Category Archives: IAQ – Indoor Air Quality

Considering Improving Your Home’s IAQ by Using UV Lights? Here’s What to Know

Considering Improving Your Home's IAQ by Using UV Lights? Here's What to KnowYou may not spend a lot of time thinking about the quality of the air inside your home. However, clean air can help keep everyone in the home healthy. It has even greater benefits for allergy sufferers and for those with breathing difficulties. Improving your indoor air quality, or IAQ, is a fairly easy task that offers a great return on your investment.

What Affects IAQ?

The quality of your air can be affected by many factors. If you have smokers or pets in the home, if you have pollen-bearing plants in your yard or neighborhood, or if there’s a major roadway nearby, your air may not be as clean as you’d want it to be. Other factors affecting IAQ include having lots of dust in the air or high levels of humidity that might encourage mold growth.

What Improves IAQ?

The first, and simplest, fix for your IAQ is a good filter for your HVAC system. If you replace it regularly, a filter will catch many of the larger allergens and contaminants that get into your home.

Filters aren’t sufficient to catch the smallest particles, however. They also don’t do much about mold or mildew growth inside your ducts or around your A/C’s evaporator coil.

To take care of these contaminants, many homeowners opt to install UV, or ultraviolet, lights inside their ducts or near their evaporator coils. These lights work at a wavelength that attacks bacteria and mold spores. The lights disrupt the contaminants’ DNA, preventing them from reproducing and shortening their lives.

Since UV lights are installed within the HVAC system, they have no effect on the people or pets living in the home. These lights are remarkably effective. They have been shown to improve IAQ in less than an hour after being turned on, and they continue to clean the air as long as your HVAC system is on. Paired with a high-quality filter, UV lights can give you the indoor air quality your family needs to stay healthy.

For more information about using UV lights in your Portland area home, contact Roth Heating & Cooling today.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the Metro Portland, Oregon area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

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Clean Your Air With These Houseplants

Clean Your Air With These Houseplants | RothDecorating with houseplants creates natural beauty indoors, along with enhancing indoor air quality (IAQ). Some plants are natural air cleaners and remove stubborn volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that could degrade your health. VOCs come from many common household products and are one of the most difficult indoor pollutants to neutralize.

These plants offer the best protection against a buildup of VOCs indoors:

  • Spider plants
  • Dracena
  • Ficus trees or weeping figs
  • Peace lily
  • Boston fern
  • Snake plant (mother-in-law’s tongue)
  • Aloe vera
  • Bamboo palm, lady palm,
  • Chrysanthemum
  • Golden pothos
  • English ivy
  • Wax begonia

These plants are among the most common used indoors and are readily available at local nurseries, in the garden centers of home improvement stores and at flower shops. Although each of these is easy to grow, they have individual needs for light exposure and moisture requirements.

To achieve higher IAQ using plants, you’ll need two plants every 100 square feet, whose pot diameter is 10 to 12 inches. Some are also toxic to children and pets, so before choosing, check with your veterinarian or look it up on a reputable website to learn if it’s safe.

The gases from chemicals that these houseplants remove include benzene, formaldehyde, xylene and trichloroethylene. These VOCs come from new furniture, flooring, carpeting, paints and finishes, along with cleaning supplies. You’ll also find them in air fresheners, cosmetics, anything perfumed and many household cleaners.

VOCs lower IAQ as they concentrate, primarily because of the lack of fresh air ventilation. You can, however, use ultraviolet lights inside the ductwork or the air handler for your HVAC system to lessen the impact VOCs make on your health.

An energy recovery ventilator (ERVs) dilutes the concentration of VOCs by exchanging stale indoor air with fresh, outside air. ERVs are an energy efficient option for better IAQ since they use heat exchange technology to keep cooling and heating bills low.

While houseplants are a solution for removing harmful VOCs, you can also use your home’s HVAC system to improve the overall air quality. To learn more, contact Roth Heating & Cooling, providing trusted HVAC services for Portland-area homeowners.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Orlando, Florida and surrounding areas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

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Helpful Tips for Allergy Season

Helpful Tips for Allergy SeasonSpringtime means it’s also allergy season. Since the Portland area gets hit pretty hard when it comes to grass and pollen allergies, taking steps to reduce allergens in your home is crucial. Use the following allergy tips to get started.

