Thursday, October 4, 2018

How to Prevent Mold and Mildew in the Home

Image of mold on a ceiling
Mold and mildew are a homemaker’s nightmare, particularly in high-humidity areas of the country (such as Massachusetts and other coastal New England states). Once found, it can be costly and difficult to rid a home of serious mold or mildew problems. Understanding mold and mildew is key to preventing them from becoming a problem in the first place.

What Are Mold and Mildew?

Both mold and mildew are common household fungi, but they are not the same kind of fungus. Mold is commonly found in household dust, whereas mildew tends to grow on flat surfaces. Both mold and mildew are airborne, and both change color with time.

Mold usually has a slimy or fuzzy texture and can look black, blue, green, or even red. It occurs on walls, ceilings, and on or around air ducts, as well as on food like bread or cheese. Black mold in particular (usually Stachybotrys chartarum) is associated with post-hurricane “sick house syndrome” and attendant health issues like exacerbated asthma, allergic reactions, and upper-respiratory infections.

Mildew, while also a fungus, grows on organic surfaces like wood, paper, leather, textiles, walls, ceilings, and, most famously, on the grout between both bathroom and kitchen tiles. It usually looks like a white powder at first and then turns shades of brown, yellow, or black as it ages.

Both mold and mildew require the same conditions for growth: moisture, heat, and darkness—a commonly-occurring combination in many areas of most homes. Thus, preventing or eliminating this habitat is instrumental in keeping mold and mildew at bay.

Good A/C Helps Eliminate the Habitat

The ideal habitats for mold and mildew contain high heat (between 77 and 87°F ), high humidity (between 62 and 93 percent), and a food source (organic material). Naturally, summer months see the biggest problems. The key is eliminating pockets of warm, dark moisture where mold and mildew can set up shop.

Leaks anywhere should be immediately repaired and dried, as should spills on upholstered surfaces, carpets, or floating floors. To reduce moisture, kitchens and bathrooms should be vented whenever in use. Air conditioning should help dehumidify the home, especially in the summer, but if an HVAC system isn’t properly configured or maintained, it can exacerbate rather than abate fungus problems. Home HVAC systems should be set to “automatic” rather than “on” both for energy efficiency and to optimize the dehumidifying effects. Trapping mold and mildew particles with the correctly-rated HVAC filter also helps prevent mold growth inside air ducts and vents.

For over 60 years, Massachusetts has relied on Rusty’s, Inc. for expert air conditioning service and installations. We can also repair or recalibrate any HVAC system for optimal efficiency, thereby reducing the potential for mold or mildew growth. For more information, contact us online or call 508-775-1303.

Monday, July 9, 2018

What Makes Air Filters Get Dirty So Quickly?

Every responsible homeowner knows that regularly replacing dirty HVAC system air filters is important for maintaining clean air and a working unit. But for some, air filters seem to get dirty more often than they should, meaning more maintenance and replacements are needed. Here are a few of the most common causes of a dirty air filter, and how they can be avoided.

Pet Hair and Excess Dust 
A person dusting an air vent

While it's good that HVAC air filters catch particles like dust and pet hair before it gets recycled into the air, having too much of either in the home will lead to a dirty filter in no time. Air filters in homes with cats or dogs who shed excessively and homes with unused rooms or recent construction projects are especially at risk. Taking care of much of the hair and dust yourself can prevent excess strain on the air filter and the need for HVAC maintenance services. Vacuum as often as possible to collect hair and dust before it gets sucked into the filter, and brush particularly fuzzy pets at least once a week.

The Wrong Fan Setting

Having the thermostat's fan set to "on" instead of "auto" can be another reason for buildup on HVAC air filters. When it's set to "on," the fan blows continuously, even when it's not necessary to cool or heat the home. This setting means the filter must work non-stop to trap particles, almost guaranteeing it will get dirty more quickly. Sometimes, even fans set to "auto" can run too often if the weather outside is extremely hot or cold. This can be especially problematic in larger homes and commercial spaces, which need much more power to achieve the desired temperature.

