Indoor air quality is an essential part of home life in the 21st century. Many homeowners don’t know this, but the air inside your home can sometimes be more polluted than the air outside! That’s why we offer indoor air quality testing and IAQ solutions for homeowners here in Fresno. If you’re concerned about your home’s air, it’s time to call Allbritten and schedule your test.

IAQ: Here’s what you should know about improving your indoor air quality

Indoor air quality is a major concern here in the United States—especially as more of us start spending a majority of our time indoors at home. Poor IAQ can have a significant impact on our health and happiness in the home or office. In this article, we’ll review what indoor air quality is, why it’s such an issue here in Fresno, and what you can do to clear the air in your home and start breathing easier.

At Allbritten, we’re Fresno’s indoor air quality experts. Our team is standing by and ready to help improve the air in your home. To get started, call us today.

Is IAQ really that big of a problem?

What do you picture when you hear the words “air quality?” Maybe a smoggy Central Valley, or a congested freeway? A TV weatherman warning you about high levels of airborne particulate matter, ozone, or haze? Either way, chances are that you think of outdoor air first. Most people associate air quality with the outside world, and view the air they breathe inside as being clean or pure.

Unfortunately, this is actually a major misconception. While it’s true that outdoor air quality issues do plague Fresno and the Central Valley—in 2019, we were ranked as the nation’s worst city for air pollution—the inside of your home or office is no refuge. In fact, there’s a good chance that the air you breathe inside is just as polluted as the air you breathe outside. Considering the amount of time we all spend inside (especially lately!), that means your exposure to poor indoor air quality (or “IAQ”) could have a pronounced effect on your health and happiness.

Why is our indoor air quality so poor?

One of the reasons our indoor air quality is so poor is because today’s homes are built to better retain cooling and heating, which reduces airflow and drafts. While this is great news for your home’s efficiency and a key part of efficiency upgrades, it also means that pollutants and allergens can become trapped in your home without adequate ventilation to bring in fresh air or filtration to remove particulate matter.

In the warmer months of the year, we open our doors and windows  less, which exacerbates ventilation and IAQ problems.

In the warmer months of the year, we open our doors and windows less, which exacerbates ventilation and IAQ problems.

One way to deal with some IAQ problems is through adequate ventilation: allowing outdoor air inside your home to refresh the air supply. Of course, this is nothing new: when someone says “it feels stuffy in here,” they reach for the window or door. Unfortunately, this strategy is often a seasonal one: during the hot summer months, no one wants outdoor air getting into their home. So, we close up our windows and doors, rarely allowing outdoor and indoor air to circulate.

Here’s what could be in your home’s air

Here are some of the potential pollutants that might be found in your home’s air:

  • Allergens: Whether produced by trees and plants (pollen), caused by dust mites, or a byproduct of your home’s companions (dog and cat hair and dander), the impact of allergens can be more pronounced in an enclosed space.
  • VOCs: Volatile organic compounds are a significant contributor to poor indoor air quality. These are produced by household cleaning products, pesticides, and wood paint. In sufficient quantities, VOCs can have negative health impacts for most people.
  • Viruses & Bacteria: Airborne viruses and bacteria could be present in your home’s air, endlessly recirculating every time you turn on the air conditioner.
  • Mold Particles: Mold can grow anywhere there is sufficient moisture and humidity. Airborne mold particles can make members of your household sick.
  • Other: There are many other potential pollutants, including asbestos (found in older homes or furniture), carbon monoxide (make sure you have a CO sensor in your home), secondhand smoke, radon, lead, and more.

How does this impact me?

Honestly, this depends. Different people have different levels of sensitivity to different indoor air pollutants. Generally speaking, young children and the elderly are more susceptible to the negative health effects of degraded indoor air quality. However, a large enough air quality problem will eventually impact everyone in the health to some degree.

The experts at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency divide the health effects of poor indoor air quality into two categories: immediate effects and long-term effects. Immediate effects include allergic reactions and symptoms like eye irritation, a runny or stuffy nose, headaches, fatigue, or a scratchy throat. Again, these symptoms are generally going to be more prevalent and pronounced in those with pre-existing health or breathing conditions, such as asthma. There’s even science to support the idea that poor air quality impacts our sleep!

