Althoff Industries Inc. Blog: Posts Tagged ‘Residential HVAC’

Feeling a Bit Frigid? Everything You Need to Know About Emergency Furnace Repair

Monday, January 18th, 2021

A cold winter night can quickly escalate if the furnace in your home unexpectedly stops working. While you may be able to throw on an extra blanket or sweatshirt in some cases, a malfunctioning furnace has the potential to cause several problems.

If your furnace is experiencing any serious issues, you may want to enlist the emergency services of a furnace repair company. As one of the most critical appliances in your home, it’s important to keep track of how well your furnace is working, especially during the frigid winter months.

Key Takeaways


  • Emergency furnace repair services are best for situations that require an immediate response. They are also perfect for situations that occur after hours or over the holidays.
  • If your furnace is repeatedly cycling on-and-off or simply won’t turn on, then it probably needs repairs. Other signs that a professional should come take a look include strange noises, smells, and poor heat output.
  • Before calling emergency services, you should check to make sure that your thermostat is working properly and that power is being supplied to your furnace. You should also check the air filter to ensure that it is not clogged.
  • Some furnaces run on batteries or flash codes to diagnose the problem. Check your owner’s manual to determine what these codes mean.
  • If you are in need of emergency furnace repairs, Althoff Industries has got you covered! Check out our services page or call our emergency hotline at (815) 455-7000.

Difference Between Standard Furnace Repair and Emergency Furnace Repair

Before you call upon emergency furnace repair services, you need to determine whether your situation is an emergency or not. The following are the most common reasons that people require emergency services.

  • You need a quick response
  • You need after-hours service
  • You need service on a holiday

You Need a Quick Response

If your heating system needs immediate maintenance, emergency services are probably your best bet, as they can typically handle the situation within a few hours.

You Need After-Hours Service

If your furnace is experiencing issues, and they’re happening after regular business hours, an emergency furnace repair service team will be ready to assist you.

You Need Service on a Holiday

Having a furnace blow out on a holiday can really put a damper on things. If this happens to you, an emergency heating technician will be ready to respond as quickly as possible.

Not a lot of businesses are open on the holidays or at night. Fortunately, Althoff Industries’ emergency heating and air conditioning repair services are available at any time, no matter what day it is. Give us a call at (815) 455-7000, and we’ll be there to help!

Signs That Your Furnace Needs Repairs

There are several signs that your furnace may need repairs.

  • You are hearing strange noises
  • You are smelling strange odors
  • Your furnace is outputting very little heat
  • Your furnace is cycling on and off abnormally fast
  • Your furnace will not turn on at all

Strange Noises

Strange noises are a sign that your furnace is not functioning properly. If you hear any tapping or banging sounds, then you will definitely want to have your furnace checked by a professional. However, if you hear other, more intense sounds, such as screeching, you may want to utilize emergency HVAC services.

Strange Smells

If you smell gas, then you most likely have a natural gas leak. This is an issue that should be addressed immediately. Other smells to look out for include smoke, chemicals, or burning plastic. If you smell any of these, then contact emergency repair services immediately.

Poor Heat Output

Many people turn the thermostat up a few degrees to keep warm when the temperature outside is frigid. However, if you find yourself continuously turning up the thermostat and still unable to get warm, your furnace may be malfunctioning.

Fast Cycling

A furnace that turns on and off quickly is said to have a fast cycling issue. If you find this is happening with your furnace, it may be experiencing problems.

Furnace Is Not Running at All

If your furnace is not turning on at all, and you have tried all the troubleshooting steps, your best bet is to call an HVAC repair company.

Recommended Read: 5 Furnace Problems You Don’t Want to Have at the Start of Winter

What You Should Do Before Calling Emergency Furnace Repair Services

Most people who think they have issues with their furnace during the winter months will immediately call and arrange emergency furnace repair services. However, there are a few quick troubleshooting tips to consider before calling emergency repair services.

  • Check your thermostat
  • Check for power issues
  • Check your HVAC system’s air filter
  • Check your furnace’s batteries (if it uses them)
  • Check your furnace’s code

Check the Thermostat

Make sure your thermostat is set to “HEAT.” This is the first thing you should check if your furnace is having issues. In most instances, this should solve the problem. It may take a minute or two for the fan to turn on and the heat to kick in.

Check for Power Issues

If your furnace is operating on electricity, check the thermostat’s fan switch, which is typically set to “ON” or “AUTO.” The “AUTO” setting ensures that the fan will turn on as soon as the furnace is switched on.

