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House Plants that Provide Cleaner Air

It probably sounds a little crazy, but at least in one important way, you’re better off living in an old, drafty house than one that’s sealed up tight as a button.

Why?  Because airtight buildings typically have poor or little circulation of fresh air, and that’s not good since, on average, indoor air as twice as polluted as outdoor air. Tightly sealed, well insulated buildings gave rise to the term “Sick Building Syndrome,” and yet airtight homes can make you just as sick as a well-sealed office building or industrial facility.

How do you know if you have an indoor air quality problem?  These are the usual warning signs:

  • Frequent headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Chronic achiness
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Shortness of breath
  • Tightness in your chest
  • Eye and throat irritation
  • Blocked or runny nose
  • Onset or worsening of allergy and asthma symptoms

One way to overcome the effects of poor air circulation is surround yourself with certain varieties of house plants, each one known for its ability to rid the air of bacteria and other toxins, including:  formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, and benzene.

Many people, for example, place Aloe Vera plants on their window sills for their soothing and healing properties. Here’s a whole list of house plants capable of trapping airborne pollutants and driving them down into their soil, thus helping to nourish the plants. 

  • Arrowhead Vine
  • Boston Fern
  • Chinese Evergreen
  • Croton
  • Dracaena
  • Peace Lily
  • Philodendron
  • Pothos
  • Spider Plant

At Air Professionals, we offer highly effective solutions for cleaner indoor air, including whole-house air purifiers and humidity control systems. To learn more about how to rid your home of whatever’s making you sick, contact Air Professionals today.

How to Reduce Your Air Conditioning Costs

Have you ever had a “Doh!” moment when the answer to a question you’ve just asked is so obvious, you wonder why you bothered asking it? Well, what if you were to ask a roomful of friends: “So, any ideas on how I can cut my monthly AC electricity costs?” When, no sooner are those words out of your mouth, someone answers: “Try using it less.”

Come on, admit it: probably not the answer or advice you were looking for, but a good one nonetheless. Especially since there are umpteen ways to reduce your AC costs that way without feeling all hot and miserable as a direct consequence of your desire to save a few bucks.

Here are a few you can try at home: 

  • Attic fan. Once upon a time, these were very popular, but nowadays, not so much. But they should be because one in your home can help you sleep like a baby without the AC running all night. All that’s required is for the outdoor temperature to be the same or cooler than your indoor air before turning off the AC and turning on the fan. And here in the Northeast, that happens more often than not, even during the summer. 
  • Create a Wind Tunnel: Place one fan facing inward by an open window, and a second fan at an opposite window facing outward. This creates a wind tunnel effect that constantly moves fresh air through the house and pumps stale hot air out.
  • Take a cool shower: Moisture, like wind, creates a perception of cooling and helps dissipate body heat. One way to cool off with moisture is a cool shower. You also can apply a cold compress to your wrists, arms, head, ankles and other body pulse points; this method will cool down your entire body.
  • Keep Cool Air Indoors: Once the last person leaves the house for the day, have them make sure all windows are closed, curtains drawn, and no unnecessary heat-generating appliances running to keep as much cool air as possible indoors.
  • Keep Heat Away from Your Thermostats: You don’t want any heat-generating  device, including lamps and appliances, near your thermostats. Otherwise, your AC will work longer and harder than it must to achieve the desired temperature setting. 
  • Close Off Rooms That Are Not in Use: Don’t even try to cool rooms that you don’t use. Keeping those doors closed reduces the amount of space to be cooled, thus easing the task for your AC system and saving you even more energy bucks.
  • Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate. Drink plenty of fluids during the summer months to help lower your core body temperature.

Of course, reducing your dependency on your AC system doesn’t mean stop using it completely. It’s there for all those times you just want that sensation of cool, clean air washing over you, all throughout your house. To help ensure your AC system is up to that challenge, contact Air Professionals today to schedule our preventative maintenance service. Or, if you have a repair issue you want diagnosed and fixed as needed, once again we’re the only company you need to call.     

