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.


Furnace Maintenance Checklist for this Winter

Furnace Maintenance

Furnace Maintenance Tips to Avoid Heater Problems

HVAC professionals always recommend furnace and air conditioner maintenance programs and, since we say it so often, it might sound like background noise to your life. Each day, a massive amount of information clamors for the attention of American homeowners. However, technicians perform a variety of furnace maintenance tasks that are vital to keeping your furnace running strong all year long and for years to come. Furnace Maintenance tasks may include:

Changing the Air Filter

This simple chore is essential since the furnace requires the movement of air: the entire volume of air should move through your furnace about every 2 minutes of a heating cycle. A clogged filter can leave you feeling a little chilly on cold days. It also creates stress on your entire heating system.

Check the Ductwork

Only a portion of the network of ducts will be visible after construction is completed. However, observation of the visible portion can tell us:

  • How clean or dirty the ducts are. This is mostly an air quality issue.
  • Potential leaks in the portion that is visible. Repairing any leak that can be observed will improve efficiency and comfort.

Clean the Blower Fan

The amount of dust that collects on moving parts is crazy—how often does the ceiling fan need to be cleaned? The blower motor is a cylindrical fan that is responsible for moving air during heating and cooling cycles. Dust reduces the efficiency of the fan and reduces the amount of air movement.

Check Electronics Thoroughly

  • A series of sensors measure your indoor environment and send messages to the furnace system. The most noticeable sensor is in the thermostat; it measures air temperature and sends a signal calling for a heating cycle as needed. The thermostat needs to be tested and calibrated as needed. Other sensors are located throughout the system, sensing flame or the presence of smoke or carbon monoxide. These essential sensors need to be cleaned and tested regularly.
  • Beyond the sensors, a complex network of electrical switches and controllers manage the energy needed to keep occupants warm and comfortable. When one of these components weakens, it creates a cascade of stress on other system components. Simple voltage tests can detect stress or weakness, ensuring a small problem does not develop into a large problem.
  • Another set of safety controllers prevents damage or injury should a problem create an overload or short-circuit.

Gas System Furnace Maintenance

  • It is extremely important to regularly inspect your gas supply line and connections to prevent damage, injury, and death.
  • The gas pressure needs to be checked at the manifold to ensure adequate flow to the burner.
  • The most delicate part of a gas-powered system is the ignition/pilot light assembly. A pilot light should burn blue, with a hint of yellow at the base. This indicates complete combustion.
  • A flame sensor can accumulate soot and dust, interfering with burner ignition.
  • Rust and soot can develop on the pilot light and burner assembly and need to be cleaned away for good performance.
  • The heat exchanger and flue pipe need to be cleaned and inspected for damage regularly. Rust can weaken the walls of these structures, allowing carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide to leak into the home.

General Observations

Furnace Maintenance inspections will also test furnace function by measuring temperature changes during a heating cycle; these measurements will be taken from various spaces to ensure proper the system is heating efficiently.

Leave Furnace Maintenance and Repair to the Experts!

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 furnace maintenance and heater repair technicians put their experience to work for you.

Why Furnace Repair is Not a DIY Project

Furnace Repair

Why You Should Leave Furnace Repair to the Experts

Many homeowners are pleased to do small jobs around the house but would not consider tackling projects outside their comfort zone. Other homeowners have a pioneering spirit and a penchant for frugality. They consider new challenges exciting. With a host of tutorial videos and several chains of home improvement centers, their independent, do-it-yourself attitude can push the limits.

Some home improvement projects should be left to professionals and making furnace repairs falls into this category.

Home furnaces are an integral building system that keeps the family comfortable, healthy, and safe. The components are complex, and may include:

  • Electrical sensors and controls
  • Refrigerant gas technology, the same gas used during the cooling season, and
  • Natural gas

There are a multitude of manufacturers, with several generations of innovation, so the chances of finding the right tutorial and the corresponding part for specific repairs are quite slim. So many things can go wrong . . .

