Apr 19

Spring Clean for Better Indoor Air Quality

SPRING!!!

Yes, regardless of the reports of snow in some parts of the country spring is really here.  Spring cleaning comes right along with it.  Honestly, not a big fan.  However, it is important and some fairly simple changes in how we go about it can actually improve our indoor air  quality. Improving our indoor air quality really is important.  Its important for our health and especially for those who have asthma or suffer from allergies (which are particularly difficult in the spring).  Anyway, I have come across some really good tips and I am in the habit of sharing.  So here goes.

First, opt for fragrance -free cleaning products.  No, I’m not the fragrance-free policcleanign productse.  If you have the other stuff, by all means, use it up.  But, when restocking opt for the unscented/fragrance-free varieties.  In case you weren’t aware those “wonderfully smelling cleaning products are full of petroleum-based chemicals which are horrible for our indoor breathing atmosphere.  Suffice it to say go with the fragrance-free.

Next, not only is using fragrance-free a great idea using your own homemade concoctions.  If it was good enough for our grandmothers who are we to thumb our noses at it.  Try using things you probably already have around the house.  Things like baking baking-soda-768950_960_720soda, white vinegar, lemon juice, salt, hydrogen peroxide, and more.  There are tons of DIY sites that can help you with what to use for different things.  You can also add essential oils to enhance the cleaning properties and make them more appealing to the nose.  So, not only will you be making the quality of yourvinegar indoor air better you may even save a few bucks.

Then, if you happen to be in need of a new vacuum consider one with a HEPA filter.  There are lots of them out there.  A HEPA filter vacuum can remove 99.7% of the allergens (.03 microns) from your space.  In laymen terms they suck up pretty much everything.  They are a little pricier but are so worth it.

Also, you might consider a vapor steam cleaner.  They de-germ, disinfect, and eliminate dirt, mildew, mold spores and a variety of allergens from floors, countertops and tile.  And, the best part, it uses only water.  Again, perfect for improving the indoor air quality.

Lastly, and honestly it goes without saying, filters, filters, filters.  Clean and or replace : furnace filters, air conditioner filters, dryer lint screens, vacuum cleaners, range hood screens, bathroom exhaust fan grilles, etc.  And if you decide you need more invest in a good air purifier.

Source: http://consumers.ul.com/articles/5-spring-cleaning-ideas-to-improve-indoor-air-quality/

All these tips along with some good old fashioned elbow grease will have your home the spring cleaniest and your indoor air will be better than ever before.

If you have questions or need more information on how to improve your indoor air quality please call us or visit our site.

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Mar 24

Spring Has Sprung and With It…Allergies

 

spring

Yep! Spring is definitely here.  And with it come all the dreaded spring allergies.  There’s not a whole lot we can do about what is in the outdoor air but there are few steps we can take to help insure those pesky allergens don’t make it into the indoor air. So, what are those steps we can take?

First of all use a doormat.  Yes, it welcomes your guests but it also signals them and allergies-sneeze-sick-TS-93539744family members to actually use it.  Simply using a good doormat can cut down significantly the amount of allergens that enter your home from outdoors.

Another great practice is to vacuum, vacuum, vacuum!  Oh, we just love that, probably not.  However, frequent vacuuming is another good way to cut way down on allergens in the indoor air.  Using a vacuum with a HEPA filter helps even more.

Believe this or not, DON’T open the doors and windows.  I know that goes against everything you feel about spring.  However, if you have allergy sufferers in your home this can go a long way to keep them from suffering needlessly.  Use that air conditioner with a really quality air filter in place and make your allergy sufferers happy!

Try to keep the humidity level in your home manageable.  The most advisable levels are between 30 and 50%.  Anything higher or lower can be difficult for allergy sufferers to deal with.

This one is not one any of us likes to think about.  Make sure your home is free from cockroaches.  Believe it or not they carry some powerful allergens.  Getting rid of these pesky creatures is no easy feat.  Check with a trusted pest control professional and use the least chemical laden methods possible to protect your allergy sufferers.

The final one is not really fun either.  If you have pet dander sufferers in your home the only way to help is to just not have a pet with fur or feathers.  There’s just no real way around that.

These are all great ways to help keep the air indoors as allergen free as possible.  Some things will be easy to incorporate others a little harder.  Just remember, even one or two of these can help a great deal.  There is really no quest for perfection here. Just steps in the right direction.

 

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Mar 03

Cleaning Products and Indoor Air Quality

Cleaning!  It’s a dirty job (sorry, just had to)!  Seriously, we all have to clean.  I would venture to say that it’s not the most favorite of tasks out there.  We usually like to use whatever products get the job done the most easily and quickly.  And, if they leave a nice aroma, well that’s a bonus. Unfortunately, if we are also concerned about the quality of the air we breathe indoors those very things just may cause a problem.

