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 Furnace, Heating & Cooling Systems, home heating system, HVAC maintenance

Signs your HVAC System is Wasting Energy

When you consider your biggest expenses every year, heating and cooling your home will inevitably be high on that list. The last thing you need is to be spending more to heat and cool your home. These are the three biggest things to watch out for that indicate your HVAC unit is wasting energy. 

High bills

Inflation, natural gas price increases, drastic temperature changes…all of these can increase the cost of your utility bill and are beyond your control. But a sharp or unexplainable increase in your bill might mean that your HVAC unit is struggling or wasting energy. Whether caused by dirty filters, leaky ducts, or broken parts, any unattended repair or maintenance task can lead to poor performance and higher bills. 

Air temperature or quality seems off

The temperature should not be vastly different in various rooms (unless your system is designed to heat and cool different areas). In addition, you should not feel as though the air is wet or sticky—indicating high humidity. Whether it’s a broken or faulty thermostat, something malfunctioning within the unit, or simply an outdated and inefficient unit, noticing something off with the room temperature or humidity is a good clue that your system is wasting energy. 

A system that’s always on

Long cycles or a system that seems like it’s always on is not running as efficiently as possible. It could be that your system is not appropriate for the size of your home, is getting old, or has developed a blockage restricting air flow. Whatever the issue, if you notice that your system is constantly running, you have a system that is wasting energy.

Call us 

If you feel like your HVAC system is costing you more than it should to run, call the experts at Exxel Mechanical Services! It’s always better to have your HVAC system checked out rather than needlessly spend money for an inefficient system. Call (443) 821-1040 or email bob@exxelmechanical.com.

Categories hvac contracts, HVAC maintenance, hvac service plan

Are HVAC Maintenance Service Contracts Worth the Money?

A maintenance service contract is a common offering from HVAC companies when installing or servicing HVAC systems. Since you never know if you’ll have issues with your HVAC system, and repairs can be costly, service contracts can be like having an insurance plan for your HVAC system. Service contracts often include periodic or seasonal maintenance, discounted parts, inclusive emergency repairs, and priority service in times of emergency. But is a service contract worth it?

Ask the tough questions

When considering a service contract, be sure to ask your HVAC company exactly what is included in the contract, and then compare these features against the non-contract fees for servicing or emergency repairs (including parts) for your specific HVAC system. Some contracts can cost as little as $150 a year, others are more expensive but offer more. The cost vs. services included analysis is a good place to start. 

Next, ask your HVAC professional specific questions to make sure you completely understand what services you are receiving with the maintenance service contract.

Relevant questions may include:

  • Does the service contract cover seasonal maintenance only, or does it also cover emergency visits or as-needed repairs? 
  • What does a routine maintenance visit entail? 
  • What is covered specifically– for example, parts and labor for tune up visits only or are these included for emergency services as well?
  • What is the typical cost of repairs for my HVAC system? 
  • What is a typical emergency repair or issue for HVAC systems in my area? 

Conducting an informed costs, benefits, and risks analysis for your unique situation will help you make a decision that not only makes sense but also makes you feel good about your decision.

The benefits

One of the biggest benefits in opting for a service contract is the money saving aspect, should you require an unexpected HVAC repair. However, an additional benefit is the fact that a maintenance service contract guarantees you will take better care of your HVAC system. Why? Because having clean air filters and nipping any issues in the bud with a routine maintenance check are a couple of the best ways to save money through energy efficiency or preventing a total HVAC emergency repair or even replacement. 

At Exxel Mechanical Services we always stress to our clients that taking care of an HVAC system will make it more energy efficient and last longer, which saves you money in the long run. 

If you have a spacious house with a large HVAC system, if you don’t enjoy performing routine maintenance to your HVAC system yourself, if potential cost savings is important to you… an annual service contract could be a great option for you. 

Call us

Give us a call! Our experienced team can discuss our different offerings with you, and we will be happy to see if a service contract seems like the right move for you. 
Exxel Mechanical Services 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.