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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).

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Remember to Change Your Air Filter with These Tips

Remember to Change Your Air Filter with These TipsIf you’re like a lot of homeowners, you have good intentions when it comes to taking care of your home’s heating and cooling system. Yet, you’re living a busy life, and it’s not easy to remember simple but essential maintenance tasks. One of the easiest to forget is checking the air filter in your furnace, A/C or heat pump system. Yet, allowing the filter to clogged with dust can reap negative consequences in wasted energy, eroded comfort, and reduced indoor air quality.

Why is the Air Filter Important?

The filter performs an essential job. It sifts out dust and other airborne debris that otherwise will coat HVAC components and make it difficult for the equipment to operate properly. Higher-efficiency filters also filter out airborne contaminants, protecting the health of home occupants with allergies and respiratory ailments. When the filter gets clogged with dust, however, your HVAC system must work harder to draw air into the equipment and circulate it throughout the home. This wastes energy, stresses parts and reduces home comfort as some parts of the house stay too hot or too cold.

Tips for Remembering to Check the Filter

Most furnace and A/C filters should be inspected monthly and changed when they look clogged. So how do you remember to check the filter every month?

  • If it’s time for an upgrade, install a new HVAC system that comes with a “check-filter” light.
  • Some programmable Wi-Fi thermostats will send a message to your smartphone or computer when it’s time to check or change the filter. You can also program monthly reminders into your phone or computer.
  • Incorporate a filter inspection into other monthly household tasks. For example, place a reminder in your checkbook to inspect the air filter at the start of each month when you’re paying bills.
  • Purchase several filters, and leave the unused ones in a conspicuous location as a reminder.

For more advice on choosing the best air filter for your forced-air HVAC system, please contact us at Sherlock Heating & Air Conditioning, providing quality service in North San Diego and surrounding 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).

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Don’t Forget to Complete Your Fall HVAC Maintenance Checklist

Don’t Forget to Complete Your Fall HVAC Maintenance ChecklistWith cooler temperatures on the horizon, it’s time to prepare your San Diego area home and the HVAC system. After all, the efficiency of your home impacts your comfort, safety, health, and energy bills. Set aside a day to take care of it with these fall HVAC maintenance tips.

Home Exterior

  • Sealing: Inspect your home’s exterior for gaps and cracks in cladding, walkways, and the foundation. Use caulk, spray-in foam, and driveway filler to seal.
  • Outdoor HVAC unit: Spray off the outdoor unit. Use a foaming coil cleaner around the sides to clean the condenser coil. Turn off electricity at the circuit panel or disconnect plug first.
  • Garage: Use foam weatherstripping to seal the door of an attached garage. Seal shared walls and ceiling between the garage and living spaces with caulk.

Home Interior

  • Filter: Change your air filter to protect HVAC parts, improve cooling and heating efficiency, and enhance indoor air quality. Use a quality filter rated MERV 8 to 12 to help mitigate indoor allergens and contaminants.
  • Housecleaning: Wash bedding with hot water. Vacuum carpeting, drapes, and furniture upholstery.
  • Air vents: Wipe or brush vacuum air vents.
  • Control humidity: Inspect the walls, ceiling, and attic for signs of humidity problems, such as black, pink, or green mold spots on walls and window condensation. Use humidifiers and dehumidifiers as needed to maintain humidity between 30 and 50 percent.
  • Sealing: Seal air leaks around windows, doors, the attic hatch, in the attic, and penetrations. Use silicon caulk, foam weatherstripping, and spray-in foam.
  • Insulation: If you use fiberglass insulation in your attic, make sure it is at least 12 inches deep.
  • CO and smoke detectors: Put fresh batteries in your CO and smoke detectors. Test for proper function.

Professional HVAC Maintenance

Your heat pump, A/C, and furnace work hard to keep your home comfortable. Moreover, the HVAC system uses nearly 50 percent of energy in the average home. Help your HVAC systems last longer with greater efficiency by scheduling professional maintenance this fall.

For more information about fall HVAC maintenance tips for your San Diego home, contact 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).

