Air Filters

Sore Throat from Wildfires? Invest in Indoor Air Quality

Wildfires have always been a problem for Northern Colorado residents, but never quite to the degree that we’ve seen these past few years. In fact, 2020 alone saw a record-setting blaze drape the entire front range in a choking, orange haze. Couple this with the Coronavirus outbreak forcing more of us indoors for longer periods of time, and you have a recipe for very poor indoor air quality.

How Wildfires in the Mountains Impact Your Home’s Air

A few weeks back from this writing, it may have been more difficult to convince Northern Colorado residents of the direct impact fires have on our communities and in the air of our homes, but the recent fire season has likely proven that point for us to some degree.

But just what is going on? Why and how does smoke outside of our homes cause a drop in our indoor air quality?

Fires Create Dangerous Outdoor Air

Here’s where we tell you what you already know: during a wildfire, surrounding areas are likely to have dangerous outdoor air. While that’s not a shocker to local residents, what may come as a surprise is just how much worse the air can get.

Under normal conditions, we enjoy impressively-clean outdoor air when considering the size of the metropolitan area in Northern Colorado.

During a wildfire, however, that can jump dramatically in the other direction.

For example, a normal AQI (Air Quality Index) for Fort Collins is around 20-30. During a nearby wildfire, that number jumped to over 200. As you can imagine, lower is better on this scale. Check out the Colorado Air Quality Report from the Department of Public Health & Education to see today’s conditions, as well as those in recent days.

To put this into perspective, that’s worse than an average day in Dubai, the most polluted city on the planet.

Since our residents are obviously unaccustomed to this level of air pollutants and, in many cases, have not employed solutions against this level of air quality, wildfires can pose a serious health risk.

Some Outdoor Air Will Get In

Despite the massive leap forward we’ve taken in constructing homes with energy-efficient windows, doors, siding, roofing, and more, particles from the outside still find their way into even the most well-constructed homes. While you should try to keep windows and doors closed as much as possible, it is important to recognize that alone will not be enough to keep all outdoor contaminants out.

During a wildfire, this means that your indoor air quality will also drop as a result of the added particles present in the outdoor air.

These particles can cause or irritate the following, even if you remain indoors:

  • Burning eyes
  • Runny nose
  • Sore throat
  • Headaches
  • Illnesses, such as bronchitis
  • Agitate chronic conditions, such as asthma, allergies, and certain heart and lung diseases

Wildfires Have Become More Likely

Colorado climate scientists say that we should expect to see more wildfires like we’ve seen in 2020, according to reporting from Colorado Public Radio. Anecdotal, anyone that’s lived in Northern Colorado for a decade or more can attest that fires have been more likely to start and have burned for longer in recent years than any in memory.

This is likely due to Colorado’s average temperatures rising and the driest parts of the year being even more dry than usual. This recipe creates the perfect conditions for wildfires to start (and continue) across the state.

We’re Spending More Time At Home

Under normal conditions, the top pollutant in most homes would be its residents. Dust from skin and hair combines with chemicals and other contaminants from our possessions to create contaminants that can swirl around in the air for far longer than you’d like to imagine.

Since we’re now spending more time at home than ever amidst the coronavirus pandemic, the indoor air quality of our homes is likely at a lower spot than it normally would be when parents are off at work and children are spending time outdoors or in school.

Couple this together with choking smoke from a wildfire, plus the contaminants in the air entering our homes anyway, and you have a recipe for far worse indoor air than you may have come to expect from your home.

We Can Help

At Lion Home Services, we’re happy to help homeowners increase their home’s indoor air quality with our Whole House High-Efficiency Air Cleaner systems. We use solutions for trapping or eliminating the VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) in your home to greatly reduce the contaminants in the indoor air.

Check out everything our team has to offer your home and decide if an indoor air quality addition to your home’s existing HVAC could be just the thing to keep your home’s air fresh and clean regardless of what is happening in the world outside.

Find your next indoor air quality solution today!

Air Filters

Tenant or Landlord? Who Takes Care of HVAC Maintenance?

According to the City of Fort Collins’ Rental and Occupancy study, about 46% of Northern Colorado families are renters — and the demand for more rental homes is still outweighing the supply. Since so many local residents are renting from a landlord or property management company, it is important to ask: who takes care of the furnace?

