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Which Basement Air Purifier Is Best For Mould, Weird Smells and High Humidity?
Avoiding your basement this spring due to some nasty smells?
You’re not alone! Managing the air quality in residential basements is not an easy task.
The unpleasant odours in your basement can come from many factors - including mildew, stale air, VOCs, poor ventilation, mould etc.
And if you've carpeted your basement, you’ll probably have an even stinkier experience! Capillarity causes moisture to come up through the foundation of your home. This moisture can then dampen your home and create the perfect environment for mould growth, dust mites and mildew.
But with the right basement air purifier, you don’t have to worry about harmful allergens, chemicals, toxins or stinky smells!
Air purifiers remove these harmful contaminants and release clean air into your basement.
But which air purifier is best?
If you want to stop avoiding your basement, this article is for you! We explore common basement air quality problems, why they exist and how to remove them with the right air purifier.
Three Common Basement Air Quality Problems
Your basement can be many things - a recreational room, man cave, craft room, extra bedrooms. Even a downstairs apartment! But what it should never be, is home to VOCs, dampness, stinky mould and musty odours.
Where do these contaminants come from? And why are they so common in your basement?
If you’ve ever noticed a musty, earthy odour coming from your basement, you’ve encountered one of the first signs of mould growth.
As mould grows, it emits gases that circulate the basement air and embed into surrounding fabrics. This embedding is what causes your carpet, couch and curtains to reek.
Other signs of mould include moisture problems, deteriorating paint and varying health symptoms.
Health Symptoms of Mould:
- Itchy eyes or skin
- Stuffy nose
- Asthma symptoms
- Shortness of breath
What causes mould to grow?
The perfect environment for mould growth has six elements:
- Mould Spores
- Food (organic materials)
- Warmth (not too cold and not too hot)
If you're concerned about mould in your basement, go through the above list again! Don't forget to place a checkmark on each element present in your basement.
Did you end up with six checkmarks? If so, you've got yourself the perfect home for mould growth! (Probably not quite the achievement you were aiming for...)
VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds)
Ever wonder why homeowners choose to use plant-based or all-natural cleaning products? Many traditional cleaners and disinfectants are sources of harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These are dangerous gases that can cause both short and long-term negative health effects.
Varying Health Effects Of VOCs:
These gases are also released by organic chemicals, including those found in:
- Air fresheners etc.
Even craft glue, permanent markers and building materials emit these gases!
Why are VOCs likely found in basements?
First of all, basements typically have very poor airflow. So VOCs have little opportunity to exit your home.
Secondly, homeowners tend to store many old and unused items away in deep closets in their basements - out of sight and mind! But these half-empty paint cans, leftover crafting supplies and extra cleaning products can release VOCs whether in use or not.
According to the EPA, some levels of VOCs are roughly 2-5 times higher indoors than they are outdoors. And it doesn’t matter whether you live in a rural community or a suburban one, like Hamilton, Ontario.
P.S. VOCs can also release a strong and unpleasant odour - contributing to an unpleasant basement smell.
Do the carpet, couch, blankets or pillows in your basement feel damp? This is usually due to high humidity, or moisture, in your indoor air.
How Does High Humidity Damage Your Home?
- Mould Growth
- Poor Indoor Air Quality
- Warped Wood
- Peeling Paint
- Stained Walls
- Rotting Wood
- Smelly Odours
Besides these damages to your home, there’s your health to think about too! If you have allergies to dust mites, fungi, mould or bacteria, then high humidity is definitely your enemy. It can cause these allergens to grow and multiply in your home!
There are many other factors to consider when exploring the culprits of poor basement air quality. But for the sake of this article, we’ll keep the list short. And now that you know the top 3 concerns, you can start thinking about a solution!
The Best Air Purifier For Your Basement
If you’re like us, hearing about all the potential growth and stench lurking in your living space probably makes you shiver with disgust.
But thankfully, the right air purifier can help reduce these poor air quality culprits - giving you safe, clean air once again!
