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

Have You Changed Your Air Filter Recently?

If you have a forced air HVAC system in your home you might think that the filter is improving your air quality, however, your air filter might not be improving the air quality. Air quality researchers have established that all that stuff floating though your air is bad for your health. Particles in your air that are 2.5 micrometers or smaller are the worst for your health, they can penetrate deeper into your lungs and end up in your blood stream. The best way to fight these particles is to filter the air but most homes only rely on the filter inside their HVAC system to do the filtering. Below you will find the 5 reasons that the filter in your HVAC system might not be helping your indoor air quality.

  1. No Filter!

This one seems like a no brainer but if you don’t have a filter installed there is not much filtration happening. I know it seems strange, but it happens! Sometimes a filter will get removed because it is in a difficult spot to reach, like a crawlspace. Sometimes you take it out and mean to replace it, but it slips your mind. All kinds of things can happen that lead to your filter being missing; this is not only harming the air quality in your home, but all that dirt and debris is getting into your duck work, blower, coil, and heat exchanger. Once all that dirt is inside your system it then spreads it throughout your home and causes strain on your system.

2. Bypassing the Filter

It doesn’t matter how nice the filter is if you don’t install it correctly. An incorrectly installed filter can let the air pass right by instead of through and this means your air is not being cleaned.

3. Not Enough Runtime

This one is not something a lot of people think about; your system might not be on long enough to make a difference. Your filter can only clean the air while your system is running, if your system is off then no air is being pulled through the filter. The best thing you can do to combat this is make sure the system you have in your home is the correct size and focus on minimizing the stuff that would need filtered out. You can do this by adding a standalone filter to your home or by Aerosealing your ductwork.

4. Not Changing or Using the Wrong Filter

Each system has different requirements when it comes to how often you should change your filter but if you don’t change it at all not only is the air not being filtered your system now has to work even harder to pull in air causing stress. The same thing can be said if you use the wrong filter, a basic filter is mostly designed to keep out pet hair, spiders, or lost socks. If you truly want to filter your air you need to invest in a MERV rated filter and the higher the number, the more stuff you filter out.

5. Filter in the Wrong Place

This one might also seem like a no brainer, but you would be surprised what we find when going to clean a HVAC system.

If you over come these obstacles, you should see an improvement in the air quality within your home.

Bailes, Allison. “Air Quality.” How Your House Works, 2012, pp. 99–105., doi:10.1002/9781118286074.ch5

Keeping up the Humidity

This time of year, it is common to wake up with a dry nose, or a scratchy throat. Later in the day you might even experience nosebleeds, chapped lips, dry skin, or an increase of acne. You might also notice an increase in static electricity, creaks in hardwood floors, or hardwood furniture starting to crack, these are all symptoms of the air becoming drier during the winter months. Which brings us to the question, what can I do about it?

                Warmer air holds more moisture than cold air and in winter that cold air seeps into your home.  While you can turn up your heat an make your home nice and toasty again just turning on the heat doesn’t bring moisture back into the air, for that you need a humidifier. Most people choose to use a portable humidifier but if you have an HVAC system you can install a whole home humidifier.

                A whole house humidifier should not be confused with a portable humidifier. A portable humidifier is a device that you plug into the wall and place in the middle of a room. These humidifiers can only control the humidity of one room at a time, and they require frequent maintenance like changing the water and keeping the device clean. A whole house humidifier, on the other hand, is installed directly in your heating system’s ductwork. When your furnace is cycling and heating air in your home, that air is also humidified by the whole house humidifier. This means that every room in your home can enjoy humidified air by using a single unit.

A whole house humidifier is installed in your ductwork near your furnace, either on the supply or return end. The unit is also connected directly to your home’s water supply. Inside of the humidifier is a either a humidifier pad, a rotating drum or a steaming system that is used to distribute water to your home’s air. While the humidifier is running, water continuously runs down the humidifier pad, is collected by the rotating drum or is misted into the device, depending on your model. When air from your ducts enters the humidifier, it is exposed to the water inside. The water evaporates into the air, which increases the moisture levels of the air that exits the humidifier on the other side. While your furnace is running, a portion of the air that it cycles is directed into the humidifier. That air goes through the humidifier and joins back up with the rest of your home’s airflow. As a result, all the air that’s delivered to your home has higher moisture levels, which effectively raises the humidity in every room.

