Improving indoor air quality in your restaurant

The quality of air in a restaurant may be as important as the food and ambiance for a comfortable dining experience. The air is only noticeable when it’s less than perfect and if you can see or smell yours. It’s probably time to consider improving indoor air quality (IAQ) as a way to enhance the dining experience of your customers and the work environment for your staff.

Keep the HVAC System Clean

The condition of your HVAC system will make a big difference in the IAQ. Besides routine filter changes, it’s important to schedule your HVAC system’s annual maintenance and inspection. When in the cooling mode, HVAC systems can serve as breeding grounds for mold and even Legionnaire’s disease under the right conditions.

Both thrive whenever moisture is present. Mold spores can attach themselves to almost anything. They will live inside the HVAC system just as easily as they can inside the ductwork. The bacteria that cause the disease, Legionella pneumophila, lives in water. It can only infect others when they breathe a mist or water droplets that contain it. An inspection once a year will help improve indoor air quality and prevent the spread of serious diseases and allergens.

Curtailing mold and bacterial growth also increase cooling efficiency. When biofilms grow on the cooling coils of the HVAC system, they slow the cooling process by insulating the coil. Anything that interferes with the heat removal from your restaurant drives up cooling costs. It also increases the discomfort your customers and wait staff experience in the dining areas, which can be stressful.

Adequate Ventilation

The importance of adequate ventilation can’t be overestimated when improving indoor air quality in your restaurant. Cooking creates high humidity in the form of steam and smoke. If you use gas as your fuel, you’ll also have its byproducts in the kitchen. A gas stove produces nitrogen dioxide (NO2), formaldehyde (HCHO) and carbon monoxide (CO). Each of these harms health to certain degrees, and over time, the damage builds.

It’s important to keep the exhaust fans and ventilation systems clean through regular cleanings for improving indoor air quality. When they’re coated with fats, the fan blades don’t spin as quickly and the air filters clog. It slows the amount of air exiting through the fans.

Cleaning Green

Switching to green cleaning products is a big step toward improving indoor air quality. More often than not, commercial cleaners are loaded with products that contain VOCs (volatile organic compounds). They linger in the air and cause reactions that could be minor or life-threatening.

VOCs are known air pollutants and while your customers aren’t likely to be in your building long enough to react to them, your staff will be. VOCs are largely to blame for sick building syndrome. Absenteeism due to headaches, sore throats, and general malaise could improve by switching to green cleaning products.

Products that are likely to have high levels of VOCs are those that use chemical compounds and man-made perfumes. Their odors usually linger after they’ve dried and there may be an extensive warning box on their labels regarding handling and poison control.

Green cleaning products don’t contain VOCs. They won’t cause any lasting damage and clean just as effectively as harsh chemicals. Over time, chemical cleaners leave residues behind that could land up in the food you serve or on the skin or clothing of your customers. Switching to them is an easy way to start improving indoor air quality.

Whether you’re interested in improving indoor air quality or need service on your AC systems from a professional technician, Forrest Anderson has experience in servicing and maintaining your restaurant HVAC system.

What are the most common indoor air pollutants

It’s pretty easy to find information about outdoor air quality on a daily basis. It’s much harder to find alerts and warnings about indoor air quality. Sometimes you can smell and see problems, but many times the pollutants in indoor air are undetectable. The U.S. EPA has found that the air in some homes ranks among the most polluted environments people encounter.

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)

VOCs are one of the most common indoor air pollutants that come from common household products. You’ll find them in everything from household cleaners to home remodeling supplies. New paint, carpeting, cabinets, and flooring may have high levels of VOCs.

Attached garages are another common source of VOCs if you park your car inside it or store insecticides or chemicals inside it. Perfumes, makeup, candles and air sprays have VOCs, as do dryer sheets and some detergents.

Exposure to VOCs can cause everything from mild headaches or sore throats to serious organ damage, cancer, or nervous systems disorders. The best ways to limit VOC exposure is to select products that have low VOCs or avoid them altogether.

If you can’t avoid them completely, consider having Forrest Anderson install an air scrubber inside your HVAC system that will help in controlling the pollutants in your home.

Energy efficient energy recovery ventilators (ERVs) are another way to reduce the toxicity of indoor air pollutants like VOCs. However, ERVs provide balanced fresh air ventilation without raising energy bills.

Dust

Although it’s not one of the most serious indoor air pollutants, dust can be annoying for people who suffer from allergies or asthma. Most of the dust inside your home comes from the lint in carpets, clothing, draperies, furniture and your clothing. Some come from pollen and some from human and animal dander (shed skin cells).

The dust may also have its share of dust mite waste inside it, which is one of the most common allergy triggers. A good air filter for your HVAC system will help lower the dust particles indoors. If you have questions about which filter to use, contact us, we’d love to help you find the best solution for your needs.

Mold

Mold spores are one of the most persistent indoor air pollutants even in this dry climate. In fact, there are few places on the planet where mold won’t grow. You can limit mold in your home by having your HVAC system cleaned and serviced by the licensed HVAC specialists from Forrest Anderson.

Combustion Products

Fireplaces and some gas appliances can increase serious indoor air pollutants if they’re not vented to the outdoors. If you use a gas range, be sure to run the hood fan when you use it. Have your gas furnace inspected before using it each winter.