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3 Things You Should Stop Doing to Your San Marcos A/C

3 Things You Should Stop Doing to Your San Marcos A/CAir conditioning is one of the best features of a modern home, especially in areas like ours that experience hot summers. It’s easy to take it for granted until it stops working. Here are things to stop doing to your A/C so that it stays in good working condition longer.

No Energy Audit

Poor insulation and air leaks make your home hotter and add to your air conditioner’s workload. This not only reduces comfort but can also decrease the life span of your A/C.

Have an HVAC contractor perform an energy audit to determine any changes you should make to your home. Your contractor can also determine whether your current A/C unit is the right size for your home’s cooling needs. Undersized systems struggle to keep a home cool, and oversized systems suffer because they cycle on and off too frequently.

Forgetting to Change the Filter

The air filter keeps debris off system components and keeps your indoor air cleaner. Clogged air filters lead to dirty air conditioners, reducing airflow vital for normal system function.

Remember to change the air filter every month. Ask your contractor which filter type is best for your system and for your lifestyle needs. If you own pets or have someone in the home who has allergies, you need a filter that can efficiently trap dander and other allergens without decreasing airflow to your A/C.

No Regular Maintenance

Neglecting maintenance for your air conditioner can lead to small, easily fixed issues turning into bigger problems. Your air conditioner works hard and needs professional maintenance at least once a year before each operating season. During the maintenance visit, the service technician will clean the coils and other parts that can cause the system to malfunction if left dirty. He or she will also check refrigerant and make sure all components are operating correctly.

For more information about things to stop doing to your A/C, contact the home comfort pros 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).

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Think Indoor Air Isn’t as Polluted as Outdoor Air? Think Again

Think Indoor Air Isn't as Polluted as Outdoor Air? Think AgainGiven the amount of vehicle traffic that contributes to bad air quality in San Diego, it’s easy to assume that indoor air pollution is minor compared to what’s outside. But in reality, the air you breathe indoors may be among the most toxic you encounter, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

A recent nationwide study found that while 91 percent of survey respondents believe high air quality is essential for good health, 76 percent used products in their homes that degrade indoor air quality (IAQ). A full 57 percent didn’t change the HVAC system’s air filter regularly to alleviate airborne allergies or control airborne particulates.

Achieving healthy indoor air isn’t difficult or expensive, especially if you use your central cooling and heating system as part of a whole-house approach. Here are some tips to start with.

Improve Ventilation

Use exhaust fans in the kitchen and bath to pull out excessive humidity. You can also use an energy recovery ventilator (ERV) as part of your HVAC system to exhaust stale indoor air and replace it with fresh air. ERVs capture the energy in the outgoing air and put it into the incoming air, making them an energy efficient approach to reduce indoor air pollution.

Reduce the Amount of VOCs in Your Home

Cleaning products, paint, new flooring, many cleaning products, dry cleaning and vinyl products contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which can lead to damaging health effects. Look for products with a clean air label or labeled as no or low VOCs. Ultraviolet (UV) lights inside the air handler and ductwork can neutralize the toxicity of VOCs and help control the spread of viruses and bacteria.

Change Air Filters Regularly

Change the HVAC system’s air filter on a regular basis to keep IAQ higher. A clean filter will trap more airborne particulates like pollen, dust and pet dander, reducing the severity of allergies and asthma.

For more information on indoor air pollution, contact Sherlock Heating & Air Conditioning. We prouldy provide outstanding HVAC and IAQ services for homeowners in the San Marcos area.

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).

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Helpful Ways to Reduce Household Dust and Improve Indoor Air Quality

Helpful Ways to Reduce Household Dust and Improve Indoor Air QualityGiven the San Diego area’s arid climate, some dust will inevitably find its way into your home. Because this common air contaminant lowers your indoor air quality, however, dust should never be ignored. There are plenty of simple ways to get rid of it.

Stop Dust at Its Source

Bed linens accumulate dust quickly, so wash yours once a week. Shake out your blankets weekly, too. If you have clothes that shed or collect dust, store them in boxes, drawers or garment bags.

Clean Thoroughly

Start by keeping your home’s surfaces clutter-free so dust has fewer places to hide. To clean up dust instead of just redistributing it, use microfiber or electrostatic dust cloths and mops. Vacuum carpets with an agitator (brush) attachment, and use a brush-free attachment on hardwood or tile floors. Take your area rugs outside at least monthly and beat the dust out with a rug beater or broom.

