Air Mechanical, Inc. Blog : Archive for June, 2011

How Often Do You Change Your Filters?

Monday, June 27th, 2011

The core component of any good air quality system is the filter. A good air filter removes almost all of the particles that inundate your home every day – from the pet dander that flakes off of your cats or dogs to the pollen released by plants both indoors and out.

But many homeowners are not aware of when they should change the filters in their air quality system. They know it should be done regularly, but how often and when do you ignore the manufacturer’s recommendation to ensure higher quality air?

Know Your Home

The first thing to consider is the size of your home and what types of contaminants you must deal with each day. Air testing helps with this, as does regular cleaning of the areas around your air filter, including your ductwork. If you don’t have any pets and don’t keep any plants inside, your biggest air quality issue is likely dust, and dust will only fill up the filters quickly if you have a large family.

However, if you have a lot of pets, multiple plants and a large family, the odds are that your filter is being put through the ringer every day – asked to filter out a tremendous number of contaminants. This is when you might need to change the filter more often.

Changing Your Filter

If you have a high quality HEPA filter, it’ll probably work for as long as it’s rated. Only lower quality filters or those not large enough for the space in which they are installed will fail early. However, keep in mind that a HEPA filter, even when it can last longer, should always be changed no later than the manufacturer’s recommended date.

For most homes that timeframe is about 6 months. However, some higher quality filters can last as long as 12 or even 18 months in the right conditions. If you use your air filter in conjunction with an air purifier, you should also have the cartridges changed out at the same time as your filter.

If you think you are changing your filters too often, you can always have your air tested to determine if the contaminants in your home require less filtration. Some home have filters larger than they need installed or lower grade filters that get changed too often unnecessarily. As long as your family is safe and healthy, you might as well try to save some money.

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Whole House Air Quality System. What Is It? When and Why Do You Need It?

Friday, June 24th, 2011

There are many ways to control the indoor air quality of your home. The easiest way to is to clean your vents and ducts. This reduces the number of pollutants like mold and dust that get into your air each day. In some cases, however, you may need something more powerful and that’s where a whole house air quality system comes in.

What Does Whole House Air Quality Provide?

There are many filters and purifiers on the market that can be operated in a single room such as your living room or the bedroom of your child. However, if you have a more substantial contaminant problem, a whole house system actually attaches to the source of fresh air.

Most whole house systems integrate directly into the ventilation ducts and fans of your house. This ensures the air is purified and cleaned as it enters your home, not after it has circulated for some time. Air cleaners are also integrated into ducts where UV lighting and ionizers can remove bacteria, viruses, smoke and exhaust fumes that come in from outside.

Your furnace and air conditioner will also be filtered above and beyond standard manufacturer filtering, ensuring there are less contaminants traveling through your ducts to start with.

When Do You Need It?

The upgrade to a whole house system isn’t just for those suffering from dust, pollen and pet dander. These can easily be removed with regular cleaning of your ducts and a HEPA filter in each room affected. However, if your home tests high for various gases, exhaust fumes, or molds that are beyond your control, a whole house system is a great way to protect yourself.

In particular, these systems are useful when the contaminants come in from outside. Most indoor contaminants can be removed with careful maintenance of your comfort system, but if your neighbor has a leaky exhaust pipe or if you live near a busy highway, you can’t do much about it other than to filter the air as it comes inside.

Choosing a whole home air quality system starts with knowing what you need to filter. So, proper air testing is highly recommended. After testing, make sure your current systems will integrate well with the new air quality controls. If everything works properly, you’ll be well on your way to fresh, clean air in no time.

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Whole House Fans vs. Attic Fans

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

Air temperature in your home is a big issue in the summer. The cost of maintaining your air conditioner as it runs nonstop for hours at a time can be very high – as much as $4,000 for a single year of cooling. That’s why a lot of families turn to fan solutions to reduce how much they spend on their AC units each year.

How Fans Work

A fan draws in outdoor air to your home. That outdoor air will cool your home when the outside temperature is cooler than the indoor temperature. If the weather outside gets much warmer than 80°F, you will probably still need to use your air conditioner at least a little, but if it’s in the 70°F-80°F range, the temperature inside can be maintained simply by blowing cooler outdoor air into your home.

