Give Your Home a Good Deep Clean

In the spring we start opening the blinds and the windows to let in all that fresh air and light but with that light streaming in you can now see the dust floating through the air in your home.  Having your air ducts cleaned can be like a breath of fresh air, cleaning out all that dust. Below are a few facts you should know when it comes time to have the ducts in your home cleaned.

Air ducts are going to get dirty.

Pet dander, dust, chemicals, and other contaminants are pulled into the HVAC system, where they can build up and possibly contribute to health problems. This is especially true for people with respiratory conditions, autoimmune disorders, or allergies.

Clean air ducts can save you money.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, 25% to 40% 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. A clean HVAC system doesn’t have to work as hard, so it uses less energy.

There’s a wrong way to clean air ducts.

When you hire a professional cleaner, ask if they’re a member of NADCA, a trade association of the HVAC inspection, cleaning, and restoration industry. NADCA members have signed a Code of Ethics and invested time and resources into industry-related training and education. They also have general liability insurance.

Beware of air duct cleaning scams.

You should be aware that some non-NADCA companies use scare tactics and bait-and-switch methods to squeeze money out of their clients or don’t clean the HVAC system at all, let alone to the industry’s standards.

How to Tell You’re Getting A Professional Air Duct Cleaner:

Is the company able to show proof of NADCA membership and certification? Is the contractor willing to conduct a thorough inspection of the HVAC system prior to performing any work and disclose any problems discovered? Will the contractor clean the supply and return air ductwork, the air-stream side of the heat exchanger and the secondary heat exchanger? After cleaning, are access panels properly sealed; blower blades and compartment clean and free of oil, dust, and debris? Point a flashlight into the cooling coil. Does light shine through? It should if the coil is clean. Check to make sure the coil fins are straight and evenly spaced, and the coil drain pan is clean and draining properly. After cleaning, do the filters fit properly and are they the proper efficiency recommended by the manufacturer?

For the original article visit NADCA.

Clean Your Dryer Vent

Each year about 2,900 fires are caused by the dryer in your home, it is estimated to cause 5 deaths, 100 injuries, and $35 million in property damage. Failure to clean your dryer is the leading cause of home clothes dryer fires and the majority of these fires occur in the fall and winter months with the peak season being January. Here are some helpful tips on how to avoid becoming one of these homes.

  • Clothes dryer do’s
    • Installation
      • Have your clothes dryer installed by a professional.
      • Make sure the correct electrical plug and outlet are used and that the dryer is connected properly.
      • Read manufacturers’ instructions and warnings in use and care manuals that come with new dryers.
    • Cleaning
      • Clean the lint filter before and after each load of laundry. Don’t forget to clean the back of the dryer where lint can build up. In addition, clean the lint filter with a nylon brush at least every six months or more often if it becomes clogged.
      • Clean lint out of the vent pipe every three months.
      • Have your dryer cleaned regularly by a professional, especially if it is taking longer than normal for clothes to dry.
    • Maintenance
      • Inspect the venting system behind the dryer to ensure it is not damaged or restricted.
      • Put a covering on outside wall dampers to keep out rain, snow and dirt.
      • Make sure the outdoor vent covering opens when the dryer is on.
      • Replace coiled-wire foil or plastic venting with rigid, non-ribbed metal duct.
      • Have gas-powered dryers inspected every year by a professional to ensure that the gas line and connection are together and free of leaks.
      • Check regularly to make sure nests of small animals and insects are not blocking the outside vent.
      • Keep the area around the clothes dryer free of items that can burn.
      • If you will be away from home for an extended time, unplug or disconnect the dryer.
  • Clothes dryer don’ts
    • Don’t use a clothes dryer without a lint filter or with a lint filter that is loose, damaged or clogged.
    • Don’t overload the dryer.
    • Don’t use a wire screen or cloth to cover the wall damper. They can collect lint and clog the dryer vent.
    • Don’t dry anything containing foam, rubber or plastic. An example of an item not to place in a dryer is a bathroom rug with a rubber backing.
    • Don’t dry any item for which manufacturers’ instructions state “dry away from heat.”
    • Don’t dry glass fiber materials (unless manufacturers’ instructions allow).
    • Don’t dry items that have meet anything flammable like alcohol, cooking oils or gasoline. Dry them outdoors or in a well-ventilated room, away from heat.
    • Don’t leave a clothes dryer running if you leave home or when you go to bed.

Follow these helpful tips to help ensure you and your home stay safe.

