What is a HEPA Filter and Why it is So Important.

During the hot summer months, you often hear more about outdoor air quality – especially in areas that have higher levels of pollution and smog in the air. In their recent State of the Air 2014 report, the Heart and Lung Association found that 147.6 million Americans live in areas where particle pollution or smog are at levels that make breathing the outdoor air dangerous. When the air outside is dangerous, you need to focus on providing cleaner, healthier air quality inside your home. One of the most efficient ways of doing so is to use whole house HEPA filters.

  • What is a HEPA Filter?

HEPA stands for High Efficiency Particulate Air. Originally introduced and developed during WW2 as a “top secret” method to protect against biological, radiological, and chemical warfare, these filters are designed to filter the air you breathe to reduce the number of allergens and pollutants. There are two different categories for HEPA filters that determine their effectiveness at removing harmful pollutants:

True HEPA – True HEPA filters go through a testing and certification process to make sure that they provide a 99.97% filtering efficiency for removing pollutants and allergens in the air.

HEPA Type – HEPA type filters do not go through a testing process to prove their efficiency. These filters are typically cheaper than True HEPA filters, and only remove around 85-90% of the allergens that pass through them.

  • Why are HEPA Filters so Important?

Did you know that the air in your home is considered to be one of top five health risks in the environment by the Heart and Lung Association? Your indoor air is filled with dust, pet dander, molds, bacteria, cigarette smoke, dust mites, and other particles. These particles pose significant health risks, including:

  • Increased Allergies
  • Higher Risk of Asthma Attacks
  • Breathing Problems
  • Heart Disease
  • Respiratory Diseases
  • Cancer

HEPA filters are designed to trap pollutants as small as .3 microns, which are considerably smaller than the particles that your nose and throat can actually filter. If these tiny pollutants are not filtered out of the air in your home, they end up deep in your lungs, where they can cause significant damage and health risks.

While proper cleaning can help to lessen the amount of these pollutants and the health risks associated with them, it cannot get rid of them completely. Additionally, the poor quality outdoor air also enters your home as well, which can make these issues even worse. This is why HEPA filters are so important.

Whole house HEPA filters remove the allergens and harmful particles in your home’s air, creating a much healthier indoor environment for you and your family. If you want to make sure that the air you breathe inside is as clean as possible, a whole house HEPA filtration system is the best option.

Original article written by Mr. Duct Cleaning

Is Cheaper Better?

With the cost of living continuously on the rise, the desire to get the best bang for your buck is stronger than ever. Some deals are simple like a BOGO coupon for your favorite product at the grocery store. Other deals promise to save you much more.

Budgeting for Air Duct Cleaning

With intentions of great savings and a checkmark next to your to-do list, it’s easy to jump at these bargains. Before diving in, it’s important to take a pause and ask yourself, “Is the deal going to save me money or will it cost me more in the long run?”

Even the best bargain hunters will tell you there are some instances where you can skimp, but other times it’s worth the investment. When it comes to taking care of your home cheaper isn’t always better, especially concerning your air duct system, the lungs of your home.

It’s common to find ads from air duct cleaning companies promoting “$99 whole house specials” while flipping through your latest coupon book. Beware of these low-ball prices as this is a popular tactic used by fraudulent air duct cleaning companies to get their foot in the door. Those prices hardly cover the cost of the service, let alone the equipment used, leaving you to unexpectedly pay more while the service is in progress.

These bait-and-switch companies are also known to only clean what can be seen by the naked eye, leaving behind the main build-up of dirt and contaminants found deep within the system. Often, companies like this try to sell you on unnecessary up-charges, exceeding the price listed in the ad.

Avoid having to repeat the process and ensure the job is done right the first time by hiring a NADCA-certified Air Systems Cleaning Specialist. With advanced training and certification in HVAC system cleaning, you can be confident in knowing that you received top quality cleaning at a fair price.

Are Those Real?

When it comes time to hire a reputable air duct cleaner, one of the first things you’ll likely do is check company reviews. Good or bad, millions of people use reviews to make informed decisions. A favorable review or convincing testimonial may influence your decision to hire. On the other hand, a bad review could make it easier for you to write off a company.

