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Serving the Greater Rochester Area and the Twin Cities since 1988

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Knowing what Carbon Monoxide is

 

Carbon monoxide is a clear but toxic, odorless, flammable gas that results when carbon does not completely combust. There is no taste, which makes it even more difficult to detect during carbon monoxide leaks. The most common culprit for carbon monoxide leaks is the internal combustion engine in addition to some furnaces and ovens. It is very dangerous to those who breathe it in because it pushes out oxygen from the blood, taking its place.

According to research, carbon monoxide poisoning is more common during the fall and winter. This is due to the increased use of heaters, generators and gas furnaces. There are a number of symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, most of which are also symptoms of illnesses. Some of the more common symptoms could include:

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Loss of muscle control or consciousness
  • Chest Pain
  • Fatigue
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Confusion
  • Depression
  • Hallucinations
  • Abdominal pain
  • Fainting

If you ever experience symptoms that indicate a possibility of carbon monoxide poisoning it is important not to ignore them. If these symptoms are experienced at work, ensure that your employer is made aware of them. If these symptoms are experienced at home, consult a doctor with your concerns.

Testing the air quality is a great way to know if you have carbon monoxide. A detector is the most recommended method, but you can also contact us, and we can inspect the air quality in the home for you.

 

Having the Ductwork Cleaned in the Fall

 

There are many benefits and reasons why you would want to have your air ducts cleaned, especially by a professional. Despite this, a good number of homes go without any kind of air duct cleaning, many because the thought of their air ducts being dirty never really crossed their minds.

With the fall and winter months comes a large demand on your heater, some of us running it more often than not during the cold and dark winter months. That drastic increase in usage means that anything inside the air ducts is going to be circulated around your home more often, increasing risk of triggering allergies. Overtime, dust and other nasty bits accumulate in your home’s air ducts. Not only does this cause your whole system to work harder to move the same amount of air, but it also means that you’re circulating dust and anything else in your air ducts throughout your home.

Shortly after having your air ducts cleaned you’ll notice a dramatic increase in the indoor air quality. This increase will help stave off colds and flues this winter, helping you cut down on any sick days that may be coming your way. Nobody likes being sick, and most of us get flu shots or take some other form of preventative measure against being sick in the cold winter months, yet very few take the time to help increase the quality of the air in their homes, where they spend the good majority of their time.

Increased health and decreased energy bills are two good reasons to have your air ducts cleaned this Fall, but I have yet to mention my favorite reason for it, less dusting all winter long. Homes get dusty, especially in the winter when everything is all shut up to keep in the warmth. With dusty air ducts, you are effectively putting a thin layer of dust all around your house. If your air ducts are clean, there will be far less dust in the air, thus meaningless dusting for you all winter long.

Make Sure the Thermostat Works Properly

The thermostat is a small piece of technology that can run into a surprising amount of potential problems. If your thermostat isn’t showing signs of life, if it’s not accurately maintaining your desired temperature, or if it is just doing odd things like turning itself on and off, then you’re facing one of the many possible thermostat problems that plague homeowners and businesses.
Make sure your thermostat is on and that, in the case of heating, the temperature set higher than the room temperature the thermostat is currently reading. In the case of cooling, make sure that the thermostat reads lower than the current room temperature.

If your thermostat is acting odd, it might be because it’s dirty. Buildup of dirt, dust and nicotine can all coat the inside, which may interfere with electrical and mechanical components within the thermostat. If you open the thermostat cover and notice dust, use a compressed can of air to clean the components.

If your thermostat isn’t showing the display, it may not be getting any power. There are three places you should check to ensure your thermostat is properly receiving power:

Check your circuit breaker. Your thermostat is wired into the electrical system. If the circuit the thermostat is on trips, then there will be no power to the thermostat. Go to your breaker box, locate the breaker that the thermostat is on, and make sure the switch is flipped to the on position.

Check the thermostat’s fuse. Some thermostats have a fuse located inside the device as additional protection from power surges. These fuses may occasionally blow or go bad. To check your thermostat’s fuse, take off the cover. The fuse will look like a clear canister with metal ends. Inside the fuse will be a filament that runs the length of the canister. If this filament is broken, then the fuse will need to be replaced.

