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Are HVAC and IAQ Connected?

indoor air qualityYour home’s air is full of dust and other contaminants. They get into your home, triggering allergies and asthma. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to mitigate those contaminants, particularly if you’re running your A/C.

Here are a few tips for using your HVAC system to improve indoor air quality.

Change your air filter.

In addition to cooling the air, your HVAC system also filters out dust and other particles before circulating it through your home. Over time, though, the filter becomes clogged. Not only does this prevent it from cleaning your air, it also restricts airflow, wasting energy and wearing out your system. Check your air filter once a month and replace it every three to six months, to keep your air clean and your system working at peak efficiency.

Clean the condenser coil.

Another factor in lowering indoor air quality is humidity. Your HVAC system dehumidifies the air as it cools, but if dirt and grime are allowed to build up on the outdoor unit’s condenser coil, it can interfere with the dehumidifying process. The moisture in the air can then foster mold and bacteria. You can clean your condenser coil yourself using a brush and a hose, or get your HVAC technician to do it during your annual maintenance visit.

Open the windows.

The air in your home is many times more polluted than the air outside. One of the simplest ways of raising your IAQ is to open up the windows and let fresh, clean air into your house, to replace the dirty, polluted air.

Get a high efficiency air purifier.

An ordinary HVAC air filter can remove things like dirt, pollen, and pet dander from the air. A high-efficiency filter can remove much smaller particles, such as cigarette smoke, cooking oil, and even viruses and bacteria. However, for those high efficiency filters to work, you’ll need a dedicated air purifier that’s designed to keep your home clean and contaminant free.

For more tips on improving indoor air quality, contact us at Powers Heating & Air. We’re Peachtree City’s trusted source for quality HVAC solutions.

A Toast to Air Quality: Raising Awareness and Why It’s Important

A Toast to Air Quality: Raising Awareness and Why It's ImportantThe fact that Earth Day closely precedes Air Quality Awareness Week is no surprise. Both are linked by how important air quality is to a healthy planet and home environment. Bad air harms both. In nature, all life pays a price when air quality suffers.

Outdoor Air

Outdoors, the Peachtree City area is plagued with high humidity that makes the hot weather in the summer uncomfortable. As the weather heats up, ozone pollution builds and harms the very young and old. It’s a respiratory irritant and anyone with COPD should avoid exposure to it.

Particulate matter is another pollutant in our air that can have health consequences. Tiny particles can lodge deep into the lungs and over time, cause irritations or trigger more serious diseases.

Indoor Air

Exposure to contaminants inside your home may have a more serious consequence than those outdoors. Besides all these contaminants in the outside air that make their way indoors, you might have a mix of other pollutants like volatile organic compounds (VOCs), mold spores, dust mite waste and pollen.

While you can avoid driving during certain hours when there are pollution advisories, there are things you can do indoors to improve your air quality far beyond Air Quality Awareness Week, like:

  • Change the air filter for your HVAC system and have Powers Heating & Air service it for the summer.
  • Don’t idle your car or gas-powered yard equipment inside if you have an attached garage.
  • Avoid products with VOCS when you can by choosing products low in VOCs or alternatives without any. You can also use them as long as you have enough fresh air ventilation. VOCs come from home improvement and cleaning supplies, anything with perfume like candles, air fresheners and soaps,

When you practice these habits, the health risks they pose diminish. Over time, the amount of pollutants inside your home will fall and your air quality will improve.

Let Air Quality Awareness Week be your springboard to better air quality inside your home. If you’d like more information, contact Powers Heating & Air, providing trusted HVAC services for Peachtree City homeowners.

Homeowners: Learn How Vaping and Electronic Cigarettes Can Affect Your Indoor Air Quality

Homeowners: Learn How Vaping and Electronic Cigarettes Can Affect Your Indoor Air QualityIt’s been long established that smoking indoors quickly degrades indoor air quality, but for now, the research doesn’t indicate that electronic cigarettes have the same ill effects.

What Are E-Cigarettes?

When someone “smokes” these cigarettes, it produces a smoke-like vapor, which is why their use is commonly called vaping. The e-cigarettes use a battery to heat a liquid that contains nicotine to the point where it produces a steam-like vapor. The nicotine inside the cigarette is part of the vaping liquid and it’s part of what users inhale.

Their byproducts have been the subject of a few studies to see what effects they have on air quality. Findings from a study conducted in Maryland that measured the changes in air quality in a crowded, small room without adequate ventilation. The participants were all vaping and the air quality did deteriorate.

The byproducts of vaping include VOCs (volatile organic compounds), nitrogen dioxide and carbon dioxide, particulate matter and nicotine. Each of these emissions was high enough to affect the health of participants.

