CleanAir Solutions Blog
When you were growing up, did you ever find yourself talking about air quality?
For most people, worries about the quality of indoor or outdoor air is a relatively new source of concern. Most of us didn’t grow up worrying that the air we were breathing was slowly poisoning us, ruining our health and killing our planet. We just breathed in and out as we played, studied, worked and relaxed.
Today, it is necessary to take a much more active role in this process. We need to learn how to monitor the quality of our indoor air (even though we still don’t have a great deal of control over the quality of our outdoor air).
Believe it or not, one of the easiest and most trustworthy ways to monitor the quality of your indoor air supply is to use your senses. For example, if you walk inside your house and become immediately aware of odour or humidity, these are trustworthy clues to alert you that something isn’t right.
Of course, then you need to figure out what to do about it, and this can be a bit more challenging. In this timely blog post, we share some of our favourite fixes for stale, steamy or stinky air!
P.S. Be sure to read all the way through to the end of this post to find out how you can save 10 percent off any of our popular professional air duct cleaning packages!
Problem: Stale air
Stale air is probably the least straightforward indoor air quality issue to detect and troubleshoot.
Stale air is essentially air that is poorly oxygenated. This happens when there is not enough ventilation and air circulation to keep your indoor air fresh.
In previous years, homes were built in such a way as to permit a bit of air leakage from inside to outside and vice versa. This may not have done anyone’s energy bills any favors, but it did take care of the need for fresh air ventilation and circulation quite handily!
But with the advent of modern airtight construction practices over the last few years, stale indoor air has become an especially common problem in newer homes and workplaces.
Because stale air doesn’t necessarily have an odour, diagnosing this issue is most commonly achieved when you begin noticing unpleasant health symptoms. Headaches, trouble concentrating, fatigue, irritability and similar symptoms can point back to stale, poorly oxygenated indoor air.
Solution: Stale air
The best fix for stale indoor air is to improve ventilation and air circulation. You can accomplish some of this by just opening windows and doors on nice days and using floor fans or ceiling fans to move the fresh air around.
But during times each year when Canada's weather doesn’t lend itself to this fix, the best option is an appliance called a heat recovery ventilator.
The heat recovery ventilator ensures you always have a steady supply of fresh air coming inside and moves the stale air outside with no leakage between the two air sources. Happily, a heat recovery ventilator can be retrofitted to work with any existing HVAC system that is ducted.
Problem: Humid air
Hot tubs and saunas both offer great options for relaxing after a long day. Use of each dates back to the time of ancient civilizations.
But what no one particularly enjoys is when that steamy sauna-like air starts to fill up the whole house!
The presence of humidity in your indoor air can also trigger an even more concerning health issue—mould and mildew growth. Mould and mildew like nothing more than a warm, moist climate to grow, send out new spores and take over a space.
Like stale air, too much humidity inside your home can be a sign that you don’t have adequate ventilation and air circulation. This is a common problem in bathrooms, kitchens and laundry room areas.
Another potential cause of humid air is structural leaks in air ducts or around windows and doors. This can let humid air from outdoors sneak inside and raise the humidity levels inside your home.
Solution: Humid air
As with stale air, sometimes the simplest fix for humid air is the installation of a heat recovery ventilator. Heat recovery ventilators can help balance seasonal humidity fluctuations.
An additional perk is that heat recovery ventilators can lower your heating and cooling costs by moving heat to where it does the most good—outside in summer and inside in winter.
Sealing up leaks in ductwork, windows and doors can also help to control humidity.
Problem: Stinky air
When your indoor air smells, you know it! Sometimes it just smells like what you cooked for dinner or the scented candle you burned last night.
But other times the smell may not be so easy to pin down. This is especially true when the odour your nose is detecting is musty, grassy or dank—all warning signs that mould or mildew may be present.
Commercial cleaning products, air fresheners, craft glues and adhesives, new carpet and furnishings, paint and primer can all emit odours. These smells can be not only unpleasant but also highly toxic.
Solution: Stinky air
We recommend a three-step approach to correcting stinky indoor air. A professional indoor air duct cleaning can remove trapped matter inside your air ducts that is being inadvertently pushed out through your air registers and into your rooms.
Installation of either a HEPA air filtration appliance or an ultraviolet air purification appliance can go one step further to eliminate 99.97 percent of indoor airborne toxins before they ever enter your air ducts.
Contact Us & Save 10 Percent
Only five to ten years ago, air duct cleaning wasn’t exactly a hot topic even inside the HVAC industry.
