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Indoor Air Quality Tips & Advice
Indoor Air Quality

Indoor Air Quality (43)

Tips and advice to keep the air in your home comfortable and healthy.
VOCs, or Volatile Organic Compounds, are gases emitted by solids or liquids inside the home. The sources of VOCs in the home are numerous and include:
  • Household cleaning products
  • Paints and varnishes
  • Wood preservatives
  • Wax that contain organic solvents
  • Disinfectants
  • Cosmetics
  • Hobby products
All of these products can release organic compounds while you are using them, and to a lesser degree when they are stored.The possible health effects of exposure to VOCs include:
  • Eye, nose and throat irritation
  • Headaches
  • Loss of coordination and nausea
  • Liver and kidney damage
  • Central nervous system damage
  • Some VOCs are also suspected carcinogens
The extent of the health effects depend on many factors such as the level and length of exposure. According to the EPA, concentrations of VOCs ( indoors are up to 10 times higher than outdoors. So what can you do to limit your family's exposure to potentially harmful VOCs? The EPA recommends taking the following steps:
  • Use good ventilation when using products that emit VOCs
  • Read and follow product instructions and warnings carefully
  • Store opened containers of unused products in a safe location and ensure they are tightly sealed and not leaking
  • If a product is leaking, discard of the container as directed. Do not transfer the contents to another container
  • Plywood furniture and flooring should be sealed to reduce potential exposure to formaldehyde
Did you know that nearly 40 percent of the conditioned air from your central heating and cooling system may not be making it to the rooms it is supposed to reach? The main culprit is leaking air ducts. It's often the reason some rooms never feel comfortable and the furnace or AC runs seems to run longer than it should, wasting energy and costing you money.

Your home's ductwork is full of joints, curves and creases that can allow air to leak out. A professional HVAC technician can identify these leaks and offer solutions for providing tighter, improved airflow throughout the home. One option is professional duct sealing. Duct sealing involves measuring the rate of air entering and returning in through the HVAC system.

The first step to fixing air duct leaks is to have ABC inspect the efficiency of your HVAC system. We can identify any problem areas and recommend solutions to reduce air leaks. We offer advanced diagnostics and high performance AeroSeal® duct sealing to help your heating and cooling system operate at peak efficiency.
If you have ever removed a cover on a heat register you may have noticed how dirty the inside of air ducts can be. One of the best ways to keep your air ducts clean is to replace the furnace air filter regularly. When filters become clogged they allow dust to pass through them into your ductwork. Most 1" pleated filters should be replaced every month.

If someone in your household suffers from allergies or upper respiratory ailments, duct cleaning can help to ensure that airborne dust and mold are kept to a minimum. If dust or debris is visible coming through the vents while the air conditioner of furnace is running, or mold is seen growing on air registers, duct cleaning is recommended.

Have questions about air duct cleaning or other indoor air quality issues? Call ABC Plumbing, Heating, Cooling and Electric. We can help clean the air in your home.
As the cold weather settles in a whole house humidifier can help make the air in your home healthier and more comfortable. However, as with the heating system, a humidifier needs regular maintenance to ensure it operates reliably. Here are some items to check:

1. Drain Line – Ensure it is clean and free of obstructions. Over time minerals and algae can buildup and clog the line.

2. Replace the Media Panel. The media panel, or water panel, works by mixing water with the flow of hot air from the furnace. Most manufacturers recommend replacing the panel at least twice a season. If you allow the media panel to stay in the humidifier for too long, it will reduce the performance of the unit and potentially harbor unhealthy mold and bacteria.

3. Clean the Fan. Also clean off the fan’s intake vent and enclosure.

4. Check the Solenoid Valve – The solenoid valve allows water to flow through to the humidifier. When the unit is operating, ensure the the valve is opening and that water is flowing.

Finally, when the warm weather returns in the spring, remember to turn off the humidifier and discard the used media panel.

Need help with your whole house humidifier? Call ABC Plumbing, Heating, Cooling and Electric. We can help with all your indoor air quality needs.

Electrostatic air filters are made of multiple layers of vented metal. As the air passes through the layers, the molecules become positively charged by the friction between the air and the filter. This positive charge causes dirt particles in the air to cling to the metal surfaces of the filter, preventing most dirt from passing through to the furnace and air ducts.

Advantages of Electrostatic Air Filters

The main advantage of electrostatic air filters is that they are reusable, and therefore can save money over time. When the filter becomes dirty, you simply vacuum or hose it off. While the up-front cost is more than most disposable media filters, they should last a long time.

Disadvantages of Electrostatic Air Filters

There are several important disadvantages to electrostatic air filters. First, high quality disposable media filters are usually more effective at removing fine dirt particles. Second, because they charge the air, any dirt that makes it through the filter will cling to air conditioner coils and air ducts, causing dirt to accumulate, and potentially causing air quality issues. Finally, a standard media filter is simple to dispose of and replace, while electrostatic air filters require time to clean off.

Have questions about furnace air filters? Call ABC Plumbing, Heating, Cooling and Electric, we can help.
In older homes, winter humidity problems often mean excessively dry air that requires adding humidity to the air. In newer homes, however, outdoor air does not circulate as easily through the home because of tighter construction, better insulation and improved sealing of windows and doors. The result can be excess humidity that leads to fogged windows and the potential for moisture damage.