Have you ever stopped to think, “What’s stopping a company from posting false reviews?” Not all company reviews are legit, and some may be the tactics of a scammer. Some disreputable businesses will pay a freelancer or even create fake profiles to positively review themselves. Others may go as far as writing negative reviews on the competitions’ profile in an attempt to discredit them.

How do you weed out the fake reviews and find trustworthy, reliable testimonials?

There are several ways to validate a real customer’s identity:

  • Real customers typically have a non-generic name and picture
  • Some sites will have a verified customer tag
  • Real customers have a presence on the site, such as friends or other connections. This would be specific to review sites such as Yelp
  • Despite fake reviews being against the law, they’re hard to regulate, so you’ll have to educate yourself on how to spot a fake review.

Signs of a fake review include:

  • Vague details and description
    • Someone who used a company’s services will have specific details about their experience. The review will be longer than a couple sentences and will likely mention results, how they found the company, and if they will (or will not) hire them again.
    • Pay special attention to the words of the review. Fake reviews will be short, sound generic, or use dramatic language. Real reviews are more moderate in praise.
  • Incorrect spelling or grammar
    • Because companies may hire freelancers to write reviews, a review that is full of errors can be a red flag. This could indicate that the reviewer was in a hurry, possibly because they were hired to write a lot of reviews, or the review was outsourced from another country. Correct spelling and grammar are signs of an honest review.
  • Reviews containing similar pictures or language
    • The odds of many reviewers saying the same thing about a service are small. When it comes to reviews you should expect to see a variety of testimonials. Multiple reviews using similar phrasing may be a sign of a scam.
    • The same goes for pictures. If multiple reviews have a similar profile photo, they’re probably fake.
  • Timing and number of reviews
    • Typically, it takes a while to accumulate reviews. Multiple reviews in a brief span of time (about 30 minutes) can be a red flag.

Hiring a NADCA member will help you weed out the scammers.

All air duct cleaning contractors must meet strict requirements to be a member of NADCA. These requirements were established to provide a higher level of assurance to consumers. Part of being a NADCA member means complying with NADCA’s code of ethics, which includes being honest and forthright with advertising.

Hiring a NADCA member to clean your air ducts will not only ensure the work is getting done by a legitimate company, and because NADCA members are certified, you can trust they have extensive knowledge in HVAC inspection, cleaning, and restoration methodologies.

When speaking to a contractor, make sure they can show proof of NADCA membership and certification. Luckily, NADCA makes it easy for consumers to find a legitimate air duct cleaner with the Find A NADCA Professional tool. Protect yourself from scammers by hiring your local NADCA-certified contractor.

Extend the Lifespan of Your Furnace

Did you know furnaces typically last around 15 years before they need to be replaced?  Heating systems need proper maintenance to reduce the risk of breaking down unexpectedly. With these tips for extending the life of your furnace, you can keep it running smoothly for as long as possible.

Change Air Filters Frequently

Most people do not change their air filters as often as needed. This can lead to poor indoor air quality inside your home and potentially damage your furnace.  When your filters are dirty, your furnace must work harder to maintain airflow and as a result, the lifespan of your system is shortened. Changing your air filter regularly is one of the easiest and least expensive things you can do to maintain your heating and cooling system.

Upgrade Your Thermostat

If your home has an outdated analog thermostat, consider upgrading to a programmable thermostat. Older thermostats don’t have the same precision of newer, advanced models, resulting in your furnace working harder to provide the temperature you want.

Keep Your Home Well Insulated Hot air lost through window

There are many places for heat to disappear, like the attic or windows, leading to a less comfortable home and a harder working furnace. Adding some insulation and sealing up any leaks in your air ducts can keep your home warm all season long. Addressing air leaks can be done by pursuing a home energy audit or by having a yearly air duct inspection.

Schedule an Annual Inspection

Don’t make the mistake of ignoring your furnace until something major is wrong. An annual inspection could have caught that issue early on and saved you from costly repairs.

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Get Your Air Ducts Cleaned

Like cars, heating and cooling systems perform better with regular maintenance. When done correctly, air duct cleaning is very beneficial to the longevity of your air handling units. Despite using filters, your heating and cooling system still gets dirty through everyday use. This dirt is filled with contaminants and air pollutants that can harm your indoor air quality and cause your heating and cooling system to work harder, shortening the lifespan of your system.

