Douglas Cooling & Heating Blog : Archive for the ‘Indoor Air Quality’ Category

Is a UV Air Cleaner Safe?

Thursday, May 25th, 2023

Are you looking for ways to improve the indoor air quality of your home or business? One option that has gained popularity in recent years is the use of UV cleaners. These devices use ultraviolet light to kill airborne microorganisms, such as bacteria and viruses, and improve the overall air quality in your space. You may be wondering, is a UV air cleaner safe to use? The HVAC specialists at Douglas Cooling & Heating explain how a UV air cleaner works and some of their benefits and drawbacks.

How Do UV Cleaners Work?

UV cleaners work by emitting ultraviolet radiation, which is harmful to microorganisms such as viruses, bacteria, and mold spores. When these microorganisms are exposed to the UV light radiation, their DNA gets damaged, which then prevents them from reproducing and spreading. This effectively kills the harmful particles and improves the air quality in your space.

There are two primary types of UV cleaners: stand-alone units and integrated systems. Stand-alone units are portable and can be placed in any room or area where you want to improve the air quality. Integrated systems are part of your HVAC system and work to clean the air as it circulates through your home or business.

Can UV Air Cleaners Be Harmful?

Some people may be concerned about the effects of UV light exposure on humans. After all, too much exposure to UV radiation from the sun can lead to skin damage and even skin cancer. However, UV cleaners are designed to emit a specific wavelength of UV radiation that is not harmful to humans. Additionally, the UV radiation is contained within a small internal chamber of the device or your HVAC system, which means it cannot escape into the air or spread throughout your space.

It’s also important to note that the amount of UV radiation emitted by these devices is not enough to penetrate the skin or eyes. So, as long as you follow the manufacturer’s guidelines and use your UV cleaner as directed, you should not experience any harmful effects.

UV air cleaners are sometimes referred to as UV air purifiers. There are a variety of different air purifiers on the market today. Some air purifiers generate ozone which can be dangerous to your health. However, UV light technology still produces ozone, but in such small quantities that it generally is not harmful to humans. HEPA air purifiers or air cleaners that use air filters instead of UV lights are generally considered safer and ozone free.

Benefits of Using UV Cleaners

Using a UV air cleaner in your home or business can provide a number of benefits. First and foremost, it can greatly improve the overall air quality in your space. By killing harmful microorganisms, you can reduce the number of airborne allergens and irritants, which can improve symptoms for those suffering from allergies, asthma, and other respiratory conditions.

UV cleaners can also help to reduce odors and improve the overall cleanliness of your space. By eliminating harmful bacteria and mold spores, you can reduce the risk of unpleasant smells and keep your space looking and smelling fresh.

Finally, using a UV air cleaner can help to extend the life of your HVAC system. By reducing the amount of harmful bacteria and mold spores in your air ducts, you can prevent the buildup of dirt and debris, which can strain your HVAC system and lead to increased energy bills. This can ultimately save you money in the long run.

Call Douglas Cooling & Heating to Improve Your Indoor Air Quality Today

When it comes to finding the right air purifier, air cleaner, or air filtration system for your home, you may be surprised to find that there are more options available than you realize. Talk to Douglas Cooling & Heating today to learn more about how UV air purification can benefit your home, or to find a system that would best meet your indoor air quality needs. Schedule an appointment for an indoor air quality assessment today.

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How Do I Know If My Humidifier Filter Needs Changing?

Monday, February 27th, 2023

If you have recently installed a whole-house humidifier in your home, you may be wondering when the filter needs to be changed. Changing your filter can help ensure that the air in your home is healthy and comfortable. Douglas Cooling & Heating has helped homes all over Birmingham, Alabama make their homes more comfortable in the dry winter months with indoor air quality services. in this blog, we’ll talk about humidifiers, how they work, and how often your humidifier filters need to be changed.

The Role of a Humidifier Filter

Humidifier filters are an integral part of any whole-house humidification system. Even though the individual components of a humidifier system may seem complex, the purpose of a water panel filter is actually really simple and straightforward — to add moisture to the air supply, which then humidifies your home. A humidifier pad and an evaporator pad all refer to the same component. There are different kinds of humidifiers that use different pads or filters to hold moisture in the humidifier, so make sure that if you are replacing your filter, you have the right piece of equipment.

By installing a new or replacement filter in your home’s humidifier annually or even more frequently, you’ll be helping maintain cleaner air while also preventing any long-term damage to your equipment caused by unwanted buildup. In short, a whole home humidifier filter keeps the air you breathe properly humidified and provides lasting protection for your investment.

