CleanAir Solutions Blog
If you have ever found yourself avoiding news about declining air quality worldwide, you are in good company.
It is never easy to hear about escalating pollution that impacts not just the outside air we share but also the air inside our homes, workplaces and schools.
However, there is one bright light we can choose to focus on, which is that you have control over the quality of your indoor air.
In this post, learn about a simple three-step process you can use to clean and detoxify your indoor air.
3 Steps to Better Indoor Air Quality
The U.S. EPA recently released their general findings on the best way to clean up toxic indoor air using this 3-step process.
1. Control the source
The first step is to improve your understanding of how pollution enters your indoor air.
In other words, the more you know about the specific toxins in your space, the more you can tailor a specific solution to the specific air quality problem.
Many of today’s indoor air pollution sources are ones we introduce ourselves. Some are easier to control than others (for example, if you use a wood stove or indoor fireplace, even the best exhaust vent may not remove all combustion by-products).
Other introduced toxins come from cleaning supplies, perfume or body spray, craft adhesives or glues, off-gassing from new furnishings, use of tobacco products and similar sources.
Two basic methods exist to determine what is polluting your indoor air.
The first and most obvious method is simple observation. You can look around your home and notice what is going on.
Does someone in your family smoke or vape inside the home? Do you light candles or use air fresheners? Can you pronounce any of the ingredients listed on that bottle of sanitizer spray? Do your hobbies require using glues, adhesives, paints or other chemicals?
The second method is air testing.
A variety of air tests exist depending on what types of toxins you are looking for. For example, some geographic areas have a known higher output of radon gas than others.
There are also some tests that can comprehensively evaluate your indoor air and give you one summarized list of indoor air pollutants.
For stress, time, cost, accuracy and other reasons, we typically recommend going with option B and just doing a single comprehensive indoor air quality test.
This 72-hour silent indoor air quality test takes continuous air samples in different areas throughout your home.
At the end of the test period, you receive a full-color printed report summarizing findings and providing guidance for remediation efforts.
2. Improve ventilation
The second key step to improving indoor air quality is to make sure that it does not become overly stale.
As the air inside your home becomes stale, it is leached of oxygen. At the same time, pollution levels rise because no fresh air is coming in.
In older-construction homes, natural ventilation typically occurs by way of small cracks and leaks present in the structure itself.
However, since concerns about diminishing natural resources began to increase and we entered the era of airtight construction, this is no longer the case with new-construction buildings. These buildings can be so airtight, no fresh air comes in at all!
There are two main strategies for improving indoor ventilation in any space, whether it’s old or a new build.
The first is as old as the days before air conditioning – simply open a window or door. However, this is really only feasible during more temperate weather, and even then may not be ideal for a variety of reasons.
The second strategy is to add mechanical ventilation – a set of artificial lungs, if you will. The heat recovery ventilator, or HRV, is the tool of choice for this job. Because of new airtight construction standards, HRV installation is now a requirement to meet building codes in Toronto.
Heat recovery ventilators not only ensure a steady supply of fresh incoming air, but they also send excess humidity packing and recycle heat energy to lower your energy bills.
3. Clean the air
The third key step to improving your indoor air quality is to actively clean your indoor air. A variety of tools exist to accomplish this job.
Here is where your indoor air quality test results really come in handy. By understanding the predominant pollution sources inside your space, you can better match the air cleaners you select to the tasks at hand.
We recommend two air cleaners because each one addresses a different set of indoor air pollution sources.
The HEPA filtration system addresses solid (particulate) pollutants. These airborne micro-particles are often impossible to see with the naked eye, but you can certainly feel their presence with a variety of health symptoms that range from watery eyes to brain fog.
Modern HEPA filtration systems can be retrofitted to work with any style of HVAC, including ducted and ductless systems.
HEPA filters can easily catch and trap floating particulates that are as small as 1/100th of a single human hair!
The ultraviolet air purification system, in contrast, addresses gaseous and liquid pollutants. Like solid micro-particles, you likely won’t ever see these airborne pollutants, but you will feel them in your scratchy throat and aching head.
UV air purification systems make use of a synthetic version of the sun’s own ultraviolet light – in this case, the strongest band of UV light, UV-C. Applying UV-C to floating gaseous or liquid particles changes their structure and renders them harmless.
Here again, today’s advanced ultraviolet air purifiers can be retrofitted to work with any style of HVAC, including ducted and ductless.
Get in Touch
Do you need guidance as you begin the process of improving your indoor air quality at home, work or school? We can help!
Contact us online or give us a call at 905-544-2470.
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.
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.
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.
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.