Categories Heating & Cooling Systems, hvac efficiency, HVAC replacement, hvac system, hvac westminster md, quality hvac, Uncategorized

Time To Change Your HVAC?

5 Signs Telling You It’s Time

It’s old 

If you’ve clicked on this article, you might be experiencing an issue with the way your HVAC system performs. The first question your HVAC technician will ask during your service call is: How old is your HVAC system?

HVAC systems tend to have a lifespan of between 10-20 years. Systems that have been serviced regularly run longest and most efficiently. However, bear in mind that as a system ages, reduced efficiency and repairs become factors in your decisions moving forward. If your system is older than 10 years and you’re facing many medium-to-large repairs, HVAC replacement might be a better option.

It’s Inefficient 

You might notice your HVAC system’s inefficiency in the running costs, but you can also tell if your HVAC is not working properly by the following:

  • The amount of time the system is running or the fan is blowing 
  • If your system seems to struggle to keep the temperature consistent 
  • Evidence of  increased dust piles
  • A noticeable higher than comfortable humidity level 

While these issues might point to a specific HVAC issue, they can also impact the overall efficiency of your unit’s operation. Depending on the age or severity of the issue, you may find it’s time to replace your HVAC.

Cost to Run: Repairs & Monthly Bills 

Costly repairs or high monthly bills are two big reasons to consider HVAC replacement. Here’s a general rule for making the decision to repair vs. replace:  Replace your HVAC system if the repair costs are more than half of a new system. 

Monthly bills should also stay consistent year to year (while accounting for things like fuel cost increases and inflation). For example, if this summer you notice a substantial increase in your bills compared to last summer, this may indicate that something is going on with your HVAC system. 

To stop habitual repairs and costly monthly bills, replacement might be the way to go.

It’s the Wrong Size 

If your system can’t keep the whole house at a consistent temperature, can’t keep different rooms at the set temperature, or achieves a temperature so quickly that it shuts down mid-cycle, it might be the wrong size unit for your home. 

That’s right! HVAC systems are not one-size-fits-all and having the wrong size unit can lead to inefficient operations. To remedy this situation, you may want to consult an HVAC professional about getting your HVAC system replaced so that it’s the right size for your home. 

There are Odd Noises & Smells in Your House

Grinding, hissing, or clunking noises are not good sounds to hear while enjoying time in your home, especially if they are coming from your HVAC system. Loose or broken parts within  your unit can be to blame, especially with older HVAC systems. 

Burning, sour, or foul smells–also not good to be experiencing in your house–may be coming from your HVAC system if something is wrong. Mold, melting pieces, a fire, or a dead animal in the vents could all be the culprit. 

If you have an older HVAC system or it’s going to take a major repair to fix the sounds or smells coming from your HVAC system, a new HVAC system might be in order. 

Call Us

No matter what issue you’re experiencing, we can figure out the best course of action. At Exxel Mechanical Service, our team is ready to serve you. Call or email us today at (443) 821-1040 or bob@exxelmechanical.com. It would be our pleasure to see how we can help you.

Categories hvac efficiency, HVAC maintenance, hvac maryland, hvac system, hvac westminster md, Indoor Air Quality, quality hvac, Uncategorized

Is your HVAC to blame for your sniffles?

HVAC Allergies

If you’re prone to allergies, you might have mixed reactions about the coming of spring. The warm weather and pretty flowers are nice, but if you’re sneezing and coughing and not feeling well because of your allergies, they can be tough to enjoy. Going inside your home should be an escape from outside air contaminants, providing relief, right? 

A properly working HVAC system can help to rid the indoor air of the contaminants, providing that escape allergy-sufferers seek. By filtering and circulating the air, HVAC system rids dust from the home by catching it and keeps it from piling up by moving the air around. So, as long as the HVAC is properly working, you can rule out your HVAC system as the cause of your allergies. On the other hand, if you feel like you’re sneezing every time the air turns on, you may want to consider that your HVAC system isn’t working properly.

If your allergies are worse when you’re inside than when you’re outside during the spring (or anytime, for that matter), then consider what kind of indoor air pollutants are gathering in your house and how you can help your HVAC system do its job. 

