Monday, September 2, 2019

Check-In Then Check Your Indoor Air Quality

We have dedicated a lot of posts on this blog talking about how to improve the Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) of your home. But what about when you are traveling? Whether you need a place to stay for a night or are on a long vacation in one location, you want to make sure you are comfortable.

The IAQ of the accommodations can have a direct effect on your comfort level. While it is certainly harder to control the IAQ of where you are staying compared to your own home, there are steps you can take.

Understand where you are traveling. We talk a lot about outdoor air but that is going to look different depending on where you are traveling. Staying in a large city with a lot of car exhaust and other pollutants compared to staying at a resort in Hawaii with a fresh sea breeze is going to be different. In a city, you will want to limit the amount of air coming into the room, while in the other, you will want to bring as much air in as possible.

Use the ventilation systems in the unit. All the bathrooms should have at least a ventilation fan. Use them. Even when you are not in the bathroom, keep them running for an extended period. This will help to exchange the air in the room/unit. If you are staying in a unit that has a kitchen, use the range hood every time you cook.

Give the place a once over. This is one that is both for the IAQ and your overall comfort. Walkthrough the unit and look for any mold or mildew build-up. Does it look clean, is there a chemical smell, does it fell overly humid? These can all be warning signs of poor ventilation and worst – poor maintenance. If you do find any of these and you have the ability to ask for another room – do so. Sometimes it can be just that room. The harder situation is if the entire facility is like that. Now you have to make a decision on if to stay or if you try to find another place. That can get complicated with deposits, prepaid rooms and so forth.

Just because you are traveling doesn’t mean your comfort and IAQ needs to suffer. Hopefully these ideas will help you stay comfortable and sleep easy at night.
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Thursday, August 1, 2019

Problems with Allergies or Asthma – Check Your Indoor Air Quality

Say the word pollen in a room full of people and probably about half of them immediately start to cringe and maybe even instinctively reach for a tissue. While there are a lot of great products on the market to relieve or suppress allergies, they do not get to the root of the issue or prevent them. The simple truth is if the allergen isn’t there, it can’t affect you. This goes for people with Asthma also. If what triggers the Asthma isn’t there, an attack probably won’t happen. Let's get something out of the way before the questions start. NO, you cannot eliminate all allergens from your environment unless you want to live in a hermetically sealed chamber for the rest of your life. But what you can do is greatly reduce the number of allergens in your living environment. In previous posts, we have talked a great deal about outdoor air and ventilating your home. On the surface, this might seem counter-intuitive. The outdoor air is where all the allergens are – why would I want to bring that into the home? You would be right in the sense of opening all of the windows and letting the air come into the home when you live next to a field full of ragweed is probably not going to help your cause.

What you do want to do is control the air coming into your home and filter it the best you can. Here is where the HVAC system along with your ventilation and air intake systems come into play. Let's start with the HVAC system. If you have central air, use it, but make sure the air filter is changed regularly and is filtering out the contaminates you need to. Check the type of filter you have. Most air filters will have some type of information on the packaging of what they filter out. Make sure it is removing things like pollen, dust mites, pet dander, and any other allergens or Asthma triggers you might have.

The next item to address is the ventilation of the home. Properly ventilating your bathrooms especially will reduce the growth of mold and mildew. Both of which can trigger allergy or Asthma attacks. Make sure the exhaust fans are being used properly.

Another big area of the home that often gets overlooked is the kitchen. Make sure to use a range hood that is venting to the outdoors. As we have detailed in previous post, the kitchen is one if not the top source of indoor contaminates. Venting these out of the home is the best way to ensure the quality of air inside the home. Smoke is typically a top trigger for people with Asthma. Exhausting it at the source prevents it from entering the living environment. Studies have shown that just using a properly vented range hood when cooking can reduce particulate matter by more than 80% (Dangerous particles so small they can’t be seen).

