Nov 18

Indoor Air Quality – Holiday “New” Stuff

I was recently contemplating getting all the decorations and such out for the holidays.  I fully loaded christmas treeactually really love doing all those kinds of things.  We happen to store ours in a shed outside our home.  It made me think of all the dust, pollen and other pollutants I could be bringing into my home.  Not a whole lot that can be done about that except perhaps wiping down all the bins etc. outside before bringing them in. Of course, making sure the air filters indoors are clean and fresh and vacuuming immediately after the “decorating” is complete are great ideas.  All that is pretty normal stuff and I do actually think it helps.  However, it got me thinking about other pollutants that may be getting in in ways I may not have thought of.  So, of course, I started in on some research.

During this time of year we all bring “new” things into the house all the time.  Gifts, groceries, perhaps even new furniture and carpet with all the holiday guests coming in.  Unfortunately, when I began to do my research one of the biggest  culprits for indoor air pollutants is “new” stuff.  New carpeting and furniture were the two biggest prnew carpetoblems in most of what I found. Electronics and other new plastic things were also mentioned.  That covers almost all gifts these days especially if you have kids.  Well, that made me a little nervous and even put a bit of a damper on my holiday mood.  But, along with the warnings that were given some advice on how to handle these things was also given.

For new carpeting make sure you ask for low-VOC, formaldehyde free adhesive, air carpeting out before installing and run fans and even one widows (if possible) after installation.  For new furnishings the best thing is just keeping things well ventilated.  new furnitureThe same goes for new electronics or plastic products as well as vacuuming around those products very regularly.

Something else that was added in the list of indoor air pollutants was glues and adhesives.  If you are crafty, the holidays are especially full of these items for you.  Unfortunately most of the glues and adhesives can introduce pollutants into your indoor air.  If  possible, opt for water-based, formaldehyde free glues.  And, as always, work in a craftyvery well ventilated area.

Hopefully this information was helpful and not alarming.  I’m a firm believer in knowledge is power. So here’s to hoping you feel more powerful.

As always, if Mr. B’s can help improve your indoor air with duct cleaning and/or air purification or, if we can answer any questions for you, please call or visit our site today!

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Nov 05

Indoor Air Quality – Change Those Air Filters

clean:dirty_air_filtersWe all know that regularly changing the air filters in our homes is important.  However, until pondering its importance I didn’t know how much difference it can really make.  I also didn’t know much about the differences in air filters or that there was a rating system developed in 1987 that helps determine the efficiency of said filters.  Who knew there was so much to know?

“Central heaters and air conditioners pull air through filters that capture dust, and other particulates. Air filters are one of the best lines of defense against the ailments that can arise due to dirty air.”  That is according to QualityAirFilters.com but it sounds like solid thinking to me.  That being said what are some way to be sure you are using the appropriate air filter?  As mentioned earlier there is a rating system called MERV minimum efficiency reporting value.  The ratings are 1-20, 1 being the least efficient and 20 being the most.  I could go on about each rating or I could just provide you with the following table that explains it quickly and efficiently:

MERV Min. particle size Typical controlled contaminant [2] Typical Application [2]
1–4 > 10.0 μm Pollen, dust mites, cockroach debris, sanding dust, spray paint dust, textile fibers, carpet fibers Residential window AC units
5–8[3] 10.0–3.0 μm Mold, spores, dust mite debris, cat and dog dander, hair spray, fabric protector, dusting aids, pudding mix Better residential, general commercial, industrial workspaces
9–12 3.0–1.0 μm Legionella, Humidifier dust, Lead dust, Milled flour, Auto emission particulates, Nebulizer droplets Superior residential, better commercial, hospital laboratories
13–16 1.0–0.3 μm Bacteria, droplet nuclei (sneeze), cooking oil, most smoke and insecticide dust, most face powder, most paint pigments hospital & general surgery
17–20[4] < 0.3 μm Virus, carbon dust, sea salt, smoke Electronics & pharmaceutical manufacturing cleanroom

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minimum_efficiency_reporting_value

This information proved very valuable to me.  Now, I think I have a better idea of what to look for and what will best cover the needs of my family.  Trusting it will be helpful to you as well.

