Spring HVAC Maintenance Checklist

Spring HVAC Maintenance Checklist

HVAC Maintenance Spring Checklist

While it is still a little chilly outside, every indication is that we will have an early Spring. That is mostly good news for Texans. After all, we had several harsh winters in a row, and an early spring is welcome news. We will comfortably enjoy being outdoors earlier and more often. It also means that the cooling season will begin earlier for indoor spaces. Is your air conditioner system ready? Is it time for a preventative HVAC maintenance visit?

All Cool recommends an annual HVAC maintenance visit to ensure your cooling system is ready for the long cooling season. This visit will include:

A Thorough Cleaning

  • Start with a new air filter. The air filter collects airborne particles with every heating and cooling cycle, but when the collected particles become too thick, the clog restricts airflow. Your air conditioner depends on huge amounts of air passing through the evaporator chamber to remove humidity and cool the air. A new filter ensures clean air and unrestricted airflow.
  • Rinsing the evaporator coil. This coil stays wet all summer long since moisture from the air hits the cold evaporator metal. Any dust that makes it past the filter tends to collect on the coil. The buildup of dust particles inhibits the transfer of heat, making your system work harder.
  • Flush away any debris from the drain pan. The moisture from the evaporator coil drains into a pan below and empties into a drain line. Any dust or debris can result in a clogged drain line and water leaking onto the floor in the surrounding area.
  • Clean the outdoor condenser unit. All winter long, the wind has been blowing leaves and debris around and even inside the condenser unit. These will need to be cleaned away. The condenser also needs substantial airflow for heat transfer, so lawn clippings and dirt will need to be washed off the condenser coil and fins. Often, any bent condenser fins can be carefully straightened to enhance the efficiency of the unit.

Electrical Testing

  • All things thermostats. The thermostat is the ON/OFF switch for the air conditioner, responding to sensors that call for cooling when the place warms up. They run on battery power, so the batteries will be changed, and the settings adjusted as needed.
  • The whole system functions on a series of sensors and control components. Electrical testing equipment can uncover failures and weaknesses; replacing or repairing these parts can prevent stress and failure over a long cooling season.
  • The technician will be looking for common problems or a repetition of electrical failures.

Gas Pressure Testing

  • Freon pressure tests. Residential air conditioners use one of several refrigerant gases, commonly called freon. The cooling process requires a range of gas pressures; a loss of pressure often causes catastrophic system failure. Gas will be added to bring the pressure within the appropriate range.
  • Leak detection. If the closed system is losing gas, the system is leaking. Any leaks will come with a recommendation—for obvious reasons—for a leak repair.

Function Testing

After all the components are cleaned and tested, the cooling function of the system will be tested to ensure it works properly. The goal is for the air conditioner to cool efficiently all summer long and for many seasons to come.

Call the HVAC Maintenance Experts at All Cool AC!

Schedule your HVAC Maintenance consultation by calling All Cool AC & Heating at 281-238-9292 or contact us via email and let our NATE-certified HVAC Maintenance technicians put their experience to work for you.




Indoor Air Quality: HVAC Solutions for Cleaner Air

Indoor Air Quality

Protecting Your Home with Improved Indoor Air Quality

Ventilation—the V in HVAC—is an often-forgotten function of this important, advanced building system. We are very familiar with the heating and cooling functions, but the ventilation function ensures indoor air is also clean and fresh. Good indoor air quality ensures indoor spaces are healthy and comfortable.

Ventilation is rather complex.

  • Indoor air will begin as polluted as outdoor air. But unless it is cleaned and freshened, the pollutants concentrate inside and make the air unhealthy.
  • Indoor air will begin at the same temperature and relative humidity as outdoor air. Unless this air is warmed, cooled, humidified, or dehumidified, it has an unhealthy effect on the surfaces of walls, floors, and furnishings. When it is conditioned, indoor air feels comfortable and is relatively healthy.
  • Ventilation and comfort are very subjective, dependent upon the comfort preferences of more than one occupant.
  • Health issues of occupants will also impact decisions concerning ventilation; breathing issues, such as allergies and asthma, may require special considerations.

Handling Pollutants

A home will encounter several categories of pollutants. An HVAC system will remove some of these pollutants and avoid others. The good news is that we have very good air quality in our region, and the pollutants we encounter are relatively easy to mitigate.