It’s more difficult to draw a clear connection between poor indoor air quality and long-term health conditions, but scientists have identified some IAQ pollutants as a contributor to forms of cancer, respiratory disease, or heart disease. Context is important here: while common allergens are unlikely to contribute to severe long-term effects, prolonged and repeated exposure to VOCs, asbestos, or secondhand smoke almost certainly will. You need to know what you’re dealing with. This is why an indoor air quality test is so important.

What can I do about poor indoor air?

The first step is scheduling an indoor air quality test with an IAQ expert or trusted HVAC company in your area. A professional IAQ test captures samples of your home’s air in different rooms and spaces, and then has those samples lab-tested to determine what pollutants or contaminants are present in what quantities. This helps determine what needs to be done first to improve the air quality in the home.

Next, an IAQ expert will want to deal with the source of any critical issues. After all, before we worry about filtering out mold particles from your home’s air, we’re going to want to help you find the source of the mold in your home and clean it. The same thing goes for radon, carbon monoxide, and VOCs.

What is the difference between air filters and air purifiers?

Air filters work like this: they use a fan to draw in air, which is then forced through a physical filter. Particulates in the air get caught in this filter, and the air that is forced out the other side of the air filter is generally free of physical contaminants. This is the same principle that your HVAC air filter operates on: capturing physical particulate matter. You then clean or replace the filter at a later point.

However, this approach has an important limitation: anything too small to be caught in the filter—which includes most viruses, bacteria, and mold particles—will generally not be caught in an air filter. An air purifier is a better approach for this class of air contaminants. UV filters, for instance, use ultraviolet light to kill or deactivate viruses, bacteria, and mold, rendering them harmless.

An Allbritten technician drives one of our iconic service vehicles out to an IAQ services call here in Fresno, CA.Is there a better way forward?

For a best-of-both-worlds approach, we recommend a system that can handle both air purification and air filtration. Here at Allbritten, we install the APCO Whole-House Purifier. It uses UVC light with activated carbon cells to kill airborne contaminants while also filtering out particulate matter from your home’s air. Installed inside of your air ducts, it runs silently, protecting your home while staying out-of-sight and out-of-mind. The great thing about the APCO Whole-House Purifier is that it doesn’t create ozone as a byproduct of air purification. Considering that ozone itself is an IAQ contaminant, it’s a device with the right approach to air quality improvement.

What should I do next?

If you live in Fresno or the Central Valley, you need to call our team here at Allbritten. We offer a number of indoor air quality improvement services, including:

  • Humidifier / Dehumidifier Installation
  • Whole-Home Air Purification
  • Air Filter Replacement

Our friendly team of experts can put your home or commercial building on the path to better air quality, better breathing, and a happier life indoors.

Here’s what you should know when your furnace begins to smell

If your home has a gas or electric furnace, you’ll be running it extensively this winter to keep your home warm. There are many potential indicators that a furnace isn’t working right, from strange noises and performance issues to ever-increasing energy bills. However, one important warning sign of an impending or ongoing furnace problem is strange furnace smells.

No matter what type of furnace or heating system you have, never ignore furnace odors. In a vast majority of cases, they are a sign that something is not working the way it should. In this article, we will review some of the potential odors produced by gas and electric furnaces and whether or not those odors are an indicator of a major problem with your heater.

However, in general, strange odors should always prompt a call to your local HVAC technician for an inspection. Here in Fresno and the Central Valley, be sure to call our team at Allbritten for fast and reliable heating repair from our experienced, friendly techs.

What kind of odors can a furnace produce?

Here are some of the most common furnace odors:

  • The smell of electrical wiring or plastic burning
  • Metallic smell
  • Burning dust or smoke
  • Rotten Eggs
  • Mold or mildew
  • Pet odors
  • Sewage

As we’ll review in the sections to come, not all of these smells are directly caused by the furnace, but they may indicate a fixable issue all the same.

1. Burning dust smell

A burning dust smell may emanate from the furnace once you start the furnace at the beginning of the winter season. This smell is completely normal and should go away within several days. However, if the musty smell persists, try solving this problem by changing out the air filter. If the problem persists after switching the air filter, it indicates a serious problem with the furnace. In such a situation, you should immediately turn off the system and call our team at Allbritten.

