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 hvac efficiency, Indoor Air Quality

Why you should care about indoor air quality in 2022

Since mid-2020, we have thought about indoor air quality more than ever before. Due to fears about viruses and the spread of illnesses, you may have seen an increase in the use of air purifiers indoors. Whether in medical offices, schools, or businesses, people have taken steps to ensure the air inside is cleaner. 

But the truth is, air quality has always been important to monitor, and viruses aren’t even the biggest offenders when it comes to poor air quality. Scary pollutants can include noxious gasses, while dust, pet dander, and mold are among the top culprits for poor indoor air quality. Each of these pollutants can start or worsen health issues. 

Why you should care about indoor air quality

If you or anyone in your family is immunocompromised or has any respiratory issues— the most common being asthma— then you are already aware how extremely important air quality is for ensuring their health. Small dust particles, fumes from cooking or smoking, excess humidity… any of these can be devastating for someone already struggling with respiratory problems. 

On the other hand, you might consider yourself and your family members to be perfectly healthy. However, poor air quality in your home can still affect your health. 

Maintaining indoor air quality 

The EPA recommends ventilating indoor spaces with fresh outdoor air, using HVAC systems with good filters (that are cleaned or changed regularly!), and using air purifiers as ways to improve indoor air quality. The EPA published this guide in 2018 on how to choose air cleaners for improving indoor air quality in the home. The guide details how different cleaners or systems work and which options are available. 

Call us

Make sure your indoor air quality is good and that your HVAC system is contributing to the circulation of healthy air by calling in the professionals at Exxel Mechanical Services. An HVAC professional will be able to examine areas in your system that might be contributing to air pollutants and ensure that your HVAC system does its part in keeping your air clean.
Call or email us at Exxel Mechanical Services 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 hvac efficiency, hvac westminster md, Indoor Air Quality, quality hvac

How indoor air quality affects hvac efficiency

When you think about bad air quality, you might think about factories billowing smog, or fires causing clouds of smoke in the air. While pollution and outdoor air quality is a health consideration, indoor air quality– the air circulating in sealed homes and buildings– is also extremely important and often overlooked, as most people spend the most of their days inside. 

Cleaning the air: the importance of HVAC systems

As Covid-19 spread, many of us have turned our attention to improving ventilation knowing that the air we breathe in sealed environments can truly impact our health. When it comes to indoor air quality, the biggest offenders that we concern ourselves with are humidity, dust, carbon monoxide, and radon. Other culprits we might not think of immediately (from this list from the EPA) include: smoke from cigarettes, cooking emissions, or dust from remodeling. And as the pandemic showed us, viral contaminants are also factors in air quality. 

HVAC systems are vitally important when it comes to reducing these air quality contaminants. They filter, condition, and circulate the air. But what happens to HVAC systems when there is an excess of contaminants in the air?

Poor air quality and the impact on HVAC systems

While we rely on HVAC systems to clean the indoor air, we should also be aware that an overabundance of contaminants will make HVAC systems work harder. For example, excess humidity increases the workload on an AC unit, forcing the unit to work harder and longer to achieve low humidity to make your home comfortable. Another example is cigarette and other smoke, which causes air filters to get clogged. Clogged filters make it difficult for air to flow, making the unit work overtime.

When it comes to indoor air quality, we expect our HVAC system to be doing the work. Understanding the ways you can improve air quality in your home or office will help your HVAC system do its job, become more energy efficient, and have an extended life. 

Contact us!

If you have children or older adults in the home, someone with asthma or other immunocompromised health issues, or if you simply notice the air quality in your home or workplace seems off, it’s worthwhile to have a professional check it out. 

Whether adding a dehumidifier or air purifier, having your air filters or ductwork cleaned or replaced, or servicing or replacing your entire HVAC system to remedy a poorly functioning system that is cycling bad air, our professionals can provide insight on the issue you are facing. Even a simple fix can make a substantial improvement to your air quality. 
Indoor air quality is important! 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 Indoor Air Quality

6 Tips to Improve Indoor Air Quality in the Spring

Many of us are spending more time than usual at home, and whether you’re working remotely or enjoying time with family instead of heading out on the town, the air you’re breathing in matters. While most of us associate air quality with the air outside, the air inside of your home is also critical to your health. Taking time to improve indoor air quality will ensure that the only thing you are breathing in is fresh, clean and healthy air. How can you improve your air quality in just a few steps?

