Category: Health

Tips on Keeping The Air Conditioner in Good Working Order

In today’s rough economic times the last thing you need is a surprise air conditioning repair bill. While all mechanical systems require repairs from time to time, many are preventable. Indoor air quality is one of the most important aspects of healthy breathing for anyone with asthma or any respiratory problems. Regardless of your families general health it is wise to keep the air conditioning unit running at peak performance to avoid unnecessary repair bills and health expenses.

In no particular order, here are the ten most common problems we encounter every spring and what you can do to avoid them.

1. Dirty Filter

If you have a 1″ disposable filter, it should be replaced monthly. It’s out of sight and out of mind, so it’s easy to forget to change it. Yet, every year we go on service calls where the air conditioner isn’t cooling and the cause is restricted air flow from an extremely dirty filter. Dirty filters reduce indoor air quality, make the home less comfortable, and can result in frozen indoor coils, eventually leading to serious repairs.

2. Switch Turned Off

Some heating and air conditioning systems have a wall switch at the indoor unit for safety and convenience that can be confused with a light switch. If this is accidentally switched off or left off during mild weather, your air conditioner will not start. Always check the condition of this switch before calling us.

3. Tripped Breaker

One of the most common causes of no-cool calls is a tripped breaker. Reset it before calling us. Hopefully, it won’t repeat. If it does, call us. Something is causing the breaker to trip. Often, it’s something simple, like a bad breaker, loose wire, or a bad capacitor. However, if not addressed, some simple problems could lead to far more expensive repairs.

4. Refrigerant Leaks

An air conditioning system is a sealed system. It should never leak refrigerant. When it does, bad things happen. Your air conditioner efficiency falls and electricity use rises. Your air conditioner may not cool. The coil may freeze. The compressor could become damaged. Plus, refrigerants are greenhouse gases. We use a variety of tools to track down refrigerant leaks. Often the problem is as simple as a bad Schrader valve or a weakened connection between fitting and refrigerant tubing.

5. Thermostat

Some thermostats must be switched between heating mode and cooling mode. If the switch is in the wrong position or breaks, your air conditioner won’t start. Quality digital thermostats rarely fail. Some of the cheap ones available from the big boxes might. So what goes wrong? The switch might break; a voltage spike might cause a malfunction, and so on.

6. Clogged Drain Line

Air conditioners pull moisture out of humid air while lowering the temperature. The moisture is typically drained out of your home through your plumbing system. A drain pan should be present as a back up with a secondary condensate drain. Algae can grow in these lines, clogging them up. This can lead to water damage in your home. We clear the drain lines as part of our spring air conditioning tune-up or you can have it done separately, as needed.

7. Contactor

A contactor is an electro-mechanical switch in your air conditioner. Sometimes the silver coating on a contactor will wear off and the contactor will stick, causing the outside unit to run continuously, which is expensive. Sometimes ants are attracted to the electricity and get squashed between the contactors, blocking them from closing. When this happens, the outside unit won’t run. Contactors can also fail electrically. We check these as part of a spring tune-up in a regular air conditioning service. We clean the surface of the contactors if needed, and recommend replacement if failure appears imminent.

8. Dirty Evaporator Coil

The evaporator coil is located inside your home… Periodically the coil needs to be cleaned or dust and dirt build up will restrict the coil’s heat transfer capabilities and reduce system air flow. Dirty coils increase operating cost and reduce the comfort of your home. * Should be done by heating and air conditioning HVAC Professional

9. Dirty Condenser Coil

The condenser coil is the outside portion of your air conditioning system. A dirty or restricted coil is inefficient, increasing electricity usage and reducing system cooling capacity. Keeping it clean will go along way in reducing energy costs and reducing the wear and tear on your air conditioning system.

10. Duct Leaks

With a forced air heating & cooling system you pay to condition air. The ductwork delivers the air to the different rooms. If the ductwork that supply’s this air is located outside of the area you want conditioned like basement, crawl space or attic has leaks, you are paying to condition a space that you do not want to condition and reduce the amount of air that could be conditioning the rooms you want to condition. This causes longer run times and higher energy bills. Inefficient ductwork (your air distribution system) is a major energy waster in most homes. I will have more on this in future articles.

