Your HVAC System can help allergies

Spring has brought April showers, the hope of beautiful May flowers – and allergy season!  The air can get really bad for people who suffer from seasonal allergies, but believe it or not your HVAC system can help allergies and bring some relief.It’s not expensive or difficult to get your HVAC in shape for this tricky time of year, and it just takes a few steps and considerations.

Put in a new air filter

The air that circulates through your home has to first go through your air filter. We recommend that you change the filter at least twice a year, and if you have pets, you may want to change it more often. You want to make sure there is a new filter in before furnace season and again before you use the air conditioning. If the filter is dirty it can’t catch dust, so the air you’re breathing in your home will be dirty and unhealthy. A new, clean filter will catch dust and any particles that can bother allergies.

Talk to your technician about using a MERV filterAllergy season sign

Sometimes a regular filter is not enough protection for allergy sufferers. If this is the case in your home ask your HVAC technician about using a Maximum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) filter. They are designed to catch even more than dust and some air pollutants. Depending on the rating of the filter, they can catch dander, pollen and other allergens. The higher the rating, the more pollutants they can filter.

Consider a UV air purifier

To create the cleanest indoor air possible, consider using a UV light solution. These types of purifiers can reduce bacteria, mold, and other allergens in the air. These filters work by providing a second cleaning after treated air is pushed through the air filter. It will also remove unwanted odors from the air like pet stink, kitchen smells and perfumes. You may want to check out the Air Scrubber. It’s an attachment to your existing HVAC unit, It won’t require major installation.

Don’t forget to dust your return vents and the HVAC unit

The simple step of dusting can help cut the spread of allergies. And don’t forget to clean your return vents and HVAC unit. If you have dusty return vents, that dust will spread throughout your house. To prevent the spread, use a damp cloth to wipe around your return vents, outside condenser and any other HVAC units you can access.

Get a tune-up

If someone in your home has allergies, nothing can replace a regularly scheduled HVAC tune-up. As a result of professional cleaning and inspection, your HVAC system can help allergies. You should plan to get tune-ups twice a year to make sure no dirty air is being distributed throughout the house and that the system is problem-free.

A preventive maintenance plan will ensure that your HVAC system is served twice a year, without you having to worry. For information, call Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing, & Electrical at 800.461.3010.

Prep your AC for Summer

Even though temperatures are pretty mild, you may have already test driven your air conditioner this year. On days when the inside of your home becomes uncomfortable, you may opt to run the AC instead of opening windows. In the south, this is mostly due to pollen that can coat the floors, countertops and anything in sight! Be sure to prep your AC system for summer; it’s one of the most important investments you’ll make as a homeowner.

There are many ways you can maintain your air conditioning system that will save you money even if you are not skilled at it. Here are a few simple ways to keep your system cooling on the days you need it most.

Clean the coils

Air conditioning coils help refrigerants absorb heat and cool your home. They are a very important component of your AC system and need attention because over time, the coils become dirty. When this happens there is a  reduction in the amount of heat they absorb and your AC has to work harder to cool your home. Keep the coils clean by clearing the area around the condenser unit of any built up debris.

Change the filters each monthChange filters at least four times per year

The best way to maintain your AC is to change the air filter in your system on a regular basis. It’s an easy, inexpensive and quick task. But left undone, it can cost you in air quality and system function. An air filter prevents particles like dirt, dander, and dust from getting into the rooms of your home. If it’s bogged down in excess particles your AC system won’t be efficient, it will be strained and the quality of your circulated air will be poor.

Clean the condensate drain

Your AC has a drain line that takes water from the unit to the outside. This line should be clean because it can get clogged and moldy. If that happens you are in danger of damaging the unit and the line itself. If you notice water isn’t draining properly, unclog the line with these steps:

  1. Unplug the AC.
  2. Take off the filter at the end of the outside drain line.
  3. Put a wet-dry vacuum at the end of the drain line.
  4. Wrap a cloth around the area of the vacuum and drainage and make a firm connection. Turn on the vacuum for about five seconds to allow it to remove the debris causing the blockage.
  5. Last, pour a cup of bleach in the line to reduce future clogs.

