk Virus, to name a few”.

 

You probably know that there’s plenty of pollution in the air outside. But did you know that there could very well be even more in the air trapped inside your home? In fact government agencies from around the globe have named indoor air pollution as one of the major health risks we all face today. There are many reasons why your indoor air quality may be compromised, but there is something you can do about it.

If you live in the metropolitan Washington, DC area, investing in one of the many indoor air purification systems that Tuckers Air Conditioning & Heating carries is a great way to start improving the quality of the air your family is breathing in every day. You may not have noticed that the quality of your indoor air was poor to begin with, but you’re sure to notice the difference when you have one of these systems in place to improve it.

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Kensington HVAC Question: What Is Air Purification?

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

The air around us is getting more and more polluted these days in Kensington, and people are trying to do more and more to combat it. Cars come with ratings like “ultra-low emission vehicle” and windmills generate power from moving air rather than burning coal. No doubt, these efforts help, but if you want to take an active role in improving the quality of air in your own home, consider an air purification system.

Simply put, air purification is the process of removing contaminants and pollutants from the air. There are a number of devices on the market that can purify the air in your Kensington home. While anyone can enjoy the benefits of cleaner air, they are of particular utility for people which suffer from asthma or allergies, or who live in areas with higher concentrations of outdoor air pollution.

There are three main kinds of air purifiers, categorized by the kind of technology they use:

  1. HEPA filtration
  2. Negative ion generation
  3. Electrostatic precipitation

HEPA filtration purifiers simply filter the air that passes through them using a sieve-like filter or series of filters. Depending on the efficiency of the device and the filter, some of these purifiers can trap not only solid and like particles, but also gases and odors. One advantage of this type of purifier is that the HEPA filters can last for years before they need to be changed.

Negative ion generation and electrostatic precipitation models are more complicated and technical because of the technology they use. Consult with a professional to choose which kind of technology is best for your needs, depending on the air quality problem you are experiencing. Some air purifiers can trap bacteria, viruses, fungi or chemicals, so there is bound to be one that will suit your needs.

After deciding on which type of technology you need, you will also have to choose whether you want a portable air purifier unit or a central system that covers the whole house. Obviously the former works well if you are only concerned about the air in a room or two, while the latter is better if you have chronic asthma or a more widespread air quality problem.

If you have any questions about how to improve the air quality in your house, give Tuckers Air Conditioning & Heating a call today!

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HVAC Advice: Seasonal Air Quality Control

Monday, February 13th, 2012

For people who suffer from seasonal allergies in Bethesda, air quality is a key concern. Allergens in the air cause brutal bouts of sneezing, runny nose, itchy eyes and even sinus headaches. Even taking refuge indoors will often not assuage these symptoms, as indoor air is often comparable to outdoor air in terms of allergens and overall quality.

That is, unless you take care to control the seasonal air quality in your home, which can not only help ease the suffering of allergies, but also soothe asthmatics, keep out pollutants and generally promote better overall health.

How do you go about controlling the air quality in your home? To start, try these simple tips:

  1. Vacuum carpets regularly. Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter and invest in some allergen suppressing bags.
  2. Keep your vents clean. This is also a good maintenance practice to lengthen the life of your ventilation equipment.
  3. Dust hard surfaces and wash bed linens weekly.
  4. Install HEPA filters in your ventilation system, such as in air conditioners or other air handler units. Use a higher rated filter to keep out more allergens and pollutants.
  5. Invest in and use an air purifier. Again, make sure to get one with a HEPA filter.
  6. Have your home tested for radon and carbon monoxide. Have smoke, carbon monoxide and radon detectors working properly at all times.
  7. Use a humidifier to keep overly dry air from irritating sinus passages.
  8. Keep doors and windows closed tight, especially during allergy season(s).

By taking charge of the air quality in your Bethesda home, you also take control of a measure of your family’s health. Some of these measures require at least a bit of an investment – for example, higher rated HEPA air filters are often more expensive and need to be changed more frequently – but the benefits to your well being and that of your family are clearly well worth it. If you have any question about what type of indoor air quality system will work in your home, give Tuckers Air Conditioning & Heating a call today!

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Indoor Air Quality FAQ: Things Your Air Filter Can’t Filter

Friday, February 10th, 2012

Air filters are great to have in your Chevy Chase home. Many people who own air filters, especially those who suffer from allergies or asthma, swear by them as being very beneficial to their health and general well-being. They help you feel comfortable knowing that your air is clean and fresh.

But how confident should you be in your air filter? Is there anything your air filter is missing? Can you be sure that your air is as clean as can be?

Well, all air filters have limitations, and many do particularly well at trapping and removing certain types of air pollutants, but at the expense of letting others pass. What your air filter can and cannot do depends on what kind of equipment you have.

A conventional air filter, like the pleated kind you may have in your air conditioner, is designed to trap particles in the air. Pollen, dust, dander and other small but solid pollutants and irritants get trapped in their close-knit fibers. The thing to pay attention here is the filter’s HEPA rating—the higher it is, the smaller the particles it can trap. So, if you are using a lower rated filter, you may be trapping pollen but still breathing in smoke particles. Also, sometimes large, heavy particles settle before reaching the filter and can’t be trapped.