But today, in the wake of ongoing climate change that is causing wetter and more violent and unpredictable storms year-round, duct cleaning is suddenly experiencing newfound popularity!
What is the connection? The answer is simple: mould and mildew. As formerly dry areas become wetter for longer, to the point where the ground becomes saturated with moisture, conditions become ripe for mould and mildew to grow and spread.
After severe weather events like hurricanes Harvey and Florence to the south of us and the late summer floods right here in Ontario, residents have experienced an upsurge in respiratory problems, chronic allergies, skin rashes and other mould-related health issues.
The same holds true for homes that have been damaged by flooding or other severe weather and then need renovations. Toxic off-gassing from materials and adhesives combined with mildew and mould can cause serious health conditions when homeowners move back in again.
What can you do to address these ongoing health hazards? We have two words for you: duct cleaning!
P.S. Be sure to read all the way to the end of this post to find out how to save 10 percent on any of our value-added duct cleaning packages!
Why Today’s Airtight Homes Are Not Your Air Quality Friend
In decades past, it was not uncommon for even brand-new construction to allow for a certain degree of air leakage between the great outdoors and a home’s interior.
But as concerns about global warming and air pollution increase, the focus in the construction industry has shifted to prize airtight construction above all else.
It is true that today’s cutting-edge construction strategies do help the average homeowner conserve energy usage and cut costs.
But on the flip side, airtight construction can quickly cause a buildup of stale air inside the home and moist conditions ripe for mould, mildew and bacteria growth in attics, crawl spaces, basements and air ducts.
Air Duct Cleaning and Ventilation to the Rescue
You can always open a window or door and get some old-school ventilation flowing into your airtight home. But not every day of the year provides optimal conditions for doing this. In fact, for much of the year, extreme summer and winter can make it downright dangerous to open up your home to the elements.
To solve the indoor air toxicity caused by airtight construction, you are going to need some extra assistance.
The two most effective ways to keep your indoor air clean and fresh are air duct cleaning and ventilation.
Air Duct Cleaning Helps Purify Your Indoor Air
The U.S. Department of Energy recommends sealing off your air duct system during construction, whether for a new build or for a renovation or remodel.
In the event this is not possible, you may wish to have your air ducts professionally cleaned before you move in to remove build-up of construction dust, debris, adhesives, volatile organic compounds, pollen, mildew and other toxins.
The same holds true for repairs and renovations prompted by weather or water damage, with the added caveat that sealing up your air duct system is unlikely to stop the growth of mould and mildew caused by moisture exposure.
In these cases, you may want to first schedule an indoor air duct cleaning and then retrofit your HVAC system to work with a HEPA air filter or ultraviolet air purification system to keep mould from regaining a foothold inside your ducts.
The good news here is that you should only need to have your air ducts professionally cleaned and sanitized once every five to 10 years as long as no additional major construction or repairs are required.
Even better news is that many of our clients tell us they can actually smell the difference before and after they have had a professional air duct cleaning—that is how much cleaner their indoor air truly is!
How Ventilation Keeps Your Indoor Air Fresh
For new airtight construction in particular, the only viable year-round method for keeping your indoor air fresh and clean is to install mechanical ventilation in the form of a heat recovery ventilation system.
Throughout Ontario, new builds are now required to come equipped with heat recovery ventilators for precisely this reason.
A heat recovery ventilator, like a HEPA air filter or an ultraviolet air purifier, can be retrofitted to work with any central (ducted) HVAC system. This means you don’t need to invest in a new air conditioning or furnace system in order to enjoy the health benefits of improved indoor ventilation.
Choose From Three Value-Added Duct Cleaning Packages
All three of our indoor air duct cleaning packages feature the commercial-grade Rotobrush system, which is designed to clean and sanitize every inch of your indoor duct work.
In nearly all cases, residential air duct cleaning takes three to five hours and you can enjoy the results immediately.
Choose from these three packages and save 10 percent on the package of your choice!
We vacuum out your air ducts, clean your air registers and exhaust vents, and sanitize and deodorize your entire system.
We do everything in the Bronze package plus cleaning your air conditioning coil and furnace fan compartment.
We do everything in the Bronze and Silver packages plus a 21-point furnace inspection and maintenance service.
Get in Touch
Clean Air Solutions Hamilton is proud to be a Better Business Bureau (BBB)-certified business with an A+ rating! We take customer satisfaction very seriously and will do what it takes to earn your trust and repeat business.