Enlist Your Heating and Cooling System

Thin fiberglass HVAC air filters trap very little dust. For better indoor air quality, equip your system with an air filter of Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) 5 to 11. If you have allergies or asthma, go for MERV 10 or 11 filters. While you’re cleaning your house, switch your heating and cooling system to “fan only.” This pulls your home’s air through the system’s filter, trapping the dust and other particles kicked up while you’re cleaning.

Increase Your Ventilation

If you have only exhaust fans for ventilation, consider having a balanced whole-house ventilation system installed. These systems draw out dusty indoor air and replace it with fresh outdoor air that’s been filtered to remove contaminant particles.

Air Seal Your Home

Tiny cracks around windows and doors let in dust, pollen and many other air contaminants. These leaks also waste your heated and cooled air. To keep your air clean and save energy, seal the leaks by applying caulk to non-movable surfaces and weatherstripping to movable surfaces.

For more ideas on improving your indoor air quality, contact us at Sherlock Heating & Air Conditioning in the San Diego, La Costa, and Oceanside 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).

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Learn the 7 Components Crucial for Air Conditioner Function

Learn the 7 Components Crucial for Air Conditioner FunctionAn air conditioner is invaluable for getting through the hot San Diego and Encinitas summers comfortably. Because your A/C is so important, it’s worth taking the time to get familiar with how it works. The more you know, the better prepared you’ll be to plan maintenance, component replacements and upgrades.

  1. Evaporator coil – Located in or near your indoor air handler, this component receives cold refrigerant from the expansion valve. As the refrigerant flows through the coil, it absorbs heat from the passing air.
  2. Blower fan – This large fan inside the air handler draws air over the evaporator coil to be cooled, then blows the cooled air into the air ducts and out into your rooms.
  3. Air filter – Before entering the ductwork, air passes through a filter that removes contaminants such as lint and pollen. Filters that carry a Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) of 4 or less protect your system from debris, but filters with MERVs of 5 to 11 also improve your indoor air quality. The filter must be changed on schedule to ensure sufficient airflow and system efficiency.
  4. Compressor – This pump moves refrigerant through copper tubing from the evaporator coil to the outdoor condenser coil. It also raises the refrigerant’s pressure and temperature.
  5. Condenser coil – As refrigerant passes through this coil, located in your outdoor unit, it releases the heat it absorbed from your house into the outdoor air. It then flows back indoors and into the expansion valve, which relieves pressure on the refrigerant and thereby cools it.
  6. Condenser unit fan – This fan blows outdoor air over the condenser coil to cool the refrigerant faster. To help this fan run efficiently, keep your outdoor unit’s exterior free of debris such as dead leaves.
  7. Thermostat – Installed on a wall in your home, this component controls how often the air conditioner runs based on the temperature you select. A programmable thermostat can automatically change the temperature setting based on a schedule you set in advance.

For more help getting to know your air conditioner, contact us at Sherlock Inc. Heating & Air Conditioning anywhere in the San Diego, Encinitas, Oceanside and Poway 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).

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Troubleshooting Tips for a Malfunctioning Air Conditioner

Troubleshooting Tips for a Malfunctioning Air ConditionerWith the summer heat around San Diego and San Marcos, a problem with your air conditioner can quickly leave you very uncomfortable. Knowing how to troubleshoot your A/C will help you get it running again or let you provide your technician with useful information about what might be wrong.

Free Up the Airflow

Poor airflow is a common cause of heating and cooling system malfunctions. It can impair the system’s performance and even shut down the system entirely. First, check your air filter and, if it’s covered in dust, put in a clean one. Next, clear out your air registers and vents. Remove the covers and vacuum out the insides of the ducts as far as you can reach. Wash the covers with mild detergent, then dry and replace them.

Finally, take a look at your outdoor condenser unit. If it’s plastered in grass clippings and leaves, shut down your system and use a stiff brush to clean the unit’s fins. Then remove the top and wash down the fins by directing a stream of water from a hose from the inside of the unit outward.

