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5 Big Myths About Indoor Air Quality
Many people don't stop to think much about indoor air quality, but if they do they often have misconceptions about the quality of their air and how to improve it. Here are five myths about indoor air quality.
1. The Best Way to Filter Your Air Is With an Air-Cleaning Machine
Air cleaning machines may make a good add-on to assist your AC filters, especially if you choose high-quality air cleaning machines with HEPA filters and size them correctly for your room. However, air cleaning machines are no substitute for the air filtration provided by your AC unit.
Replacing your AC filters with the highest quality available and keeping the filters fresh by installing new ones every few months is still the best way to get pollutants out of the air.
If you use cheap filters in your AC intake vents or if you're lax about replacement, you're not taking advantage of your best tool to filter out allergens and dust.
2. Plants Are a Great Substitute for Dust Filters
You may have heard that plants can filter out dust and chemicals from the air, as verified by NASA. This may be true to a degree, but any filtration efforts you make with house plants should be supplementary rather than a replacement for your main filtration system. For example, one plant can't filter all the air in your house effectively.
NASA's tests involved placing each plant in a small, controlled environment with specific amounts of air. However, there's much more air inside your home, and the conditions in many people's homes aren't great for plant air purification. Each plant has to have plenty of light and be quite healthy in order to purify even a small amount of air.
Houseplants in reasonable quantities may offer a slight boost, but they won't match the air cleaning potential of better HVAC filters and regular duct cleaning.
3. Indoor Air Is Cleaner Than Outdoor Air
Even if you live in the city, the quality of the air most likely shoots up the minute you step out your door. Natural processes such as the water cycle, nearby trees and forests, and other things help to purify outdoor air, and the contaminants in the outdoor air tend to be very diluted.
The air inside your home is much more concentrated in regard to how much pollution it gets from your breathing, your dead skin cells, the chemicals in your furniture and clothing, your pets' hair, and other byproducts of a normal life.
4. Ozone Machines Clean Your Air
You may have seen or heard some marketing for devices that put more ozone into your indoor air. It's true that this can make your air smell extremely fresh. However, tricking your brain into thinking that you're outside on a mountain isn't the same thing as actually getting your air clean.
Sellers may claim that ozone will react chemically to clean pollutants out of the air, but although this process may happen, it doesn't do so in a timely manner or at safe ozone levels. To actually clean your air with ozone, you'd need enough ozone to potentially cause major health problems. And it would still take a few months.
5. UV Lights Are a Great Addition to Air Cleaning
Ultra violet (UV) lights for air cleaning are actually quite controversial. Although UV rays can sterilize, they can't do so effectively when there's significant air movement, such as is found in an air cleaning machine. And without air movement, the amount of UV light in your unit couldn't reach enough air to make a difference.
UV sterilizing can also produce ozone, and elevated levels of ozone can be bad for your health as discussed above. So if you choose an air cleaning machine to supplement the filtration provided by your AC unit, avoid UV light features.
Whether you need better air filters, a thorough duct cleaning, or advice on choosing freestanding air cleaning machines for your house, give McGuffee's Air Conditioning & Heating a call today.
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Keep Mice From Sabotaging Your Climate Control
Mice are one of the most common house pests, but that doesn't mean you should tolerate their presence. A mouse infestation can have huge repercussions for your home systems, such as your HVAC system. Ducts and AC units are common hideouts for these pests. Here's why you should care about protecting your HVAC from mouse damage and how to do it.

Mice Can Do More Damage Than You'd Think

For a creature that's often only an inch or two long, a mouse can have a seemingly disproportional impact. Mice can cause many problems for your outdoor AC unit by:
  • Gnawing on and shorting out electrical wires
  • Building nests that jam up moving parts
  • Draining coolant by puncturing coolant lines
If the mice get into your house (often through the ductwork), things can be even worse. For example, the mice can:
  • Gnaw holes in any ducts or parts of ducts that aren't solid metal
  • Shred insulation and create holes by burrowing through it, reducing efficiency
  • Leave waste products that get insulation wet, decreasing insulation value even further
  • Cause bad smells to enter your home (either because of waste products or because of a dead mouse in the duct)
  • Chewing through electrical wires such as the thermostat wire, causing malfunctions and electrical fire hazards
As you can see, mice can pack quite a punch for their size. Therefore, preventing or repairing mouse damage should be one of your top priorities.

