Indoor Air Quality - Blog Posts by Tag

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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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).

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How to Check the Status of Your Carbon Monoxide Detectors

How to Check the Status of Your Carbon Monoxide DetectorsThe Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) reports 10,000 people become ill each year and 1,500 die because of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. Fortunately, you can avoid it by installing carbon monoxide detectors in your home and checking their status to ensure they’re in good working order.

Dangers of Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas that’s produced by common gas or oil appliances such as a furnace, water heater, and oven. The trace amounts generated by these appliances are usually harmless. However, if your home is poorly ventilated or one of the appliances has a problem, it can cause the CO levels in your home to increase rapidly.

Medium exposure to carbon monoxide can cause drowsiness, throbbing headaches, confusion, and a fast heart rate. High exposure can cause convulsions, heart and lung failure, unconsciousness, brain damage and even death.

For all those reasons, it’s important to have carbon monoxide detectors in your home. Follow these guidelines to ensure your detectors are actively protecting your family.

Correct Installation

Install at least one CO detector on each level of your house. You should also have a detector near or in each separate bedroom. A detector will be falsely triggered if it’s too close to fuel-burning sources such as a natural gas furnace. Make sure your detectors are 15-20 feet away from such sources.

Test Each Detector

Ensure proper function by performing the following test – press the Test button that’s on the front of your detector and don’t release it until it sounds. If it doesn’t sound within 20 seconds, it may be lacking adequate power or may need replacement.

Change Batteries Regularly

Replace the batteries in your battery-operated detectors when you’re adjusting your clocks for daylight saving time, or immediately you get a low battery warning.

Having detectors that are regularly tested and maintained should be your first line of defense against CO poisoning. If you need help with installation or maintenance of your carbon monoxide detectors or any HVAC appliances, please contact us at Sherlock Heating & Air Conditioning. We serve the San Diego 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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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). 

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Don’t Forget About Your HVAC System in Your Spring Cleaning Chores

Don't Forget About Your HVAC System in Your Spring Cleaning ChoresNow that winter is over, it’s the ideal time to give the house a thorough cleaning before hot summer weather settles in. When you’re making a list of chores to tackle, be sure to add the following HVAC spring cleaning tasks to boost the system’s performance and energy efficiency, and preserve your indoor air quality.

Clean the Return Air Registers

With every HVAC system cycle, airborne dust and debris is drawn to the return registers. As they clog up, vital airflow that’s needed for the system to function properly can start to decline, so it’s important to keep them clean. Vacuum them first to get rid of any loose debris, then take the registers off and give them a thorough cleaning on both sides with clean soapy water. While they’re off, vacuum any dust bunnies inside the accessible return duct.

Scrub the Floor Registers

Your floor registers can become a repository for an unappealing collection of miscellaneous items over the winter months, like dust, human and pet hair, animal dander, stray pieces of pet food—virtually any small bits of debris that hit the floor can fall through. To scrub them clean, follow the same procedure you used for the return registers. Be sure to let all of the registers dry thoroughly before putting them back in place.

Clean Up Around the Outdoor Unit

Broken branches, twigs, dead leaves and other yard debris that collects around the outdoor unit over the winter can impede airflow through the condenser coil. To prevent this, tidy the area up before you start using the air conditioner this spring, and trim back any overgrown vegetation within a two-foot radius of the unit.

Schedule Professional HVAC Spring Cleaning

During a spring maintenance visit, an HVAC technician inspects and tunes up the equipment, and cleans dirt and debris from key components including the blower unit, evaporator coil and outdoor condenser coil. Your technician can also inspect the ducts to see if negative pressure duct cleaning is needed.

To schedule professional HVAC spring cleaning for your San Diego home, contact us today 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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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).

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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). 

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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).

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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).

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Auto Versus Fan On: Learn Which Way Is Best for Setting Your Thermostat

Auto Versus Fan On: Learn Which Way Is Best for Setting Your ThermostatHave you ever noticed that your thermostat features both an “on” and “auto” setting? Do you know when to use them? These two fan settings are points of confusion for many, so let’s have a look at each.

The Difference Between “On” and “Auto”

Setting your thermostat to “auto” makes the fan run only when your home’s air is being heated or cooled. Once your home reaches the desired temperature, it stops. The “on” setting means the fan runs 24/7, whether your indoor air is being heated or cooled, or not.

Why Use the “On” Setting?

The main advantage of the “on” setting is that it improves indoor air quality. Your home’s air is constantly cycled through the air filter, removing more airborne particles. The setting distributes conditioned air more evenly, and the fan lasts longer due to less frequent starts and stops.

A major disadvantage of this setting is that it always uses energy, increasing your monthly energy expenses. In winter when your furnace is off, cold air comes through the vents, making you uncomfortable. The setting also increases moisture levels in the indoor air as a significant amount of the moisture captured by your A/C unit is blown back into your home. The air filter will also need to be changed more often due to constant filtration and the threat of clogging.

Why Use the “Auto” Setting?

The primary advantage of the “auto” setting? Less energy is used because the fan doesn’t run continuously, which makes the air filter last longer as well. The “auto” setting also dehumidifies the air better because moisture captured drains outside when the fan cycles off.

The “auto” setting does have a few disadvantages. It causes less even distribution of conditioned air, and its multiple starts and stops make the fan wear out over time.

If you have more questions about setting your thermostat, contact Sherlock Heating & Air Conditioning. We serve San Diego County and southern Riverside County.

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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