Archive for the ‘Indoor Air Quality’ Category

Your Cooling System and How It Works – Part One

Friday, June 10th, 2011

After that 102 record breaker heat wave your air conditioner got a work out. The good news was is was a dry heat wave vs. the usual humid weather making it a little easier to cool the air in your home. Some common issues for houses that don’t seem to cool are restricted air flow from the cooling coil in your furnace. More often than not the coil is too small for the physical opening of your furnace. 

 If this were the opening of the furnace at the top the indoor coil should fit the actual physical opening. There are times when the coil may be a little smaller but it should not reduce the opening by more than 20%.  If the coil is smaller the reduction in the “push” of the air increases meaning the unit works very hard to distribute the cooler air in your home. Longer run times equal bigger bills from the electric company. The square footage is your home might only need a 2 Ton Cooling system but the 2Ton Coil might be too small for your furnace. This can be avoided by using the same brand cooling system as your furnace. The coils are usually manufactured for the furnace size opening, Using a different brand may not fit properly so BEWARE those reduced pricing air conditioning deals. Replacing the coil with the correct size will pay for itself in one cooling season and you’ll be more comfortable.

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Another problem is a dirty coil. It’s very common for the heating and cooling systems to be in the same room as your washer/dryer. The lint from your dryer is sucked into the furnace and gets distributed through your furnace if you don’t change your filter frequently. Another common cause is pet hair and just plain old dust/dirt in your home. Yes, the picture below is a real picture. This is a coil that never got cleaned from a home where the filter boot return was at the bottom of the furnace (not recommended) that sucked air from the floor. The picture on the right is a clean coil. Check back later for part two.

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What many mechanical contractors don’t want you to know.

Wednesday, May 4th, 2011

Is it worth putting in a better furnace filter? I fight the idea on a daily basis that a 4″ pleated filter is better than the standard $2 filter or that an electrostatic filter will catch more dust so you have to clean less. I discontinued selling anything other than the standard plain filter except for aresize.jpg lifetime washable filter. It’s true that I could make more money selling you a more expensive filter with the idea that you’ll improve your indoor air quality and such but it’s just NOT TRUE!

The majority of you indoor air and the particles you see in the air are reduced or increased very little by your furnace. Your furnace draws air from the space it’s in and the air in your home. If you’re in a newer home, you’re bringing in fresh air from outside with your ERV or HRV. If you’re in an older home it’s probably bringing in passive fresh air through a fresh air in your mechanical room or, drawing it in the less desirable way, leaky doors and windows. The fact is you need to change your filter frequently. If you filter gets very dirty or full in a week then you need to change it weekly. If you check it monthly and it looks clean then you change it less.

 If you are highly allergic to dust, cleaning with hepa filters and minimizing carpets, drapes and such are the route to go for low cost measures or investing in UV filters. For more information about filters check out this study.

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Carbon Monoxide (CO) and you

Thursday, March 17th, 2011

Carbon Monoxide  (CO) is a poisonous gas that is colorless, odorless, tasteless and otherwise completely not noticeable. When you breathe in CO it combines with your blood and then prevents your blood from absorbing oxygen.

CO is produced from burning fuels like gasoline, wood, natural gas and propane, tobacco and even paper. Anything in your home that has a flame or started with a flame produces carbon monoxide. The most common sources of CO exposure are cigarette smoke and vehicle exhaust. If you have a tuck under garage or live on a busy road CO can build up in your home.

Another very common CO emission are any gas burning appliance that is improperly adjusted, poorly vented or poorly maintained. Let’s address each one.

Improperly adjusted appliances can create soot and corrosion. If you see a predominately orange and/or yellow flame that is an indication of a problem.

Poorly vented appliances cause soot and corrosion, blockage, cracks and holes. Most poorly installed venting creates excess moisture to drip back down to the burners creating those cracks and holes that emit CO. If flames actually roll out of the furnace door or around a pot on your stove top immediately turn off that appliance and request service.

Poorly maintained appliancesare what I see the most. Dust accumulation becomes a hard shell on igniters and burners that eventually prevent the proper firing of the appliance. If you have excessive moisture or frost on the inside of your windows; soot on your ceilings or walls, soot on the front of your fireplace or glass shield; soot on the inside door of your furnace are all a sign of poorly maintained appliances.

Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide poisoning are divided into 3 categories; Mild, Medium and Severe.

Mild Exposure is a slight headache, vomiting, blurred vision, fatigue, nausea or flu-like symptoms; all of which are cured by going outside and breathing fresh air.

Medium Exposure is persistent drowsiness that doesn’t feel right, severe headache, confusion and rapid heart rate. Get outside and call 911 for immediate medical attention.

Severe Exposure escalates to convulsions, unconsciousness, cardiac/respiratory failure and death.

If you suspect you have CO in  your home ventilate the area by opening windows. If you have an attached garage open the door. Shut off all your fuel-burning appliances. If your are feeling any symptoms get your family and pets out of the house and seek medical attention. If you use natural gas or propane contact them through their emergency number and have them check all your gas burning appliances. If you’re burning other fuels contact a professional technician who will have the proper tools to detect where the leak is coming from.

Prevention is the best medicine. Here is a simple list to keep you safe.

Contact C&C HVAC, Inc to inspect all your fuel burning appliances annually.

Do not leave your vehicle running in the garage! Even if you leave the garage door open outside air colliding with exhaust air will vent in, not out.

Do not operate fuel-burning appliances in small, tightly sealed areas.

Do not use your charcoal grill in your home or your garage. Do not store in your garage until you are certain the briquettes are completely dead.

Make sure all chimneys are clear of debris. This includes your pvc and class b flues. Birds, mice, squirrels etc. are attracted to the warm air emanating from these openings. They will build nests resulting in blocked emissions and the only place they can go in back into your house.

Make sure all appliances are burning a predominately blue flame.

Do not vent your dryer into your house. This is just crazy! Even if your dryer is electric the amount of debris that ends up in your furnace causes breakdowns.

If your furnace breaks down please don’t heat your house with your oven, range top or dryer. This could be a lot more unpleasant than being cold for a few hours.

Make sure all fresh air inlets are clear and not blocked. That grey flexible tubing running in your mechanical room should not have a towel stuffed in it. Fresh air is vital to the operation of your furnace and water heater.

Look for signs that your house is not getting enough fresh air by too much moisture or frost on windows, soot on the walls or ceilings etc.

Last but not least, purchase enough CO detectors. If you have a spouse who spends more time sleeping on the couch or recliner than put a CO detector in that room. Don’t forget it’s the law!

Information paraphrased from the following resource. MDH. Please click on MDH for more information regarding CO.