At Mr. B’s we would love to help you continue to improve the air you and your family breathe indoors.  Call us today or visit our site to see how we can help!

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Oct 22

Gas Fireplaces and Indoor Air Quality

gas fireplaceI think this topic occurred to me because I flipped on my fireplace for the first time just this morning.  Then as I began to smell some of the familiar aromas of turning it on for the first time, my mind went directly to our air quality.  Does the fireplace affect it?  Should I be concerned?  So, I started doing some checking.  Sure found some interesting information that I was completely clueless about before.

To begin with, I learned there are vented and ventless gas fireplaces.  Again, that was new news to me.  So, I kept digging.  I discovered some excellent information from practically right in our own backyard: Custom Fireplaces and More in Cookeville, Tennessee.  Here’s what they had to say:

Vented or Ventfree? Which fireplace is right for your family?

We offer both kinds; each has unique advantages and disadvantages.

Vented

Unvented

1. All exhaust fumes (including odors and moisture) are taken out of the home. 1. Unvented fireplaces burn very clean but not perfect, much like a kerosene heater. Measurable levels of carbon monoxide and other chemicals such as nitrogen dioxide (an irritant to eyes, nose and throat) vent into the home. Some people are more sensitive to this than others. Odor is usually noticeable by those with a strong sense of smell.
2. Some vented models (“direct-vent” types) are excellent heaters having efficiency ratings up to 80% plus. Others are meant primarily for “looks” and have low efficiencies. Consumers must be sure to choose a model that suits their priorities. 2. All unvented models are good heaters. since the heat cannot escape up a chimney. However, labeling on the permanent metal tags attached to the unit (as of 3/96 not required to be stated in advertising literature), used to state that a window must be opened “an inch or two” when using heater. This statement was replaced a few years ago with, “Consult your installation manual for ventilation requirements.” All manuals now advise that if you do not have enough cubic feet of space as compared to the amount of BTU’s, you should cut a permanent hole in the outside wall of your house and install a louver in it.
3. Very natural, realistic dancing flame patterns are possible. Some models meant mainly for “looks” allow rearranging and customizing of log positions for the ultimate in realism. 3. To burn as clean as possible, flames patterns tend to be noticeably less realistic. Logs are placed only as per manufacturer’s instructions and cannot be safely rearranged.
4. Vented models and their installation usually cost more than most unvented models. 4. Unvented models and their installation usually cost less than most vented models.
5. When considering adding a vented fireplace to the lower level of a two level home, it may be difficult to find a convenient place to run the venting. 5. Sometimes the only possible way to add a fireplace to the lower level of an existing two level home is to use an unvented model.
6. In a very tight house, direct-vent fireplace is often the method of choice. It pulls in air to feed the fire between the two layers of double vent pipe, and all exhaust is sent out through the center pipe. No heated room air can escape. 6. In a very tight house, unless a window is opened during use, an unvented fireplace can cause “indoor air pollution” consisting of traces of carbon monoxide, and various other chemicals plus large quantities of water vapor. Water vapor can form a “film” and encourage the growth of mold and mildew.

Source: http://www.customfireplacesandmore.com/hearth-articles/vented-unvented-fireplaces.html

If you already have a gas fireplace, it was also highly suggested that you have it inspected and maintained annually.  Of course, it was suggested by the American Lung Association that they would not recommend unvented fireplaces for anyone with health issues.  I suppose it’s a matter of your personal comfort level as to how much of the odors, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and other chemicals you would want to allow into your indoor breathing atmosphere.

Anyway, it was just information that honestly I hadn’t given much thought to and wanted to pass along once I did give it a little thought.  As always, if Mr. B’s can help you improve the indoor air quality in your home, please give us a call or visit our site.

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Oct 15

Indoor Air Quality and Kitchens?