Use New Air Filters

The air filters in your home’s HVAC system are supposed to trap allergens and other debris, but they can’t do that effectively when they’re dirty. One of the first things to do this spring is take out your current air filters, and replace them with brand new ones. This helps ensure that your filters are able to catch allergens and prevent them from being blown around your home when your HVAC system is running. Keep in mind that switching to high-efficiency air filters means that you’ll have even fewer allergens in your home.

Clean Return Vents and Registers

Dust, allergens and other debris can end up covering your registers and return vents. When your HVAC system is on, these particles are blown around your home, which lowers the indoor air quality and triggers allergy symptoms. Wipe these down with damp rags to remove allergens and other debris that has built up.

Clean Indoor and Outdoor Units

Keep allergens and dust off of your indoor and outdoor HVAC units by doing a thorough cleaning this spring. When these units are dirty, the allergens and other debris on them are circulated throughout your home.

Schedule Routine HVAC Maintenance

One of the most effective allergy tips is having HVAC maintenance done. This helps ensure that your system is free of blockages, as well as allergens and other debris that can make it harder for it to run. Making sure that your HVAC system can run efficiently can go a long way toward reducing indoor allergens.

To schedule HVAC maintenance to improve your indoor air quality and reduce allergies this spring, please contact Roth Heating & Cooling. We offer HVAC maintenance and installation services for homeowners in the Portland area.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the Metro Portland, Oregon area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

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Use These Methods to Control Pollutants in Your Home

Use These Methods to Control Pollutants in Your HomeEven the cleanest home will have a certain level of pollutants in the air. Activities of daily living, the use of certain products, and even simple inactivity can result in the production of dust, odors, and other pollutants that can make your indoor living spaces unpleasant. Here are some ways you can control pollutants in your home and make your indoor air fresher and cleaner.

Stop Pollutants at Their Source

Indoor pollutants include both particulates, such as dust and pollen, and gaseous material, such as fumes and odors. Stopping these pollutants at their source prevents them from getting into your home in the first place. Clean and dust your home, including vacuuming rugs and carpets, at least once a week. Take out trash regularly — every day, if possible. Keep odor-causing materials such as paints, solvents, and cleaners in tightly-sealed containers. Store them away from HVAC system return ducts where any leaked odors could be pulled into your heating and cooling ductwork and distributed throughout your house.

Be Careful with Daily Activities

Where possible, avoid doing any activities indoors that would generate pollutants, such as sanding, painting, or drilling. Limit or prohibit smoking inside your home. Test new cleaners or other material before bringing them indoors to see if the odors are strong or objectionable. Run kitchen fans when cooking to help remove food odors. Operate bathroom fans to help remove moisture and odors from this area.

Increase Indoor Ventilation

Open windows and doors to increase the amount of fresh air flowing through your home. Put fans in windows to increase the amount of clean air being brought into your home. Install a whole-house ventilation system that will allow you to sustain good levels of ventilation in the summer and winter. These systems remove stale indoor air and bring in fresh outdoor air while maintaining indoor temperatures.

With nearly four decades of experience in the HVAC industry, Roth Heating and Cooling provides expert sales, installation, and service for customers in Portland, Hillsboro, Canby, and the surrounding Oregon communities. Contact us today for more information on controlling and reducing pollutants in your home.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the Metro Portland, Oregon area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

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How to Decide Between Air Filtration and Air Cleaning

How to Decide Between Air Filtration and Air CleaningIf you’re concerned about maintaining indoor air quality in your Portland area home, it’s important to understand the difference between air filtration and air cleaning. While all forced-air heating and cooling systems have some form of air filtration, not all households have dedicated air cleaning systems. If you have family members who are susceptible to allergies or respiratory ailments, you’ll want to consider an air cleaning system.

First it helps to understand how basic air filtration works in an HVAC system. In most households, this involves a cheap, flat-panel fiberglass (or other synthetic) filter that goes into a slot in your furnace compartment, usually where the ductwork attaches. Before air is drawn into the furnace or A/C for conditioning, the filter removes some proportion of the solid particulates in that air. However, the main purpose of a low- or standard-efficiency air filter is to protect HVAC components rather than clean indoor air.