So, what is the best air purifier for your basement?
Although many successful air purifiers exist, just any air purifier won't do. It needs to be powerful enough to deal with biological pollutants, odours, mould and germs!
That's why we recommend choosing a basement air purifier with these three specific components:
- A HEPA filter,
- Carbon filter and
- UV light technology.
A True HEPA filter is one of the most powerful pieces of home air quality equipment. It can remove 99.97% of air pollution - including mould, dust and pollen at a size of 0.3 microns!
But this type of filter cannot remove gasses and odours. For that, you’ll need a carbon filter.
A carbon filter is an incredible tool for basement air quality. It can remove gasses, odours and VOCs!
If you’re struggling with unpleasant odours in your home, this component of your air purifier is imperative.
But while a carbon filter can remove both gasses and volatile organic compounds, it cannot kill germs. That’s the job of UV light technology!
UV Light Technology
Ultraviolet Light (UV) Technology has the power to kill both germs and mould.
Instead of trapping them in a filter, this type of air purifier destroys these harmful particles - eliminating them from your air entirely!
An air purifier with all three of these components will be practically unstoppable in the battle against your poor basement air quality.
Looking For Other Ways To Help Improve Basement Air Quality?
- Install a Whole House Ventilator.
- Install a Whole House Humidifier.
- Drain eavestroughs away from the foundation of your home.
- Dry out your basement.
- Keep your downstairs windows closed.
- Check for cracks and gaps In your walls, ceiling and window seals.
Take Advantage of Our Spring Cleaning Deals!
Have you started your spring cleaning yet?
*Offers to expire on May 31st, 2022.
*Cannot be combined with any other offers or promotions.
Shipton’s CleanAir Solutions in Hamilton Is Your Basement Air Quality Expert!
At Shipton's CleanAir Solutions, we care about your health and the health of your home. Want to learn more about improving your basement air quality? Give us a call!
Are Houseplants Powerful Enough To Improve Your Indoor Air Quality?
For years, science said select houseplants were powerful enough to improve indoor air quality. Even to support or even replace an air purifier.
But is this a myth or fact?
To start, yes - houseplants are powerful. If you own them yourself, you have already seen some of the many benefits they can bring to your home - including natural beauty and life.
At first, your houseplant collection may have begun with the intent to liven your living space up a bit. You may have had one or two pots in your home in total. Then, after reading a few articles, you learned that plants actually have air-purifying capabilities and your collection quickly grew!
As did that of many homeowners around the globe.
Homeowners latched on to the idea that plants were a “green” solution to improving indoor air quality (IAQ). And because plants were so economical, they chose to use them in place of an actual air purifier.
Now, scientifically, everyone was on the right track here. After all - plants do have incredible air-purifying qualities.
But the question we’re asking here is not whether plants have these air-purifying qualities. It’s whether these qualities are strong enough to actually improve the IAQ in your home effectively.
A Brief History of Our Beloved Houseplants and Their Air Purifying Powers
Houseplants have been around for years - dating as far back as the early Greeks.
Over the years, they became decor, medication and food. But as science evolved, it became clear that houseplants were capable of so much more.
In 1989, a study by NASA showed houseplants as a natural solution to reducing indoor air pollutants.
Here’s how it went...
During this study, researchers placed a series of potted plants in small chambers with VOC (volatile organic compound) concentrations.
Over the course of a few hours and/or days, the VOC concentrations in select chambers significantly decreased. This discovery led scientists to conclude that these specific plants had air-purifying capabilities.
And so the world was off to purifying their indoor air quality with plants galore!
But then, as time went on, a new perspective came to light.
Although the science of the conclusion was correct - select plants can remove VOCs from surrounding air - the scale of the study came into question.
How would the results of the study change between the use of a sealed container and a dynamic home environment? Would these plants be powerful enough to remove toxins from a much larger, constantly-changing space?
According to Professor Michael Waring in his 2019 study, the unfortunate answer is no.