Fall KitchnSo, the weather is just beginning to cool off….finally. And the leaves are beautiful and there is a slight crispness to the air in the mornings.  For whatever reason that sends my mind to the kitchen. Weird, just stick with me.  The fall finds me in the kitchen cooking and baking.  Whereas, summer usually finds me outdoors grilling and such.  So, back to the kitchen.  It’s generally the hub of most homes. Unfortunately it has come to my attention that the kitchen can be one of the worst sources of indoor air pollution.  How can the kitchen and all the wonderful things that come out of it be a source of pollutants? Great question.

According to an article in the New York Times “Cooking represents one of the single largest contributors, generating particulate matter … at concentrations four times greater than major haze events in Beijing.”  Well that seems a little scary. Apparently, frying, grilling or toasting foods with gas and electric appliances creates particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide, and volatile organic compounds.  I actually never ever gave this any thought (unless of course something has been terribly burned and every door and window must be flung open in order just to breathe).  Gas burning stoves seem to be worse in this area than electric, but electric is not completely without problems.

range hood 1In fact, in a study in California performed by Dr. Brett Singer and his group at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory it was found that a significant portion of residences exceed outdoor air quality standards for several pollutants on a weekly basis as a result of cooking with gas burners. The study also reported that “If these were conditions that were outdoors the EPA [Environmental Protection Agency] would be cracking down. But since it’s in people’s homes, there’s no regulation requiring anyone to fix it, reducing people’s exposure to pollutants from gas stoves should be a public health priority.”  Again, that sounds a bit scary.  So, aside from forming a Facebook page and raising awareness or whatever else one might do, what can we do in our own homes to combat this issue?

Once again, Dr. Singer to the rescue, “If every one of those homes were to use a range hood that exhausts to the outside and is even moderately effective, the number of homes exceeding the standards would drop by more than half” .  Sounds easy enough. However, more interesting information that I came across stated that although pretty much every home has a range hood an alarming amount do not use them.  And, even if the home has one and it is used regularly many do not work very well.range hood 2

Here are some tips that I found from that very same lab for cooking and for buying an effective range hood.

Cooking Tips

— Always turn your fan on

— Cook on the back burners

— Use highest fan setting

— Clean grease traps periodically

— If you don’t have a hood, open windows

Tips For Buying A New Range Hood

— Look for one that covers the entire stovetop

— It should move 200 cubic feet of air per minute, certified by the Home Ventilating Institute

— Choose a noise rating of 3 sones or less for a quieter fan

— Choose a hood shape with a hollow space underneath for collecting fumes

Source: Lawrence Berkeley Lab

Hopefully you found this information very helpful.  As always, Mr. B’s is here to help you improve your indoor breathing atmosphere.  Please don’t hesitate to call or visit our site.

 

Sources: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/07/22/the-kitchen-as-a-pollution-hazard/?_r=0http://newscenter.lbl.gov/2013/07/23/kitchens-can-produce-hazardous-levels-of-indoor-pollutants/http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2013/09/10/219012757/kitchen-range-hoods-may-not-be-as-effective-as-they-claim

 

 

 

 

 

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Oct 08

Caulking and Weatherstripping – Improve Indoor Air Quality

I was browsing back through some of our earlier blogs.  The list of things to do to get our homes “cooler weather ready” stuck out to me.  It may not feel so much like cooler weather is on the way right now.  But, that might just be the time to think about preparing for it.  One of the items that stuck out to me the most was the directive to checkcaulk 2 for air leaks and utilize caulk and/or weatherstripping.

Honestly, until I’m sitting by a door or window and it is chilly outside but I’m beginning to feel chilly inside, I don’t give caulking and weatherstripping much thought.  Which is why I’m bringing it up now.

So the first step in determining if you need to make use of the caulk or weatherstripping is to check your home for air leaks.  The U.S. Department of Energy tells us that “reducingweatherstripping the amount of air that leaks in and out of your home is a cost-effective way to cut heating and cooling costs, improve durability, increase comfort, and create a healthier indoor environment.”  They also provide us with a list of places to look for those pesky air leaks:

“VISUAL INSPECTION

On the outside of your house, inspect all areas where two different building materials meet, including:

  • All exterior corners
  • Outdoor water faucets
  • Where siding and chimneys meet
  • Areas where the foundation and the bottom of exterior brick or siding meet.