Fortunately, whole house humidifiers require very little maintenance. If your model uses a humidifier pad or filter, the media typically needs to be replaced about once per year. If you have a steam humidifier, it simply needs to be cleaned annually. When having your whole home humidifier cleaned ensure you use a HVAC company familiar with whole home humidifiers, when improperly maintained they can lead to mold growth inside your duct work.

Recent Outbreak of Legionnaires Disease Underscores Role Duct Leakage Plays In Transmitting Airborne Contaminants

Aspen Note: A similar outbreak of Legionnaires Disease at a hotel in southern New Hampshire this summer prompted us to share the following article with our customers, prospects, and friends in an effort to make them aware of the importance of good air quality.

Recent Outbreak of Legionnaires Disease Underscores Role Duct Leakage Plays In Transmitting Airborne Contaminants

Aeroseal joins CDC, American Lung Association and Others Recommending Effective Duct Sealing To Combat Health Risks Associated With Poor Indoor Air Quality

A recent outbreak of Legionnaires disease in New York City has contributed to an increased interest among property owners and facility managers in the role that duct leakage plays in the spread of the disease. According to Neal Walsh, senior vice president of Aeroseal LLC, a duct sealing technology company, HVAC businesses throughout the East Coast and elsewhere have experienced a notable increase in customer inquires related to the Legionnaires outbreak and indoor air quality in general.

Duct Sealing from the inside: an innovation in duct sealing technology. The recent Legionnaires outbreak has sparked increased demand for Aeroseal duct sealing services.

We have heard from a number of our East Coast dealers that are responding to an uptick in calls from commercial clients that are concerned about the recent epidemic,” said Walsh. “They are learning that the microbes responsible for Legionnaires disease are typically spread through a contaminated indoor air environment, and that has led them directly to concerns about duct leakage.”

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the EPA and others, duct leakage can be a major contributor to health risks associated with poor indoor air quality. Leaks in the ductwork allow contaminants to enter the duct system at one location within a structure and then spread throughout the rest of the building.

Experts believe that Legionella Pneumophila, the bacteria that causes Legionnaires disease, is typically spread through a building’s ventilation system. In the recent New York City epidemic, the outbreak has been traced to contaminated cooling towers*, which release water mist. It is likely that the contaminated water mist spread throughout the atmosphere with the assistance of leaky ventilation systems, and then was inhaled by occupants.

It’s estimated that poor indoor air quality costs businesses as much as $100 billion a year in lost productivity, health costs and other related problems,” said Walsh. “Poor indoor air quality can cause everything from headaches, coughing and skin irritation to more serious health concerns such as what we’re seeing in New York.”

Since it first appeared in late July, more than 100 people have been diagnosed with Legionnaires Disease. While this disorder is easily diagnosed and can be treated with antibiotics, 10 people have died due to this latest outbreak.

To help minimize health risks associated with poor indoor air quality, many health organizations including the CDC, the EPA and the American Lung Association, recommend sealing ductwork. While some leaks can be addressed using traditional duct sealing methods, studies show that the most efficient and cost-effective means of sealing ductwork is with the use of aerosol-based duct sealing technology.

We are working hard to educate the public about the problems associated with poor indoor air quality and the role that duct leaks play in exacerbating the problem,” said Walsh. “The recent Legionnaires outbreak is a reminder of how easily airborne diseases can spread and put us all at risk.”

Source: Aeroseal

Aspen Air Duct Cleaning is licensed and ensured, a member of the National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA) and the National Organization of Remediators and Mold Inspectors (NORMI), and is an approved Aeroseal dealer.

Call 1-800-931-6653 or email info@aspenenvironmentalservices.com, for an Air Duct System Inspection and to learn more about how sealing air duct leaks can improve indoor air quality and reduce energy costs.


6 Simple Tips to Prepare Your Home for Fall

We may still be taking a dip in the pool, but soon we will be pulling out sweaters and cozying up on the couch to watch football. The best time to start preparing your home for the fall season is now before you turn on your heat.

Taking the following steps to prepare ahead of the colder seasons can save you from costly repairs down the road.

1. Change filters

Filters should ideally be replaced at the change of each season. A clean filter will help you heat and cool your home more efficiently than a dirty filter. Because filters trap harmful particles from being circulated in your home by forcing air through a fine mesh, a dirty filter will hinder the unit from doing its job. 

2. Check for leaks

Prevent drafts and decrease energy waste by sealing windows and doors. Don’t forget to check your ductwork for leaks as well.

3. Start warming up your unit

Similar to cars that need time to get warmed up when it’s cold outside, your HVAC system needs time to adjust to heating and may take some time to get back to its proper speed and efficiency because it sat unused for such a long time. On cooler nights or days turn your system on a low heat setting.

