4 Sources of Indoor Pollution

4 Sources of Indoor Pollution

These days, you can’t look over a big city without needing to squint to see the buildings through a cloud of smog that hangs around them. Outdoor air pollution is a hot-button issue, and for good reason. After all, what we do to the air affects everything from our own health to the health of our environment. That being said, homeowners on Chicago’s North Shore often forget that indoor air pollution can be just as important as outdoor air pollution, since we tend to breathe the air inside our home more often than the air outside.

Just as you can limit your contribution to outdoor air pollution, you can limit air pollution in your home by cutting it off at its sources. Here are four of those pesky sources of indoor air pollution.

Mold and Mildew

Humidity issues can always reduce your indoor air quality. Too much humidity can lead to mold and mildew growth, while too little can allow certain viruses to thrive. During the late spring and summer, Chicago’s humidity rises and can become a source of indoor air pollution. Mold is especially likely to stake a claim in the dark, wet places of your home, such as your bathroom or areas of your kitchen. If they aren’t caught quickly enough, those spores can then spread throughout your home and cause eye, nose, and throat irritation, as well as breathing problems and even disease.

While you can certainly scrub away mold, the source of the problem lies in the humidity of your home. You can minimize moisture by installing a whole-home dehumidifier that maintains proper humidity with the help of your HVAC system. Maintaining good ventilation (especially in the bathroom) will also help reduce moisture in the air.

Carbon Monoxide

We all shiver at just the name of this gas, but surely it couldn’t be in our homes, could it? Unfortunately, without proper care, carbon monoxide can quickly spread throughout your home. Carbon monoxide is a byproduct of your HVAC system, particularly the furnace. Normally, the system is built to vent the carbon monoxide to the outside so that it never reaches a poisonous level in your home.

To keep carbon monoxide from becoming an issue, keep up on your schedule of regular HVAC maintenance. This maintenance will ensure that your system is properly venting carbon monoxide.

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)

“Volatile Organic Compounds” is an umbrella term that refers to certain gases that can stem from many different sources in your home, including paint, air fresheners, carpet cleaners, some household chemical cleaners, pesticides, and more. These gases, often petroleum-based, are rarely listed on the label of your household products. After all, any ingredient with the word “volatile” is likely to be a bit of a turn-off. Instead, they are often listed as “Fragrances,” or something else that hides the true, dangerous nature of these chemicals, which can cause headaches, skin irritation, allergic reactions, and breathing problems.

Some of these compounds, unfortunately, are unavoidable. Whenever using chemical cleaners, paints, or pesticides, make sure the area you’re working in is well-ventilated. When you’re not using them, store the chemicals outside, in another well-ventilated area. If you want to avoid using chemical cleaners altogether, you can always rely on more organic cleaning methods, such as good ol’ soap and water.

Allergens

You’re probably all too familiar with this annoying source of indoor air pollution. Mold and mildew could be considered allergens, but this source also includes pollen, dust, and pet dander. These tiny particles can cause everything from a runny nose to violent allergic reactions. To start attacking this source, identify what allergens you may be especially susceptible to by visiting a doctor.

Your HVAC system already comes with a filter intended to catch many of the particles that ride on your home’s airflow, but it doesn’t catch everything. A whole-home air purifier, which more effectively catches particles, may be worth considering if allergies are especially bothersome for you.

You may not be able to fix all the world’s pollution problems, but you can certainly begin to control the air pollution within your home. For professional help with increasing your indoor air quality, call Roberts Heating and Air Conditioning at 847-562-5292.

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Consult With a Contractor Before You Renovate

Consult With a Contractor Before You Renovate

Renovating your Northbrook, Illinois, home requires special consideration to your HVAC system. You might not realize all the effects renovations have on your HVAC system, which is why you should consult with an HVAC contractor before the renovations even begin.

