Tag Archive for: Home Air Maintenance

5 Air Conditioning Myths Debunked

In these days of super-fast communication media, it takes very little time and effort for misinformation to spread. Misinformation can then be taken as fact by large numbers of people. Unfortunately, half-baked ideas and misconceptions about air-conditioning are common—getting in the way of making good decisions about home HVAC systems. Take a look at these five air-conditioning myths, debunked so that you can separate fact from fiction about your home AC.

1. Air-conditioning Causes Respiratory Problems

This is a myth not backed up by health research. When AC equipment is used correctly, it helps prevent and minimize health issues. By filtering out harmful airborne particles—bacteria, viruses, fungi, pollen, dander, and other allergens, cleaner air circulates indoors. As a result, asthma and hay fever sufferers can breathe easier, particularly if high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters are used.

However, if you don’t service your air conditioner regularly, the air filters will eventually become dirty and clogged, lowering the air quality in the home. So, this is a case of a myth deriving from homeowners’ neglect of their equipment.

2. The Bigger the AC Unit, the Better

While it seems to make sense that a large, powerful AC unit is best for cooling down rooms, that’s not necessarily the case. Equipment needs to be sized for the space it’s expected to service.

An undersized AC unit will have to work harder to meet set temperature levels, making it less energy efficient, and costing you more in energy bills. Similarly, an oversized unit will need to turn itself on and off to maintain set temperatures, also using more energy than the right-sized equipment would. The result in both cases is higher equipment wear and tear, along with higher energy costs. Additionally, the lifespan of the equipment will be shorter, requiring earlier replacement.

3. Keeping Vents Closed Keeps Air Cool

Many air-conditioning myths seem to start from a logical position but don’t hold up due to a lack of technical knowledge. For example, it’s a popular misconception that if you close off vents and doors in lightly used rooms, chill air will circulate in a smaller area keeping the home cooler.

Unfortunately, home HVAC systems don’t work optimally with vents closed. Air pressure builds up in the air ducts, putting strain on the equipment, lowering energy efficiency, and raising energy costs. Vents should be open so that air is evenly distributed through your home, which is how your AC equipment was designed to be used.

4. AC Equipment Isn’t Efficient for Heating

An expensive fallacy held by many homeowners is that reverse-cycle air conditioning isn’t as efficient as dedicated heating appliances. Gas or electric wall attached or portable plug-in heaters are used rather than AC. However, the heating method used by reverse cycle AC units actually results in lower heating costs per hour than typical plug-in heaters.

Reverse cycle air conditioners draw in heat from outdoor air to indoors. Then, the drawn-in air is heated to set thermostat temperatures through a refrigerant process. This energy-efficient method of heating works even in freezing weather.

The energy cost savings from a reverse cycle air conditioner can be more than 50% less per hour compared to radiant and panel heaters. Of course, this depends on specific appliance models and their energy input levels. Check the Energy Star ratings for your AC and heating appliances. You may be shocked at the difference in running costs and how much this can add up to over winter.

5. ACs Are Bad for the Environment

This is one of the most disingenuous air-conditioning myths. It’s propagated upon the notion that any use of power is bad for the environment and that AC is particularly to blame. However, heating and cooling are essential requirements of modern life for most people. Moreover, as with Myth Number 4, reverse-cycle air conditioning can be much more efficient than standard heating appliances. As such, the lower energy use of AC appliances benefits the environment.

Using reverse-cycle AC results in roughly one-third fewer emissions being released into the atmosphere. Some of the most efficient appliances produce only one-fifth the level of emissions by standard heaters. Technical improvements in refrigerants are also reducing greenhouse gas levels. Human ingenuity can be expected to achieve even better results in future years.

Keep Your Air Conditioning Equipment at Peak Efficiency

At Briggs HVAC, we love helping debunk AC myths. Talk to us about a system maintenance plan to keep your AC in top condition and reduce energy emissions and costs. We service Northern Virginia and nearby counties.

What’s in Your Ductwork?

Keeping your HVAC ductwork clean and in good condition is essential to achieving high-quality air in your home. Lack of regular maintenance and HVAC servicing is the number one cause of pests and pathogens in system ducts. So, do you know what’s in your ductwork? You may be shocked to find what ductwork contaminants are in your system.

