Indoor Air Quality

Regular HVAC Maintenance Enhances Indoor Air Quality

The HVAC system is the primary means of heating and cooling your home to make it comfortable.  Many people don’t realize the system also plays a crucial role in maintaining good indoor air quality.  The HVAC system brings outside air into your home.  Everything must be working properly to filter this air and remove unwanted contaminants and pollutants.  Servicing the HVAC system regularly ensures optimal indoor air quality for your family.  Here are some regular maintenance items a professional technician will perform to help your HVAC system provide better air quality in your home.

Change filters– Filters remove dust, dirt, allergens, and other contaminants from the air.  Filters should be changed regularly.  Pleated filters have more surface area to trap airborne particles that affect air quality.  These filters are worth the extra money in households with asthma and allergy sufferers. 

Clean evaporator coils– Dust, pollen, and other pollutants stick to dirty evaporator coils.  This not only affects the performance of the HVAC unit, but increases energy usage and contributes to poor indoor air quality  Coils are inspected and cleaned during regularly scheduled preventive maintenance.

Clean blower wheel– Dirty evaporator coils lead to a dirty blower wheel.  Dust build up on the blower wheel will produce a burning smell when the heating unit is turned on.  This means dust, dirt, pollen, and mold spores are spread throughout the home.  Regular system maintenance can eliminate this problem.

Clean condensation drain line–  The HVAC system gets rid of the humidity it pulls from the air by way of the condensation drain line.  Water will back up into the drain pan if the line becomes clogged by sediment, algae, or mold.  A clogged drain line increases the chance of mold in the HVAC system.  Mold may not be visible, but it can often be smelled.  Mold affects air quality and can lead to serious health problems including asthma, sore throats, and bronchitis.  Replacing air filters and maintaining drain lines can help inhibit mold growth.  A professional can test the system if a mold problem is suspected.

Regular preventive maintenance on your HVAC system increases the system’s efficiency, saves on repair bills, and enhances your home’s indoor air quality.  Call B Tucker Heating & Air today to schedule preventive maintenance on your HVAC units.

AC Unit Not Working

Is It Time to Replace Your Air Conditioning Unit?

The average lifespan of an air conditioning unit is 10-15 years.  If your unit falls within that category, it may be time to start thinking about replacement.  Even if your air conditioner is still working, there are valid reasons to consider a new one.  Newer units are more energy efficient.  This means savings for the homeowner on their monthly energy bills.  A newer air conditioner will improve the indoor air quality of the home by filtering out more impurities.  A new unit will also increase the home’s resale value.  New homeowners will not want to have to replace an old unit that is end of life.

What are some signs that an air conditioning unit should be replaced?

Noisy unit- Excessive noise when the unit is running indicates it is not working as well as it should.  A homeowner may be looking at expensive repairs in the near future in addition to downtime.

Not keeping house cool– If the system is not maintaining a consistent temperature, it may be a sign that the unit needs to be replaced.  It’s no longer working efficiently enough to cool the house.

Having to replace refrigerant– If refrigerant needs to be added frequently, there may be a leak in the system.  Older air conditioning units use R22 Freon, which is being phased out due to environmental concerns.  On January 1, 2020 the U.S. will ban the production and import of R22.  The servicing of systems using R22 will rely on recycled or stockpiled quantities.  R22 will become more difficult to obtain and the price will increase.  Newer air conditioning units are more environmentally friendly.  They use R410A to comply with federal regulations. 

Lots of repairs– The price of service calls and parts adds up over time.  It may be more cost effective in the long run and a better investment for your home to install a new unit. 

Energy bills increasing– Upgrading to a new higher efficiency unit can help homeowners save significantly on their monthly energy bill.  Older units that have a SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficient Ratio) rating lower than 13 are more expensive to operate.  New units must have a SEER rating of at least 13.  They are drastically more efficient and cheaper to run than older models.  Units with an Energy Star label can save up to 20% over older units.

Noticing more dust– Noticing more dust and dirt in the home may mean the air conditioner is not removing it efficiently.  Replacing the unit will mean better indoor quality.  This is especially important in homes with asthma and allergy sufferers.  In addition, an older air conditioner may not be controlling humidity as it should, leading to mold and mildew problems.

If you are having any of these issues, call the experts at B Tucker Heating and Air to assess your air conditioning unit and determine whether it is time to replace it.    