Types of indoor air contaminants 

The most common types of indoor contaminants are dust mites, pet dander, combustion from cooking, and mold. Dust mites are distant relatives of ticks and spiders– tiny bugs whose waste and carcasses are found pretty much in every American home. That’s right– they don’t bite and generally leave us alone, but for the unlucky few affected by dust, it’s usually dead dust mites and their waste that are affecting those who are allergic . 

Pet dander is another allergen that is pretty disgusting to think about. Those who are bothered by allergies including pet dander are not typically allergic to their actual pet, but rather dried saliva, urine, and skin flakes that their pets spread about the house with scratching and shaking.

Combustion of any kind of material leads to emissions into the air. This includes smoking cigarettes and wood-burning fireplaces, but most commonly comes from cooking with oil or using gas stoves.

Another common allergen or pollutant in the house is mold, which grows in humid or damp areas or where water collects. Mold releases spores into the air which in turn grows more mold, causing allergy symptoms when these spores settle into dust piles. 

Pollen can also find its way indoors and collect in dust piles and circulating in the indoor air. Without a quality HVAC system or one that filters the air, the typical symptoms from pollen-induced allergies can result.

Less common household air pollutants 

Although less common, carbon monoxide, radon, disease-carrying animals and their waste, and bacterial infections and viruses can result in airborne contaminants with serious side effects. Normally you would determine the presence of one of these pollutants quite quickly, but it is possible for low levels of contaminants like these to contribute to allergy-like symptoms and other more serious symptoms. 

Sick or allergies?

It can be difficult to tell what’s going on when you have allergy symptoms, because of the multiple symptoms you may experience. If you’re really experiencing an allergic reaction to allergens in the air inside your home, you’ll typically have cold symptoms like a runny nose, sneezing, coughing, itchy or watery eyes, or an itchy throat. But it’s also possible to have headaches, a low-grade fever, or skin reactions like eczema. 

While you shouldn’t take our word for it— we’re HVAC doctors, not people doctors— it’s definitely worth following up if you have any of these persisting symptoms. If it is a reaction to some type of indoor air contaminant, your symptoms could worsen to the point of having trouble breathing or developing into something more serious than allergies. 

How to combat indoor air contamination 

  • Cleaning your HVAC system 

Inspecting and cleaning your HVAC system is a good first step to make sure it’s not part of the problem. 

Cleaning or replacing your air filters and cleaning the vents are the primary steps to making sure your HVAC system can do its job. Clogged air filters will strain the overall system. Dust in and around the vents only creates more clogging and blows around dusty air. 

You also might consider having your HVAC system professionally cleaned or at the very least inspected during a tune up. During a springtime tune up, an HVAC professional can check the parts you might not be able to access, cleaning inside the unit itself or the ductwork. 

  • Cleaning carpets and other fabrics

Vacuuming carpets and even couches and mattresses, washing any washable fabrics like stuffed animals and blankets, and keeping the home as dust-free as possible are the best ways to help your HVAC system to do its job.

  • Ventilation & air purifiers

The EPA recommends regular “natural ventilation” through open doors and windows. While you might think that keeping the pollen and other outdoor air pollutants out is the best option, fresh air is helpful for flushing out any pollutants that might have gathered indoors. 

Another great option for especially sensitive or allergy-prone people is an air purifier with a good filter. Air purifiers help HVAC systems do their job by removing allergens. The air circulated by the system is then more likely to be free of allergy-causing contaminants.

Replacing your HVAC system 

If your HVAC system is old and not effectively circulating or filtering the air in your home, if the ductwork is leaky or poorly constructed, or if an old thermostat is hindering your HVAC’s performance, it may be time to consider repairing or replacing your HVAC or affected units. Without good humidity control and air flow, allergens listed in this article can collect and air quality can suffer. 

Call us
Having a quality HVAC system that is working at peak capacity is one of the best ways to improve indoor air quality. At Exxel Mechanical Services, our priority is safety and comfort for you and your family, delivered through our expertise and attention to detail. Call or email us today at (443) 821-1040 or bob@exxelmechanical.com. It would be our pleasure to see how we can help you.

