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CleanAir Solutions Blog

March 2017

Is Your Dryer Vent a Fire Hazard?

dryer fire hazard

If you had to guess, which household appliance would you say is responsible for nearly 17,000 house fires (about 4.5 percent of all house fires) in North America each year?

If you guessed “clothes dryer,” here’s hoping your knowledge didn’t come from personal experience!

The statistics just get more grim from here. Home fires started by clothes dryers come at an annual cost of $236+ million in damaged property, not to mention injuries and fatalities.

Sadly, all too often the root cause of dryer-based home fires is simply not realizing the risk is there. If you don’t know that your clothes dryer could be a fire hazard, how can you know to take steps to prevent a fire from starting?

We hope these helpful tips for cleaning and maintaining your clothes dryer will keep you and your family safe from now on.

Clean Out That Lint Trap

Here at Clean Air Solutions, we will never forget the time we were called out to diagnose the reason a client’s clothes dryer had suddenly stopped drying the clothes well.

The moment our technician opened the dryer door, he immediately spotted part of the problem.

The lint trap was literally overflowing with lint!

He ended up with two large handfuls of lint just from cleaning the front and back sides of the lint trap itself.

There was plenty more lint to be found down in the deeper recesses of the front lint trap, which he retrieved with special lint brushes.

It was no wonder that the clothes dryer wasn’t able to do its job very well. The trapped lint had formed a very effective blockade between the heated air and the interior of the dryer, where all the wet clothes were tumbling about.

But far worse than a simple inability to dry clothes was the fire hazard that much accumulated lint represented.

Here, we were able to stop a potential fire hazard in its tracks by helping the customer learn how to do at-home maintenance on their clothes dryer.

Clean the Exterior and Interior of Your Dryer Thoroughly

In the same way that our sister company, Shipton’s Heating & Cooling, always recommends clearing a safety perimeter of 3 feet or more around air conditioning and heating equipment, we recommend the same for your washer and dryer set.

Otherwise, trapped dust, debris, lint, old dryer sheets, missing socks, and all manner of other potentially flammable detritus may over time get trapped within sparking range of your clothes washer/dryer. The more spick-and-span you keep the entire room in which your clothes washer/dryer set is housed, the safer you and your family will remain.

If your clothes washer/dryer set is very heavy, awkwardly located, or simply difficult to move, ask your technician to do this cleaning during your annual appliance inspection and service call.

Schedule a Professional Dryer Vent Cleaning

From the looks of it, most of the lint that gets trapped collects in the appropriately named “lint trap.” So why would you need to schedule a professional dryer vent cleaning on top of simply keeping the lint trap clean?

Unless you work in the HVAC or home appliance industry, you might not even realize that the average clothes dryer has more places deeper inside the machine where lint can get trapped.

One such place is the dryer vent, which lets out the excess moisture collecting in the dryer from your wet clothes.

Clearly, you want your dryer vent to be able to do its job efficiently. Otherwise, you will have to run your dryer for longer and longer cycles to achieve the same level of drying.

This is a signal that lint has begun to clog up the dryer vent. When this occurs, the moisture cannot escape and your clothes take longer to dry.

Even worse, the more lint that builds up inside the dryer vent duct, the more dangerous your dryer becomes. At this point, one tiny spark is all it can take to set your home ablaze.

In many homes, reaching the dryer vent, disconnecting it, cleaning it out, replacing it, and moving the dryer back into place is neither easy nor safe.

As well, opting for a DIY approach to cleaning your dryer vent will remove some of the trapped lint, but it will also release quite a bit of it into your inside air, causing allergy symptoms and (for vulnerable family members) the potential for asthma attacks.

Here, it is far better to invest in a professional dryer vent cleaning, since this will capture 100 percent of the trapped lint quickly, safely, and efficiently and transport it away from your home space.

BONUS: Wipe Off Those Moisture Sensors!

If you own one of the newer high efficiency clothes dryers that use moisture sensors rather than a thermostat to gauge when your clothes are dry, those little sensors need some occasional TLC as well.

All you need to do is dab a bit of rubbing alcohol on a soft cloth and wipe the sensors clean of any built-up film, lint, or debris.

The moisture sensors are typically located just inside and under the dryer door. On many machines, they look more like thin metal strips curved into the shape of a “C.”

If you have any trouble locating your dryer’s moisture sensors, your technician can do this during your annual inspection and maintenance call.

Give Us a Call

Taking the time to invest in a bit of annual preventative clothes dryer maintenance is always a smart choice.

Here at Clean Air Solutions, we are happy to come out and inspect, maintain, repair, and clean your clothes dryer. Give us a call to schedule your service appointment!

