Category Archives: Indoor Air Quality (IAQ)

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?

Desert Dust, Asthma, Fall Allergies and Your Air Conditioner

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As the Labor Day weekend approaches, Arizona school children have been attending classes for almost a month. Along with returning to school, comes inevitable sick days. Did you know, one of the leading causes of absenteeism due to illness is asthma? On average, almost ten percent of all school children experience asthma or some form of respiratory distress during their formative years. However, children are not the only ones affected by respiratory conditions.

Arizona is home to legions of retirees, many of whom escaped to Phoenix for warmer winters and the desert climate. Unfortunately, due to dust, pollution and plenty of pollen, the air quality in Phoenix is not the best. What does that have to do with your air conditioner? Plenty! Your air conditioner filters the air you breath. Indoor air quality is crucial. Given the fact that most people spend more than 90 percent of their time indoors, properly filtered air is vital for the care and comfort of your family. Homeowners are generally on alert for allergens in springtime, but autumn presents its own set of challenges.

Autumn Ragweed and Other Allergens

The University of Arizona Health Science Allergy Advisor states that pollen and particulates from Bermuda grass, ragweed, Russian thistle, pigweed and desert broom all are of concern in the fall. These tiny particulates can irritate respiratory passages and cause problems for those who suffer from asthma. Replacing your air conditioning filters on a monthly basis is advised, especially if you have someone with a respiratory condition living in your household.

Is Phoenix the Dustiest City in America?

There’s no doubt, Phoenix is the hottest city in America. It might also be the dustiest. If you’ve been outside during a dust storm or observed monsoon coverage on TV, you’ve seen the awe-inspiring dust clouds that extend for miles across the Phoenix metroplex and hundreds of feet into the air. Tons of wind whipped desert dust flies through the air, and some of that dust makes its way into your home. As your air conditioning filter fills up with dirt and dust, the quality of your indoor air goes down. If you’ve noticed your child wheezing or coughing more than usual, it might be time for a service checkup on your AC unit.

The Air We Breathe

Though most of us are guilty of taking oxygen for granted, the air we breathe is the most important factor to a healthy life. The Survival Rule of Threes states; you can go three weeks without food, three days without water but only three minutes without air. If you or a loved one has experienced shortness of breath due to asthma or a respiratory disorder, you know how precious air can be. Most air conditioners do a great job of cooling the indoor environment throughout the scorching Arizona summer and blazing temperatures in fall. However, regular AC service calls are essential to maintaining a high-quality, dust and particulate-free indoor environment.

Clean Air and Expert Service Is Just a Phone Call Away

At Cool Blew, our experienced air conditioning professionals are experts at spotting small problems before they turn into big breakdowns. Regular maintenance is the key to enjoying excellent air quality in your home environment. Why not call us today for a fall checkup?

The Mighty Ducts – How Dirty Ducts Can Affect Your Indoor Air Quality

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An important yet invisible part of your HVAC system plays a critical role in distributing clean, cooled air to every room in your house. Your mighty ducts wind their way unseen through the walls, floors and ceilings of your domain. Most people never give them the slightest consideration. However, here’s an inconvenient truth. Dirty air ducts can negatively impact the indoor air quality (IAQ) of your home. As homeowners strive to create better, healthier environments for themselves and their children, IAQ has grown in importance. People spend over 90 percent of their lives indoors, and air ducts deliver the air they breathe.

Dust to Dust – What Is It and Where Does It Come From?

Did you ever walk into a sunlit room or turn your head at just the right moment in time to notice a shaft of golden sunlight illuminating all the particles of dust hanging in mid-air. You think to yourself, “Geez, I keep this place clean – what is all that?” Dust is comprised of many thousands of particles. A smorgasbord of potential irritants including soil dragged in from outdoors (in Arizona, desert dirt is literally blown in during monsoons and dust storms) pollen, ragweed, mold, cigarette smoke, particulate smog floating in air from automobile and gas engine exhaust, tiny threads and fibers from rugs and furniture upholstery, indoor pollutants from household activities like cooking and using cleaning products, pet dander and let’s not forget, a fair amount of your dead, exfoliated skin! A typical household can generate up to 40 pounds of dust per year.

