We spend most of our lives indoors and much of this time is spent at home, so why breathe indoor air that’s dirty? At Oliver, we know clean indoor air can mean a happier, healthy life – especially for those who suffer from breathing problems or allergies. Here are five things that can contribute to indoor air pollution and lead to coughing, sneezing, itchy eyes, and even more serious situations:
As air flows through your home, airborne particles are pulled into your ductwork and after awhile, you’ll begin breathing these particles as they start circulating through your home. Keeping your ductwork clean is an important part of keeping your indoor air clean and with a duct cleaning from our indoor air experts, we can get rid of the dust, dirt, dander, and more that have been circulating through your system.
Moisture is the perfect breeding ground for mold and mildew, which means if your home is too humid, you could be at risk for breathing in mold spores. Not only is this unhealthy, but it can cause problems for those who are allergic to mold. Investing in a dehumidifier can reduce the amount of moisture in your home and help your family breathe easier.
If someone in your family is a smoker and does so indoors, they’re adding a variety of airborne pollutants to your indoor air. (In fact, they say the air pollution caused by cigarettes is up to 10 times worse than diesel car exhaust.) Pollutants can also come from cigars and E-cigarettes, which many people are turning to these instead of traditional cigarettes. While E-cigarette smoke isn’t as bad as cigarette smoke, it can still dirty indoor air.
Many people believe that pet dander simply refers to hair, but this isn’t true. Pet dander is actually dried skin cells that fall off of your pet and either float around in the air or settle on surfaces. Many times, these cells attach to your pet’s hair and when their hair falls off, it can bring dander with it. With a mix of hair and dander floating around your home, you’re likely to breathe it in on a regular basis.
Homeowners tend to run their heat or air conditioning without thinking about their HVAC filters. However, your filters can only trap so much dust, dirt, pollen, dander, and more. Once they’re filled, your HVAC system will circulate these particles throughout your home, so our indoor air experts recommend regular HVAC maintenance. Change your filter every three months or so – even more frequently if you have pets or someone in your family smokes.
Don’t expose your family to dirty indoor air – take action to keep it clean and keep your family healthy. Change your HVAC filters, vacuum your carpets, dust your surfaces, and clean your air ducts on a regular basis and you’ll have a happy, clean environment.
Today, the Internet of Things is one of the most extensive and fascinating ideas for the modern world. The IoT joins together vehicles, home appliances, and devices using electronics, sensors, and software. This creates a network of elements that are interconnected – and the idea is only growing. In fact, experts estimate that the IoT will consist of around 30 billion objects by 2020.
As an HVAC contractor, we’re always interested in how new technology will affect the HVAC world. In this EdTech article, Alan Joch writes about how higher education institutions are using the IoT to save money on HVAC:
“Consider this scenario: A facilities engineer on a college campus discovers a failure in an HVAC controller that may cause the system to dump too much cold air into a room.
To compensate, the HVAC system reheats the extra cold air to maintain the desired comfort level, wasting energy and money in the process. The room’s occupants have no reason to contact facilities managers, which means technicians aren’t aware of the glitch.
Problems like this are common, costly and tough to solve. But institutions are starting to use the Internet of Things (IoT) — pairing connected sensors with analytics software — to fix them. And they’re saving big money in the process.
Energy engineers at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln were mindful of simultaneous heating and cooling issues when they implemented an environmental fault detection and diagnostics system two years ago. So, as they installed thousands of networked room sensors, they included an algorithm designed to spot HVAC breakdowns.
“Lo and behold, a room in the Law College showed up with the heating and cooling problem,” says Lalit Agarwal, the university’s director of utility and energy management.
Fixing the flawed air conditioner damper saved the university a modest $300 per year in excess energy costs. But the financial implications go well beyond that, Agarwal says: “Think about how many rooms we have on our campus. If just 5 percent of them have the same failure, we are looking at thousands of dollars a year in excess costs — for just one type of problem.”
