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CleanAir Solutions Blog

March 2019

Isnít It About Time You Gave Your Air Ducts Some Love

dirty furnace filter closeup

To hear air conditioning historians tell it, up until the last century, the only real option for air conditioning was sitting on the porch and fanning yourself vigorously with anything that happened to be handy.

Thank goodness for human ingenuity! Starting with the first electric fans in the mid-1900s, HVAC technology has grown by leaps and bounds, fueled by people’s desire to find easier, more reliable ways to stay safe and cool in summer and safe and warm in winter.

Today, we have something truly wonderful called the “central air duct system.” Central ducts deliver warm and cool air to each room inside a home or workspace without us having to lift a finger!

And yet, just as we often fail to appreciate our own bodies until something goes wrong, we often forget all about the benefit of air ducts until they start blowing overly humid or dry, dusty or stale air into our rooms.

P.S. Read to the end of this post to find out how you can save 10 percent on indoor air duct cleaning service now and through April!

Do Your Air Ducts REALLY Need to be Cleaned?

This is a great question and one we can tackle from a variety of angles.

According to Energy Star, proper air duct maintenance is just one of several ways you can reduce your monthly energy expense, extend the useful life of your heating and cooling system and improve the quality of your indoor air.

In fact, air duct maintenance on its own will not be enough to resolve issues in any of these or other areas… although it certainly will help!

But just imagine, for instance, that you left your furnace filter in all year long… and then all the next year and the year after that. Can you even visualize how clogged and dirty and toxic your furnace filter would look when you finally pulled it out?

Plus, all that clogged dust and debris could easily start a house fire if the filter got too clogged and debris got sucked back into your furnace itself. One spark and you become a statistic.

A similar concept is at work when your central air duct system goes without simple cleaning and maintenance year after year after year. Even if nothing major has occurred, such as a home renovation or an HVAC system upgrade, over time your air ducts will start to accumulate plenty of dust, debris and toxins. You can see a picture illustrating how this looks from inside of a duct in this short video.

So does your air duct system really need to be cleaned?

The simplest answer is that if you have no record of a previous owner ever cleaning your air ducts and you have not done it yourself and your home is more than five years old, it just stands to reason that it may be time to have a look inside.

How to Know for Sure Your Air Ducts Need to be Cleaned

Even if you can extrapolate from the age of your air duct system and a lack of prior maintenance records that your ducts may need to be cleaned, it is still nice to know for sure.

Every time our technicians come out to do a professional indoor air duct cleaning service, they start by running a tiny remote camera up into your air ducts themselves. They stand right there with you while they do this so you get to see what they’re seeing.

If our technicians see clean air ducts, they know there is no need to proceed with the cleaning service. But if you both see piles of dust bunnies, mould or mildew colonies, insect or animal debris or other matter that so frequently finds its way inside residential or workspace air ducts, then they and you know cleaning is the right next step to take.

We never recommend cleaning air ducts that already look clean—we don’t want to waste your time and money. So we let you make the final decision about whether to move forward with an indoor air duct cleaning service.

Other Duct Maintenance Needs You Don’t Want to Ignore

Air ducts themselves have a useful shelf life. Over time, your air duct system can start to get older, sag, leak, tear or even detach from the rest of the system. Insects, mould, mildew, small animals, humidity and time itself can cause structural degradation that makes your air ducts less effective at doing their job.

As this happens, the air your ducts deliver to your home or workplace rooms is less clean and pure.

Every few years, it makes good sense to have your air ducts checked out, repaired, re-insulated and maintained as needed to extend their useful life and keep them functioning well.

If maintenance and/or repair is needed, we always recommend scheduling this at the same time you schedule your professional indoor air duct cleaning service.

We recommend doing the duct maintenance service first, repairing or replacing leaking, torn or sagging ducts and adding extra insulation before vacuuming and sanitizing the inside of your ducts.

Get in Touch

Right now and through the end of April, save 10 percent on any of our duct cleaning packages!

Contact us online or give us a call at 905-544-2470.

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How to Pick the Best Indoor Air Filtration System For Your Needs

air filter closeup

Different folks seek out enhanced air filtration systems for different reasons.

For example, you may be suffering back-to-back bouts of seasonal allergies (did you know Canada has four different allergy seasons?) and you need to feel better fast.

Or perhaps someone in your family suffers from asthma and they need the help air filtration can provide to ease symptoms.

Maybe you are concerned about off-gassing and combustion by-products from cooking, tobacco use, running your fireplace or furnace and other causes.

