Althoff Industries Inc. Blog: Archive for the ‘Indoor Air Quality’ Category

Indoor Air Quality Checkpoint: How’s Your Air?

Monday, September 13th, 2021

Today is when you should take a moment to check in with your home’s indoor air quality. This is something that can get lost in the shuffle. Heating and air conditioning tend to be the kings and queens of temperature control. We don’t blame you if this is your central focus, but we do want to encourage you to broaden your horizons a little.

This is why we want to focus on your indoor air quality in Crystal Lake, IL. Today we’re going to talk about signs that you need help with your indoor air quality, the various options that you have with our professionals, and why professional care is important.

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A Guide to Home Humidifier Maintenance: Better Performance and Better Health

Tuesday, November 24th, 2020

As we transition from warm 80 degree days to chilly 40 degree temps, it’s likely that you’ll notice that the indoor air in your home becomes much drier than usual. As temperatures drop and the air becomes drier, many homeowners turn to humidifiers for a solution. But what does a home humidifier do, and why is it so beneficial to own one?

In this article, we’ll dive into everything you need to know about what a humidifier does, how it can improve your health, and how to perform routine home humidifier maintenance. If you have been on the fence about purchasing a house humidifier, then keep reading to learn more before making your investment!

How Does a Humidifier Work?

The most common type of humidifier is the evaporative humidifier. A water reservoir holds cold water and dispenses it into a basin. From here, a wicking filter absorbs the water from the basin, and then a fan blows air through the moistened filter.

Evaporative humidifiers are usually self-regulating. As the air passes through the filter, some of the water evaporates. The higher the humidity is in the environment, the more difficult it is for the water to evaporate from the filter. Thus, as humidity increases, the humidifier’s ability to add humidity to the air decreases.

However, at Althoff Industries, we offer homeowners durable, whole-home, industrial-grade Aprilaire humidifiers. These are far superior to evaporative humidifiers, as they don’t utilize a water reservoir and are instead connected directly to your house’s water supply. Each Aprilaire humidifier comes with a five-year warranty, and they are equipped with easy-to-use digital controls that allow for simple adjustments to be made.

Maintaining Humidity Levels

Overall, try to keep the humidity in your home between 30% and 50% if possible. Humidity levels above 60% have the potential to allow moisture, germs, and bacteria to build up on indoor surfaces, while humidity levels below 30% will cause the air to become too dry.

What to Do if Your Humidifier Is Malfunctioning

Humidifiers are capable of lasting for several years. However, with the amount of use they get, you may find that your humidifier may not be working as effectively as it should. Additionally, dirty humidifiers may also lead to a build-up of the very same germs and bacteria that the humidifier was designed to protect you from.

Manufacturers often suggest that most humidifiers should have some type of general maintenance performed on them at least once a year. This is because air traveling through the humidifier carries dust, debris, and other particles, which can clog the filter and create a buildup of mineral deposits. The best way to keep your humidifier up and running is to have a professional perform regular maintenance on it.

Althoff Industries can perform repairs and maintenance on your current home humidifier, or we can completely install a new humidifier if your old one is broken. We offer high-quality, durable Aprilaire humidifiers that are some of the best available on the market. The following are ways that our humidifiers can improve the quality of your household.

  • Save on Utility Bills An effective humidifier will keep the air in your home moist, allowing it to hold heat better. This will help you feel more comfortable at lower temperatures.
  • Prevents Uncomfortable Dry Skin Our humidifiers prevent excessive itchiness, flaking, and chapped lips. Overly dry air can exacerbate existing conditions like eczema and acne, and our humidifiers can help with that too.
  • Prevents Static Electricity Overly dry air can lead to a build-up of static electricity in your household, causing your clothes to stick together, painful electric shocks, and even damage to your electronics.
  • Prevents Damage to Your Home If there isn’t enough moisture in the air, damage to your home can occur, including cracking, shifting, and loss of shape.
  • Keeps Your Family Healthier Breathing in dry air can dry out your sinuses, leading to an increased risk of catching colds and getting sick, as your mucus is less able to catch germs that you breathe in.

