Monday, October 2, 2017

3 Reasons Its Time to Replace Your Exhaust Fan

Unfortunately in this world things do not last forever. Homeowners know this all too well. Sometimes it feels like things are breaking every time you turn around. The exhaust fans in your home can sometimes take a back seat on the repair list but here are three reasons you might want to consider replacing your exhaust fan sooner rather than later.

Reason 1 – It no longer works. Okay, this is a fairly obvious reason, but you would be surprised at the number of homes across the country that have exhaust fans installed that no longer are operational. The challenge is that it falls into the category or “when I get around to it”. Unfortunately this is a big mistake. As we have outlined in previous posts, indoor air quality can really affect the home and the people inside it.

Reason 2 – The sound level is now almost unbearable. There are a multitude of reasons why the exhaust fan’s sound level has increased. The main reasons are typically that a weld on the fan housing has released, the fan blade if out of balance, or the fan was just loud to start with.

NOTE: Sometime an increase in sound level can be due to a build up of dirt or debris on the fan blade or in the ducting, a damper that is not opening properly or other maintenance issues. Before replacing the fan, make sure to check these items.

This is a slightly more difficult decision than if the fan is not working at all. Since the fan is still providing ventilation, there is not an immediate need to replace. What typically happens however is that because of the elevated sound level, the fan is not utilized which at that point, it is the same as if the fan was not working at all.

Reason 3 – The fan is not providing the proper amount of ventilation. This is one where you want to troubleshoot the symptom first. It could be that there is a clog in your ductwork, a buildup of dust or dirt on the fan blade or a build up of dust or dirt inside of the fan housing. These can all contribute to decreased performance and if they are the case, some maintenance to the fan should clear up the issue. If that is not the case, many times it is because the wrong size fan was originally installed. Most experts agree that you should look for a fan that provides 1 CFM (cubic feet per minute of ventilation) per 1 square foot. So if your bathroom is 10 by 10, you need 100CFM. The trouble with that math is there are other factors involved. Items such as length and type of ductwork, type of usage of the bathroom, geographic location, and many more can have a direct impact. In some cases you might need to increase the amount of airflow of your fan considerably to meet the needs of your bathroom.

A word to the wise on this point. You should have a realistic expectation of what you want the exhaust fan to do. If you are taking steam showers in a sub zero climate, the amount of condensation that will build up will require a small jet engine to keep up with it. If issues like condensation, the mirror fogging up, etc. are happening, a larger fan will help, but you might also want to consider the amount of time the fan is running. In higher humidity situations, the fan might need to run from 20 minutes to hours after the bathroom has been used. Fans with humidity sensors or timers can be very effective in making sure the proper amount of ventilation occurs. The last thing we want is for you to have the same issues after taking the time and energy to replace your existing one. If you are not sure, consult a professional.

Visit www.airkinglimited.com for more information and to see Air Kings full line of exhaust fan products.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Vent it Local - Explaining Local Ventilation

If you have a fireplace in your home and have ever started a fire and forgot to open the chimney damper, you know how quickly things can go bad as the room fills up with smoke. While maybe not as dramatic and visible the same thing is happening in our homes if we are not using the ventilation systems properly.

Local ventilation is a very important component to your overall indoor air quality. Maybe a better term for it is localized ventilation as it is locating a fan where it is most needed. As with our fireplace analogy, the chimney is located right over where the fire is burning. I think we can all agree that it doesnt make much sense to put the chimney in another room. Local ventilation is placing exhaust fans in area such as bathrooms, kitchens, powder rooms and other places that are producing contaminates. The purpose of local ventilation is to remove harmful moister, particulates, odors and more as they are occurring. In a bathroom for instance local ventilation removes steam and moisture from the room that happens during a shower. In a kitchen it is utilizing a range hood when the cook top is being used. 

ASHRAE 62.2 requires that there is an exhaust fan/range hood installed in any area that produces contaminates (bathrooms, kitchens, in some cases laundry rooms, etc.). ASHRAE also requires the fans to operate at or below 3.0 sones (which is a measurement of sound).  Many people ask what the sound level of a fan has to do with exhausting contaminates. As we have discussed in earlier posts, the sound level of the fan is important to the usage of the fan. It comes down to the fact that if the fan is too loud, homeowners will not turn it on which defeats the entire purpose of having the fan.

In a previous blog post we discussed continuous operation fans (see post). While the continuous ventilation continuously dilutes contaminated air within the home, the local ventilation provides ventilation for times when there is a rapid build up of contaminates such as what happens when the bathroom or kitchen is in use.


The good news is there are many options on the market. Air King has one of the largest selections of exhaust fans and range hoods to solve for local ventilation including energy efficient models, virtually silent models, single and dual speed models and options ranging from entry level cost effective to super deluxe with all the bells and whistles you want. Visit www.airkinglimited.com for more information.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Say Goodbye to Your Old Light Bulb LED Lighting is here to stay

How many people does it take to change a light bulb? Our best guess is a few thousand engineers working endless hours to develop better lighting that benefits all of us. Sorry, you were probably expecting or hoping for a much more humorous answer.