In his words, "This has been a common misconception for some time. Plants are great, but they don't actually clean indoor air quickly enough to have an effect on the air quality of your home or office environment.”
In Waring’s studies, he found that ventilation was a far more successful way to remove pollutants from the air than plants were. Whether through a natural form of ventilation, like opening a window, or a whole-house ventilator system, both are far more successful at flushing out unwelcome toxins.
In fact, according to Waring’s studies, you would need to have 10-1,000 plants per square meter of floor space in your home to compete with these forms of home ventilation.
So the answer to our question? No - unless you actually do have 1,000 air purifying plants per every square meter of your home, they are not effective in improving your indoor air quality. And they cannot replace your air purifier or whole-house ventilator.
But they do have many other positive benefits…
Other Positive Health Benefits of Houseplants In Your Home
Now, we are by no means telling you that you should throw out your houseplants.
Although indoor gardening may not be powerful enough to combat poor indoor air quality, they do have many other incredible health benefits!
1. Indoor Plants Can Brighten Your Mood.
Indoor plants are a great way to brighten your home and mood!
Besides the obvious factor of plants adding unique beauty and life to your home decor, they can also help relieve physiological and psychological stress
You see examples of this all the time!
> When a friend brings flowers to their sick friend.
> When you’re given flowers after the passing of a loved one.
> When a husband gives a wife flowers as an act of love.
Even the flowers you’re handing your mom for Mother’s Day this weekend are an example!
Individuals give these plants hoping that they will brighten their loved one's day - making them feel seen, loved and special.
And, in more cases than not, they succeed!
2. Indoor Plants Can Improve Mental and Emotional Health.
Did you know that caring for indoor plants can help improve your mental and emotional health?
The process of nurturing a plant can be incredibly therapeutic. It can help reduce anxiety, ease depression, heal from trauma and de-stress.
This form of therapy is often called horticultural therapy.
Fun Fact: As young individuals interact with indoor plants, their autonomic nervous system (their body’s physical response to stress) relaxes.
3. Indoor Plants Can Improve Concentration and Productivity.
Working at a computer all day long can often cause brain fog and fatigue. But a few office friends like spider plants, peace lilies and dracaenas can help improve your concentration and productivity.
Studies have shown that indoor plants can help boost:
- Creative Thinking
- Spatial Processing
So the next time you’re feeling distracted, tired or unmotivated at your desk, take a trip to your local greenhouse! You might be surprised at how good you feel even after just walking through the isles of plants and appreciating the beauty and serenity of nature.
Take Advantage of Our Spring Indoor Air Quality Savings Event!
If you’re feeling tired, sick or even dizzy these past few months, your IAQ could be the culprit. And while we wouldn’t recommend buying a whole host of houseplants to fix the issue, there is another solution we'd suggest.
Like taking advantage of our spring indoor air quality savings event this May!
*Offers to expire on May 31st, 2022.
*Cannot be combined with any other offers or promotions.
Shipton’s CleanAir Solutions is Hamilton’s Indoor Air Quality Expert!
Shipton's CleanAir Solutions is always here to offer the best IAQ advice, products and services. Contact our team today for effective and affordable indoor air quality solutions that work for your home and/or office!
Pollen Problems? Battle Spring Allergies with Better Indoor Air Quality
Spring here in the far north can be a beautiful time of year. Warming temperatures, new green, nesting birds, and more sunlight are all welcome changes from our long cold winters.
But for many Canadians, spring simply means one thing....pollen, and lots of it. It is hard to enjoy the signs of spring when your eyes are watering, your nose is running and your head is pounding.
What can you do to find relief? Read on!
Climate Change Means Pollen Season Is Just Going to Get Worse
The truth is, pollen is already the most common allergen nationwide. And according to climatologists, as climate change continues, it is just going to get worse.
Pollen season is now projected to start 40 days earlier than it has in years past. And the annual pollen count? It is likely to increase by as much as 250 per cent!
