Biological Contaminants - What they are and how to combat them?

We hear so much about different types of air pollutants but our focus remains on dust & debris. However, when the term ''Air Contaminants'' is taken, a lot more is meant than is understood. One such contaminant is the Biological Contaminants. Very few people know about these pollutants and only fewer know what to do to make the home safe from them. Let us help you understand the truth about Biological Contaminants, how harmful they can be and how to combat them.   

Biological Contaminants - What are they?

Biological Contaminants are basically living organisms that are hazardous for living beings i.e humans/animals if inhaled, swallowed or otherwise get absorbed in the body. This type of contaminants are caused by;
- Bacterias, carried by humans, animals or plants (yes, PLANTS)
- Viruses
- Mould
- Pet saliva and pet dander
- Dropped off body parts of living or dead insects and pests
- Pollens
- Dried urine of rats and mice
- Unmaintained central heating/cooling system (become home of bacterias)

And here an important question arises. What are the places in the home where biological contaminants are supposed to be present in abundance? Roughly, there are two such places;
1. Damp areas like wet bathroom floors, cooling coils, pans of humidifiers, ductwork (in case there is dampness)
2. Places where there is high accumulation of dust, like; curtains, draperies, carpets and bedding etc

Biological Contaminants

Are they harmful? Like how?

An impression comes from the name ''Biological'' that this type of contaminants can't be harmful or at least can't be so very harmful. Wrong wrong! Not only can Biological Contaminants be harmful, they can also become life-threatening depending on the severity of the situation. However, the common problems caused by this type of contaminants are;
- Watery eyes
- Shortness of breath
- Sneezing
- Dizziness
- Coughing
- Fever
- Digestive problems
- Lethargy
With a continuous exposure to the biological contaminants, the illnesses may go unusually serious as said earlier.

Ways to reduce exposure to Biological Pollutants

Instead of using high-cost appliances, medicines and other anti-allergens, there are simple practices that if followed can reduce the exposure to Biological Contaminants and thus automatically reduce the risk of consequential illnesses.

- Don't let water stand in i.e, bathrooms, around HVAC appliances, on kitchen slaps and other such places. Dampness is a perfect ground for the Biological Contaminants to originate and grow
- Make in time use of exhaust fans in kitchens and bathrooms. Exhaust contaminants before they could spread in the indoors
- In case Humidifier or other similar appliances are being used at home that needs refilling of water regularly, be very precise about following maintenance instructions. Refill water regularly as suggested by the manufacturer
- If you face basement flooding, fix it as early as possible. Better go for a reliable waterproofing solution
- Don't leave water damaged property, i.e carpets etc to dry on their own. Clean/dry/replace them as early as possible, preferably within 24 hours
- The level of Biological Contaminants can significantly be reduced just by keeping more cleanliness
- Maintain relative humidity level of 30% - 35%
- Last but not the least, if you're too lazy to keep all those careful approaches, consider installing an Air Cleaner

Things aren't as simple as they seem and aren't as demanding as they're depicted. It is only by using a careful and responsible approach towards our health and homes that we can make the indoor environment a place of healthier, cleaner and fresher breathing.


Space Heaters Safety Tips

Here we are hearing of its arrival and there it will come in a few weeks. We're talking about Winter, yes! While there are people that are busy with their routines and postponing some important Winter preparation to do's thinking they'll do them tomorrow, there are others that are vigilantly doing the much needed preparatory stuff on a daily basis be it having the heating system inspected, upgrading the old units, brief HVAC cleaning etc. And guess who will be feeling comfortable when the Winter will be at its peak? Of course, the ones that are preparing themselves, their homes and their systems well before the time and those that are postponing things will soon find themselves in troubled waters when a lot of things would be needed to be done in a haste. Prepare yourself and your home for the coming season and only then you'll be able to enjoy it. That's all from our side. A quick piece of advice you understand. Let's now move on to our safety tips.

