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CleanAir Solutions Blog

July 2017

Virus Season is Here: How to Stay Healthy This July

stop summer virus season

If you asked the Public Health Agency of Canada about this, they’d tell you July might as well be renamed “virus month.” Outside of the winter cold and flu season, no month of the year produces a higher number of viral outbreaks than hot, humid July.

As an example, take a look at this PHAC viral detection/outbreak report for July. No fewer than six viral strains were reported: para-influenza, adenovirus, hMPV, enterovirus/rhinovirus, coronavirus, and RSV.

Each of these viruses is transmitted by human-to-human contact, and all love warm, sweaty weather. Some of these viruses are arguably low-level (common cold), while others can cause severe respiratory distress and worse.

As you will notice from even a casual scan of the PHAC graphs, mid-month in July is prime time for these viruses to get busy infecting people. So what can you do to stay healthy this month?

In this article, we share timely tips to keep your indoor air clean, pristine, and airborne virus-free!

Keep Those Air Filters Squeaky Clean!

Your very first order of business during the months of both July and August is to make sure your indoor air filters stay squeaky clean.

If you have been thinking about upgrading to HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filters, this is a great month to do it, so long as your air conditioning unit is compatible.

But most of all, you want to make sure you are diligent about keeping all filters clean and clear. This includes portable air purifiers, room dehumidifiers, central A/C filters, vacuum filters, and dryer vent lint traps.

This will ensure viral airborne particulate matter is promptly removed from your home and disposed of, rather than lingering to populate and infect your indoor air supply.

Resist the Temptation to Buy New Furnishings

There are two powerful reasons to avoid upgrading your home furnishings during the heat of the summer in July and August.

The first reason is cost-related: if you wait until fall, you can take advantage of summer clearance sales to get the best prices on new furniture, bedding, carpeting, draperies, and other home furnishings.

But the more pressing reason is health-related: new home furnishings often give off toxic gases when you first bring them home.

Carpeting is particularly guilty of this, but any new home furnishing can emit powerful chemicals from factory-treated fabrics or decorative accents that can irritate your sensitive respiratory membranes while they are already under assault from the full host of warm-weather viruses.

The same holds true for DIY home projects that require primers, paints, varnishes, glues, stains and composite materials—these can also emit toxic off-gassing into your air supply at a time when your immune system is already compromised.

Dehumidify Daily As Needed

July and August could easily be voted the months most likely to reach humidity levels above 50 percent.

In general, the Government of Canada Health website recommends maintaining indoor humidity levels between 30 and 50 percent.

Here, you can expect levels nearer the 50 percent mark in summer and levels nearer the 30 percent mark in winter. But when your indoor humidity increases beyond 50 percent, which is most likely to occur in July and August, you can start experiencing a range of health issues.

One of the most common is home outbreaks of mould and mildew colonies. Mould and mildew may try to grow year-round in naturally damp areas like bathrooms or basements, but in the high-humidity summer season, these tiny colonies can grow and send out spores to colonize new locations inside your home.

Left unchecked, mould and mildew can create a costly remediation issue and do real damage to your respiratory health. During these months, when your air conditioner can’t handle the full responsibility of controlling the humidity in your indoor air, it is smart to add a dehumidifier, especially in bathrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms, attics, and basements.

Have Your Indoor Air Duct System Professionally Cleaned

If you are like most Canadian homeowners, you probably didn’t receive any record of a home air duct cleaning when you bought your home. This is likely because this type of cleaning has never been done.

So you can calculate how many years’ worth of dust and debris has built up inside your central air duct system based on the age of your house and how much you use your air conditioning unit and furnace/heater. The older your home is and the more you use your air conditioner and heating unit, the more dust is likely to be trapped inside your duct system right now.

Every time your air conditioner kicks on, some of this trapped dust and debris is pushed back out into your home’s indoor air supply. If you see little puffs of dust when your air conditioning unit starts cycling, or you find your eyes watering or nose running in these moments, it is likely your body is reacting to the increase in dust and allergens in your indoor air.

A professional duct cleaning can remove 100 percent of the trapped debris, dust, dirt and allergens in just one afternoon, leaving your indoor air supply pure and fresh.

Best of all, July and August are hands-down the best months all year to have this service done, because this is when your immune system can most benefit from having the cleanest, freshest air to breathe!

Give Us a Call

Here at Clean Air Solutions Hamilton, our goal is to keep you healthy year-round. Give us a call at 905-544-2470 to schedule your free consultation for a professional indoor air duct cleaning.

And don’t forget to take advantage of our Breathe Clean Air event for 20 percent off whole home HEPA filters, UV filters, heat recovery ventilators, and humidifiers.

