Archive for February, 2014

Using Your Heat to Promote Indoor Air Quality

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

How clean is the air in your home? Before you answer, think about how much dust develops around the rooms in your home and how often you need to clean it. Whenever you wipe off a thick accumulation of dust from a shelf or countertop, consider that this debris was floating around in your home’s air, cycling through your ventilation system. Unless you can have your windows and doors open during the greater part of each day—impossible in Oregon—you’ll have an issue with the quality of your indoor air, and it can lead to health problems along with a dusty home.

However, even though these contaminants gather in the vents attached to your heater, you can use your heater as a tool to clean the air. It only takes a few basic additions that top Portland, OR heating services can install for you. At Clean Air Act, we take our name seriously: we’re ready to help you make your heater a helper in keeping your air clean.

Here are ways to make your heater part of the solution:

  • Air cleaners: An easy addition to your heater that will take care of the problem of larger particles of dust and dirt circulating in your indoor air. Your heater already has a basic filter installed; this is not for air quality, but to protect the interior of the heater’s cabinet. Installing HEPA filters will provide protection from particles down to 0.3 microns, which will trap most of the dirt that can get into your air. You can also install more advanced electronic filters, which ionize that air to capture even smaller particles and help remove gaseous pollutants like smoke and exhaust.
  • Dehumidifiers: One of the major threats to your indoor air quality that can develop inside your home’s ductwork is the growth of microbacteria: mold, mildew, viruses, and fungus. Excess humidity entering the ductwork promotes the growth of these hazardous pollutants. However, installing a special dehumidifier to your heating system will lower the humidity inside the ducts to keep these problems from developing. A dehumidifier runs the air that circulates through your ventilation system through evaporator coils that remove the moisture from the air. Dehumidifiers are easy to install for professionals.
  • Humidifiers: Air that is too dry is also of poor quality. When the air in your home becomes too arid, it can create skin problems, eye and nose irritation, sleeping difficulty, and an increase in cold symptoms. If dry air becomes an issue because your heater is removing too much moisture from the air, professionals can install a whole-house humidifier to your heating system.

It’s easy to schedule installation: contact Clean Air Act today! Our professional heating services in Portland, OR are an important part of our dedication to better indoor air quality.

3 Alternate Options for a Home Heating System

Monday, February 17th, 2014

In the long history of home heating, the system that has stayed the most popular is the furnace. You probably have spent most of your life with a furnace keeping you warm. Furnaces have many advantages, but they aren’t the only heating system available now. Just because furnaces are the most common heater doesn’t mean you necessarily should select one for your next installation—especially if you have moved to a new house or are planning to construct one.

Let’s go over 3 alternate options to the standard furnace that you should consider among the many heating systems in Portland, OR. Each of these offers attractive benefits, and one may be the ideal choice for your home. For help selecting, sizing, and installing a new heater, contact our heating specialists at Clean Air Act today.

Heat pumps

Heat pumps operate similar to air conditioners: using the exchange of heat from one location to another to raise the temperature of a home. In fact, heat pumps are air conditioners… except they can switch the direction they move heat. This means that a heat pump gives you both heating and air conditioning in one package. They also run at superior heating efficiency compared to a furnace and will reduce your annual heating bill. Heat pumps have the drawback of losing heating efficiency during extremely cold weather, but the winter climate in Oregon should not pose any serious problems for them.

Geothermal heat pumps

Geothermal systems are heat pumps that use the earth instead of the air as the medium for heat exchange. Refrigerant cycles through underground coils to move heat from the earth to inside your home. (During warm weather, the process reverses.) Geothermal systems are incredibly energy efficient, quiet, safe, and environmentally friendly. However, they won’t work for every property and require extensive work to install.

High velocity heating systems

This is one of the newer advances in heating technology, and it represents an exciting advance over standard forced-air systems that use ductwork. These systems operate like heat pumps, but instead of channeling the heated/cooled air through large ducts, they use small, flexible tubes that fit easily into walls and ceilings. The air enters rooms at high speeds, creating convection currents that more evenly and effectively spread heat without creating pockets of cold air. They operate much quieter than standard heat pumps.

So what sort of heating system should you have installed? It depends on your home and your budget goals. Matching you to the right heater requires professional input and installation, so don’t try to make the choice on your own. For excellent installation of heating systems in Portland, OR, call Clean Air Act today.