Here in Canada, we have three major pollen seasons:
- Tree pollen season happens from mid-April to late May.
- Weed and grass pollen season happens from late May to mid-July.
- Ragweed pollen season happens from mid-August through October.
That is seven months out of 12 with anticipated pollen counts high enough to cause moderate to severe allergy symptoms. And we haven't even talked about airborne mould and mildew, bacteria, fungi, microbes and VOCs that can also cause health symptoms.
So let's talk about what you can do to minimize allergies and asthma attacks for your family.
Battling Pollen With Better Indoor Air Quality
The challenge with battling pollen is that it easily infiltrates the average indoor space. Pollen can come in on your hair, clothes, skin and shoes. It comes in with your pets. It even floats in through open doors and windows.
Pollen can make its way inside through small cracks in your home or business structure - through the same places where micro-air leaks drive up energy bills.
This means battling pollen requires a multi-level approach. Some of this you can control simply with changes in daily habits. Other aspects require making use of technology that can accomplish what you can't on your own.
What You Can Do Right Now to Improve Your Indoor Air
Right now, today, you can start cleaning up your indoor air quality - even with some simple shifts in your daily habits.
1. Change clothes and take a shower when you come home.
The pollen you bring indoors with you will readily join your indoor air ecosystem...unless you keep it out.
This starts the moment you come home - before you head indoors.
Take your shoes off outside. Remove your clothing and leave it in the washroom area. Take a shower and wash your hair.
This ensures you are not adding fresh pollen to your indoor ecosystem and also removes pollen irritants clinging to your skin, clothes and hair that could easily enter your airways and cause allergy symptoms.
2. Keep windows and doors closed.
When spring arrives, it feels so tempting to throw open windows and doors to air out the house. But this is not a recipe for success when your family includes those who suffer from seasonal allergies or asthma.
3. Reconsider household cleaning and personal care products.
While pollen allergies are in a different category than allergies to other environmental toxins, one can definitely exacerbate the other.
When you make a switch to non-toxic cleaning products and essential oils, you bolster your immune system to fight off pollen allergies more effectively.
4. Add Air Filtration and Ventilation
Air filtration and ventilation are a power duo for fighting seasonal allergies.
Modern air filtration makes use of several cutting-edge technologies to remove even the tiniest micro-particulates - solids, gases and liquids - from your indoor air.
A HEPA filter (high-efficiency particulate air filtration) can easily be retrofitted to work with any ducted HVAC system. And the standalone portable filtration units can work just as well for non-ducted systems.
NOTE: Do not try to add a HEPA filter to a standard residential HVAC system. This may cause furnace or air conditioning failure and/or a home fire!
Since ventilating naturally with open windows or doors is not an option for allergy sufferers, the next best thing is a heat recovery ventilator (HRV system). These amazing energy-efficient systems are now required for all new Toronto-area construction.
5. Schedule Our Professional Air Duct Cleaning Services Annually
Indoor air duct cleaning technology is a relatively new entrant to the air quality industry.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends considering professional air duct cleaning services in the following situations:
- When you have had a significant dust-producing home renovation.
- When there is evidence of mould or mildew.
- When you see airborne dust or contaminants.
- When someone in your family suffers from allergies or asthma.
The high-definition robotic micro-cameras are what we use to allow you and your service technician to see right into your air ducts to determine how much debris, dust or mould is present. From there, you can make the decision about when to schedule your indoor air duct cleaning services.
Many of our indoor air quality clients who have not found relief through other means discover their allergy and asthma symptoms improving after having their air ducts cleaned.
Some tell us their indoor air is so clean they can actually smell the difference!
Shipton's CleanAir Solutions Is An Industry Leader in Indoor Air Quality
We are proud to have nearly a century of serving the HVAC and indoor air quality needs of our Hamilton Ontario area customers.
Battling spring allergies? Our knowledgeable indoor air quality experts can guide you to the right services and products to help you feel better fast.
P.S. Don't forget to reserve your special spring deal - 10% off any indoor air duct cleaning and $50 off any whole house humidifier installation.