4. Check alarms and detectors

Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are essential devices that keep you safe. Replace batteries with new ones and push the test button on each device to make sure they are working properly. Also, keep in mind, The U.S. Fire Administration recommends that you replace your smoke detectors every 10 years.

5. Clean up your outdoor unit

If you have an outdoor unit, check for debris and damage. Remove all debris to ensure proper airflow and prevent dirt or leaves from getting inside the unit and on the coils. If you see any signs of damage, give your HVAC contractor a call.

6. Schedule an air duct checkup

The best way to prepare your home for fall is to schedule a maintenance checkup with your local NADCA certified contractor. Having your system cleaned regularly will improve indoor air quality, extend the life of your system and increase the energy efficiency of your home because a clean unit doesn’t have to work as hard to maintain the temperature you desire.

Source: National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA)

Aspen Air Duct Cleaning is licensed and ensured, a member of the National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA) and the National Organization of Remediators and Mold Inspectors (NORMI), and is an approved Aeroseal dealer.

Call 1-800-931-6653 or email info@aspenenvironmentalservices.com, for an Air Duct System Inspection and to learn more about how sealing air duct leaks can improve indoor air quality and reduce energy costs.

Fall Is Air Duct Cleaning Season


If giving a warm welcome to cooler weather and festive times with family and friends means turning up the heat in your house, there’s something you should know: You may need to clean your home’s air ducts. Air ducts and ventilation systems can get stuffed with dust, pet hair and other contaminants that get blown through your house when you kick on the furnace for the first time in the fall. Whether you notice a burning smell when the heat turns on or experience an increase in allergy symptoms, dirty air ducts may be to blame.

The debris that builds up in your home’s air ducts throughout the year can foster mold and bacteria growth, and even invite vermin into your home. Homes exposed to extreme weather conditions (like this year’s record-breaking hurricanes or the heat and ash from wildfires) are particularly at risk of developing hazardous mold and bacteria. However, extreme weather isn’t the only thing that can dirty your ductwork. Even homes in regions that are going through the normal seasonal changes see a build-up of allergen-producing spring pollen or mold caused by a humid summer. Daily living with pets and people coming in and out of a home can introduce pet hair and dirt into your home’s air ducts, causing allergic reactions when air starts flowing through the ducts and blowing the dirt through the home.

And now, with flu season on the horizon, it’s especially important to ensure the air in your home is free of common irritants that can worsen symptoms or even cause illnesses. Older people, young children and anyone with asthma or other respiratory diseases are all especially susceptible to illnesses caused by impurities in the air.

The good news is that having the ducts cleaned can save you money on energy costs in the long term. Research by the EPA has demonstrated that air duct cleaning and removing debris from your home’s heating and air conditioning system can improve efficiency and the overall quality of indoor air. And, if your health wasn’t reason enough to get your air ducts cleaned this fall, clean, efficient HVAC systems are less likely to break down and will have a longer lifespan and generally operate more effectively, saving you money and the hassle of dealing with a broken-down heating and air conditioning system.

Source: National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA)

Aspen Air Duct Cleaning is licensed and ensured, a member of the National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA) and the National Organization of Remediators and Mold Inspectors (NORMI), and is an approved Aeroseal dealer.

Call 1-800-931-6653 or email info@aspenenvironmentalservices.com, for an Air Duct System Inspection and to learn more about how sealing air duct leaks can improve indoor air quality and reduce energy costs.


 

Hot Tips On Getting Ready for Cold Weather

For those regions that see extreme temperatures, now is the time to prepare to ensure your home weathers cold winter temps with ease. In addition to clearing clogged gutters, closing storm windows and prepping the weather stripping on your windows and doors, checking your home’s furnace, filter and air ducts is an important part of getting your home ready for winter and ensuring the best air quality inside your home all season long.

What to Do

The first step toward winter readiness for the air inside your home is getting your heating and ventilation system cleaned. A complete cleaning should include replacing the filter on your furnace and cleaning the ductwork that runs throughout your home. This will remove built-up dirt, dust and debris, improving indoor air quality and helping your home’s heating and ventilation system run smoother.

Why Winter Readiness Matters

There are a couple key reasons that make cleaning your home’s heating and ventilation system a good idea when it comes to winter prep:

You Save Energy

According to the United States Department of Energy, 56 percent of the energy used to power your home goes to heating and ventilation systems. When those systems begin to wear, they run less efficiently. Even in new buildings, air ducts can be dirty—especially when construction or renovations were recent—and will become even dirtier through everyday use.

