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Friday, December 16, 2011

Loud Noise From Your Heat Pump

We get calls from customers often during the winter months asking why their heat pump is suddenly running really loudly.  What most people don't know or maybe forget, is that heat pumps come equipped with a defrost cycle that is designed to remove frost from the coil.

When a heat pump is operating in the heating mode or heat cycle, the outdoor air is relatively cool and the outdoor coil acts as an evaporator.  Under certain conditions of temperature and relative humidity, frost might form on the surface of the outdoor coil.  The layer of frost will interfere with the operation of the heat pump by making the pump work harder and, therefore, inefficiently.  The frost must be removed.  A heat pump has a cycle called a defrost cycle, which removes the frost from the outdoor coil.  A heat pump unit will defrost regularly when frost conditions occur.  The defrost cycle should be long enough to melt the ice, and short enough to be energy-efficient.  In the defrost cycle, the heat pump is automatically operated in reverse, for a moment, in the cooling cycle.  This action temporarily warms up the outdoor coil and melts the frost from the coil.  In this defrost cycle, the outdoor fan is prevented from turning on when the heat pump switches over, and the temperature rise of the outdoor coil is accelerated and increased.  The heat pump will operate in the defrost cycle until the outdoor coil temperature reaches around 57° F.  The time it takes to melt and remove accumulated frost from an outdoor coil will vary, depending on the amount of frost and the internal timing device of the system.

So next time when it gets really cold outside and you hear your heat pump sounding louder than usual, odds are it's just going into defrost mode.  Hopefully this will give you some insight into the workings of your heat pump and maybe save you some money so you won't have to pay a service technician to come out and tell you that your heat pump is fine and is just going into defrost mode.  Environmental wishes you all a happy holidays!


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Cracked Heat Exchangers

If you have a furnace in your home and it's more than a few years old, you should have a trained certified professional inspect it and provide you with an overall assessment of your heat exchanger and burners.  When a crack in a heat exchanger is found by a technician, he/she will inform you of this find and advise you what to do. 

There is only really two possible options after a crack is found, 1) replace the heat exchanger, or 2) replace the entire furnace.  Depending on how old the furnace is will determine the wisest path to take.  Most major brands of furnaces have 10 year heat exchanger warranties, in which case you will only be charged labor by the company you use to replace it.  At Environmental, we always work with the customer to figure out the most sensible option based on your financial situation by offering unbeatable financing options.

Remember, a cracked heat exchanger and/or deteriorating burners are a recipe for disaster!  Carbon Monoxide is very dangerous and at the very least you should have one CO detector present per floor.  Signing up for a Preventative Maintenance Plan will catch these dangers early and also prevent them from happening in the first place, thus extending the life of your system.  Just give us a call and we would be glad to answer your questions and get you signed up today!


Thursday, October 27, 2011

Great Financing

In an ideal world, everybody would be able to afford top of the line heating/air conditioning and/or plumbing systems anytime they wanted.  But unfortunately, we live in a realistic world where the above mentioned scenario just isn't possible.  At Environmental, we understand that the economy is just in shambles right now and the need to conserve money is more important now than ever.  It can be tough for the average working class person to pay for a major household system upgrade or replacement.  That's why we have worked hard to come up with very affordable financing options for hard working everyday people like you and I.

Environmental can finance most everything, especially the installation of a new heating and a/c system, water heater or even whole home humidifiers or dehumidifiers.  Any kind of major repair to your heating and a/c or plumbing system is also included.  Everything from faucet and/or toilet replacements to fan motor and blower motor replacements, we've got you covered!  Just give us a call and let us help you make your heating and air conditioning plus plumbing needs more affordable in these bad economic times.


