Indoor Air Quality - Blog Posts by Category

The Most Important Areas of Your Home to Ventilate

The Most Important Areas of Your Home to VentilateLingering odors, stuffy rooms, germs and moisture problems — a lack of daily air exchange has very unpleasant side effects for your comfort and health. In fact, most homes harbor at least one serious indoor air quality (IAQ) issue, according to the EPA. With a little effort and the right ventilation strategy, you can bring a breath of fresh air to your home in the rooms that need it most.

Breath of Fresh Air

You may fiddle with the thermostat to try and find just the right level of comfort. Although, very important, your home’s temperature is only one environmental factor that affects your comfort. If your IAQ is a breeding ground for contaminants, such as germs and mold spores, you’re not going to be very comfortable if you become ill. Humidity levels affect your comfort and health, too, if indoor air is too dry or too moist.

You’ll be affected most by IAQ issues in the areas of your home where you spend the most time. Your kitchen and bathrooms should already have point-of-use ventilators. Though, check to make sure these fans vent outside your home — not into your attic.

Focus your ventilation efforts in your bedroom(s) and common living areas. You’ll be able to rest and relax better by being more comfortable and exposed to fewer IAQ contaminants. Pay special attention to rooms where young, elderly or people with respiratory ailments spend time.

How to Ventilate

Now that you’ve decided where you need to ventilate your home, it’s time to decide how best to do so. Natural ventilation brings in fresh air through open windows and screen doors. However, this type of ventilation in uncontrolled and contingent upon outdoor temperatures and weather.

Consider ventilating key areas of your home with a mechanical ventilator. Heat-recovery ventilators (HRVs) use intake and exhaust fans for balanced airflow. Air ducts and vents are installed in areas you need fresh air the most. Moreover, HRVs use a heat-exchange core to efficiently pre-condition fresh air intake.

If you would like a ventilation assessment of your San Diego home’s needs, contact Sherlock Heating & Air Conditioning today.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the greater San Diego and San Marcos, California area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

Credit/Copyright Attribution: “Clker-Free-Vector-Images/Pixabay”

Considering Improving Your Home’s IAQ With UV Lights? Here’s What You Need to Know

Considering Improving Your Home's IAQ With UV Lights? Here's What You Need to KnowWhile your air filter cleans the air inside your house, UV lights actually sterilize it. Factors that degrade indoor air quality include inorganic particulates like dust or lint fibers that you can actually see floating around and settling on surfaces inside the house. A quality air filter, ideally changed every month, helps keep these particulates to a minimum. However, what about the stuff you can‘t see? Living microorganisms such as viruses, bacteria, and mold spores are invisible to the naked eye. However, these airborne pathogens can cause health effects including allergic reactions in susceptible individuals.

Air filtration doesn’t neutralize microorganisms. In fact, these contaminants may thrive and breed inside HVAC filters, continuing to disperse throughout your house through the system’s normal air circulation. UV lights installed inside the ductwork decontaminate the system airflow by neutralizing common microorganisms. The technology is nothing new: the germicidal effect of ultraviolet wavelengths of light has been used for over a hundred years in hospitals to disinfect the indoor environment as well as sterilize surgical instruments. Many municipal water treatment facilities also utilize ultraviolet light technology to enhance disinfection of the public water supply.

Here’s what you need to know to make an informed decision about adding UV lights to your HVAC system;

  • A UV light is typically a small tube like a fluorescent light bulb that is installed by an HVAC technician inside your HVAC ductwork. All air passing through the duct is exposed to the sterilizing effect of the light.
  • UV lights may also be added at certain system components that tend to breed toxic mold or bacteria, such as the A/C evaporator coil enclosed in the indoor air handler. Continuous exposure to ultraviolet light prevents growth of these contaminants.
  • Most UV light bulbs are rated at just 36 watts and thus consume little electricity.
  • UV light destroys microorganisms by neutralizing the reproductive process. These ultraviolet wavelengths are also present in natural sunlight and have no effect on humans.

