Monday, October 1, 2018

Where are you living – How much time do you spend indoors?

For this month’s blog post we are going to do a little math, so get those pencils sharpened. Okay we know no one uses pencils anymore, so bring up your favorite calculator app on your smart phone and lets get ready.

Lets first start with the setup. If I told you that you had to spend the next 60 years of your life inside and could never go outside, what would you do? Our guess is you would try and make the area as comfortable as possible. Put in an extra window or two so you can at least see outside, make sure the temperature is perfect inside at all times and so on. What about the air you are breathing? Would that come to mind? Unfortunately for a lot of people it does not, but it could be the most important thing you should consider.

Okay, why does any of this matter. Here is where we get to do some math. Fill in the following blanks with your average (yes we know some weeks are different than others – we are shooting for an average).

Hours at work each week: ____
Hours commuting to and from work/per week: _____
Hours eating either in your home or at a restaurant/week: _____
Hours sleeping/week: _____
Hours watching TV or digital devices indoors/week: _____
Other indoor hours (reading, household chores, etc.) per week: _____
Add all these numbers to get your weekly total of indoor hours: _____

Now lets make this scary. Take the total number of hours you are indoors per week and times that by 52 to get a year quantity. The average US resident spends approximately 86.9% of their life indoors (source NHAPS study). 

It gets worst when we throw a statistic that indoor air can be up to 5 times – yes 5 times more polluted than outdoor air. Just for fun lest make this more depressing and take that over a lifetime. With a life expectancy of 79 you will spend as many as 69 years of your life indoors (source: energy vangaurd). How did you match up to the average?

We promise, no more math from us this month. So what can we do about our indoor time? Thankfully there is a lot that we can do. The simple answer is to spend more time outside – play or coach a sport, take a daily walk (and not on the treadmill at the gym), sit outside and enjoy a cup of coffee. The next step is to do what you can to better your indoor air. When you can, open windows and get as much fresh air inside as possible. Yes we know that is not always possible. When it is not, make sure your home is properly ventilated. Use exhaust fans in the bathrooms and especially in the kitchen. Also make sure you have a source of outdoor air coming in to replace the air you are ventilating. Doing all these things will greatly increase the indoor air quality so if you have to spend that time inside at least you’re doing your best to make the air as good as possible.

To learn more about Air King’s indoor air quality solutions visit www.airkinglimited.com
Also make sure to read our other blog posts about indoor air quality:

Is the Air Inside Your Home Safe to Breath? Part 2 – The Bathroom

Is the Air Inside Your Home Safe to Breath? Part 1 – The Kitchen


The Air Balancing Act

What Has Happen to the Air We Breath?

Getting Particular About Particulate Matter


Bad air out, fresh air in – bringing fresh air into your home

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Is the Air Inside Your Home Safe to Breath? Part 2 – The Bathroom


As we discussed in our last blog post, the air inside our homes can be up to 5 times more polluted than outdoor air. We also looked at the biggest culprit – the kitchen. In this post we will look at another one – the bathrooms. The bathroom has its own set of challenges when it comes to indoor air quality. The two main ones are moisture and odor with moisture being the main area of concern. While odors in the bathroom are unpleasant they in themselves do not present a health risk – they just stink and we want to get rid of them. The problem comes with using air fresheners. In order to rid the room of the smells, we spray a chemical agent into the air that we in turn breath in.

Moisture presents a whole other set of challenges. There is no way around it, if you take a shower or a bath, you will have moisture in the bathroom. Anytime there is moisture, there is the potential for mold and mildew to grow. Once that starts, the air you are breathing now has the potential to be dangerous. Now before everyone goes crazy and starts wearing HAZMAT suits in the bathroom, a lot of mold and mildew can be eliminated with a consistent cleaning routine. What we want to focus on is reducing the route causes. The good news is whether it is odors, mold or mildew, the solution is the same – good ventilation. Good ventilation has multiple components to it all working together. They include:

Vented to the outdoors: The air needs to leave your home. You sometimes will see the exhaust fan vented to the attic or just inside a wall. All that is happening in this scenario is the hazard is being displaced. Instead of the mold growing in your bathroom, it will now be growing in the attic or inside your walls. At least if it is in the bathroom you can see it and might be able to mitigate it before it gets out of control. In the attic or a wall, you won’t have that benefit.

