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CleanAir Solutions Blog

October 2019

How to Keep These 3 Spooky Toxins OUT of Your Indoor Air!

spooky cartoon ghost

Halloween is just around the corner now and everyone’s got spooky, scary things on the brain.

If you haven’t picked out your Halloween costume yet, we’ve got some unusual ideas for you!

How about going as a biological contaminant? Super-spooky, right?

Or perhaps you could dress up as Volatile Organic Compounds. (If you have a group of friends willing to do a themed costume with you, this is a particularly great choice!)

Another awesome idea: you could vie for the “scariest costume” prize by going as combustion by-products.

Whether or not you like to get in costume for All Hallows Eve, you can be sure these three terrifying toxins are out in force on Halloween night and every other night (and day) of the year - right inside your own home.

How can you get them out of your indoor air and keep them out? Read on to find out!

Meet the Super-Scary Three

Biological contaminants. Combustion by-products. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

Just their names sound scary enough, don’t they?

But what exactly are they? And how do they get inside your home?

Unfortunately, the number one cause of escalating indoor air toxicity is usually the occupants of the home – you and your family. As you will notice, most of these toxins arise from use of certain products or appliances as well as some common lifestyle choices.

Biological contaminants

As their name suggests, biological contaminants are made up of organic matter. They come from people, pets, the great outdoors and, more often than not, the not-so-great indoors.

Common examples of biological contaminants include pet dander, pollen, dust mites, bacteria, viral germs, fungi like mould and mildew spores, insect and animal waste and more.

Combustion by-products

Combustion by-products are most commonly produced by people or appliances or both.

For example, if someone in your household smokes, the secondhand smoke they breathe out is loaded with combustion by-products including carbon monoxide, nitrogen and sulphur dioxide.

In the same way, use of a gas or wood fireplace, gas or wood-burning stove, propane or natural gas-fired appliances and even nearby idling cars can easily introduce these toxins into your indoor air.

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs)

Like biological contaminants and combustion by-products, VOCs are also made from organic matter. But VOCs are in gaseous form.

VOC gases can be released by the use of fossil fuels, adhesives or glues, paints or solvents, components of home renovation, household cleaning supplies, air fresheners, pesticides, new home furnishings and furniture, and even use of office equipment.

Common examples of volatile organic compounds include formaldehyde, xylene, benzene, ethylene glycol, toluene, methylene chloride, tetrachloroethylene and similar hard-to-pronounce (and spell!) chemicals.

What Makes These 3 Toxins So Scary?

If you are like most of us, you are no stranger to living with all three of these spooky household and workplace toxins.

However, in the last minute or so, something significant has changed: now you know about it.

Now that you know what is in your indoor air, we will give you the high points of what these potent toxins can do to you and your family:

  • Damage your lung tissues.

  • Trigger asthma attacks.

  • Worsen seasonal allergies.

  • Cause heart inflammation and chest pain.

  • Increase your cancer risk.

  • Produce skin infections.

  • Weaken your immune system.

  • Kill you (do you have a carbon monoxide alarm in your home?).

How to Get All 3 Toxins OUT of Your House for Good

When you take these four steps, you can look forward to cleaner, safer indoor air now and into the future.

1. Clean, clean, clean

The first thing you need to do is keep your space as squeaky clean as you can. This includes regular chores like dusting, vacuuming (with a HEPA filter-equipped vacuum), sweeping, etc.

If you use a portable humidifier, be sure to clean it every few days during use. Use your exhaust vents and bathroom fans to keep excess humidity from creating mould. And be sure to change your air filters monthly!

2. Clean some more

But you will also need to schedule time for deeper cleanings to remove all three categories of toxins from your home permanently.

A professional indoor air duct cleaning will safely pull all trapped toxins out of your air ducts and then sanitize against particulate remains.

A professional dryer vent cleaning will do the same for the deep recesses of your clothes dryer.

An annual preventative HVAC tune-up and safety inspection will catch any issues with the heating pilot or electrical connections as well as remove trapped particulates from the components.

3. Install a HEPA filtration system and UV purifier

HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filters can trap solids as small as 1/100th of the width of a single human hair. There is no better way to remove solid toxins from your indoor air.

Ultraviolet air purifiers can neutralize a wide variety of toxic gases and liquids before they can cause you any harm. They work by using a synthetic band of light that is identical to the sun's ultraviolet light.

4. Install a heat recovery ventilator (HRV)

A heat recovery ventilator is one of your biggest allies in combatting indoor air toxicity. These appliances are also fantastic for lowering your winter heating bills and year-round energy costs.

Heat recovery ventilators balance your indoor air humidity to guard against mould and mildew. They recycle heat energy to lower your energy bills.

Most of all, they vent stale, toxic indoor air to the outside and draw in fresh, oxygenated air for you to breathe.

