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Residential - FAQ

I see dirt streaks around my registers, do my ducts need cleaning?

No, dirt streaks are almost always caused by poor design. All air has dirt in it. If the speed (velocity) of the air
exiting your register is higher than it should be the dirt is actually impacted on the wall or ceiling surface.
The solution is to reduce the air speed from the register, and not by partially closing it, but by turning a
damper (if you have one) in the duct going to this register. Another solution is to add another register
from the same duct serving this register; this reduces the speed of the air by distributing it to two
registers instead of one. It will also reduce the air noise coming from the original register.

How often should I have my ducts cleaned?

Generally the answer would be rarely. We know this sounds odd, however, duct cleaning is something that is widely oversold by using scare tactics. Unless your system has been operated for many years without an air filter or there has been smoke damage or some other unusual situation your ducts should not need to be cleaned. In addition, duct cleaners are not regulated or certified. Those that claim to be certified are certified by the duct cleaning organizations they belong to and not by any regulatory agency. Some duct cleaners are ethical but beware of those offering cheap specials. It's usually so they can have an opportunity to use some high pressure tactics to get you to buy something extra. Professional duct cleaning takes time and costs money.

My air conditioner smells when it starts up, is there a problem?

There could be. This odor is sometimes referred to as dirty socks syndrome. It is typically caused by dirty cooling coils that are contaminated with mold. Cleaning the coil works for a short period of time. The proper solution is to clean and disinfect the coil and install an ultraviolet germicidal light source to prevent the re-contamination of the coil. The addition of this UV light provides some additional benefits such as better heat transfer on the coil and a significant reduction of mold/fungi/bacteria in the air stream.

What are ultraviolet lights and are they a benefit to me?

Ultraviolet lights for HVAC systems generate a UV light in the germicidal band range. The UV light kills the mold and bacteria by destroying its DNA and stopping it from reproducing. This can and will improve the indoor air quality in your home. And, if properly placed near the cooling coil will help eliminate microbial problems associated with wet cooling coils.

What is duct leakage testing and how can it help me?

Duct leakage testing is simply a proven method of testing duct systems for air leakage. Studies have proven that duct systems because of installation related problems, primarily cloth backed duct tape failure; leak an average of 20 to 45%. This means that you are paying for heating and cooling that is not getting into your home and can be introducing contaminants into your home. This causes a significant increase in your energy costs and wastes our precious natural resources. In fact, the California Energy Commission has banned the use of cloth backed duct tape on new system installations.

Why do my windows sweat?

This water is moisture that condenses out of the air inside your home. This can be caused when you keep your home to cold or selected rooms to cold. If the dew point (point at which water condenses) of the air inside your home is lower than the temperature of the window glass the moisture in the air inside your home will condense on the glass. This can cause water damage to wood and mold related issues. The solution is to increase the temperature of the air inside the home of specific room.

My bathroom has a window, do I still need an exhaust fan?

Even though the bathroom has a window and meets building codes we find that people do not use the window on a consistent basis and that moisture builds up resulting in mold problems. Bathroom fans eliminate this problem. They should be installed so they operate at least 10 minutes after the bathroom is vacated.

How can a heat recovery ventilator help me?

Heat Recovery Ventilators (HRV's) exhaust moisture and odors and replace the exhausted air with clean fresh outside air. The heat content of the air is exchanged between the airstreams. They are energy efficient and reduce the possibility of your home being depressurized when an exhaust fan is operating.

What is mold and fungi?

Basically mold and fungi are organisms that break down organic matter such as wood and other cellulose materials. For more in-depth definition see, IAQ Glossary.

What can cause poor indoor air quality?

Poor IAQ can be caused by many things such as: poorly designed HVAC systems, HVAC systems not being properly operated or maintained, no outside air being brought into the system, poor air circulation, allowing the home to become depressurized, not controlling potential sources of contamination, not fixing water leaks immediately.

What can I do to prevent an indoor air quality problem?

· First, know your HVAC system and keep all system documentation.
· Select a competent quality contractor to service and maintain your equipment.
· Use high quality filters, be sure outside air is being brought into the system, use exhaust fans / HRV's to control moisture.
· Keep your home clean, use a HEPA rated vacuum or central vacuum system. Repair water leaks immediately.

Should I order a home mold test kit?

Don't waste your money. A home mold test kit typically includes a fall out plate that you place in your home or some specific area to determine if mold is present. The answer is always yes there is mold. The reason is that there is mold in all air. The missing information is: How much mold is there? How does the mold species compare to what is outside?The kit may also contain a sterile swap to wipe against something. Again, the quantity is unknown and if mold spores in the air have settled onto a surface and you swap that area what does that mean?The only purpose a mold test can serve is to identify the type of mold that is growing by sending a sample of it to the lab.

Guidelines for Basic Indoor Air Quality

The US EPA, NIOSH and CDC have developed guidelines for maintaining acceptable indoor air quality.
· Proper ventilation. Document that ventilation rates are consistent with ASHRAE 62-1999 standards.
· Provide acceptable comfort levels for most occupants (ASHRAE 55-1991).
· Maintain mechanical equipment and building surfaces in reasonably sanitary condition.
· Isolate significant emission sources from occupied spaces.
· Control major sources of contamination promptly.
· Control humidity and moisture intrusion.
· Resolve problems quickly.

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