Oasis Heating, A/C & Refrigeration Blog

Here’s What Can Happen if You Aren’t Changing Your AC’s Air Filter Regularly

April 22nd, 2020

A part of air conditioning and heating maintenance that we stress often is changing an HVAC system’s air filter regularly. As we come to the last month of summer, any air conditioner that has a clogged filter because it hasn’t been swapped out for a fresh one can start to cause multiple problems. Below are a few of the issues your AC might face if it still has an old filter.

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UV Lights and Your Air Conditioning System Post COVID-19

April 18th, 2020

Could UV Lights In Your AC System Prevent COVID-19?

One of the important services that we provide for homes in Springfield and the surrounding areas is the installation of UV germicidal lights into the HVAC system. This is the most effective way to eliminate harmful biological pollutants from moving through the air of your home.

The ultraviolet radiation from these lights destroys bacteria, mold spores, viruses, and various other unhealthy microorganisms that could be linked to preventing the spread of influenza-like illnesses like COVID-19. This is particularly helpful during the hot and humid weather that we experience here, which encourages the development of mold.

However, there is another important job that UV germicidal lights perform—and it has to do with your air conditioner.  Microorganisms – particularly viruses, are so tiny that filters are mostly ineffective. The UV systems have been shown to reduce problematic molds and pathogens that are found within the HVAC system and drain pan that would otherwise be introduced and distributed throughout the envelope of the building.

The Moldy Air Conditioner Problem

If you ever notice a peculiar “moldy” smell coming from the vents of your home when the AC is running, or a smell like dirty socks, then your air conditioner has probably developed mold across its evaporator coil. Appropriately, this is often called “dirty sock syndrome.”

It’s no surprise that mold can start to develop here. Water condenses across the coil as it absorbs heat from the air. Most of the water drips off into a pan below, but in humid weather too much can accumulate and make it easy for mold to grow. Not only does this create an unpleasant smell and release spores into the air, but it also makes it harder for the AC to work efficiently.

How the UV Lights Figure Into The Prevention of Illnesses

When UV germicidal lights are integrated into an HVAC system, they are set so they shine directly onto the air conditioner’s evaporator coils. This kills off mold and viruses, and prevents these harmful substances from developing in future seasons. While UV Systems have not been specifically tested against COVID-19, they have been proven effective against similar pathogens, some that need an even greater dosage for inactivation than the coronavirus.

So if you are encountering trouble with a moldy air conditioning and “dirty sock syndrome,” call up indoor air quality and HVAC specialists to have UV lights installed. Our experts know that it is better to be safe than sorry when serving our loyal customers of northern Virginia.

 

Schedule your maintenance appointment today or fill out our online contact form.

“Great timely service. Knowledgable and neat techs. Good value.”

“Would absolutely use their services again. Arrived on schedule.”

-Springfield, VA

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A Reminder about Changing Your HVAC System Air Filter This Winter

April 14th, 2020

Whether you use a furnace (electric or gas) or a heat pump to provide cozy indoor temperatures for your family during the winter, you need to pay attention to an important maintenance task: regularly changing the air filter. A forced-air system like a furnace must draw air from inside the home to heat it and then send it out through the ventilation system. The filter prevents debris that the blower fan will draw in from the rooms from entering into the furnace or heat pump and damaging components. (It isn’t specifically designed to improve air quality, however. You need to install a special set of filters for that.)

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Is UV Light Installation Actually Worth It?

April 11th, 2020

You have many options when it comes to filtrating your indoor air to make your home more comfortable, and your family healthier. Each type of air filtration system has its own method of removing pollutants from your air. Air filters are beneficial, but they can only do so much, and may not be fully effective for your needs. UV germicidal lights are an excellent addition to your indoor air quality devices. But is it really worth it?

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Why a Whole-House Dehumidifier Is a Better Option Than a Portable One

April 8th, 2020

Proper dehumidification for a home is often vital during the humid summers here in Virginia. If the humidity is balanced between 30% and 50%, it makes a significant difference in indoor comfort: the air can feel as much as 10°F cooler, and that often means you won’t need to rely on the air conditioner. Not only will you enjoy better comfort in summer, you’ll have reduced energy bills as well.

