How Do I Know if My Home is Too Humid?

Today’s homes are built for better energy efficiency, which in and of itself is a great thing. Using less energy not only helps your wallet, but it helps the earth, too. Unfortunately, though, this means your home is more tightly sealed than an older home might be – and this can lead to some indoor air quality concerns, including too much indoor humidity.

And while this is most likely a problem you’ll deal with in the summertime, an overly humid house can be much more than just uncomfortable. Homes that are too humid can experience issues like mold and mildew growth, breakdown of building materials like plasterboard, stucco, and wood, and poor indoor air quality. Luckily, there are some telltale signs that can help you know if your indoor humidity level is an issue.

5 Signs of Too Much Humidity

  1. You notice condensation on surfaces. Your windows, pipes, and mirrors might have beads of moisture on them. If that’s the case, it’s likely that your home is too humid. Make sure you check the spaces around areas of condensation to ensure there is no moisture damage.
  2. Your air conditioning system isn’t keeping you cool. Your air conditioning system is designed to remove much of the excess humidity from your home’s air. However, in situations where there is too much moisture in the air, your AC system will have to work much harder to keep your home cool, and may simply not work as effectively.
  3. Your skin feels clammy or sticky. Nobody likes this yucky feeling, but if you’re noticing that your skin often feels this way inside your home, you likely have too much moisture in your indoor air.
  4. Walls, floors, and other surfaces may feel damp. If you notice that your walls, floors, shelving units, or furniture surfaces feel moist, it’s probably due to excessive humidity. You won’t want to wait to remedy the problem, because if left unchecked, it can cause permanent damage.
  5. There is a musty smell or mold and mildew is visible in your home. If you can smell mold or mildew, it’s likely that it’s already lurking somewhere in your home. And, if you can see it, you know it’s already there and you can be fairly certain that you have a moisture concern in your home.

What can I do if there is too much humidity in my home?

As we said above, if your home is too damp, it can cause all sorts of problems, from building issues to health concerns. Fortunately, there is something you can do about it – you can give T.F. O’Brien a call. We can help you get to the root of your humidity issues, and provide you with the products you need for better indoor air. Whether you need a whole-house dehumidifier, air conditioning repairs, or ventilation solutions, we’re ready to help you feel more comfortable. Simply give us a call at 516.488.1800. We’ll be happy to make an appointment with you and help you solve your humidity issues!

“Going Green” Can Benefit the Environment – and You!

green_ductless_efficiencyMore and more, people are becoming concerned about how they impact the planet. From shopping with reusable bags and looking for products with environmentally-friendly packaging, to taking measures in their homes to minimize their carbon footprint, people are looking for ways they can protect the world around them.

The HVAC industry is no different – most manufacturers are looking for more environmentally sound solutions when it comes to the equipment they produce. Advances have been made to create equipment that not only does a better job of keeping people more comfortable but also does so efficiently. In this article, we’ll talk about four technologies that have been developed that can keep you comfortable – and help you create a greener home.

4 Technologies That Can Help You Go Green

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As we mentioned above, there are new developments in the HVAC industry every day that strive to minimize the impact of heating and cooling equipment on the environment. Beginning with creating refrigerants that have been proven not to harm the ozone layer, to developing technologies that use much less electricity and fuel than their predecessors, the home comfort industry is moving forward to create products that benefit both the planet and the homeowner.