In fact, by Agarwal’s estimate, data-driven energy management activities have yielded about $200,000 in cost-avoidance savings in one year. Those savings likely will grow as facilities engineers continue to combine IoT with other technologies to proactively address HVAC issues that waste energy.
Says Agarwal, “We’ve had instances where technicians show up to fix a classroom’s ventilation system, and the instructor says, ‘But I didn’t call for anybody.’ The technicians say, ‘We know, but you probably would have in a month.’”
IoT Optimizes HVAC Operations
IoT lets institutions collect heaps of data on energy usage and, just as importantly, analyze that data for wasteful consumption patterns and opportunities to optimize HVAC operations.
“Energy management is right up there among the most compelling applications for IoT because it often results in direct cost savings,” says Steve Hoffenberg, the director of industry analysis, IoT and embedded technology at VDC Research.
To reap these savings, institutions combine low-cost digital sensors with analytics software in on-premises systems or cloud services designed for Big Data. Some implementations use onsite gateways that, among other duties, filter raw data streams to keep extraneous information from clogging local area networks and analytics engines.
“Ideally, the analytics should be self-learning, so that it understands energy consumption patterns for a specific building and optimizes it based on actual usage, such as real-time occupancy,” Hoffenberg says.
On the horizon, he says, are energy-related IoT systems that mix building sensory data with third-party weather data to help facilities staff manage energy consumption based on prevailing environmental conditions.
Successful Deployment Requires Collaboration of IoT Stakeholders
The rewards of IoT can be significant, but Chuck Benson, assistant director for IT, facilities services, at the University of Washington, says stakeholders may need to align their priorities. “There needs to be a lot of coordination to get these departments to work together closely,” he says.
In particular, IT and operations staff tend to approach such projects in unique ways. “These professionals even see time differently: IT people are patching and changing systems on a daily and weekly basis. OT people think in terms of buildings that last decades,” Benson says. “It takes work, and regular meetings that start early in the process, to bring these two groups together.”
Increased Data Output Creates Troubleshooting Efficiencies
At Nebraska, the environmental fault detection and diagnostics implementation uses more than 60,000 sensors to monitor the campus’s HVAC and computerized maintenance management systems. An electronic dashboard displays summary data, including updated insights about energy consumption and alerts when HVAC performance dips.
“Engineers get enough information to see possible faults and get a starting point for determining potential causes,” Agarwal says.
Multiple databases support the platform, including those running Microsoft SQL and the open-source MariaDB technology. In addition, Agarwal and his staff are always on the lookout for innovations in data-driven energy management. “Cloud-based machine learning applications in Microsoft Azure and similar technologies may help systems learn how to reduce the time needed to identify HVAC faults,” Agarwal says. “That is definitely an area for us to investigate for the future.”
The university’s fault detection and diagnostics system also supports an ongoing building recommissioning project. So far, more than a dozen buildings have been reconditioned for energy efficiency.
“After we perform a full tuneup on HVAC equipment in older buildings, the IoT sensors, working in conjunction with the detection and diagnostics system, enable us to keep our eye on performance, so we can keep the systems running as optimally as possible over time,” Agarwal says.
Recommissioning has reduced overall energy consumption by 17 percent and counting, he adds. “We’ve addressed barely 10 percent of the 130 buildings, so we expect even greater savings as we continue on this path,” Agarwal says.”
At Oliver, we’re always telling our customers how important HVAC maintenance is. A reliable HVAC maintenance plan can keep your unit running smoothly, improve its reliability, and extend its lifespan. Some of our service calls are made because the HVAC unit hasn’t been properly maintained. Here are some things that could happen when you don’t have a maintenance plan:
Improperly Functioning Thermostat
When your thermostat doesn’t function properly, your HVAC unit may not turn on when it’s supposed to or turn off when it’s supposed to. Not only is this bad for the unit, but it also affects the comfort of you and your family.
Your HVAC unit’s evaporator coil is located on your indoor unit and works much like a radiator to make sure that the air flowing through your ductwork is heated or cooled properly. A dirty evaporator coil can restrict airflow, which can also dramatically reduce your unit’s efficiency. The dirt can also harbor mold and mildew, giving your indoor air poor quality.