This doesn’t mean that higher-efficiency air filtration can’t achieve cleaner and healthier air. High-efficiency HVAC filters can remove the vast majority of airborne particulates. This is accomplished with denser (or more) filtration media removing a wide range of contaminants, large and small. However, the denser filtration media also may restrict airflow. Adverse effects may include wasted energy, stressed system components, and uneven heating and cooling. A forced-air system can be modified to work with a high-efficiency filter, though this may be costly. Consider a whole-house air cleaning system instead.

A whole-house air cleaner is connected directly to your HVAC system, and like an air filter treats all of the air that circulates through that system. But rather than simply capturing airborne particulates with fiberglass or some other filtration medium, an air cleaner typically employs a combination of technologies to clean the air. These might include ultraviolet light, electrostatic attraction or HEPA (high-efficiency particulate arresting) filtration. A quality air cleaner can remove more than 99 percent of the particulates in your indoor air.

To talk to a trained technician about cleaning or filtering the air in your Portland area home, please contact us at Roth Heating & Cooling.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the Metro Portland area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). 

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Improve Comfort by Installing a Humidifier in Your Home

Improve Comfort by Installing a Humidifier in Your HomeEven in our humid climate, a furnace can dry out a home’s air and cause a number of problems over the winter. One of the best remedies for an overly dry indoor environment is a humidifier.

Adding humidity to the home eases respiratory problems such as asthma, bronchitis and rhinitis, and other problems such as dry skin and chapped lips. Slightly humid conditions also make a home’s occupants feel warmer, so that the homeowner can turn down the thermostat a few degrees during the winter.

In addition, low humidity in homes damages wooden floors, furnishings, and musical instruments by drying them out and causing cracking.

For best results, aim for balanced humidity between 30 and 50 percent.

Installing a Humidifier

A whole-house humidifier, installed in your HVAC system, is the best way to maintain proper humidity. The appliance emits water vapor into the air through the ductwork, while the system monitors and controls the level of moisture. It uses water from the home’s plumbing system, so there’s no need to buy distilled water. Generally no maintenance is required other than cleaning out the tank a couple of times a year to remove mineral deposits.

Portable Humidifiers

Although a whole-house humidifier does a better, more efficient job of humidifying a home, some homeowners may opt for a portable or console model. These can be moved from room to room. They require refilling and frequent cleaning of filters to guard against mold and bacteria buildup.

Following are some popular types of portable humidifiers:

  • Warm mist: A heating element boils water, releasing it into the air as warm steam. It makes the room feel warmer than a cold mist type.
  • Cool mist: A wick filter absorbs water in the base of the appliance, while a fan blows dry air through the filter, causing the moisture to evaporate into the air.
  • Ultrasonic: These quiet humidifiers employ high-frequency sound waves to vibrate a metal diaphragm at an ultrasonic frequency, breaking water down into a fine vapor mist.

For more on installing a humidifier, contact Roth Heating and Cooling. We’ve served Portland residents since 1976.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the Metro Portland area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). 

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Best Practices for Air Sealing Your Home

Best Practices for Air Sealing Your HomeAir sealing the leaks around your house keeps your home more comfortable in Portland’s chilly winters and warm summers, and protects your indoor air quality. Learn your options for blocking leaks so you can achieve the best results possible.

Caulk

Caulk is a viscous substance that hardens after application. It’s typically sold in tubes designed to be loaded into a caulk gun. Caulk is used for air sealing gaps and cracks around non-movable surfaces, such as door and window frames, ventilation and appliance vents, points where pipes and wires penetrate exterior walls, and where the foundation meets the wooden sill on the home’s exterior.

All-purpose acrylic latex caulk is a good option for most interior sealing jobs. If you need to seal leaks in a wet area, such as the bathroom or kitchen, waterproof silicone caulk is a better choice. For outdoor sealing jobs, consider elastomeric or butyl caulk. Before buying caulk, check the product’s label to learn where it can be used.

Spray Foam

Polyurethane expanding spray foam insulation, sold in spray cans, is used to seal gaps between one-quarter inch and 3 inches wide around non-movable surfaces. It’s often applied around furnace flues, pipes, and other large penetrations in the attic and basement. In the crawl space, it can be used to seal a plastic vapor barrier to rigid foam insulation on the wall.

Because spray foam isn’t eco-friendly and is difficult to remove when repairs are needed, consider an alternative such as cellulose or cotton insulation.

