Affordable and Effective Solutions to Improve Indoor Air Quality

For certain things, no compromise should be made. One such thing is Indoor Air Quality. According to a research, homeowners spend more than 80% of their life in the indoors. And there are several types of researches that prove bad indoor air quality the primary cause of numerous health problems. Certainly, neither you nor any other Toronto homeowner wants to have a bad indoor air quality but the question of concern is; how to provide for yourself a healthy indoor air in these times of escalated air pollution? (The solutions should be both affordable and effective, please!)
Alright, so here we go! Let us explore what are some wonderful ways other than using Air Cleaners to improve the indoor air quality without breaking your bank.

Improve indoor air quality


- Go Green - The natural Air Cleaner

Yup! Green's going to make every single breath of yours as fresh as you could imagine. Plants not only work as natural air cleaner they also give your home a cooling effect. Keeping plants in the indoors is the most effective and convenient way of breathing fresh and healthy. However, it should be noted that not every plant is suitable for everybody. Some people are allergic to certain types. It is, therefore, recommended that before keeping plants at home, it should be made sure you'd enjoy a good company with them.     

- Smoking? Outdoors, please!

While most people ignore this fact, the truth is; smoking does not only kill the smoker, it slowly poisons the ones around the smoker too. So whether you're a father, mother or any other elderly one, realise the hazardous effects of the smoke clouds that you blow in the indoors. All those people that live in the house get affected by one smoker. Doing smoking or not is your personal choice, however, you should certainly not, as part of ethics, affect the lives of others through that. Improve the indoor quality, smoke outside!

- Cleanliness is next to Godliness

A lot of homeowners suffer bad indoor quality primarily because of lack of regular cleaning. The dust and debris remain stuck in the air and keeps going into the lungs. For a lot of people, the only thing they need to do to improve their home's indoor air quality is they should begin to clean. Different homes have different needs. Depending on where you home is situated, what kind of architecture it has and what types of activities are performed in the indoors, the need of cleaning would be different. It is you yourself who can better decide how often does your home need cleaning. At least once a day is suggested for all homes.

- Make use of exhaust fans

All homes have exhaust fans to spill the unpleasant air out but not all people make the right and in time use of the exhaust fans. While the food is being cooked, CFC products are used, smoking is being done or anything else that affects the indoor quality, turn on the exhaust fans right away so that the air moves out quickly and does not remain circulating in the indoors.

- Natural Ventilation     

If your home has windows, you can enjoy the benefit of natural ventilation. Ventilation is a process of continuously exchanging fresh air with the rough indoor air. When windows and doors are opened in the early morning time, the fresh air circulates and this is in itself a simple way of improving the indoor air quality. In a tightly packed home, it is hard to maintain good air quality since the stale air does not find the way out. A Heat Recovery Ventilation HRV system can be used in this case though it requires a sufficient amount of investment.   

The last resort - Air Cleaner

Since we promised we won't be suggesting anything non-affordable, we've tried to suggest all those things that can improve your indoor air quality without costing you beyond you could afford. But the truth is; some people feel nothing can clean their home as effectively as Air Cleaners too. For such people, our recommendation to improve indoor air quality is Lennox Carbon Clean 16 Air Cleaner.


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How to find and fix Refrigerant Leaks?

Among the common HVAC issues that homeowners face is the issue of refrigerant leaks. The foremost signs that an Air Conditioner displays when it has a refrigerant leak is; reduced cooling and hissing sound. The system takes more than required to cool the home and keeps on producing hissing sounds that are both annoying and irritating. Here we are mentioning ways you can use to find out a refrigerant leak in your Air Conditioning system and how to fix it. Brace yourself:

What is a Refrigerant by the way?

Before we move on to explore how to find and fix a refrigerant leak, let's first find out what a refrigerant is? A refrigerant is basically a gas/liquid that is responsible for cooling your air. Refrigerant leaks or low refrigerant means your system is at a high risk just like insufficient oil in a car makes it vulnerable to damage. Now let’s move on to the ways you can use to suspect refrigerant leaks.

