What Products & Services Will Improve my Indoor Air Quality?Published on: May 3, 2013
Indoor Air Quality
Air pollution issues are in the news almost every day. Global warming has been tied to industrial greenhouse gas emissions, and scientists ponder links to global warming as they observe extreme weather patterns and shrinking polar ice profiles. Consumers can influence industrial activities through economic pressure by making informed purchasing decisions, but most air pollution issues are large-scale problems that are ultimately decided by government agencies with enforceable regulations and policy-level decisions. Indoor air quality, however, is another matter entirely. It is often said that a man’s home is his castle, and homeowners personally make the decisions and purchase products or services for indoor air quality improvements within their homes.
Indoor air quality issues stem from outside contaminants that enter the home and from contaminants that are generated from materials within the home. Mold is an example of an outside contaminant that can wreak havoc with indoor air quality when it enters a home and becomes established in HVAC systems. Cleaning products with toxic ingredients that can evaporate into the air are much more common examples. Combustion vapors from residential heating fuels are examples of contaminants that are produced within the home. Cigarette smoke is a far more common example of this type of pollutant.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Indoor Environments Division, nearly all indoor air pollution is exacerbated by ventilation issues. Indoor pollutants within the HVAC system ducting are redistributed throughout the entire home, and tightly sealed or poorly ventilated homes can concentrate indoor air pollutant levels. Climate conditions such as temperature and humidity can contribute to these issues and cause even properly ventilated homes to retain harmful vapors.
Home Ventilation Issues
Many people only think of home ventilation when considering roof caps, attic turbines, or wastewater vents. Home ventilation issues actually cover much more than these simple examples. Homes need to be able to breathe to let out chemical vapors that otherwise become trapped and concentrated. Radon, for example, is a naturally occurring material that can enter homes through subsurface basements and become concentrated to harmful levels when it has no way to dissipate to the outside. Air exchange is also necessary to prevent the accumulation of stale or unpleasant odors. If the smell of garlic or cooked cabbage lingers for days, then a home may have ventilation issues. Homes do not usually have a stand-alone ventilation system because air exchange is handled as a side effect of the operation of heating and air conditioning systems, but dedicated ventilation systems are available.
Proper ventilation and air flow are essential for healthy indoor air, and they are also critical for the proper operation of any HVAC system. Improper air flow will unbalance the distribution of warm or cool air and cause rooms to be unevenly heated or cooled. Savvy homeowners know the air return intake as the location of the filter that must be changed periodically. Uncaring homeowners simply recognize it as the grill where dust and pet hairs seem to accumulate. Whether savvy or uncaring, all homeowners know the location of this feature. Very few homeowners, however, realize that the air return is carefully sized to meet the requirements of the specific HVAC system that it supplies. An improperly sized air return can drastically reduce the efficiency of the heating or cooling system. Many homeowners buy a home and automatically assume that the air supply is properly matched to the needs of the HVAC system, but this is not always the case. The system may have been replaced at some point without consideration of the air intake duct size.
Inspection And Maintenance
As with any mechanical system, HVAC equipment requires periodic inspection and routine maintenance. The filter within the air return intake becomes clogged with dust over time and prevents the HVAC system from easily drawing the air it needs to operate properly. When the air filter becomes dirty, the motor of the heating or cooling unit must work harder to draw the same volume of air. This will cause additional wear and tear on the motor and shorten its lifespan. It is analogous to a person with respiratory problems laboring to draw a breath of air. Especially dirty filters can even cause the motor to burn up.
Some HVAC maintenance is simple and can easily be done by the homeowner. For example, periodically changing out the air filter is a maintenance activity that most homeowners will undertake without requiring the services of an HVAC professional. The filters are usually scheduled for replacement at a certain frequency that is specific to the type of system and conditions within the home, and no testing is performed prior to replacement.
Commercial filters are sometimes more difficult or expensive to replace, and commercial system owners often do have testing performed prior to filter replacement. Service technicians measure the pressure differential across the filter, and they know that it is time to replace the filter when the pressure drop reaches a certain value. Large commercial systems have pressure sensors engineered into the system design so that pressure drops can be measured remotely.
HVAC technicians offer various products and services for indoor air quality. They perform periodic cleaning that helps maintain air conditioners, furnaces, and central heating and cooling units in peak condition. Dust can gather in air ducts and become a respiratory irritant every time the heating or air conditioning is turned on. Leaves and twigs can fall into external air conditioning units and damage the fan blades when the units are activated. Dirty heat exchangers are less efficient than clean ones, but care must be taken not to damage the exchangers in the cleaning process. Additionally, many heat exchangers are in locations that are not easily accessible. Many homeowners prefer to use professionals for system cleaning and preventative maintenance to guarantee that the job is done correctly and safely.
Use Certified Professionals
It is important to use qualified HVAC professionals who are trained to work on the specific brand of system. HVAC contractors that are factory authorized dealers with Carrier and Bryant brand names are thoroughly trained and certified. Using a service technician who is not certified to work on a specific system may void factory warranties.
HVAC service contractors and technicians can also be certified by independent organizations. North American Technician Excellence, Inc. is a non-profit organization that provides the leading industry certification for heating, ventilation, air-conditioning, and refrigeration technicians. Rigorous NATE testing and certification is the only certification recognized by the entire HVAC/R industry. Technicians who hold NATE certification are qualified to work on any brand of HVAC system, and they can recommend products and services for indoor air quality with any brand of heating or air conditioning system.
Homeowners with a specific brand of HVAC system usually use brand name parts when repairs are necessary. Brand name replacement parts may cost a bit more than a generic part, but they carry the full reputation of the company. Carrier and Bryant are well-known in the HVAC industry, and homeowners can be confident that the performance of a $10 relay switch is just as important to these companies as the life cycle of a $1,000 unit. The quality construction of each component results in a quality heating or cooling system when those components are assembled into a complete system.
AirConditioningSouthEast.com is an online service directory providing referrals to screened and qualified HVAC contractors and technicians in Mississippi, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, and Alabama. The directory contains information on more than 200 Bryant and Carrier service providers who can install new systems, repair existing systems, perform routine maintenance, or offer expert recommendations on actions that homeowners should consider. Many of these service providers are NATE certified.
Products and services for indoor air quality range from simple inspections to the complete replacement of the entire heating or air conditioning system. AirConditioningSouthEast.com is a convenient online service directory where homeowners can view screened, qualified contractors in the Southeast who are able to meet specific HVAC needs. These contractors are affiliated with Bryant and Carrier products, and also have expertise with other brands and can service systems of any make or model.
Offered Products And Services
The licensed and certified contractors listed at AirConditioningSouthEast.com can assist with indoor air quality issues by providing products to mitigate the effects of stagnant air, humid air, dry air, pollen, dust, pet dander, and many other factors that detract from a healthy breathing environment.
- Air Purifiers
- UV Lamps
- Dedicated Ventilators
Parts and equipment aren’t the whole story. Sometimes knowledgeable service is the key to restoring optimal performance to equipment that is already in place.
- Routine Seasonal Inspections
- Cleaning And Maintenance
- Air Duct Sealing
- Part Replacements
- New System Installation
Ensure that indoor air is as healthy as it is comfortable by using a qualified professional to provide the very best in the industry for products, service and maintenance.