Check the condenser and evaporator fins

AC’s have a condenser and an evaporator, and each has a “fin.” Over time, they can become bent and cause interrupted airflow. Regular checks on the fins will allow you to see any bending. If you see that, a fin comb can fix the issue.

Call a professional

If you think your AC is not performing and you’ve already tried the above fixes, it’s best to contact a professional air conditioning technician to prep your AC for summer. They can make sure your system is clean, inspected, tuned and that there aren’t underlying issues affecting its performance. Call the experts at Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing, & Electrical at 800.461.3010.

HVAC Myths Dispelled

When it comes to HVAC systems how do you know what’s a myth and what’s true about maintenance and services? Let’s take a look at a few of the most common HVAC myths and dispel them so you know how to make the best decisions to keep your systems working efficiently.

HVAC Myths Dispelled

MYTH: Your filter only needs changing only once a year.

TRUTH: This is a myth and a big mistake! Change your filter every 30 days and if you have a lot of pets that produce a lot of dander and fur around the house, change out more often. This will keep your system much more efficient.

 

MYTH: Having the biggest system is always the best.

TRUTH: Actually, bigger is not always better when it comes to an HVAC system. In fact, if you have a system that is too large for your home, it can be much less efficient and less effective in removing humidity. It’s best to have a professional decide on the right size HVAC unit for your home.

 

MYTH: You don’t need to maintain your HVAC system unless it’s broken.

TRUTH: Regular maintenance on your HVAC system is crucial. This will prevent large and expensive problems and ensure that your system is working properly. Maintenance with an HVAC specialist will save you costly and major repairs down the road.

 

MYTH: It’s easy to find air leaks in your home.

TRUTH: It sounds simple to find an air leak around your home, but even some of the biggest leaks can be difficult to detect. It’s best to ask an HVAC service technician to find and properly seal leaks that are wasting energy and making your system inefficient. During your regular check, ask your technician to also check for leaks. This will ensure your system is running properly and efficiently.

 

MYTH: The best way to change the heat or cooling your home is to turn up the thermostat.

TRUTH: While your thermostat setting controls the temperature, your home may never reach that temperature, especially if your HVAC is not working optimally. If your HVAC system needs maintenance, if your home needs new insulation or there are serious leaks, the system will have a difficult time heating and cooling properly.

Hiring a professional

When you hire an HVAC company to help service your system, ask them to:

  • Evaluate if the size of your system is right for your home.
  • Replace a new HVAC system in your home if it’s determined that you need one.
  • Perform regular maintenance to prevent bigger problems and keep your system running efficiently.
  • Test for leaks that may be making your system inefficient.
  • Troubleshoot any other potential problems with your HVAC system.

It’s always best to ask your HVAC professional if you have a question about what’s true or a myth in maintaining and maximizing your home system. For expert assistance, call Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing, & Electrical at 800.461.3010.

 

Balancing hot & cold spots in your home

Do you ever walk from one room to another and notice a temperature difference? Do the floors feel cold in some rooms and not others? Balancing hot and cold spots in your home can bring you more comfort and lower utility bills. Knowing how to do this can save you money and aggravation.

A home with balanced air will improve air circulation, increase energy efficiency and enhance the overall performance of your heating and air systems. This balance involves modifying your existing HVAC system, which includes making adjustments in areas you may not be currently considering. By doing this your HVAC system will be working in harmony, avoid hot and cold spots throughout your home, and provide and improve air quality and comfort.

You can correct issues on your own by following these steps.

1. Check air filters for cleanliness

Clean filters improve your air quality, increase the efficiency of your systems, extend the life of your HVAC and help keep costs low.

2. Feel for drafts

Check your windows and doors for tight sealing. Add additional insulation measures if you can feel hot or cold coming through.

3. Open or close your register

A simple yet effective fix is to open registers during warm weather on your upper floor and at the same time partially close them on the first floor. When cold temperatures arrive, reverse the process.

4. Create a 2 degree difference

If you have separate thermostats for your first and second floors, set the thermostat at a two degree difference. For instance, your downstairs could be set at 72 while your upstairs is set at 74 degrees. Doing this can help with uneven temperatures on different floors.

