Tag Archives: indoor air quality

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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Breathe Easy: Know These Fall Air Quality Concerns

Breathe Easy: Know These Fall Air Quality ConcernsFall in Oregon means spectacular leaf colors and cooler temperatures. However, fall also means there could be a decrease in indoor air quality in your home. The following information outlines some of these fall air quality concerns and what can be done about them.

Common Fall Air Quality Concerns

  • Airborne contaminants: Airborne contaminants in your home can increase with fall weather. If you’re opening your windows to enjoy some cool autumn air, you could also be letting in particulates and other airborne contaminants from the outdoors. Dust, dirt, and other common particulates are just as likely to be present in the fall as any other time of the year.
  • High humidity: Humidity in the fall can be just as high as at other times of the year. Inside your home, increased humidity can make it easier for mold to grow. High humidity levels can also cause your indoor spaces to feel uncomfortable.
  • Lack of ventilation: At the opposite end of fall comfort, you may find it necessary to close your windows to keep out an unexpected chill. If temperatures drop far enough, you’ll need to close the windows and keep them closed. This reduces air circulation and ventilation inside your home, which can contribute to decreased air quality.

What to Do

  • Increase ventilation: Many fall air quality concerns can be reduced with better ventilation. Open windows when possible. Use window air conditioners on fan-only settings. Put in a whole-house ventilation system that keeps a steady airflow moving throughout your home.
  • Change HVAC air filters: Air filters in your HVAC system help remove airborne contaminants. Make sure you have a clean filter in your heating and cooling systems.
  • Install dehumidifiers: Dehumidifiers remove moisture from your indoor air. Whole-house models can dehumidify an entire home, while smaller portable models can reduce humidity in a single room.

Roth Heating and Cooling provides high-quality HVAC sales, service, and installation in Portland, Hillsboro, Canby, Lake Oswego and the surrounding Oregon communities. Contact us today for more information on fall air quality concerns and how to make sure your indoor air is fresh and clean throughout autumn.

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

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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Dust Remedies and Reasons in Your Home

Dust Remedies and Reasons in Your HomeDo you dust and vacuum your home frequently but cleaning up the dust never remedies the problem? The reason why your home gets dusty again too quickly may be due to specific issues with your HVAC system, such as:

  • Leaky ductwork: When the ductwork that distributes your conditioned air isn’t airtight, all sorts of particles can get pulled into the HVAC system from unfinished spaces like the attic and wall cavities. This means that particles like bits of drywall, pest droppings, insect body parts, insulation fibers and similar debris gets sent out through the ductwork into your home every time the blower fan cycles on.
  • Inadequate filtration: If you use a thin fiberglass filter in your HVAC system, you might notice that it rarely looks dirty or needs replacement. This is a sure sign that the filter isn’t capturing the smaller particles that contribute to household dust like pollen, animal dander, skin cells, microscopic mites, bits of soil, paper/textile fibers and human and animal hair. Instead, these particles are bypassing the filter, getting into the air handler unit and being continually redistributed through your home.

Effective HVAC-Related Dust Remedies

Giving the HVAC system some attention by taking the following steps can often help remedy a problem with excessive dust.

  • Have an HVAC pro inspect the ductwork to determine if there are significant leaks due to deficiencies and damage, like disconnected or crushed sections and holes or gaps, and have any such issues repaired.
  • Get the ductwork professionally sealed so debris from unconditioned areas can’t get drawn in.
  • Upgrade to a pleated filter with the highest recommended MERV rating mentioned in your equipment owner’s manual.
  • Change your air filter It should be checked once a month and replaced when there is any visible sign of dust accumulation.
  • Make sure that you install the air filter in the right direction and that it’s all the way into its slot, so air can’t be easily pulled in around it.

To learn more effective dust remedies to keep your Portland-area home cleaner and improve your air quality, contact us at Roth Heating & 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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How to Naturally Reduce Humidity in Your Home

How to Naturally Reduce Humidity in Your HomeIn our region, high humidity in the home can be a problem. In summer when the air is warm, it will hold more moisture and make us feel warmer than we need to. That means turning the air conditioner down just to feel comfortable. Any time of the year, high humidity can encourage the growth of mold, mildew and fungus, which can destroy paper, drywall, paint and other materials — plus, it’s unhealthful to breathe these pollutants.

The best way to control humidity is to install a whole-house dehumidifier. Under most circumstances, your A/C performs that function adequately, but if you have an excessively moist home, it can be overwhelmed.

Learn how to reduce humid conditions with the following tips and maybe you’ll see results that will help you until you can plan for a dehumidifier.

Tips for Reducing Too-Humid Conditions

  1. Sequester plants. Having lots of plants in the home is a lovely way to decorate and to improve air quality, but plants also raise moisture levels. Round them up and move them to one room.
  2. Keep your air filter clean. A dirty air filter won’t do as good a job allowing proper air flow into your HVAC system. Slower air flow can mean the system won’t dehumidify the air as effectively. Change the air filter frequently.
  3. Take shorter showers. If you live with several people, long and frequent showering can up moisture in the air significantly. Ask people to take shorter showers. Crack the window and run a fan so the humidity can escape.
  4. Install kitchen or bathroom ventilation. Ventilation exhaust fans are not expensive to purchase or install, and they do a a great job of removing moisture from bathrooms and around the kitchen range.
  5. Fix leaks asap. As soon as you realize a faucet, a pipe, the attic or ceiling is leaking water, fix the leak so you prevent flooding and lower moisture levels. Also be vigilant about the HVAC’s condensate drain; a plugged drain can also boost air moisture.

To learn more about lowering humidity, contact Roth Heating and Cooling of Portland.

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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Know These Things About Washable Air Filters

Know These Things About Washable Air FiltersWhile it’s almost always better to choose products that are reusable instead of disposable to keep the planet healthier, it’s not so with most washable air filters for your HVAC system. The air filter you use for your system affects its energy consumption, dependability and durability.

The differences between reusable and throwaway filters might be hidden to the eye, but over time, your HVAC system might show the signs, which include:

  • Higher repair costs. Reusable filters aren’t as dense as disposable filters, which let smaller particles enter your air handler. They may only catch animal fur and human hair, along with lint and larger dust particles.

    The remaining particulates, including dust mite waste, mold spores, animal dander and pollen will pass through. When these smaller particles get inside the air handler, they’ll land on the parts and act as insulation.

    Heat builds on the parts, which is one of the most common causes of reduced component life and system breakdowns.

  • Poor air quality. Since the smaller particulates will circulate through the air, your indoor air quality will suffer when exclusively using washable air filters in your home. Family members who suffer from allergies or asthma will experience more discomfort.
  • Mold growth. Reusable air filters have to be washed to remove the particles on them. If they’re replaced with any kind of moisture inside them, they can support mold growth. Some types of mold are harmless, but others may precipitate a health problem in sensitive individuals.

When you’re choosing an air filter, check your owner’s manual or contact us contractor for the best type to use. One the filter becomes too dense it will slow the airflow through the system too much, and one that’s too porous, like reusable filters, won’t trap small particles that eventually will harm the equipment.

The money and materials you save using washable air filters may not have a positive effect on the environment or your budget if they result in higher costs associated with repairs or your health. To learn more, contact Roth Heating & Cooling, providing trusted HVAC services for Sherwood 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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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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