Get in Touch

Right now through October 31, 2019, save 10 percent on any air duct cleaning package and get a free U.V. light with the purchase of a Gold Package.

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

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Do Heat Recovery Ventilators Need Maintenance?

red paper question mark

Ventilation is an essential component in any HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning) system.

But until just recently, ventilation could have been considered a third wheel beside the power couple of A/C and heat.

Today, ventilation is coming into its own in the wake of escalating energy conservation concerns and subsequent changing building standards. The modern method of ventilating is to install a heat recovery ventilator or HRV.

If you haven’t yet heard of the heat recovery ventilator, prepare to be amazed.

You may even discover this is just the appliance you have been looking for to improve your indoor air quality and HVAC output! You will quite likely also have questions about what type of maintenance HRV units need.

In this blog post, find out what you need to know about the heat recovery ventilator's operation and maintenance requirements.

What Is a Heat Recovery Ventilator?

For reasons of energy conservation, today’s “tight” (aka “airtight”) homes and workplaces must be built to keep up to 100 percent of temperature-controlled air in. 

This is great for lowering utility bills. It isn’t so great for your lungs.

Without some way to ventilate itself (ventilation being a home’s way of “breathing”), the air inside is going to get very stale and toxic very quickly.

Enter the heat recovery ventilator. This nifty appliance is like a set of mechanical lungs for your airtight home or workplace. It “breathes in” fresh, oxygenated air and “breathes out” stale, toxic, carbon dioxide-loaded air.

But it also does one more incredible thing. It conserves otherwise wasted heat energy to further reduce your utility bills. Some units are able to conserve up to 95 percent of heat energy and funnel it toward pre-heating incoming air in winter and even pre-heating water.

Now that you have a more complete picture of exactly what a heat recovery ventilator does, let’s take a look at the HRV's maintenance needs.

Heat Recovery Ventilator Maintenance

While heat recovery ventilators as a whole are simple, sturdy, efficient and long-lasting appliances, they do need regular preventative maintenance to deliver optimal performance.

In fact, many of the maintenance needs of the average heat recovery ventilator are quite similar to the needs of the average furnace and air conditioning system

How often do HRVs need maintenance?

You will be happy to hear that heat recovery ventilators generally need only once-annual preventative maintenance.

As long as the appliance receives this annual maintenance inspection, cleaning and tune-up, you are unlikely to experience any surprise repair needs or outages during the months in between.

What type of maintenance is required?

There are 10 basic steps that ensure your heat recovery ventilator is performing optimally and safely.

  1. Clean the exterior of the unit, including the vents.

  2. Clean the interior of the unit, including the fan housing and blades.

  3. Clean the core and filters and/or replace them.

  4. Check and clean the defrost damper.

  5. Check and clean the cold air sensor.

  6. Check, clean and rebalance the air flows (intake/exhaust).

  7. Check, clean and reseal the duct connections.

  8. Check and clean ceiling/wall air registers.

  9. Check and test the heat exchange system.

  10. Check and test the HRV wall control unit.

After completing this maintenance checklist, the HRV service technician will advise if any minor repairs are needed as well.

The Importance of Indoor Air Duct Cleaning & Maintenance

Just like your heating and air conditioning components, the heat recovery ventilator works directly with your ductwork to remove stale, toxic air and replace it with fresh, oxygenated air.

Every component relies on the others to deliver the best and most efficient performance.

This means that if your ducts themselves are not clean and well maintained, it will not be possible to receive the full benefit of what a heat recovery ventilator can do.

Even if your ductwork is brand-new and airtight, every single time your HVAC system cycles on, small amounts of the toxins trapped in your ductwork will get pushed back out into your home.

Over time, aging duct systems, in particular, may degrade, sag, even rip or tear away from connection points. In this way, ducts soon become a major part of the indoor air quality issues inside a home.

(To get a bird’s-eye view of what our technicians see weekly during professional duct cleaning service calls, watch this short video!)

How often do ducts need maintenance?

Unlike the other major components of the typical HVAC system, ducts do not generally require annual maintenance.

As long as your HVAC technician does a basic visual check of all the component-to-duct connection points annually, the average air duct system can go for three to five years or longer between professional duct cleanings.

However, if someone in your home smokes or vapes or uses a lot of air fresheners or commercial cleaning products, you may need to schedule more frequent cleanings. The same holds true if someone in your family struggles with asthma or severe seasonal allergies or you have an indoor pet.

What type of maintenance do ducts need?

There are three types of maintenance that a central duct system needs to stay efficient and effective.

Basic repairs and resealing

When ducts start to sag, they may need to be replaced before they pull away from connection points.

Ducts often need to be resealed at the connection points. Minor tears may also need repairs.