  1. Ductless Cooling & Heating: To cool and heat areas in the home where there is little or no access to ductwork, many homeowners are turning to ductless cooling and heating These compact units provide better comfort than most window AC units and space heaters and are very energy-efficient. They can be used for climate control in a single space in the home, or multiple units can be installed to cool and heat the entire house. Today’s units use an environmentally sound refrigerant. As an added bonus, they can be used to help balance out cold and hot spots, allowing your central HVAC system to operate more efficiently. What’s more, most ductless systems use heat pump technology, which we’ll describe in more detail below.
  2. Heat Pump Systems: Heat pump systems can be used centrally in homes with ductwork, or in ductless units for homes without ductwork. What makes heat pumps better for the environment is the way in which they operate. Heat pumps provide higher efficiency heating and cooling because they transfer hot air as opposed to burning fuel inside your home. Most heat pumps are also extremely environmentally sound, having achieved an Energy Star rating because of their highly energy-efficient operation and because they use a non-ozone-depleting refrigerant.
  3. Smart Thermostats: There are many different types of thermostats available that can help your home stay comfortable while using less energy. Programmable thermostats, while an older technology, are effective in this way because you can program them to provide different levels of heating and cooling while at home, away, or asleep. Smart thermostats take that technology one step further by “learning” your family’s habits and adjusting the temperature of your home accordingly. In addition, most smart thermostats are Wi-Fi compatible, and can easily be controlled via smartphone, tablet, or computer. Some will even let you know when it’s time to change your HVAC system’s filter – one of the best measures you can take to help your system remain energy efficient.
  4. Advanced Filters: Another facet of home comfort is the air your family breathes. Cleaner, fresher indoor air is important, and high-efficiency filters can help with that. They remove particulates and contaminants from the air, which keeps your home virtually free of airborne pollen, dust, and germs. And, because the air flowing through your HVAC system is cleaner, you’ll likely find that your system operates more efficiently – helping you save energy and potentially money on your utility bills.

T.F. O’Brien can help you get the environmentally sound products you need.

At T.F. O’Brien, we want to provide our customers with products that not only help them stay as comfortable as possible but also use technologies that are better for the environment. If you’d like to learn more about energy efficiency and how we can help, simply give us a call at 516.488.1800. We’ll be happy to talk to you about your home’s efficiency, and how T.F. O’Brien can assist you.

Spring Allergies: How Indoor Air Quality Products Can Help

Do you or someone in your household suffer from springtime allergies? If so, you know how awful they can make you feel, from itchy, stuffy noses, to watery, red eyes. While enjoying the great outdoors when pollen counts are high is usually not on the books for spring allergy sufferers, unfortunately, it can be just as uncomfortable indoors. That’s because those allergens can enter your home on shoes, clothing, and through windows, and then get circulated through your home over and over again through your HVAC system.

Fortunately, there is some good news for those who traditionally experience sniffly, sneezy springs. Today, there are many products available that can help you enjoy improved indoor air quality (IAQ), and some practical measures you can take that can help you get through allergy season a bit easier. In this article, we will give you some suggestions on how to improve your IAQ, and how we can help.

Improve Your IAQ with These Easy Steps

Filtration

This is the easiest step you can take to ensure that your indoor air is cleaner and healthier, and one you can do yourself. Making sure that your HVAC system’s air filter is clean and free of dirt, pollen, and other contaminants is a simple way to improve your air quality. Changing the filter often helps your system run more efficiently, too, so it’s a win-win!

Breathe easier this allergy season.
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516.488.1800

Depending on the severity of your allergies, you may want to think about the type of filter you use. Most people use basic filters in their systems, which is fine, but if you’re having a lot of problems with allergens in your home’s air, you might want to consider filters that can pull out the most microscopic particles.

Air Cleaning

Products like whole-home air cleaners do a great job of significantly reducing the number of allergens in your home. They help get rid of contaminants like mold, bacteria, dust, dander, and pollen – all of which can wreak havoc for allergy sufferers. And, these systems clean the air at the source of circulation, because they work with your home’s HVAC system.

Humidity

While having moisture in your home’s air during the winter months is helpful, once the weather starts to warm up it can become unpleasant. Not only does it make you feel hotter and stickier, but it can also encourage the growth of mold, mildew, and bacteria. Whole-house dehumidification can help mitigate that problem, and help your air conditioning system run more effectively and efficiently, too!

Air Conditioning System Maintenance

Of course, you know that AC maintenance helps your system run better and that there are many reasons why it’s important. But, it can also help your indoor air quality, too. Regular cleaning of your system helps remove any dirt or mold growth from your system, allowing it to circulate fresher, cleaner air.

T.F. O’Brien can help you improve your IAQ this spring, and all year long.

