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How a Humidifier Can Improve Indoor Air Quality This Winter

happy family around sofa

Indoor air quality is a hot topic these days.

Thanks to a recent shocking study by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, we now know that our indoor air is up to five times more toxic than the air outside.

Unfortunately, mainstream media is often more preoccupied with issuing dire health warnings than they are with offering practical, actionable steps to fix the problem.

Here at Clean Air Solutions Hamilton, we spend our days implementing indoor air quality solutions for worried homeowners and business owners. In this post, learn why humidity is essential to winter indoor air quality and how to use this tool to stay healthy all winter.

Humidity: A Missing Link to Winter IAQ

Most homeowners today know that the optimal indoor humidity balance ranges from 30 to 50 percent.

During the hot, humid summer season, when outdoor humidity can easily hit 60 percent or higher, it is pretty simple to achieve this balance just by turning on your air conditioner.

But in the winter, unless a storm blows through on a warmer day, the air outside is usually quite dry. When the humidity content in the air drops below 30 percent, everything starts to dry out.

For your home, overly dry air can take the form of cracked wood furnishings, creaking hardwoods and uncomfortable and dangerous static electricity discharge. For you, overly dry air makes your sensitive respiratory tissues less well able to fight off health threats like cold and flu germs.

Without at least 30 percent humidity (and ideally more) content in your indoor air, life can get pretty uncomfortable during the winter.

Strategies to Add Back Humidity to Your Indoor Air in Winter

Happily, inadequate indoor air moisture content is a relatively easy problem to fix. These are some of our customers’ favorite humidity remedies.

Reseal your home with caulk, weather stripping and insulation

Air leaks are common in older homes. While these leaks can provide an arguably handy source of natural ventilation, they are not without their challenges.

In winter, air leaks will inevitably drive up your heating bill and help indoor humidity escape outside.

The only way to keep your hard-won humidity indoors is to seal up those leaks and cracks. Here, pay special attention to sealing around any pipes or vents that exit to the outdoors. Also seal around electrical outlet covers, windows and doors.

Add houseplants in strategic places

Houseplants are indoor air quality wonders. They can do so much for your indoor air and will beautify your space as well.

Because houseplants take in carbon dioxide and emit oxygen, they are our perfect air quality counterpart in an indoor setting.

Plus, houseplants can be a great natural source of indoor air humidity. While you do need to be more careful not to over-water your houseplants in winter, you can give them a daily misting as well as watering when needed and they will steadily emit this humidity back into your air.

Place bowls of water near heating vents

Placing a bowl of water near a heating vent works similarly to simply opening the bathroom door after taking a warm bath or shower and letting the steam out.

As the warm air emerges from the air register and passes over the bowl of water, it will pick up some of the moisture from the water in the bowl and add it back to your ambient air supply.

Use a portable or whole-home humidifier

By far the best and most consistent way to ensure adequate indoor air humidity levels in winter is to make use of a humidifier. This piece of modern technology makes balancing indoor air humidity a simple matter.

For older homes and commercial buildings in particular, some areas may be naturally more or less humid. In these cases, a portable humidifier may do the trick to add some extra humidity to overly dry rooms.

For airtight new construction homes or any space where winter indoor air is consistently too dry, a whole-home humidifier is the perfect solution.

This humidifier can be retrofitted to work with any central (ducted) HVAC system to keep indoor air humidity levels consistent throughout your home or workplace.

Two Main Types of Whole-Home Humidifiers: Flow-Through and Steam

There are two main types of whole-home humidification systems. Both types of humidifiers have many advantages for spaces of different sizes and seasonal or year-round humidity needs.

Flow-through humidifier

A flow-through humidification system connects directly to your furnace and uses your air ducts to distribute humidity along with warmed air.

There are two types of flow-through humidifiers: bypass and fan-powered. The bypass system requires a small addition of a bypass duct that conveys the water through the furnace first and then flows the humidity out into the air ducts and into your space. The bypass system is quieter to operate but can be less energy efficient.

The standard (fan-powered) humidifier substitutes a fan for the bypass duct to achieve the same result. A power humidifier can be noisier to operate but is generally more energy efficient.

Both types of flow-through humidifiers are ideal for small to medium-sized homes or workspaces that have forced-air heating systems installed.

Steam humidifier

A steam humidifier is often recommended in large homes and commercial spaces since they have dedicated power and their own separate heating element to generate the humidity.

Steam humidifiers can be more costly to install and run but are very energy-efficient and effective. This is also a particularly wise choice if you are living in new airtight construction or you do not have a forced-air heating system installed in your home.

Get in Touch

Right now and through September 30, 2019, save $25 on the humidifier of your choice and get two FREE humidifier pads with your purchase! Just complete this simple online form to claim your special offer!

Contact us online or give us a call at 905-544-2470.