A contrasting study conducted in a well-ventilated meeting room in an office building where several participants were vaping found that the air quality did not reach levels considered hazardous to health. The room had adequate ventilation and relatively few people were vaping.

Implications for Your Home

If your home was tightly constructed and has few air leaks, you might want to consider increasing the amount of fresh air ventilation to improve indoor air quality. One of the best ways to do so is to install an energy recovery ventilator (ERV) that pulls in fresh air at the same rate it exhausts stale, contaminated air. ERVs don’t increase cooling and heating costs appreciably because they remove the energy of the outgoing air and put it into the incoming air. You can also prohibit smoking in your home entirely.

Protecting your indoor air quality translates to better health for everyone in your home. The experts at Powers Heating & Air can help you learn more. We provide HVAC services for Peachtree City homeowners.

Homeowners: Boost Your Air Quality with UV Lights

Homeowners: Boost Your Air Quality with UV LightsIf the air quality in your home tends to suffer in the summer when the doors and windows are closed, consider putting UV (ultraviolet) lights in the ductwork or air handler to improve it. They’re silent, energy efficient, simple to maintain and take up virtually no space.

UV Lights

These lights provide the same spectrum of sunshine that sanitizes organic compounds. They work by altering the DNA of organic compounds, which prevents them from reproducing. Any virus or bacteria that comes into contact with the UV rays the lights emit won’t be able to replicate itself.

The lights also solve many of the problems associated with volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are gases from ordinary household cleaners, vehicle exhaust, remodeling products, perfumed candles, air fresheners and soap, as well as a host of other products also made from hydrocarbons. The VOCs are known to cause everything from minor irritations to major health problems like cancer and organ damage.

How They Work

Since UV rays damage eyesight, the lights go inside the HVAC system where they’re hidden but very effective for improving air quality. High volumes of your home’s air pass over the lights and when the organic particles pass by them, they lose their ability to multiply.

In this climate the air handler is a good place to put the lights. Mold growth inside the air handler can be a serious problem, and when the lights shine on the evaporator coil, the problem is eliminated. Besides spreading into the ductwork, mold on the evaporator coil lowers the energy efficiency of the A/C and raises the odds of a serious breakdown.

When they’re placed in the ductwork, the lights help keep your home germ- and mold-free. Instead of using sanitizing sprays on all the hard surfaces like floors, countertops and sinks, you can rely on the UV lights to do the work. There will be no chemical residues that could harm your children or pets.

UV lights will improve your home’s air with little effort on your part. For more expert help, contact the pros at Powers Heating & Air, providing HVAC services for Peachtree City homeowners.

Sporting Equipment May Raise These IAQ Concerns

Sporting Equipment May Raise These IAQ ConcernsYour home gym gives you a convenient way to exercise and improve your health. To reap the full benefits, you likely took extra care choosing sporting equipment and make the effort to fit in regular workouts. Another priority should be the air quality of your exercise area, because of the adverse effects it can have on health.

Reasons for IAQ Concerns With Home Gyms

IAQ can be a serious issue in home gyms for two main reasons. First, these workout areas are often situated in seldom-used spots where air circulation may not be ideal – like a garage, basement or spare room. Second, during workouts, the body instinctively inhales deeply and more rapidly to draw in sufficient oxygen. When combined, these factors can amplify your exposure to unhealthy contaminants, pollutants and allergens like:

  • Mold and mildew growth that flourishes in warm, humid conditions.
  • Microscopic dust mites that live on shed skin cells.
  • Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) released by rubber equipment components and exercise mats, carpets, and stored items such as cleaning supplies, paints and solvents.
  • Gasoline fumes from equipment and vehicles.
  • Rodent, insect and other types of pest droppings.

How to Boost Your Exercise Room IAQ

If you have concerns about the air quality in your home gym, here are some strategies you can implement to improve it:

  • Wipe down the equipment and vacuum your workout area regularly to help control allergens and contaminants.
  • Invest in a dehumidifier if needed to keep mold and mildew growth in check.
  • Open nearby windows whenever possible to expel stale air and bring in fresher outdoor air.
  • To clear out airborne VOCs, bacteria, mold spores, dust mites and other contaminants year round, consider having an air cleaner unit added to your HVAC.
  • If your gym area is currently situated outside of your home’s conditioned living space, move it inside.
  • Keep your HVAC equipment and ductwork in good condition by scheduling semi-annual maintenance, and change the system’s air filter regularly to promote good air balance and circulation.

For help dealing with IAQ concerns in your Peachtree City home, contact us today at Powers Heating & Air.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Peachtree City, Georgia and surrounding areas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Guide or call us at 770-487-2040.