You can’t see it, touch it, smell it or taste it, but it kills hundreds each year. Poisoning by carbon monoxide is a real risk of modern life. A professional inspection of fuel-burning appliances – including furnaces, stoves, fireplaces, clothes dryers and space heaters – could prove to be a lifesaver. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recommends that the yearly, professional inspection include:
- Checking chimneys, flues and vents for leakage and blockage by creosote and debris.
- Checking all vents to furnaces, water heaters, boilers and other fuel-burning appliances to make sure they are not loose or disconnected.
- Inspecting vent pipes on heating systems.
- Inspecting appliances for adequate ventilation. A supply of fresh air is important to help carry pollutants up the chimney, stovepipe or flue, and is necessary for the complete combustion of any fuel.
- Making sure ventilation air openings aren’t blocked.
I used to think so. (Hey, the name fits!) But even though fall and winter are the “prime time” for colds, researchers say that sniffles and air temperature aren’t necessarily related.
The seasonal occurrence may be due to spending more time indoors. And when indoor groups spend a lot of time together – such as in classrooms – the odds increase that germs will be spread.
Relative humidity may also be a factor. In colder months, humidity is low, and that gives cold-causing viruses a better chance for survival. Also, in cold weather, nasal passages’ lining become drier and more vulnerable to viral infection.
To prevent colds:
- Wash your hands. Hand washing is the simplest and most effective way to avoid colds, especially after making hand contact with others.
- Don’t touch your nose and eyes. Sneeze or cough into a facial tissue and throw it away. Be aware that others with colds put you at risk. Avoid close, prolonged exposure.
- Check into a humidifier. These keep the moisture in your home at the ideal level for your comfort and can reduce your chances of getting a cold. (Plus, they can keep your furniture from swelling or cracking and doors from sticking!) Call us and we will give you more info on these health and comfort marvels! They really work.
- Cold germs can live up to 3 hours on objects and skin. Cleaning surfaces with a virus-killing disinfectant also helps prevent spread of infection.
While some of the situation is out of our hands – the price of crude oil, for instance – there are many things we can do to keep a rein on our winter heating bills.
Your heating system is the one element that should get the closest look before the cold, costly winter sets in. Now is a great time to have a service tech give your system a thorough evaluation to make sure it’s running properly.
Additionally, the federal government’s ENERGY STAR program makes several recommendations about how you can heat your home smartly this winter, including:
- Replace the air filter in your furnace regularly. Dirty filters reduce air flow, which makes getting the warm air to the registers a lot tougher.
- Install a programmable thermostat. Why heat the home while you’re away? Setting back the temperature in your household when you’re asleep or at work is another opportunity for energy savings – as much as $100 each year on energy costs.
- Seal up your home. Sealing holes, cracks and openings and then adding insulation is one of the most cost-effective means of improving comfort and reducing energy use. Cracks in windows and doors can be plugged through weather-stripping and caulking.
This article explains more, so please take a look!
The cooler the weather gets, the more time families will spend snuggled into their homes and battening down the hatches against Winter. The extra time spent together can be enjoyable, but there’s nothing fun about what all the family togetherness is doing to your home’s air.
See, you’re probably aware of the dangers of pollution, smog, and allergens outside your home – but you may not know that your indoor air has the potential to be even more dangerous. The issue has become so pressing that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has begun to address it with special studies.
EPA studies of human exposure to air pollutants indicate that indoor air levels of many pollutants may be two to five times, and occasionally, more than 100 times higher than outdoor levels. In recent years, comparative risk studies performed by EPA and its Science Advisory Board have consistently ranked indoor air pollution among the top five environmental risks to public health.
Irritated eyes, nose, and throat are some of the first indicators of poor indoor air quality. Since these symptoms can also accompany colds, the flu, or viruses, it’s important to pay attention to when and where the symptoms begin. Don’t be afraid to play detective. Dust or dirt around heating or air vents, on ceilings or stained walls should alert you that there is a problem.
Read more about your home’s indoor air quality on our Facebook Page to make sure you breathe easy this winter.
By the time the cold winds start to blow, it is too late to worry about whether or not your home is ready for the cold winter ahead. What’s done is done, and what’s not done – well, it could cost you hundreds of dollars in home repair. Luckily there’s no time like the present to make sure you’re prepared before your hindsight kicks in…
- Have your heating system cleaned and tuned. A pre-season tune-up is a good investment – it reduces the chances of breakdowns in the middle of winter, improves safety, and pays for itself through more energy efficient operation.
- Test your system for hazardous carbon monoxide, which can be produced by a dirty or malfunctioning furnace or water heater. We can also install a low level carbon monoxide alarm.
- Have your duct system tested for air leaks. According to recent research by the U.S. Department of Energy, the typical duct system loses 25 to 40 percent of the energy put out by the central furnace, heater or air conditioner.
- Get your home’s air checked to find out if the air you breathe is unhealthy. Your indoor air can be much more polluted than what is outside, and with all the time spent indoors during the winter, you’ll want to ensure your family’s health, safety and comfort.
- Consider replacing your old furnace or heat pump. Just like a car, heating equipment doesn’t last forever. If your system is more than 12 years-old, and you are planning to stay in your home more than a few years, it is wise to consider replacing it before it fails permanently. A new system is safer, more dependable, and can pay for itself through energy savings as it is up to twice as energy efficient.