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HVAC

Indoor Air Quality Includes the Outdoors

By | HVAC, Indoor Air Quality | No Comments

No one thinks about this certain source of indoor air pollutants because it is the exact opposite of the indoors.

The Outdoors!

If the outdoor air around your home or building isn’t healthy, your indoor air will be affected. If your HVAC outdoor intake is pulling in air near a cooling tower, generator, plumbing vents, garbage etc.…that air is going to be filled with contaminants which is now freely flowing through your house. Even a loading dock upwind can contaminate the air your outdoor intake pulls from.

ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers) has a standard to use when putting in HVAC systems. The standard recommends 25 feet between the intake and a cooling tower and a minimum of 15 feet to the nearest dumpster.

So, make sure the outdoor air is clean to help you control the indoor air.

PARTICLES: Just Because They Are Nearly Invisible, Doesn’t Mean They Don’t Matter

By | HVAC, Indoor Air Quality | No Comments

Air is seemingly empty to us because the human eye cannot see many of the particles floating around. Particles can be human skin scales, bacteria, viruses, soot, rust, pet dander, pollen grains, mold spores, car-tire particles and more. Particles can be smaller than .01 micron in size. A micron is one-millionth of a meter, and the human eye cannot see anything under 40 microns.

To put this in perspective, the diameter of a single human hair is about 100 microns.

Household dust can range anywhere from smaller than .01 micron to 10 microns. Mold spores can be 2 microns to 10 microns. Bacteria are normally 0.1 micron to 10 microns and viruses are even smaller. Animal dander can be 5 to 20 microns in size.

So, what does this have to do with healthy indoor environment?

Particles travel on airflows created by HVAC systems and ventilation and, the smaller the particle, the longer it remains airborne. Some are even permanently airborne. The longer it remains airborne, the more time available it can be inhaled deeply into the lungs. Bacteria and viruses carry diseases. Some cause asthma and allergy symptoms. These particles that we can’t see need to be filtered out as much as possible.

Products such as HEPA filters remove 99.97% of particles. Air purifiers can be beneficial but can also be detrimental. An air purifier that ionizes air or creates hydroxyl ions creates an irritating gas to provide that fresh air smell.

The best way to removes these particles is to remove the source altogether. For example, if mold spores are coming off an old rug, get rid of the rug.

An IAQ Partnership

By | HVAC, Indoor Air Quality | No Comments

Baxter Group, Inc. owner and CEO, Jocelyne Melton, and Building Performance Analyst, Patrick Aaron of Total Comfort, Inc. have begun a partnership to improve the indoor air quality in our community. Clients now receive the added benefit of an expanded knowledge base to help identify problems and create solutions for their indoor environmental needs. The client has the option for a free consultation with both Jocelyne Melton and Patrick Aaron to determine the best resolution, including:

  • In-Depth environmental investigations, testing, and remediation
  • Changes to HVAC systems
  • Indoor air products

These products and services can be utilized for both residential homes and commercial buildings.

Baxter Group, Inc. and Total Comfort have worked on several projects together, realizing they share the same values and passion about the environment in which we live and breathe. Patrick Aaron stated, “Teaming with Baxter Group provides us with the opportunity to better serve our customers. By taking a more holistic approach to a home’s indoor air quality and HVAC systems, we aim to create a much healthier and comfortable living space.”

Dirty Sock Odor After Turning on Your Central Air?

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Summer is around the corner and we’ll be turning on our air conditioning. CAUTION: That dirty sock odor is an indication that the A/C unit has become contaminated with microbial growth. Whenever warm, moist air is cooled, water will form condensation and microbes like yeast, bacteria, and mold only need oxygen, moisture and dust to grow.

Airborne particles can be carried through on air flows throughout our houses and buildings causing allergies, asthma, and hypersensitivity pneumonitis, a potentially life-threatening respiratory illness.

HOW TO AVOID THIS PROBLEM?

Adequate filtration.

This is the most important. Without adequate filtration, A/C coils, drip trays, and fibrous liners become contaminated due to the dampness. Pleated media filters with a MERV rating of at least 8 are recommended.

But don’t forget to change the filters on the recommended schedule, otherwise even the very best filtration will become filthy. And it is always a good idea to have the HVAC systems inspected before you turn it on for the spring or summer.

One Remedy for Poor Indoor Air Quality – Proper Ventilation

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One Remedy for Poor Indoor Air Quality

– Proper Ventilation –

Research indicates that the air in our buildings may be more polluted than the outdoor air, even in the larger, more industrialized cities. With many people spending as much as 90% of their time indoors, being familiar with the causes and sources of indoor air problems becomes crucial to those who are responsible for building maintenance. This is especially important if the occupants are the young, the elderly, the chronically ill, or suffer from respiratory or cardiovascular disease. If too little fresh air enters a building, compounds and pollutants will accumulate until they reach levels that can pose health issues.

 

Major causes of poor indoor air quality include:

  • Inadequate ventilation,
  • High humidity levels, and
  • An accumulations of gases or particles.

 

Compounds that release gases or particles include:

  • Oil, gas, kerosene, coal and wood
  • Tobacco products
  • Building materials
  • Furnishings
  • Damaged asbestos-containing material
  • Deteriorating lead-based paint
  • Wet or damp carpet
  • Pressed-wood products and furnishings
  • Personal care products
  • Household cleaning products
  • Dirty or damaged HVAC systems and related ductwork
  • Dirty or damaged humidifiers
  • Pesticides
  • Outdoor pollution

 

Proper ventilation increases the quality of the air that our building occupants breathe by diluting emissions from indoor and outdoor sources and by exhausting the pollutants out of the building. Regulating the temperature and humidity to proper levels also reduces the concentration of pollutants, particularly mold. To improve air quality, focus on source control and ventilation improvements, and consider adding air filtration systems.

