Improving Your Home’s Air Quality Doesn’t Have To Be A Chore

Improving Your Home's Air Quality

Tis the season for hayrides, pumpkin patches, cozy sweaters, and, although less pleasant, allergens. Allergens and pollutants hit their stride in winter; nearly everyone is prone to at least some exposure, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t things we can do to stay ahead. Taking steps to improving your home’s air quality will work wonders in restoring health and creating a pleasant atmosphere for your family and friends.

Ready for fall? Find a contractor here so you can schedule an inspection!

 

Clean House

Cleaning your whole house in one day is probably not the way you want to spend a Saturday. If it is, no one’s stopping you. But, just in case it’s not, remember: Rome wasn’t built in a day. Cleaning one floor or one room per day will help you stay on track and mitigate allergens. You’ll be able to spend more dedicated time on making sure no stone is left unturned, thoroughly vacuuming, mopping, and dusting in the nooks and crannies you normally gloss over in your hurried daily routine. Cleaning dirt, dust, and allergens out of your home is essential to breathing in clean air that is healthy for your respiratory system. To minimize the accumulation of dust, consider more high tech options. Electronic whole house air cleaners and ultraviolet light can help maintain a clean environment. I Want SMART can help provide whole house solutions while maintaining clean air and maybe even saving a Saturday or two.

Humidify

In the colder temperatures of the fall and winter, the air becomes dry with less moisture in the air. Moist membranes line our respiratory system – including the nose and throat – that catch dirt, dust, and different virus bacterium before they make contact with our lungs. Very dry air can lead to a number of uncomfortable side effects: aggravated throat and nose, itchy or flaky skin, tight joints, and even added creaks in your wood floors from improper moisture levels.

Humidity helps block allergens from sensitive areas of our lungs. Purchasing a humidifier will help alleviate irritation so your family can breathe easier and fight infection better. Many humidifiers are now equipped with sensors that will, in essence, control the output depending on the outdoor temperature and moisture level. No more running down to the basement to adjust for condensation on the windows!

Filter It Out

Over time, potentially harmful allergens and particles can build up in your ducts, making it harder for your air filter to do its job of delivering clean air. Getting your ducts in a row and switching out your filter ensures that clean air is entering your home effectively. Clean filters also cut down on the overall cost of running your HVAC equipment by avoiding costly repairs.

Be Green

Most people assume what we mean by ‘going green’ is to install a higher-efficiency HVAC system in your home to circulate quality air at an overall lower cost. While this is certainly a good idea, we mean “green” in a more literal sense: plants. Plants naturally convert carbon dioxide into oxygen, providing us with the air we need to survive. Energy-conscious consumers can fill their home with plants to purify the air in an efficient way.

Need help preparing your home for the winter season? Get SMART – contact us today!
New HVAC Old Home

Factors to Consider When Installing New HVAC in an Old Home

Gentrification is on the upswing: forgotten neighborhoods are reviving and young couples are putting down their phones to pick up hammers and restore beauty in dilapidated homes. The spring and summer real estate market will also begin to pick up as the weather gets nicer (hopefully). If this applies to you, let’s talk air conditioning.

Installing a new air conditioner in an older home poses some unique challenges. Antique homes normally don’t have convenient places for an HVAC system, which could turn your summer project into a sweatbox. Here are some things to think about before jumping into air conditioner commitment.

Pick the right contractor

Signing on an honest, fair contractor is key to staying on budget and getting the job done right the first time. The contractor is responsible for determining the size of your unit, explaining your options and installing the unit. I Want SMART’s expert contractors are a certified, dynamic group of technicians that has extensive education in the field. They will walk you through the process and give you common sense solutions that come from years in the industry.