Contact Althoff Industries to Solve Your Air Quality Needs

If your humidifier isn’t cutting it, and you think you need the help of professionals, contact Althoff Industries. With our staff of experienced HVAC technicians, we can thoroughly inspect your home and recommend the best high-quality humidifiers for your home. Estimates on new equipment are always free!

If you are in the market for a new humidifier, then contact Althoff Industries, so we can help you make an educated purchase. We also offer a number of other air quality, plumbing, and electrical services to keep your home running in tip-top shape!

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What Is the Difference Between a GFCI Outlet and a Regular Outlet?

Monday, September 14th, 2020

Electricity is something people take for granted because of how prevalent it is in our daily lives, but electrical safety is no joke. People can get seriously injured by electrical shocks in the home.

Electricity, water, and humans are a bad combination, which is why GFCI outlets were invented. GFCI stands for Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter, and it is a type of electrical safety precaution that was invented to decrease the likelihood of people suffering from electrical shocks while they are in areas of the house that contain water sources.

Standard electrical outlets provide no protection against ground faults, making them extremely risky to use, especially when they are located near water. If your house has no GFCI technology embedded into your high-risk outlets, then there is a significantly increased chance that you could get electrocuted.

Below you can find our guide to GFCI outlets, including where they should be located in the home and what to do if one is malfunctioning.

What Is a Ground Fault?

First, we should probably explain what exactly a ground fault is.

A “fault” is an electrical term that describes an instance where electricity deviates from its intended path, and a “ground fault” is when electricity takes an unintended path to the ground.

See, when electricity is not in a controlled environment, it makes a beeline toward whatever is the best conductor in the immediate vicinity. This is why most lightning strikes the ground, because the ground is one of the best electrical conductors there is.

In the home, electricity is contained within wires that are covered in an insulating material such as plastic or rubber. This prevents the electricity from escaping and flowing through a different conductor, such as water, the ground, or a person.

Unfortunately, wires can get frayed or damaged which can break the insulation keeping the electricity at bay. When the power source is turned on this can cause a person to become electrocuted which can lead to serious injury or even death.

Standard electrical outlets have no safety features installed within them to prevent people from being electrocuted and these standard outlets were the only ones used in homes built before the 1970s.

Thus, a safety measure had to be invented in order to significantly reduce the chances of this occurring.

What is a GFCI Outlet?

GFCI protection technology was invented in the 1970s and GFCI outlets began to be used in place of standard electrical outlets in certain high-risk areas of the home.

Any electrical outlet that is located in an area of the house containing a water source (i.e. bathrooms, kitchen counters, etc.) is required to be outfitted with GFCI technology.

A GFCI outlet contains sensors that continuously monitor the surge of electricity within the wiring. When a fault is detected, the GFCI immediately shuts off the flow of electricity to the outlet.

This response typically occurs within thirty milliseconds, so the person using the outlet may still receive a painful electric shock. A sustained surge of electricity to the human body is what can cause more serious problems and GFCI is designed to prevent.

Where Should GFCI Outlets Be Installed?

Areas of the house that are required by law to use GFCI protected outlets include kitchen counters, bathrooms, garages, laundry rooms, unfinished basements, and within six feet of wet bars.

Other areas of the house like bedrooms and living rooms that don’t contain water sources are not required to use GFCI receptacles, as there is not much risk of electrocution in those areas.

Houses that are built after the year 2014 require GFCI circuit breakers to be installed during construction, so that the entire house receives GFCI protection.

However, if you live in a house that was built before the 1970s, then all your outlets will be of the standard variety and contain no GFCI protection. If this is the case, then you should most certainly have your existing outlets replaced to reduce your risk of being electrocuted.

According to the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI), electrocutions are down more than 83 percent since the 1970s when GFCI technology was introduced, which goes to show how important GFCI is.

What to Do if a GFCI Outlet is Malfunctioning

You can tell if an outlet has GFCI protection because it will have two small buttons between the receptacles labeled “RESET” and “TEST.” Every so often the GFCI will trigger and shut off electrical flow to the outlet when a fault has not actually occurred.

This could happen for a variety of reasons, but one of the most common is static electricity occurring near the outlet.

The GFCI protection activating by mistake every once in a while is no big deal, as it can be activated again by simply pressing the “RESET” button and turning it back on.