When to Change Your Humidifier Filter

The frequency with which you should change your humidifier’s filter depends on the type of humidifier you have, as well as the amount of sediment and debris that builds up within it. Generally speaking, a filter replacement should be done at least once a year. However, if your home has hard water with high mineral content, then you may need to change it more often.

Additionally, if the filter looks dirty or clogged after several months of use, then it’s probably time for a replacement. It’s also important to note that some manufacturers recommend different schedules for humidifier filter changes, so be sure to check your owner’s manual for specific recommendations from the manufacturer before deciding how often to replace it.

Why Humidifier Filter Changes Are Important

If you forget to change your whole house humidifier filter on a regular basis, there are several potential issues that can arise. For starters, an old and worn-out filter can lead to poor indoor air quality due to an accumulation of bacteria and mold spores. These contaminants can be picked up by air circulating through your home’s HVAC system and carried into the home, which can cause allergies or other respiratory problems in some people.

Additionally, an old filter can reduce the efficiency of your humidifier and cause it to waste energy trying to do its job. Even if you don’t think about it too much, regular whole-house humidifier filter changes are important to keep moist air circulating throughout your home. Humidifier filter changes help prevent minerals and other particles from building up in the filter. If they do, it can significantly reduce the output and energy efficiency of your humidifier.

Without regular humidifier filter changes, you run the risk of damaging your unit over time. A lack of maintenance can potentially shorten its lifespan. Make sure to replace the filter on a regular basis to ensure maximum efficiency and performance. Whole house humidifier maintenance can also be done when your furnace maintenance is performed. Every year in the fall, call Douglas Cooling & Heating to schedule maintenance on your home’s heating system. Let your technician know that your HVAC system has a whole-house humidifier too. They will be able to look at the humidifier pad and replace it for you if necessary.

Not only does a little maintenance keep the air in your home at an optimal humidity level, but it will also help save money in the long run by avoiding costly repairs and replacements.

Whole House Humidifier Installation and Service

Changing your whole house humidifier filter on a regular basis is essential for maintaining optimal indoor air quality and ensuring that your unit operates efficiently without requiring costly repairs down the road. If you need installation or help to service your whole house humidifier in the Birmingham area, contact Douglas Cooling & Heating today! We offer fast and friendly service at competitive prices!

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Should You Leave a Dehumidifier On All The Time?

Tuesday, October 11th, 2022

Central Alabama is no stranger to humid air for long periods of time. As Summer starts to wind down and the humidity returns to a more comfortable level, you might be wondering when is the right time to turn off your whole house dehumidifier for the season. Should you run your dehumidifier constantly? Douglas Cooling & Heating explains how your dehumidifier can help with your home’s indoor air quality and when you should run a dehumidifier to get the most out of it.

Monitoring Your Home’s Humidity Levels

Your air conditioner will help lower the humidity levels in your home, but in Alabama, where the humidity can be oppressive, sometimes your cooling system can’t keep up. This is when you might consider installing a whole house dehumidifier to make your home much more comfortable in the summer and help your air conditioner last longer. High humidity can cause damage to your home, encourage mold and mildew growth, and increase dust and allergy symptoms.

If you feel that you can’t find relief from the humidity in your home, test your home’s humidity levels with a hygrometer. For most homes, the ideal humidity level is less than 60% in the summer and 25-40% in the winter. Many programmable or smart thermostats can also give you a humidity reading of your home as well.

As temperatures begin to lower for the season, so will the relative humidity. Keep testing your home’s humidity level to see when it’s time to turn off your whole house humidifier for the season.

When To Turn Off Your Dehumidifier for the Season

Many dehumidifiers have an auto shut-off feature. You can set your dehumidifier to a desired relative humidity level and it will automatically shut off when that level is reached. This means you don’t need to have your dehumidifier running constantly throughout the year. Often, nightly temperatures at the end of summer will lower the humidity level down enough that your humidifier will shut off on its own.

When the relative humidity level in your home has reached the 30%-50% range, that’s when it’s time to turn off your dehumidifier for the season. You can set the humidistat to the “off” position, or there may be a damper that you can switch to the “winter” position.

In the winter, as the temperatures get colder, the air becomes dryer. You don’t want to have your dehumidifier constantly running and make the air too dry. To get the best performance out of your system, only run your dehumidifier in the warmer months like the spring and summer.