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Explore your options

Creating room for bulky ductwork means you might have to compromise on traditional elements of the house that made you fall in love with it in the first place (like crown molding, wainscoting or wood floors). Ask your contractor about HVAC systems that would fulfill your basic needs. They are out there: a ductless-split system could cool and heat those areas. Instead of conventional systems that require ducting throughout the house, much smaller refrigeration lines are routed through your house and connected to individual cassettes in each room. It would require creative cutting and patching on other surfaces of your home, but it would be an economical way to cool your home while maintaining its integrity.  

Make sure it’s the right fit

Choosing the right sized unit is essential. A unit that’s too big or small could cause loud noises, frequent breakdowns, and inconsistent temperatures in each room of the house. No, bigger is not always better: a bigger unit will not overcompensate for a unit that fits your house perfectly. Oversized units cycle on and off more often, which uses more energy and ends up costing more in maintenance.

Make sure your contractor is certified and knows industry standard calculations for your home. No two houses are alike, and although the style might be similar to a house down the street, you have no idea what lies underneath the floorboards or in the attic.

Know the power of your house

Anytime energy is mentioned, you should hear electricity. Your old house could only be equipped with enough energy to turn on some minor lights and appliances. Take a minute to consider your home’s electrical panel and if it needs an update to accommodate for the energy your new HVAC system will use. If it does need a service upgrade, an electrician needs to replace it before the HVAC goes in. Visit our HVAC FAQs to answer more of your questions.

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Energy-Saving Tips for Summer

Energy-Saving Tips for Summer

Summer is right around the corner, which means we’ll be cranking up the AC for fast heat relief. It’s also a good time to try to save energy. I Want SMART has some green solutions that will also save you a lot of green this summer.

HOW CAN I SAVE ENERGY THIS SUMMER?

Use your thermostat efficiently

When you’re at home, set your thermostat as high as you can without feeling uncomfortable – 78° is generally recommended. Minimizing the difference between indoor and outdoor temperatures uses less energy, lowering your overall bill. The same goes for when you leave on vacation: keep your house warmer than normal so you don’t experience a spike in your bill for the time you’re away.

After returning home, it’s not unusual to want a cool home fast, but setting your thermostat colder than normal does not cool your home any faster, and it might actually drive up energy expenses. Closing all doors to rooms that trap heat and turning on your ceiling fan will actually allow you to raise the thermostat and increase cooling efficiency.

Maintain your AC system

Schedule a maintenance check for your AC unit to ensure it’s still effective and meets standards. Especially for an outdoor unit, making sure your system is weatherproofed and the registers/cooling fins are clear of dirt, dust, dandelions, and other debris is necessary to enhance the life of your machine and improve air flow. There are also some things only a professional can do, such as checking the coolant level.

Additional tip: placing lamps or TV’s near your thermostat causes misreadings because the thermostat senses heat, signaling your AC system to run longer than needed. Clear the path around your thermostat for the most accurate reading.

Avoid heating your home with other appliances

On particularly hot days, try not to overload on activities that use a lot of heat. These include running a computer, dishwasher, or using gadgets like curling irons and hair dryers. Instead of using your oven, plan on grilling outside, cooking on the stovetop, or breaking out a microwavable meal.

After a long day of working or exercising in the sun, it’s tempting to either wash smaller loads to get rid of sweat stains at first sight or take longer showers to clean off. Using as little water as possible – in the form of shorter showers and consistently full loads of laundry – is a sure way to save energy and as much hot water as possible, relieving your water heater as well.

Not sure what the ‘SMART’ move is? Let us help.

Source: The US Department of Energy

Take control of moisture and humidity indoors

Take Control of Moisture and Humidity Indoors

You know what they say… too much of anything is a bad thing. This saying particularly applies to the amount of moisture and humidity that you have inside your home. With so many other household chores, who has time to worry about a few water droplets? In reality, all that moisture and water can cause some major issues to start forming in your house, which are not cheap to resolve.

What are the major things I need to focus on to control the moisture levels in my home?

