Indoor Air Quality

5 Tips to Reduce the Effects of Wildfire Smoke With Your Home’s HVAC

This year has brought unprecedented wildfires to the Western United States, and Colorado has been no exception. The fires here have created a blanket of smoke and ash over our Northern Colorado communities and many of our neighbors are concerned about what this means for their indoor air quality. Today, we’ll share some ways your HVAC system can help stave off the harmful effects of the outside air when wildfire smoke causes a sharp increase in pollutants.

1 – Close Windows & Doors

While it may seem obvious, keeping your home’s windows and doors sealed as often as possible is the best way to keep the harmful air from circulating in your home. While this likely isn’t always possible for your household, ensuring that nobody in the family is sleeping with the window cracked or frequently coming and going, for instance, can go a long way toward ensuring the entire home is exposed to as little outdoor air as possible and allows the HVAC to cycle cleaner air throughout the home.

Another thing to consider is sealing any known cracks or gaps in your home’s windows or doors with a damp towel. In ordinary times, we’d recommend upgrading your windows or doors to new energy-efficient models, but letting the smoke in during the replacement process would likely cause more short-term harm than good when compared to waiting until after fire season.

2 – Keep Exhaust Fans Off

One aspect folks rarely consider connecting their home to the outdoors is the exhaust fans often found in kitchens or bathrooms, as well as whole-house fans. Any system that requires pulling indoor air out will eventually need to balance out with outdoor air coming in. So, by running the bathroom or above-the-oven exhaust fans, you’re inadvertently inviting in outdoor air.

In general, one of the best defenses your home has against harmful air pollutants outside, such as allergens, pollution, or even wildfire smoke is to keep air sealed inside. If your family can go without using the gas range stovetop or taking lengthy showers through the worst days of the fires, you’ll be thankful for the higher air quality that keeping the exhaust fans off will afford.

3 – Seal AC Intake Vents

In a similar vein, your home’s forced-air HVAC system would typically utilize air intake vents to bring fresh air from the outdoors into your home while your air conditioner is running. During days with particularly bad wildfire smoke, these vents can work to bring in pollutants and cause more harm than good in addition to overworking your system.

If you’re unsure about where to find your system’s air intake vents or whether or not you should disable them, get in touch with the team at Lion Home Service for advice or a service appointment.

On a related note, there is typically no way to disable air intake on an air conditioner window unit, so our team does not recommend the normal use of window units during poor outdoor conditions.

4 – Change the Air Filter (More) Frequently

If you’ve read our other posts, you’ll likely understand that we often recommend checking and changing air filters on your home’s HVAC. During a fire, we strongly suggest that Northern Colorado residents check and change air filters far more frequently than normal. Since many of the harmful air particles in wildfire smoke are very fine, a worn-out air filter could only show minor discoloration compared to the norm.

If you notice anything other than a great-looking air filter in your furnace, check to ensure that your home is sealed as much as possible and prepare to regularly change your air filter. Even if your filter does look pretty good, it wouldn’t hurt to change it once or twice more than normal during long bouts of wildfire smoke in our area. A dirty or clogged air filter will cause your system to overwork and could allow particles to cycle through the system repeatedly, which pumps that air into your home.

5 – Incorporate an Upgraded Filter

If you’d like to know for sure that your home’s air is as purified as possible, we recommend a germicidal and oxidizing UVC air filtration system. This add-on to your furnace will work round-the-clock to filter out particles floating in the air within your home. During a wildfire, this added protection will make a noticeable difference in your home’s indoor air quality.

These systems work to remove common air particles, such as particles, allergens, germs, airborne diseases, chemical gases, odors, pet dander, smoke, and more. So, you can rest assured in knowing that your air filtration will provide lasting value even when the outdoor air is back to normal.

Check out our indoor air quality products and services and be sure to let us know if you have any questions on the best system for your home or would like a consultation appointment with one of our Northern Colorado HVAC service experts.

Indoor Air Quality

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!

Indoor Air Quality

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.         

     

Indoor Air Quality

How to Prepare for Fall Allergens

As the summer ends, many Fort Collins residents think about their heating systems. It’s also important to think about the air quality of your home in the autumn months. The fall season brings a unique set of allergens and irritants into your home air supply.

Ragweed and Goldenrod

Goldenrod and ragweed are common plants throughout the United States. Many fall allergy symptoms are the result of exposure to the pollen of these two. While much of this pollen is outdoors, it can also make its way inside as people enter and exit your home. As the season progresses, the amount of pollen in your indoor air increases if it is not addressed.

