Helping Texas Customers Save Money - 2018 Top Questions & Answers

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My Nest Thermostat Has A Blank Screen, What Do I Do?

Don't panic. Your nest should still be good. It just needs power. The nest thermostat requires low voltage to keep the screen on. If the required voltage is not obtained you will get a blank screen. There are many different reasons why your nest appears dead or has a blank screen. We will be discussing where you might be having your electrical issues with your nest. You must have the right amount of high voltage going to your furnace. Check your breakers. Make sure you have power going to the furnace. Sometimes the furnace switch is accidentally turned off by someone who went up in the attic. There is a furnace switch that sometimes goes bad. It looks like a light switch in the attic. There are many wires in your furnace.
There is the possibility some of the wires in your furnace may have burned out. If your wires have burned out nothing will work in your furnace. You want to make sure that the furnace on/off switch is working properly too. If you have no high voltage to your furnace, it cant be converted to low voltage. As technology evolves we will continue to see boards in furnaces. Most units require the computer board to work perfectly in order for the common wire to get voltage. The board is the brain of the cooling and heating system. If just a small part of the board does't operate properly, your nest might not work. The transformer sends the 24V into your board, but sometimes the voltage doesn't come out of your board. A professional diagnosis is required to figure out if your board is good or bad. Most of the time the board has to be replaced, or the board has to be professionally rewired by a highly skilled technician. It is important to perform normal maintenance year round, many problems can be prevented with routine maintenance. Most people wait till the unit stops working, before they call for service. But sometimes the equipment can break down on at the worst hours. We perform 24 hour emergency service for your added convenience. There is a transformer in your furnace. The transformer is what supplies the power to your nest thermostat. If your transformer goes bad your nest will not work. The transformer converts the high voltage to 24 volts. Depending on the way you have your nest wired. The transformer sends power to your common wire, thus powering your nest. There are safety switches that protect your air conditioning system from flooding. One of the most common safety switch, is the float switch in you pvc pipes or drain pan. If your nest is showing a blank screen it is a good chance, you might have a water leak in the attic. The water will activate your safety switch, thus cutting power to your transformer. This will kill all the low voltage in your furnace. There is also a nest baseplate that connects to the the nest. We have seen that baseplate go bad in rare occasions.

07.11.2018

How Often Should I Replace My Filters?

There are many things to take in consideration, when trying to figure out how often I should replace my filter. Every home has a unique finger print on how it accumulates dust and dirt. It will probably take about 6 months of close observation, to see how often your filter accumulates dirt and dust. After that you can make a good decision on how often the filters need to be replaced. Some homes have more than one filter, like townhouses. The more filters you have in a home the less often you will have to clean them. Homes with only one filter have to be replaced more often.

  1. Homes with dogs and cats will need more filter replacements.
  2. Homes with filters near the ground floor will pick up dirt faster, than filters in the ceiling.
  3. Homes with larger families will require filter changes more often.
  4. Filters that are located in high traffic areas will require more filter changes.
  5. The use of high quality filters will get dirtier twice as fast.
The rule of thumb is that you should replace your filters every 30-90 Days. If you suffer from allergies you should replace your filter more often, regardless of condition of filter.

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My Air Conditioning Unit Is Freezing Up, What Do I Do?

Most customers don't know why there unit is not working, when they place a service call. If your unit is frozen the copper lines at the outside unit will be frozen. Depending on how thick the ice build up is at your condensing unit, then you will have a good idea how thick the ice build up is in the evaporator coil. The first thing you need to do is check your filters. If your filter is dirty you are in luck, and that is most likely your problem. If you discovered that your filter is dirty then the next step is to defrost your cooling system. The easiest way to defrost your equipment is to leave the unit off for a few hours, with the fan control at your thermostat at the on position. There are still other may other reasons why a system will freeze up. Low on freon or refrigerant levels. If your refrigerant levels are low chances are you have a refrigerant leak in the system. A blower motor that is not functioning properly. The blower motor is located in your furnace. If the blower motor doesn't run at the rated manufacturer rpm's the unit will freeze. Bad indoor and outdoor switches that control key components as well. There is also a metering device in the evaporator coil that controls the flow of refrigerant that can go bad.
There are many reasons why an Air Conditioning system freezes up. A very common problem for cooling systems is a dirty filter. Many customers are surprised that a dirty filter can cause such a big problem. Every home is different, so when a technician comes to your home every situation can vary. We will discuss the different scenarios, how a dirty filter can cause such a big problem. Most one story single family homes and apartments have only one filter. If your home only has one filter, then the chances of your unit freezing up increases dramatically. Multi floor homes such as townhomes take longer to freeze up. as they usually have more than one filter in the property. Townhouses usually have a filter on every floor, and might even have one next to the furnace in the attic. In multi family homes, usually the filter on the highest floor will get clogged up first. In most cases, usually all the filters on all floors must get clogged up before the system freezes up.

