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Grilling Safety: Propane BBQ Edition

Home » Air Quality

Grilled food can really hit the spot on nice Arizona days. Before you use your BBQ, make sure that you keep these grilling safety tips in mind. This helps ensure that you and your family can enjoy grilled dinners without any trouble.

Store Propane Tanks Properly

Grilling safety involves storing propane tanks properly. Tanks for gas grills can easily become a hazard. Store these tanks in a vertical and upright position. Also make sure they are kept far away from any heat or ignition sources, such as lighters or matches. If you have a gas line for your grill, you don’t have to deal with propane tanks at all.

Turn the Grill on Safely

Another important grilling safety tip is to make sure that you turn the grill on correctly. This involves opening the lid and turning the propane on. After this is done, turn the knobs for the burners, then push the ignition. Doing this the right way lowers the risk of fires and other accidents.

Never Use Lighter Fluid

Never use lighter fluid to ignite a gas grill. Lighter fluid is a major fire hazard when it isn’t used properly. You will avoid having to worry about this if you have a gas grill with its own natural gas line installed.

Check for Leaks

Gas leaks can occur when you use propane tanks for your grill. You should check for leaks by putting a solution of water and light soap on the gas tank hose. If you see bubbles, this means you have a gas leak that needs to be fixed by a professional right away. Grills with a gas line have a lower risk of ending up with these leaks.

Don’t Reignite Right Away

If your grill doesn’t ignite, don’t light it again right away. You could have gas in the air that needs time to clear out. Lighting it again immediately could result in a fire and serious injuries. Wait for 5 minutes before you try to ignite your gas grill again.

Keep Your Grill Clean

Grilling safety includes making sure that your gas grill stays in good condition. Grease and other debris can build up over time, which can increase the risk of a fire. Clean debris off your grill and from the tray under it. You should wait for your grill to cool before cleaning it. Getting into the habit of doing this after using your grill each time means you won’t have to scrape a lot of debris off later on.

Turn Your Grill Off Properly

When it comes to grilling safety, it’s important to ensure that you turn your grill off the right way. This reduces the risk of injuries and accidents. You’ll need to turn the gas tank off before shutting off the gas burners. Make sure that your propane cylinder valve is fully closed to prevent gas from leaking. With a gas line grill, all you have to do is shut it off without having to deal with any tanks.

If you’re ready to install a gas line for your grilling area, contact Forrest Anderson. We can ensure that this is done properly for your safety.

How to choose the best air conditioner for Phoenix

Most people imagine Phoenix as an intolerably hot place to live. Residents know the secret to being comfortable in the desert is having a reliable air conditioner during the extreme heat. In addition to keeping us cool, the best air conditioner will also be energy efficient and long-lasting.

Best Air Conditioner Choices for Extreme Heat

Let’s face it, we live in Phoenix for the quality of life, including abundant sunshine. However, that sun can heat it up to be life-threateningly hot. To stay as comfortable as possible during the summer, you want the best air conditioner you can afford. There is an overwhelming number of brands with various options for each.

When your local HVAC professionals conduct a home air conditioning assessment, one of the things they will consider is the HVAC load calculation. It’s based on the building’s square footage, but every property is unique. Sunlight, shade, number of windows, levels in the building, and more can impact the best air conditioner option for you.

Quality, Cost, and ROI

Buying the right cooling system for your home is an investment that can increase the value of your property. You will also want to consider your ROI (return on investment) by energy savings. You can save money on air conditioning and even eliminate many of the indoor air pollutants by understanding what to look for in an air conditioner system.

Central Air Conditioning

Ninety percent of new homes install central air conditioning systems. Since this system is quite costly, you’ll want to buy the best air conditioner for your home at the best price. Consider the following when making your decision:

  • Cooling capacity. During your home assessment, your professional will calculate the square footage to cool and guide you to choose the appropriate BTUs (British Thermal Units).
  • SEER rating. Energy-savings are calculated using the SEER rating. The best air conditioner has a high SEER number. This can help lower your monthly bills and increase your ROI.
  • Thermostat. Programmable thermostats can reduce cooling costs by up to ten percent. Keeping the temperature higher while you’re away is one way to save money. You can even program it to cool your home a few minutes before you return from work.

Mini-Split (Ductless) Air Conditioning

Mini-split systems have one unit inside the home and one unit outside. The indoor units can be mounted on the wall or ceiling. In addition to BTUs, look for:

  • Area coverage. Typically, you’ll need one system per room. A large room may require more than one unit.
  • Installation. Wall units can have front panels that look like picture frames. Ceiling units can be suspended or even hidden behind the ceiling.

During your home assessment, your HVAC professional can help determine if this type of system would be useful in your home. These are typically used in room additions, such as a sunroom, where the HVAC system wasn’t continued. They could also be used upstairs if the air conditioner isn’t cooling effectively enough.