2. Metallic smell

If you notice a metallic smell coming from the furnace, it might be due to a component inside the furnace overheating. In some cases, the smell will be similar to the burning of hot plastic, oil, or rubber. If you smell odors that suggest that something in the furnace is burning or overheating, you should immediately shut off the furnace and call Allbritten for an inspection.

3. The smell of rotten eggs

The odor of a rotten egg or sulfur is another cause for serious concern. Utility companies put odor-indicating substances in natural gas, which is normally odorless. So, if you notice a potent rotten egg smell in your home, it could indicate a gas leak. You need to immediately shut off the gas furnace and call Allbritten for an inspection of your system.

4. Pet smells

Sometimes, the smell of pet waste or hair will appear to emanate from the furnace registers. If you get a strong whiff whenever you turn on the furnace, it’s important that you inspect the floor level ventilator registers. Cleaning up the mess near the vent can solve the problem.

5. Sewage smell

In case you notice the smell of sewage water emanating from the vents, it may be that an open sewer line or a broken wastewater line may be located near the system. A quick inspection of the external vents can help identify the source of the smell. You may have to call a plumber to resolve the issue.

6. Moldy Smells

A smell of mold coming from the furnace indicates a potential mold infestation inside the ductwork. You should not take mold infestation lightly. A mold infestation can degrade the quality of indoor air. It can cause people to suffer from flu-like symptoms, accompanied by sneezing and coughing.
Through our duct cleaning service, the qualified furnace technicians at Allbritten will not only remove mold and mildew from the ducts but also take measures to ensure that it does not recur as well.

7. Chemicals

This is one of the most dangerous smells you could experience in your cozy home. If the scent is a distinct chemical odor and similar to that of formaldehyde, it is likely that there is a crack in the heat exchanger component of your furnace. The heat exchanger component works by cycling heat out of the combustion chamber and then into the plenum. If this component is broken, it drastically increases the risk of fire. It may also distribute carbon monoxide fumes throughout your house.

8. Smoke

If you experience a smokey smell coming from your furnace, immediately turn the furnace off and open a couple of windows. This may occur when the furnace chimney (also called a “flue pipe” or “exhaust vent”) is blocked. The furnace’s combustion exhaust has to go somewhere, so it is forced into the ductwork.

Be sure to assess your safety in a situation like this. For example, if the smell is faint then open a window to ventilate and call a professional to schedule a service. If the smell is sudden or strong, you may need to temporarily leave your home and wait for a professional to come and identify the source of the smoke.

Call Allbritten to have our team inspect your furnace

Abnormal smells coming from a furnace could be one of the signs of a failing or damaged system. Here are some of the other signs of a failing furnace or that a furnace needs repairs.

When you need furnace repair here in Fresno and the Central Valley, call the locally trusted professionals at Allbritten. Our experienced, expert techs can quickly diagnose furnace odors and get your system back to running safely and effectively.

A home maintenance budget and plan can help protect your cooling and heating systems

Here are three reasons to schedule an energy audit

You can save money, have a more comfortable home, and help your air conditioner last longer. It all starts when you schedule an energy audit with the pros at Allbritten.

In this blog, we’ll talk about home energy audits and what makes them such a smart investment for homeowners.

What is an energy audit?

Allbritten is a Home Performance company with BPI-certified technicians. Our 26-point home energy audit helps Fresno homeowners find points of inefficiency in their home, which we then help them address.

From a whole-home pressure test to an evaluation of your attic and attics with an infrared camera, we thoroughly and completely evaluate your home.

Here are the three reasons to schedule an energy audit

Knowledge is power. By knowing where your home is losing energy, you can take action. Let’s review just some of the reasons you should schedule an energy audit.

#1. Lower your energy bills

A professional energy audit from the BPI-certified professionals at Allbritten can help you identify areas where your home is losing energy—and you’re losing money.

From a poorly insulated attic to inefficient systems, an energy audit points you in the direction of savings. Our tech will present you with a detailed report explaining places for improvement.

#2. Make your home more comfortable

Energy loss and energy inefficiency isn’t just about your monthly bills. It can make your home feel uncomfortable and drafty. Efficiency and comfort go hand-in-hand, which is why an energy audit from Allbritten can find ways to improve your home’s comfort.