  • Organic solid particles. Most air particles originate from living organisms: pollen, mold, mildew, (most) dust, and dander are produced by living organisms. These particles are known to trigger allergies and asthma attacks. In addition, organic material is often the meal and vehicle for microscopic pests. Dust mites pose their own dangers since they trigger their own brand of allergic reactions.
  • Inorganic solid particles. These are typically windborne minerals and pose less of an allergy danger.
  • Mold and mildew spores are not only organic allergens but also can multiply and produce more spores in indoor spaces. High humidity is a necessary condition for mold/mildew growth—keep this in mind.
  • Various gases. Materials, finishes, and adhesives will off-gas volatile organic compounds (VOCs), especially when the products are new. Various exhaust gases, such as carbon monoxide, enter the home from the outdoors (and potentially a leaking gas-powered furnace).
  • Radon is a radioactive gas that enters the home from surrounding soil in basements or crawl spaces. It is relatively uncommon in our immediate vicinity. Testing for radon is readily available and inexpensive.

Indoor Air Quality Mitigation Tactics

  • Removing organic solids. These particles are all heavier than air, and gravity causes them to fall onto every surface in the home. We refer to them corporately as dust. Normal dusting and vacuuming collect most of these particles and remove them from the house forever. In addition, the HVAC system has an air filter that collects particles that remain airborne. Eventually, the filter collects enough particles that the filter is clogged, so the filter needs to be replaced about every three months.
  • Diluting indoor contaminants. Introducing outdoor air to indoor spaces releases some of the VOCs to outdoor spaces. This happens when shower or kitchen exhaust fans are used and by leaving a door or window open when the temperature is nice.
  • The ideal range for indoor relative humidity is between 30 and 50% humidity. When indoor air is more humid, it can promote mold and mildew growth. Maintaining the HVAC system year-round will help keep the humidity level within the prescribed range.
  • Additional equipment. When health issues demand extra measures, technicians can install auxiliary equipment to mitigate specific problems. Ultraviolet lights added to the ductwork will neutralize organic particles, making them inert and reducing the allergen threat. Portable dehumidifiers or room air purifiers can provide added benefits to specific rooms or spaces.

Call the Indoor Air Quality Experts at All Cool AC!

Schedule your indoor air quality consultation by calling All Cool AC & Heating at 281-238-9292 or contact us via email and let our NATE-certified indoor air quality technicians put their experience to work for you.

Furnace Repair: What Happens When Your Furnace Stops

Furnace Repair: What Happens When Your Furnace Stops

Furnace Repair Pointers When Your Heater Stops Working

Winters in Texas are relatively short, but you must watch for those severe cold snaps. They can be longer than expected and wreak considerable havoc across a wide area, especially for folks not accustomed to harsh arctic blasts. Walking in from the cold causes a greater appreciation for a great furnace system in your home. Until it is not warm!

If your home is not at your desired comfort level and the power is still on, what can you do? First, search for simple things; second, stay warm; and third, call for furnace repair reinforcements.

Simple Furnace Repair Troubleshooting

Check the thermostat. Thermostats work as a sensor and switch, so check all the settings—ON/OFF and temperature settings—to make sure it is calling for heat. If you have a heat pump furnace, make sure to set the thermostat on EM Heat or Aux Heat when the outside temperature drops below 32 degrees. If the thermostat face plate is blank or giving a low battery notice, change the batteries and see if that helps.

Check the circuit breakers. Often, the electric service panel has more than one breaker assigned to the furnace. Make sure that both circuits are open. If not, turn the breaker off and then on to reset the circuit. Often, the furnace may have one or two breakers on the exterior of the cabinet to allow repairs; make sure these breakers are also in the ON position.

Check the air filter. A clogged filter can restrict airflow, hampering the hardworking furnace from achieving its goal—your comfort.

Check the gas supply and ignition. If the furnace is natural gas-powered, do a simple observation. A gas supply valve should be wide open. Find the valve near the furnace or somewhere between the furnace and an outdoor supply. Some gas furnaces will have a pilot light, a small flame that remains lit to ignite gas at the burner.

Some gas furnaces use electronic ignition, which creates an electric spark to ignite gas at the burner. The sensors around these ignition sources can accumulate a carbon buildup called soot. Soap and water with a gentle touch can clean the soot away, but the sensor is extremely sensitive.