If the fan turns on after turning the switch to “ON,” you can rule out any power-related issues. Additionally, check your circuit breaker to ensure that everything is working properly.

Check the Air Filter

Filter-related failures are among the most common problems with furnaces. The filter is intended to clean the air that goes into the furnace and the hot air that goes into the home. If it is clogged or dirty, the airflow can become compromised, leading to pressure and heat build-up in the furnace.

Recommended Read: How You Can Avoid Air Conditioner Airflow Problems

Check the Batteries

While most furnaces are connected to the home electrical grid, some furnaces use batteries. If your furnace uses batteries, check the low-battery indicator to determine if the batteries should be changed.

Check the Furnace Code

Depending on when your furnace was manufactured, it may have a small window where you can see a light indicating whether the furnace is powered. It might also flash a “code” to let you know exactly what’s going on. If your furnace is displaying a code, refer to your owner’s manual to determine what the code means.

Call Althoff Industries Today for Professional Furnace Repair Services in the Chicago Area

We hope these tips provide you with everything you need to identify your furnace repair and troubleshoot any heating problems you may be having. Above all, it’s critical that you don’t miss any annual maintenance service appointment for your furnace.

Many of the aforementioned issues can be identified and corrected during a yearly maintenance appointment, ensuring no loss in heating and cost-saving performance year-round. However, if you are experiencing any problems with your furnace, we can help.

At Althoff Industries, we provide 24-hour emergency furnace repair services in the Chicago area and standard maintenance, repair, replacement, and installation services. If your furnace isn’t working the way you know it should, you can trust our team of reliable, skilled, and licensed HVAC technicians to restore your furnace to working condition.

With two locations that can offer quick service to Chicago residents, you can be sure that Althoff Industries will do whatever it takes to repair your furnace and bring back warmth to your home.

Take a look at our emergency furnace repair services!

or

Call (815) 455-7000 to request our emergency repair services!

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5 Furnace Problems You Don’t Want to Have at the Start of Winter

Tuesday, December 15th, 2020

There’s no worse feeling than waking up in the middle of the night to your entire house feeling like it’s a refrigerator. Let me guess, you usually fix this issue by pulling up the bedcovers and turning up your space heater. However, a cold house could mean that you’re having furnace problems.

Luckily, troubleshooting and fixing your furnace typically only requires a little elbow grease and some DIY experience. However, when it comes to more serious issues, make sure to call a professional. They can take care of the problem swiftly and efficiently.

Key Takeaways


  • If you notice that your furnace is not working properly, first check the thermostat, then the breaker, then the air filters.
  • If you can’t diagnose an easy fix to the problem, then you need to contact a professional furnace repair and maintenance company.
  • Check your furnace regularly, change the air filters every three months, and schedule yearly tune-ups to make sure your furnace lasts a long time!
  • Althoff Industries offers 24-hour emergency service to residents of Chicago and the surrounding areas. Call our emergency hotline number at (815) 455-7000!

5 of the Most Common Furnace Problems

Some of the most common furnace problems happen more frequently than others and, in some instances, are relatively easy to fix. Take a look at some of the most common furnace problems below.

1. Your Furnace Is Not Producing Enough Heat

Your furnace’s primary job is to circulate warm air throughout your home. While a furnace that is failing to generate heat is a cause for concern, the problem could actually be with your thermostat. In addition, dirty filters can prevent the flow of heat in your home. Check the thermostat or air filter to see if either one of them is the problem.

2. Your Furnace Is Repeatedly Turning On and Off

As your furnace heats your home, it typically cycles on and off to keep the temperature at the desired level. If you find that your furnace is repeatedly switching on and off or it is only working for a few minutes at a time, your problem may be a clogged filter.

3. Your Furnace Is Not Turning on Automatically

If all is well and good, your furnace will turn on and generate heat as soon as it receives a signal from the thermostat. However, if you’ve found that it doesn’t promptly turn on, try checking your breaker box. Flipping the furnace safety switch may solve the problem.

4. Your Furnace Just Plain Stopped Working

If your furnace isn’t heating your home at all, it could be a problem with your boiler or thermostat. If you can’t determine the issue, then you should call a professional to come repair or replace your furnace. Nobody wants to be stuck in the middle of winter with a faulty furnace!

5. Odd Noises Are Coming From Your Furnace

Any instances of squeaking, rumbling, scratching, or rattling noises coming from your furnace are all indicators of a mechanical problem. Most furnaces will create some slight noise, as they run continuously. However, if you notice anything that sounds blatantly noticeable, you should call an emergency furnace repair service to schedule an inspection.