Friday, October 7, 2011

Winter-Proofing Your Home

Now is a great time to to start preparing your home for the upcoming winter season!  I've done previous blogs touching on this same subject in the past so I'm really doing this as an informative reminder.  A typical home is supposed to exhale about 33% of its air every hour, sparing your lungs from mold, dust and other tiny invaders.  But realistically it's estimated that most homes, especially older homes, on the average vent approximately 45% - 65% of it's air every hour.  Here are some things you can do around your home to make it winter-proof:
  • a cheap and effective way to target air leaks in your home is to wait for a breezy day outside, light an incense stick, and move it around all your doors, windows and fireplace.  You will be able to notice the stream of smoke flowing to wherever the draft is, and then correct as necessary.
  • there is nothing better you can do than have a professional service come and check out your furnace or heat pump system to make sure it is fit to handle the upcoming cold temperatures
  • perhaps the most valuable thing you can have done by the aforementioned professional service is have them inspect your heat exchanger for cracks. A cracked heat exchanger is dangerous in that it is a leading cause of carbon monoxide in the home.  This is one of the first things that our technicians here at Enviro NC check when we inspect your system
  • make sure there are no items that are flammable located anywhere near your furnace
  • change your filters regularly
  • when you first turn on your heat there will probably be a fairly strong odor which is completely normal, but if strange smells continue to arise, shut down your system immediately and notify the professionals
  • your ceiling fan, believe it or not, is one of the best heat distributors you can use in your home.  Just flip the switch on your ceiling fan so that it pushes air up instead of the normal down airflow.  This is great because it will force the warm air that rises to your ceiling to keep moving about the room.  This can save on heating costs and it cuts down on the condensation that occurs on windows and glass doors
  • no matter how old or new your gas furnace is, BUY A CARBON MONOXIDE DETECTOR!  It could save you and your family's lives
  • your nice, new heating system won't make much of a difference if your insulation isn't up to par!  A well insulated home can save you a ton of money on heating costs.  Generally, R-30 insulation is the minimum a home should have.  Of course this depends on the location and age of your home, newer homes will have R-30 or better insulation while older homes might not, it's a good idea to check.
  • finally, it would also be a good idea to check the weather stripping on all of your windows and doors.  You'll want to replace it if it looks old and cracked or there is an abundance of gaps
Remember, common sense is your best tool for safety and fighting high energy costs in your home due to your heating system.  If you have any questions or concerns, don't hesitate to give us a call or send us an email.  Until next time, stay warm!


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Check Out The Podcasts

I know there is some of you out there who hate to read and would much rather listen to stuff.  That's why you should also check out our podcast which is available on iTunes(just type in Environmental Heating & Air) and also on our website.  Our podcasts are also a great source for info about all things heating and air conditioning plus plumbing.  So for those that are much more inclined to get their helpful information by listening instead of reading, this will be your calling.  Stay tuned for more info and check out the Environmental Podcast!


Monday, September 19, 2011

Heat Check Time

Now if you haven't done so already, it's the perfect time to flip that thermostat on over to heat and make sure your heat is going to come on properly.  The absolute WORST thing you can do is wait until the temperature dips way down only find yourself with a fault in your heating system and you're freezing your butt off waiting for the heating and air guy to get to your residence!

Winterizing your home
  1. As mentioned in a previous post, remember to check your air filter(s) and change it if necessary.  The cleaner the filter the less work your system will have to do, thus getting peak efficiency from your system!
  2. Get a carbon monoxide detector!  Even if you have a fairly new system it never hurts to have one, they are pretty cheap these days and it's a small price to pay to protect you and your family's lives!
  3. This one may sound a bit ridiculous but nonetheless important, make sure all vents are opened and unblocked by furniture or other items. This will ensure that the air is evenly distributed through the home.
  4. When it does actually start getting cold and you've got your heat running, try reversing the switch on your ceiling fans so they blow upward. This is especially valuable in high ceiling rooms where heat that naturally rises is forced back down into the room.
  5. Finally, if your heating system is old, you might consider updating it. A pre-1977 gas furnace is probably 50 percent to 60 percent efficient today.  Modern gas furnaces, on the other hand, achieve efficiency ratings as high as 97 percent!  Replacing an old heating system can cut your natural gas use nearly in half!
I hope these tips will help you out in preparing for this up and coming winter, stay toasty my friends.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Environmental Press Release

Hey folks this a great press release written about us and how Environmental is still able to expand even in these tough economic times. 

Environmental Heating & Air (EHA) expands and adds PLUMBING despite tough economy

Enviro-nc continues to add value and service to its already winning combination with Plus Plumbing. With their saying "Confidence, Value, Environment", this company continues to grow without sacrificing quality service.


