Getting Your House Ready for Winter

No matter what climate you live in, your home needs some TLC when the seasons change. Northern climates brace for bone-chilling cold and winter storms, while Southern climates may still enjoy warm, sunny days, but cooler nights. When the temps start dropping outside, it’s time to look at what you can do inside to help your home get ready for winter. Having a winter preparation plan for your house not only helps keep an eye on your home’s energy efficiency, but also on your health.

Energy Efficiency Matters

According to the United States Department of Energy, heating and air conditioning systems account for most of the energy use in a typical home.  Whether you’re firing up the furnace or just cranking down the air conditioning, winter is prime time to think about how you can save some money—and help the planet—with a more energy efficient home. There are many factors that impact the cost to heat your home over the winter. Two top considerations affecting your energy expenses related to your furnace are the type of fuel used to power your furnace (electricity, natural gas, oil or another type of fuel), and the size of your home. A large home will require more power to heat, driving up costs.

One way to keep heating costs under control is to maximize your system’s efficiency. Help your furnace run better by replacing the filter and cleaning the ductwork. Removing built-up dirt and dust helps air move through the system easier, requiring less energy to operate.

Breathing Better Air

In addition to controlling energy costs, a clean heating and air conditioning system improves the overall quality of the air you breathe inside your home. Dirty systems can contribute to poor indoor air quality and health issues, especially in people with respiratory conditions, autoimmune disorders or certain allergies. Dirt and dust are pulled into the heating and air conditioning system and recirculated through the home up to six times a day. The buildup in the ductwork creates continuous exposure that only duct cleaning can address.

While you’re gearing up for winter, don’t forget to prepare your home by maintaining your home’s heating and air conditioning system. It can save you money and help keep you and your family healthy!

By NADCA

How to Save Money on Your Home’s Heating Bill

You may have heard the recent news: This year, homeowners are slated to pay record prices to heat their homes. The average homeowner is likely to see a more than 10 percent hike in heating costs. That figure is particularly distressing when you consider that up to 40 percent of the energy used for heating is wasted. Cleaning your home’s heating/cooling system can do a lot more than improve the quality of the circulating air. It can also make a huge difference in your monthly utility bills and help you save money on your home’s heating bill. Save money with air duct cleaning

The Problem with Dirt

Dust and debris reduce the ability of a home’s heating and cooling system to work properly. Consider that dirty systems—especially dirty coils—use up to 30 percent more energy to heat and cool the home. Meanwhile, dirty filters block airflow through the system, increasing your energy bill and shortening the equipment’s life. Dust and dirt that doesn’t get caught by either the filter or the coils is then blown through the rest of the system. These contaminants build up in the ductwork over time, so the system must work harder and longer to achieve the desired comfort level, using more energy and costing more.

So, what’s a homeowner to do? Start with changing the filter on your furnace. Standard sizes are carried at most major retailers and often cost just a few dollars per filter for a basic filter. Changing the filter regularly can help, but eventually, the system must be cleaned to run at optimum efficiency. This involves bringing in a professional with specialized equipment to trap and remove the dirt and dust that has built up in the system. After a thorough professional cleaning, your home’s heating system will function better and more efficiently, saving you money when it counts.

By NADCA

What Could Be Lurking Within Your Home?

Is the air in your home as clean as it could be? Sure, dusting and vacuuming the high-traffic areas can help get rid of dirt, dust and pet hair…but simple cleaning may not be enough. In fact, the most dangerous particulates such as asbestos and mold are usually found within spaces like your ductwork or behind the walls within your home. And, if left unattended, they can pose a real threat to your family’s physical and respiratory health.

Common Airborne Contaminants in the Home

Asbestos

Most commonly found in homes built before 1980, asbestos is a naturally occurring fibrous mineral with unique fire-resistive properties. For most homes built during this time, it may have been used as a spray or applied as a wrap to protect certain components from fire, such as plumbing, electrical work and HVAC equipment.

If the asbestos is disturbed in any way (think home renovation projects), the material can become released into the air and inhaled or ingested by those living or working within the home. Although the fibers are too small to be seen once airborne, they can become stuck within the lungs, heart, and abdomen if inhaled, opening risk for developing mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is an asbestos-caused cancer that can take up to 50 years to develop but may be avoided with proper treatment after asbestos exposure.