Can You Use Essential Oils as an Air Purifier to Improve Indoor Air Quality?
Essential oils for indoor air quality are becoming more and more popular. It is hard to go anywhere today without finding all kinds of air freshener and air purifier products with labels like "essential oil-based" and "all-natural."
But does that mean essential oils are safe to use in your indoor air? And if essential oils are safe for adults to breathe, what about your kids or your pets?
The most accurate answer is "it depends." It depends on which essential oils you choose, how many essential oils you use and how sensitive each family member may be (including humans and pets).
Learn what the science says about the safest way to use essential oils. And whether it can be used as an air purifier to improve indoor air quality.
What Are Essential Oils?
Essential oils are concentrated naturally-occurring chemical compounds extracted from a plant. Depending on the plant species, these oils may be found in the bark, stems, leaves, flowers, seeds, fruits and/or roots.
There are also different ways to extract and preserve these natural chemicals. Popular methods include mechanical pressing (expression or maceration), water distillation, enfleurage and steam distillation.
As you might imagine, essential oils are extremely concentrated! And the essential oil is just one part of the whole plant, which means it may have a different effect than using the same plant in other ways.
Aromatherapy for Air Quality and Health
The use of essential oils for health and wellness benefits is typically called aromatherapy. This implies that the best way to get the benefits is by direct inhalation.
But, as you know, essential oils are very strong. And they do not always smell great! This makes direct inhalation a last resort for many practitioners, especially when working with sensitive individuals such as kids, the elderly and pets.
Luckily, there are many ways to activate essential oils when using them to,
- Improve your indoor air quality,
- Strengthen your immune system,
- And promote physical, mental and emotional benefits.
The most popular way to diffuse essential oils? Diffusion - direct dispersal into the ambient air. It’s by far the safest way to use essential oils! It’s also the most economical and most pleasant way to improve your indoor air quality with essential oils.
How to Diffuse Essential Oils Into the Air Safely
Safe use of essential oils is a very individual process. You won't know how you or your child or your pet may respond to a certain essential oil until you test it out.
Here are the steps to take to diffuse essential oils into your indoor air safely.
1. Read the ingredients.
The first thing to do is read the ingredients list! Sadly, this is necessary because some companies may include essential oils alongside other chemical fragrances or potentially toxic contaminants, preservatives or other ingredients.
Be sure the essential oil product you choose is pure and from a reputable manufacturer.
2. Dilute, dilute, dilute.
Not all essential oils are safe to use directly. Even among those that are, they can be too strong for some people. Dilute your essential oils in a carrier oil such as coconut or almond oil or in pure distilled water.
3. Do a sniff test first.
For pets, a very effective way to test if the essential oil may be well tolerated is to present the bottle with the cap ON and allow your pet to just sniff and explore it. Their body language will tell you if it is likely to be well tolerated.
For kids, a safe equivalent is to do a small patch test on your own skin and see how you react.
4. Ensure excellent air circulation and ventilation in the room.
Another important way to test a new essential oil for indoor air quality is to do so in a room with good air circulation and excellent ventilation.
5. Diffuse essential oils for short periods only.
Essential oils can be potent and effective at levels where you can't even really smell them. So best practices indicate diffusing for only 30 to 60 minutes at a time.
6. Always ask your doctor first.
It is vital to talk with your doctor or your child's paediatrician before introducing any essential oils into your indoor air.
Which Essential Oils Can Improve Indoor Air Quality?
Research about the use of essential oils for indoor air quality is ongoing. But it is evident that essential oils do have strong air purification properties. This means that, yes, it is possible for essential oils to be used as a type of air purifier in your home.
Here is a list of essential oils that have performed well against airborne toxins in research studies to date:
- Tea tree
- May Chang
- Sweet orange
- Clary sage
This is not an exhaustive list and there is much more research to be done. But the important thing to remember is that many essential oils (such as the ones listed here) have a number of properties that can be very beneficial for indoor air quality!
