ACI Northwest Blog : Archive for April, 2012

Carbon Monoxide Detectors: A Safety Necessity for Every Home

Monday, April 30th, 2012

Carbon monoxide detectors should be a necessity for all furnace installations in Liberty Lake. Carbon monoxide gas is odorless, tasteless, invisible – and lethal.  All carbon-based heating fuels – oil, natural gas, propane, butane – release carbon monoxide when they burn. The gas is usually vented outside the house, but appliance breakdowns or malfunctions can redirect it into the house. Without a carbon monoxide detector, the only warning you might get is a headache or drowsiness. Leaks that occur at night when people are sleeping are frequently fatal.

How does carbon monoxide kill you? Your lungs continuously extract oxygen from the air. The oxygen combines with a substance in your lungs called hemoglobin, which carries it through your blood to oxygenate your body. Carbon monoxide combines with hemoglobin the same way oxygen does, but binds to it much more tightly. The bound up hemoglobin can’t oxygenate your body and can’t release the carbon monoxide. Besides depriving your body of oxygen, the bound up hemoglobin is toxic to your nerves and blood vessels.

All home heating systems and hot water tanks are designed to expel exhaust gases, including carbon monoxide, outside the house. Most older homes in the Liberty Lake area passively vent the hot exhaust gas outside the house. The hot gas rises above the surrounding air, and is pulled up the flue or chimney by the pressure difference between the outside and the inside of the house. Some systems have blowers that help push the gas out.

A change in pressure inside or outside the house can reverse the flow of exhaust gas. A blocked or damaged flue can also cause the gas to back up. A poorly designed venting system, or one that’s been altered by a homeowner, can affect the pressure gradient inside the house, pulling carbon monoxide away from the furnace before it’s exhausted. Portable gas or oil heaters meant for outdoor use are a common source of carbon monoxide-related deaths when used inappropriately.

Depending on the cause of the leak,  the buildup of carbon monoxide may be gradual or sudden. Constant low levels of carbon monoxide inside the home may not cause severe symptoms or death, but may make you chronically sick.

You can place detectors in the basement near the furnace or in other rooms in the house. But make sure you have at least one detector in or near your bedroom so it will wake you if a carbon monoxide leak occurs at night.  Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for installation. Carbon monoxide mixes with room air, so there is no need to place the detector up high or near the floor. The best option is to place it where it can be easily serviced and tested.  Don’t put it in the garage or porch, or near a chimney, flue, or other area where there is likely to be a lot of air movement. You want the detector to be sampling the air you breath.

If you have any questions about carbon monoxide detectors please call ACI Northwest.

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Spring Newsletter

Friday, April 27th, 2012

Check out our Spring Newsletter for informative articles, along with promotions, a highlighted client testimonial, a “did you know” fact, and a delicious spring recipe for you to try!

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What are UV Germicidal Lights and When Should I Install Them?

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

Ultraviolet germicidal lights are lights that improve indoor air quality in your home by killing the harmful bacteria, viruses, and toxic mold that can cause respiratory problems and other health concerns. These microorganisms spread by releasing airborne spores containing the genetic material used to create a new organism. UV lights use a wavelength of ultraviolet light to destroy the organism’s DNA, which takes away their reproductive capabilities and also kills them.

UV germicidal lights are fairly inexpensive and can be installed to work with your existing forced air heating system. They are typically used in tandem with either an electronic or mechanical air cleaner. While air cleaners can filter pollen and other irritants, UV germicidal lights destroy the viruses and mold spores once these pollutants have been trapped by the air cleaner. After the air has been filtered through your HVAC, it will circulate more easily through system and increase the efficiency of the unit. In addition, UV lights are useful in killing hidden mold growth, which can only be detected by special thermal imaging equipment.

Homeowners with particularly chronic allergy problems or extremely poor indoor air quality choose to install both types of air cleaners, in addition to a UV light, for the ultimate protection from indoor air pollutants—from bacteria to pet dander.  If your home lacks adequate ventilation, or if you are unable to control the source of common pollutants, you might benefit greatly by installing UV germicidal lights. Poor indoor air circulation can exacerbate the spread of harmful microorganisms, so make sure you have proper ventilation if you don’t have UV lights in your home.