A whole house fan solves this problem by pumping fresh air into your home through the ductwork you already have in place. When the temperature outside is low enough, you’ll enjoy a much steadier, more comfortable level of cooling and save a lot of money.

However, for those that don’t want to install a completely new system for their entire house, attic fans offer a good chunk of savings as well.

Why Attic Fans Work

The idea behind an attic fan is simple. During the summer, all the heat in your home rises. Even with your air conditioning working at full capacity, heat will build up in the attic, especially if you don’t use that space and therefore don’t have any cooling ducts up there.

In some cases, attic temperatures can rise to 140°F or higher, which then raises the temperature of the rest of your home and forces your AC unit to work that much harder.

An attic fan is good because it takes the air from outside, almost assuredly cooler than 120°F and cycles it into your attic to keep the temperature lower. That simple fan can reduce indoor air temperature by as much as 40°F or 50°F and significantly reduce your air conditioner’s work load.

Which is Better?

Neither of these is better than the other. If you have low cooling costs and want to keep your attic from adding to them, an attic fan is perfect. However, if you want to cut into your cooling costs for all but the warmest months of the summer, a whole house fan may be the right option.

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How Can I Stop My Toilet from Running?

Monday, June 20th, 2011

Nothing is more obnoxious than the constant tinkling sound of a running toilet. When your toilet starts pouring water through at a record rate, it is time to take a peek inside and make sure everything is working properly. Luckily, most of the time, a running toilet is very easy to fix. It may only be that the tank flap or the diaphragm needs adjustment. Here are some quick tips to help you diagnose and repair that running toilet and get back the peace and quiet of your bathroom once and for all.

  1. Going In – Open the tank of your toilet take a close look at the various parts. First, check the ball cock – the valve linked to the large plastic ball that floats on top of the water in your tank. If the noise is coming directly from the valve or you can see obvious issues, the ball cock likely needs to be replaced. Sometimes, it needs only basic cleaning, which you should do first before running out to buy a new part. It also possible that the tank flap is having issues. Look for a small cone in the hole at the base of the tank. Press down on it to see if the sound stops. If it does, the tank flap likely needs replacement.
  2. Turn off the Water Supply – Before doing any more, turn off your toilet’s water supply. Do not worry – you should not need to go hunting for the valve. It is most often located next to the toilet on the floor of your bathroom.
  3. Replacing Your Parts – When replacing any parts for a toilet, always remove the old part first and bring it with you to the hardware store. Almost all toilets have slightly different parts that may not match up universally. By having the part you need, you can give it to an expert in toilet repair and they can quickly find the right replacement.
  4. Careful Replacement – Most of the time, replacement simply involves unscrewing or removing the part and placing a new one in place. However, if you own a low flush toilet or a specialty design that does not have the same parts or layout of a traditional tank-based toilet, you may need the help of a professional to avoid any unwanted accidents or issues in the replacement process.

Ideally, the entire process should only take the better part of a couple hours, including the time it takes to go to the hardware store and purchase your replacement part.

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How a Water Softener Works

Friday, June 17th, 2011

You use water for many things. It is necessary for bathing, cooking, washing clothes and for drinking. But the water we use in our homes is not pure. It has plenty of other minerals and additives suspended inside. While some of these, like fluoride, are intentionally added to the water supplies in certain areas, some others get in by chance.

Aside from actual pollutants, the additives you may be the most concerned about finding in your water are calcium and magnesium. These minerals are picked up by water as it moves through the ground, and the more of them that get into your home water supply, the harder that water will be.

The term hard water is used to describe water with high levels of calcium and magnesium present. These minerals are not actually dangerous to us, but they can cause all sorts of problems for your indoor plumbing and other household systems. For instance, hard water will leave deposits of these minerals on the insides of pipes and on sinks, faucets and bathtubs.

Residue will also build up in appliances like coffee makers, dish washers and washing machines. Over time these buildups can become a real problem and you may have to pay for costly repairs or need to replace large appliances.

In order to avoid these types of complications, your best bet is to have a water softener installed. These systems can be connected directly to your home water source and they are able to remove excess calcium and magnesium from the water before it ever reaches any of your indoor plumbing or appliances.

