Category Archives: Indoor Air Quality (IAQ)

How a New Air Conditioner Impacts Your Indoor Air Quality

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You only need to look outside and see the brown haze blanketing the Valley to know that Phoenix is prone to summer pollution. In fact, Phoenix consistently ranks as one of the worst cities in the nation for air quality. And this is only made worse by the raging wildfires that are currently plaguing our state. In other words, it’s important to maintain the quality of the air you’re breathing in your home and pay attention to the role your air conditioner has in supporting your indoor air quality.

Your home is an enclosed environment with only limited sources of ventilation, and its HVAC system is essential for circulating fresh air. Of course, general air conditioning maintenance, such as replacing your AC filter every month, helps to filter out allergens, pollen, pesticides, dust and other outdoor irritants. But is that enough? If your home has an older air conditioner, it may not be.

Your air conditioner works by pulling outside air into your home, passing it through a filter, over a cold coil and then pushing it through vents. An older unit will struggle to complete this process successfully which can directly impact your indoor air quality. And if you have a less than clean evaporator coil and ductwork, your HVAC system can actually be contributing to diminishing your air quality. During the summer months, when you’re running your unit 24 hours a day and have windows and doors closed, what you’re breathing inside matters a lot. For those suffering from respiratory or immune issues, this can be a real problem.

At Cool Blew, we believe everyone should be breathing clean indoor air. Let us provide you with a free quote on a new air conditioner. We’re here to answer your questions and can even show you how the addition of an indoor air quality (IAQ) system can improve your air quality even more. Call us today to learn more at 623-872-2900.

Reduce Your Risk of Airborne Viruses with the Air Scrubber Plus

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It’s definitely a time of uncertainty with the ongoing spread of COVID19. Of course, it’s important for all of us to be doing our part in combatting the virus while protecting the health of ourselves and our loved ones. As we slowly begin to transition away from sheltering in place, it’s natural to begin thinking about ways to mitigate risks. For many of us, this may include wearing masks in public places, avoiding large gatherings and frequent handwashing.

Because researchers are now exploring the possibility that COVID19 may spread via airborne transmission, as well as droplet transmission, there has been growing interest in technologies that purify indoor air.

At Cool Blew, we’ve been impressed with the ActivePure technology used in the Air Scrubber Plus – a system designed to eliminate indoor air quality risks by reducing pollutants, VOCs, cigarette smoke, dust, pollen, mold, bacteria and odors. While this technology has not been specifically tested yet against COVID19, it has been shown to reduce viruses, including swine flu (H1N1), avian bird flu (H5N8), hepatitis A and norovirus.

The ActivePure technology, built into the Air Scrubber Plus, was developed for use on the International Space Station and has been shown to reduce up to 99.99% of harmful contaminants throughout a home. The system is simple to use and helps ensure that air ducts, as well as furniture, countertops, bathroom surfaces and more are cleaner and safer for you and your loved ones. In fact, the technology reduces over 90% of pathogens in 30 minutes – making it 50 times more powerful than normal HVAC filtration. This is why it is relied upon in Major League Baseball facilities, hospitals, schools and by many hotel brands.

If you’re concerned about the quality of your indoor air and reducing your risks of viruses, as well as other airborne and surface contaminants, call Cool Blew today for more information. We’re your go-to source for indoor air quality during these challenging times.

Optimizing Your Indoor Air Quality for Your Home Office

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With the shift to social distancing, many of us are now working from home. While workplaces are designed for employee productivity, most home offices lack the same characteristics. Among the most important aspects of a healthy and comfortable home office space is optimized home’s air quality.

According to a study from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and SUNY, individuals who work in better air quality have higher cognitive functioning scores – compared to those working in airtight environments with poorer air quality. Most homeowners are surprised to learn that indoor air can be polluted by lead, formaldehyde, fire retardants, radon and even volatile chemicals used in common cleaners. Some of these pollutants are tracked into a home, while others appear with the addition of a new mattress, furniture, paint or carpet cleaning. Then, there’s the additional issue of dust mites, mold, pet dander and other indoor pollutants.