Power: Another mistake many people make is trying to save a dollar or two and installing a fan that is not sized properly. If your mirrors fog up every time you take a shower, your exhaust fan is probably undersized. When sizing a fan, you want at least 1 CFM per square foot of space.

Make sure it is turned on: The biggest complaint when it comes to exhaust fans is how loud they are. Technology has come a long way and now there are fans on the market that you can barely hear running. All of Air King ENERGY STAR® certified exhaust fans operate at quiet to almost silent sound levels. Another solution is to use a fan that automatically turns on such as one with a humidity and/or motion sensor. These are great if you have children or guests that are not as reliable when it comes to turning the exhaust fan on.

Keep it running: To make sure you are properly exhausting the room it is recommended that the fan run for at least 20 minutes after it has been vacated. Adding a timer is a perfect solution. These can be a part of the fan itself or as a wall switch.

To learn more about Indoor Air Quality and how you can properly ventilate your home, visit www.airkinglimited.com.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Is the Air Inside Your Home Safe to Breath? Part 1 – The Kitchen


According to the American Lung Association, approximately 85% of Americans dont realize the air in the home can be hazardous. In some cases it can be up to 5 times more polluted than outdoor air. Thats a bit concerning. The question is, what makes the air so bad? In this two part series well take a look at the biggest culprits inside our homes.

The Kitchen. The kitchen can be the largest area of contaminates inside the home. Anytime you are cooking, there will be a source of particulates going into the air. This can be smoke, grease, carcinogens and so forth. This is just part of cooking. The way to combat these contaminates is with a properly functioning range hood. The key is the proper functioning part.

Vented to the outdoors: First and foremost, the range hood has to vent to the outside. There are many range hoods on the market that pass the contaminated air through a filter then recirculate the air back into the kitchen. While these are somewhat better than nothing, they just are not going to provide the level of air filtration that is needed.

Turn it on: The range hood has to be turned on. Yes we know, they can be loud and cause the pets to run and hide but there are now many solutions on the market that operate at a fraction of the sound of older range hoods. Air King has a complete line of range hoods that provide proper ventilation at quiet sound levels.

Power: The hood needs to be powerful enough for the cooking you are doing. If the hood cant keep up with contaminates coming off the surface that means they are going into the air you are breathing.

Keep it running: The hood should run for an extended period of time once the cooking is completed. Typically there are still a lot of residual particles and contaminates that are still in the air even when you finish cooking. The goal is to get every last bit out of the home and away from the air you are breathing.

There has been a lot of research as well as building codes being implemented concerning Indoor Air Quality (IAQ). More and more studies are pointing to the kitchen as being the most important location to properly ventilate. One of the building codes now calls for an exhaust fan to be running continuously inside the home to make sure the air is being exchanged. Air King has developed products to place that continuously operating exhaust fan in the kitchen. The ECV, ECQ and LE series all have a barely audible low speed that runs continuously then have additional speeds when more ventilation is needed – like when you are actively cooking. The science behind this product is that if the kitchen is the biggest contaminate of the home, why not place the primary source of ventilation there? This takes care of any particulate matter during cooking as well as any residual particulates after cooking. It just makes sense to fight it at the source and prevent any infiltration into the rest of the home.

To learn more about Indoor Air Quality and how you can properly ventilate your home, visit www.airkinglimited.com.

Monday, July 2, 2018

The Air Balancing Act

When you hear Air Balancing you might have pictures of a puff of air trying to stay on a narrow bar without falling off. While that might be something you would see in the comic section, when it comes to your home, Air Balancing is a bit different and more important. The simple explanation is that the amount of air coming into the home needs to match the amount of air going out of the home.

So what air is going out of your home? There is more air leaving your home than you probably realize. Items such as your furnace, water heater, clothes dryer, range hood, and bathroom exhaust fans can all be pulling air out of your home. All of these items provide a pivotal role in the overall comfort and/or indoor air quality of your home so not using them is not an option.