Categories Heating & Cooling Systems, hvac system

These are the most common home allergens – and how to use your HVAC system to reduce them

People with allergies might consider springtime the worst season, but the truth is allergens can be present indoors any time of year. In fact, depending on the type of allergens floating around your home, you might be experiencing more allergy symptoms during the winter or summer months when the HVAC is blowing air around. 

More than half of the homes in America have detectable levels of allergens including dust mites, dogs, cats, cockroaches, mice, and mold (source). With all the time spent inside, often with doors and windows closed tightly to keep the house energy efficient, allergens can run rampant. These allergens can cause the dreaded itching and sneezing (or even trigger more severe symptoms!) that we associate most commonly with pollen or other outdoor allergens. 

What are the most common allergens found in the home?

Dust mites 

Dust mites are one of the most common allergens in all American homes. They don’t bite but breathing them in causes serious irritation–especially if you are susceptible to respiratory issues like asthma. Dust mites, their waste, and the particles that remain from dead dust mites can all contribute to allergy symptoms.

Pet dander

Pet dander is another leading cause of allergies– which is not to say people are allergic to their pets. Rather, the dried saliva, urine, and skin flakes from the animal that gets into the dust around the house when they scratch or shake is what causes most allergic reactions. Furry pets are the most likely to present the allergens, although it is their dander, not their hair, which causes the allergic reactions.

Mold

The most common household mold is Alternaria, but many forms of mold can grow indoors when there is humidity, dampness, or water collecting anywhere (source). Mold releases spores into the air which can be inhaled or settle on wet areas and grow more mold. Like other allergens, mold can settle among house dust also causing allergy symptoms. Mold is common and not likely to cause serious symptoms, but people with allergies or who are immunocompromised, can have serious symptoms or reactions to indoor mold. There are also some forms of mold, such as black mold, which is toxic and can have serious effects on those exposed to it. 

Pollen

Pollen can easily get inside the house during the months when it’s covering everything outside. It can ride inside on pets’ fur and paws, or shoes and jackets left on once coming inside. Pollen grains from trees, grass, and weeds are small particles that get into the eyes, nose, and lungs and cause typical allergy symptoms. 

Fireplace, cooking, and cigarette smoke

Different emissions from burning wood, food, or tobacco products can lead to coughing and other allergy symptoms. When using a wood burning fireplace, using a gas range, cooking food in oil and butter, or smoking cigarettes, these emissions have an impact on the air quality inside the house. 

Best ways to get rid of allergens in your home

The sources of many of these allergens most often come from the fabric in wall-to-wall carpets, furniture, stuffed animals, or bed linens. Often, allergens are trapped on or in these materials and are released when they’re used. Pets and damp areas are major culprits for home allergens. 

Aside from using your HVAC system to rid your home of allergens, which we will discuss next, it’s important to engage in regular cleaning of rugs, furniture, and bedding. Washing all items that can be machine-washed in the washing machine with hot water and vacuuming surfaces with HEPA filter vacuums will greatly reduce allergen levels in your home. 

For allergens like emissions, a good ventilation system or cracking a window can have a huge effect on getting rid of those reactions. Cleaning surfaces is important too, as chemicals can get stuck on hard surfaces and fabrics long after the smoke has cleared.

How to use your HVAC to get rid of allergens 

The best ways HVAC systems fight allergens is by continuously moving air through its filters and ducts throughout the house to prevent the buildup of dust, and by removing humidity from the air so that allergens like mold will not grow. 

It might seem like, “Wow, that’s it?” It’s true that removing allergens from the air and preventing them from growing in the house, in addition to thoroughly cleaning fabric surfaces, is the easiest and most important way to get rid of the common allergens found inside. Making sure you clean or replace your HVAC filters regularly and ensuring humidity levels are where they should be are ways to keep your HVAC doing its job of cleaning the air for you.

If you want your HVAC system to do more, you can consider upgrading your filters or your HVAC system or adding an air purifier that works in tandem with your HVAC system. Depending on how new or high quality your HVAC system and its filter are, the more it will be able to do in the way of cleaning and purifying the air. High quality filters rated MERV 11 or higher, with proper cleaning and replacement, remove allergens like pollen from the air. You might also consider adding additional air purifiers that work alongside your HVAC system so that the HVAC system is spreading extra-treated air with allergens removed throughout your home.

