Althoff Industries Inc. Blog: Posts Tagged ‘Residential Air Quality’

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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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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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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The Best Overall Furnace Filter for Your Residential HVAC System

Wednesday, November 22nd, 2017

There are more choices than ever when choosing a furnace air filter for your home. How do you know what is the best furnace filter for you?

Furnace Filter Purpose

It can help to have a basic understanding of the purpose of an air filter. A furnace air filter should remove larger particulate matter from the air flowing into your furnace, keeping it from accumulating in your HVAC system and being redistributed into your home. It also should facilitate proper airflow through your HVAC system and into your home. It seems simple enough, so why the confusion?

The sheer number of choices in furnace filters complicates the matter for many. Today’s furnace filters range from just a few dollars up to $50 or more. Some feel that more expensive filters must be better. That is simply not the case. Some consumers are impacted by the clever marketing of some companies producing filters that promise fresher, cleaner, healthier air. The challenge is that some of these filters restrict airflow to the point of causing inefficiencies, potentially overworking your furnace and perhaps even causing mechanical problems.

Standard Air Filter, the Best?

So what’s a homeowner to do? The reality is for the vast majority, the inexpensive, fiberglass, disposable furnace filters will perform fine, especially when replaced frequently. These filters range from 1-4 on the MERV scale, removing 80% of the particles that are 50 microns and larger while collecting 25% of the particles within the 3 to 10-micron range. Pleated filters may improve filtration by 15-20% over the spun fiberglass variety but they can cost four to five times as much and inhibit airflow.

Video embedded here- https://youtu.be/muHQReOx7Y8

What about Air Filters and Allergies?

Now, if someone in your family suffers from severe allergies or is sensitive to dust, you may want a filter that can remove smaller particles without negatively impacting airflow. At Althoff Industries, we offer such filters that can be compatible with your system. These thicker air filters we recommend will upgrade your indoor air quality, while minimizing negative impact on air flow. Our professionals will measure the airflow to ensure your equipment is being protected while improving filtration. This is not something you should guess at on your own, however.

It’s a Balancing Act

The appropriate air filter strikes the balance between protecting equipment, facilitating airflow, and keeping your indoor air quality in check. Keep in mind, the main function of your furnace is to heat your home, not clean the air. Asking it to perform the added task of an air cleaner with an inappropriate filter may ultimately cause mechanical issues.

If you have questions on how to improve your indoor air quality without damaging your HVAC system or would like to schedule a thorough clean and check of your system for the winter, contact the professionals at Althoff Industries.

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How to Choose the Right Air Filter for Your HVAC Equipment

Wednesday, November 15th, 2017

If you find yourself having to set your thermostat at unusually high or low temperatures just to stay comfortable, your problem may be poor air flow. Poor air flow may be caused by too much friction in your HVAC system or too much turbulence. One of the most significant causes of friction in an HVAC system is the air filter.

How is an Air Filter Related to the Comfort of a Home?

Even a clean HVAC air filter will offer some friction to the air flow in a furnace. If a filter is dirty or too restrictive in its design, it will not allow a sufficient airflow through your system and into the rooms it serves. This can lead to your system overworking and struggling to provide the comfort you desire. It will also increase the inefficiency of your unit. While we find that more and more homeowners understand the importance of changing filters, many still fail to remember to do it or are purchasing filters that are too restrictive for their systems to operate properly.

How Do You Determine the Best Filter for You?

HVAC filters are rated based on a minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV). This is a 1-16 scale but most home filters fall within the 4 to 12 range. The higher the rating, the smaller the particles are that can be trapped by the filter. Higher ratings also make filters more restrictive to air flow and generally are more expensive.

Selecting the right filter for you and your family will depend on the balance you place on comfort, expense, clean indoor air quality, and furnace efficiency. Most homeowners can usually settle in the 6-8 MERV range without negatively impacting air flow. The 6-8 range filters are also still affordable.