Attic and basement ventilation

Ah, the forgotten attic and basement strike again. It’s so easy to forget about rooms in which you are not spending a lot of time. However, since basements are partially or fully underground, they harbor a lot of moisture. Attics, on the other hand, are famous for having a lack of ventilation and heightened climate conditions. If it is hot outside, it is probably scorching in your attic, and if it’s cold out, you can guess that it is near freezing up there. This causes condensation to form that can rot wood and grow mold.  

This is why having an HVAC professional inspect the ventilation quality of your home is so valuable. A consultation appointment could save you from a black mold issue or replace rotting windows in your house, far before their expiration date. Proper ventilation throughout your entire home, in the seen and unseen areas, ensures clean and comfortable air all year long.

Water drainage

Have you cleaned out your gutters lately? It is important to make sure that the water running through your gutters is going in the right direction. If there is a blockage somewhere in your gutters, you are risking that water pooling near the foundation of your house instead of moving away from it. What does this mean for you? Every house has little cracks and imperfections where water or moisture can seep through into the foundation of your house. Bad news. 

Kitchen

Cover those pots and pans when you’re cooking if you can help it. Anything cooking on the stove that contains liquid spreads additional moisture throughout the air. To be on the safe side, it is best to flip on the vent over the stove to help remove some of the grease and moisture from the kitchen. We recommend choosing an EPA certified product if you are looking for an efficient ventilation option.  

Bathroom

Who doesn’t love a nice hot shower? The answer is your bathroom ceiling and wall paint. All that added moisture from your shower can cause paint to peel, mold to grow and bathroom ceilings to take on water damage. Again, this goes back to proper ventilation for every room in your house. If you don’t have a bathroom fan installed in your ceiling, now is the time to get one. A functioning bathroom fan can limit the amount of moisture in your bathroom and prevent water damage from taking over.  

Need more information your heating, cooling, and ventilation needs?

At I Want SMART, we connect you with the best HVAC professionals to meet your needs. Contact us to find out how we can help you get started on your next project today.

Spring Cleaning Checklist for Your AC Unit

Spring Cleaning Checklist for Your AC Unit

When the weather starts to warm up and the snow is melting, it’s time to jump into spring cleaning. Dusting, organizing, washing the couch covers, cleaning the floors, and cleaning out the garage are normally some the first items on the list. While you are outside washing your windows, you may realize you never thought about other warm weather preparations on the outside of your house. Ah yes, that good old AC cover is still wrapped around your unit waiting for you. Before summer starts rolling in, there are a few things that need to be done to keep your AC blowing in the cool breeze all season long.

Your AC Spring Cleaning Checklist

Uncover your condenser

If you placed a cover on your condenser over the winter, it’s now time to remove it and do a general inspection on the condenser. Do you see any major weather damages? Nesting animals? If you didn’t cover your condenser over the winter, there might be some snow and ice removal that needs to be done.

Grab the clippers

After all those long winter months, some of the shrubs and other plants in your yard may have overtaken their boundaries. Go through with a pair of hedge trimmers and make sure that all of your landscape is at least 18 inches away from your AC unit. This will help avoid things from getting caught in the fan or blocking air intake to the condenser.

Hose it down

If you see a lot of debris on and in-between the fins of your unit, it might benefit you to take a hose with a spray nozzle attachment and clear some of the grime off your condenser. Remember to keep your hose at a 45-degree angle when you are spraying your unit so that it can properly clean out the crevices.

Air filters

Before you turn the AC on, you need to change the air filters out. We recommend using a pleated HVAC filter to ensure the best air filtration throughout your home. If you are frequently using your AC in the summer, you should be replacing the filters once a month to maintain a healthy air quality in your home.

Detective work

Once your air filter is replaced, there are still a few things you need to keep in mind before you click on the AC. When you are putting the air filters in, check to make sure there are no gaps that unfiltered air can pass through. If you are unsure that your filtering system is working properly, don’t hesitate to have an HVAC professional take a look at it.

“I have more questions on AC maintenance!”