5. Change the direction of ceiling fansChange the direction of ceiling fan to help with air flow

Switching the direction of a fan can affect air circulation. Set your ceiling fans to go counterclockwise during warming months to create a downward airflow. Change the direction in the cooler months. Fans should spin at a low speed in a clockwise motion so it can distribute warm air.

6. Install window coverings to prevent temperature differences

Window coverings can improve energy efficiency. In cooler seasons most of the sunlight that comes in standard double-pane windows becomes heat, so be sure to let the light in!

7. Clear registers of any blocks

When you block a vent with furniture your system has to work harder. Be sure your registers are clear of furniture or items that will restrict air flow.

8. Adjust your insulation

If your home isn’t properly insulated, you will have unbalanced air temperatures throughout your home. Hire a professional to evaluate your insulation needs. They will help find any problems that need correcting.

9. Set your thermostat fan setting to “ON”

By utilizing the “ON” setting, the fan will blow continuously,  filter the air and always be replacing it. This will keep the air more steady than by using the auto position where your air can become stagnant. There are pros and cons. When using the “On” setting, you may see an increase in your utility bill.

10. Make sure your HVAC system correlates with the needs of your home

You want to be sure your unit is not too small for the size of your home because you won’t get the results you need. You also don’t want one that is too large because it will over condition your home. Likewise, when the furnace is too large, it can cause issues from short cycling to inefficient operation and uncomfortable living space.

Balancing hot and cold spots in your home may require the help of a professional.  Call Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing, & Electrical at 1.800.461.3010 to schedule an appointment.

 

Improve Indoor Air Quality with HVAC Technology

Americans are spending an average of 90% of their time indoors! Therefore, indoor air pollution poses a major health risk. This is especially true for young children, older adults and people who have heart or lung diseases and spend even more time indoors. Fortunately, HVAC technology offers ways to improve indoor air quality and prevent air pollution.

What are some causes of indoor air pollution?Dust can cause indoor pollution

Dust and other fine particles from vehicle exhaust, boilers, construction, etc., can get indoors through windows, doors and other openings. They can also get drawn indoors through a building’s HVAC system. In addition, mold, pet hair, dander and dust mites can build up over time and contribute to indoor air pollution.

Air quality issues can develop if proper ventilation is lacking. Improper ventilation allows for the buildup of hazardous pollutants. Cigarette smoke, synthetic building materials, carpeting and furniture, personal care products, pesticides, cleaning solvents, air fresheners and dry-cleaned clothing, can all contain pollutants.

Then there are pathogens — viruses and bacteria that can linger and spread contagious illnesses. These pathogens can even be distributed throughout a building by the HVAC system or be recirculated through ductwork.

Additionally, some of the newer building features such as airtight construction and improved insulation can increase all of this indoor air pollution because it limits the flow of fresh air into the building.

Here are seven ways that HVAC technology can improve your home’s air quality.

1.  Use UVC technology

UVC is the most damaging type of solar radiation, but it is completely filtered out by the atmosphere and does not reach the earth’s surface. UVC-emitting lights are useful for air purification because UVC can kill virtually any microbe. Today, UVC is used in many healthcare facilities as part of air disinfection systems. It’s also used in other buildings where air quality and preventing the spread of illness is a concern. Schools, offices, senior living facilities and large residential buildings can benefit from UVC.

2. Incorporate good ventilation design

A properly designed ventilation system reduces indoor air pollution by providing fresh air, controlling odors and eliminating contaminants.

3. Use VRF for humidity (and temperature) control

As part of your indoor air quality testing, you can use a humidity gauge to see if the humidity in your building is at a healthy level — between 30% and 50%. To maintain a good, consistent humidity level and temperature, consider a zoned HVAC technology called Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF).

4. Explore the HEPA filter option

Standard air conditioner and furnace filters do not remove pathogens like UVC does,but these everyday filters still play an important role. High efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters reduce indoor air pollution by trapping 99.97% of dust, pollen and smoke particles.