Space Heaters Safety Tips

Home is synonymous with safety, security and comfort. But the same home can provide you with extreme dangers, unimaginable discomfort and total insecurity if little things and little cares are taken for granted. With special reference to the Space Heaters, it needs to be understood that despite they are small appliances, they have the potential to cause great harms. Whether you use a Space Heater as an additional heating source or as a primary heating source, strictly follow the tips given below:

Space Heater Safety Tips

- Remember the 3 feet rule when it comes to Space Heaters. Keep the heater away from beds, sofas, curtains and other combustible materials     

- There would be a lot of things that are flammable within your room; body sprays, perfumes etc, make sure none of it is anywhere close to the heater  

- Before you turn on the heater, make it a habit of checking the cords carefully. Have them repaired if they are damaged, twisted or frayed

- There are a lot of homeowners that rely on extension cords even when a direct electrical connection can be created. It is safer to not use extension cords for Space Heaters

- Fix the plugs if they are loose or fall out when inserted. The heater needs to be securely plugged else danger remains there

- Call an electrician if the plugging cord or the heater itself feels hot on touch

- Do not place your heater at a place where there are falling risks. Place it in a stable position and on a levelled place

- Space Heaters come with a certification or safety logo. Make sure yours is safe to use at residential level

- Goes without saying but using Space Heater around damp spaces or with a wet body can take you to the hospital, beware!  Dry out

- If you're using any appliance that causes smoke or produces carbon monoxide, install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Do the same if you use Space Heaters  

- Most homeowners in order to hide the cords, cover them using rugs, carpets or furniture. Doing so can damage the cords and worse is that you'll not be able to see the damage in time

- Turn the unit off when you are away from home, are in a different room for a long period of time or go to sleep particularly under the effects of medicines

- Just like the size of an appliance matters for other heating and cooling appliances, it matters for Space Heaters too. Install a unit that is compatible with your home's area

- If you've children at home that can be taught, teach them the proper use of the appliance and also the cares that need to be taken

- Do not use the Space Heater with an improper fuel type or it will cause fire

- Places where fuel burning heaters are kept, need to have proper ventilation

Prevention is better than cure they say. Take preventive measures so that you don't have to face any unhappy incidents


Summer Preparation and General HVAC Tips for Summer

For some people, Summers is the most delightful season because they're able to make the most of it by spending time with the friends and family, enjoy vacations and most importantly, enjoy the time they spend in the indoors. Contrary to this, there are several Canadians that loathe Summers primarily because of the thought of heat that they'll have to bear. For them, Summer spoils all joys. But after a careful analysis, we've come to this solution that people who have a hard time bearing Summers are the same people that do the least to maintain their HVAC systems. As a result, they've a hard time keeping themselves cool in the indoors. And then, who is comfortable to enjoy himself in an intense heat? None!

All seasons are beautiful. What makes them loathsome is the fact that we are not able to bear their severeness. Ask someone with a poor indoor heating system whether or not he likes Winters and he'll tell you that Winters for him is synonymous to discomfort. The same is true for someone's views about Summers who is having a poor cooling system.
By now, we're able to make sense of the statement that in order to enjoy all seasons, what is important is to follow the rights practices for that season. And when it comes to the indoor heating and cooling, the right HVAC practices are the backbone for comfort. We want you to enjoy all seasons and to make it possible, we're providing some general HVAC tips for Summers as well as some insight into Summer preparation.


General Summer Tips

  • Tune-Up
You'll know that Summers have begun when sleeping in an afternoon, you wake up with your skin sweating and a desperate need for cooling.  A majority of homeowners rush to turn their systems on as soon as they feel hot, without any prior tune-up and maintenance. But you are not suggested to do the same. Bear the heat for some time, as long as the system is not properly made ready to run. And here's what you need to do for that.

Changing of Filters:

Whether or not the system was active, it is sure that it must have been dusty. Begin with cleaning the filters. Please note that if the Filter seems torn, try to install a new filter. It is recommended to use an improved model of Filters if they're supported by your system.

Cleaning the Condenser coil:

Just like dirty filters affect the efficiency of the system, the same goes for dirty condenser coils. These coils are responsible to throw heat outside in order to cool the refrigerant. The refrigerant that is responsible for cooling the home. When the coil is dirty, it fails to do its work consequently failing to cool the refrigerant. And thus, no or reduced cooling results. In addition, a dirty coil lets your system work harder and raises the energy bills. Clean the condenser coil before turning the system on.

Checking the refrigerant Lines

Refrigerant lines are basically the copper coils that connect the outside condensing unit to the inside evaporator unit. These pipes are made insulated using a foamy material. Over time, the insulation may get old enough to be made again. Carefully check the coils for any repairs and make sure the pipes are properly insulated.

  • Turning the system on

And now, you're good to go to turn the Air Conditioner on. But even when turning the system on, be alert to suspect any unusual sounds or performance. If the unit makes unusual sounds and they continue to come even after hours or it unusually cools the home/doesn't cool at all, considers contacting an HVAC professional.

