Using Your HVAC System to Help During a Fire Advisory

Wildfires can be a scary time for any household, but there are some steps you can take towards your health and safety throughout. Your HVAC unit can help during times of poor air quality. The filtration units in your system, if properly maintained, can help purify indoor air to a certain degree. Here’s how it works.

Priority One: Staying Safe During a Wildfire

When fire threatens your home and community, your first priority is obviously your family’s safety. Pay attention to public health messages from local radio and news stations, and if they recommend you evacuate, go.

However, the radius of affected households typically extends well beyond the immediate path of the flames. Smoke from fires throws air quality into havoc, creating toxic conditions that can make you or your family members very, very sick. Although healthy adults can typically handle limited exposure, people who suffer from asthma, cardiovascular problems, or lung disease may be significantly harmed by smoke inhalation. Young children are also especially vulnerable – according to the CDC, since children’s lungs are still developing, they tend to take in more air per pound than adults.

To get a sense of the air quality in your area, check out the EPA’s Air Quality Index Forecast, which lets you view at a glance at-risk locations. If their read-out for your home looks bad, follow these precautions:

  • Stay Indoors As Much As Possible. Especially don’t go out if local advisories recommend that you stay inside.
    Wear Protective Gear Outside. If you do have to go out, wear a protective N95 or P100 respirator mask—don’t rely on paper masks, since these don’t really filter out smoke.
  • Keep Windows and Doors Shut. As much as possible, try to maintain the air quality inside (more on that to follow) by keeping openings secured. Don’t smoke, burn candles, vacuum, or use your oven—these activities will just exacerbate the problem.

Using Your Heating & Air Conditioning Systems to Help  With Air Quality

When the air quality outside keeps you stuck in your home, you may be able to use your home’s air conditioning and filtration system to improve the air your breathe indoors.

  • Change Air Filters. The first thing you can do is change all your HVAC air filters. Although you may have closed your windows and doors, fine particles can still filter in through roof vents or small gaps in windows and doors, and of course, pose a risk any time you have to go outside. A clean filter will be more able to handle the increase in particulate matter in the air.
  • Turn on Your Air Conditioning. Running your AC will circulate air in your home through your unit’s filters, which is why clean filters are so important. Some non-residential commercial units have fresh air intakes. Usually, these small filtered vents help improve air quality, since the air outside is typically fresher than the air outside. But during a wildfire, they can pour unhealthy air into a building’ interiors. To keep smoky air outside, close the intake using the damper.
  • Keep Bathroom Fans and Window Units Turned Off. Bathroom fans and window box fans commonly pull outside air into your home, so they should be shut off during a fire advisory.

We hope you don’t need to use this advice, but if a fire advisory should come down on your community, using your HVAC unit effectively can filter a fair amount of particulate matter in the air. Until then, stay safe out there!

Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) Tips

Did you know that the air inside your home can be dirtier than the air outside? Well, the Environmental Protection Agency says it can be. Dog or Cat hair, other pets, various cleaning products, building materials, tobacco smoke, radon, and even cooking residue are normal inside of homes, and can be the cause of air inside your home being dirtier than the air outside. All Weather Heating, Air & Solar can help.

Ironically, new houses and buildings can be at risk for dirty indoor air because of better, more air-tight construction techniques and materials that can trap pollutants inside.

All Weather Heating, Air & Solar offers a number of Bryant IAQ products (click here). Call us at (707) 400-6875 or (877) 447-9855 for a free estimate.

Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) is rated according to particle allergens, volatile organic compounds, temperature, carbon dioxide, relative humidity and carbon monoxide. Bad IAQ can irritate health conditions such as allergies and asthma, and adversely affect children, the elderly, pregnant women or anyone with chronic respiratory issues. Also, improving the quality of the air in your home can help keep dry skin and cracked wood furniture at bay, lessen the viruses and bacteria that can circulate throughout your home and enjoy more customized home comfort.

Call All Weather Heating, Air & Solar for you indoor air quality needs: (707) 400-6875 or (877) 447-9855.  And remember to “Like” us on Facebook: Click Here.

Who Let the Dogs Out? Home Comfort Tips for Pet Owners

If you live with pets, there are a few things to be aware of regarding how to maintain great air quality within your home. Here are a few of our favorite tips to help keep your home happy, healthy, and pet friendly! These tips will not only keep your air quality up to snuff, but will also keep your HVAC system running great all year long!

Keep Clean!

One essential thing to do when you own pets is also one of the most basic: keep clean! Be sure to bathe your cat or dog regularly depending on recommendations from your groomer and/or veterinarian. Keep your pet’s fur brushed daily to prevent any buildup of undercoat and to reduce the effects of pet shedding.

Be aware of pet dander. Dander is oftentimes microscopic, but can cause serious issues with air quality. In fact, dander, not pet hair, is the leading cause of allergies in people to both dogs and cats. This is why bathing and brushing your pet is crucial in keeping a clean home with great air quality. Another easy way to minimize excess dander and shedding is to provide them with the best quality food you can afford as well as unlimited fresh water.

Keeping clean also refers to your living quarters. Be sure to vacuum regularly, and dust often to keep debris, dirt, and pet hair to a minimum in your home.

Get Your HVAC System Checked Out

Another easy way to make sure you and your pets have a healthy home is to get regular maintenance checks on your HVAC system. With regular maintenance, an HVAC professional can give your HVAC system a thorough evaluation to make sure everything is running as should be—and if it’s not, they’ll be able to help you fix it. This is also a great idea for the long term investment of your system, as a yearly maintenance check on your system can catch small problems before they turn into very big problems.