Potential Electrical Hazards

The wiring that sends messages between the thermostat and furnace components carries 14 volts. The wiring that activates the heating element carries 220 volts. Other wires carry 120 volts. Someone accidentally contacting any of these wires will be shocked, but one better know the difference, since the resulting shock will be very different.

Accidentally crossing the wires can also develop a fire hazard. There is no substitute for proper training and experience when repairing furnaces.

Potential Gas Hazards

Being prepared to repair any furnace on the market requires familiarity with at least three gases, and rarely will homeowners have the necessary training to handle all three.

  • Some furnace units use a heat pump component, which utilizes the same refrigerant gas (commonly referred to as Freon) as the air conditioning process. The air conditioning process is reversed, bringing heat from the outside indoors.
  • Some units use natural gas or propane as fuel to warm a home. Service requires knowledge of gas supply and there can be no mistakes with these explosive gases. A leak is serious, potentially leading to asphyxiation and an explosive fire.
  • The burners for gas furnaces need careful cleaning and inspection. The ignition source and mixture with oxygen must be precise and getting it right can be extremely frustrating.
  • Don’t forget the exhaust from burning natural gas. This gas enters a heat exchange chamber, and the radiant heat warms the air which eventually warms the home.

A portion of the exhaust is steam which causes rust to form on the walls of the heat exchanger; the heat exchanger must be inspected regularly. If the exhaust leaks into the home, the colorless, odorless carbon monoxide will asphyxiate occupants.

A video tutorial cannot cover the vocational furnace repair training and years of experience. Call a professional technician to service and repair your furnace this heating season.

Leave Furnace Repair to the Experts!

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 maintenance and furnace repair technicians put their experience to work for you.

HVAC System Hurricane Preparedness

HVAC System Hurricane Preparedness

HVAC System Hurricane Preparedness

The NOAA Atlantic Hurricane Season outlook predicted between 14 and 21 named storms for this season, 6 to 11 storms developing into hurricanes, and 2 to 5 storms developing into major hurricanes. The 2023 season is living up to the prediction, with 15 named storms, 6 hurricanes, and three major hurricanes so far. Fortunately, the only major storm hurricane to make landfall was Lee. However, there are still two months left in this year’s season.

If you have lived in a hurricane-prone area for many years, you are aware of preparedness plans for various aspects of life. This is a hurricane preparedness plan for HVAC systems in the area.

Pre-season HVAC System Hurricane Preparedness

There are some general and specific preparation steps that you can take any time before the storm arrives, but they should not be attempted during the storm.

  • Trees and tree limbs may endanger a home and the immediate surroundings when hurricane-strength winds arrive. Remove trees and limbs that can damage the structure of the house and remember to protect the outdoor air conditioner condenser unit.
  • Find hurricane straps for the condenser unit, to secure it to the pad beneath it. Strong winds can pick the unit up and make it a dangerous airborne projectile. Consider buying a canvas condenser cover or making one from plywood.
  • Determine in advance whether to invest in a whole-house or portable emergency generator. Such plans take time to install a transfer switch, permanently install the generator, and plan for fuel storage.

Pay Attention

Hurricanes do not sneak up on people on the coast—storms are tracked across the Atlantic and a rather specific landfall is predicted several days ahead in advance. This gives residents several days to make minute plans before the storm arrives.

  • A part of that plan includes determining if and when your family will evacuate for severe hurricanes since evacuation is ill-advised during the storm.
  • Storing food, water, medicine, and emergency supplies is an essential part of preparedness.

Two Days Prior

  • Begin to cool the house down about 2 days before the storm arrives. The air conditioner should be shut off during the storm to avoid damage from power surges, so lower the thermostat by 5 to 10 degrees for comfort during the storm. This will cool the interior and furnishings in addition to the air.
  • If your preparedness plans include covering windows, now is the time to complete this task.

Hours Before

  • A severe storm will include a storm surge to the coastline, sustained winds of more than 100 mph, and torrential rainfall. The danger from lightning-induced power surges is very high, so flip the breaker at the service panel to shut the HVAC system off. If your home is supplied with natural gas, close the gas valve as well in case of structural damage.
  • If you prepared a condenser unit cover, now is the time to install and secure it. Do not run the air conditioner with the condenser covered, as this will lead to catastrophic system failure.
  • Go inside and stay inside until the winds subside. Stay tuned to local news/weather stations as long as possible.