 

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Clean Air Tips to Help Your Body Fight Back Against Spring Allergies

Fight Back Against Spring Allergies

Yahoo! Spring is here!

For many of us, however, along with the cheery, sunny warmth, this also means the return of that dreaded spring ritual—allergy season.

Canada’s Allergy and Asthma Information Association (AAIA) estimates that up to 25 percent of Canadians suffer significantly from allergies and hay fever.

The culprit here is pollen. It makes green things grow and flowers bloom. It is directly responsible for the delicious fruit we enjoy all year long.

It also coats our cars, shoes, and nasal passages. Even for those of us with hardier natural resistance, if we get overly tired or stressed, all that pollen can wear us down and make us feel awful.

So here at Clean Air Solutions, we thought now would be a great time to share our favourite clean air tips to help your body fight back against the inevitable arrival of pollen and spring allergies.

Why You Can’t Just “Will” Allergies Away

PollenThe most common allergy symptoms are so similar to those of the common cold that often people don’t even realise they have allergies.

Runny or stuffy nose, coughing, sneezing, itchy or watery eyes, fever, sore throat, fatigue… these can all be signals that you are allergic to something in the air, whether it be pollen, pet dander, dust mites, or something else.

The very first time your body encounters an allergen, your immune system quickly gets to work to produce an antibody to that allergen, called a “histamine.”

The next time your body detects the allergen, it will immediately produce the appropriate histamine, which will then produce allergy symptoms as your body fights back against the allergen.

So from here, your only recourse is to do everything you can to reduce your exposure to the allergen—by keeping your air supply clean.

Choose High-Efficiency Air Filters Whenever Possible

A HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter is literally your sinuses’ best friend.

Only HEPA-rated filters can reduce the toxicity of your indoor air by up to 99.97 percent.

This means all those tiny free-floating pollen spores will get stopped at the door by the filter—they won’t be able to enter your indoor air supply and travel into your nostrils to make you feel miserable.

HEPA filters are widely available today for use with a number of appliances, including vacuum cleaners, air purifiers, and air conditioners.

You can also choose to outfit your HVAC unit with a whole-home HEPA filtration system.

Schedule a Professional Indoor Air Duct Cleaning

When was the last time you thought about your home’s indoor air duct system?

If you are like many homeowners today, you probably just thought, “What?”

In many homes, the indoor air duct system has never been cleaned out. Depending on the age of your home, this may mean that the debris inside the air ducts has been there, accumulating annually, since your home was built.

Common contents of the average indoor air duct system include: dust, dirt, pollen, mould, mildew, insect parts and droppings, residual chemicals, dust mites, pet hair, and pet dander.

The newer and more airtight your home is, the more securely this debris gets trapped inside.

Once trapped, the only hope it has of getting free is to get pushed out along with the forced air that travels through the vents to cool or heat your home. In fact, small portions of this trapped debris do get pushed out every time your HVAC cycles on.

But when you have your indoor air duct system professionally cleaned, all that old, packed, toxic matter gets vacuumed out once and for all, leaving totally clean and sanitized air ducts.

Then, all that is left circulating in your home is clean, fresh, breathable air.

Have Your Dryer Vents Professionally Cleaned

The same dust and debris that gets trapped inside your indoor air ducts also gets lodged inside the deep recesses of your clothes dryer.

Here, we don’t just mean it gets stuck in the lint trap you clean out after each load of laundry. We mean the interior of your dryer, where the vents link up with the exhaust ducts and debris accumulates until it starts to block the ducts and turns into a fire hazard.

By having your dryer vents professionally cleaned, you achieve two goals simultaneously: you reduce your risk of a home fire and you detoxify your clothing and indoor air.

For this reason, it is a great idea to have your indoor air ducts and dryer vents cleaned out on the same day, if possible.

Clean Your Bedding & Add Allergy Covers

If you asked the dust mites in your house where they like hanging out the most, they would probably choose your bed.

Clean Your Bedding & Add Allergy Covers

Your mattress, linens, and pillows are a great place for them to live, since dust mites feed on dead skin flakes (gross, right?).

Dust mites can cause allergy symptoms galore, and they reproduce so quickly it can be difficult to keep them under control.

But there is one thing you can do that will stop dust mites in their tracks: wash your bedding in very hot water and cover your pillows and mattresses with allergy covers. This will cause any dust mites inside to die off and prevent new dust mites from establishing themselves.

Also, if at all possible, don’t let your pet sleep on the bed with you. Pet dander and hair are potent allergens in their own right.

Get 10 Percent off All Indoor Air Duct Cleaning Packages

Right now and through April 1, 2017, we are offering a 10 percent discount on all three of our popular indoor air duct cleaning packages. Click here to claim yours!