Maintaining Your Whole Home Dehumidifier

When you’re done using your dehumidifier for the year, it’s a good idea to wipe down all the surfaces of the dehumidifier to prevent mold and mildew growth. If you are unsure where your dehumidifier is, or how to turn it off for the season, the team at Douglas Cooling & Heating can help.

As part of your fall tune-up service, Douglas Cooling & Heating will prepare your entire HVAC system for the fall. This means cleaning your furnace, making sure it’s heating your home efficiently, and turning off your dehumidifier if you have one. It’s a good idea to schedule your tune-up service now before you turn on your furnace for the first time for the season. Talk to Douglas Cooling & Heating to schedule your appointment today.

Call Douglas Cooling & Heating to Prepare Your HVAC System For Winter

To learn more about excess moisture in your home and how to improve your indoor air quality, talk to the team at Douglas Cooling & Heating. We can assess your indoor air quality and find the perfect solutions that can help you breathe easily in your home. Schedule an appointment with Douglas Cooling & Heating today.

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The Benefits of Using an HVAC Humidifier in Alabama

Monday, November 22nd, 2021

The Birmingham, AL area is notorious for being humid, which leads many homeowners to question if a humidifier is really something they need. Believe it or not, the benefits of whole house humidifier use in Alabama are numerous! The indoor air quality experts at Douglas Cooling & Heating explain why it’s helpful to have one of these units installed alongside your home’s heating and cooling system.

What Are the Benefits of Installing a Whole House Humidifier?

Even though the Yellowhammer State can get pretty muggy at times, this doesn’t mean we don’t have periods of dryness, too. When the outdoor temperatures dip in the late fall and winter, the air naturally becomes less humid. The outdoor air conditions have a great impact on air quality inside the home, so expect indoor air to be less humid during this time of year, too.

When enough moisture is absent from the circulating air, dryness will cause a host of problems in the home. A whole house humidifier helps homeowners counteract the physical symptoms and discomfort they may feel while protecting their homes and helping their heating systems operate more efficiently throughout the cold season.

1. Reduce Winter Dry Air Symptoms

Over the winter, people are more likely to fall ill – would you believe that drier air has something to do with this? Because it does! Exposure to dry air causes a person’s skin and mucus membranes to dry out. You may experience uncomfortable symptoms like chapped lips and dry skin, along with nosebleeds as nasal linings are robbed of protective moisture. Itchy eyes, scratchy throats, and other physical symptoms often attributed to colds can actually stem from dry air.

You may be more likely to actually fall ill when surrounded by dry air because some viruses, bacteria, and other pathogens thrive in such an environment. Increasing indoor moisture levels with a whole house humidifier prevents these harmful germs from traveling through the air and infecting bodies easily.

2. Your Body Feels Warmer

When the air is dry, you feel cooler. This is because there is little moisture to help trap warmth around your body. In a home with dry air issues, occupants may waste significant energy and money turning up the heat when they should have been turning on a humidifier.

The benefits of whole home humidifier use include reduced heating system operation because occupants are able to maintain comfort at temperatures a few degrees lower than they would in dry air conditions. The result is energy savings and owing less money to your utility provider each winter.

3.  Prevent Home Damage

Dry air can drastically affect the different woodwork and furnishings throughout your house. When the air is dry, wood loses moisture which can lead to warping and cracks. That annoying creaky floorboard or door that doesn’t seem to fit right in its frame is likely the result of not enough humidity. Adding moisture to the home’s air through the benefits of whole house humidifier operation in the winter will help your wood items maintain their shape and condition. 

4. Humidifiers Are Easy to Use

Adding moisture to the air is necessary at times, but it doesn’t have to be a big chore. One of the best benefits of a central humidifier is the convenience this equipment offers! Unlike a portable humidifier that needs constant refilling and cleaning, a whole house model requires very little maintenance. A dedicated water line supplies the system at all times, and cleaning can be done annually as part of regular heating and air conditioning system maintenance work. Change the water panel once per year, set it, and forget it!

Whole House Humidifier Installation in Birmingham, AL

If the benefits of a whole house humidifier sound good to you, prepare for winter by calling Douglas Cooling & Heating today to ensure your home’s humidity levels are in check. Our team of indoor air quality pros will help you find the right equipment for your needs and provide expert installation so your new humidifier is sure to offer the many benefits you can’t wait to enjoy, including a healthy and comfortable environment.

