Most air handler units have fiberglass insulation installed on the interior surfaces to provide thermal insulation, absorb sound, and help to provide the quiet operation of the HVAC system. As a whole, if properly maintained, air handler insulation has a long-term life expectancy.
In certain instances, the integrity of the fiberglass insulation will degrade and delaminate from the highly varied ranges of temperature, humidity and air turbulence. If the air handler insulation is left unrepaired, raw fiberglass fibers and insulation will enter the air handler components and airstream.
Each time a commercial HVAC system is maintained, the condition of the fiberglass insulation should be evaluated. If the exposed fiberglass fibers are exposed to the airstream, it is best to remove and replace the air handler insulation, or resurface the damaged insulation with an approved HVAC encapsulate.
When fiber glass insulation is initially installed, the exposed face of the fiberglass insulation has a primary seal that locks down the raw fiberglass fibers. If the primary seal of the air handler unit insulation has begun to delaminate, the most cost effective repair is to encapsulate
Coatings and insulation repair products are designed to repair damaged or degraded HVAC surfaces. Air handler Insulation repair coatings can range from coatings which lock down the fiberglass fibers to fiberglass coatings that have antimicrobial properties.
Surface treatments for air handler insulation repair must be labeled for the specific use in HVAC&R systems in or on any surfaces that are part of HVAC&R systems, and must be applied to a clean surface.
Air Handler Insulation Replacement
If the air handler insulation requires replacement, it is best to replace the fiberglass insulation with closed cell foam insulation. Closed cell foam insulation offers many benefits over fiberglass insulation; its finish is smooth and more durable than fiberglass insulation, and resists dirt and moisture accumulation.
As the temperature of you your home changes, the thermostat operates the furnace and air conditioning system to bring the home to a desired room temperature, this is known as a furnace cycle. When your furnace operates “on then off ” for only very short periods of time, it is known as short cycling. Short cycling will not only decreases energy efficiency, but can potentially be a sign of a serious problem within the heating and cooling system.
Restriction of Air Flow:
Most times a furnace will short cycle due to a lack of airflow. One of the most common causes for reduced air flow is a dirty furnace filter. Replace the furnace filter with a new furnace filter and get into the habit of changing the furnace filter every two months that the furnace is operation. If the short cycling of your furnace has occurred after recently changing your furnace filter it may be a result of using a filter that is too restrictive to airflow, make sure to use filters that are recommended by your specific model and brand of furnace.
If the air filters are getting an excessive amount of debris build up consider having the air ducts cleaned to lesson the volume of debris impacting the HVAC system.
Blocked Air Vent Registers
Sometimes home decor can negatively impact the functionality of the HVAC system. Another cause for airflow restriction may be blocked air vent registers, inspect the air vent registers for items that may be blocking airflow.
Air Conditioning Coils
Located above the furnace is a set of evaporative air conditioner coils which is responsible for absorbing the heat from the air. If the air conditioner coils have debris blocking airflow, it can cause the furnace to short cycle in both the cooling and heating season.
Thermostat location can often times cause short cycling. To ensure proper operation, a thermostat should be mounted on an inside wall in a frequently occupied area of the home. Thermostats need to be away from drafts, the effects of windows and radiation from windows and outside walls. Try temporarily shielding the thermostat with a piece of cardboard or paper, if the short cycling stops a draft is causing the problem, contact an HVAC contractor to discuss moving the thermostat to another location.
Short cycling of furnaces can also be caused by the furnace overheating. Most modern furnaces often have safety devices which monitor temperatures. Short cycling can occur when the heat exchanger overheats and the burner automatically shuts off to prevent damage. In rare circumstance it can be a crack in the heat exchanger, which causes the short cycling. If you feel that your furnace is short cycling due to overheating, turn off the furnace and contact an HVAC company for repair.
Pet urine within the air ducts is an extremely unpleasant odor. Sometimes trouble shooting where the pet urine odor is coming from can be quite difficult. Here are some great instructions on how to remove pet urine odor from air ducts.
Locating the Sources
Before you can correct a pet urine problem you have to identify all of the areas affected. Sometimes it can be difficult to isolate or identify source of the pet urine odor. One of the easiest methods of locating where pets have urinated is through the use of a UV black light. First darken the room, and then shine the UV black light near vent register openings, pet urine stains will glow in the dark.