Pressing the “TEST” button allows you to check and see if the outlet is working properly. A GFCI outlet shouldn’t require much in the way of maintenance, but it doesn’t hurt to hit the test button once every month or so just to make sure that it’s working.

If your outlet tests back negative or is repeatedly shutting off without reason, then you should probably get it replaced. If you have experience with electrical wiring, then you can probably do it yourself.

If not, then you should call a professional to come fix it for you. An inexperienced person can get seriously injured by messing around with the wires.

On the other hand, if you live in an old house or you have standard outlets located in areas where GFCI outlets should be, then you should absolutely have them replaced. If you don’t, then you are putting yourself at unnecessary risk.

Althoff Industries has been servicing the Chicago area for many years. Whether you have just a single malfunctioning outlet that needs to be replaced or you need your entire house to be outfitted with GFCI technology, Althoff has got your back.

Call us at (844) 202-7430 if you have an emergency electrical issue that needs to be taken care of or visit our website to view all of the services that we provide.

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7 Causes of Poor Indoor Air Quality and How They Affect Your Health

Friday, June 5th, 2020

Are you continually waking up with a scratchy throat, stuffy nose and puffy eyes? The air quality inside your house might be to blame.

If your home’s indoor air quality is less than ideal, it can have dangerous short-term and long-term effects on your health. Poor indoor air quality is typically a combination of environmental, hygienic and climate-related causes. Fortunately, improving your home’s air quality is affordable and straightforward when you understand the reasons for poor indoor air quality.

What Causes Poor Indoor Air Quality?

1. Cleaning supplies. Many household cleaning products contain strong chemicals that leave behind dangerous fumes. While you’re cleaning your surfaces, these chemicals are polluting the air inside your home, especially if you’re cleaning in a room with poor ventilation. The toxicity of household cleaners depends on the brand and the type of cleaner you’re using. Typically, bathroom and kitchen cleaners contain the most dangerous fumes.

2. Pet dander. Most of us consider our pets as part of the family. Dogs and cats especially, while cute, loyal companions, can impact the air quality inside of your home. Pet hair and dander can collect on carpets and blow around in the air, which can cause respiratory problems when it accumulates inside of your home.

3. Carpet fumes. If you’ve recently installed carpet into your home, you may have noticed a new smell. The carpet’s backing and the adhesive that bonds the carpet to the floor both contain chemicals. The carpet releases these fumes over time, which can cause headaches, nausea and dizziness. Additionally, carpet can harbor dirt, dander and allergens. If you’re particularly sensitive to fumes, or if you have a sensitive respiratory system, carpet may not be the best choice for your home.

4. Mold and mildew. Mold and mildew rapidly grow when there’s a lot of moisture in the air. When mold grows, it releases spores into the air that can cause dangerous respiratory health effects. Mold and mildew are typical problems in bathrooms, basements and kitchens.

5. Pesticides. One of the most uncomfortable things you can deal with in your home is an invasion of pests. Ants, cockroaches and spiders can be a startling sight to see in any home. On the other hand, the pesticides used to treat and prevent pests can damage your indoor air quality. The chemicals in pesticides are strong enough to kill insects, and the fumes can affect your respiratory system if the area isn’t well-ventilated.

6. Paints and varnishes. You’ll recognize the smell of polyurethane if you’ve ever walked into a house with freshly refinished hardwood floors. Likewise, most people are familiar with the scent of a newly painted room. While these smells can be a sign of a finished project, the fumes also affect indoor air quality and can trigger respiratory problems.

7. Poor air circulation and ventilation. When it comes down to basics, poor indoor air quality is generally the cause of poor air circulation and ventilation. As the air gets trapped in your home, dust, debris, pollen and fumes don’t have a quick way to escape your home. There’s also a lack of fresh air coming into your home, which is essential for controlling indoor air quality.

How to Improve Your Indoor Air Quality

First, the simplest and most affordable way to improve your indoor air quality is by increasing the ventilation and circulation within your home. By opening windows and doors, you’re allowing fresh air to enter your home and replenish the poor air inside of the house. Along the same lines, cleaning your ductwork and regularly replacing your air filter helps improve the indoor air being recirculated by your HVAC system.

