Tag Archives: IAQ

Why Air Pollutants Get Inside

Why Air Pollutants Get InsideEven the cleanest homes can suffer from degraded air quality. The reason? Air pollutants enter our homes in manifold ways that most of us aren’t even aware of. Couple that with the fact that most homes of modern construction are airtight, and you have a recipe for poor indoor air quality.

Many people develop allergies to these pollutants, or else sensitivities that cause them to suffer from respiratory irritations. The pollutants may also aggravate conditions such as chronic bronchitis and asthma.

With cold weather months already here, we find ourselves indoors more often than not, read on and learn how to prevent air pollutants both at the source and once they are in your home. This will help keep your home a more comfortable healthy space to spend time in.

Common Home Air Pollutants

Here are some pollutants typically found in a residence, the means of entry and how to control them:

  1. DustDust blows in through windows, doors and crevices. To control, take off shoes at the door. Seal window and door frames with caulk and weatherstripping. Dust with microstatic cloths; vacuum with a HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter.
  2. Pollen–Pollen blows in through open windows, doors; it may also enter on clothing and pets. Brush off clothing or remove it on entering the home. Follow the same cleaning procedures as above. Sequester indoor plants when they are producing pollen.
  3. Pet dander–Dander is composed of flaky skin particles produced by pets as they shed. Brush them outdoors; bathe them at least once a week.
  4. Dust mites–These microscopic insects live in rugs, carpet, mattresses, pillows and upholstery. Keep relative humidity low in the home. Vacuum upholstered furniture with a HEPA filter. Wash linens frequently in hot water.
  5. Volatile organic compounds–VOCs are produced by the off-gassing of certain chemicals, ranging from household cleaning products, to paint, pressed wood products, dry cleaning solvent and textiles. Leave new articles outdoors a few days to air out. Keep chemicals tightly capped and out of the living space. Buy natural products whenever possible.

Also, use a good quality air filter in your HVAC system, which will do a better job of trapping pollutants than a cheap fiberglass filter.

For more information about controlling air pollutants in your home, contact Roth Heating and Cooling of Lake Oswego.

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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Roundup: Top Air Filters for Fall Allergies

Roundup: Top Air Filters for Fall AllergiesPortland ranks high among the worst places for airborne allergies, primarily from trees, weeds, and pollen. Fortunately, the best air filters for your HVAC system reduce the irritations that the widespread proliferation of ragweed pollen causes.

Look for its MERV (minimum efficiency reporting value) rating. The scale runs from 1 to 16 and higher numbers indicate the filter traps smaller particles. Some manufacturers have simplified the scale and label their filters as “good, better, and best.”

Filters with MERV ratings from 1 to 4 are equivalent to the “good” designation. Those rated between 5 and 8 are better, and the highest for residential purposes range between 9 and 12.

Pollen particles are small and will pass through filters with MERV ratings 7 and below. Higher MERV rated filters will capture a higher percentage of these particles. Choose a filter with a better designation or whose MERV rating is 9 or higher.

Words of Caution

Before upgrading the filter for your HVAC system, consult your owner’s manual for the highest rated filter you can use with it. Denser filters slow the air flowing through the air handler and putting a filter inside it that exceeds the manufacturer’s recommendation will raise energy bills and may cause system problems.

Many of the best air filters for allergy relief are pleated. They capture more particles because of their greater surface area and denser weave. Because they’re more effective at trapping particles, they need to be checked and replaced more often than lower rated filters.

Running your system with a dirty filter pulls dustier air through the ductwork, which defeats the purpose of using your HVAC system to control pollen and other airborne allergies. Unless the pollen is trapped at the filter, it can continue to circulate through your home’s air wherever else it lands.

Ductwork, carpet, furniture, and window coverings all hang onto these particulates and when they’re disturbed, your allergies may flare up again.

The best air filters can ease your suffering through allergy season and longer. For more information, contact Roth Heating & Cooling, providing trusted HVAC services for Portland-area homeowners.

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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Summer is Over: Change Your Air Filter

Summer is Over: Change Your Air FilterThe end of summer means it’s time to change air filters before the heating season starts. If you haven’t used your furnace since spring, why do you need to put in a new filter? Here are some important reasons for changing your air filter after summer:

Dust and Debris Buildup

Dust and debris can build up on your furnace filter, especially if it shares the same ductwork as your air conditioner. Putting in a new HVAC filter removes this buildup and prevents it from being blown around your home, which would lower your indoor air quality. A brand new filter helps keep the air in your home clean and healthier to breathe.