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How Does a Whole House Dehumidifier Work?

Monday, August 23rd, 2021

Does your Birmingham area home feel extra muggy and hot this year? High humidity can really make you feel uncomfortable, especially when you can’t seem to escape it – indoors or outside! In these conditions, your air conditioner can use some extra help controlling indoor humidity levels, and a whole house dehumidifier is an excellent solution. In our most recent blog, Douglas Cooling & Heating discusses how whole house dehumidifiers work and explains the advantages of having one installed.

How Does a Whole House Dehumidifier Work?

When your entire home is excessively humid, portable dehumidification units just won’t cut it – these small appliances only have the capacity to remove moisture from air in smaller spaces, like a bedroom. Instead, trade these tiny portable units in for a whole house dehumidifier that is capable of providing moisture control across the house and in every room.

So, how does a whole home dehumidifier work? Whole house dehumidifiers are able to treat the home’s entire air volume and provide dehumidification by working with the central HVAC system. This indoor air quality solution is installed along the return duct leading into your indoor cooling system components. In this position, all air flowing through the home to be cooled will also be dehumidified.

The air returning to the HVAC system for cooling is warm and humid. Once it passes into the whole house dehumidifier, air is cooled by the dehumidifier’s evaporator coil. As air temperature drops, water vapor within condenses into liquid form and the water droplets fall out of suspension – this process reduces the amount of humidity in the air.

Condensation is caught in the dehumidifier’s reservoir and empties away from the home or into a nearby drain through a dedicated drain line. Then, the newly dehumidified air passes into the air conditioner for cooling before circulating back into the home’s living areas. Whole house dehumidifiers follow the same process as an air conditioner, but the difference is that the dehumidifier’s focus is on humidity control while an air conditioner’s main purpose is temperature control.

Benefits of Installing a Whole House Dehumidifier

Now that we’ve explained how a whole house dehumidifier works, let’s discuss the benefits they offer in the home.

Improved Cooling Efficiency

We mentioned that whole house dehumidifiers work by cooling the air to remove moisture, and that this appliance performs in the same way an air conditioner does – just with a different purpose. Because the dehumidifier cools and removes moisture, the air passing into the air conditioner requires less treatment to bring it down to the proper temperature. 

Less moisture in the air allows the air conditioner to spend its energy on more cooling rather than pulling double duty dehumidifying the air as well. Plus, your body feels cooler when there is less moisture in the air, so you won’t need as much air conditioning to stay comfortable which also helps you conserve energy.

Better Indoor Air Quality

Too much humidity in the air creates discomfort and indoor air quality problems. Allergens and other pollutants can increase in concentration in humid air, which increases exposure and resulting health symptoms. Excess moisture in the air also helps create the conditions needed for mold to grow and spread throughout the house, and high humidity can cause damage to woodwork and sensitive materials in the home. 

When you install a dehumidifier, it will work to remove the air conditions that contribute to poor air quality. Your family will feel more comfortable and stay healthier while your home gains protection against mold growth and the potential damage that can result from exposure to high moisture content. 

Contact Douglas Cooling & Heating for Whole House Dehumidifier Installation in Birmingham

Keep your home comfortable and cool when you combine your air conditioning system with a whole house dehumidifier! Douglas Cooling & Heating takes the time to explain how whole house dehumidifiers work so you understand the value of installing this beneficial indoor air quality solution. Contact us today to request an estimate and learn more!

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How Your Air Conditioning Can Affect Your Home’s Air Quality

Tuesday, June 15th, 2021

Did you know that the air inside our homes on average is two to five times more contaminated than the outdoor air? That’s a pretty staggering fact considering the average American spends about 90% of their time indoors.

In our most recent blog, the heating and cooling technicians at Douglas Cooling & Heating discuss how air conditioning systems can affect your home’s air quality and steps you can take to improve indoor air quality in your home.

Understanding the Color Alert System

The Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, uses a color alert system to notify citizens of air quality issues outside. For Birmingham residents, this guide helps those who live with allergies, asthma, COPD or other respiratory issues. Attention to the color alert system will help you stay healthy outside and inside when using your air conditioning. 

How Ozone Affects Your Health

Many people misunderstand ozone. There is ozone in the stratosphere. This shields the Earth and you from dangerous ultraviolet rays coming from the sun.