Ask the professionals at Sherlock Heating & Air Conditioning for more information about the benefits of UV lights to enhance indoor air quality.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the greater San Diego and San Marcos, California area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

Credit/Copyright Attribution: “geralt/Pixabay”

Bathroom Ventilation Guidelines

Bathroom Ventilation Guidelines | SherlockA standard feature of modern residential bathrooms is a ventilation fan, usually operated by a control switch or button next to the light switch or button. Some basic guidelines should be followed with bathroom ventilation, to make sure it accomplishes the essential task of removing moist, smelly, contaminated air from the bathroom without causing other problems.

Bathroom Ventilation Guidelines

Bathroom exhaust fans should route the moist, contaminated air outside the house, away from any intake pipe that will suck it back inside. Unfortunately, many builders just route the bad air into the space between the bathroom ceiling and the floor above, or directly into the attic. This just shifts the potential problems — mold and mildew growth — from one place to another. It actually can make the problem worse, because the mold and mildew will grow unnoticed in these dark spaces. In addition to the health threat, this can lead to serious damage to walls, floors and ceilings.

Consider a heat-exchange ventilation system that conserves heat energy that a simple bathroom exhaust system otherwise would expel from the home during cold weather (which wastes energy and forces your heating system to work harder).

Get the proper airflow capacity for the size of your bathroom. In general, a bathroom exhaust fan should be able to move 1 cubic foot per minute (cfm) for every square foot of floor space. If the bathroom is larger than 100 square feet, the Home Ventilating Institute recommends adding 50 cfm for every toilet, 50 cfm for each shower or bath, and 100 cfm for each whirlpool spa.

To make sure the bathroom ventilation uses as little electricity as possible, look for products with the Energy Star logo. With an Energy Star-certified bathroom fan, you’ll use around 60 percent less energy.

For help choosing the right bathroom ventilation for your San Diego home, please contact us at Sherlock Heating & Air Conditioning.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the greater San Diego and San Marcos, California area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). 

Credit/Copyright Attribution: “Kevin_Hsieh/Shutterstock”

Does Your Air Filter Require Changing More Frequently During Summer?

Does Your Air Filter Require Changing More Frequently During Summer?As a responsible homeowner, you try to keep up with basic HVAC maintenance, and that means checking your HVAC filter on a regular basis, and changing it when it looks clogged or dirty. However, for folks living in areas with defined season changes (which includes Southern California), the frequency of air filter changes will depend on the seasons and what sort of system you operate.

If your home uses a furnace for heating and an A/C for cooling, the air conditioner’s evaporator coil is likely attached to the furnace, and uses the furnace blower to blow air across the coil and then distribute it throughout the house, via ducts and registers. The air filter typically is located in the furnace, near where the ductwork is attached. In this case, you’ll want to check the furnace’s air filter at least once a month during any season when cooling or heating is being used.

If your home uses a heat pump for both cooling and heating, the air filter will be located in the system’s air handler. As with the preceding situation, you should check the filter monthly, and change it when necessary, during both heating and cooling seasons. During the in-between seasons, fall and spring, when not much heating or cooling is needed, it’s still a good idea to expend a minute or two once a month to check the filter. However, you won’t need to change it nearly as often.

In all cases, a clean HVAC air filter will maintain smooth air circulation, whereas a clogged filter will force the system to work harder to push air through. This wastes energy, stresses parts, and leads to longer heating and cooling cycles. Your home will take longer to get comfortable. A dirty filter also allows dirt and debris to get into sensitive system components, which impairs efficiency and performance.

For more information on the benefits of proper air filter maintenance, please contact us today at Sherlock Heating & Air Conditioning. We provide superior HVAC services in North San Diego, Carlsbad, San Marcos and other San Diego area communities.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the greater San Diego and San Marcos, California area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). 