Finally let’s talk a little about the fresh air coming into the home (also called make-up air). When you vent air outside, you need to bring air into the home. The best way to do this without negatively impacting your air quality is to control it and filter it. As we talked about earlier, opening a door or window definitely brings fresh air in, but it also brings all of the contaminants in the air with it. Utilizing a product like the Air King QFAM or FAS controls the air coming into the home by filtering the air before it reaches the living area. The air passes through an up to MERV16 air filter, which takes out even microscopic allergens. It is the basic principle of keep the good stuff in and the bad stuff out. As we said before, this is not a 100% guarantee that you will never have another allergy or Asthma attack, but if it can increase your comfort level and prevent even some of them – isn’t it worth it?

To learn more about Air King’s ventilation and fresh air solutions, visit

Monday, July 1, 2019

The Air Filter Debate – Is Too Much Too Much?

Quick, when is the last time you changed the Air Filter of your HVAC system? Second question, do you know that your HVAC system has an Air Filter? Air Filters are a part of our lives. Our cars have them, our HVAC systems have them, dehumidifiers have them and now fans have them.

In previous blogs, we have talked about the importance of bringingfresh air into the home and using a mechanical solution like the Air King QFAMor FAS. Those products also utilize an Air Filter.  The thing with Air Filters is that they need to be replaced on a regular basis. But what should you replace it with? In our pursuit of better air quality, we have adopted the bigger is better philosophy and unfortunately, that is not always the case.

You will see terms such as HEPA or MERV. HEPA stands for High Efficiency Particulate Air, which means that a filter can trap 99.97 percent of particulates that are 0.3 microns. In terms we can all understand, it filters out most of the bad things in the air. MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. Like the HEPA definition, the MERV rating is how fine of particles the filter is able to remove. The higher the MERV rating that more contaminates the filter will remove. A MERV 8 filter will trap most common household contaminants such as dust, pollen, pet dander and lint. Going up to a MERV 13 will also trap items such as mold spores, car fumes, smoke, bacteria and microscopic allergens. When you go above MERV 14, now you are into filters you are going to find in settings such as a hospital.

So why not always use the highest MERV rating possible? This comes down to airflow. The issue is that the higher the MERV rating, the more it is going to restrict the airflow. The filter is going to trap more, which is good, but it will also need more power to push the air through. This can have a negative effect on your total system. Let's say you have a MERV 8 filter in place but you now want to change that to a MERV 13. You will see a decrease in the amount of air coming through. Some systems have the ability to compensate and increase the airflow. With Air King’s Fresh Air Machines, you have the ability to adjust the speed manually. For systems that do not have the ability to either self or manually adjust, using a higher rated filter could restrict the airflow to a point where the system is no longer working as expected. This could also have longer-term effects on the system as it will have to work harder to move the air.

So what Air Filter should I use? With Air King products that use filters, take a look at what the CFM (Cubic Feet per Minute) setting is at. If it set below the maximum airflow amount, you can utilize a higher MERV filter and adjust the setting. We do highly suggest that you consult an HVAC expert to make sure the correct airflow is still taking place. They will be able to advise you and test the actual airflow.

To learn more about Air King products, visit

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Rental season is here – is your ventilation ready for guests?

With a growing number of families owning rental properties or being part of a service like Airbnb there are always things to take care of. Is the rental clean, did anything break, when are the next guests coming and so forth. Then there are things that are not as much at the forefront of our minds but could have an impact. One of these is the ventilation in the rental. Yes, we are talking about the exhaust fans in the bathrooms. Now before you just tune this out with an “Are you kidding me” hear us out on this one.

We have already addressed the importance of proper ventilation within a home and especially in the bathrooms in some of our previous posts. Now we want to apply that to a rental property. It’s just a fact that most people are not going to take care of the place they are renting as well as if it were their own home (for those who do – thank you!). That means things like exhaust fans probably are not going to be used to their fullest potential – as in they won’t be turned on. This can lead to problems such as mold, mildew, or moisture damage in and around the shower. No one wants to have to spend extra time and money cleaning or repairing something that could be avoided.