Getting the indoor air quality products you need for improved home comfort is simple – just give T.F. O’Brien a call. We can talk to you about your indoor air quality concerns, and help you find just the right products for your home.
Just give us a call at 516.488.1800, and we’ll be happy to schedule an appointment with you!

Choose T.F. O’Brien for Your Home or Office HVAC Needs

TFO WEB CommercialHVACT.F. O’Brien residential customers know that we strive for complete customer satisfaction when it comes to keeping their home comfort systems in great shape. But, did you know we can offer the same level of service for your business? When you choose us for your commercial heating and cooling needs, we’ll work hard to make sure your staff and your customers are as comfortable as possible.

At T.F. O’Brien, we’re able to help businesses not only with their heating and cooling needs, but with the air filtration requirements companies have been faced with since the COVID-19 pandemic. We can help ensure that your space meets state regulations, helping you, your employees and your customers stay safer.

T.F. O’Brien offers a full suite of commercial services.

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Just like we provide a complete range of HVAC services to our residential customers, we offer full-service HVAC to our commercial clients as well. We can provide you with heating and cooling installation, maintenance, and repair services, as well as indoor air quality products. We’ll work with you from the start to the finish of your project, making sure that you’re completely satisfied with our services.

We take great pride in helping businesses just like yours every day – see what Louis Basso, founder of Alcott HR, had to say:

“We required a complete HVAC update on our 37-year old building. Not only did we want to replace our old equipment, but we also wanted to add equipment that could scrub the air for the staff working here during COVID-19. We called upon T.F. O’Brien to assist us, and they replaced our system, including indoor air quality products, in stages starting at the beginning of fall. Our system is fully operational now, and working very well,” Basso said.

“The staff at T.F. O’Brien is great to work with. There is always a real person answering the phone, and the customer service experience is an excellent one. We like that they’re a family business while having the expertise and experienced staff to get the work done professionally and effectively. And, many of the people working there have been with T.F. O’Brien for many years, which is a testament to a good organization. I have no hesitation in recommending them to other businesses.”

Let us help you with your commercial HVAC project.

Contact us today to learn more about these commercial HVAC services:

When you need commercial HVAC services for your business or organization, just give us a call at 516.488.1800 or fill out our convenient contact form, and we’ll be happy to assist you.

How Whole-House Humidification Can Keep You More Comfortable

Winter weather means that homeowners are running their heating equipment a lot more frequently. In homes that have forced air heating systems, the indoor air very often becomes drier. While in the summer, we want less humidity in our homes, in the winter months it’s better to have humidified air.

Humid air makes people feel warmer, which is why in the summer people often opt for air conditioning and dehumidification for their homes. For the same reason, people may want to humidify their homes in the winter – to help them feel warmer and for a number of other positive benefits.

What are some symptoms of overly dry air?

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The telltale signs of overly dry home air are generally pretty easy to spot. If the air in your home is too dry, you probably are noticing a lot of concerns that may be related to it. These include:

  • Creaky wooden fixtures, like floors and stairs
  • Cracking and warping in furniture or wood
  • Excessive static cling
  • Itchy, flaky skin
  • Dry mucous membranes (nasal passages/eyes)
  • Houseplants need to be watered more often

Fortunately, humidifying the air in your home is an easy fix for most of these concerns. Depending on your needs, you may also find that a whole-house humidifier provides the greatest benefit to you and your family.

How is a whole-house humidifier different than a room humidifier?

The principle of a whole-house humidifier and a room humidifier is the same – to deliver humidity into the air of your home. However, both of these humidifiers do exactly what they say – one delivers moisture to an individual space in your home; the other, all throughout your home.

How does a whole-house humidifier work?

Whole-house humidifiers actually are installed in conjunction with your furnace and your ductwork, so they send a mist into your home’s airflow, sending it throughout the house whenever your furnace runs. They require very little maintenance – because they use water from your plumbing system, you don’t have to worry about filling them. And, they’re efficient to operate, so you won’t have a huge added expense to your electric bill.