In doing some looking I’ve found research to back up the fact that some of the products we use to clean do emit chemicals such as terpenes and glycol that can react and cause pollutants to be introduced to our indoor breathing atmosphere.  For some people that may not be a huge concern.  However, if you or someone in your home suffers from allergies, asthma or some other respiratory problem it could be very concerning.  Some of the products that tend to cause the problems are as follows:

  • Aerosol spray products, including health, beauty and cleaning products; cleaning productsespecially cleaning products that are pine or citrus scented
  • Air fresheners;
  • Chlorine bleach;
  • Detergent and dishwashing liquid;
  • Dry cleaning chemicals;
  • Rug and upholstery cleaners;
  • Furniture and floor polish; and
  • Oven cleaners.

Seems to cover a lot of territory doesn’t it.  Fortunately, there are a few things that can help reduce their effects on our indoor air quality.  Those things are as follows:

  •   Limit the use of cleaning products or air fresheners advertised as pine- or lemon-scented, or that contain pine or citrus oils, especially during high outdoor pollution days. For ozone forecasts, visit http://airnow.gov and click on “Local forecasts and conditions.”
  •  When using cleaning products, avoid the use of indoor air cleaning devices such as electrostatic precipitators and ionizers that can emit some ozone. Air cleaners or air “purifiers” that intentionally produce ozone should never be used; they produce high levels of ozone, a reactive gas that may harm human health.
  •  Do not use more of the cleaning agent than is necessary to complete the job. Read and carefully follow all label instructions for use.
  • open window FallAlways use adequate ventilation during cleaning.
  • Keep the ventilation rate high for several hours after cleaning.
  • Rinse surfaces liberally with water after cleaning (where appropriate); residual cleaning agents that remain on surfaces will continue to react with any ozone present in the air.
  • Remove the paper towels, sponges, and mops used in cleaning from the indoor living space; rinse sponges and mops well before storing.

Sources:  http://www.arb.ca.gov/research/indoor/cleaning_products_fact_sheet-10-2008.pdf

http://www.lung.org/our-initiatives/healthy-air/indoor/indoor-air-pollutants/cleaning-supplies-household-chem.html

When possible try using warm water, soap and good old fashioned “elbow grease” if it will get the job done adequately.  None of us wants to pollute our indoor breathing atmosphere if we can avoid it.  These are just a few things to help us think and perhaps make some easy changes to keep our indoor air as clean as possible.  If Mr. B’s can answer any questions for help you further with air duct cleaning or air purification, please visit our site or call today.

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Feb 25

Humidity and Indoor Air Quality

Ahhh humidity!  It can be glorious or drive us nuts.  Either way, it is important to our comfort levels and our health.  We all have that humidity level that we are most comfortable in.  And, it is different for everyone.  In some ways I suppose it is a matter of what you get used to.  When I lived in the desert dry land of Phoenix I got used to pretty much no humidity.  After moving to Oklahoma I got used to a little more.  Being in Tennessee I got used to a lot!  That’s all well and good for the outdoors, but what about our indoor air?  Are the humidity levels indoors important?  What are some of the implications for our comfort and our health?

First, controlled humidity levels are important in the indoor air.  Optimally they should be between 30-50% when temperatures are above 20 degrees fahrenheit. If relmold:mildewative humidity levels rise above the 60% mark things begin to happen.  Generally  not good things.  At this level mold and mildew can begin to form.  This is not good for the inhabitants, particularly those with allergies.  Eventually the air will begin to feel clammy and a musty odor will be present.  There is some evidence that dust mites and their allergens are more prevalent in higher humidity levels. This is also a concern especially to allergy sufferers.

So, it’s an issue and possibly a problem.  What can we do about it?  One of the best ways to take care of humidity issues is to use a dehumidifier.  You can get portables and go all the way up to whole system dehumidifiers.  The choice is always dehumidifieryours.  Of course, keeping your air filters clean/changed will help. Also, opening windows occasionally helps as well to let some fresher air in and odors and allergens out.

There are lots of ways to keep your indoor breathing atmosphere healthy.  Optimum humidity levels is just one way.  If you have questions about it, call or visit our site today.

Source: http://72degreescbsanjose.blogspot.com/2013/08/how-relative-humidity-affects-indoor.html

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Feb 18

Your Windows and Indoor Air Quality

In thinking about what we might discuss today for some reason windows came to my open window Fallmind.  Windows?  Yes, I decided to open mine for a little while today.  Winter can cause us to shut everything up tight. It can start to feel dark, dreary even claustrophobic. True enough.  But, honestly having everything shut up so tightly can also take its toll on our indoor air quality.  As we’ve discussed so many times the air indoors can be considerably more polluted than the outdoor air.  If you seem to hanging on to that cold or your allergies seem to be worse than usual or your asthma is acting up, it could be that you need to freshen the air a bit. Let’s open the windows!

