The new guy

Michael HebertHi, I'm Michael Hebert, the new summer marketing intern here at Aprilaire. When I'm not busy loving my new job, getting coffee, and generally sucking up to my superiors, I'll be helping the marketing department with blogging, other forms of communications, advertisements, and videos.

I'm a student at UW-Madison studying Philosophy and Communications with an emphasis on film. Yes, this does afford me a vast sea of knowledge regarding dehumidifiers, humidifiers, thermostats, air filters, and the like, that's why I'm at Aprilaire! Just kidding, I'm probably more like you, I've got some basic knowledge. I like things such as mold control and I know that there's a big machine in my house that needs a new air filter everyonce in a while (how often again?!). I guess it's a start.

It's good to be aboard the team, and I'm looking forward to learning more and spreading that knowledge. Keep posted!

Air Cleaning - Sure its allergy season, but there's more to it!

Monday, April 2, 2012 by Tom Ruse

Ok, the straight scoop. Whole-home high efficiency air cleaners - the kind installed in your heating and cooling system - have the ability to trap airborn allergens like no portable air purifier can. Its just a fact. A portable air purifier can only work in one room and only in a small area of that room!

Sure, if the allergens and other crap in your home are not airborne, the installed air cleaner can't trap it. You have to vacuum and dust.

But here's the key. The whole-home air cleaner only works when your HVAC system blower operates. When the blower operates it delivers conditioned air throughout your home and the air that's already there has to go somewhere. That's where your return air ducts come in. The old air,  and the crap in it, are returned to the HVAC system thru the return ducts and the air cleaner traps the crap before it goes thru the system again to be heated or cooled.

BUT, you can clean the air more often than when you are heating or cooling. Just run your blower fan more often (put it in the "on" position) and it'll recirculate that air even when you're not heating or cooling - so your CLEANING the air more often.

Installed, whole house air cleaners also help protect your expensive HVAC system and can reduce the amount of dusting and vaccuming you have to do. So, while some portables may take a few contaminants out of a small room, they don't do ANYTHING to protect you HVAC system. Nor will you see an appreciably difference in having to clean the place!

Aprilaire Model 5000 Electronic Air Cleaner

Clean or replace my Aprilaire water panel for my humidifier?

Monday, November 21, 2011 by Aprilaire Team
Consumer question:

Can I clean my aprilaire filter or do I need to replace it?

Aprilaires' response:

Thank you for contacting us regarding the water panel (filter) for your 600A. Because there is a special coating on the water panel that helps the water adhere to the water panel, we don't recommend cleaning the water panel. By cleaning it, you may remove some of this coating and this will affect the performance of the water panel as well as the humidifier. We recommend changing the water panel with a genuine Aprilaire water panel for maximum performance. By replacing the water panel in the beginning of the heating season, your humidifier will be ready to run at peak performance for the winter.

If you have any further questions regarding this or any of our products, please feel free to contact our customer service department at your earliest convenience.

Seals for the model 2200 Space-Gard Air Cleaner, how do you clean them?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011 by Aprilaire Team
Consumer question:

We have the Aprilaire Space-Gard Air Cleaner Model 2200, using the Replacement Media #201, and we have the model which has an inner housing with the center aluminum brace down the middle.

The two end panels of the inner media housing are faced with a pink \"insulation-type\" material to seal the edges so the air flow can\'t go around the media. The outer (removable) panel also has the same pink material.

Over time this pink material has become very dusty and dirty (in the spaces where it lies between the folds of the media). I have turned each of them once, and now both sides are very dirty. I have tried vacuuming the surfaces, but the dirt is lodged so deeply that it will not come out. I want to have clean surfaces on these three panels.

1.) May I wash that pink "insulation" material?
2.) Are there other ways to clean those surfaces?
(like, what did the original engineers have in mind?)
3.) Are there replacement pink insulation pieces available?
Please advise.