You Improve Indoor Air Quality

Your heating and cooling system is the lungs of your home. The system takes air in and breathes air out through the air ducts in your home. Dirt and dust are recirculated throughout your home five to seven times a day, on average. Over time, this causes a buildup of in the ductwork. Dirt may contribute to health issues, especially in people with respiratory conditions, autoimmune disorders or certain allergies. Cleaning the air ducts in your home removes dirt and dust, leading to better indoor air quality.

Source: National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA)

Aspen Air Duct Cleaning is licensed and ensured, a member of the National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA) and the National Organization of Remediators and Mold Inspectors (NORMI), and is an approved Aeroseal dealer.

Call 1-800-931-6653 or email info@aspenenvironmentalservices.com, for an Air Duct System Inspection and to learn more about how sealing air duct leaks can improve indoor air quality and reduce energy costs.


 

Tips for Reducing Allergens Inside the Home

When it comes to allergies, most people think of their home as a haven where they can escape their symptoms. Unfortunately, houses, apartments, and even office buildings harbor indoor allergens of their own. Through normal occupation, dust, air pollutants, and other contaminants collect in a home. Regardless of how often or thoroughly it is cleaned, some dust remains or settles back in the next day.

Many substances found in dust can trigger allergy symptoms. Other common indoor allergens include:

• Dust Mites

• Pet Dander

• Cockroaches

• Molds

Unlike seasonal allergies, indoor allergies may last all year long, and some occupants are more sensitive than others. Allergy and asthma sufferers, as well as young children and the elderly, tend to be more susceptible to poor indoor air quality.

Luckily, you can reduce indoor allergens by taking the following measures:

1. Reduce pet dander  

Eliminating pet dander from your home entirely can be an impossible task, but taking steps like cleaning your furniture and carpets can be a quick fix for removing dander from surfaces. Decluttering your space will also give dander fewer places to hide.

2. Prevent mold and mildew 

Ensure your home has sufficient ventilation, use mold inhibitors in your paints, and clean your bathroom with mold-killing products.

3. Use humidity controllers and air purifiers

Using an air conditioner or dehumidifier to keep humidity levels in your home lower than 50 percent will help prevent mold. Air purifiers will also help eliminate the number of contaminants that are in the air such as, mold, bacteria, and viruses.

4. Change air filters

Using air filters can trap pollutants such as pet dander, dust mites, and tobacco smoke. Filters work by forcing air through a fine mesh that traps these harmful particles. Cleaning and changing air conditioning filters and duct filters at each change of season will ensure your family is breathing cleaner, fresher, healthier air.

5. Schedule an air duct cleaning

HVAC systems have been shown to collect a variety of contaminants such as mold, fungi, bacteria and very small particles of dust that have the potential to affect overall health. Having your air ducts cleaned can improve your indoor air quality and reduce health problems.

Working with a qualified contractor will ensure the job is done right, which can save you a lot of time and money in the long run.

Source: Aeroseal

Aspen Air Duct Cleaning is licensed and ensured, a member of the National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA) and the National Organization of Remediators and Mold Inspectors (NORMI), and is an approved Aeroseal dealer.

Call 1-800-931-6653 or email info@aspenenvironmentalservices.com, for an Air Duct System Inspection and to learn more about how sealing air duct leaks can improve indoor air quality and reduce energy costs.


The Secret Sauce for Contractors: Duct Sealant By Aeroseal


Many people know about the game-changing Aeroseal duct sealing. However, the real magic is in our top-secret duct sealant (liquid solution) and how it seals duct leaks from the inside of residential and commercial ductwork systems around the world. Here’s a quick summary about it.

What is Duct Sealant By Aeroseal?
Also known as the Magical Sealant and “Secret Sauce,” our duct sealant is a stable, non-toxic, non-flammable emulsion of water and vinyl acetate polymer that is aerosolized into 4-10 micron-sized particles and distributed under pressure throughout the inside of an air duct system. The following list contains key technical specifications that make the duct sealant so powerful for contractors:

  • Vinyal Acetate Polymer (same base of chewing gum and hair spray)
  • Certified in Accordance with UL 1381
  • Low VOC Content
  • 2 Hours to Cure
  • 3-Year Guarantee
  • Effective at Multiple Pressures, Temperatures, and Humidity Levels

Mastic Duct Sealant versus Aeroseal (Aerosol) Duct Sealant
Another key aspect of our duct sealant is how it compares to alternatives like mastic duct sealant. Mastic is an older way of sealing duct leaks that is actually not as effective as sealing with Aeroseal. Our sealant is the only option for aerosol sealants that get blown through the ductwork by a computerized system to find and seal leaks from the inside of the air ducts.