A less common option is the gas-phase air filter. As you may guess from the name, these filters are meant to filter out harmful gases in the air. They do not trap particles and usually have a short life, so they need to be replaced frequently.

In addition to filters, there are other air cleaning options like ultraviolet germicidal (UVG) lights and photocatalytic oxidation (PCO) cleaners. PCOs are meant to filter out harmful gases, but have limited use in homes. UVG lights use radiation that is harmless to people but deadly to microorganisms to pure air of bacteria and other pathogens.

In sum, if you are concerned about the quality of the air in your home, the best strategy is probably to use multiple solutions, such as a combination of an air filter and UVG lights, in order to get rid of as many pollutants as possible. Keep in mind, though, that no system is perfect in keeping everything out of your air. If you need help choosing the right system for your Chevy Chase home, call Tuckers Air Conditioning & Heating today!

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Essential Components of a Home Comfort System

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

Indoor comfort is defined by several factors: temperature, humidity, and air quality. If any one of the three is out of the “normal” range it can affect the quality of life in your Spencerville home.

The ultimate goal of any heating & cooling contractor is to ensure that customers are comfortable – meaning that all three factors are addressed when servicing, replacing, or installing new equipment in a home. This equipment includes furnaces and air conditioners but also extends to humidifiers, electronic filters, ultraviolet (UV) lighting, infrared heating, etc.

Obviously, the essential component for most U.S. households is a furnace. Air conditioners may not be essential for all parts of the U.S., namely the northern states, but are still considered an integral part of any home comfort system.

Let’s look at the furnace first. There are several choices but most can be found in two different classifications: single-stage or variable speed two-stage. Your choice depends on the indoor square footage, your own comfort needs, and possibly the cost of energy units (gas or electric for example). Forced air is a common method of moving heated air to all parts of the home via an air handling unit and through a duct system. But gaining in popularity is radiant heat (electric), which does not utilize a duct system.

Air conditioners also come in a variety of sizes, including window/room air conditioners or central air conditioning, which is likely a “split” system including an outdoor unit and indoor coil. The size of the air conditioner is determined by square footage, which is part of a load calculation performed by qualified heating & cooling contractors while planning the equipment replacement or new installation. An oversized air conditioner may produce high humidity levels and an undersized unit may not provide enough cooling to all areas of the home. High humidity levels contribute to higher indoor temperatures in the summer, and can also lead to respiratory problems.

If someone in your home has allergies or is sensitive to certain pollutants in the air, it may be important to include extra filtration in your heating & cooling system, such as electronic filtration and UV lighting mounted in the buildings duct system, to kill germs and contaminants.

And speaking of an essential component, duct systems are keys to maximizing efficiency and comfort. Properly sized, insulated, and sealed, the duct system is a key to comfortable, healthy indoor air – and energy efficiency. It is also important to keep your duct system clean, too.

As always, it is best to consult with a Spencerville licensed heating and cooling contractor who can offer the best solutions for your home comfort system.

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How Your Home’s Indoor Air Quality Controls Can Help People with Asthma

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

There is evidence to suggest that higher quality air can help keep asthma symptoms in check. While you can’t control air quality everywhere you go, you can be in charge of the quality of the air in your Clarksburg home. Take a look at how controlling indoor air quality can help ease the suffering of asthma symptoms.

One study at Johns Hopkins found that indoor air pollution plays a large role in increasing asthma symptoms, especially among children. Without getting too technical, essentially the study explains that there are particles in the air we breathe, including indoors. Aside from the standard mixture of oxygen, carbon dioxide and other gases, air contains these solid and liquid particles, which are essentially pollutants. Common household tasks like dusting and cooking can generate more of these particles.

When these particles get into the respiratory system, they can irritate the lungs, which triggers asthma symptoms. Since children spend about 80% of their time indoors, this is a very big deal.

To help this problem, there are ways to control and improve the quality of air in your home. One simple way to do this is to have filters with high minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV) ratings in your heating and cooling system. MERV ratings describe how well filters catch particles of certain sizes and keeping them out of the air—and your lungs.

The particles identified in the Hopkins study were as small as 2.5 microns, which would require a filter with a MERV rating of about 12 to catch. Higher MERV ratings mean more efficient filtration, but they need to be replaced more often. If you or child has asthma, it’s worth it.

For severe asthma or allergies, consider even higher-rated filters, like HEPA filters, which sport a MERV of 17 or higher. These will catch nearly all allergens, irritants and other particles that can make you sick.

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Sources of Indoor Air Pollutants

Monday, November 21st, 2011

Indoor air pollutants are a major issue for lots of Damascus homeowners and while you may know the most common culprits such as pet dander, pollen, dust and smoke, there are a few other indoor air pollution sources you may not be aware of. Here are some that almost any home will have and simple tasks you can perform to reduce their risk.

