Hello everyone. I hope you all are enjoying this wonderful mild spring weather we are having. During this time of year, it gives us the opportunity to focus more on the other issues in homes that we have seen other than just hot and cold problems. Some of these issues we have seen are signs of moisture, dust, and dirt. All of these problems can impact the quality of your home's indoor air.

We all have been in homes that have those dark dust patches or lines on the painted ceilings around the air vents. Or maybe even an excessing about of dust build-up on the vents themselves. If this is something that you see in your home, what have you done about it?

Have you tried all the tricks – HEPA vacuum cleaners, air cleaners, taking your shoes off before coming in the house, ......... all to no avail? Have you tried cleaning the vents and the ceiling for the dust to just come right back soon after? Maybe even you have gone as far as removing the vents during your home remodel and cleaning or replacing them while repainting the ceiling. Once again the dust returned. Maybe you have even paid a company a lot of money to clean your ductwork, thinking it would fix the problem, but it didn't. I understand, that this is very frustrating.

I have often found myself as a technician in homes having this conversation with homeowners that are having this same problem. The same frustration! These signs of unclean indoor air in your home can also be accompanied by small particulates floating in the air. Do you ever see the "dust cloud" in your home when those beautiful rays of the sunshine beam through that large window? You may ask, how do I clean the airborne dust? How can I keep the dust particles in check? How does the dust return so fast on surfaces after cleaning? The first and probably the most important question is, Where is the dust coming from and how is it getting in? We have to get to the root cause of the problem before we can treat the current symptoms and even prevent future issues. Seems to be a pretty basic idea right? Far too many times mixing up the indications with the problem and never correcting the main problem is presented as the "solution". This can be costly and very ineffective. So here at Blue Ridge Heating & Air, we strive to provide engineered comfort solutions to our customers. This means that we use our experience and expertise to calculate the most positive assured outcome for the most logical means for each of our clients.

So let us answer that important question! Where is it coming from and by what means is it being introduced inside my home?

First, we find that a major infiltration point in the home is improperly sealed ductwork terminations. This just means that hiding behind that air vent grill there are gaps between the metal air boot and the building material. i.e. sheetrock walls/ceilings and wood sub-floors. These terminations are most of the time found in the ceiling for upstairs ducted HVAC systems and in the floors or bottom of the walls for downstairs systems.

The above picture shows numerous cracks around the air boot that are causing attic dust on the ceiling.

When there are open cracks around your air boots and your HVAC system turns on, almost all of the conditioned air passes through the air grill into the inside of your home. Yes, I said almost. There is still a minor amount of turbulent air that bounces off of the air grill creating a convection-like effect inside of the air boot. This is what causes a draft to be pulled through the open crack around your air boot. That draft is pulled from your hot, dusty, dirty attic or your damp, humid, dirty crawlspace. This causes a multitude of problems like added humidity, dirty indoor air, and excessive load on the HVAC system. This problem can easily be remedied by sealing around the air boots in the ceiling, floor, or walls.

Secondly, we have leaking ductwork inside these unconditioned spaces like below and above our conditioned spaces. These leaks can often hide behind insulation on the ductwork. It may appear as if there are no issues from the outside, but there can be major leaks on the inside. Not only does this allow for conditioned air to leak out but unfiltered and unconditioned air to get in. It can even allow exposed fibers from insulation to get into the home.

In the picture above you can see the hole in the soft ductwork that is allowing crawlspace air and pink fiberglass insulation to infiltrate the supply air stream going into the home.

Signs of these problems being present can be but are not limited:

  1. Excessive dust in the home.

  2. Sweating ductwork under the home and sweating air vents in the home.

  3. Cool temps. in the crawlspace during hot days/ Warm crawlspaces during cold days.

  4. Elevated humidity levels inside the home.

  5. Excessive run times of HVAC equipment.

  6. Family Colds/ Allergies issues who live inside the home.

  7. Inconsistent temperatures throughout your home.

  8. Signs of rodents or small wildlife around the home.

  9. Excessive return air filter build-up.

  10. Increasing energy bills.

So in conclusion, our HVAC ductwork system can have major positive or negative effects on our comfort and our health and wellness. So, do you know where your dust is coming from? If not give us a call and we would be happy to come out and investigate how and where your home is being impacted.

-Kris Justice

Updated: Apr 6

A friend called me Friday night. He's having problems with his Goodman heat pump installed in 2016 that is failing to cool. Unfortunately, he lives about 200 miles away. Otherwise, Blue Ridge Heating and Air would be addressing the issues.