Check the batteries. Most electronic thermostats run their display and controls on battery power. To find the batteries in your thermostat, take off its cover. The back panel of the cover often tell you where the batteries are located. If you can’t find them, consult your thermostat’s manual.

If your thermostat is “working” but you’re continually unsatisfied with its results, then it might be poorly placed in your home. Thermostats placed near drafty windows, doorways or stairwells may not read the average temperature of the house correctly. Likewise, having a thermostat located too close to sunny spots or your kitchen can also alter readings. If you notice anything out of the norm with the thermostat and your HVAC system, make sure to contact us so we can inspect the system for you.

 

Keeping the Air Clean in your Home

 

Indoor air is often more than 10 times more polluted than outdoor air. Indoor air pollutants contribute to asthma as well as other respiratory conditions and diseases. Some of the indoor pollutants can include

  • Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from off gassing building materials, paints and finishes and furnishings.
  • Other toxic chemicals emitted from cleaning products, pesticides and hazardous household supplies.
  • Mold, which grows on moist materials and surfaces.
  • Carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide gases, which can be released from gas-fueled combustion appliances.
  • Particulates from wood-burning fireplaces or cars running near the house.
  • Tobacco smoke.
  • Asbestos.
  • Lead.
  • Radon.

Improved ventilation will improve indoor air quality by increasing the amount of outdoor air coming into your home, diluting concentrations of indoor pollutants, and pushing stale indoor air out of the home. However, some ventilation improvements may increase energy costs unless you make design changes to your home. The third strategy, using mechanical air cleaners to filter pollutants out of your indoor air, can be used to supplement source control and ventilation but it is not recommended as the sole solution.

Filters actually become more effective in capturing and removing particulate air contaminants as they get dirtier and build up with dust. This increased effectiveness comes with a cost, however, as the pressure drop increases and less air gets through. It is a good idea to change the filter for the furnace at the start of the heating season, as the dust cake from the previous year has been sitting in the cold, dark basement throughout the summer and may have started to grow molds.

If you notice an issue with the air quality in your home, make sure to contact us so we can inspect the HVAC system for you.

Inspecting the HVAC System

Falling leaves and budding trees are semi-annual signals to inspect HVAC systems to make sure heating and air conditioning flow freely and efficiently. Some mechanical components, like the flue pipe that expels carbon monoxide, should only be checked by a professional. But you can eyeball other HVAC parts and save money on house calls and fuel bills.

Filters

Air filters, which clean the air returning to your HVAC system, are the easiest and most obvious components to check. Yours should be dust and dirt-free because you have cleaned or replaced them once a month. If you’ve fallen behind on air filter maintenance, vacuum or rinse them under a hose or faucet, or replace disposables. You can also contact us and we can inspect the filter for you.

Ductwork

Exposed ductwork in your basement, attic, or loft is easy to inspect. Make sure you look for signs of peeling duct tape and loose fittings around seams, dirt streaks that indicate escaping air, dents in metal, or a collapsed or torn section of flex ducts. If you notice any of these issues, make sure to contact us as soon as possible, so we can inspect the HVAC system for you.

Registers

Inspect air return grills and HVAC registers for dust, dirt, and pet hair that impeded airflow. Open and shut registers to ensure they work. Make sure furniture is not covering or blocking the vents.

Compressors

Be sure outside compressors are unobstructed by vines, shrubs, and leaves. Check that condenser unit fins are straight and undamaged. Place a level on top of units to detect a tilt, which hurts efficiency. If not level, slip a shim under the unit. Remove the top panel and inspect the fan blades for damage, but don’t repair a bent blade yourself, it is recommended to contact us to replace the blade.

Why a Programmable Thermostat is Right for your Home

 

 

If you have a typical household, heating and cooling costs are one of your largest expenditures. One reason that contributes to those costs is that homeowners frequently heat and cool their homes when it is not needed. A programmable thermostat provides a great way to lower your energy use.

Energy savings

A programmable thermostat can save on energy costs and make your home more comfortable by automatically adjusting the temperature for sleeping, vacation, weekends or workdays. By maintaining the required temperatures for only a few hours a day instead running a continual temperature all day, a digital programmable thermostat can help save energy and reduce your energy costs throughout the year. Within a few years, energy-efficient heating controls can pay for themselves.

