5 Reasons To Get Indoor Air Quality Tested

5 Reasons to Get Your Home’s Air Quality Tested

Homes are getting more energy-efficient, and that’s a good thing. Good insulation and new windows keep your home comfortable, reduce your monthly energy bill, and do their part to protect the environment through reduced energy usage. But as homes are built to seal up drafts and keep treated air locked inside, they can simultaneously ruin your home’s indoor air quality.

The first step to knowing if your home has poor air quality is to get it tested. A professional HVAC company can send out a technician to test your home’s air. They can zero in on common causes for poor air quality and offer recommendations to make sure fresh air circulates through your home.

Here are five reasons to take that first step:

1. You or your family’s medical conditions are getting worse.

If you have asthma or allergies, you probably stay inside when there’s pollen or poor air quality outside. But many of those irritants can come inside without having a way back out of your house. Every time someone comes inside or opens the front door, pollen, dust, and air pollution follow them. If your HVAC doesn’t have a clear way to pump them outside, they will accumulate on the filter. Finer toxins will slip through the filter and endlessly circulate through your home.

A certified technician can test the air and make sure your filter is doing its job to pull irritants out of it.

2. Toxins can give people sick building syndrome.

You may have heard about sick building syndrome becoming a problem in offices more than in homes. When large commercial buildings made their windows unopenable and sealed the buildings to make them meet environmental regulations, the air inside the buildings grew stagnant. Printer ink, germs, mold on a large scale, and chemical residue built up in the air and people’s respiratory systems started to suffer.

The same thing has started to happen in homes. While your house might not face the same industrial chemicals or high amounts of foot traffic like in office buildings, the contaminants, smoke, and mildew can build up until your air isn’t safe. Even if you don’t have a preexisting health condition, poor air quality can give you sick building syndrome.

3. Poor air quality is noticeable to potential buyers and tenants.

If you plan on putting your home on the market or opening it up for tenants, you know that first impressions matter. You can clean your house, cover cooking smells, and plug-in air fresheners, but nothing can mask the feeling of poor air quality. New visitors can sense the contamination or even develop a slight difficulty breathing while touring your home, even if there isn’t a smell. This sixth sense can make buyers or tenants reconsider.

4. You added new windows and doors to an older home.

Many new homes take air quality into consideration when the plans are being made. Because architectural firms know that more and more people are buying energy-efficient HVAC systems and double-paned windows, they plan out better ventilation to keep the air clean. But if you added these new, green features to an older home, your home’s ventilation wasn’t designed to keep up.

If you have installed new doors or windows or have added new insulation to your house, have a professional test the indoor air quality just in case. You might not yet have noticed a buildup of toxins, and you can stop problems before they start.

5. You can smell mold or stagnant air.

Many times, you can sense a problem just like new visitors can. Whenever you get home, the air feels stagnant. Food smells from the previous day linger throughout the house. Bathrooms or your laundry room always smell faintly like mold. All of these warning signs mean contaminants aren’t being pumped out of your home. Instead, they’re being circulated throughout the house or, even worse, building up.

Whether you feel sicker, sense that something is off about your home’s air, or just did a lot of renovation, don’t wait. Contact us at SWAN Plumbing, Heating & Air of Denver for a quick indoor air quality test. Once you have the results, our experts can recommend the next best steps to make your home safer.

What Type Of HVAC Filter To Use

What Type of Filter Should I Put In My HVAC System?

Routine maintenance is essential to keep your home’s HVAC system running properly. One of the easiest, and most important, aspects of furnace maintenance is keeping the air filter clean. Not only does a clean air filter improve the quality of the air in your home, it also helps your HVAC system perform at peak efficiency. A dirty filter will restrict the flow of air, which can cause your HVAC system to fail. That’s why experts say that HVAC air filters need to be changed every 30 to 60 days. The problem is, choosing the right one can be a challenge.

Types of HVAC Filters

There are a few different types of HVAC filters that will filter the air and improve your HVAC system’s performance. Some are very inexpensive, and readily available at a local home improvement store, other options require installation by a trained professional. Here are some tips to help make the choice easier for you.

Fiberglass Filters

This the most common type of HVAC air filter since they’re both widely available and inexpensive. These filters are created from fiberglass strands that are held together in a frame. They’re good at catching large airborne particles like dust, but they aren’t able to purify the air like some of the other types of filters available.

Pleated Filters

These filters can be polyester, paper, or cotton. The material is folded into accordian-like pleats which increases the surface area. That means they are able to capture dust, dirt, pet dander, dust mites and even hair before it enters the HVAC system. They’re available in both washable and disposable forms.

MERV Filters

The majority of the HVAC filters available for residential units carry a MERV rating. MERV is an acronym for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value and it’s used to describe the level of filtration a filter provides. MERV rankings range from 1 to 16 and the higher the ranking, the better the filter performs.

HEPA Filters

HEPA filters are very good at trapping airborne contaminants. Because of the densely packed fibers, they’re able to remove up to 99.7 percent of particles that are 0.3 microns or larger. They virtually eliminate allergens, dust, dirt, and other irritants from the air before they reach the HVAC system for improved air quality.