Whole-house units do require installation by a qualified HVAC technician and a small amount of annual maintenance if your home tends to have hard water. Otherwise, these humidification systems are pretty much set it and forget it – the only thing you’ll notice is improved indoor air and greater comfort.

How can T.F. O’Brien help me with whole-house humidification?

At T.F. O’Brien, we’re pleased to offer quality whole-house humidification systems to our customers. We’ll provide you with the installation of your system, and any additional maintenance you might need.
To learn more about our whole-house humidifiers, simply give us a call at 516.488.1800, and we will be more than happy to help you!

Indoor Air Quality Products: A Gift that Keeps on Giving

GettyImagesAs we enter the holiday season, our thoughts start to turn to gift-giving. While everyone likes fun, whimsical gifts, sometimes the best ones you can give are practical ones. With people spending more time indoors, and the holiday season being much different this year than it has been in some time, you may be thinking of how you can truly show someone you care about them. A gift that can help those you love to enjoy a better home environment is one way you can accomplish this.

Indoor air quality, or IAQ, is more important than ever. People want to know the air their family is breathing is healthy, clean, and free of contaminants. Fortunately, there are many products available today that can help people get better air quality in their homes, from very basic products like HVAC filters to highly advanced air cleaners and purification systems. At T.F. O’Brien, we’re pleased to provide the products and services that can help people enjoy better air quality, no matter what the season.

Learn about air purification that can kill up to 99 percent of viruses, bacteria, and mold.

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Today’s air purification offerings include systems that are effective against all three categories of indoor air pollution – particulates, microbial agents, and gases. These systems are installed directly into a home’s existing ductwork, providing whole-house air cleaning. Because of this, they help reduce common allergy triggers, such as pollen, mold spores, dander, and dust. And, they’re thoroughly tested on airborne and surface bacteria and viruses, so you can count on every cubic inch of the air in your home reached by your central system being purified.

You can also learn more about our advanced air purification system here.

And, there are other air quality products that can help available.

  • Air Sterilization: Mold can cause major issues when it comes to indoor air quality. Ductwork offers a great place for mold to grow quickly. You might be noticing some mold problems in your home because of health issues your family is experiencing, or unpleasant odors in your indoor air. We can perform a UVC air sterilization, which uses ultraviolet germicidal lights to kill mold and bacteria.
  • High-Efficiency Filters: When you have a loved one who suffers from allergies, asthma, or hay fever, getting a high-efficiency filter for your system can help greatly. At T.F. O’Brien, we can provide you with the same type of filtration used in operating rooms.

Giving the gift of better indoor air quality is easy – just call T.F. O’Brien.

We’re ready to help you provide your loved ones with better indoor air this holiday season!
Just give us a call at 516.488.1800, and we will be more than happy to help you!

Five Scary Signs You May Need Indoor Air Quality Products

GettyImages

If you’ve been feeling a bit frightened by the air quality in your home recently – no worries. There are many products available on the market that can help you get improved indoor air quality this autumn and all year through. Today’s homeowners don’t have to live with floors that creak, corners that collect cobwebs, or phantom odors that drift up from the basement. There are solutions for every one of these problems – and you don’t have to call Ghostbusters to get them.

Not sure if unsatisfactory indoor air quality is haunting your home? Here are a few telltale signs.

