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Indoor Air Quality (17)

Will a More Expensive Furnace Filter Keep the Air Cleaner In Your Home?

Furnace Filters and Indoor Air Quality

As the late spring season arrives and trees and plants are in full bloom, filling the air with pollen, many allergy sufferers retreat indoors with the AC turned on and windows closed. Changing your air filter monthly is important, but does it really help to keep the air in your home free of pollen and other allergens?

Changing the HVAC filter once a month is a good practice, but does buying a more expensive filter advertised to trap smaller particles really make a difference in how clean the air is in your home? It's important to remember that the main purpose of HVAC filters is to keep the equipment free of dirt that can damage the unit and cause it to wear out prematurely, or lower its performance. While the filter may do a good job of removing many of the larger particles from the air, removing pollen and other allergens are not what HVAC filters are design to do.

To effectively remove allergens from the air we recommend a whole home air cleaner. Depending on the design, these systems can not only remove the finest pollen, mold and bacteria particles from the air, but can even kill biological contaminants live viruses and remove harmful chemical vapors.

Have questions about improving the air quality in your home? Call Gibson's Heating and Plumbing, we can help with all your indoor air quality needs.

11 Steps To Cleaner, Healthier Indoor Air

According to the EPA, indoor air pollutants ranked among the top five environmental risks to public health. Because we spend around 90% of our time indoors, where the air can be 2 to 5 times as polluted as outdoor air, it's important to take steps to reduce the harmful health effects of pollutants like dust mites, mold, chemicals, radon, pet dander and more.

Indoor Air Quality

Here are 10 steps you can take to create a healthier indoor environment.

1. Vacuum Carpets and Dust Your Home Every Week

Although they can't be seen with the naked eye, dust mites are common in most homes. Dust mites can aggravate allergies and asthma, leading to respiratory irritation. A vacuum with a HEPA filter is the best way to reduce the number of dust mites in the bedroom and throughout the home.

2. Change Your Furnace Filter Every Month

A dirty furnace air filter not only makes your central heating and cooling system operate less efficiently, it can cause dirt to build build up inside your air ducts, creating an ideal environment for dust mites, mold and mildew.

3. Wash Bedding Every Week In Hot Water

Using a washable dust cover on mattresses can also reduce reduce allergens like dust mites.

4. Ensure that Kitchen and Bathrooms are Well Ventilated

Proper ventilation of cooking fumes and stale, humid air is critical to reducing the growth of mold and mildew.

5. Maintain Humidity Levels Between 30–50%

When the air is too dry in the winter, it can lead to cracked, dry skin and respiratory irritation. If the air is too humid it can lead to harmful mold growth.

If the humidity levels are difficult to control in your home, consider installing a whole house humidifier or dehumidifier that works in conjunction with your home's central heating and cooling system to maintain healthy humidity levels.

6. Test For Radon

Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas and comes from the natural breakdown (radioactive decay) of uranium. Exposure to radon can cause lung cancer. Buy a radon test kit and if the radon levels are unhealthy, take steps to reduce the entry to your home by sealing cracks inside the walls and on floors.

7. Install a Carbon Monoxide Alarm

Carbon monoxide is a byproduct of combustion. In high enough concentrations, carbon monoxide can cause sickness or death. Because it is odorless and colorless, a carbon monoxide detector is needed to know if it is present in the air. Install carbon monoxide alarms near every bedroom and on every level of your home and test them regularly.

8. Let Fresh Air Inside

Whenever possible, increase ventilation by opening windows to let fresh air inside the home.

9. Buy Air Cleaning Houseplants

Years ago NASA conducted study on the effectiveness of different houseplants in removing harmful chemicals from the air. They found many houseplants are effective at removing chemical pollution. By choosing house plants like Boston Fern and English Ivy, you can reduce chemicals like formaldehyde, benzene, ammonia in the air.

10. Consider Installing a Whole House Air Filtration System

If someone in the household has allergies or asthma, consider installing a whole home air filtration system. With features like UV light and advanced, multistage filtration, advanced home air cleaners can remove almost any type of indoor pollution.

11. Have Your Air Ducts Professionally Cleaned

Over time, dust and dirt can build up inside air ducts, providing an ideal environment for dust mites, mold, bacteria and other harmful pollutants to thrive. Regular duct cleaning will ensure that the air blowing through your air ducts is not spreading pollution throughout your home.
As winter approaches and the temperature outside begins to drop, the heat will be turned on and the humidity level will drop. Dry indoor air from low humidity can cause many problems in the home.

Health Problems From Low Humidity

While static shock can be an annoyance, dry skin, itchy eyes and respiratory irritation can lead to more serious ailments. As mucous membranes dry out our bodies becomes more susceptible to infections and are more likely to catch a cold or flu virus. Because dry air can cause dust and dirt to remain in the air longer, allergies can be aggravated as the air becomes drier and nasal passages dry out.