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Donít Let Your Dryer Burn Your House Down! Timely Tips for Home Safety

dryer fire hazard

According to CTV News Vancouver, 2016 was the first year that the number of home fires related to dirty dryer vents increased.

How do dryer vent-related fires occur? In a nutshell, the fire starts when there is such an accumulation of lint in the exhaust vents and lint traps that the lint actually catches fire.

Not only are dryer lint fires dangerous (and sometimes deadly), but they can also be very expensive, with an average cost of $200,000.

Unfortunately, the dryer is not one of those appliances that comes with a built-in early warning system to indicate a safety hazard is forming. This contributes to the sense that a dryer can ignite “without warning.” But the warning was there all along, right inside the main lint trap.

In this post, we take a look at how a dirty dryer system affects your health, energy bill and safety, and offer recommendations to reduce your risk.

Your Dryer: A Personal Firestarter

The average dryer is a fairly simple appliance. The motor operates the fan and the clothes drum, which releases moist steam as the clothes are dried. There is a heating element to heat the air that dries the clothes.

Then there is the lint filter, which extracts lint from the air as it leaves the unit. Without regular cleaning, the amount a filter can extract will be greatly reduced over time.

When lint can no longer be extracted by the filter, it will be retained inside the dryer itself. Having nowhere else to go, it may cling to the motor and fan, causing a heat build-up inside the dryer.

When the heat gets high enough, the lint-covered motor can catch fire.

Where the Lint Is: A Simple Dryer Map

So where exactly does lint accumulate inside your dryer?

Lint trap

Of course it accumulates in the lint trap filter until the filter gets full, but there are other places where lint naturally collects as well.

Exhaust tube

Accumulated lint that gets pushed through the filter travels down the exhaust tube and gets stuck in the creases and folds of the tube. This is exacerbated when your tube is made of more flexible or corrugated tubing rather than a rigid metal.

A longer flexible or corrugated tube can also pose more risk of accumulating excess lint, especially if it has to twist or turn on its route to the outside.

Exhaust vent

The exhaust vent is the final structure that connects the exhaust tube to the outside. Ideally, this vent will be free and clear of debris or lint so your dryer can fully expel excess moisture to the outside safely.

The danger presented by a dirty exhaust vent comes both from excess lint that is not being filtered out by the lint trap and debris that accumulates around or in the vent from outside. An example might be a bird’s nest in the protective casing of the vent. Winter debris like leaves and twigs that get pushed up into the vent because of snowfall can also block the vent.

Warning Signs That Your Dryer Needs Cleaning

These can serve as a type of early warning system to let you know that your dryer may be at risk of causing a home fire.

  • Your clothing no longer dries fully in a single dryer cycle (35 to 40 minutes is average).

  • Your clothing smells musty after a dryer cycle.

  • The inside of the dryer has a stale, musty smell.

  • The dryer itself and/or the clothing is very hot.

  • You notice lint actually coming out of the main lint trap.

  • You have no record of dryer cleaning service within the last 12 months.

Small Safety Steps to Avoid a Dryer Fire

You can take some preventative steps at home to reduce the risk that your dryer might be the cause of a home fire.

  • Line dry large or heavy linens (or take them to a commercial laundry facility).

  • Let your dryer rest and cool after each 40 minute dryer cycle.

  • Cover the outside exhaust vent with a cap or fine mesh cover to reduce the likelihood that nesting birds or debris will get lodged inside the opening.

  • Don’t use commercial dryer sheets or liquid fabric softeners, which can contain toxic or flammable ingredients.

  • Remove lint from the main trap after EVERY dryer cycle.

  • Use the vacuum attachment on your vacuum cleaner to suck up excess lint and debris from the lint trap and other visible areas around your dryer.

  • Move the dryer unit away from the wall and vacuum out excess dust, dirt, debris and lint that may have collected (SAFETY NOTE: disconnect the power before you do this!).

Schedule Your Professional Dryer Vent Cleaning

During a professional dryer vent cleaning service, your technician will vacuum out your dryer vent and lint traps using both a high-efficiency vacuum and a rotating brush that cleans the insides of the vent and traps to remove hardened debris.

Next, your technician will clean out the ventilation pipes and the exhaust vent and vent cover or cap. Finally, your technician will offer you valuable diagnostic information to troubleshoot visible safety issues and recommend preventative steps against a future fire risk.

This economical safety service can take as little as 30 minutes to perform.

Take Part in Our Breathe Clean Air Event!

For a limited time only, Clean Air Solutions Hamilton is offering a 20 percent discount on the purchase of all whole home air filters, whole home ultraviolet filters, whole home humidifiers, and heat recovery ventilators.