Stay Warm

  • Fireplaces are often used for ambiance or mood, but of course, they are also used for keeping warm. They are great for heating a space but may be ineffective at warming an entire house. If bedrooms are cold and the den is kept warm by a fireplace, it might mean a fun campout in the den.
  • Electric blankets might also be helpful.
  • When using electric space heaters, be very wise. They can help heat a room but not the entire house. Keep them about three feet away from surfaces and outside of high-traffic areas. Do not leave them unattended since the heat can start a fire.
  • Layer clothes. If you must wear gloves, hats, and scarves inside to stay warm, stay warm.
  • Blankets, quilts, and throws will help conserve body heat.
  • Don’t forget to keep pets warm as well.

Don’t Delay Furnace Repair

If simple observations do not restore heat, do not delay in calling for assistance. You are likely not alone with a furnace problem, so request a furnace repair service visit ASAP while you are keeping your family warm.

Call the Furnace Repair Experts at All Cool AC!

Schedule your Furnace Repair consultation by calling All Cool AC & Heating at 281-238-9292 or contact us via email and let our NATE-certified HVAC Repair technicians put their experience to work for you.

4 Questions to Ask During Furnace Maintenance

4 Questions to Ask During Furnace Maintenance

Questions to Ask During Furnace Maintenance

Wouldn’t it be nice to ask questions of professionals, knowing you would get an honest response without it costing anything? That is why websites have Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) pages. Here are some furnace maintenance questions that you might want to ask HVAC professionals, with honest replies.

What is the appropriate temperature for a home?

Family members often have sharp disagreements about comfortable temperatures in both winter and summer months. Online sources disagree just as sharply since comfort is personal and unique to each person.

  • The U.S. Department of Energy recommends a range between 68 degrees and 78 degrees. However, they recommend 68 degrees for the wintertime and 78 degrees for summertime temperatures. Neither of these temperatures is likely agreeable to most of your family members.
  • Temperatures higher than 80 degrees are hot enough to damage drywall finishes during heating or cooling season.
  • Temperatures below 55 degrees are likely to result in frozen water lines during the winter.
  • Comfort seems to lie between 72- and 76 degrees year-round; a narrower temperature lies in personal preferences.
  • Programmable thermostats can help. Temperatures can be scheduled to enhance comfort.

We just endured a pandemic; what can be done to improve indoor air quality, especially concerning bacteria and viruses?

This is a good question, and the answer is—there are several good options for indoor air quality.

  • Change your air filter regularly, at least every three months.
  • HVAC air filters capture most airborne particles; the percentage of particles captured is determined by particle size and filter openings. Filters rated MERV 8 capture about 90% of particles. The higher the MERV rating, the smaller the openings in the filter and the higher the percentage captured.
  • Check with HVAC specifications to determine proper ratings since filters with extremely small openings may restrict airflow and interfere with heating and cooling functions.
  • In addition, system modifications can neutralize and eliminate biological particles from the air. Ultraviolet lights can be installed inside the ductwork. UV lights disrupt cell walls, destroying pollen, mold, bacteria, and virus cells.
  • Your HVAC professional may have further recommendations for your unique setting.

Be honest: is annual furnace maintenance really necessary?

This is a just question, and the correct answer might seem a little self-serving, but the answer is—yes, indeed, it is necessary.

  • Everyone involved in this industry agrees that annual maintenance is needed. Individual components and the function of the whole are thoroughly tested and cleaned.
  • While you might question the wisdom of HVAC maintenance, you probably insist on regular maintenance on vehicles: regular oil and filter changes and the replacement of brakes or tires. Maintenance functions in the same way for an HVAC system.

Why are HVAC ratings so complicated?

Let’s look at what the ratings mean.

  • Furnaces are rated by the Annualized Fuel Utilization Efficiency or AFUE. An AFUE rating measures how much energy is converted to heat by a furnace. Natural gas furnaces capture energy in a range of 90 and 98.5% of the available energy. Electric furnaces capture 100% of the energy in electricity. Hopefully, this is understandable.
  • Air conditioners are rated by the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating or SEER. It is a complicated rating since it measures efficiency during normal temperatures and extreme hot snaps, daytime heat, and the cool of summer evenings. Efficiency is measured and averaged. The higher the number, the greater the efficiency. All new systems will have a SEER rating higher than 15 in Texas.
  • Heat pumps used for heating are rated by the Heating Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF), which, like the SEER rating, captures efficiency over an entire season. All heat pump systems will have an HSPF between 8 and 9.