Why Freon is Hard to Get at Any Price

f you recently had your air conditioning system checked out and it needed a charge of Freon (also known as R22 refrigerant), you might have heard yourself gasp over the price.  And that’s assuming your AC service provider even had any Freon in stock.

The Clean Air Act of 1990 formulated a plan to phase out R22 refrigerant by the year 2020 due to its harmful effects on our environment. Both the production of R22 and its release into the atmosphere cause damage to the ozone layer. But soon that problem will eliminated, and here’s how:

  • All central AC systems manufactured from 2010 and beyond come equipped with R-410A refrigerant which is environmentally safe. 
  • Freon is no longer being manufactured and, starting in 2020, will no longer be available even for recharging older systems.
  • In the meantime, the remaining supply of Freon is rapidly dwindling while the price has skyrocketed, and continues to do so.

To avoid paying an exorbitant amount for a Freon charge, our best advice is to replace your Freon-consuming system now while you can still do so on your terms. If you wait too long, and there’s no Freon to be had, you’re likely to make a hasty decision on a replacement system and end up paying more than you need to.

Today, we encourage you to contact Air Professionals with any questions you may have on the availability and price cost of Freon. We’ll also be happy to provide you with a free estimate on a replacement AC system for your home, one that will come equipped with the environmentally R-410A refrigerant alternative.

How to Make the Most of Spring Cleaning

There are four kinds of people in the world:

  • Those who hate spring cleaning but do it anyway
  • Those who hate spring cleaning but hire someone else to do it for them
  • Those who love spring cleaning (the world needs more of you!)
  • Those who love or hate spring cleaning, but somehow manage to skip it

Which group you fall into isn’t the point of this blog, because there’s one trait all four have in common:  no one denies the value of a good, thorough, whole-house cleaning, no matter what time of year it might get done. But while you’re busy shooing the dust bunnies out from under your couch and making your windows sparkle, don’t forget the unseen – and often ignored – areas of your home that could also use a good cleaning this season.

Inside Dryer and Dryer Vent – Did you know that lint build-up inside dryer cabinets is responsible for over 15,000 fires each year? To prevent becoming part of this statistic, check the exhaust vent and the inside of the cabinet on a regular basis and clean as needed.

Dishwasher – You might think your dishwasher cleans itself with every cycle. But over time, small bits of food often find their way into all those little crevices. Over time, they cause unpleasant odors and make it harder to get your dishes as clean as you like them to be. Remove the racks and utensil caddy and scrub the inside with an old toothbrush or small, soft bristle brush.

Garbage Disposal – If your kitchen sink is smelling a little funky, it could be your garbage disposal. Use an old tooth brush to scrape off food waste that may have gotten trapped under the splash guard.

Exhaust Fan Grill – You may not even notice it’s dirty, but dust, humidity, and moisture can cake your exhaust fan grill with debris. Remove the grill and soak in warm soapy water, and then let it dry completely before replacing it.

Outdoor Lights – Exposed to the elements all year long, your outdoor light fixtures can get pretty grimy. Plus the heat they give off provides an ideal environment for pest nests. Inspect them at least once a year and clean off any debris as needed.

Garage Floor – Whether you use it to park your car or your kid’s ride-on toys, your garage floor gets dirty fast and often. Give it a good sweeping and then wash it to remove dirt, rocks, salt, and more.

Here’s a spring cleaning job that’s a must for anyone who wants to enjoy all the comforts of home during the summer:  contact Air Professionals to have your AC system cleaned and inspected. Think of it as preventative maintenance to help keep your system in top working order while paying less to cool your home.

Duct Sealing Provides Cleaner Indoor Air

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the average home loses 10-30% of its forced air through the cracks, holes, or gaps in the duct work. That leads to a loss of comfort, problems with your indoor air quality, added wear and tear on your furnace and AC system, and higher utility bills.