The key to improving indoor air quality is taking a multi-pronged approach to minimizing pollutants and optimizing humidity.

Vacuum

Allergens and chemicals accumulate over time, impacting air quality. One of the best front-line defenses against this is vacuuming carpets and floors which can reduce toxins and allergens. Choose a vacuum cleaner with strong suction, rotating brushes and a HEPA filter. For optimal results, vacuum two or more times each week and regularly clean the filter.

Mop

Mopping is also beneficial by picking up additional dust that the vacuum has left behind on floors. Use plain water, rather than soaps and cleaners and a microfiber mop which can capture the most dust and dirt.

Use Door Mats

Place a large floor mat at every door to catch chemicals and dirt on shoes before they are tracked through the house.

Maintain a Comfortable Humidity Level

By keeping humidity around 30 to 50 percent, you can minimize the growth of dust mites and mold while preventing air from becoming too dry. With our desert air, a humidifier may be beneficial in a home office to ensure a consistent humidity level.

Don’t Smoke

Making your home a no smoking zone is essential for good indoor air quality. Cigarette smoke contains over 4,000 chemicals and is linked to higher rates of respiratory disease, cancer, heart attacks and stroke. And in this time of a pandemic, avoiding smoke is more important than ever.

Call Cool Blew

At Cool Blew, we’re experts in indoor air quality management and recommend the Air Scrubber Plus – a new system designed to help eliminate indoor air quality risks by reducing air pollutants, VOCs, cigarette smoke, dust, pollen, mold, odor-causing bacteria and odors from pets and cooking. Call us today to learn more about this system and how it can enable you to breathe easier as you work from home.

Coronavirus and your HVAC System

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You can’t turn on your TV without seeing news about the coronavirus outbreak in the United States. While plenty of people are stocking up at the local grocery stores on items like toilet paper, bread and water, there are some things we can all do at home to help minimize the spread of viruses while improving the overall quality of indoor air during cold and flu season.

One of the big questions surrounding coronavirus is how significant of a role airborne transmission plays in its spread. Currently, the general consensus is that it’s predominately spread through large droplet transfer – meaning droplets are too large to remain airborne for long. In other words, transmission is primarily happening through coughing and sneezing within a fairly close range of other people.

However, that doesn’t mean that your HVAC system can’t play a role in prevention. In fact, it can have a significant impact on keeping you healthy, so that your immune system is prepared if and when it is exposed to the virus. The following steps can help fight illness and improve your air quality.

Replace Air Filters

Air filters are a first line of defense against bacteria, viruses, pollen and other particulates that can circulate in your ductwork and indoor air. During cold and flu season, it’s always a good idea to replace your system’s filters at least once a month.

Schedule Regular Maintenance

Your HVAC system should ideally be cleaned and serviced twice a year to ensure it’s working optimally. Filters, belts, condenser and evaporator coils and other parts should be tested and cleaned. With good maintenance, dust, pollen and other airborne particles can be removed from your system to prevent air quality issues.

Clean Air Ducts

Like your air conditioner furnace or heat pump, your ventilation system also needs regular maintenance. Ductwork should be cleaned and serviced to remove dust, mold and microorganisms that can collect there.

Partner with HVAC Professionals

Your indoor air quality isn’t something to take casually now – or really any time of the year. Poor quality air can have a big impact on the health of both those with chronic conditions, as well as healthy individuals. A qualified HVAC contractor is the best choice for analyzing your system, ensuring its working effectively and keeping air quality at optimal levels.

How Your HVAC System Can Help You Tackle Seasonal Allergies

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With temperatures warming up, Arizona is in bloom. While wild flowers and leafy trees are a beatiful addition to our desert landscape, they are also shedding tremendous amounts of pollen. For allergies sufferers, this means sneezing, itchy, watery eyes, wheezing and coughing. While allergy medication can help curb symptoms of seasonal allergies, it’s important to not forget about the role your home’s HVAC system has in the air that you breathe. Depending on how you maintain your system, your symptoms could improve or be exacerbated.