5.  Clean the ductwork to reduce indoor air pollution

Whatever fine debris is floating in your building’s air can accumulate in the ductwork, thus impacting air quality. The particles in your ductwork can end up back in the air you breathe.  Clean your ductwork to help prevent

6.  Bring in a professional for mold remediation

By the time you learn you have mold in your air ducts, then the problem could already be widespread. Unchecked, mold is more than an air quality issue, it is a health issue. It is crucial to call an HVAC professional, if you have mold. An HVAC professional will determine where and how the mold problem started, and help you resolve the underlying issue so that mold does not recur.

7. Stay on top of air quality with routine HVAC maintenance

Your HVAC system circulates the air you breathe, so be sure and schedule regular inspections. Investing in routine HVAC maintenance, along with duct inspection and cleaning, helps you detect, prevent and eliminate sources of indoor air pollution.  This ensures that your HVAC system is performing properly.

For peace of mind and control of indoor air pollution, ask the professionals at Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing, & Electrical, about their Whole House Maintenance Agreement!

Carbon Monoxide Safety Tips

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas produced by the incomplete burning of any carbon-containing material, like gasoline, natural gas, propane, coal or wood. CO is dangerous. It replaces oxygen in the blood and interferes with the transport of needed oxygen to cells in the body. It is deadly, and since symptoms often come on like other illnesses, they may be ignored. It’s important to educate yourself on carbon monoxide safety.

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning

Everyone, including pets are at risk; however, young children, the elderly, and those with heart or lung problems are particularly vulnerable.  Low levels can cause flu-like symptoms, such as nausea and headache, as well as shortness of breath. Moderate levels can cause dizziness and light-headedness. High levels of CO can be fatal within minutes of exposure.  Carbon monoxide can be present even if you’re not experiencing any symptoms. So when you hear the alarm, you should take action regardless of how everyone in your household feels.

What to do if you suspect CO poisoning

If you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning and people and pets in your home aren’t feeling well, it’s best to evacuate. Leave the door open for ventilation and contact the fire department immediately. If the alarm sounds, even if you and your family are symptom-free, contact the fire department anyway to be safe.

Carbon Monoxide Safety Tips

Many incidents involving carbon monoxide poisoning can be prevented. Below are seven tips to help keep your home and family safe from carbon monoxide.

1.  Know the risks.

Anything that burns a fuel including a furnace, fireplace or generator, gas appliance or car produces a toxic by-product called carbon monoxide (CO).  When these devices are properly maintained and vented this gas can be effectively channeled out of your home. If not, inhaling carbon monoxide can trigger serious health issues.

2.  Keep your vents clear.

During and after a storm, make sure nothing is obstructing the outside stack or vent for your dryer, stove, furnace and fireplace.  In the event of a snow storm, be sure to prevent snow from building up and blocking these areas.

3.  Do not run engines in a closed area. 

Proper ventilation is critical to avoiding CO poisoning. Do not start a car, fire up a grill or stove, or run a generator in a closed area like a basement or garage.

4.  Schedule regular maintenance. 

At least once a year, have a qualified professional inspect your fuel-burning devices to make sure they continue to operate properly.

5.  Keep fireplaces clean and well vented. 

If you have a wood-burning fireplace or stove, make sure you keep it clean and that the flue is working properly.carbon monoxide alarms are an important safety device

6.  Install CO alarms. 

If you have fuel-burning appliances, a fireplace or an attached garage, install CO alarms in your home. Install one on every level within the vicinity of each sleeping area and in other locations required by any applicable building codes.

7.  Maintain your CO alarms. 

Your CO alarms need to be maintained regularly.  Many come equipped with a battery backup to ensure uninterrupted operation, even if the power goes out. But you will need to remember to change your batteries at the frequency recommended by the manufacturer, like you do with your smoke detectors.

To schedule an inspection of your HVAC system to make sure it is safe and properly ventilated, contact Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing, & Electrical at 1.800.361.4010.

HVAC Maintenance Delivers Efficiency, Savings, and Safety

We’ve been on a weather roller-coaster with extreme temperature lows and highs this year. Swings in the seasons took us from a long, cold winter to record setting heat in the summer. This can take a toll on your home, especially your HVAC!

If you keep your HVAC in top-working condition, you will maintain a comfortable environment throughout the seasons. But, letting maintenance fall to the back burner could mean low-performing systems that result in costly repairs.