Remember, asbestos hasn’t been entirely banned in the United States and was designed to be unseen and untouched, so if you’re living in an old home, be sure to get it inspected and tested by a certified professional!

Mold

Poor ventilation + excessive moisture = a breeding ground for mold. Commonly found in dark and damp locations, it grows well on ceiling tiles, wood framing, and other surfaces that remain undisturbed. It can then be spread throughout the home by circulating into the air handling unit—your home’s air conditioner or furnace.

Common allergic reactions to mold can include a stuffy nose, watery eyes, wheezing and rashes. The EPA warns against long term exposure especially for people with severe allergies, asthma, and other respiratory issues.

How can you prevent and eliminate mold? Control the humidity in your home. Try using fans to circulate air towards dehumidifiers and air conditioners—they’ll help remove excess moisture and leave your home between 30-60% humidity.

For homes facing extreme humidity or frequent mold outbreaks, it could be a larger ventilation or moisture issue, so consider consulting a mold professional. Remember, airflow is key and clogged air filters prevent circulation, so check and replace filters often, and perform home inspections and HVAC cleanings annually. For some more tips on preventing mold growth check out this recent blog post.

Allergens and Pet Hair

Whether it’s your furry friend or a house full of kids, chances are something is going to be tracked indoors. Constant cleaning schedules help ensure a contaminant-free home, but for people with severe allergies, it’s often not enough. Seasonal allergens, pet hair, and other loose particles can clog filters preventing sufficient airflow within the equipment and living space. These conditions can make it easier for mold to grow within the system, filters, and ducts. Then, once the filter is replaced, those loose contaminants can become dispersed through the home.

By NADCA

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, the National Air Duct Cleaning Association (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.

NADCA urges homeowners to refer to the Residential Consumers checklist, available on the NADCA website. The checklist is designed to help homeowners understand NADCA’s recommendations regarding the process of HVAC cleaning.

By NADCA

Facts About Your Air Ducts that Will Gross You Out

As a leader in air duct cleaning, the professional cleaning staff at Aspen Air Duct Cleaning isn’t surprised to see dirty air ducts on a daily basis. Unfortunately, many of our clients are shocked – it’s extremely unsettling for many people to see just how dirty your air ducts can become. Before you turn on your ventilation system today, read over these surprising air quality facts:

  • Did you know your indoor air quality is linked to your overall health?

Asthma patients, individuals suffering from seasonal allergies, children and the elderly are all susceptible to poor indoor air quality. Regular air duct cleaning can help everyone in your home by reducing the amount of bacteria, dirt, and mold in the air. Regular cleaning can alleviate asthma symptoms and aid in allergy prevention.

  • Poor indoor air quality can keep you sniffling and sneezing throughout the whole year.

If your ventilation or duct system hasn’t been professionally cleaned recently, it’s likely that your vents are harboring bacteria, dirt, and mold. Before you blame your workplace or child’s school for getting you sick, consider that your dirty vents and air filtration systems are likely the culprits.

  • Dirty vents could easily lead to pest problems.

Dirty and damaged vents could easily be harboring pests in your home without your knowledge. When you see a spider on a second or third floor, remember that ventilation and air duct systems are often to blame. If your system is dirty, you could be providing a haven for pests to invade your home.

  • Clean Your Air Ducts Today

We here at Aspen Air Duct Cleaning don’t want you to be frightened of your air ducts. If you’re unsure about what you might find in your air ducts or think you need air duct sealing, we’d be happy to take a look. Call us today at 978-681-5023 to schedule a professional cleaning appointment.

Written by Collin Creek Home

What to Expect During Duct and Dryer Vent Cleaning

Hiring a professional duct cleaning service is something that you should do on a regular basis. Your ducts can get very dusty and dirty over time, which can result in the air quality of your home diminishing. When a buildup of dust and dirt gets into your air, it can also result in issues for anyone that suffers from asthma, respiratory illness or even simple allergies. The following are some of the tasks that a professional duct cleaning service will perform:

They will open all of your access ports or doors in order to inspect and clean your entire duct system.