PRLog (Press Release) - Aug 17, 2011 - Environmental Heating and Air of NC Inc, (EHA)
Now with Plus Plumbing

Enviro is now running a full time, full service plumbing division out of it's Cary, North Carolina office. Fully licensed, the company now holds 3 licenses. This fast expanding company has been at a steady growth rate even in this very competitive market. Enviro-nc has an informative website and maintains 24/7 service for its customers.

Speaking with the company, they feel it is going to be a great help for customers who already know them and need plumbing services. One of the most common issues is hot water heaters. Enviro has experience with preheated solar systems, tank less, high efficiency gas and electric heaters. They do it well and for cheap prices.

The experience of finding a company that’s motto is confidence, value, and evironment coupled with plumbing is a welcome addition. Located @ 210 High House Rd Cary NC 27513, you can reach them on the phone 919-535-8422, or check them out on the net htt://www.enviro-nc.com if you prefer.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Are Faucet & Toilet Leaks Costing You Big?

You probably don't think about it much, but that dripping faucet or that running toilet could be costing you BIG in the long run. I figured I would do a quick blog on this very underrated subject to help raise awareness to all you homeowners out there, below is a table given by the American Water Works Association on estimated water loss and how much it might cost you.
Most leaks result from worn washers in household faucets and shower heads. These faucets, as well as seldom-used taps in the basement or storage rooms, should be checked periodically. Faucet leaks are usually caused by worn washers or "O" rings (for washerless faucets).

The toilet is one of the most common water wasters but its leaks tend to be less noticeable than faucet leaks. To determine if your toilet is leaking, look at the toilet bowl after the tank has stopped filling. If water is still running into the bowl, or if water can be heard running, your toilet is leaking. Most toilet leaks occur at the overflow pipe or at the plunger ball inside the tank. Although water may not be seen or heard running, your toilet may have a silent leak. To test for a silent leak, drop a little food coloring into the tank. DO NOT FLUSH. Wait for about 10 minutes. If the food coloring appears in the toilet bowl, your toilet has a silent leak. It is probably located in or around the plunger ball or flapper valve at the bottom of the tank.

Unseen or unfixed leaks can drip hundreds, even thousands of gallons wastefully down the drain. A little detective work several times a year can catch these water thieves in the act and put them out of circulation. If you think something isn't right with your plumbing and you'd like to have a professional inspect your plumbing and suggest ways to improve water conservation and savings, give Environmental a call and we'd be glad to help you out!


Friday, July 29, 2011

Tankless Water Heaters

I'm sure just about anybody out there that is a homeowner has probably heard of the Tankless Water Heater?  But do you know anything about them?  Well in this blog I'm going to give you a brief summary on what they are and what they do.

What it is and what it does:
  • an electrical or gas-fired device that heats water directly without the use of a storage tank
  • eliminates standby energy losses caused by regular water heaters
  • no limit on amount of hot water you can use
  • no waiting for a water tank to fill back up with warm water
  • for homes that use 41 gallons or less of hot water daily, Tankless Water Heaters can be 24% - 34% more energy efficient than conventional storage tank water heaters
  • as with anything, proper installation and maintenance of your Tankless Water Heater will ensure that you achieve maximum efficiency
Like I said, this was just a brief summary of what a Tankless Water Heater is and what it does.  Of course, there are multiple extenuating circumstances involved with installing one of these units but Environmental would be glad to explain it to you and give you the chance to ask questions.  So just give Environmental a call and set up a a free estimate with one of our professionally trained and certified plumbers!


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Heat Wave Is Coming!

