From the Blog

How a air cleaner works.

If you’re one of the tens of millions of Americans that suffer from frustrating, sneezy allergy issues, you likely know a bit about air cleaners. Or if you don’t you probably should! Which is why the experts at 3D Air Services thought it would be a good idea to put one of our favorite air quality improvement devices on the menu for today!

At 3D Air, we prize our ability to improve the air quality in your home. Our experts can bring you cleaner, more comfortable air when you need it most. Air quality is at a premium these days, and we’re ready to deliver! But what exactly is an air cleaner. And better yet, how does it work?
What are air cleaners?

Those in the business of air quality have made it known that the air in your home is basically the same is it is outdoors. With the exception that the air in your home is up to one hundred times more concentrated. That means more dust, debris and pollen than outdoors by orders of magnitude.

Air cleaners, or air purifiers, address the issue by reducing or outright removing common allergens in the home; particularly those that your HVAC system can’t handle. For reference, common heating and cooling systems can only filter out particles around 10 microns. That means they handle lots of particulate matter, but by no means all of it. For all of the rest, there are air cleaners!

How does an air cleaner work?

When it comes to how they operate, there are two “big” forms of air purification: Those that work by way of filters, and ones that use electrical attraction. There are actually tons of purifier technologies, but today we’ll stick with the big guns. Both systems work fine, but they work in very different ways:

Air Filters

These are the most commonly used, and generally considered to be the most dependable purification system. They essentially work much the same as a sieve. Air is cycled into the system by way of fans, or working in tandem with your HVAC system. The air is then passed through a filter, or series of filters to “scrub” out particles that your heating and cooling system won’t catch (as in, most of the allergy-causing and exacerbating stuff).

Electrical Attraction

This type of cleaner breaks down into multiple further types: electrostatic precipitating cleaners, electret filters, and negative ion generators. But they all basic on basically the same principle. Without getting too bogged down in a science lesson, the basic gist is that air is drawn into the system by way of fans. The taken in air is then electrically charged in a way that produces opposite charges; one for clean air, and one for nasty dust, debris and dander particles. The undesirable bits are then attracted to metal plates in the system, and trapped there while the clean air returns to your home.

Which air cleaner is best?

Well, that’s up for a bit of a debate. The best answer is the one that works best for you, and works best in tandem with your heating and cooling system. Not really sure what that means? No worries, the experts at 3D Air can help! Our specialists can help you figure out which system meets your goals best!

Give us a call at 664-3501 or email us at service@3dairserve.com

We proudly serve Birmingham, Hoover, Pelham, Alabaster, Helena, Calera and everywhere in between.

Benefits of a air conditioning tune-up.

Can you imagine what would happen if you never changed the oil in your car or had it tuned-up? You would expect an inefficient engine that needs regular repairs and may break down prematurely.

Just like your car, your air conditioner is a machine that needs regular maintenance to continue to operate correctly. Neglect annual tune-ups and you can expect problems.

Many of the air conditioning calls we receive each summer could have been prevented or caught if the system had regular maintenance.

Benefits of Regular Air Conditioning Maintenance

Saves Money – Regular maintenance prevents the expense of costly repairs and identifies small problems before they become large ones.
Improves Efficiency – System maintenance keeps your equipment running efficiently, reducing your energy consumption and saving you money on utility bills.
Maintains Safe Operation – Check-ups performed by licensed professionals include the tightening of electrical connections and measuring the voltage and current on motors. Faulty electrical connections can cause unsafe operation of your system.
Increases System Lifespan – If you drove your car without ever getting a tune-up or changing your oil, you wouldn’t expect the engine to hold up. In the same way, neglecting maintenance reduces the expected lifespan of your system’s major components.
Preserves Your Warranty – Most manufacturers’ warranties require a licensed professional routinely maintains your system.

For any other questions call 664-3501 or email service@3dairserve.com

3D Air Services proudly serves Birmingham, Hoover, Pelham, Alabaster, Helena, Calera and everywhere in between.

Unbalanced room temperatures?

With the heat fast approaching here in Birmingham,  it maybe time to start dealing with the unbalanced room temperatures again.  Here are some things to look at to help you’re air conditioner not over work.

If you’ve got a room or two that’s colder or hotter than others in your home, then you have one (or both) of these two problems:

  • Air balancing/airflow issues
  • Losing/gaining too much heat in that room

Air balancing is the process of adjusting the amount of cooled and heated air being delivered to each room in your home. Due to improper installation, your system may be unbalanced. Or you may have accidentally done something that’s impeding airflow to certain rooms in your home.