Aprilaires' response:

Thank you for your email regarding the seals for your model 2200 Space-Gard Air Cleaner. The seals will get dirty over time as they are designed to catch any particles which try to avoid the 201 filtering media. Once the seals catch the particles they are permanently trapped. Since you would like to replace them you may contact your installing contractor to obtain the seal kit, our part number 4725.

Taming Your Pet Allergies

Friday, October 7, 2011 by Aprilaire Team
Taming Your Pet Allergies

Studies indicate that more than 70% of U.S. households currently own one or more domestic animals, with an estimated 10 million owners who are allergic to them.  About a third of the population that is allergic to cats, live with at least one cat in their home anyways.  Whether it’s a cat, dog, hamster or other household animal, simple steps can be taken to make your pet allergies more tolerable.

Don’t Blame the Fur

Allergic reactions are caused by exposure to proteins that are normally present in secretions from the glands in the skin as well as in the animal’s saliva or urine.  Contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t matter whether your pet has short or long hair – it’s the pet’s dander (skin scales) that con cause some of the worst allergic reactions.  Although a pet’s fur doesn’t in itself cause allergic reactions – a pet’s hair is a good carrier of pet dander and saliva as well as dust, mold spores and other allergens.

Prevention is the Best Treatment

Allergists agree that the best treatment for pet allergies, as for all types of allergies, is avoidance of the things that cause allergic reactions.  But avoidance doesn’t necessarily mean living without pets, especially when a family member’s allergies are moderate in nature.

Dr. Robert A. Wood, Director of the Pediatric Allergy Clinic at Johns Hopkins, offers a simple avoidance strategy for those who have moderate animal allergies but don’t want to give up their pets including:

Avoiding Allergen Exposure – Reduce the overall allergen burden in your home by home by restricting your pet  no-carpeted areas.  Keeping pets out of the bedroom is a sensible strategy since you spend roughly 1/3 of your time there.  If possible, remove carpeting and upholstered furniture, once allergens get into them, they may remain there as long as 6 months.

Removing Allergens from the Air – Good ventilation and a high efficiency, whole-house air cleaner can help remove allergens already in the home.

Grooming Your Pet Regularly – You can help make your pets less of an allergy source by keeping them groomed and clean.  Dr. Llona Rodan, a veterinarian, cat owner and a mother of a child with allergies, recommends having non-allergic person comb the pet everyday either outside or away from the allergic person’s sleeping area.

Where should my Model 550 Aprilaire humidifier be located?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011 by Aprilaire Team
Consumer question:

Recently I had central air conditioning installed on my hot air furnace. After installing the coil the contractor found that there was no room left to reinstall the Aprilaire 550 whole house humidifier on the supply side. He then installed it on the return side just before the Hepa air filter cartridge. He ran an aluminum circular flexible duct over to the supply side.
I have concerns about this:
1) won't this simply force water into my hepa filter and create mold /mildew in it?
2) By the contractor running the flexible circular ductwork over to the supply side - is this sufficient to force all the available water moisture coming from the Aprilaire unit into the supply ductwork?
3) Should the unit now be attached to the hot water line instead of the cold water line?
4) Considering the lack of room to install on the supply side [since the a/c coil has been installed] is there any other more preferable place to install this uni
t other than the return side - and risk soaking the Hepa cartridge air filter?

Thank you for your time and consideration on these critically important matters.

Aprilaires' response:

Thank you for contacting us about your humidifier and addressing these issues with us. I'd be happy to explain what can be done here.

1) It is ok for the humidified air to be introduced ahead of the filter. This is because our humidifier is creating a vapor. Vapor is just like the moisture already in the air. Its invisible, light and cannot condense onto anything such as the filter media or the duct work itself.

2) The beauty of our by-pass humidifier models is that the force will be equal no matter which side the unit is installed on. This is because force from the furnace is the same regardless of any new add-ons.

3) Cold water may be ok. If you have a standard furnace and only run the humidifier when the heat is on than cold water is okay. The only time cold water would be bad would be in situations where you run your fan to try and humidify (no heat source in this application).