Improved Efficiency

A dirty air filter means that your HVAC system has to work harder to cool or heat your home. This can end up causing damage that shortens the life span of your system. Changing air filters helps keep your HVAC system running as efficiently as possible. This has the added benefit of reducing your monthly energy bills, since your HVAC system uses less power overall.

When to Change Air Filters

How often do you need to change your air filter? This depends on certain factors, such as whether or not you have pets in your home. If you have pets, you should check and change your filter every one or two months. If you don’t have pets, you should be able to wait and change it every three months.

Reminders to Change Your Air Filter

It’s easy to forget to change your air filter, especially during summer. You can set a reminder for yourself on your phone or tablet, so you’ll remember. Another way to remember is to buy an extra filter and place it close to your HVAC system as a visual reminder. Consider putting a note on it with the date that it needs to be changed. This should help you remember to check your air filter and change it as needed.

For information on maintenance services and plans for your HVAC system in your Portland home, please contact Roth Heating and Cooling.

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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Purifing Indoor Air Quality with UV Lights

Purifing Indoor Air Quality with UV LightsThe lights are placed within the ductwork or air handler of HVAC systems where nearly all the air in your home passes over it. UV light is hazardous to eyesight and they’re out of sight inside the HVAC equipment.

How UV Systems Compare

Compared to other kinds of air purification equipment, UV lighting offers:

  • High energy efficiency. The new generation of UV lights use LED technology and require annual replacement. Air purifiers rely on filters that need replacement as often as semiannually that can cost much more than the UV light bulbs.
  • Low maintenance. Since they’re out of sight, UV lights require little maintenance, especially if you keep the air filter for your HVAC system clean.
  • Protection against VOCs. These gases are among the most common airborne pollutants in the typical home. They come from products made from hydrocarbons and have varying degrees of toxicity. The lights are the only way to reduce the VOC load in the air without relying on year-round fresh air ventilation, which isn’t realistic during the summer or winter.
  • Odor-free. UV rays eliminate much of the need for disinfecting air sprays that have overpowering scents that may even include VOCs. Air sprays only offer spot protection from the spread of infectious germs, while UV lighting systems protect the whole home.
  • A cleaner HVAC system. The lights will eliminate mold growth inside the air handler and the ductwork. When mold grows inside the air handler on the evaporator coil, cooling efficiency drops and air quality declines.

Cleaner, healthier air is easy to achieve by using UV lights in your HVAC system. To learn more, contact Roth Heating & Cooling, proudly serving homeowners in the greater 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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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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5 Tips for Improving Indoor Air Quality This Spring

5 Tips for Improving Indoor Air Quality This SpringAlthough our green landscape means Portland enjoys better air quality than many cities, there are always things you can do to improve your indoor air quality. That’s especially true in spring when the pollen count rises. Here are some smart tips to put to use to keep your IAQ high all spring long.

Tips to Boost Indoor Air Quality

  • Vacuum smart – For your spring cleaning, choose a vacuum cleaner that contains a HEPA filter. Remove the dust kicked up by vacuuming by turning the thermostat to “fan on,” letting it run 15 minutes and then switching it back to “auto.”
  • Filter and clean your air – Use an HVAC system air filter with a MERV of 5 or higher, which is the minimum for improving indoor air quality. If you’re managing allergies or asthma, go for a MERV 10 or 11 pleated filter. Consider installing an air cleaner to control contaminants such as tiny dust and pollen particles, mold and bacteria, as well as the harmful fumes known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
  • Maintain good airflow – To control odors and humidity, run exhaust fans for a few minutes after showering and cooking. If you had condensation on your windows this winter and still see it in spring, your home most likely needs more ventilation. A heating and cooling technician can assess your home and advise you on your best passive and mechanical ventilation options.
  • Get a handle on humidity – High humidity makes you less comfortable and helps mold and dust mites spread. In addition to ventilating, repair leaky plumbing fixtures and basement or roof leaks because these also add moisture to the air. If you notice mold on your ceilings, bubbling paint or other signs of high humidity, consider installing a dehumidifier.
  • Keep the HVAC system in shape – During normal use, the furnace and air conditioner pick up dust and debris that impair their efficiency and can eventually reduce air quality. Schedule your air conditioner’s annual inspection and cleaning early in spring so you have your pick of service providers and appointment times before the best ones are booked.

For more information on improving your indoor air quality, contact Roth Heating & Cooling. We proudly handle the HVAC needs of Portland area homeowners.

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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