For example, the lemon essential oil is an antiseptic. Oregano has natural antibiotic properties. Lavender essential oil is a natural antibacterial. And clary sage is a natural antifungal!
Shipton's CleanAir Solutions Delivers Trusted Indoor Air Quality Improvements
Improving indoor air quality is such a popular topic now that it can be achieved using so many different products. But it is important to note that not all products actually improve your indoor air quality. Some can make it worse!
That’s why we always recommend that you do your research well before introducing a new indoor air quality product in your home. And that goes for the essential oils too!
Although they do have many beneficial air cleansing properties, you need to ensure that your family can tolerate them before putting them into use.
Here at Shipton's CleanAir Solutions, we have nearly 100 years of expertise in the HVAC and air quality industries. Our friendly, knowledgeable air quality experts work with you to improve your indoor air quality safely and affordably.
6 Types of Air Filters and How to Choose the Right One
Do you remember back in the day when you said "air filter" and everyone knew what you meant?
Then the pandemic happened.
Suddenly it feels like you need an encyclopedia and a dictionary just to pick an air filter!
Now we all want air filtration in our homes and at work. But we are all confused about which air filtration system to choose.
In this post, meet the six main types of air filters, learn what each one does and choose the right air filter for you.
What Is Air Filtration?
The place to start when talking about air filtration is always with a universal working definition.
What IS "air filtration," exactly?
Air filtration is the process of removing airborne solid PMs (particulate matter) from the air we breathe.
What Airborne Particles Should You Be Worried About?
Particulate matter is a major culprit for,
- Eye and nose irritation
- Skin issues
- Breathing difficulties
- Lung disease and more!
There are five main types of airborne solid particulate matter that most of us worry about when it comes to respiratory health and air quality.
The most common chemical particulate culprits come from the pesticide, herbicide and insecticide industries or the bulk chemical industries.
Mineral solid particles may be generated by work sites or naturally through weather events and even natural erosion.
Crystalline silicate is one of the most common metallic particulates. Coal and cement are also common examples of particulate minerals.
Metallic particulates can include nickel, cadmium, beryllium, lead and other potentially toxic airborne solids.
Organic solids can include:
- Dust mites
- Human hair
- Skin flakes
- Pet dander
- Tea and coffee
The biohazard category of solid airborne particles almost needs no explanation. And yet the virus that causes COVID-19 is not solid. It is a liquid.
Here, the biohazard solids we are concerned about include bacteria, mould, fungi microbes etc. Essentially any tiny, solid particle capable of carrying a liquid or gaseous passenger, such as a CoV-SARS-2 droplet.
Micron Rating for Air Filters
What is a micron?
A unit of measurement.
Microns (sometimes also referred to as nanometers, which is a similar unit of measurement) become quite important when we are talking about air filter performance or air filtration system performance.
For example, how big (or small) is the virus that causes COVID-19? The overall droplet size ranges between 0.06 microns and 0.3 microns. The average droplet size is between 0.1 microns and 0.125 microns.
You may have heard that N95 masks filter out particles as small as 0.3 microns, which is larger than the sizes we just discussed. So how can N95 masks be effective at protecting against the airborne transmission of COVID-19?
It is because the droplet itself has to ride on a solid particulate to get from an infected person to a new host. This is what brings the average size up to around 0.3 microns and makes N95 masks an effective protective agent.
Keep these numbers in mind as we move into an overview of the six major air filter types so you can choose the type that best fits your needs.
Learn About 6 Major Types of Air Filters
Every day it seems like there is a new air filter or air filtration system on the market.
But underneath the hype, most of these systems and products will still find a home in one of these six major categories of air filters.
1. Pleated air filter
Pleated air filters, or pleated furnace filters, are made from cotton or polyester are a very common filter type used by most residential and commercial furnace systems. Typically pleated filters carry a MERV rating of between 5 and 13.
Pleated furnace filters are good at catching larger solid particulates.