4) Referring back to question 1, If the supply side is not available and return side is a equal alternative. Air flow will still allow the air to circulate through the air filter without harm and will continue to create and obtain the adequate humidity you are looking for.

If you have any questions please give us a call @ 1-800-334-6011.

What is this sand like particles on the distribution tray on my Aprilaire humidifier?

Monday, September 12, 2011 by Aprilaire Team
Consumer question:

The plastic water distribution plate above the mess element pad has very little of the sand like particles left on it's water flow surface .Is that a problem that needs correcting?

Aprilaires' response:

Thank you for your email regarding the granular coating in the distribution tray of your model 440 Aprilaire® Humidifier.

This coating is designed to provide equal distribution of water to each opening in the distribution tray, assuring an even flow of water over the water panel. If the coating is removed, it is not necessary to purchase a new distribution tray. You can accomplish the same uniform performance by applying a small amount of liquid dishwashing detergent over the entire lower surface of the water distribution tray. This will break the surface tension of the water and allow equal flow through each of the openings, provided the unit is level. This information can be found on Page Two of the enclosed homeowner's manual.

During future annual servicing, continue to clean out the “V” openings as in the past, but do not scrape all the mineral scale off the bottom of the water distribution tray. The scale or lime deposit will provide the same wetting action as the granular coating and give even water flow over the Water Panel.

On an upflow furnace without a/c (heat only) what is the preferred location of the main components of an Aprilaire 500 series?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011 by Aprilaire Team
Consumer question:

On an upflow furnace without a/c (heat only) what is the preferred location of the main components of an Aprilaire 500 series? Should the main unit be mounted on the output(hot)side and the bypass on the return plenum with the controls above the bypass on the return? Thank you in advance

Aprilaires' response:

Thanks for contacting us about you Aprilaire humidifier.
The mounting of the main unit depends on the space available. Preferably the main unit would be mounted on the return duct before the air filter. The bypass duct connection should be connected to the supply plenum, about 12 inches away from the furnace. Mounting of the humidistat should be at least 6 inches upstream of the connection to the return duct.
Thank you for allowing us to assist you.

Outlet Mall Shopping

Wednesday, August 3, 2011 by Michael Hebert
 This weekend I was dragged along to an outlet mall. If my first statement wasn't a good enough clue, then I'll just come out and say it, I'm not the shopping type.

The shops lined a massive parking lot, and the whole mall was pretty busy. As we pulled in there was a funny smell in the air I recognized very well. 
I used to load that smell fifty pounds at a time into people's cars at my old job, it was asphalt sealant. The smell was fairly overpowering, the parking lot had clearly been redone the night before.

It was amazing what a relief it continuously felt to enter a store and get out of the parking lot just to get away from the smell. and what a headache it was to go back outside. We were more than aware that the bad smell was accompanied with bad chemicals. Despite my usual tendency to hang out outside, while people get their shopping done, I found myself accompanying them into the store.

It was clear which store's were running better air cleaners. Some stores still smelled of the parking lot, but others managed to smell fresh and clean despite only a door seperating its air from the parking lot's air. We forget about air quality so easily, but when it's staring us in the face we remember not to take it for granted. I'm fortunate to say I survived the shopping trip, and I survived the parking lot smells and chemicals, and have returned with another reminder of the importance of indoor air quality.

"Vac Hack" gets robotic vacuums to test indoor air quality

Wednesday, July 27, 2011 by Michael Hebert
At my house we have a pretty weak vacuum. You have to roll over the same carpet spot, with little to no speed, several times to make sure you've picked up half the dirt in the carpet. Because of this weakness, nobody likes to use the vacuum, and for some reason that means nobody uses the vacuum until it is desperately needed. It's annoying, but we shrug it off as a college norm.

