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Your home's air duct system is a network of metal tubes in the walls, floors, and ceilings that carry conditioned the air from the furnace and central air conditioner to each room. If the air ducts are poorly sealed, or have holes and gaps, you're energy bills are likely to be higher than they should be. Ducts that leak heated air into unheated spaces such as crawl spaces, basements or attics can add hundreds of dollars a year to your heating and cooling bills.

Air Duct Maintenace Roanoke

The good news is you can effectively reduce this energy waste by sealing and insulating your home's air ducts. Insulating ducts in unconditioned spaces like basements, crawl spaces and attics is usually very cost-effective.

Air Duct Sealing

Sealing your home's ducts is important to prevent air loss, especially if the ducts are located in an unconditioned space such as an attic or crawlspace. If the supply ducts are leaking, heated or cooled air will be forced out and lost. In addition, unconditioned air can be drawn into return ducts through unsealed joints.

Minor duct repairs can be made by homeowners, while an HVAC professional should seal and insulate ducts in unconditioned spaces or make any necessary modification or additions to existing ductwork. In addition to sealing your ducts, it's important to ensure that objects are not blocking the your registers, including furniture, rugs, drapes, etc.

Here's how to seal your ducts.

  1. Inspect the ducts for air leaks by looking for sections that should be joined but have separated, then look for holes.
  2. While duct tape seems like the most obvious material to use for duct sealing, duct mastic is a better choice for sealing seams and joints. While mastic is more durable than duct tape, but should not be used to cover gaps over ¼ inch. Larger gaps must be first bridged with a special mesh tape or a high quality heat approved tape. Butyl tape, foil tape, or other heat-approved tapes are also a good choice for sealing ducts.
  3.  If you're sealing or insulating air ducts in the basement, it will make the space colder, increasing the risk of frozen pipes.To prevent burst pipes ensure that the basement walls are well insulated or use an electric heating tape on the pipes.
  4. If the basement is finished, ensure that there are both supply and return registers in all rooms.

Air Duct Cleaning

In addition to ensuring that your air ducts are tightly sealed to prevent leaks, it's also important to inspect your ducts for excessive dirt build up. Dirt, dust and pet dander can all accumulate inside air ducts, lowering the quality of the air by create an ideal environment for mold and bacteria to grow and become airborne throughout your home. Professional duct cleaning will ensure that dirt is kept to a minimum.

Have questions about your home's air ducts? Give Ostrom a call, we can help answer all your home heating and cooling questions.
Though indoor air quality is important any time of year, it’s crucial in winter, when we seal in allergens, dust mites, and cleaning chemicals to keep our homes warm and save energy. Unfortunately, winter makes your home or business’s air quality much worse. The good news? You can keep your indoor air clean in the winter, too, even if you have pets; it just takes a little planning and a bit of know-how.

Indoor Air Quality

What the Stack Effect Means for You

Ever wonder what makes a hot air balloon rise? It’s possible we gave that one away, but, if you missed it, the answer is heat. And guess what’s happening in your home during winter? Your home is heating up. The combination of heat from below and air rising is called the “stack effect,” and it’s the phenomenon whereby air is drawn up from the lowest levels of a structure – through the floors, windows, doors, and then up from the basement or crawlspace. So, basically, you and your family are breathing crawl space air all winter long. In fact, around 40% of the air you breathe in winter is from this “stack effect.”

The Effect of the Stack Effect on Your Health

The toll that poor indoor air quality can take on your life is nothing to sneeze at – though it may cause you to sneeze. At best, it exacerbates the difficulty of dust mite and mold allergies, as well as sensitivities to certain toxic chemicals. At worse, it can cause chronic respiratory problems, heart issues, and even cancer.

The stack effect is a natural consequence of the way HVACs work to keep buildings warm. However, there are some steps you can take to keep your indoor air clean despite the stack effect.

Improve Air Quality in Your Home this Winter – And Every Day After

When your heat clicks on, consider how to balance the stack effect so that poor air quality isn’t stacked against you. Check out these types for clearer indoor air.
Change your furnace’s filter. Before winter starts, have a professional inspect your unit. Then, put a reminder in your calendar to change the furnace’s air filter regularly. Inspect it once a month for particulates. Check the filter’s rating, too, and don’t rely on poor quality for such an important element of your system.

Invest in a Home Humidifier. Whole-home humidifiers work through the air ducts of an HVAC system, fighting the effects of winter dryness like itchy skin, dry nasal passages, and too much static.
Keep Things Tidy. Change your sheets weekly, vacuum every two or three days (more if you have pets), and stay on top of dusting. These small things don’t seem like much, but when they get neglected, they can really affect the air.
Buy an Air Purifier. Air purifiers are great for people who have severe sensitivities or allergies – because sometimes cleaning isn’t enough.
Grow Plants. A few plants will organically help your home’s air stay clean. Peace lilies, English Ivy, spider plants, and rubber plants all help remove toxins from the air.
Of these, staying on top of HVAC maintenance and filter changes is crucial for clean indoor air because it’s where the heat starts.
Water Heaters and Water Quality
Are you noticing strange odors, taste or color tint to your tap water? While there can be many causes, one of the most overlooked reasons for changes to water quality is water heaters. To find out if the water heater is the cause of the problem, consider the following:

• Does the problem only occur first thing in the morning?
• Does it happen after the water has not been used for a while?
• Does the problem clear up after you run the water for a few minutes?
• Is the problem isolated to the hot rather than cold running faucet?

If any of the above cases is true, it could be caused by your water heater.

Drinking Water Odors

Strange smells, such as a sulphur odors, are sometimes caused by bacteria growing inside the water heater tank. When the water heater goes unused for long periods of time bacteria growth can cause unpleasant odors. A sulphur, or rotten egg odor, is sometimes caused by a corroded anode rod inside the water heater. While the amount of bacteria is usually not enough to cause harm, the cure is to ensure the temperature is high enough to kill the bacteria and that the anode rod is not excessively corroded.

Hard water can also cause sediment to accumulate at the bottom of the tank, causing odors. Flushing the tank regularly or installing a water softener should fix the problem.

Drinking Water Discoloration

Brown, red or yellow tinted water can be caused by rust from a corroded water heater tank, or pipes inside the home. The iron present in most drinking water is not a significant health risk, but it can stain clothing and dishes and leave drinking water with a metallic taste. Your plumber can help track down the cause and determine if the water heater is the source of the problem.

White or tan particles in the water are usually a sign of calcium or magnesium. While not generally harmful to ingest, the minerals can clog pipes and drains over time. A water filtration system or water softener can remove the minerals from the water.

Have concerns about water quality in your home? Give Ostrom a call. We can help identify the cause of the problem and recommend effective solutions for cleaner, better tasting water.
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