Posted by & filed under Air Duct Cleaning, Indoor Air Quality, Restoration, Understanding Ventilation Systems.

An air duct system is very efficient at spreading smoke.  When a fire occurs, the entire HVAC system will be contaminated, to a lesser or greater degree.  It is likely that the air duct system will distribute smoke damage well beyond the area of the fire.

Smoke Damage from an Active Air Duct System

Unfortunately, a forced air ventilation system is rather effective at spreading smoke damage.  Smoke is drawn into return air vents, through the furnace components, and distributed throughout the home or building through the supply air ducts.  If the HVAC system was operating at the time of fire, the return air side will be the most contaminated.

Passive Air Duct Smoke Damage

Even if the heating and ventilation system is not in use, there is a natural or passive air movement throughout the ventilation system.  If the air duct system wan not in operation during the fire, the return and supply air ducts closest to the fire will be the most contaminated.

Absorption of Odors

Smoke is naturally attracted to metal surfaces and is corrosive in nature.  As the smoke enters the air ducts it will cling to the steel, and will absorb into the debris within the air duct system.  A ventilation system has to be thoroughly cleaned in order to remove smoke damage.

Odor Oxidizer

After the ventilation system has been cleaned, an odor oxidizer is applied within the air ducts.  An odor oxidizer naturally breaks downs the odor causing chemicals of the smoke damage.

Encapsulation

In some instances of extreme smoke damage, air ducts will need to be encapsulated to remediate the smoke damage.  After the air ducts are cleaned, an encapsulates approved for use within HVAC systems is applied uniformly throughout the ventilation system.

Posted by & filed under Air Duct Cleaning, Indoor Air Quality, Mold, Understanding Ventilation Systems.

Green air duct cleaners employ advanced methods and materials specifically for green cleaning.   They make an extra effort to not allow any dust to escape outdoors or indoors, and only use natural cleaning products.

Clean & Maintained Air Duct Cleaning Equipment

Green air duct cleaning companies ensure that equipment is cleaned and maintained to prevent introducing contaminants into the home or business.  HEPA vacuums require routine inspection to ensure that the filter is properly sealed and operating at peak performance.  HEPA filtered vacuums to prevent dust from being re-released into the air.

No Dust Escapes

No dust should enter your home or be released outside during the air duct cleaning process. Green air duct cleaning companies use source removal cleaning procedures to mechanically agitate and HEPA vacuum debris from the wall of the air ducts.

Green Cleaning Products

Cleaning solvents are needed to clean debris air vent vent registers and furnace components.  Only non-toxic, biodegradable, non-corrosive, non-flammable, environmentally safe cleaning products are to be used.

Limited Use of Sanitizers

Sanitizing agents should  ONLY be used if there is microbial problem. Any sanitizer used in the HVAC system must be specifically registered by the EPA or other applicable regulatory agency for the use in HVAC systems.

Never Use Scented Sprays

Green air duct cleaning companies never use scented spays within air ducts.  A proper cleaning of the air vents will remove the debris harboring the odor.  Scented sprays mask odors, and can potentially cause an adverse reaction to home or building occupants.

Posted by & filed under Air Duct Cleaning, Allergies & Asthma, Indoor Air Quality, Mold.

The greatest difficulty in solving indoor air quality problems is that effects on people can vary.  One of a pollutant can have a completely different effect on two different people.  While pollutants found in indoor air can be responsible for many harmful effects, there is considerable uncertainty as to what concentrations or periods of exposure are necessary cause specific health problems.

Immunocompromised Individuals

People who are immunocompromised have an immune system that is compromised or entirely absent.  Indoor air quality is of great concern to those who are immunuocomprimised, as their bodies are very vulnerable to opportunistic infections.

Hypersensitivity

Some people can become sensitized to biological & chemical pollutants after repeated or high level exposures. Effects may show up after a single exposure or repeated exposures.  Once sensitized to a pollutant, the individual can experience acute adverse reactions when they are exposed to that pollutant, even when the pollutant is at a lower level.

Age Makes a Difference

Children are sensitive to indoor air quality because they breathe faster than adults, inhaling up to 50% more air per pound of body weight than adults.  Elderly have a higher risk for cardiovascular, respiratory illness from fine particle pollutions.

Allergies & Asthma

Dust is a mixture of many substances. Its content may vary from home to home, but the most common allergy triggers such as mold spores, pollen, dust mites, can trigger allergy or asthma attacks.

Fortunately for most healthy people, the symptoms of air pollution exposure usually go away as soon as the air quality improves.  Good housekeeping and good maintenance of the heating and air conditioning equipment is the most important methods for controlling exposure to indoor air pollutants.

Posted by & filed under Indoor Air Quality, Understanding Ventilation Systems.

A host of different biological, gas, and particulate pollutants can affect the indoor air quality.  The types of contaminants and the amounts that are suspended in the air determine air quality.