The Original Valentine’s Day Greeting Cards

Friday, February 14th, 2014

It’s hard to imagine Valentine’s Day without the traditional greeting cards, whether accompanying a gift of flowers and candy, or sent between children in a school room. For commercial greeting card companies, February 14th is as important to them as the December holidays, Easter, and Mother’s Day.

Valentine’s Day as a celebration of romantic love predates printed greeting cards by a few centuries. In fact, the reason that sending romantic greeting cards became popular was because of the most un-romantic thing you can imagine: a reduction in postage rates.

In 1765, Parliament authorized the creation of “Penny Posts” that used a uniform rate of one old penny per letter throughout Great Britain and Ireland. Printers took advantage of the ease with which people could send letters to each other on Valentine’s Day by crafting cards with love poems on them. Many of these verses were collected in 1797 in the book The Young Man’s Valentine Writer, which was a resource for the lover with a romantic soul but not the most confident poetry style.

By the mid-19th-century, the Valentine’s Day greeting card was flourishing across England. Although people still followed a tradition of creating handmade Valentine’s Day cards from lace, ribbons, and flowers, commercially produced cards now overtook them. In 1835, the English post office mailed 60,000 valentines. As production expenses dropped, the English card manufacturers branched out creatively with humorous and sometimes vulgar cards… many of which we would find startlingly familiar in the 21st century. One of the common jokes on these cards was to design them to look like marriage certificates or court summons.

Across the Atlantic, the United States was slower to embrace the popular British custom. It wasn’t until 1847 that a U.S. printer mass-produced greeting cards for Valentine’s Day. Only two years later, American journalists noted how rapidly people in the country had embraced the tradition, turning into a fad that has never died down. The woman who printed the first U.S. Valentine’s Day card, Esther Howland, is today recognized by the Greeting Card Association with the annual “Esther Howland Award for a Greeting Card Visionary.”

The greeting card industry certainly has reason to thank Ms. Howland. Her idea of going into business printing romantic greeting cards, which came to her after she received a traditional English valentine when she was 19 years old, now sells 190 million cards in the U.S. every year. That number doesn’t include the smaller exchange cards used in elementary school classrooms, which would swell the number to 1 billion. (Who receives the most Valentine’s Day cards each year? Teachers!)

Whether you send out Valentine’s Day cards—handmade, store-bought, digital—or not, we at The Clean Air Act hope you have a happy February 14th.

Things to Know about Air Handler Installation

Thursday, February 6th, 2014

If you have a forced-air heater or AC unit in your home, the air handler is a crucial part of its performance. Without the air handler, the conditioned air from a heat pump or a furnace would never leave the cabinet and flow through the ductwork to the rooms of your home.

When you need heating installation in Portland, OR for a new air handler, contact Clean Air Act. We’ll explain a few things you should know about air handler installation.

First, only professionals can perform installation

Or, at least, only professionals can handle it correctly and safely. As we’ll further explain, air handlers are complex machines that require intricate work to connect them to an HVAC unit. Amateur installation can cause many serious problems. At best, mistakes will lead to a non-functioning air handler. At worst, mistakes can lead to injuries from electrical mishaps. Professionals must be involved from the start, since it takes their expertise to select the proper-sized air handler for your heater/air conditioner.

Second, air handlers are more than just fans

Fans are a key component of an air handler—but the unit consists of more than just a single blower. Air handlers will contain refrigerant lines (if connected to a heat pump), complex electrical connections that route wires directly to the field supply, special filters, and flanges to hook up to the ductwork.

Third, air handlers require sealing

Once an installer has hooked up the major connections for the air handler—the condensate line, the ducts, the refrigerant—the unit must be sealed properly so that it is air tight and no outside air will get drawn into it. This is important for the HVAC unit to maintain proper temperature and not pull in outside contaminants.

Fourth, air handlers require testing

The last step that an installer does is run the air handler to see that all its components are working, the airflow level is correct, and there are no refrigerant leaks. The test will also make sure that the unit is operating within safety parameters.

For your Portland, OR heating installation services, you should only rely on top-level professionals. Clean Air Act has years of experience installing air handlers, and we carry the top brands. Along with installation, we offer 24-hour emergency service and an excellent maintenance program.