Call the Furnace Maintenance Experts at All Cool AC!

Schedule your Furnace Maintenance consultation by calling All Cool AC & Heating at 281-238-9292 or contact us via email and let our NATE-certified HVAC Repair technicians put their experience to work for you.

5 Furnace Repair Checks to Winterize Your Home

5 Furnace Repair Checks

Furnace Repair: Is Your Heater Ready for Winter

The U.S. Department of Energy, manufacturers, and professional technicians all agree that HVAC systems should be inspected and tested by trained HVAC personnel. Often, manufacturer’s warranties depend on regular maintenance. But what is involved, and why are these inspections necessary?

Winter Furnace Repair Check 1: Performance

First, a technician will investigate the proper function of the system. That is achieved by calling for heat (or cooling) and measuring the temperature difference in a room and at supply vents. There is a range of acceptable temperature differences that signal proper function. Both acceptable and unacceptable temperature output are important to the technician.

Winter Furnace Repair Check 2: Cleaning Tasks

Dirt is the enemy of any mechanical system, and that is especially true for an HVAC system.

  • The technician will check the air filter and may replace a relatively clean filter just to make sure the system has a clean filter.
  • The technician will check the evaporator coil and drain pan. Heat pumps still use this coil, usually associated with air conditioning. Dust and contaminates can reduce the transfer of heat, so it will be cleaned away. The blower fan blades will be checked along with the airflow performance.
  • The technician will clean the condenser unit outdoors. Leaves, limbs, dirt, and lawn clippings will need to be cleaned away for the same reason as the evaporator coil—heat transfer.

Winter Furnace Repair Check 3: Coolant Pressure

The transfer of heat is important to air conditioning and, with heat pumps, to the heating function as well. Heat transfer is accomplished by a refrigerant, which exists as a gas while under pressure and a liquid when released from the pressure. The change of state achieves heat transfer. The technician will check the refrigerant pressure on both the high-pressure and low-pressure sides. A low refrigerant level indicates a leak and will interfere with heat transfer.

Winter Furnace Repair Check 4: Electrical Testing

The whole system functions on electrical sensors, switches, and controllers. Each of these components can show wear, create stress on other parts, and fail. The wear and stress can often be detected with a tester. Finding a part under stress before it fails is very beneficial, saving you from a repair bill.

Winter Furnace Repair Check 5: Combustion Check

Natural gas-powered furnaces receive a thorough inspection of the ignition and burner assembly and the heat exchanger. The connection fittings for the gas supply will be checked for leaks. The ignition source, either an electric ignitor or a pilot light, will be cleaned and tested. The burner assembly will be inspected and cleaned as needed. The heat exchanger and exhaust stack will be inspected for weakness or cracks. All of these are both safety and performance checks.

A technician will complete the appropriate tasks, give the homeowner a report of findings, and suggest corrective actions.

If Your Heater is not Ready for Winter, Call the Furnace Repair Experts at All Cool AC!

Schedule your Furnace Repair consultation by calling All Cool AC & Heating at 281-238-9292 or contact us via email and let our NATE-certified HVAC Repair technicians put their experience to work for you.

5 Furnace Repair Checks

6 Ways to Prep Your HVAC System for Winter

6 Ways to Prep Your HVAC System for Winter

Prep Your HVAC System for Winter in Six Easy Steps

The tough part of winter is now upon us. Fall gives us a sense of “easing” into cooler weather, but for the next few months, we expect temps to drop to their lowest all year long. However, the difference between outdoor cold and indoor warmth allows you to investigate potential problems and find solutions to make your home more comfortable. Take a casual walk around the “castle grounds” and discover ways to make changes for the better.

  1. Bend down and check your HVAC System air filter. Can you remember the last time you changed it? An air filter so coated with dust that it restricts airflow hinders HVAC System function in the summer and winter. Reduced airflow will result in a colder home in the winter and a warmer home in the summer. Clogged air filters created tremendous stress on the entire system.

Solution: change the air filter and develop a prompt to remind you to change the filter every three months.

  1. Check your thermostat view panel. Unless you have an old, analog thermostat, this switch operates on battery power and, just like alarm clocks and smoke detectors, the batteries will need to be changed annually to prevent thermostat failure. According to Murphy’s Law, that thermostat will die at the most inopportune time—during the middle of a rare snowstorm when the junk drawer battery supplies have run dry.