HVAC Summer Preparation Tips

  • Maintenance

The best tip to get your system prepared for Summers is to have it tuned-up. Either call a professional for the maintenance or do it yourself but do it anyway. Systems that are properly made ready and then turned on, work better than those that are randomly turned on on any Summer afternoon.

  • Turning up Thermostat when you're away

Raising the Thermostat up when you are away helps save a lot of energy and as a result a lot of dollars. HVAC professionals do not suggest shutting the system completely off when you're not at home. That is partly due to the reason that heat and humidity give way to mould, spores and other bacteria in the house, also causing a fishy odour that does not go easily. However, raising the Thermostat to 80-85 F not only keep the home in shape but also create a comfortable temperature easily when you're back.
If you've a programmable Thermostat, you can easily set the temperature to change on the day you're supposed to return. Or if you've a Smart Thermostat, no one has an as comfortable life as you have. Click from anywhere, and set your desired temperature!

  • Surge Protection

It is always wise to use technology in order to make your home safer and safer. While you're away on Summer vacations and there's a power outage, there's nothing you'll be able to do from miles away. Since the system would be running, it might get damaged. To stay safe and worry free, we suggest installing a surge protector. A surge protector helps protect the system when there's a power outage, power shortage or power over flow.

  • Filter Maintenance

Enjoy Summers but let your system be at ease too when you're away enjoying on the Scandinavian beaches. When you're home, it's easy to change the filter, but when you're away who will do it? Change/Replace the filter before leaving so that a replacement is not needed for at least 3 months. Hopefully, you'll be back by then. Who spends that long holidays, hmm?


Why is my Air Conditioner blowing hot air?

One of the most common problems that homeowners face during Summers is insufficient cooling. On extreme hot Summer days, the reason of insufficient cooling is the outside temperature that affects the cooling while on other days there could be other reasons like the dirty filters, the problematic compressor or the leaking refrigerant contributing to the lack of cooling. However, it needs to be understood that Air Conditioner giving insufficient cooling and Air Conditioner blowing hot air are two different things with different reasons and different solutions. Let us explore when does the Air Conditioner blow hot air and how to fix it.

DIY AC Repair

Reason 1: Disturbed Thermostat

The Thermostat technology is advancing with every passing year. Touch Screen Thermostats took the place of Mercury Thermostat and then that place was taken by the Smart Wifi Thermostats. Although the upcoming new models of Thermostats are more energy saving and more advance, it is unfortunate that more than many homeowners fail to make the most of them by not using them properly. Air Conditioner begins blowing hot air when the Thermostat is set from cool to heat or from auto to ON. By changing the setting to ON, the fan is asked to operate continuously. And when this happens, the AC fan keeps blowing air even when the system isn't working. This way, the air coming from the supply ducts would feel warm since it hasn't been conditioned.  

Reason 2: Insufficient air flow

Restricted air flow which is mostly caused by dirty filters is another reason of why the Air Conditioner blows hot air. The simple fix to this issue is cleaning the Filter, however, if the problem persists, it is recommended to contact a reliable technician.

Reason 3: Electrical Issues

The electrical issues could also be the reason of hot air supplied by the Air Conditioner. As a result of a fuse or a tripped circuit breaker, the electrical supply to the outdoor unit gets disconnected and it stops working. In this case, it is suggested to call a professional to fix the electrical issues.

Reason 4: Refrigerant Leaks

Refrigerant used as a liquid or gas in the Air Conditioners as a refrigerating medium often gets leaked through the refrigerant lines and give way to the reduced efficiency of AC since the system fails to cool the air and thus begins to blow warm air in the indoors. Refrigerant leaks need a leak repair before the refrigerant is refilled. If a hissing sound is heard from the compressor or the refrigerant lines have ice around them, it is an indication that the refrigerant is leaking. Once suspected, call on a professional asap.     

Reason 5: Dirty Condenser
Condenser needs a sufficient space around it for it to operate properly. While you might give it that space at the time of installation, it is probable that the accommodation is taken by dirt, grass, weeds, plants and bushes that had grown around it. When this happens, the compressor unit can't breathe well which simply means an airflow restriction has been created. This restriction causes warm air to be blown inside.

Reason 6: Condenser problems
In addition to a dirty condenser, there are other Condenser issues that cause the Air Conditioner to blow warm air. For example, electrical issues as said above, overheating,  refrigerant leaks and loose compressor parts etc. All these problems result in either partially affecting the operation of the Air Conditioner or completely affecting it. If not fixed in time, the compressor issues may also lead to complete Air Conditioner break down.