07.11.2018
Which One Do I Get, Home Warranty Policy Or Preventative / Maintenance Agreement?
Which Insurance Policy Do I Get? Both of the agreements have their positives and negatives. It really depends on your current situation. If you have an older unit that breaks down once a year, you might want to go with the home warranty. The home warranties policy is probably one of the worst insurance policies out there. Home warranty policies will usually fix your ac equipment if the repairs don't exceed $1,000. The home warranty policies are written by some of the finest attorneys. Since you have just signed a policy where the policy is designed to protect the home warranty, you are at a disadvantage if the repairs get to expensive. The home warranty company can easily say we are not covering your system for lack of maintenance. Its' a big numbers game with the home warranties. If they are taking big losses in a current quarter, they might start making excuses not to replace or fix your equipment. However, if you call on another day with the same problem, you might get lucky and get the unit replaced with no problem.

The maintenance agreement is only as good as the company you purchased it from. You only want to buy a maintenance agreement from a company that has an outstanding reputation. A company with a solid reputation is not going monkey around with you. You must be careful when buying both policies. You should do lots of research when you are buying these policies. Most ac companies that offer maintenance agreements / preventative maintenance agreements, use them as an opportunity for upselling services every time they come to your home. So you must be alert when you think a technician is trying to sell you something you don't really need.

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My Furnace Is Leaking Water In The Attic, What Do I Do?

Most people don't know how humidity is removed from your home. The evaporator coil in your attic also acts a dehumidifier. All the moist hot air that passes through your coil in the attic it condenses into water. That water is then removed from the space that is being cooled. If your unit is not draining properly, you will have a water leak. A water leak is usually caused by a restriction in your drainage pipes. There are many different places a blockage can occur. One of the key areas where a blockage starts to develop is inside your evaporator coil. In your evaporator coil there is a drain pan. After months of condensation, sludge, slime, & bacteria will start to build up inside your unit. That sludge then circulates throughout all the inter connected pipes in your home. If you remove the panel that covers your evaporator, you might be able to get to the drain pan. You can use a wet vac to vacuum out the sludge from the drain pan. If the water leak problem is not corrected quickly, your ceiling could fall down.
You need to be absolutely sure, that you stoped the water leak or large amounts of damage could occur. Every home is different, and depending on how the builder constructed your home, will depend on which method you will use to blow out your drain and pipes. Many homes in Houston have there condensation draining into the bathroom sink. After a while the bathroom sink will start to drain slower as well. There is usually a black hose underneath the bathroom sink. If you have a wet vac, you can vacuum out the black hose that drains out to the sink. That should fix your problem Sometimes the condensation gets drained next to you unit outside. If you you can find the drainage pipe outside, just vacuum the pipe out with a wet vac. You should have your drains blown out at least once a year. Some homes get lucky and never need maintenance at all. If you have wood floor you should have your maintenance done yearly. We have seen many wood floors go bad from water leaks. Sometimes the water leaks behind the walls onto the wood floors. And by the time you realize it, your floors are warped and damaged. Apartments and condominiums can be a bit more difficult to blow out drains. Many times a small ladder is needed for maintenance in buildings. There usually less room to work with in apartments than single family homes. Therefore building maintenance is usually more difficult. Commercial locations usually a package unit on the roof top of the building. Usually the main drain is blocked in the package unit. A wet vac is required to clean the area of the blocked drain. Some commercial locations have the air handler way up in the ceiling. Usually a 12ft ladder is needed for these situations. Many times the P-Trap is clogged next to the unit in the ceiling. A wet vac can really help you, if you have a water leak in your unit.