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516.488.1800
  1. Creaky Floors: Do your wood floors creak and groan when you walk across them, or even in the quiet of the night? You probably aren’t being haunted; that is, haunted by anything other than low humidity. This can especially be a problem when the heating runs frequently, so if your wood floors, furniture, and doors are making ghostly sounds, you might need to add a home humidification system.
  2. Moldy, Smelly Basement: If you have creepy-looking grey or green mold growing up the walls of your basement, you probably are having a problem with too much humidity. An overly humid, dark basement is the perfect breeding ground for mold, mildew, and even bacteria. Adding a dehumidifier in your basement can help alleviate that problem, making your home cleaner and healthier.
  3. Creepy Cobwebs: If the corners of your rooms are covered in cobwebs, and if you frequently have to dust your mantle and moldings, the chances are your HVAC system isn’t properly filtering the air before it circulates throughout your home. You can solve this by replacing your system’s filter whenever it’s dirty. And, if this doesn’t do the trick, an air cleaner can help.
  4. Mysterious Orbs: If you ever notice strange little balls of light in photos you take in your home, it could be a ghostly presence, but it’s far more likely you have dust and debris floating around in the air that you might not even be able to see with the naked eye. As we said above, dusty indoor air is a sign of a dirty filter, so make sure you change it out seasonally, or even monthly depending on how much your system runs. Not sure how to do it? We can help – give us a call, and we’ll show you how or do it for you.
  5. Unpleasant Odors: Are you and your family haunted by a stinky house? Do cooking smells, pet odors, and smoke from either cooking or tobacco linger in the air? Then you might want to consider improving your ventilation and air filtration. We can help with both, and we offer state-of-the-art air cleaners that virtually eliminate other “goblins,” like germs, bacteria, dust, pollen, and dander.

You don’t have to be spooked by problems with your indoor air. Call T.F. O’Brien today.

At T.F. O’Brien, we know that being comfortable in your home goes beyond heating and cooling. That’s why we offer our customers complete indoor air quality products and services as well. And getting what you need isn’t a nightmare – all you need to do is give us a call at 518.488.1800, and we’ll schedule an appointment for you.

Allergies Acting Up? Here Are Some Late-Summer Culprits.

GettyImagesYou may notice that during the late summer and early fall, your allergies start to act up a bit. That’s because some of the culprits that cause fall allergies make their appearance as early as late August. That can make for a very long allergy season – and nobody wants to deal with sneezing, itchy eyes, and a stuffy nose any longer than they have to. So, what might be causing your allergies to be on the uptick?

Usually, here on Long Island, we need to look no further than ragweed. This abundant wild plant is responsible for the majority of late summer and fall allergies. And, avoiding the pollen it emits is difficult. Even in areas where ragweed doesn’t grow, allergy sufferers should be on the lookout – the pollen can travel hundreds of miles. Another common cause of late summer and fall allergies is mold. Why is that a problem? Leaves that fall from trees are a perfect breeding ground for it because it thrives in cool, damp places.

What can I do if I suffer from allergies?

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Well, we aren’t physicians, so we can’t provide you with any medical advice when it comes to your allergies. But we are home comfort doctors of sorts – and that means we can help you get equipment for your home that can reduce allergens and make your indoor air cleaner and fresher. These five practical pointers can help you keep allergens at bay in your home:

  1. Keep windows and doors closed in the morning, as that’s when pollen counts are generally at their highest.
  2. Make sure floors are swept, mopped, or vacuumed regularly. Carpets especially can hold allergens, so clean them regularly.
  3. Change your HVAC system’s filter. Filters keep contaminants from entering the air of your home, but if they get dirty, they’re not effective.
  4. Choose a high-efficiency filter. We can provide you with the same type of air filters used in hospital operating rooms.
  5. Consider installing an air purification system. If you have allergies or other respiratory concerns, a whole-home air purifier can be very helpful. That’s because these systems are designed to reduce all areas of indoor air pollutants, including particulates, microbial particles, and gases.

At T.F. O’Brien, we’re happy to help you with your indoor air quality needs.

Don’t let your allergies get the best of you this year – just call T.F. O’Brien at 516.488.1800. We can’t wait to tell you about the many ways you can breathe easier!

Is Your Gym Reopening? Here’s What You Should Know About Air Quality Requirements.

GettyImagesMany people in Long Island have been looking forward to getting back to the gym. One of the last businesses to reopen, gyms have been given a list of protocols that they must follow to open successfully. In addition to proper sanitization, mask-wearing, and social distancing rules, regulations, and considerations, the air handling systems in gyms are also subject to the new guidelines.

While it can be confusing to know what, exactly, is needed per state mandates, there are a few items that are requirements rather than suggestions. Per the NYS website, “… Responsible Parties must ensure central HVAC system filtration meets the highest rated filtration compatible with the currently installed filter rack and air handling system, at a minimum MERV-13, or industry equivalent or greater, as applicable.”