Credit/Copyright Attribution: “Steve Heap/Shutterstock”

Get Relief With These Helpful Allergy Season Tips

Get Relief With These Helpful Allergy Season TipsSpring typically means allergy season for many parts of the country, but in the San Diego area, allergies can hit you all year long. Warmer temperatures throughout the year give mold a chance to thrive, while windy conditions blow pollen from grass and trees around the region. If allergens have you sniffling, taking steps to improve the indoor air quality in your home can be a big help. Use the following allergy tips to breathe easier in your San Diego home.

Look for Signs of Mold

Mold spores can enter the air in your home and trigger allergic reactions. They can also end up causing serious health problems, so it’s important to have mold removed as soon as possible if you spot any. Check your ducts, air handler, drip pain and evaporator coils for mold growth. While you might be able to handle a mild mold problem on your own, have professionals handle more serious mold problems to make sure it’s completely removed.

Replace Air Filters

The air filters inside your HVAC system aren’t able to do their job when they’re covered in debris. Put in new filters about every few months to help lower the amount of indoor allergens in your home. For even better protection against allergens, use high-quality filters that can capture smaller particles.

Clean Ducts and HVAC Units

Make sure you don’t let dust and other debris build up around your indoor and outdoor HVAC units and inside your ducts. Keep the areas around these units and your ductwork as clean as possible, which will help reduce indoor allergens that are blown throughout your home.

Have HVAC Maintenance Done

Regular HVAC maintenance done helps ensure that your system runs efficiently. It also helps lower indoor allergens by keeping your HVAC system clean and free of dust and debris. Plan on having maintenance done once or twice a year.

From duct cleaning to air purification system installations, we can help improve the indoor air quality in your San Diego area home to relieve allergy symptoms. Contact Sherlock Heating & Air Conditioning for more allergy tips.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the greater San Diego and San Marcos, California area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

Credit/Copyright Attribution: “Galushko Sergey/Shutterstock”

Helpful Ways to Control Pollutants in Your Home

Helpful Ways to Control Pollutants in Your HomeYou know the value of air sealing your home, but energy efficiency has a down side: the better you are at keeping air and energy indoors, the better you are at keeping air pollution indoors, too. Your air is polluted every day by a number of sources, from cleaning products to cooking fumes, and from shed skin cells to emissions from your HVAC system. Thankfully, there are ways you can control pollutants so that you can breathe easy.

  • Keep your HVAC system serviced — Not only will regular servicing make sure that your system runs at peak efficiency, but it will also make sure it’s not releasing fumes or carbon monoxide into your indoor air.
  • Change your furnace air filter once a month — Your air filter can do a great job of catching particulate matter and removing it from your circulating air. But when the filter begins to clog with all the particles it’s catching, it impedes airflow – and when air’s not flowing, it’s not being cleaned.
  • Install ventilation systems — Having a whole-house ventilation system lets you bring in fresh air and get rid of the stale stuff. A heat recovery ventilator or energy recovery ventilator will make sure that you’re not getting rid of your heating or cooling dollars, too.
  • Cut down on your chemical use — Don’t go straight for the harshest cleaners you can find – consider gentler, more natural alternatives. Remember, if you can smell it, that means you’re breathing it. Do you really want bleach in your lungs?
  • Keep things clean — Vacuum regularly, and try not to let clutter build up. Clutter makes it much more likely that dust can gather in your home. And dust can support the growth of dust mites, which are among the most common allergens in the US.
  • Manage your humidityHigh humidity can lead to mold and fungus; low humidity can lead to excess dust. Use humidifiers and/or dehumidifiers to find the right balance.

If your San Diego home could use some help to control pollutants, get in touch with us at Sherlock Heating & Air Conditioning!