A large local HVAC contractor performed a diagnostic on his system, and has concluded that the evaporator coil on the indoor unit located in the crawl space has a leak. To remove the old coil and install a new one, they have quoted him $2100...ouch!

Also, they have said the condensate pump has failed and have quoted $950 to replace it...double ouch! This is $3050 to get a 6 year old system working again!!!

Aside from the apparant price gouging, it's going to be an expensive repair regardless of who does it, assuming this diagnostic is correct.

Let's consider another alternative to plan for heat pump, air-conditioner, and furnace repairs. Most manufacturers provide a 10-year warranty on the parts, compressor, and heat exchanger for their equipment when installed in a residential application by a licensed contractor/dealer. The catch is that the equipment generally has to be registered with the factory upon start-up. It's unclear if this happened on both the indoor and outdoor units in my friend's application. We've confirmed the outdoor has been registered, but not the indoor, which is where the evaporator coil is located. Even if the part is still under warranty, the labor cost can be very significant.

Most homeowners that get a new HVAC system installed are happy to hear that it comes with a manufacturer-backed 10 year part warranty. They don't think about the labor cost until their contractor hands them a hefty bill to cover the labor on a warranty repair. This generally leaves the homeowner unhappy about paying for something they thought was under warranty. How could they have prevented this?

Blue Ridge Heating and Air offers an Extended Labor Warranty backed by our partner JB Warranties. Click here to see a flyer on this product. This warranty covers your full system that was installed, including the thermostat. It has no deductibles. Furthermore, it is transferrable to the new homeowner should you sell your house. If you have any issues with your system, Blue Ridge Heating and Air will repair it to service free of charge. Click here To apply for the Extended Labor Warranty with Blue Ridge Heating and Air.

Back to the discussion concerning my friend. If he had purchased a 10 Year Extended Labor Warranty to compliment the 10 year part warranty, he would have no cost for this repair, or any repairs over the 10 year warranty duration. The price of this one repair would have more than paid for the cost of the warranty, and it's likely that he would have had several repairs needed over 10 years.

If you'd like to know more about the Extended Labor Warranty, please apply at the link above, call our office at 855-477-5135, or email us at mail@blueridgeheatingair.com.

Updated: Apr 15

Believe it or not, there are HVAC allergy solutions available today. If you are anything like me, you have a love-hate relationship with springtime. You love the fact that you no longer need a jacket, can enjoy the sun, seeing the grass turn back to green, and the trees and flowers bud. The outside air is so great that you can open the windows to your home…or at least you’d really like to. I suffer from seasonal allergies quite heavily in the spring, and this is after two regimens of allergy shots when I was younger. The reality is that Greenville, SC is a rough place to be in allergy season.

The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America ranked Greenville as number 25 in their 2021 Spring Allergy Capital publication. https://www.aafa.org/media/2933/aafa-2021-allergy-capitals-report.pdf. Pollens from trees, grasses, and weeds cause common symptoms like sneezing, coughing, watery eyes, itching of the nose and eyes, and even headaches for some.

As tempting as it is to open those windows, step one to surviving spring allergy season is keeping them closed. Step two is setting your thermostat fan to “circulate” so that your blower will operate frequently to move the household air through your filter system.

You most likely have a 1-inch filter in your wall or ceiling return grill. The lower end blown glass filters do nothing to help with allergies. A MERV16 filter is the level needed to capture the small pollen particulates. The downside of a 1-inch MERV16 filter is that they have a significant pressure drop across them and cause your system to work much harder. Over time, this shortens the life of your equipment. Also, up to 10% of the air traveling through your system can go around the edge of the filter. If you look at your return filter grill surfaces the next time you change the filter, you will most likely see dust build up between the outside edge of the filter and the inside surfaces of the housing.

The solution that Blue Ridge Heating and Air recommends is a 4-inch filter which remains effective for 6-12 months. These filters are engineered to fit into an air cleaner box attached to the return by your indoor unit. The filters are available in four options based on your home's needs: Clean Air (MERV11), Healthy Home (MERV13), Odor Reduction (MERV 13), and Allergy & Asthma (MERV 16). (MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value.) The higher the number of MERV, the better the filtration. This technology assures that no air will pass by unfiltered, keeping your home clean and your HVAC system operating at peak performance. Blue Ridge Heating and Air has an adapter that allows our preferred filter to be used in that box of any brand.

Our high efficiency filter system improves indoor air quality, airflow, and can extend the life of your heating and air system’s performance. According to https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/maintaining-your-air-conditioner, a clean and properly sized filter can reduce energy usage by 5%-15%.

Please visit our website at www.blueridgeheatingair.com for more information about Engineered Comfort Solutions from Blue Ridge Heating and Air.