There are several factors that can increase the need for regular air duct cleaning. The number of occupants in your house, whether you have pets, and if anyone in your house has allergies can all increase the frequency with which you should clean your air ducts. Reduce the need for potentially costly repairs by scheduling an air duct cleaning with your local NADCA-certified contractor.

Original article written by NADCA

Sick Building Syndrome

Does it ever seem like no matter how often you wash your hands or use hand sanitizer avoiding the illnesses circulating the office seems impossible. Sickness can strike from time to time but what about when you feel sick every time you are at work? The indoor air quality of the office might be the cause, one in four buildings can be classified as a “sick building” and the effects might be more serious that you think.

What is Sick Building Syndrome?

The EPA defines Sick Building Syndrome as “situations in which building occupants experience acute health and comfort effects that appear to be linked to time spent in a building, but no specific illness or cause can be identified.” Individuals may be healthy, but after spending time in a sick building they may experience certain side effects including:

  • lack of energy
  • irritated eyes
  • inability to concentrate
  • headaches
  • eye irritation

The symptoms and severity of Sick Building Syndrome may vary from person to person depending on their sensitivity to airborne allergens. Breathing polluted air may not immediately affect some, but it may cause respiratory diseases in the long run.

What are the causes of Sick Building Syndrome?

Sick Building Syndrome can stem from causes such as inadequate ventilation, chemical contaminants, or a buildup of allergens. Examples of these allergens are:

  • mold
  • mildew
  • pollen
  • dust mites

A buildup of these containments can occur in the air ducts of office buildings and, as air circulates through the ducts, the containments are blown around and distributed throughout the building. This causes the people within the building to be continuously exposed to the allergens and air pollutants.

What is the cost of Sick Building Syndrome?

Sick Building Syndrome creates bigger issues than just giving employees a stuffy nose.  According to The American Lung Association, US adults miss about 14 million workdays per year because of asthma, which is an issue commonly triggered by poor indoor air quality

According to the EPA, almost $60 billion dollars are lost in productivity due to poor indoor air quality.

Sick Building Syndrome can affect workers ability to productively and efficiently do their jobs, which can add up to be a major loss for employers. Reducing sick building symptoms through properly maintained HVAC systems can lead to $10-$30 billion in productivity gains, better indoor air quality, and happier and healthier employees.  

Original article written by NADCA

What is Growing in Your Air Ducts?

Just because you can’t see mold doesn’t mean it’s not hidden behind wall or worse in your duct work. Mold thrives in dark, damp places, and can begin to grow within your ductwork undetected. If not removed quickly and carefully, this fast-growing fungus has the potential to take over your entire ductwork system.

So how harmful is mold? Not only can mold present serious health hazards, it can contaminate your ductwork and eventually break down the structure of your property. When mold levels begin to increase, those who are more sensitive to the fungus will experience greater effects. If left untreated, mold can present complications with both the respiratory and nervous system.

Our NADCA certified team has been providing quality duct cleaning services throughout Massachusetts and New Hampshire since 2005. Contact our team of professionals today to have your ductwork inspected for mold.

  • Mold Symptoms

If ingested or inhaled, mold spores can cause a variety of unpleasant and dangerous symptoms for everyone in the home. Some symptoms of mold exposure include:

  • Rashes
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Chronic coughing and sneezing
  • Irritation of the eyes, nose, or throat
  • Reoccurring headaches

If you are exposed to mold for a longer period, health risks can be more dangerous. Mold poisoning can produce symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and bleeding in the lungs and nose. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms and suspect mold growth in your home, call our team right away to have your ductwork inspected. You can rely on the professionals at Aspen Air Duct Cleaning for prompt and careful mold removal.

Learn more about the dangers of mold growth from the Global Healing Center.