Protecting Your HVAC System

Your HVAC system needs protection during major renovations. When tearing down walls or doing renovations near your system, you need to make sure you protect your system. Try to limit the use of your system during big renovations. You don’t want the dust and dirt from the renovation accumulating in your vents, ducts, and filters. Close off the vents during the renovation when necessary as well. Consider covering your system to prevent damage. Make sure the contractor knows where your ducts are as well to avoid accidental harm to all components of your system.

Bonus Rooms and Additions

If you’re adding an addition or a bonus room, discuss the best HVAC options with a professional before you start the renovations. Sometimes adding ductwork is the best choice, but other times a mini-split or a ductless system is easier or more economical. Speaking to an HVAC contractor while you’re still mapping out the renovations will save you time and energy instead of trying to go backward and make the HVAC fit into your plans.

Indoor Air Quality

Make sure you consider your indoor air quality in your home during renovations. Your HVAC contractor can offer advice to prevent poor IAQ in your home while you are remodeling. Try to plan renovations when the weather is mild, so you can spend more time outdoors. Clean up workspaces every day and don’t let dust and debris settle in your home. If you can take a vacation during your renovations, that’s even better. If you have to be in the home, stay diligent to prevent poor IAQ during renovations. 

If you’re considering remodeling your home, contact Roberts Heating & Air Conditioning to make sure your HVAC system works with your plans. Call 847-562-5292 to speak to an experienced professional today.

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3 Tools to Improve Your Indoor Air Quality

3 Tools to Improve Your Indoor Air Quality

Poor indoor air quality in your Deerfield, Illinois, home can lead to allergy symptoms, asthma attacks, skin and eye irritation, and more. Some of the most common contaminants are dust, dirt, pollen, mold, pet dander, and household chemicals. Fortunately, you can reduce contaminants and improve your indoor air quality with tools like ventilators, air cleaners, and UV lamps.

Ventilators

An energy recovery ventilator or ERV can remove stale air and bring fresh, filtered air into your home. This lowers concentrations of pollutants and reduces stale or musty smells. ERVs also have heat exchangers that conserve energy in spring and summer by transferring heat away from your home like a heat pump. They can dehumidify the air in your home as well, increasing your comfort and preventing mold growth.

Air Cleaners

Air cleaners or air purifiers use filters to remove contaminants. You can use a whole-home air cleaner connected to your ductwork to filter all the air in your home or take care or one or two rooms at a time with a less expensive portable unit. However, the fan on a portable unit could be noisy.

UV Lamps

The strongest type of UV (ultraviolet light) can kill bacteria and viruses by damaging their genetic structure. The atmosphere protects these pathogens by filtering out UV light from the sun, but bacteria and viruses are vulnerable to a UV lamp in your ductwork or a coil sterilization light inside your air handler. UV lamps won’t help with pollen and many other allergens, so they’re best if you or a member of your family has a compromised immune system or just tends to get sick a lot.

Roberts Heating & Air Conditioning is a Carrier Factory Authorized Dealer with more than 35 years of experience. We can help you install, maintain, and repair a variety of HVAC equipment, including indoor air quality equipment. Call us anytime at 847-562-5292 for excellent service from one of our skilled technicians.

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Why Your Business Needs a Commercial Maintenance Plan

Why Your Business Needs a Commercial Maintenance Plan

You have bigger things to worry about for your Northbrook, Illinois, business than your HVAC system, but that doesn’t mean it’s not important. A commercial maintenance plan for your HVAC system takes the stress out of maintaining your HVAC system, saves you money, and extends the life of your heating and cooling machinery.

Saves Your Business Money

A commercial maintenance plan for your business makes sure that your system is running as efficiently as possible. Your utility bills are likely a significant cost for your business, and an inefficient system can make your utility bills spike. A maintenance plan ensures that your system is checked regularly so it operates efficiently and doesn’t waste your money.

Improves the Reliability of Your System 

If something catastrophic is about to happen, your HVAC contractor can often catch it during routine maintenance. One of the worst things that can happen for your business is to have a major breakdown during the dead of winter or heat of summer. With regular maintenance, the contractor will catch small problems before they turn into big ones. Your system will be more reliable, letting you focus your attention on running your business rather than worrying about your building’s infrastructure.