For Tenants: What You Need to Know About HVAC Maintenance

First, we’ll look at the tenants’ need-to-know items to maintain their home and living situation while still protecting their financial interests and also those of their home’s owner.

1 – Read Your Lease

The best advice for any tenant maintenance question is to first read your lease agreement. If you do not have an active lease agreement with your landlord or property manager, it is critical that you either get one as soon as possible or search for a new place to live.

Your lease is essentially your protection against the claims the property’s owner could use against you. This protection takes the form of outlined agreements made between yourself as the tenant and the landlord or manager on behalf of the owner.

Basically, if your lease says you need to maintain or worry about the lease, then it is your responsibility to understand what that means and ensure that the maintenance gets done; if your lease isn’t clear or obviously states that isn’t necessary for your property (as is the case with some multi-family homes), then you shouldn’t have to worry about HVAC maintenance.

2 – Understand Your Responsibilities

If your lease does indicate that you’re on the hook for some maintenance responsibilities of the HVAC system, it is very important that you understand exactly what those are.

In many cases, this will be limited to regularly changing out the furnace air filter and reporting anything else to the landlord. However, it is possible that regular AC unit or furnace repairs, annual maintenance, or even replacements could ultimately be your responsibility — especially if your normal outlined responsibilities aren’t met.

Talk with your landlord or property manager about your responsibilities and ask questions sooner than later to fully understand the scope of their expectations. It’s best to do this at the time of lease signing, if at all possible.

3 – Get It In Writing

Another great piece of general advice when dealing with your property manager or landlord is to get things in writing and HVAC maintenance expectations are no different.

If possible, get their expectations clearly written out if the lease doesn’t do a satisfactory job. You can email or text them your questions or, for verbal conversations, send an email recap and then save the correspondence in your records for your future reference and protection.

Once you have the routine down, anytime you change the air filter or perform your end of the agreement, be sure to let the landlord know via text or email so that your good-faith effort is well documented.

For Landlords: How to Protect Your HVAC System

As the owner or manager of a rental property, your goals are often aligned with, but different from, that of the tenant. It is in your best interest to ensure that the property generates solid monthly cash flow, which means keeping capital expenditures — such as an untimely furnace replacement — down. We’ll assume you know all about that and talk about the specifics behind setting up systems to protect your investment property’s HVAC.

1 – Know Your Property

Whether you have one investment property or one-hundred, it is critical that you have records and/or knowledge of each property’s HVAC system.

Here are some ways you can keep track of your property’s HVAC:

  1. Keep good records – Most experienced property managers will tell you that the secret to keeping track of your investments is through good record keeping. Keep the manuals to all of your furnace and AC units and store them with your files on the property, at the very least.
  2. Inspect the system regularly – There are multiple ways you can inspect your HVAC systems. You can do routine inspections or visits during tenant occupancy (if your lease allows for this), schedule maintenance inspections with a service expert, and/or look into your units during vacancy periods. We recommend all of the above.
  3. Understand the maintenance needs of your system – Once you fully understand how to maintain the system as if you lived there, you can then set up your tenant’s for success in maintaining the system with you. Until you know how it should work, it’ll be tough to expect that process to happen smoothly.

2 – Make Expectations Clear & Easy to Achieve

Every property manager should have two basic goals: happy tenants (low vacancy) and well-maintained units (low cap-ex). One of the best ways to ensure this is your path is through clear expectations and communication with your tenants.

When building your lease and meeting with your prospective tenants, make your expectations on home maintenance, including the HVAC, known. Structure your lease to support the type of HVAC care you’re hoping for and deliver that clearly to the tenants from day one.

Many local landlords will take this a step further to make things as easy as possible for the tenants. Some things you could try include:

  • Purchasing common maintenance items, such as air filters, in bulk for your tenants to use. Remember, a few air filters is a lot less expensive than a new furnace!
  • Sending your tenants a text or email whenever an air filter needs to be changed or when another maintenance item should be taken care of.
  • Setting up HVAC maintenance plans in advance with the team at Lion Home Services by setting it up yourself or allowing the tenant to book a time that works best for them.

3 – Follow Through

The relationship between tenant and landlord is one that should be built first and foremost on a foundation of trust and mutual respect for the care of the property. They want to live in a clean, safe place and you want happy tenants with well-maintained units.