Before You Switch to a High-Efficiency Furnace Filter

A high-efficiency HVAC air filter can remove up to 99% of particulate matter in the air. This can be terrific news if you or someone in your family suffers from allergies or are sensitive to dust. A word of caution about high-efficiency filters, however. Before making the switch, contact your HVAC professional. A trained technician can help determine how disruptive the filter will be and perhaps even make adjustments to increase fan speed to make up for the reduced airflow. You’ll also want to make sure you stay on top of changing these more restrictive filters on schedule.

Keep in mind that a dirty HVAC air filter can cause more than just discomfort. They can lead to damage to the blower motor or heat exchanger. You can see the difference between a minimally restrictive fiberglass filter and a pleated filter in the below video.

If you have rooms that just don’t seem to get comfortable, check your air filters. If you are interested in switching to a higher MERV rated filter for cleaner indoor air, contact us at Althoff Industries, We’ll conduct an inexpensive clean and check and help determine the best HVAC air filter for your family. If adjustments need to be made, we can accomplish that on the same call.

Don’t settle for anything less than superior comfort when it comes to your indoor air. Contact Althoff Industries and get the indoor air quality you deserve.

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The #1 Way to Improve Air Flow in Your Home

Tuesday, October 17th, 2017

Many homeowners don’t fully appreciate the importance of airflow when it comes to the performance of their HVAC system and ultimately, the comfort of each room in your home. The fact is, if you have one room or many rooms that are less comfortable than others, it is quite possible it is an issue with airflow. Free airflow is disturbed by two basic forces friction and turbulence. What are some of the causes of poor or restrictive airflow in a home and how can it be improved? What is the #1 way to improve airflow in your home?

To find out the #1 way to improve airflow, we will first discuss 5 causes of poor airflow. At Althoff, our goal is always to get to the root of the problem first then provide solutions to improve comfort, function and performance of your equipment.

5 Causes of Poor Airflow

5. Duct Work That is Improperly Installed or Blocked

This happens more frequently than you may think. Improperly installed ductwork may not be sized properly or may even not be connected correctly. We have seen ductwork runs that seem to simply and mysteriously end! More common is ductwork that becomes blocked through the years by layers of dirt and dust or even foreign objects like clothing and toys. These improperly installed or blocked ducts create frictions that restrict proper airflow and will negatively affect the comfort of a room.

4. Lengthy Duct Runs and Those That Contain Too Many Turns

Some installers just expect too much from their HVAC, installing lengthy duct runs or duct runs that have too many turns. These turns create turbulence that doesn’t allow them to efficiently reach their desired destinations.

3. Too Few or too Small Return Air Vents

An efficiently installed and operating HVAC system with good airflow will both push air into a room and pull it out at the same rate. If too much air is being pushed into a room, it becomes slightly pressurized and uncomfortable. A frequent problem with rooms with poor air flow is that of having too few or too small return air vents.

2. Ducts That “Leak” Air

Over the course of the life of a structure, duct work can easily get holes or cracks from a combination of age, settling, and alterations to the structure. Duct work is often inadvertently punctured through nails. Like holes in a water hose, this leaking air can make the duct work and thus the furnace, much less effective in delivering treated air and in returning fresh air. It is estimated that nine out of ten homes have duct work that is leaking on some level. Depending on the number, size, and location of these holes, airflow can be dramatically negatively affected.

1. Dirty Air Filter 

While the above issues negatively affecting air flow in your home may take the assistance of a professional to properly correct, the simple, most effective way to improve air flow is to keep your air filter clean by performing regular air filter maintenance. Air filters are inexpensive and easy to change on your own. Ideally, they should be changed bi-monthly. If you have gone to a more restrictive air filter to get cleaner air in your home, it may be too restrictive for your HVAC system. If you have found some rooms becoming more uncomfortable, you may want to select a less restrictive filter. We’ve put together a brief video that helps explain why this is such an effective and simple idea to improve airflow in your home.