Home Damage From Low Humidity

Wood furniture, floors and other woodwork are most susceptible to damage from low humidity levels. If humidity levels fluctuate too much, wood can swell and shrink as moisture is absorbed and released, causing cracking and damage. Musical instruments, paintings and electronic equipment are also susceptible to damage from low humidity.

Use a Whole-Home Humidifier to Increase Humidity

The best solution to low humidity levels in the home is a whole-home humidifier. By working in conjunction with your home's HVAC system a humidifier will provide consistent, healthy humidity levels throughout your home. A humidity level of 40-60 percent during the winter months is best for most homes. 

Have questions about maintaining healthy humidity levels in your home? Call Gibson's Heating and Plumbing. We can help with all your indoor air quality needs.
Even if your home looks clean and the air smells fresh, there can still be harmful pollutants lurking inside that can be harmful to your health. In fact, the EPA reports that the air inside can be 2 to 5 times as polluted as the air outside. The problem gets worse in newer homes that are well sealed and insulated. Because most of us spend more than 90 percent of our time indoors, it's important to understand the types of indoor pollution that exist in most homes and how to reduce their impact on your health.

Here are some of the most common sources of indoor pollution:

1. Dust Mites - Furniture, carpet and bedding provides an ideal environment for dust mites to thrive. Wash or vacuum carpets and wash bedding weekly in hot water. Change your furnace air filter at least once a month and have your ducts professional cleaned when needed.

2. Mold and Mildew - Damp bathrooms and basements can harbor mold and mildew that can reduce air quality. Ensure that there is good ventilation in bathrooms in the form of windows or vent fans. Aim to keep humidity levels in the home between 30-50%.

3. Carbon Monoxide - Gas appliances can emit odorless, deadly carbon monoxide. Install carbon monoxide detectors near every bedroom and test them regularly.

4. Smoke and Pet Dander – If there are pets or smoking in the home, consider limiting smoking to outside and installing a whole home air cleaner.

5. Radon - Radon a invisible, odorless form of radiation that can enter the home from the ground and increase the risk of certain types of cancer. Purchase a radon detection kit and follow the instructions for testing radon in your home. If problems are found, proper radon mitigation techniques should be performed to reduce exposure to safe levels.

With the mild winter weather we have experienced the spring allergy season is expected to arrive early this year. If you or someone in your family suffers from seasonal allergies, there are steps you can take to reduce the level of allergens in your home.
  1. Keep the windows closed. On warm spring days it's tempting to open up windows at night to let the cool air in while sleeping. When pollen counts are high, keep the windows closed and use the air conditioner instead.
  2. Change your clothes after being outside. Because pollen will stick to everything, including your clothing and hair, changing your clothes and washing your hair after being outdoors for an extended period of time will lessen the contamination inside the home.
  3. If you have pets, keep them out of bedrooms. This will lessen the amount of pollen and pet dander you are exposed to at night.
  4. Clean carpet, rugs and bare floors with a HEPA vacuum cleaner regularly. 
  5. Encase beds, mattresses, and pillows in microfiber covers. These covers are designed to reduce dust mites and pet dander. Wash your sheets weekly in hot water and dry on high heat.
  6. Consider installing a whole house air cleaner. High efficiency air cleaning systems are installed directly to your heating and cooling system, each time the system runs the air in your home goes through a sophisticated media filter capturing and removing dust, pet dander, mold spores, dust mites, viruses, pollen, bacteria, smoke, odors and much more.
VOCs, or Volatile Organic Compounds, are chemicals that emit gases inside the home. There are many ways VOCs find there way into our homes, here are some of the most common sources:
  • Household cleaning products
  • Paints and varnishes
  • Wood preservatives
  • Wax that contain organic solvents
  • Disinfectants
  • Cosmetics
Any of these household products could be releasing organic compounds into the air while in use, and even when they are in storage. The possible health effects of exposure to VOCs include:
  • Eye, nose and throat irritation
  • Headaches
  • Loss of coordination and nausea
  • Liver and kidney damage
  • Central nervous system damage
  • Some VOCs are also suspected carcinogens.
The extent of the health effects depend on many factors such as the level and length of exposure. According to the EPA, concentrations of VOCs indoors can be more than 10 times higher than outdoors. So what can you do to limit your family's exposure to potentially harmful VOCs? The EPA recommends taking the following steps:
  • Provide ample ventilation when using products that emit VOCs
  • Read and follow product labels carefully
  • Store opened containers of unused products in a safe location and ensure they are tightly sealed and not leaking.
  • If a container is leaking, safely dispose of it as directed. Do not transfer the contents to a different container.
  • Plywood furniture and flooring should be sealed to reduce potential exposure to formaldehyde.
If your concerned about the air quality in your home, call Gibson's Heating and Plumbing. We offer a full range of indoor air quality systems that can improve the air inside your home.
Monday, 30 January 2017 18:02

4 Furnace Air Filter Tips

Written by
One of the most common questions we receive from our customers is, "How often should I replace my furnace filter?" The answer is usually once a month. Although, this will vary depending on the type of filter and whether there are air quality issues in the home such as pets and other factors. Here are a few other things to consider:

1. Buy filters in bulk and keep them near your furnace.

Having filters always ready near your furnace will reduce the tendency to procrastinate and wait too long between filter changes. Also, buying a package of filters is usually less expensive than purchasing individual filters.

