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5 Reasons to Invest in a Whole Home Humidifier This Winter

hygrometer humidity

Many of us know that winter has arrived when we feel that first sharp sting of static electricity through our fingertips.

For others, the first signs may include cracked lips and fingertips—or brand-new micro-cracks in our favorite wood armoire.

Dry air is a recipe for discomfort as well as an increased risk of home fires.

Sometimes, we can get by with humidity-boosting home remedies like showering with the bathroom door open or putting a pot of water atop the radiator pipes or woodstove.

But sometimes, nothing we do ever seems to add back sufficient levels of humidity to our indoor air. When even portable humidifiers just aren't cutting it, it may be time to call in the big guns by transitioning to a whole home humidification system.

In this post, learn about the different types of whole home humidifiers, how they work, and next steps to take to improve your winter indoor air humidity levels.

3 Different Types of Whole Home Humidifier Systems

There are three basic types of whole home humidifier systems that are commonly installed in homes:

1. Bypass

A bypass whole home humidifier pulls warmed air from the furnace and sends it through the water panel in the humidifier. The already-warm air picks up additional moisture from the water panel and then distributes it through your air duct system.

2. Fan-powered

A fan-powered whole home humidifier works in the same exact way as the bypass system, except that the fan increases the amount of moisture the air can absorb, which then improves the amount of distributed humidity.

3. Steam

A steam whole home humidifier heats water to the boiling point independent of whether the furnace is turned on or not. The HVAC blower pushes the steam out through the air vents to distribute it.

Pros & Cons: Whole Home Humidifier Systems

As you might expect, each type of whole home humidification system has its pros and cons. As well, the best choice of whole home humidifier can depend in part on what type of HVAC system you are using in your home.

Another factor is the amount of space you have available to install an aftermarket whole home humidifier. Still another factor can be your budget, short-term and long-term.

Here are the general pros and cons for each type of whole home humidifier:

Bypass whole home humidifier

If your HVAC system generates excess water, the drainless bypass system can recycle the water used to generate humidity, eliminating the need for a water drainage pan.

The bypass system is also considered the most economical and easiest systems to install. However, they can be more maintenance-intensive.

Fan-powered whole home humidifier

A fan-powered humidifier will not generate any excess or standing water. This system is very compact space-wise, since it doesn't need to attach to a bypass duct. However, it does need to attach to a water line and uses slightly more water than a bypass system.

The fan-powered humidifier is also economical and fairly easy to install and maintain.

Steam whole home humidifier

A steam whole home humidifier can operate independently of your HVAC system. Because of this, the steam humidifier is considered the easiest system to control for maintaining consistent indoor air humidity levels.

However, a steam system is also more complex to install and often pricier than either a bypass or fan-powered whole home humidifier.

Whole Home Versus Portable Humidifier

When we talk with clients who are having trouble maintaining sufficient indoor humidity levels during the winter season, often the first question we hear relates to the use of portable humidifiers.

A portable humidifier can definitely be the right choice in certain types of situations. For example, if a member of your family has asthma or winter allergies, placing a portable humidifier in that bedroom can really alleviate these uncomfortable symptoms.

But if everyone in the family is suffering from dry skin, chapped lips, increased respiratory discomfort, colds and flu, and static electricity charges, this is a sign that a whole home humidifier might be a better and more efficient choice.

There are also dangers associated with portable humidifier use that are all too easy to overlook. The top danger is that, if you don't clean your portable humidifier every few days, mould and bacteria can build up and actually cause illness!

It is worthwhile to start by using a portable humidifier to see if that is sufficient to address the air dryness. But if this doesn't work, or if you find yourself buying a portable humidifier for every room in your house, it’s likely time to upgrade to a whole home humidifier system.

Our Favorite Whole Home Humidifiers

Here at Clean Air Solutions Hamilton, our friendly and highly skilled technicians are trained and licensed to work on all brands of humidifier systems.

But like all air quality specialists, we also have our personal favorite brands and models of whole home humidifiers.

Our top picks are Coleman and Aprilaire humidifiers.

The Coleman bypass flow-through humidifier connects to your furnace’s supply or return air duct, using the air pressure to draw humidity up from the humidifier pad. The humidified air is then distributed using your existing air duct system.

Aprilaire has three models: Model 400, Model 500, and Model 700. The 500 and 700 are rated for small- to mid-sized homes and large homes, respectively. The 400 is a drainless system that achieves near-100 percent water efficiency by recycling the water used to generate humidity.

Give Us a Call

If you are tired of suffering through yet another winter season, feeling dried out and drowning in lotion, we are here to help!

Give us a call at 905-544-2470 for a free indoor air quality consultation and a free quote on the whole home humidifier system that best matches your home size, budget, and humidity needs!