Your HVAC Air Filters

Although replacing your HVAC air filters is important all year long, this easy maintenance task is especially vital during hay fever season. A clean filter serves as a first line of defense to maintain the quality of your air. Consider changing your filter at least once a month through late spring.

Filters

If you or family members suffer from significant allergy symptoms or respiratory conditions, like asthma, consider adding a HEPA filter that can remove even more of the particulates that lead to symptoms. Talk to one of our technicians about this option.

Ductwork

Your HVAC ducts can be harbors for dust and dirt over time. This means that when you turn on your air conditioner or heater, particulates are blown into the air – directly impacting the quality of your indoor air. Having ducts cleaned can significantly improve symptoms for many homeowners and their loved ones. It’s also an opportunity to determine if you have any leaks that hinder the performance of your system.

Enjoy the Spring

Here in the Valley, spring is primetime for enjoying great weather. Don’t let allergic symptoms prevent you from making the most of the season. Call Cool Blew today for a spring HVAC system tune-up and to answer your questions on how to improve your indoor air quality.

Humidity and Your Home

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Low indoor air humidity can be a challenge in the winter months for homeowners. Dry air can impact nasal passages, mucus membranes, throats, eyes and skin. It can also dry out wood, paint and other surfaces.

In ideal circumstances, indoor humidity should hover between 40 and 50 percent. Yet, keeping it at that level can be a challenge unless you’re taking steps to regulate the humidity. One option is a room humidifier. This is a small freestanding appliance that plugs into a standard outlet. They can be placed on the floor or on a table or countertop to deliver humidity directly where you’re located without wasting energy on empty spaces.

Today’s humidifiers come with a host of features including cool and warm mist, timers and features to trap contagions. They are inexpensive, portable and easy-to-use. However, they do require regular maintenance to keep them clean. Stagnant air left in a humidifier can become an ideal breeding ground for mold and bacteria.

An alternative to a room humidifier is a whole house humidifier which is an evaporative unit that is part of your HVAC system. Attached directly to your home’s ductwork, it blows vapor through the air ducts evenly throughout each room of a home. Whole house humidifiers also monitor your indoor humidity by measuring the moisture in the air and can operate either manually or automatically based on settings.

Unlike portable humidifiers, whole home humidifiers require little maintenance. There is no risk of lingering moisture so there is no way for mold or bacteria to grow. They are also highly energy efficient and quiet.

Both room humidifiers and whole house humidifiers tackle the same issue of dry air but in slightly different ways. However, both have the ability to increase your home comfort. Learn more about indoor humidity from the experts at Cool Blew.

This Spring, Declare Your Home A Pollen Free Zone

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Spring is the best time of year in the Valley of the Sun. With heavenly weather, budding trees and colorful flowers swaying in the breeze, Phoenix couldn’t be more beautiful. There is one drawback, though. The extensive winter rains have guaranteed an extra heavy onslaught of pollen. Weeds, grasses and trees are pollenating which brings hay fever along with the joys of spring. Many who suffer from wheezing and sneezing in April and May call this allergy season.

Allergies and Your Air Conditioning System

For those affected, hay fever is an agonizing condition. Symptoms include itchy, watery eyes, runny nose, congestion, sneezing and a general blah feeling that robs you of your energy. Pollen is not the only allergen floating in the air. There’s also air pollution, particulates, desert dust and if you have dogs and cats, pet dander. It all adds up to a big challenge for your air conditioning system. Once you are inside, with the doors and windows shut, your home becomes a closed system. Your air conditioning unit contains a key element to fighting the effects of allergens in the air you breathe – your AC air filters.
Here are three things you can do to get relief from hay fever once you’re inside your home:

#1 – Change Your Air Filters

As air flows through your AC system, the air filters collect pollen, dust and other particulates and then recirculate the air into your home. If your air filters are dirty or haven’t been changed for months, they fill up with dirt and dust and their effectiveness is greatly reduced. Like a vacuum cleaner with an overloaded bag, clogged air filters have nowhere to hold pollen, dander and other allergy offenders. Make sure you have new high efficiency air filters for spring, especially if you are experiencing respiratory distress.