Dust and Dust Mites

Due to the changing seasons, there may have been some time when you did not need to heat or cool your home. During those weeks, dust and dust mites collected in your ductwork. Now the evenings are getting colder. Soon, your heating system will kick on, spreading dust through the vents. It is very common for sensitive to people to have an allergy attack at the beginning of the heating season.

How to Prepare for Fall Allergens

Getting dust and irritants out of your home is key to improving your air quality. A basic step you can take is increasing the amount of vacuuming. You will want to use a vacuum with a strong filter that will pick up pollen, dust particles, and other small irritants. You might want to consider a robotic vacuum that can help you do this on a daily basis.

Another way to address the problem is to have duct cleaning performed by professionals like those at Lion Home Service. We can get the dust out before the heating season begins. You also want to be sure to change your furnace filter regularly or talk to one of our service experts about adding an air purifier to your duct system. These filtration systems remove dust as it travels through your heating and cooling ductwork.

In the Fort Collins area, Lion Home Service is ready to help you with all your heating, cooling, indoor air quality, electrical and roofing needs. We have the knowledge and skill to improve your home comfort. Contact Lion Home Service today for more information.

Indoor Air Quality

Do Salt Lamps Really Improve Your Indoor Air Quality?

Pink salt isn’t just for your dinner table anymore — this popular culinary addition has now found its way onto your bedside table, too. But do salt lamps really work to purify the air in your home? Or do these novel decorations offer nothing more than aesthetic appeal? While salt lamps have enjoyed a recent surge in popularity, their air purification claims may be nothing more than well-marketed hype. Let’s take a look at the claims and determine if there is any truth to the salt lamp health craze.

Salt Lamps Claim to Ionize Air

The benefits of air ionization are well documented, ranging from reduction of chronic depression symptoms to improvements in seasonal affective disorder. However, it is unlikely that salt lamps are capable of providing significant air-ionizing benefits. Proponents of salt lamp air purification claim that negative ions released from the lamp’s pink salt work to remove harmful pollution and dust particles from the air.

While negative ions are indeed capable of eradicating dust mites and binding to other particles, this process requires an extremely high-powered ion generator. Because a salt lamp is essentially a light bulb inside a hollow chunk of salt, its ion-generating capabilities are minimal, experts believe.

Negative Ions Make for a Dusty Home

Even if salt lamps are somehow capable of generating negative ions, this phenomenon can negatively impact air quality, experts believe. While negative ions are indeed capable of reducing harmful particles in ambient air, they do so by binding to such particles, causing them to stick to various surfaces throughout your home. The benefit, proponents claim, is that these bound particles make dust cleanup and removal much more efficient. However, many experts believe that the accumulation of these particles can trigger allergy symptoms in more sensitive individuals.

Science Says Salt Lamps Are Bunk

Beyond the ionizing claims, proponents also assert that salt lamps are capable of attracting water vapor toward their salty surfaces. The idea is that pollutants in the ambient air are attracted to water, and as this vapor adheres to the lamp’s surface, pollutants dissociate and dissipate, thereby improving air quality. However, there is little scientific evidence to suggest that water vapor does indeed attract airborne pollutants or that the scant heat produced by a salt lamp is capable of dissociating them.

Your Air Quality Professionals in Fort Collins

When it comes to maintaining high-quality air inside your home, one of the most effective things you can do is work with a knowledgeable HVAC company. At Lion Home Service, we know your home is an investment, and you deserve to enjoy that investment in good health. Whether you need heating and cooling service, duct cleaning, and repair, septic service, roof installation, and repair or certified electricians, we provide the service you need. We are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Contact Lion Home Service today for more information.

Indoor Air Quality

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.

Indoor Air Quality

How Candles Impact Indoor Air Quality

Ideally, the air that you breathe in your home will be clean and fresh. However, there are many things that people do that can make it harder to achieve this goal. Burning candles indoors is one such culprit that can impact your indoor air quality.

Paraffin Candles May Cause Health Problems

Any portion of a paraffin candle that has been burned will turn into soot that may be released into the air. In small quantities, you may not notice any negative impact on your health. However, if you regularly burn such candles indoors, it might result in a higher risk of cancer or other health problems. Those who have asthma or COPD may find it harder to breathe when a candle is burning.