Weatherstripping

Weatherstripping consists of strips of material used to block leaks on movable surfaces. The ideal weatherstripping depends on the surface you want to seal. Foam tape provides an inexpensive way to seal window sash tops and bottoms, as well as the insides of doorframes. For double-hung or sliding windows, use V-strip weatherstripping. Tubular gaskets, available in vinyl, rubber, and silicone, can be applied to window sash tops and bottoms and along doorjambs.

For more guidance on air sealing or to hire a pro for the job, contact us at Roth Heating & Cooling in the Portland area.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the Metro Portland area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

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Don’t Let Heat Gain Make Your Air Conditioner Work Harder

Don't Let Heat Gain Make Your Air Conditioner Work HarderThe amount of heat gain in your home has a direct impact on your cooling costs because heat naturally moves from hot to cold constantly. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive to slow or block heat gain to maintain indoor comfort.

Windows

Unless your home has Energy Star certified or thermal-rated windows, the windows could be responsible for nearly half the heat entering your home. Glass is a poor insulator, and heat readily flows through windows whether they receive direct sunlight or not.

Closing the window coverings during the hottest part of the day will slow some of the heat transfer. To get the best heat protection, make sure the coverings extend above and below the window frames and sit as closely to the glass surface as possible.

Solar shade screens work well on south- and west-facing windows to cut the radiant heat from entering. You can make them from kits sold at home improvement centers or ask a specialty contractor to make them for you.

Insulation

Although wall insulation matters, most of the heat gain that drives up cooling costs comes from an inadequately insulated attic. Attics reach extreme temperatures during the day, and that heat can penetrate through the ceilings. Consider increasing the insulation to 20 inches for the best heat control.

You can also improve your home’s heat resistance by choosing light roofing and exterior wall colors that reflect much more radiant energy.

Seal the Leaks

Air leaks around the window and door frames increase cooling bills. Caulk, expanding foam and weatherstripping are easy to apply to stop air infiltration immediately.

Internal Heat Sources

While your home’s exterior color, insulation levels and air leaks account for nearly 35 percent of the heat your home gains, indoor sources may account for almost 15 percent. Put off heat-producing activities as much as possible until it’s cooler, and use bathroom and kitchen exhaust fans to vent warm air.

To learn more about heat gain and keeping cooling costs low, contact Roth Heating & Cooling. We’ve proudly served Portland area homeowners since 1976.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the Metro Portland area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

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Too Humid in Your Home? Here’s How to Reduce It

Too Humid in Your Home? Here's How to Reduce ItPortland summers mean higher outdoor humidity levels, and that means that conditions inside your home can be affected too. Not only is a humid house extremely uncomfortable, but it can also cause serious damage to your property, compromise your health and cost you more in cooling expenses. Fortunately, managing this issue is easier than you might think. By learning how to detect and reduce indoor humidity, you can save yourself a lot of grief and cash this season.

Signs You Need to Reduce Indoor Humidity

In some cases, excessive indoor humidity levels may be obvious. If you ever feel like you’re living inside of a sauna, you probably already know that you have a problem. Sometimes, though, the issue is less apparent. Be on the look out for:

  • Wood damage
  • Water stains on walls and ceilings
  • Mold and mildew
  • Condensation on windows
  • Allergy problems

How to Reduce Indoor Humidity

There are a number of ways to affordably lower humidity levels within your home. Following are a few suggestions:

  • Assess ventilation – Clothes dryers, kitchen hoods, and bathroom fans should be vented outside.
  • Adjust fan settings – Don’t leave your fan in the “on” position. By setting it to automatic, you’ll prevent re-humidifying your house as a result of air being blown over a wet coil when the condenser cycles off.
  • Seal leaks – Air and duct leaks are a major contributing factor to excess humidity within the home. Take the time to find and seal off these leaks.
  • Use vapor barriers – If the basement or other areas of your home have dirt floors, it’s a good idea to cover the earth with a plastic vapor barrier.
  • Use a dehumidifierDehumidifiers are a great way to reduce moisture levels in specific areas of the house.
  • Cook smarter – On humid days, it’s a good idea to avoid boiling water on your stove. Preparing meals with a slow cooker will result in much less evaporation and humidity.

For more useful tips on how to reduce indoor humidity, get in touch with the experts at Roth Heating & Cooling. We’re proud to serve the greater Portland area.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the Metro Portland area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

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