Whatever your purpose in shopping for an air filtration system for your home, these tips will help you make a smart purchase that meets your needs!

Understand the Difference Between Filtration and Purification

These two terms sound similar and are frequently used interchangeably. But they don’t mean the same thing and they don’t do the same thing.

An air filtration system uses special filters to trap airborne toxins so they cannot pass through into your home or workplace air supply. The best filters can trap particulate matter as tiny as 1/100th of a single human hair! There are different types of filters and some are better at trapping certain toxins than others.

An air purification system, on the other hand, uses ultraviolet light technology (and specifically the most powerful UV light band—UV-C) to change the structure of airborne toxins so they cannot harm you. Basically, a purifier zaps the toxin with UV-C light to neutralize any negative impact.

Both of these types of air cleaners are great, but you don’t want to inadvertently purchase one when you are intending to buy the other!

Know the Different Types of Air Filters

Even if you are just now beginning to learn about air filters, you have probably heard the acronym “HEPA.” This stands for high efficiency particulate air and it is a technology that was first developed during World War II.

Today, HEPA is still a leading choice for the toughest air filtration jobs, including many hospitals and laboratories where air cleanliness can be a matter of life or death.

Other air filtration systems include carbon, ionization, ozone and specialized media furnace filters with high ratings (MERV 11 to 20).

So let’s take a closer look at each one of these options and their pros and cons.

HEPA filter

The HEPA filter is the one you want if your goal is to end up with squeaky-clean indoor air. However, there is a catch to be aware of. Standalone HEPA filters (or furnace filters MERV-rated at HEPA levels) typically do not work well with most consumer-grade air conditioning systems.

The HEPA filter is incredibly dense. The denseness is what makes it so good at capturing even the tiniest airborne toxins. But the impact on your A/C unit is similar to the effect of you running straight up the side of a hill. After a few minutes, you are huffing and puffing and still can’t seem to catch your breath.

For this reason, most HEPA filters are sold a bit differently than your traditional furnace filter.

They can be purchased as portable standalone units or central (whole home) units. These units easily retrofit to work with any HVAC system without burdening your furnace or air conditioner with the extra task of pushing air through such a dense filter.

Activated carbon filter

Activated carbon filters (charcoal filters) are designed to do some heavy lifting in a different air quality arena—trapping and neutralizing toxic airborne gaseous molecules by trapping them and removing them from your indoor air supply. This can be great to remove strong odours as well as gaseous toxins.

It is important to know that while activated carbon filters are amazing at what they do, they can’t trap solid particulates like dust or pollen. They work only on gas molecules.

Activated carbon, or charcoal, is made up of porous bits of partially burned organic matter including wood, coal or coconut husks. These bits are “activated” to create their surface area (the area available to trap gaseous toxins).

When all the surface area is filled with toxins, you will need to change the filter.

Ion filter

Ion filters are also called electrostatic filters and ozone filters. Because these filters are actually filterless—instead, they use charged plates—they can be a good option for spaces where there isn’t any way to install a high-level filter to clean the air.

However, we don’t recommend ion filters because they can off-gas ozone. Ozone is protective and wonderful when it is high up in Earth’s atmosphere protecting us from harmful ultraviolet radiation.

But down here on the ground, ozone can cause harm when we breathe it in.

Media filter

There are many different kinds of media filters of varying density and thickness. These filters are sometimes called “low pressure drop” filters because they don’t place the same burden on your HVAC system that a thick, dense HEPA filter can cause.

The typical specialized media filter comes in its own sturdy case and is retrofitted to work with your HVAC system. Installation ensures the filter won’t move about, so all the air will move through the filter before passing out into your ducts.

These filters have a longer lifespan than your typical furnace filter. Some last up to three months and some need changing only once a year.

Do You Need Help Choosing an Air Filtration System?

We proudly carry the Amaircare brand of HEPA air filtration systems.

These wonderful systems are compact and sturdy, and come outfitted with both a HEPA-grade air filter AND a carbon filter, along with a pre-filter for maximum air scrubbing ability.

Our HEPA line can be retrofitted to work with any existing HVAC system to remove solid and gaseous toxins from your indoor air supply.

Get in Touch

Contact us online or give us a call at 905-544-2470.

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Feel Better, Sleep Better, Stay Healthier with the Addition of a Heat Recovery Ventilator

baby daughter dancing with father in living room

Ventilation inside your home is so important that it makes our short list of the top seven steps you need to take to maintain clean, high-quality indoor air.

As it turns out, Ontario agrees and has now mandated that all new residential construction in the GTA must incorporate a heat recovery ventilator for indoor air quality.

