Air Quality and Allergies: What You Need to Know

Air Quality and Allergies: What You Need to Know

Maintaining the health of those in your household involves carefully and consistently monitoring indoor air quality. If ventilation and air purification systems aren’t working efficiently, your indoor environment will become more polluted than the air outside. Instead of enjoying a cozy atmosphere, you and others in your home may contend with persistent allergies and cold symptoms. Winter can be particularly challenging for air quality, especially when you and your family spend extended periods indoors. Here, you’ll learn about some key recommendations to prevent your air quality from exacerbating allergy symptoms for those in your household.

Indoor Pollutants

Common indoor pollutants, such as pollen, pet dander, and bacteria, are organic contaminants that can carry germs and flourish in warm and humid settings. Dust mites, for instance, may thrive in upholstery and on carpeted surfaces. Bedding is another place where dust can accumulate. Inhaling these microscopic pollutants can trigger a variety of respiratory symptoms, such as wheezing and coughing. Extended exposure may even result in respiratory complications or long-term conditions like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Be mindful of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) found in aerosols and household cleaners, as these human-made chemicals can accumulate to unsafe levels without proper ventilation. In higher concentrations, these gases may irritate your eyes and airways, which will lead to frequent headaches and nausea.

Carbon monoxide, an odorless and colorless gas produced when fossil fuels aren’t completely burned, also poses a significant risk. This is especially the case during the colder seasons when gas furnaces or fireplaces are used. Leaks in your heating system or stove can allow carbon monoxide to infiltrate the air in your home, resulting in symptoms like confusion and nausea. The same is also true if you have a generator, as the fumes can find their way into your home if it is not properly ventilated.

Beyond these common indoor contaminants, concerns also arise with formaldehyde and nitrogen dioxide. Radon, an invisible gas emerging from the ground, can seep through foundation cracks. Fibrous asbestos, often found in building materials, poses a risk when inhaled, and can cause damage to the lungs. Additionally, concentrated exposure to chemical-based pesticides may irritate your respiratory system and nasal passages. It is critical to remain informed about these potential hazards to maintain good indoor air quality.

Improving Your Air Quality

There are many measures you can take to improve indoor air quality Consider the following.

Choose Natural Solutions

Opting for natural air fresheners and household cleaners, instead of those with synthetic chemicals, is an excellent move toward enhancing indoor air quality. If you burn candles, choose those made from natural ingredients, such as beeswax and soy, as these will burn cleanly.

Change Air Filters Regularly

The primary role of the HVAC filter is to remove contaminants from the air before they enter the system and circulate throughout your home. A high-quality filter can capture all sorts of debris, such as pet dander and biological spores. Once the filter becomes full, debris will circulate more freely throughout your home, hence the reason it is critical to change it regularly. It’s recommended that you change your air filter at least every one to three months. The ideal timeframe depends heavily on the composition of the filter and the specifics of your household.

Get a Duct Cleaning

It’s recommended to schedule a professional duct cleaning every three to five years. This service includes searching the inside of your ductwork for potential tears, holes, or new infestations. Your technician will then seal your vents and registers and use an industrial vacuum to pull out the debris that has built up over time. When too much debris builds up in your ducts, it can slowly worsen your air quality and impact airflow. Removing it boosts the efficiency of your HVAC system and limits allergic reactions. Request a duct cleaning soon if you’ve recently moved into a new home, completed a remodeling project, or can’t remember the last time you scheduled one.

Consider Whole-Home Air Purification

Ensure you have the best air quality possible no matter the season with a whole-home air purifier. These devices are installed alongside your existing HVAC equipment. Rather than having to manually turn them on, they’ll activate at the same time as your HVAC system. This guarantees the air leaving your vents is clean and free of debris.

Some of the most popular whole-home systems use high-efficiency particulate absorbing (HEPA) filters to remove contaminants. Others may come with ultraviolet (UV) or germicidal lights that target the DNA of living pollutants like bacteria and viruses. You can also opt for an air scrubber, which can utilize a mechanical HEPA filter and UV light for optimum results.

Minimize Humidity Level Fluctuations

The humidity level in your home has a direct impact on the amount of mold spores and dust mites present. Living environments with excessive airborne moisture tend to struggle with fungal growth, water damage, and pests. If your home doesn’t have enough humidity, your family may grapple with dried mucus membranes and worsened cold symptoms.