Tips for Maintaining Your Furnace

While there are times when a furnace problem needs the attention of an experienced technician, in other situations, the problem might be something that could be prevented in the future. If you start to notice problems, run through these basic furnace troubleshooting measures to see if it’s a problem you can fix on your own.

Replace the Air Filters Every Three Months

A clogged filter can have a drastic impact on your furnace’s ability to do its job. Luckily, changing the filter is one of the easiest, albeit most important, maintenance tasks you can perform. Replacing the filter every three months can increase indoor air quality and extend the life of the furnace. If it’s been a while since you inspected the air filter, it may be a good idea to replace it with a new one.

Furnace maintenance with hand removing dirty filter

Regularly Check Your Unit When It’s Not in Use

Even when not in use, power up your furnace at least once every season to ensure that it is working properly. Switching on the furnace will help you detect any underlying issues, such as excessive dust in the filters, which can restrict airflow. If you notice anything serious, then you should contact a professional.

Clean the Vents and Ducts

Ensure that all vents and registers are open and that nothing is obstructing the vents to ensure proper airflow and circulation in your home. Additionally, cleaning the ductwork will help keep the furnace running correctly and avoid potential damage.

Schedule Routine Maintenance With an HVAC Professional

Lastly, you should have an HVAC specialist inspect, test, and perform maintenance on your home heating system every year. Regular maintenance will help increase your furnace’s performance and prolong its lifespan.

The Best 24-Hour Furnace Repair Service in Chicago

Althoff Industries has served the residents of Chicago and the surrounding areas since 1961. With our team of qualified and certified furnace repair technicians, we can inspect your furnace, diagnose any problems, and let you know what repairs need to be made.

If your furnace isn’t heating your home the way it should, or you think there may be another problem, give us a call today. One of our certified and reliable technicians will get your furnace back up and running in no time.

Call Althoff Industries’ emergency hotline number at (815) 455-7000. We’ll be there as soon as we can!

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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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Emergency HVAC Services: Why You Should Always Have a Pro on Call

Thursday, November 19th, 2020

Regardless of the climate where you live, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems are critical to your overall well-being. However, much like all major home systems and appliances, HVAC systems can sometimes break down at the most inconvenient times, which is why you should always have a 24-hour emergency HVAC service company at your beck and call.

If your HVAC system is malfunctioning and you require the assistance of a reliable heating and air conditioning repair company, then contact the professionals at Althoff Industries today. No matter the time of day, you can count on Althoff Industries to keep your equipment in working order.

Types of Emergencies That May Require the Help of HVAC Technicians

Having a problem with your cooling and heating systems is never a pleasant situation, especially if it happens in the middle of the night. However, understanding if a situation is severe enough to merit a call for an emergency HVAC service can be challenging. Here are a few suggestions to help you determine if your heating and cooling system needs immediate attention.

Air Conditioner Failure

There’s no worse time for an air conditioner to stop working than in the middle of a hot summer day or night. Breakdowns and issues with your air conditioner can be harmful to your family’s health and safety during a heatwave. Additionally, many homeowners have health problems that could potentially worsen in hot and humid conditions, making the need for emergency air conditioning services even more critical.

If your HVAC system stops cooling, internal temperatures can rise rapidly and can not only be harmful to your physical well-being but your mental health as well. If your AC system suddenly stops providing you with adequate air conditioning, calling an emergency HVAC service is more than warranted.

No Heat or Airflow

Just as your HVAC system is critical for cooling in the summer, it is equally as important for heating during the winter months. In Chicago, there are many days when the temperature falls below zero, and you need your HVAC system to provide you with adequate heating.

If your HVAC system stops working in the middle of winter, temperatures in your home can plummet quickly. Whether your boiler stops working or your furnace is malfunctioning, calling an emergency heating service to repair your HVAC system is critical.

Strange Smells

Furthermore, it doesn’t just have to be a heating or air conditioning malfunction that warrants a phone call to an emergency HVAC repair specialist. HVAC systems are not supposed to smell funny, and they certainly should not be pumping out potentially toxic air.

If your air conditioner or heater is filling your home with a strange or funny smell every time you use it, it could mean there’s an overflow of bacteria, contaminants, or mildew. Additionally, it could also indicate an electrical problem within the HVAC system itself that could cause it to become overheated.

If your HVAC system is filling your home with a strange smell, contact an emergency HVAC service to fix the problem immediately.