At I Want SMART, we are here to connect you with qualified contractors to resolve your heating, ventilation and cooling needs. Visit our SMART locations page to find a location near you or contact us to speak with a representative today.

Stop Winter Allergens in Your Home

Stop Winter Allergens in Your Home

When it comes to seasonal allergies, most people know the ins and outs of the Spring and Fall allergy seasons. People may not know, however, that those irritable symptoms in the winter can be caused by concentrated allergens in your home or workplace.

Is it possible to have winter allergies?

Yes. Believe it or not, there are irritants brought on by the cold weather and enclosed living conditions. Mold, dust mites, pet dander, and dust are some of the most common irritants during the winter months. Without the ability to open your windows and let some fresh air inside, all of these air pollutants build up in your air ducts and filters.

Are you suffering from indoor allergens?

Side effects of winter allergies can often mirror the common cold. However, the common cold should only last around 10 days, so if your symptoms are continuous you might be suffering from indoor allergies. Coughing, sneezing, watery and itchy eyes, runny noses, dry nasal passages, bloody noses, and dry skin conditions can all be related to indoor irritants.

What can I do to lessen my allergy symptoms?

There are many things that you can do in your own home to decrease those winter blues. Simple things you can do to stay proactive are dust, change your bedding and vacuum frequently. This cuts downs on dirt, dust, dander and dust mites. The next step is to make sure your house has a whole home humidifier to keep the climate from getting too dry. Most humidifiers today include an automatic humidifier control that will automatically adjust to outdoor temperatures to maintain optimal levels of relative humidity indoors. If you suffer from dry skin a whole house humidifying system can really help regulate the climate more efficiently in your home.

Air ducts can capture dust and pollutants that blow through the vents and travel throughout your home. Households that deal with seasonal allergies should look into getting whole house filtration systems. There are many high-efficiency filtration products available today. See your SMART Contractor for more information.

Finally, remember to contact your SMART provider to perform regular maintenance on your heating system and air filters. A simple system check and/or cleaning can do wonders for your home!

For more information on the services we offer, read more here.
HVAC pet owners

HVAC Maintenance Tips for Pet Owners

 

A pet can be an amazing thing, and you may not think your dog or cat can impact your HVAC system, but that’s not the case. You also want to make sure that your pet is safe from your HVAC system as well.

We all want to keep our pets safe, and exposed wires could be dangerous for puppies and kittens that like to chew on things. Make sure to tuck away all exposed wires.

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A little extra effort is needed to keep your HVAC system running smoothly if you have a dog or cat in the house. Like any dust or dirt in the home, pet hair can collect in air filters and clog the system. Clogged air filters means a less efficient HVAC system. You may need to step up your housekeeping skills to ensure your home is clean, and check on air filters frequently to make sure they are clear of pet hair.

If your home feels drafty, make sure that your doggie door and all your outside doors are properly weather sealed. Otherwise, you are letting in a lot of cold air, even when you and your pet aren’t using the door.

You will also want to get regular maintenance checks on your HVAC system to make sure it’s giving you and your pets the best service possible. You can talk to our contractors today about any of your HVAC needs.

If you follow these tips, your pet and HVAC system will be safe and things will run more smoothly and efficiently.

Of course, any specialized work should be left to a professional. We recommend getting a SMART technician to help you.

HVAC New Year's resolutions

New Year’s Resolutions for Your HVAC System

 

The New Year can be a great time to make some changes regarding your HVAC system. Whether you’re looking to keep your air cleaner, save money or have your system work as efficiently as possible, here are some tips for you.

It may be a good time to install a programmable thermostat.

These thermostats can save you money, and allow you to better control your heating and cooling system uses. You can pre-program everything on the thermostat or your phone to allow for cooler temperatures when you’re not home during the day, ensuring that you get the most bang for your buck.

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Write down reminders to check your air filters each month.