Here are Several Common Problems to Look Out For:

Signs Your HVAC Servicing is Overdue

If you can’t remember when HVAC servicing was last carried out, your home may be experiencing some unpleasant consequences. Nasty odors, and noises like rattling, squeaking, and squealing that seem to be coming from the HVAC are clear signs that equipment inspection should be done pronto. Additionally, you may notice a smell of dust in the air, or sudden mustiness, or family members may be experiencing intense allergy symptoms.

Large, Furry, or Feathery Intruders

Old houses are prone to wear and tear, creating openings in external and internal walls. These small gaps entice and enable many types of rodents to work their way inside and make their homes inside wall cavities and ductwork. Let’s talk about mice and rats, for starters.

If your HVAC vents through a chimney, there’s also the potential for storm damage to the chimney cap and more furry and feathered friends to install themselves through openings from the roof. Furthermore, as an HVAC system ages, normal wear and tear will also contribute to gaps and weaknesses in the ductwork providing entryways for small critters.

Small and Creepy Invaders

If rodents and birds can make a nuisance of themselves in chimney structures and ductwork, then it’s even easier for tiny and not-so-tiny, creeping, crawling, and scuttling nuisances to come inside. Insects and arachnids that frequent HVAC ducts include dust mites, spiders, cockroaches, and silverfish.

Your unwelcome lodgers can breed quickly in the cavities, sheltered nooks, and crannies of ducts. A small problem can soon become an explosion in numbers and a significant headache to get rid of. Fortunately, many HVAC companies perform basic pest control as part of their servicing and will readily capture and dispose of small critters.

Hidden but Toxic Ductwork Contaminants

It’s usually fairly obvious when rodents or birds make themselves at home where they’re not wanted. Still, the less obvious ductwork contaminants can be highly detrimental to the air quality in your home or workplace. Organic pollutants include fungal and mold spores, pollen particles, and harmful bacteria and virus spores. These airborne particles can easily make their way into the ducts from the outdoors.

Your first sign that these microscopic particles may be lodged in your HVAC ducts is when you or yours develop respiratory symptoms.  Excessive sneezing, coughing, a tendency to develop sinus problems, colds, and flu can all be signs that pollutants are present in heavy concentrations in the air. Over time too much exposure to these pollutants can weaken the immune system in susceptible people and cause constant respiratory problems. Reducing such health risks requires that air filters be regularly changed and upgraded to HEPA filtration levels if necessary.

How Regular HVAC Servicing Prevents and Removes Problems

Professional, qualified HVAC technicians follow strict processes when servicing your HVAC. They inspect, lubricate, and adjust moving parts, including motors, belts, controls, and valves. Air measurements are performed to ensure there are no blockages or leaks and that blower mechanisms are working correctly. Thermostat controls are checked along with electrical connections.

The ductwork is inspected to identify and repair any gaps that have allowed entry by animals or biological pollutants. Air filters are inspected and replaced.

Removing Pests and Pollutants

If large rodents such as squirrels, snakes, or raccoons have invaded, a professional pest control company may have to be called in before HVAC cleaning begins. Insects can be blown out of the system as the ducts are cleaned and vacuumed. Industrial-strength vacuums can also remove small dead creatures such as mice and spiders.

Severe contamination levels may require pesticides, antiseptics, or disinfectants to be applied. The Environmental Protection Agency lists registered and recommended products that can be used for cleaning purposes.

Tackle Ductwork Problems with Your Local HVAC Experts

Briggs HVAC is your local Northern Virginia for all HVAC maintenance and servicing. Our technicians give superior service, expertly inspecting, cleaning, and remediating your HVAC equipment. With a regular maintenance plan, you get a twice-yearly service and head off a host of potential problems. Servicing includes ensuring your equipment is properly sealed to prevent animals and other ductwork contaminants. Contact us today for more details

Benefits of Managing Your Indoor Air Quality

We spend a significant part of our lives indoors, particularly at home. Unfortunately, the air quality within our homes often leaves much to be desired. Chemicals, toxins, molds, fungi, and other allergens can hang heavy in the air. This all can affect our health and comfort. Poor ventilation, dampness, excess humidity, and dusty and dirty conditions within the home can exacerbate problems. See how the benefits of actively managing your indoor air quality can reap rewards for you, your family, and your bank account.

