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Where Does House Dust Come From?

Thursday, May 4th, 2017

Dust seems to come from nowhere and accumulates everywhere. You clean and vacuum your home, and the next day dust reappears as if by magic. It’s a sad fact of life that house dust doesn’t ever go away, but you can cut down on the amount of cleaning you have to do when you understand where the dust in your home is coming from.

Dust From Outdoors

Some dust wanders into homes from outside like an uninvited guest. Energy Star lists fine debris in outdoor air of the biggest sources of house dust, which comes in through the doors, windows and cracks in the house structure. To help keep your home clean, seal cracks in door and window frames, walls, crawlspaces and weatherstripping. Another source of household dust is dirt tracked in on footwear, so ask your family to take off their shoes and boots at the door and wear slippers at home.

Your Pets and You

It isn’t nice to think about it, but some of the dust in your house is flakes of dead skin from people and animals. Your cat or dog also sheds hair or fur, which traps dust and creates dust under your furniture.

Furnishing Fibers

Carpets, rugs, furniture, bedding, upholstery, curtains and anything else in your home that slowly wears down is a source of house dust. As the items are used, tiny and larger particles of soft furnishing fibers break off and join the dust layer. Vacuum carpets, rugs and upholstery as often as possible to minimize dust collection. You might think that dust collects only on furnishings made up of soft fibers, such as carpeting and rugs. However, other furnishings like knick-knacks, plants and mini blinds are dust traps as well.

Heating and Air Systems

Old or poorly maintained furnaces and air conditioners contribute to dust in houses. If your home air and heating systems haven’t been cleaned or maintained and you haven’t changed your air conditioning filters for a while, they could be spreading dust in your house. Cracked and leaking air ducts are another source of dust, either from the HVAC system itself, or by allowing dust to enter the home from outside.

Dusting can feel like a never-ending chore, but you can reduce the amount of dust that appears in your house. For more advice on reducing dust or on whole home air cleaners, purifiers, and other indoor air quality systems and components, contact Ragsdale for expert advice.

Why a Dirty Air Filter Is Bad for Your HVAC Unit

Thursday, May 4th, 2017

Filters on your HVAC unit and vents capture dust and prevent problems with dirt. That’s good news! The bad news is that a dirty air filter can do more harm than good. Here are some consequences you may face if you don’t replace filters a few times a year.

Ineffective Cooling and Heating

As air filters get more and more filled with dust, there’s less room for air to make its way through a filter. A “full” filter that needs to be replaced will significantly decrease airflow. This means your house cannot heat or cool as quickly, and your HVAC unit must work harder. Components such as fans and motors can become overworked and fail entirely, requiring immediate replacement. More repairs and higher heating and cooling bills are good reasons to replace your filters before these problems occur.

Dust Coatings Delay Operation

A dirty air filter can no longer remove dust effectively, so the dust in the air eventually coats components in your HVAC system. A layer of dust, unfortunately, can cause serious problems. Dust on your furnace firebox can be a fire hazard. Dust coating the metal coils can signifiantly impair efficiency. Overall, dust coatings in your HVAC units should be avoided.

More Allergens in Your Home

When filters can no longer trap dust effectively, they also allow excess dust to pass into your home. The dust may include allergens like pollen, or even mold spores looking for a dark, moist area to take root. If you’ve been noticing a lot of extra dust around the house, or have allergy symptoms that won’t improve, check to see if you have a dirty air filter that needs replacement.

Frost on Your AC Unit

When cold air can’t escape your AC, it backs up, lowering the temperature inside the unit and freezing the coils. This impairs efficiency and is bad for your system. It’s also hard to notice unless you’re looking for it.

There are many types of air filters for different purposes and units. If you have questions on how to replace a dirty air filter or have a better, more efficient air cleaners for your system, contact Ragsdale today and let us know how we can help!

Photo source: BigStock

Repair or Replace? Find Out If Your AC Is at Its Peak

Monday, April 17th, 2017

If you’ve got a serious air conditioning problem, you’ll be considering whether it’s time to repair or replace it. Replacing it could cost several thousand dollars up front, but there are times when repairs just don’t cut it. Let’s look at several common AC situations and whether repairs or replacement is the best option.

Your AC unit is very noisy/rumbling

While loud AC rattling or rumbling can be worrisome, these noises are usually caused by loose screws, poor ignition, or old fan belts, and can be fixed with a simple repair. The exception is serious problems with motors or furnaces, which opens the door to a full replacement.

