New Heating & Cooling Systems Category
Fall allergies aren’t only an outdoor issue. Airborne allergens, such as ragweed pollen that is dominant during autumn, are microscopic and easily infiltrate the indoor environment on air currents. Also, other pre-existing allergens inside the home like dust mites and airborne mold spores become more prominent simply because the house tends to be more closed up as weather cools down. Fortunately, there are meaningful steps you can take to limit the effect of these and other irritants that cause fall allergies.
Change the air filter. Your HVAC system air filter cleans the entire volume of air inside the house. Filter effectiveness is directly related to its MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) rating as well as how frequently the filter is replaced. Purchase quality pleated cotton or polyester filters with a MERV rating between 8 and 11 for protection against common airborne allergens such as pollen. During fall and winter, check the filter monthly and change immediately if it appears dirty. Otherwise, install a new filter every other month.
Control humidity. About 20 million Americans experience asthma-like allergic responses to microscopic dust mites. Actually distantly related to spiders, dust mites easily remain airborne in household currents of air. Dust mites thrive as indoor humidity rises above 50%. Using exhaust fans to ventilate bathroom and kitchen water vapor as well as installing a whole-house dehumidifier to mitigate excess humidity helps eradicate dust mites and reduce allergic symptoms.
Neutralize microorganisms. Microscopic airborne mold spores are toxic to many people. Inside the enclosed environment of a house, the high concentration of mold spores may trigger allergic responses ranging from common respiratory symptoms to chronic illness. Consider installing disinfecting ultraviolet (UV) light arrays inside your HVAC ductwork to neutralize airborne spores in household air. The germicidal effect of UV light disrupts the ability of spores to replicate. Also, since mold spores are inert until activated by exposure to moisture, keep indoor humidity in the EPA-recommended range of 35% to 60%.
For more ways to improve indoor air quality and reduce fall allergies, contact Apollo Heating, Cooling, Electrical and Plumbing.
A new AC installation is a step forward to greater energy efficiency, lower costs and—perhaps best of all—enhanced indoor comfort. The installation process is critical to getting all those benefits you deserve. If installation doesn’t meet standards, the system may not maintain consistent comfort, operating costs may be higher and excessive wear and tear may occur. To help ensure that a new system lives up to manufacturer’s specs as well as your own expectations, here are three things you can do to prepare for a new A/C installation.
- Make sure the unit is correctly sized. Every new installation should be preceded by a load calculation performed by a qualified HVAC (heating, ventilation, air conditioning) contractor. The process—known as “sizing”— consists of a room-by-room survey to quantify the unique thermal characteristics of the house. After this data is entered into industry-standard software called Manual J, the program calculates the BTU (British thermal unit) capacity required to cool the home more effectively and efficiently. This enables the contractor to match a new unit with the correct specs to do the job. It’s critical to get sizing right because both oversized and undersized HVAC units under-perform, cost more to operate, and often have shorter service life.
- Get the ductwork inspected. Connecting a new air conditioner to aging, leaky ductwork produces disappointing results. Residential ductwork typically leaks over 25% of the conditioned air it’s supposed to convey to all rooms throughout the house. This makes living spaces less comfortable and causes the A/C to run longer cycles, boosting operating costs. A qualified HVAC contractor can test the system for leakage and offer sealing options if required.
- Is there sufficient space? Installation of the outdoor component of a central A/C requires certain area to the rear or on one side of the house. Ensure shrubbery is cut away and any large objects relocated so the unit will have at least three feet of open area on all sides to ensure proper air circulation.
For more advice about the benefits of a professional AC installation, contact the experts at Apollo Heating, Cooling Electrical and Plumbing.
Saving money isn’t the only benefit of a furnace inspection, but it’s one you’ll appreciate every month when you pay your utility bills. Nationwide, the annual average cost to heat a home with a gas furnace is more than $1,200. Any effective measures you can take to reduce that substantial figure usually pay for themselves in energy savings alone. Of course, an annual furnace inspection also keeps your heating system performing up to manufacturer’s specs, reduces the incidence of repairs and ensures that all safety functions are fully operational.
