Jim Gates has written another informative guest post for us–Thanks, Jim!
HVAC systems are among the most expensive systems in a building. A breakdown due to maintenance issues can be very costly and time consuming. Proper maintenance is very important to keeping the system working efficiently and effectively.
Understanding the Importance of HVAC System Maintenance
A properly maintained HVAC system can protect a building’s occupants from the health hazard of poor quality air and increase the comfort level of the building.
Providing the proper maintenance for the HVAC system will also help increase the life of the equipment, lower the building’s utility costs, and improve indoor air quality.
Four Tips for HVAC Maintenance
Here are some simple tips that you can follow to ensure that your system will remain in good working order.
1. Choose a High Quality Air Filter
Choosing a high quality air filter for your HVAC system can improve indoor air quality by removing large quantities of harmful air pollutants from the air. High quality air filters will also extend the life of the equipment by trapping dirt, dust, and other particles that could damage the machinery deep within the filter material so it can be removed and thrown away.
Make sure that the high quality air filter chosen is the proper size for your HVAC equipment as ill-fitting air filters can damage the equipment and require costly repairs to fix the system correctly. Additionally, using the wrong size filter can block the grill, which can put mechanical systems under strain and potentially cause costly repairs and higher energy bills.
2. Replace Air Filters On Schedule
Changing the air filters on schedule is very important to maintaining the equipment in good working order. Air filters get clogged with dirt, dust, and debris over time, which restricts the airflow through the filter and can allow dirt to accumulate in the machinery. The maximum length of time the air filter should be used before changing should be listed on the packaging or in an insert in the packaging for the air filter.
3. Perform Recommended Maintenance
There are a number of recommended maintenance items that should be performed on a regular schedule to ensure that all of the HVAC equipment is working properly. Routine scheduled maintenance includes cleaning, tune-ups, treatments, inspections, and adjustments. It is best to contact a trained professional to handle scheduled maintenance to ensure that all maintenance needs are addressed and accomplished correctly.
Dirt and dust can build up inside the air ducts and on the air duct grates, causing a reduction in airflow and returning to the indoor air when dislodged from the air duct. If an inspection reveals that the air ducts are dirty, clogged, or contaminated, it is important to get the situation remedied as soon as possible to prevent damage to the HVAC system. A professional contractor should be contacted to conduct a thorough air duct cleaning for the building if cleaning is needed.
Keep Your Equipment Working Properly
Following these simple maintenance tips can extend the life of your HVAC equipment and improve the indoor air quality of the building. Regular maintenance performed by trained professionals can result in the detection of small problems before they can become larger issues and damage costly equipment.
About the Author
Jim Gates, CAFS, is the brand manager for Quality Filters, Inc. (http://qualityfilters.com), a leading manufacturer and distributor of high quality home and commercial air filters. The company’s products are available online at BuyFilters.com (http://buyfilters.com).
The Indoor Environmental Standards Organization has been waiting for approval of their new standard for Evaluation of HVAC Interior Surfaces to Determine the Presence of Fire-Related Particulate as a Result of a Fire in a Structure. Whew!
On February 15, 2012, the American National Standards Institute let them know that the standard was approved.
Let’s go back a bit. What they have done is set a new standard for how to tell if fire residue is present in ventilation systems. That’s better!
What is fire residue?
The particles that the new standard measures as residue are:
Char–The primary indicator of residue, char is defined as “the solid material that remains after light gases (e.g. coal gas) and tar coal tar have been driven out or released from a carbonaceous material during the initial stage of combustion.” (Wikipedia)
Soot–The secondary indicator, soot, “refers to impure carbon particles resulting from the incomplete combustion of a hydrocarbon…but is commonly extended to include…fuel particles such as coal, cenospheres, charred wood, petroleum coke, and so on.
They are measuring particles left by the burning of both gases and solid fuels.
The standard uses a control sample and compares it to samples taken from the interior of HVAC systems, but does not determine what has been burned or what the specific particles are.
Why is it important?
When there has been a fire in a structure, it is essential to know the extent of damage and what restoration is needed for that structure to be safe to live or work in. Most fire damage is easy to see and make decisions about. However, if the ventilation system in a structure is contaminated with particles that are not removed, it can cause further damage to not only the building but the people inside for years into the future. It is extremely important to know whether or not those interior surfaces need to be cleaned and, if so, to have a reputable professional take care of the problem before it becomes worse.
Worry is a pretty strong word, but it never hurts to think about your indoor environment. Most of us assume that our indoor air is cleaner than the outdoor air, but that is usually not the case at all.