Before they begin cleaning your duct system, they will do a thorough inspection to make sure that there are no materials that contain asbestos present, such as register boots or insulation. If they find any materials that contain asbestos, a specially trained and equipped contractor will need to be hired in order to remove them.

Once the inspection is completed, they will use vacuum equipment in order to exhaust dust and debris particles out of the home. If the vacuum exhausts are within the house, then they will use HEPA (high efficiency particle air) vacuuming equipment.

They will make sure that your carpeting and furnishings are protected as they clean.

They will dislodge dust and other particles by performing well-controlled brushing and contact vacuum cleaning on the duct surfaces.

Any fiberglass duct boards and sheet metal ducts that are lined with fiberglass will be cleaned using soft-bristled brushes. They will most likely replace accessible flex ducts since this is more economical than cleaning them – although they can be cleaned with the use of soft-bristled brushes.

They will seal and re-insulate any holes that may have been made – on purpose or on accident – during the cleaning process in order to protect the duct work and make sure that it is airtight.

They will follow the NADCA’s standards for air duct cleaning as well as the NAIMA’s suggested practice for cleaning ducts with fiberglass lining.

Written by Daffy Ducts

Little Things That Can Affect Dryer Safety

Most people tend to take their dryer for granted. They don’t realize that their dryer can pose a risk if they don’t use it properly. It’s why we emphasize the use of dryer safety tips when using your dryer at all times. The following are a few of the smaller things that you may have considered to be harmless that could actually affect dryer safety:

Using too many dryer sheets – Dryer sheets are meant to reduce the static-cling in the dryer. For the most part, they are safe to use – as long as you use the recommended number of dryer sheets. The problem is that some people will forget how many they’ve added or add too many out of pure negligence. The chemicals that dryer sheets contain are designed to soften fabric. Too many dryer sheets will result in too many of these chemicals leaving residue within the dryer, which can lead to a clog. Make sure you find the dryer sheets you’ve used after doing a load and throwing them away afterwards.

Not providing enough space – Don’t try to squeeze your dryer into a small space where it has no room. Dryers need space around it so that the air around it can circulate properly. Without the necessary space, your dryer could overheat and cause a fire.

Don’t use vinyl tubing – You should use vent duct tubing instead. Vinyl tubing does not meet current fire codes.

Drying the wrong things – Dryers are designed to dry fabric and nothing else. This means throwing wet toys, wigs or purses into your dryer is not a good idea; you could potentially damage it.

Be sure to keep these dryer safety tips in mind on your next laundry day, and don’t forget to call us at Aspen Air Duct Cleaning to keep your dryer vents safe and clear of lint!

Written by Daffy Ducts

Which Type of Air Purifier Should You Get?

If you’re at all concerned about indoor air quality, then you’ve likely thought of purchasing an air purifier. But shopping for the right one is no easy undertaking. There are a variety of makes and models on the market, some designed for a very specific purpose.

Here, we break down the differences between the five most common filters.

  • HEPA Filter

A High Efficiency Particulate Air filter (HEPA) is free-standing model with a cartridge that captures particles as air passes through it. If the aim is to reduce the amount of dust and dander floating around your home, it’ll do the job. Just be sure to do your research. The HEPA rating gets bandied about as a marketing ploy. Look for products labeled “True HEPA” to ensure you’re getting the best filtering technology. True HEPA filters meet standards set by the U.S. Dept. of Energy to captures 99.97% of particles as small 0.3 microns. Other terms you’ll come across include “HEPA-Like” “HEPA-Type.” There is no minimum standard set for these products.

  • Air Ionizer

Unlike the HEPA filter, an air ionizer does not capture airborne particles with a filter. Instead, it emits negatively charged particles which cling to positively charged particles, such as dust, allergens, bacteria and smoke. The neutralized particles then precipitate to the floor and furniture. If you don’t mind dusting, this could be the machine for you.

  • Electrostatic Filter

Similar to the air ionizer, an electrostatic filter charges particles to remove them from the air. Unlike the ionizer, an electrostatic filter traps the particles within the unit, sparing you from using the feather duster so much.

  • Activated Carbon Filter

Another odor-busting machine, an activated carbon filter tackles unpleasant aromas through chemical absorption. The unit contains a bed powdered charcoal which traps impurities, including those produced by common household chemicals and VOCs, leaving only fresh air behind.