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4 Urgent Reasons to Clean Your Air Ducts Before Winter Arrives

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A true Canadian winter is not weather to take lightly. Winter is not just the longest season here in Canada, but it is also the most extreme.

With the onset of climate change, Canada’s winters are also getting increasingly unpredictable, with more rain, snow, severe weather and erratic weather patterns.

What this adds up to is that it is never too early to start planning ahead for winterization. Effectively protecting your home, seasonal cottage or workplace takes an investment of time, effort and sometimes funds.

While “cleaning ductwork” may not be sitting right at the top of this winter’s to-do checklist, this post offers compelling reasons it should be!

Indoor Air is Now MORE Toxic Than Outdoor Air

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the air inside the average North American home is up to five times more toxic than the outdoor air.

To add fuel to the fire (so to speak), the average Canadian reports spending as little as five minutes per day outside, which means most of us breathe indoor air pretty much all day every day.

Indoor air toxicity is now known to be linked to an increase in asthma and allergy symptoms, lung cancer, heart disease, low birth weight in infants, impaired concentration and focus, poor school performance and much more.

We don’t share these statistics to alarm, but rather to give you incentive; the good news is that you can do a great deal to improve the quality and safety of your own indoor air.

Unlike the problems with outdoor air pollution, which each person can impact only minimally, you can have a great deal more control over the quality of your indoor air.

Even better, the steps you take to purify your indoor air often have the happy side effect of lowering your energy bills as well.

One of the most important steps you can take is to have your air ducts cleaned, and not just at any time of year but specifically before the winter season begins.

4 Compelling Reasons to Clean Your Ducts Before Winter

These are only four of the most compelling reasons to give your air duct system a professional cleaning before winter arrives!

1. Eliminate Dangerous Health Concerns

There is no nice way to say it – air ducts often harbor some pretty yucky stuff. Mould. Mildew. Dust. Dust mites. Insects. Rodents. Waste. Pollen. Volatile organic compounds. Bacteria. Germs.

The nature of air ducts means it is a lot easier for these weightier toxins to get in than it is for them to get out. Trapped toxins tend to build up over time, as only a very small percentage will get pushed back out through the air registers into your home.

The rest remains and multiplies. This is especially true of fungi like mould and mildew, which readily colonizes the dark, warm, enclosed space of the winter air duct.

Take it from us - it is amazing how quickly mould and mildew can grow during the winter season.

Having your air ducts professionally cleaned and sanitized before the winter season automatically reduces your risk for winter time allergy/asthma attacks, respiratory infections, bronchitis, pneumonia and of course that winter favorite, cold and flu season.

2. Identify Home Fire Hazards

If there is any scarier thought than black mould in your air ducts, perhaps it is this: air ducts catching on fire.

Every year home fires start for entirely preventable reasons like dust and debris trapped inside air duct systems. All that trapped matter is extremely flammable. Just one spark in the wrong direction and your air ducts can go up in flames.

We don’t ever want to see that tragedy happen for any of our customers, which is why we recommend scheduling your indoor air duct cleaning before the winter season begins.

3. Clean and Purify Your Indoor Air

Even if you go the whole nine yards and install a HEPA air filtration system, an ultraviolet air purification system and a heat recovery ventilator to clean up your indoor air, your air will still only be as clean as what is already trapped inside your air duct system.

If you really want to clean and purify your indoor air for the foreseeable future, you will do the indoor air duct cleaning first and then add on additional ventilation, filtration and purification aids to keep your indoor air clean.

4. Lower Winter (and Summer) Energy Bills

It probably comes as no surprise to hear that the average Canadian homeowner spends 61 percent of annual energy use just on heating their home.

The typical Ontario homeowner reports annual energy costs of around $2,358 per year.

61 percent of that amount is $1,438.

One recent study showed that you can trim as much as 11 percent off your energy bills just by doing light cleaning of your HVAC system and air ducts once annually.

This works out to a savings of around $158 on heating costs alone.

But what if your air ducts haven’t been professionally cleaned in years or ever? In this case, expect energy savings of up to 40 percent by combining preventative HVAC maintenance and air duct cleaning.

A 40 percent reduction in heating energy costs will net you an additional $575 in energy savings.

How are cost savings like these possible just by cleaning out your indoor air ducts, you may be wondering?

The answer is simple: when your air ducts get clogged, your HVAC system has to work much harder to push air through the ducts. By cleaning your ducts, you help your HVAC do more with less energy!

Get in Touch

Are you ready to clean up your indoor air once and for all? Get started now with a professional indoor air duct cleaning that will save you money and keep you healthier all winter long!

Contact us online or give us a call at 905-544-2470.

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Three Essential Indoor Air Cleaners You Need Now

hepa filter close up

If there is one thing every single home today has in common, it is this: indoor air pollution.