Solution: your thermostat may have a “low battery” indicator; if so, change the battery now. Then, add the thermostat to the list of other batteries you change annually.

  1. Check your records to determine the last time a professional serviced your HVAC system. Even when the entire system functions perfectly, the heating and ventilation processes create problems that work to bring the system to a standstill. The byproducts of burning natural gas produce water and soot—both work against the system for proper functioning. The electrical components wear with use, just like every other electrical device you use. Airborne particles get trapped and reduce efficiency along every process step.

Solution: schedule a maintenance visit and create a prompt to remind you each year.

  1. Use your hand and feel for drafts around windows and doors. Glass is a poor insulator and a great conductor of heat, so expect the glass to absorb heat from the room and feel cold. Drafts are different: cold air coming around windowpanes or frames happens because of openings in the building envelope. These openings tend to be very small and a minor concern individually. However, combining the sum of the openings around the home can be the equivalent of an open window.

Solution: caulk and weatherstripping are very inexpensive solutions to fill the gaps and close the “opening” in your building envelope.

  1. Use this same principle and, with your hand, discover any leaks along exposed ductwork. Most ducts will be covered up, but any leak allows warm air to escape directly outdoors. In this case, every minor gap is a problem since conditioned air is under pressure as it travels through the network of ducts.
  2. Poke your head into the attic. It’s probably been a while since you’ve done that! The entire attic should be covered by 10 to 12 inches of insulation. Check it with a ruler or measuring tape. The ceiling joists should be covered by insulation. This insulation acts as a barrier, keeping the heat from escaping during the winter.

Solution: add insulation to a depth of 12 inches to ensure comfort and warmth.

Let us help you winterize your HVAC System

Schedule your HVAC System consultation by calling All Cool AC & Heating at 281-238-9292 or contact us via email and let our NATE-certified HVAC System technicians put their experience to work for you.

Examining the Real Cost of HVAC Repair

Examining the Real Cost of HVAC Repair

The Real Cost of HVAC Repair

A new heating, ventilation, and air conditioner (HVAC) system is installed as a state-of-the-art mechanical system, and it is in its best condition ever. The lifespan of HVAC components is about 15 years for air conditioning and 20 years for heater mechanisms.

Between installation and replacement, there is a sliding scale of expected actions and reactions, maintenance, and repairs. Since about 8 billion HVAC systems are currently in use, these expectations are based on lots of maintenance and HVAC repair experience. Let’s look at what normally happens.

The two nemeses of HVAC systems are dirt and use.

  • Airborne particles surround us, both inside and outside of the home. They go everywhere! We have special functions in our lungs to remove these particles, so it stands to reason that the heating, ventilation, and cooling systems will need to handle dust and dirt in the air.
  • The act of turning an electrical device on and off is minutely violent. Very thin wires are minding their own business when suddenly electrons come rushing through and force things to move, heat, and create light. During a heating or cooling season, the system usually cycles on and off four to five times per hour. These minute violences take their toll on electrical parts.

When we catch a whiff of pepper, it causes us to sneeze or cough, but an HVAC system does not have a way to remove dust, dirt, or pollen. For this reason, manufacturers, HVAC Repair contractors, and even the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency tell homeowners they need to complete preventative maintenance inspections annually. Maintenance combats the two nemeses of the HVAC system.

Homeowners should complete the most important maintenance task on the list. The air filter is constantly collecting dust and needs to be changed at least once every three months. However, with or without regular maintenance, dust and use still take their toll on the system. Problems are rather predictable, based on repair records. Over time, the repairs come in rather foreseeable patterns.

Common HVAC Repair Issues

  • Electrical Controls. Contactors and capacitors that are responsible for turning large components, like compressor motors and blower motors, on and off are susceptible to wear. In the useful life of an air conditioner, these parts are often replaced at least once.
  • Large Components. Two major parts are particularly susceptible to dust: blower and compressor motors. When a filter clogs, the amount of air getting pulled through the filter is greatly reduced. That means the blower motor must work harder to push/pull air across the evaporator coil. It is a bit like sailing a ship while dragging an anchor.