At the end of the day, the property is ultimately the responsibility of the owner or manager. It is your job to ensure that your tenants follow through on their end of the bargain and that the system is cared for, easy to maintain, and works well for your tenants. As a health and safety item, heating is not an optional fixture in Northern Colorado units, which absolutely makes it your job to ensure that the system works at all times.

If you’d like to take some of the questioning and guesswork out of the equation, you can entrust regular care and maintenance of your furnace, air conditioning, and ventilation systems to the team at Lion Home Services.

Contact us to learn more or schedule a consultation today!

Air Filters

6 Important Reasons to Consider HVAC When Renovating

Improving your home is one of the best feelings available to homeowners. Here in Northern Colorado, where property values seem to only surge upward, a renovation to improve your property can also pay exponential dividends down the line or save you from the hassle of upgrading your home prematurely.

It’s no surprise that many local homeowners choose to renovate their homes at some point. With all-time-low interest rates driving more mortgage refinancing-based home improvement projects than ever, now is a great time to consider a renovation.

If this sounds like you, just be sure to remember these 6 critical aspects surrounding your home’s HVAC amidst the project.

1 – Added Square Footage May Require Extra HVAC

Perhaps the most obvious and important aspect HVAC plays in renovations surrounds an addition to the home. After all, very few homeowners will want to add square footage to their homes in this part of the country without heating and cooling factored in. If you want to add the most value per new square footage to your home, it is almost a must to include new HVAC in the plans.

This could mean upgrading your current system by adding extra furnace or air conditioning units at the most, expanding ductwork to the new area at the least, and just about everything in between based on the scope of your HVAC system and the renovation project.

If you’re adding any square footage to your home, get in touch with the pros at Lion early to have an expert opinion on the requirements for heating, cooling, and ventilation that will pass inspection and create a great project from day one.

2 – Opening Walls Opens Up Opportunities

From the very first day of demolition work, you’ll likely find surprising things in your home’s walls. It’s not uncommon for contractors and DIY renovators alike to find “surprises” in the walls that could require re-routing or the need address in some other fashion.

In any case, finding something in a wall you didn’t expect during a renovation typically amounts to dollars lost.

However, there’s an incredible opportunity available here as well. This could be the perfect chance to upgrade your home’s ductwork or add-in that extra power outlet near the couch that you’ll be so glad you thought of ahead of time, to name a few.

Additionally, many Northern Colorado homes feature older baseboard or boiler-based heating systems, and a renovation grants the perfect chance to change that out for a central heating and cooling system, which many local homeowners prefer.

Rather than looking at your renovation as the path of least resistance to your initial vision, try to imagine the home you want to live in day-in and day-out and take this opportunity with open access to your home’s structural elements to make that happen!

3 – Consider Replacing Furnace or AC Units

There are very few times that are more convenient to consider upgrading that old furnace or AC unit than when you renovate or remodel your home. Even if your system will not need any upgraded output potential for new square footage, starting your new living space off fresh with a brand-new system may be worth considering.

Scheduling our furnace or air conditioning installation team to come in at the ideal time during your renovation means that you’ll have one less thing to worry about after the renovation concludes.

Additionally, if you’re using low-rate mortgage refinancing to access your home’s equity to fund your project, as many Northern Colorado families are these days, then seizing the chance to start with a new, warrantied furnace and air conditioning unit for your home protects you from unexpected repairs or replacements after the renovation.

4 – Check and Change Air Filters Often — Really Often

Even a minor home renovation — a live-through renovation, for instance — kicks up a ton of dust and debris that your HVAC system is simply not used to or built for taking in. One key place to keep a close eye on anytime your HVAC system runs during or after your renovation is your furnace’s air filter.

You’ll likely notice an immediate difference the first time you check your air filter during the renovation. If your system is running, it is likely that you’ll see thick layers of drywall dust, particles of debris, sawdust, and other unusual contaminants evident on your filters.

Any blockage of a furnace filter can cause your system to overwork, your air quality to go down, and a host of other, potentially expensive, damages. Expect to check your filter every couple of days during and after a renovation and keep a hefty stockpile of clean filters ready to swap out as your system pulls in and works through the dust and debris in your home.

