Air Filters: a critical part of your HVAC System

Dirty air filters can sabotage performance and raise your electric bills.

It’s about the last thing on your mind, especially during the busy holiday season. And let’s face it, changing out the air filter is downright unpleasant. But swapping it out regularly is a must.

 How often?

Many factors affect the frequency with which you should switch out your filters.

1. Filter quality. If your system takes high-performance filters, they can last up to 3 months. A 1- or 2-inch filter may need changing monthly.

2. Pets. When you have pets, it’s good practice to change your air filter with greater frequency. Dust levels can build up much more quickly due to pet dander and hair. If you have multiple pets, be sure and change your filters monthly.

3. Dust. If you have a particularly dusty household, bump up the filter-changing schedule.

4. HVAC Usage. The more you run your HVAC System, or even your ceiling fans, the more often you need to make a filter swap. If you can stand to let your home get a little warmer in summer and cooler in winter, you can change them less often.

5. Smoking. Not surprisingly, smoke can affect the longevity of your filters as much as dust. The more people in your home smoke, the sooner you need a new HVAC filter.

We recommend figuring out your HVAC filter schedule and setting an alarm on your mobile phone. Or do it the old-fashioned way and mark your calendar! Either way, it’s well worth the effort.

Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Most people are aware of the dangers of carbon monoxide (CO) exposure. Nevertheless, more than 20,000 Americans become ill from CO poisoning each year. Here are some important things to know about the risks in your home:

1.   CO is sneaky.

–  It’s both odorless and colorless.

–  It can build to dangerous levels quickly in an enclosed area

–  Common symptoms of CO poisoning—headache, dizziness, weakness, upset stomach, vomiting, and confusion—are mistaken for the flu.

–  Things we don’t expect, like mowers and grills can be dangerous if they aren’t operated in the open air. And a wood-burning fireplace can be a risk if the chimney is not cleaned regularly.

2.   It’s nearly impossible to eliminate all CO sources. Fumes that produce CO can come from major home appliances, automobiles, heating systems, and water heaters … in other words, many of the conveniences of modern life.

3. Ironically, homes well-sealed and insulated for energy efficiency are especially at risk.

 

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to safeguard your home:

1. Install CO detectors near the sleeping areas of your home.

2. Never operate cars, mowers, generators, grills, or other CO-producing tools in the garage—even with the garage door open. Fumes can still build up in the garage or even enter the house.

3. Make sure all vents, chimneys, and flues are unblocked, cleaned regularly, and ductwork is without leaks.

4. Make sure all major appliances are properly installed.

5. Have your home heating system inspected and serviced every year.

Follow these steps and you can feel confident that you and your family are protected throughout the year.

Winter prep starts with your home heating system

Maybe you are one of the lucky ones… maybe your furnace has trucked along with no problems winter after winter. But too many homeowners hold their breath when they change the thermostat setting from Cool to Heat.

It’s actually easy to avoid those worries associated with The Unknown! Here are some recommendations on how to face the coming cold without fear:

  1. Always begin with a maintenance check of your furnace by professionals. William Brockman & Sons makes it easy by offering Planned Service Agreements. We will schedule these easy-to-forget but necessary tune-ups of your home heating system every year. Ask us about options that include emergency service with discounted repair.
  2. If you enjoy a wood-burning fireplace in your home, get the chimney cleaned and inspected by a professional. The National Fire Protection Association recommends that: “Chimneys, fireplaces, and vents shall be inspected at least once a year for soundness, freedom from deposits, and correct clearances. Cleaning, maintenance, and repairs shall be done if necessary.”
  3. Have your air ducts cleaned. This is critical to the effectiveness of your HVAC system as well as the air quality in your home. As a bonus, you may notice lower energy bills if your ducts haven’t been cleaned in a long time!
  4. Set up a reminder to change your air filter every month. It helps to set a recurring alarm or reminder on your cellphone. This is another crucial but easy-to-forget task.

If you start with these basic steps, the worries go away when cooler temperatures approach. A proactive strategy will often help to reduce long-term wear and even avoid unnecessary, expensive repairs.

Home Humidity: The Right Balance Is Critical

Home Humidity: The Right Balance Is Critical

The best indoor relative humidity is 45% to 55%. Too much moisture, and you can get runaway rot and mold growth. Too little, and discomfort and respiratory problems can crop up. How to achieve the right balance?

If your home is too dry, installing a whole-house humidifier can help, as can individual units for arid “hot spots.”