A different type of ozone at ground level is a colorless gas you breathe and is harmful to your health. Ozone is caused by power plants, vehicles, industries, solvents, and paints. Ground-level ozone creates or impacts health issues, such as:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Coughing
  • Lung damage
  • Infections
  • Increased asthma attacks
  • Aggravated lung disease
  • Increased risk of death due to heart or lung disease

Ozone affects anyone, even healthy adults. Those who live with allergies, asthma or lung disease are at a greater risk of ozone exposure. Children and teenagers are at higher risk because their lungs are still developing. They breathe in more air compared to adults.

The same goes for elderly adults, who have weaker lungs. Another group is anyone with a compromised immune system due to chronic illness or a medical regimen.

Another group of people susceptible to ozone hazards are those who work outside or live a generally active lifestyle outdoors. So in short, practically everyone.

How Your Air Conditioning Helps and Hurts

Shutting yourself indoors to escape the heat outside can do more harm than good if your air conditioning system is neglected. Clogged HVAC system air filters and air ducts prevent your air conditioning unit from fresh air delivery throughout your home.

Instead, indoor air pollutants and contaminants, such as pollen, pet dander, dirt and other debris circulate from room to room while your AC system operates.

The easiest way to ensure your cooling system will protect you when the color alert system is not green is to schedule air conditioning service with Douglas Cooling & Heating. We understand the hazards of ozone on Birmingham residents.

We know what steps to take to keep your indoor air quality healthy and prevent indoor air pollution. Our NATE-certified technicians will inspect and clean your air conditioning system. This includes changing your air filter.

The air filter in your air conditioner is responsible for trapping and eliminating particulates before they seep into your indoor air. When the filter is dirty or clogged, the particulates escape and move throughout the ductwork.

This eventually compromises your indoor air and health. You can go a step further when you install an ultraviolet air cleaner in your air conditioning unit. This creates better indoor air quality and reduces the number of particulates which escape filtration.

Installing a Whole Home Dehumidifier

Your air conditioner helps control relative humidity in your home. It can’t remove all moisture, however, especially when the levels are high outside. A great way to help your air conditioning unit is to install a whole-home dehumidifier.

Excess moisture allows dust mites to multiply and creates a breeding ground for microbes like mildew. A dehumidifier connected to your air conditioning system helps remove moisture your air conditioner misses and allows your unit to operate more efficiently in the future. Aside from removing excess moisture, the installation of a whole house dehumidifier can:

  • Prevent water damage around your home
  • Restrict household allergens
  • Improve comfort and fewer health problems
  • Create healthier air and good indoor air quality
  • Create energy savings and lower energy bills

Call Douglas Cooling & Heating for Air Quality, Air Conditioning Solutions

Pay attention to the ozone levels outside, EPA color system warnings and stay indoors when it’s hazardous to your health. Air conditioning units maintained on a regular basis help counteract harmful pollutants outside and indoors.

Call Douglas Cooling & Heating to schedule service or to learn more about air cleaners and dehumidifiers for your cooling system. Ready to upgrade or replace? We offer financing!

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Do Smart Thermostats Save Money in the Long Run?

Friday, May 14th, 2021

For several years, homeowners were told that using a programmable thermostat was the gold standard for cutting your home’s heating and cooling bills. Recently, advanced technology has brought the smart thermostat to the market, and many say this tool is a great improvement over programmable models. In our most recent blog, the heating and air conditioning experts at Douglas Cooling & Heating discuss the benefits of smart thermostats and whether they save Birmingham residents money.

Smart Thermostat Basics

Smart thermostats allow homeowners to connect their heating and cooling systems with their home automation equipment. Smart thermostats connect to the home’s Wi-Fi and can be controlled by using other connected devices like your cell phone, tablet, or smart home speaker for voice control.

The smart thermostats on the market today offer a range of high-tech features. Most use integrated sensors and also connect to external sensors to read humidity levels, outdoor temperatures, and more.

The information collected allows the thermostat to provide guidance regarding efficient temperature settings for your home. They also allow you to program temperature adjustments just like a programmable thermostat, but some models take a step above with learning capabilities – the thermostat will learn your temperature preferences and perform automatic temperature adjustments to create a comfortable home environment around the clock.

Do Smart Thermostats Save You Money?

All the high-tech features are attractive, but do smart thermostats actually save homeowners money on their energy bill? Let’s take a closer look.