Increases the Life of Your System

Your HVAC system is a big investment for your commercial building, and you want it to last as long as possible. Regular maintenance increases the life of your system and helps it run longer. When it’s approaching the end of its practical life, the contractor can alert you, allowing you to plan and budget for a new system instead of getting blindsided by a major expense.

If you’re in the market for a commercial maintenance plan, we are the people to call. Contact Roberts Heating & Air Conditioning at 847-562-5292 to speak to an experienced professional today.

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How Pets Affect Your HVAC System

How Pets Affect Your HVAC System

If you have pets in your Northbrook, Illinois, home, it’s important to know how they affect your HVAC system. Your pet’s hair and dander can have a negative effect on your system if you’re not careful.

Clogged Air Filters

If you have a pet that sheds in your home, you need to make sure you change your HVAC filters more often. Air filters trap pet hair and prevent it from blowing through your home, but unfortunately this hair can clog up your filters quickly. A clogged air filter makes your HVAC system work harder, increasing your utility bills and shortening the lifespan of your system. Check your filters regularly, especially during the seasons when your pet tends to shed the most.

Air Quality Concerns

There are a lot of great reasons to own a pet, but many people find that they start experiencing allergic symptoms such as sneezing, headaches, and watery eyes after a new pet moves into their home. If this happens to you or a member of your family, don’t be too quick to assume you have to give up on owning a pet. Often a better indoor air quality management system, perhaps in conjunction with more frequent dusting and cleaning, will be all that’s needed to make the pet a welcome addition to your household again.

Programming Your Thermostat

If you have your thermostat set to change during the day while you are gone, a new pet in your home should make you rethink it. Although pets have adapted to adjust to changing temperatures, you still need to make sure your home is comfortable while you are away. Don’t swing the temperature too drastically during the day and make sure it’s a reasonable temperature for your pet.

If you have questions about how your pets affect your HVAC system, or if you need to have your IAQ tested, we are the people to call. Contact Roberts Heating & Air Conditioning at 847-562-5292 to speak to an experienced professional today.

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How Humidity Affects Your Home and HVAC System Throughout the Year

How Humidity Affects Your Home and HVAC System Throughout the Year

The hot, muggy days of summer cause structural damage, warping, mold growth and all kinds of problems. No one seems to mind “dry heat,” but everyone dislikes high humidity. In Illinois, the level of moisture in the air can be extreme. We also experience months of frigid days with low humidity. Here are a few ways that seasonal weather plays a role in your daily life.

Spring and Fall

Weather in the spring and fall is variable. Some days are damp while others are clear and dry. In general, the level of moisture is highest in the morning before convection starts to burn off some of the excess humidity. In the spring, the temperature begins to rise. In the fall, the temperature and humidity steadily decreases. Between the comfortable temperatures and occasional use of your HVAC, your indoor humidity should be ideal at this time of year.

Summer Humidity

The summer heat amplifies the effects of high humidity. When the level of moisture is very high, the temperature feels warmer than it really is. Inside your home, additional water vapor comes from cooking and cleaning. Your HVAC system removes most of this moisture when it cools the air. Make sure that water is draining out of the pan and outlet pipe. Excessive moisture can damage your home and contribute to mold growth.

Dry Winter Air

In the winter, the humidity drops along with the temperature. Cold air doesn’t hold much moisture. Low humidity causes dry skin, chapped lips and nosebleeds. In Northbrook, Illinois, we have many cold days. Although moisture is unpleasant in the summer, it’s beneficial in the winter because it makes the air feel a little bit warmer. By keeping indoor humidity at an ideal level, you can avoid dust mites and reduce the mobility of flu viruses.

Normally, a properly functioning HVAC system should control the moisture in your home. If you’re having problems, check out our range of indoor air quality products online, or call Roberts Heating & Air Conditioning at 847-562-5292.