Portable Air Conditioners

Some people react extremely to heat. This can leave them at risk for heat-related illness or even death. Portable air conditioners are one solution. In addition to BTUs and SEER, consider:

  • Plug type. Most rooms have 125V/15A plugs. You may need a professional electrician to determine if you need an upgrade.
  • Water condensation. Some units have a self-evaporating system that recycles water back into the air. Some have a condensate pump, requiring you to manually drain them every two to eight hours. Failure to drain can lead to overflow, water damage, and mold problems.

Window Air Conditioners

The best window air conditioners depend on SEER, BTUs, and noise level. Like all air conditioner systems, test it for sound. You can select from sizes that cool small spaces, large rooms, and entire apartments.

Arizona’s Air Conditioning Pros

The best air conditioner is quiet, efficient, and should serve you for many years with proper maintenance. To avoid coming home to no air conditioning when it’s 110 degrees outside, schedule regular inspections. Contact us for your home assessment, ongoing maintenance, or to upgrade your system.

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.

Does the air conditioner dry out the air in my home?

The two things that Phoenix residents keep close at hand year-round are bottled water and hand lotion. This climate is one of the driest in the country and in the summer, air conditioner use makes humidity fall even lower. Although dry air feels cooler, anytime the indoor humidity drops below 30 percent, people and structures suffer.

As the temperature climbs, the humidity drops in the deserts, causing static electricity and dry skin. Static electricity isn’t harmless. It can burn out low voltage components in appliances and electronics and cause annoying sparks whenever you or your pet touches something. Anything made from wood starts to dry out and eventually crack.

Overly dry skin causes chapping, itching and skin cracks. Sinus problems and sore throats aren’t uncommon when nearly constant air conditioner use makes humidity levels fall.

Problems associated with frequent air conditioner use and low humidity aren’t limited to summertime. During the fall and winter cold and flu season, medical researchers have discovered that overly dry air enhances the ability of viruses and bacteria to infect your body.

How HVAC Systems Dry the Air

Air conditioners remove humidity, also called water vapor, from the air as a natural byproduct of cooling. When the air hits the cold evaporator coil inside the air handler, the air conditioner makes the humidity condense on the coil and drain into the pipe that exits outdoors. There is nothing you can do to prevent this condensation except to turn the A/C off or turn the temperature up.

Forced-air heating systems dry the air in the winter by heating it. Warmer air holds more humidity and unless you add it to your home by bathing and cooking, the level will continue to drop as long as your furnace runs.

Increasing Seasonal Furnace and Air Conditioner Humidity Levels

Forgo using the kitchen and bathroom fans whenever you can. This is an effective strategy if you live in a small home and cook on a routine basis. However, it may not work well in larger homes or those with small household sizes.

Add a humidifier. You can use portable humidifiers throughout your home to increase the humidity. Choose cool-mist humidifiers if you plan to use them with the air conditioner to make humidity levels higher in summer. While portable humidifiers will increase indoor humidity, they’re a high maintenance appliance:

  • They need weekly cleaning.
  • You have to add water frequently.
  • They use electricity and cords may be a tripping hazard.
  • They’re noisy.

A whole-house humidifier solves all the problems associated with portable units. It attaches to your air handler for the HVAC system and blows moistened air through the ductwork to each room. The amount in the air is controlled by a humidistat, similar to a thermostat, and you can set the air conditioner humidity level most comfortable for your summer, as well as the heating humidity level in the winter.

A typical whole-house humidifier works like an evaporative cooler. It has an absorbent pad over which water trickles and when the air from the blower fan goes through it, some of the water evaporates. A whole-house system fills automatically from a water line that connects to your home’s plumbing. The unit uses little electricity and there are no dangling cords. The unit needs cleaning once or twice a year.

If you’ve noticed that the air in your home is uncomfortably dry, call Forrest Anderson to discuss system humidifiers or other AC air quality concerns.

Is it bad to leave windows open while the AC is on?

Unless you want sky-high cooling bills, it is a bad idea to leave windows open during the summer in Phoenix. Air conditioners work best by cooling air in confined spaces, and open windows either let cool, conditioned air drift outside or bring in hot air from the outdoors.

The only exception to the practice of opening a window with the A/C running is when it’s considerably cooler outside than in, as long as the air isn’t overly humid.

Leaving the air conditioner on while the windows are open just after a monsoon storm may seem like a good idea. In reality, though, it will increase the amount of work your A/C has to do. The extra humidity the fresh air brings in will eventually make your air conditioner work harder once your home warms up again.

