Posts Tagged ‘Mars Hill’

Staying Safe with Clean Indoor Air in Acworth

Friday, September 2nd, 2011 by David Roussel

Millions of homeowners are living in polluted air and don’t even know it, even in Acworth. In fact, the quality of air inside homes is a significant factor influencing the health and wellbeing of millions annually. The World Health Organization estimates that 1.6 million people die every year as a result of poor indoor air quality. That makes it the 8th most common risk factor for death in the world and a huge contributor to cancers and other respiratory health problems.

So why is indoor air quality such an issue? Consider for a moment what a home does. At its core, a home is designed to keep you and your family protected from outside threats. It does that with solid walls, tightly sealed windows and a well-built roof over your heads. But the same technology that has made homes better sealed than ever also contributes to safety and health problems for residents of those homes by trapping air pollutants inside.

What’s at Stake?

The most common indoor air pollutants are mere irritants. Things like pollen, dust and dander are uncomfortable but don’t necessarily make anyone deathly ill. However, when a home is sealed up too tightly and the air isn’t filtered and cleaned regularly, the result can be downright dangerous to the occupants. Those seemingly innocuous pollutants suddenly make up a much larger percentage of the air inside.

In some cases, according to the WHO, the amount of smoke and other particles inside the home can be up to 100 times higher than what is considered safe outside. Now consider the other pollutants that can be inside the house. If pollen and dander cannot get out, what about exhaust from your stove, radon gas in your basement or mold spores in your ductwork.

You’re breathing all of it and the result is a significant increase in health risks for diseases like pneumonia, respiratory disease, and asthma – all of which are highly dangerous to anyone, but especially children and the elderly.

Solutions Abound

Luckily, this is not a problem you must deal with indefinitely. Modern HVAC systems integrate advanced ventilation technology, air filtration and air cleaning systems to remove the vast majority of these pollutants. But, first, you need to have them installed. Proper testing can help you determine what aspects of your home’s air supply need to be fixed first and foremost. From there it’s just a matter of finding the right contractor.

Toxic Free Cleaning: Some Tips From Clarkdale

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011 by David Roussel

Once upon a time, the goal of cleaning in Clarkdale was to remove dirt – plain and simple. We didn’t think twice about spraying bleach, ammonia or a dozen other chemicals onto every surface of our homes in an effort to destroy germs and ensure no one got sick.

But, times change and so too does our understanding of how safe toxic cleaners with bleach and ammonia really are. Today, a whole movement has developed around cleaning without chemical laden cleaners that make people sick and worsen indoor air quality. Let’s take a closer look at some of the best replacements available.

  • Soap – There are plenty of soaps without scents or chemical additives that are biodegradable and safe to use on eating surfaces. Look out for anything with petroleum bases, however.
  • Lemon – Lemon and other citric bases are fantastic for killing bacteria on eating surfaces and in bathrooms. Many organic cleaners these days use orange or lemon concentrates as an antibacterial.
  • Vinegar – Vinegar is fantastic for cutting grease and removing mildew or odors from surfaces. It can even dig into wax build ups and stains on clothing.
  • Alcohol – Isopropyl alcohol kills almost all forms of germs, bacteria and viruses. An alternative is 100% alcohol in a water solution (70/30) as some commercial alcohols have been linked to additional health problems.
  • Cornstarch – This works wonders for cleaning rugs and carpets, polishing furniture and cleaning windows.
  • Borax – Borax is an old brand and a simple solution of sodium borate, safe and effective for cleaning walls, floors, and surfaces in your kitchen.

There are a lot of other alternatives to chemically based cleaners that use mixed formulas. Some examples include:

  • Air Freshening – A mixture of baking soda and lemon juice works wonders for absorbing odors while grinding lemon slices in a garbage disposal will kill any unwanted sink odors.
  • Mold and Mildew – Hydrogen Peroxide mixed 1 part to 2 parts water is highly effective in removing mold and mildew from shower stalls, flooring and ceilings. Don’t use it just before showering, however.
  • Stains – Stains on your carpet can be removed with a mixture of water and vinegar while borax and vinegar work well for big time stains on the carpet.

The key is to know there are alternatives to chemically laden cleaners known to cause a wide variety of health problems, both during and after use. And it is important to remember that advanced air filtration systems and UV germicidal lights are another safe alternative that can keep your home healthy.

How Does Geothermal Energy Work? A Question From Mars Hill

Monday, August 1st, 2011 by David Roussel

Geothermal energy is energy extracted from the ground. This energy is in the ground in the first place because the ground absorbs the heat coming from the sun. This heat is always there, even when it is very cold outside. In fact, even when the ground appears to be frozen, you can actually extract plenty of heat to keep your Mars Hill home nice and toasty.

While this may at first appear to defy logic, the way that geothermal energy can be used for heating your home is actually quite simple. A geothermal heating system typically consists of an indoor air handler with a fan, a series of air ducts for the heated air to travel through and a closed loop of pipe that extends into the ground below and around your home.

This closed loop of pipe is actually where the geothermal heat is collected. Some type of liquid, usually water or antifreeze, will be continuously run through this pipe loop. As the liquid passes through the area of pipe that is below ground, it will absorb the heat from the surrounding soil. Once the liquid makes it back up to the air handler, the heat is able to disperse, heating the air in the chamber.

This heated air is then circulated throughout your house through the ducts by a fan. After it has released its heat into the air in your home, the liquid will cycle back into the ground to absorb more. This allows a geothermal heating system to provide you with a constant supply of warm air.