Vdiego embedded- https://youtu.be/Xkzy0FNC3HY 

Althoff Can Service Your AirFlow Issue

If you have areas of your home that never quite seem to get warm enough during our Chicago winters, airflow just may be the problem. Our technicians at Althoff Industries can check your furnace, airflow, and duct work to ensure they are working in harmony. If not, we will come up with a solution to resolve your airflow problem. Don’t just keep turning your furnace higher and higher. Solve your comfort issues at it core cause with an HVAC airflow check and a call to Althoff Industries.

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Do I Need a Humidifier In My Home?

Wednesday, June 21st, 2017

If you feel something isn’t quite right about the air quality in your home, determining the best route back to optimal functionality can be a complicated process. While it’s true that weather and climate have a significant impact on indoor air quality, there are numerous other factors you need to consider.

Even when the solution seems obvious, it is important to do your research before installing any indoor air treatments like a humidifier in your home.

If you choose to skip this step, you can wind up creating a much larger problem than you had when you started. Sometimes, those problems can even turn out to be hazardous to your health.

When in doubt, it is always better to ask a specialist. In this article, we’ll identify some of the best indicators humidity levels are not where they should be. From dry air during the winter months, to sticky, uncomfortable indoor air in the summer–this is your guide to understanding whether you need a humidifier (or some other indoor air treatment) in your home.

Too Much Moisture or Not Enough?

To simplify things for you, below are some signs to help identify whether your moisture levels are too high or too low.

Indicators of High Humidity

Summer air in the Midwest can be especially humid. It is not uncommon for moisture in the air to reach humidity levels of 75% and above. When there is excess condensation in the air inside your home, you may notice a sticky, moist, or clammy feel. At a more advanced phase, you may even detect a musty odor.

When left unchecked, high moisture air quality can create an environment perfect for the growth of unwanted nuisances such as pests, dust mites, bacteria, and even viruses.

Signs of Low-Moisture or Dry Air

During the colder months of the year, the opposite begins to happen. Instead of becoming sticky and moist, the air starts to feel dry. As temperatures drop, the cold air loses its ability to hold onto as much moisture.

This lack of humidity in the air comes with a host of potential health problems, commonly related to the respiratory system. If you live in an environment that enjoys all four seasons or has a traditionally dry climate, you’re likely no stranger to these symptoms.

Some of them include:

  • Chronic runny nose
  • Asthma or allergy flare-ups
  • Dry skin and nasal passages
  • Increased static in hair and electric shocks when touching people or objects
  • Bloody noses
  • Sinus congestion

Among these, an unexplained early morning cough, dry throat, or dry mouth are all indications you may be exposing yourself to dry air. All of these variables have the potential to impact your health significantly and can exacerbate or worsen existing respiratory conditions like allergies and asthma.

Solutions for Improving Air Quality

When you’ve identified your indoor moisture levels, you can start exploring potential solutions.

When Humidity Is Too Low

If you’re experiencing symptoms that are consistent with dry air, you will want to incorporate a solution that adds moisture in the air. Chiefly, a whole-home humidifier.

What Is a Humidifier?

Humidifiers are moisture increasing devices known to help relieve dry climate and wintertime symptoms by, at the most basic level, adding water vapor to the air.

Humidifiers can protect your body from the effects of dry air, but they can also be beneficial for proper maintenance of indoor finishes and structures.

Hardwood floors, wooden furniture, and hardwood moldings are just a few of the fixtures that can commonly become damaged due to excessively dry air.

To get the best results–and quality for your investment–you should choose a humidifier that is best suited to your personalized conditions and environment.

Types of Humidifiers

Central humidifiers or whole-home humidifiers are designed to improve moisture throughout your entire home. If you want to reduce or even eliminate the problems associated with dry indoor air, this is the most effective option. Because of its efficiency, it is more expensive than alternatives but more effective.

Steam humidifiers or vaporizers convert water into steam to add more moisture to indoor air. These humidifiers are beneficial, even in homes where much humidity is needed to keep levels balanced.

Bypass humidifiers connect directly to your HVAC system. These units use the blower motor of your furnace to force air through a water panel, which adds moisture. The motor then circulates the treated air back into the rest of your home.

