From children of all ages to adults and seniors, pets play an important role in the family dynamic. There are benefits to being a pet owner, such as having a companion if you are single, or helping to lower stress and blood pressure. In seniors, the role of pets helps prevent depression and can help avoid the frustrations of aging since there is a furry friend that requires their attention.
However, what many people may not realize is that pets and indoor air quality go hand-in-hand . Pets shed hair and skin cells (dander), just like humans do. Excess pet dander and hair in the home lowers the overall air quality. If you or someone in the home suffers from allergies, you may notice you are sneezing more often, experiencing itchy or running eyes more frequently, or having problems breathing.
Unlike humans, pets tend to shed much more. Pet hair and dander can get into all sorts of places too, such as:
- On Furniture
- Under Sofa and Chair Cushions
- In Bedding
- Under Beds
- In Closets
- In Cracks and Crevices
- Along Baseboards
- In Air Ducts
Keeping pet hair and dander to a minimum requires pet parents to perform some added housekeeping chores more often. Ideally, pet owners should sweep, dust, and vacuum at least weekly. All bedding should also be laundered on a weekly basis.
In addition, your home’s air conditioning and heating filters need to be replaced more often. Pet hair and dander are easily blown around the home and sucked into the return air vent. The filter blocks most of this but does become dirtier faster.
As a result, we highly recommend checking your AC filter once a month and replacing it when needed. Even if you have a “pet” air filter installed that says it only needs to be replaced every three months, it does not mean it cannot quickly get clogged with pet hair and dander.
Clogged Air Filters Increase AC Repair Services
Dirty and clogged air filters cause your air conditioning to work harder. You may notice a spike in your utility bill because the AC has to run longer to achieve the same cooling effects. Additionally, since the AC is running longer, it places more strain on the unit that can lead to overheating, frozen cooling coils, and a host of other problems.
Furthermore, this added wear and tear on the system shortens the expected lifespan of the entire system. The same is true during the winter months, here in Tampa, when you might need to turn on the heat to warm up your home. Whether you have a “combo” unit or separate furnace and air conditioning system, clogged air filters damage your home’s HVAC system.
Clogged Air Filters and AC Ducts
Pets and air quality issues extend into the ducts running throughout your home. Depending on the age of your home, you may have floor ducts, where the ductwork is under the subflooring or ceiling ducts. With floor ducts, you have other things to worry about with pet ownership aside from pet dander and hair.
- Toys – Your cat or dog could accidentally drop a toy down through the openings in floor ducts. The toys have your pet’s saliva on them and could even contain food particles, pet dander, pet hair, and bacteria.
- Pet Food – If pet food falls down into the ductwork, not only does it have bacteria and pet saliva on it, but it can also attract unwanted pests like mice and roaches.
- Kitty Litter – If your cat likes to bat kitty litter around when using the litter box, and it gets down into your ducts, it could have urine and feces on it. Over time, this can make your house smell like one giant litter box!
- Dirt – Dogs go in and out of the home and can track dirt, mud, feces, and other such materials into the home on their fur and paws. If they walk over open floor ducts, these things can fall into the ducts. The same is true if you let your cat outside from time to time.
If your home has floor air ducts, we highly recommend to include an inspection of your ductwork during your annual or bi-annual AC maintenance and tune-up visits. This way, if foreign objects, pet hair, and dander are an issue, you can have them cleaned to help maintain better indoor air quality in your home.
For ceiling ducts, pet hair and dander can still be a problem. It does not hurt to get annual inspections. During inspections, your AC repair technician will look for gaps, openings, and other areas where the ducts are not properly sealed.
Improperly sealed ductwork can also contribute to increased air pollution in the home, as well as increase your heating and cooling costs. For instance, if there is a large enough gap in between two duct sections, cooled or heated air is escaping.
As this air is blown out, it can create a suction force that draws in outdoor air or interior wall air, which can also contain dirt and dust. In homes with pets, pet hair and dander can be blown out of the openings as well as drawn back in, which further reduces indoor air quality.
In addition, in newer homes, rather than traditional metal ductwork, some builders are opting to use heavy plastic ducts instead. While these certainly cost less, they can easily get punctured, torn, and ripped. This can introduce even more contaminants into the home, including animal dander and hair from outdoor animals that might gain entry through the crawl space under your home!