  • UV Light

Typically affixed to your HVAC system, a lamp zaps passing air with germicidal UV rays, rendering contaminates inert. This is also a good defense against mold, which grows in dark, damp places, i.e. your ducts.

Bottom line: Depending on your needs, anyone of these filters could be a good supplemental purifier to your HVAC system’s filter. Still, the best way to maintain good indoor air quality is to have your ducts professionally cleaned. To schedule an appointment, call 978-681-5023.

Written by Fresh Aire Duct Cleaning

Ten Tips to Reduce Dust in the Home

Finding dust in your home is no fun, and it often seems that no matter how much you clean, it keeps coming back. Did you know that the average 6-room house collects 40 pounds of dust and allergens in their air ducts every year? While no amount of cleaning will completely remove the dust in your house, these ten tips are proven ways that will help.

1. Clean from top to bottom.  Clean the highest surfaces first and work your way down, so you capture any dust you missed.

2. Change your bedding once a week. Dust mites love to dwell in sheets, pillows and mattresses. Encasing your mattress and box spring in an allergen-proof cover, in conjunction with washing your bedding once a week, should be enough to keep bug-a-boos at bay.

3. Keep tidy closets. Garments stored in closets shed lots of fiber. So, unless you want a blast of dust confetti each time you open the closet door, it’s best to store things in garment bags, plastic containers and boxes.

4. Remove clutter from floors. Don’t ignore piles of clothing, toys, magazines, books or anything else on the floor. Cleaning around them won’t take care of the dust that has settled in or around them.

5. Say “no” to carpeting. It may look gorgeous, but carpeted floors are high-maintenance and magnets for dust mites. They should be vacuumed daily, but even that may not be enough for people with severe allergies. If you’re attached to your carpet, consider investing in a vacuum cleaner with a double-layered microfilter bag or a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter, which prevents dust from being re-introduced into the air. Otherwise, stick to hardwood, vinyl, linoleum or tile flooring.

6. Mop the floors. A wet mop will collect the dust that you missed after sweeping. The longer you leave it, the harder it will be, so give it a go today!

7. Take it outside. Dust from area rugs and pillows should be beaten outdoors.

8. Duster do’s and don’ts. Feather dusters only aggravate existing dust and cause it to settle elsewhere around your home. Instead, use a damp cloth or moist towelette to wipe down surfaces.

9. Clean air ducts & vents to prevent dust. Dirty air vents can build up a dust, dirt and grime layer. Give it a good clean and this will improve ventilation.

10. Air purifiers. Reduce dust particles with an air purifier and store them close to windows. This will prevent airborne contaminants getting in and circulating the room.

Written by Mr. Duct Cleaning

How to Prepare Your Home for the Fall/Winter Seasons

  • Regular HVAC Maintenance

It is extremely important to maintain the core of your home. In order to support your HVAC system, you must change your air filter every month, as it acquires dust and dirt very quickly. If dirty, it should be replaced immediately; otherwise it should be replaced regularly every three months. To continue maintaining proper heating, you should vacuum your air vents to ensure accurate air flow and regulation throughout your home. A simple way to remember to check these aspects of your HVAC system is to set a day every month to do so.

  • Insulate for Best Performance

An additional way to prepare your home for the cooler months ahead is to insulate your home properly. The attic is where most of your home’s heat is stored and what protects it from escaping. Your HVAC system will work the most effectively with a properly insulated attic as it will run less, while continuously keeping the temperature you want to maintain.

  • Inspect Before Heating

With your HVAC system running all year long, you should have it checked annually. Before you start the process of heating your home, it is vital that you ensure that your HVAC system is in good condition from fall to winter. Setting a yearly HVAC maintenance appointment will allow you to ensure it is cleaned or detect any issues. If a serious issue is found or if your HVAC system is worn out, you might have to replace it. It is recommended to replace your HVAC system after 10 years, as it may have become outdated and less efficient. It is best to resolve this issue as soon as possible, so you are prepared to begin heating your home.

Taking the initial measures to prepare your home for the upcoming seasons are essential to ensure your home is properly heating and your HVAC system is running smoothly.

Written by Mr. Duct Cleaning