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the greater San Diego and San Marcos, California area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

Credit/Copyright Attribution: “Jana Guothova/Shutterstock”

Keep Air Fresh with a Heat Recovery Ventilator

Keep Air Fresh with a Heat Recovery VentilatorFresh indoor air is vital for maintaining a healthful and comfortable home. Yet, the vast majority of homes in southern California have poor indoor air quality (IAQ). A major factor affecting IAQ is a lack of daily whole-home ventilation. Without daily air exchange, indoor air becomes stale and stagnant. If you are concerned about the quality of the air inside your San Diego area home, keep reading to learn how a heat recovery ventilator can help.

Heat Recovery Ventilator

A standard balanced ventilation system utilizes two fans that deliver an equal volume of fresh air and exhaust air. By supplying balanced ventilation, you eliminate the risk of pressurizing or depressurizing your home, which can cause backdrafting of combustion appliances and disrupt airflow from the supply registers to the return grilles.

A heat recovery ventilator is a whole-home, balanced ventilation system. The advantage of choosing this type of ventilation system is that it uses the heat energy of your home’s indoor air to preheat cooler fresh air supply. This helps minimize your heating bills to enjoy fresh air during the heating months.

During warmer weather in the San Diego area, your heat recovery ventilation system absorbs from fresh supply air so that your A/C doesn’t have to work as much (or at all) to ensure your home has fresh air.

Why Home Ventilation is Important

Newer homes that were constructed with more energy-efficient materials and building methods are excellent for saving energy. Though, as homes are designed to be tighter and more efficient, IAQ tends to suffer. This is also true of retrofitted older homes with insulation and air sealing upgrades.

The problem is that contaminants and moisture become locked inside tight homes when ventilation is lacking. Heat recovery ventilators solve this dilemma and allow you to enjoy fresh air any time of year without significantly increasing the load on your HVAC system.

If you would like more details how a heat recovery ventilator can enhance comfort and health in your San Diego home, contact us at Sherlock Heating & Air Conditioning today!

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the greater San Diego and San Marcos, California area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). 

Credit/Copyright Attribution: “KPG_Payless/Shutterstock”

Stay Comfortable with a Humidifier this Season

Stay Comfortable with a Humidifier this SeasonUntil recently, inefficient heating and structural gaps caused most homes to be uncomfortably cold during the winter. Today, modern furnaces provide reliably steady warmth. However, air being circulated is stripped of moisture before it leaves the heating ducts.

Humidifiers release moisture into the air, making it healthier and more comfortable. Small humidifiers are inexpensive and have the advantage of being easily moved from room to room. However, a humidifier can only treat a small area of your home at a time. Additionally, there is very little control over how much moisture is added to the air.

Choosing a whole-house humidifier allows you to add moisture to all of the air circulating through the house. The same thermostat controlling your heat is able to fine tune the amount of moisture that is added to the air.

Here are a few of the many ways that you can benefit from the addition of a whole-house humidifier to your HVAC system:

  • Keeping the house’s humidity between 30 and 50 percent will help avoid mold problems or condensation on windows.
  • Adding moisture to the air protects items made from wood, paper or other porous substances from premature aging. Not only does this include expensive items such as old books or musical instruments, but also your furniture and even your wooden floors.
  • During warm weather, dry air is perceived as cooler and is more easily tolerated. Conversely, during the winter, many people find that dry air feels as if it were substantially cooler than the actual temperature. Raising the thermostat to a comfortable place will substantially increase the heating costs.
  • While shocks from static electricity are not inherently unsafe, they can cause damage to data on computers or other electrical equipment.
  • Respiratory and skin conditions can be triggered or made worse by living in a home with excessively dry air and poor indoor air quality.

At Sherlock Heating & Air Conditioning, we have been serving homes in the San Diego area for over 100 years. For help keeping your family comfortable this winter, call us today!

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the greater San Diego and San Marcos, California area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). 

Credit/Copyright Attribution: “discpicture/Shutterstock”

How Do UV Lights Improve Your Indoor Air Quality?