  • Smart thermostats save money by only heating and cooling your home as needed. While programming schedules into a programmable thermostat can cut down on energy waste, there’s no way to make adjustments if you’ll be coming home later than usual one day. Smart thermostats use geofencing technology to see your location via your smartphone to intuitively adjust the temperature to provide a comfortable home exactly when you arrive. This connectivity allows the thermostat to limit any energy usage that could occur when your personal schedules are disrupted.
  • The use of occupancy sensors further limits heating and cooling an empty home. A programmable thermostat won’t realize when you’ve stepped out and will continue to run the HVAC system as if you’re there. A smart thermostat uses these sensors and your cell phone location to see you’re not at home and set back temperatures to conserve energy.
  • Many smart thermostats monitor your HVAC system for spikes in energy consumption, which could indicate the need for repairs or maintenance. The thermostat also sends you alerts via your connected device so you know to resolve the issue right away. Running an HVAC system with performance issues leads to excess energy consumption and higher utility costs.
  • Many smart thermostats collect data regarding your home energy consumption, which can be accessed through the device’s mobile app. You can evaluate this data and use it as a guide for planning further energy-efficiency improvements around the house or to make adjustments to your routines that will generate additional savings.

Added Bonuses of Switching to a Smart Thermostat

Do smart thermostats save money? Yes, but that’s not the only great thing about them! In addition to energy-saving features, some other great perks of using one include:

  • Stylish design
  • Digital full-color and customizable displays
  • Weather forecasts and other information displayed on the thermostat for your convenience
  • Control it from anywhere using your phone or voice control – you don’t even have to leave your seat
  • Extremely easy to use, which means you’re more likely to use it

Choose Douglas Cooling & Heating for Smart Thermostat Installation

Are you ready to install a new smart thermostat in your Birmingham area home? Getting a smart thermostat is a great way to cut energy costs. Work with the pros at Douglas Cooling & Heating to find the smart thermostat model that offers the features you want while fitting your budget. Contact us today to learn more about this great energy-saving technology.

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How HVAC Services Can Fight Spring Allergies

Monday, March 15th, 2021

There are several ways to control outdoor allergens from polluting your home, including leveraging your air conditioner and other air quality products for your house. You can better control outdoor allergens when you have the proper knowledge and help beside you. Douglas Cooling & Heating understands many homeowners need assistance with indoor air quality so we offer a variety of HVAC services, including preventative maintenance, duct cleaning, and installation of products to heighten indoor air quality. Contact us today for more information about our services.

Improve Your Indoor Air Quality With Your AC System

More than 25 million Americans have asthma, many of whom are children. Protecting the air quality of your loved ones is possible with the right tips and tools at your disposal. Consider the options below for improved indoor air quality:

  • Schedule routine HVAC maintenance twice a year to reduce the amount of dust, dirt, and other allergens accumulating inside your air conditioner and throughout your home. During a maintenance call, heating and air conditioning technicians thoroughly inspect your unit and clean critical components, reducing allergen buildup. Your home’s air quality can be improved by establishing a healthier and cleaner HVAC system during the most active pollen times of the year.
  • The air filter housed in your air conditioner helps provide clean air in your home every day. When air filters are dirty, they can’t properly control outdoor allergens – which can cause seasonal allergies – from entering your house and its indoor air. When a dirty or clogged filter stops working, allergens can slip through your HVAC unit, the ductwork, and into your home. Checking the filter monthly and replacing or cleaning it as needed will control outdoor allergens from reducing your air quality indoors.
  • Invest in HVAC products dedicated to enhancing indoor air quality. Ultraviolet air cleaners, media air cleaners, HEPA filters, humidifiers, and dehumidifiers all work with your current air conditioner to control outdoor allergens before they affect your home’s air quality.

Air cleaners trap and kill various germs, bacteria, and viruses before they pass through your unit. These devices are extremely helpful if you feel every sickness going around stays in your home for weeks. Also, if a high pollen count prevents you from opening the windows, air cleaners and purifiers can make a dramatic difference for you and your family, helping you breathe clean and healthy air.

Humidifiers and dehumidifiers work with your air conditioner to control the humidity level in your home, preventing mold, mildew, and dust mites from growing and spreading in your house.