I remember seeing the first commercials for a robotic vacuum cleaner that would roll around your rooms on its own. I remember thinking the idea was fun when it first came out, I must have been in middle school then. There have been a few advances in technology since, and I'm sure the machines have gotten much better at their jobs, but now students from the Rhode Island University of Design have just made those little robotic vacuums even more functional.

The students have equipped the Roomba robotic vacuum with an air quality sensor so while it's cleaning up the mess in your carpet, it can let you know about the mess in your air. They already roll around full rooms at a time, so they're an ideal machine to test your air quality as well. The tricked out roomba will test for Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) as it sucks up dirt, pretty slick.

See the project page here.

The project was funded by Public Laboratory for Open Technology and Science (PLOTS) which funds projects that are environmentally or socially progressive. The Roomba is now looking pretty legit! Now if I could only convince my roommates it's a necessity...

Can you tell me if there is a shelf life on your Aprilaire replacement air filters like the 213?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011 by Aprilaire Team
Consumer question:

Can you tell me if there is a shelf life on your replacement air filters like the 213? I had a distributor tell me it's not a good idea to stock up on them ahead of time because of "a tackiness on the element and it's MERV rating may very well decrease after sitting on a shelf for a year or two." Is there any merit to this?

Aprilaires' response:

Thank you for contacting us regarding storage of our 213 filters. When stored in a cool, dry space, our filters have no specific shelf life. The MERV rating of the filters will not be effected over time and there is no tackiness to our pleated media such as the 213. If the filters are stored for two years, their performance will be the same as the day they were made.

Be sure that the filters are in a cool dry space to avoid mold growth or the possibility of the filter taking on a musty odor.

If you have any further questions regarding this or any of our products, please feel free to contact our customer service department at your earliest convenience.

A (so far) useless app and an intriguing idea.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011 by Michael Hebert
I'm a bit of a social media/tech nut. I love watching (and let's be honest being active in) Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. change the world. And further, I love that my smart phone can track and post to it all now. My mother, in her infinite wisdom commented that the day would come people forget life without smart phones. I'm already there.

I stumbled on a crazy app today for Droid phones called "Allergy Tracker." I have spring time allergies that are really just starting to subside as summer rolls in, so I wouldn't really need the app right now, but since I'm still so close to that dreadful time of year, I was intrigued. Essentially the app creates a network of people who 'touch inform' the app about their allergy conditions. The app locates you every time you tap into it, and effectively tracks allergen levels by creating a real time allergy map from everyone's responses. Pretty sweet, but does it work?

By the looks of it the answer has to be - not really - bummer. With some horrible reviews, I won't be downloading the app, however it does bring up a good point - if you have allergies, your best weapon is information. While we're never going to be able to stop allergens from existing in general, there are things we can do to keep them from existing in our homes, but you've got to be informed. It's easy to see these small air purifiers and see a solution, but fixing a room isn't as good as fixing your home. There are better, holisitic solutions for your home. Central Air Filters, dehumidifiers, and humidifiers all have their place in fixing your indoor air quality problems.

Check out the informational link from eMedicine health and then some information from us at Aprilaire. After all, information is your best weapon.

eMedicine health

Does the blue light on my Aprilaire Model 5000 show the unit is working?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011 by Aprilaire Team
Consumer question:

I assume my aircleaner is working but the little blue light is not on. I will call my furnace man but wanted to email you as well.  Is it necessary that the blue light be on as an indication that the filter is working.  I had my ducts and vents cleaned friday, i believe the blue light was on when we finished but not sure now. please advise.
thank you

Aprilaires' response:

Thank you for contacting us regarding you model 5000 air cleaner.  When installed properly, the blue light on the model 5000 should be on whenever the HVAC fan is running.  The blue light indicates the electronic components of the 5000 are working properly.  If the blue light does not come on when the HVAC fan is running, we would recommend contacting your installing contractor to come to your home and service the unit.

What are the Aprilaire Humidifier summer shutdown procedures?