Having Your Ducts in a Row

All that dust in your home is circulated through your air conditioning system and carried from room to room by your air ducts. In a perfect world, air filters would be changed routinely. Dust and allergens would be, for the most part, eliminated. And, your air ducts would remain clean, aligned and relatively airtight. Unfortunately, as all homeowners know, stuff happens. Over the course of years, dust and dirt will build up inside air ducts. Sometimes filters don’t get replaced in a timely manner. Air ducts can get damaged due to remodeling, or a house settling. Leaks from the roof can introduce water into your air duct system. We’ve even heard of less-than-knowledgeable contractors moving ducts in order to deal with a problem in the ceiling rafters or behind a wall and simply forgetting to reconnect the duct and put it back in place correctly.

At the end of the day (or thousands of days – some systems haven’t been checked in years) your duct system is probably the most forgotten and ignored place in your home, even though it delivers precious air throughout the house.

Schedule a Duct Walk Through Your Home with One of Our Experts

Clean, cool indoor air is a high priority and a gift you can give to your family. Call the pros at Cool Blew, and we’ll perform a thorough duct and HVAC system inspection. The air you breathe should be as clean as can be. We can help you achieve that goal.

Should I Get Rid of My Exhaust Fans?

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Exhaust fans may seem like a rather outdated bit of technology, given the fact that so many high-tech gadgets are appearing all the time for use in the home, but in truth these simple devices still serve a very useful purpose in the home, and especially in bathrooms. Most new homes come with the exhaust fans already installed, but surprisingly they are not always as effective as they could be. Here are some of the common functions that exhaust fans are intended to perform, and if you feel that your fans are not living up to these standard functions, you should probably shop around for some more effective exhaust fans, because they really can be a benefit to all concerned.

Moisture removal

The most obvious purpose of a bathroom exhaust fan is of course to remove moisture from the air, and this can be a major function because all the occupants of your home are showering and taking baths daily, which can lead to the retention of high levels of moisture in the room. If that moisture is allowed to collect and stay in place, it can easily lead to the growth of mold and mildew, which would then become a health hazard for household residents.
Management of odors

Another primary function of bathroom exhaust fans is the elimination of unappealing odors in the room. A well-maintained bathroom exhaust fan extracts these odors, and conducts them out of the room so that subsequent users are not offended by unpleasant air quality. In a household of numerous occupants, this can be a fairly significant issue, especially if everyone has to use the same bathroom.

Fume control

Ironically, actions taken to maintain cleanliness and health in the bathroom can actually lead to problems. For instance, many cleaning agents are comprised of fairly aggressive chemicals, and these can become a health problem when inhaled, particularly for people who already have respiratory issues. It can also significantly impact young children and elderly residents of the home. An exhaust fan can be a big help with eliminating chemical odors that might otherwise lead to health issues in the home

It’s there, but is it used?

From the above, it’s easy to see that bathroom exhaust fans provide a really useful service to household residents, and should be used appropriately to overcome the common issues they are intended to. In many cases however, people are reluctant to use bathroom exhaust fans because they’re loud or noisy, and they don’t want to be disturbed by them.

If this is the case in your home, you should have your bathroom exhaust fans checked by a reputable service technician, because there’s a good chance it simply wasn’t installed correctly, and is not functioning up to manufacturer specifications. Homeowners in the area of Scottsdale, Peoria, Sun City, Surprise, or Glendale are fortunate, in that you have access to the expert HVAC professionals at Cool Blew Inc.

Keeping You and Your Four-legged Friends Cozy

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If you live anywhere around the region which includes Peoria, Scottsdale, Phoenix, Sun City, or Surprise, you’ll know that keeping your air condition in great running shape is very important for your comfort and for the quality of the air you breathe indoors. But have you ever thought about how it affects your cat or dog? Your pet is breathing the same air that you are, and it is affected in much the same way by the indoor air quality of your home. When your air conditioner or your furnace is not performing at peak efficiency, your four-legged friends are suffering just like you are.

Poor indoor air quality

When air is not being conditioned properly inside your home, it can lead to some serious respiratory issues, or even some cardiovascular problems, both of which can affect humans and pets. Air quality can easily be degraded by cooking fumes, mildew, cleaning products, and cigarette smoke, all of which can be harmful to your pets and yourself. For both your own well-being and for the safety of your feline/canine friends, healthy air quality needs to be maintained.