Allergens and Other Pollutants in Your Home

Your Birmingham home is constantly at risk of pollutants and allergens from both outside and inside the home. These irritants are negatively impacting your home’s air quality. To effectively control outdoor allergens and pollutants, you need to know what is harming you and your family first:

  • Mold and mildew are common in homes with high humidity levels, which are conducive to the formation of condensation. It’s important to reduce the chance of mold or mildew growing and spreading in your house by looking for damp areas in your house. Basements, bathrooms, and laundry rooms are common places for mold and mildew to grow.
  • Dust mites are attracted to damp places, just like mold and mildew. Dust mites are hazardous for those already struggling with allergies and asthma. Increase ventilation by using exhaust fans in the damp areas of your house to prevent dust mites from multiplying.
  • Home renovations and remodeling projects emit harsh odors, chemicals, and materials inside your home. Proper ventilation will control outdoor allergens and pollutants from getting trapped in your home.
  • Cleaning products, air fresheners, and furnishings in your house emit fumes, reducing the quality of your air indoors. Open windows when fumes are high, allowing them to escape and not become stagnant in your home.

Once you’ve understood what might be causing pollutants and allergens, you’ll be able to find the solution. Reach out to the experts at Douglas Cooling & Heating today for IAQ services that will improve the allergy symptoms within your household, especially during prime allergy season.

Contact Douglas Cooling & Heating

Spring allergies are a problem for many people. Decrease the symptoms that those within your household experience by reaching out to Douglas Cooling & Heating for indoor air quality services. Our heating and air conditioning professionals have seen it all and know what it takes to improve the overall comfort of homes just like yours. Contact us today to see how we can help.

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Should You Install Filters in Your Home’s Vents?

Tuesday, January 26th, 2021

Dust, pet dander, and other allergens can wreak havoc on your household if they’re not controlled properly. From coughing and sneezing to dry eyes and an itchy throat, the symptoms caused by allergens can range in severity. To limit or even completely remove common allergens from your home, consider adding filters to your home’s vents as an extra line of defense.

While your HVAC system likely has a filter built into the system itself, many homeowners are beginning to install return air filters in their home’s vents as well. This will help to remove any allergens that might have accumulated within your vents, as well as catch any allergens that might’ve slipped through the cracks and gotten through your HVAC system’s filter.

Benefits of Return Air Filters in Your Home’s Vents

Allergens such as dust, pet dander, and airborne bacteria can cause common allergy symptoms like sneezing, coughing, and dry eyes, but the issues don’t stop there. Common household allergens can also develop sicknesses like the flu or the common cold in anybody who breathes in the contaminated air.

By adding air filters to your home’s vents, you’ll catch and remove any allergens before they reach your loved ones within your home. Those within your home will likely notice the difference in the air quality almost immediately, as their allergy symptoms are greatly reduced.

Negatives of Air Filters in Your Home’s Vents

While the benefits are certainly noticeable and important, it’s also a good idea to consider the drawbacks in adding filters to your vents.

After adding an air filter to your vents, you’ll likely notice decreased airflow. This can cause your HVAC system to stay on longer as it tries to match your thermostat’s set temperature, leading to higher energy bills and consumption.

Additionally, vent filters are more of a short-term solution. In order for your filters to work effectively and limit the airborne allergens within your home, you’ll have to change the filters quite frequently.

How to Install Filters

Clean and Clear Your Vents

Before installing filters within your vents, you’ll need to turn off your heating or air conditioning system and make sure that your vents and return air vents have been cleaned and cleared of any dust or debris. Properly cleaning your vents before adding a vent filter will help to reduce the immediate workload that your filter will have to endure. 

Cut Sheet Appropriately 

Typically, vent filters will come in the form of one large sheet. You’ll have to cut the sheet down to an appropriate size for your individual vents and return air vents. Make sure that the vent filter you’ve cut out is the proper size and that there are no openings where non-filtered air can leak out.

Apply Filter

After you’ve cut the sheet appropriately, apply the supplied tape or velcro to the grille of the vent and simply press onto the areas where the adhesives are attached. The filter should be secure on the grille of the vent.

Where Can You Buy Return Air Filters?

Vent filters are becoming far more popular among homeowners, leading to increased availability at affordable prices. Check your local hardware or home improvement stores to find vent filters. If they don’t have any in stock, you’ll surely be able to find them on their website.

How Often Should Filters Be Replaced?

While filters for vents and return vents are certainly a great way to reduce the number of indoor allergens within your home, they’re not a long-term or permanent solution. As a general rule of thumb, vent filters should be replaced once a month or every other month.

For a more long-term solution to limiting your home’s indoor allergens, consider installing a media air cleaner or a UV air purifier.  