One of the biggest advantages of Aeroseal duct sealant over mastic duct sealant is how it’s applied. As pictured below, mastic is applied by hand. A contractor physically has to paint the mastic on the ductwork. On the right side of the picture below, you’ll see the Aeroseal machine that applies the duct sealant through a computer-controlled process, resulting in less man-hours needed and better sealing results.

How Does the Duct Sealant By Aeroseal Work?

The award-winning, patented Aeroseal duct sealing technology magically* turns the liquid duct sealant into an aerosol mist and blows it throughout ductwork to simultaneously find and seal any leaks (note: the sealant only settles at the leaks; it does not coat the ductwork). Watch the following video to see an illustration of the process.

How Aeroseal Duct Sealing Works:
www.youtube.com/watch?v=K3JAR0dCNhc


*Plus, the duct sealant and Aeroseal sealing process are backed by cutting edge science supported by the 
U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL).

Are you a homeowner? This secret sauce can actually improve the comfort, indoor air quality, and energy efficiency of your home. Mind blowing, we know. It’s a true game-changer to fix any HVAC issues in your house. 

Are you a contractor? We’d love to chat with you about how our duct sealant can be the secret sauce to helping you help your customers’ home HVAC needs.

Source: Aeroseal

Aspen Air Duct Cleaning is licensed and ensured, a member of the National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA) and the National Organization of Remediators and Mold Inspectors (NORMI), and is an approved Aeroseal dealer.

Call 1-800-931-6653 or email info@aspenenvironmentalservices.com, for an Air Duct System Inspection and to learn more about how sealing air duct leaks can improve indoor air quality and reduce energy costs.

Why Clean Air Ducts? Because They Get Dirty!

Clean Your Air Ducts to Get Rid of Dangerous Allergens and Dirt.

In addition to normal accumulations of dust and dirt found in all homes with air ducts, there are several other factors that can increase the need for regular HVAC system cleaning:

pets
occupants with allergies or asthma
cigarette or cigar smoke
water contamination or damage to the home or HVAC system
home renovation or remodeling projects

Watch Aspen at work cleaning air ducts:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=16HblgdisMo

Watch Aspen’s robot cleaning very dirty ducts:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uJ6yXKo3v3Y

Some occupants are more sensitive to these contaminants than others. Allergy and asthma sufferers, as well as young children and the elderly tend to be more susceptible to the types of poor indoor air quality that air duct cleaning can help address.

Top Benefits of HVAC Cleaning
NADCA’s rule of thumb for consumers is that “if your air ducts look dirty, they probably are,” and that dirty HVAC systems should be inspected by a reputable, certified HVAC professional. Below are some other reasons homeowners choose to have their air ducts cleaned.

Indoor Air Quality
Indoor air quality is one concern that homeowners have when they decide to investigate air duct cleaning. Your heating and cooling system is the lungs of your home. The system takes air in and breathes air out.

Through normal occupation in a home, we generate a great deal of contaminants and air pollutants, such as dander, dust, and chemicals. These contaminants are pulled into the HVAC system and re-circulated 5 to 7 times per day, on average. Over time, this re-circulation causes a build-up of contaminants in the duct work.

While dirty ducts don’t necessarily mean unhealthy air in your home, school or workplace, they may be contributing to larger health issues or harboring contaminants that could cause serious problems for people with respiratory health conditions, autoimmune disorders or some environmental allergies.

Energy Savings
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, 25 to 40 percent of the energy used for heating or cooling a home is wasted. Contaminants in the heating and cooling system cause it to work harder and shorten the life of your system. Although filters are used, the heating and cooling system still gets dirty through normal use.

When an HVAC system is clean, it doesn’t have to work as hard to maintain the temperature you desire. As a result, less energy is used, leading to improved cost-effectiveness.

 

Sources: Content, National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA); videos Aspen Air Duct Cleaning

Aspen Air Duct Cleaning is licensed and ensured, a member of the National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA) and the National Organization of Remediators and Mold Inspectors (NORMI), and is an approved Aeroseal dealer.

Call 1-800-931-6653 or email info@aspenenvironmentalservices.com, for an Air Duct System Inspection and to learn more about how sealing air duct leaks can improve indoor air quality and reduce energy costs.