How Duct Sealing Helps Improve Indoor Air Quality
When your ductwork has been properly sealed by your air duct repair technician, including around the air vents that are in the rooms in your home, there are fewer potential entry points into the home’s cooling and heating system for pet dander, pet hair, and other contaminants.
With floor ducts, it is highly recommended to have fine mesh screens installed as part of the sealing process. This way, the screens catch pet dander, hair, food, toys, and kitty litter and keep them out of the ducts.
Other Air Quality Tips for Pet Owners
Aside from your regular housekeeping chores, there are other things pet owners can do to help reduce the amount of pet hair and dander that gets distributed around the home, into return air vent filters, and ducts.
- Brush your pets every few days. Pets shed a lot! You would be surprised by how fast a pet brush or comb gets filled with their pet hair. If you get into the habit of brushing your cats or dogs more often, they will have less hair to shed. Plus, your cats or dogs will appreciate the attention they are getting and will start to look forward to “brush-time.”
- Move pet items away from floor ducts and the return air vent. Keep pet food, water, bedding, litter boxes and other such items away from floor air ducts, as well as the return air vent. Moving these items away will reduce the number of items that get into ducts, as well as sucked into the air filter.
- Give your dog a bath regularly. Since dogs spend time indoors and outdoors, they can start to smell really bad. Weekly baths not only help keep your dog from stinking but also wash out pet dander and any pet hair you missed during brushings.
A word about baths and cats: We wouldn’t recommend giving cats a bath—not unless they like playing in the water and are accustomed to it. You can talk to your vet about a waterless shampoo for your cats to help keep them smelling great if they spend any time outdoors.
We hope these tips and suggestions will help enable you to better control pet dander and pet hair in your home while keeping your home’s AC and heating system running smoothly. If you haven’t had AC maintenance and tuneup service in a while, want to get your ducts inspected, or have questions about duct sealing, please feel free to contact Air Rescue at 813.375.9982 today for service in the entire Tampa Bay area!
Air duct repair and duct cleaning are necessary tasks to keep the indoor air quality of your home comfortable and healthy. Your ducts are an essential component of your air conditioning and heating appliances, and they contribute to the airflow and air quality that enters your home. Continue reading to learn more about your home air quality and how air duct repair and air conditioning service in Tampa, FL, work together.
Your air ducts handle both your heating and cooling air flow, which means they are almost constantly bombarded with dust, dirt, mold, and other damaging influences. Duct cleaning every two to five years is crucial to keeping this dust and mold from entering the rest of your home and damaging your family’s health. However, your air ducts may be leaking, which warrants air duct repair. If your air ducts are leaking or damaged, then they could be pulling in even more dust and contaminants, which can then enter your home. If these contaminants are not caught by your air conditioner or furnace filters, then you risk possible health concerns for you and your family.
You may think your air ducts only need an occasional cleaning, but there are times when you will need to call your HVAC contractor for a duct replacement. Let’s look at the answers to some common questions about duct replacement and other AC maintenance in Tampa and St. Petersburg, FL.
Should my ducts be replaced or cleaned?
Determining whether your ducts should be cleaned or replaced is up to your HVAC contractor. A duct cleaning is often sufficient to solve any duct problems. However, there are times when a contractor will suggest a duct replacement over a cleaning. If your ducts show significant damage—from mold growth and other factors—or ducts have collapsed, then your contractor will likely suggest a duct replacement. If your ducts are found to have been improperly installed or designed, then you may need a replacement instead of a cleaning. A replacement can ensure that these problems do not return and that the installation was done correctly.
When should my ducts be replaced?
If your ductwork or your house was constructed several years ago, then you may need duct replacement. Even with proper cleanings, ducts can eventually degrade, or past materials may not be as efficient as newer materials. Your HVAC contractor should inspect your ducts to determine if they need to be replaced. He can also look for signs of extensive mold growth, which may be another sign you should have your ducts replaced. Dirt, dust, and some mold is to be expected in all ductwork. If it is extensive, however, then you could risk further damage to the ducts or health problems for your family.
When should my ducts be inspected?
Your ducts should be professionally inspected and cleaned every two to five years. However, there are some signs that can signal the need for inspection. If you notice your utility bills are rising, or your HVAC system is degrading quicker, then you may have leaky ductwork. Watch out for these signs to call your HVAC company for a professional duct cleaning and inspection.