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Winter Mould: Eradicate the Indoor Stealth Toxin That Can Steal Your Health

bathroom mould

Sweating windows. Damp carpeting. Speckled shower curtains.

These and many other “tells” signal the presence of household moulds, but unless you know what you are looking at, mould can hide in plain sight and you won’t see it.

However, often, you and your family can feel its presence.

Sore throats, runny noses, itchy eyes, headache, fatigue, coughing and sneezing, asthma attacks—these signs can also indicate mould is beginning to infiltrate your home’s indoor air.

In this article, we give you the information you need to sleuth out—and clean out—toxic winter mould wherever it may be hiding in your home.

Common Hiding Places for Winter Mould

Mould can be particularly sneaky in winter, because most homeowners assume this is the season of lowest mould risk. After all, summer is when everything gets hot and damp and muggy, right?

Unfortunately, cooler temperatures don’t necessarily prevent mould from growing, especially if all else is ideal.

According to Health Canada, these areas in your home all tend to be favorable for winter mould growth:

Bathroom

No one likes a cold bathroom floor, especially first thing in the morning.

Luckily, most people today don’t have one, thanks to central heat, space heaters, or radiant heating.

But what are two things mould absolutely loves? Warmth and damp. This makes the bathroom one of mould’s favorite places to hang out.

Check these spots:

  • Shower curtain and liner

  • Between sliding shower doors

  • Cracks and crevices in wall joints or around windows

  • Behind old grout or caulking

  • In the fibers of bath mats or underneath tub anti-slip mats

  • Around floor tiles or shower tiles

  • Behind sinks and toilets and around water pipes

Kitchen and Laundry Room

Mould also loves kitchens. All that water, so much steam! When the kitchen adjoins the laundry room, even better.

Check these spots:

  • Under the sink and around the water pipes

  • Around or behind double-paned windows

  • Growing in old grout or caulking around sinks

  • Inside or behind dishwashers or trash compactors

  • Inside the garbage disposal

  • In or behind the clothes washer

  • In or behind the clothes dryer (especially the vents)

Bedrooms

Often, allergy-prone family members choose to run a humidifier in the lower humidity winter season. This can be great to ease itching and irritation in dry, sensitive respiratory tissues—provided you clean out the humidifier frequently.

Otherwise, mould can begin to grow inside that wonderful humid, damp, enclosed humidifier bowl. Once it grows there, it can travel via the humidifier’s steam and take root in other favorable places.

Basements

Not only do you need to keep a close eye on the basement to ensure winter runoff doesn’t seep in through the cracks and monitor your septic to ensure no blockages cause flooding, but now you need to keep an eye out for mould as well.

The basement is one of mould’s favorite areas because few homeowners look there for mould. They are too busy looking there for other potential problems, so mould can hide out in plain sight and remain undisturbed.

But if you smell a dank, “grassy,” or musty odor or see your flooring or walls begin to turn a distinctive grey or greenish color, you have received mould’s signature calling card.

Garage, Attic, and Storage Areas

Storage areas and outdoor sheds make particularly great homes for mould, since it can grow easily on damp cardboard, paper, wood, drywall, carpet swatches, rags, and work clothes.

Mould, Check. Now What?

According to Toronto’s Public Health website, more than 270 different species of mould have been catalogued and documented living inside homes in Canada.

That’s a lot of mould!

The good news is, you don’t have to know precisely what species of mould you’ve found in order to start cleaning it up.

Small and medium-sized mould patches

You can easily clean small and medium-sized mould patches (of 3 feet by 3 feet or smaller) yourself after taking a few safety precautions.

What to wear: Disposable dust mask, rubber gloves, protective goggles, work clothes, and shoes.

What to use: Unscented detergent or a mixture of bleach and water.

What to do: Use a clean rag or anti-microbial scrubbing sponge to quickly scrub the affected area with the cleaning solutions. Then rinse and dry the entire area THOROUGHLY.

Large mould patches

If you find a larger mould patch on the premises anywhere in or around your home, it is best to call the pros.

This is for your safety, since you don’t want mould spores entering the air and traveling to start a new colony elsewhere in your home.

How to Make Your Home Mould-Unfriendly

After you’ve scrubbed and cleaned and sanitized, you will want to ensure the mould doesn't return. These steps can help:

  • Make your use of humidifiers rare and clean them rigorously after use.

  • Keep all spaces well-ventilated using regular and exhaust fans.

  • Clean out your indoor air ducts and clothes dryer vents (and right now, get 10 percent off any package).

  • Be vigilant about spotting and repairing leaks in water pipes or fixtures.

  • Avoid carpeting.

  • Limit indoor terrariums or fish tanks, which add more humidity to the air.

  • Switch to HEPA filters to keep your indoor air cleaner.

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