Duct leaks allow pollutants such as fumes, chemical particles, dust, and mold spores to enter your living spaces and, ultimately, your lungs. That spells added misery for allergy and asthma sufferers and could even lead to the onset of upper respiratory problems.   

What’s more, combustion gases like carbon monoxide – typically released from clothes dryers, water heaters, and furnaces – can be back-drafted through cracks or holes in ducts and pushed back into your home.  And there’s nothing good about that, either. 

How can you tell if your ducts have been compromised without climbing into your attic and inspecting them?  Here are some of the more common symptoms: 

  • Stuffy, uncomfortable rooms.
  • Rooms that are hard to keep cool or warm.
  • Sudden onset of respiratory issues.
  • Unusually high heating/cooling bills.
  • Excessive amounts of dust in the air or on household surfaces.

If you’re experiencing one or more of these symptoms, and you’re the handy type, inspect your ductwork and use duct tape or a sealant to close any cracks or pinhole leaks.  If the problems persist or you want someone to inspect them for you, contact the indoor air quality specialists at Air Professionals and we’ll inspect them for you. If we find that repair work is needed, we’ll give you on-the-spot quote and get the work done with your approval.    

How to Improve Your Indoor Air Quality

When we talk about air pollution here in the Tri-State area, we tend to rail on about vehicle emissions, smog, ozone depletion, and so on. You know, that the problem is confined to outdoors.  But did you know that the air quality inside your home or office can be far worse – 2 – 10 times more polluted than outdoor air, on average?

There are several causes of indoor air pollution. Homes are being built “tighter” now than they were 30 years ago, mainly for greater energy efficiency. The downside is that tightly sealed homes don’t allow indoor air pollutants to escape. Pollutants such as dust, radon, formaldehyde, lead, and countless others are being trapped indoors and then circulated from room to room by the air blowing from your ducts, radiators, and baseboard units.   

While there are several professional air cleaning solutions worth delving into, there’s also quite a bit you can do yourself to clean up your indoor air.   

  1. Control the amount of humidity – Mold, dust mites, and other allergens thrive in humid air. Running an exhaust fan while cooking, using the dish washer, or taking a bath or shower helps keep humidity levels under control. So does making sure your dryer is properly vented outdoors and that no moist air is escaping into your laundry room.  For your basement or other lower areas of your home, a room dehumidifier can also help keep air moisture to a minimum.  
  1. Clean naturally – The chemicals used to make household fragrances could be making you sick. Synthetic fragrances, like those in dryer sheets, laundry detergent, air fresheners, and household cleaners emit dangerous volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air. To limit your exposure, choose milder scent-free products or make your own green cleaners. A little olive oil and fresh lemon juice will polish your hard wood furniture just as well as the name brand polishes. Equal parts water and vinegar will leave your glass, windows and mirrors sparkling. Replace those dryer sheets with wool dryer balls to soften laundry, and reduce dryer time.
  1. Show off your green thumb – According to NASA, many common indoor plants can remove allergens and chemicals from the air. Chrysanthemums are effective at removing benzene, for example, which is commonly found in plastics, paint, and detergent. Aloe Vera filters out benzene and formaldehyde, often found in chemical-based cleaners. The graceful peace lily combats three of the most common VOCs: formaldehyde, benzene and trichloroethylene.

Not content with self-help remedies? Then contact Air Professionals to learn more about our whole-house indoor air solutions, including air purifiers and humidity control system.

The Health Benefits of Gardening

It’s that time of year when, for many, thoughts turn to getting busy and dirty in the garden.  What to plant, how much, when to start, what to use for fertilizer, and all the rest.

If the home gardening bug has been slow to bite you, but it’s at least starting to nibble at or in your ear, we’re here to tell you that among its many other benefits, gardening is great exercise. And that means it’s good for your health.  Here’s evidence to support that claim from Gardeninggonewild.com.