Mice Constitute a Hazard to Health

Mice aren't just annoying, damaging, and icky. They also present several concrete health risks. For example, mice are one of the few animals that can transmit Hantavirus to humans. This can even happen through fecal contact when the mouse isn't present.

Mice also carry other pathogens such as several types of smaller pests such as fleas, ticks, and sometimes even lice or mites. 

These health hazards are especially frightening when you consider that kitchens are a favorite place for mice to forage for food. Just because mice start out in the AC system doesn't mean they'll stay there.

Many Infestations Are Preventable

Although pests can happen to anyone, several common elements can make your home more susceptible to a mouse invasion. For example, a house that has unprotected vents near ground level opening out onto tall weeds in the backyard is an easy target for mice and other pests.

Simple steps you can take to reduce your home's vulnerability include:
  • Protect any access points with non-gnawable coverings, such as metal screens rather than hardware cloth. 
  • Avoid anything that might attract mice near your home's exterior (such as an open compost bin, pet food left out, or a birdfeeder).
  • Keep lawn and beds trimmed and neat around your home's entire perimeter and your AC unit.
  • Avoid anything stacked against the house, such as woodpiles, where mice could hide while looking for a way in.
  • Seal up any cracks in the foundation (mice can squeeze in through tiny spaces).
You can also take more active steps if you have frequent rodent problems in your neighborhood. These steps could include spraying rodent repellents or sprinkling repellent pellets around your foundation, setting mousetraps around the foundation in case mice start looking for a way in, and having a pest control expert inspect for pests every year.

Avoiding mouse damage is worth the effort. Although many prevention steps can be DIY projects, once mice have infiltrated your HVAC system, you need to enlist professional exterminators and duct cleaners to minimize the impact of the invasion.

If you need AC repair after a pest incident or if you're considering duct cleaning for any reason, give McGuffee's Air Conditioning & Heating a call today. We serve the Mississippi Gulf Coast region and provide HVAC maintenance and repairs, upgrades, replacements, and duct cleaning.
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5 Benefits of Replacing Your Furnace and Cooling System Simultaneously

If you're looking into replacing either your furnace or air conditioner, you may want to consider having both units replaced at the same time. Although the upfront cost will be higher, having brand-new, matching HVAC equipment can offer several benefits. Read on to find out the advantages of replacing them together.

#1: Increased Efficiency and Performance

Heating and cooling technology are constantly advancing, and the newest furnace and air conditioner models are much more energy efficient than the models of the past. By replacing both at the same time, you ensure that your HVAC system runs at optimal performance.

The benefits of having a new furnace and air conditioner are twofold. You'll see improved performance, which will keep your house more comfortable in both the heating and cooling months. In addition, the increased energy efficiency will lead to lower energy bills.

The savings might not seem like much on a month-to-month basis, but over the course of a year or two, they can start to add up. In fact, these reduced energy and repair costs might even pay for your new furnace and air conditioner over a period of time.

#2: Optimized Compatability

Like many people, you might believe that your central air conditioner is entirely contained within the unit outside your home. However, for most homeowners, this is only one part of the system.

Most homes with central air have a split air conditioning system. The outside unit encloses the compressor, condenser coils, and exhaust fan, and the evaporator coil and blower are inside the house near your furnace. All of these components are crucial to the operation of your air conditioner, and if you only replace the outdoor enclosure, you're only replacing part of it.

In addition, your furnace and air conditioner share the same air handler/blower to circulate air throughout your home. Since new blower models have more energy-efficient features - like variable speed motors - it's a good idea to have this replaced along with your other components. Remember, by replacing only one part of your HVAC system, you're likely missing out on some of the increased efficiency offered by your new equipment.

