Category Archives: Ventilation and Air Quality

My Plumber CA offers comprehensive information and services to give your home optimal ventilation and air quality that is second to none.  With can’t miss info like Indoor Air Quality is Nothing to Sneeze At  and Air Pollution: It’s Everywhere, Including Your Home  If you need a a tune up check out our air filter page or give us a call.    

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Should I Turn Off My Furnace in Spring?

MyPlumberCA technician preforming Furnace Repair and Maintenance As the weather changes and the air begins to warm up outside, you might have caught yourself wondering – should I turn off my furnace in spring? By turning it off, we don’t just mean setting the thermostat to the off setting. You can also turn off the pilot light itself, which burns gas as long as it is lit.

So why waste gas (and money) all summer long?

Learn more about the benefits and potential drawbacks of turning off your furnace for spring, and how to turn off your furnace for the season if you choose to do so.

The Benefits

Whether you have an electric or gas furnace, turning off your heater in spring has several obvious benefits.

    1. Save cash.

It costs money to keep your pilot light lit. By turning off your pilot light for spring and summer, you can save $50 (or more if you have multiple heating units) per year. While that might not seem like much, $40 is enough to cover a full tank of gas for your next family road trip. And who doesn’t like free money?

    1. Save energy.

Along with consuming your dollars, your pilot light feeds on a steady supply of gas. One pilot light uses about 900 to 1200 BTUs (British thermal units) per hour. Keep in mind that your pilot light doesn’t turn off and on – it stays constantly lit, and therefore is constantly using energy.

  1. Avoid accidentally heating your home.

Furnace repair and Maintenance by MyPlumberCADoes your furnace sometimes have a mind of its own? Or do your kids think it’s “fun” to play with the thermostat? If you turn off your pilot light and gas supply to your furnace, you don’t have to worry about coming home to a house that has warmed itself up to 90 degrees this spring.

The Drawbacks

One potential drawback of turning off your furnace in spring is that you’ll have to relight it again come fall. If your pilot light is easily accessible, this is no problem. If your pilot light has given you troubles in the past, then you’ll have to contact a professional to come and relight it for you.

I Want to Turn Off My Furnace this Spring – How Do I Do It?

So you’ve decided that you want to turn off your furnace for spring. You’ve come to the right place! Follow these steps to safely turn off your furnace and save some dough this season.

  1. Turn off the gas supply. The shut off valve for your furnace’s gas line is usually located near the pilot light itself. Turn the shut off valve so that it is perpendicular to the supply line, forming an L shape. This means that the gas supply to your pilot light is off, and you should see the flame disappear.
  2. Check your air filters. Now is a good time to remove your used air filters and replace with new ones.
  3. Check the surrounding area. Make sure that the furnace is clear of debris and other fire hazards.
  4. Check your carbon monoxide detector. Make sure it is on and fully functioning to ensure your safety.
  5. Have a professional perform a full inspection. It doesn’t hurt to have a professional come and check to make sure your furnace is in good condition before you forget about it all through the spring and summer months.

Remember – if you need any assistance in turning off your furnace this spring, call your local [heating and air conditioning professionals].

The Dangers of Carbon Monoxide

The cold weather is rolling in and that means furnaces all across the county will be kicking on. With houses being tightly sealed, this can lead to the accumulation of carbon monoxide inside your home. If your furnace vent is working properly, you don’t have anything to worry about. But if there is an issue with the venting or if your furnace isn’t burning properly, carbon monoxide can quickly build up to dangerous – even deadly – levels.

Carbon monoxide is created when the furnace fuel is not completely burned. That means fuel oils, natural gas, coal, wood, kerosene, gasoline, diesel fuel and charcoal can all be potential contributors to carbon monoxide. Dangerous levels of carbon monoxide can build up around furnaces, fireplaces, wood stoves, and also around gas water heaters, generators and in the garage if you are running an automobile.

According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, carbon monoxide is the number one cause of accidental poisoning in the United States. 1,500 people die from it every year and over 10,000 more are treated for symptoms at hospitals. Most of this is because the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning mimic those of common ailments like the flu.

Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning:

  • Dull headache
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Shortness of breath
  • Confusion
  • Blurred vision
  • Loss of consciousness

If you think you or your family are suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning, seek immediate medical attention.

Carbon Monoxide Detectors

The best way to protect your family from this type of poisoning is to install carbon monoxide detectors on every level of your home. If you cannot afford to put one on every level, place one in your sleeping area so it will wake you if there is a build-up while you are sleeping.