Test your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms according to the manufacturer’s schedule. Gas creates nitrogen dioxide (NO2), carbon monoxide (CO), and formaldehyde (HCHO). All are indoor air pollutants.

Indoor air quality is an important topic since we spend much of our time indoors during the summer months. If you’re concerned about indoor air pollutants, give Forrest Anderson a call today.

How often should you maintain an air conditioner?

The small investment in time that it takes to maintain an air conditioner pays you back in lower energy bills, more comfort, and fewer system breakdowns. Air conditioners work hard for months on end. Without attention from you and a professional HVAC technician, it won’t perform at its best when you need it.

Air Filters

The air filter is a lot more important than it first appears. It affects the energy efficiency of the air conditioner and the quality of indoor air. As the filter gets dirty, the airflow through the air handler slows. Slower airflow increases the length of time the A/C has to run to cool your home.

It’s a good idea to maintain an air conditioner by checking the filter once a month from May through October and changing it when it’s dirty. How often you need to change it depends on the dust load indoors, whether you have pets, how often the A/C runs and your family size.

Some people run their air handler’s fan 24/7 to clean the air better and increase indoor comfort. Filters will trap more particles when the system runs more. If you run the fan 24/7, you’ll need to maintain an air conditioner more often, including filter checks.

Dust can also enter the air handler from an overly dirty filter, which can coat the evaporator coil. This coil carries the cold refrigerant that absorbs the heat from your home. When the coil is too dusty, it can’t absorb as much heat which drives up energy use.

If you don’t maintain an air conditioner at regular intervals, dust builds and the coil will stay too cold and will cause the coil to freeze over. A frozen coil has the capability of burning out the compressor, which is the system’s most expensive part. This situation is largely avoidable when you maintain an air conditioner on a regular basis.

The Outdoor Condenser

Make it a point to maintain an air conditioner by walking by the outdoor condenser throughout the summer to check on its condition. If the condenser coils are dirty of you see other signs that it needs repair, call the professionals at Forrest Anderson.

Professional Maintenance

Even if your system is out of warranty, it will pay off to have Forrest Anderson’s HVAC technicians maintain an air conditioner at least once during the summer. The technician will clean and adjust the parts that require special tools to access or are hard to reach. Deep cleaning the coils will remove all the dirt and grime, which makes the cooling process far more efficient. Such maintenance also reduces the odds of system breakdowns. The HVAC technician will also check the refrigerant level.

Ironically, too little refrigerant could cause the evaporator coil to freeze over. This condition stops the cooling process and put the compressor at risk for failure. The technician will clean the electronic switches and components too. Clean electrical components ensure that they transfer electricity as fast and safely as possible.

We can also look for signs of ductwork leakage and calibrate the thermostat, if necessary. Ductwork leaks not only waste the air you’ve paid to cool, they also degrade indoor air quality. A malfunctioning thermostat will operate your cooling system erratically, which could increase energy costs or create unnecessary discomfort indoors.

It’s so important to maintain an air conditioner throughout the summer and Forrest Anderson has a team of HVAC professionals standing by to help. Do not wait until your AC breaks down, call us today.

What is a main line stoppage?

Having a main line stoppage means that you’re at risk of ending up with sewage backed up into your home. The main line is the line that runs under your house to the main sewer line in the street. Blockages that develop in this line allow sewage to build up, which can cause it to back up into showers or tubs. Sewage inside your home is a major health hazard. It’s important to know the signs of a main line stoppage and what to do about it.

Signs of a Main Line Stoppage

When you have a blockage in your main line, there are certain signs to be on the lookout for. One of the most common is having the lowest drain in your home, such as your bath or shower, flood when you flush the toilet. You might also hear gurgling sounds from these drains or from your toilet.

Keep in mind that when the main line has a clog or blockage, you’re likely to have problems when you run any water in your home. If the clog is in a secondary line that branches out from the main line, the problems are usually limited to that particular area. For example, a secondary line stoppage might only affect your tub, while the main line stoppage affects all drains and toilets.

Causes of a Main Line Stoppage

You can end up with a main line stoppage when tree roots grow into it and create a blockage. These stoppages can also occur from thicker items that you flush down the toilet, such as paper towels, baby wipes, or feminine products. These items aren’t designed to break up inside pipes the way toilet paper is, which leads to blockages.

What to Do About a Main Line Stoppage

Since this blockage can lead to serious damage and health hazards in your home, you need to take care of it as soon as possible. However, you shouldn’t attempt to handle it on your own.

Clearing a main line stoppage involves dealing with raw sewage, so it is best to leave it to professionals. The plumbing experts at Forrest Anderson know how to safely clear these blockages and have the right tools and equipment to do so. This helps ensure that the stoppage in your main line won’t put you at risk of exposure to sewage.

When you have the professionals from Forrest Anderson come to your home for a main line stoppage, we may use a camera to inspect the line once the blockage is clear. This helps us pinpoint the exact location and cause of the blockage so we can help you prevent it in the future. This saves you time and money.

If you have signs of a main line stoppage in your Phoenix home, contact Forrest Anderson for help. We have the experts and equipment to diagnose the problem and repair it promptly.