07.11.2018

Should I Use Bleach To Clear My PVC Drain Pipes?

There has been much confusion about the use of clorox bleach in your HVAC system. About 30 years ago many ac contractors told their customers that it was ok to use bleach to blow out your drains. That advice has spread like a virus worldwide. The problem with bleach is that there hasn't been much debate on how it damages pvc pipes. When students go to technical school its a subject that is somehow not talked about by the instructor. There is no chapter in the HVAC books that suggest clorox bleach is a good solution to flush your lines. People still do it because it still works, but it is only a short term solution. It usually takes about 20 years of pouring bleach down your drain lines to damage them. Pvc pipes become hard and brittle after many years bleach. The problem gets worse when people have horizontal drain pans in the attic. Many people are pouring beach in the emergency drain pan. The emergency drain pan also known as the auxiliary pan is made of galvanized metal. Pouring bleach in that drain pan only once a year will destroy it in 5 years. You will then have to call a professional ac company to replace that drain pan.

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Before You Schedule Service, Check Emergency Water Float Switches.

It is very important to have your safety float switches, checked if they work. They are usually reliable, but they sometimes fail or aren't connected properly. Most bad stories happen when people go on vacation. When you return from vacation, you have a home full of water. The ceiling has collapsed and the wood floors have popped. Not properly checking your condensate float switches for proper functionality can cost thousands of dollars in structural damage.
A float switch is probably one of the most important safety devices in your cooling system. Float switches are are usually installed in two main locations. They can be installed at your PVC pipe outlet of your evaporator coil. Another location is the emergency drain pan underneath the coil. If your auxiliary drain pan fills up with condensation, you can use a wet vac to remove water from your emergency drain pan.
It is very important to have your safety float switches, checked if they work. They are usually reliable, but they sometimes fail or aren't connected properly. Most bad stories is when people go on vacation. When they return from vacation, they have a house full of water. The ceiling has collapsed and the wood floors popped up. Not properly checking your condensate float switches for proper functionality can cost thousands of dollars in structural damage.

07.11.2018

Should I Have My Ducts Cleaned?

There have been many good and bad experiences with duct cleaning companies. If not done by a real professional duct cleaning can turn into a real disaster. I will tell you a real story. A beautiful $1 million dollar mansion called for duct cleaning. The mansion had white granite counter tops, white furniture, white marble floors and white walls. After the cleaning was complete, the customer turned on his air conditioning unit. Black broken fiberglass particles got all over his house and white expensive furniture. When they tried to clean his furniture the black dust particles smeared right into his furniture. The they tried to clean his furniture with professional cleaning chemicals. The furniture instantly absorbed the black dust particles, and was permanently damaged. There are few companies that are truly professional air duct cleaners. The only company that we can truly say that cleans ducts professionally is "coit". Coit has been in business for many years, so if you are looking for a real duct cleaning company you should go there.

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Freon Leak Repair Quick Fix Video.

Freon Leaks can be a homeowners worst nightmare. Most freon leaks are usually created by poor installation. The best time to have your central air conditioning unit installed is in the winter. Prices are usually 25% cheaper, and attics are allot cooler for the installer to do a high quality job. It is usually a double win for the customer. Unfortunately that is not the case most of the time. Most systems break down in the middle of summer and the job has to get done when the attics can get over 130°F. When attics get that hot the installers performance will drop a bit. The installation crew will get tired much faster and the quality of work will be lowered. Most installation crews are accustomed to work at temperatures max temperatures 130°F, but sometimes the attics can reach over 140°F +. When hiring a company to perform your installation it should be a reputable company. Sad to say as much as the customer pays for that installation, most installers are underpaid to crawl in hot attics.

Reliable A/C Equipment Brands That Don't Leak Freon Often

There is only one manufacturer that has a unit that rarely ever leaks. That is the American Standard & Trane Co. They are the most reliable when it comes to air conditioning equipment. No other manufacturer comes close to them. Number two on our list is the Carrier Corp. They have a quality product and are very reliable. Number three as far as value & quality is Rheem & Ruud. Buying a quality HVAC equipment will save you lots of headaches in the future. You should go with a trusted local dealer that will install a quality job for you. There are different qualities of copper used to produce quality HVAC equipment. Many manufactures have to use a lower quality of copper to reduce cost of the equipment. Some manufactures use aluminum coils. Aluminum coils last a long time and don't rust. We have seen 30 year old aluminum condenser coils work like brand new.