#2 – Check for Mold

Standing water or condensation in your AC system can cause mold which will negatively impact your allergies. If you notice a faint musty smell coming from your vents, you may need to have your ducts checked. Also, extra humidity in bathrooms or the laundry room can cause mold which may show up as dark gray or black mottled streaks on the walls or tiles. Our service techs will offer advice on how to improve the proper flow of air to reduce the relative humidity in your home.

#3 – Schedule A Spring Inspection and Tune Up for Your Air Conditioner

Doctors recommend spending more time indoors during allergy season. Having a clean, fully functioning air conditioning system with newly replaced filters will insure you’re breathing pollen, dander and dust free air in your home. Why not call us today to schedule one of our experts to check your HVAC system and make sure you’re ready for the summer months ahead.

When Spring Fever Turns to Hay Fever

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Alfred Lord Tennyson once wrote, “In spring, a young man’s fancy turns to thoughts of love.” Spring fever has been an ailment lamented by poets and songwriters for centuries. However, in the Valley of the Sun, there’s a more common ailment that happens in the spring – hay fever.

Symptoms of Hay Fever

Following the cold days of winter and this year’s extended rains of March, nature’s beautiful explosion of spring growth has been magnificent in the Southwest. As Robin Williams once said, “Spring is nature’s way of saying, “Let’s party!’” The party has definitely begun, and the uninvited guests include the usual suspects – prolific pollinators such as ragweed, Russian thistle, and blooming trees (Arizona Ash, Mulberry and Juniper, to name a few) and other common Arizona allergens. Unpleasant signs of allergic rhinitis, doctor’s official moniker for hay fever, include sneezing, wheezing, watering eyes, nasal congestion and other asthma-like symptoms.

How to Achieve Pollen Free Clean Air Inside Your Home

Allergists estimate up to one-third of Arizona residents suffer to some degree or other from hay fever this time of year. Homeowners can take certain steps to lower the effects of pollen and other allergens inside their homes, including:

  • Replace Your HVAC Air Filters – Replacing air filters on a regular basis helps eliminate pollen and dust from getting into your air conditioning system in the first place. As wind-blown allergens float through the air, your HVAC air filter forms the first line of defense in safeguarding your indoor air quality (IAQ). Performing this relatively easy task, especially at the start of spring and at regular intervals throughout the year will lengthen the life of your air conditioner and improve the IAQ in your home.
  • Consider an Added Pollen and Dust Collector – For individuals with extreme allergies or respiratory conditions, high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters remove more than 99% of particles. These special HEPA filters can be added to your existing HVAC system. Our service techs will be happy to discuss the benefits of the HEPA option.
  • Schedule a Spring Tune Up – One of the best things you can do for you family’s health and for your air conditioner is to schedule a spring inspection of your entire HVAC system.

For Cleaner Air Inside Your Home, Call Us Today

Whether you are suffering from spring fever or hay fever, our staff is sympathetic to your dilemma. Call Cool Blew today so we can schedule a spring tune up, and you can breathe easier.

Indoor Air Quality – How to Assess Your Home’s IAQ

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When it comes to pollution, Phoenix seems like it would be an ideal location for clean air. With loads of sunshine, not a lot of heavy industry and plenty of wide-open spaces, the Valley of the Sun appears to be a picturesque mix of the charming old west and a trendsetting city of the future. However, on closer inspection, the air we breathe is less than perfect. In fact, data from the EPA confirms that Phoenix is among the top five smoggiest cities in the U.S. totaling over 100 days of degraded air quality per year. Only Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Atlanta have more bad days.

At Least The Air Inside My Home Is Clean, Isn’t It?

Here’s another shocker – people spend up to 90 percent of their time inside their homes, yet studies confirm that indoor air quality can often be worse than outdoor air. In fact, the EPA says indoor air quality can be two to five times worse than outdoor air quality. How can that possibly be, you might ask? In the continuing effort to increase air conditioning and heating energy efficiency, homes are being constructed with ever more effective insulation, air-tight window and door seals and more extensive caulking and weather-stripping. This means, your house is, more or less, a closed system. The air inside your home is recirculated, especially during the summer season when windows stay closed for months at a time.