Cleaning the Surrounding Areas
As pets urinate into the vent registers, the urine is likely to collect around the carpet or hardwood floor near the air vent register opening. If you do not clean the areas around the air vent register opening the scent of the urine will cause the pet to instinctively re-soil the area.
One of the best methods for removing the odor is to use baking soda and white vinegar. Prior to using baking soda and white vinegar, be sure to check with your flooring manufacturer to see if it will affect your floors finish. Never use ammonia or ammonia based cleaning products. While ammonia is a good cleaning product, one of the components of pet urine is ammonia, and the odor of the ammonia can lead your pet to instinctively re-soil the area.
DO NOT spray cleaning chemicals into the air ducts, only specific chemicals may be used within air ducts. Your ventilation system is designed to redistribute air and can potentially distribute the volatile cleaning fumes throughout the home. If you have accidently poured chemicals within the air ducts, open the doors and windows and call a duct cleaning professional.
After you have cleaned the surrounding area of the air vent registers, hire a professional air duct cleaning contractor. Debris within the air ducts will harbor pet urine odor. As the heating and air conditioner is in operation, pet urine odor can distribute throughout the entire home. An duct cleaning contractor will be able to access the HVAC system and help you to restore the HVAC system to its proper condition.
Regional climate plays a large role in Indoor Air Quality and comfort. Regional climate characteristics are determined by geographic location and long term weather conditions. Two of the most important factors that affect an areas climate are temperature and precipitation.
What makes Humid Climates Uncomfortable?
Humid climates have a high amount of water vapor in the air. When it’s hot, high humidity makes people feel hotter because it reduces the ability to evaporate moisture from the skin. In humid climates, becoming comfortable means going into a conditioned space.
Potential for Mold Growth
While mold spores are in every region and every climate, mold growth is highly dependent on the amount of humidity. Mold growth typically occurs when an environment reaches a relative humidity of 60 percent or greater in a 72 hour span. If mold is found within your home or workplace remediate the problem immediately, mold spores can be distributed throughout the home or building through the HVAC system impacting indoor air quality.
Air Conditioning in Humid Climates
Air conditioning coils serve a very important role in regulating temperature and humidity in humid climates. As air passes through the evaporative coil of the air conditioner, heat and moisture are removed from the air. To a degree, the lower the humidity level, the more comfortable you will feel at a given temperature.
Air Duct Cleaning and HVAC Maintenance
Overtime foreign debris is drawn into the evaporative coils and fan blower of the air conditioning system, gradually decreasing air flow and energy efficiency. Maintaining HVAC system, will keep your cooling and heating components operation at peak energy efficiency, and prevent potential indoor air quality problems. Yearly air conditioner inspections and routine air duct cleaning with assure maximum efficiency.
We are all looking for ways to save money, one way to save money is to reduce energy consumption. Did you know that in a typical home 45% of the energy cost go to Heating and cooling? The US Department of energy estimates that 25 – 40% of the energy used for heating and cooling a typical home is wasted.
Whether your heating or cooling system uses natural gas, fuel oil or electricity it is a good idea to make it as efficient as possible. Using less energy saves money and is better for the environment.
Install a programmable thermostat: these thermostats automatically turn down your system during periods when your typically away from home.
Change your air filter: Make sure to change your air filter regularly. A clogged filter will restrict air flow and cause your system to work harder and use more energy. Most experts reccomend changing your air filter every two months.
Seal your air ducts: Sealing your ducts will also save you money in the long run. You could be loosing nearly all your heating and cooling before it reaches your vents.
Clean your heating and cooling system: This is more than just duct cleaning, it involves cleaning all the components that the airstream touches in your heating and air conditioning system. NADCA recommends cleaning the furnace, cooling coils, blower motor, and the ductwork. Every part of the system is checked and cleaned, not just the ducts.
So how does cleaning your heating and cooling system save you money?
A dirty cooling coil reduces efficiency: to cool your home air is blown across cold metal coils. When the coils get clogged with dirt, airflow is restricted and air can no longer contact the metal. This blocks airflow and limits the coils ability to properly cool the air. Even in the winter months these dirty coils contine to reduce air flow through your furnace. This means that the system losing efficiency all year long.
Proper cleaning of an entire heating and cooling system takes technical skill and attention to detail, that is why it is important to rely on a company that is specifically trained and experienced in this type of cleaning. NADCA members specialize in optimizing the efficiency and life of your system.
Remeber clean systems use less energy and clean systems last longer saving you money now and in the years to come.