The outdoor condenser unit receives the heat from inside the house and MUST disperse it rather quickly. A central fan pulls an incredible amount of air across a network of tubes and fins that give maximum surface space for cooling. However, when dust, leaves, and grass clippings clog the network, the gas inside the tubes stays too hot and causes the compressor to overheat. This is not good at all.

  • Coolant Leaks. The cooling functions when a refrigerant gas is repeatedly compressed and released inside a sealed network. As you might expect, the gas is under significant pressure, so if even an incredibly small hole or crack develops, the gas leaks out. Not good!

Common Heater Repairs

Some electrical controls used for air conditioning also regulate and control the heater/furnace. The information above applies to the heating system as well. Natural gas-powered heaters might also experience the following problems.

  • Flame Sensors. A sensor remains in contact with the flame, and as a result, soot or carbon builds up on the sensor. Other sensors experience expansion and contraction with every ignition.
  • Burners and Heat Exchangers. A byproduct of burning natural gas is water vapor and furnace parts made of iron that are susceptible to rust building up. Rust is corrosion, so the metal is growing thinner as the rust grows thicker. Cleaning the rust away is only a part of maintenance. Ensuring the corrosion hasn’t created leaks is also necessary since leaks allow deadly gases to enter the home.

The good news is that maintenance inhibits dust and use from causing major problems but detects minor problems early. Unfortunately, the system will need to be replaced. The good news is that regular maintenance can extend the useful life of an HVAC system by at least 5 years.

Need Help Sorting Out the Costs of HVAC Repair?

Schedule your HVAC Repair consultation by calling All Cool AC & Heating at 281-238-9292 or contact us via email and let our NATE-certified HVAC Repair technicians put their experience to work for you.


Indoor Air Quality: How to Identify Pollutants in Your Home

Indoor Air Quality: How to Identify Pollutants in Your Home

 How is the indoor air quality in your home?

To be honest, clean air is relative, and there are many variables for you to consider. First are the health concerns of family members since people with severe allergies, breathing problems, and compromised immune systems can be extremely sensitive to airborne particles. Some health issues might be seasonal or short-term. Some health issues might require technology to remove airborne pollutants; we will discuss some options available for improving indoor air quality.

  • Minor problems that result from indoor air pollution might manifest with itchy eyes, runny nose, or a headache.
  • Moderate problems might trigger severe allergic reactions.
  • Stronger health problems might make breathing difficult, as pollutants irritate airways.

Another set of variables exists with individual homes.

  • New homes will have much more volatile organic compound (VOC) gases floating around; we associate these gases with a “new” smell. Newly manufactured building materials and furnishings contain fibers, adhesives, and finishes (paints and stains) that release organic chemicals. Over time, the amount of gas released decreases, but new items off-gas VOCs quickly.
  • Old homes might have more gaps and openings around doors, windows, walls, and ceilings. If you open the walls around windows and doors, you will notice the insulation has turned black since it is filtering particles out of the incoming air.
  • Homes located near dirt roads, major highways, industrial sites, or farmland may contain higher concentrations of airborne particles since the outdoor air also contains higher concentrations of these particles.

Each home will have individual characteristics that affect airborne pollutants and indoor air quality.

Common categories of airborne contaminants include:

  • Radon. An odorless, colorless, radioactive gas found in rocks, soils, and water. Radon migrates from the soil in a crawlspace or through cracks in basement foundations. Breathing radon in high concentrations over a period leads to lung cancer, so consider this a serious issue. The EPA also has guidelines to help homeowners test and mitigate problems with radon.1
  • Various Particles. Indoor air contains many particles, most of which are too small to see unaided. Organic particles from the outside include pollen, mold spores, bacteria, and viruses which tend to be seasonal. Organic particles that originate inside include dust (mostly human skin cells) and dander (pet skin cells)/pet hair. Inorganic particles include dirt disturbed by movement and various industrial/combustion gases. Different filters can remove various particles.
  • Various Gases. VOCs may originate inside or outside the house, resulting from household cleaners and cooking. Normal filters do not trap VOCs. Activated charcoal filters can trap them—the small spaces in the charcoal absorb and hold VOCs.

Care must be taken with natural gas-powered furnaces to ensure that the carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide that result from combustion are safely exhausted outdoors and do not enter the home. These gases are odorless, colorless, and hazardous to human health.

Each air pollutant has a technological solution.