#3. Reduce wear-and-tear on your air conditioner

The more your air conditioner runs in the summer, the more wear-and-tear it endures. This continual running can result in the need for AC repair more often, and—ultimately—decrease the lifespan of your system.

A home energy audit can help you determine where (and how) your home is losing energy. By addressing these issues, you can relieve pressure on your air conditioner, which doesn’t have to run as long to cool your home in the summers here in Fresno.

Paired with an AC tune-up from our experienced techs here at Allbritten, your air conditioner will be in better shape, run more efficiently, and be less likely to break down.

Schedule an energy audit with Allbritten

If you’re ready to make your home more energy-efficient and comfortable, it’s time to contact Allbritten and schedule an energy audit. Give us a call at (559) 292-4919 to get started.

Why indoor air quality is so important

Here in Fresno, we’re all aware of some of the issues the Central Valley has with air pollution outside. As beautiful as this city can be, there can be a lot of dust and smog on some days. However, a mistake that many people make is thinking they’re safe from pollution while they’re inside of their homes. You can be, but usually not without some proactive steps to boost your indoor air quality, with the help of specialists, such as those at Allbritten.

Indoor Air Quality Testing

Sure, the room looks clean. But, how is the air in here?

How can my indoor air quality be so bad?

First, it’s not necessarily that the quality of the air in your home is as bad as the outdoor air. It’s more the magnitude of time you spend breathing each. Think about: even if you spend your working day outdoors—which probably isn’t the case—you spend most of your day inside your home: eating, relaxing, and sleeping the night through. If you work in an office building or attend school, that’s a large majority of the day spent inside. You’re breathing in that air for a longer amount of time.

Next, indoor air quality encompasses a lot of different things, ranging from the visible—pet hair and dust, which you can see accumulating in your home over time—to the out-of-sight—mold, for instance—to the invisible, which includes allergens, bacteria, radon, and secondhand smoke. The Environmental Protection Agency has a convenient breakdown of each of these elements. Some of these things may be in your home, some may not. The best, and really the only, way to be sure is to have your home’s air tested.

What can I do about this?

The first step, fittingly, is to call our team and ask us about an indoor air quality test. Some things, you may already know about. We mentioned dust earlier, but, if you’re sensitive to them, you’ll probably know if allergens are also in your home. However, others are harder to detect.

We have a number of different solutions for dealing with indoor air quality issues. Here are three of the most popular remedies:

  • Air Duct Cleaning: Allbritten and most experts recommend that you have your air ducts cleaned regularly, and certainly not less than once every year. Your air ducts are in constant use as an essential part of your home’s comfort system, but dust, pet hair, and other contaminants can pile up in the ducts, leading to a significant reduction in your indoor air quality. In contrast, clean air ducts with new or washed filters mean that you’re getting great air coming in to your home’s living spaces.
  • Air Purification: There’s a variety of systems for filtering the air coming into your home. The most common are filters themselves, which have a low price point but can be an efficient way to reduce the dust, pollutants, and pathogens coming into your home. More sophisticated, electronic filters can zap even more materials. Having trouble deciding what to do? Our technician will talk to you about what’s best for your home and indoor air quality.
  • Home Humidification: California isn’t exactly known for its humid weather, and many people enjoy the dry air outside. However, having a home that is too dry can have just as many consequences as one that is too humid. A dry home can cause an uptick in static electricity generation, peeling wallpaper, and cracks in drywall, especially in the winter. Plus, there’s health impacts: many people get cracked lips and bloody noses if conditions are too dry. A humidifier may help you live more comfortably in your home.
Indoor Air Quality and Duct Cleaning

Duct cleaning can be one of the best ways to improve your indoor air quality.

What makes Allbritten the best choice?

We’re a trusted home cooling and heating company that has worked in Fresno and the Central Valley for more than 70 years. That means that we’ve been configuring indoor air quality solutions for longer than many other companies have been in business! We have indoor air quality specialists on staff, and our technicians have experience solving problems for our customers. Plus, we offer upfront pricing on everything, as well as a 100% satisfaction guarantee.

If you’re looking to improve your home’s indoor air quality, look no further than the company you’ve trusted with cooling and heating products for years: Allbritten. To get started with a test of your home’s air, give us a call!