Sufficient Insulation is Essential to Save Money on Energy Costs this Winter!
If you didn’t already know, October is National Energy Awareness Month. Now is the time to get your home ready for the upcoming winter months. Homeowners should make small changes and other things to help save energy, reduce energy waste and save money on electric bills. Although October is Energy Awareness Month, every month should be Energy Awareness Month!
Now is the best time to get your insulation inspected. Insulation deteriorates over time, it will become less efficient at insulating your home during the cold and hot months.
Some insulation professionals state that 2/3 of homes in the United States are not efficiently insulated. Having your home insulated properly and weather stripping your home can save you money on your electric bills.
Signs of Inefficient Insulation
One way of telling if you have insufficient insulation in your home is if you have trouble keeping your upper floor heated or cooled. Even if you don’t have this problem, it’s still a good idea to occasionally check your insulation.
Begin in your attic, insulation on the attic floor keeps heat from escaping as it rises through the attic. Experts say that if you can see the attic floor joists then you need more insulation.
It is easy for homeowners to go to their attic and check their insulation, but there are more difficult places to check, as in insulation inside your walls. In order to check the insulation in your walls you will need to hire a professional who can use infrared cameras to make sure you have enough insulation.
When you are adding insulation, make sure you ask about a recommended R-value, which measures the efficiency of the insulation. The higher the R-value, the better the insulation will work. The kind of insulation is also an important factor. Some types insulate better than others.
Energy Star recommends that you have an R-value of 38, anywhere from 12-15 in. of insulation. A higher R-value of 49 might be recommended for colder regions.
Be sure to do some research before hiring a company to do an energy audit or add more insulation to your home. You should ask friends and family who they recommend, check trusted online websites or you can call Air Rescue at 888-638-3792.
You can also add weather stripping to the edges of doors and windows to help reduce energy costs.
When people think about getting their ducts cleaned, they first need to ask themselves what made them think they need to do it in the first place. Something subconsciously reminded you, a smell, a sneeze or someone else noticed.
A temporary solution would be to have someone come to your home and clean your ducts. We have heard of this improving the air quality in customers’ homes.
During the hot and cold seasons your air conditioning system circulates the air in your home 5 to 6 times a day. When circulating, the air can carry dust and debris from everyday life. Your air filter will catch most of the contaminants but neglect and bad duct installation can lead to a buildup of debris that can negatively affect the function of your AC system.
Duct cleaning is controversial. Some people believe that it truly helped improve the air quality in their home and they think it was worth every penny. Others think that it is ineffective because your AC system does not blow air fast enough to circulate settled dust throughout the home.
Can Dirty Air Conditioning Ducts Be Bad for Your Health?
The EPA says that having your ducts cleaned has been proven to prevent health problems. There is no evidence that suggests dirty ducts increase dust levels inside homes. Some people have allergies and are more sensitive to dust and pet dander than other people.
Check It Out Yourself
All you have to do is remove registers and use either your cell phone or small camera, reach into the duct and snap a couple pictures. If it shows that there is a buildup of dust where you can reach, you can use a vacuum cleaner to get as much dust as you can.
If you see a lot of dust further than you can reach, you may need to get your ducts professionally cleaned. You should clean your ducts after remodeling projects or when buying a new home.
Ducts Can Be Cleaned By:
- Hand held vacuum: A brush attached to a large portable vacuum filter is used to clean ducts
- Mechanical brush: a rotating brush is inserted into the ducts, the vacuum is attached to a truck sucks all the dust and debris
- Air sweep: truck mounted vacuum carries away dust and debris inside the duct system by a compressed air hose
The most important thing to figure out is how it got dirty originally. You can solve problems by identifying them first.
Indoor Air Quality can be a difficult problem to solve. So, here are some tips to help control the harmful particles that may be circulating through your home.
- Don’t Smoke Indoors – smoking is bad for your indoor air quality. Chemical pollutants and other harmful particles will be in the air you breathe.
- When cooking, use your exhaust fan – the fan allows you to get rid of particulates that are created by cooking. This fan will help keep your air less polluted.
- Wash bedsheets frequently – wash your sheets, blankets, pillows and pillowcases in water that is at least 140F degrees to get rid of dust mites.