5 – As the Dust Settles, Get the Ducts Cleaned

While duct cleaning is a relatively rare event for most homeowners — often ranging from every 2-4 years based on your living situation — a post-renovation home should get duct cleaning performed almost immediately after construction finishes.

As mentioned above, your air intake vents will collect a ton of dust and debris from your home’s renovation, even if the system isn’t engaged at all until after the renovation concludes.

The fine particles created from cutting, moving, and placing the building elements used in your project creates a unique challenge for your home’s ventilation. You’ll see evidence of this throughout the home: thick layers of dust atop door frames; a white powdery substance on winter coats; ceiling fans that let off a cloud when engaged; etc.

Just imagine how much dust accumulates in your forced-air ventilation system as the air cycles through your home. A single renovation can more than outweigh years of normal wear-and-tear on your ventilation system, especially if left uncleaned long afterward.

With a single duct cleaning from Lion Home Services, your ventilation system will run at full strength and remove the undue burden on your home’s furnace and AC.

6 – Set Up a Maintenance Plan

You’ll continue to see heavy, unusual dust in your furnace filters for quite a while after the construction is over. Rather than worrying about what toll that may be taking on your home’s HVAC systems, it’s best to set up a maintenance plan early and in advance to ensure your home’s furnace, air conditioning, and ventilation are not getting their lifespans cut short as a result of your project.

Trust the team at Lion Home Services to analyze and maintain your home’s HVAC after the renovation. We want you to enjoy your newly-improved home with safe, energy-efficient heating and cooling for years to come!

Contact us to discuss your home’s ideal maintenance plan today!

Air Filters

Indoor Air Quality Means More Now Than Ever

With the current state of affairs in the world, we tend to think of our homes as a safe haven away from the big bad coronavirus lurking just outside the door. While this may be true to an extent, the quality of the air inside your home matters now more than ever. We are only seeing the beginning effects of what has been labeled a pandemic in the US. 

 

In record numbers, sporting events and gatherings are being canceled, hand washing has become a hot button issue, and the threat of Covid -19 is looming large over all of us in Fort Collins. Even though we have not had a large number of cases locally, state and local officials are working to contain any exposure there may be.

 

Employers are having their employees work from home; Fort Collins area schools are preparing for the worst; and we can look forward to a world without professional sports this year. It is looking like this is no joke and we all need to take it seriously.   

 

This disruption does mean a big change in all of our lives over the next few months. Really, who knows how long we are going to be under the threat of this virus. This means you are probably going to be spending much more time at home, so wouldn’t you like to be sure of your indoor air quality?

 

At Lion Home Service, we are just as concerned about the possibility of this virus spreading as you are, and we do not want any of our employees or clients to become sick. While minimizing indoor pollutants is important at any time, it brings the concern of the air inside your home into much more focus.

 

Your home should be an oasis from the outside world, a safe haven where you can breathe easy and not have to worry about inhaling contaminants.   

 

The Air In Your Home May Be Dirtier Than You Think 

 

Indoor air pollution can contribute to respiratory illness and other short- or long- term health effects, but with a few simple maintenance items your indoor air quality can be improved. Of course, there are a few sources of indoor air pollution that are not going to be as easy to eradicate. 

 

Depending on how old your home may be, there are a wide variety of building materials that produce harmful substances. These can range from formaldehyde to asbestos, and when these are present, it is crucial to develop a plan of action to deal with these pollutants as they are very difficult to mitigate. 

 

As far as day-to-day pollutants, a properly functioning HVAC system will minimize the presence of indoor air pollutants and keep your family safe. At Lion Home Service we have some of the best service service experts in the industry, the local experts in ensuring that you have a safe heating and cooling system in your home. 

 

While it is impossible to prevent all forms of indoor air pollution, a properly functioning HVAC system can ensure that the air circulating in your home is as clean as possible. 

 

Carbon Monoxide

 

A product of combustion, carbon monoxide is a harmful gas that is very difficult to detect and could result in serious health problems. Carbon monoxide can be present in a poorly functioning heater or heater components. Thankfully many homes are now equipped with carbon monoxide detectors and modern furnaces include safeguards to prevent carbon monoxide issues. 

     

Duct Work

 

Duct work stretches throughout much of your home and sends cooled or heated air to the far reaches of your living space. Over time, these ducts become a resting place for bacteria, dust, and sometimes mold. While changing your filter will help, the majority of contaminants that find their way into your ducts enter through your vents and can be difficult to remove.     