Safety Concerns

Last but certainly not least, if you have any questions regarding your HVAC system’s ability to provide you with adequate safety in your home, an emergency HVAC service may be able to help. When it comes to your HVAC system, it’s always better to be safe than sorry, especially if you live in an area with inclement weather.

If you are concerned about the health and safety of you and your loved ones and aren’t sure if your HVAC system is working properly, call an emergency HVAC service right away to have them take a look.

Contact Althoff Industries Today for Your 24/7 Emergency HVAC Service

Here at Althoff Industries, we’re committed to providing our customers with around the clock emergency HVAC services to make sure your home stays warm and cozy. No matter what the issue is, Althoff Industries is here to help. Our technicians will diagnose and quickly fix any signs of malfunction or failure within your HVAC system and work around the clock to keep you safe.

If there’s an issue with your HVAC system and it needs immediate attention, contact the professionals at Althoff Industries to provide you with reliable services 24 hours a day.

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5 Benefits of Central AC (Besides Just Keeping Your Home Cool)

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2020

We all know that central AC is a must-have to keep your home cool during these hot summer months but a quality system has a range of benefits outside of just keeping temperatures regulated. Let’s take a look at 5 additional benefits of a central air conditioner outside of just keeping your home cool.

1. Regulate Humidity Levels

During the summer, high humidity is a given in the Midwest. Not only do high humidity levels make you hot and uncomfortable, but they can make you feel tired and foggy because your body is working harder to cool itself off.

Pests and allergens also thrive in humid environments so it is important to keep the humidity in your home around 30%-50% to stay both comfortable and healthy all summer long.

A properly installed central AC system is a great way to help regulate humidity levels in your home and can be paired with a dehumidifier to help further regulate moisture levels in the air!

2. Filter Out Harmful Dust and Debris

Filters may seem like nothing more than large pieces of cardboard with fibers or pleated paper-like material but they are actually extremely important to the functionality of your central AC system and an old filter could affect the air quality in your home.

Filters remove harmful dust and debris that could irritate your respiratory system and create cleaner air for you to breathe. Old air filters and low-quality air filters will not do a great job of filtering out these irritants and potentially recirculate particles back into your home. It is important that you change filters regularly and buy high-quality filters.

Make sure you look at the MERV value of the air filters you purchase. The higher the MERV value is, the more efficient the filter will be in trapping airborne particles. Our experts at Althoff typically recommend the high-quality filter and cabinet from Aprilaire. 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. Prevent Mold Growth

If your home is hot and humid, it could become the perfect environment for mold growth. Central AC units help to prevent mold by removing moisture (see Regulate Humidity Levels above) from the air that would otherwise shack up in walls and ceilings. During the hot, humid summer months, it is important that you set your central air conditioner between 68 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit and maintain the proper humidity levels that we talked about earlier to prevent this unwanted mold.

4. Improve Sleep

The AC unit you have in your home can make a massive difference when it comes to the quality of sleep you are getting. Trying to sleep when you are too hot or cold is nearly impossible, and many have to suffer through sleepless nights, especially during summer because their AC system is inadequate. In addition, other options like window units or fans can be noisy and keep light sleepers up at night.

If your cooling system is keeping you up at night, we highly recommend contacting our HVAC experts to discuss installing a new system or upgrading your current one so you can finally get a good night’s rest, again.

5. Easier Installations & Maintenance

A huge benefit of having a professionally installed central AC system is that once it is there, you don’t have to worry about removing it and storing it in winter like bulky window units. Central AC systems can also be easily maintained and serviced. Instead of searching for what’s wrong with your AC, trying to fix it yourself, or buying a whole new unit, you can call the professionals at Althoff to come out and take a look.

If you are ready to invest in the comfort and 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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Central AC Costs and Considerations: What Will Work for Your Home and Budget

Thursday, June 25th, 2020

Central AC is a game changer when it comes to beating the summer heat. Walking into your home on a hot day and having cold air hit your face is an awesome feeling. Not only do these systems circulate that wonderful cool air throughout your entire home, they also can improve your indoor air quality with high-quality filters, are quiet, and are extremely easy to use.

Now, this all sounds great but what you really want to know is how much it costs to install central AC in your home. Below we have outlined some of the factors that affect how much a central AC will cost.

Before we begin, it is important to consult with a professional who can accurately determine what type of central AC system will work best for your budget and install the system correctly. Our team at Althoff has worked with many homeowners just like you and can guide you through the entire process to ensure you make the best choice for your home.