Inside your home, inspect around the following areas for any cracks and gaps that could cause air leaks:

  • Electrical outlets
  • Switch plates
  • Door and window frames
  • Electrical and gas service entrances
  • Baseboards
  • Weather stripping around doors
  • Fireplace dampers
  • Attic hatches
  • Wall- or window-mounted air conditioners.
  • Cable TV and phone lines
  • Where dryer vents pass through walls
  • Vents and fans.”

Source: http://energy.gov/energysaver/air-sealing-your-home

Once you’ve determined where your air leaks occur you can seal them up with either caulk or weatherstripping which ever is deemed appropriate.  Now, before it gets to cool out, is a good time to check it all out and get it taken care of.  This way you will be comfortable, save money, and feel good about the air you are breathing while you are enjoying your family and football or whatever you like to do indoors.  Hope this gets you thinking and hopefully doing.

As always, if Mr. B’s can help further improve your indoor air quality with duct cleaning or an air purification system, please visit our site or give us a call today.

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Oct 01

Cleaning Countdown to the Holidays – Don’t Forget Indoor Air

I have to admit I had a moment of panic when I woke up and realized it’s OCTOBER!  How in the world did that happen so fast?  It just sent my mind racing.  That means Halloween is around the corner, then Thanksgiving and, oh my word, CHRISTMAS!  The tasks that accompany all the joy and wonder of this time of year can certainly become overwhelming and seem daunting. So, since I wanted to help alleviate some of my own stress I started looking for some help.  Not the kind where you call someone say “help” and shell out loads of your hard earned money.  Nope, the kind you can look for that will break the tasks down and make them seem manageable and even make a lot of sense.

So here it is.  It’s thorough and doable and brought up some things I might not have thought of.

Clean Ideas: Countdown to the Holidays

A Checklist to Get Your Home Ready for the Holidays

Work through the list a few items a day. Before you know it, your home will be clean and ready for the holidays!

  1. Put mats and throw rugs at all entryways. This will help prevent dirt from being tracked into your home.
  2. Keep a boot tray near the door for rain or snow soaked footwear.
  3. Vacuum carpets, floors and baseboards so you won’t have to count dust bunnies among your holiday guests!
  4. Sort and discard old magazines and newspapers. Save a few interesting ones and leave them on a table in the guest room for your company’s nighttime reading.
  5. Aim high! Add a telescoping dust wand to your cleaning supplies so it’s easy to banish cobwebs in corners and around ceiling fixtures.
  6. Before the holiday rush takes over, give all the bed linens a thorough cleaning.
  7. Develop a sorting system for handling the mail so it doesn’t accumulate in piles.
  8. Analyze your scarf, hat and glove storage and develop some jumble-free solutions.
  9. If your pets prefer the furniture to the floor, cover their favorite upholstered pieces with attractive, washable throws that can be whisked out of sight when guests arrive. If you keep your most-used cleaning supplies on each level of your home, remember safety fircleaning productsst. All cleaning products should be stored up and out of reach of young children.
  10. Put a container of pop-up disposable wipes next to every bathroom and powder room sink. Encourage family members to use them every time they turn the water off.
  11. Stock up on electrostatic dust cloths for on-the-spot cleaning of your flat screen TV and other dust magnets.
  12. If you plan on doing a lot of holiday cooking and entertaining, check your stockpile of aprons, potholders, dish clothes and dish towels. Make sure they’re clean and in usable condition.clean laundry
14.  Invest in a few small, hand-held vacuums designed for your TV, computer keyboard or gaming station (cordless or with a charger) and install them in strategic places around your home. They are perfect for removing dust and crumbs from your electronics.

15.  Flushable bathroom wipes are good for touching up surfaces between deeper cleanings.

16.  Stock up on disposable hand towels for the powder room and guest bath.

17.  Make room for guest’s gear by purging the coat closet of out-of-season items and stocking it with hangers sturdy enough for winter coats.