The Importance of Clean Indoor Air

You can live in a house devoid of mold, germs, pollen, viruses, bacteria and more. Consider that according to John Hopkins’ University’s Timothy Buckley there is a 75% chance of exposure to carcinogens inside the home. Indoor Air Pollution surpasses that of the outside whether you live in the city, country or suburbs. It is certainly clear that fresh air is critical to the development of young babies and children’s lungs. Having clean air may actually help a child or adult not develop asthma or other breathing conditions. The amazing thing is that there is a way to clean the air and it has been around for many years. It is efficient. It is simple.

Air Purifiers

Allergy air purifiers have been around for some tine. Usually folks with asthma, allergies, and other serious breathing problems have them in their bedroom. Yet breathing in clean air in all or your house is important to all of the families’ health. Protect the health of all family members by purchasing allergy air purifiers. We all need to kill mold and lessen indoor air pollution. To battle this, run allergy air purifiers throughout the house year round.

Using allergy air purifiers help to prevent colds,viruses, the flu and more. Young, delicate and developing lungs can be greatly impacted by chemicals, mold, viruses and more in the air. Listen to what happened to 4 year old Resse Ballard, his lungs were permanently compromised from toxic mold exposure. This story also illustrates the lack understanding of mold exposure and how water intrusion can lead to a serious case of mold. It took a long time before they realized what the source was causing their health problems.

Clean Air Filters

Instead of waiting to develop asthma or develop allergies kill mold and clean the air of indoor air pollution by using allergy air purifiers. Changing what you are breathing in to fresh vitalizing air will keep you healthy and free from more of the serious health problems that this country faces. Think about the harmful chemicals stored in your house. When you cannot pronounce what is in it, chances are it is not good for you. Multiply this by the many chemicals which leach out into the air when it is humid (chemical off-gassing) then it is no wonder that we develop cancer, serious lung problems and more. It seems like there is always a product on the market that can clean anything but there is no mentions as to what it will do to you if you breath it in. No one would buy it. Yet we are all too busy to look up the ingredients. Keep simple. Baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, Borax and more can be used to clean. Go with what does not overwhelm you when you open the bottle. The point is to clean the air with allergy air purifiers while limiting what chemicals you buy.

Maybe limiting high school girls to 1 shampoo and 1 conditioner might help. Typically teens own over 20 shampoos and hair products each. Make a point of setting limits. Changing how health is considered includes viewing environmental pollution and how it can destroy your health. Air purifiers should be the most natural thing helping to lead us to better health. Breath clean air. Use allergy air purifiers year round.

Indoor air pollution is more polluted in homes whether you live in the city, country or suburbs. This impacts health and is possibly linked to asthma and cancer. 75% of carcinogen exposure comes from exposure indoors.  If you decide that air quality is important enough to warrant a professional upgrade, we suggest you hire a reputable plumbing company to install the appropriate equipment in your home. This is not a job for an amateur.

Facts You Should Know About Allergies

Allergens are a huge problem for people living with allergies. For someone with multiple allergies, the world can seem like a minefield. As much as it may be difficult to avoid all allergens, it pays to learn as much as you can about allergens and get advice from experts on how to best avoid them.

Food Allergies

Among most people with food allergies, eggs, peanut, dairy products, nuts and soya are the most common. Allergy to peanuts is often life-long but some research suggests that some children may grow out of it. Peanut allergy can result in several reactions including anaphylaxis and can also be very severe that small amounts or traces of peanuts can cause a reaction.

Some allergies are commonly linked. It is not unlikely for someone with peanut allergy to be allergic to other legumes such as green beans, soya, peas and lupins because these foods contain similar allergens. In the same way, there are plenty of cases where people with rice allergies react to a number of foods in the same botanical family such as maize and wheat.

Understanding Allergies

Allergic reactions to foods and vegetables are rarely serious and usually only affect he mouth and or lips. Cooking is likely to destroy some allergens in fruits and vegetables. However, the allergens in some vegetables may not be eliminated by cooking.

Legal Requirements Regarding Allergies

Food manufacturers are required by law to clearly label the ingredients of their products. This goes a long way in creating awareness on products that may be causing allergies. It can be hard to know what you are reacting to if the ingredients are not specified. You should be able to avoid an allergic reaction by carefully checking the labels of food products for a list of ingredients.

Pollen does not seem to bug anyone but is also an allergen for many. Common pollen allergy signs and symptoms include sneezing, watery eyes, runny nose, an itchy throat and coughing. It is very difficult to avoid pollen especially in an environment where you have little or no control.  However, there are several ways on how to keep pollen out of your home.