Heat gain/loss is inevitable for every room in your home. But some rooms gain/lose too much heat due to a variety of issues.

In this article, we’ll explain problems that fall into one of these two categories, and then explain how to fix them.

 

Problems you can solve

Dirty filter
A dirty filter blocks return airflow into your heating and cooling system, preventing enough air from being delivered to other rooms. Change the filter if it looks like this one on the right:


Clean filter (left) next to a dirty filter (right)

 

Closed/blocked supply air vents 
You know all those metal grates with levers? Those are supply air vents. Find them and ensure that they’re open. Also, make sure they’re not being blocked by dust, drapes or furniture.


A supply vent that’s open—as it should be.

 

Windows are open or cracked open
Open windows allow your conditioned air to leave and unconditioned air to get inside. Make sure the window is fully shut.

Leaving shades open 
While open shades gives you a nice view and plenty of sunlight, it also allows heat to come and go as it pleases in your home. This causes the room where the window is located to be hotter or cooler than others. By shutting the shades, you’ll keep out more heat in the summer and keep more of it inside during the winter.

Problems an HVAC professional needs to fix

Air duct leaks 
The room may be too hot or cold because too much air is being lost through the duct system due to air leaks.

This problem is pretty common. According to ENERGY STAR, the typical house loses 20-30% of the air that’s moving through the duct system due to leaks, holes, and poorly connected ducts. The result? Higher utility bills and difficulty keeping the house comfortable, no matter how the thermostat is set.


Leaks in the supply ducts.

 

Kinks in flexduct
Flexduct is soft ductwork that can bend. If that ductwork gets smushed or kinked, it’ll struggle to deliver air to whatever room it’s connected to. Think of moving air through kinked flexduct like trying to breath through a straw where someone has pinched the straw in the middle.


Some flex duct in a ceiling.

 

Duct damper issues
Duct dampers are valves that control where air can and cannot go in your home. Issues with these dampers can cause your home to be unbalanced, causing some rooms to be hotter or colder than others.

Old, leaky single-pane windows
Single-pane windows (those with only a single layer of glass) often leave your rooms feeling chilly and dry in cold weather and overheated in warm weather. See a window professional about replacing them with energy efficient double-pane glass windows, which have two layers of glass.

Fan speed too slow
A professional may need to speed up your blower’s rpm to match the demand of your home.

3D Air Services proudly serves Birmingham, Hoover, Pelham, Alabaster, Calera and everywhere in between.

For all other questions you can call us at 664-3501 or email us at service@3dairserve.com

Struggling air conditioner?

It’s fixing to be hot here in Birmingham, real hot!

And if you’re finding out that your air conditioner can’t keep up, we’ve got you covered. Here are 2 steps to helping improve your AC’s cooling abilities.

Step 1: Keep the heat out

Your air conditioner removes heat from your home. So any time you let heat back in, you’re making it work harder than it needs to. Here are some tips to keep the hot air outside.

Keep windows and doors shut. When you’re leaving, quickly walk through the door and shut it behind you. And it should go without saying that your windows should be closed, also.
Block out the sun. A lot of heat makes its way into your home through your windows. Keep it out by using solar screens and heavy-duty curtains.
Seal air leaks. The areas in your home that are air conditioned should be as air-tight as possible. Take a look in your crawlspace, basement or attic for major air holes like these in the building envelope.
Try some no-cook meals. Your stove and oven create a lot of heat in your home. Try some no-cook meals and use your microwave instead of your oven.

Step 2: Make your air conditioner’s life easier

Next, you need to make sure your air conditioner is operating as efficiently as it can so that it can get you as much cool air as possible. That means:

Change the air filter. Too many homeowners leave their air filter in their AC way too long. This blocks air flow and basically suffocates your air conditioner.
Fix leaky and disconnected ducts. It’s possible that your ducts lose 30% of the air traveling through them because of leaks and other problems. So instead of cooling your home, that air is cooling your attic or other unconditioned space.
Clear the space around your outside unit. Tall weeds, shrubs, bushes and debris around your outside air conditioning unit decreases airflow, making it difficult for the unit to ‘dump’ the heat from your home.
Get the AC professionally cleaned. If the coils in your air conditioner get dirty, they can make it more difficult for your air conditioner to cool your home. It’s one of the reasons most manufacturers recommend an annual AC tune-up.
Open up ALL the vents. Don’t close vents in unused rooms. Closing vents to lower energy bills is dated advice that should be ignored.