What is likely to be the hottest weather we will have all year is forecasted to hit us in the southeast this coming weekend, temps in the triple digits!!  So hopefully you've been doing your part to ensure you'll stay cool by maintaining your a/c?  If not, you are likely to find yourself with a hot living space in the next month or two!  It's never too late to start, so here's a short list of simple things you can do at home to get the most for your money from your a/c:
  • change your air filter(s) every 30 to 90 days. Depending on how quickly your filter(s) gets dirty
  • keep shades, blinds, windows closed to keep out sunlight as much as possible during the day when you aren't home
  • have a Preventative Maintenance Plan with a licensed, fully certified hvac company like Environmental
  • keep all bushes, grass, and other debris clear from around your a/c unit outside.  a 2 foot minimum clearance is best
  • take a quick look at your ductwork.  if it looks old and/or appears to be falling apart, have a professional take a look at it.  you would be AMAZED how much efficiency is lost because of loose and/or deteriorated ductwork
These are some of the major points that you at home can take care of in just a short amount of time. If taken care of, these things can help ensure you stay cool in the hottest of weather and achieve the longest life possible from your a/c and heating system without getting HUGE electric bills.  If you have any questions at all or would like to sign up for Environmental's Preventative Maintenance Plan, just give us a call at the number below or visit our website, thanks for reading and stay cool folks!


Friday, July 15, 2011

Integrating Plumbing With HVAC

At Environmental, when the decision was made to venture into the world of plumbing, we wanted to able to offer our customers a new service from the same company they already depend on for their hvac needs.  Often while performing an hvac repair or installation, our customers would ask us if we could help them out with their hot water heater, leaky pipes, or backflow problems.  So we decided to start keeping our eyes open for a fully certified, professional plumber in the area with a great reputation.  Well it didn't take long until we found someone with the aforementioned qualifications who was also courteous and reliable.

It's hard enough to find reliable companies these days, so Environmental just made things a little easier for our customers by expanding with a new plumbing division!  So please, if you are having any issues with your plumbing or maybe you would just like to ask a question about it, give us a call!  Don't forget to check out our website!


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Environmental Plumbing

As of Monday, June 13th, Environmental Heating & Air has now opened up a plumbing division to further our abilities to help you, the customer, even more!  We will now be able to offer full service plumbing with a qualified, fully licensed plumber.  Also, with the first official day of summer right around the corner(June 21st), those a/c's are gonna be running full blast!  So you need to make sure your a/c is in shape to handle the summer strain!  Below I have listed some examples of services our plumber can handle for you:
  • Fixture Repairs
  • Back Flow Repairs
  • Faucet Repairs
  • Sink Repairs
  • Toilet Repairs
  • Water Heater Repairs & Replacement
  • New Construction
.....and these are just some of the many services Environmental now offers with our full service plumbing!  If you would like to schedule an appointment or if you just have a question, feel free to give us a call. 


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

What Exactly Is A SEER Rating?

The acronym SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, which is a rating system developed by the U.S. Department of Energy.  Its sole purpose is to guide consumers in determining the energy efficiency of air conditioning units.  Knowing the energy efficiency of your air conditioner is half the battle when it comes to reducing your energy usage.

To calculate the energy efficiency of an air conditioner, the SEER rating system measures the cooling output of the unit with the total amount of electricity it uses during an entire season.  The higher the energy efficiency, the lower it costs you to run it, viz-a-vi  the higher the SEER rating of the unit, the more energy efficient it is.  Federal law now requires that all new a/c units have a minimum SEER rating of 13, Energy Star units must have a minimum SEER rating of 14.

With the benefit of SEER ratings, you can more easily choose the most energy efficient a/c unit to fit your needs and your wallet and/or purse.  With the rising costs of energy usage, you can't afford not to know about getting the most from your heating and a/c system.  Environmental's salesperson John Van Orden is here to answer all of your questions about purchasing a new system as well as any other questions you may have.  It's Environmental's goal to give you the most knowledge possible about your heating and air system so you can make the best decision when it comes to purchasing a new unit for your home.