The US Environmental Protection Agency states that poor indoor air quality is one of the top five environmental threats to our country. So why does the EPA feel so strongly about indoor air in homes and workplaces? Well, according to the EPA, indoor air is on average a staggering three to five times more contaminated than outdoor air and in some instances as high as seventy times.
So why is indoor air so much worse in our home than outdoor air?
The answer is in modern day construction practices. Homes are being built more air tight in an effort to be more energy efficient and environmentally conscious. Older homes are being re-insulated and getting air tight window upgrades. The result is less drafty homes that no longer have natural ventilation to bring in fresh air.
Normal everyday living provides an ongoing source of airborne contaminants like dust, dander, chemicals and other allergens. These pollutants become trapped in your home due to this poor ventilation and then are re-circulated by your heating and cooling system.
So what does this mean for you?
The average American family now spends ninety percent of their time indoors. That means that the bulk of our days is spent breathing in these irritants and pollutants and the health effects are significant. Dust, pollen, household chemicals and smoke can create an unhealthy situation in your home for everyone, but especially for people with compromised respiratory systems such as children, the elderly, and people with asthma and allergy sufferers.
So what can you as a homeowner do to improve your air quality?
Today doctors agree that one of the healthiest things to do is to minimize your exposure to these indoor pollutants, allergens and irritants in your home. One of the most logical places to address indoor pollutants is in your heating and cooling system. Think of this system as the lungs of your home. It takes in air and breathes it out; it circulates all the air and everything in the air throughout your home. In fact, on average all the air in your home passes through your heating and cooling system five to seven times each day.
Begin by making sure that you regularly change furnace filter. While these filters do not eliminate airborne contaminants they can help reduce pollutants from entering your furnace and circulating through the house. Most experts recommend replacing your filter every two months.
Another important step to take to improve the quality of the air in your home, and one that many overlook is having your heating and cooling system thoroughly cleaned. As polluted air is re-circulated through your heating and cooling system dust, dirt, and contaminants are deposited throughout the system overtime. These subtle particles are then picked up by the airstream and are then pushed back out into the living areas of the house to be breathed in by family members. In a large number of homes the heating and cooling system has never been cleaned. Even in newer homes or homes undergoing renovation contaminants such as sawdust and drywall dust left over from construction process are deposited in your ducts.
So how clean is the heating and cooling system in your home? Here is a quick way to check. Remove a vent cover and use a mirror and flashlight to look inside. Or use a small digital camera to take a picture of the inside of your duct. If your ducts are dirty it is time to have your air ducts cleaned.
Choose a NADCA Certified Company
All NADCA members must meet a strict set of requirements:
Comply with NADCA’s International cleaning standards
Comply with NADCA’s code of ethics.
Comply with NADCA’s general liability insurance requirements
Maintain at least one certified Air System Cleaning Specialist (ASCS) on staff at all times
The Air Systems Cleaning Specialists Certification verifies that they have successfully completed rigorous testing on heating and cooling system components and cleaning techniques.
Giving your homes heating and cooling system a little attention will keep it and the air in your home cleaner and healthier for you and your family.
Compared to years ago when we heated our homes with wood or coal, a modern day heating system is a marvel of efficiency, reliability and convenience, but just like the old time systems these new systems get dirty and need to be cleaned and maintained.
How does an HVAC system Work?
Now you might be thinking “We keep a really clean home, shouldn’t out ducting heating and cooling system be clean to?” To answer that question we have to start by looking at how you’re heating and cooling system works. Think of your homes heating and cooling system as the lungs of your home. The system pulls air from the rooms of your home through the return ductwork, and then the air passes through the filter before reaching the air handler or furnace where it is heated or cooled depending on the season. Once the air is heated or cooled, it is blown through the supply ductwork and back into your home. Some of the components of the furnace are used only during heating, others only during cooling, and others operate all the time. Although the air is filtered, the fact is that filters cannot remove all the contaminants from the air, the system will get dirty through normal use.
HVAC components that get dirty:
Return air ducts
Where Does Dust Come From?