When Calm Returns

After the storm itself, it will make some careful observations of the immediate surroundings. The power may be out for a while, which is why your plan included cooling the house before the storm.

  • Look for downed power lines and structural damage to the home. Remember, the ground will be saturated, so give downed wires a wide berth.
  • Remove the cover and inspect the condenser unit for damage. The materials that compose the condenser walls are thin and fragile. Look for an oily substance and listen for the hiss of escaping gas.

When the power grid is restored and you believe the HVAC system is intact, flip the circuit breaker to restore power to the HVAC system. Lower the temperature of the thermostat settings by a few degrees and determine whether the system is functioning properly.

Have questions about HVAC System Hurricane Preparedness, We Can Help!

Schedule your HVAC System Hurricane Preparedness 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.

A Healthy Home Has Great Indoor Air Quality

A Healthy Home Has Great Indoor Air Quality

A Healthy Home Has Great Indoor Air Quality

How to Achieve the Best Indoor Air Quality

With the coming of Fall, a new allergy season approaches; this time, it will be ragweed season. In the Winter, mold spores are prevalent because of the moisture (theoretically anyway). In the Spring, it is tree pollen, and, in the Summer, grass pollen takes over.

Most of us love being outdoors, which makes our homes and vehicles a “clean air” refuge. For that reason, maintaining indoor air quality is very important. Here are a few steps towards improving air quality in your home.


An important aspect of indoor air quality is recirculating the volume of air inside your home. Without circulation, pollutants generated by normal household materials and activities will accumulate. Outdoor air dilutes the amount of these pollutants trapped inside your home.

However, the outdoor air also contains large quantities of pollen, spores, and exhaust; some of these outdoor pollutants cause more severe allergic reactions than the pollutants indoors. This balance is individual with each home but balancing the indoor and outdoor air quality is very important.

Regular Cleaning

That might sound a little odd, but many of the airborne particles that float around in your indoor air end up falling to various surfaces—floors, furniture, bedding, and ceiling fans. Definitely ceiling fans!

Families understand the importance of regular house cleaning but might not associate it with indoor air quality. Every bit of dust, pollen, and dander removed from the floor with a mop or vacuum cleaner is removed from the air permanently. The same is true for grooming, laundry, and dusting.

Air Filters

Every HVAC system is equipped with an air filter; the air pulled from the home is filtered before it is cooled or heated and returned to the home. The filter faithfully removes air particles with each cycle, and, after a few months, the filter can become completely covered. A clogged filter interferes with airflow and the function of both the air conditioner and heater.

Therefore, an important step to improve air quality is to change the air filter regularly—at least every three months. Changing the filter removes a large amount of dust permanently from the home.

Air filters are manufactured to capture a percentage of airborne particles of a given size. It is tempting to purchase an air filter that captures the smallest particles. However, residential HVAC systems aren’t equipped to use those ultra-fine filters, since they create too much air resistance.

Clean Vents

All that dirty air moves through a network of air ducts, connecting the entire home with the central heating and air conditioning system. Some of the particles find a way to connect to the duct walls and cleaning the ducts removes the airborne particles from the home permanently. How often should you clean vents? It is recommended that vents be cleaned every three to five years.

Regular Maintenance

Another cleaning step is to schedule an annual maintenance cleaning by an HVAC technician. This includes cleaning harder-to-reach areas, including the evaporator chamber, drain line, and condenser coil. This inspection goes well beyond mere cleaning and improves the efficient function of your HVAC system.

Further Steps

If a family has specific health needs concerning air quality, further steps might include adding ultraviolet lights to the ductwork to neutralize organic air particles, such as dust mites and mold spores, or a room air purifier to remove pollutants, including odors, from a designated space.

Need Help Achieving Better Indoor Air Quality, We Can Help!