Common reactions or symptoms from exposure to household allergens & treatments 

You might not have considered the fact that your cold or cold symptoms could be coming from poor indoor air quality. Allergy symptoms include: 

  • Stuffy nose 
  • Sneezing
  • Coughing 
  • Dripping, clear, thin mucus
  • Itchy nose and eyes 
  • Wheezing and chest tightness 

If you appear to have a nagging cold or symptoms listed, you might consider if it’s actually allergens in your home triggering these issues. Simple things you might try are cleaning the filter on your HVAC system and doing a major cleaning of all major dust-trapping fabrics like couches and rugs. 

Call us
Keeping your HVAC system running smoothly is the best way to clear the allergens from inside your home. At Exxel Mechanical Service, our team is ready to serve you. Call or email us today at (443) 821-1040 or bob@exxelmechanical.com. It would be our pleasure to see how we can help you

Categories Heating & Cooling Systems, hvac efficiency, Indoor Air Quality, quality hvac

Ways to Increase HVAC Air Quality

One of the many benefits of a first-rate HVAC system is that you can rely on it to improve the air quality in your home. During the winter or summer when you’re unable to crack a window for fresh outside air, you want to be able to know your HVAC is doing one of its many jobs: keeping the air fresh and contaminant-free. 

What do we mean when we say contaminant-free? We’re talking about eliminating all kinds of contaminants regularly linger in the air, including: 

  • excess moisture,
  • smoke from a fireplace, cooking or cigarettes,
  • regular house dust and dust from home renovations,
  • pet dander,
  • pollen. 

More serious air contaminants or pollutants include mold, bacteria, carbon monoxide, asbestos, or lead particles. If any of these types of contaminants are an issue in your house, you need to address them through more direct means than simply relying on an effective HVAC unit. However, for the “every day” contaminants such as those listed above, an HVAC system in good working order can improve and maintain air quality. 

To make sure your HVAC is circulating healthy air around your home, consider these 4 ways to improve air quality inside your home.

  1. Clean your air filters

When researching the question of how to make your HVAC system work better, the most common answer you’ll find is to clean or replace your air filters. Not only are clean filters able to pull more dust and other contaminants out of the air, but they won’t block air flow which increases the problem of dust and other particles collecting all over your house.

Full or clogged air filters can also damage your HVAC unit. Dirty filters make the HVAC system work harder and can even lead to broken parts or even a total unit breakdown. When it comes to air quality, it’s important to consider clean air filters your go-to for keeping the air fresh in your home.

Another consideration is the use of the correct air filter for your HVAC system. While having your HVAC serviced, ask your HVAC technician if there’s a preferred filter type or size for catching more particles and keeping your air cleaner. 

  1. Check on ductwork & other components of the HVAC system

The air conditioned by your HVAC system flows through your ductwork. Keeping your ductwork clean is another way to combat contaminants from growing and blowing around your house. Dust or even mold can build up inside ductwork (especially if the ducts were not installed well). During a tune up with an HVAC technician, ensure that the ducts are examined and given a good cleaning. 

Another area of the HVAC system that is prone to getting dirty with potential mold or bacteria is the coil inside the HVAC system. It’s possible to install special ultraviolet lights that can kill any growth inside the unit, making the system more efficient as well. 

During tune ups, the HVAC technician will also clean unit parts like the air handlers, grills, fans, and motors. These are functional parts of the HVAC unit that should only be handled and cleaned by a professional. Keeping your HVAC system and ductwork clean is one of the best ways to make sure the air blown through the system is also clean.

  1. Make use of air purifiers

You might consider using multiple means of cleaning the air, aside from your HVAC system, to improve air quality and reduce the strain on your HVAC system. The use of plants, cooking vents in the kitchen, air purifiers, humidifiers or dehumidifiers are all helpful tools to keep the air fresh. Whether you are fond of cooking foods in oil or butter, or you have a full house requiring daily showers and extra loads of laundry causing increased humidity or are enduring an especially frigid winter leading to cracking dry skin because there’s no humidity – all these place additional strain on your HVAC system. Whatever stress may be placed on your air quality, your HVAC system will thank you (through the longevity of the heating and cooling units) if you take steps to mitigate air quality issues through creative means.