1. The Size of Your Home

Like many things in life, central AC systems are not one size fits all. The square footage of your home helps to determine which AC unit size will keep you comfortable all summer long.

Air conditioner sizes are based on how much heat they can extract from your home. The amount of heat that can be extracted by an AC system is measured by BTUs (British thermal units). Every AC on the market indicates how many BTUs the unit can handle.

As the amount of BTUs increases, the cost of the system will increase. You will see us reference this unit of measurement throughout the rest of this post as we discuss other things that can affect cost.

2. Your Home’s Exposure to Sunlight

Although the square footage of your home is a great starting point when looking at how much a central AC will cost, it is also important to also think about how heat enters your home.

Even if the square footage is the same, homes with rooms that have huge windows will get hotter than homes with smaller windows and may need a system that can handle more BTUs even if the square footage is the same.

In the same vein, homes that are in the shade for the majority of the day or have windows that are not facing the sun will require a different system than those that are exposed to direct sunlight throughout the day.

3. Ceiling Height

A room with a high ceiling has much more volume than a room with a standard ceiling height – even if the square footage is the same.

If air conditioner capacity is too low for the overall volume of the room, the unit will cycle off frequently and the room will not remain cool – if it ever cools off at all.

4. Replacing Ductwork

Many newer homes are ready for central AC, but older homes may require ductwork. Ductwork will increase the cost but you will be thankful for the update in the long run. Sometimes the existing ducts are too small, worn or not properly insulated. This could lead to loud noise from the AC and higher energy bills because the system is working harder than it should.

5. SEER Rating and Energy Efficient Systems

Units with a higher SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) rating will cost more than lower-rated models, but they save more money over time and they are more environmentally friendly. Click here to learn more about SEER ratings for residential air conditioners.

6. Professional Installation

Some people try to install their AC system themselves but it is in your best interest to hire a professional. A lot of air conditioning systems are not installed correctly which can lead to issues like improper cooling and higher energy bills. Hiring a professional ensures that your unit will perform efficiently and keep your home cool.

Stay Cool This Summer With Althoff

Whether you are installing a new system or replacing your old one, the experts at Althoff can help. Contact us today to discuss your central AC needs. Give us a call at 815-455-7000 or complete an online form to schedule your appointment.

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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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How Central AC Works and How to Keep Cool All Season Long

Tuesday, May 26th, 2020

Summer is the perfect time for backyard barbecues, going for a swim at the pool, or taking a weekend getaway to the lake. When your air conditioner is running at 100 percent, summer is a breeze. If your AC isn’t performing its best, the summer heat can quickly turn into your worst enemy.

What’s the key to keeping your AC up and running? First, you need to know how the system works. With some basic AC know how, you can better understand what your AC needs to have a long, efficient life.

Once you understand how the system works, all the AC tips you’ve read online—and hopefully, here on our blog—make sense. Best of all, if you run into any trouble along the way, or suspect you need professional help, we can help.

How Your Central AC System Works

Most residential AC systems are pretty straightforward. They have a thermostat to control the temperature in your home, an air handler to circulate air throughout your home, and an air conditioning system to cool the air as it circulates through your home.

Thermostat

You’re probably familiar with your home’s thermostat. It actively measures the temperature within your home. In cooling mode, when the registered temperature is higher than the set temperature, the thermostat tells the system to turn on the AC and cool the home.

Circulating the air

Your central AC air handler is responsible for circulating cool air throughout your home. The air handler sucks in air through the return vents in your house. Next, the air passes through the air conditioning system and cools the air. Once cooled, the air handler blows the air through the vents in your home to lower air temperature in your house. Finally, when the thermostat measures that the temperature of the air in the house is cold enough, it tells the air handler to turn off.

Cooling the air

The air conditioning system is responsible for cooling the air as the air handler circulates it throughout your home. As a refrigeration system, the air conditioner actually removes the heat from the air in your home to make it feel colder. Air conditioners have three main components: a condenser, evaporator, and compressor.

As air passes through the air conditioning system, it passes through copper tubing that contains a refrigerant. This refrigerant removes heat from the air passing through the system. The compressor helps release the heat extracted by the refrigerant as the cooled air moves back through the air handler and into your house.

Simple Tips for Maintaining Your AC

AC repairs can be inconvenient, expensive, and as luck would have it, tend to happen on the hottest day of the year. Here are a few basic tips you can use to help keep your AC in tip-top, efficient shape for the long haul.