Change your HVAC System’s Air Filter

Living with a pet means that you should change your HVAC system’s air filter more often than you would in a pet-free home. Be sure to check your home’s air filter once per month; make sure your filter is not dirty and change as often as needed. You can also purchase an air filter specially made for pet-loving homes which will help trap and control dander more effectively than a traditional HVAC air filter.

If you live with cats or dogs, give us a call today to see how we can help you improve the quality of air in your home for both you and your pets! Call: (707) 400-6875.

Simple Solutions for Indoor Air Pollution

There is little people can do to reduce pollution outdoors. However, the air in their home, which they likely spend hours breathing every single day, they do have more control over. Preventing and reducing indoor air pollution can have numerous health benefits and is well worth the work to accomplish it.

Maintain Healthy Indoor Air

Preventing indoor air pollution can be done in a variety of ways. These include:

  1. Proper ventilation. The air inside may contain chemicals from a variety of sources: cleaners, hair sprays, cooking, or nail polishes. In low concentrations, these may be harmless, but if they cannot dissipate to the outside, they will build up in the air inside a home and cause health problems.
  2. Don’t smoke in or near the home. Cigarette smoke, even secondhand, is one of the leading causes of lung cancer, and the smoke sticks around. Ban smoking from a home and its premises to prevent this pollution.
  3. Eliminate odors instead of covering them. When something is putting off a bad smell, it can be tempting to use air freshener to cover it up. However, this creates a cloud of chemicals in your home. Find the source of the odor and get rid of it, or use baking soda to eliminate the odor in a healthier fashion.
  4. Prevent pests. Insects and rodents carry all kinds of airborne contaminants into a home. Seal your home properly and store food in safe containers to reduce the likelihood of attracting such pests.
  5. Control pets. While pets are a beloved part of many families, they are also sources of pet dander and dust mites. Banning them from sleeping on people’s beds or laying on furniture is a reasonable compromise to keep their effect on indoor air pollution to a minimum.
  6. Dust often and well. Dust is the major source of aptly named dust mites and many other allergens. Not allowing dust to build up anywhere in a home is an important step to preventing indoor air pollution.
  7. Clean floors regularly. This may seem odd, but a home’s floors affect air quality. All dust eventually settles on the floor, only to be stirred up again when someone walks on it. Vacuuming carpets and sweeping and mopping bare floors helps ensure healthy indoor air quality.
  8. Keep floor mats at every door. Putting large floor mats at every entry point to a home helps prevent large quantities of dirt, dander, plant particulates, and other pollutants from spreading throughout a house.
  9. Use natural cleaners. Natural cleaners and elbow grease accomplish the same cleanliness as chemical-laden cleaners, without polluting the air.
  10. Do crafting projects in well-ventilated spaces. Some crafting materials, such as glues, can produce noxious fumes. These materials are best used in rooms with open windows.

Preventing indoor air pollution is not a complicated process, but it does require effort. The work pays off in increased health for the family living in a home with healthy air quality.

If you are looking for indoor air quality solutions, All Weather is only a phone call away. Contact us today to find out more about how we can help you improve your indoor air quality and help your family breathe easier.

Humidifiers vs. Dehumidifiers: Which One Do I Need?

Humidifiers and dehumidifiers are different forms of air conditioners – they condition the air in your home in relation to how humid or dry it feels. A dehumidifier works by removing moisture from the air if your home is too humid. The opposite is true when it comes to humidifiers as they release water vapor into your home when the air is too dry.

Should I Buy a Dehumidifier or Humidifier?

The typical humidity for most homes is between 30% and 50%. It is best to have your house assessed before choosing between the two. If your house is above 50% humidity then a dehumidifier is needed. However, if humidity levels are below 30%, a humidifier is needed. The humidity of your home is therefore important to consider in choosing between these two. Your personal preference also figures here. If you would like a more humid atmosphere, get a humidifier, etc.

How Does Humidity Affect My Health?

Both of these technologies work to help reduce ailments like chest congestion and asthma. On one hand, using a dehumidifier could help treat asthma that is triggered by humid air. If you are suffering from a cold that has caused nasal passage blockage or just chest and sinus congestion, using a humidifier will help break that up. By increasing the water content of the air, nasal passages and air ways become moistened, lessening discomfort.

How Does Humidity Affect My Home?

The feel of the rooms can also be used to decide between the two you would need for your home. If your eyes are getting itchy, your skin and lips are dry then you need a humidifier. Conversely, if there are damp stains on the ceilings or walls or if rooms are stuffy because of rotting wood then you need a dehumidifier.

Dry air in the house can cause, over a long period of time, cracks on wood beams, some types of plasters and leather furniture. Wooden instruments such as guitars and violins in the house can be cracked by the dry air. In this case, a humidifier would help. Mold can also grow on walls and ceilings if there is too much moisture in the house. This could lead to health problems. A dehumidifier prevents this from happening and can also remedy the situation.

How Does Weather Affect Indoor Humidity?

During the summer months, the air is naturally more humid. It would then get sticky and uncomfortable inside the house. Dehumidifiers should be used. When the winter comes however, the air is usually dry and cold. Heaters compound the situation by removing most of the moisture in the house making it very dry. Humidifiers are best used here.

Pest control can be impacted by controlling the humidity in the house. Carpenter ants, wood destroying beetles and termites are attracted by moisture. The cause a lot of damage and will prove costly to repair. Using dehumidifiers to lower water content in the air could drive these pests away.

If you have potted plants in your home it is important to observe the humidity. Drier air means you would need to water your house plants more since they transpire more. However, very moist air makes it easier for these plants to become infected with diseases. A dehumidifier and humidifier should therefore be chosen accordingly.

Need help finding the best HVAC upgrade for your home? Speak with an HVAC specialist today for help improving your indoor air quality.