How Do UV Lights Improve Your Indoor Air Quality?UV (ultraviolet) lights have been used for decades to disinfect food, water, and air in food-processing plants, hospitals, water treatment facilities, schools, commercial buildings, and more. UV technology is also available for residential purposes to enhance indoor air quality in homes. Read on to learn how UV lights can help you breathe easier and healthier in your San Diego area home.

How UV Lights Improve Indoor Air Quality

UV light systems emit low levels of ultraviolet radiation to kill or control a host of germs, house mold, bacteria, and viruses. UV systems accomplish this by altering the cell structure of microorganisms which renders them unable to reproduce.

While outdoor air is cleansed by the sun and vegetation, the indoor air of many households is sealed up to save energy and becomes a stuffy breeding ground for harmful contaminants. A proactive approach to clean indoor air is necessary if you want healthful air to breathe in your home.

Installation and Maintenance

UV light systems consist of one to three UV light bulbs that are installed inside the air ducts. The best location for UV lights is near the evaporator coil. The evaporator produces a large amount of condensate. The moisture and darkness provide ideal conditions for the growth of mold, bacteria, and other microorganisms.

For the best results, install one UV light inside the A-frame type evaporator and two bulbs on the exterior tubing of the evaporator. As airflow streams through the tubing, it is disinfected by the lights. Additionally, UV light systems protect supply ducts from contamination, which helps prevent odors and re-contamination to the living spaces.

Installation only takes an hour or two. Since the lights are completely concealed inside the air ducts, they won’t harm people or pets. Maintenance is as simple as changing the bulbs every two or three years, which can be performed during HVAC preventive maintenance.

If you want to prevent the spread of mold and germs in your HVAC system and San Diego area home, contact the indoor air quality experts at Sherlock Heating & Air Conditioning today for more information about UV lights.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the greater San Diego and San Marcos, California area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

Credit/Copyright Attribution: “Plume Photography/Shutterstock”

How to Start Improving Indoor Air Quality in Every Room

How to Start Improving Indoor Air Quality in Every RoomConsidering the fact that the average American spends around 90 percent of each day indoors, it’s important to think about the quality of your indoor air. Polluted air can cause allergic reactions, respiratory ailments and discomfort in the form of headaches, congestion or nausea. Common sources of indoor air pollution include pet dander, mold, volatile organic compounds, mold and dust mites. Improving indoor air quality in every room in your home is easier than you think. Following is a guide to get you started.

Bedrooms

  • Pets. Avoid sleeping with pets in the bedroom, keeping them out altogether if possible.
  • Air cleaners. A whole-home air cleaner can help you breathe easier whether you’re asleep or awake.
  • Bedding. Invest in allergen-proof pillows and mattress covers, and wash them and your bedding in hot water each week.

Kitchen

  • Appliances. Prevent mold growth in your refrigerator by wiping away excess moisture and periodically cleaning the seals around the door. Use the exhaust fan above your stove when cooking, and make sure it vents outside, rather than to the attic.

Living Room

  • Plants. Place aquarium gravel around the base of houseplants to reduce mold and dust.
  • Furnishings. Keep pets off of soft furniture to reduce dander.

Bathrooms

  • Ventilate. Use the exhaust fan when bathing or showering to reduce excess moisture and prevent mold and mildew.
  • Lose the mats. Toss old, moldy mats and shower curtains.
  • Walls. Choose tile over wallpaper or paint with enamel-based, mold resistant paint.

Whole Home Tips

  • Control humidity. One of the easiest ways to go about improving indoor air quality in every room is by keeping humidity levels between 30 and 50 percent. At these levels, mold and dust mite growth are inhibited.
  • Keep things neat. Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter and dust with microfiber cloths to trap, rather than spread, dust.
  • Maintain. Change your air filter every four to six weeks, and schedule annual preventive maintenance each spring and fall.

For more tips on improving indoor air quality in every room in your home, call Sherlock Heating & Air Conditioning. We serve homeowners in San Diego and surrounding areas.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the greater San Diego and San Marcos, California area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

Credit/Copyright Attribution: “Kletr/Shutterstock”