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Warning Signs Your Dryer Has Become a Fire Risk

clothes dryer fire risk

Like the washing machine, the clothes dryer is one of those modern conveniences that used to be a luxury and is now considered a necessity for convenience and time-saving. We may still line-dry certain delicate items, but in general, it’s much easier to toss loads of laundry in the dryer, especially during those months we can’t hang the washing outside.

In fact, most of us take the dryer for granted, so long it does the job it’s supposed to. It’s easy enough to forget how powerful this appliance really is—powerful enough to cause approximately 15,000 home fires annually.

Is your clothes dryer about to blow? Learn the early warning signs to be sure your dryer never becomes a home fire risk.

The Impact of a Clothes Dryer-Related Home Fire

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), an estimated 15,000 home fires are started by none other than the clothes dryer each year.

Peak clothes dryer home fire season is in January, partly because line drying clothing outside is virtually impossible with such limited daylight hours and erratic storm conditions.

Clothes dryer-related fires impact property and health. Every year, an estimated five people perish in such fires. More than 100 people are injured. And annual property damage can reach $35 million or more.

It is heartbreaking that such a simple task—just cleaning the lint out of the dryer—could prevent such a catastrophic impact.

Clothes Dryer Fire Safety Recommendations

What can you do to keep your home and family safe from clothes dryer-related fires?

We recommend taking the following two actions:

  1. Every single time you are finished drying a load of clothing, remove the lint trap and clean all the lint off of it.

  2. Once a year, have your clothes dryer vents professionally cleaned and serviced.

These two simple actions can literally make the difference between life and death inside your home.

Yet they are so commonly neglected that CPSC has created a safety handout to explain what to do and how and when to do it!

Clothes Dryer Home Safety Checks

What can you do to prevent a clothes dryer-related home fire? Quite a lot, actually!

  1. Be sure to take out the lint trap and clean both the front and back of it, removing all trapped lint before replacing it. Do this both before and after each load of clothes you dry, especially if you are not the only person who uses the clothes dryer.

  2. Inspect the exhaust vent at the rear of your dryer. Verify that it is not obstructed or damaged in such a way that it can't do its job.

  3. Walk outside to be sure the vent opening is clear of debris and blockages. Turn on the dryer and make sure the vent is opening as it should while a dry cycle is in progress.

  4. Never, ever use your clothes dryer without making sure the lint trap is in place!!

  5. Schedule professional clothes dryer vent cleaning and servicing at least once per year to clean out trapped lint that you cannot access yourself and ensure there are no hidden fire risks you are unaware of.

What Is a Professional Dryer Vent Cleaning?

Many homeowners don’t realize that the lint trap is not the only place where lint collects inside a clothes dryer.

In fact, the dryer’s accessible front lint trap can do only so much, especially if it is not cleaned off before every dry cycle. Once the lint trap is full, the excess lint will then get pushed into the recesses of the dryer and out into the dryer vent ducts, where it remains trapped.

As the amount of trapped lint increases cycle by cycle, it begins to block air inflow and outflow. Exhaust gases build up, which together with the dry lint, static, and heat, creates a dangerous fire safety situation. A professional dryer vent cleaning is the best way to ensure your clothes dryer is clean and safe to operate.

Here is what to expect when you schedule a professional dryer vent inspection and cleaning:

  1. Your dryer vent inspection and cleaning begins with a thorough inspection of the clothes dryer and the vent ducts. During the inspection, your technician will also identify any safety issues.

  2. Next, your technician will clean the interior of the dryer chamber to remove trapped lint. Then the exhaust vent and air intake ducts and registers will also be cleaned to remove lint trapped there.

  3. Finally, your technician will review any safety matters that need attention. Examples of these can include too-lengthy ducts, kinks or blockages in the ducts, too-flexible duct material, clutter near the dryer vent areas and similar matters.

Warning Signs Your Clothes Dryer Is a Fire Risk

How can you tell that your clothes dryer may present a fire risk? There are several key warning signs to look for.

One of the most obvious is when your dryer starts to take longer to dry the same amount of clothing. If you find yourself running a second cycle on a fairly regular basis, this can indicate trapped lint is reducing your dryer's efficiency.

Another warning sign is when your clothing becomes very hot to the point where handling it causes discomfort. If you have started to let your clothes "cool off" before removing them from the dryer basin, this indicates you may have a dangerous situation brewing.

Similarly, if you notice a strong odor of freshly dried clothing, this can also indicate that trapped lint and debris is interfering with the drying process.

Get in Touch

Let our National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA) certified technicians inspect and clean your clothes dryer.