Contact Douglas Cooling & Heating for Indoor Air Quality Services

For more information on how to improve your home’s indoor air quality, or to inquire about media air cleaners or UV air purifiers, get in touch with the professionals at Douglas Cooling & Heating. We’ll provide you with any information you’re seeking and will let you know how our IAQ products can positively benefit your home.

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What to Do If You Smell Gas in Your House

Friday, November 13th, 2020

Many homes in the Birmingham, AL area rely on natural gas or liquid propane heating to stay warm throughout the winter season. These systems are generally reliable and safe, but issues such as a gas leak pose a great danger to your family. Learn what to do if you smell gas inside your home this winter.

About Gas Heating

Two popular heating fuels used in homes throughout the Birmingham area are natural gas and liquid propane. Learn more about each fuel type so you’ll know what to do if you smell a gassy odor.

  • Natural gas is delivered by a utility service provider. It comes into your home through a connection to gas supply lines that serve multiple homes and buildings in your area. The supply line connects to your home at your home’s gas meter, and flows to individual appliances such as furnaces, stoves, and water heaters through the home’s private gas lines. 
  • Liquid propane (LP) is stored in a tank outside the home. Most tanks sit above ground several yards away from the home, though some older residences may still have buried tanks on the property. An LP provider is called by the homeowner to fill the tank as needed. It is stored as a liquid under pressure in the tank, and typically converted into a vapor for most residential applications. 

Identifying Gas

A gas leak may produce some symptoms. Learn to recognize the possible symptoms of a leak and find out what to do if you smell a gassy odor.


Both natural gas and liquid propane are naturally odorless. To help consumers more easily identify the presence of gas and possible gas leaks, suppliers and utility providers add odorants that give the gas a distinct smell. 

  • Ethyl mercaptan, also called ethanethiol, is used to add odor to liquid propane – many report that LP smells like rotten eggs or rotten cabbage, though some say it smells like garlic or a skunk.
  • Tertiary butyl mercaptan, isopropyl mercaptan, tetrahydrothiophene, methyl ethyl sulfide, and dimethyl sulfide are common chemicals used as odorants in natural gas. Natural gas typically smells similar to rotting eggs.

Propane is heavier than air, thus it sinks to the floor when leaked and will spread close to the ground. Check for the smell of propane at low spots across the room.

Natural gas is lighter than air, but quickly dissipates when released into the air. However, a natural gas leak in an enclosed air can cause gas levels to rise to the volume where combustion could occur, causing explosion or fire if exposed to a source of ignition. Make sure that you get out of the building immediately after smelling gas, as an emergency could very possibly occur.


A natural gas leak might create a noise you can hear. It may sound like a hissing or a high-pitched whistle coming from or near a gas line or gas appliance, such as a furnace, water heater, or stove. 


Signs of a gas leak you may be able to see include:

  • Visibly damaged gas pipes
  • White cloud or blowing dust near the gas pipe
  • Bubbles in standing water
  • Dead plants or vegetation with no other explanation for their death

What to Do If You Smell Gas

Trust your sense of smell. When gas leaks, it poses a very serious safety risk, so it is very important that you know what to do if you smell a gassy odor inside your home or business.

  • Leave the house immediately. Leave the door open as you exit the home, and if windows are already open, leave them open.
  • Call your gas utility provider’s emergency contact line for help. For Birmingham residents serviced by Spire Energy, the emergency number is 800-292-4008. You may also call 911 in the event of an emergency.
  • Turn off the gas meter, if possible.
  • Warn others to stay out of the area until the home has been cleared by professionals.
  • If you do not own the property, contact the property owner to notify him or her of the issue as repairs might need to be made.
  • Do not return to the home until you are told it is safe by a gas utility employee, or your local police or fire department first responders.

What to do when you smell gas is equally as important as what not to do. If you are in the house and you suspect a gas leak emergency, do not:

  • Turn on or off any electrical devices.
  • Light a flame anywhere nearby or smoke.
  • Use landline phones or cell phones
  • Use a flashlight.
  • Start a vehicle.
  • Attempt repairs yourself.

Call Douglas Cooling & Heating for Help

Keep your family safe – know what to do if you smell a gassy odor in your Birmingham, AL home. If your utility provider or fire department indicates the gas leak comes from your furnace, it must be professionally repaired before you use it again. 

Call Douglas Cooling & Heating for quick, reliable furnace repair service in the event of a gas leak. We aim to keep our neighbors safe and healthy through safe repair service and information on what to do if you smell a gassy odor. If you need assistance, make sure to call us anytime, 24 hours a day.

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