AirTek encourages you to read the whole thing, but here are some questions asked in this informative publication to help you decide whether you need to spend more time thinking about your indoor air:
Did you know asbestos was used in some home heating systems?
Did you know that anything that burns could produce harmful gases and particles?
Are your household products potentially hazardous?
Do you need to worry about lead in your home?
Do you need to worry about mercury in your home?
Do you have problems with excess moisture and mold in your home?
Did you know that both pests and pesticides can be hazardous to your health?
Did you know that second hand smoke from tobacco is harmful to your family’s health?
Do you need to worry about radon gas in your home?
But it’s not only humans who are impacted by indoor air pollution, pets are as well.
Almost 40% of American households own a cat, over 46% own a dog and the total pets owned by Americans tops 377 million! We think about what kind of food we buy them, how clean their water is, and how much exercise our pets are getting, but are we thinking about the air they breathe?
On our Twitter feed (I hope you are following us @AirTekCA), we retweet Spare the Air Alerts, which are no-burn days in Northern California to protect people from wood smoke on bad air days, but we should also be thinking about cats, dogs and horses. Pets cannot complain to us about breathing difficulties, but as many as 10 percent of cats are treated for asthma. Veterinarians caution us to keep our pets indoors on Spare the Air days. You can keep an eye on the air quality in Southern California on our Twitter feed as well!
The things we can do to improve the air for ourselves and our families will also help our pets stay healthy and live longer. Wouldn’t it be nice to have man’s best friend around for a few more years?
If you need help getting your indoor air clean enough for humans and non-humans alike, by cleaning your air ducts, dryer vents, kitchen exhausts or maintaining your HVAC systems anywhere in California, please contact AirTek!
Our own Carlos Sanguinetti of the San Diego Office of AirTek is putting together a charity dinner in support of one of our favorite causes, the Ronald McDonald House of San Diego!
On March 10, we are putting on a dinner and silent auction to benefit this amazing cause!
It will be held at the Ronald McDonald House across from Rady Children’s Hospital and will include a cocktail reception, tour of the facility, as well as dinner catered by Chef Michael Ruffner, owner of Urban Eats Gourmet Food Truck and former chef at the Hotel del Coronado. My mouth is watering already! I will tempt you with the menu next week…
I’m sure you’ve heard of Ronald McDonald House, but do you really know what they do?
Ronald McDonald Houses all over the world provide a home-away-from-home for families of children being treated for serious, often life-threatening illness or injury at local children’s hospitals. The Ronald McDonald House of San Diego serves families of children being treated at Rady Children’s Hospital.
Many families travel far from home to get treatment for their seriously ill or injured children. The treatment may last a day, a month, or even longer. It’s a long time to be away from home, or to divide a family. Ronald McDonald Houses offer families a way to stay together, in proximity to the treatment hospital, and be comfortable, safe and cared for during their stay.
Your attendance on March 10th, along with the assistance of our event sponsors, will not only help to raise funds for Ronald McDonald House Charities, but will also provide you with the opportunity to experience some of San Diego’s finest local businesses through our beverages, meal service, and silent auction. More information on that is coming, too!
Why is Carlos so passionate about Ronald McDonald House?
In June of 2009, Carlos was diagnosed with testicular cancer. He has since made a full recovery, but this life experience caused both Carlos and Matt to reevaluate their contributions to the community. They both shared the same vision of helping others in need. Carlos had heard good things about Ronald McDonald House Charities and in September of 2009 Carlos and his wife Shana organized our first volunteer event on behalf of the organization – we had the pleasure of serving dinner to the deserving families staying at RMHC. It was an incredibly rewarding opportunity and everyone involved had a great experience. The upcoming dinner on March 10 will be the eighth dinner organized by Carlos and Matt, and the second to be catered by professional chef, Michael Ruffner. We want it to be the most successful ever!
How can you help?
Attend the event! Tickets can be purchased HERE! Let us know you ‘re coming on the event’s Facebook Page!
If you cannot attend, you can still donate HERE! You can also donate items to our Silent Auction! We are looking for:
Vacation and travel – vacation homes, resort/hotel stays, golf or spa packages, airline tickets, cruise tickets, winery/brewery private tours, etc.
Sports and recreation – golf or tennis packages or equipment, tickets to Chargers or Padres games, fitness club memberships, personal trainer sessions, etc.
Entertainment – Museum or theme park memberships or tickets, movie tickets, restaurant gift certificates, kids birthday party packages, etc.
Retail – donations and gift certificates from local and major retailers; electronics such as iPads, laptops, digital cameras; bottles of wine to be used in the “wine bottle grab;” etc.
Contact Matt Teeter at matt.j.teeter (at) gmail (dot) com if you have any items you would like to donate or any other goods or services that could help with the event!