Biological Air Pollutants

Biological pollutants are or were living organisms. While all of us are exposed to biological pollutants in one form or another, the effects on our health depend upon the type and amount of biological pollution and the individual person.  Two conditions are essential to support biological growth – nutrients and moisture.  Keeping an area clean and dry is the best method to prevent biological air pollutants.

Common biological air pollutants:

  • Pet Hair & Pet Dander
  • Mold
  • Dust Mites
  • Pollen
  • Cockroach parts

Chemical & Gas Air Pollutants

Chemical and gas pollutants are the most hazardous of all air pollutants as they are often odorless, tasteless and invisible.  Ensuring proper exhaust, using building products with low levels of volatile organic compounds, and prohibiting smoking indoors are the best methods for preventing chemical and gas air pollutants.

Common chemical & gas pollutants:

  • Carbon Monoxide
  • Radon
  • Smoke
  • Building Materials with volatile organic compounds

Particulate Air Pollutants

Particulate air pollutants are particulates that have the ability to become air born when disrupted. The size of particles is directly linked to their potential for causing health problems. Particles that are 10 micrometers in diameter or smaller are of greatest concern because they can pass through the throat and nose and enter the lungs.  Good house keeping and construction containment practices are the best methods for lowering particulate air pollutants.

Common particulate air pollutants:

  • Drywall
  • Fiberglass
  • Concrete
  • Carpet fibers
  • Sawdust

Posted by & filed under Indoor Air Quality, Understanding Ventilation Systems.

Air pathways are a key component of indoor air quality. Understanding and improving air pathways will greatly improve your indoor air quality.

Understanding Air Pathways

Air flow is created by pressure differentials.  Air flow always flows from higher relative pressure to lower relative pressure.  Air will flow through any available opening (pathway) in an attempt to equalize pressure.  Pathways include windows, doors, electrical outlets, floor drains, heating and cooling systems, and most importantly air ducts.

Air Pathways within a Home

A forced air system works by creating a difference in pressure between the area where the supply registers are located and the area where the returns are located.  As air moves from supply diffuser to return air grill, it is diverted or obstructed by partitions, creating pathways of air movement throughout the home.

How do Air Pathways affect a Home?

Pathways can change from one minute to the next – Opened windows, an exhaust fan, open/closed doors etc… Unintended pathways need to be acknowledged to have a comprehensive understanding of a homes airflow patterns.

Improving Air Pathways

Air ducts are the pathways for energy efficient homes.  With a couple of simple steps you can improve your air pathways.

  • Seal the air ducts to prevent costly, conditioned air flow from being drawn from or escape into unknown, unspecified, or unintended areas of the home.
  • Filter the air by changing the furnace or air conditioning air filter.
  • Make sure that air ducts are not blocked by interior furnishings that prevent their designed use.
  • Have the air ducts cleaned to prevent obstructions in air flow.
  • Use bathroom exhaust fans when using the shower to exhaust moisture.
  • Use kitchen exhaust fans when cooking to exhaust fumes from cooking.
  • Have your HVAC technician inspect exhaust flues when they perform annual HVAC inspections to ensure carbon monoxide is properly exhausted.

Posted by & filed under Indoor Air Quality, Understanding Ventilation Systems.

Several factors contribute to poor indoor air quality that can be easily controlled. Air pressurization greatly affects the indoor air quality of a home or building.

Pressurization

Air flow is created by pressure differentials.  Air flow always flows from higher relative pressure to lower relative pressure.  If more air is supplied to a room than exhausted, the excess air leaks out of the space and the room is said to be under Positive Pressure.  If less air is supplied than exhausted, air is pulled into the space and the room is said to be under Negative Pressure.

Positive Pressure

If a home or building has too much positive air pressure, it will allow for conditioned air to escape the home causing costly energy concerns.

Negative Pressure

Negatively pressurized homes allow for unconditioned and unfiltered air to be drawn within the home or building.  Debris will enter through cracks and crevices, opened doors, windows, etc…

What’s the Ideal Air Pressurization?

It is ideal to achieve neutral to slightly positive air pressurization.  Though there is a slight loss of conditioned air, a slightly positive pressured home will provide comfort and prevent outdoor contaminants from entering the home or building.

ASHRAE Standard 62.1 “Ventilation for Acceptable Indoor Air Quality” requires proper ventilation and a slightly positive pressurization of buildings. Maintaining a small positive air pressure, relative to the outdoors, limits the entrance of outdoor moisture and is a very common strategy to prevent mold and mildew formation in a building.

How Can You Monitor or Control Air Pressurization?

Air pressure can be monitored through an energy auditor.  An energy auditor will use of a blower door & smoke test to determine the location of air leaks.  After the test is performed steps can be made to improve air pressurization.