AC Refrigerant Leaks

Sign your system has a refrigerant leak

AC takes time to cool

Usually, your Air Conditioner should not take more than 10 minutes to start giving a cooling effect if it is a Central Air Conditioner. In the case of Split, even 5 minutes are enough to figure out whether or not the system is okay. So one of the signs that there's insufficient refrigerant or refrigerant leak is that your AC will take longer than usual to cool the home and that cooling too will be unusual. For example, even after an hour of Air Conditioner running continuously, you can feel warm blows through the supply vents. When this happens, get alerted! Your refrigerant might be leaking.

Ice builds up around refrigerant coil

Refrigerant line or refrigerant coil gets an ice buildup when there's a refrigerant leak. If your AC is not giving sufficient cooling, and you feel warm air coming out of the supply vents, take the third step on inspection. Go to the outdoor AC unit and check if there's an ice buildup on the refrigerant coil. If yes, your system is certainly leaking the refrigerant.

Electricity bills become are higher than usual

If your electricity bills suddenly get higher than usual, this is another indicator of the refrigerant leaks. With insufficient refrigerant, the system has to insert extra energy to cool. This takes up extra electricity as well. As a consequence, for the same cooling (or even lesser) you have to pay more. So, fatty energy bills are actually one of the possible signs of refrigerant leaks.

How to fix Refrigerant Leaks?

It doesn't take much to fix the refrigerant leaks. The first and foremost thing that you should do is;
1. Find the source of the leak. Find out from where exactly the refrigerant is leaking
Secondly,
2. Fix the leak before filling the refrigerant. Remember that if you do not fix the leak and simply refill the refrigerant, it will take no more than a week for the refrigerant to finish again. Mend the loophole first. Patch the leak!
Thirdly:
Refill the refrigerant. Note that you need to be careful about the quantity of refrigerant your system requires. Neither fill it insufficiently nor extraordinarily.  

Important!
Most people rely on professionals to fix the refrigerant leaks which is good since it is a little technical job. But there's something you need to remember and that is:
Not all techs are honest techs. What happens with homeowners is that they hire a tech to fix the refrigerant problem. The tech refills it without patching the leak. And mind it! That is on a purpose. They want your refrigerant to keep leaking so that you keep calling them for refilling and keep getting charged. So, how to tackle that?

Well, we've already told you the ways to figure out the refrigerant leaks. So the next time you suspect a leak, call a tech and he tells you your system is low on refrigerant, ask him where the leak is and also to fix it before refilling the refrigerant. This simple step can save you from getting robbed. Your tech will know you know some HVAC. ;)

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Air Handler Maintenance

Since the term Air Handler could be new to some people, we better explain what an Air Handler is before going into the details of its maintenance. Air Handling Unit (AHU) or Air Handler is a device which is used to regulate and circulate the air as part of an HVAC system. Apparently, an Air Handler consists of a metal box large in size which has a blower, filter chambers, heating and cooling elements, dampers and sound attenuators. This device called an Air Handler is usually connected to a ductwork system that spreads the air throughout the home and then returns the stale and non-conditioned air back to the Air Handler. Not only does an Air Handler regulates and circulates the air, it also cleanses it by using Air Filters. In order to have an effective circulation of cold air throughout the home, Air Handler system is necessary if you’re using a Heat Pump.

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Air Handler Maintenance Checklist

Who doesn't want home comfort? Anyone in the house? Na! No one! All of us want to enjoy an ultimate comfort when we're at home but we often forget that this comfort comes with the help of some appliances and that appliances need maintenance too. In a hot Summer afternoon, what makes our afternoon soothing is the operation of an Air Handler. So if you wish to never run short of that comfort, make sure you're keeping good care of all your home comfort heating and cooling appliances, primarily your Air Handler. Consider checking the overall system efficiency. Here goes the checklist:

Check Fan Blades

Just like the fan blades of Air Conditioner need to be cleaned for optimal performance, the fan blades of an Air Handler also want this cleaning. Blades accumulated with dust and debris have a hard time doing their job. Ease their discomfort by cleaning the blades carefully as to neither damage the blades nor hurt yourself. Use a soft brush preferably.

Check Moving Parts

The moving parts of the device need to be checked for corrosion, rust and repair needs.