  • Radon detectors monitor indoor air and alert homeowners of the problem. Professional mitigation will vent radon outdoors and establish increased monitoring for further protection.
  • If a family member has health issues that require very clean air, consult with an HVAC professional to determine the most efficient air filter for your system. Filters with extremely small openings may overly restrict the airflow and stress the blower motor.

Supportive technology is available to assist with regular filtration. Some filters use static electricity to remove more airborne particles. Ultraviolet lights can be installed inside the supply vents to neutralize organic particles, making them inert. An air filter can easily remove these harmless particles.

  • Regular filters will not remove gaseous contaminants. Activated charcoal filters are commonly found in air purifiers (both room and whole-house-size purifiers). However, activated charcoal is neither a solution for radon, due to its radioactivity nor combustion gas, due to its volume.

Vital maintenance issues that affect indoor air quality include:

  • Complete regular household cleaning to remove dust from surfaces.
  • Changing the air filter regularly, at least every three months.
  • Cleaning the vents regularly, about every 3 to 5 years.
  • Maintain the HVAC system annually.
  • Open windows or doors occasionally to dilute air pollutants, even during winter months.

Need Help Identifying Airborne Pollutants to Improve Indoor Air Quality?

Schedule your indoor air quality standards consultation by calling All Cool AC & Heating at 281-238-9292 or contact us via email and let our NATE-certified indoor air quality technicians put their experience to work for you.


1 https://www.epa.gov/sites/default/files/2015-05/documents/hmbuygud.pdf


How Ventilation Affects Indoor Air Quality Standards

Indoor Air Quality Standards

Raise Your Indoor Air Quality Standards with Proper Ventilation

Yep, it is time to button up and prepare for cold weather. Should someone leave the door open a little too long, they can expect to hear “Shut the door! Were you born in a barn!” We caulk, weatherstrip, and do everything we can to prevent cold drafts during the heating season in an attempt to improve Indoor Air Quality Standards.

One of the consequences of tightly closing the house is a reduction in fresh air and heavy concentrations of common airborne contaminants. Now, don’t panic since your HVAC system is prepared to clean some of these particles. Let’s look at what might be floating around inside your home.

  • Seasonal Organic Matter. During the spring, a lot of flower and tree pollen blows everywhere. They enter the home through every opening and ride inside on bodies, clothes, and shoes. During the summer the common pollen comes from grasses and during the fall, some particularly nasty wildflowers (red weeds) set us to sneezing and dripping. These airborne beauties congregate indoors until they are removed.
  • Local Environmental Particles. Whatever is floating around near your home will make its way into the home. If you live near a large construction or industrial site, they contribute. If you live on a gravel road or near a major highway, they contribute. If you live near livestock, well they contribute also.
  • Manufactured Products. Every flooring system, item of furniture, paint, and stain gives off small amounts of volatile organic gases (VOCs) in various amounts.
  • Living Processes. Everybody, both human and pet, releases skin cells, hair, and other organic material. Cutting and cooking food releases odors (particles), some pleasant and some rank. Even cleaning products contribute to the total number of particles present in indoor air.
  • In commercial and industrial spaces, these particles can be magnified by the products present and the processes unique to the facility.

For the most part, these airborne particles are all quite common and harmless in minute concentrations—the normal indoor situation. However, high concentrations can lead to subtle health and productivity issues, in both residential and commercial locations.

  • An obvious problem stems from seasonal allergies. Often, an airborne particle triggers an allergic reaction to pollen, spores, or dander. This can lead to itchy, watery eyes and runny noses. Mild responses include a sore throat, headache, and body aches.
  • Poor indoor air quality often contributes to breathing problems, such as asthma, heart disease, and breathing illnesses. Tobacco smoke and carbon monoxide are more dangerous examples of air pollutants.

The inventory of indoor air pollutants seems endless, but this is not a scary project. Just enough information has been shared to demonstrate indoor air quality is a serious subject.

The best solution for indoor air pollution has already been installed in homes with central HVAC systems. The V in HVAC stands for ventilation, a process that thoroughly cleans indoor air.

  • With every heating and cooling cycle, the entire air volume is pulled through an air filter five or six times.
  • For that reason, it is important to change the filter regularly. A clogged filter reduces the airflow and makes the system work hard. Plan to change the filter at least once every three months.
  • Servicing and cleaning the rest of the system, including the ductwork, contributes to a cleaner indoor environment.

Your HVAC provider can suggest and install HVAC modifications and stand-alone products that help improve indoor air quality.