No matter the time of year, it’s best to keep the humidity level in your home between 30% and 50%. Generally, you’ll find more ambient humidity in your home in the summer than you will in the winter. To limit large fluctuations, you can invest in individual or whole-home humidity-control systems. Choosing a whole-house system provides humidity control for every room rather than only a small area. These systems also directly connect to your water supply and drain line, saving you from having to complete regular maintenance.

Tackle Your Pet’s Hair and Dander

To limit your family’s pet allergy symptoms, you should take steps to minimize the spread of animal hair and dander. Be sure to vacuum or sweep the home at least weekly. It can also help to routinely wash your pet’s bedding and the rugs they use most frequently. When possible, thoroughly brush them outside the home to stop their hair from reaching your ductwork and HVAC system.

Households with pets typically go through air filters faster. This makes it important to keep up with your HVAC filter replacement schedule. If you own pets that go outside, don’t neglect to wipe down their paws to stop them from tracking in insects and other debris.

Call Our Complete Home Comfort Service Team

Crystal Blue Plumbing, Heating & Air is dedicated to solving your home comfort issues in Sacramento, CA. Since 1976, locals have relied on us for superior workmanship, quality products, and exceptional customer service. Our NATE-certified technicians offer heating and cooling repairs, maintenance, and installations. We’re ready to work on all major HVAC systems from dual fuel options to standard heat pumps. Our team also provides air quality systems, modern thermostats, and ductless comfort solutions. Furthermore, you don’t want to miss out on our various plumbing services from line repairs to fixture replacements. Call Crystal Blue Plumbing, Heating & Air today to learn more about our indoor comfort services.

The Importance of Regular Drain Cleaning

The Importance of Regular Drain Cleaning

From bathing, cooking, and showering to gardening and other household chores, we rely on a functioning plumbing system to make our lives more convenient and comfortable. While they are often overlooked, drains are an important part of your plumbing system because they serve as a conduit to move used water away and route it to your septic tank or city sewer system.

A clogged or slow-moving drain makes household tasks almost impossible. What’s more, a clogged drain can lead to costly repairs, inconvenience, health risks, and damage to your home. Learning more about how drains get clogged, signs of issues and how to prevent them, and the benefits of regular drain cleanings can help you keep your home’s water flowing freely throughout the year.

Signs of Clogged Drains

Clear drains are important to the overall health of your plumbing system. If you notice any of these signs, your drains require prompt attention.

Slow Drainage

A bathroom or kitchen sink that fills up while the water is running freely means that a foreign object or grease, hair, or soap is causing a blockage. If it’s isolated to one sink, the clog may not be deep in the plumbing. If more than one sink runs slowly, however, the clog goes deeper. Regular maintenance and careful disposal of waste can prevent these issues.

Frequent Clogs

The more clogs re-occur, the more serious the blockage. Your issues will need to be addressed by a professional plumber. Ignoring these signs can lead to more severe plumbing issues, including burst pipes.

Standing Water

Water that pools inside your sinks, washing machine, basement floor drain, or drainage pipe indicates a clog that requires attention. Standing water can become a breeding ground for mosquitoes and other pests, making prompt resolution critical.

Foul Smell

An unpleasant smell that isn’t resolved by running water down the drain may indicate a drain clog. In cases of serious clogs, this odor can permeate the house, affecting indoor air quality and making living conditions uncomfortable.

Swarming Flies and Pests

If fruit flies are swarming around your drain, it indicates they’re after food debris stuck in pipes. You may even see small rodents such as mice. Such pests can carry diseases, making it important to address the issue quickly.

Gurgling Sounds

If you hear a gurgling sound after flushing the toilet or running a faucet, it’s likely caused by water trying to escape through tight spaces in a clogged drain. Air bubbles in the toilet also indicate a drainage problem, possibly in the sewer line. This sound is a clear indication that air is trapped and is a sign that venting issues may also be present in your plumbing system.

Preventing Clogged Drains

You’ve heard the saying, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” When it comes to your plumbing system, you can take some simple steps to help prevent clogged drains.

