Month: September 2022

Best air filters for allergies, pets, and more

At, our writers create solutions that put you in control of your HVAC system. Our product reviews and recommendations are researched and backed by real buyers and industry experts, not dictated by our partners.

Falling leaves, pumpkin spice lattes, and air filters?

The first day of fall is September 22. We recommend replacing your air filter quarterly, so the change of seasons is a great reminder to check that task off your to-do list.

Choosing an air filter can be a bit daunting. In this piece, we’ll help you select the best type to meet the needs of your family. 

Best air filters

For pets

pet air filters

Filtrete Allergen Defense

  • MERV 11
  • Pleated and elctrostatic

For allergies

allergy air filters

AirX Allergen

  • MERV 11
  • Affordable

For smokers

smoker air filters

Filtrete Odor Reduction

  • Extra carbon layer
  • Electrostatic

For pollution

pollution air filters

Filtrete Ultrafine Particle Reduction

  • MERV 14
  • Electrostatic

For wildfire smoke

wildfire smoke air filters

Filterbuy Optimal Defense

  • Recyclable
  • Pleated and electrostatic

For value

value air filters

Simply by Merv Filters

  • Sturdy frame
  • Fiberglass filter

How to choose an air filter


First, you’ll need to know which size to buy. There are several standard sizes for air filters. If your existing filter isn’t labeled, our informative guide will help you determine the size you need. 

MERV rating

MERV stands for minimum efficiency reporting value. It measures an air filter’s effectiveness at reducing airborne particles and contaminants. 

MERV ratings range from 1 to 20, with 20 being the most effective. MERV 8 is considered the minimum required to filter particles like dust and mold from your home.

HVAC system

Not all HVAC systems are designed for a high MERV filter. If your owner’s manual doesn’t specify what rating your filter should be, contact a technician. Using a MERV rating that’s too high for your system will cause airflow issues.

women comfortable at home


Different types of filters have varying benefits and drawbacks. Below, we’ve outlined some of the most common kinds of air filters. 

Polyester, fiberglass, and other synthetic fibers

These filters are disposable and inexpensive. They capture about 80% of large particles like dust and lint.

Synthetic filters protect your HVAC system from dust and dirt buildup. They’re not the best option if you want to protect your indoor air quality as well.


These furnace filters employ self-charging fibers to attract harmful particles from the air. They are more effective and durable than synthetic filters, and also more expensive.

Electrostatic filters come in both disposable and reusable varieties. While reusable filters last longer, they also require regular cleaning.


Pleated filters are usually disposable or recyclable. Because of their pleats, they have a larger surface area to catch more particles.

This type of filter offers solid value, effectively eliminating small and large pollutants from the air in your home.

🤷 Can I get a HEPA filter for my HVAC system? 

True HEPA filters are the most effective around – they can filter particles as small as viruses! But HEPA filters won’t work in your central HVAC system. They’re so powerful, they’ll restrict airflow to and from your equipment. Instead of a HEPA filter, consider investing in one with a MERV rating of 11 or 13. That’s the closest you can get to HEPA while still letting the air circulate properly.

The best air filters

Following are the specific air filters we recommend for various lifestyle needs. Make sure to select the right size for your system when ordering.

Best air filter for pets

We suggest pet owners buy a filter with a minimum MERV score of 11. These Filtrete Allergen Defense filters fit the bill, capturing pet dander, pollen and dust. 

We love that they’re both pleated and electrostatic, attracting contaminants on a large scale. They come in a variety of sizes to fit most HVAC systems.

Another brand markets its colorful air filters specifically to pet owners. It’s worth mentioning that those filters are rated a MERV 8, which may not be sufficient for pet-friendly homes.

If you want to supplement your air filter, check out our list of the best air purifiers for pets

Buy on Amazon

pet air filters

Best air filter for allergies

AirX makes its affordable air filters in the United States. It offers a range of options customized to individual needs.

The AirX Allergen filters are MERV 11, filtering particles as small as 1 micron, including dust, pollen, mold spores, smoke, and smog. 

These filters are only available online. Make sure you order them in multiples, so you’ll always have one on hand. 

If you have family members with asthma and allergies, consider a humidifier to help minimize symptoms as well.

Buy on Amazon

allergy air filters

Best air filter for smokers

If someone in your home smokes, we recommend these Filtrete Allergen Defense Odor Reduction filters. They feature an active carbon layer that eliminates smells like smoke and mildew. 

This electrostatically charged filter claims to be 25 times more effective at removing odors from the air than other brands on the market. It’s rated MERV 11, so it also captures lint, dust, and pollen spores.

These Filtrete filters are a little more expensive than others. But we think they’re well worth it to preserve the quality of air in your home.

Buy on Amazon

smoker air filters

Best air filters for areas with high pollution

The Filtrete Healthy Living Ultrafine Particle Reduction filters are the best for keeping out minuscule particles like those from car exhaust and smog, plus other inhalable particulate matter associated with pollution. 

With a MERV 14 rating, these electrostatic filters are highly effective. They are pricier than alternatives. But we feel you get what you pay for with these filters.

To save some money (and a trip to the store), consider enrolling in a “subscribe and save” program to ensure you never run out of filters.

Buy on Amazon

pollution air filters

Best air filter for wildfire smoke

The EPA recommends a minimum MERV 13 to keep wildfire smoke out of your indoor air. We like the Filterbuy Optimal Defense filter for the job. 

This electrostatic filter also features mini pleats to trap more particles. It’s built sturdy and resistant to moisture and extreme heat.

We appreciate that Filterbuy makes its filters in the U.S. with materials from U.S.-based suppliers. Bonus: you can recycle your Filterbuy filters when you’re done with them.