If your home humidity levels are consistently high, do some investigating. Make sure structural factors aren’t to blame:

  • All vents, including bathroom, range top, and clothes dryer, should vent to the outside. Otherwise, the concentrated humidity will just circulate throughout the house. Have your air ducts inspected to see if they are due for a cleaning.
  • Check the exterior. Weatherstripping, caulking, roofing, and your foundation should be inspected for areas where moisture could creep in. Assure that downspouts are on an incline, carrying water away from the house.
  • Crawlspaces and basements are notorious for collecting and creating moisture. Crawl spaces require vinyl sheeting to block moisture. Sump pumps or french drains are a necessity if there’s ever water pooling in the basement.

Whether your home humidity levels are high or low, it is critical that your HVAC system runs properly. Have your AC and furnace serviced annually. There are also ways to augment your system to monitor and regulate moisture levels, keeping them within that 45-55% “sweet spot.”

We offer comprehensive indoor air monitoring, which measures pollutants and carbon monoxide as well as moisture. Once completed, our advisors can offer options for getting control of your home humidity. This will extend the life of your home, save on energy bills, and increase your family’s comfort and health.

The Importance of Ventilation in a Commercial Space

There are a lot of requirements to take care of when you have a commercial business. Some small priorities fall short, but ventilation should be considered a top concern for many reasons.

1.       Health Concerns

Employees who work in an office all day with improper ventilation will constantly struggle with their existing allergies, asthma and respiratory immune disorders. If employees are constantly getting sick, there may be an abundance of contaminants that are just circulating through the air rather than rejuvenating itself. Good ventilation ducts will allow fresh air to rotate through the office space rather than recycling the infected air flow.

2.       Safety

In order to keep gases or fumes out of the workplace, good ventilation needs to be installed to keep those toxins out of the office. Carbon monoxide poisoning can be a cause of poor ventilation and it is wise for all business owners to have an expert check if the building is equipped to properly detect and avoid that issue.

3.       Cost Efficient

A benefit to all business owners is with good ventilation systems, the heating and cooling system work more efficiently which cuts costs on those bills. Easy fixes that can help airflow are fans in the bathroom and cooking areas. These will remove extra odor and humidity that may be circulating throughout the rest of the workplace.

Cleaner Air in Your Home This Summer

Dirty air in your home can cause many subtle to harsh health effects that are completely preventable. For instance, bad air can cause coughing, asthma attacks, itchy eyes, frequent headaches, and even chest tightness. Try some of these tips to clean the air in your home to prevent these side effects from disturbing your family.

  1. Clean the air filter: Having a clogged or dirty filter will lower the efficiency of your HVAC system and cause the air ran through the system to be less than clean. Checking it monthly, like on the first of the month, will be beneficial to make sure you are not using a dirty air filter for your home or paying more to run your unit.
  2. Minimize the amount of harsh chemical cleaners that you use in your home. Although this can be unavoidable in some instances, try to replace some products with more natural ingredients to prevent chemicals clouding up the air in your home.
  3. Run the bathroom exhaust fan while showering. Sometimes it is easy to forget to put the fan on but this will help pull excess moisture out of the air. If the fan is not used, that extra moisture can allow mold to grow throughout your home and create other expensive repair problems.
  4. Purchase machine washable bedding and home fabrics. The amount of dust mites that are present in homes is lowered when you are able to clean your bedding, curtains, and rugs frequently. Otherwise, you are spending extra money on dry cleaning costs.
  5. Although there are allergens outdoors and fumes from transportation, it is wise to open up your windows when the weather permits to air out the home and gather some fresh air.

Tips to Save Money This Summer

Summer is a time for concerts, vacation, and time with your friends and family. These are the types of activities that you should be spending your hard-earned money on doing during the warm months. In order to keep your wallet full, take a gander at these tips to ensure you are not wasting money cooling your home.

1.       Get an Annual Check-Up

Having central air is a luxury and makes scorching hot days tolerable. To ensure that your system is working appropriately, have a professional come check it out. They will be able to take a look at your monthly bill to point out any inefficiencies that are wasting your hard-earned money.

2.       Clean the Air Filter

Having a clogged or dirty filter will lower the efficiency of your HVAC system causing it to work harder. Checking it monthly, on the first of the month for example, will be beneficial to make sure you are not using a dirty air filter for your home.

3.       Protect Your HVAC Unit From Sun and Debris

Keeping your HVAC system in the shade is a very good way to keep your machine from aging quicker or over-working. Potentially planting a tree close to the system could allow sufficient shade but watch out for shrubs and bushes. If they overgrow, branches can get intertwined with the system and ultimately cause damage.