Preventing Mold Growth in Ductwork

Once the mold has been properly removed, you will want to prevent a future infestation. First, you should try to identify what caused the mold to grow the first time. High levels of moisture, warm temperatures, and limited lighting are factors that will make it easy for mold or mildew to spread. To prevent mold from growing in your home, we recommend you:

  • Reduce humidity levels. Elevated humidity levels will increase your risk of mold exposer. Use a dehumidifier to remove excess moisture from the air or speak with your local HVAC dealer to find a less humid heating and cooling system for your home.
  • Prevent water leaks. Inspect all moisture-creating sources to be sure they are directed and vented outside your home or building. Remember, mold can grow in as little as 24 hours, so it’s important to identify and stop leaks quickly.
  • Schedule annual ductwork service. Regular maintenance will help you prevent future mold growth and increase energy efficiency. Schedule your duct sealing service today and we will send out our qualified professionals to inspect air flow and seal all ducts.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms and suspect mold growth in your home, call our team right away to have your ductwork inspected. You can rely on the professionals at Aspen Air Duct Cleaning for prompt and careful mold removal.

Original Article written by Atlantic Duct Cleaning

Air Loss in Your Home

Air duct leakage is a big deal and according to Green Building Advisor, on average your air ducts leak nearly 10% of your air supply, making your air duct one of the biggest wastes of energy in your home. How can you tell if your air ducts are leaking? Thankfully, there are tell-tale signs of air duct leakage, and ways to avoid the extra costs and dangers of air duct leakage in your home. Here are signs our experts encourage you to look for:

  • High Utility Bills

If you are often surprised by your monthly utility bill, your leaking air ducts could be to blame. When your air ducts leak, it forces your HVAC unit to work harder in order to keep your home at a comfortable temperature. This, in turn, causes energy deficiency within your home, and costs your wallet unnecessary fees for heating and cooling.

  • Varying Temperatures Throughout Your Home

Leaking ducts can cause conditioned air to escape to the attic or the outdoors and can inhibit air from reaching the right rooms in your home. If you feel weak airflow exiting the vents in certain rooms of your home, you can likely attribute it to leaking air ducts.

  • Poor Indoor Air Quality

Leaky ductwork can create high humidity in your home, which, in turn, can cause excess mold growth. When mold grows excessively in your home, you and your family are breathing in dangerous spores and aggravating those with allergies or asthma that live in or visit your house.

In addition to mold growth, leaky ducts can be the cause of back drafting. When your return ducts leak air, it depressurizes your home, and that can cause air to be pulled in from outside. When this happens, harmful gases and dirty air can circulate through your home, which could harm the health of your family.

  • Excessive Dust in Your Home

Duct leaks in unconditioned areas of your home, like the attic or crawl spaces, can pull in dust and distribute it to various rooms. If you find that you are always dusting, yet never see results, it could be due to a leak in your air ducts.

  • Duct Sealing Services in MA and NH

Are the rooms in your home uncomfortably cold or too warm? Do you have excess amounts of dust or mold growth? Are your utility bills unusually high? These could be signs of leaking air ducts. Stop wasting money on conditioned air that’s escaping your home and diminishing the quality of your indoor air. Save money, and allow your HVAC unit to work more efficiently, by scheduling professional duct sealing services now.

At Aspen Air Duct Cleaning, we have been a trusted industry leader since 2006, providing professional indoor environmental solutions that improve air quality in your residence or commercial property. We can improve your leaky air ducts with Aeroseal® duct sealing, an advanced technology that allows us to seal every leak from the inside out!

Are you ready to increase your indoor air quality and save on your utility bill? Learn more about Aeroseal® duct sealing and schedule an appointment now! Article written by Atlantic Duct Cleaning

Can Duct Cleaning Help You Conserve Energy?

Most homeowners want to find ways to reduce living expenses, especially regarding their utility bills. The good news is that there is no shortage of ways to reduce energy consumption and lower electric bills.

Having an airtight home can help to stop energy waste through leaks around windows, doors, pipes, and vents. Homeowners will also enjoy the benefit of maintaining a set interior temperature. Using a programmable thermostat to roll back the temperature during the time you’re out of the house could significantly cut the costs for heating and cooling your home.

However, you might not realize that your ducts also play a role in the overall energy efficiency of your home. Just as a good dryer vent cleaning can ensure that your appliance operates at peak efficiency, regular residential air duct cleaning can help you to conserve energy and reduce your costs, not to mention improving interior air quality. Here are just a few ways in which air duct cleaning makes your HVAC system more efficient.

Blocked Vents

Think about what happens when you fail to dust and vacuum your home. Over time, dust, dirt, dander, and other detritus begins to build up on surfaces. You can see visible particulates gathering on surfaces in as little as just a few days.