Here are some ways an annual furnace inspection by a qualified HVAC service technician helps keep household heating affordable.
- Furnace air filter is checked and replaced. A dirty filter obstructs system airflow. Low airflow is a major cause of substandard furnace efficiency and higher heating costs.
- Burners are cleaned and checked for proper ignition and flame. Dirty or clogged burners cause incomplete combustion and waste gas.
- The vent system is inspected all the way to the roof to ensure free flow of exhaust gases. An obstructed vent is a major safety hazard and also affects furnace energy consumption.
- Combustion gases produced by the furnace are checked with an analyzer. This is an important diagnostic procedure to verify proper combustion and make sure the furnace is operating at optimum fuel efficiency. It’s also a critical safety measure to detect excessive amounts of dangerous carbon monoxide.
- Blower amperage is measured. The furnace blower makes a substantial contribution to monthly electrical costs. Excessive amperage draw indicates a worn, failing motor that may be wasting electricity.
- Heat exchanger is inspected. This is a vital safety check as the heat exchanger prevents dangerous combustion gases including carbon monoxide from entering the system airflow. Because the heat exchanger is the single most expensive component in your heating system, an annual inspection also provides important information about the expected service life of the furnace and when replacement may be necessary.
Enjoy optimum heating comfort at lowest cost this winter. Schedule a furnace inspection by the professionals at Apollo Heating, Cooling, Electrical and Plumbing.
It probably comes as no surprise that there is dust invading your home. The amount, however, is remarkable: Studies have shown that a typical six-room American residence accumulates over 40 pounds of dust every year. Most airborne dust originates inside the house versus from outdoor sources. The diverse list includes carpet fibers, human skin flakes, spores from indoor mold growth, powder from drywall construction materials, fragments of dead insects, lint from bedding and pet hair and dander.
Some of the dust invading your home is an inevitable result of human occupation. However, it’s still feasible to reduce that 40-pound annual figure to a more manageable amount.
Don’t Spread It Around
Dust on surfaces can be removed with electrostatic microfiber cloths that retain dust. However, vacuuming carpets often stirs up large volumes of dust into the air instead of capturing it. To avoid re-distributing dust throughout the house, use a vacuum that incorporates a HEPA-grade filter and bags rated to retain dust particles as small as 5 microns.
Choose Quality Air Filters
The entire volume of air inside your home—including the dust floating in it—passes through the HVAC air filter multiple times each day. Cheap fiberglass filters don’t extract dust particles efficiently. Replace with quality pleated cotton or polyester filters with a MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) around 8. Change the air filter monthly during cooling season and every other month during heating season.
Maintain Your Ductwork
Leaky, deteriorating ductwork actually sucks in air from dusty parts of the structure such as the attic and crawl space, then circulates that dust into living spaces of the house. Have your ducts inspected and tested for leakage by a qualified HVAC contractor. Options for repair and sealing of ductwork help reduce dust circulation.
Rotate Bedding Weekly
Beds are a repository of shed skin flakes that contribute airborne dust every time you fluff the sheets. Wash pillowcases and sheets every week. Items that don’t require regular washing like blankets and bedspreads should be taken outside and shaken vigorously.
New home owners and those renovating an existing home in Ohio are required to install carbon monoxide detectors if the house has an attached garage or any appliance that uses natural gas such as a stove or gas furnace. Deadly carbon monoxide gas (CO) is a colorless and odorless by-product of combustion of fuels like gasoline, natural gas or even wood in a fireplace. It kills about 500 Americans annually and over 10,000 people exposed to it require emergency room treatment. Many victims of CO gas are never aware of the threat as early symptoms of exposure can be mistaken for common illnesses such as the flu.
Today’s carbon monoxide detectors are sensitive, reliable units that detect increasing levels of CO gas in the home and alert occupants with a loud audible alarm. Most units are designed to warn people before CO levels become concentrated enough to cause noticeable symptoms. Here are some criteria for adding this critical safety factor to your home.