It is always tough to wave goodbye to your lovely seasonal cottage as cool weather returns. But once the welcoming warmth of the summer recedes, it is time to get to work winterizing your investment so it is ready to enjoy again come next spring!
This can be more challenging than it appears at first glance, especially once you factor in the impact of winter moisture. While winter is traditionally a time when the air is more dry and humidity is lower, winter storms and snowfall can change that balance in a hurry.
How can you guard against mould and mildew and other airborne toxins when you are not there to monitor your cottage environment in person?
In this post, we offer you some of our favorite timely tips to winterize your cottage space to keep it clean safe during the cold season!
Guard Against Water Damage
The number one cause of mould and mildew growth, not to mention insect and animal invasions, is the presence of extra moisture. And the number one cause of excess moisture is water damage due to frozen pipes that burst.
So here, it just makes sense that one of the most critical tasks in winterizing your seasonal space is to guard against freezing, bursting pipes. You must completely drain your pipes so no water remains to freeze, expand and burst them.
You will want to make sure you drain your well, septic, water lines, hot water heater tank, toilets, traps (such as for the dishwasher, air conditioning/heater and clothes washer) and any other water-based appliances you use. Talk with a plumbing expert about adding non-toxic (RV) antifreeze as an extra precaution. Drain little by little to keep your septic field load manageable.
If you do not plan to drain your pipes, you will want to leave your heat running and insulate your pipes to guard against freezing. With this, you will also need to ensure a backup power source in the case there is a power outage.
Evaporate Any Existing Humidity
If you have ever been through any kind of mould and mildew remediation process, you probably learned that heat can help evaporate humidity.
You want to leave your cottage as dry and humidity-free as possible before closing it up for the winter. If there is noticeable humidity in the days prior to closing, run the heat for a day or two to evaporate the humidity and then close things up.
Tend to Major Appliances
Two of the most problematic major appliances for moisture during the winter are the refrigerator and the freezer.
Of course, you will want to clean each thoroughly and air them out. But then be sure to prop open the doors, as well, to avoid humidity and mildew buildup during the winter.
If your cottage has an oven, clean it out and place some brown paper bags or crumpled newsprint inside. This helps absorb moisture during the winter.
Seal and Weatherstrip Against Cracks, Leaks and Critters
It is quite amazing how creative little critters and animals can be at finding ways to get inside your cottage during the winter! After all, there is a strong incentive to get in and enjoy the warmth and protection from the elements.
There are some precautions you can take to limit the risk of infiltration, which can bring with it bacteria, microorganisms, parasites and worse.
Weatherstripping and sealing windows, doors and areas where there may be small leaks and cracks is a good way to reduce points of entry. Insulating pipes and air ducts and sealing connection points further reduces access.
Do an inspection of your floor, attic, crawl spaces, eaves and other less habitable areas and critter-proof these as best you can. Steel wool can be placed inside small holes and cracks and mesh or solid covers can be fitted over vents to keep insects and small animals out.
Draw your curtains or blinds and shutter your windows on the outside to further reduce access and also protect your windows from winter storms.
Schedule a Professional Air Duct and Dryer Vent Cleaning
One of the most common places where mould, mildew, bacteria and microorganisms begin to grow and flourish is inside the air duct system. This is especially true in homes with older air duct systems that have begun to naturally sag and leak due to old age.
Over time, trapped dust, debris and toxins can build up to the point at which the HVAC system actually struggles to push cool or warm air through the ducts without blowing out some of the trapped detritus along with it.
When a cottage is shut up for an extended period of time, conditions can grow moist and humid inside the air ducts, allowing mould and mildew colonies to form and spread. If you have ever returned to your cottage after an extended absence and noticed a musty smell to the air, this may be what is causing it!
Your dryer vent is another place where dust and debris get trapped and accumulate over time. As lint continues to build up deep within your dryer vent, the risk of electrical fire grows accordingly.
This is why one of the best protective, preventative measures you can take before closing your seasonal cottage is to schedule a professional air duct cleaning and a professional dryer vent cleaning. Together, these services take less than half a day to complete.
Get in Touch
Here at Clean Air Solutions Hamilton, we work together with our sister company, Shipton’s Heating & Cooling, to provide comprehensive HVAC and air quality control to our residential and commercial clients throughout Ontario.
Do you need help winterizing your seasonal cottage and ensuring non-toxic conditions come spring? Contact us online or give us a call at 905-544-2470!