1.    Use Green Cleaning Methods

One of the best ways to improve indoor air quality is paying close attention to the things that you are putting into the air inside of your home. Whenever you are cleaning around your house, remember that most fragrances are chemicals. The fresh pine or citrus scent that our brains naturally associate with a space being clean is just in products to cover up the harsh chemical scent underneath. Pay close attention to the cleaning products that you use and focus on ones that use natural scents, like essential oils, if you prefer scented products.

2.    Don’t Forget Your Air Ducts

The air ducts in your home are responsible for delivering air conditioned air and heat throughout your home. If they are filled with dust, debris and other allergens, those will be pushed throughout your home any time that you turn on your air conditioning. To improve indoor air quality, take care to have your air ducts cleaned regularly. Professional air duct cleaning is the easiest hands-off way to ensure a thorough cleaning without doing it yourself.

3.    Change Your Filters

At Exxel Mechanical Services, one of the problems we often encounter when checking over HVAC systems is old filters. The filters in your system help to improve indoor air quality in your home, and they are particularly important when you are running your air conditioning unit frequently in the spring and summer. Depending on how many pets are in your home and the baseline air quality, you should plan on changing your indoor air filter every 30-90 days. Make a habit of checking your filter once a month so that you understand how dirty it is at any given time.

The filters and screens you should check to ensure great air quality include:

  • HVAC filters
  • HEPA filters
  • Vacuum cleaner filters
  • Bathroom fan exhaust fan grilles

If you haven’t scheduled an HVAC tune-up yet, spring is the perfect time to do so. Exxel Mechanical Services can come to your home this spring to ensure that your air conditioner is ready for the summer ahead.

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4.    Enjoy Your Houseplants

Houseplants are one of the most fun ways to decorate your home, and they are also great for the air quality indoors. Houseplants help to filter out air pollutants in your home, and if you use one plant per 100 square feet inside of your home, you can achieve a noticeable amount of air purification. Some of the best plants for filtering the air inside of your home include:

  • Aloe vera
  • Spider plants
  • English ivy
  • Ficus
  • Weeping fig
  • Gerber daisies
  • Azaleas
  • And more!

5.    Maintain the Right Humidity Level

A home that is too humid or too dry is more likely to experience air quality issues, so investing in a humidifier and dehumidifier can do the trick. Humidity levels that are at or below 55% should ensure the best possible indoor air quality in the spring. You should avoid letting the air get too dry and falling below 40%, or you might experience dry eyes, bloody noses or skin that feels perpetually dry. If you aren’t sure how dehumidification or humidification could be integrated in with your HVAC system, be sure to ask your professional at Exxel Mechanical Solutions. We are here to help make your home as comfortable as possible.

6.    Schedule Preventative Maintenance

One of the best ways to keep your system running smoothly all year long is with preventative maintenance. Many issues that snowball into repairs could be identified and repaired before you are suddenly without air conditioning on a hot summer morning. Failing to invest in preventative maintenance can mean parts wearing out and eventually causing problems that require significant repairs or even the replacement of the entire unit.

If you are looking for an easy way to take care of your preventative maintenance and avoid costly downtime, Exxel Mechanical Services offers exclusive maintenance agreements that include annual inspection, priority service, customer service and the expertise you expect from our HVAC contractors. Our different maintenance plans are offered in two tiers, silver and gold, to meet your needs and adjust for the age of your HVAC unit. Our base plan includes a detailed inspection of the inside and outside of your unit and a discount on parts, while our gold plan gives you a major discount on any parts and labor that you require. We are here to support you through the year and take care of all of your A/C maintenance needs, as well as performing repairs when necessary. To improve indoor air quality, you need the right partners to keep your system maintained, and we are here to help you with that.

How Can I Improve Indoor Air Quality at My Home?

Exxel Mechanical Services is here to support all of our residential and commercial clients and keep their HVAC systems in excellent condition, as well as help you improve indoor air quality at your property. We are always available to help assess your system, provide you with a free quote or come out to restore your heat or air conditioning in the event of an emergency. To learn more or get a free quote, call us at 443-821-1040 or email us at bob@exxelmechanical.com. We look forward to keeping your family comfortable.