Let’s look further at what components make up an HVAC, steps you can take to avoid costly repairs, improve performance and ensure safety, and optimal maintenance schedules to extend the life of your system.

What is HVAC?

HVAC is an acronym for heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems. The systems are comprised of products like furnaces, heat pumps, air conditioners and ventilators. The ductwork connected to these pieces of equipment is another component of HVAC, as well as thermostats and other controls. Maintaining these individual parts will keep the whole system working optimally. Regular professional and DIY maintenance will ensure these hardworking parts are at their best.

What is HVAC maintenance?

There are several aspects of a proper professional maintenance visit. HVAC maintenance is when you have a trusted HVAC technician come to your home to look at your system. The HVAC technician will inspect, clean, test, and make adjustments to your heating or cooling system to ensure it is working at optimal functionality, safety, and efficiency.

HVAC maintenance involves so much and varies based on the different heating and cooling systems, but some basic components include:Technician maintains HVAC unit

  • Checking thermostat settings
  • Tightening electrical connections
  • Calibrating comfort controls
  • Lubricating any moving parts
  • Clearing the drain line
  • Assessing unit efficiency and functionality

HVAC maintenance is more than the DIY maintenance you should be tending to regularly, like changing air filters. Professional maintenance includes the more electrical and mechanical aspects of your system. Of course, if you encounter problems while changing your filters or with your regular maintenance, you should call a specialist.

Why is maintenance essential?

Preventive maintenance helps ensure that your HVAC system runs close to peak performance. This can mean saving up to 30% on your energy bill, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

Regular cleaning and maintenance can prevent coils and ducts from gathering allergens, bacteria, and mold that flow through the duct work and contaminate indoor spaces. Allowing buildup to occur can trigger health problems like asthma attacks and headaches and can even bring on flu-like symptom

Proper maintenance can give your HVAC system a good 15 to 20 years of use. Without regular care, an HVAC system may only last half that time.

When should you schedule HVAC maintenance?

Your HVAC system needs professional maintenance the most right before it’s about to work the hardest. Ideally, you want to have the heating inspected in the fall and your cooling system inspected during the spring. This general schedule will prevent more serious issues like deadly carbon monoxide leaks or last-minute issues that leave you without a cooling option on hot summer days.

Routine HVAC maintenance schedule – what to expect and when

HVAC systems have many moving parts and components that rely on each other to make the whole system work. When something goes wrong, it can be very costly to repair. Good routine maintenance will help avoid big repairs and keep your system working properly, especially when you need it most.

Here’s what you can do at home to help keep your HVAC system running perfectly:

  • To prolong the life of your HVAC unit, make sure it stays clean. Eliminating environmental factors will ensure better system performance. Examining the machine and clearing it of debris such as grass, leaves, pollen, and dust will allow it to maintain optimal functionality.
  • Be sure to take a look at your refrigerant lines and inspect for damage, leaking, or other factors that may be damaging the functionality of the lines.
  • Keeping your filters changed is one of the easiest ways to ensure a solid running HVAC. Even the high quality filters need to be changed on a regular basis to keep your air conditioning system running smoothly. Regularly changed filters cut down on the system’s strain and can avoid the need for repairs.
  • Check the ground your unit sits on. Foundations and ground can shift, so it is good to perform an annual inspection on the ground that holds your AC unit. If the ground has shifted, it is best to call a professional to reinforce the foundation.
  • Some maintenance is as even more about safety than a well-running machine. Replace the batteries on your carbon monoxide detector. While they may not have completely died, the batteries should be replaced each and every year. Carbon monoxide can be highly dangerous, so it is better to be safe.

For more information or to schedule professional maintenance, contact Central Carolina Air Conditioning at 800.461.3010.  We look forward to helping you keep your home comfortable in every season!

 

Are expensive air filters better?

Everyone has seen the endless aisles of heating and air system air filters, but the variety of materials and broad cost range can be confusing. Are the more expensive, pleated filters better than the basic woven fiberglass? Do they have to be replaced less often? Are filters really designed to improve the air in your house, or to keep your HVAC system running properly?