So, what does that mean?

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As we discussed last month, MERV ratings indicate the ability of a filter to remove particulates from the air. The higher the MERV rating, the more effective it is at removing a variety of contaminants, including dust, pollen, mold, bacteria, and viruses. Therefore, having a filter with a higher MERV level installed in a system can help remove more of the bad stuff from the air. In places like gyms, where there is more potential for airborne bacteria and viruses to move through the air, advanced filtration is one measure that can help keep the air cleaner.

New York State also suggests, but does not require, increased rates of outdoor air ventilation, system testing and balancing as needed, regular system inspection, installation of appropriately designed ultraviolet (UV) systems, and installation of air cleaners. These are steps gyms can take to ensure even better indoor air quality.

How do I know if my gym complies with the regulations?

For reopening purposes, gyms needed to affirm their obligation to operate per NYS guidelines. If you have any questions at all, you should feel free to discuss them with the gym owner or manager.

I own a gym and would like to learn more about improving our air quality.

At T.F. O’Brien, we take the health and safety of our commercial clients, their employees, and their patrons very seriously. We can help you ensure your system complies with NYS regulations. And, we can work with you on system improvements that can further ensure that your facility’s air quality is the best possible for your employees and clients. To learn more, give us a call at 516.488.1800, and we will be more than happy to assist you.

Who’s MERV, and Why is the Governor Listening to Him?

GettyImagesAs our area of the state reopens, there are guidelines we as residents are required to follow. Mask-wearing, social distancing, and staying home if we’re not feeling well are all some of the ways the average citizen is responding to the COVID-19 crisis, but for businesses, some additional rules and guidelines must be followed.

Recently, Governor Cuomo issued a mandate that requires buildings such as malls to follow proper ventilation protocols. As part of this, the building’s HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) system needs to be fitted with filters that provide a minimum of MERV 11 filtration with the caveat that MERV 13 filtration is preferred.

As an HVAC contractor, we understand the importance of proper filtration concerning the coronavirus, but also recognize that the layperson might not know what MERV even is. While it sounds like a guy’s name, the first thing we’d like to point out is that MERV isn’t a person, and he hasn’t created a rating system for air filters. MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Values, a rating developed by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE).

Why should building owners pay attention to the MERV level their filtration system offers?

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According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), “MERVs report a filter’s ability to capture larger particles between 0.3 and 10 microns.” Understanding this value is helpful when comparing the effectiveness of different air filters. And, the higher the MERV rating is for a filter, the better it is at trapping certain particles. So, by installing filters with a higher MERV rating, buildings are better able to ensure better, cleaner air circulating throughout.

It should be noted, however, that there is much unknown about COVID-19. While there are other coronaviruses, such as MERS and SARS, COVID-19 is a new form of the virus. Therefore, taking measures to protect yourself is still important, even when you’re in buildings that have advanced MERV filtration.

Should I install a filter with a higher MERV level in my home?

People are wondering if they should have higher filtration in their homes. As an HVAC contractor, we can help both residential and commercial customers get the appropriate indoor air quality (IAQ) products for their needs. For your home, working with T.F. O’Brien is the best way to ensure you have the proper IAQ equipment to keep your air cleaner and healthier.

Generally speaking, residential HVAC systems can’t quite handle MERV 13 level filtration, because such filters require air to be moved much more forcefully than most home furnaces are capable of. However, we offer several different types of residential IAQ products that can effectively reduce and eliminate particles such as allergens, bacteria, and viruses from your home’s air.

Want to learn more about how T.F. O’Brien can help with your home or business’s air quality needs? Give us a call.

T.F. O’Brien takes the health of our clients and our employees very seriously. That’s why we’re following stringent CDC guidelines, to ensure your utmost safety. Click here to find out how we’re making every effort to keep you safe. And, to learn more about how we can improve the air quality in your home or office, give us a call at 516.488.1800, and we’ll gladly schedule an appointment with you.