Check Fan Shaft

Done with checking fan blades? Now check the bearing collar set screws on the shaft. Are they tight? If not screw them.

Check Dampers

Do not forget dampers in your checklist. The dampers have to be clean for optimal performance and if dust and clogs are found on dampers, you know what to do; cleaning. Also, check that dampers linking and actuators are aligned and operational. The damper connections need lubrication too.

Check Coils, Valves and Refrigerant Lines

All the coils, valves, refrigerant lines, have to be cleaned and should be free from leaks and other damages

Check Condensation Pans

When checking your Air Handler, carefully check the Condensation Pan which sometimes gets rusted. It has to be rust-free in all conditions.  

Check Cooling Coils

Are your cooling coils drain and blown to remove moisture? If this is not the case, make the settings.

Check Freezestat

One of the most important checklists is checking of Freezestat. Carefully check its set temperature and also make sure that it is operating well.

Great! You did it you did it! Congratulations!
Taking care of the home comfort heating and cooling appliances does require an effort but once you're done with maintenance, not only you feel good from the inside, you also feel relaxed on the outside when the comfort is doubled. Remember that no appliance can ever work efficiently or last longer without proper maintenance. So whether it is a heating and cooling appliance or any other, maintenance anyway. That's good for you good for your appliance.

Happy DIY Maintenance!

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Air Conditioner Troubleshooting

They say; ''Your Air Conditioner will stop working on the hottest Summer day''. Ah! how cruel of them to make such a statement. But in real, it seems that the same happens. Recall the last time you had an Air Conditioner breakdown, what time of the season it was? Most probably, a hot Summer day. Well, even though the bad wishes of someone may not come true for us, accidents are nonetheless accidents. They don't ask before taking place. So it is sane to equip yourself with some AC troubleshooting to use them in the hour of need. Ready Steady, Go!

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Air Conditioner Troubleshooting

No Air Movement

You must have experienced this problem at some point in life with your Air Conditioner when no air seems to move through the home. While the Air Conditioner itself is responsible for cooling the air, the fan circulates it and air handler moves it through the house. So when there's no air movement and the Air Conditioner seems on, check the fan if it is also operational. As a second resort, check the air handler to see if there's some problem with the air handler. Until a technician comes, at least make sure what problem is your Air Conditioner going through. You'd need to check for a tripped breaker if the unit doesn't seem to work at all.

No Air Cooling

Problem#1 talks about when there's no air movement at all. Here's problem#2, i.e when the air is felt circulating but is not getting cooled. What did we learn a little while ago? That, the Air Conditioner Evaporator is responsible for cooling. When the air is not getting conditioned, the possibilities are here under:
The evaporator coil could be accumulated with dust and debris making the process of heat exchange less efficient. Clean the evaporator coil. Also, check the inside as well as the outside unit to make sure they're operational. Don't forget to check the Thermostat to make sure it is set at the desired temperature.
Did it solve your problem?
Yes? Great!
No? Wait for the technician to come.

Overflowing Drain Pan

The drain pan is supposed to have water in it that builds due to condensation but remember that a little presence and an overflowing condition are different and hopefully, you're wise enough to differentiate between them. When the water starts overflowing in the drain pan, it shows that the drain lines are having some kind of blockage. Clear the lines and along with that, check also the electric pump that takes the water from the drain pan to drain line.

Constantly Running System

One of the most common issues faced by the homeowners, i.e system running continuously. When this happens, there are more than 80% possibilities that it is due to the wrong Thermostat settings or Thermostat malfunctioning. Quickly reset the Thermostat and wait to see if the problem persists. If it does, oh! The technician is on his way to your home. Please wait!

Bottom Line

Professionals are professionals, there's no denying the fact. But there are times when you have to help yourself by yourself either because a professional help cannot be afforded or cannot be sought right away due to one reason or the other. Therefore, it is good, in fact, important to learn some troubleshooting for your home comfort heating and cooling appliances. Hope our troubleshooting tips helped you out.