- Limit candles and air fresheners – Everyone loves the smell of their home while burning a nice candle, truth is they emit volatile organic compounds. Make sure you use sot or beeswax candles, they emit lower volatile organic compounds, they are more expensive but are worth it.
- Make sure door between house and garage is sealed – a lot of people use their garage to store chemicals, weed eaters, lawnmowers, paint and other products. The fumes from these products can leak into your home and circulated throughout. If you have no other place to store them, make sure they are stored in a sealed container.
- Use exhaust fan in bathroom- people use the bathroom to get ready in the mornings, spraying hairspray, cologne, deodorant, perfumes and other products like this can emit particulates. Make sure the ventilation of the fan goes outside.
- Limit flames – fireplaces and burning wood inside of stoves with cause indoor air pollution if ventilation is not set up correctly.
- Use a doormat – The bottom of your shoes is one of the biggest carriers of particulates. A doormat will help cut it down. This will help control the amount of particulates that get into your home and will be beneficial for those with asthma and other allergies.
- Use a high efficiency particulate air filter or central vacuum system – Getting all the dirt and dust from the carpet in your home is very important in maintaining the health of your home. Make sure you have a vacuum that will trap the dirt inside a container and not allow any to get out. You should buy a HEPA or whole home central vacuum.
Florida is already humid anyways, but the wet and rainy summer time makes humidity levels higher than normal. This humidity can make you uncomfortable and create more problems for your air conditioning system. One of the most important duties of your AC system is to remove any moisture.
What to look for at home
If you air conditioning system is turning off 4 to 5 times an hour during the hot Florida summer, it’s not performing efficiently. Your AC system should run continuously 40 to 50 minutes to maintain the temperature in rooms as well as keep the humidity at a comfortable level. When the system first begins cooling it will use the most energy, more than it will us in the next 30 minutes. If it is turning on and off multiple times within an hour it would be using more energy than it would running for a consistent 2 hours.
Mold and mildew
Humidity can make you uncomfortable in your home, it can also allow mold and mildew to grow. You may find this in bathrooms and on walls and ceilings. If wood floors and windows begin to warp this is also a sign of high humidity levels. The high level of humidity must be reduced or mold and mildew will occur.
One thing that comes from short air cycles is uncomfortable humidity level in your home. If you have the right sized system for your home, it will allow you to feel comfortable even if the temperature is set at 76. If the humidity levels are low then it will be much more comfortable. The humidity level in your home should not be above 50%.
Schedule an appointment to have the humidity levels in your home checked, we can help you keep your home safe by informing you on ways to control moisture and avoid mold growth.
An HVAC system works at its best whenever your thermostat is properly setup, you have enough insulation and your ducts are sealed and properly installed. Make sure all of these components are taken care of before you spend a lot of money on a new HVAC system, they could be whats causing the problems in your home.
How Old is Your System?
If your air conditioning system is more than 10 years old, then it is time to replace your system. Is your system getting fixed a lot or do you have rooms that don’t cool well? Don’t wait until your system no longer performs, be proactive and have it looked at by a professional. Use a company that is qualified, well trained and has the right equipment to properly diagnose your system.
You can save money on your electric bill by replacing your old inefficient system with a newer high tech model. This will also make your home more comfortable for you and your family.
If you think you may need to replace your old HVAC system, start researching before it actually dies, that way you have time to make the right decision. Since new systems are quite pricy, it might not be a good idea if you are only trying to cut energy costs. You should first look for other problems like leaky ducts, that can be fixed and increase efficiency and comfort.
Make Sure It’s Sized Correctly
It would be a great idea to get a more efficient system, but don’t be tempted to get one bigger than you actually need for the square footage of your home. A system that is too big won’t run well and it will actually make your home less comfortable because it will cycle on and off too often.
Your HVAC system also serves as a dehumidifier. If your system is too big it will cool the house too fast and shut off too early, which means incoming air will not be dehumidified. The combination of cold surfaces and wet air in your home can cause condensation which will eventually turn into mold. If mold spreads to the drywall or joists, you will suffer expensive repair costs.
Let the Professionals Do the Work
If your system is improperly installed, you can lose as much as 30% of your efficiency. It will cancel the savings that you thought you were going to get. Installation of an HVAC system should only be performed by licensed, insured contractors.
Would you like to learn more about what Air Rescue can do for you? You can call (888)638-3792 or Schedule an Appointment.
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