The Filter Has a High MERV Rating

Inexpensive fiberglass filters allow some small particles through, making them less likely to clog too quickly. Filters with a higher Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) rating will catch those smaller particles, which makes the air cleaner but means more frequent replacements and a heavier strain on the HVAC fan. An experienced HVAC technician can help you determine which filter is right for your system.

For over 60 years, Rusty's Inc. has been a trusted name in HVAC and plumbing services. To learn more about what we offer, fill out our online form or call 508-775-1303.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Is a Ductless A/C System Right for Your Home?

Homeowners considering their HVAC options have likely wondered about the pros and cons of a ductless A/C system. This flexible set-up provides individualized cooling and heating in each room without ductwork, offering an affordable, convenient solution for many properties. Consider these factors when determining whether a ductless A/C system is the best option.

Flexible Installation 
A woman reading at a table next to a ductless A/C vent

Unlike traditional duct systems, which can take weeks to install, a ductless system consists of just two components: an outdoor compressor connected by a conduit to an indoor control unit. They can be installed in most types of apartments and homes and are often operational on the same day.

Outstanding Efficiency

With a ductless system, units can be installed in each room where temperature control is desired. These units exceed ENERGY STAR guidelines and are designed to have less of an environmental impact than traditional HVAC systems. In fact, ENERGY STAR estimates that ductless A/C units can cut cooling costs by 30 percent compared to conventional room air conditioners.

Improved Air Quality

Impurities in the air such as dust, dirt, and mold can cause both short and long-term health issues such as allergies and asthma. With traditional systems, these pollutants thrive in the ducts and are released into the air even with regular system maintenance. Ductless systems are designed with advanced filtration to keep these particles from entering the home environment.

Affordable Operation

Ductless systems are smaller than traditional systems and require less power to operate. They also deliver hot or cold air directly into the room where it's needed, maintaining efficiency while lowering costs. Some homeowners may also be eligible for tax credits or other incentives for installing energy-efficient technology. Rebates and other programs are available at the local, state, and federal levels. 

Ductless systems can be used in most types of dwellings, but work best in new construction additions, larger homes in which many rooms go unused, for families who want independent temperature zones, and in homes without existing ductwork. In the West Yarmouth area, contact Rusty's Inc. for an HVAC consultation. We offer expert service and installation of both traditional and ductless systems and can advise on what will work best for a specific home. Affordable financing is available, and we frequently offer online discounts and coupons.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Gross Old Plumbing That No One Misses

Modern plumbing can be pretty gross. For example, flushing the toilet can spray bacteria and aerosolized waste up to 15 feet. However, that's nothing compared to old school plumbing. Here are three plumbing methods that everyone is glad don't exist anymore.

Chamber Pots 
Rusty pipes on a rock bed leading out into water in West Yarmouth, MA

Some of the first plumbing services, chamber pots, were used as early as the 6th century BC. They were essentially containers that stored human waste until emptied. Often, people tried to hide them in other pieces of furniture. A popular option was to stash them in cabinets, called commodes. Another common storage place was under the bed. When the chamber pots were full, they were emptied into privies or cesspits beneath the house until sewage collectors called night soil men emptied the tanks. Not every home had a cesspit, however. As a result, many people simply emptied their chamber pots onto the street. Pedestrians, beware!

River Sewers

As plumbing services evolved ever so slightly, sewer systems were developed to move waste away from cities and their inhabitants. In medieval Europe, sewers were built by paving over natural rivers, and building gutters or drains to direct wastewater from the street into the rivers. Perhaps the most famous European river-turned-sewer is the River Fleet, which runs beneath Fleet Street in London. While in Anglo-Saxon times the river was known for its healing qualities, London's current Environment Agency doubts that the river will ever be clean enough to be uncovered. Thankfully, modern sewers now involve water treatment plants, which significantly decrease pollution and waterborne disease.

Questionable Pipes

While most of today's plumbing pipes are made of plastic, copper, or other non-toxic materials, this was not always the case. Lead has been widely used for piping since the days of the Roman Empire—although most cases of Roman lead poisoning were actually due to cooking with lead utensils or using lead as a wine preservative. Wood was also used to build pipes in London during the 16th and 17th centuries. These pipes were joined together with hot animal fat. Luckily for public health and animal welfare, neither of these materials is standard anymore.

