The pandemic has brought Northern Coloradans indoors with more hours working remotely and limited social outings—and breathing stale air makes the experience less than pleasant.
“Not only are we sleeping at home, we’re working there all day breathing particulates in,” said Jeff Richard, general manager of Northern Colorado Air, Inc., a locally-owned and family-operated HVAC installation, service and repair company in Fort Collins in business since 1992. “There’s lots of contaminants in our air, stuff we don’t want to absorb into our lungs.”
Before COVID-19 struck, people already spent 70% of their time in their home, and now it’s even more. But viruses aren’t their only concern. Those with asthma, allergies, compromised lung function and other conditions do better in clean air—and even those without a condition can get the occasional headache from poor air quality.
Without some kind of air filtering system in place, the air in a home, office or other building can contain those hard-to-see dust particulates, allergens (including pollen, mold spores and pet dander), and volatile organic compounds, VOCs.
“If you look at the sunlight after you vacuumed and look at the air, there are millions of things flying around in the air, and we breathe that in,” Richard said.
Air Purification Solutions
Northern Colorado Air offers a few solutions for cleaner, fresher air from the installation of air purification and filtration systems to the regular cleaning of a furnace. The company installs proven, name-brand air conditioning systems, furnaces and heating systems, as well as HVAC equipment and replacement parts, at homes and businesses along the Front Range, mainly in Fort Collins, Longmont, Loveland and Windsor. The systems run efficiently, reliably, quietly and safely, while minimizing operational costs.
Lennox PureAir is one of Northern Colorado Air’s air purification systems, which is compatible with most HVAC systems without requiring additional energy costs. It is a three-part filtration system that uses ultraviolet light and a specialized filter to remove more than 99% of dust and allergens and more than 90% of bioaerosols that include airborne viruses, as well as any ozone emissions that could be in the air. It also destroys volatile organic compounds and odors from cooking, pets, solvents and cleaning products.
“All the air that goes into your furnace would be going through that filtration system,” Richard said.
LED In-duct Purifier
Another air purification system is the Reme Halo, a LED in-duct air purifier that uses ultraviolet light to purify the areas of the home accessed by the central air-conditioning system. It uses bi-polar ionization and a specialized technology to remove dust, allergens, airborne and surface bacteria and viruses, and odors from cooking, pets and other musty sources.
“It kills anything moving through it as long as the air moves properly through the duct system,” Richard said.
The Reme Halo works on the supply side of the air stream, while the Lennox works on the return side of the duct work.
“None of those units produce ozone,” Richard said. “Obviously, we breathe some in because we’re outside. We just don’t want mechanized ozone in your house.”
Richard gets asked if the installation of an air purification system means no more dusting—he has to tell customers they’ll still need to dust but not as much.
“You’re going to live a healthier life, not breathing dirt into your lungs, plus your air will be more comfortable throughout the house,” Richard said.
Northern Colorado Air offers a free indoor air-quality analysis using Air Advice to evaluate air quality in the home and to provide a detailed report of the level of particulates and allergens. A plan can be drafted using the report as a basis for recommending, installing and maintaining an air purification product. The company also offers free in-home replacement quotes on all of its other products and most of its services.
Furnace Inspections and Cleanings
For the upcoming winter season, homeowners are advised to set up an annual inspection and cleaning service of their home furnaces. They can do some of the work themselves, such as regularly changing the filter, typically every quarter—but the frequency also depends on pets and cleanliness and your indoor environment.
Homeowners also can check their carbon monoxide detector to see if it’s less than five to seven years old. If it’s older than that, it’s best to replace it, since it loses calibration over time.
Richard advises watching for unusual smells or noises when turning on the furnace, and if there are questions, to call a HVAC company like Northern Colorado Air for an inspection. Also make sure there is fresh air coming from the outdoors into the mechanical room to allow the furnace and water heater to breathe—if the fresh air gets plugged, that will put the house into a negative pressure, thus producing carbon monoxide and causing other problems.
Northern Colorado Air’s furnace cleaning service involves several steps on a checklist, including removing the blower, taking it apart and cleaning the areas that collect dust, debris and lint.
“It’s good to do an annual cleaning, not just an inspection, … to make sure everything is in top working condition,” Richard said. “Our inspection is included with our cleaning as a value-added service.”
Adding a Humidifier
Another way to improve air quality is to use a humidifier during the fall and winter months, something typically not needed in the summer when the air is warmer and moister. Humidity helps seal up the nasal passages, which when cracked can more easily pick up viruses and bacteria; plus the added moisture allows for easier breathing.
“The perfect humidification in the home is 30 to 35% depending on the temperature outside,” Richard said.
Two mechanical ways to introduce humidity into the home are through bypass and steam. A bypass unit has a pad with water dripping onto it and air moving across, and it takes that air, pulls out the moisture and pumps it into the house.
“It’s fairly economical to install and easy to maintain,” Richard said.
The second unit is steam, which involves boiling water and injecting it into the ductwork of the home. It requires a larger unit but has more horsepower to cover more space and with a quicker recovery time.
Northern Colorado Air has three departments to offer its whole house air-purification and comfort systems. The first is for new construction installation and the second is for existing home retrofits of air-conditioning and furnace units. The third is for service or repair—the company offers a maintenance plan to service its customers’ HVAC systems.
“We are the original Northern Colorado Air, Inc., you know and trust,” Richard said. “Thank you for your continued trust and business, and we are here for you the next time you need us. Please call us today.”
By Shelley Widhalm, At Home Northern Colorado