Choosing the Best Air Filter

Air filters are designed to protect the blower fan and the evaporator coil in your furnace or heat pump fan-coil by removing particulates from the air as it is passes through the system. These filters are made of porous membranes that allow air to pass through but trap particles of dust, dirt, pollen, pet dander, and other pollutants. The accumulation of these particles on the filter or evaporator coil reduces air flow and decreases the efficiency of the HVAC system. Changing filters regularly improves indoor air quality, extends the life of the system and reduces energy cost.

In the average family home, filters should be monitored at least every 90 days. Filters in homes with pets should be monitored more frequently. Most service companies have maintenance programs that call for two visits a year. Technicians should make the customer aware of how often filters should be changed and instruct the homeowner how to do it themselves, if it is necessary to the proper operation of their systems.

Filters are rated using the “minimum efficiency reporting value” or MERV rating system.  There are several different types of filters:

Fiberglass/synthetic filters – These flat panel disposable filters are the most common type and are the least efficient. They are inexpensive and catch only larger particles moving through the system. They do not remove harmful contaminates or improve air quality. Their MERV rating is very low, usually in the low single digits.

Polyester and pleated filters – These filters are a slight bit more expensive that fiberglass filters but are better quality and longer lasting. Pleats increase surface area, which catches more airborne particles. The polyester material is also less porous and is a better choice for people with allergies or asthma. MERV rating for these devices generally touch on the lower double digits.

Electrostatic filters – This type of filter has self-charging fibers that attract and trap particles from the air. Two types are available – disposable and a type that is washable. Disposable ones should be changed regularly, just like the previously mentioned filters, about every 6 months. Washable ones should be cleaned regularly and dried completely before reinstalling. The washable ones can last between 1 and 4 years with proper maintenance. MERV rating for these devices range into the mid double digits.

HEPA filters –  Most residential systems cannot accommodate HEPA filters. They are more commonly used in hospitals and commercial systems. They are very high efficient, trapping the most harmful particles. These devices do, however, decrease the efficiency of the central systems to which they are attached. MERV ratings for these devices are at the top the scale.

A Spring Tune-up Prepares Your HVAC System for Warm Weather

Before you’ll need to run the air conditioning full time during the summer, schedule a tune-up for the HVAC system.  Spring is the perfect time to prepare the system for warm weather.  Keeping the HVAC system properly maintained can save homeowners time and money in the long run by extending the life of the system.  A qualified technician should inspect and clean the unit.  It’s generally easier to book an appointment with an HVAC company during the spring, before the weather gets too hot.  Here are some seasonal maintenance items that should be performed.

Change filters- Filters that have been used all winter are dirty and should be discarded.  Clogged filters reduce air flow and cause the system to run longer than necessary.  Clean filters improve air quality in the home by removing dust and allergens from the air.  Organic material that accumulates in the unit can cause mold to grow.  HEPA filters may be appropriate if family members have allergies or respiratory problems.

Check air unit– The air conditioning unit hasn’t been used all winter, so a technician will ensure the unit is cooling properly.  The condensation lines and drains should be inspected and cleaned.  Moving parts should be lubricated.  The thermostat should be examined to ensure it is properly calibrated.

Inspect outdoor unit– The outdoor unit should be inspected and cleaned.  Debris should be removed from the coils.  The outdoor fan should run smoothly.  The refrigerant lines should be inspected, and the coolant level evaluated.

Adjust humidifier– If the home has a furnace mounted humidifier, it should be turned all the way down or off.  Spring is a good time to clean and make repairs to the humidifier so that it will be in proper working order next winter.

Properly maintaining your HVAC system in the spring can help homeowners avoid costly repairs.

Make your basement

How to make your basement build-out comfortable

I have done several proposals lately for people who are finishing an unfinished basement. They are always shocked to find their existing equipment isn’t large enough to do the job. Or if it is large enough, they can’t simply tap into the duct work handling the floor above to heat and cool their lovely new space. Many times these “do-it-yourselfers” head out to Home Depot, purchase a few hundred dollars-worth of miscellaneous flexible duct work, boots, elbows and grills, head back home and waste an enormous amount of time and money, only to discover they not only do not have the proper tools, they do not understand the simple concepts of how to use them once they acquire them.
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