I know what you are thinking.  Am I crazy?  It’s February!  Yes, it is and no I’m not.  Just throw open a window or two for five or ten minutes everyday.  Make it a habit.  See if the quality of the air you are breathing doesn’t improve.  What do you have to lose?  Perhaps a cold or a sneeze or cough or two.  Just give it a try. I actually keep one of the upstairs windows in my home open just a couple of inches most everyday.  Our indoor air stays quite good (as long as I’m changing filters and maintaining the system etc.)

As always, if Mr. B’s can help further improve your indoor air quality with duct cleaning or purification please visit our sit or call us today!  We’d love to help!

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615-244-1785

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Feb 11

Procrastination and Indoor Air Quality

So, procrastination is one of those ugly words some of us deal with a lot.  It creeps up in the most inconvenient places.  Usually the consequences of procrastination are not desirable.  It is true, as well, in the area of indoor air quality.  The procrastination I’m referring to here is in regards to checking and/or changing the filters on our HVAC systems.    When we use the infamous words “I’ll get to it later” we are quite possibly damaging the system and perhaps even putting our health at risk.  Obviously we wouldn’t purposely do those things but procrastination may just let them happen.  dirty air filter

Some of the less than desirable effects of not regularly checking and/or changing the filters and allowing them to become exceptionally dirty are as follows:

  • Restrict the airflow in your system. This may result in the equipment overheating and shutting down, which can damage components and require expensive repairs.
  • Poor airflow also means less air moving through your home, reducing your comfort level, and making your system work harder to compensate which can increase  your energy bills.
  • Allow dust to enter the system and build up on essential components like the coils, fan, motor and heat exchanger. This again affects the efficiency of the system and even possible repairs or replacement.
  • Allow dust, pollen, mold spores etc. into your home.  These can wreak havoc on those with allergies, asthma and COPD.  Not to mention make it necessary to dust more.

None of these sound like good things to me.  So let’s do our very best not to let the dreaded “procrastination disease” get to our HVAC systems or our indoor air quality.  Be diligent about checking and/or changing those filters monthly.  And, if your air ducts haven’t ever been cleaned or not in the last five years or so, give us a call  or visit our site and we’ll help you take care of that as well.

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Jan 27

New Year Clean Indoor Air Check Up

Just wanted to check in.  Wanted to see how we are doing with cleaning up our indoor breathing atmosphere.  So, how are we doing?

Have we resolved to vacuum every few days with a vacuum equipped with a HEPA filter? vacuuming Have we checked out the filters to make sure they are clean and our heating system is working properly and efficiently?  What about cracking open a window or two to let in some fresh air (I know it’s cold outside but a few minutes won’t hurt)?  Are we dusting with a microfiber cloth designed to really pick up dust and allergens?  Did we get rid of all the plarange hood 1stic and cardboard possibly lingering from the holidays?  Have we checked the vent in the kitchen to make sure it is running properly and venting to the outside?

I know it seems like a lot.  But even just tackling one or two during the rest of this month can go a long way to improve the air you and your family are breathing in your home.  One more suggestion, if you have never had your air ducts cleaned or maybe not in the last five years or so, consider having it done.  It truly does make a world of difference.  Let us know if we can give you a free estimate.  Call or visit our site today!

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Dec 30

Resolve to Have Better Indoor Air for the New Year

New-Year-Celebrations

The new year is fast approaching and we are all most likely thinking about New Year’s resolutions.  Or, perhaps trying to avoid thinking about them.  Whichever, most of us tend to concentrate on health, family etc.  All of that is great!  But while we are concentrating on health and family, how about giving some thought to the indoor air our family is breathing and how that affects our health.  How about making one of our resolutions this year to improve the indoor air quality in our homes? Seems like an outstanding idea to me.  So, what are some basic things that we can do to accomplish this?

I ran across some great thoughts as I was contemplating this today.  Here are a few of the things I found.

  • clean-air-conditioning-filtersAir Filters: Changing the air filter each month helps to take contaminants out of the air in your home, especially if you upgrade to a filter with a high MERV (minimum efficiency reporting value). Even with a supplementary indoor air quality system, regular filter changes are necessary so that your heater and air conditioner can operate efficiently.
  • Air Purifier: An electronic air purifier may be more effective than the fi2500-White-B-500lter you currently have in place. This system is usually able to catch much smaller particles, using an ionization process to charge particles, which then attract to a metal plate in the air purifier.
  • Air Filtration Systems: A HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter is more effective than a standard home filter, but ask a technician if this is the right choice for your HVAC system. A HEPA filter may block airflow to your heating and air conditioning system so that it can no longer work properly.
  • Humidifier: Dry air and, as a result, dry sinuses, makes you more susceptible to illness and keeps you sick for longer. Add a humidifier to your HVAC system so you can recover faster.