 

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3 Common Thermostats Problems and their solutions

Thermostats are of great help. They not only help save energy but also help prolong the life of HVAC appliances by not allowing them to run 24/7. But everything that gives ease sometimes also causes unexpected unease. In the case of Thermostats, although the latest makes and models of Thermostats particularly the Smart Thermostats are easy to use and easy to install, there yet arise issues that leave an individual both irritated and bewildered. Just like some HVAC noises and HVAC odours are of serious nature and some totally normal, the Thermostat issues can also be of one of the two categories. Some are serious problems that require a professional's help, however, the rest are not worrisome and are also easy to troubleshoot. We are about to reveal solutions to 3 common Thermostat problems. If you're facing system ON-OFF issues, overheating Thermostat problem or any other that is related to Thermostat, brace yourself to explore these troubleshooting ways.  Ready? Let's go!

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3 Common Thermostats problems and their solutions
Problem 1: System doesn't start at all
What if you turn your system ON and it doesn't turn ON? A sudden thought of system break down shakes you inside within a second but there are 90% possibilities that nothing such has happened. What you need to do quickly, in this case, is to check the breakers and reset them. Try replacing the fuse as a second option. If that does not fix the problem, quick check the batteries of Thermostat and replace them. You'd be amazed to know but several times people waste hundreds of dollars on a repair visit of a professional while the only problem for the non-functioning of their system is old batteries. So before you become one such homeowner to spend a hefty amount on a professional's visit, try to troubleshoot with all the possible ways. Since Thermostats battery problem is the most commonly heard reason why HVAC system won't work at all when turned ON, don't forget to use this hack.

Problem2: Different appliance temperature from the one set on Thermostat
People install Thermostats and still complain of fatty energy bills sometimes also blaming the brand. The problem, however, is not with the brands or the Thermostat, it is rather with the way the Thermostat is used. Most people think purchasing a costly Thermostat and mounting it will start to lower their bills, totally ignoring the fact that a proper installation affects the efficiency of Thermostat to a great extent. The reason why appliance's temperature is different from the one set on Thermostat is the wrong placement of the Thermostat. If the Thermostat is located at a place where it can receive direct heat, sunlight or any other source of energy, it fails to detect the actual temperature and thus runs appliances on extreme temperatures which automatically contributes to higher energy bills. Relocate your thermostat if this is what your problem is.

Problem 3: HVAC system fails to turn off when needed
How do Thermostats contribute in saving energy? They do so by automatically lowering or even turning the appliances OFF when the desired room temperature is created. Sometimes, the system stops tripping and as a consequence runs constantly rising energy bills. This happens because of the same reason which has been described above; the improper mounting of the Thermostat. Even when the desired room temperature is created, the system does not turn off because the Thermostat is continuously receiving energy and is sensing the temperature as hot. Do the same as in problem 2; Relocate Thermostat at a proper location.

Have you been battling with Thermostat problems? Was this article of any use? Don't forget to give your feedback.

Happy Heating and Cooling!

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AC Repair Guide for Homeowners

Although Air Conditioners are complex mechanical systems that have complex repairing needs too, you can always screw the minor AC repairs yourself which would save you money and restore the cooling right away. No matter how complicated the problem may seem, run through some basic AC troubleshooting before calling in a technician. Here are a few
  • Check the air conditioner’s power, check the indoors and outdoors switches and the breaker which powers the unit.
  • Check your Thermostat settings and adjust the temperature a few degrees below the room temperature.
  • Change your filter precisely, make sure it hasn’t collapsed into the air handler

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There are two basic AC problems that may need repairing

System blowing hot Air

This is a common AC repair complaint which can have a simple fix. Although there are many different causes the most common ones include:

Thermostat improperly set
This happens when you accidentally bump into the Thermostat settings and the button changes from “cool” to “heat”. Or this may happen when you change the fan settings from “auto” to “on”. This makes the fan to blow air when the system isn’t running. You can always change the settings to previous ones and the hot air issue will resolve.

Restricted Airflow
This happens when your filter needs changing. Change filters however you may need to call a professional if it doesn’t help even after the changing of the filter.

Electric issues
It’s possible that the circuit breaker has been tripped, fused or blown. As a result, outside components may lose power and inside components may push out warm air. Fix the electrical connections.