Fan-powered humidifiers connect with your HVAC system, as well. Through the use of a built-in motor, fan-powered humidifiers work by pulling air into the unit and through a water panel, where water is added and redistributed with increased humidity. These can work as standalone units without an HVAC system as well, which lowers energy consumption.

Not super interested in the different makes and models of humidifiers?

Don’t let the task of choosing the right humidifier keep you with dry sinuses and itchy skin for the duration of the winter season. Instead, look for a team of air quality experts to help you find the best product to suit your household, budget, comfort, and personalized needs.

With qualified technicians like the team at Althoff by your side, you can enjoy the comfort of knowing they can install the equipment correctly.

Why Althoff Industries

Our goal is to bring our customers superior indoor air quality.

We understand that your system must work efficiently to maintain the comfort of your home. It must help clean, heat, and cool your indoor air while reducing indoor humidity through the steamy summer months and adding moisture to the air during the cold Chicago winters.

We specialize in creating solutions to maximize your savings without compromising comfort.

Since 1961, we’ve been serving Chicago area businesses, industries, apartment and condominium and single-family homeowners with a range of services including the installation of humidifiers.

Schedule an appointment today and discover the difference we can make in your indoor air quality and comfort. We look forward to assisting you!

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Will an Air Purifier Minimize My Allergy Symptoms?

Thursday, June 8th, 2017

There are plenty of myths about how to best clean the air in your home. Some people believe a good HEPA air filter will do. Others suggest an air purifier. Still others say that perhaps there is nothing you can do, especially when it comes to allergens. The Chicago area has experienced medium to high pollen levels throughout the spring and forecasts call for it to continue. If you or someone in your family suffers from pollen-related allergies, the following may help.

Will My HVAC Filters Help?

The answer is yes, but to a limited degree. HEPA filters provide more stringent cleaning than standard filters but when it comes to allergens, your basic filters provide limited protection. These filters are designed to keep airflow moving unobstructed to your HVAC system, not in removing dust or allergens from your home.

What is an Air Purifier?

While HVAC filters remove contaminants from clogging your HVAC system, and do, in fact remove larger particles from the air, an air purifier or air cleaner is designed to remove contaminants from the air in a room. A HEPA filter in particular is designed to pass the air in a room through it multiple times, removing increasingly smaller particulars from the room.

Will an Air Purifier Help with my Allergy Symptoms?

Again, the answer is yes, but probably only to a limited degree if you are not taking other steps. Your first goal should be to limit your exposure to allergens.

  • Avoid spending time in the outdoors, where you may breathe in allergens or even have them collect on your hair and clothes.
  • Take a shower before bed so you will not transfer allergens to bedding and your pillows.
  • Make sure all filters in your HVAC system are cleaned and/or replaced often, at least once every three months.
  • If someone in your family has severe allergies, consider replacing carpeting with solid flooring material like wood, wood-like flooring, or tile flooring. This will keep allergens from collecting in carpeting and being redistributed during vacuuming.
  • Furniture can gather allergens so make sure yours is cleaned regularly.
  • Keep your windows closed at home, even when the weather is tempting you to open all the windows. This is really important in the spring when flower and tree pollen is highest.
  • Take spring cleaning seriously. Allergies are a good reason people take the time to thoroughly clean their homes. It works. It also helps to keep the air clean with the appropriate filtration devices.

If you have taken the above steps and are still suffering significantly, it is a good idea to contact the indoor air experts at Althoff Industries. Depending on your home, your HVAC system and your specific allergen related issues, Althoff can design a system using a variety of the latest technologies to removed allergens, dust and dust mites from your indoor air. Without the proper air filtration and purification system, many homes are simply recycling dirty air. Help is just a phone call away.

The Althoff Difference

At Althoff Industries, we aren’t interested in selling the latest trendy devices. We have built our reputation and our company on providing solutions that work. This includes air cleaner and air purification systems that perform in concert with your HVAC system to provide a healthy environment for you and your family. Are you experiencing runny noses, sneezing, red or watering eyes, or seem to be constantly dusting your home? We may have the solution for you. Contact Althoff Industries and enjoy cleaner, healthier and more comfortable air in your home.

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