When was the last time you had a professional clean your ducts? Never, you say? Imagine all the dust that’s been building up in them over the months and years that you’ve lived in your home.

Servicing your furnace and AC unit regularly and replacing filters can go a long way toward maintaining clean ducts. However, filters can’t catch everything. In addition, failing to check your vents could mean families of rodents may have taken up residence over time, building nests and leaving messes.

These conditions can even cause health concerns. They can also have a negative impact on energy efficiency as you place higher demand on your system to push air through and meet your heating and cooling needs. Regular vent cleaning can eliminate such concerns and improve efficiency.

Leaks

Ductwork is built to last, but over time fittings can deteriorate, this breakdown can lead to spots where your air leaks into the walls and crawl spaces in your home instead of making it to your living spaces. This will cause you to crank up the air in order to maintain your desired temperature, wasting energy and air in the process.

Other Issues

When you hire professional technicians to clean your ducts regularly, they may notice issues like moisture or mold. These signs may indicate your ducts have inadequate insulation. With properly insulated ducts you can greatly reduce energy needs and lower utility bills in the process.

Written by Fresh Aire

Common Misconception about the HVAC System in Newer Homes

With most all newly constructed homes comes freshly installed flooring, crisp cabinets and high expectations. But what about the air handling system of the home—the largest source of energy? Despite popular belief, the duct work and HVAC system of a newly constructed house may not be in top-notch condition and immaculate, like the rest of the home.

Since a common misconception among homeowners is that the HVAC system of a new build is clean, NADCA urges homeowners of new-construction builds to hire a company with a NADCA certified technician on staff to inspect ductwork and the air handling system of the home. HVAC ductwork is sometimes one of the first systems to be installed in a home and construction dust and drywall dust can make its way into a system during the building process.

Homes undergoing renovations can be exposed to similar amounts of dust and debris, which can impact the functionality of the air conveyance system. NADCA urges homeowners who are renovating their living space to consider the following:

  • Install high-efficiency disposable filters before beginning the renovation process and change them frequently.
  • If you hire a contractor, ask that the return vent, supply registers, and diffusers be sealed and the HVAC system is shut off during renovations that include demo work or other dust-contributing activities.
  • Discuss with your contractor ways to minimize the amount of airborne dust within your home.
  • Ask that poly-plastic barriers be installed and HEPA-filtered negative air scrubbers be used in the work area to “scrub” clean the air and keep dust from migrating to other areas of the house.

After the work in your home has been completed have a NADCA certified air duct cleaning company come in and evaluate the condition of your ductwork, it may still need cleaning.

What Is In Your Duct Work?

If you have duct work in your home, you have probably not given much thought to what is inside them. The average American home is about 35 years old, that is a lot of time for things to accumulate inside the duct work. While cleaning we often find small toys and food that has fallen down into the vents, here are some stories from fellow duct cleaners of the crazy things they have found.

                A few years ago, during a cleaning job, we found a box behind a register that contained $400 of Confederate money. We gave it to the homeowner, and she gave it to her children, who cashed it out. That $400 of Confederate money ended up being worth $100,000!

We got a call from a customer saying they had a mysterious odor in the home. Our technicians went into the home and they definitely smelled something very strong but couldn’t find anything obvious at the start. Finally, they took off the vent covers and found a dead skunk!

We were cleaning ductwork and in the basement of the establishment, there was a kitchen with a grill. Right above that was the bulkhead with an air duct blowing right over the grill, which we were cleaning. We took off the supply duct, shined a light in there and, low and behold, there was a giant, dead rat. In the course of cleaning, the gentleman befriended us and offered to make us lunch on the grill. We politely declined the offer.

We had posted a video of a cleaning job to our social media account and someone commented on it, “Wow, did you see the dollar bill get sucked in there?” The trunk line was really full of all kinds of junk, so I thought “Well, I’m not surprised that there was a dollar bill in that mess.” Later on, someone commented, “That wasn’t a dollar bill, that was a $100 bill!” I went into the truck and sifted through all the garbage to try to find it, but no luck.

We did a cleaning on an old rail car and found a pre-Civil War whiskey bottle stashed away in the ducts of the rail car. The bottle is now sitting in a museum somewhere.

All these stories and more can be found on NADCA’s website.