To minimize pollen allergies, you can always check out pollen counts before planning outdoor activities. Pollen is also most widespread in the morning so you can avoid going outdoors early in the morning. Closing windows and outside doors can also be helpful in reducing exposure.

The Most Common Allergen

One of the biggest causes of allergies is dust. Microscopic insects referred to as dust mites breed in dust and are known to be the cause of many problems. Exposure to house dust can also trigger asthmatic conditions such as shortness of breath, coughing and wheezing. Targeted avoidance has been established to be as effective as medications in reducing these symptoms.

Dust allergies can be minimized by keeping your environs clean and avoiding exposure to dust. An allergy to any dust component may require medical testing so it is advisable to consult an allergist for professional help. Whether it is a food allergy to strawberry or the house dust mite, identifying the allergens you react to is only the first step. The best way to avoid an allergic reaction is to avoid the allergen that causes it.

We found an interesting site called , that has some good information about natural remedies that are helpful in many cases. Something you might want to investigate.

Ten Ways To Avoid Colds And Flu This Winter

Winter is the season for colds and flu. According to Dr William Bird, medical consultant of the Meteorological Office’s Health Forecast Unit, December is when infections tend to become prevalent. Here, we look at some ways you can minimize your risk of catching colds and flu.

Keep Warm

Flu and ColdsGranny was right – keeping warm can help you avoid coughs, colds and flu. Dr Bird says: ‘After our exceptionally mild autumn, people won’t be used to dressing warmly for wintry weather. So if there’s a sudden icy snap, we will be more likely to feel the cold and start to shiver.

‘Shivering depresses the immune system and this makes us more likely to catch colds. Also, lower levels of sunlight and altered levels of hormones such as melatonin and serotonin negatively affect how the immune system performs.’ We lose up to 30per cent of our body heat through our heads – so wear a hat.

Wash Your Hands

Dr Nicola Goddard, clinical scientist at the Public Health Laboratory Service, says: ‘Although most infections are mainly carried in the air and transmitted by the “aerosol” effect when someone sneezes, germs can be transmitted by physical contact and enter the body when infected hands touch vulnerable parts like our eyes, mouths and noses.

‘These areas offer easy access to invading germs despite being equipped with defence mechanisms such as mucous and hairs. Washing hands often – and drying them on disposable paper towels (or laundering hand towels regularly) – can significantly reduce the chances of catching a virus, especially the rotavirus, which tends to infect children and causes vomiting and diarrhoea.

Watch the Weather

Low cloud, dull and misty conditions tend to bring an increase in germs, says Dr Bird. ‘Viruses survive longer when the weather is moist. They can hang in the air attached to water droplets more easily, and when it’s cloudy and dull there are fewer breezes to blow the germs away.

‘This is the time when you’re more likely to catch something – although you may not notice you’ve done so until ten to 12 days later, the incubation period for many colds and coughs.’

Avoid huddling and heating

Because people are much closer together physically during winter, this makes it easier for infections to pass between people. Crowded trains and Tubes with little ventilation, department stores bustling with shoppers, and people gathering for parties all make catching a cold more likely.

‘Central heating reduces our defences and affects the respiratory system by drying out the protective mucous in our nasal passages,’ says Dr Bird. ‘The dry, stuffy air of central heating can also lead to sore throats and aggravate chest complaints like asthma.’ A humidifier can help.

Herbal Help

If your immune system needs pepping up to withstand the winter onslaught of germs, Echinacea should be an integral part of your daily routine.

The Echinacea plant was originally used by native Americans to heal wounds and infections. Nowadays, it is popularly used to boost the immune system in fighting colds and flu, and also as an agent to help heal viral and bacterial infections.

Although Echinacea is used to boost the immune system, it does tend to lose effectiveness with lengthy usage. Ideally, you should take it for no more than six to eight weeks at a time.

The normal dose is 3-4ml of alcoholic extract or 300mg of powdered herb tablets taken three times daily at the first sign of infection. It is not recommended for people with progressive systemic and autoimmune diseases such as tuberculosis, lupus or Aids.

Zinc and Garlic

The mineral zinc is essential to help fight colds and provide a boost to a flagging immune system. Good food sources include meat, oysters, eggs, seafood, tofu, black- eyed peas and wheat germ. Zinc and Vitamin C make a great cold-busting duo.

Garlic helps ease chest complaints, and small amounts taken daily may also reduce the frequency of colds and flu.