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Top Benefits of a UV Air Purifier Today

April 4th, 2020

Spring is allergy season, and a few weeks ago we wrote about the best ways to prepare for it with indoor air quality installations for your home. One of those recommendations was a UV air purifier, which uses ultraviolet radiation to eliminate a wide range of organic pollutants.

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Here Comes Allergy Season! And Here’s How to Get Ready for It

March 14th, 2020

Allergy season usually starts in early April, just as spring is getting underway. When the temperature rises above 60°F and stays that way for three to four days, plants start to release more pollen into the air. And that’s when your allergy problems will start..

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Benefits of Humidifiers

March 5th, 2020

Your indoor air quality is closely linked to the level of moisture in the air. Maintaining a balance of moisture ensures your family stays happy and healthy throughout all seasons.

When winter rolls around and the temperatures start dropping, the moisture, or humidity levels, in the air tends to drop right along with it. Because cold air cannot hold as much moisture as warm air, you will probably start noticing some of the downsides associated with low humidity during the cooler months. Ideally, you want your home’s humidity to stay in the optimal 30-50% range year-round.

A humidifier can help raise the humidity levels in your home so it stays in that optimal range. Best of all, there are many benefits of using humidifiers in your home.

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Signs Your Home Has Poor Air Quality

February 11th, 2020

In the 1970s, people noticed that their office buildings were making them sick. To control heating and air conditioning costs, many builders had constructed buildings that were virtually airtight with almost no airflow. Pollutants and contaminants hung in the air, and the result became known as Sick Building Syndrome. If you’ve ever been in a sick building, you know the signs: headaches, hoarseness, nausea, nosebleeds, chronic fatigue, mental fogginess, dry, itchy skin and watering eyes — to name a few.

Sick Building Syndrome, however, doesn’t just happen in office towers. It can also happen in your home. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health prefers the term “indoor air quality,” which is a term more familiar to homeowners. The air in your home can produce many of the same results seen in a sick office building if it’s low-quality and left untreated.

You can often determine the quality of air in your home by the health of the people who live there. You should watch for any of the following signs that appear in you or members of your family:

  • Congestion
  • Sneezing
  • Watery eyes
  • Nosebleeds
  • Coughing
  • Headache
  • Mental fogginess

While it may be tempting to think the symptoms are the result of weather conditions, such as a change in the air pressure or the advent of snow or a thunderstorm, they’re often the signs of a problem with indoor air quality.

One way to determine the cause of these problems is to pay attention to when they start. For instance, if you display any of the symptoms above in the morning before you head to work, then they stop once you leave your home and start again once you return, it’s almost a sure sign that the problem exists inside your home.

These problems can be caused by anything from dust mites and toxic mold spores to cleaners and the off-gassing of newer pieces of furniture. In more extreme cases, the signs above can escalate to more severe symptoms, such as muscle pain, fever, chills, shortness of breath, rashes and chronic sickness.

Here are six additional signs that indicate possible problems with the indoor air quality of your home.

1. Dust Buildup on Surfaces and Around Vents

If your home seems extraordinarily dusty, or if you inspect the HVAC air vents in your home’s system and they’re covered in dust, in all likelihood, you have a problem. At the very least, this is a sign of a buildup of dust mites, pet dander and pollen that aggravates symptoms for anyone who has an allergy and makes breathing more difficult for anyone who has asthma.

2. Humidity Issues

You always want to keep the humidity level in your home between 35% and 50%. This range is an ideal level that will ensure a comfortable feeling in your home and also inhibit the growth of microorganisms.

If your home lacks humidity, the resulting dry air can lead to sore eyes, plugged sinuses, dry, itchy skin and upper respiratory illnesses. Too much humidity, and your home becomes a playground for mold, mildew and other forms of microbes. A humidifier for a too-dry home or a dehumidifier for a too-humid home is likely your best solution.

