Category Archives: Indoor Air Quality (IAQ)

Pre-Summer Air Conditioning Checklist for a Worry-Free Summer Season

Sun block – locked and loaded. Pool gear and new swimming suits – check. When it comes to the rhythms of the seasons in Arizona, children complete their school year just as the temperatures start to heat up. Being prepared for summer means ensuring a cool inside environment for your kids and for everyone else as the hottest part of the year approaches. Air conditioning is a necessity in Arizona, and if you have only one service call per year (we normally advise two, one in spring and a second in fall), be sure to have your air conditioner checked while the temperatures are still below 100 degrees.

Phoenix Is Known as the Hottest City in America

Monsoon season starts in June, bringing high winds, driving rains ands incredible dust storms. Global warming means the trend for even more 100 degree plus days will continue. In 2018, there were 128 days where the temperature soared above 100. It all adds up to quite a challenge for the hardest working, largest and most complex appliance you have in your home – your air conditioner. Here is a pre-summer checklist of things you can do to get ready for the sizzling summer ahead:

  • Check Your Air Conditioner for Obstructions – Set aside some time on a weekend afternoon to check the general condition of your air conditioner. Make sure there are no obstructions or debris blocking the unit. Clear out grass, weeds, branches or anything that may hinder the free flow of air around your outdoor condenser.
  • Check All the Vents Inside – It is a good idea to do a walk through your house and inspect the vents to make sure they are all open. Ensure they are not blocked by furniture or storage boxes. Do you hear an annoying whistling in vents when your AC is on? This may be an indication of low return airflow. Our service technicians will make sure your return air ratio is in balance.
  • Replace Your Air Filters – Clogged or dirty air filters can cause problems for your air conditioner. It’s important to replace your air filters, particularly before the hottest part of the year. Your air filters help remove unwanted particulate dust, fine dirt, pollen and pet dander from the air circulating throughout your home. For better indoor air quality, change your filters more often.
  • If You’re Going to Install a New Air Conditioner, Now Is the Time – Installing a new air conditioner will save you money on your electric bill and provide years of cool comfort. However, you don’t want to wait until your old system totally breaks down. Especially in the middle of summer. If you think your present air conditioner may bite the dust this summer, it’s best to have an assessment performed sooner rather than later.

May Is Slipping Away – Summer Heat Is Just Around the Corner

With Memorial Day approaching, we know the busiest time of our service year is just about to start. Service calls increase dramatically with the first heat wave. In the desert, it’s best to be prepared for summer. Why not call us today for a worry free, cool summer!

V for Ventilation – The “V” in HVAC and Why It’s Important

When it comes to H-V-AC – heating and air conditioning take top billing. In the Valley of the Sun, it’s all about lowering indoor temperatures, staying cool through the long, hot days of summer and keeping warm during the winter nights. “V” stands for ventilation, which is an essential yet underappreciated component in creating a comfortable and healthy environment in your home. If you’ve spent any length of time in the attic, a windowless tool shed or enclosed garage on a summer’s day, you know just how stifling and unpleasant an unventilated environment can be. Though unseen and largely unnoticed, proper ventilation improves indoor air quality, which is essential to your quality of life.

What Is Ventilation?

Most homeowners equate ventilation with opening a window or door and letting the fresh air in. Of course, in Arizona, that’s not advisable during the summer season when temperatures routinely climb into the 90s and above. In terms of properly installed HVAC, ventilation is the movement and circulation of air in, throughout and ultimately exiting your home. The goal is to constantly refresh the air inside your home. This helps to eliminate problems associated with stagnation, removes odors, fumes and VOCs and reduces unhealthy levels of humidity.