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Allergy & Asthma Season Is Here

With the 2011 allergy and asthma season already under way, there are some very simple things you can do to reduce the amount of indoor dirt, dust, pollen, and other indoor air pollutants that enter your home.  Most of these things are relatively inexpensive and can prevent a lot of sniffling and sneezing, especially if you or a member of your household is very prone to having allergy and/or asthma problems.
  1. purchasing a UV light to go in your hvac system is a huge difference maker in that it kills a massive amount of mold spores, bacteria, and germs that circulate throughout your home.
  2. an obvious step is simply keeping your air filters changed regularly.  Opt to purchase pleated air filters over cheap fiberglass air filters.  Fiberglass air filters only take a minuscule amount of particles out of the air as opposed to the pleated filters which catch much more harmful particles and dust.  Whole home filters with high MERV ratings can work wonders, though a little more pricey, it is top of the line air filtration.
  3. turn on your heating and air system while vacuuming and cleaning.  You stir up a significant amount of dust and dirt when cleaning your home so if your air is running while you clean most of the particles you stir up will be picked up by your return vents and in turn filtered out.
  4. have your air conditioner and furnace maintained annually to keep mold, dirt and other pollutants from accumulating in your system.  At Environmental, we have a great preventative maintenance plan that ensures you system stays running at peak efficiency so you don't have to worry!
  5. the duct work in your home is also something to take very seriously.  Have a professional look over your duct work, as deteriorated duct work is a major source of indoor air pollution and wasted energy. 
  6. whenever possible, keep pets off of couches and beds as their hair and dander can build up in these areas and will become a constant source of indoor air pollution.
These are some ways you can breathe easier at home.  All it takes is just a little time and effort to make sure the air you breathe at home is safe and healthy.  At Environmental, we carry a full line of products dedicated to promoting clean air in your home, just give us a call and let us help you today!


Thursday, March 24, 2011

Which Brand Should I Get?

The problem most people face when deciding to buy a new heating and air conditioning system is choosing which brand is best for you.  At Environmental our salesman John Van Orden can break down for you, based on how you keep your temperatures and the size of your home, exactly which size and SEER rating would benefit you and your home the most.  But something the majority of people don't know is that the quality of installation actually matters more than the brand you choose.

A recent addition of 'Buyer's Guide To Heating & Air Conditioning' suggests that quality of installation greatly outweighs equipment brand.  "It is often stated among insiders that a good HVAC technician can make lousy equipment heat or cool pretty well, while a poorly trained or inexperienced technician can make the best equipment in the world heat or cool unreliably and incredibly inefficiently."  The Buyer's Guide goes on to say that the customer should "focus first on the validity, training and experience of the company and employees who will install your equipment.  Remember, these are also the folks who will provide maintenance or warranty work on your system."

That's why at Environmental we only hire properly trained and certified technicians.  We want to make sure the customer is comfortable and satisfied with choosing to go with us to take care of their heating and air conditioning needs.  Environmental Heating & Air is available 24/7, so give us a call with any questions you may have and we'd love to answer them for you and provide you with all the info you need to make smart decisions when it comes to your heating and air conditioning system(s).


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Heating And Cooling New Spaces

Sometimes it can be difficult to heat or cool a specific space in your home, such as a recent addition, single room, basement or sun room.  In this situation, ductless heating and cooling options can help circulate warm or cool air to these hard-to-reach spaces.  Ductless heating and cooling systems are practical, versatile alternatives to duct-dependent options. 

The biggest advantage of ductless heating and cooling systems, also called mini-splits, is their size. They’re small enough to heat or cool individual zones in your house. You can install a unit in a single room, or opt for a system that has up to four different indoor units controlling four different zones. Each has its own thermostat, allowing you to control their individual temperatures or turn them off entirely if no one is in the space, thereby saving you energy and money. Many models are even managed by remote control, making it easy and convenient for you to control the temperatures throughout your home.

Another advantage to mini-splits is their easy installation. Two units — an outdoor compressor and an indoor air handler — are linked together by a conduit that goes through a three-inch hole in the wall. The conduit can be up to 50 feet long, allowing you to place the indoor units as far from the outdoor one as necessary.

If you’re interested in learning more about ductless heating and cooling options, just give Environmental a call and we would be glad to answer all your questions and help you decide if a ductless system is right for you.


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Duct Cleaning Companies

It recently has come to our attention at Environmental that there are duct cleaning companies out there that have been pulling the "ol' bait and switch" with their customers.  What these companies do is advertise a really cheap price up front, then they will come to your residence and look at your duct work and add on a bunch of seemingly extra charges until the cost is sometimes four and five times the advertised price.  But upon review, there is always some fine print located some where in the advertisement that states "additional charges may apply" or something to that affect.  So bottom line, to save yourself some money and time, make sure and read the fine print and choose your duct cleaning company carefully.  Here is the link for a great segment Dateline NBC did on duct cleaning companies:


While we don't currently offer duct cleaning as one of our services here at Environmental, we can make recommendations on a good company that specializes in duct cleaning that won't rip you off and surprise you with hidden fees.  So give us a call today and let Environmental steer you in the right direction.


