CleanAir Solutions Blog
Why This Is the Year to Upgrade Your Indoor Air Quality
It nearly goes without saying that if ever there was a year to upgrade your indoor air quality, this would be the year.
COVID-19 has dug in its heels even as we continue to fight back with all the tools we have.
This means the more we can do to stay safe and healthy, the more we should do to stay safe and healthy.
Add to it that allergy season is already knocking at our door - are your sinuses ready? If you are quite literally dreading the start of the notorious spring ragweed bloom, now is the time to take action.
In this post, find out what you need to know about how to create a healthy, breathable sanctuary inside your home or workplace. Our CleanAir Solutions experts in Hamilton, Ontario, provide the indoor air quality knowledge and tools you need to keep your airways clear!
What to Do Before You Buy a HEPA Filter or UV Purifier (MUST READ)
Both technologies are highly recommended for improving indoor air quality and we will talk more about each shortly!
But all too often when our service technicians would arrive to install the customer's new HVAC equipment, they would walk into a much bigger problem....
Dirty, clogged air ducts.
Don't misunderstand - even if your air ducts are chock-full of dirt and debris, UV air purification and HEPA filtration can still offer some improvement.
But the difference is one of putting a band-aid on a broken bone versus visiting a surgeon to have the bone properly set and casted so that it can fully heal.
Air ducts are hard to see and even harder to inspect. But this is also why air ducts are the most neglected of all HVAC components. And neglected air ducts can deliver problems that no amount of spending in other areas can completely remedy.
In contrast, when your indoor air duct system is insulated, sealed, cleaned and sanitized, any other indoor air quality aid you install can deliver instant results to full capacity.
This is why we strongly recommend scheduling an indoor air duct cleaning before you make any other alterations to your HVAC system or add any other air quality components.
Is a HEPA Filter or UV Air Purifier Better?
When the COVID-19 outbreak was first announced and media sources pounced on UV air purification and HEPA filtration as potential safeguards, we were deluged with questions from anxious customers about which was better.
Should they buy a HEPA filter or an ultraviolet air purifier?
What most media reports failed to report on is that these two components do very different things. They are not interchangeable in any way!
So let's take a quick look at what each component does and how it works.
HEPA stands for high efficiency particulate air. And a filter is a device that traps matter and retains it. We use filters in all kinds of ways and for all kinds of jobs.
But a HEPA filter is special. HEPA technology is capable of trapping solid particles as small as 1/100th the width of a single hair on your head. This means HEPA filters are capable of trapping micro-particles carrying unwelcome passengers like tiny SARS-CoV-2 droplets.
Many people do not realize that they can't just go out and buy a HEPA filter for their HVAC unit.
Unless your HVAC system is rated at MERV 17 through 20, you will face a serious fire risk and skyrocketing energy bills. You’ll also experience possible system failure if you try to use a HEPA filter with a non-HEPA rated air conditioner or furnace system.
But there is still a way to add HEPA filtration to your home. We recommend installing a whole home HEPA filtration system for ducted spaces and a portable system for non-ducted spaces.
The HEPA filtration system can trap floating solids (and their liquid or gaseous passengers) before they enter your ducts and float out into your space.
UV Air Purifier
Now that you understand what a HEPA filter is and does, let's look at how it is different from ultraviolet air purification.
The sun is the most powerful source of ultraviolet light. And ultraviolet light is the most powerful purification agent on the planet.
Purification works differently than filtration. While filtration traps solid matter and retains it, purification changes the molecular structure of liquid or gaseous matter to render it harmless.
When ultraviolet light hits a COVID-19 droplet, for example, it damages the delicate organic membrane that surrounds the viral RNA, damaging it so that it cannot replicate.
This is what makes UV purification such a powerful way to help protect against airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2.
The best way to add ultraviolet purification to a home or workplace is quite similar to what we recommend for adding HEPA filtration.
What you want to do is install a whole home UV purifier for ducted spaces or a portable UV purifier for non-ducted spaces. The purifier can treat fresh incoming air before it moves into your ducts and out into each room in your space.
Should You Get Both HEPA Filtration and UV Purification?
Because HEPA filtration works on solid airborne matter and UV purification works on liquid or gaseous airborne matter, some customers do choose to install both types of systems.
CleanAir Solutions in Hamilton, Ontario, is Your Indoor Air Quality Expert
We are proud to serve Hamilton, Ontario, and surrounding areas, with providing professional air duct cleaning and a wide variety of highly effective indoor air quality aids.
BONUS: Call now and save 10 percent on any of our popular air duct cleaning packages. Also, take $100 off the purchase of any whole home indoor air quality equipment. These spring cleaning deals are only good through May 31, 2021 - don't miss your chance!
How To Improve Indoor Air Quality During The COVID-19 Pandemic
Air filtration is a complex topic. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise!