  1. Gardening can reduce your risk of stroke as reported in “Stroke: Journal of The American Heart Association”.
  2. Gardening burns calories. Gardening is considered moderate to high-intensity exercise that enables you to burn up to 330 calories from an hour’s worth of light to moderate work.
  3. Heavy gardening helps keep your weight down reduces the risk of heart disease. Just 30 minutes of moderate-level physical activity a few times a week can prevent and control high blood pressure.
  4. Gardening decreases the likelihood of osteoporosis. When you dig, plant, weed, and perform repetitive tasks that require strength and stretching, your major muscle groups are all getting a good work out.
  5. Gardening is a stress buster. In a study in the Netherlands (as reported by CNN), two groups of students were told to either read indoors or garden for thirty minutes AFTER completing a stressful task. The group that gardened reported being in a better mood than the group that read. And they also exhibited lower levels of cortisol, the stress hormone.
  6. Being surrounded by flowers improves one’s health. In behavioral research conducted at Rutgers University, flowers were shown to be a natural and healthful moderator of moods while increasing levels of happiness, improving one’s mood, and helping to forge more intimate interpersonal connections.
  7. Gardening strengthens your immune system. While you’re outdoors basking in the sun, you’ll also soak up plenty of vitamin D, which helps the body absorb calcium. In turn, calcium helps keep your bones strong and your immune system healthy.

All that, and, depending on what exactly you grow, a season’s worth of fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs to boot! So while you consider how and when to make gardening a part of your life, now’s also a great time to contact Air Professionals to have your air conditioning system thoroughly cleaned and inspected.  Coming back inside to perfectly comfortable temperatures will help you feel even better about exercising, whether from gardening or any other means.

How to Rid Your House of Dust

No matter how often you clean, the dust never seems to go away.  Or at least that’s how many of  our customers feel. We know, because the keep asking us what can be done about it.  Well, did you know that some of your daily habits could be adding dust to the air and all kinds of surfaces inside your home? 

Here are 7 bad habits to vanquish at once so you can start winning the war against excess dust!

  1. Dirty filters – A clean HVAC filter not only boosts the efficiency of your heating or cooling system, it also helps keep allergens, dust, and other particles from entering your living space. So be sure to clean or change those filters once a month for a cleaner, healthier home.
  1. Neglected bedding – Keep dust and dust mites at bay by washing and drying your sheets and mattress cover weekly. Invest in dust-mite proof pillow and mattress covers and vacuum your mattress regularly.
  1. Cluttered shelves – The more books and knickknacks you collect, the more dust they collect. Consider reducing your collection or displaying it or them in glass door cabinets where less dust gathers.
  1. Fuzzy floor coverings – If you just can’t part with that feeling of something warm and soft under your feet, be sure to choose carpeting and area rugs that have a shorter, tighter weave and pile. Vacuum regularly and take rugs outside for a good shake to get rid of even more dirt and dust.
  1. Dingy dust rags – Pick up more dust than ever before with microfiber cleaning cloths. They’re cheap, washable, and great at grabbing more than your old feather duster or t-shirt rag ever could.
  1. Wearing shoes inside – One of the easiest ways to reduce dust is by taking your shoes off before entering your home. Place a basket or rack near every entrance to give visitors a place to drop their shoes, too.
  1. Dry indoor air – Dust and static go together like peanut butter and jelly. Help break up the love affair by making sure your home has a sufficient amount of humidity in the air (ideally between 30% and 50 %).

Here at Air Professionals, we offer several highly effective means to help make your home as dust-free as possible. First, by installing a whole-house humidifier, we can effectively reduce the amount of static electricity inside your home which, in turn, attracts dust like a magnet does paper clips. We can also remove dust and a host of other indoor pollutants from the air by installing a whole-house air filtration system.  The system is installed inside your ductwork where it traps particulates like dust before they can ever reach your living spaces.

For more information or a free-in home air quality analysis and proposal, contact Air Professionals today.