Thursday, June 2, 2011 by Aprilaire Team
Consumer question:

I was reading through the owners manual for the summer shutdown procedures and noticed it says to replace the evaporator panel, but is it okay to not have a panel in there during the summer so long as I clean out any errant minerals and have the water supply shut off?  Any other advice would be appreciated!

Aprilaires' response:

Thank you for contacting us with regards to your model 600M Humidifier. As long as the control for this unit is in the off position, it is not necessary to have a water panel in the unit. Some homeowners do their maintenance at the end of the humidifying season, in the spring, while some do their maintenance in the fall before the unit is started up for the humidifying season. Either way is fine.

Dogs are people too. And they're 4-legged allergy sufferers

Friday, May 13, 2011 by Tom Ruse
Hey, even Fido suffers from allergies and the recommendations to help are the same as for their two-legged owners....keep things clean, including your indoor air. Check it out

This Blog Blows - And So Does My HVAC System

Wednesday, March 2, 2011 by Tom Ruse

I was sitting in a meeting yesterday and the subject of uneven heating and cooling in the home came up . Oh, yes it did!  I obviously have no life to speak of (so why would you be interested in my blog, you might ask? Not a bad question, really).

Anyway, the point of the conversation was that several of us have experienced first hand,  that running your HVAC system blower more often than just when there is a call for heat or cool can help even out the temperature differences throughout the house. You know, it works!

I've even found this to help when I have a roaring fire in the fireplace, which I know sucks all the heat out of the house and results in huge swings in temperature from one room to the next. If I run the blower constantly, this uncomfortable, energy-sucking effect is minimized to a degree.

Don't get me wrong, running the blower is not a great solution to an energy-hogging fireplace. But if doing so helps even out temperature swings a bit, it's better than NOT doing it. And if you're not using a fireplace, the idea of running your blower more often is even more effective in giving your system a helping hand to keep you comfortable.

This works especially well in older homes like mine with undersized ductwork, inadequate return ducts, and one system trying to heat or cool two stories. Running the fan more often circulates the air more which not only evens out the temperature throughout the house, but it also cleans the air more often.

Whenever you are circulating the air you are also circulating the airborne dust and pollutants that are floating in the air. It circulates back through your return ducts and is trapped in your furnace filter - or if you have an air cleaner instead of your standard furnace filter, you're trapping a helluvalot more contaminants before the air is returned to your system to be heated or cooled and put back into your house.

I was told that this blog was going to have the capability of adding mp3. If I had figured out how to do this, I would have inserted the Rolling Stones' 'She's So Cold' into this blog post.

How much ozone does the Aprilaire 5000 produce?

Monday, February 28, 2011 by Aprilaire Team
Consumer question:

How much ozone does the Aprilaire 5000 produce?

You did NOT answer the question...
So can you try again: How much Ozone does the 5000 produce, and while you are at it, what is the ozone production for the 4200 and the 4400.

Aprilaires' response:

Aprilaire shares our customer’s concerns about ozone, and wants to reassure you that our Model 5000 Whole Home Electronic Air Cleaner is not designed to produce a significant amount ozone.

Ozone is produced as a result of many factors, some are man-made and some originate from nature. On any given day in the US, outdoor levels can be as high as 150 ppb.  More polluted areas typically have higher outdoor ozone levels because there is a greater concentration of the components that create ground level ozone.

Levels of ozone inside our homes typically range from 10 to 70 percent of the level found outdoors, primarily depending on whether windows and doors are left open. (ref. “Ozone Decay Rates in Residences”, Harvard School of Public Health, Environmental Science and Engineering Program).  The reason indoor levels are lower than outdoor levels is because ozone readily reacts with other gases and surfaces.

As a manufacturer we look to government organizations to set the standards as which to develop and produce products by.  As such, we offer an air cleaner that produces 2 ppb, well below the established FDA standard of 50 ppb for medical devices and the UL standard to evaluate products for consumer safety.