Additionally, consider purchasing an air purifier or an upgraded air filtration system to improve your home’s indoor air quality. These devices can help clean the air inside of your home if you’re unable to improve ventilation.

In most areas prone to mold and mildew buildup, consider investing in a dehumidifier to lower the humidity in the air and prevent mold growth.

Click here to learn more about the indoor air quality solutions at Althoff.

We Can Help You Breathe Easier

Measuring air quality and nailing down the cause of poor air quality can be tough. Althoff Industries employs experts in ventilation, whole system humidifiers and dehumidifiers, air purifiers and duct cleaning services to help improve your home’s air quality.

Do you have questions or concerns about your home’s air quality? Contact our expert team today to discuss which indoor air quality solution is right for your home.

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6 Ways to Improve Indoor Air Quality This Summer

Monday, May 11th, 2020

When people think of air quality, they usually think of the air outdoors but the air inside can also become very polluted – especially during the warmer months. Things like dust and allergens, mold, chemicals used in conventional cleaners, and more can compromise indoor air quality. Luckily, there are steps you can take to improve indoor air quality in your home this summer!

snake plant air quality

1. Use a Dehumidifier

Pests and allergens thrive in the humidity. Dust mites, in particular, are a common trigger for allergies and asthma, and they love the humidity. However, most dust mites die off in low humidity environments. Keeping humidity around 30%-50% will help keep this under control. Although humidity in the Midwest region isn’t nearly as high as it is in places like Florida, humidity is still definitely present!

A dehumidifier removes moisture from the air and creates an environment that prevents dust mites and pests from shacking up in your home this summer.

2. Switch to a High-Quality Air Filter

If you went through our Spring Air Conditioner Maintenance Checklist and found that your filter was looking pretty dirty, you likely need to replace it. There are tons of air filters on the market but some perform better than others.

To tell how effective an air filter is, you will need to look at the Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV). MERV was developed by the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioner Engineers – ASHRAE and values vary from 1 to 16. The higher the MERV value is, the more efficient the filter will be in trapping airborne particles.

At Althoff, we recommend the high-quality filter and cabinet from Aprilaire. Based on the needs of our customer, our typical installation is either MERV 11 or MERV 13.

To learn more about the Aprilaire air filters, visit our indoor air quality page!

3. Groom Your Pets Regularly

We love our pets but they can create a lot of issues when it comes to indoor air quality. Pet dander is harmful to those who are allergic, but pets can also bring a whole host of other things into your home from the outdoors.

Regularly grooming your pets removes extra fur, dust, dirt, and other debris that can affect indoor air quality. We suggest brushing their fur and bathing them outside if possible or taking them to a professional groomer.

4. Avoid Synthetic Fragrances and Remove Odors

Synthetic fragrances in things like laundry products, cleaners, and air fresheners emit a lot of chemicals into the air. Although they may make your home smell clean, they are compromising the air quality. Fragranced products are not required to say exactly what makes the fragrance and can contain VOCs.

In addition, you may not be sensitive to heavily fragranced home products but visitors or pets might be.

Use products that are fragrance-free or naturally fragranced. You can also install an odor remover and air purification device like the Air Scrubber by Aerus. This device is installed in the ductwork of the central AC and uses a combination of UV-C light and activated carbon to reduce odor-causing 

VOCs.

To learn more about the Air Scrubber by Aerus, visit our indoor air quality page!

5. Purchase Air Purifying Plants

Indoor plants are a wonderful addition to any home and some can actually help clean the air. Although not quite as effective as man-made air purifiers, they work well in conjunction with effective purification systems.

NASA recommended air purification plants:

  • Snake plant
  • Money plant
  • Chinese evergreen
  • Spider plant
  • Aloe vera
  • Dragon tree

6. Install a Robust Air Purifier

All of the above are great ways to improve indoor air quality but if you really want clean air in your home, you should consider investing in an air purifier like the Abatement Technologies HEPA Residential Air Purifier.

The Abatement Technologies HEPA Residential Air Purifier converts home’s HVAC System into a Hospital-Grade HEPA Filtration System. The system removes at least 99.97% of microscopic airborne particles and pushes the air through multiple filtration cycles. Multiple filtration cycles means that the system catches tiny particles that lower-quality purifiers and most filters miss.