3 serious problems caused by not changing Air Filters

There are instances when you fall sick or experience a problem at home but are uncertain about the cause. While the problem might be big and irritating, the cause is often something easy to fix. Today, let's us talk about the problems that are caused by not changing the Air Filters regularly.

Air Filters

In case, you aren’t sure what do we mean by Air Filter, read this paragraph before moving on.
As the name suggests, Air Filters are basically Filters that Filter the air and clean it. They are made up of a fibrous material and can remove solid particles like mould, dust, pollen and bacteria etc. Some Filters also combat smoke and odours but they work in combination with other mediums. A simple air filter primarily only traps solid particles. They’re placed on the supply and return vents of the duct system and also sometimes within an appliance as in case of a Furnace.

Air Filter

3 Problems caused by not changing Air Filters

The question almost all HVAC professionals ask when they're contacted for an AC problem by homeowners is whether or not the homeowner changes Air Filters regularly. While Filter changing takes hardly five minutes, a vast majority doesn't care about regularly changing the Filters primarily because they think all an Air Filter does is filtering the air and are unaware of other consequences that a dirty Filter causes. Let us talk about what else a clogged filter has the potential to do other than blowing dusty air towards you.

1. A sudden breakdown! Oh Gosh!

You heard it right. Clogged Air Filters can lead your system towards a sudden breakdown. Since on dirty clogs, the system needs to insert more energy to blow air through, it uses more power and as a result strains the motor more than what it is designed to afford. Motor burns!
And a burned motor is synonymous to purchasing a new Air Conditioning system. An expense of almost $4000-$8000.

2. Comfort turns to discomfort

Why in the first place do you need an Air Conditioner? Because you need to keep yourself comfortable in the indoors! What use is then of an Air Conditioner if it doesn't provide comfort? By not changing Air Filters, you choose to live in discomfort. It is already understood that the system gives off dusty air but more than that, the air it provides is also less cool since clogged filters suffocate the system. Just like when you've your hand clamped over your mouth and it results in shorter breaths, the same happens with your AC system. It receives lesser air through return ducts and has less air to treat. Moreover, restricted air flow causes the refrigerant coil to freeze up and this restricts the airflow even further. As a consequence, you've fatty energy bills but limited cooling.    

3. Unbearable energy bills

The word ''unbearable'' is no exaggeration. Imagine your system running double or even more than required using more and more energy. What else should you expect other than fatty energy bills that would shoot your anger right away? It's not the fault of the electricity company neither are they charging you extra. It is just that you've been too lazy to change/clean the filter that has led to this consequence. Clogged Filters raise bills up to 15%.

Bottom Line

Maintenance takes time be it less or more but the benefits of maintenance are several as well as long term. Not only does maintenance elongate the life of your HVAC system, it also keeps its efficiency maintained and keeps bills limited. Changing of Filter comes under maintenance and as said it takes hardly 5 minutes to change Filters, that too needs to be done only after 3-6 months depending on the level of dust in your home. Therefore, perform regular maintenance and enjoy durability and affordability at one time.


HVAC Add-on Components Maintenance

There's no denying the fact that the major heating and cooling comfort that you enjoy at home comes from your Air Conditioner, Furnace and Heat Pumps but did you ever realise that there are other HVAC components too that adds to this comfort? They are the HVAC add-on components. While you keep care of your major heating and cooling appliances i.e AC, Furnace, Heat Pumps, do not forget that these components need maintenance as well. Let's guide you regarding the maintenance of those components. So what to begin with? Humidifier? Alright!


Humidifier Maintenance Tips

Ever faced a situation when the air was so dry that it almost stuck in your throat every time you breathed it. This happens when there's a very low level of moisture in the air but thanks to Humidifiers for making our indoor environment perfectly well for breathing and saving us from such uneasy breathing. While they take a lot of care of us, how about taking some care of them? Well, your Humidifiers won't ask anything exceptional from you. Just a little cleaning and checkup that everything in them is all set.

Whole-home humidifiers are what most of the Canadian residents prefer to use. These humidifiers are mounted with the ductwork and fed with water. In order to do some DIY maintenance with the Humidifier, do the following:

1. There's a distribution manifold at the very top of the Humidifier. Periodically clean it.

2. Once you're done with the manifold cleaning, move your attention to the evaporator pad. Take a 1:3 water-vinegar solution and clean the pad carefully. Over time, minerals get deposited on the pad. In case they're hardened, replace the pad. It is recommended by HVAC professionals to replace the evaporator pad at least once a year.