#3: Better Warranty Protection

Using mismatched HVAC equipment - for example, an older blower and evaporator coil with a new compressor - can void your warranty in some circumstances.

Since manufacturers know that mixing old and new equipment can cause your new unit to run less than optimally, they may not be required to honor their warranty if you do this. To ensure that you receive all of the benefits of the manufacturer warranty, replace all of your HVAC components at the same time.

#4: Reduced Installation Costs

Another benefit of replacing your furnace and air conditioner at the same time is that the installation is usually less expensive than having them replaced separately. 

Since these components are interconnected, the installer will have to disassemble much of the system in order to replace anything; doing this once, instead of twice, will reduce labor and therefore installation costs.

#5: Increased Lifespan and Fewer Repairs

Simultaneously replacing all of your HVAC components ensures that your system runs as efficiently as it can. The reduced workload on your furnace and air conditioner can increase their longevity, not to mention reducing repair costs in the long term. Down the road, this can save you both money and frustration.

When it comes time to replace your furnace or air conditioner, be sure to ask your HVAC technician if they recommend replacing both simultaneously. Depending on your situation, the benefits may outweigh the increased upfront costs.

For all of your heating and cooling needs, contact McGuffee's Air Conditioning & Heating.

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4 Ways to Save on Air Conditioning Costs With a Family
Saving on air conditioning costs is not too difficult when you live alone or with a partner. You turn the thermostat up a few degrees, wear fewer clothes, and take a cool shower if you start feeling too warm. When you have a family, however, lowering AC costs is a bit more challenging. Children will complain when they get too hot, and some may adjust the thermostat without permission.
Reducing AC costs is still possible when you have a family. The following are four tips to help you do just that.
1. Put a Note on the Thermostat
A few years ago, a TODAY article explained how a mom used a note on the thermostat to keep her kids from turning the temperature up during the winter. The note asked if the kids had a sweatshirt on and if they were wearing socks. It forbid them from turning on the heat if they were not already trying to stay warm by wearing these items. You can use a similar note to deter your kids from turning the thermostat down in the summer.
Your note could say, "Are you wearing shorts and a t-shirt only? Have you tried to cool down by drinking cool water? Do you pay the electric bill? If you answered no to any question, do not turn down the thermostat." Kids may occasionally ignore the note, but most will think twice before turning down the temperature after seeing this warning.
2. Lock the Windows
One of the reasons AC costs often go up when you have a family is that family members unknowingly open the windows when the air conditioning is already running. Then, some of your cooled air leaks out and is wasted.
At the beginning of air conditioning season, remind the kids that they cannot open the windows now that the AC is on. Then go around the home and lock all of the windows together. When your kids look at the locked window, they will be reminded of your orders and be deterred from opening the window.
3. Name Someone the Official Filter Changer
With school, work, soccer practice, dance lessons, and other obligations, it's far too easy to overlook simple chores like changing the HVAC filter. Yet replacing a dirty air filter could save you up to 15 percent on energy costs.
To make sure this chore is not forgotten, assign it to one of your children. Replacing the filter is easy; they just pull the old one out and slide a new one into place. Place a few extra filters next to the air conditioner so there's always a new one on hand.
4. Help Kids Slowly Adapt to a Warmer Temperature
If your home is 70 degrees one day and you suddenly turn the temperature up to 76, everyone is going to complain that they are too warm and beg you to turn the temperature back down. However, if you slowly increase the temperature over time, your kids' bodies will have more time to adapt, and they will barely notice the change.
If you have decided to keep your home a little warmer to save on AC bills this summer, turn the temperature up just one degree every three or four days until you reach your desired temperature. Most people are completely comfortable at 76 or 78 degrees if given enough time to adapt.
In addition to following the tips above, make sure you schedule an air conditioner maintenance appointment this spring. Well maintained air conditioners use less energy. Contact us at McGuffee's Air Conditioning & Heating to schedule an appointment today.
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