This type of high-quality HVAC purification system also offers germicidal UV (UVGI) lamp technology irradiates and helps control mold spores and bacteria.

With an air purifier like this one, you will want to hire an expert to install it correctly to ensure that the air in your home is as clean as can be!

To learn more about the Abatement Technologies HEPA Residential Air Purifier, visit our indoor air quality page!

In recent decades, many are spending significantly more time inside and that means we all should be mindful of the air quality in our homes.

If you are interested in learning more about the indoor air quality systems and installation, click here! If you are ready to invest in the air quality of your home, you can request a quote from our experts at Althoff Industries or give us a call at 815-455-7000 for more information.

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Is It Time for an Electrical Upgrade? 6 Benefits for Homeowners

Tuesday, March 24th, 2020

Do you live in an older home? Do you have a circuit breaker that’s always tripping, or even scarier, outlets with scorch marks? If you do, it is probably time for an electrical upgrade. Even if you don’t have either of those issues, maybe you’re considering refinishing a basement.

No matter what your reason for considering an electrical upgrade is, there are a slew of benefits that come with choosing to upgrade your current system.

How Do You Know When It’s Time to Upgrade Your Home’s Electrical System?

Most people don’t wake up and think, “It’s time to upgrade my electrical system today!” Most of the time, homeowners have a specific reason for upgrading their system. Usually, the reason is related to safety, a new purchase, or a combination of both.

  • You’re purchasing a new appliance. Certain home appliances require a lot of electricity. If you’re planning to purchase a new appliance such as an air conditioner, dryer, stovetop/range or water heater that relies primarily on electricity, make sure your existing system can handle the extra load.
  • You’re planning a home renovation. Planning on turning the attic into a playroom for the kids? Converting an unfinished basement to a home gym? If you’re adding lights, outlets, technology or pretty much anything that requires drawing more electricity from your system, you’ll need to assess your current system’s capacity. The same logic holds if you’re building an addition or planning a garage conversion.
  • Your circuit breakers trip frequently. Circuit breakers trip as a safety measure to turn off the flow of electricity when a breaker is in danger of overheating. This feature helps prevent electrical fires from sparking in your home. If you have a circuit breaker that’s tripping regularly, it’s time to upgrade.
  • You hear noises coming from the circuit breaker box. Humming or buzzing noises from your electrical breaker box can indicate that your system is overloaded and overworked. An overloaded electrical system can spark and set fire to your home.
  • Your house has 2-prong outlets. Of all the outlets within homes, 2-prong outlets are considered the least safe because they don’t have the third wire/prong to ground the electrical connection.

What’s Involved in an Electrical System Upgrade?

When you’re upgrading your home’s electrical system, you typically need the assistance of a qualified professional and the utility company. Electrical system upgrades vary based on the age of the home, size of the home, and type of project.

Typically, an electrical upgrade begins with an assessment of the existing electrical panel, cables, wiring, and terminals. Afterward, an electrician can determine the amount of power to bring into the home and how many additional circuits you need. This assessment could determine that you need a new electrical panel and if you need to replace wiring, outlets, and/or switches in your home.

6 Benefits of an Electrical Upgrade

Improved safety

Everyone wants to feel safe and secure in their own home. Unsafe electrical systems can spark fires accidentally and unexpectedly, at any time.

Reliable service

For most of us, living without electricity is unfathomable. We need power for just about everything we do. When you flip a switch or plug something in, you don’t want to think twice about whether it works or not.

Added value

If you plan on selling your home soon, upgrading the electrical system can be a great feature that adds value to the home.

Protect your devices

New electronic devices are expensive. Televisions, computers and appliances are all susceptible to power surges. Upgrading your home’s electrical system can help protect your plugged-in devices against unexpected surges.

Insurance discounts

Depending on the age of your home, where you live, and your insurance carrier, upgrading your home’s electrical system may qualify you for a discount on your homeowners’ insurance.

Room for future improvements

If you plan on making continuous improvements to your home over time, like major additions, remodels or adding a hot tub, an electrical upgrade now can prevent headaches in the future.