The global pandemic has increased awareness of the need for upgraded indoor air quality. But what it hasn't done is foster clarity about exactly how to accomplish this goal.
In fact, for many of our CleanAir Solutions customers, heightened urgency and media attention has created more confusion rather than less.
Terms sound frighteningly similar. Media reports are sometimes wildly inaccurate. And no one seems to know exactly which type of air quality system does what.
This blog post is going to change all that. Read on to learn the facts you need to know now in order to make intelligent, informed indoor air quality choices today.
Air Filtration Versus Air Purification Versus Air Ventilation
The first step to demystify indoor air quality is to clearly define three terms that get used interchangeably far too often in popular media: filtration, purification and ventilation.
Here is what you need to know.
Air filtration is a medium that traps airborne particulate solids, effectively removing them from your indoor air supply.
The gold standard in indoor air filtration is HEPA, or high efficiency particulate air.
What is a HEPA filter? First developed during World War II to assist scientists working with radioactive matter in a laboratory setting, a HEPA filter is still our first line of defense against solid microparticles.
A HEPA filter (or MERV filter 17-20 equivalent) can effectively trap and remove microparticles as small as 0.3 microns (or 1/100th the width of a single human hair).
A HEPA filter is also used widely in COVID-19 patient wards - worldwide!
Air purification is very different from air filtration - even though the two terms are often used as if they are one and the same.
Here is what you need to know about air purifier technology.
The most powerful air purifier on our planet is the ultraviolet light bands produced by our sun.
The sun produces three bands of ultraviolet light - UV-A, UV-B and UV-C. UV-A and UV-B. These bands of light are effectively blocked by our planet's ozone layer (which is why it is so important to pay attention and stay inside on "ozone alert" days when the ozone layer is thin!).
UV-C, the most powerful natural light band, is also the only one that the ozone layer cannot block. This is why doctors tell us to wear sunblock when we go outside.
While there are several types of air purification processes, short wave UV-C air purifier systems are considered to be the most effective. They are also the most common purification technology being used by hospitals for air purification on COVID-19 patient wards.
Ultraviolet air purifier systems harness a synthetic version of UV-C light that irradiates the air and changes the molecular structure of organic airborne gases and liquids, including airborne droplets containing active coronavirus RNA.
This is all well and good, but then what the heck is air ventilation? And why is ventilation so important?
On hospital wards where COVID-19 patients are being treated and monitored, the goal is to cycle through six complete air changes per hour. This is a tall order and is only achievable with the help of state-of-the-art indoor air ventilation systems.
The most energy efficient and cost effective ventilation system is called the heat recovery ventilator.
A heat recovery ventilator separates fresh incoming air and stale outgoing air so that the two airstreams never meet. This is essential to ensure air that potentially contains active airborne viral droplets gets safely exhausted to the outside.
But HRV systems do more than this. They also recycle heat energy that would otherwise drive up your energy bills. HRV systems also help to balance indoor air humidity levels, which is another essential in helping to combat the threat of COVID-19.
Which COVID-19 Indoor Air Quality System Do You Need?
So, now you have met the three primary types of technology being used today to create safer indoor spaces as the global pandemic continues.
But which type of system do you need?
The system you need will depend entirely on the risk level inside your space. Here, risk factors to consider include each of the following:
- Do you share an HVAC system with other individuals (such as a multi-unit living or workspace)?
- Is anyone in your home currently recovering from COVID-19?
- Is anyone in your home very young, elderly or immunocompromised?
- Does anyone in your home or workplace smoke or suffer from any type of chronic respiratory condition or other known risk factor?
- What existing air filtration, purification or ventilation aids do you have?
Why are these five criteria so important?
Research has confirmed that multi-unit spaces with shared HVAC ductwork are capable of spreading airborne infectious droplets longer distances. We also know that individuals who fall into certain health categories are more vulnerable to contracting COVID-19.
And some spaces have access to existing air quality controls such as windows and doors that open to the outside, ceiling or floor fans, exhaust or attic fans and higher MERV-rated HVAC systems.
But if your home or workplace does not fall into any of these categories, you may be best-served by installing a combination of aids.
A HEPA air filter can handle solid airborne particulates that may carry infectious droplets or otherwise compromise immune function and overall respiratory health.
Ultraviolet air purification can sufficiently damage SARS-CoV-2 RNA so as to render it unable to replicate and cause COVID-19.
And air ventilation (or heat recovery ventilator) can flood your space with a continual influx of fresh air to dilute the impact of airborne toxins and exhaust them to the outside in a safe and effective manner.
CleanAir Solutions in Hamilton, Ontario, Handles All Your Indoor Air Quality Needs
Upgrade your indoor air quality with a cutting edge HEPA filter, ultraviolet air purification and heat recovery ventilator!