2. Always use the correct size filter.

An poor-fitting furnace filter allows dirt and debris to get around the filter and contaminate the air in your home. It can also lead to clogged air conditioner coils, reducing the efficiency of the unit and shortening the lifespan of the compressor and other components.

3. Install the filter facing right direction.

Most filters have arrows indicating the direction of air flow. Putting the filter in backwards can cause the filter to work less efficiently and in some cases may cause the filter to buckle, allowing air around the filter.

4. Furnace filters are not air cleaners.

While most furnace filters will keep larger particles of dirt and debris out of air ducts, their primary purpose is to keep your furnace clean. They are not designed to keep the air in your home clean. If your home has excess dust, pet dander, smoke or other contaminants, consider installing a high quality home air filtration system. HEPA filters are designed to capture the smallest particles that can pass through most 1" furnace air filters.
As the cold weather settles in a whole house humidifier can help make the air in you rhome healthier and more comfortable. However, as with the heating system, a humidifier needs regular maintenance to ensure it operates reliably. Here are some items to check:
  1. Drain Line – Ensure it is clean and free of obstructions. Over time minerals and algae can buildup and clog the line.
  2. Replace the media panel. The media panel, or water panel, works by mixing water with the flow of hot air from the furnace. Most manufacturers recommend replacing the panel at least twice a season. If you allow the media panel to stay in the humidifier for too long, it will reduce the performance of the unit and potentially harbor unhealthy mold and bacteria.
  3. Clean the humidifier’s fan. Also clean off the fan’s intake vent and enclosure.
  4. Solenoid Valve – The solenoid valve allows water to flow through to the humidifier. When the unit is operating, ensure the the valve is opening and that water is flowing.
Finally, when the warm weather returns in the spring, remember to turn off the humidifier and discard the used media panel.
Dry air can be a big problem during the winter heating season. Viruses that cause colds, flu and other upper respiratory ailments thrive in low humidity. Drier air can also aggravate allergies and asthma.

Low humidity can be hard on your home and furnishings. Expensive electronics can be damaged by static electric charges. It also causes dry skin and make your home feel colder leading you to turn up the thermostat creating higher utility bills.

When properly controlled, humidity offers many proven benefits. The best solution to dry air is to have Gibson’s install an Aprilaire Whole-Home Humidifier.

Gibson’s Heating & Plumbing is here to help you control the humidity levels in your home. One of our indoor air quality experts will visit your home to evaluate the inside air to determine the right Aprilaire humidification system that will deliver the perfect amount of moisture in your home.

Installed directly to you homes heating system, a whole-home humidification system properly controls the humidity level throughout your entire home providing dependable whole-home comfort and energy savings.

Benefits of a whole-house humidification system:
  • Humidity at optimal levels maintain the value and extend the life of your home and furnishings
  • Protect your family’s health
  • Provides maximum comfort throughout your entire home. No more dry skin and unnecessary damp chill
  • Adding moisture to the air reduces static electricity, helping to eliminate those annoying shocks and protects your electronic devices
Tired of dry, winter air? Give Gibson’s Heating and Plumbing call today.
There several different types of home fans, each with a different purpose. All fans play an important role in maintaining comfort and indoor air quality. The four main types of fans are:

Whole-House Fans

This type of fan is designed to circulate air throughout a home's ductwork. It is sometimes confused with an attic ventilator fan (see below), which exhausts hot air from the attic to the outside through an opening in the roof. In some cases, a whole house fan can take the place of a home's air conditioning system by circulating air during times of the year when it's not too hot, particularly when combined with ceiling fans.

Exhaust Fans

Exhaust fans are designed to remove stale, humid air from bathrooms, laundry rooms and other enclosed spaces with high humidity. They improve air quality and reduce the chance of mold and mildew growth. When installing an exhaust fan it's important to ensure that the fan is ducted to the exterior of the house and not just into an attic.

Attic Fans

Also called an attic ventilator, attic fans regulate the heat level of a home's attic by exhausting hot air. They are usually controlled by a thermostat that automatically turns the fan off and on, or less frequently by a manual switch. An attic fan can be gable mounted or roof mounted.

Ceiling Fans

Ceiling fans are a popular choice for improving airflow in rooms, as well as serving as lighting fixtures and enhancing room decor. While a ceiling fan doesn't actually lower the temperature, it circulates the conditioned air where it's needed most and provides evaporative cooling.

Have questions? Give Gibson's Heating and Plumbing a call. We're here to help.

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