To supplement your air filters, consider a separate air purifier if your area is particularly prone to wildfires. 

Buy on Amazon

wildfire smoke air filters

Best air filter value

If you’re looking for an air filter that gets it done at the lowest price, we recommend the Simply by Merv Filters MERV 8 filter. They cost about $6 each and have great reviews. 

MERV 8 is as low as we recommend going in your home to protect your HVAC equipment. These pleated filters made of fiberglass keep out dust, dirt, and mold.

Made in the U.S.A. with a frame of high-quality beverage board, these filters are sturdy and easy to install.

Buy on Amazon

value air filters

Still not sure which filter to buy? This guide will help you further understand MERV ratings and which best matches your lifestyle.

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HVAC zoning: customize your comfort and save on utilities

Zoning is the latest trend in the HVAC industry. Traditional central HVAC heats and cools your entire home equally at the same time. Zoning lets you customize the temperature in different rooms or areas of your home.

This article will help you decide if a zoned HVAC system is right for you. It will also explain how HVAC zoning is achieved and whether it’s a DIY project or one for the pros. 

Get a quote for zoned HVAC

What is HVAC zoning?

HVAC zoning breaks your home into zoned areas that can be heated or cooled to different specifications. A zone can be a cluster of several rooms or a single room.

In a traditional central HVAC system, you set the temperature for your entire home on a single thermostat. Your AC/furnace or heat pump turns on and off based on the temperature sensors in the thermostat.

But sometimes, temperatures vary across your home. Maybe the rooms in the front of your house are usually hotter because they get more sunlight during the day. Or perhaps your bedroom is always cold in the winter because it’s the farthest room from your furnace.

HVAC zoning allows you to heat or cool each zone in your home differently, depending on that zone’s unique needs. Zoning involves using multiple central HVAC systems, mini splits, or a smart thermostat with room sensors and duct dampers. 

🤷 Can I zone an existing HVAC system?

Absolutely! But you will probably have to purchase some new equipment. 

Your options range from revamping your entire AC system to adding a mini split for supplemental heating and cooling. 

It’s up to you to weigh your comfort needs versus your budget. Learn more about your options here.

Pros and cons of zoned HVAC systems

✅ Pros of zoned HVAC ❌ Cons of zoned HVAC
Individualized comfort for each zone Investing in new equipment can be costly upfront
Increased energy efficiency Having work done in your home is disruptive
Utility savings as you only heat or cool where you need it It may not be worth it in small homes

As with any home improvement, you’ll need to consider the benefits against the cost of installing a zoned HVAC system.

Pros of zoned HVAC

Most obviously, zoned HVAC keeps each area of your home comfortable. If your kitchen can’t stay cool in the summer, you don’t have to freeze the rest of the house. You can set a zone for that room alone and adjust the thermostat accordingly.

This, in turn, helps you reduce electricity consumption. By heating and cooling each zone individually, you won’t waste energy. Additionally, if you don’t frequent certain areas of your home, you don’t have to heat or cool them when they’re not in use.

A subsequent benefit is that your utility bills will be lower. No more wasting energy on heating and cooling your whole home at once. With zones, you only use what you need.

Cons of zoned HVAC

If you’re starting from scratch with a new build or a completely re-vamped HVAC system, it’s worth it to create zones. However, turning a traditional central HVAC system into a zoned one takes some expense and effort.

Depending on the type of system you choose, you could spend tens of thousands of dollars to create HVAC zones. Not to mention the inconvenience of having technicians working in your home. You may have to engage multiple types of contractors, including an electrician and a drywall specialist.

Finally, zoned HVAC is not suitable for certain homes. If you have a smaller house and don’t experience any especially hot or cold spots, installing a zoned system may not be worth the hassle.

couple relaxing at home

Different types of zoned HVAC

Multiple systems

If you have a multi-story home, you may already have a rudimentary zoned system. Homes with more than one story often use two AC condensers for cooling.

Since heat rises, it’s notably warmer upstairs in some houses. Homes with two ACs, each controlled by a dedicated thermostat, can stay more consistently cool.

In this example, the upstairs AC works harder, while the downstairs AC has an easier job. In the long run, you’ll save electricity and likely preserve the life of your HVAC system since it’s not constantly working to keep up with the high temperatures upstairs.

You don’t need a multi-story home to benefit from dual HVAC systems. If you have a large one-story house, you may be able to zone your system this way. It can be especially useful if one wing of your home includes bedrooms that are uninhabited during the day.

Mini splits

Mini splits enable whole-home heating and cooling without ductwork. 

Each mini split comprises an outdoor heat pump and an indoor air handler connected by electrical wiring and refrigerant lines. In a zoned system, you can have multiple air handlers throughout your home, which you can adjust individually.

Instead of using a central thermostat, a mini split’s air handler typically has a remote control. You can turn it on and off, choose the temperature, and select the fan speed. Or you can set it up to run automatically on a schedule.

Mini splits are perfect for older homes that don’t have existing ductwork. They’re also great if you have specific areas of your home that tend to stay hotter or cooler than the rest.

For example, if your central AC just can’t keep a particularly sunny bedroom cool, you can install a mini split. This will create a new zone that offers supplemental cooling. 

Tell me more about mini splits

Central HVAC zones

Zoning your existing central HVAC system is possible but difficult. It’s much easier if you’re starting from scratch with a new home build or a completely refreshed HVAC system.

Your equipment needs to be dual-stage or modulating to zone your existing system. You’ll need to purchase a new AC condenser and furnace/heat pump if you have single-stage equipment.

Additionally, your ductwork needs to be sized and connected properly for the system. If it’s not, it may require some updating. Altering ductwork can be a headache since your technician may have to cut through walls.