3D Air Services proudly serves Birmingham, Hoover, Pelham, Alabaster, Calera and everywhere on between. For questions call is at (205)664-3501 or email us at service@3dairserve.com

Air conditioner blowing hot?

Trying to stay cool in an Birmingham home, There’s nothing worse than sitting in your home and realizing that your air conditioner is blowing hot air–especially during the sickeningly hot summer months.

Even though It’s not summer yet, you don’t want to look for answers for why your air conditioner isn’t working when you’re burning up inside your home. It’s best to know the reasons ahead of time so you’ll know how to avoid them or when to call a professional.

So what causes this annoying phenomena? Here are 4 common reasons:

1) Thermostat turned to heat mode

Ok, this might be a huge “duh” but if you’re getting hot air, you might have accidentally flipped your thermostat to “heat” mode. It happens to all of us. If that’s the case, switch it back to “cool” and you’re good to go.

2) Dirty evaporator coil caused by a dirty air filter

Chances are, your thermostat is set to cool, and you’re still getting hot air. Now what?

The cause could be a dirty evaporator coil caused by a dirty air filter. This keeps your air conditioner from properly cooling your home. You can change the filter, but you’ll need a professional to clean the evaporator coil.

3) Outside AC unit not properly maintained

Walk outside and look at your air conditioner’s outside condenser unit. What do you see?

Is there anything blocking the condenser coils air flow? Are they blocked with dirt and debris?

If so, this seriously impacts your air conditioner’s cooling ability.

Cleaning the condenser coils needs to be a regular activity during the summertime.

4) Low on refrigerant/Freon

This is the usual culprit. Your air conditioner needs a proper refrigerant (usually Freon) charge to cool your home.

So a Freon leak can leave you feeling the heat since you’ll have a complete loss of cold air.

You can tell if your air conditioner doesn’t have enough Freon if ice forms on the inside and outside units.

Getting a Freon charge is best left to a professional.

Get AC maintenance done during the spring

Keeping an eye on these problems will not only will this keep your air conditioner from blowing hot air, it will also prevent a costly breakdown. And the last thing you want is a breakdown during summer.

So it only makes sense to get preventative maintenance done during the spring before it gets too hot.

3D Air Services proudly serves Birmingham, Hoover, Pelham, Alabaster, Calera and everywhere in between.

Closing Vents

There’s some old, bad advice out there that says you should close off your air conditioning vents in unused rooms. This, they say, will help you lower your energy bills by only cooling the rooms in your home that you actually use.

While this sounds good in theory, it can actually have the opposite effect—and worse.

Closing vents, at best, increases energy consumption and, at worst, leads to premature breakdown of your AC.

Let’s look at 3 reasons why this happens.

Reason #1: Closing vents restricts airflow

When your air conditioner was installed (assuming it was installed correctly) its airflow was “balanced”. That means the installers made sure your air conditioner has enough air flowing in and out of it to properly cool your home.

Closing vents disrupts this balance and creates pressure in your system, which causes your air conditioner to work harder. This can increase your energy bills and even lead to premature breakdown of your AC if you close too many vents.

Reason #2: Your air ducts make it worse

In addition, this increased pressure places strain on your air ducts. And since many homes’ air ducts are already leaking (according to Energystar.gov), the increased pressure causes the ducts to leak even more.

So the air you thought you were saving is actually going into your attic or crawlspace.

Reason #3: Your interior walls aren’t insulated

Another reason to consider not closing your vents is that your interior walls aren’t insulated.

Here’s why that’s a big deal.

Let’s say you close off the vents in 2 rooms. They’ll get warmer since there’s now no AC running to them. That heat will transfer into the nearby rooms through the un-insulated walls and under the door. So now your air conditioner has to run longer and harder to keep the other parts of your home cool.

3D Air Services serves Birmingham, Hoover, Pelham, Alabaster, Calera and everywhere in between.

 

Pollen is here!

Spring in Birmingham on is one of the most beautiful times of year. Unless you have a pollen allergy. Then it can be one of the worst.

But there are things you can do to make it better. Here’s our guide to surviving pollen season.

Step 1: Keep as much pollen out of your home as you can

The first step is to keep as much pollen out of your home as you can. Of course, you won’t be able to completely get rid of it, but these tips will help you get close.

Take off your shoes and outerwear as soon as you get home
Wipe your shoes off on your doormat and then take them off as soon as you get inside. If you’re wearing a hat or jacket, take them off and leave them there, also.