It seems like there is a constant changing of what the best lighting is – Incandescent, Fluorescent, and now LED. It can sometimes make your head spin. For years incandescent light was the only game in town for residential lighting, then Halogen lighting was introduced with the acclaim that it produced brighter lighting at less wattage. As we became more conscious of energy usage, fluorescent lighting in the form of compact fluorescent lights (CFL) came to fame. CFL’s provided energy efficient lighting that did not need special fittings to use. They could directly replace a standard incandescent bulb. The downside to CFL bulbs was that they were expensive and they also contain mercury – not the best thing when you are advertising the ECO benefits of using less energy then adding mercury to the environment. Over time the cost of CFL bulbs came way down to be just slightly more than a standard incandescent bulb.

We have now moved into the next phase of lighting technology, LED or Light Emitting Diodes. While LEDs have been around for a while they can now be fit into standard light outlets making it very easy to change out your lighting. The path of the LED is much like the CFL. The first generation of bulbs that were introduced were very expensive but are now becoming more and more affordable.

What makes a LED bulb attractive is it uses a fraction of the energy (watts) to provide the same amount of lighting as even a CFL. For instance, a 6 watt LED bulb will produce about the same amount of light that an 18 watt CFL or a 60 watt incandescent bulb will. That is about 1/3 a CFL and 1/10 of an incandescent bulb. Think of replacing a main light in your home with a LED at 1/10 of the operating cost. Over the course of time, that can really add up. The other main benefit of LED bulbs is that they last longer. Now there are companies out there that claim their bulbs will last 20, 30, 40 years. While we might not be 100% convinced that a bulb will last 40 years, it is a proven fact that LED bulbs will last considerable longer than both incandescent and CFL bulbs. This helps justify the added upfront cost of LEDs.

Air King has now converted all of its ENERGY STAR® Certified exhaust fans and range hoods to include LED lighting (the bulbs even come with the unit so you dont have to purchase them separately). To learn more about Air Kings products with LED lighting please visit www.airkinglimited.com.


Monday, July 3, 2017

Why Is My Exhaust Fan Always Running – Explaining Continuous Operation

You hear it across the country – Who left the light on? Who left the door open? Maybe even Who left the bathroom exhaust fan on? While there are no good reasons for leaving lights on and doors open and the guilty party should be identified and properly reprimanded for their crime, leaving the bathroom exhaust fan on might not be as straight an answer as you think.

In recent years homes have been built to tighter standards that reduce the energy usage of the homes. These tighter standards allow the home to maintain a comfortable living environment using the least amount of energy possible. Unfortunately a side effect of these tighter standards is that the indoor air quality can suffer. This is where a continuously operating exhaust fan comes in (also known as Mechanical Ventilation). A continuously operating exhaust fan provides a way to exhaust the stale air that builds up inside a home. The fans airflow rate is set to achieve the number of air exchanges needed for your specific home.

There are many options for continuous operation exhaust fans but there are basically three locations for them:
A dual speed exhaust fan in the bathroom: This will operate continuously at a low speed then have a high speed for when the bathroom is in use.

A centrally located exhaust fan: This might be in a main living area open to the rest of the house.

A kitchen range hood: This operates much like the dual speed exhaust fan in the bathroom. A low speed provides the continuous operation while the higher speeds provide the needed ventilation when the kitchen is in use.

A prerequisite for a continuously operating exhaust fan is that it is quiet. With it always on, it is very important that the sound level does not interfere with everyday life. Most continuously operating exhaust fans will have a sound level that is barely noticeable.

It makes sense – bad air out, good air in, but there are still some questions that arise:
How much energy and money is this going to cost me? A very valid question. Energy costs and usage are definitely hot topics, but when you do the math, the exhaust fan is using very little of each. There are a few factors that go into calculating the costs. The two big ones are what type of exhaust fan you have installed and what your actual electric rate is. Using the average United States electric rate with an ENERGY STAR® certified exhaust fan, the cost will be approximately $.60 to $1.50 per month. Overall, a very small price to pay to ensure the quality of the air you breath.

That cant be good for the fan if it is running all the time?
Not to worry, fans that are meant for continuous operation have been tested and certified for this type of usage.

Can I turn the fan off?
The effectiveness of the system to provide proper Indoor Air Quality is based on it operating continuously so it is recommended that the fan stay on. However, there may be times when the fan needs to be turned off for servicing. Some units will be installed with an override switch while other units will need to be turned off at the service panel. You should contact your builder/installer for the specific details of your installation.

So the next time you are tempted to blame someone for not turning the exhaust fan off, stop and think that you might actually want to thank them for keeping it running and ensuring the quality of the air you are breathing. To learn more about Indoor Air Quality, ASHRAE 62.2 standards and Air King products that comply, visit www.airkinglimited.com