Unlike a furnace, which mixes in blasts of very hot air with periods of inactivity to try and keep your house at a constant temperature, a geothermal heat pump is able to provide a more consistent flow of air that is just the right temperature to keep your home comfortable. This means that these types of heat pumps are running just about all of the time as opposed to furnaces, but they are designed to work this way and the constant operation does not cause any excessive wear and tear.

Another great benefit of geothermal heat pumps is that they are able to keep your house cool in the summer as well. Just as the ground is warmer than the air in the winter, it is also cooler in the summer. That means that heat removed from your indoor air can be transferred to the ground in the same way that it was transferred in during the winter.

Things You Should NOT Do Yourself Around the House

Friday, July 15th, 2011 by David Roussel

Everyone wants to feel handy around the house and there are a lot of great things you can do to help keep your home and its various systems in tip top shape, but not everything should be on your to do list. Some tasks are dangerous or require special equipment and should only be performed by professionals. Here is a list of some such tasks and why you should avoid them:

  • Service a Gas Appliance or Furnace – If it involves a gas line, call a professional. This goes doubly so for live electrical work. You should always call someone who has the specific certification and licenses needed to work on your gas or electricity systems. They know the safety precautions and if there is a problem they will recognize it immediately and act fast to keep everyone safe.
  • Annual Maintenance – Filter changes, cleaning and other small jobs can be on your to do list, but big time maintenance done annually on your exhaust pipes, furnace or air conditioner should be done by a professional who has the equipment for it.
  • Duct Cleaning or Patching – You can clean the vents and the entry lines at your air handler just fine, but how will you reach the middle of your ducts without an industrial strength vacuum and duct cleaning system? Patching is similarly hard without the right equipment.
  • Remodeling of a Room – Unless you have the necessary skills and know what permits are needed, heavy duty remodeling of a kitchen, bathroom or new room should be done by someone with plumbing certification and experience.
  • Sewer Line Service – Always call an expert for anything related to your sewer or drainage system. They are not only complicated, but tend to be directly connected to city property and require a permit to work on. Even if you don’t break anything, the legal implications of this work require professional help.
  • Roofing Upgrades – Even just a patch on the roof should be handled by someone who is skilled and experienced in this type of work. They know the pitfalls of walking on an unsteady surface high above the ground and they can ensure the new roof will last for as long as is necessary.

There are a lot of fun things you can do around your home to keep it in good condition, but for the big stuff, always call a pro – if not for the sake of your home, for your health and wellbeing.

What Is Mini Split Air Conditioning?

Friday, June 3rd, 2011 by David Roussel

If you are in the market for a new air conditioning system, you have probably heard about the mini split systems that are becoming more and more popular these days. However, without more information, it can be difficult to determine whether or not this type of air conditioner is what you really need to keep your home comfortable all summer.

Mini split air conditioners, like most other conventional home air conditioning systems, are made up of two components. They have an outdoor condenser and an indoor unit that manages the airflow throughout your home. What sets mini split systems apart is that they don’t use air ducts when distributing the cold or hot air throughout your home. The indoor unit is mounted in a room, connected to the main unit by small refrigerant lines.

In a conventional air conditioning system, the outdoor condenser cools the air and then transfers it through air ducts to an indoor air handler. That air handler then takes care of distributing the air throughout your house via a larger series of air ducts.

Mini split systems, on the other hand, do not require air ducts to get the job done. Instead, these types of air conditioners make use of a wall mounted unit indoors to both cool and circulate the air after receiving coolant from the compressor outside. These wall mounted systems can typically handle the cooling load for one or two rooms and there can be more than one indoor unit hooked up to the same outdoor compressor, allowing you to cool your entire house in this way.

What makes mini splits attractive to many people is the fact that they do not require the installation of complicated ductwork to function. If your home does not already have ducts in place, adding them can dramatically increase the cost of putting in a central air conditioning system. Plus the work will take longer and is likely to be a larger disruption in your life. Mini split systems allow you to control the temperature in the various areas of your house independently of one another, making it possible to save quite a bit on your cooling bills every month.

Tips for Upgrading Your Central Air Conditioner

Wednesday, May 4th, 2011 by David Roussel

When the time comes to upgrade your central air conditioner, you will have a lot of things to take into account. If you were generally satisfied with the performance of your old system, it can be very tempting to stick with a similar model. But if you do not examine all of the options out there right now, you may very well be missing out on a great deal.

If you already have a central air conditioner in place, chances are that you also have ductwork throughout your house. In that case, you will probably be better off with a packaged air conditioner as opposed to a split system. If it is a split system you are replacing, however, you should probably keep your search limited to other split systems. Installing a packaged air conditioner when you do not already have ducts in place can dramatically increase the overall cost of the project.

You will also want to make sure that the system you choose is compatible with the heating system and air handler that you already have in place. Most central air conditioning systems can be integrated easily with all types of heating systems, but you should still check to make sure this will not be a problem, particularly if you have an older heating system.

In terms of picking out the right new system for your home, energy efficiency is probably the main factor to consider. While just about every air conditioner on the market right now will be much more efficient than the unit you are replacing, you want to make sure you get a model that will provide you with the optimal savings in the long run.

This does not necessarily mean that you should go out and buy the most energy efficient air conditioner out there. In fact, because the more energy efficient units are also typically more expensive, you may not actually save money by going that route. But you will do well to choose a unit that will save you enough monthly to offset the installation costs and for most people, that means that you will want an air conditioner that is either a SEER 14 or SEER 16.

Of course, the actual amount of money you will save as you move up through the SEER rankings depends on how much you use your air conditioner to begin with. If you live somewhere with very hot weather and you use your unit for a large chunk of the year, it may very well be worth it for you to opt for a very high efficiency model.