- Dual power source. For maximum safety, choose a plug-in detector that runs off of AC power and also incorporates a 9-volt backup battery to provide protection in the event of brief power outages.
- Sensor type. CO detectors that utilize an electrochemical sensor are considered state of the art today. They are more reliable and accurate than the metal oxide semiconductor sensor included in older, less expensive units.
- UL certified accuracy. Most CO detectors come with a specification that expresses the unit’s accuracy in parts-per-million of detected carbon monoxide. If the carbon monoxide detector is certified by Underwriter’s Laboratories (UL), the unit’s accuracy has also been tested and verified by UL.
- End of life alert. Carbon monoxide detectors have a finite service life of 5 to 7 years. After that point, the unit is no longer reliable and must be replaced. Look for a detector that emits an audio alert when the time to replace the unit is approaching.
Don’t take chances with your family’s health and safety. Ask the professionals at Apollo Heating, Cooling, Electrical and Plumbing for more advice about installing carbon monoxide detectors.
Ceiling fans help your air conditioner do what it’s designed to do: make the house more comfortable in summer. However, they do it at less cost than an A/C. Air in motion is one of the secrets to indoor comfort. The slowly rotating blades of a ceiling fan move a large volume of air with very low electrical consumption. Compared to a typical 2.5 ton residential central air conditioner that consumes about 3,500 watts, a 48-inch ceiling fan running on “High” uses less than 75 watts. Here’s how a ceiling fan helps your A/C do its job better and saves money on monthly bills.
The sensation of moving air makes people feel cooler, even when the actual room temperature stays the same. It’s a small-scale version of the familiar wind chill effect that makes a blustery winter day feel colder than a calm day. The gentle flow of air from a ceiling fan allows you to raise the air conditioner thermostat a few degrees without sacrificing cool comfort. For every degree you can bump the A/C thermostat up in summer, you can save about 3% on cooling costs. In most cases, used in conjunction with the air conditioner the cooling effect created by a ceiling fan adequately compensates for a four-degree increase in thermostat setting. Here’s how to make sure you get the comfort and savings of a ceiling fan.
- For summer operation, the ceiling fan’s directional switch should be set in the counter-clockwise direction. When standing directly beneath the fan, you should be able to feel a gentle downward breeze.
- A ceiling fan only helps enhance the perception of coolness for people and pets in a room. Therefore, leaving a ceiling fan running in a room that isn’t occupied is a waste of energy and money. Turn ceiling fans off when everyone leaves the room.
For more about the comfort and economy of utilizing ceiling fans in your home this summer, contact Apollo Electrical, Heating, Cooling and Plumbing.
Can you maintain proper indoor humidity levels without the use of a dehumidifier? The Environmental Protection Agency recommends keeping household humidity levels below 60% for a healthy, comfortable indoor environment. It’s often a challenge to stay in that recommended range, however, particularly in climates like ours here in southern Ohio, where outdoor humidity often exceeds that limit. In these cases, you’ll probably want to consider a home dehumidifier.
Here are three things to think about when comparing dehumidifiers to keep your home humidity in the optimal range:
Individual room dehumidifiers are sized according to the amount of water vapor, expressed in pints, that the unit extracts from the air in a 24-hour period. For typical households with humidity in the range of 60% to 70%, a 30-pint unit is sufficient for a 300 square foot room while large spaces of 1,000-square feet need a 60-pint unit. In very damp houses with 80% humidity, the above size figures increase to 40 pints and 70 pints, respectively.
To reduce the number of times you’ll have to empty the dehumidifier’s water tank daily, the general rule is: the bigger, the better. For example, a 30-pint unit with a 10-pint water tank will require emptying three times a day. However, a 60-pint unit with a 15-pint tank will need to be emptied four times per 24 hours.
