Ambient Comfort LLC Blog: Archive for February, 2018

Keeping the Home Dust-Free in Winter

Tuesday, February 20th, 2018

It is during the winter months, when our homes are sealed up tight against the cold, that the air indoors needs to be as clean as possible. Key to achieving healthy indoor air quality is to dust the home properly. Keeping the heating system well-maintained and functioning properly is also important. These two steps are sufficient for most families, but if your home requires the cleanest possible air, consider installing an air purification system.

Dust Effectively

The most effective tool in maintaining good indoor air quality, which is crucial to good health, is the trusty vacuum cleaner. Run it at least weekly over all your floors and rugs. At least once a month, use the attachments to remove dust and pet hair from furniture. Don’t forget to look up at walls and ceilings to clear away cobwebs.

New vacuum cleaners do a great job trapping even the smallest dust particles if you keep the filter clean and replace it when necessary. Older units that don’t filter the air so effectively may do a great job picking up the dust, but they might also blow tiny particles right back into the air. If you have an older vacuum, consider replacing it with a new one that has a HEPA filter, which will trap almost all allergens.

Keep your kitchen counters, furniture, desks, and other hard surfaces clean with microfiber dusting cloths that are designed to trap dust, not just spread it around.

HVAC Maintenance

Forced hot air heating systems draw air in, heat it, and distribute it throughout the home via the ducts. The air it draws in inevitably contains at least some dust, but the furnace’s filter traps the dust before it gets heated and blown through the ductwork to the rest of the home.

If the filter is dirty or damaged, it won’t trap dust and, instead, the furnace will blow dust all over the house, keeping it airborne, where it can be breathed in and aggravate allergies. A dirty filter also reduces the efficiency of the furnace, requiring it to use more energy and making it harder to keep the house warm.

To avoid these problems, the filter on your home’s heating system should be replaced every three months, and definitely at the start of the winter heating season. (If you didn’t do it before the furnace kicked in this fall, do it now.) This is an easy task that most homeowners can perform, but if you don’t know how or don’t like dealing with mechanical issues, a home heating professional will be glad to do it for you.

Ductwork in a home may collect dust over the years so that, no matter how often you change the furnace filter, the heating system will still blow dust throughout the home. A home heating pro can inspect your ducts, determine whether they’re dirty on the inside, and clean them if necessary. This is something that has to be done only every few years – it’s not an annual expense.

Air Purification Systems

If these measures don’t suffice, or if someone in your household is strongly allergic to dust or other allergens, you should consider installing a whole-house air filter that traps dust out of the air column before it can settle on surfaces. The HVAC professionals at Ambient Comfort can install an air filter and purification system that will maintain superior air quality in your home so you and your family can breathe easy.

Ambient Comfort has the indoor air quality experience and resources to keep your family comfortable through the winter months. Call us today at 856-213-6586 to schedule winter service on your HVAC system or for a quote on a whole-house-filter. We are located in Vineland, New Jersey, and serve clients throughout most of South Jersey.

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The Invisible Dangers of Carbon Monoxide

Thursday, February 15th, 2018

It is an old adage that what you don’t know can’t hurt you. But this is blatantly false when it comes to carbon monoxide gas.

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a byproduct of combustion. It is produced when any fuel burning device is used. For example, when your oil or gas furnace, boiler, gas dryer, stove, deep fryer, space heater, or other any fuel-burning device is running, CO is being created. Normally, it is produced in small amounts and vented safely out of the home. But, because it is invisible and odorless, it is also dangerous. Should the device be operating inefficiently, or if there is a failure in venting the gas out of the home, CO can build up to dangerous levels, causing illness, permanent injury or death. It happens to hundreds of people every year.

RELATED READ: Five signs your furnace needs repair

The first step in protecting your family against carbon monoxide poisoning is to have a CO monitor in your home. Check your monitor at least quarterly and replace batteries twice a year to make sure they are operating optimally. There is a difference between a CO detector, available at most home stores starting around $30, and a CO monitor. A CO detector only alarms when levels are very high for sustained periods. A detector may prevent death, but not headaches, flu symptoms, memory loss and other symptoms of even low-level prolonged CO exposure. Children and the elderly are particularly susceptible.

A CO monitor, available from professional HVAC companies, indicates the current level of CO in your home, down to the lowest levels. On a heavy cooking day, for example, the monitor may show 16 parts per million, letting you know that cracking window might be a good idea.

Also important is to have your home’s heating system checked annually by an HVAC professional. Regular maintenance can ensure that your devices are burning fuel efficiently and venting it properly outside of the home.

Heating professionals can test the air quality in your home to make sure your family is breathing air that is safe. They also can check for leaks around your furnace, chimney, gas heaters, hot water heaters and stoves.

RELATED READ: Improving your home’s air quality

 

More Tips to Stay Safe from Carbon Monoxide

  1. Never use portable heaters that burn fuel (such as kerosene or propane) inside the home.
  2. Have wood stoves and fireplaces inspected and cleaned annually to ensure proper venting.
  3. Never start or run a motor vehicle with the garage door closed or with a door open to the living areas of the house. After starting the car, drive it out of the garage as soon as possible.

The physical symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headache, blurred vision, confusion, dizziness, physical weakness or nausea or vomiting that sometimes come on quickly. Should you experience these, you may be experiencing CO poisoning. Go outside immediately and do not reenter the home even if you feel better. CO builds up in the human body and does not leave with a quick trip outside. Call for emergency support using a mobile phone or a neighbor’s phone. Get a professional to check your furnace and other appliances.