Water softeners generally remove these minerals by attracting the positively charged calcium and magnesium particles with a tank full of negatively charged polystyrene particles. In this system, the calcium and magnesium are replaced by sodium ions as they move through the water softener, thereby maintaining the overall balanced composition of the water. Once the water has passed through and the calcium and magnesium have been left behind, the water softener will flush them out and prepare to absorb another wave of hard water minerals.

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Types of Drinking Water Filters

Wednesday, June 15th, 2011

There are not many things more important than making sure that your home drinking water supply is safe and free of contaminants. All kinds of things can appear in your drinking water, and it is helpful to know exactly what types of contaminants are prevalent in your area so that you can make the best decision about what type of water filters to buy.

Some water filters work well at removing certain types of contaminants but not others. However, there are some good water filters that can get rid of almost all contaminants on their own. One such type is a distiller. Water distillers operate by heating the water coming into your home until it turns into steam. When water evaporates like this, it leaves behind anything it was carrying with it when it was in liquid form. The steam rises and moves into another chamber, and when it condenses back into liquid form again, the contaminants are no longer present.

Another type of water filter that removes the majority of contaminants is a reverse osmosis filter. These are excellent for removing things like asbestos, minerals, metals, salts and nitrates. For best results, however, you will want to purchase a system that incorporates some type of carbon filter as well. Carbon filters, placed either before or after the osmosis filtering system, are better at removing things like pesticides and radon. The combination of these two water treatment types into one filter system makes the solution more complete.

If you do not think you have a serious contamination problem but just want to get rid of bad tastes or smells in your water, activated carbon filters are a good and economical choice. However, you will want to make sure that you know exactly what contaminants the filter you purchase is designed to remove, as not all carbon filters are equally as effective against certain types of contaminants.

The most important thing to do before you go out and purchase a water filtration system, however, is to determine what exactly you are trying to remove from your water. The types of contaminants found in your water will vary a great deal depending on where you live and what types of pipes you have in your home, and that will directly affect the type of water filter that is right for you.

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Water Filtering Faucets

Monday, June 13th, 2011

The last thing you want is to be drinking or cooking with contaminated water. Of course, you can always opt for a full house water filtration system, but these are often expensive to install and maintain. If you are not prepared to make this kind of investment, you may want to consider purchasing a water filtering faucet instead.

Unlike large point of entry water filtration systems, a water filtering faucet treats the water at one particular sink or other outlet. These types of faucets typically employ carbon filters that effectively remove many gasses and particles suspended in the water as it moves through the filter.

Just like any other type of water filtration system, there are various types of water filtering faucets and they are not all equally effective at removing contaminants. Before you purchase anything like this, however, you should make sure you know exactly what contaminants are present in your water. This is the only way to ensure that you purchase a product designed to treat exactly the problem that you have.

If you do decide to go with a water filtering faucet, make sure you know how often to replace the filters inside it and what type of replacements to get. Your water filter will only work properly when it is correctly maintained, and there is no point in using it if you have not been able to keep up with proper filter maintenance and replacement.

Another nice feature of water filtering faucets is that you can usually switch them on and off. When you need water for cooking or drinking, you can send it through the filter, and when you are using water for other things, you do not need to use the filter at all. This can cause the filter to last longer and it is also more convenient on models that have a reduced water pressure when the filter is employed.

You may initially balk at the cost of a water filtering faucet, preferring to purchase bottled water for drinking instead. But you have to take into account the fact that once you purchase a water filtering faucet, you will not have to spend the money on bottled drinking water any more. This will translate into a significant savings over time, making the initial investment well worth it in the end.

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Check Out Our Blog for the Latest in HVAC Technology

Thursday, June 2nd, 2011

Be sure to bookmark the Air Mechanical Inc. blog for updates on the latest advances in plumbing and  HVAC technology.

We’ll feature money saving promotions here as well.

Call Air Mechanical Inc. for all your Residential and Commercial Plumbing, Heating, Air Conditioning, Geothermal Energy and Duct Cleaning needs.

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Welcome to Our New Website

Thursday, June 2nd, 2011

iMarket Solutions has launched Air Mechanical Inc.’s new custom website. To learn more about how iMarket Solutions can expand your presence on the web visit: www.imarketsolutions.com

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