Simple enhancements

There are some very simple things you can do to improve air quality in the home, the first of which should be regularly cleaning your reusable filters, or discarding dirty filters which are not reusable. When you have pets in your home, filters are almost certain to attract animal hair, along with all the other pollutants it extracts, such as pollen, dirt, mold, and bacteria. No smoking should be allowed indoors at all, because smoke-laden air will be breathed in by everyone in the home, including pets.

If there are any cracks or gaps in the structure of your home, they could allow external contaminants inside, so these should be filled in somehow to prevent penetration by sources of contamination. It would also be a good idea to regularly groom your pets, because if they’ve been outside at all, they can easily bring in pollutants.

Air quality solutions

Beyond the simpler enhancements that you can do without incurring expense, you can also invest in the improvement of air quality by installing air purifiers, humidifiers, ventilation systems, and even ultraviolet lamps. All of these can enhance air quality in their own way, and should be considered as potential solutions depending on the specific shortcoming of your air quality. Having your ductwork cleaned at least once a year will also remove a great deal of debris and pollutants from your home’s air circulation network, and it will also improve air flow in general.

Call the professionals

To be sure that the air quality of your home is healthy enough for you and your pets, call the experts at Cool Blew Inc. and schedule an evaluation of your air quality. If any steps need to be taken to improve it, your HVAC specialists are sufficiently knowledgeable and experienced to make just the right recommendations for your home.

Indoor Air Quality Attracts Quality Tenants

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When you’re trying to attract quality tenants to your rental property or apartment complex, there are a great many things you can do to make it appealing to potential tenants. For instance, you can make use of all available channels for advertising, so that you can reach a wide audience, after which you would screen for the most suitable clients.

One component of this advertising should be to make the exterior landscape surrounding the rental unit as appealing as possible, because anyone casually driving by would then acquire a great first impression of the property. When you’re conducting tours through rental units, the first thing prospective tenants will see is the surrounding landscape, and how well it’s maintained.

You might be surprised to learn that another very effective way of attracting quality tenants is by ensuring that breathable air in the living spaces of rental units is a benefit to them, made possible by your conscientious upkeep of HVAC systems within the units. In the region which includes Glendale, Peoria, Scottsdale, Surprise, Phoenix, and Sun City, you can ensure that the HVAC systems in your rental units are operating at peak efficiency by having regular maintenance performed by the professionals at Cool Blew Inc.

Keeping up repairs and maintenance

Good tenants quickly become disillusioned with management or landlords when equipment and appliances provided in rental units are not kept up to snuff, thereby diminishing the comfort of residents, and instead becoming a source of irritation. This is particularly true of HVAC units, which have a direct bearing on the comfort of everyone inside, as it relates to indoor air quality.

In order to be really comfortable, residents must be provided with well-conditioned air appropriate to the season, with indoor air quality which is constantly filtered and kept fresh, and free of contaminants. This is of particular concern to people who have respiratory issues to begin with, but in truth it affects everyone, regardless of their health status.

Emphasize benefits

Many landlords and property managers make the mistake of overlooking benefits while promoting the features which a rental unit may have, for instance a ‘new refrigerator’ or a ‘third-floor location’. By themselves, these announcements don’t mean much, and they are not as appealing as they might be to a prospective tenant.

However, by listing the benefits instead of the features, they can be made much more attractive. In the two cases mentioned above, they could be modified to say ‘highly efficient, low energy cost refrigeration unit’, and ‘outstanding upper-level apartment with a great view of the surrounding area’. In the same way, announcing to tenants that a furnace or air conditioner is new doesn’t evoke much in the way of appeal. Far better would be to say a ‘modern, energy-efficient air-conditioner capable of maintaining fresh, contaminant-free indoor air, promoting good health for all residents’.

Is Your Air Conditioner Making You Sick?

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Is Your Air Conditioner Making You SickHow could an air conditioner possibly contribute to respiratory illness? Can being in a building with a running air conditioner really give you a cold? Does exposure to cold air make you more susceptible to a respiratory infection?

The answers to those questions are more complex than just a simple yes or no.

Let’s learn more about the link between air conditioners and illness. Continue reading

Energy Efficiency Tips For Your HVAC System

Energy Efficiency Tips For Your HVAC System-Cool Blew Inc.Homeowners everywhere are looking for effective ways to save money. One of the biggest line items in any household budget is the energy required to run major home appliances, including the heating and cooling system.

Following these energy efficiency tips will not only save you money on your monthly gas and electric bills but also extend the life expectancy of your system and all its components. Continue reading