Freon Leak Repair Using Electronic Leak Detector.

There are many different methods used to look for freon leaks. Electronic Leak Detectors are excellent as long as the sensors are being replaced when they are suppose to. Ultrasonic detectors are also another option for leak detection. Ultraviolet Dyes are excellent for looking for microscopic leaks that come and go. Another reliable method is the good old fashion bubble test. You can use soap bubbles on an area where you think that the leak might be in. After you find the leak, you will have to use a blow torch to fix the leak. The technician will thoroughly use sand paper to clean the surface of the leaking area. Then spot weld the leak.

Refrigerant Leak Found At Condensing Unit.

In your air conditioning system is divided into two different pressures. You have a high and low pressure side of the system. Leaks that are in your evaporator coil are in the low pressure side of the system. Leaks that are in your low pressure side will generally last longer. Leaks that are in your condenser coil are in the high pressure side. If your system has developed a refrigerant leak on the high side of the equipment, all the refrigerant can be gone in just a few hours. Most of the freon leaks are man made, usually welding mistakes are the biggest cause of freon leaks. Properly tightening expansion valves & orifices in equipment is another area of key refrigerant leaks. Refrigerant leak testing and vacuuming of systems should be done on all equipment after an installation is complete. Some installation crews are in a rush and don't bother to leak check. Beware of installation crews that can be real rough bringing your equipment into your attic. Some crews can ruin the integrity of your equipment during the installation process.
Most air conditioning equipment manufactures have a minimum of a 5 year warranty on leaking coils. Some of the higher end equipment have a warranty of up to 10 years warranty. There is still a problem. Most ac companies have a 1 year labor warranty on the installation only. There are some companies offering a 3 year warranty on labor, but it is very expensive. It really is a gamble when trying to find a good company to perform the perfect installation at your home. The problem these days is that the consumer is doing more research on the type of equipment they are installing in there home, rather than doing research on the actual company doing the job.

Freon Leak Testing Using Nitrogen Compressed Gas.

Nitrogen leak testing is a classic way of looking for a refrigerant leak in a system. Also known a high pressure gas testing. Nitrogen leak testing is very versatile way of looking for leaks, but probably the most expensive. To do a proper nitrogen leak test, usually requires lots of time and materials. After the company spends a few hours looking for the leak, now the company has to spend more time to fix the leak. Where your evaporator coil is, also makes a big difference if it can be repaired or replaced. Coils in the attic can be harder to repair, than units that are in closet. There is also a big difference between air handlers and evaporator coils. The coils in evaporators slide right out and are much easier and cheaper to repair. Evaporator coils in the attic are much more difficult to access to, and are usually more expensive to repair.

My Condensing Unit Needs Maintenance. How Do I Clean It?.

The outside unit is called your condenser. Your condensing unit moves allot of air across it. There are many factors that come into play with the performance of your central air conditioning system. It is a 24 hour vacuum cleaner outside, taking in all airborne particles that pass by it. Most people neglect the outdoor unit and simple maintenance can go a long way with the life of that unit. The outdoor unit is the workhorse of you HVAC system. It has the biggest responsibility of the whole ac system. When the gardener cuts you grass, many pieces of debris go inside your unit. By the end of the year you would be surprised how much sod and sand you have accumulated inside your unit.
Many customers have weeds, plants, and trees growing around there unit. Your unit will cool your home just fine, but it is working way harder to get the job done. Since it is working harder, that means that your unit is working at a higher amperage draw, thus consuming more amounts of electricity. Large amounts of unnecessary wear and tear is being done when weed and plants are growing around the unit. you should have them removed immediately. Your air conditioning unit is a big investment and you should take care of it. Many people have dryer vents located near or around there outdoor unit. Not knowing how bad that is for the health and performance of your condensing unit. We have seen dryer vents 20 feet away from units still taking in lint from the vent. Many units have covers around the coils, so most of the time its hard to see the condition of the coil. We have seen homes under renovations take in large amounts of construction materials inside the unit, later to realize the unit compressor has burned out. In your condensing unit lives your compressor, the compressor is the heart and soul of your HVAC system. It is the most expensive component of your air conditioning unit. The internal pressures in your system will increase, thus causing excess wear and tear on your compressor pistons. You will shorten the life of your cooling unit. When the particles, plants, lint, etc. start to build up in system your compressor will have to work harder. Simple maintenance and TLC will give your unit a long mechanical life. If you have a water hose you can perform a basic maintenance to your exterior unit. Just rinse the coils with enough water pressure to remove as much dirt and dust off the unit.