  1. Run the fan more often 

Running your HVAC system’s fan more often can also help with air quality. Depending on the age of your thermostat, you should be able to turn the fan to the “on” mode. If it’s a newer, programmable thermostat, you may have the option to set the fan to remain on for a certain number of minutes per hour. 

While keeping the fan on can cost more on your utility bill or even bother you due to the sound of the fan running, it can help to filter the air as it will run the air through the air filters. But remember that if you are running the fan more often, you might need to clean or change the air filters more often. 

Keep efficiency in mind

Air quality is certainly important, especially if you live with someone who is immunocompromised or has a respiratory issue like asthma. And the Covid-19 pandemic made us more aware of airborne contaminants and ventilation than ever before. We need to think about air quality and controlling contaminants that might be getting into indoor air.

It’s also important to note that air quality also impacts the efficiency of your HVAC system. Air filters clogged with dust or pet dander can cause issues within the whole system, and high humidity will strain the system as it tries to keep it under control. Keeping the air clean helps your HVAC system heat and cool more effectively.

Call us 

Indoor air quality is an important part of a working HVAC system. Our HVAC technicians have experience with a variety of air quality problems, and we’re ready to answer your questions and provide solutions.
Exxel Mechanical serves a 30-mile radius of Winfield, Maryland, serving Westminster, Owings Mills, and Frederick. Our reputation in this area precedes us, as we pride ourselves on placing our customer as our highest priority. Call us today at (443) 821-1040, and it would be our pleasure to see how we can help you.

Categories Heating & Cooling Systems

What HVAC signs to watch for when buying an old home

Old houses have tons of charm that you rarely find in newly built houses. But unlike a newer home, buying an old house often comes with more risk. Does the house contain lead paint? Do the appliances in the kitchen look like they were purchased in a previous century? And most important, is the HVAC system in good working condition? Or does the house even have central AC? 

HVAC systems tend to need replacement between 15 and 20 years. Even if the HVAC system works, it has been proven that newer systems are far more efficient and will cost you less in utility bills over time. This article discusses important considerations when buying an older house with an old HVAC system so that you can weigh your HVAC options.

Inspection & other questions to ask

The most important “first step” is to make sure the home inspector takes a thorough look at the home’s HVAC system. Even though this is already part of the overall inspection, having knowledge about the specific aspects of the HVAC inspection will help you to ask the right questions. Additionally, you might even consider hiring an HVAC professional to check out the system if you are serious about buying the house. When getting the home inspected or at some other point during the due diligence period, find out:

  • Is there any noticeable damage or issues with the HVAC system?
  • Can you review any maintenance or service documents or records?
  • What is the energy rating on the system?
  • What kind of ductwork (or lack thereof) exists?
  • What kind of thermostat operates the system? 
  • How much does a new HVAC system cost to install?

If you do have an HVAC professional come in for a review, consider researching common issues with HVAC systems in advance and asking in-depth questions about the system.

Use the info you collected to negotiate 

Using all the information you’ve gathered about the status of the HVAC system, you now have leverage with the seller. Your realtor should be well-versed in these types of negotiations and what might be considered a good offer. Options may include: 

  • Asking the seller to lower the price of the house
  • Asking the seller to include a home warranty in case any problems occur with HVAC in the first year 
  • Asking the seller to upgrade aspects of the HVAC system 
  • Asking the seller to have the HVAC system serviced 

Call us

If you need to have an HVAC system checked out, call us! At Exxel Mechanical Services, we are happy to make sure a potential home’s HVAC system is in good condition for you. We serve a 30-mile radius of Winfield, Maryland, serving Westminster, Owings Mills, and Frederick. Our reputation in this area precedes us, as we pride ourselves on placing our customer as our highest priority. Call or email us today at (443) 821-1040 or bob@exxelmechanical.com. It would be our pleasure to see how we can help you.