In addition to getting carbon monoxide detectors for your home, having a yearly furnace check and tune up is highly recommended. We will check your furnace for carbon monoxide off-gasing as well as for problems in your plenum and heat exchanger units. We’ll also check gas burning appliances like your water heater and dryer to make sure there are no leaks their either. If you have any questions about carbon monoxide, or need your furnace checked call My Plumber CA at (619) 447-5556 today.

 

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Why Zoning May Not Be the Best Option for Your Home

With humidity and temperatures on the rise each summer, it’s important to stay cool and hydrated. Your home may be difficult to cool down, especially if you live in the inland or desert areas of California. Luckily air conditioning, better known by the acronym AC, allows for the ventilation of cool, clean air throughout your home with a touch of a button. Most air conditioning units allow you to control the temperature, intensity, and duration of operation. The EIA reported that air conditioning systems are present in 87% of homes in the United States alone. Certainly, AC has become a luxury many people aren’t willing to forgo.

What is Zoning?

Replacing an air filterEver since modern air conditioning systems were invented in 1902, manufacturers have attempted to modify units to be energy efficient and friendly to the environment, with relative success. The Department of Energy estimates that heating and cooling amount to 40 percent of the average home’s utility costs, so energy efficient air conditioning systems will not only help the environment, but your wallet too. Some energy saving features that are present in current air conditioning systems are being able to detect when a set temperature is reached, powering off automatically to reduce energy waste, and running for a certain time period, which eliminates the problem of overuse.

A popular method that companies advertise will save you money is called zoning. Zoning involves the installation of multiple air vents and thermostats that wire to a universal control panel. The consumer can determine what rooms or zones (depending on the home’s layout and needs) receive cool air. This system may be attractive to people who feel some rooms in their home are stuffier than others and wish for more ventilation in those rooms as opposed to their entire house. For example, you may not want to waste money and energy air conditioning the guest room in your home if that room is empty. Depending on the size of your home, multiple air conditioning units may be necessary to keep up with the energy demand and delegate air to the different zones. Essentially, zoning does allow for more control over the distribution of air conditioning throughout your home, but may also require a costly installation and energy bill, if not used properly.

Zoning in on Energy Inefficiency

Woman needs more air conditioningWhile the concept of zoning is certainly a step in the right direction for energy efficiency, the way zoning is currently being implemented in homes is contradictory to the promise of energy efficiency.  The main problem with zoning is the need for multiple AC systems. Having multiple air conditioning units responsible for cooling one home is excessive and will result in a costly upfront installation fee. Furthermore, what happens if one unit breaks before the other? Do you only fix one unit or replace them both at the same time? It’s a vicious cycle of replacing and reinstalling that will eat up your wallet. Instead of adding more air conditioning units to cool your home, it may be more effective to update other areas of your home to allow better ventilation and circulation. For example, poor ductwork and insulation in your home prohibit the cool air to flow from your AC system and through your vents. In other words, the route that the cool air travels through is not adequately sealed to allow the air to flow through your vents and reach you. Updating the ductwork and insulation is usually a one-time expense that can have a major impact. An alternative to multiple units is installing adjustable vents that you may close in certain rooms. These vents will prohibit air from flowing into rooms you don’t want and allow more air to flow in the rooms you do want. Finally, something as simple as closing your blinds and windows while running your air conditioning will allow the air to stay in your home more effectively. Zoning may not be the best option for every consumer, so be sure to investigate other options before purchasing or updating your current AC system.

 

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Air Pollution: It’s Everywhere, Including Your Home

dusting a duct ventHave you ever come home after work to a stuffy, stagnant house? If you leave your windows closed during your workday, you are keeping the same air in your home all day. In the age of air conditioning and insulation, the classic saying “home is where the heart is” is no longer true. Homes are where recycled air, pollution, dust, and bacteria manifest. These pollutants may not be visible to the naked eye, but their short and long-term effects on your health prove their ever-present existence.

So, what can you do to ensure your home is as clean and safe as possible? The solutions are simpler than you may think.

Ventilate Your Home

One way to keep the air in your home clean is to increase fresh air intake. In California we are lucky to have beautiful, near perfect weather year-round, so for many homeowners, this may be the easiest solution. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) cites three ways that outside air can enter and exit your home: infiltration, natural ventilation, and mechanical ventilation. Infiltration occurs when air flows naturally through small openings in your home. Very little fresh air enters the home through this process, so it is important to practice the process of natural ventilation, in which air enters through open doors and windows. Mechanical ventilation, in contrast to the other two processes, requires the use of a fan or other air system that facilitates the removal of indoor air in exchange for fresh outdoor air. Whatever ventilation method you choose, your home is guaranteed to be cleaner and safer with the influx of fresh air.