Considering an Electrical Upgrade? Call Althoff.

Our experienced electricians can assess your home’s current electrical system, address your needs, and calculate the cost of upgrading your system. If you’re in the Chicago area, contact us today to schedule an appointment by filling out our form online or giving us a call at 815-900-5002.

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What Is a SEER Rating and Why Does It Matter?

Friday, March 6th, 2020

Are you in the market for a new HVAC system for your home? If you’re shopping for a new air conditioning system, you’ve probably had a bunch of numbers thrown at you: price, tons, voltage, or, what we will focus on today, SEER rating.

A SEER rating is used to measure the efficiency of your cooling system. Do you know what SEER rating system you need for your home? Do you know what to look for when shopping for air conditioners and reviewing SEER ratings? Do you know why SEER ratings matter?

In this article, we’ll help you understand SEER ratings and why they’re important when shopping for your new AC system.

modern ac unit

What Is a SEER Rating?

SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio.

What the SEER rating does, is measure the cooling efficiency of an air conditioner or heat pump. Manufacturers calculate the SEER rating by dividing the cooling output for a typical cooling season by the total electric energy consumed during the same period.

Think about the SEER rating this way. Automakers almost always disclose the miles per gallon a car will receive; the SEER rating is extremely similar. Instead of thinking about gas consumed over miles traveled, think electricity consumed over cold air generated.

Typically, the SEER ratings for new residential air conditioners range from 13 to over 20. Like mpg for vehicles, a higher SEER rating indicates greater efficiency.

While the SEER rating is important to consider when purchasing an air conditioner, the highest SEER rating may not be the most suitable or the most affordable option for everyone. You’ll need to consider factors including the age of your house, the size of your house, your preferred temperature setting, and where you live.

What Does the SEER Rating Matter?

Like any other seemingly arbitrary calculation, you may be wondering, “I know higher is better, but what does the SEER rating really mean to me?”

Minimum SEER ratings

The U.S Department of Energy has established minimum SEER rating requirements for air conditioners, this rating varies based on region. If you live in the northern U.S., you can purchase air conditioners with a 13 SEER rating minimum. New systems in Illinois have to have a rating of no less than 14. For more information, refer to this brochure from Energy.gov.

Lower environmental impact

When you purchase an air conditioner with a higher SEER rating, you’re committing yourself to a lower environmental impact. Units with higher SEER ratings produce more cool air using less energy.

More efficiency equals lower utility bills

Piggybacking off the lowered environmental impact, when you use less energy, you can lower your monthly utility bill. This will be especially noticeable if you’re replacing an older air conditioner with a new one.

Older units typically have lower SEER ratings and have lost their efficiency even further as the unit has worn down over time. In some cases, the savings from a newer, more efficient AC unit can offset the cost over time.

Greater indoor comfort

Being hot and sweaty inside of your own home during a heatwave can be unbearable. Maintaining a cool indoor environment is particularly essential if you have difficulty breathing or other medical conditions. Typically, air conditioners with higher SEER ratings have more efficient motors to help keep your home at a consistent, cool temperature all summer long.

You may qualify for a rebate

If you’re replacing an older air conditioning unit, you may be able to qualify for a tax rebate, depending on where you live and what you have installed. Energystar.gov has a rebate finder that you can use to find out if you are eligible.

Improved air quality

Air conditioners with higher SEER ratings can also help maintain air quality.

There isn’t a lot of fresh air making its way into your home. Using a central AC unit allows you to continuously circulate the air through the home and filter out particles like dust and allergens. It is important to note that you need to regularly check and change your AC filters to ensure the best air quality.

Need Help Finding the Perfect Air Conditioner for Your Home?

The air conditioning experts at Althoff industries can help you determine the perfect air conditioner with the best SEER rating for your home and budget. Contact the experts at Althoff Industries today for more information or give us a call at 815-455-7000.

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Why Does My A/C Have Ice on It in the Summer?

Thursday, September 5th, 2019

There’s nothing that’ll get you more steamed than coming home to a hot house in the summer. Imagine your surprise when you go to inspect your air conditioner, and it’s covered in ice! Each summer, this is one of the most common calls we get at Althoff Industries.