What’s Involved in Managing Indoor Air Quality?

Actively managing your home air quality means being aware of the significant causes of degraded air. These include:

  • residue from smoke, whether from cigarette smoking or burning wood in open fireplaces
  • airborne particles that make their way indoors, such as pollen, and
  • mold and fungi growing in damp areas of the home that release spores into the air.

Many of these airborne culprits increase due to poor air circulation or degraded filtering by home HVAC systems. Other home environment factors include damaged chimney stacks and external wear and tear, resulting in gaps in walls and windows that let moisture into the home.

You may find that you need to be something of a detective in monitoring and determining the causes of dank air or the reasons behind respiratory health problems experienced by yourself or your family members. Indoor air quality monitors can assist you in this task, and another expert source of advice is your local HVAC company.

What are the Benefits of Managing Your Indoor Air Quality?

You can achieve several benefits from keeping your HVAC equipment at peak efficiency, but the greatest benefit is to you and your family’s overall health. You may realize secondary gains from improved comfort and in reducing HVAC costs.

Here’s More Detail on How to Get These Benefits:

The Benefits of Reducing Allergens

Many people suffer from respiratory conditions such as hay fever and asthma, triggered by airborne particles such as pollen, dust in the air, fungal spores, or tiny nasties such as dust mites. Hay fever sufferers have a miserable time, with symptoms similar to a constant head cold. Asthma attacks can be brought on by exposure to allergens, with deadly consequences if not treated in time.

Over time these symptoms can lower the body’s immune system response and develop long-term health conditions such as sinusitis or worsening asthma. Clearly, reducing airborne allergens in the home positively benefits respiratory illness sufferers.

How to Manage Allergens with a Three-pronged Attack:
  1. Clean or replace all HVAC filters regularly and upgrade to higher quality equipment such as HEPA filters if necessary.
  2. Implement a thorough cleaning routine: wash pillowcases and sheets every two to three weeks; vacuum rugs and carpets with a HEPA filter machine.
  3. Reduce opportunities for pollen and other microbial spores like mold and fungi to get inside by keeping windows closed on high pollen days.

The Benefits of Reducing Exposure to Smoke

Whether you’re exposed to smoke from wood fire burning or secondhand cigarette smoke, you’re inhaling toxic substances. Wood burning releases carbon monoxide, soot, creosote, and other harmful chemicals, while cigarette smoke produces hydrogen cyanide, arsenic, and other poisons. Cancer, heart disease, stroke, and worsening asthma are all associated with inhaled smoke, so the less exposure, the greater the health benefit.

How to Manage Health Risks by Ensuring Regular Maintenance:
  1. HVAC filters are regularly changed, with annual maintenance and immediate repair of any leaks in the system.
  2. If using open wood-burning fires, annual chimney inspection, and sweeping.
  3. Cigarette smokers are banned from smoking indoors.

The Benefits of Programmable Thermostats for HVAC

With new technology, HVAC systems can run longer for less cost. Digital thermostats can automatically lower the temperature when no one is home or sleeping at night. The Department of Energy states that 10% a year can be saved on energy bills by simply lowering temperatures for eight hours a day.

Improve Your Indoor Air Quality with Briggs HVAC in Northern Virginia

Our homes should be places of respite, providing breathing space from the hectic pace and barrage of modern life. However, long-term exposure to degraded indoor air can lead to severe and chronic health conditions, while even short bursts of exposure to air laden with carbon monoxide can kill.

Regular HVAC maintenance is a primary way to have clean and fresh indoor air and ensure toxins are not reaching deadly levels. Let us assist you in managing indoor air quality and keeping your HVAC equipment in tip-top condition.

5 DIY Tips for at Home Air Conditioner Maintenance

Maintaining your air conditioning unit can not only extend the life of your unit, but it can also improve the health of your family & pets, and help you avoid costly repairs down the line that could’ve easily been avoided. We’ll walk through 5 tips that can help you maintain your air units.