18.  To avoid beverage rings on your wood or glass top furniture, keep coasters out in plain sight.

19.  Clean out the refrigerator to make room for holiday goodies. Remove the contents, checking expiration dates, and discarding anything whose time is up. Clean the shelves and wipe down bottles and jars before returning items to the refrigerator.

20.  For soiled table linens, get into the soaking habit. Once the meal is over, clear the table and pretreat any stains with a prewash stain remover. Fill the washing machine with laundry detergent, warm water and bleach that’s safe for the fabric, toss the linens in, and let them soak overnight. Same goes for your fine napkins and placemats.

21.  Place tissues and hand sanitizer near doors for a quick pit-stop.

22.  If the counter tops gleam, the kitchen immediately looks cleaner. Find the best spray cleaner for your particular countertop and use it regularly.

23.  To cut down on clutter and crumbs, confine snacks to certain areas of the house.

24.  Inventory your laundry supplies so you don’t run out of anything at this busy time of the year.

25.  Give yourself a holiday present: a professional cleaning service pre- or post-holiday is just what Santa ordered!

Source: http://www.cleaninginstitute.org/clean_living/cm_novdec2010_clean_ideas.aspx

I would add one more thing to the “give yourself a holiday present” section.  Why not have the air ducts cleaned?  What good is it to keep things clean and neat when you are possibly blowing dust and debris from the air ducts right back into your clean home.  If you’ve never had it done or haven’t in the last 5-7 years it’s time.  You will breathe easier and dust less.  Give us a call or visit our site to get a free estimate for your home.

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Sep 25

It’s Officially Fall – Is Your Home Ready?

fall home exterior
I know we’ve mentioned this in the last couple of weeks.  However, it’s so important I believe it is worth revisiting.  It is officially fall.  Very soon, if not already, the leaves will turn, and then fall and then cold weather is most likely upon us.  The question is have you put forth the necessary effort for your home to be ready. Many of us have an enemy is this situation: procrastination.  Definitely not our friend when its time to ready the house for fall…and yes…winter. That being said here are just a few reminders of the things we should check and or do to be completely, well maybe not completely, for fall and winter.  These are borrowed from our good friend in the home improvement biz Bob Villa.

10 Fall Home Maintenance Musts

  1. Check exterior for peeling paint and make corrections.
  2. Clean out gutters and downspouts and flush with water.gutters
  3. Caulk windows.caulk
  4. Inspect roof for missing and loose shingles.
  5. Ready the fireplace by making sure the gaskets still are good working condition to make a tight seal.
  6. Have the heating system serviced to be sure it is running efficiently and effectively.
  7. Reverse ceiling fans to create an upward draft for warm air.
  8. Cover air conditioners.
  9. Clean and store all lawn equipment and ready snow equipment.
  10. Prepare the deck for winter. Make any repairs to outdoor furniture and store along with placing the grill in a protected area.

Source: http://www.bobvila.com/slideshow/10-fall-home-maintenance-musts-1676

These are some great things to start with.  . I’m sure there are other that you come up with on your own.  In any case, it’s time to get going.  And, if you do them now while it’s still fairly warm you won’t have to complain that it’s too cold to get it done  So, say goodbye to procrastination and ready your home.  You’ll be glad you did.

As always if we can help further prepare your home with air duct cleaning or air purification don’t hesitate to give us a call or visit our site.  We’d be happy to answer your questions and give you a free estimate.  Happy fall!!

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Sep 10

Fall Indoor Air Quality – A Few Tips

We made mention of fall just a few weeks ago. And now it really is upon us.  Labor Day has been celebrated and school is in full swing.  Football has begun the leaves are even beginning to show the signs.  So, what should we do for our indoor air quality with cooler temperatures surely on the horizon.  As I perused through some interesting articles I happened upon so good tips for the indoor air heading into fall.


The first was to make sure things like gas stoves and fireplaces are well sealed and operating profireplace picperly as these things can be sources of indoor air pollution.  Next was to seal any air leaks in your home.  This is particularly important if you suffer from allergies.  Another great tip was to open some windows and let some of that fresh cool air in.  Of course, this is not encouraged if you are an aforementioned allergy sufferer.