Take a shower and wash your hair
After you’re home for the day, take a shower and wash all that pollen off of you.                                                           It’s especially important to wash your hair because your hair is a magnet for pollen.

Keep your windows closed
It’s beautiful outside, so you may be tempted to open the windows in your home. Don’t. If it gets warm, run your air conditioner instead. This will keep pollen out of your home. Plus, running your AC can also clean your air (see step 3 below for more info).

Wipe off your pets
Before your pets come inside, wash off their paws and fur with a damp towel.

Stay inside during the day
Pollen counts tend to be highest in the mornings so avoid outdoor activities until early evening, if you can help it.

Step 2: Stick to a regular cleaning schedule

There’s no way to keep all of the pollen out of your Birmingham area home. But you can remove most of what gets in by cleaning your home every 2 weeks with these tips:

Make sure your vacuum has a HEPA filter
If you vacuum with a regular filter, you’ll pick it up off the floor and send it back into your home’s air. A HEPA filter catches even the smallest particles, like pollen, so that only clean air is exhausted by your vacuum.

Vacuum your couches and upholstery
Pollen sticks to sofas, drapes and other upholstery. When you’re vacuuming, don’t forget these surfaces.

Empty the vacuum outside
Don’t open up the vacuum inside or you’ll release more pollen into your home’s air again.

Don’t use a feather duster
Feather dusters don’t pick up dust, they just move it. So dusting with one actually makes your home’s air worse. Use a damp, clean cloth instead.

Wear a mask while cleaning
Cleaning releases more pollen into the air temporarily. Wear a mask to avoid breathing in the allergens. You may also want to leave the home for an hour or so when you finish cleaning to let the dust settle (literally).

Wash your bedding weekly
A bed full of pollen and other allergens can make trying to sleep a nightmare. Wash your pillowcases, sheets and other bedding weekly in hot water.

Step 3: Purify your air

We’ve already mentioned that running your air conditioner can actually help clean your home’s air. This is because every AC has a filter that will remove some pollen from your air.

But pollen is small and will pass through most filters.

That’s where a whole-home air purifier can help. Whole-home air purifiers are basically large, highly efficient air filters that connect to your home’s AC system and clean your air while it runs. These air purifiers can remove up to 96% of all germs, pollen and bacteria in your home’s air.

The silent killer, Carbon Monoxide

In typical Birmingham fashion, the temperatures have been pretty mild this winter season. No surprise there. Wearing shorts in January is quite a privilege, and is a tease for those who despise the cold weather. Unfortunately, we still have plenty of winter left to endure before we can put our coats away. That means our furnaces and fireplaces will be fired up to keep our homes warm and comfortable through the cold. Although the thought of a warm fireplace brings back even warmer memories, you must remember that the cost of comfort can come with a price. And we’re not talking about your utility bill.

Fireplace Carbon Monoxide

Carbon Monoxide Danger

Carbon Monoxide (CO) is colorless, odorless, and extremely deadly. And what’s most frightening about this silent killer, is how easy it is to be exposed to it. CO is the incomplete combustion of fuels, and is very prominent in auto exhaust, power tools, water heaters, furnaces, fireplaces, and more. You may be thinking, “If carbon monoxide is nearly undetectable by my senses, how will I know if I’m being exposed to it?” Your body will give you signals of distress when you are experiencing toxic amounts of CO.

Nausea Carbon Monoxide

Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning typically involve nausea, severe headaches, impaired judgment, and more. The symptoms have been described as “flu-like,” minus some common Flu characteristics, such as fever or swollen lymph nodes. Sadly, many lives are lost when people fail to address these symptoms as exposure to carbon monoxide. More so, exposure to the gas can take lives while people are sleeping. This makes the situation even more frightening, because CO poisoning turns fatal alarmingly fast. So how do we protect ourselves and our loved ones from being poisoned in our own homes?

Carbon Monoxide Detectors

How Do I Prevent Carbon Monoxide Danger In My Home?

Carbon monoxide may be difficult to detect, but not impossible. Carbon monoxide detectors are an absolute must-have item for your home. The life-saving benefits and peace of mind highly outweigh any cost. You never know when an appliance may go bad, and start leaking carbon monoxide into your home. Carbon monoxide detectors will give you the warning you need to find fresh air and seek help. Even if you live in an area that doesn’t require too much heating use throughout the year, CO detectors are still a must, as carbon monoxide is a threat that can occur anytime.

For any questions call 3D Air Services at 664-3501 or email us at service&3dairserve.com

We serve Birmingham, Alabaster, Pelham, Hoover, Helena, Calera, Jemison and everywhere in between.