Luckily, an icy air conditioner is easy to diagnose and repair. While it may seem like you’ll have an expensive repair bill coming your way, oftentimes you simply need to make a few simple changes to prevent your air conditioner from icing over. In this article, we’ll identify the causes of most frozen air conditioners, the repair process and how to prevent your air conditioner from freezing in the future.

Warning: If you notice ice building up on your air conditioner, turn off the unit immediately. To prevent additional damage from occurring, do not turn on the air conditioner until the ice has melted and you have located the cause. If you’re unsure of the issue causing your air conditioner to freeze, contact us to schedule an appointment.

Reduced Air Flow

One of the common culprits we discover when investigating frozen air conditioners is reduced air flow. Usually, this is one of the first issues we look for, since it’s one of the easiest to correct and cheaper for homeowners to repair. Reduced air flow could be caused by any of the following:

  • Dirty air filter. It’s important to inspect and replace your system’s air filter regularly. It’s a relatively inexpensive home ownership task, but you can end up with a hefty repair bill if you don’t keep up with the maintenance. When you have a dirty air filter, your system has to work extra hard to move the air through your home. This causes your air conditioner to work overtime, which may lead to ice buildup on the compressor, among other issues.
  • Too many closed air registers. You might think you’re doing yourself a favor by closing air registers and saving yourself a few dollars on your summer cooling bill. Unfortunately, when you close too many registers, you reduce the amount of airflow below the amount required to optimally run your home’s cooling system, which can cause the condenser to freeze. Make sure at least 75% of your air registers are open at all times.
  • Damaged air ducts. Depending on where they’re located, in a wall, basement or even closet, your system air ducts can take a beating when you’re moving heavy equipment or doing home repairs. If you end up damaging a duct, you can decrease the airflow.
  • Decreased fan speed. Over time, your system can get worn down, and your fan speed can decrease. On the other hand, your system’s fan speed may not have been set fast enough to begin with. If you’ve tried all other air flow repair methods without any luck, a technician can help you determine if the fan speed is freezing your air conditioner.

Faulty Thermostat

If your system is having trouble regulating the temperature, you waste money, energy, and odds are, your air conditioner is freezing over. When your system can’t properly regulate temperature, it’s running constantly, even when it’s cold out at night. As your condenser works overtime, the coils can build up condensation and eventually freeze over. If you notice your system is running even when it’s cool outside, your thermostat could be the culprit. A professional can help you test your thermostat and pinpoint the issue.

Drainage Problems

In addition to keeping your house cool, your air conditioner extracts humidity from the air to make your home’s air more comfortable. This excess moisture needs somewhere to go if it’s not in the air. Your air conditioning system should have a drainage pipe attached that carries moisture away from the unit. If this pipe becomes blocked, the water can get stuck in the unit and freeze. Ensure your system drain is clear and removing moisture efficiently.

Similar drainage problems can occur if you have a window unit that’s freezing up. To drain properly, window unit air conditioners must be tilted at a slight angle out of the window to allow water to drain. If your window unit is freezing up, ensure the air conditioner is tilted according to the manufacturer’s installation instructions, and check that no debris are blocking the drainage hole. 

Low Refrigerant

You might have never have guessed, but having low refrigerant can actually make your evaporator coil freeze. Seems weird, right? If you don’t have the proper amount of refrigerant in your A/C system, it has to work harder to cool your home. When your unit is working too hard, icing is likely to occur. Typically, low refrigerant is a sign of a leak in the system. You can usually identify a leak by listening for a hissing or gurgling sound coming from the condenser. If you suspect a leak, it’s time to call a professional to help repair the leak and recharge the system with refrigerant.

Is Your Air Conditioner Putting a Freeze on Your Summer Fun?

The experts at Althoff Industries can help you identify why your air conditioner is freezing and repair the issue. Don’t let a frozen air conditioner prevent you from staying cool during the summer, give us a call at 815-900-5002, and schedule your appointment today!

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The Most Common Source of Humidifier Leaks (Video)

Tuesday, February 26th, 2019

The number one source of humidifier leaks is the homeowner not changing the water panel inside the unit.