Whole-House Vs. Room Unit
Portable room dehumidifiers reduce humidity in a limited space only, plus require manual emptying of the tank. A whole-house dehumidifier, on the other hand, removes humidity from the entire air volume of your home as it passes through your heating and cooling ductwork. The unit condenses water vapor out of the air and conveys it down a drain line connected to your household plumbing. The humidistat that controls operation can be set like a thermostat, then automatically maintains the desired indoor humidity according to your setting.
For more advice on comparing dehumidifiers in order to choose the right dehumidifier for your needs, contact the indoor air quality professionals at Apollo Home Heating, Cooling Electrical and Plumbing.
Is a ductless HVAC system a viable alternative for heating and cooling individual rooms in your home? Every day, ductless heating and cooling units are gaining market share in this country as more people decide that the answer is “Yes.”
The system consists of a compact, low-profile indoor air handler incorporating a coil and blower fan mounted on the wall or ceiling of the room. This unit connects via a narrow refrigerant conduit to a downsized outdoor heat pump behind or next to the house, about the size of a large suitcase. In winter, like any heat pump, the system extracts latent heat from outside air, concentrates it with a compressor, then conveys it indoors to the air handler where the coil and blower disperse heat into the room. In summer, the system reverses and cools the room by extracting indoor heat and conveying it outside to be released in outdoor air. A single outdoor heat pump unit can link to up to five ductless air handlers in separate rooms.
Ductless HVAC provides three advantages.
- In homes without ductwork for central heating and cooling—or where extending existing ductwork to additional rooms isn’t financially feasible—a ductless system permits low-cost, highly effective heating and cooling of individual rooms without relying on outmoded space heaters and clunky window air conditioners.
- Leaky, inefficient ductwork loses at least 25% of heating or cooling in most homes. Because a ductless system delivers heating and cooling without ducts, operation is more energy-efficient at lower cost. Ductless comfort control is also more accurate as each room has its own dedicated thermostat to individualize temperature to that space.
- Installation of ductless HVAC is far less intensive and disruptive than installing ducts and vents that require major construction. All that’s required are a three-inch hole in an exterior wall to route the refrigerant conduit outdoors, plus mounting the indoor air handler on a wall or ceiling. A two-person team can easily install a ductless system in a single room in one day.
Learn about still more advantages of a ductless HVAC system by contacting the pros at Apollo Home Heating, Cooling and Plumbing.
Fall maintenance is an important part of the annual furnace start-up procedure. The best alternative is to schedule seasonal preventive maintenance with a qualified HVAC contractor. This ensures your heating system receives a standard set of checks and maintenance for safety, efficiency and performance. (In many cases, annual preventive maintenance is also required by the manufacturer’s warranty.) The trained eye of an HVAC technician can also spot any minor problems that might become major malfunctions later in the season, when the system’s under heaviest heating load.
In addition to professional maintenance, here are three critical maintenance functions to do yourself before you start the furnace for winter.
- Change the filter. The air filter in the system is probably left over from summer and likely clogged with dirt. A dirty filter restricts airflow through the system, which affects everything from energy efficiency to optimum heating performance and even safety—insufficient airflow can overheat and crack the furnace heat exchanger.
- Inspect the vent pipe. Verify that the furnace vent is intact from the unit all the way to roof. Look for any disconnected or loose segments everywhere the vent is routed, including through the attic. Also make sure the vent pipe hasn’t become obstructed—bird’s nests or falling leaves can block proper venting. An obstructed vent pipe can cause dangerous fumes including deadly carbon monoxide gas to flow into the living spaces of your home. If you find any loose segments or obstructions, don’t start the furnace. Call a qualified HVAC service provider.
- Make sure all heating vents are open and unobstructed. The duct system is balanced to provide optimum air volume to every room. Closing individual vents in certain rooms unbalances airflow throughout the entire ductwork. Rooms further away from the furnace may be excessively chilly while rooms closer to the furnace may become overly warm. Tweaking the thermostat to compensate only results in more energy consumption and wear and tear on the furnace.
For qualified fall maintenance to prepare your furnace for another winter, contact the HVAC professionals at Apollo Home Heating, Cooling and Plumbing.