The most effective way to manage wintertime moisture problems and maintain healthy indoor air quality is to ensure adequate ventilation. This means having supply and exhaust ventilation that allows for sufficient air circulation to remove humid air. Types of ventilation systems include bathroom fans, kitchen range hoods, roof vents, etc. In addition, fresh air inlets can be installed to supply fresh air to bedrooms and other living areas.

Because there are many factors that affect the amount of ventilation needed to correct wintertime moisture problems – including the size of the home, the number of occupants, the natural ventilation rate, and potential sources of moisture – you should consult with a home heating and cooling expert before attempting to correct the problem yourself.

Have excessive moisture or other indoor air quality problems? Call ABC Plumbing, Heating, Cooling and Electric, we can evaluate your home and provide effective solutions.
Did you know that humidity is a bigger problem for Fido than it is for humans? Sure, we might feel hot and uncomfortable when there’s too much moisture in the air, but it can have some serious health effects on our pets. See below to find out why you need to keep humidity levels low this summer:

Cat person? Dog person? Somewhere in between? It doesn’t make a difference when it comes to protecting your pet. After all, we love our furry friends and want them to feel comfortable at all times. For this reason, it’s important to understand the effects humidity can have and how you can combat them to keep your pets healthy.

Why is humidity bad? Heat mixed with humidity make it difficult for pets to pant. This is how they cool themselves down by exchanging warm air in their lungs with cool air outside. What can you do to keep them cool? Running the air conditioner all day can be costly. However, just like humans, pets prefer to be in cooler settings.

You need to find a balance. We recommend keeping your thermostat between 72 and 80 degrees. This will help keep your pets cool while preventing the air conditioner from working too hard. The result? A happy pet, a healthier environment and some money left in your bank account.

Every home is unique and represents the dreams of the family that lives there. And yes, your pets are part of your family! It’s a place where memories are made and lives are shared. Your home provides comfort and a place of safety.

One call makes it simple. For over 60 years, ABC has been providing plumbing, heating, cooling and electrical services to homes all across Chicagoland. At ABC, our people provide professional service with a personal touch.
It’s that time of year again where warmer weather and high humidity levels are upon us. For lots of homeowners in the Chicagoland area, it’s not the temperatures that get the best of us - we can deal with the heat. What makes everything worse is the humidity. Keeping your home comfortable all season long begins with a clean and properly functioning dehumidifier.

Step 1: The first action required when cleaning your appliance is removing the collection bucket, emptying it out and cleaning it off with a soft cloth. Check for mold and mildew and be sure to wipe away any excess mineral buildup.

Step 2: Next, check the filter. This is where dirt and dust collects and in most cases, you can simply run it under warm water to clean it off. Just be sure to check the owner’s manual because not every system is the same.

Step 3: Finally, remove the outer cover and take a look at the coils and the fan blades. Use a small brush to clean the interior parts and wipe them clean with a damp cloth. Then reattach the cover and insert the filter and reservoir.

Now that your dehumidifier is spick and span, you’re on your way to a cooler, more comfortable home.

Have questions about your home’s dehumidifier? Considering making the upgrade to a whole-house system? Whatever the case may be, the experts at ABC are here to help! Give us a call today!
When an air conditioner is running, the condenser, located inside the home, creates condensation that accumulates into a pan before emptying down a condensation drain tube. If the tube becomes clogged, water can accumulate in the pan, allowing unhealthy mold and mildew to grow. By checking the drain pain occasionally and taking some basic maintenance steps you can prevent mold from growing.

Important: Before doing any work near the air conditioner always turn off the power first.
  1. If you notice water accumulating in the evaporator pan, check to see if the drain line is obstructed with debris. Use a wire to clear the tub if needed.
  2. Clean out the evaporator pan with hot soapy water, a small amount of bleach, and a sponge.
  3. Pour bleach through the pan's condensate tube to kill mold and algae, which can clog the tube and cause the pan to overflow. Check the tube's outside end to make sure it's draining freely.
  4. To prevent future mold and algae growth, place a chlorine tablet, the kind used for hot tubs, in the evaporator pan.
Have questions about maintaining your air conditioner? Give us a call, we're here to help.
Did you know that air fresheners and household bathroom sprays may actually be making the air inside your home toxic? Believe it or not, there are lots of items you use in your home on a daily basis that can be detrimental to your health. It’s time to kick them to the curb and start breathing fresher, cleaner air today!

While your house might be filled with harmful airborne pollutants, by making a few simple changes you’ll be well on your way to chemical-free air.

  1. Keep your HVAC filters clean. Especially now that we are entering the cooling season, it’s vital to clean the filters at least once a month. This will help get rid of pollen, dust and other allergens.
  2. Get rid of bathroom sprays and synthetic fragrances. Although they may make the air smell good, they’re actually filling it with chemicals. Most household fragrances contain phthalates and other volatile organic chemicals.
  3. Avoid burning candles made of paraffin wax. Opt for soy candles instead - they burn cleaner and won’t release harmful chemicals.
  4. Bring a few plants inside. Gerbera daisies, Aloe vera and a number of other succulents can help remove toxins from the air. They can also help brighten up the kitchen, living room or bathroom.
  5. Air it out. On sunny days where humidity and pollen levels are low, it’s not a bad idea to crack open a few windows to let in some fresh air.
At ABC, our indoor air quality specialists are highly skilled and they understand heating, cooling and ventilation. We don’t just treat the symptoms, we get right to the source by performing an in-depth evaluation of the quality of the air in your home. So relax, and don’t be afraid to take a deep breath. Give us a call us today to learn more!
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