The troubling issue at the heart of it all is this: According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the average homeowner’s indoor air supply is up to five times as toxic as their local outside air. And the typical Canadian reports spending as little as only five minutes per day outdoors!

So it just makes sense that we are getting sicker, feeling worse and sleeping less than at any other time in human history. When we are continually breathing in toxins in our air supply, we are going to suffer the consequences!

In this post, we take some time to share why we believe a heat recovery ventilator is an essential addition to your home HVAC system.

What Is a Heat Recovery Ventilator?

So what exactly is a heat recovery ventilator? This wonderful appliance has a simple, vital function: it separates out the fresh, incoming air from the stale, outgoing air. The incoming fresh air has its own passageway, as does outgoing stale air.

This means none of the airborne toxins being exhausted out of your home will ever mingle or mix with the fresh, oxygenated incoming air.

As air is being transported into and out of your home, the heat recovery ventilator is also working to reduce the amount of energy required to keep your home seasonally warm or cool. It accomplishes this by moving heat energy to where it is most useful. In winter, heat that would otherwise be wasted is extracted from the outgoing air and used to preheat incoming air. In summer, the exact opposite process occurs.

A heat recovery ventilator can also help to keep your home humidity-balanced to fight off health issues, mould and mildew.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends keeping your indoor humidity levels between 35 and 50 percent to help reduce asthma and allergies. By removing extra seasonal moisture from your indoor air, a heat recovery ventilator can keep your indoor environment more stable and healthy year-round.

The Link Between Indoor Air Quality and Sleep Quality

Canada recently conducted a six-year sleep study to measure trends in sleep quality and duration for adults aged 18 to 72.

The study results were alarming, to put it mildly! More than half of female participants and just under half of male participants reported getting poor sleep and struggling to stay asleep.

Around the same time the sleep study was going on, the International Journal of Indoor Environment and Health published the results of another study, linking poor indoor air quality with poor sleep quality.

When indoor air quality was improved, sleep study subjects slept better, were more alert and performed much better on tests requiring concentration and use of logic.

The Link Between Better Ventilation and Better Health

Canada’s Factsheet on Ventilation and the Indoor Environment highlights the vital importance of indoor air ventilation to safeguard the health of vulnerable populations, including the elderly and the very young, as well as those who are chronically ill.

The Factsheet points out that there are two basic types of ventilation: natural and mechanical.

In past decades, natural ventilation was the default source for refreshing indoor air. The reason for this is that homes were not built to be particularly airtight. Many small natural inlets and outlets existed to permit stale air to exit a home and fresh air to enter.

Today, increasing concern regarding dwindling natural resources and pressure from activist groups to reduce energy use has placed a premium on airtight construction. When homes are designed to keep outdoor air out and indoor air in, air gets stale and toxic quickly.

While it is true airtight homes use less energy, indoor air toxicity is now its own urgent health issue. Without natural ventilation as an option, it is up to mechanical ventilation to do this job.

The heat recovery ventilator is one of several options for introduced mechanical ventilation (other options include exhaust fans and vents and fresh air furnace ducts).

3 Signs You Need Better Indoor Ventilation

There are several signals that can alert you to poor ventilation and stale, toxic indoor air inside your space. These three signs are among the most common and urgent.

Health symptoms

Eye irritation, skin itching, mental fogginess, fatigue, allergies, cold or flu symptoms, irritability, coughing or sneezing and fitful sleep can all be signs that your indoor air is stale and oxygen-poor.

Structural issues

If your home smells musty, grassy or damp, especially in closets, bathrooms, laundry rooms or around air registers, this can be a sign of lingering moisture that is starting to colonize mildew or mould.

Mystery condensation

Many homeowners wonder why their windows seem to “sweat” seasonally. Window condensation on the inside can signal humidity imbalances that can in turn trigger health issues and mould or mildew growth.

Are You Ready to Feel Better, Sleep Better & Stay Healthier?

Today’s heat recovery ventilator systems are designed to readily interface with any central (ducted) HVAC system.

They are easy to install and even easier to maintain, and they go to work instantly to freshen your indoor air, remove toxins, balance indoor humidity levels and save you money on monthly energy use.

We are proud to carry Greentek heat recovery ventilators. These eco-friendly, high-efficiency units are quiet, compact and loaded with options, including a robust set of warranties to protect your investment.

Get in Touch

Are you ready for fresher, cleaner, healthier indoor air? We can help!

Contact us online or give us a call at 905-544-2470.

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