Opening the windows while the temperatures are pleasant is good in many ways. It givesopen window Fall your HVAC equipment a much needed rest after the almost constant use of the summer months.  Opening the windows also allows clean fresh air to circulate throughout your home.This helps to eliminate the stagnant possibly pollutant ladened air that has been trapped inside.  It, in a sense, naturally refreshes the air.

Of course, calling your HVAC professional and having your system cleaned and tuned up in preparation for the cold temperatures and elevated use is an exceptionally good tip for
today.HVAC Tech

I would only add that it might also be a good time to have the air ducts cleaned as well.  If you have never had them cleaned or if you haven’t had them cleaned in the last 5-7 years there is a very good chance it is needed.  Start the fall and upcoming holiday season off right with clean ducts and cleaner indoor air.  Call us or visit our site today for your free estimate.

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Sep 02

Cleaner Indoor Air and Saving Money?

I love 2 for 1 on almost anything.  It always seems like a deal.  No different for air duct cleaning?  What?  Are we having some kind of sale?  No. I’m really talking about the benefits that come from having your air ducts cleaned.  I’ve been in a little “sticker shock” lately when the electric bills have come in.  I know it has been hot and they were from the summer months.  But, wow!  They have been high. I got to thinking about the air ducts.  Could they possibly be dirty again and would having them cleaned help me save some money? Of course, I know the answer but I wanted to share it with you.  In short, yes.  Having the air ducts cleaned could very well save you money.dirty-air-duct

How does that work, really?  Well, as little as .042 inches of dirt on a cooling coil can decrease the efficiency of your system by 21%.  the dirt could possibly be coming from a
dirty conveyance system.  Also, it has been determined that 9 of 10 premature system failures are caused by dirt and dust.  We all know how costly a complete system failure can be.  So, simply put, having the air ducts cleaned really can save you money.  First, by increasing the efficiency of your HVAC systemsystem and then the possibility of saving you from a premature total system failure.

Back to the  2 for 1 part.  The first thing I generally mention is the improvement of your indoor breathing atmosphere.  Having the air ducts cleaned really does cut down on the amount of dust, dirt, pollen and other allergens that are circulated into your breathing atmosphere. That also cuts down on dusting.  Also, it helps in eliminating some of the musty dusty odors you may be encountering.  In actuality that sounds like way more than 2 for 1……EVEN BETTER!

As always, if we can help you breathe easier and save money please call or visit our site today!

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Aug 27

Clean Air Ducts? Picture it!

A few weeks ago we discussed the top reasons for having the air ducts cleaned.  If I do say so myself, they were some pretty valid reasons.  They made sense and were important.  But, the old saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” may ring no more true than in this case.  So, I decided to share with you some of our own photographic evidence for the need for air duct cleaning.

another afterI’llanother before start with this one since it’s relatively mild and yet still in need of cleaning.  The before is fairly dirty but the after is wonderful!

 

Then there is this example.  Woah, can you imagine the kinds of things these ducts were drawing into the indoor breathing atmosphere?

Before

 

And then, it was clean and much cleaner air was brought into the breathing atmosphere.

After

I saved this next one for last because, honestly, I still find it hard to believe.  But, thducts after a remodele truth is in the picture.  These customers had recently been through a remodel and were aware that it was a good idea to have their ducts cleaned afterwards.  I’m pretty confident they were not expecting to see what we found.  Shocking I know!  But it can happen.  Not only does this kind of thing wreak havoc on the breathing atmosphere but could very well damage the ducts themselves.  We were able to take care of all of that and give them clean ducts to introduce clean air into their living space.

While we are at it I’ll also give you a look at what your dryer vents might look like

dryer vent before and afterThat doesn’t seem like a good thing either. It is even a fire hazard. Yikes!

Convinced yet?  I hope you are at least intrigued enough to give us a call or visit our site to get your free estimate.  Here’s to cleaner indoor air!

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Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Clean Air Ducts? Picture it!