If the panel gets plugged up with hard water deposits, the water can’t travel through the surface space of the panel like it’s supposed to. Instead, it begins to cascade—not down the pad, but on the outside of the unit. You may see water coming out of the cabinet.

Here’s how to maintain your water panel and resolve leaks.

1. Remove the water panel unit from the cabinet and take off the distributor. You will see the nozzle where water goes in and then distributes along a series of holes along the top. If the holes are plugged up with hard water deposits, the water will build up and cascade over the top. Clean any hard water build-up.

2. Change out the water panel itself.

3. Vacuum out the sleeve and/or wash it out in a utility sink or your kitchen sink. Make sure there isn’t any blockage.

4. Before you put the water panel unit back in, take a look at the cabinet. There is a spud along the bottom of the cabinet. A nipple on the bottom of the water panel goes into this spud, creating a connection that allows water to drain out of the bottom of the humidifier. Make sure this is not plugged up with calcium hard water deposits, which can interrupt proper drainage flow.

5. Put the water panel unit back together and place it back in the cabinet.

Test the operation. More than likely you took care of the humidifier leak by changing the water panel, cleaning the distributor, making sure the sleeve is clean, and making sure the cabinet is clear of debris.

Still troubled by a humidifier leak? Hand it off to Althoff.

If the above steps didn’t fix your humidifier leak, or you’d just prefer to have a pro handle the process, call us at (815) 455-7000. Althoff Industries serves the Greater Chicago area.

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Whole House Humidifier Pros vs. Cons

Wednesday, January 24th, 2018

Many view home heating from a pretty straight-forward standpoint. If they are comfortable, their thermostat is set correctly. If they are not comfortable, the thermostat is set too low or too high. Of course, when multiple family members are involved, this can create quite a challenging situation that is often resolved by the person who pays the utility bills. There is, however, another major factor in the comfort of your home. It is humidity.

We are all familiar with humidity during our Chicago summers but humidity plays a significant role in comfort during our winters in the Crystal Lake area as well.

Humidified air can feel much warmer, cozy, and comfortable. Dry air can lead to static electricity, premature drying of wood cabinets, flooring and furniture, and even more frequent illness. Families are often surprised at the amazing impact a properly humidified home can have on their comfort, especially during the cold weather months. They can also see energy saving benefits.

Some are familiar with smaller, single-room humidifiers that can help humidify a small space. These portable humidifiers can offer some relief but if lack of humidity is an issue for the whole house, and having an impact on you and your home’s comfort you may want to consider a whole house humidifier.

What is a Whole House Humidifier?

A whole house humidifier is a device that works with your furnace to add moisture into the air in your home. This moisture is provided through your home’s plumbing and is heated and dispersed into your home through your furnace and ductwork. A whole house humidifier is sometimes referred to as a furnace humidifier and provides air that simply feels warmer.

Pros and Cons

If you experience dryer air in your home, you can find relief from either a portable or whole house humidifier. Portable humidifiers only impact a small area and the water tank the humidifier uses must be refilled frequently. A whole house humidifier will improve the comfort of your entire home and because it is directly fed moisture through your plumbing, refilling a tank is unnecessary.

The downsides to a whole house humidifier are few but significant. First, a whole house or furnace humidifier can be a sizeable investment. Many, however, find that the air is warmer in their home following installation, allowing them to operate their furnace at a lower temperature. This, of course, can translate into long-term energy savings, which can help offset the original investment.

The other con to the installation of a whole house humidifier is that it can be a fairly complex task. It should be handled by a professional. A furnace humidifier must be installed correctly to provide full value. Beyond exceptional comfort, families using a whole house humidifier experience less illness and annoying static shocks.

Contact the Pros at Althoff Industries

If you’ve ever caught yourself saying “I can’t seem to get warm in here” or are constantly edging the thermostat upwards to stay warm, the problem may not be the heat but the lack of humidity. We invite you to contact us at Althoff Industries for a complete assessment of your HVAC system and your indoor air quality. We can help determine the efficiency of your present system and help you decide if a whole house humidifier can be beneficial to you and your family.

Staying comfortable indoors is more than just about the heat. Discover the important role well functioning equipment and humidity play in the warmth of your home with a call to Althoff Industries.

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