I will finish this post with a slideshow I made last year when I was a Web Design intern at the Ronald McDonald House of Los Angeles. Everyone I met when I worked there was incredibly nice, incredibly committed and so fulfilled by their mission and that energy can be felt as soon as you walk in the door of the facility. I encourage you to do what you can to support Carlos, Matt and the Ronald McDonald House of San Diego!
It was reported last week in the New York Daily News that there has been an outbreak of Legionnaires’ Disease at the Luxor Hotel in Las Vegas.
Legionnaires’ was first identified and named after the bacteria ran through an American Legion convention being held in Philadelphia, PA in 1976. The epidemic got a lot of press at the time, since it occurred within days of the Bicentennial and in a population of US veterans. This outbreak sickened 221 and caused the deaths of 34.
What is Legionnaires’ Disease?
Legionellosis or Legion Fever is a potentially fatal bacterial infection that causes a high fever and pneumonia. It incubates over a period of between 2 and 10 days. Not everyone who is exposed to the Legionella bacterium gets sick, but of those who do the mortality rate can be as high as 30%. If it is contracted in the hospital the death rate can go up to 50%!
Where are Legionella bacteria found?
The bacterium is found in almost all natural water sources and is not thought to be a threat from them. However it does breed in warm water, like that found in the air conditioning systems of large buildings, hot tubs, hot water tanks, plumbing systems and indoor ornamental fountains.
Hotels are at risk, as are hospitals, cruise ships and prison facilities.
How do you catch Legionnaires’ Disease?
Legionnaires’ does not pass from person to person, but if the water system of a building is breeding the bacteria, it is easy to be exposed. Any water vapor or condensation can put infectious molecules into the air where they stay until someone inhales them. Ice machines, air conditioners, steam rooms, showers, misters, anywhere there is water that is connected to the water supply of the building can produce disease causing water vapor.
People at higher risk for contracting Legionnaires’ are: those over 50, smokers and those with chronic lung disease, but anyone can come down with this or it’s milder cousin, Pontiac Fever.
How Do You Prevent Legionnaires’ Disease Outbreaks?
Since Legionella is present everywhere, the most important factor in prevention of disease is proper cleaning, disinfection and maintenance. The Luxor Hotel has a testing schedule and, in fact, had tested for Legionella earlier in the year with a negative result. They also treat their water systems preventatively on a maintenance schedule.
AirTek is proud to offer services which prevent the outbreak of deadly Legionnaires’ Disease all over California for any commercial building or facility. We can clean, disinfect and maintain any commercial or residential HVAC system, ensuring fewer allergies and a healthier indoor environment for you, your family, your employees and your guests.
Contact AirTek for an estimate of your project and if you have any questions or need more information about Legionnaires’ Disease and how to make your indoor air cleaner and safer!
Okay, I admit it. I spend a good deal of time trolling the internet for indoor air stories.
Some of those stories turn into blog posts, some don’t.
There are times when the stories are fun and interesting, but just not long enough to turn into a whole post and I’ve found a lot of those lately so you get a bullet post about indoor air issues you’ve (or at least I’ve) never heard of!
Feline Asthma–Allergens and other particles can exacerbate asthma symptoms in humans, but did you know cats can suffer, too? One in a hundred cats suffers from feline asthma and it can kill! Cats can be allergic to pollen, air fresheners, smoke, hair spray and cat-litter dust. You can help your asthmatic cat by stopping the use of sprays, changing to a non-clay litter and not using your fireplace, as well as improving the ventilation of your home, changing the air filters and keeping your ventilation system clean.
Alzheimers and Air Pollution–A study looking at the brains of children and young adults shows exposure to air pollution causes changes similar to those seen in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. These changes are a surprise since they are not normally seen in the young. The brains examined were from people who lived in very highly polluted Mexico City and compared to those from people who lived in rural areas.
Do you like New Carpet Smell?–New carpets off-gas chemicals and other contaminants that have trouble escaping from office buildings and homes. If you can smell it, the levels are too high for good health. Open windows if you can or use fans to move the air through the ventilation system faster.
Can Light or Darkness Clean Your Air?–Scientists are studying a combination of different metals and exposure to light or darkness as a way of cleaning the indoor air in windowless or poorly ventilated rooms with great success! The best photocatalyst (light) is chromium, while even better results have come from cobalt (dark) catalysts, with a reduction in air pollution in as little as 10 minutes!
February is National Care About Your Indoor Air Month! We will be talking all this month about ways you can improve your indoor air at home, at work and at your business and why it is important. These are only a few news items we have found so far–and it’s only Groundhog Day!