 

For more information, visit our Indoor Environmental Quality page.

Spring Maintenance Checklist

By | Asbestos, HVAC, Indoor Air Quality, Lead Paint, Mold, Radon | No Comments

 Spring Maintenance Checklist

For facilities managers and homeowners alike, Spring starts with cleanup. Some tips to remember while performing Spring maintenance and cleanup:

 

  • Reduce your chance of being exposed to contaminants through proper use of personal protection equipment,
  • Minimize the use of chemicals that leave residual compounds and could impact building occupants,
  • Increase ventilation before, during, and immediately after cleaning, and
  • Be alert to signs of inadequate ventilation, evidence of water intrusions or moisture marks, and evidence of mold growth.

 

A good Spring Maintenance Checklist includes the following:

 

  • Gutters and downspouts are draining water away from the buildings
  • Gutters and downspouts are debris-free
  • Trip and fall hazards are removed
  • Choking hazards are eliminated
  • Sharp edge hazards are addressed
  • Fencing is secure around pools or trenches
  • Rodent infestations are addressed
  • Window wells are debris-free
  • Exterior drains are debris-free
  • Interior drains are debris-free
  • Puddling inside or outside is addressed
  • Sump pumps are tested and properly working
  • Dehumidifiers are tested and properly working
    • Set at 45% humidity
    • Filters clean
    • Draining properly
  • Roof shingles and flashing are intact
  • Chimney and chimney flashing are intact
  • Attic vents are clear of congestion
  • All painted surfaces, inside and outside, are intact
  • Flashing below windows and doors are intact
  • No broken or cracked glass in windows
  • No leaks around windows and doors
  • Dryer vents are clean
  • Exhaust ducts are clear
  • Any evidence of water or moisture damage is addressed
  • Washer and dishwasher hoses and connections are secure
  • No evidence of water pipe leaks
  • Refrigerator drip pan is clean
  • No damage around sinks, showers, or tubs
    • Sink, tub, and shower are drains operating effectively
  • Hot water heater and boiler have no leaks
  • Septic tanks are not full
  • Bath and kitchen exhaust fans are operational
  • All exhaust and HVAC filters are clean and operational
  • All electric cords are intact
    • Ground fault interrupters are operating properly
  • Smoke and CO alarms are charged and operating properly
  • Insulation in attics and crawlspaces are intact
  • Radon manometer is reading appropriately
    • Proper radon measurement taken (every two years)

 

Spring and Summer become so much more enjoyable when maintenance has been performed and major catastrophes prevented. Once all these items are checked, follow up with projects to maintain the property or get it up to “snuff”.

Baxter Group, Inc. Educational Programs

By | Asbestos, HVAC, Indoor Air Quality, Lead Paint, Mold, Radon, Uncategorized | No Comments

Bring awareness to your company, safety team, or organization on topics surrounding healthy indoor environments. Baxter Group, Inc. will come to you! Learn about healthy environmental living and the know-how to stay healthy at home and in the office. Our professionals provide various educational programs on safety topics, specific contaminant topics, and many more. All programs can all be tailored specifically to meet your group’s needs.

Topics include:

  • Healthy Homes
  • Healthy Buildings
  • Asbestos
  • Lead-Based Paint
  • Mold
  • Radon
  • HVAC Contamination
  • Indoor Environmental Quality

Education can include:

  • Identification
  • Health Effects
  • Hazards
  • Safety Precautions
  • How to Remedy

These programs are perfect for safety tailgate meetings, employee training sessions, group presentations, auxiliary and business meetings, PTA, and more. Any groups interested in healthy environments to live in and work in will be inspired.

Baxter Group, Inc. has already been given the opportunity to provide these services to some organizations, including Brechbill and Helman, Associated Builders and Contractors, Wilson College Facilities Department, and real estate agencies.

Contact the office today at 717-263-7341, or fill out our contact form.

Did You Know?

By | HVAC, Lead Paint, Uncategorized | No Comments

Baxter Group, Inc. has a SUPER TRAC V ROBOTIC SYSTEM.  This piece of equipment can show us the existing condition of an HVAC System, creating a DVD of the inspection when connected to a laptop.  This is a great tool to document inspections.  It can also be used to document suspicious areas that a human cannot enter.

Baxter Group, Inc. has an X-Ray Fluorescence Analyzer.  The XRF can analyze painted components for lead without being destructive to the building component.  No more scratching the paint for lead chip samples.

Baxter Group, Inc. has a Vacuum Test Kit.  Precision sampling filters allow for objective measurements of duct on duct surfaces to objectively assess whether a system needs cleaning.

When Should I Get My Duct Work Cleaned?

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ductwork

 

When Should I Get My Duct Work Cleaned?

Generally, duct cleaning has not been shown to actually prevent health problems or to improve indoor air quality.  However, it is what is in your duct work that determines whether or not it needs cleaned.  Dirty air ducts are only one of many possible sources of particles that are present in your home.

 

You should consider having your air ducts cleaned under the following circumstances:

  • There is substantial visible mold growth inside the air ducts or on other HVAC components.
  • Ducts are infested with rodents, insects, or other pests.
  • Ducts are clogged with excessive amounts of dust, debris, or particulates.
  • Dust, debris or particulates are being released into the home from your supply registers.

 

It is also important to identify the underlying cause of the contamination and address that cause.  Otherwise, the contamination may return leading to the need to clean the duct work again.

 

Air ducts do not need to be cleaned routinely, but as needed.  Checking the conditions of your air ducts should be on your home’s annual maintenance checklist.