Contact the professionals at Home Comfort Experts today to find out how we can improve your home’s air quality so you can breathe easily and safely. We serve Northern Indiana and Southwestern Michigan from our twelve locations. Give us a call at (574) 255-4600 to find out how we can help.

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Five Efficiency Tips for Commercial Heating Systems

Monday, February 5th, 2018

Heating costs can be a big business expenditure, but keeping costs under control should not mean turning down the thermostat. If your employees are uncomfortable, they won’t work efficiently or happily. And if your customers or clients are cold, they’ll make their visits to your establishment as short as possible – if they visit at all.

The key to controlling commercial heating costs is to make sure your HVAC system is running efficiently. This isn’t difficult with the attention of a committed facilities manager and the assistance of a professional HVAC services contractor. Here are five tips to guide your procedures and keep your employees and customers comfortable, economically.

  1. Stay up to date. If your HVAC system is more than 10 years old, it lacks the latest technology. If your facilities have expanded in size but your HVAC system hasn’t, it’s likely being overburdened and running beyond its limits of efficiency. Replacement might be a shortcut to achieving quick payback. At the very least, have your older system inspected and upgraded or repaired as needed.
  2. Have it maintained regularly. Most HVAC contractors offers annual maintenance plans to keep your heating and cooling systems running as efficiently as possible, and to identify and solve potential problems before they become actual problems that could cause expensive downtime.
  3. Maintain the duct system. Check your sheet metal! Leaky ducts waste hot air, sometimes draw cold air into the facility, and may distribute dust and dirt throughout your place of business.
  4. Ensure that air dampers and heating/cooling valves are working. This is definitely a job for the professionals. Dampers should be opening and closing fully. Heating and cooling valves that are malfunctioning can result in simultaneous heating and cooling, which in turn can result in a very high utility bill and uncomfortable or uncontrollable temperatures.
  5. Upgrade your thermostats. Programmable thermostats have improved significantly in recent years. New ones are relatively inexpensive and they do a better job maintaining constant temperature. They also allow for great flexibility in conserving energy when your building is not occupied on weekends or in the evening hours.

Your facility’s HVAC system is a large investment and one you want to protect by having it regularly and professionally maintained. The team of heating professionals at Ambient Comfort have the experience to keep your employees and customers comfortable throughout the winter months and all year long. Call us today at 856-213-6586 to schedule service or to learn about our maintenance plans. We are located in Vineland, New Jersey, and serve clients throughout most of South Jersey.

 

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Preventing Dryer Fires

Thursday, February 1st, 2018

Washing machines and clothes dryers are workhorses in most homes, especially those with children. Both, however, cause thousands of home fires each year, and dryers are responsible for a many of them. However, it is not difficult to ensure the safety of your dryer, and given the importance of doing so, there’s really no excuse not to. After you’ve made sure your dryer is properly installed (something a professional should take care of), the rest of it is simple.

 

Since dryers are appliances that heat, sparks can occur. In the case of gas dryers, an actual flame is present in your dryer, just like in a gas furnace. Most fires caused by clothes dryers occur when an item being dried ignites, or when built-up lint in either the lint screen or the dryer venting ignites. To avoid the first cause of fires, make sure that all items placed in the dryer are made of fabrics suitable for drying. Never dry items that contain combustible fluids such as painting solvents, certain household cleaners, or grease. If you washed greasy clothing and the grease didn’t come out, you have three choices: wash it again, air dry it, or throw it out.

Watch out for Lint

Lint is composed of tiny fibers that break off the fabric of your clothing. Many hikers and campers carry a little bag of dryer lint with them in a sealed plastic bag to use as tinder, to help start a fire in an emergency. It’s that flammable!

The easiest step in preventing a dryer fire is to clean the lint screen after each dryer load. Making this a regular practice will eliminate the flammable material, allow your dryer to function more efficiently, and also reduce lint buildup in the exhaust hose and vent. Regularly wiping down the inside of the dryer to remove any extraneous fibers can also help.

Make sure your dryer vents to outside the home and that it is kept clear. Keep leaves and grass away from the vent. Several times a year, go outside while the dryer is running and confirm that plenty of warm, moist air is coming out of the vent. If it’s not, the exhaust hose is probably clogged with lint. Also check if the vent itself is clogged. If you can’t disassemble the vent and detach the hose yourself to clear or replace them, call a professional.

The area around your dryer should also be kept clear. There are air intake vents on the back of your dryer which can accumulate lint and dust. If they are obstructed of become clogged, it can cause the motor to overheat, possibly resulting in a fire. Vacuuming the rear vents a couple times a year is a good precaution.

Consider a booster for dryer hoses longer than 10 feet to ensure all the lint and hot air are properly vented.

Related read: Clean your dryer vent and limit lint buildup to help prevent fires

 

Simple Tips for Dryer Safety

Here’s a summary and some more tips to prevent dryer fires:

  • Make sure your appliances are professionally installed and grounded. If your dryer is gas-fired, make sure the gas lines are intact.
  • Do not overload the dryer with too many clothes, which can increase the heat levels.
  • Never operate the dryer when you are sleeping or not at home.
  • Clean the lint trap after every use.
  • Check the exhaust hose and vent periodically for lint buildup, and clear them when necessary.
  • Keep the intake vents clear.
  • Get professional service for any problems you can’t handle yourself.

The heating professionals at Home Comfort Experts are available to inspect your dryer vent and use our professional grade equipment to clean out your dryer from the lint screen all the way to outside your home if necessary. We serve Northern Indiana and Southwestern Michigan from twelve locations. Give us a call at (574) 255-4600 to learn about our complete heating, cooling and plumbing services.

 

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