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Spring is right around the corner!

Well, it's really warming up outside and March 22nd will be the official first day of spring!  It's time to start checking out your a/c to make sure it's going to run at peak efficiency once it gets hot and stays hot.  I figured I would compile a simple list of things you can do at home to make sure you are ready for the warmer months:

Outdoor Condensing Unit: Make sure this unit isn't blocked by high grasses, weeds, or other lawn and garden components. The unit needs to draw air into the system in order to cool and circulate inside, but the process is hindered if it cannot pull in enough outside air.
Change the Air Filter: Dirty filters will destroy your unit's energy-efficiency or, worse, cause the evaporator to ice over.  Remember, don't settle for those cheap fiberglass filters, get yourself some quality pleated air filters.  They're not that much more expensive and they take a lot more dust and other harmful particles out of the air you breathe.
Set and Double-Check the Thermostat: Be sure the thermostat is set in the cooling mode. Just setting the dial below room temperature will not activate the air conditioner if it is still set in the heat mode. If you have a programmable thermostat, customize your cooling for various time periods throughout the day.
Conduct a Test Run: Some time in the spring, crank your system and let it run for up to an hour. If you can identify problems early, the sooner you can get one of Environmental's technicians out to your residence to get you fixed up and ready for those hot months to come.
Professional Air Conditioning Maintenance: A thoroughly cleaned air conditioning unit will operate at top efficiency, but homeowners should also be aware of their own limitations. Each year, some homeowners attempt to clean their air conditioner with a garden hose, creating a serious risk of electrocution or electrical damage to the unit. It's always best to let one of Environmental's fully certified technicians come in and check out your system from top to bottom for a thorough cleaning and diagnostics check.  There are a lot of things the homeowner does not know to look for in their systems that when caught early, can save a lot of money and heartache.

Environmental Heating & Air has technicians dedicated solely to the maintenance and upkeep of heating and air conditioning systems, so put your mind at ease and let us worry about keeping your system running at peak efficiency this year by signing for a very cost effective and environmentally friendly Preventative Maintenance Contract.  Just give us a call and we can fill you in on all the details!


Thursday, February 24, 2011

Solar Incentives Heating Up In Congress

As I have mentioned before, solar/green energy is having a huge impact on the way America and the rest of the world is saving money and the environment.  In the spirit of keeping up with the latest news on the environment and society's impact on it, I stumbled across a great little article discussing less dependence on fossil fuels and adopting more of a dependence on renewable resources like solar energy.  It also discusses how the government is involved in this process.  I encourage you all to take a quick minute to read this article, it's fairly short so it won't take much of your time and it's a good little read.  I added the link below, check it out:



Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Benefits of Maintenance Agreements

Whether you hear it referred to as planned maintenance, customer loyalty program, yearly service agreement, or preventative maintenance plan, the overall premise of maintenance agreements is fairly simple: you sign up for a once or twice a year tune-up/cleaning of your heating and a/c system.  Many homeowners ponder on whether or not this agreement is worth the money.  Here at Environmental when you sign up for a Preventative Maintenance Plan, you not only get two visits a year by a trained and certified technician who methodically checks everything from the electrical connections to the air filters, you also get a 10% discount off any parts and labor that may be required during the year of your contract as well as preferred scheduling for any appointments you may need.

A Preventative Maintenance Contract can more than pay for itself in fewer emergency repairs and lower utility bills alone.  There are a multitude of things that can cause your heating and a/c unit to fail as well as take years off it's life, and most of these things can't be found unless you are proactive and have someone with a trained eye who can spot the immediate warning signs.  Whether it's low refrigerant in your heat pump(which can cause your heat strips to stay on all the time during the winter = high energy bill) or a furnace with a cracked heat exchanger(which produces the deadly gas Carbon Monoxide), there really is no downside to signing up for a Preventative Maintenance Contract.  If nothing else it will be to have the peace of mind knowing that you don't have to worry about your heating and a/c, as we keep a detailed record of your system's specifications and tendencies.  To learn more about Environmental's Preventative Maintenance Plan or if you have any questions about anything else we can help you with, please visit our website or give us a call!