UV germicidal lights have also been used to filter tap water because they are more reliable and easier to install than other water treatment systems. However, they are typically used to provide cleaner indoor air.

Call ACI Northwest if you have questions or concerns about the quality of the air inside your Spokane home.

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Why Routine HVAC Maintenance Improves Indoor Air Quality

Monday, April 9th, 2012

Furnaces and air conditioners in Post Falls are by far the most common way to circulate air throughout homes, offices and institutions, heating in the winter months and cooling in the summer.  Adjust the thermostat and controlled air is delivered almost immediately.

If a system is not regularly and properly maintained, however, that air can be dirty, dusty and full of odor, having passed through the heat exchanger, filters and ductwork that have accumulated a build-up of residue over time.  IAQ or interior air quality quickly deteriorates.

The Basics

HVAC systems heat or cool air at a central point, often a furnace in the basement.  The air passes through filters to sift out dust and unwanted particles, then travels through a system of ductwork to be delivered to the space.  Return air ducts bring it back to the central point.

Along the way, the air accumulates the dust, germs and debris of the places it inhabits.  Over time, the filters become clogged and eventually contribute more contamination to the processed air than they can clean.  The enclosed and hard to reach ducts are also deposits of dust and decorated with spider webs that are quickly another form of filter that gives back more than it receives.

The Costs

Without routine maintenance, the system runs poorly and distributes more dirt into the living space than it is able to filter and clean, reducing the quality of life for the inhabitants, homeowners, businesses and customers.  Poor air quality can lead to serious health issues as well as the loss of time and productivity.

Not only does the quality of the air decrease, the strain on the system lowers efficiency.  Having to work harder consumes more energy, creating an immediate and noticeable rise in utility bills.  The stress also reduces the lifetime of the system and requires more rapid replacements of parts or the entire furnace, a huge financial cost.

Regular Maintenance is the Easy Solution

To maintain high levels of quality air, it is essential to schedule regular replacements of filters and a clean-out of the ducts.  The filters are accessible as part of the furnace and air conditioners and easily swapped out by the home owner once or (better) twice a year.

Ductwork, however, is enclosed and often out of site, just as easily out of mind and certainly harder to reach.  Calling ACI Northwest and scheduling a duct-cleaning along with an inspection and routine maintenance of the entire system with a licensed company ensures longevity and efficiency along with peace of mind.

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Adding a Circuit: Why You Should Hire a Professional Electrician

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

There are many repairs that a savvy homeowner can handle alone. Things like fixing a running toilet, draining and cleaning the water heater annually and even replacing a bathroom vanity are all projects that can reasonably be done yourself.

When it comes to electrical work, however, the job is best left to a skilled electrician. One such project that homeowners are not advised to tackle is adding a circuit to your home electrical system. This is for several reasons, including the complexity of the job at hand, the legal components of local building codes and ultimately, your safety.

 Not an Easy Job

Leaving aside for a moment the dangers of delving into your home’s wiring, adding a circuit is a difficult job to accomplish. Wiring a circuit is a job that requires some skill and training. There are lots of ways to do it wrong, but only one way to do it right.

There may be other challenges, too. For one, your breaker box may not accept another circuit, which means you would have to upgrade to one with a higher capacity. Right away, this project has gotten way more complicated than you would have liked.

 Knowing the Code

Building codes are often complex and difficult to follow, which is why electrical contractors have to spend hours in training learning about changes and modifications to local codes. If you were to inadvertently add a new circuit in a way that violated local codes, you could have a big mess on your hands.

In addition, many local codes prohibit anyone other than a licensed contractor from even performing electrical work– including the homeowner.

 Safety First

Lastly, but clearly most importantly, consider the safety issues involved. Electrical wiring can be a serious hazard, and not working with it safely can result in serious injury or even death.

Professional electricians are trained in how to properly and safely do electrical work so that no on gets hurt or worse.

The urge to do it yourself can be strong, and in many cases it’s OK to follow that urge, but adding a circuit is not one of those times. It’s not worth it. Call in ACI Northwest!

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