Your HVAC contractor will install a smart thermostat with sensors in a zoned central HVAC system. They’ll also add dampers to your ductwork. These dampers open and close to direct air where it’s needed. 

Can I DIY a zoned HVAC system?

Installing a zoned HVAC system is not a DIY job.

If you want an inexpensive DIY option, we recommend a smart thermostat with room sensors like this one

While not a true zoned system, a smart thermostat with sensors will help your home stay more consistently comfortable in each area with a sensor.

How much does a zoned HVAC system cost?

The cost of a zoned HVAC system depends on which approach you decide to take.

If you opt to install multiple systems, like in a multi-story home, a new unit will cost about $7,000, according to HomeAdvisor

HomeAdvisor says installing a mini split with one air handler costs about $3,000. Additional air handlers for zoning cost $400-2,000 each. 

Zoning a central HVAC system costs many thousands of dollars. The average cost to replace ductwork is $1,181. Installing new ductwork ranges $3,000-7,500. Each automated duct damper costs about $200 – the number you’ll need depends on the size of your home. Smart thermostats cost between $100-300. Some may require an ongoing monthly subscription to manage. 

Get a quote for zoned HVAC now

The bottom line on zoned HVAC

We think zoned HVAC is a smart choice. Not only does it let you customize your home comfort, but it potentially saves energy.

However, zoning an existing central HVAC system is costly and a lot of work. Instead of overhauling everything, we recommend installing a zoned mini split to provide supplemental heating and cooling in rooms that need it.

If you’re starting from scratch with a new build or a remodel, zoned HVAC is the way to go!

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“Triple-dip” La Niña: what is it, and how will it affect my weather?

At, our writers create solutions that put you in control of your HVAC system. Our product reviews and recommendations are researched and backed by real buyers and industry experts, not dictated by our partners.

The World Meteorological Organization predicts the U.S. will experience a “Triple-dip” La Niña in 2023 for the first time this century. The phenomenon will bring unusual fall weather to many areas.

Wondering how the Triple-dip La Niña will affect you? We’ll explain below and share how to keep your home as comfortable as possible amid fluctuating weather conditions.

What is Triple-dip La Niña?

La Niña is a weather pattern that occurs in the Pacific Ocean, causing the water near the equator to cool a few degrees. This small change impacts weather all over the world. 

The cooler temperatures in the eastern Pacific cause fewer rain clouds to form there. In turn, places like the southwestern U.S. have a drier than usual year.

La Niña can also promote more lightning along the Gulf Coast and more tropical storms in the Caribbean.

The term Triple-dip La Niña indicates that this will be the third consecutive year of La Niña conditions. It will likely amplify the typical effects of La Niña, which climate change has already exacerbated. 

While reports vary, Bloomberg forecasts the world will experience $1 trillion in weather-related damages by the end of 2023, including harm from floods, droughts, storms, and fires. Experts predict negative impacts on crops, energy supply, shipping, and inflation. 

🌧️ What’s the difference between La Niña and El Niño?

With El Niño, the eastern Pacific temperatures rise rather than fall. This causes moisture to increase in the air, bringing rainstorms. Generally, the Northwestern U.S. has a warmer, drier winter in an El Niño year, while the Southeast experiences increased rainfall. 

In many ways, El Niño causes the opposite of La Niña.

How will Triple-dip La Niña impact my local weather?

Heat and drought

According to predictions from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, fall 2022 will be hotter than usual. Every state except for the northernmost regions of Washington, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, and Minnesota will likely see above-average temperatures through November. 

Existing droughts across the west will continue, severely impairing farms in the region. The country’s southern half will see less rain and snow for the remainder of 2022.


La Niña’s weather patterns cut off wind shear in the Caribbean and elsewhere. This means tropical storms and hurricanes in the Atlantic grow stronger and more frequent.

2022 is expected to have an above-average hurricane season, with between 14 and 21 storms. 

Cold and snow

Into the winter, the northern U.S. and New England will see colder-than-average temperatures. Additionally, snowfall will be above-normal in these regions.

la nina weather map

Staying comfortable in La Niña weather

A warmer fall means an extended cooling season. With your AC working overtime, preventative maintenance will keep it in good health. This includes:

  • Changing your air filter regularly
  • Cleaning debris like fallen leaves from in and around your condenser
  • Scheduling a twice-annual HVAC system checkup

Book your HVAC maintenance appointment now

Since the weather tends to fluctuate at this time of year with cooler mornings and warmer afternoons, you may prefer to open your windows and use a fan to keep comfortable. Our favorite fans include this tower fan by Honeywell and this energy-efficient box fan by Hurricane. 

If you live in a coastal region, check out our piece on prepping your AC for hurricanes. It includes tips to prevent damage from high winds and power surges. 

And, if you’re in the northern U.S. and New England, make sure you schedule an appointment for furnace maintenance this fall. You’ll want yours to heat effectively when winter brings cold temps and heavy snow. 

Schedule furnace maintenance now

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What Determines the Cost of a Furnace?

Ever look at the price tags of a new furnace? They can be so expensive! Several factors contribute to the final cost of a furnace, including the size of the space you’re heating, the efficiency, brand, installation time, and more.

Whether it’s your first time buying a furnace or you’re replacing an old one, these are the factors that impact the cost of a furnace.

Fuel Source

One of the biggest contributors to the cost of a furnace is its fuel source. Natural gas furnaces are the most common and some of the least expensive to operate monthly. Electric furnaces are also common and can be inexpensive.

If you are looking for an affordable furnace replacement, it is often cheaper to stay with the same fuel source rather than switching to a new one, since the latter comes with higher installation costs.