3. Maintenance isn't over yet. The Humidistat remains. The user manuals of the Humidifiers have clear directions regarding the Humidistat reading and how to make sure it is functioning properly. Make use of the manual and you're done with one add-on's maintenance.

Air Ventilator Maintenance Tips

While it is sometimes difficult to maintain some home comfort appliance, it is easy often times to keep them maintained. When it comes to Air Ventilator, it is an easy job so relax.

1. Air filter cleaning is the most crucial cleaning for the Air Ventilator. Use a vacuum pump to clean the filter or replace it, rinse it with soapy water and place it back. It's clean, one ''to do'' is done.

2. Check the exhaust and intake vents. There should be no obstruction of any type at the intake and exhaust vents else it affects the efficiency.

3. Lastly, give a quick check to the fan blades and clean them with a soft brush carefully if they're accumulated with dust and debris.

Air Cleaner Maintenance Tips

Just like an Air Ventilator's most important maintenance is by cleaning its air filter, the same is true for Air Cleaners.
1. Take the Air Cleaner Filter out and examine it for any clogs and accumulated dust. If you haven't cleaned or replaced it in a long while, there must be a lot of dust. Clean it or replace it.
2. Check the electrical connections and try to locate any wire damages or connection issues

Bottom Line

Done with all the maintenance check? Great! But before you leave, here's a piece of advice for you:

It is good that you can perform maintenance tasks on your own and make lots of savings. That shows you're hardworking and talented. But once you're doing the maintenance or repair, keep this thing always at the back of your mind that there are certain things that only the professionals can do. So, whenever, you're stuck during maintenance or repair, do not keep a hard hand with your appliance, call a professional instead.


AC Maintenance for Homeowners

Whether your house comprises of one Air Conditioner or more, maintenance is required. Without it, you’ll end up spending too much money on repairing and the other services to be done by professionals. For maintenance, following steps should be followed with regards to Air Conditioners.

  1. AC+maintanace.png

Clean the exterior condenser
This gets blocked by debris, dirt and other pollutants. For cleaning, remember to turn off the power. Using a vacuum with a soft bristled brush, clean out the exterior part of the condenser. Lift the lid and take out the fan, clean off dirt from there. After precise and careful cleaning, make sure you place the fan back in the unit and set the wires properly. Check the thermostat. Voila! the first step has been done.

Clean the interior Air Conditioning condenser
Do this by first turning off the power, removing the furnace filter and changing it if necessary. Open the panel to expose the blower compartment, gently blow away any debris. Locate the condensation drain tube and gently disconnect it. To prevent algae growth, you can either replace the tube or clean it using a bleach and water solution of a 1:16 ratio. Pour the solution through the tube. Clean the drain port, reconnect the drain tube, and turn the power back on.

Clean return air vents
Use a vacuum to suck off loose debris. Clean the tight areas by using a rag over a butter knife.

Clean Floor registers
For this purpose, unscrew and remove the vent. Since this area is on the floor, pet hair, too much dirt and other pollutants can easily get stuck in there so try using soapy water to clean the area. Leave it for half an hour or so until it dries up to screw the vent back again.

Clean the air-conditioner unit
Initially, for this, turn off the power. Clean the fins using a small and soft bristled brush. This is a very sensitive work as the fins can bend easily and break off. Be gentle in cleaning them. Remove any yard waste such as vegetation growing around the unit to prevent airflow problems.

Change your air filter
The air filter needs to be changed every 30-90 days for optimal performance.  This includes the following:
Locate the filter compartment around your furnace: The filter compartment is usually covered with metals strip.
Install the new air filter in the proper direction: Note the direction of airflow that is marked on the edges of the old filter. To avoid installing filters in the wrong direction, mark the metal strip with a permanent marker that covers the filter compartment.

Keep pests out
When critters get into your home’s HVAC system, they can cause great damage. Their presence and leftovers have a great negative impact on the indoor quality. Indoor air quality issue includes odour of the dead pests and other pollutants left behind in your HVAC system. The odours will move around your home as conditioned air circulates around the duct system. The use of pesticides for pests affects the quality of air inside your home because of the chemicals present in them. To keep the pests and odours out, following measures should be taken:

  • Seal your ducts; gaps, crack and larger disconnections in the system that create a point of access to enter HVAC or your home.
  • Install flue and vent covers; vent covers should be installed on all exterior flues, intakes and exhaust vents.
  • Protect your air-conditioning condenser; Keep the area surrounding your condenser clear by cleaning around it on a regular basis.