The high voltage power supply contained in this (and any other) electronic air cleaner produces ozone only as a byproduct of operation; the small amount of ozone generated dissipates by the time clean air filters out and into your home. In addition, the Model 5000 removes particles from the air that have proven by research to be harmful to humans.

There are a select group of people who are sensitive to ozone.  For these people, we recommend using the Aprilaire High Efficiency air cleaners Model 4200 or 4400 which is a passive media air cleaner producing no ozone.  For everyone else, the Aprilaire Model 5000 is the best air cleaner for your home.

Health Benefits of Air Cleaning

Thursday, February 24, 2011 by Tom Ruse

Good point about keeping the carpet clean. Another tip is to keep your system blower fan running shortly before, during and after you vacuum or clean that nasty carpet so air is circulating more often and any crap that is kicked up can be sucked into air ducts and trapped in the air cleaner.

Health Benefits of Air Cleaning

Indoor Air Quality
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Creator Name
Carpet Cleaning State College
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2-24-2011 12:10 AM
The carpet is actually the biggest "air filter" in your home. This is good, as the carpets hold pollutants which would, on a hard surface, be stirred up by people walking or by ventilation. This carpet "filter" needs to be vacuumed frequently with a HEPA vacuum. Even with a HEPA vacuum, it is best not to vacuum when young children are in the room. The carpets should also be professionally cleaned every 12 months.

Health Benefits of Air Cleaning

Monday, February 21, 2011 by Tom Ruse

Our friends at the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) have a nice website that among other things, explores air filters. It correctly communicates that the HEALTH benefits of using an air cleaner are of a dubious nature; that there are conflicting viewpoints and studies out there. But then, the website goes on to quote that the EPA recommends air filtration.
It also compares various methods for air cleaning. In particular, an air cleaner installed with the heating and cooling system has the advantages of using: 

" the great force with which air will pass through the filter. And it eliminates a space-consuming appliance and an additional sound in your home. On the other hand, the filters may be more expensive and more difficult to handle; and they may need to be changed more often. Consult your doctor and your heating service on this alternative to a portable system. Applying the already-existing fan"
One note to clarify; these whole-house systems, once installed,  are typically LESS difficult to handle and need to be changed LESS often than portable room air cleaners. And yes, the filters are more expensive than 1" filters you buy at the hardware store. But you only change them once every 1 or 2 years. You can get two of them for about sixty bucks online. So its $15 - $30 a year for a filter.

They also provide the added benefits of keeping your expensive heating/cooling system cleaner and running more efficiently.

Back to the HEALTH benefit - it's totally true that the jury is still out on that as it relates to air cleaners. It's also totally true that high efficiency air cleaners installed in your HVAC system capture alot more crap than any portable device or regular furnace filter. Just look at a dirty filter coming out of one some time. All that crap is airborne before it's trapped in the filter.

It's also totally true that I know allergy sufferers who swear by them.

My Aprilaire 760 continues to work just fine for last 20 years. However, water drains out from the drain line like it is supposed to do, but it also leaks out from the unit itself.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011 by Aprilaire Team
Consumer question:

My Aprilaire Model 760 fan stopped working, what should I do?

My Aprilaire 760 continues to work just fine for last 20 years. However, water drains out from the drain line like it is supposed to do, but it also leaks out from the unit itself. I have removed the element and replaced with a new one. [I change them yearly] I cleaned the deposits from the plastic holder that surrounds the element. I have carefully reassembled the unit. And it still leaks water out the same way as before. What is your evaluation and suggestion.

Aprilaires' response:

Thank you for contacting us about your 760 humidifier.

I noticed you stated in the first sentence that the fan has stopped working. If this is the case, the reason you are seeing excess water is because the fan is able to pull it in a evaporate it. The fan motor will need to be replaced in this case.

Other things that can cause leaking could be that the coating on the water distribution tray has worn off or possibly a crack in the feed tube.

Also make sure that you are using a genuine water panel and that the paint mark is facing upward.

If the problems persist, please give our customer service line a call at 1-800-334-6011 for further assistance.