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High humidity levels in your home will generally lead you to set your thermostat at a lower temperature.

The hot, humid air of July is what we think of when someone mentions the "dog days of summer". We are used to the meteorologists talking about not only the forecasted temperature, but also the "heat index". Simply put, when the humidity is high, there is so much moisture in the air that your sweat is not able to evaporate; therefore, your body's primary cooling mechanism has a limited efficiency. The National Weather Service describes it in further detail at

Inside your home, the level of humidity can have a similar effect. The temperature may "feel" warmer than it really is when the relative humidity is above 60%. We frequently hear about how much energy costs can be saved by turning down the thermostat by a degree or two. However, rarely do we hear that if we lower the humidity levels in our home, we can then raise the thermostat a little without "feeling" warmer.

The key message for homeowners regarding comfort and their HVAC system is that "it's not just about the temperature, but the humidity level is very important also."

You don't like high humidity, but I wonder who does?

If you believe the mattress companies, your mattress significantly increases in weight over time due to dead skin cells, the dust mites that eat the dead skin cells, carcasses of dead dust mites, and the waste that the dust mites produce...all become a part of your mattress. has an interesting article on this topic called How Gross Is Your Mattress?.

What can you do about dust mites? Well, you can give up on controlling them and try to increase your health tolerance living with them; or you can eradicate them. The first step in doing so is to reduce the humidity level in the home. The National Library of Medicine published a journal article several years ago entitled Reducing relative humidity is a practical way to control dust mites and their allergens in homes in temperate climates. Beyond this, you can remove carpet in your home and replace it with hardwood, tile, etc., wash sheets and blankets weekly in 130-degree F water. The list goes on. Keeping humidity below 50% prevents them from staying alive in your home.

How can you reduce the humidity level in your home?

The quality of your indoor air begins with your crawl space or unfinished basement if you have one.

Keeping humidity low in your crawl space is a good move for the crawl space itself. It helps control termite activity, mold growth, etc. However, the quality of the air in your crawl space impacts your indoor air quality. Humidity naturally rises, and will find it's way into your home from the crawl space. The ultimate measure for controlling crawl space humidity is total encapsulation with a dehumidifier.

Consider installing a whole-house dehumidifier.

A whole house dehumidifier can be integrated into your ducted heating and cooling system. This allows the dehumidifier or humidistat to activate the blower motor of your HVAC system to circulate air through your whole home, pulling out the moisture as it passes through the dehumidifier. As the air becomes drier, you become more comfortable at higher temperatures. For instance, if you traditionally set your thermostat at 71 F, you may be able

to set it at 75 F and "feel" about the same level of comfort. This would provide considerable energy savings.

What does the "size" of my HVAC system have to do with it?

Your current heating and cooling system may be "oversized". This means that it can provide much more cooling or heating than your home requires. For example, you may have a 3-ton (36,000 BTU) heat pump when your house needs a 2-ton (24,000 BTU) heat pump. This is fairly common in the area when installers use a square footage rule-of-thumb to size your system rather than a thorough load calculation. The premise is it is better to be too large

than too small. The negative consequence of this is that an oversized system will cycle, meaning it turns on for a very short duration and then turns off. Ideally, a more appropriately sized system will run for a longer duration, but at a lower energy consumption. If your system is cycling, it is not doing enough dehumidification. If your system is oversized, a whole-house dehumidifier can definitely help.

Who can help?

I'm glad you asked! Blue Ridge Heating and Air can help with all the issues discussed in this article. We encapsulate crawl spaces and basements, we install whole-house dehumidifiers ducted into your existing HVAC system, and we perform load calculations when replacing existing systems.

Ben Lagrange

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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

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Updated: Apr 6, 2022

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

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