Humidity and Ventilation

Imagine a bathroom with no working windows and a broken exhaust fan. Within a few minutes of turning on the shower, there’s steam on the mirror and water droplets collecting on the ceiling, walls and tiles. Without exhaust or ventilation, the humidity builds, the temperature rises, and the bathroom becomes extremely uncomfortable. Within a few days or weeks, the increased humidity can lead to the growth of mold on the walls and tiles, which can be hazardous to your health. If you have visible mold anywhere in your home that generally indicates the indoor relative humidity is too high, and your home could benefit from improved ventilation.

Are Advancements in Insulation Impeding Home Ventilation?

The push for more energy efficient designs means builders place more emphasis on sealing homes through installing double-pane low-emissivity windows, improved insulating techniques, increased weather stripping, and super sealing homes. In older houses, a fair amount of ventilation was achieved through the less than perfect construction methods (little or no insulation, loose fittings, etc.) and the standard living room fireplace, which enabled a house to “breathe.” Today’s homes are built and wrapped nearly airtight. The good news is, advancements in sealing and insulation make your home more energy efficient, which helps lower your monthly utility bill. The bad news is, indoor air quality has become an issue. Now, more than ever, homeowners need to ensure their HVAC system has adequate return vents and the duct system is in good working order.

We Put the “V” in Ventilation Visitation

Before things really heat up in Phoenix for the summer, why not grant us visitation rights with your air conditioning system? When you schedule a spring tune up, we’ll drop by for a visit to inspect your entire system and provide you with a full evaluation. This summer, head into triple digit weather with peace of mind and improved indoor air quality. Our friendly and experienced service technicians are ready to serve you.

Air Scrubbers to Purify Your Indoor Environment in 2019

With the holidays behind us and the new year ahead, we at Bruce’s Air Conditioning & Heating think there’s one more gift you might want to consider giving your family in 2019. It’s an invisible gift you cannot see, touch or feel. Some might argue, next to life itself, it’s the most precious commodity of all. The air we breathe. Why not make this the year you take your indoor air quality (IAQ) to a whole new level?

Air Pollution Verses Indoor Air Quality

In 1970, Congress passed the Clean Air Act, which established guidelines and air quality standards throughout the United States. Dirty, polluted air has existed for centuries, particularly since the Industrial Revolution. The term “air pollution” became commonplace and entered the public consciousness approximately 50 years ago with newspapers and media outlets providing daily air pollution index reports.

Indoor air quality is a more recent term, gaining popularity in the last ten years. Many people believe that though the outside air may be dirty or polluted, inside the sanctuary of their home, school or office building, they are protected from air pollution. This, unfortunately, is not always the case. In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency states, “Americans, on average, spend approximately 90 percent of their time indoors where the concentrations of some pollutants are often two to five times higher than typical outdoor concentrations.”

Desert Dust, Pollen, Pet Dander and Other Allergens

Desert dust storms are a dramatic sight to behold, sometimes stretching for miles and blotting out the Arizona sun. With all that fine dirt swirling around your house, it’s easy to understand that some dust is going to find its way into your HVAC system. Pollen and ragweed, two of the most prevalent irritants in the Phoenix area, are constantly floating in the air and will make their way inside. As much as homeowners love their pets, dogs and cats generate dander, which causes allergic reactions in many individuals.

With the doors and windows shut as they are most of the time in Arizona, your home is a closed system. Your air conditioner is equipped with filters that do their best to remove allergens, irritants and particles. However, for some people with severe allergies or respiratory conditions, it’s not always enough. If you or someone in your family is highly allergic, dealing with COPD or other respiratory disease, you may want to consider adding an air scrubber to your HVAC system.

What Are Air Scrubbers?

Air scrubbers are devices that remove particles and other offending pollutants from the air inside your home. These super filters are added on to the air handler in your existing HVAC system. Your air conditioner already has air filters, which should be checked and replaced regularly. An air scrubber system will provide extra purification for individuals with special respiratory requirements. Families with cats and dog can benefit from air scrubbers. Pet dander in the home is the root cause of many allergic reactions. Other air quality improvement systems include adding UV lights to eliminate mold and bacteria in ductwork. Our service technicians will be happy to meet with you and explain all the options.