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

3 HVAC Maintenance Tips to Improve Efficiency

3 HVAC Maintenance Tips to Improve Efficiency

3 HVAC Maintenance Tips for Homeowners

Air conditioning is such a comfort during the long, hot summertime. All winter long, we look forward to summer fun in the sun. However, since the heat and humidity are so relentless, we seek relief whenever we go inside. Air conditioning has become so essential to our summer. It would be nice to find ways to enhance the air conditioning experience. Here are a few suggestions to enhance your HVAC Maintenance experience.

1 Keep the Heat Outside and the Cool Inside

This seems like a no-brainer, but to do it well it takes intentional actions.

  • The quality of insulation will become very evident during times of extreme temperatures—both hot and cold temperatures. Getting into the attic to add insulation during triple-digit or single-digit temperatures is not a wise decision. However, preparing for extreme temps while the temps are mild is a wise decision.
  • Windows transfer a tremendous amount of energy in the form of heat into the home. Sunlight is not the problem; it is the accompanying infrared energy that creates the heat. Floor and furniture surfaces are heated and retain the heat. Additionally, heat passes through glass readily, heating the inside air. Keep blinds and drapes closed during the midday period, opening them in the mornings and evenings to enjoy the natural light.

2 Keep the Thermostat Steady

It is tempting to use the thermostat inside like the fan switch on our car’s air conditioner, turning it up when you enter and down when the temperature drops. That might work in the small confines of a car, but it doesn’t work for a home air conditioner.

  • When the thermostat is set at 740 and the temperature rises to 750, the thermostat instructs the air conditioner to begin cooling the air. The cooling cycle may last for 5 to 10 minutes if it is functioning normally. Dropping the thermostat to 640 will also instruct the air conditioner to begin cooling the air. It will also take 5 to 10 minutes or so—not a minute less. Dropping the thermostat setting does not cool the space faster, but it does put tremendous stress on the air conditioner.
  • A better approach is to schedule the temperature setting, including any changes you might desire, and let the air conditioner do its job. If your family has a steady summertime schedule—leaving and returning at regular intervals—temperature changes can be programmed to coincide with the schedule. Program temperatures change and do not alter the schedule.

3 Schedule Filter Changes and HVAC Maintenance

Homeowners can enhance their air conditioner system by keeping it clean. Change the air filter regularly to keep indoor air clean and ensure a free flow of air. Scheduling annual preventative maintenance increases the performance of air conditioners and uncovers small problems before they become big problems.

We Specialize in HVAC Maintenance to Reduce Your Utility Bills

Schedule your free HVAC Maintenance consultation by calling AllCool 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.

HVAC Efficiency: Vaulted Ceilings Pros and Cons

HVAC Efficiency: Vaulted Ceilings Pros and Cons

HVAC Efficiency: How Vaulted Ceilings Affect Your AC System

As a design feature, vaulted and high ceilings remain very appealing for home buyers. These relaxing features often add natural light and add space without adding square footage. If your dream home features vaulted or high ceilings, there are some HVAC Efficiency details you should be aware of that affect heating and air conditioning functions.

Stating the Obvious—Heat Rises

Air molecules that absorb heat energy move more and are lighter, while molecules that have lost their heat energy are heavier and sink. This is true on a global scale and inside every home. Healthy indoor air quality requires air circulation and hot air stubbornly tries to stay high, resisting movement. Vaulted ceilings often have a thinner insulation layer, which serves to keep the air heated.

Problems develop when hot air resists movement in high ceilings.

  • That air becomes rather stale, and it doesn’t get cleaned often via the air filter.
  • Painted or stained surfaces suffer when constantly exposed to hot, moist air.
  • Stubborn hot air is helpful during the cooling season, keeping cool air down and hot air up. However, it is hard to overcome during the heating season because the furnace must work hard to heat higher spaces before the living area is heated.
  • The HVAC system works harder in both the heating and cooling seasons, trying to move that hot air. This places undue strain on the blower motor.