Several factors contribute to poor indoor air quality that can be easily controlled. Air pressurization greatly affects the indoor air quality of a home or building.

Pressurization

Air flow is created by pressure differentials.Air flow always flows from higher relative pressure to lower relative pressure.If more air is supplied to a room than exhausted, the excess air leaks out of the space and the room is said to be under Positive Pressure.If less air is supplied than exhausted, air is pulled into the space and the room is said to be under Negative Pressure.

Positive Pressure

If a home or building has too much positive air pressure, it will allow for conditioned air to escape the home causing costly energy concerns.

Negative Pressure

Negatively pressurized homes allow for unconditioned and unfiltered air to be drawn within the home or building.Debris will enter through cracks and crevices, opened doors, windows, etc…

What’s the Ideal Air Pressurization?

It is ideal to achieve neutral to slightly positive air pressurization.Though there is a slight loss of conditioned air, a slightly positive pressured home will provide comfort and prevent outdoor contaminants from entering the home or building.

ASHRAE Standard 62.1 “Ventilation for Acceptable Indoor Air Quality” requires proper ventilation and a slightly positive pressurization of buildings. Maintaining a small positive air pressure, relative to the outdoors, limits the entrance of outdoor moisture and is a very common strategy to prevent mold and mildew formation in a building.

How Can You Monitor or Control Air Pressurization?

Air pressure can be monitored through an energy auditor.An energy auditor will use of a blower door & smoke test to determine the location of air leaks.After the test is performed steps can be made to improve air pressurization.

Posted by & filed under Air Duct Cleaning, Allergies & Asthma.

 

After a long winter, spring is the perfect time to clean out your home and make room for new, green habits. If getting green was one of your New Year’s Resolutions, and you haven’t been able to find the ways to get it done, here are 12 tips to add some green to your spring.

1. Green Spring Cleaning

The onset of spring always motivates us to get down and scrub the floors and remove the cobwebs from the corners. This year, use green products instead of harsh chemicals for cleaning. Lemons and baking soda can be used to clean and freshen kitchen counters, showers, tubs, and sinks. Use vinegar and warm water for floors and to remove the sticky, greasy dust that builds up in the kitchen on walls, top of refrigerator, and corners. Clean windows streak-free with old newspaper and 3 tablespoons of vinegar in 1 gallon cold water.

2. Clean Air Ducts

Make your spring cleaning last longer by cleaning your air ducts. Clean air ducts will also lessen the amount of dust, pollen, and other pollutants that circulate around your home as outdoor plants come to life. Air Duct cleaning will decrease allergens & improve the energy efficiency of your heating and cooling system.

3. Buy Air-Cleansing Plants

Naturally freshen the air after your air ducts have been cleaned with air-cleaning house plants like English Ivy, chrysanthemums, and spider plants. If allergies and asthma are a problem in your household, these plants may be able to help keep the air clean. Plus, healthy green plants bring spring indoors.

4. Home Improvements

Spring is a great time to do energy-saving home improvements like replacing windows, adding insulation, and repairing leaks and drafts. Before the heat of summer sets in, make sure to perform home improvements that will keep the heat out and air-conditioned air in. This is also a good time to service your AC unit and replace filters.

5. Plant a Garden

Instead of adding landscaping, why not plant a garden? Your beautiful plants can also provide delicious, nutritious food for your family. Check seed packs for the best time to plant in your area and dedicate a few square feet of your yard to food-producing plants. Make sure to keep food healthy by not using chemical fertilizers and instead, use organic plant foods

available at most garden stores.

6. Start To Compost

If you already recycle and still want to reduce the amount of waste you produce, start a compost pile. There are many ways to compost and you don’t need to buy an expensive plastic unit to do so. You can just dig a hole in the ground and add compostables. Stir with a pitch fork once a week and cover with leaves or a tarp. You will be amazed at how much “trash” you can compost and use in your garden.

7. Replace Bulbs

Replace incandescent bulbs in your home with energy efficient CFL bulbs. There are now many warm tones of light available. You can also add outdoor solar lighting to your garden or walkway. These lights recharge in the sun and can be set to automatically turn on when the sun goes down.

8. Replace Old Appliances

Replace your old appliances with energy star rated appliances. You will save energy and money and help reduce the strain on energy needs over the summer. Also, hang your laundry outside to dry in the sun. It will smell fresh and save lots of energy while the weather is nice.

9. Ride Your Bike to Work

Now that the weather is improving, why not make the commitment to ride your bike to work at least one day a week? The exercise will help you trim up after the winter, improve your health, and increase energy level. If biking is not an option, then use public transportation, carpool, or walk. The first few weeks may seem an inconvenience, but you will soon look forward to the exercise and time spent outdoors.