That said, if you’re switching to a more energy-efficient type of furnace, it may be worth the upfront installation cost. For example, switching from oil to natural gas is better for your utility bills and the environment.

Oil is increasingly less common but preferred for many people. Oil is purchased yearly or bi-yearly, though it’s typically found in much older homes or climates with extreme winters.

Furnace Size

As expected, bigger furnaces cost more money, especially up front. However, this can pay off in lower utility bills if the larger size is more appropriate for your home.

But bigger isn’t always better. If you buy a furnace that’s too large for your house, it will cycle on and off frequently, leading to higher utility bills and poor efficiency. Similarly, a furnace that’s too small will work much harder to heat the space, taking a toll on the system and raising your energy bills.

If you are worried about getting a furnace that is too big or small, check the British Thermal Units (BTU) of the new furnace and compare it to the old one. A higher BTU means the furnace is more powerful.

On average, you will need to multiply the square footage of the space needing to be heated by 40 to get the BTU required to heat it. Other factors influence the size of the furnace you need, such as the quality of the insulation, your climate, and more. If you’re not sure, hire a professional HVAC technician to help you determine the best size for your home.

Energy Efficiency

Furnace energy efficiency is measured in Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE). The higher AFUE a furnace has, the more efficient it is and the less fuel you’ll waste.

The downside is that higher AFUE furnaces have a higher upfront cost. According to the United States’ Department of Energy, the lowest efficiency rating in available furnaces is around 80%, though most on the market range from 83 – 95%.
Image: A Person Going Over Finances To See If They Can Afford The Cost Of A Furnace.
Some gas furnaces are even more efficient, at around 98.5%. Though once the AFUE goes above 95%, maintenance and repair costs rise dramatically.

Installation Cost

On top of the high cost of the furnace itself, the furnace installation can add to the costs. Furnace installation is a specialized skill that requires a certification.

Furnaces, especially newer, higher AFUE models, are complex and intricate in their designs. It is highly recommended that you do not try to install the furnace yourself, as that can lead to a variety of problems.

Image: The Inside Of A Furnace.
Gas furnaces in particular are difficult to install yourself. If everything isn’t installed properly, there is a high chance of a potentially deadly gas leak. Oil and electric furnaces carry a high chance of a fire if installed incorrectly.

It’s best to invest in a professional HVAC technician for your furnace installation to ensure it is installed safely and correctly.


A big factor in the price of your furnace is the reputation of the brand. More reputable, well-known brands can charge a premium price for their products, but this premium ensures the furnace’s quantity.

In addition, premium brand furnaces have parts that are easier to find if you need a repair or replacement. This can significantly lower your maintenance costs over the life of the furnace.

Other Factors to Consider:


Most reputable companies have a manufacturer warranty of up to ten years, though some of them are only valid so long as you can prove that the system is regularly maintained. However, make sure that you get the warranty in writing, especially if it is not that reputable of a company.

Image: A Woman Goes Over Warranty Options On A Tablet.


Maintenance is key for keeping your furnace running its best. Regular maintenance keeps everything operating efficiently and identifies small problems before they can snowball into serious issues or a breakdown. A regular air filter change and cleaning routine could extend the life of your furnace and ensure that it lasts for the next 20-30 years.

Image: An Hvac Technician Is Changing Out A Furnace'S Air Filter.
Regular maintenance may seem like an unnecessary expense, but it’s a small price to pay to avoid the high price of major repairs or breakdowns. Depending on the problem, repairing a furnace can cost thousands of dollars.
A general guideline is that if the cost to repair your furnace is a third of that to replace it, the system has reached the end of its lifespan and should be replaced.

Tax Credits

If you recently purchased or are looking to purchase a high AFUE furnace, you may be entitled to a tax break. The push toward more renewable, efficient energy is driving politicians to give more tax breaks to those who go for green solutions, rather than fossil fuels. Check to see if you qualify for one of those breaks.


If you live in an older house, your insulation is likely to have issues. Poor insulation can reduce the efficiency of high AFUE furnaces and may lead to much higher monthly heating costs. Ensure your insulation is in good condition prior to installing a new furnace.

Image: Insulation Being Installed In An Attic.

If you’re looking to install or replace your furnace, contact the pros at Service Champions today!

How the 2023 HVAC regulations impact homeowners

At, our writers create solutions that put you in control of your HVAC system. Our product reviews and recommendations are researched and backed by real buyers and industry experts, not dictated by our partners.

In 2023, the HVAC industry will make big strides toward sustainability. While the new 2023 HVAC regulations may not have an immediate impact on your home, it’s good to know what to expect.

Heightened energy efficiency and eco-minded refrigerant requirements will soon take effect. We’ll fill you in on everything you need to know.

SEER regulations

SEER stands for seasonal energy efficiency ratio. It measures an air conditioner’s cooling output compared to the electrical energy it consumes. The higher the SEER rating, the more efficient the AC.

Beginning January 1, 2023, there will be two SEER-related changes. First, the minimum SEER rating will increase on HVAC equipment.

Currently, new air conditioners must have a minimum SEER of 13 in northern states and 14 in southern states. In 2023, this will change to 14 and 15, respectively.

2023 SEER regions map

Additionally, the industry will adopt the SEER 2 standard. SEER 2 is similar to its predecessor in that it measures the total heat removed from a specific space versus how much energy it uses in the process. The required testing conditions will change to better mirror real-life circumstances.

In 2023, HVAC equipment, including AC condensers and heat pumps, will have to display their SEER 2 rating on their packaging.

This change won’t necessarily impact consumers beyond giving you a slightly better estimate of your potential energy usage when shopping for new HVAC equipment.