Here are a few things to consider on how to combat the issue:
NOTE: All electrical work must be done in accordance with all local and national codes. If you are unsure, hire a licensed electrician to do the work.
1.     Add a motion sensor (or occupancy sensor) to control the exhaust fan. There are models that have this function integrated into the unit or you can add this feature as a wall switch such as the Air King AKOSW. This will ensure that the exhaust fan turns on each time someone enters the bathroom.
2.     If it is a fan/light combination, wire the light and the fan together. This way every time the light is turned on, the fan will also be turned on. This can usually be done very easily even after the fan is installed.
3.     Add a humidity control to the fan. As with the motion sensor, there are many exhaust fans that have this function built in but there are also wall controls that can easily be added to most installations such as the Air King DH55.
4.     Install a dual speed fan. These fans have a low speed that runs continuously, providing constant ventilation. The high speed provides ventilation when the bathroom is in use. A wall switch or a built-in humidity and/or motion sensor can control this.
5.     Think about installing a larger CFM exhaust fan. While the general rule of thumb is 1 CFM of exhaust per square foot, this is a minimum, not a maximum. Generally, rentals are going to be used a little harder than normal living. Instead of an 80 CFM fan for your 80 square foot bathroom, a 100 CFM fan will be more effective. You don’t need to go crazy, but something in the 10% to 20% extra ventilation should do the trick.

With so many other things to be concerned with on your rental property, why not eliminate one of them by ensuring your bathrooms are properly ventilated. Happy renting.

For more information about Air King’s ventilation solutions including motion sensing, humidity sensing and dual speed fans as well as wall control switches,

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

The 50 CFM Exhaust Fan Dilemma

We will admit it; most people are not staying up late at night thinking about their exhaust fans. For most homeowners, it is that thing in the bathroom that makes a lot of noise. The mindset is because it is making noise; it must be working – right.

Unfortunately, that might not be the case. The most popular fan size sold is a builder grade 50 CFM exhaust fan. These models are typically low cost which makes them attractive but they are loud and might not be doing the job they are intended for. Some of the issues come from the fact that they are installed in rooms that are bigger than their intended use. In an ideal situation (which never exists) a 50 CFM fan is good for a room about 50 square feet. In a real-world setting, it is probably closer to being able to handle a room between 35 and 40 square feet. If you have one of these installed in your bathroom, you probably notice things like the mirrors fog over when you shower and mildew seems to build up quickly. The good news is there are a few things that you can do. These vary from inexpensive to a bit of an investment.
  1. Get on top of the situation. If you are buying a new construction home, talk to the builder about what they are installing. You might need to push a little, but it will be worth it. Sometimes you will hear things like “we put this fan in all our homes” or “we’ve been using this one for years”. That might be true but a little upfront work will save you money and headaches later. Many builders are also realizing that the old standby is not getting the job done and are already upgrading the exhaust fans. Also, make sure they are using a minimum of 4 inch ducting – 6 inch is even better and they are sizing the fan correctly. It is okay to oversize the fan a little. When we talk about a fan being able to handle a room X square feet – that is a minimum, not the maximum size.
  2. Replace the existing one. Replacing an exhaust fan is a somewhat easy DIY project as long as you can access it from the attic. One issue that typically happens is a mismatched duct size. Most builder grade 50 CFM exhaust fans use 3 inch ducting. You will want to change that to 4 inch at a minimum. You can install a 4 inch to 3 inch reducer but that will decrease the airflow of the unit and cause the sound level to be higher. Definitely better to change the ducting if you can. If you are not sure about doing it yourself, licensed electricians or handyman can typically do this in an hour or two. To have a properly sized and functioning exhaust fan it will be worth the costs.
  3. Let it run. If replacing the fan is not an option, extending the run time of the fan is the next best thing. Instead of turning the fan off as soon as you are done in the bathroom, allow it to run. The run time will be dependent on a bunch of factors. It might need to run for 20 to 60 minutes or more. Remembering to come back and turn it off might not be a practical solution. Installing a timer switch can be a good solution. An even better one is to install a wall mounted humidity sensor like the Air King DH55. These replace the wall switch and can usually be installed very easily (again, if you are not sure how to do this, contact a licensed electrician). It is also recommended you leave the bathroom door open to allow as much air exchange as possible to help reduce the humidity.

To learn more about Air King vast selection of exhaust fans and Indoor Air Quality Ventilation Systems, visit