Home Basics: Air Handler and Condenser

Owning a home can sometimes seem overwhelming, especially if you don’t understand how everything in your house works. For example, did you know that your air conditioning unit has more to it than just that piece that sits outside? You probably have an air handler in your basement or attic. Today, we are going to talk about the different parts of your HVAC system and where you might find them.

                So, lets start with that piece that sits outside of your house, you probably think of it as your “air conditioner”, this is your condenser. A condenser turns certain chemicals from a gas to a liquid by cooling it. This process happens repeatedly in order to cool the home. The condenser (in conjunction with the compressor) primarily works with a substance called refrigerant. The compressor turns that refrigerant, typically Freon, into a liquid. That liquid begins to travel through the condenser coils, and eventually the heat can escape. From this point, the liquid heads to a different part of the air conditioning unit (the evaporator) as a highly pressurized gas that is now cooler.

                The newly cooled air is then pushed throughout your home by your air handler, it is located in the attic, basement or a dedicated closet, and may closely resemble the shape of a gas furnace. Depending on the design of your home, an air handler may be a principal indoor component of your heat pump system. Depending on the season, the circulated air is either cool or hot; your air handler assists in regulating the circulation of indoor air and the temperature of the air in your home that you have set on your thermostat or control system. Your air handler consists of an evaporator coil, blower motor, air filter and the electrical and electronic components required to deliver enhanced levels of indoor comfort.

  • Coil:  The indoor coil or evaporator coil is a crucial component of the refrigeration cycle.
    • When your home requires cool indoor air, the coil is cold and removes humidity as the indoor air passes over it. This makes the conditioned air feel cooler throughout your home.
    • When your home requires warm indoor air, the coil is warm and transfers heat to the air that passes over it. This makes the conditioned air feel warmer throughout your home.
  • Blower Motor: The blower moves the air to the connected ductwork to circulate it into your indoor spaces. The blower motor may be a single speed, multi-speed or variable speed model.
  • Air Supply and Return Plenum Connections: Duct work is connected to your air handler by a plenum to
    • “supply” or deliver the conditioned heated or cooled air to your interior spaces
    • “return” the air to the air handler that needs to be heated or cooled
  • Filter: Before your air conditioned or heated air enters your ductwork, it passes through an air filter. The filter is intended to minimize the number of particulates circulated throughout your home, accumulate in the duct work, and land on the indoor components of your heat pump system.

The air is circulated through your home via ductwork, this involves the air being sucked from throughout the house into the heater/air conditioner, where it is heated or cooled, and pushed back through ducts into the living space. Both intake and output of air is critical to smooth-operating ductwork, not to mention heating, cooling, and indoor air quality.

Now that you know the basics of residential ductwork and air handlers, you can ask questions and speak intelligently with your contractor to be sure that you’re getting the system that’s right for you.

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.

Tips to Prepare and Protect Your HVAC System this Winter

Winter is well and truly upon us here in the New England area and it is time to think about how to keep your HVAC systems safe.  Winter elements such as extreme temperatures, snow, and ice can cause damage to your unit resulting in higher utility bills and possible system repairs or replacement.  There are a few things you can do to make sure your system runs smoothly and stays safe this winter.

                The first and most important step, as always, have an HVAC professional perform annual maintenance on your system. It is a consensus among HVAC professionals that most furnace breakdowns are due to the lack of maintenance. Think of it like your car, you have the oil in your car changed regularly why would your furnace not need the same care. Going hand in hand with system maintenance is the lifespan of your furnace, a well-maintained system can have a lifespan of 15-20 years. To us the idea of having to call your HVAC company for an emergency replacement in the middle of a storm sounds like the stuff of nightmares, so be on the look out for these signs your furnace might need replacement:

  • Your energy bill is on the rise
  • Your furnace is struggling to keep your home warm
  • Your furnace has become a money pit with costly repairs

Next, change your filter, a dirty filter will cause your furnace to work harder to push the air through your home. The filter for your furnace should be changed according to the manufacturer’s instructions, but in most cases, it is best to change them every one to three months. To better help your system circulate air throughout your home make sure to have those air ducts cleaned regularly. The National Air Duct Cleaning Association recommends that you have your air ducts cleaned every three to five years. A buildup of dirt in your air ducts can cause your furnace to overwork itself. Moving furniture away from air duct vents can also help the air flow throughout your home.