AC refrigerant regulations

Recently, the industry moved away from R-22 (Freon) towards R-410 (Puron) refrigerant. It’s less damaging to the environment and human health and doesn’t harm the ozone layer.

Next year, the Environmental Protection Agency is likely to require another move to a class of refrigerants called A2L by 2025. A2L has a lower Global Warming Potential (GWP) than alternatives, but it’s also mildly flammable.

HVAC manufacturers are already designing new technology to accommodate A2L. This includes new technology to store and transport systems with A2L and equipment with automatic shutoff capabilities in case of a leak.

What are the benefits of these new HVAC regulations?

Pros Cons
🌎 Positive environmental impact 🔧 More difficult to find replacement parts for older systems
💰 Reduced utility bills 📦 Initial inventory challenges

Most HVAC equipment, including central air conditioners and gas furnaces, require a lot of electricity to operate. This creates carbon dioxide emissions, which contribute to global warming.

As the world experiences extreme temperatures due to climate change, we rely on our HVAC systems to stay comfortable more than ever. If we don’t develop new eco-friendly standards and technologies, global warming will only intensify.

Most industry changes, including the 2023 HVAC regulations, move towards more energy-efficient, green products. These will not only positively impact the environment, but you’ll likely see a reduction in your utility bills.

Is there any downside to the 2023 HVAC regulations?

While the impact of the 2023 HVAC regulations is positive overall, they may create minor inconveniences for individuals.

For example, you may need to wait a little longer for parts or replacement units. Local dealers may initially experience challenges obtaining inventory that meets the new requirements.

Additionally, if your older system needs repair, your technician may not be able to access compatible parts easily, as the industry phases out dated technologies.

Should I upgrade my old HVAC system?

If your HVAC equipment is in good condition and fulfilling your heating and cooling needs, there’s no need to buy a new one that meets the new industry standards. Make sure you’re scheduling spring and fall maintenance appointments to keep your system running at its most efficient.

As your system ages, it may be harder to find compatible parts, as dealers stock items that satisfy the new regulations.

When your system’s reached the end of its useful life or the cost of a repair exceeds the cost of a replacement, it’s time to consider new equipment that meets the current standards. 

Connect with an HVAC technician now 🧑‍🔧

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8 Types of Indoor Air Pollution To Watch Out For

Nobody wants to think of inhaling bits of insect wing. Yet, biological contaminants are one of eight types of indoor air pollutants Phoenix homeowners deal with every day. These pollutants can cause serious health problems, which is why it’s critical that homeowners understand them and take necessary precautions to avoid them.

8 Types of Pollution Lurking in Your Home

To ensure you are informed and safe, keep reading for more examples of indoor air pollutants you should know about.

    1. Radon

Howard Air: Types of Indoor Air Pollution in Your Home - Radon

The radioactive element radon percolates up through the earth itself as an odorless, colorless, tasteless, invisible gas. Radon must be ventilated to prevent harmful buildup in your Phoenix home. An HVAC professional can perform tests to detect radon in your home. According to Everyday Health, radon forms when uranium in water, soil, and stones breaks down and forms a gas. Radon gets into your home through cracks in walls and flooring, warm air rising, space around piping, fireplaces, furnaces, exterior ventilation, and concrete joints.

    1. Volatiles

Howard Air: Types of Indoor Air Pollution in Your Home - VOCs

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) get into your air from paints, cleaning products, glue, pesticides, home printers, hairspray, permanent markers – even fabrics and upholstery. An HVAC technician can discuss high-efficiency air filters for these.

    1. Formaldehyde

Howard Air: Types of Indoor Air Pollution in Your Home - Formaldehyde

This chemical is used in flooring, carpets, upholstery, curtains, compressed wood furniture and more that can affect your respiratory and immune system. Not even your HVAC technician can eliminate formaldehyde with filtration. Your house needs good ventilation and possible removal of the source.

    1. Tobacco

Howard Air: Types of Indoor Air Pollution in Your Home - Tobacco

If someone in your home smokes cigarettes, cigars or pipes, chances are your home is heavily polluted with compounds and chemicals from the tobacco. Removing this class of indoor air pollutants calls for high-quality air filtration and either HEPA or deep-media filters. Make your home smoke-free.

    1. Nitrogen Oxide

Howard Air: Types of Indoor Air Pollution in Your Home - Nitrogen Oxide

Nitrogen oxide (NO) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) are products of poor combustion; they irritate lungs and mucus membranes (eyes and mouth). Like radon, these must be ventilated out and their sources removed to avoid serious health consequences. Sources include ovens, stoves, improperly installed vented appliances, kerosene heaters, welding, and tobacco smoke.

    1. Particulates

Howard Air: Types of Indoor Air Pollution in Your Home - Particulates

If you use alternative heating sources, such as coal, wood pellets, or a wood stove, some smoke gets into your air every time it’s used. The particulates in the smoke can fly into the air and into your lungs. Air purification and furnace filtration will reduce these lung-damaging particles.

    1. Carbon Monoxide

Howard Air: Types of Indoor Air Pollution in Your Home - Carbon Monoxide

Carbon Monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless, invisible, heavy gas that can kill. CO detectors can help alert you, but even a flawless furnace can belch out CO if your HVAC technician does not ensure proper sealing.

    1. Biologicals

Howard Air: Types of Indoor Air Pollution in Your Home - Biologicals

Insect parts are only one type of biological air pollutant. The Environmental Protection Agency mentions a long list, including:

    • Viruses
    • Bacteria
    • Molds
    • Pet saliva and dander
    • Dried rodent urine
    • Mildew spores and hyphae

Where to Get an Indoor Air Pollution Test in Phoenix

Proper air filtration in your home’s HVAC system is the answer to biological contaminants.