During the summer, your outside HVAC unit’s condenser coil is responsible for eliminating the hot air that is sent to it. The cleaner the coil, the more efficiently it can handle the hot air. If your condenser coil is dirty, your unit’s efficiency can dramatically drop, hiking up your energy bills and reducing the unit’s lifespan.
The role of an HVAC air filter is to filter out pollen, allergens, dander, and other airborne particles that can harm your health. A good air filter will give you high-quality indoor air that can not only prevent illnesses but also shorten them. When your air filter is dirty, airborne particles aren’t filtered; instead, they enter your home through your ductwork and are breathed in by you and your family.
Your condenser is one of the most important parts of your HVAC unit. It’s responsible for desuperheating, condensing, and subcooling to make sure the air that flows through your home is the right temperature. A blocked condenser means the heat transfer that usually occurs won’t be able to take place and the condenser’s temperature will rise. When this happens, your HVAC unit won’t operate efficiently and if not taken care of, your condenser could burn out.
Leaks in an HVAC unit can be caused by several common scenarios: the drain hole is blocked with dirt or debris, the condenser pump is broken, the seals on your unit aren’t tight, or your hose is clogged or blocked. All of these things can occur if you don’t properly maintain your HVAC unit.
As part of our maintenance plan, we’ll perform an annual 21-point inspection where we’ll make sure that your HVAC unit can power up properly and power down properly. If it can’t, you’ll run into a lot of frustration when your home is too warm or too cool and you can’t run your unit properly in order to adjust the thermostat.
The role of your HVAC’s blower is to circulate the warm or cool air throughout your home. When it gets dirty, it requires more energy to operate, which increases your energy bills. If a blower gets dirty enough, it will fail and once it fails, it’s a sign that more problems are to come. If this happens, many HVAC companies recommend replacing your entire HVAC system.
As the world becomes more and more advanced, new designs and ideas are emerging to make HVAC an efficient, easily accessible part of our lives. Here, our HVAC company shares eight of the latest developments that are transforming the heating and cooling world:
When it comes to air quality, the experts at Oliver Mechanical Services understand that hospital and healthcare facilities are held to high health standards. In addition, we understand the importance of things like lighting, computer systems, telephone wiring, and more. That’s why we offer professional commercial HVAC and electrical services to make sure your healthcare facility is in ideal shape.
For more than 40 years, Oliver Mechanical Services has been offering HVAC and electrical services to the area’s office buildings to help make sure they run smoothly. We offer professional, factory-trained technicians and the latest materials and technologies to take care of all of your installation, repair, and maintenance needs.
When you run a business, one of the most important things you should do is keep your employees happy. When you have happy employees, you have hardworking employees, and much of the time that happiness comes from a comfortable work environment. After all – it’s hard to work well in a place that’s constantly too hot or too cold.
At Oliver Mechanical Services, we can make sure that your office environment is the right temperature all year round. We offer high-quality, energy-efficient HVAC systems that are designed to meet the needs of any size office building. With a new installation, we can help you save money on your monthly or quarterly energy bill and if your current system is in need of a repair, we can fix it quickly to get you back on track. We even offer custom-made ductwork that can help your HVAC system run at optimal efficiency.
Don’t let an old or inefficient HVAC system ruin your office building’s comfortability and hinder your employee work production. Contact us today to get things back to working well.
Office buildings have lots of different electrical needs, from telephone wiring services to computer hookups and more. If you’re in need of an electrical service, let our professionals take care of it. We can address virtually any electrical issue you may have – even if it’s as simple as a retro-fit lighting installation for your lobby, parking lot, cafeteria, or bathroom. We’ll take care of it quickly.
When it comes to air ducts, there’s no set amount of time you should leave between cleanings; duct cleaning should be done on an “as-needed” basis and in general, is good to do every couple years.
How dirty your ducts get depends on many factors including: your home’s location, the size of your home, how many people live there, if family members smoke, if you have pets, etc.