Just complete this simple online form to participate! Or give us a call at 905-544-2470.

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Understanding Your Options to Improve Your Indoor Air Quality

save 20% on indoor air equipment

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), indoor air quality is an industry term that refers to how healthy (or not) the air supply is inside a structure.

Say, for instance, that every time you walk inside your home, your eyes start to itch and your nose starts to run. There could be many reasons for this, but the most likely reason is that there is something inside your home that is causing your eyes and nose to react.

In some cases, you may have a similar physical reaction only when you go to work. As the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) explains, this may be an indication of “sick building syndrome” (SBS), which occurs when there is some kind of contaminant or toxin on site that causes health symptoms to appear.

The more you can learn about maintaining healthy and safe indoor air at home and work, the less likely it is that your health will suffer because you are breathing in contaminated air. In this article, we will review some of the most popular and effective options for cleaning and purifying your indoor air in any space.

What Is a Whole Home HEPA Filter?

A whole home HEPA filter is a very advanced type of air filtration system that can clean the air inside your entire space.

The acronym HEPA stands for “high efficiency particulate air.” The original HEPA filter was invented back in the 1940s to help filter tiny airborne irradiated particles.

This mechanical filter worked by pushing air through a very fine mesh filter. It worked so well that, after the war, the filtration system was adapted for hospital use.

Today, HEPA filters are widely available for residential and commercial spaces. Many vacuum cleaners feature HEPA filtration systems. There are a number of portable room air filters with HEPA systems.

The best system is the whole home HEPA filter. These systems draw very little power and are remarkably efficient. They are also nearly maintenance-free, requiring only filter changes every six to 12 months.

What Is a Whole Home UV Filtration System?

While it seems nearly impossible to believe, you breathe in about 30,000 quarts of air into your lungs every single day!

So if anyone in your family repeatedly struggles with bouts of seasonal allergies, asthma, or respiratory infections, it may be the fault of pollen, germs, bacteria, mould spores, mildew, or other irritants that are floating around in your indoor air supply.

These irritants may not bother you if you just breathe them in occasionally. But if you happen to live or work in a space where you are regularly exposed to them, in time your health will begin to show it.

Ultraviolet (UV) filtration systems are not new. In fact, the response between airborne particulate matter and UV light has been studied as far back as 1845! According to the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), they can be very effective at purifying indoor air provided they are properly installed.

Once installed, these compact and efficient whole home UV filtration systems are entirely self-cleaning and self-maintaining. They not only remove toxins and irritants from the air, but also deodorize it without the use of any chemicals.

What Is a Heat Recovery Ventilator?

A heat recovery ventilator, or HRV, ensures that the air inside your home is always fresh and oxygen-rich.

It does this by making sure the outgoing stale air and incoming fresh air never meet and mix. The modern HRV systems also naturally balance your indoor moisture levels and remove unpleasant airborne odours.

If you have ever struggled with mould and mildew in certain rooms of your home, an HRV can help take care of that for you as well. These systems are compact, very efficient, and provide year-round energy savings as well.

What Is a Whole Home Humidifier?

As the name suggests, a humidifier is a device with the sole purpose of adding humidity back into your indoor air.

Why would you want to do this? Many people like to use humidifiers in the dry winter season, when indoor air humidity levels can fall as low as 10 percent. At this low level, dry skin, chapped lips, and increased risk of respiratory infection and flu is all likely.

But humidifiers are also useful for other reasons. Some people who suffer with allergies and asthma find that breathing in moist air significantly reduces their struggles. For some people who have skin conditions like psoriasis or eczema, humidifiers can moisten skin and reduce irritation.

This one might surprise you, but humidifiers can also help to preserve antique wood furniture and wood floors, as well as homes made from wood, from cracking, buckling, or separating when humidity levels fall very low.

One of the best ways to keep your indoor air humidity levels balanced year-round is to install a whole home humidifier.

Whether for your own health, to help a family member or to keep your investments in expensive wood furnishings intact, these systems are integrated and efficient. Once set up, they need very little in the way of ongoing maintenance, and you can turn them on or off as desired with a touch of a digital button.

Get 20 Percent Off With Our Breathe Clean Air Event!

Our June Breathe Clean Air Event was such a smash success we decided to extend it another month! Right now, get 20 percent off any whole home HEPA filters, whole home UV filtration systems, heat recovery ventilators, and whole home humidifier systems, complete with Clean Air Solutions’ expert consultation, installation, setup, and maintenance.

To learn more or schedule your appointment, you can complete our easy online form.

Give Us a Call

Clean Air Solutions Hamilton's professional, friendly staff is here for you. To schedule your complimentary consultation for improved home or workplace indoor air quality, just give us a call at 905-544-2470.

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