Comfort and convenience

Rather than setting the temperature manually, you can program your thermostat in advance to adjust the temperature at different times of the day. You can set the heat to turn on an hour before you wake, to lower during the time you are at work, and then to automatically raise the heat before you come home. With the ability to set multiple temperatures for different times of the day, you have better control of your home comfort.

Reduces Wear & Tear

Overuse of your heating and cooling system can add unnecessary stress and contribute to the need for frequent repairs. By programming your use, you can reduce the time the system is run, while maintaining home comfort. If you notice an issue, make sure to contact us so we can inspect it for you. When the issue is ignored, it can cause more stress to parts of the system, resulting in more damage in the long run. Also remember to have the HVAC system inspected and maintained on a regular basis, as this can help you to have a healthy and comfortable home.

 

Why the Duct Work should be Cleaned in your Home

 

Professional duct cleaning services use specialized blowers, vacuums, and brushes to clean out the supply, intake, and return ducts throughout your home. Duct cleaning should also involve a thorough cleaning of the air handler, registers, grilles, fans, motors, housings, and coils of the HVAC system.

 

Due to growing concerns about indoor air quality, it’s easy to convince homeowners that their ducts need cleaning. But unless ducts are really dirty, there’s no reason to clean them. If done properly, duct cleaning doesn’t hurt; but it’s not something that needs to be on your regular home maintenance list. You probably don’t need to have your ducts and HVAC system cleaned unless you have the following things in your home.

  • Renovation: If your home has been remodeled – especially if there was asbestos abatement, lead paint removal, or significant dust – your ductwork may need to be cleaned. Ducts should be sealed off during home renovations; but if they weren’t, dangerous dust and debris may become lodged inside the ductwork.
  • Animals: If there is evidence of animal infestation or nesting in your ducts or HVAC system, have the animals removed then clean the ductwork and HVAC unit.
  • Contaminants: If noticeable debris, pet hair, odors, or other contaminants are being released into the room through the ducts after the registers have been cleaned and vacuumed; then the ducts may need to be cleaned.
  • Mold: If there is visible mold growth inside the ductwork, the ducts and HVAC system should be cleaned.
  • Illness: If someone in your family is suffering from an unexplained allergy-related illness, and you’ve taken every other possible step to decontaminate your home, you may want to consider having your ducts cleaned to see if the HVAC system was the culprit.

If you are unsure if it is time for the ductwork to be cleaned in your home, make sure to contact us and we can inspect it for you. This can help you to have better quality air, and a more comfortable home to be in.

The Importance of Changing the Filter

 

Knowing when to change the filter to your heating and air system in your home is important. Several factors determine when your filters need to be changed, but the main rule of thumb is if it looks dirty, change it. You shouldn’t wait until the filter is completely filthy though, because that means your heating and cooling system is not running at its full potential. Here are some tips that will help you determine when you should change the filter in your home.

One of the primary influences of how often you need to change the filter in your home is what type of filter you buy. Filters vary from each other in several ways, based on what materials they are made with, their form (pleated vs. panel), their thickness, and other variations. We know everyone loves to save money, but buying a cheap air filter most likely means you are going to have to replace it more often, which in the long run will probably be cost the same as buying a better quality filter. When you purchase a filter, it should have a recommended time when it’ll need to be replaced. Some need to be changed monthly, while others can last up to six months.

 

Another main factor in how often you should change the filter is the occupants in the home. If you have anyone who suffers from allergies, you should be changing the filters more often than recommended. This will help remove more of the allergens from the air in your home. If the filter is full and dirty, it won’t be able to trap them.

 

Another occupant to consider when deciding how soon filters need to be changed is any furry critters roaming in your home. The majority of cats and dogs shed, and their hair gets everywhere. That includes your filters, which will alter the performance of your heating and cooling system. So if you have a pet or multiple pets in your home, you’ll most likely need to change the filter more often. The best way to know how often is to check it. Also, depending on the seasons, you may need to change the filter at different intervals. Animals shed more in hotter months, so keep that in mind when it comes to checking your filters.

 

If you don’t think that changing your filter is important, here are a few reasons why you should change the filter to your HVAC system.