So where does dust come from? Consider that up to forty pounds of dust is created each year from in the average six room home, this normal household dust is unavoidable as it is created by everyday living. Every time we open the door, walk across carpeting, scratch out dry skin, or unroll paper towels we contribute to airborne dust. Of course pets and dust emitting activities such as remodeling make the problem worse. In fact, it’s not uncommon to find construction dust in a homes heating and cooling system years after the house was built. On average, this contaminated air recirculates throughout your home five to seven times per day. Why does it matter? This can develop into a serious problem. The build up of these contaminants on components such as blowers and cooling coils can lead not only to unhealthy air for your family to breathe, but also to higher energy bills. These contaminants can cause your system to work harder and run longer shortening the life of your equipment. Perhaps most importantly the heating and air conditioning system needs to be cleaned to provide the thermal comfort you expect.
How Do You Inspect the Heating and Cooling System?
So how clean is the heating and cooling system in your home? Here is a quick way to check. Remove a vent cover and use a mirror and flashlight to look inside. Or use a small digital camera to take a picture of the inside of your duct. If your ducts are dirty it is time to have your air ducts cleaned. Periodic air duct cleaning keeps your homes heating and cooling system clean and operating at peak efficiency.
If you are planning on installing an air conditioner before the weather heats up, it is important to have the air ducts cleaned before the air conditioner is installed. Having the air ducts cleaned before the air conditioning is installed will prevent numerous avoidable problems from occurring.
Prevent a Dust Out
When central air conditioners are installed, numerous modifications are made to the furnace cabinet and supply trunk line. Trunk lines are the main intake and distribution lines of an HVAC system. Because of the volume of air that is circulated through trunk lines, they are often the dirtiest points of a ventilation system. Modifications to the trunk lines disrupt and loosen debris on the walls of the trunk lines. If the air duct are not cleaned prior to installation there is a high probability of drawing debris into your newly installed HVAC components or blowing the loosened dust and debris within your home.
Prevent Fouled Air Conditioning Coils
Home central air conditioning systems draw air from the return air vents; and blow the air through evaporative coils located above the furnace to chill the air. To a large degree, the energy efficiency of an air conditioner is dependent on the cleanliness of the evaporative coil. When evaporative coils become fouled, they cause a number of problems:
Decrease heat transfer: Evaporative coils are made of tiny fins designed to absorb the heat from the air, when dirt or debris enters the coil fins, it acts as an insulator preventing efficient heat transfer.
Decrease airflow: Debris can build within the coil face preventing air to freely flow through the coil. Fouled air conditioning coils negatively affect your HVAC system during the heating season as well.
Clogged drain pans: As evaporative air conditioner coils absorb heat from the air, they condensate moisture which flows from the air conditioning system through a drain pan. Moisture and debris clogs the drain of the air conditioner.
Coil Freeze: Loosened debris within the air ducts causes air filters to load prematurely, and fouls evaporative air conditioner coils. Coils typically freeze and fail due to low air flow.
Plan and Prepare
When planning your air conditioner installation, budget air duct cleaning in your installation cost. Coordinate the air duct cleaning to be performed before the installation of the air conditioner. Clean air ducts will provide numerous long term benefits.
Air ducts are used to distribute air through out a building, or to exhaust air outside of a building. The most common are: sheet metal, fiberglass lined, fiberboard, and flex-line air ducts.
Sheet Metal Air Ducts
The most common type of ridged air duct is constructed of galvanized steel or aluminum. They may be round, rectangular, or in the form of a spiral oval. Sheet metal air ducts are the most durable type of air duct construction, and because their non-porous surface, are the least likely to have mold or biological growth.
Fiberglass Lined Air Ducts
Some sheet metal air ducts air ducts are lined with an external or internal fiberglass duct liner. Fiberglass lining is used to insulate air ducts from heat loss or to avoid condensation in cases where the supply air is very cold, or there is a high ambient humidity in the plenum. Fiberglass lining also provides sound attenuation, reducing the noise of the HVAC system.
Fiberboard Air Ducts
Fiberboard air ducts are constructed with boards of compressed resin bonded inorganic glass fibers. They have a foil face on the outside that serves as the air barrier and water vapor retarder. The interior of fiberboard air duct is sealed to prevent fiberglass fibers from entering the air stream. Fiberboard air duct also provide acoustical and thermal benefits, and are typically the most inexpensive air duct systems to install.
Flexible Air Ducts
Flexible air ducts are constructed with a spring steel wire helix, encapsulated in a 2-ply, polymer plastic. Flexible air ducts are inexpensive, lightweight, and easy to install. It is important that the lengths of the flexible air ducts be kept as short as possible as the length of flexible, and numbers bends within the flexible greatly effects system performance.