Use a Drain Screen

A good way to keep solids from clogging drains is to install a drain screen. If you scrape plates thoroughly before washing dishes, the drain screen will effectively catch any remaining food debris. Similarly, placing a hair screen in the bathroom will help prevent drains from getting clogged with clumps of hair and soap.

Watch What Foods You Put in Your Disposal

Is your sink equipped with a disposal? While a garbage disposal can be a convenient appliance, it can turn into a major source of issues if used inappropriately. It’s important to remember that certain foods, such as banana peels, egg shells, corn husks, coffee grounds, and onion skins, should not be put down the disposable because they can cling to pipes and cause a major clog. In addition, foods like pasta and rice swell with water and don’t disintegrate, so they should be disposed of in the trash rather than put down the disposal.

Clean Your Drain Stoppers Regularly

A small but effective way to prevent drain clogs is by regularly cleaning drain stoppers. Soap scum and hair that build up on them can cause drains to run slowly and possibly lead to a full blockage. Additionally, removing and cleaning the stopper not only prevents clogs but also helps eliminate unpleasant odors that can arise from the buildup of organic material.

Only Flush Toilet Paper

Other than human waste, it’s crucial to ensure that only toilet paper designed to degrade quickly in water is flushed down the toilet. Overusing even the correct toilet paper, however, can still lead to clogs. It’s essential to use a moderate amount and avoid flushing large quantities at once to prevent overwhelming the toilet or the broader sewer system. Additionally, educating household members about what shouldn’t be flushed — such as wipes, sanitary products, and other non-degradable items — can further protect your plumbing from unnecessary blockages.

Reduce Hair in the Drains

Minimizing the amount of hair that enters your drains is an easy way to prevent clogs. One effective method is to brush your hair thoroughly before stepping into the shower so that you remove loose strands that might otherwise wash down the drain. For pet owners, bathing pets outside when weather permits can significantly reduce the amount of pet hair entering indoor plumbing systems. Additionally, installing a hair catcher in shower and bathtub drains can serve as a long-term solution.

Benefits of Regular Drain Cleaning

Unfortunately, even with preventative measures, you may run into drain issues from time to time. When this happens, there are a few DIY hacks that may be effective for minor problems. Using a plunger or flushing the drains with boiling water, baking soda and vinegar, or dish detergent, may help, but they’re no match for serious clogs.

Instead of trying ineffective DIY drain cleaning methods, you can avoid all the headaches of clogged drains by using a regular drain cleaning service. Trained professionals have the knowledge, skills, equipment, and powerful drain and sewer line methods to help prevent and resolve drain issues. Using a regular drain cleaning service will provide you with the following benefits.

Save Money in the Long Run

Regular cleaning helps avoid costly emergency repairs and potential water damage from backups or burst pipes. By maintaining clear pipes, you’re also minimizing wear and tear, which can prolong the system’s life and save on future replacement costs.

Prolong the Life of Your Plumbing

Regularly removing debris and build-up from your pipes prevents corrosion and deterioration of your plumbing infrastructure. This care extends the lifespan of your system, ensuring it functions efficiently for a longer period.

Increase the Lifespan of Appliances

Appliances that use water, like washing machines and dishwashers, depend on clear drains to operate correctly. Regular drain cleaning ensures these appliances are not stressed by backflows, thereby extending their useful life.

Enhance the Value of Your Property

A well-maintained plumbing system is a significant asset when evaluating a property’s value. Regular drain cleaning is a sign of a well-maintained home, which could potentially increase your property’s market value and appeal to prospective buyers.

Prevent Unpleasant Odors

Regular drain cleaning removes the build-up of food particles, grease, and other debris that can cause unpleasant smells in your home. By keeping your drains clean, you’re ensuring that your living space remains fresh and odor-free.

Turn to the Pros for Expert Drain Cleaning

Improve your home comfort and avoid the headache of drain issues with regular professional drain cleaning. Our plumbing professionals at Crystal Blue Plumbing, Heating & Air in Sacramento have the knowledge and equipment to clean your drains regularly and help you avoid the hassles of clogs. We also offer a full range of heating, cooling, and indoor air quality services.

If you’re dealing with a plumbing issue or want to learn more about scheduling regular drain cleanings, contact us at Crystal Blue Plumbing, Heating & Air today.