Inspect Your Components

If your condensate drain pump isn’t working, your air conditioner might shut itself off for safety reasons. Test your drain by pouring in a cup of water. If the pump doesn’t start up, either the float switch is stuck or the pump has failed. If you’re comfortable working with mechanical equipment, you might be able to open the pump and free the stuck float switch. Otherwise, contact an HVAC technician.

If your system runs, but can’t maintain an even, comfortable temperature, your thermostat could be the one to blame. Inside your thermostat is a small dial called the heat anticipator. If your A/C is cycling on and off too frequently, move the small arm on the dial one calibration mark toward the “longer” mark. If your system never produces the right temperature, move the arm away from the “longer” mark.

For more information on maintaining your air conditioner, check out Sherlock Heating and Air.

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).

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5 Ways to Keep Dust at Bay in Your Vista Home

5 Ways to Keep Dust at Bay in Your Vista Home Finding dust in your home is both annoying and frustrating, and it often seems like no matter how often you clean, it keeps coming back. Dust is made up of dead skin cells, animal dander, dust mites and many other elements that are dangerous to your health, especially if you have asthma and allergies. You can keep dust at bay with these simple tips:

  • Humidity & filters: Change the air filters in your HVAC system once a month, as creased filters catch more dust. Some are even electro statically charged to attract pollen and allergens. The ideal humidity in your home should be at around 45 percent. Get a professional to test your home’s humidity level and advise you on how to use your air conditioner effectively.
  • Keep closets tidy: Closets are stacked with fibers from clothes covered in dust. Store your clothes in plastic bags or containers to minimize shedding, and keep the floors of your closet clear, so you can vacuum or dust mop over them when cleaning. You can also store shoes on racks or wire shelves to keep your floors clear.
  • Use the right equipment: Feather dusters and dry rags only move dust from one place to another. Use a microfiber or electrostatic cloth to capture dust properly — even a wet rag will do the trick. Ensure that you clean frequently to keep dust at bay.
  • Frequent bedding change: Dust mites love to live in linen and mattresses. Encase your pillows and mattresses with allergen free cases and wash your linens once a week.
  • Eliminate carpeting: Carpets are high maintenance and attract dust mites easily. If you have carpets, vacuum them daily. However, there’s no guarantee you’ll totally get rid of all the dust mites. Rather, stick to hardwood or tile flooring.

For more expert advice on how to keep dust at bay, of if you have other issues related to home comfort, please contact Sherlock Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc. We serve all of San Diego and Southern Riverside County with more than 100 years combined experience.

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).

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Key Signs Your A/C Ducts Need a Cleaning

Key Signs Your A/C Ducts Need a Cleaning Having dirty ducts can reduce air quality and airflow through your North San Diego home. But how can you accurately detect when your A/C ducts need a cleaning? Fortunately, there are some telltale signs that let you know when it’s time to take action.

Signs of Dirty A/C Ducts

  • Use your eyes and ears: When you turn on your air conditioning system, watch your vents closely. If your system coughs up dust, you can be sure even more debris is caught up in your HVAC system. The vents themselves can also be a guide. A buildup of dust particles, pet hair and other airborne filth on or around the floor, wall and ceiling vents is further proof of a need to clean. Listening to your A/C ducts while they’re in operation can tell a similar tale. Whistling, rattling or general noise can be an indication of blockage in your A/C ducts. If your ducts are clean, the only thing you should hear is the blowing and hum of the blower motor.
  • Check your filters: One obvious way to check the cleanliness of your ducts is to look closely at your air filters. A blocked filter could mean its time to clean your ducts. If you clean or replace your filters and another buildup happens in a short period of time, it’s a sure bet your ducts need a thorough cleaning.
  • Adequate airflow: Regardless of the settings on your HVAC system, you should be able to feel some level of airflow around your vents. Check the vents on your home’s extremities. If airflow is low or non-existent, your ducts may be clogged. Floor vents are quite susceptible to small items and toys like Lego. Make sure you remove any garbage that builds up from foot traffic to keep air flowing.
  • Professional advice: When all else fails, seek the help of an HVAC professional. These pros have the tools that can access the interior of your ducts, and verify if a proper cleaning is needed.

For professional assistance with your A/C ducts, contact Sherlock Heating and Air Conditioning in San Diego 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).

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