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Indoor Air Pollution Facts

Air pollution contributes greatly to most respiratory illnesses and conditions, with lung disease claiming close to 335,000 lives in America every year and is the third leading cause of death in the United States.  Now more than ever, it is time for people to evaluate what they are breathing in and what they can do to better these conditions.  Indoor air quality is way more important than most people think.  Things such as headaches, dry eyes, nasal congestion, nausea and fatigue are some examples of the effects of poor indoor air quality.  Biological pollutants including molds, bacteria, viruses, pollen, dust mites, and animal dander promote poor indoor air quality and may be a major cause of days lost from work and school.  Keeping your home's air filters regularly changed with pleated filters, not the cheap poly kind, is one of the easiest and most effective methods of battling these airborne hazards.

People that live in environments with high humidity are especially at risk for problems associated with molds and bacteria.  Simple things such as  making sure bathrooms and kitchens have good air circulation and are cleaned regularly can have a big impact.  If you use a humidifier or dehumidifier, make sure the water is changed often and the container is cleaned regularly to prevent mildew forming.  Another fairly new method of achieving cleaner air is the use of UV lights in your heating and air system.  UV lights are used heavily by hospitals and other facilities that rely on a clean sterile atmosphere.  They are easy to install and are also relatively cheap considering the amazing job they do.

Finally, last but not least is the silent killer carbon monoxide.  Any appliance involving fuel burning stoves, furnaces, fireplaces, heaters, water heaters, and dryers is considered a combustible appliance.  Any one of these items I have just named is very capable of producing the odorless and colorless gas.  It is of the utmost importance that you own a carbon monoxide detector, it can save your life!  You can give us a call here at Environmental any time and we can get you what you need, whether it's just a suggestion or any one of the various incredibly effective Indoor Air Quality(IAQ) products we have on hand.


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Split System or Package Unit?

You may have heard the terms split system or package unit before, but do you know exactly what that means?  There is actually a big difference between the two, and as always the more you know the better off you are.

Split Systems have 3 main components:
  • an outdoor metal cabinet that contains the condenser and compressor
  • an indoor cabinet that contains the evaporator coil 
  • an indoor air handler, that in most cases is part of the furnace or heat pump, that sends the cool or warm air through the duct system
Package units have the air handler and furnace(if applicable), evaporator coil, condenser, and compressor all located in one cabinet, which usually is placed on a concrete slab next to the house's foundation.  Air supply and return ducts come from indoors through the home's exterior wall to connect with the outdoor packaged unit.

As far as price is concerned, the outright cost of the package unit is a little more expensive than the cost of a split system.  But after the cost of labor is added in, the price difference between the two systems is minuscule.  Labor tends to be a little more with the split systems because you are installing a unit outside the house and also in the attic or crawlspace, depending on the type of air handler.  Also, the package systems normally come pre-charged from the factory, whereas split systems cannot be charged until they have been set in place and the refrigerant lines have been brazed together.  Additionally, a leak check and a proper vacuum has to be put on the line set in order to achieve the proper charge.  So after all of this, the overall cost ends up being about the same between the two different systems.   



Wednesday, January 26, 2011

New Podcast

Environmental Heating and Air has decided that to further reach out to our customers we should try something new and informative, and the podcast is that something!  With this new podcast, we will cover areas such as interviewing representatives from Lennox and Carrier, as well as giving info and tips about getting the most from your household heating and air system while saving money.

Podcasts are an amazing way to be able to share information  and provide entertainment to people all over the world via the internet.  It allows basically anyone to be able to make a 'radio style' program from anywhere at any time.  There are now literally thousands of podcasts made every day across the nation and the number is rapidly increasing.  Imagine waking up every morning and now turning on a podcast that will cover exactly what you want to hear about instead of turning on a regular broadcast radio program and having to sit and listen to the stuff you don't care about just to hear the little portion at the end that you were waiting to hear.  Podcasts are the future and as usual, we here at Environmental are already on it!  So stay tuned in to the blog and our web page for information on when our first podcasts will become available!