If your HVAC unit is located on the outside of your home, make sure you have your HVAC company service and cover the unit according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.  When winter weather hits make sure you take the time to clear the snow off the top and away from the sides of the unit. Before the snow starts for the winter take the time to make sure your gutters are cleaned to ensure snow and ice will not drip onto your HVAC unit.

Remember this winter if you want to save yourself money in the long run it is important to prepare your HVAC system for winter. Preparing your HVAC system for winter can lower your electricity bill, cut your energy usage, and extend the life of your HVAC system and it can all be done with the few simple steps we talk about above. For more information on the importance of duct cleaning and how it can help your family call us at (978)681-5023.

Aeroseal and Your Home

The heating and cooling systems in your home can only be as efficient as the ductwork hidden inside your walls, and more than 90 percent of buildings in the US have small gaps and cracks in their ventilation systems. These small cracks and gaps in your duct work lead to frustrating temperature shifts, high utility bills, and excessive amounts of dust in your home. As a licensed Aeroseal dealer and installer, Aspen Air Duct Cleaning works hard to ensure our customers are well educated, that your ducts are sealed properly, and most importantly – you save money.

What is Aeroseal? Well let’s start with the product itself, Aeroseal is a polymer that is sprayed into your ductwork and fills in any gaps or cracks. Aeroseal leaves no lingering odor and is composed of a water-based solution and UL-tested sealing material that has been used in water-based paints, hair spray, and chewing gum. In fact, this product is so safe it is used to seal the ductwork in hospitals and government buildings.                

Many homeowners worry that the product is going to build up in the duct work and cause more problems than it is worth however, the duct is not lined with the polymer. The polymer only bonds with the gaps or cracks in your system, leaving the rest of your system as it was. Aeroseal only bond where needed, the fine mist is forced through your duct work into cracks and seams and the rest blows on through leaving no residue behind.

The first change you should notice in your home is an even distribution of air, sealed air leaks prevent air loss, which makes your home more comfortable. It can help eliminate hot and cold spots, take some of the load off your HVAC system, and ultimately lower your consumption and costs. Many homes lose 20-40% of conditioned air through leaks. Aeroseal prevents 90 percent of that. You should also notice a decrease in the amount of dust in your home, which means less cleaning for you.

Aeroseal duct sealing reviews have been overwhelmingly positive. Homeowners not only report significant energy savings, but also enjoy improved heat flow and room temperature balance. While Aeroseal cost is not cheap, it is proven and simple way to professionally seal hard-to-reach ductwork. In addition, Aeroseal duct sealing can save you hundreds of dollars annually. To determine the Aeroseal cost for your home, request an estimate by dialing 978-681-5023.

Fall is in the Air

Fall is now upon us and it is time to start talking about the importance of professional air duct cleaning.  In the fall and winter months, your heating system will suddenly have a huge increase in usage and with this increase in usage anything that is inside your air duct is now going to be circulated around your home. Overtime, dust, pet hair, and other nasty bits of stuff accumulate inside your duct work, this can cause your system to overwork itself trying to move the same amount of air. When the air flow is restricted stress is added to your system, this stress leads to wear, malfunction, and breakdown within your system.

A good fall cleaning will help to eliminate all the dust, dirt, pollen, and any other pollutants which have collected inside of your home and duct work during the summer months. Especially if you have children, you know that there is an almost seemingly endless trails of mud, dirt, sand, water or sticky substances.  The National Air Duct Cleaning Association recommends that you have your air duct cleaned every 3 to 5 years, even more often if you have pets, this helps to remove the bad stuff before it becomes trapped in your home and continually recirculated throughout the home.

Removing the dirt and debris will help to reduce the number of allergy triggers within your home, helping to reduce the number of allergy flare ups from becoming a year-round problem. Hiring a NADCA certified air duct cleaner guarantees that you will being working with a company that uses the highest standards and the most aggressive cleaning methods.

Shortly after having your air duct cleaned you should notice a dramatic increase in the air quality of your home. The increase in air quality will help to cut down on the illness with in your home, saving your family from the number of colds and flues this winter. While many people get flu shots or take other preventative measures against getting sick however, few of us take the time to improve the air quality of our homes.

Even though both the decrease in energy bills and the increase in your health are both amazing reasons to have your air duct cleaned this fall the best reason of all – less dusting! That’s right, with the dust being cleaned out of your duct work the amount of time you will have to spend dusting will be greatly reduced.

While there are other benefits to having your air ducts cleaned, we have already talked about the most important, you save money, have a healthier, and cleaner home. If you want your home to be a cleaner, healthier home take the time and have your air ducts cleaned this fall.

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.