The warm or cool air that blows out through your vents travels around your home and picks up airborne particles like dust, dirt, dander, mold, pollen, allergens, tar and nicotine (if members of your family smoke cigarettes). The air is then pulled back into your HVAC system and is recirculated over and over. As these particles travel through your home’s ducts, some get trapped and build up. Over time, the traveling air picks these particles up and before you know it, you’re breathing in more and more particles that could harm your health.
By cleaning your home’s ductwork, you’ll not only reduce your chances of illness, you’ll also improve the lifespan of your HVAC system and reduce your energy costs. In addition, to keep your home’s air even more clean, be sure to change your HVAC filter every one to three months (depending on the type).
At Oliver, we have a team of air duct cleaners that can remove harmful buildup and have you and your family breathing clean air in no time. If you’re not sure if your ducts need cleaning, give us a call today for a free over-the-phone estimate or schedule an appointment.
We’ve hit the peak of summertime and at Oliver, we know the temperatures aren’t going down anytime soon. While you’re turning to your air conditioner to cool down your home, you may be putting more stress on it than necessary. Here are some tips from our air conditioning professionals to get you through the rest of the summer:
Fix Your Leaks
If your home is older, chances are there are several areas that are leaking your air conditioning out of your home. Check the seals around your windows and doors and make sure your attic is well-insulated. By replacing the weatherstripping (or the windows or doors themselves), you can create a better barrier between your home and the outside world that keeps your air conditioning inside.
Upgrade Your Model
Is your air conditioner more than 10 years old? If so, it may not be as efficient as it could be and in return, you’re likely paying more to cool your home than you think. The right air conditioner fits the size of your home and your family’s needs, so talk to one of our air conditioning professionals today to learn more about an upgrade.
Use Your Fans
If you have overhead ceiling fans, you can use them in conjunction with your air conditioner to better circulate cold air around your home. Switch each fan to run counterclockwise so it pushes cool air downward. You can also use your fans during days that aren’t as hot so you save energy.
Don’t Keep Your AC Cranked
If it’s hot outside, your first instinct is probably to keep your thermostat low all day – even when you’re not home. Many people believe that by keeping the air conditioner running, it won’t have to work as hard to re-cool the home later. However, keeping your AC low means using energy that you don’t need to use and in return, racking up your electric or gas bill.
Get a Programmable Thermostat
To expand on our previous point, investing in a programmable thermostat can help you keep your home warmer while you’re away and cooler while you’re back. With a programmable thermostat, you can set your ideal temperature for certain times of the day so you only use energy while you and your family are at home.
Replace Your Filters
Spring and summertime pollen have likely built up in your air filters (as well as dust, dirt, dander, and other airborne particles). To maximize your air conditioner’s efficiency, make sure you replace your air filters on a regular basis. Our air conditioning professionals recommend replacing them every 2-3 months.
Close Your Blinds
While natural light is great, the sun can also heat up your home more than you’d like. If you have windows that face the sun, be sure to take advantage of blinds or curtains to help block out the heat. You’ll keep your home cooler and put less stress on your air conditioner to provide the cold air.
We know the world of HVAC and plumbing can be a little overwhelming for those who aren’t familiar with it. That’s why at Oliver, we’re happy to answer any questions (short or long) you may have about your home or business’s operations. Here are some of our most common FAQs, answered:
What’s the best air conditioner size for my home?
If the size of your home has changed through an addition or other renovations, or you have made enhancements that affect air flow (such as window or door replacements or changes to your insulation), it may be time to have a professional perform a new Heat Load Calculation on your home to assess the proper size air conditioner. If you are installing one for the first time, a Heat Load Calculation is recommended.
How can I even out the heating and cooling of my home?
You can partially close the registers in the room(s) that are too hot or cold in order to force more airflow into other rooms of your home. (It’s never a good idea, however, to close the registers completely.) Another possible solution is to invest in a furnace equipped with a variable speed blower motor. These furnaces are designed to overcome airflow problems and keep the airflow steady throughout the entire house.