Potential Solutions

Sizing. The HVAC system in each home is customized for each home with a formula called a load calculation. A technician collects information, including square footage, insulation level, number of windows, and doors. High ceilings are a factor in determining the proper size of your system and the technician will add load for each foot of added space in each room. Little can be done with an existing HVAC system but make sure that the load calculation for your next replacement takes high ceilings into the calculation.

Circulation. Moving stubborn hot air is essential and can be accomplished by several means.

  • Using ceiling fans properly can move efficiently during both the cooling and heating seasons, but it requires a little information. Ceiling fans can turn in both a clockwise and counterclockwise rotation and the direction affects air movement. The counterclockwise rotation pushes air down and should be used during the cooling season. This mixes the air and allows the air conditioner to remove humidity while cooling the air. The clockwise rotation pulls air up during the heating season, pushing warm air out and down for comfort and mixing. Ceiling fans installed in vaulted ceilings usually have remote controls with rotation control.
  • When a heating or cooling cycle begins, supply air is pushed into space via vents, usually located on the floor. At the same time, air returns to the central cabinet via plenums found high on the wall on each story. Adding a plenum in or near a vaulted ceiling can adequately move the stubborn air resisting normal airflow.
  • It is generally best to leave the air conditioner fan in the hot, humid summer. Moving air is easy to keep moving, compared to trying to move stationary air.

Mini-split ductless solutions. Mini-split systems do not use ducts to move air but circulate air with small, room-sized air handlers. With this approach, the vaulted area can be zoned separately, and an air handler unit installed. This ensures that the air is being cooled and cleaned regularly.

We Specialize in HVAC Efficiency to Reduce Your Utility Bills

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

AC Maintenance: Best Air Filter for Your HVAC System

AC Maintenance

AC Maintenance: Best Air Filter for Your HVAC System

AC Maintenance: HEPA Filters vs Merv Filters

We all acknowledge the importance of air filters since they successfully remove dust, pollen, dander, and mold spores. They clean indoor air but also keep dust from interfering with the function of HVAC systems. Filters are not composed of solid sheets, but are fibrous, with gaps to allow airflow. The size of the gaps determines the size of particles that are captured and thus, their efficiency.

Since filters collect airborne particles with each cycle, the filter eventually clogs and needs to be replaced. The Environmental Protection Agency and all manufacturers of HVAC equipment recommend changing air filters AT LEAST every three months. Fortunately, air filters are commonly available in a variety of home improvement and hardware stores. However, due to the size of the openings in the fiber, not all filters are manufactured equally—neither do they claim to be equal. Packaging for filters from various sources often touts various ratings with different acronyms and numbers; some explanations may be in order.

FPR Rating

Home Depot developed the Filter Performance Rating for their own brand of air filters; ratings are identified as Good, Better, Best, and Premium. The FPR rating for Good range between 4-5, Better have a range of 6-7, Best has a range of 8-9, and Premium filters have a rating of 10. With each upgrade, more particles are removed. While not exact, the ratings describe the size of the particles each rating collects and helps consumers understand their products.

MPR Rating

3M has also developed a rating for its Filtrete brand of filters. Filtrete filters are manufactured and marketed to remove specific airborne particulates. Some filters target dust and allergens, others target odors, and others seek to trap bacteria and viruses. MPR ratings use four digits—the higher the number, the smaller the opening. Consumer packaging denotes the percentage of the targeted particulate that will be removed.

MERV Rating

In 1987, the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) developed a Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value or MERV rating. Since they do not manufacture filters, the rating can be applied to all filters, including Filtrete and Hope Depot brand filters. The MERV rating is based on the gaps in the fibrous filter material. Since some particles are too large to enter the small gaps 100% of those particles are removed. With small gaps, some particles larger than the gap will be collected. MERV rating seeks to measure the amount of small particles trapped.

  • MERV ratings range between 1 and 20; the higher the number the smaller the gap and the higher the efficiency of the filter.
  • MERV-rated filters below 8 filter particles 10 and 3 microns.
  • MERV-rated filters between 8 and 14 are used in commercial and residential HVAC systems. They remove particles between 3 and 1 micron.
  • MERV-rated filters between 15 and 20 are designed for hospital and laboratory use. They remove particles as small as 0.3 microns—smaller than most bacteria and some viruses.