Which Filter Is Best?

The answer to that question depends upon the manufacturer’s recommendation, what you expect from the filter, and ultimately your budget.

Manufacturer’s Recommendation

Before you go out and buy a new HVAC air filter, take the time to read your owner’s manual. You’ll not only find instructions for changing the filter, but also recommendations about the size and type of filter to use. They’ve tested the different types of filters and they know which ones work best.

Your Air Quality Needs

Indoor air quality can have a major impact on people who suffer with allergies or other breathing problems. If this is the case for someone in your household, consider a filter that removes more particles from the air. If not, then a less expensive, fiberglass filter may well satisfy your needs.

What’s Your Budget?

HVAC air filters start at a few dollars each for the fiberglass type while the higher-end filters have a heftier price tag. While it’s true in this case that you get what you pay for, you don’t have to break the bank to make an improvement. If you’re on a tight budget, an inexpensive, new filter is better than a clogged high end filter.

Conclusion

Your HVAC system works hard all year to keep your family comfortable and it needs a little attention from time to time. Make sure that you’re checking your air filters and changing them regularly to ensure the air flows freely. You’ll save money on your utility bills because your unit will run more efficiently and it will extend the life of your HVAC system. Contact us if you want more information about HVAC filters and we’ll be happy to help you make the right choice for your system.

Understanding How Dual Zoned HVAC Systems Work

The idea of using a single light switch to control all of the lights in a home would seem ridiculous and impractical to any homeowner. After all, it does not make sense to pay to illuminate rooms that are not being used. The same is true of your HVAC system. The idea of being able to independently control the temperature within various areas of the home based on need and occupant preferences is becoming increasingly popular as a way of improving home comfort and reducing energy costs.

What Is A Zoned HVAC System?

Traditional forced air systems use one thermostat to control the heating and air conditioning of the entire home. Every room is the same temperature. This can lead to battles over the thermostat as various family members try to adjust the temperature to their liking. It also means that you are paying to heat or cool the basement even if you have not been down there in weeks. The only option for controlling the temperature in different parts of the house is to close the vents manually. Unfortunately, this reduces airflow, which can ultimately strain and shorten the life of your HVAC system.

A professionally-installed zoned HVAC system uses a series of dampers and separate thermostats for each area of the home. This allows the homeowner to set different temperatures throughout the house. You no longer have to pay to heat or cool the basement or upstairs bedrooms when they are not being used.

How Zoned HVAC Systems Work

The first key component of a zoned HVAC system is a series of motorized dampers. These dampers are placed inside the ducts or at the air outlet. Multiple dampers are connected together to create a zone. The number of zones in a particular home can vary based on square footage, the number of floors, room layout, and how the different rooms are used.

Each zone has its own thermostat that controls the heating and cooling operation in that area. The dampers and thermostats are connected to a central control panel that is also connected to the HVAC unit. This allows the unit to respond to requests from multiple thermostats.

If the thermostat from a particular zone calls for heating or air conditioning, the dampers in that zone will open to allow the air to flow into that area. The dampers in the rest of the home remain closed. If a second area needs heating or cooling, the corresponding dampers are opened. As each area of the home reaches the set temperature, those dampers are closed. When all sections of the home are at the desired temperature, the entire system shuts off.

Benefits of a HVAC Zoned System

A single HVAC system using zoned control is much less expensive than installing multiple HVAC systems for different areas of the home. The fact that you can shut down heating and cooling to unoccupied areas of the home can significantly reduce operating costs. The fact that zoned HVAC systems use air conditioning units with variable speed motors means that they use approximately one-third of the energy of a traditional system. This can reduce your energy costs by as much as 30 percent.

Limitations of Zoned HVAC Systems

There are limits as to how small you can make the zones. The system cannot deliver enough air to a small area to allow the equipment to cycle properly. For example, you would want to have the master bedroom and bath as part of the same zone instead of trying to have the bath as a separate zone.

It is also necessary to have a two-stage air conditioner along with a variable speed blower on the furnace or air handler. These units are more expensive than single-stage units; however, the higher purchase price is typically offset by increased efficiency and lower operating costs.

Installing Zoned Air Conditioning & Heating

Although installing zoned AC & furnace units is relatively straightforward, it is certainly something that should be left to a professional. The technician has to mount the units, connect the lines that carry the refrigerant, and make the necessary electrical connections. The technician needs to have the necessary knowledge of relay wiring in order to have the control board open all zones when the controls call for humidity distribution. The installation process can take anywhere from one to three days depending on the size and complexity of the installation.

Zone Controlled HVAC Service in the Denver Metro Area

At Swan Plumbing, Heating & Air, we can install a zoned HVAC system in your new construction home or retrofit your existing system. All of our technicians are North American Technician Excellence certified and undergo rigorous training before entering the field. We carry heating and cooling systems from leading manufacturers, and our installation experts can help you find the right system for your home. Call today to find out more about the benefits of a zoned HVAC system.