How does an air conditioning system actually work?
An air conditioning system consists of 2 parts: an outdoor unit (where liquid refrigerant is contained) and an indoor coil (where the refrigerant is pumped into). As the air moves across the air conditioning coil, the refrigerant removes the heat and moisture from the air by condensing it on the cold surface of the coil. Thus, an air conditioner not only cools, but also dehumidifies the air.
When should I call a plumber?
This depends on your own skill level and experience in making repairs. If the repair could cause water damage if not performed properly, you may want to call a plumber. It’s also a good idea to call one if you have a problem that needs to be addressed immediately (such as a major leak).
How do plumbers find leaks?
Finding leaks is mainly a visual process: a plumber will inspect all of your pipes for leaks and may use a dye test kit to identify a leak in a toilet. We offer FREE dye test kits as a courtesy to our customers, just give us a call or use the Request Estimate form to let us know you would like one.
If I go away for an extended period of time, what temperature should I set my thermostat to?
We recommend 55 degrees. It’s low enough to save you energy and money but a good temperature to protect your pipes and other vital parts of your structure.
How often do my filters need to be changed?
You should change your standard furnace filter every 6-8 weeks. Use your own judgment as to when to change it, but don’t let the filter get clogged, as this can cut down on the efficiency and/or cause damage to the unit.
What can reduce the air quality in my home?
A wide range of particulate matter can be in your home’s air including dust, pollen, animal hair and dander, dust mites, mold spores, cooking grease, smoke, bacteria, viruses and other respiratory diseases. These types of contaminants won’t affect all people, but they can affect some pretty seriously.
Why should I invest in a maintenance plan?
Our maintenance plans provide peace of mind. When your HVAC system is running at its best, you’ll worry less about major damages or a shortened lifespan. You’ll also get priority service, savings on repairs, and no residential overtime charges.
Which HVAC maintenance plan is right for me?
It depends on the level of protection you’re comfortable with. Most of our customers choose our Gold maintenance plan because there are no charges for covered repairs. If you have new equipment, you may find that the Silver maintenance plan provides you with sufficient coverage.
If there’s a question you have that wasn’t answered here, visit our FAQ page or call our HVAC experts!
At Oliver Heating and Cooling, we’re already thinking about summer vacation plans, and we know you are too. If you’re thinking about taking a road trip, you can save money by knowing when to use your air conditioning and when not to use it.
Car Air Conditioning
Car air conditioners and rolled-down windows can both help you save money while you drive – you just have to know when to use which cooling method. If your road trip consists of highway driving (we’re assuming it does), keep your windows rolled up and your air conditioner on when you’re going above 50 miles per hour. Traveling with your windows down at high speeds will actually reduce the efficiency of your vehicle (by up to 20%), which means you’ll use more gas to maintain your highway speed.
On the other hand, if you’re driving around town (or under 50 miles per hour), opt to roll down your windows instead of use your air conditioning. Because there’s less wind force than when traveling at higher speeds, you won’t decrease your vehicle’s efficiency, and if you do use your air conditioner, you’ll be using more fuel to run it.
As a general note, if you get into your parked car and it’s hot, you may be tempted to cool it down with the air conditioning. If you do this, roll down your windows to let some of the heat out – the car will cool off quicker.
Home Air Conditioning
Summer road trips also mean time away from your home, and you may be wondering whether you should turn your air conditioning off or simply turn it down. The truth is, it doesn’t hurt to turn your air conditioning off – in fact, you’ll save a lot more money than if you keep it at a higher temperature.
In addition, air conditioners actually run more efficiently when they’re running at full power, which means they’re more efficient when cooling a room down from 80 to 75 than when they’re working in short spurts to keep the room at a constant 80 degrees. We know that during winter months, it’s important to keep your home warm to avoid freezing your pipes, but in the summer months, it’s perfectly safe to turn off your air conditioning.
If you’re having trouble with your air conditioner, call our air conditioning repair company before you leave and we’ll have it fixed for you as soon as possible.