Candles Can Release Smoke Into the Air

Regardless of what a candle is made from, it can release smoke into the air that may be difficult for some to breathe. The smell of smoke can linger in the air for hours or days after a candle has burned. In addition to making air quality worse, smoke can cause damage to furniture or other surfaces. If you’re concerned about the air quality in your house, Lion Home Service in Fort Collins can help. We can do duct cleanings and inspect all HVAC components to ensure that they’re not circulating dirty air around your house.

Scented Candles Can Create Strong Odors

Even if you aren’t bothered by smoke or the presence of other potentially harmful particles in the air, scented candles can create strong odors that may be hard to handle. In some cases, you could be dealing with the scent of vanilla or lilacs long after the candle has burned. This can be problematic for those who have sensitive noses or are allergic to certain scents.

If you’re struggling to breathe in your own home, call Lion Home Service in Fort Collins today for help. In addition to heating and cooling services, we can install boilers or help with any electrical problems that your house may experience.

Indoor Air Quality

Reducing Air Pollution in Your Home

At Lion Home Service, we understand how dangerous it can be to have high levels of air pollution in your home. There are many sources of air pollution that can be minimized to improve the quality of the air that you’re breathing. You can also take steps to remove pollutants from your air once they have entered your home.

Causes of Indoor Air Pollution

Indoor air pollution can come from a variety of sources and cause health issues. Whether you’re worried about asthma getting worse or getting sick from bacteria or viruses, keeping air contaminants out of your home is important.

Harmful pollution can come from:

  • Cleaning products
  • Pet dander
  • Mold
  • Dust
  • Fireplaces
  • Smoking

Contaminants can get into your HVAC system and circulate throughout your building and degrade the air in a building. Indoor air pollution tends to be worse in the winter when windows and doors are closed and air circulation is minimized.

Steps to Minimize Exposure

Here are a couple of ways that you could minimize your personal exposure to harmful pollutants.

Maintain Your HVAC System: Keeping your air filters clean can keep dirt from getting dislodged and entering the air stream. You can also have a professional install an air purifier in your home to clean the air.

Ventilate Your Home: Keeping windows and doors open whenever possible will allow fresh air in your home and prevent the buildup of harmful chemicals or particles in the air. In the winter, open a window whenever it’s warm enough to encourage airflow in your home.

Our Trusted Indoor Air Quality Services

At Lion Home Service, we’re proud to offer a 100% customer satisfaction guarantee on all of our services. We’re fast and reliable, and we care about the well-being of all of our customers. Our service experts are highly experienced and friendly.

Call us at Lion Home Service today to see how we can help you reduce air pollutants in your Fort Collins, CO, home. Call us for other services, too. We offer heating, cooling, duct cleaning, electrical, insulation, and drain repair services.

Indoor Air Quality

The Importance of Air Duct Cleaning

Air ducts get a lot of daily use. This means that they can get soiled or contaminated over time. When this happens, dirty air might be circulating throughout a home. This poor air quality can sometimes lead to negative health consequences.

How Are Air Ducts Cleaned?

Cleaning air ducts is usually best left to the professionals, like our team at Lion Home Service. Usually, air duct cleaners use negative air machines equipped with HEPA filters along with rotary brush cabling systems to knock any debris or built-on dust and grime loose. These vacuum cleaning systems are typically mounted on trucks. The benefit of using truck-mounted vacuums is that the dust and debris will go straight from the ducts to an external holding system rather than any container that needs to be moved around your home. Quality ductwork professionals can also clean the furnace, air coils, and central system so that every part is addressed. From start to finish, all of the particulates stay contained within a closed system.

When Should You Clean Your Air Vents?

Having your air ducts cleaned isn’t something that you have to worry about all the time. Though each situation differs, it’s generally recommended that ducts get cleaned every three to five years. You might want to have them cleaned more often if you have pets that shed or have noticed a problem with rodents or critters that may be leaving droppings in your ductwork. In addition, construction and remodeling projects can make a home very dusty and filled with sawdust. All of those particles can find their way into the ducts, so you may want to schedule a cleaning soon after one of these large projects or builds has been completed.

The Results

Contaminants, dust, and debris can be removed from your home when your air ducts are cleaned. People in your household, especially those with respiratory issues, can benefit from breathing in cleaner air. Give us a call at Lion Home Service in Fort Collins if you think it’s time for your air ducts to be cleaned or for our HVAC services.