You can’t get your house to cool down, no matter what

If your AC unit is malfunctioning, pure and simple, sometimes electrical failures or sensor problems keep it from performing, and these parts can be replaced. The second cause, however, is that the AC unit just can’t cool the amount of space in the building, and in this case should be replaced with a larger version.

Your thermostat is not programmable

Programmable thermostats are handy, time-saving, and can lower your cooling bills. Check to see if you can add on a programmable thermostat, or if it’s time to replace the entire unit.

You have consistent dust and pollen problems all year

In some cases dust is a filter or insulation issue, which can be fixed with minor maintenance. At the most, you may want to consider adding a purification system.

Repair costs are out of control

If the repair costs for an old unit are getting expensive, it’s time to think about replacing it with a more efficient system.

Your AC uses R-22 refrigerant

They’re becoming more rare, but AC systems that use R-22 refrigerant should be replaced according to federal regulations.

Have more questions about AC problems and whether you should repair or replace? Contact Ragsdale and our experienced technicians can help you find the right answer!

Photo Source: BigStock

What You Should Know Before Buying a New Air Filter

Tuesday, March 28th, 2017

When the time comes to buy a new air filter, you’ll notice a lot of different choices from many brands. Which brand should you choose – does it matter? Let’s talk about picking out a high-quality filter.

Design, not brand, matters

Brand is far from the most important factor in buying home air filters. In fact, you can probably ignore brand entirely and still find perfectly suitable air filters. Why? Design is far more important. HVAC and similar filters for air conditioners or air purifiers all fall into several important design categories.

For example, fiberglass filters are cheap and thin, but they aren’t very durable and don’t remove many pollutants – as little as 10 percent at times. Pleated filters are made with cloth or foam in ripples and layers, but they don’t fit in all HVAC units. HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filters are excellent for allergies/asthma, but they are typically designed for air purifiers specifically.

Tips on picking filters

  • Match sizes: The air filter needs to fit precisely in the unit. Width is usually 1 inch for the average HVAC but height and length can vary. Check the dimensions of your current filter!
  • Look at MERV: Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value, or MERV, is a quick way to look at effectiveness. The scale goes from 1-20, and the best filters for your home are generally around 8 to 13.
  • Know your HEPA: True HEPA filters get rid of 99.97% of particles 0.3 microns or smaller. They need to be replaced often, but can be helpful for those with breathing issues. Note: HEPA isn’t the same as ULPA.

Need more information on picking out the right filter? Contact Ragsdale today and let us know how we can help!

Photo source: Flickr

How Can Pollen Get In My House?

Tuesday, February 7th, 2017

Pollen can enter your home from many sources, which can make controlling allergies difficult, especially in spring and early summer when every plant around you seems to be filling the air with allergens. Stopping these allergens starts with understanding exactly how they are getting into your house:

  1. Open windows: It seems almost too easy, but the worst culprit for letting pollens into your home are often open windows. This is particularly true when days get warmer and you open windows to let the cool air in at night or freshen up the air in the day. Pollen counts tend to be very high in the morning, so leaving those windows open too long means that you get a flood of pollen. The solution here is also easy: Close your windows during pollen season.
  2. Pets: Do you have pets that like to go play outside? Then they are probably bringing in a whole lot of pollens: Remember that many pollen particles are designed to easily catch onto things and hitch a ride. Running through branches and brush – or even just playing on the lawn – can fill a pet’s hair with allergen particles, which they shake off inside.
  3. Clothes and hair: Pets aren’t the only ones going outside during pollen season! Pollen also gets trapped on human hair and clothes: Whether you are going out to play in the pair or jog the streets in the morning, you could be bringing in a cloud of allergens when you return home. Brush off and use an entryway to switch clothes to help minimize this problem.
  4. Poor insulation: Gaps in insulation tend to occur in attics and around weatherproofing that guard the edges of windows and doors. These gaps allow air to seep into your house, and with that air comes pollen. Update your insulation if it’s wearing thin!

If you have been noticing problems with allergens, contact Ragsdale and ask about inspections and cleaning practices that can help remove pollen, as well as more advanced filtration products to deal with aller

gies issues.Photo source: Flickr

Replacing Your Air Filter: Tips about Types and Brands

Tuesday, October 11th, 2016

Air filters can help protect your house from pollen, dander, dust and more – but what are you supposed to do when a filter needs replacing? If you’re ready to switch it out but have questions, we have a few answers for you that might help you in the process.