10. Shop at the Farmer’s Market

Support local farmers by shopping at farmer’s markets. Most areas have a few, and one will surely work for your schedule. By shopping at farmer’s markets you will eat healthy foods that are in season, get some exercise by walking around, and support your local economy. It is a great way to get green.

11. Recycle your Old Stuff

While you do your spring cleaning, gather up all your old clothes, toys, and furniture that is still usable and donate it to a local charity that helps families in need. The economy has likely affected families in your community, so give you old stuff to people that can use it. There is no sense in throwing anything away that can still be used.

12. Green Beauty Products

Since you will be showing more skin now that its spring, bring going green into your skincare regimen. Buy lotions and other products that contain natural ingredients that haven’t been tested on animals. Many make-up companies now offer organic lines that are better for your skin and the environment. Look for items that aren’t overly packaged with plastic, can be refilled, or reused.

Posted by & filed under Air Duct Cleaning, Allergies & Asthma, Understanding Ventilation Systems.

While you will never be able to completely rid your home of dust.  Here are 10 great tips to reduce the amount of dust and other allergy-aggravating particles from your home.

Establish a Regular Cleaning Schedule

When there are long periods of time between cleanings it makes the work much harder.  Develop a routine cleaning schedule, it will help ensure that the maintenance is routine and that areas are not overlooked.

Remove Shoes

Not only does taking your shoes off at the door save the carpets, it also prevents dirt, dust, pollen, and other debris from getting tracked throughout the house. Use of mats placed inside and out of all entrances will help cut down on dust.

Dusting Techniques

When dusting your home, the goal is to capture the dust, do not use a feather duster, as they only stir up dust. When dusting objects within your home work from the top of the object down using a damp cloth, or an anti-static cloth to capture the dust.

Furniture

Vacuum upholstered furniture weekly.  Most vacuum cleaners come with a hose and attachments to make this an easy task.  Remove all the cushions, and vacuum them separately. Clean the back, sides and make sure to clean underneath the furniture too

Window Treatments

Dust window treatments monthly.  Window treatments can hold a lot of dust which can get released into the air if they are brushed up against or touched.

Carpets

Carpets are the perfect resting spot for dust and pet dander. Vacuum all carpets at least once a week.  Be sure to use high efficiency vacuum bags, low efficiency vacuum bags will allow for fine dust to re-enter the air.

Bedding

Lots of mites and dust get trapped in bedding.  Bedding collects skin flakes, sheds its own fibers and releases dust every time you roll over.  Wash bedding weekly in hot water & don’t forget to vacuum under your bed.

Inspect Your Dryer Vent Exhaust

Once a year inspect your dryer vent exhaust. Your dryer is responsible for exhausting moisture and lint from your clothing, and can potentially be the culprit for dust in your home.  Make sure that the dryer isn’t shoved against the wall, and that the dryer exhaust line is firmly attached.  Clean out your lint trap regularly & have the dryer vent cleaned when needed.

Change Filters on Heating & Air Conditioning Unit

Change the air filters every two months that the heating or air conditioning system is in use.  Use good air filters with a MERV rating between 7 and 11.

Keep Your Air Ducts Clean

Overtime dirt and dust build up within the air ducts.  Dirty air ducts will re-circulate dust within your home.  Typically air ducts need to be cleaned every 3-5 years.

Posted by & filed under Air Conditioning, Heating, Understanding Ventilation Systems.

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.

Posted by & filed under Air Duct Cleaning, Air Duct Cleaning Reviews.

Finding a reputable air duct cleaning service is important if you want the job done right and your home respected during the cleaning process.  Here are a few tips to finding a quality cleaner in your area.

Ask Questions

Before hiring any company to clean your air ducts, ask questions and listen to the answers. Look for knowledgeable answers, not a sales pitch. Ask questions like…

  • How long they’ve been in business?
  • Why air ducts need cleaning?
  • Are the employees screened for criminal background?
  • How long does the cleaning process take?
  • What is required of you the day of the cleaning?
  • Do you carry workman’s compensation and liability insurance?
  • Are services are guaranteed?

NADCA

The National Air Duct Cleaners Association is a group that sets standards for service and certifies air duct cleaners. This online source offers recommendations and tips for consumers on how to hire cleaners. Included is a checklist to ensure the technicians perform all the tasks necessary for a thorough cleaning. This is an excellent place for consumers to gain knowledge, find recommendations, and learn the basics about air duct cleaning.

Ask for Referrals

Ask neighbors or local businesses who they have hired to clean their air ducts. Call your HVAC contractor to ask them who they recommend, installing heating and air conditioning systems; they will know who performs quality workmanship.  There are numerous online consumer advocacy websites, check for online air duct cleaning reviews.

Check with the BBB

Check with the Better Business Bureau or other agency to see if complaints have been filed against the company. If the company has no complaints, good references, and a knowledgeable staff then they will likely provide a quality service to you.