Refrigerant leak
Refrigerant line joints connections become loose which causes a leak in the refrigerant. Manufacturer’s fault is also a reason. If the appliance is still on warranty make use of it to replace or repair the appliance under that else call a professional help.

Dirty Outside Unit
Sometimes the outside condenser unit gets covered in weeds, sticks, bushes and leaves etc. Get set and clean the unit from all such things that are hindering its proper performance.

Compressor
Compressor problem will lead to the whole system to not work. Several things can go wrong with the compressor including electrical issues, overheating and refrigerant issues. You will need to call a professional help for this issue if you are not familiar with the minute details of compressors.

System ices over

If your air conditioner ices over, it will stop to operate properly. One of the most common issues is that the coils have iced over. As your air conditioner runs, condensation gathers on the coils and is frozen by the cold air circulating through them. To de-ice the AC, you’ll need the following:
Blow dryer
Towel
Air Filters

Follow the steps below to de-ice the AC

  • Turn off the AC from the breaker box of your house.
  • Turn off power switches.
  • Give your AC time to thaw out, allow at least one day or help it thaw out by the use of blow dryer on low heat setting
  • Check the unit to verify that coils have thawed out thoroughly.
  • Check pool water or condensation; if present, dry it out with a towel.
  • Turn the power back on at the breaker.
  • Turn on the AC: Use thermostat for this. Visually inspect to see that the fans are working properly.
  • Replace your air filter, this will improve the airflow from AC to your living areas.

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Ways to improve Water Heater efficiency

16% of the annual residential energy consumption goes to the Water Heaters. This statement is true for most of the Canadian homes. Improving Water Heater efficiency can contribute to making the environment greener and also in reducing the energy bills. There are two wonderful ways that can help improve the efficiency of Water Heater. One is, reducing the use of Hot Water. Lesser the use, lesser the Water Heater has to work and efficient the system remains. The other is by reducing the heat loss due to the water heating system. Let's explore both of these ways;

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Improve efficiency by reducing usage
Replacing fixture
Oh wow! Really? Oh yes! It is!
Changing of the fixture can help you consume less hot water. And guess how does that happen? That happens when you replace older models of showers and taps that provide heavy flow with low flow models. Ever wondered how much hot water gets wasted due to a heavy flow of the shower when you bath? A lot! Fixing the fixtures can add to the overall water heater efficiency.

Leaks and damages
Here's another important one. Leaking taps, showers and other water supplying fixtures can waste a lot of hot water on a daily basis. Consequently, a water heater has to run more and this affects the efficiency too. Fix the leaks.

Energy star products
This one is of prime importance. Homeowner waste a lot of hot water in dishwashers and laundry. That's kind of a real waste. Some people just can't get themselves satisfied unless they use hot water for everything. If you're one such people, purchase energy star washing machines and dishwashers. Energy Star products are energy efficient and thus save energy even when you don't bother to save.

Improve efficiency by reducing heat loss

Insulation of tank
This trick has been used by several homeowners throughout Toronto. In colder climates, heat loss takes place more easily and the water heater has to make more effort to provide hot water by continuously burning heat. This can be avoided by insulating the water tank. Insulation of a water tank can be done easily by individuals themselves. Take fibreglass sheets, asbestos or any other insulation material and wrap it properly around the tank. You're done, dude! Once the water tank is insulated, it keeps the energy in and keeps the water hot.

Insulation of pipes
This might sound ridiculous to you if you have no idea how much of energy is wasted as the water moves from the pipelines to the place of use i.e kitchen, bathroom. The insulation of pipes is as easy as the insulation of tanks. All that is required is to cover the pipes with foam or any other cheap insulation material. The heat loss does not occur as the hot water flows through supply lines. Eventually, lesser use of water heater and higher remains its efficiency.

Another way to improve your water heater efficiency is to convert to gas. Since gas is cheaper compared with electricity, it helps save in long run. Also, it has been observed that the gas fired water heaters last longer than the electric water heaters.

These ways although they might seem ordinary can drastically improve the efficiency of the Water Heater and can also add several years to their life. All it takes is a few wise steps.   

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