Worryingly, current research estimates that the air inside the average home is anywhere from two to five times more toxic than the outside surrounding air!

But beyond this common denominator, there is no single unifying consensus within the HVAC and indoor air quality industries on the best type of indoor air quality system.

Rather, the emphasis is on matching the specific indoor air quality issues inside your space with the right types of air quality cleaners and purifiers to detoxify and clean up your indoor air.

In this post, we introduce three essential indoor air cleaners from which we believe every home, workplace and school can benefit. You will learn what each cleaner is designed to do, how it works and additional perks each system has to offer.

Air Duct and Dryer Vent Cleaning

All the air quality controls in the world can make improvements starting only from the time they are introduced into your space.

Meanwhile, tucked deep down inside your dryer vent and air duct system, there are plenty of old trapped toxins that are being re-released into your air every time you run a dryer or HVAC cycle.

The only way to permanently remove these trapped pollutants is by scheduling a professional indoor air duct cleaning and a professional dryer vent cleaning.

These services will thoroughly clean and sanitize your air duct network and clothes dryer, essentially hitting the “reset” button on your indoor air quality.

After you have these two services done, it is time to move on to the next phase – selecting and installing your indoor air quality cleaners.

All indoor spaces will typically have a combination of three types of toxic airborne pollutants: liquid particles, gaseous particles and solid particles.

But there is no one air cleaner that is designed to neutralize all three types of pollutants.

For this reason, we typically recommend a three-pronged approach to permanently upgrading the quality of your indoor air.

HEPA Air Filtration System

The first air cleaner we recommend has been the gold standard in indoor air quality all around the world ever since World War II. Developed to protect scientists from radioactive particles, HEPA filters are now used in laboratories, clinics and hospitals worldwide.

HEPA filters work best when addressing solid airborne pollutants such as dust, pollen, fungi, pet dander, tobacco and smoke micro-particles and similar others.

HEPA stands for high efficiency particulate air. What this means is that HEPA filters are highly efficient at filtering out even the smallest micro-particles – solids that may measure just 1/100th the width of a single human hair.

Most traditional residential HVAC systems are not equipped to handle the density of a HEPA air filter. This type of filter is simply too thick and can impede airflow to the point of causing damage to your air conditioning or furnace.

However, standalone HEPA filtration systems can be easily retrofitted to work with any residential or commercial HVAC. Both portable and central (ducted) models are available.

Ultraviolet Air Purification System

The second air cleaner we recommend is the ultraviolet air purifier. As the name implies, ultraviolet air purifiers harness the power of ultraviolet light to purify the air of pollution.

UV air purifiers work best to neutralize gaseous and liquid particulates which may slip through even a HEPA filtration system, although they can also work well against mould and mildew spores.

Examples of gaseous and liquid particles can include ammonia, sulfur dioxide, freon, ozone, nitrogen oxide, volatile organic compounds, carbon monoxide, radon gas and similar others.

The light source is a synthetic version of the sun’s most powerful ultraviolet light band – UV-C. Like its natural counterpart, synthetic UV-C has the ability to change the basic molecular structure of airborne particulate pollutants so they are unable to cause harm.

UV air purifiers can be easily retrofitted to work with any HVAC system, whether residential or commercial. Both ducted (central) and portable models exist.

Heat Recovery Ventilator

The third air cleaner we recommend is the heat recovery ventilator.

A heat recovery ventilator performs two essential functions to clean and purify your indoor air: it ensures a steady supply of fresh air and helps exhaust excess humidity that might otherwise foster mould, mildew and bacterial growth.

A third perk you will get from installing a heat recovery ventilator is the benefit of its ability to recycle heat energy, thus lowering your energy bills year-round. Some heat recovery ventilators can even put extra heat energy to work to heat your water!

But for our purposes here, the most important function a heat recovery ventilator provides that no other air cleaner can offer is to keep your indoor air perpetually fresh and oxygenated. In this way, you can think of the heat recovery ventilator as an extra set of mechanical lungs for your home.

Heat recovery ventilators are especially essential for new-construction homes, which must be built to the new airtight construction standards designed to conserve energy.

These homes may come with a lower carbon footprint, but they can’t “breathe” without assistance. This is why Toronto area construction standards now require the inclusion of a heat recovery ventilator with all new builds.

The heat recovery ventilator is best used with a central (ducted) HVAC system.

Its dual input/out system ensures that stale outgoing air and fresh incoming air never meet and mingle, while continually recycling otherwise lost heat energy to preheat your air in winter and moving excess heat outside in summer to lower your cooling bill.

At the same time, the HRV guards against mould and mildew by controlling humidity levels indoors.

Get in Touch

Do you need assistance to pick the right combination of indoor air quality tools for your home, workplace or school? We can help!

Contact us online or give us a call at 905-544-2470.

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