Source: http://www.robbinsheating.com/blog/indoor-air-quality-service/resolve-to-have-better-indoor-air-quality-in-the-new-year/

These are all excellent ideas and things to give some thought to.  If, you think this may just be the start for you to improve your indoor air quality and would like to delve a little deeper, the EPA has an excellent place to get more information.  The link for that is as follows: http://www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq/inside-story-guide-indoor-air-quality  Hopefully this information will get you well on your way to fulfilling that better indoor air quality resolution.  If we can help or answer any questions you may have please visit our site or give us a call.

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Dec 16

Busy Holiday Season and Indoor Air Quality

beautiful Christmas sceneI don’t know about you but I’m busier in these next ten to fourteen days than almost any other time of the year.  I love this time but sometimes I forget to think about the air my family might be breathing indoors.  It’s cold (for most) outside and so windows and doors are shut tight.  There is a lot of cooking to be done for friends and family.  We love the sounds and especially the smells of the holiday season.  Most of these “must-dos” or at least “really likes” unfortunately cause some amount of indoor air pollution.  So, what can be done?

If  you are up for it, perhaps only run the gas fireplace sparingly.  Maybe, only when there are actgas fireplaceually people in the room to enjoy it.  And, if you can stand it, crack a window at night just to let a little fresh air in.  We tend to lower our thermostats slightly overnight
when we are all cozy in our warm beds anyway.

For the cooking issue, just make sure you are using your exhaust fan as much as possible, And, of course, make sure it vents to the outside.

As for the candles, air fresheners, potpourri or whatever you use to make your hdecorationsome “smell” like the holidays, again, just use them a little more sparingly.  If you have a family with very sensitive allergies perhaps eliminate them all together.  Let something else bring the warm holiday feeling.

Of course, always make sure your filters are clean.  This not only helps clear the indoor air it also helps your heating unit run more efficiently, which, also saves  you money.  And, who doesn’t like to save money, particularly at this time of year?  Also, with all the foot traffic in and out of your homes vacuuming carpetright now, vacuum, vacuum, vacuum.  It helps more than you’d think.

None of this is rocket science.  Pretty much just good common sense.  Just wanted to get you thinking a bit.  As always, if we can help you clean up your indoor air even more this holiday season visit our site or give us call.  It’s not too late!

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Dec 04

All Things Holiday and Indoor Air Quality

Obviously the holidays are in full swing.  That means lots and lots of cooking, cleaning, decorating, wrapping.  I could go on and on.  Mostly I would like to focus on the cooking, cleaning and decorating.  Believe it or not those things can all affect your indoor breathing atmosphere negatively.

Cooking affects it negatively because of the smoke, fumes etc.  The best thing to be donegas stove kitchen for this is to be sure to use a well ventilated exhaust fan.  Using one that vents to the outside is the absolute best.

Cleaning is another possible hazard to our indoor breathing atmosphere.  Using harsh and toxic cleaning products is the biggest hazard.  Trying to use non-toxic or even natural cleaning agents is the best defense.  However, if the others are your choice just be sure to open some windows (while you are cleaning) and run fans.  I don’t suggest going without cleaning no matter how tempting it might be 😉  Of course, vacuum often cleaning productsand empty the dust containers and/or change the bags often.  Even the little things can make a big difference in your indoor air quality.

I mentioned decorating for a couple of reasons.  One being the fact that bringing in the boxes/bins of decorations from wherever they are stored can bring in all kinds of dust, and whatever else.  This in itself can cause problems for the indoor air.  Wiping all containers down while still outside (if that’s where they are stored) or perhaps vacuuming them off before moving them is a great idea.  This will cut down on what is put into the breathing atmosphere considerable.  Another reason I mentioned decorating is because well all love (well most of us) candles and other things that make the air smell like “Christmas”.  Unfortunately, much of that can pollute our indoor breathing atmosphere.  I’m definitely not “Scrooge” so I’m not  saying don’t do it. I’m just saying be aware and perhaps use decorationssparingly or go for natural products.

And of course, make sure the gas fireplaces and stoves etc. are working properly and are properly ventilated.  Check the air filters and change if it’s time.

Just wanted to give a few reminders so we can keep the air in our homes as clean as possible for all those who will be with us for the wonderful holiday season!  Enjoy one another and, as always, give us a call or visit our site if we can help keep your indoor breathing atmosphere clean!

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