 

Filters 

 

Your HVAC filter is the first line of defense for your indoor air quality. While filters may vary in terms of quality, the principle is the same — to catch particles from the air and prevent them from circulating in your home. A good filter can block particles all the way down to bacteria, but keep in mind that filtering out tiny particles like that would mean an air-tight system and your HVAC is not completely airtight so filter effectiveness is subjective.   

 

Through furnace maintenance, duct cleaning, and filter service, Lion Home Services specializes in creating an environment so that you can feel safe inside of your home. This is all the more critical when we are faced with a potentially terrible situation due to the coronavirus. 

 

If you need to schedule routine maintenance, a filter change, or duct cleaning, please contact us today and we will do our part to make you more comfortable in your home. We hope you stay safe during this period and please use our 24-hour call center if you need any assistance with your HVAC system.         

     

Air Filters

4 Helpful Indoor Air Quality Tips

The quality of the indoor air in your home determines how well you breathe each day and the cleanliness of your surroundings. Many residents struggle to protect their air from contaminants, pollutants, and allergens that enter the building. Here are a few indoor air quality tips to utilize that should prove to be helpful for your Fort Collins home.

1. Use Green Cleaning Products

Many people don’t realize how many chemicals and toxins circulate throughout the building when they clean their home. Due to the different types of cleaning products that are used to wipe down various surfaces, harmful chemicals can spread. Opt for using green cleaning products that are made from natural ingredients to protect the air quality in the building. You can also rely on household cleaners like vinegar and baking soda to remove grime throughout the space.

2. Ventilate the House

Proper airflow is necessary to improve the quality of the air. Proper airflow also lets dust, particles, and allergens exit the home. Open the doors and windows throughout the day to remove stagnant air and refresh the space. If you live in a downtown area or a busy city, be specific about the time of day when you open your windows and doors to prevent pollutants from entering the home.

3. Replace the Air Filter

Many people forget to replace their air filters every few months, which can cause dust, pet hair, and allergens to circulate after the particles are trapped. Replace the air filter every two to three months, depending on how much the HVAC system is used. The filters can also be regularly cleaned according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

4. Purchase a Salt Lamp

Salt lamps are increasing in popularity because they fight positively charged ions that lead to allergies. Residents can also experience relief with their respiratory issues or asthma.

Quality AC Repair

Contact Lion Home Service in Fort Collins today to learn more about how you can improve the quality of the air in your home with the help of one of our service experts. We also offer heating, cooling, electrical, roofing and water heater services.

Air Filters

Benefits of Air Filter Subscriptions

It may be hard to believe, but the air filter for your HVAC system is its most important part. The filter traps the airborne particulates that could harm your air handler if they collected inside it. Having a subscription with Lion Home Service in northern Colorado makes it easy to remember to change the filter. Even better, you’ll always have the correct filter for your system.

Convenience

Home deliveries of just about everything that you use on a routine basis are a major convenience, especially for filters. Big box stores, home improvement centers, and grocery stores do stock some filters, but if they don’t have the type and size you need, then you’ll have to go somewhere else.

Indoor Air Quality

New filters are also a reminder to check and change the old filter, a household chore that’s easy to forget but so important for indoor air quality. A dirty filter distributes lots of airborne particulates that contain typical allergens, like pollen, mold spores, dust and dust mite waste, pet dander, and hair. If anyone in your family suffers from allergies, then a filter delivery subscription will help to ensure that your filter will be changed on a regular basis, which enhances everyone’s ability to breathe naturally.

Besides improving your indoor air quality, clean filters prevent a buildup of dust and debris inside the ductwork. Excessive debris in the ductwork can slow down the air flowing through them and drive up your energy bills.

Precision

When you sign up for a subscription for air filters, you’ll benefit from the expertise of the professionals. They will advise you on the best types of filters to use for kinds of dust and particulates common in the northern Colorado environment. They’ll also verify the best kind of filter the HVAC manufacturer recommends, and you’ll always have the right size.

Besides the considerable convenience an air filter subscription with Lion Home Service in Fort Collins, CO, gives you, your home’s HVAC system will run more efficiently and deliver cleaner air. You’ll also have more time to spend on activities your family enjoys. Call us today to see for yourself.