  • Cooking Surfaces – Gas stoves in particular are a major source of Nitrogen Dioxide. To reduce the amount of this gas in your indoor air, make sure you have proper ventilation above or near your stove. A simple exhaust hood or wall fan will do the job.
  • Insects – Roaches in particular are a major issue.  Their droppings, saliva and dead body parts can significantly increase the risk of health problems like asthma. Many other insects produce allergens as well, though roaches are worse because of their size and the nature of most infestations. Avoid using roach killers however. Prevention is better than extermination both for your indoor air quality and for the general health of those in your household.
  • Dust Mites – Dust mites are different from insects because they are so small (and are technically arachnids). They like things like your drapes, upholstery and carpet. They also like high humidity levels so if you can keep the humidity in your home low, they will be much less of a nuisance.
  • Asbestos – You’ve probably heard that asbestos is a carcinogen and should be covered or removed from your home. But do you know just how many places in your home it can be found? Asbestos is present in old insulation, spackle, pipe wraps and even some older upholstery. If your home is more than 30 years old, make sure it is inspected and checked for asbestos. If found, asbestos is usually isolated so it cannot fray and get into the air you breathe.
  • New Electronics – New products can have a variety of chemicals in them like phthalates that have a negative impact on the respiratory health of those exposed to them. These chemicals are emitted after a product is opened for the first time. With time their concentration will diminish, reducing the risk, but at first, make sure to properly ventilate the space and keep children away from new electronics or computers.

Chemicals, pollutants and other indoor air quality issues are numerous. To avoid a problem, make sure you investigate carefully to determine if your home needs additional repairs. And if you are worried about your indoor air quality, talk to your contractor about having an air cleaner installed in your home.

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Types of Air Filters (and Happy Halloween Weekend!)

Friday, October 28th, 2011

Happy Halloween weekend from everyone at Tuckers Air Conditioning & Heating! We hope you have a fantastically spooky time! And since bad indoor air quality can be quite scary, here is some information about the different types of air filters you can get for your home.

When choosing an air filter for your home, there are many options. Each type of material is designed to capture a different type of particle to a different degree, so make sure you choose carefully based on the specific air quality problems your home has.

  • Disposable – Disposable filters are the simplest and least expensive option on the market but they are usually rated as low as 1-5 MERV and don’t last very long. These types of filters are usually designed for basic mechanical filtration to stop debris from causing problems for your furnace or air conditioner and are therefore not ideal for actual air quality improvement.
  • Fiberglass – Fiberglass filters are very common in almost all HVAC systems and are more permanent than disposable filters. They come in MERV ratings of between 4 and 12 and are highly efficient at capturing larger particles like dust, pollen and dander. These can be dangerous, however, as they fragment and can send fibers into the air.
  • Polyester – These have a higher resistance rating than most fiberglass filters and are therefore more durable against larger particles like dust and pollen. They also don’t fray like fiberglass and are more durable over time.
  • Electrostatic – Electrostatic filters have a charge to help collect dust particles and are usually made with multiple layers of polypropylene material.
  • HEPA Filters – This is a completely different category of filters and is designed to capture everything as small as 0.3 microns – well below the threshold most commonly provided by standard HVAC filters. They can be purchased for your HVAC system or as standalone filters for individual rooms.

There are a number of different filter types to maintain the air quality in your home. If you’re interested in getting the most out of your home’s air quality control system, make sure you do it with the best possible device available to your system. Contact a professional if you’re not sure what options will suit you best.

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Control Your Comus Home’s Moisture – Humidity Is Key

Friday, August 19th, 2011

Most people don’t give a second thought to humidity until it is either much too high or uncomfortably low. And if you have a state of the art home comfort system, you’re probably comfortable inside all year long anyway. But there are several reasons to pay attention to the humidity level in your Comus home and take action if you realize that it isn’t providing the comfort level you’ve come to expect.

Many problems arise from excess or inadequate indoor humidity levels. For instance, a lack of humidity causes your skin and nasal passages to dry and crack, which is obviously pretty unpleasant. But air that’s too dry can also make the symptoms of allergies, asthma and colds worse. Anyone in your home suffering from these conditions will be much more comfortable when the right level of humidity is restored. Another great benefit is that the indoor air quality will no longer contribute to longer and more sever colds and flus in the winter.

Too much humidity is a problem too, though. It promotes the growth of mold, which is a big contributor to indoor air pollution. Mold spores are a big time allergen. The more moisture there is in your home, the more mold there’s likely to be. High indoor humidity levels also promote the growth of dust mites, another major indoor air contaminant and allergen.

Of course, you probably have a great indoor air cleaner in place to get all of those contaminants out of your home’s air supply. But if the air inside your home is too moist or too dry, it can actually make it harder for the air cleaner to remove all types of contaminants. Not only are you putting a greater strain on your body and immune system, you’re asking your air cleaners to work much harder, which can cost you money in repairs and filter replacements.

For all of these reasons, it’s important to put in a humidification system to maintain the overall quality of your indoor air. Plus, a properly humidified environment is simply more comfortable to live in. A humidifier can easily be integrated into your current home heating and cooling system, so you don’t have to worry about high installation costs or equipment compatibility. All you have to do is sit back, relax and breathe in the fresh air that your humidification system makes possible.

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