Be sure to ask us about contactless estimate, service, invoicing and payment options.
How to Breathe Cleaner Indoor Air At Home & Save Money With A Heat Recovery Ventilator
If you haven't yet heard of the heat recovery ventilator, you are in for a treat.
Or rather, your lungs and wallet are in for a treat.
Because this wonder appliance can protect your respiratory health and trim your energy budget - all at the same time!
The heat recovery ventilator is so good at its job that the city of Toronto recently changed its building code to require these appliances to be installed for new construction projects.
But while ventilation itself has become somewhat of a hot topic since the onset of the global pandemic, too many of us still aren't sure exactly why it is so important, let alone how to add ventilation back into our home or workplace.
This blog post is designed to answer both of these important questions. Keep reading as our indoor air experts at CleanAir Solutions in Hamilton break this down!
What Is Ventilation?
If you are already familiar with ventilation, you can skip ahead to the next section. But what we find to be more true is that ventilation is one of those words we tend to think we understand better than we actually do.
The true textbook definition of ventilation is to add fresh air back into a space.
The simplest way to ventilate is to open a window or door. This, however, is not always possible, let alone practical or safe.
Bringing in a new fresh air supply then becomes more complicated. You want the air to be clean. You need this air to be temperature appropriate. And you require your new supply of air to be reliable and steady.
What Is a Heat Recovery Ventilator?
Heat recovery ventilation is actually not a new invention. What is new is mass production and availability of affordable versions of this technology.
With a heat recovery ventilator, or HRV, you are actually getting three appliances in one: an energy recycler, a fresh air ventilator and an air filter.
1. Heat Recovery
The term heat recovery is actually a little bit misleading. A more accurate term might be “heat exchange” - and in fact, these appliances are sometimes called heat exchangers.
During the cold months, heat energy is retained and used to preheat the fresh incoming (and very cold) outside air. This, in turn, reduces workload and energy draw on your furnace to do that same job.
During the warm months, heat energy from the fresh incoming (and very hot) outside air is drawn out as it passes through the heat exchanger core. Then, that excess heat is pushed back out through the exhaust, reducing the workload and energy draw on your air conditioner.
You might assume you don't need an extra ventilator when you can just run your HVAC fan continuously in order to get the same, basic effect.
However, this will cause a tremendous amount of wear and tear on your HVAC system, potentially shortening its useful life while also running up your energy bills all year long.
The heat recovery ventilator uses two completely separate air pathways to recover heat energy in winter and exhaust it in summer.
These two separate air pathways ensure a steady supply of fresh outside air that never mixes with stale outgoing air.
Heat recovery ventilation also includes a filtration element.
While heat recovery ventilators are best known for their energy recycling and ventilating benefits, these appliances also house a specialized air filter. I’m
This filter works to pull allergens like pollen, mould and mildew spores, dust, ash and other particulate matter out of the incoming fresh air stream before it gets distributed through your air ducts.
So what you get is a double layer of air filtration from the heat recovery ventilator filter and your HVAC system filter.
What Is An Energy Recovery Ventilator?
Heat recovery ventilators and energy recovery ventilators are closely related - and their names are similar enough to cause a lot of confusion. However, the latter is not as popular here in the far north.
The reason is because energy recovery ventilators add yet another layer of indoor air management - humidity control.
Excess humidity isn't typically a big problem here in Canada. In fact, just the opposite tends to be the case, especially during our long, cold winters.
And now that we know humidity has COVID-19 fighting properties, there is even less incentive for us to remove excess indoor humidity.
Health researchers tell us that while elevating indoor humidity cannot prevent the spread of COVID-19, keeping indoor humidity between 40 and 60 percent may be able to reduce the threat.
If you are having trouble maintaining sufficient indoor humidity at 40 percent or higher, we recommend installing a whole home humidifier system. These systems can typically retrofit with any existing ducted central HVAC system.
Can You Benefit From a Heat Recovery Ventilator? I’m
Heat recovery ventilation seamlessly and silently delivers three vital indoor air quality benefits:
- Removes stale indoor air loaded with toxins and pollutants.
- Adds back a continual, reliable supply of fresh filtered air.
- Reduces workload and energy draw on your existing HVAC system (and saves you money).
Heat recovery ventilators need virtually no routine maintenance and can recapture up to 95 percent of heat energy that would otherwise be lost and wasted.
Does the idea of enjoying fresher, cleaner indoor air, combined with lower energy bills for heating and cooling sound appealing? You may benefit from adding a heat recovery ventilator to your existing HVAC system.
Contact CleanAir Solutions For Ventilation Solutions in Hamilton, Ontario
With another projected hot and sticky summer just around the corner, now is the time to start thinking about how to trim your energy bills. If you can do it while adding back ventilation, even better!
* Free contact-less estimates, quotes, service calls and payment options are available.