This is where the balancing comes in. As we defined earlier, balancing is making sure the amount of air going out matches the amount coming in. So where do we get the air (referred to as make-up air) to balance everything? This all depends on the construction of you home. Many older homes have what is called natural air infiltration. The rest of the world knows these as drafts. In newer homes, the amount of drafts has been greatly reduced. You might hear the term – tight home. While this helps with the comfort and efficiency of the home it creates an issue with the air balance of the home and it is harder to account for all the air leaving the home. An easy way to balance the air is to leave a door or window open. That works great unless you live in a climate that has temperature changes (like almost all of the United States). There might be a few weeks of the year that this would be a viable option but in the middle of summer in Arizona or the middle of winter in Minnesota, not sure you want to have a window open. This is where mechanical solutions come in. A mechanical solution like the Air King QFAM is set up to bring fresh, filtered air into the home – balancing the amount of air leaving the home. There are air test that can be done to your home to determine how much air is leaving, then the QFAM can be set to deliver the proper amount of air flow to make-up that air providing a safe living environment.

Wait, you used the phrase safe living environment does that mean mine is not? Maybe. If a home is too tight and the air leaving is not replaced, you can create a negative pressure inside your home. Air will always find a way to balance itself and can start pulling from things like furnace vents or chimneys. The negative pressure wont allow them to vent properly and the harmful fumes, gases and contaminates that should be going out of the home could be coming back into the living environment. For these reasons the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), who is a leader in writing codes for indoor air quality standards has included a provision for fresh air (or make-up) air in the latest version of ASHRAE 62.2.

Balancing your homes air is an important element to your indoor air quality and healthy living. For more simple and effective was to accomplish balanced air, visit the Air King website at www.airkinglimited.com.

Friday, June 1, 2018

What Has Happen to the Air We Breath?


There is a lot of talk lately about Indoor Air Quality (IAQ). You may have already read some of our other IAQ posts, but what has changed that it is getting even more attention? Why wasnt this as important 5 years, 10 year, 30 years ago? That is a great question and one that has many answers.

They Dont Build Them Like They Used To. Most of the time this is a negative for the newer item. Thats not the case here. Newer houses are constructed to a much tighter building standard that requires the house to be better insulated and more energy efficient. The biggest thing a homeowner will notice is that there are much less drafts. Heres where it gets tricky. Less drafts are great from a comfort and efficiency standpoint but not good from an IAQ standpoint. The drafts you feel are outside air coming into the home and by default exchanging the stale air inside the home. Tighter homes do not have a natural way of exchanging the air, causing it to stagnate. Homeowners need to open windows or doors to accomplish this (not a great plan for those living in areas where it is 100 degrees outside or on the other end of the spectrum, minus 10).

Knowledge. We are getting smarter. Studies have found that the air inside our home can be up to 5 times more polluted than the outside air – yikes! That is from normal living. We have now learned that things like cooking, showering (creating mold and mildew if not properly ventilated), using cleaning chemicals or air fresheners and so forth are major contributors to bad IAQ. Just think how dusty your home gets and now realize that dust comes from somewhere and how much of that you have breathed in. We then go back to the first point and with a tighter home, there is even less chance for these pollutants to escape.

The Easy Factor. As we mentioned, a major contributor to bad IAQ are all the chemical products we use inside our homes. They are convenient and generally do the job. Included in these are air fresheners. There are two inherit issues with them. First is they are a chemical solution and second, why do you need them in the first place? Think of how much could be avoided by just having a properly ventilated home. Let something cook a little too long on the stove – a good range hood will take care of that. Kids clothing stinking up the house – a good exhaust fan plus fresh air coming into the home will take care of that. That spicy chili from last night causing an extended stay in the bathroom – rather then emptying a can of air freshener, a good exhaust fan will take care of that.

So are we all doomed? Nope, there is hope and it is actually an easy solution. As mentioned earlier, a properly ventilated home increase the IAQ dramatically – using bath fans, range hoods and other ventilation fans. That takes care of getting the bad air out of the home but you also want to bring fresh air into the home. When keeping a window or door open is not an option, a mechanical solution might be the answer. A product like the Air King QFAM provides a flow of filtered air into the home and can be set to account for humidity levels and temperature of the air coming in. Products like the QFAM can be installed in a non-intrusive location of the home and provide the fresh air that you need.

To learn more about IAQ and Air Kings solutions, visit www.airkinglimited.com