3. Growths or Odors in Your Home

One of the best indicators of your home’s indoor air quality is your nose. Have you ever walked into someone else’s home and immediately detected that the air was too stale or stuffy? You would never comment on it to your host, of course, but that doesn’t mean you didn’t notice it.

The truth is that sometimes “air pollution” can be worse inside your home than it is outside. Mold and mildew growths can produce that stale, earthy odor that lingers throughout a space. Meanwhile, volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) release harmful chemicals into the air. VOCs can be produced by elements such as carpets, children’s craft supplies, paint, new furniture, cleaning products and even that freshly pressed jacket you picked up from the local dry cleaners.

One of the biggest contributors to VOCs inside your home is something that’s supposed to make the air smell better — air fresheners. Air fresheners contain many VOCs that are listed on the side of the can as “fragrance.” Air freshener manufacturers are not required to list the exact breakdown of the chemicals in a can of their product, and people with asthma or other breathing problems often find that air fresheners make their conditions worse.

Tests by the National Resources Defense Council found that some air fresheners contain phthalates, which have been linked to childhood development issues and hormonal problems.

Here are some smells and orders that indicate poor air quality:

  • A musty smell: That musty smell is almost always a sign of mold and mildew in the home, normally caused by high humidity levels and poor air circulation. Look for black or green mold spots on surfaces in your home — they’re normally around sinks, tubs and laundry areas, where exposure to moisture is high.
  • Other unpleasant odors: As we mentioned above, sometimes your home just doesn’t “smell right,” and it can be a sign of chemicals like VOCs in the air, pest infestation or the decomposition of dust or dirt in your home. We all become used to the smell of our homes, so if you want to find out whether you have a problem, step outside in the fresh air for 30 to 60 minutes, then walked back inside. If there’s a problem, your nose will notice it. Try more natural solutions to remove the odors first, such as sprigs of mint or rosemary. You can also open the windows in your home and let fresh air blow in. If that doesn’t help, it’s probably time to seek the assistance of a professional.

4. Condensation

Nobody likes “sweaty” windows in their home. They’re what you get, however, when you have a condensation problem. Condensation occurs when water vapor in the air condenses on cool surfaces, such as windows (one of the first places where condensation will appear), granite countertops, faucets and other surfaces. Any kind of metal frame can develop these issues. While condensation on the outside of that first glass of cold lemonade on a summer afternoon is something you probably look forward to, condensation on items inside your home shouldn’t be as welcome.

Condensation is an even more serious problem for anyone with allergies. Warm, humid environments — ones that contain lots of moisture — encourage the growth of the mold and mildew mentioned above.

Here are some ways that you can combat excessive moisture and condensation in your home:

  • Use a dehumidifier: A good dehumidifier can take as much as a gallon of water out of the air in your home every day. These tools are particularly useful in areas like damp basements, laundry rooms and bathrooms with a shower.
  • Limit plants and aquariums: Aquariums can often add a lovely touch to your home, but they also add a lot of moisture. Don’t group two or three of them together. If you have a lot of plants, try to group them together in a sunny room, and don’t overwater them.
  • Pay attention to indoor heaters: Indoor heaters can help a room feel cozy, but they can also add a lot of moisture to your home. Sometimes they also emit toxic gases. Don’t ever use an unventilated heater indoors if it relies on fossil fuels, like a kerosene heater.
  • Dry your clothes outdoors: Drying your clothes outdoors, of course, is not possible the entire year, especially if you live in a cold climate. Spring and summer, however, are great times for this change, which can reduce the level of moisture in your home and lower your electricity bill too.

5. Dust in the Air

Amid all the other things that you can find in your home if it has poor air quality — such as mold and mildew, VOCs and moisture — is dust. Dust can be composed of dead human cells, dirt from outside, pet dander, pollen, hair, paper fibers and even cosmic particles. A single dust particle can remain suspended in the air for up to five days.

Where there is dust, there are dust mites. Microscopic dust mites are insect-like pests that create some of the most common allergens that trigger allergic reactions or asthma. Hundreds of thousands of them can live in your home. They don’t sting or bite or do anything nasty, but they create allergens from their fecal matter and body fragments.