Air filter brands: Should you worry?
Buying the right brand of filter isn’t usually as important as buying the right kind. The filter needs to fit your AC unit – after that, the differences are minimal. Two things tend to be important here:

  1. The shape and size. If you look at your filter, you’ll probably see it’s marked with specs on length, width and height. Those are the specs that you should match when buying a new filter.
  2. The MERV rating. MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value, a number from 1 to 20 that shows how efficient a filter is. Find a filter with a higher MERV can help remove more particles in the air…but it may also reduce your air flow. This can cause problems, especially if these filters are not changed on a monthly basis.

Types of air filters
There are a variety of different air filters on the market, include several aftermarket options to improve your AC system or add purifiers for extra protection against allergies or asthma. Here are a few popular additions you may want to consider.

  • Synthetic mechanical filters: These are the pleated filters often seen whole house AC systems. If you want maximum efficiency, think about replacing them every few months.
  • HEPA filters: High-Efficiency Particulate Air filters have some of the very best air filtration for those suffering from asthma (this study has some more information) and other conditions.
  • Activated carbon filters: These filters excel at removing smells, smoke and gases.
  • Photocatalytic Oxidation: People worried about VOCs (volatile organic compounds) may want to use these filters, which can break VOCs down.
  • Ion or Ozone filters: With an electrostatic charge and ozone particles (plus sometimes additional filter materials) these filters attract particles onto their surfaces as air passes through. Make sure you clean those surfaces frequently!

If you aren’t sure what kind of filter you need, or how to upgrade your house with a new type of air filter, ask Ragsdale for advice and we’ll help you find the best solution!

Photo Source: Flickr

Inexpensive Cooling Options: Save Money While Chilling Out

Friday, August 19th, 2016

During the hottest days, all you want to do is turn up the AC – but that can also mean turning up your monthly bills. Fortunately, there are plenty of inexpensive cooling options that can help you save electricity and money when it gets a little too warm. Let’s take a look.

Window Management
Your windows can make a big difference in home cooling – and without using much electricity at all! Just opening your windows at night to let the cool air in can make it much easier to keep your house cool the next day. In the day, close your blinds to keep the sun from heating the air in your home as well.

Positioning Window Fans
Do you have a two-story home? Put one fan in front of an open upstairs window, facing out. Put another in a downstairs window, facing in. These two fans can create a cycle that draws in colder evening air while pushing out the rising, hot air from the day. It’s a very low-electricity, inexpensive cooling of whole-house cooling.

Ceiling Fans
Are you using your ceiling fan? If not turn it on! We suggest aiming the airflow downward so that you can more easily feel it. Most fans have a switch that allows you to change the rotation for winter or summer settings. Make sure yours in on summer setting!

Switching to a Heat Pump
Heat pumps use a refrigerant that transfers heat back and forth from inside to outside. This can be a very efficient system when heating or cooling: If you do not currently have a heat pump in your home.

Larger Awnings and White Rooftops
Thinking about a major renovation? Sometimes by increasing the size of your awnings (for more shade) and switching to a white roof (or lighter color) are large upfront costs, but will save a little on cooling for years to come.

For more ways to use your AC wisely and cool your house down fast, visit Ragsdale!

Photo source: Flickr

Your Air Filter and Why It Matters

Monday, June 27th, 2016

At the hub of your air conditioner, you have probably noticed a section (usually marked) that you can open to remove and replace your air filter. That filter, a muffled screen with a cardboard shell, may look simple – but it can play a very important role in your home! Here’s how these filters work, and a few ideas on how you can help them.

Anatomy of an Air Filter
An HVAC filter is designed to trap particulates that float through the air, as that air is circulated around your ductwork. If you look at your filter, you will probably see that it has a wavy design in the fabric: That makes sure as much dust as possible is collected by the filter as air passes. The cardboard design and easy placement allow you to quickly replace the filter whenever you want.

Why Air Filters are Important
Your air filter helps your HVAC and home in two very important ways. First, it can protect your air conditioning system! All that dust can do a lot of damage to your HVAC system over time while drastically lowering its efficiency. The filter can keep these problems at bay. Second, it improves the air quality in your house. This can be an issue if you suffer from allergies or want to prevent bacteria and spores from floating around.