Temperature Isn’t Everything

One of the reasons a Phoenix summer is tolerable is that it’s mostly a dry heat. You may have seen homes or businesses with evaporative coolers that use flowing water and large fans to cool the interiors. They must leave windows open for the incoming air to exit. The coolers work well until the humidity increases, at which time they become ineffective. The humidity during the monsoon is why so many homes in the valley use central air conditioners instead.

When you leave windows open during the monsoon, you’re pulling in humid air that the A/C will have to remove. It’s impossible to stop the dehumidification process that occurs with air conditioners. When air hits the evaporator coil inside the air handler, the moisture in it condenses on the coil and drains away. When the air is dry, the cold refrigerant in the coil absorbs interior heat faster. It’s this loss of heat in the air that cools your home.

Other Unwanted Side Effects

When you leave windows open, more dust enters. Your air filter may not be capable of trapping the smallest dust particles that will enter the air handler. Dust will coat its exposed parts, like the evaporator coil, electronic components, the fan motor and the ductwork.

Dust acts as insulation in the air handler and too much can cause premature breakdowns and higher energy bills. When it covers the evaporator coil, it slows the cooling process. Dirty filters reduce the airflow through the air handler, which forces the air conditioner to run longer. Couple a dusty evaporator coil with a clogged air filter, and there’s a possibility the coil will freeze over, which has the potential to burn out the compressor.

Alternatives to Open Windows

The HVAC industry has developed an energy efficient solution for people who like to leave windows open in the summer. Energy or heat recovery ventilators (ERVs or HRVs) provide balanced ventilation by pulling out as much stale indoor air as they pull in fresh. Each HRV or ERV uses heat exchange technology that removes the energy from the outgoing air and puts it into the incoming air. While they do use some electricity, it’s far less than when you leave windows open to improve air quality.

It’s also helpful to have Forrest Anderson inspect your cooling system at least once during the summer. As hard as heat pumps and air conditioners work in Phoenix, they need annual attention. The technicians will clean and adjust all the components and check the refrigerant level. A clean and adjusted air conditioner uses much less electricity and lasts longer.

If you’d like to learn more about an ERV or HRV and getting the most from your cooling system, call Forrest Anderson for all maintenance or repair needs.

Change Your Air Filter Now!

Do you know how to change your air filter properly?

From dusting to plumbing, there is never a shortage of improvements that need to be done to your home. When you have a to-do list as long as your arm demanding attention, many tasks just get overlooked.

Take air quality for example. While the air you breathe should be among your top priorities, it is often overlooked for more pressing issues. In the dry Arizona heat, air conditioners are running non-stop during the summer, which is why it’s so important to change your air filter regularly. This will ensure both you and your family can breathe easy.

Thankfully, this is one form of air conditioner maintenance that you can do on your own. Take a look at this step-by-step guide, and see for yourself just how easy the process can be.

Change Your Air Filter Step 1: Remove the Old Filter

When you change your air filter, you need to locate your air filter. For many homes in Arizona, it’s usually in the ceiling close to the attic entrance. Some units could have the air filter in the closet, or even in the attic.

Regardless of which type of unit you have, taking out the old filter is going to be your first step. Before checking or removing any pieces, make sure your air conditioner is off to avoid any harm to yourself or the unit.  Once you find the filter, and your air conditioner is turned off, go ahead and take it out. You have just completed the first step to change your air filter.

Change Your Air Filter Step 2: Identify the Type of Filter You Need

There are several types of filter options you should recognize when you change your air filter.

A basic filter will look almost like a window pane and is easy to see through.

A pleated filter is just how it sounds; you will see pleats on both sides.

There is also something called a media filter. It may look like pleated, but it is usually much wider.

Typically, you’ll find the dimensions printed on the old filter. Simply write down the dimensions you need. Once you see the new filter, you see the difference in how much it filters from the air you breathe. Now you are more than halfway through in the process of how to change your air filter.

Change Your Air Filter Step 3: Replace the Filter

Once you have purchased the new filter, all that is left to do is replace the old one.

Because you have already removed it, it is as simple as putting the clean filter back in place. There will be arrows to indicate which side goes up when installing the filter. Once you have it in place, make sure you replace any vent panels and filter caps that you removed at the beginning of the process. This will make sure that your unit functions properly.

So there you have it. To change your air filter, you just have to follow a few steps.

Air conditioner maintenance may seem intimidating, but this is something you can do on your own.

Locating your old filter, removing it from the unit, and replacing it with a new one is all it takes to make sure your air quality stays clean and healthy.

When you’re finished, everyone in your home will thank you for the breath of fresh air and all because you decided to change your air filter.

Upgrading Your Filters & Filter Maintenance

If you ever find yourself dreading this crucial task, call us and schedule an appointment. As part of our Comfort Club, we will replace your dirty air filters for you. We also have options for permanent filters that you clean instead of change. They are much more effective than traditional media filters. Contact us to discuss your options.