  • They can recommend an air filter upgrade, when available. Extremely effective filters tend to reduce airflow, so a technician can recommend the right air filter for your system.
  • Ultraviolet lights are an available modification that can reduce illness due to organic particles, such as pollen and dust mites. The lights are installed inside the ductwork. UV light disrupts the cell walls of organic matter, much like a sunburn does. The life form is neutralized, becoming a dust particle to be collected by the filter.
  • Stand-alone room purifiers use several layers of filtration to remove a wider variety of particles. A layer of activated charcoal can even remove odors.

Let All Cool AC Help Improve Your Indoor Air Quality Standards

Schedule your indoor air quality standards consultation by calling All Cool AC & Heating at 281-238-9292 or contact us via email and let our NATE-certified indoor air quality technicians put their experience to work for you.


HVAC Maintenance Tips for Pet Owners

HVAC Maintenance Tips for Pet Owners

HVAC Maintenance: What Pet Owners Need to Know

One of the unique features of homes in the U.S. is the presence of indoor pets in a large majority of homes. In more than 80% of homes—86.9 million houses and apartments—you will find families petting and cuddling with a wide variety of (mostly) domestic animals.

The most common pets are dogs (44 million) and cats (29 million); some homes have both cats and dogs or multiples of each. Fifty-eight percent of single-family homeowners and 36% of apartment dwellers invite pets inside.

Homeowners who welcome pets into their homes receive emotional companionship and satisfaction, they also accept some airborne hazards that come with the pets. Most dogs and cats shed hair and all shed skin cells, just like their human companions.

An interesting fact—skin cells from humans are a major part of indoor dust, while pet skin cells are called dander. These airborne particles contribute to allergy and asthma attacks and can lead to other breathing difficulties. Dust, dander, and hair also negatively affect the function of a central AC system making HVAC Maintenance a necessity to maintain indoor air quality.

Individual dust and dander particles are barely perceptible and seem to pose no problem. However, a high concentration or accumulation of these particles does have a very negative effect on the system and family members.

  • The particles irritate the eyes and sinuses of family members, triggering allergies and asthma.
  • Gravity causes the particles to fall and coat many household surfaces. Pet hair and dander contribute heavily to dust.
  • These particles coat ductwork surfaces and can be difficult to reach for cleaning.
  • Particles eventually clog the air filter, and it must be changed regularly; multiple pets will require more frequent changes.

If your home includes one or more indoor pets, here are several steps to balance companionship and quality indoor air.

  • Clean often, making sure to dust, mop, and vacuum every surface possible. How often you need to clean will depend on the breed and number of your pets.
  • Your choice of pet might also affect your choice of vacuum cleaner and mop.
  • If you use area rugs, purchase indoor/outdoor whenever possible. They are easier to clean.
  • Make sure to paint and install surfaces that are easy to clean; washable paints and stains are a good start.
  • Consider using common shaving cream to remove stains without damaging fabrics.
  • Mix a 50/50 mixture of water and vinegar, then add a couple of drops of dishwashing liquid to clean hard surfaces.
  • Use a baby wipe and a wooden skewer to clean cracks/seams on hard surfaces.
  • Buy cheap throws to cover furniture, protecting them from hair, stains, and scratches.
  • Be sure to groom your pet regularly as recommended by the breeders and your veterinarian.

Pay attention to your HVAC air filter. The filter collects the majority of airborne particles and keeps the indoor air quality significantly cleaner and healthy. However, the collected dust, dander, and pet hair can completely clog the filter, restricting airflow.

This puts tremendous stress on the HVAC system and reduces its efficiency. If the filter is clogged at three months, check it at two months and change it as needed.

Pets in a home increase the necessity of regularly scheduled preventative maintenance visits. These visits include cleaning interior components and inspecting vital controls and switches. The common guideline is to clean ducts every three to five years, but the type and number of pets in your home might require additional cleaning.

Don’t forget to keep your pet comfortable in your absence. If you change the thermostat setting while the family is away as a cost-saving measure, make sure that the setting does not make your pet(s) uncomfortable.

If you are a pet owner looking for HVAC maintenance, give us a call!

Schedule your HVAC maintenance consultation by calling All Cool AC & Heating at 281-238-9292 or contact us via email and let our NATE-certified HVAC maintenance and HVAC repair technicians put their experience to work for you.