07.11.2018

How Do I Know If I Problems With My Ductwork?

Your attic is an unconditioned space, it acts like a barrier between the indoor comfortable environment and the outdoor conditions. On a hot summer day its natural for the attic to be 40 degrees warmer than it is outside. If you poke your head in the attic in a hot summer day, and you feel cold air. That is an indicator that you have leaks in your ductwork. Other indicators will be high utility bills or a unit that seems to never shut off. The first place to check for a duct leaks, is right where it connects with the register or main trunk line. People crawl through attics all the time, it very easy to damage ducts while you are up there. When you go up in the attic, you want to visually inspect the ductwork for additional leaks. Sometimes just feeling around the register or ductwork will help you find those hidden leaks. Finding leaks in your ductwork can save you as much 40% in your energy bill. There are a few things you are going to need in order to fix these leaks. You are going to need mastic and a paint brush. You are going to use the paint brush to apply the mastic. Mastic is a paste flexible sealant. It bonds well with the surface of ductwork, thus creating an excellent seal. Adhesive spray glue is also an important tool. You are going spray the area, where you are going to use duct tape. The spray glue will help the duct tape, stick better to the leaking area.

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Using " Delta T " To Troubleshoot My Air Conditioning Unit.

You can use an infrared thermometer if you are trying to get temperature readings for your delta t. Don't let the term "delta t" intimidate you. Its HVAC slang for temperature difference. Service technicians can use the delta t calculation to diagnose your A/C system. The delta t is the difference from the air coming out of your supply vents and your return air grill. A good rule of thumb for delta T or temperature difference of 17F and 21F. If the delta t is on the low end, that usually means that your air conditioner is not performing nowhere near its full potential. If the delta t is on the high end, that usually means that there is an airflow problem in your home. Not having enough refrigerant can cause a low delta t. A unit that doesn't have the proper freon charge will not perform properly. An air conditioner with malfunctioning metering device will starve freon from entering the evaporator coil. A metering device is also called a thermal expansion valve. A thermal expansion valve regulates the amount of freon entering the evaporator coil. There is a spring, in the valve body that opens and closes the TXV with temperature sensing bulbs in the suction line.
Many inexperienced technicians will misdiagnose a thermal expansion valve problem with an undercharged unit. Too much airflow through the evaporator coil is also a cause for low delta t. If the blower motor speed is set too high, on some high efficiency furnaces. Sometimes the vibration from the furnace will cause the front panel to fall off. The furnace will then absorb all the hot air from the attic. Abnormally high humidity in the home will also cause a low delta t. Liquid line restriction in your filter drier will cause your system to pump down and starve the evaporator. A malfunctioning compressor can cause a wide range of delta t temps. Some compressors have bad internal valves. Also called an inefficient compressor. The compressor sounds like its working, but it really isn't. If you have a heat pump leaking reverse valves will cause hot gas to go in your suction line, causing a warmer evaporator temperature. Leaking supply & return ducts in your attic will also cause hot attic air to get duct system. Animals in the attic can also damage your ducts. Poor airflow problems will cause a high delta t. A dirty filter will cause poor airflow, causing your evaporator coil to freeze up. A blower motor not working properly will immediately cause you unit to freeze up.

07.11.2018

How Does The Furnace Help Cool My Home?