Insulation

Insulating ducts will not only give your energy efficiency a giant boost, but it will also make it that much harder for bugs or critters to creep inside.

Professional air duct cleaning

Through October 31, 2019, save 10 percent on all air duct cleaning packages. Purchase the Gold package and get a free UV light!

Get in Touch

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

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Save $600 & Boost Air Quality with Duct Sealing and Duct Cleaning

duct tape roll

Ducts are not the superstars of your typical heating and air conditioning system.

As supporting cast members, your ducts are out of the limelight. Only rarely does anyone think to see if they need to be cleaned, repaired or replaced.

But ducts have a really important job to do! They are responsible for getting your temperature-controlled indoor air to its final destination, clean and pristine and still just as warm (or cool) as when it sets out.

However, because air ducts generally can’t be easily seen or accessed, they are also rarely blamed when things go wrong. It is easy to misdiagnose a problem as arising from the furnace or A/C, only to get more and more frustrated when repeated repairs do not resolve the issue.

In this article, learn how to take care of your ducts this winter so they can keep taking care of you!

Ducts Are Top Energy Wasters in the HVAC System

If there is one award no HVAC component wants to win, it is “top energy waster.” And yet, according to industry news, that is exactly what the average duct system does. It wastes energy.

Up to 40 percent of the temperature-controlled air you pay for each day gets busy leaking out of the average air duct before it ever reaches its dedicated air register.

The average Canadian homeowner spends approximately $2,358 per year on energy. Sixty-four percent of that expense goes to air conditioning and heating. Forty percent of that is just over $600.

If you would like your $600 back (and then some), read on to find out what to do before winter – the most expensive HVAC season in Canada – rolls in again.

2 Steps to Fix Your Old, Leaking, Dirty Ducts

Up to 95 percent of older homes are outfitted with elderly, leaking air ducts. But since you can’t readily view your ducts, it is easy to blame the air filter or furnace for dust, dirt, odours and mould inside your home.

This is especially concerning during the winter season, when the air is often less humid, causing allergies and asthma, sinusitis, cold and flu cases to develop more easily.

Step 1: Duct Sealing: Repair and Insulate (or Replace)

The first step on the road toward duct efficiency is sealing. Imagine your duct system way back when it was brand-new. It was clean and shiny both outside and in. All of the individual ducts connected seamlessly to each other and the master air output.

The moment your HVAC system cycled on, forced air would blow through the ducts and absolutely none of it would leak out. Amazing, right?

This can all be yours again, but your duct system is going to need some help from you to get there.

Since ducts tend to be somewhat difficult to access, not all homeowners choose to tackle this project themselves, although it certainly can be done. Otherwise, your professional HVAC technician can perform this service for you.

There are four general steps to restoring the basic structure and function of your duct system:

  1. Assess your air ducts for rips, tears, cracks and leaks and repair them.

  2. Replace any ducts that are damaged, collapsed or sagging beyond restoration.

  3. Seal all connection points against leakage.

  4. Insulate the exterior of each duct.

In some cases, an inspection may reveal that most or all of your ducts are in poor condition. While the average duct system will last for one to two decades before needing a full replacement, some duct systems will last longer than this.

It all depends on HVAC usage patterns, prior maintenance history, duct material (some are more durable than others), quality of initial installation and similar factors.

As well, if your HVAC technician discovers a “ductopus” – an industry term for ductwork that is so poorly routed it looks more like a many-legged marine animal than an air conduit system – it may be time for a replacement.

Once your ductwork has been repaired and restored or replaced, it is time to move on to step two: duct cleaning.

Step 2: Duct Cleaning: Clean and Sanitize

The reason you want to do your duct sealing, repair and/or replacement first is because of how a professional air duct cleaning is done.

There is only one way to make sure that all the trapped dust, debris, pet dander, insect remains, rodent waste, volatile organic compounds, particulate toxins and other matter is securely and fully removed from your ducts.

They must be completely sealed from the outside first!

Once they are sealed, our professional air duct cleaning technicians can attach the industrial-grade negative pressure vacuum to securely suck out all trapped matter and scour the interior walls of your ducts so none remains.

Then we can send in our sanitizing agent to remove any remaining traces of mildew or mould, bacteria or fungi, all the while ensuring not one spec makes it into your inside air itself.

A professional indoor air duct cleaning done right will give you your brand-new duct system back – but only if your ducts are sealed before it is done.

Otherwise, doing an air duct cleaning on leaking ducts can send as much as 30 percent of trapped toxins into your inside air in the very same way that leaking ducts send heated or cooled air out behind your ceilings and walls.

Get in Touch

Are you concerned about indoor air quality this winter as cold and flu season rolls in once again? When was the last time you had your ductwork assessed for repairs and cleaning? We can help on both counts – just give us a call!

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

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