1. Be smart with your windows and doors. The hotter the air in your house, the harder your AC has to work. Open windows and doors leak hot air from the outside into your house. During hot summer days, limit how often you come in and out of your house. Also, identify and seal leaky windows in your house.

2. Inspect and change your air filter regularly. Your central AC system needs to circulate air freely throughout your house to operate efficiently. As the air handler sucks in air from your house, it also sucks in dirt, hair, dust, and other debris. Over time, these materials clog the air filter, which causes more wear on the system as it has to work harder to circulate air through the dirty filter.

3. Let the condenser breathe. Are there a lot of plants and leaves around your air conditioner’s outside unit? The condenser needs to expel air from the system freely. If plants are growing around the condenser or if it’s covered in leaves, clear them away so the unit can operate efficiently.

4.Allow air to flow freely through your home. For your air conditioner to operate at its optimal efficiency, the air handler needs to circulate through your home. You may think that closing vents and closing doors will help save money on your utility bills. In reality, it makes your air conditioner work harder as it tries to circulate air through closed vents and areas.

Don’t Forget to Schedule Regular AC System Maintenance

Need help maintaining your air conditioning system? The AC experts at Althoff Industries are just a phone call or click away. Give us a call at 815-455-7000 or fill out a contact form.

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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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What You Need to Know About AC Freon Leaks and What to Do

Wednesday, April 29th, 2020

A cool, comfortable home can feel magical on a hot summer day. With a few taps of the thermostat, you can go from sweating to sleeping comfortably. While it may seem like magic, what’s happening in that big metal AC box outside is science.

Air conditioners rely on a refrigerant, in many cases, freon, to help cool the air circulating through your house. More often than not, when your AC breaks down and stops blowing cold air, a refrigerant leak is to blame.

Do you know how to tell if you have a freon leak? Refrigerant leaks can not only be harmful to the environment, but dangerously harmful for your health too. If you live in a house with AC, it’s important for you to be able to identify a refrigerant leak and know what to do if your AC is leaking.

air conditioner not working

What Is Freon?

As a type of refrigerant, freon removes heat from the air inside of your home as it moves through the AC unit and displaces it outside. The air conditioner then circulates the cool air through your house.

Without a refrigerant, your HVAC system would just continue circulating the same warm air through your house. For your home to stay cool throughout the summer, the level of refrigerant in your AC system needs to remain full.

The refrigeration system that houses freon in your AC is a closed system. With a closed system, none of the gas or fluid within the system has a chance of escaping, unless there’s a leak. A technician should never recommend “topping off” your system’s freon—they should recommend fixing the leak.

If your technician does recommend topping off freon, contact a different company immediately to come and take a look at your system.

5 Signs Your AC Is Leaking

You don’t have to be an HVAC expert to know if your air conditioner is leaking refrigerant. We’ve come up with five critical indicators your system needs an immediate repair.

  1. AC is blowing warm air. As we pointed out earlier, refrigerants like freon cool the air by removing heat and circulating cool air through your home. If there’s not enough freon in the system, it may feel like the blower is circulating warm air through your house.
  2. Low airflow. Understandably, if your system is running low on refrigerant, it won’t be pumping out as much cool air. This effect may feel like there’s a lower airflow coming through the ducts in your house.
  3. Ice builds up on outside lines. If you notice your house isn’t as cold as it should be, and you start poking around the outdoor unit, you may see icy buildup on the copper refrigerant lines. This sign is a surefire indicator that your system has a refrigerant leak.
  4. It won’t maintain a consistent temperature in the house. Are you noticing that your home can’t seem to keep cool during the middle of the day, but it cools down at night? If your house is struggling to stay cool, but you can still feel some cold air coming, it’s an indicator your AC may have recently sprung a leak.
  5. Your utility bill has skyrocketed. If your air conditioner is running low on refrigerant, it’s not operating at its optimal efficiency. Even when working at 100 percent, ACs demand a lot of electricity. If your AC is always running because it’s trying to keep the house cool, you’re going to see it reflected on your utility bill.

What Should You Do If You Expect Your AC Is Leaking Freon?

If you expect your AC is leaking refrigerant, the first thing you should do is turn off your thermostat. By running the AC with a leak, you’re at risk for causing more damage to the unit and releasing more freon into the environment.

While refrigerant leaks are easy to identify, it usually takes a skilled hand to locate the leak, complete the repair, and recharge the system with refrigerant. Althoff Industries can help. We offer expert 24/7/365 AC repair. To schedule an appointment, give us a call at 815-455-7000 or if you have an emergency dial our hotline at 800-225-2443.

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