Howard Air’s HVAC technicians can help Phoenix homeowners find relief from poor indoor air quality. Contact us today to have your home assessed for indoor air pollutants and learn about our steps to remove them.

The post 8 Types of Indoor Air Pollution To Watch Out For first appeared on Howard Air Conditioning. This post appeared first on

10 Reasons Why Your Gas Furnace is Not Working

Is your gas furnace not switching on or warming the air as expected? If yes, you need to understand that many different issues might have led to this problem. A properly functioning gas furnace is crucial because it will ensure that your central heating system warms up the air in your home keeping you and your loved ones warm through the chilly winter season. Most furnaces, gas ones included, will last approximately 15 to 20 years. So if yours is way younger than this, there’s a good chance you can get it up and running again.

Ever found yourself asking this question, “my gas furnace isn’t working, what do I do?” Our quick response is this: you should troubleshoot to check the cause of the problem, or if you cannot do this, you need to contact a certified HVAC contractor. You cannot troubleshoot the problem if you do not have a basic understanding of how your gas furnace works. So, let us look at how the gas furnace works.

How Your Gas Furnace Works (Or Should Be Working!)

Howard Air - Gas Furnace Not Working? How Gas Furnaces Work
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Your gas furnace, commonly referred to as a forced-air furnace, works by heating the air coming into your home through a heating cycle that follows the following sequence:

  1. The burner ignites propane or natural gas
  2. The flames from the burner heat up a metal heat exchanger
  3. Heat is transferred from the metal heat exchanger to the incoming air
  4. The warm air is forced into the ductwork by the furnace blower causing the warm air to circulate through your home
  5. As the warm air flows and fills your home, colder air is displaced and pushed into the furnace for heating.

A properly functioning gas furnace will work following the five steps discussed above. For your furnace to serve you for long, you need to ensure that it is serviced at least once or twice a year. This will ensure that you get uninterrupted service during the cold winter season.

10 Most Common Furnace Problems

Howard Air - Gas Furnace Not Working? Major Problems
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In this guide, we discuss the top ten common furnace problems with matching suggestions on how these issues can be resolved. If they cannot be resolved, you may have to look at other options like buying a new gas furnace. These problems include:

  • Lack of maintenance
  • Wear and tear
  • Dirty filters
  • Ignition problems
  • The furnace does not heat at all
  • Malfunctioned thermostat
  • The furnace does not heat enough
  • Blower runs continuously
  • Frequent cycling
  • The furnace is too noisy

The list above is not extensive, but at least we have tried to capture some of the most common problems. By knowing these common problems, we believe that you, as the homeowner, can take proactive measures aimed at preventing most, if not all of them. Let us now delve deeper and discuss each of these furnace problems:

1. Lack of routine maintenance

As stated earlier, regular maintenance is the key to ensuring that your gas furnace operates properly throughout the year. We suggest that you consider servicing your furnace at least one to two times in a year. During this routine maintenance, your HVAC repair technician might discover a problem with your heating system and suggest ways of dealing with it before it worsens. Addressing a problem with your central heating system will save you money.

2. Dirty or clogged filters

Filters help in purifying the air coming into your home. They help in keeping dirt out, thereby ensuring that the air circulating in your house is clean and free of impurities. Since the filters bar dirt and other pollutants from getting into your home, it is essential that you clean the filters regularly to prevent them from clogging. Clogged air filters can damage the filter switch affecting the status of the HVAC system.

3. Wear and tear

Equipment and appliances often suffer from wear and tear after prolonged work. If your heating repair contractor finds that your gas furnace or some of its components are worn out, ask for recommendations or suggestions on how to replace them.

4. Ignition problems

Older gas furnaces have pilot lights while newer versions have electric ignition. The pilot or electric ignition might be the cause of your furnace problems. If the pilot light fails to stay lit, this may be a result of issues such as a clogged pilot orifice, a loose or faulty thermocouple, a defective safety cutoff valve, or the pilot’s flame may have been set too low. For gas furnaces with electric ignition, the ignition problem may present issues where the furnace keeps shutting off after a short while. This can be resolved by powering off the unit then switching the power on again; a move that will reset the ignition control module.

5. The furnace does not heat at all

If you discover that your furnace does not heat at all, it is crucial for you to consult with your local HVAC repair technician. Since heating is the primary function of your gas furnace, you need to have this problem looked into by a competent repair technician. A furnace that is not heating may be having problems with its power, gas, pilot light, or thermostat setting.

6. The furnace does not heat enough

In some cases, you might realize that the furnace is functioning properly, but the heat generated is not sufficient to heat up the air in your home. When this happens, it is essential for you to check with your technician whether the HVAC unit you have is the right size for your home. You also need to have the current unit checked if it has clogged filters, which might also cause this problem.

7. Malfunctioning thermostat

The thermostat helps in regulating the heating cycle. When the home is sufficiently heated, the thermostat is supposed to tell the control board inside the furnace to stop the heating cycle. When the thermostat malfunctions, the air inside your home can be heated to an uncomfortable level. You need to contact your heating repair technician to correct this as soon as possible.

8. Blower not working

The blower functions by directing the air coming from return ducts to go into the hot heat exchanger. When you discover that the blower is not working on the gas furnace, you need to contact a professional to replace it for you.

9. Frequent cycling

A gas furnace that is frequently cycling from “On” and “Off” modes is indicative that the furnace has a problem with its thermostat or the air filters may be clogged. Your repair technician should be able to troubleshoot the problem and have it fixed in no time.

10. A noisy furnace

A noisy gas furnace that rumbles, rattles, or squeaks needs to be checked by a professional HVAC contractor. Such noises are not normal and may indicate a mechanical problem with your furnace.