If you’re ready to take your IAQ to the next level, give us a call to set up an appointment. Our experienced and friendly service techs will perform an inspection on the current state of your HVAC system and an assessment of your indoor air quality. Call us today.

Use Plants to Improve Indoor Air Quality

Even in sunny Arizona, the average person spends about 80 percent of their lives indoors. Increasingly airtight, today’s homes require less energy for cooling and heating, yet they also have higher rates of toxic gases that can be potentially troublesome, and even toxic, to those who breathe them. Carbon monoxide, ozone and volatile organic compounds can all emanate from paints, carpets, furniture and home office equipment. Particularly during the summer months, when doors and windows are often kept shut due to the extreme heat, it’s important to use strategies to improve air quality. One of the most overlooked ways to counteract toxins and pollutants is to add more plants in your home.

Plants: More Than Just Decorative

Interestingly, most homeowners only think about indoor plants in terms of their aesthetics. Yes, they add color and style to a home, but they actually do much more. Plants improve air quality by absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen through photosynthesis. They also increase humidity and passively absorb pollutants on the surface of their leaves and through their root system.

In the 1980s, NASA performed a research study to investigate ways to create healthy, breathable environments in outer space. They discovered that certain tropical plants, which are commonly used as house plants, were effective in removing toxins like formaldehyde, benzene and trichloroethane from the air and replacing it with breathable oxygen.

While all plants provide some air quality benefits, tropical plants are especially effective. These include:

  • Bamboo palm
  • Chinese evergreen
  • Dracaena
  • Ficus
  • Gerbera daisy
  • Peace lily
  • Philodendron
  • Mother-in-law’s tongue
  • Spider plant

Don’t Forget Your HVAC System

Although plants are beneficial to improving your home’s indoor air quality, it’s also important to ensure your HVAC system is not adding air pollutants. Replacing or cleaning your system’s air filters is vital to keeping your indoor air clean. Regular maintenance is also necessary. Breathe easier by calling Bruce’s Air Conditioning & Heating today to schedule a maintenance visit at 480-968-5652.

How’s Your Office Indoor Air Quality?

Health problems caused by poor indoor quality in commercial spaces has become a common occurrence. Research from the US Environmental Protection Agency have shown that levels of pollutants are higher in offices and other business settings than outside. In buildings with poor air quality, employees may complain of headaches, nausea, congestion, dizziness and other symptoms. Often, the problems arise when workers enter their office and diminish when they leave. Commonly referred to as “sick building syndrome,” it’s a leading cause of absenteeism and decreased work production.

Sources of Indoor Air Quality Problems

There are usually multiple factors at play in a building that has indoor air quality problems. Typically, there is the presence of indoor air pollutants and poorly planned uses for the building. Common sources of pollutants include:

  • Tobacco smoke
  • Asbestos from fire-retardant building supplies and insulation
  • Formaldehyde from office furniture and carpeting
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Restroom air fresheners
  • Paints and adhesives
  • Copy machines and printers
  • Pesticides

However, the number one cause of commercial space indoor air quality problems is inefficiently maintained and operated HVAC systems. Problems can arise in an effort to save energy. Often, these are ventilation-related issues caused by inadequate amounts of outdoor air being circulated. HVAC systems can also be a source of indoor pollution themselves by circulating dirt, dust and biological contaminants that have grown in air conditioners, humidifiers and ventilation ductwork.

Your Partner for All Your Commercial HVAC Needs

Because air quality is vital to your business success, it’s important to choose an commercial HVAC contractor that you can rely on. Bruce’s Air Conditioning & Heating is among the most trusted Phoenix-area commercial HVAC service providers, partnering with many businesses throughout the Valley. With more than 40 years in business, we have the experience and expertise to get the job done right the first time. From HVAC installation and maintenance to emergency repair, we’re your go-to source for all your commercial air conditioning needs. Call us at 480-968-5652 to learn more.