Rusty's Inc.'s plumbing services are here to repair and replace outdated plumbing—though hopefully nothing quite this outdated! To learn more about us, call (508) 775-1303 or fill out the contact form.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Sniffling and Sneezing? Avoid These Five Massachusetts Allergens

Allergy symptoms are sometimes mistaken for those of the common cold, such as a runny nose, chest congestion, and cough. However, allergen exposure is differentiated by itching eyes or an itchy throat. People who are affected by seasonal allergies might not know exactly what substances trigger their symptoms—they just know that at certain times of the year, the sneezing and itching start. In this area, the chances are likely that one of these top allergens in Massachusetts caused the symptoms.

A garden

Believe it or not, common grasses are one of the most prevalent allergens in the state and beyond. Grass species are wind-pollinated and produce large amounts of pollen, accounting for their severe contribution to seasonal allergies. The pollination season for grass ranges from spring to fall.


Not to be confused with the banana-like plantain, this weed is a significant pollen creator throughout the East Coast, causing moderate allergy problems in the spring and summer months. Plantain, or Plantago Major, is an annual that grows to about a foot tall, producing small greenish-brown flowers at the center and oval-shaped leaves at the base.


This species of weed creates pollen that spreads far and wide with the wind, creating problems for seasonal allergy sufferers that affect both the skin and respiratory system. Dock/Rumex can be either an annual or perennial and produces small, dense yellow and brown flowers.


One of the primary contributors to fall allergies, ragweed generates up to a billion pollen grains each season from a single plant—and each grain can travel up to 400 miles. While there are many species of ragweed, they typically have small, yellow or white flowers and lacy, lance-shaped leaves.

Annual Wormwood

With a pollen season spanning from summer to fall, all species of wormwood create havoc for allergy sufferers thanks to producing copious amounts of wind-spread pollen. Common wormwood is a woody shrub that produces small yellow-white flowers. Other species common in Massachusetts include dragon wormwood, pacific wormwood, and southern wormwood.

Understanding allergy triggers and avoiding these substances can prevent uncomfortable symptoms from occurring. Services like indoor air quality testing and air conditioner maintenance performed by a qualified provider can also mitigate the effects of these allergens.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Choosing an HVAC System: Homes vs. Businesses

HVAC systems for homes and businesses can differ in major ways. However, qualified technicians can install the appropriate unit for a particular space.

Design and Maintenance of HVAC Equipment 
Grey colored HVAC unit kept in the backyard of a building

Flexibility is a key component that differentiates the design and maintenance of residential versus commercial units. Residential units are designed to be used at a particular capacity with no modifications to be made in the future. Commercial systems are designed so that components can be added or removed to adjust the system’s cooling and heating capacity. Should a tenant move out of a large business building, the HVAC system can be altered to reduce energy waste.

While annual maintenance is always recommended for a residential unit, a commercial HVAC system demands more maintenance by its amount of workload alone. Failing to maintain a home unit may seem like a costly mistake when it comes time to replace it, but commercial units can potentially have replacement costs up to 5-10 times more expensive.

Location of HVAC Equipment

Due to the large size and noise of commercial HVAC units, they are often built in enclosed areas or on places like rooftops. Homes, on the other hand, can have their units installed adjacent to their structure or in places like the attic. Most HVAC companies can perform residential installations with ease. For commercial applications, though, it's best to make sure the company is certified and experienced in taking on this large task.

HVAC Temperature Control

Homes tend to have only one or two temperature gauges for managing comfort. Typically, an HVAC system for a home will only need to keep a few residents comfortable—possibly a dozen or more during holidays or family gatherings. However, commercial units need to keep hundreds of workers comfortable. Larger cooling and heating demands mean more custom and complex temperature controls. Some large buildings have a synchronized temperature control from a front desk or operations room, while others opt for individual controls on every floor of the building.

When choosing between HVAC installation companies, it's best to stick with one that knows the appropriate type of unit to deliver for every kind of customer. Rusty's Inc. has been providing quality installation and maintenance of residential and commercial systems for more than 61 years. Call (508) 775-1303 or fill out our contact form to schedule a service for your home or business.