How to Weather Strip Your Door

When cold air is pouring in from around your doors, your weather stripping has passed its point of usefulness – assuming, of course, the door had weather stripping in the first place. Either way, the goal is to stop the cold air from entering while preventing heat from simultaneously escaping outdoors.

Ready to tackle the job yourself but feel like you could benefit from a few pointers?  Well, here they are from your friends at Air Professionals:   

Know your options

Start by looking at the door frame to see what kind of weather stripping was used before, if any.  Also, measure the space between the frame and door.  Then head to the hardware store to try to match the material or ask an associate for assistance.  The two basic types are foam and tube stripping, the latter designed to fill in larger gaps. 

Prepare the surface

Start by removing old weather stripping with a knife or razor blade. Next, clean away leftover adhesive, oil, and dirt with a warm, soapy washcloth. This will allow the new weather stripping to fully adhere and form the kind of tight seal you want to keep your heat indoors.

Attach the weather stripping

Weather stripping comes in rolls – one side of the material being sticky to create a lasting seal between the strip and door frame. Apply the sticky side to the door frame and use scissors to cut off any excess material, taking care to cover the entire door frame surface area. Once you’ve finished applying the material to the top and sides of the door frame, close the door and double check that all the gaps are filled and that the door closes properly.

Making adjustments

While double checking the gaps, you may find that some spaces aren’t filled in all the way with the new weather stripping. One possible solution is adding a second layer in those spots only.  Conversely, other areas may be so tight you can’t properly shut your door.  In that instance, you can replace only as much of the stripping as necessary with the same but thinner version of your material.     

Still, what happens if all entry and exit doors are properly weather stripped but you’re still not feeling all that warm and cozy?  That’s when it’s time to call Air Professionals for a heating system cleaning and inspection.  Very often, that’s all it takes to get your system back up to top operating efficiency.  But if we do uncover a repair issue, better to resolve it now before things get any worse.  Contact Air Professionals today for the prompt and reliable home heating service we know you expect and value.  

Tips for More Effective Winter Pet Care

There’s nothing like spending a beautiful winter afternoon dashing through the snow with your pet dog. But the increasingly cold weather warrants an abundance of precaution – for you and your pets.  

Here are a few tried and true ways to help keep them safe:  

Home Sweet Home

During extremely cold weather, the safest place for your pet is indoors. Outdoor pets can get lost, become exposed to disease, and even freeze to death. If you do let your dog or cat out during inclement weather, keep it short and sweet. And remember, if it’s too cold for you to stay out, it’s too cold for them, too.

Bundle Up

Just as you protect yourself from the elements with a warm coat, hat, boots, and gloves, your dog needs a little extra protection, too, especially short-haired breeds and older dogs.  While his fur provides some warmth, a coat, sweater, or booties would make him much more comfortable on those sub-freezing days.

Potty Break

When it’s raining, snowing, or especially cold out, your dog might resist heeding nature’s call outdoors – and understandably so. Make them more comfortable by outfitting them with a rain jacket or simply holding an umbrella over them while they take care of business.

Stow-Away Guests

When the temperature drops, outdoor cats will look to take shelter anywhere that’s warm and dry, including behind your car tires and even under the hood. Before getting in your car, bang on the hood a few times to give any strays a wake-up call and chance to escape.

Dry Off

While playing outdoors, cats and dogs can pick up salt, anti-freeze, and other dangerous chemicals on their paws, legs, and bellies.  To prevent them from ingesting any of these poisons, dry them thoroughly and check the pads on their paws for bleeding, cracking, or irritation.

And now a word or two on how to take great care of your family and pets indoors this winter.  First, if it’s been a year or longer since your heating system was last cleaned and inspected, you could have a problem waiting to happen.  To prevent that, simply contact Air Professionals to request our heating preventative maintenance service.  Next, you’ll be glad to know we offer 24/7 emergency repairs should you encounter any loss of heat this winter.  No matter what the day or time, we’re on call for just such emergencies throughout our service areas in New York State and Connecticut.