When most people think of air conditioning, they don't think of the furnace. While the condenser is the heart & soul of the air conditioning system. The brains & lungs of the cooling system is the furnace & thermostat. Most people didn't know that it's the furnace that blows the cold & hot air in your home. It also the furnace that plays an important part in the high efficiency process of your cooling and heating system. There are two types of blower motors you should be aware about. There is single speed blower motor & variable speed blower motor. The single speed motor is your classic old school motor. The biggest benefit of single stage motors is when they break down, they are much more inexpensive to repair than a variable speed blower motor. Most companies will actually have a single speed replacement motor in their company trucks. It is very important when buying a variable speed furnace, to buy a reputable brand. The repairs can be very expensive on these types of furnaces, so a high quality brand should give you some peace of mind. Most of the variable speed fan motors come with a 10 year factory warranty. The problem is most companies don't carry these (OEM) parts in truck stock. If your variable speed motor or control board break down, right before the weekend starts, you might be without cooling for a few days. Don't get confused between capacity and efficiency, they both with get your home cool. The more efficient furnace will save you allot more money on your utility and gas bills. If you are looking for premium indoor air quality a high efficiency furnace is the way to go. High efficiency furnaces are much better at removing humidity from your home. Lowering the humidity in your home will also make your home smell better. Lower humidity levels will reduce allergens such as dust mites, mold, and mildew. Lower humidity levels in your home will actually keep the food more fresh. Computer equipment, electronics, & TV's work much better in low humidity levels. High humidity levels can also cause sleeping problems There is lots of technology that goes into a variable speed fan motor. Variable motors operate from both high and low voltage 120 Volt alternating current. There is also a main control board in the furnace that controls the variable speed blower motor.

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60% Relative Humidity Or Higher Can Put Your Home At Risk Of Mold Growth.

1. Alternaria mold is often found in your kitchen & bathroom sinks & shower. Health issues are allergic reactions & asthma attacks.

2. Aspergilus is a common indoor mold. This type of mold attacks your respiratory system. It inflames your lungs and causes allergic reactions.

3. Aureobasidium mold has a reputation for causing serious health issues. It is found in wallpaper, painted walls, & wooden furniture. If you see pinkish & black spots in those areas, its most likely that type of mold.

4. Chaetomium is the the mold you find in drywall. It has a smelly and musty order.

5. Cladosporium grows in wood & older fabrics. It causes inhalation & respiratory problems.

6. Stachysbotrys Chartarum also known as black mold & toxic mold. It reproduces in areas that stay damp. It is commonly found in your air conditioning pvc pipes. It also likes to spread in your ductwork and air registers. People that have been exposed to this type of mold can develop asthma attacks, fatigue, depression, sinus infections, & breathing problems.

7. Serpula lacrymans  This yellowish type of mold grows inside wooden surfaces. It slowly dry rots wood, as it slowly feeds on it.

8. Trichoderma mold like humid and wet areas. It produces dangerous mycotoxins that cause sinus and allergic reactions.

9. Ulocladium mold is usually found in homes that have gone through flooding. This type of mold will cause people to develop infections and allergic reactions

10. Fusarium mold likes colder wetter areas. It can cause breathing infections in your lungs and respiratory inflammation.

11. Penicillium mold spreads like a virus inside insulation, fiberglass, damp furniture, & wet carpeting. It causes severe lung inflammation & allergic reactions.
Spores from mold such as stachybotrys or black mold often become trap within wall spaces when your air conditioning condensation leaks in your attic. It can stay trapped behind your walls inactive for many years. However the accumulated moisture from leaks, flooding, or high humidity can activate these dormant spores causing mold to grow and reproduce. Black mold reproduces by creating microscopic spores which carry harmful chemicals called mycotoxins. The spores are released into the air where they circulate, and land on household surfaces & food. Mycotoxins that come into contact with the skin may cause irritations and lesions. If inhaled these toxins are carried into the lungs and permeate the air sacs, this onset makes breathing difficult and painful. A condition that is only worsened as fluid begins to accumulate. Mycotoxins that have fallen into food products may be ingested, inflaming the entire digestive system. Through any of these pathways these dangerous mycotoxins may find there way to the network to the network of blood vessels that nourish our brain. Once inside an artery it may travel out of the bloodstream and into the nervous system. These mycotoxins affect the passage of signals between brain cells, causing disruption of thinking, memory, and movement. Households that have been exposed to moisture, should be tested for the presence of mold.
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