4.       Check Vents

This tip seems very obvious but it tends to get forgotten by many homeowners. If you are noticing that there is a room in your home that is always particularly warmer than the others, check your vents. They may have been closed or they may just need a quick cleaning. These quick fixes can make a tremendous difference in the cooling quality of your HVAC system.

5.       Keep Gravity in Mind

A known fact is that “heat rises.” This means your upstairs of your home is always going to be a couple degrees warmer than the downstairs. To combat this situation, have some oscillating fans in your upstairs rooms to keep air flow moving so the temperature difference isn’t even noticed. This is definitely a more cost effective solution rather than cranking the air to an even lower temperature.

Help Your HVAC System Work Efficiently This Summer

Now that summer is drawing near, the air conditioning units are coming out of hibernation. Even new systems require minimal maintenance to keep energy costs low and to increase the longevity of your HVAC system. Simple habits can help avoid the risk of your air conditioner malfunctioning or breaking down in the heat of summer. To ensure that your unit is ready to keep you cool this summer, check out this tips.

  1. It has been repeated time after time but it’s truly important to change your filter in the beginning of the season and throughout the season. Set a calendar alarm on your phone for the 1st of every month to help you remember. It will increase the efficiency of your HVAC system tremendously. Also, it will keep extra money in your wallet.
  2. Don’t overwork your HVAC system unnecessarily. Keep your blinds down or curtains drawn during the work day. This will prevent to sun from warming up outer rooms. Also, keep a ceiling fan or floor fan running to increase air circulate. This makes cooling more effective.
  3. Yes, shut the door of a room that is rarely used, like a spare bedroom. But if you keep too many interior doors closed, it will disrupt the air flow in the home. Keep doors open or slightly opened so cool air can continuously circulate.
  4. Insulating an attic or crawl space is more of a time-consuming task but it will make a stupendous impact on summer and winter energy bills. A common form of DIY insulation is spray foam and it is a fairly simple task to complete. Tightly sealing these spaces in your home will prevent your heated or cooled air from escaping your home.

Spring Cleanup Begins with HVAC

Spring cleaning time is here! There are already some obvious chores on your to-do list, however here are a few more to add to your list to keep your HVAC system in great condition. To keep your house in top shape, all systems need an annual checkup. You don’t want to wait until that first hot and humid day to turn on your system to find out if it is working properly!

Prepare Your Air Conditioner Unit

Even a fairly new system needs regular maintenance to run efficiently. Ensure that debris is removed, drainage holes are clear, and filters are changed as necessary. We also suggest you schedule regular maintenance on your heating and cooling systems by one of our HVAC experts.

Due Diligence with your Dehumidifier

Dehumidifiers are a considerable help when fighting allergies in the spring. To keep your dehumidifier working properly, remove its housing and let the unit dry completely. Vacuum every accessible surface and crevice.

Dust Your Air Ducts

Dirt, dust, and allergens can build up in your air ducts over the winter. It is important to get your air ducts cleaned annually to ensure the best possible air quality in your home and to save on energy costs.

Scrub Your Ceiling Fans

Clean the dust off your ceiling fans so that the particles on it don’t get moved around the house when you turn it on this spring. To do this, we suggest you take the cover off, wash it in soapy water and clean the dirt off the fan blades with a toothbrush.

Easy, Breezy Strategies to Lower Your Home Energy Bill This Spring

Winter is over, and spring is here! Beside the joy of being able to go outside and enjoy the warm weather, spring also creates many opportunities for you to reduce your home energy bill. The drastic improvement in weather means you’ll use the furnace less and might even start considering switching on the air conditioning soon. But you can minimize your energy costs with a few smart tactics.

Turn off climate control, and open the windows.  

If the outdoor temperature is anywhere between 50° F and 70° F, it’s time to shut off the furnace and air conditioning, and open the windows in your home. It will take some time for the outdoor air to change the temperature in your house, so your home temperature will stay fairly stable. All the while, you will save on energy costs because you won’t be running climate control.

Set the ceiling fan to run in a counterclockwise direction. 

When warmer weather blows in, you want your ceiling fans to blow air straight down. In order to do this, the blades should be rotating in a counterclockwise direction. Most ceiling fans have a switch on them that changes the direction. Running ceiling fans in the right direction saves energy and can help you avoid turning on the air conditioner it may not be needed.

Do laundry and dishes late in the evening.  

Household tasks that produce heat help warm up your house and make your furnace work a bit less. Since in the spring, it’s cold in the evening but warm during the day, consider switching up when you do things in your house that warm it, like baking cookies, doing the laundry, or running the dishwasher. That excess heat will add warmth to your home and thus reduce the need for home heating during the night hours.