Consult a Certified HVAC Technician if All Else Fails

Howard Air - Gas Furnace Not Working? Get Help from Certified HVAC Pro
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Most of the problems highlighted above need the attention of a qualified HVAC technician who will be able to diagnose the problem and repair it. Don’t risk worsening the problem or exposing yourself or your loved ones to gas or combustion-related hazards by trying to fix some of these complex problems by yourself. It is always a good idea to take adequate precautions and contact a trained furnace repair expert to examine your unit and suggest how the issue should be handled.

See also: The Arizona Gas Furnace Buyer’s Guide

If your furnace presents any of the problems discussed above, you can always count on us to resolve the issue for you. At Howard Air, we are committed to ensuring that all our customers get the best heating and air conditioning services. Our technicians are trained, experienced, and certified to handle any furnace related problems. Contact us today at (602) 953-2766 to schedule a consultation with our team of experts.

Featured image credit: Asier Romero/Shutterstock

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How Do You Know if Your Air Conditioner is Working Properly?

One of the most common questions we receive at Howard Air is how to tell if an air conditioner is working or if the unit is in need of maintenance. Aside from putting their hands over the vents to feel for a gust of cold air, there are some simple things we recommend our Arizona clients look for when inspecting their air conditioner.

Tips to Keep in Mind

Howard Air How to Tell if Your Air Conditioner is working Properly

We advise clients to first look at the temperature differential. If the temperature outside is 80 degrees or higher, set the thermostat for 70 degrees or lower. As the air conditioner kicks on and starts to run, place a fridge thermometer inside one of the air ducts, and one within the return air duct. Record these numbers at 10 minutes and subtract the air duct reading from the return air duct reading. If the difference is less than 14 degrees it can be a sign that the system is low on refrigerant.

Our technicians also recommend that clients inspect their air filters. A dirty, clogged air filter is one of the most common signs your air conditioner is not working properly. It’s an easy fix, and replacing the air filter as needed can help ensure proper airflow and cooling efficiency throughout the home.

Visual Inspection

Howard Air How to Tell if Your Air Conditioner is working Properly

A visual inspection of the air conditioner is another way to see if the unit is functioning properly. Pools of water or refrigerant shouldn’t be present and can indicate leaks from broken lines or clogged drainage holes. It is also a good idea to listen carefully for signs your air conditioner is not working properly. Squeaks, squeals, grinding and banging noises are common indications that belts, bearings or other parts are wearing out.

We also recommend clients test their breakers for signs of shorts as well as the batteries within their thermostat. It’s common for homeowners in Arizona to fear their AC has gone on the blink after summer storms sweep through the area when, in most cases, the storm merely tripped the breaker.

Sometimes, a home that is not cooling sufficiently has nothing to do with the air conditioner itself. Sunlight from windows, air leaks around doors/windows, inadequate or shifting insulation and cooking and cleaning in the daytime can raise the temperature in an Arizona home. If the air conditioner is working properly, then it is necessary to look at these outside factors and address the ones that are negatively impacting the home’s temperature.

Call Us For Help!

The team at Howard Air would be happy to help you with your air conditioning needs. We invite you to contact us to learn more about our services and to schedule a service call to inspect your air conditioner.

The post How Do You Know if Your Air Conditioner is Working Properly? first appeared on Howard Air Conditioning. This post appeared first on

Don’t Throw Away Fall Leaves. Put Them to Work in Your Garden

Fall leaves are a nuisance for many homeowners. They usually pile up quickly, and when you try to get rid of them, they clog up your lawnmower and blow around the yard. As a result, regular yard maintenance, especially around your condenser, becomes a routine chore. But before you toss the leaves in the trash, try using them for some of these eco-friendly ventures.

Rake up the Leaves

Image: Cat Meme About Raking Leaves.
Raking leaves is the most important of all fall chores. Here’s how to do it right –

  • Rake a straight line in your yard, from one end to the other, using a push rake or leaf rake.
  • Using a leaf scoop or leaf vacuum, gather up leaves from freshly raked paths.
  • Sweep up any remaining leaves with a broom, then put them in a bag for disposal or use later.
  • Clean up any debris that has fallen on sidewalks and driveways.
  • Be careful not to hurt your back. Use the strength in your arms rather than bend over the rake too much.
  • Don’t forget some HVAC maintenance – remember to clear around your condenser. Leaves that collect from outside your condenser unit can block the airflow that cools it.

Build a Compost Heap

Compost heaps are made by layering green materials with brown materials and allowing them to break down over time. The best way to make one is to use a large container, such as a wooden box or plastic bin, but you can also pile up leaves against a fence or wall.

Start by laying down some newspaper or old sheets. Then, lay down your leaves and cover them with more newspaper. You’ll want to add more layers of newspaper until you have between six and nine inches of leaves.
Image: A Rake Gathering Leaves.
The more layers you add, the better your compost will be once it’s ready!

Create Leaf Mold

Leaf mold is an extremely rich soil amendment that can be used as an alternative to peat moss or compost when potting plants. It’s made from decaying leaves mixed with water and allowed to sit for at least six months. As the leaves break down, they release nutrients into the water that are then absorbed by the soil.

The easiest way to make leaf mold is by simply collecting leaves from your yard and allowing them to break down over time. Once you have collected enough leaves, pack them loosely into a bin or trash bag and let them sit for up to three years.

Make Some Mulch

If you’ve got a lot of leaves to dispose of, you might want to consider making your own mulch. Mulch is excellent for helping plants retain water and nutrients.

Gather your leaves into piles and chop them into smaller pieces with a leaf shredder or lawn mower. Scatter the chopped leaves over your flower beds, creating a layer of insulation for your perennials.