For comparison, human hairs are between 60 and 70 microns in diameter, common pollen is between 7 and 10 microns in diameter, spider silk is about 5 microns in diameter, and mold spores and bacteria are approximately 1 micron in diameter.

HEPA Filters

High-Efficiency Particulate Air filter is a designation by the Environmental Protection Agency for filters with gaps 0.3 microns or smaller. These filters collect and trap 99.97% of all airborne particles, including bacteria and viruses. HEPA filter applications include hospitals and laboratories but also are used in products that avoid allergic reactions.

It might seem appropriate to use the most efficient filter for health and safety. However, air filters with a MERV rating above MERV 14 are not appropriate for residential and commercial HVAC systems. Normal blower motors do not have adequate strength to push air through the extremely small gaps in highly efficient air filters. Consult with your HVAC professional before installing filters rated above MERV 14.

AC Maintenance Tips to Help with AC Filter Replacement are Just a Phone Call Away

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

AC Replacement Katy: Choosing the Right Size AC Unit

AC Replacement Katy

AC Replacement Katy: Which Size AC Unit is Right For Your Home

AC Replacement is no small investment! If you anticipate the purchase of a new air conditioner or HVAC system, make sure you have enough information to ensure that your purchase is a good fit for your home. HVAC technicians will use acronyms and technical terms during the conversation, so make sure you understand the lingo.

The Right Size

The most important factor is properly sizing the air conditioner for your space. But what does that mean—the proper size? It will need to be large enough to handle the cooling need of your home, at your location, with the construction material and methods of your home.

  • An air conditioner will need to cool a specific space, so the size of the AC will be based on the square footage of your home. You would expect an air conditioner for a 2,400-square-foot home to be larger than an air conditioner for a 1,200-square-foot home. If you need to find the square footage of your home, multiply the measurement of the length and width of the home. Having a general idea about the ceiling height of your home will be helpful later.
  • An air conditioner “moves” heat from the inside to the outside and the right size moves adequate heat to cool the space. The heat is measured in British Thermal Units or BTUs—the energy needed to heat one pound of water one degree Fahrenheit. Twenty BTUs are required to cool one square foot.
  • The measurement a technician uses is the ton, but it is not a measurement of weight. One ton of air conditioning function can cool 600 square feet, so 1 ton is equivalent to 12,000 BTUs.
  • These figures help you determine the general size or tonnage during the AC Replacement process.


Some specific details can be added to general specifications to help determine the appropriate size of an AC Replacement for your home and location. For instance,

  • You may reduce the needed capacity by 10% if a room is shaded during the heat of the day.
  • You must increase the capacity of a room if a room receives harsh sun during the day.
  • Add 600 BTUs for occupants above two people.
  • Add 4,000 BTUs for the kitchen.

Other variables, including the number of windows and doors, building materials, and insulation affect the cooling need. When a technician accumulates all the data gathered for his “load calculation,” a total BTU figure is calculated, and the proper tonnage of the air conditioner is determined.

Efficiency Standards for an AC Replacement Katy, Tx

The Department of Energy has established manufacturing standards to protect consumers by ensuring air conditioners function properly. Each model air conditioner is given a seasonal energy efficiency rating or SEER rating. In 2023, the DOE made upgrades to its standards, so new units will have a SEER2 rating. New AC systems use the latest in refrigerant technology and are very efficient.

Both the ton measurement and SEER2 rating can be found on the model # plaque. The designation for the smallest unit, 1.5 tons, is 18 and for every increase in .5 tons, the model number adds the number six. So,

1.5 tons = 18

2.0 tons = 24

2.5 tons = 30

3.0 tons = 26, and so on

Finding the ton indicator on the model number plaque will help you understand the size of your old air conditioner system. If your home has seen modest change—a room addition or remodeling project—expect the size of the new system to change drastically. If not much has changed, a change in size should be minor.

Considering an AC Replacement in Katy, Texas?

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