Changing Air Filters
Your home air filter isn’t designed to last forever. Most filters are meant to last around several months – there are a lot of different suggestions on when to change filters, but leaving it in all year can inhibit airflow and decrease efficiency in your system. Many people choose to change their filters at the turn of the seasons, such as at the beginning of fall, winter, spring and summer.

When buying a new filter, it’s helpful to look at two things. First, you’ll want to examine the size of the filter, which should be printed very clearly on the side. The new filter should be the same size to fit into your ductwork. Second, look at which way the arrows on the filter are facing – this indicates airflow, and your new filter should be put in the same way.

If you have any other questions about your air filter, where to find it, or how to use it, please contact Ragsdale for more information! We’re glad to help out.

Photo source: Flickr

4 Reasons Your Home Might Be Really Dusty

Thursday, April 28th, 2016

Have you noticed that your house is growing dusty a little faster than usual? Are you annoyed by layers of dust that reappear after just a few days? It’s time to take a look at sources of dust and what you can do to try and stop them.

1. New pets: If you’ve been dealing with an unusual amount of dust lately, it’s time to see if there have been any big changes in your home recently. One of the common dust-causing changes is a new pet, which will both generate plenty of dust on its own and track dust in from outside. Cleaning your pet more regularly can often help with this problem.

2. Leaky ductwork: Many homeowners may not think much about their ducts, but over the years ducts can grow increasingly dirty – and potentially develop cracks that let crawlspace dust inside. The result is an increasingly dusty home. An inspection can help locate and solve these problems, but try replacing your filters first if it’s been several months since your last filter.

3. Dirty or old heating system: Sometimes the dust doesn’t start in your ducts, but in an older heating system that hasn’t been cleaned for some time. Poorly maintained furnaces can create and spread more dust around your home. It’s important to maintain your systems throughout the year.

4. Other leaks: Leaks can be hard to spot, and a combination of windy months plus gaps in your weatherstripping or hidden leaks in your crawlspaces will make your house more dusty. Maintain your insulation and watch for leaks to help prevent this.

Dust can be a potential reason that your home’s air could be hurting you. The EPA has listed indoor air pollution as one of the top five environmental risks facing the American public. For more information on beating dust and increasing the efficiency of your air conditioning and insulation, check out our air quality products and find your solutions fast!

Is Your Air Conditioner Ready For Spring?: Top 5 Tips For Prepping Your Air Conditioner

Tuesday, March 15th, 2016

Is Your Air Conditioner Ready For Spring?: Top 5 Tips For Prepping Your AC Unit

Spring is coming up quick! Though the last thing on your mind might be caring for your air conditioner, you may soon be running your HVAC system at maximum capacity to combat the warm temperatures. Here are five things to consider when prepping your air conditioner for spring.

Tip #1: Conduct a Trial Run

Make sure that your unit turns on properly. Run a complete cycle. This will help you determine if you need to contact a pro for repair. Remember to make sure the exterior condenser unit:

  • Doesn’t make any strange or unusual sounds

And that the indoor HVAC unit:

  • Turns on and generates cool air right away
  • Cycles properly and doesn’t shut off right away

If you notice inconsistencies, call Ragsdale to inspect your unit.

Tip #2: Amp Up Insulation

Insulating your home is important during the winter. However, it is also imperative to block out hot, humid air infiltration in the summer. Use SPF or spray polyurethane foam insulation around cracks and leaky air areas. This will help stop unwanted infiltration of hot, humid air, reduce electrical usage and help your system run more efficiently during summer.

Tip #3: Clear The Air

Dirt, dust mites and pet dander love to settle into your air duct system. If your system has been shut off for a few weeks or months, these dirt particles will resurface once you start your air conditioner. This results in reduced air quality and can be a trigger for allergies. Consider:

  • Installing an air purification system to remove pollen, dust and other contaminants

Keeping your system clean improves the air quality in your home, as well as improving the overall efficiency and this saves you money!

Tip #4: Replace Inefficient Parts

If you know you have a faulty thermostat or other problems with your system, now’s the time for repairs. Troubleshoot underlying mechanical issues. This will help ensure that your home cools down quickly and efficiently when you turn on your air conditioner this spring.

Tip #5: Complete A HVAC Unit Inspection

Spring is a good time for air conditioner preventative care. A technician will inspect your HVAC system. Consider having your system upgraded to an energy-efficient model to save on your utility bills.

Don’t wait until the days get scorching hot (and you are without cool comfort inside your home). Start preparing now!

Image Source: Morgue File