Mow the Leaves Back into the Lawn

Recycle your leaves by mowing them back into the soil. It’s much better than bagging them and sending them to the landfill, where they’ll sit for years, decompose slowly and release methane gas into the atmosphere.

Image: A Person Lovingly Caressing Their Lush Lawn.
Mowing over the piles in your yard or garden mixes them up with the grass clippings and decomposing organic matter already in your soil. When they decompose, they’ll release nutrients that feed the grass underneath and help it grow thicker and greener.

Create Some Leaf Art

If you have kids, creating some leaf art is a great way to keep them entertained. Here are a few ways to keep the kids busy while gathering leaves.

  • Leaf art – This is a fun activity for all ages. Just grab some paint and brushes, and let the painting begin. Choose some larger leaves that aren’t too brittle and paint over them. Use whatever colors you want to create bright and beautiful leaf pictures!
  • Make leaf prints – If you don’t want to get messy with paints, then try making leaf prints instead. Simply paint a leaf before pressing it onto paper. Remove it quickly before it dries out too much. You can also use leaves to make stencils by pushing them onto pieces of paper or cardboard until they leave an impression behind.
  • Make leaf rubbings – This is another excellent activity for the kids. If you know what leaves come from which trees, it’s an educational activity too! Collect different types of leave and place them underneath a sheet of paper. Using a pencil, lightly rub the paper over the leaf. You’ll soon see the leaf shape come to life! Label and learn the different leaf types.

Stay warm this winter by booking HVAC maintenance that keeps your furnace working. Speak to the professionals at Service Champions and keep your Southern Californian home cozy this season.

Do Air Purifiers Work? Everything you Need to Know About Air Purifiers

It’s a surprising fact, but indoor air is often more polluted than the air outside. Changing your HVAC air filter is one of the many things you can do to keep your home comfortable. However, you can go one step further to protect your indoor air by investing in an air purifier. Read on to learn everything you need to know about an air purifier.

Why use an Air Purifier?

Air purifiers are great for improving your home’s indoor air quality. They can help reduce allergens, pollen, pet dander, and dust, while also cleaning chemicals out of the air.

Unfortunately, many people think that using an air purifier is only necessary if someone has allergies or asthma, but these machines can be beneficial for everyone. Air purifiers can help reduce the number of airborne contaminates in your home. This significantly reducing your risk for various illnesses and conditions.

How Air Purifiers Clean Your Indoor Air

Most indoor air purifiers use a filtration system to clean the indoor air. A fan draws in nearby air, which then passes through a series of filters. Once the pollutant particles are removed, the purifier blows the clean air back into the room. There are various types of filtration systems. Some air purifiers even use UV light technology to kill harmful pollutants.

Which Air Purifier Do You Need?

Many different types of air purifiers are available today, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. Here are a few common types you may find –

Image: Various Filters Used By An Air Purifier.

  • HEPA filters. These filters trap pollutants in the air using a filtration system. They can be used as part of a whole-house ventilation system or installed as individual units. HEPA filters use high-efficiency particulate air technology to remove 99.97 percent of particles down to 0.3 microns, including pollen, pet dander, mold spores, and dust mites.
  • Electronic air cleaners. These devices use an ionizing process to attract and bind pollutant particles in the air. The pollutants then drop to the floor or get carried away by a fan.
  • UV lights and ozone generators. These devices use ultraviolet light or ozone gas to disinfect the air in your home, killing bacteria, viruses, and mold spores.

How Effective are Air Purifiers?

The effectiveness of air purifiers varies widely depending on how you use them and the type of filters. Some are more effective than others at removing specific pollutants from the air. The Environmental Protection Agency recommends using air filters with a MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) rating of 13 for residential use to reduce indoor pollutants.

Consider These Factors when Buying the Best Air Purifier for Your Home

There are few important things to consider before buying an air purifier for your home.

Image: A Woman And Her Pug Practice Yoga With The Help Of An Air Purifier.

  • Air quality. Is there a particular smell or odor in your home? Is it coming from a specific room? If so, you might consider buying an air purifier targeting specific airborne particles like pollen or dust mites.
  • Size of room. The larger the room, the more powerful your air purifier will need to be. Some systems can cover multiple spaces but using a separate purifying unit for each room is advisable.
  • Cost and energy efficiency. If you buy an expensive appliance like this, make sure it’s worth the money! Look for models that aren’t too noisy and don’t consume too much power when operating at low speeds.
  • Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR) rating. This measures how well an air purifier can remove particles from the air, such as dust and pollen. The higher the CADR rating, the better it will be at removing these particles from the air.
  • Air purifiers have different types of filters that help remove dust and other particles from the air. Washable filters can help save you money in the future.

How to Get the Best out of Your Air Purifier

There are a few things you can do to make sure you’re making the most of your air purifier.

Image: A Person Changes The Filter In Their Air Purifier.

  • Remember to brush your pets. Pet dander and hair can clog your air purifier’s filters, reducing its efficiency. A clogged filter is ineffective and puts extra strain on your energy bill since it needs to work harder to clean the air.
  • Book regular HVAC tune-ups. Air ducts can leak dust, pollen, and other contaminants into your home if they aren’t properly sealed. HVAC tune-ups keep your HVAC system in top condition taking the pressure off your air purifier.
  • Vacuum regularly and change your bedding weekly. Vacuuming every week or so will remove dust and dander from carpets and floors, helping your air purifier do its job correctly. Changing your bedding also helps reduce dead skin cells and dust mites in your home’s air.

We all want to breathe easy in our homes. Investing in an air purifier helps keep indoor pollution to a minimum. Contact our HVAC professionals if you want to learn more about reducing your home’s toxins.

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