Drink Plenty of Fluids

Doctors recommend we drink about eight glasses of water a day to stay healthy. Rehydration expert Dr Susan Shirreffs says: ‘Water helps the kidneys function properly and flushes out the toxins that accumulate in our bodies.’

If you have a cold, being dehydrated makes your mucus drier and thicker and less able to cope against invading bacteria and viruses. If you’ve already caught a cold, drinking plenty of fluids will help flush out the infection.

Sleep Soundly

Lack of sleep makes us more prone to infection, says Dr Bird. ‘But it’s not a matter of simply sleeping for longer, as some people – especially those who are positively motivated – can have fewer than seven hours’ sleep every night and not suffer at all.

‘Moods also affect our ability to fight off infections, and if you feel stressed you are more likely to become ill compared to when you’re feeling buoyant, happy and relaxed,’ he says.

Keep on Moving

Dr Bird says: ‘Don’t underestimate the importance of regular activity, especially in winter. Apart from keeping our circulation going, regular moderate exercise increases the number of natural killer (NK) cells in our bodies.’

These lymphocytes in the bloodstream and the mucosal layer of the nose and airways travel around our bodies scavenging foreign invaders such as bacteria and viruses.

‘When you exercise, NK levels go up and stay elevated for about 36 hours afterwards,’ says Dr Bird. ‘However, if you exercise too much, this will actually lower levels of NK cells.’

Take Vitamins and Probiotics

Taking a daily multivitamin is especially important in the winter when we may be less likely to be eating enough fresh fruit and vegetables, and are also more at risk from infection.

Probiotics, such as lactobacilli and bifidobacteria, are ‘friendly’ bacteria in our intestines and increasingly recognised for their importance not only in maintaining a healthy digestive system, but for improving the body’s natural defence mechanisms.

Studies have shown that taking probiotic supplements can improve the body’s resistance to bacterial and viral infections.

Author: Stephanie Zinser

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Are Allergies a Problem in Your Home?

allergic reactionAllergies are hypersensitive reactions that affect a person’s immune system. They can range from minor and bothersome to life-threatening. If you or a loved one has an allergy, there are some topics you should discuss with your doctor.

What Is An Allergen?

An allergen is a substance a person is allergic to, and there is virtually no limit to the possibilities. A person may be allergic to only one substance, or a number of different substances. Some of the most common allergens are pollen, specific foods, specific medications, pet dander, stings from bees or wasps, and substances in the environment.

Why You Should Discuss Your Allergens With Your Physician

Only your doctor can recommend appropriate treatment for your allergy. However, your doctor also needs to know if you have an allergy that can cause medical complications. An allergy to certain antibiotics is one example. If you ever need routine or emergency medical treatment, everything you are allergic to should be in your medical record.

What Kinds Of Treatments Are Available?

Many people believe the only way to cope with an allergy is to avoid the particular substance they are allergic to. While this may seem like the sensible course of action, it is not always the best approach. Depending on the substance, your doctor may be able to prescribe medication. Medication is especially useful when allergens cannot easily be avoided.

Symptoms Of An Allergy

Depending on the particular substance, you may experience any number of symptoms. Red or watery eyes, itching, sneezing, breathing difficulties, rashes, and gastrointestinal problems are some of the most common symptoms. A severe allergy may result in the inability to breathe, coma, or death.

How To Have An Accurate Diagnosis

Even if you believe you are allergic to something, a conclusive diagnosis requires one or more tests performed by a physician. The most common tests for this purpose are skin prick tests, patch tests, challenge tests, elimination tests, and blood tests.

If your doctor advises a test, you should have it performed immediately. Most tests will take only a few minutes of your time in the doctor’s office. Testing is the only way to obtain an accurate diagnosis, and to learn how to cope with your problem.

An Important Note About Allergies

It is possible to become allergic to something that you were not allergic to in the past. This is why you should consult with a doctor if you begin to experience any unusual symptoms. Only a qualified physician can determine if an allergen is the cause.

Your health is important, and so is your overall quality of life. You do not need to go through life trying to avoid dust, cats, bees, pollen, or other substances. In most cases, all it takes is a test to determine an allergen, and medication to prevent harmful reactions. Better health and confidence can be yours. Begin by discussing your lifestyle with your physician, and let him know if you are experiencing symptoms. Allergy relief can be as close as your next appointment with your doctor.

Tips for Indoor Allergies