Dust mites are a big problem for people with allergies or asthma. Ongoing exposure to dust mites in the home can create an immune system response known as allergic rhinitis. These responses can range from mild to severe. Occasional sneezing, watery eyes or a runny nose are mild conditions. In more severe situations, persistent sneezing and coughing and severe asthma attacks are common.

These dust mites are found in almost every home in America. Since dust mites don’t actually drink water but absorb it through their bodies via moisture in the air, a home with high humidity and moisture is more than likely to have a lot of dust mites. That’s why areas of low humidity, such as desert communities in states like Arizona and New Mexico, have far fewer problems with dust mites than states like Florida, Georgia and Mississippi.

If you want to know how to improve your indoor air quality, here are a few ways you can reduce the number of dust mites in your home and help anyone who has allergies or asthma:

  • Vacuum often: Use a vacuum with strong suction and a HEPA filter. In areas of high traffic, vacuum more than once. If you do have carpets, make sure you get around the edges — that’s a great place for dust and dust mites to gather. Vacuum at least twice a week for the best results, and make sure you clean your filter regularly.
  • Reduce humidity: If you keep your home at the 35% to 50% humidity level, you’ll have fewer problems with dust mites.
  • Wash bedding at least once a week: You’re more frequently exposed to the allergens created by dust mites when you’re sleeping or when the dust is disturbed while you’re making your bed or even moving around at night. Washing your bed linens at least once a week is important particularly if you suffer from allergies or asthma.
  • Remove all carpeting, drapes and curtains: If you or someone in your home suffers from allergies or asthma, remove all materials where dust and dust mites are known to congregate. Carpets are very bad for people with allergies or asthma. Drapes and curtains are not quite as bad as carpets, but if possible, they should be removed and replaced with blinds.
  • Mop it up: After you vacuum your home, remember that mopping removes the dust that vacuuming leaves behind. You don’t need to use soaps and cleaners — you use those when you want to clean your floors. If you want to remove leftover allergens and dust, plain water works just fine. Try a new microfiber mop or dust cloth, which can pick up more dust and dirt than traditional fibers.

6. Air Without the Enough Moisture

As you’ve seen above, too much moisture in the air is one of the main causes of inferior indoor air quality. If you’re worried about too much moisture in the air, some of the suggestions above — such as not over watering your plants, not having too many aquariums in the same room, drying your clothes outdoors when you can and buying a good dehumidifier — will help.

If you’re worried that your home doesn’t have enough moisture in the air, a humidifier can solve the problem. If you’re concerned about finding the right kind of dehumidifier or humidifier for your home, you should contact the experts at OASIS Heating, A/C & Refrigeration, Inc. in Northern Virginia — we can help you find the right whole home humidifier and dehumidifier solutions.

What to Do If You Suspect You Have an Air Quality Issue

It can often be difficult to determine the real cause of air quality issues. Is the issue mold or mildew? Do you have too much moisture in the air? Do you have a problem with dust and dust mites? Do you need a humidifier or a dehumidifier? Could your current HVAC system be contributing to your air quality problems in your home?

If you’re not sure about the answers, it’s likely time to consult an expert like OASIS Heating, A/C & Refrigeration, Inc. We’re a family owned and operated business located in Lorton, Virginia, and we’ve been servicing the Fairfax, Springfield and Northern Virginia areas since 1998. Our main goal at Oasis is quality — quality service, quality repairs and quality installations. Our dedicated staff will work with you to make sure your experience with Oasis is exactly what you need and more.

If you have any concerns about the air quality in your home and want a professional evaluation to help you determine the best solutions, call us at 703-339-3877 or contact us online so that you can tell us about your indoor air quality concerns. A member of our team will get back to you as soon as possible.

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Leaking Water Heater

February 11th, 2020

Homeownership is filled with ups and downs. Whether your home is brand-new or gracefully entering its older years, there are maintenance and repair challenges every homeowner may face. One of those is a leaking water heater.

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