How Can I Test the Air Quality in My Home?

There are many home indoor air quality monitors available. A quick Google search will produce a long list to choose from. Another air quality indicator is the condition of your air conditioning air filters, which will be checked by our service techs when you schedule a spring tune up. Here is a list of the major IAQ pollution offenders you need to be aware of:

  • Pet Dander – If you have cats or dogs, you know that pet hair and dander can cause strong allergic reactions. The love you get from your pets far outshines their contribution to your indoor air pollution. However, changing the air filters more often will help lower pet dander and particulates.
  • Volatile Organic Compounds – You may have heard the term VOCs in recent years. Construction materials, furniture, flooring, new carpeting, electronic products, cleaning solutions (and so many more household items) emit odors and compounds into the air that can be hazardous to your health. It’s obvious when you are painting your bedroom that fumes and VOCs are being released and can make you sick. Good ventilation is the key to dealing with fumes and VOCs. Speak with our service techs about the ventilation in your house.
  • Pollen and Outdoor Allergens – Spring is here, and pollen is in the air. Outdoor allergens make their way into your home when you, for instance, hold open the door to bring in groceries or deliveries. It’s unavoidable. Your air filters do their best to reduce the effects of outside allergens.

The List Is Long

Unfortunately, the list of irritants, pollutants and indoor air quality detractors is long and complicated. One of the easiest things you can do to improve your IAQ, is change your air filters more often. If you’d like to discuss your IAQ with one of our service technicians, just give us a call. We’ve been improving indoor air quality for thousands of Phoenix residents for years. Call us today.

Pollen Nation – Allergies and Your Air Conditioning System

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A surprise snowstorm and a fair amount of February rain made this one of Arizona’s wetter winters in recent years. For most of the country, the old saying, “April showers bring May flowers,” rings true. However, in Phoenix, with all the precipitation, it’s more accurate to say, “When February brings rain and snow – in March, the ragweed and pollen will blow.” Trees that normally bloom in February are raring to blossom in March. Spring is bustin’ out all over and that means airborne pollen will be affecting allergy sufferers throughout the Valley of the Sun.

Pollen and Your IAQ (Indoor Air Quality)

Indoor air quality is extremely important, especially to people with allergies and individuals living with chronic respiratory conditions such as asthma or COPD. Asthma is one of the top reasons for children missing school.

Consider this. Your AC system draws air from the outside and brings it into your home. Many homeowners are under the false impression that once inside their home, they are protected from outdoor air pollution. The fact is, when the windows and doors are closed, your home is a closed system, and the air inside is recirculated many times per day. What stands between you and the outside pollen-filled spring air is your AC system’s air filter. The cleaner your air filters, the better your IAQ. Here are a few factors affecting the quality of air inside your home:

  • Air Conditioning Air Filters – During the hot summer months, Arizonans spend more than 90 percent of their time indoors. The key to cleaner indoor air and a higher IAQ is replacing your air filters on a regular basis. Because air conditioners get such heavy use in Arizona, it’s a good idea to replace your air filters at least six times per year. When your air filters get clogged, your air conditioner ends up recirculating dirty air throughout your home.
  • Home Insulation – Newer construction techniques have greatly increased the effectiveness of insulation to protect houses against heat. Air tight, double paned windows and sealed tight door installations prevent hot desert air from getting inside your home. It’s all designed to keep your home cool. However, the downside can be recirculating air which is less than perfect if your air filters are dirty.
  • Pollen, Pets and Particulates – Pollen isn’t the only offender when it comes to allergies. Dust and other airborne particulates from desert windstorms can lower your IAQ. If you have a dog or cat, pet dander can cause serious allergic reactions. It all adds up to one simple fact – your air filters might deserve more attention than they are getting.

We’re Remedying Arizona’s Pollen-Nation One Home at a Time

Spring is here, and summer is not far off. The beauty of the desert bloom means pollen is in the air. Schedule a spring tune-up and we’ll be happy to replace your air filters and checkout your entire system, so you’ll be ready for the heat when it hits. Why not call Cool Blew today?