Air filters easily become covered with dust and dirt, which lowers the air quality in your home. Dirty filters also make your furnace or air conditioner work harder and run longer, which leads to more wear and tear on the system. Check the air filters every month and replace when necessary, and you will find the air quality in your home is much better and your system runs more efficiently.

Schedule routine HVAC maintenance.

You can contact us at any time and our contractors will make sure that your system is in good condition and they will be able to catch any problems early on so they can be fixed. Keeping up with the maintenance of your HVAC system will guarantee that it lasts longer and it will cut down on the energy used.

If you have any HVAC problems or help with your New Year’s resolutions, get in touch with a SMART contractor today.

heating system

How to Get the Most Out of Your Heating System

The last thing you want to happen in the winter time is to have your furnace go out. Keeping your furnace clean and operating properly can improve its longevity and ensure that you won’t have any worries this winter.

According to Forbes, there are a few things you can do to improve your heating system. Unless your system is brand new, you should have trained professionals clean and inspect it annually. A well-trained technician will make sure that your system is clean and running efficiently.

You should also always make safety a priority. Some furnaces are in the basement, and people have a tendency to have stuff pile up down there. Make sure there is a clear area around your furnace to avoid any fire hazards.

Having HVAC Issues? Find a Contractor Near You Today.

A great way to save money on your heating or AC bills is to install a programmable thermostat. Programmable thermostats let you control the temperature during certain times of the day, so when you aren’t home during the day, you can keep the house cooler in winter or warmer in the summer and save some money.

Changing your filters is also a great way to keep your forced air furnace running smoothly. In most cases you can change your furnace filter yourself, check to see if yours is dirty or dusty, change it as required. Clogged filters can lead to an inefficient system, higher energy consumption, and premature breakdowns.

Our contractors will ensure that your heating system is working correctly, safely and efficiently. If you have any other questions about your HVAC system, we can answer them.

SMART Contractors Provide Our Customers With The Best Possible Service.

diy hvac

DIY HVAC Solutions: Do’s and Don’ts

HVAC systems are undoubtedly an essential part of our everyday lives, but we often forget that they are systems composed of intricate moving parts.

Poorly functioning or broken down HVAC systems can definitely be frustrating, but before impulsively deciding to remedy the issue yourself, consider first what you can and can’t do. While there are issues that you can certainly handle independently, there are others that are best left out of your hands and into those of a skilled professional.

 

Don’t

  • Attempt to replace existing parts or install new ones

Not every HVAC is built the same, so it’s unwise to assume that any two parts are exactly alike. Further, any given part may not serve the purpose that a website lists. It’s best to have your system’s parts examined by a licensed technician so that they can meet the needs of your specific unit.

  • Handle electrical connections

Electric currents that run through HVAC systems have high voltages. Attempting to tighten or disconnect electrical wires could result in a serious accident.

  • Handle refrigerant chemicals

While it may seem easy to fix a refrigerant leak, to err on the side of caution, call a professional to handle this. Exposure to refrigerant chemicals can cause frostbite, respiratory problems, and skin irritation. They are also very harmful to the environment and should be disposed of properly.

  • Attempt to clean coil fins

These parts of your system are actually more fragile than you think. Using the wrong appliance to could result in damage.

See Our Checklist to Make Sure Your HVAC System is in Good Shape

 

Do

  • Check your thermostat

While this may seem obvious, this could be your easiest and quickest solution and should be examined first. Try adjusting the temperature or changing the batteries.

  • Check your fuse box

An HVAC system might be broken down, but it could be in perfect working condition. Make sure that your fuse box is working properly before attempting to fix the system itself.

  • De-clutter the area surrounding your unit

This fix is easy enough. Head to your backyard and dust or vacuum the blower wheel on top of your system. For good measure, remove any leaves or furniture that could be crowding the condenser.

  • Change the air filters

Air filters should be changed on a monthly basis. This can improve air quality and flow in your home or business.

 

Think your HVAC system has an issue that you shouldn’t handle alone? Make an appointment with us today.