Be Aware of the Signs and Symptoms of Irritation

As previously mentioned, the pollution present in your home is likely not visible, however your body will react to the pollution in many different ways. Some immediate reactions you or your family may experience are nose, throat, and eye irritation, fatigue, and headaches. These symptoms may become intensified if you or a loved one suffers from asthma, pneumonitis, or other respiratory ailments. Sometimes, the distress your body is experiencing due to air pollution may be mistaken for a cold, which further masks the problem of air pollution in your home and can result in unnecessary treatment. Eradicating air pollution from your home will allow you and your family to be healthier and happier in the long run.

cleaning the stoveBe Cognizant about Cleaning Your Home

We all have a designated cleaning day in our home. Dusting, vacuuming, and doing laundry are probably on your list of things to do, but at the end of the day, is your house really clean? For example, using a standard feather duster or a plain rag to dust just spreads the dust around your home. For more effective dusting, try using a dusting spray to trap and eradicate dust. Vacuuming your floors is an important way to keep your home clean as your carpet can trap dirt quite effectively. Look into investing in a new, well-filtered vacuum in order to eliminate any dust or dirt from escaping while you vacuum or when you try to power your vacuum on or off. Furthermore, a newer vacuum will prevent any unexpected bag overflows in your home. Finally, washing clothes and sheets more often will decrease the amount of dirt, bed bugs, and dust mites in your home. Try to group clothes and sheets together to limit the number of wash and dry cycles.

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Indoor Air Quality is Nothing to Sneeze At

In the rush to make all of our homes ultra efficient by sealing air leaks and creating an air-tight home environment, we have run into an unintended consequence – indoor air quality problems. The air quality inside our homes can be up to six times worse than the air outside. That’s six times the number of potential allergens and respiratory irritants.

Amber Wood, a program manager at the National Association of Home Builders Research Center puts it in layman’s terms, “You don’t have as much fresh air coming in, plus you’re bringing in all kinds of chemicals that are part of your furniture or are tracked in on the bottom of your shoes.” We’re bringing it in but it can’t get out.

Listen to the EPA

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the immediate effects of indoor air pollution can include, “irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat, headaches, dizziness, and fatigue.” Most of these will cease once you have left the polluted area. This is how you can tell the difference between an indoor air pollution problem and a head cold. The EPA also suggests that long term exposure can be linked to certain types of cancer, respiratory illness and heart disease.

People with asthma, humidity fevers or hypersensitivity pneumonitis can have their symptoms flare up after being in a home with poor indoor air quality. There is good news, though. A few changes to your monthly routine can lead to much better indoor-air quality and fewer days of sniffling and sneezing.

For Better Indoor Air Quality Buy a Better Furnace Filter Today

The first place to start to control indoor air pollution is with your air handler system. Consider purchasing a furnace filter with a MERV rating of 13. This will filter out over 90% of all allergens on a single pass. Higher rated filters are designed for commercial air handlers and can compromise the air flow in your residential system and lead to poor air filtration. Filters with lower ratings will not collect as many airborne particles and could even allow certain smaller irritants to pass clean through.

Vacuum With the Furnace Fan On

If you have an older vacuum or one without HEPA filtration, make sure you have your furnace fan turned on when you vacuum. The act of vacuuming stirs up dust in the carpet and sends it airborne. Not all of it gets sucked in by the vacuum. When you turn on the fan only mode of your furnace, the fan will suck dirty air through the return vents to the filtration system.

Purchase a New Vacuum

Consider a canister style HEPA filtered vacuum with both hard floor and carpet modes. The hard floor mode will turn off the spin brush while you are on hard surfaces so the dust won’t be kicked up into the air and reduce your indoor air quality. The HEPA filter will collect even the smallest debris and eave little, or no airborne particles. Empty the canister outdoors to prevent dust clouds from hovering in your home.

Use a Dusting Spray

If you dust with a dry rag all you are doing is moving dust from one place to another. Instead of letting it get airborne, use an electrostatic dusting spray or a misting bottle to create an adhesive surface on the dust. You’ll pick up more dust that way and less of it will be floating around to attack your nose.

Wash Your Sheets Every Week

If you are like the typical American you spend almost a third of your day in your bed. That means you are dropping skin cells on your pillow and bed sheets there more than anywhere else. This is food for dust mites. Dust mite excretions are one of the most prevalent lung irritants in the home and causes horrible indoor air quality in the bedroom. Washing your sheets and pillow cases in hot water once a week will keep the concentration of dust mites to a minimum and leave you sleeping more soundly.