Here is a simple comparison:

Less-expensive filtersChanging air filter in home

The purpose of filters both in your HVAC system and in your air return vents is to keep debris, pet hair and dust out of your unit. Thinner, loosely woven fiberglass filters do the job and allow for better air flow. They are also cheaper so it’s more cost effective to replace them regularly. These filters come in a wide variety of sizes and can be put in air return vents as well as your HVAC unit. It’s important to replace these every 30 days.

More-expensive filters

Pleated, thicker air filters can be a good option if you have severe allergies, a smaller home, or multiple units that don’t have to move air around the entire house. These filters really still need to be changed every 30 days to get the full benefit of the additional allergen and dust filtering.  It’s important to know that if you have pets, pleated air filters can get caked with hair and dander quickly, making your system work harder to force air through.

Regardless of the type of filters you use, investing in professional duct work cleaning every 3-5 years is a good idea to extend the life of your HVAC unit.  If you’re changing your filters regularly but are still concerned about the air quality in your home contact Central Carolina Air Conditioning at 800.461.3010!

Inconsistent Temperature in your Home

Have you ever noticed that there are certain areas of your house that always feel colder in the winter and warmer in the summer?  Rooms like this will sometimes be at the end of a hallway, or on a second or third floor. If the issue isn’t something like blocked air vents or returns,  it might be that you need to consider adding an additional HVAC unit or re-configuring ductwork to improve airflow.

Older homes can have ductwork that is torn or sagging from natural wear and tear, which can allow air to escape in the crawl space or attic. Older homes might also have HVAC units that can’t really handle the load of heating and cooling your space. Particularly, if you’ve added on to your home or increased the livable square footage, adding a second unit might be necessary.

Even if you live in a new home, your HVAC unit might not truly be adequate enough for your square footage. This can take years off of the life of your system.

Having to use secondary sources of heating and air, like a window unit or space heater, can significantly increase your electric bill, so here are some things to check:

  1. Make sure all vents are clear and not being blocked by furniture
  2. Make sure all return vents have clean filters
  3. Keep doors open – even rooms that you’re not using
  4. Close vents in rooms that seem too cold when using the air conditioning and too warm when running the heat

If you’re still having issues with air temperature consistency in your home, call Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing & Electric at 800.461.3010 to have your HVAC system and ductwork inspected.

Summer Home Maintenance List

Home ownership comes with many joys, but there are also a lot of responsibilities. Life can get hectic, so we’ve created a summer home maintenance list to help you knock out some chores. Maintaining your home will make it more enjoyable to live in and alleviate any problems that can arise if these chores are neglected over time. Knock out the maintenance list below, and you’ll be able to relax for a little – at least until the fall maintenance comes around!

Summer Home Maintenance List

1. Clean ceiling fans

Your fans may have been off during the previous seasons of colder weather and have likely accumulated some dust. Take the time to clean your fans, since you are surely wanting to use them now!

2. Create a summer watering schedule for your garden or plants

Different seasons require different watering guidelines for your plants. Create a watering schedule this summer to keep your plants healthy and strong.

3. Check carbon monoxide and smoke detectors

Most carbon monoxide and smoke detectors have a test button.  Check to make sure they are working and your family is safe!

4. Clean your grill 

Make sure your grill is ready for those perfect evenings where you and your family can enjoy a BBQ on the back deck!

 

5. Give your windows a good wash

Summer home maintenance means window cleaning

Add window cleaning to your summer home maintenance list.

It’s always good to add this to a seasonal home maintenance list.  Pets and children can especially leave their marks on our windows!

6. Enhance your yard – add some mulch

This will not only help keep the weeds down, but it will also help the ground retain more moisture during the summer heat.

7. Keep dirt out of your home – get a couple of doormats

With shoes coming in and out of your house constantly, your floors can easily get muddy and dirty. Consider getting a coarse mat to put at the exterior of your home so that everyone can rub the dirt off before entering. Then put a softer door mat inside your door to catch any remaining dirt.

8. Have your air conditioning inspected

Perhaps the most important item on your summer maintenance list is your air conditioning unit! It’s running the hardest during these summer months, so you’ll want to make sure that your unit isn’t working unnecessarily hard or inefficiently. Call Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing & Electrical to come out and perform a tune-up and inspection on your AC unit!

Call to schedule your appointment today at 800-461-3010.