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Chapel Hill Revision

The lovely town of Chapel Hill NC has recently made a change to its policies on construction and the installation of Carbon Monoxide detectors.  The new revision will affect all newly constructed homes and the replacement or addition of a gas furnace system.  The new revision is as follows:
  1. R313.1.1  In new construction dwelling, units shall be provided with an approved carbon monoxide alarm installed outside of each separate sleeping area in the immediate vicinity of the bedroom(s) as directed by the alarm manufacturer.
  2. R313.1.2  In existing dwellings where interior alterations, repairs, fuel-fired appliances replacement or additions requiring a permit occurs or where one or more sleeping rooms are added or created, an approved carbon monoxide detector shall be provided.
  3. R313.1.3  The required carbon monoxide alarms shall be audible in all bedrooms over background noise levels with all intervening doors closed.
I will continue to post any revisions for the Triangle area as they are released and become available.  We here at Environmental are always striving to do the best possible job we can whilst adhering to all local laws and ordinances.  If you have any questions regarding hvac rules and regulations, just give us a call!


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Furnace Filter MERV Ratings

The quality of air filter for your furnace is a very important aspect of your heating system, and hopefully you want the best grade filter as it directly impacts the air you are breathing in your home.  Air filters are rated according to MERV, which stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value.  Here are some quick facts about MERV:
  1. MERV ratings range from 1 - 16 and measurements are in microns. Some of the common particles related to MERV ratings are household dust, pet dander, viruses, tobacco smoke, mold spores, bacteria and pollen.
  2. The most common filters found in homes today have a MERV rating of 1 to 4. Typically these are disposable fiberglass filters purchased from a big box store and do not do a good job of air filtration because they don’t stop particles smaller than 10 microns. Improper air filtration can lead to air conditioner and/or furnace problems as well as poor indoor air quality.
  3. Merv 5 to 8 rated filters are a better choice. These filters will not only keep your equipment running clean and efficient when properly maintained, they also do a better job of filtering smaller dust particles (as small as 3 microns) that trigger symptoms with allergy sufferers.
  4. Filters with a MERV rating of 9 to 12 are considered high-efficiency filters and capture particulate in the 1 to 3 micron range. These filters are a great choice for home owners who want the best air filtration at an affordable price. Much like the higher rated MERV 5-8 filters, these filters should also be replaced at regular intervals to avoid wasted energy, premature repairs or breakdown to your heating and air conditioning equipment.
  5. The most efficient filters have MERV ratings of 13 to 16 (HEPA air filter) and will stop particles as small as .3 microns. These filters are hospital grade and have been adapted for use in residential applications. Super high efficiency air filters should be installed by a professional heating and air conditioning contractor. Improper installations could lead to severe damage to your furnace or air conditioner.
  6. Merv Griffin hosted his own talk show and created the game shows Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune.
Always remember, no matter which kind of filter you choose to have in your system, they all need to be changed regularly.  The best possible filter will do you no good if it never gets changed and gets all clogged up with dust and other such particles, SO KEEP THOSE FILTERS CHANGED!!


Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Duct, Duct, Goose

A highly overlooked aspect of peak efficiency in people's homes is the ductwork.  The main reason ductwork is overlooked is simply that it goes largely unseen tucked away in either the attic or crawlspace.  Most homeowners just don't perceive proper duct design as beneficial, so therefore most contractors never bring up the issue.

Proper ductwork means not having ducts with lots of bends and turns, which can actually drastically reduce the overall airflow of your system.  The ducts best serve their purpose when they are tight and straight as possible.  Older systems are very prone to have holes, cuts, and other various issues due to deterioration over time.   If you are serious about efficiency and getting the most out of your system, proper airflow cannot be overlooked!  As always, it's best to have certified professionals do any installations or alterations on your system to ensure all the proper criteria are met so you get the most for your money.  When it comes to all this stuff, we here at Environmental have got you covered!