The U.S. Department of Energy says that replacing a dirty filter with a clean one can lower your air conditioner’s energy consumption by 5 to 10 percent. Not only will it save you money on your energy bills, but it also can save you money on your heating and cooling system. A dirty filter will restrict your air flow, causing your system to work harder. This will cause wear and can create issues that possibly require repairs. Also continuous wear on your system will lower the lifespan of your system. If you notice anything out of the norm with your HVAC system, make sure to contact us so we can inspect it for you.

Improving the Air Quality in your Home

 

 

The quality of the air in your home is more important than you think. On average, you typically spend 87% of your time indoors. That’s a pretty significant chunk of your life, which means it’s critical that you’re breathing in clean air while you are indoors. Poor indoor air quality can affect your health in a number of ways—some ways more severe than others.

Short-term effects from low air quality are symptoms similar to those associated with allergies or a minor cold. These include coughing, sneezing, watery eyes, headaches, fatigue, etc. However, poor air quality can also result in severe long-term health effects. With extensive exposure to air pollutants, it’s possible for someone to acquire respiratory disease or cancer.

Radon is a gas pollutant that can find its way into your home through poorly sealed openings and other cracks. Being the second most prominent cause for lung cancer, this pollutant is extremely dangerous.

Second hand smoke can significantly impact your home’s air quality. This pollutant can cause a number of different symptoms, including worsening symptoms for asthmatics, ear infections in children, and even increase the risk for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. If you’re a smoker, it’s best that you refrain from smoking inside.

Combustion pollutants are dangerous pollutants that are caused by poorly vented fuel-burning appliances. Examples include gas stoves, fireplaces, dryers, water heaters, etc. These gases, carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide, can be deadly if ingested in excess amounts.

Air Cleaners and Purifiers

These can be integrated with your current heating and cooling system to help fight off excess dust, dander, and pollen.  Although your air handler is built with a standard filter inside that removes large particles from your air, installing higher-grade cleaners and purifiers can help remove the sneaky, smaller particles.

Depending on your home’s specific needs, there are various options to consider when choosing an air purifier. You’re able to choose from cleaners intended for specific rooms versus ones intended for your entire home, and you are also able to choose from a number of different mechanical cleaners versus electrical cleaners.

Humidifiers and Dehumidifiers 

Improper humidity levels can be a substantial problem in many homes, whether it be too much humidity or too little. Too little humidity can cause dry skin, poor heating within your home, illness, and even damage to your furniture. On the other hand, too much humidity can cause discomfort, damage to paint and woodwork, and mold growth.

Proper Settings for your Air Conditioner

 

More people fight over the thermostat than the remote and those battles become more pitched during periods of extreme heat. The disputes aren’t just about comfort, they’re about money too because every time you lower the thermostat in hot weather it raises your electric bill. For optimal cooling and energy efficiency, the coolest you should keep your house is 78° F and that’s only when you’re at home and awake. A programmable thermostat makes it easy to match your cooling needs to your schedule but you can make the adjustments manually if you don’t have one.

More heat tolerant folks can experiment with the temperature, raising it one degree at a time to see how it affects your comfort and your budget. You’ll save 3 percent on your air conditioning costs for every degree you raise the temperature. If you aren’t comfortable at 78° F, lower the temperature a degree at a time. A ceiling or box fan causes a wind chill effect that enhances cooling, helping you feel comfortable at a higher temperature as long as the humidity isn’t too high.

 

It’s more difficult to reach the perfect temperature when you have a window air conditioner, because the thermostat is in the unit itself, it registers the temperature in that part of the room and may not provide a consistent temperature throughout the space you want to cool, depending how big and open it is. That means getting the right comfort level is more trial and error. Start with it set at 78 degrees and see how you feel. If you have a window unit in your bedroom, turn it on 30 minutes or so before you go to bed so you’re not cooling an empty room. If you notice an issue with the HVAC system, make sure to contact us and we can inspect it for you.

 

K&S has been your trusted Heating, Air Conditioning, Plumbing and Electrical partner since 1988.

Count on our unmatched Experience and the Quality you know from K&S

4205 Highway 14 West

Rochester, MN 55901

(507) 282-4328


6513 Cecilia Cir.

Edina, MN 55435

(952) 697-4328

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