 

Humidifier Pros & Cons

The fall and winter months bring more than just colder temperatures to the Birmingham area; they are also accompanied by lower humidity levels. Low humidity can have all kinds of effects on your health and your home, but it can easily be controlled with the help of a humidifier. If you’re interested in installing a humidifier and can’t decide between a whole house and a portable model, the whole house humidifier pros and cons listed below should make your decision a breeze!

Whole house humidifier pros
Control the humidity of your entire house with one unit. Whole house humidifiers are installed as a part of your existing heating system. As a result, one unit will control the humidity levels of your entire home. Portable humidifiers, on the other hand, can only control the humidity of one room at a time. In order to match the effectiveness of a whole house humidifier, you’d either have to buy multiple portable units (which wastes energy and money) or drag a portable unit with you from room to room (which is not practical).
Require very little maintenance. The maintenance involved with a whole house humidifier is very minimal. Since it’s attached to your existing plumbing system, there is no need to add water every day like you have to with a portable unit. Portable units also require regular cleaning, which only needs to be done with a whole house unit about once a year.
Quiet and out of sight. Because they are installed with your heating system, whole house humidifiers are hidden away and virtually unnoticeable. Portable humidifiers can be noisy and are always on display, which is an eyesore for many homeowners.
Whole house humidifier cons
More expensive than portable units. Whole house humidifiers come with a higher sticker price than portable units. However, as you saw above, whole house models are more effective at controlling indoor humidity levels. Whole house humidifiers can also lower your energy bills because you feel warmer in a home with higher humidity, which allows you to lower your thermostat temperature.
Requires professional installation. Portable humidifiers can be used out-of-the-box, whereas whole house models must be installed by a professional like 3D Air Services. Once the unit is installed, however, it will require much less attention and maintenance than a portable model.

For any other questions call us at    664-3501 or email us at service@3dairserve.com

We serve Birmingham, Hoover, Pelham, Alabaster, Helena, Calera and everywhere in between.

Furnace Safety Features

Burning gas comes with some inherent safety concerns. If it is not done in a controlled environment, there is always the possibility of a fire, an explosion or the release of carbon monoxide into the air. That’s why gas furnaces come with a number of safety devices that protect your home and your family in the event that something goes wrong with your system. Today we’re going to help familiarize you with these devices by talking about five safety features that are included inside a furnace!

5 furnace safety features that protect your home from a malfunctioning system

Limit switch. A limit switch is located just above a furnace’s heat exchanger and just below the supply plenum. Its job is to measure the temperature outside of your furnace’s combustion chamber. If the limit switch detects flames or temperatures that are too high, that means that flames are reaching outside of the combustion chamber, which is a fire hazard. When the limit switch is activated, it immediately shuts off the gas supply to your furnace in order to prevent flames from spreading or carbon monoxide from getting into your home’s air. Your furnace will have to be reset by a professional before it is turned back on.
Thermocouple. In older furnaces with traditional pilot lights, the thermocouple is a safety device that checks whether or not the pilot light is burning properly. The thermocouple is connected to the gas valve that leads to the pilot light and has a sensor that detects heat from the burning flame. If the flame goes out or is burning weakly, the thermocouple shuts off the gas supply to the pilot light in order to prevent gas from leaking into other parts of your furnace.
Mercury flame sensor. Newer furnaces have intermittent pilot lights or electronic ignitions instead of traditional pilot lights. In these systems, a mercury flame sensor is used to perform the same job as the thermocouple.
Air pressure switch. Modern day furnaces have a small fan called a draft inducer that runs after each heating cycle. This fan blows leftover gas out of the combustion chamber in order to clear it out before the next heating cycle. The draft inducer has a safety device called an air pressure switch that measures how much air is being blown by the inducer. If it detects that the pressure is too low, it shuts off the gas supply to the system in order to prevent gas from building up inside of the combustion chamber.
Carbon monoxide detectors. Although carbon monoxide detectors are not part of your furnace, they are closely linked to your furnace’s safety because they will warn you if your system has a carbon monoxide leak. 3D Air Services offers low level carbon monoxide detectors that can detect much lower levels of carbon monoxide than store-bought detectors, and they will warn you as CO is building up in your air instead of waiting until it’s already at a dangerous level.

For any other questions call 3D Air Services at 664-3501 or email us at service@3dairserve.com

3D Air serves Birmingham, Hoover, Pelham, Alabaster, Helena, Calera and everywhere in between.