This economical safety-first service takes less than two hours and delivers priceless peace of mind for you and your family. Contact us online, or give us a call at 905-544-2470!

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UV Air Filters: What They Are, How They Work & Why You Need One Now

ultraviolet light

For the past few weeks, we've been taking a look at indoor air quality hazards specific to the winter season and then investigating options to address each hazard.

The truth is, winter is the time of year when you are more likely to get sick, even if you have been healthy all year long! One of the primary reasons for this is simply that you stay indoors more frequently and for longer hours than you do during the warmer times of year.

While during the spring, summer, or fall, for instance, you might be tempted to step outside for your lunch hour or go for a jog after work, during the winter you are probably going to lunch indoors, exercise indoors, and do pretty much everything else indoors as well.

This means you are primarily breathing recycled indoor air, with its laundry list of potential airborne allergens, pollutants, toxins, and volatile organic compounds.

Unless you make a special effort to clean and purify your indoor air during the winter, you are going to breathe in what everyone else has contributed to your shared air supply, whether that is flu virus germs, bacteria, mould, mildew, pet dander, smog, or other pollutants.

In this post, learn about one potent device that can clean up your indoor air supply FAST—and keep it clean!

What Is UV Light?

UV stands for "ultraviolet." The most well-known source of ultraviolet light is our own sun. The sun's ultraviolet rays are considered the gold standard for air purification, which is how our planet continues to function so far in spite of humanity's negative impact on outdoor air quality.

UV light is broken into three spectrums: UVA, UVB and UVC. UVA and UVB are the rays your doctor warns you about. These rays can penetrate the Earth's ozone layer and cause sunburns and worse.

UVC is actually the most potent type of ultraviolet sunlight, but the ozone layer blocks it (which is also why holes in the ozone are such a concern for environmental scientists—and us).

For air quality purification purposes, UVC is the light spectrum of choice and is often called "germicidal UVC" for the powerful impact it has on airborne toxins. If the toxin is floating in the air and comes into contact with UVC rays, the toxin will be neutralized on the spot.

There is one caveat, however: only airborne toxins can be effectively neutralized by an ultraviolet air purifier. If the toxin makes it into the walls, air ducts, carpeting, or mattresses, another method will be needed to clean and neutralize it.

How Does UV Air Purification Work?

UV is a type of light wave that lies just outside the spectrum of what you can see with your eyes. It is a shorter light wave that has the same effect on microorganisms (fungi, bacteria, viruses, etc.) that UVA and UVB light has on human skin.

But since the ozone layer surrounding the Earth blocks UVC light from entering our planet's atmosphere, microorganisms living here are naturally quite safe from it!

However, lucky for us, it is possible to make artificial UVC light that can neutralize the microorganisms floating along in the air we breathe.

How it works in this artificial form is quite similar to what would happen if you climbed into a tanning bed that was way too powerful. The microorganism floats by the artificial UVC light emitted by the air purifier, and ZAP! No more microorganism.

What actually occurs during the ZAP! part is that the UVC light is changing the DNA of the microorganism so that it is no longer viable as a pathogen. In other words, once the pathogen and the UVC light have met, the pathogen will no longer be able to do its job of infecting you or negatively impacting your health!

For particularly resistant airborne microorganisms, however, it may take more than one exposure to the artificial UVC light waves to achieve a complete eradication of the microorganisms. This is the genius behind the use of UVC air purifiers together with a forced-air duct system inside a home or workplace, because the air will be recirculated multiple times to ensure it is always pure and clean.

What Is a UV Air Purifier?

A UV air purifier is a device that emits concentrated UVC short light waves on a continuous basis. This type of device is used to purify the air by neutralizing various kinds of airborne microorganisms.

Some UV air purification systems are “generalists,” which means they are designed to neutralize a variety of airborne pollutants to match the type generally found inside the average home or workplace.

Other UV air purifiers are “specialists,” which means they are designed to work particularly well on certain classes of airborne pollutants. These pollutants might include mould spores, mildew spores, dust, pet dander, pollen, and similar others.

The type of UV air purification system you need will depend on your specific health issues and what is going on inside your indoor space at home or at work. For instance, if you have furry family members, you may feel particularly keen to install a specialist UV air purifier that can neutralize pet dander proteins.

How to Install a UV Air Purifier

The UV air purifiers available today can work with any type of ducted HVAC system. The air purifier is installed in-duct to purify the air as it enters your air ducts.

If you do not have a ducted HVAC system, you can still benefit by bringing in portable UV air purifiers that can work well to purify the air in a single room or a certain size (square foot) area.

Give Us a Call

Right now, save 20 percent on any whole-home air quality equipment, including whole-home UV air purification systems! Contact us online or give us a call at 905-544-2470 to learn more.

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