Their main job is to keep these larger particles out of the inside of the furnace, where they could over time build up on the blower motor and fan blades, lowering efficiency and becoming a fire hazard.
2. Glass air filter
Glass air filters are arguably the most common furnace filters in use today.
Glass air furnace filters use fibreglass instead of pleats to do the same basic job, more affordably although somewhat less efficiently.
3. Media air filter
Media air filters are like amped-up pleated air filters. By increasing overall surface area, media filters can trap airborne particles inside the filter and trap more of them before needing to be replaced.
4. Electrostatic air filter
As the name suggests, electrostatic filters use static electricity as a magnet of sorts to attract and trap airborne solids. Both disposable and reusable types exist.
The downside is that electrostatic air filters do a better job of trapping very small particulates than they do of trapping larger common airborne irritants such as dust and ash.
5. HEPA filter
The HEPA filter was first developed during World War II. Today's HEPA air filters stay true to the original technology and it still works just as well.
MERV 17 or higher filters have the same capacity as a HEPA filter for capturing solid particles sized 0.3 to 1 micron to a 99.97 percent efficiency.
6. Ultraviolet light air filters
UV light filters use a synthetic band of UV-C light to purify the air. This is often termed "germicidal radiation."
While UV light air filters are great for purifying the air of liquids and gases, they don't do as effective a job on solids.
Shipton's CleanAir Solutions Is Your Hamilton Ontario Indoor Air Quality Expert
Shipton's CleanAir Solutions is proud to serve as an air quality leader, providing our residential and commercial customers with effective and affordable indoor air quality solutions.
Is Your Indoor Air Making You Sick? Feel Better Fast With These Two Simple Steps
Ever since news of the pandemic first leaked out, we have all breathed a little less comfortably...a little less deeply.
Why? Because the thought that the very air we are breathing could make us sick at any moment is really scary!
But the bright spot in what has now become a multi-year battle against COVID-19 is how much we have learned. We are beginning to arm ourselves against the invader. We are learning how to purify and clean our indoor air to no longer be a threat.
This week's blog post discusses two key components of our new indoor air purity protection strategy: humidity and ventilation.
Humidity Balance For Optimal Indoor Air Protection
One of the major players in our defensive strategy against airborne threats such as flu, COVID-19 and even the common cold is humidity.
We have learned that what we need is more humidity and not less.
Health officials tell us that humid air helps our body produce more protective mucous to protect airborne viral and microbial threats by trapping them before they can get into our lungs.
And COVID-19 researchers state that active airborne viral droplets die-off twice as fast when relative indoor air humidity is between 40 and 60 percent.
But how can you make sure that the humidity levels inside your home remain within this range consistently?
Consistent Humidity Is Easy With a Whole House Humidifier
The best way to keep your indoor humidity levels between 40 and 60 percent is to use a whole house humidifier.
A modern whole house humidifier is a sophisticated appliance that delivers humidity silently and evenly throughout your space.
But this high level of indoor humidity can come with its own set of challenges, including damage to home furnishings and the threat of mould and mildew.
So how can you safely increase your home's indoor air humidity without harm? Read on!
Safely Humidify Your Home With a Heat Recovery Ventilator
Ventilation and circulation are two words that are commonly mixed up. The two are complementary but not the same.
Air circulation refers to the movement of air throughout a space.
Ventilation refers to the influx of fresh air into a space and the corresponding outflow of stale air.
Ventilation can improve indoor air circulation for the air that is already inside a space.
Improved air circulation is commonly accomplished using ceiling or floor fans, open windows or doors, and even running the fan on your HVAC system (although this is not recommended for energy cost reasons).
But air circulation alone cannot address the need for a continual supply of fresh indoor air to move stale air and airborne toxins out.
This is why the key to safely increasing the humidity inside your home or workplace isn't as simple as air circulation to keep mould and mildew at bay.
What you need to safely humidify your indoor air is improved ventilation. The best way to accomplish this is to use a heat recovery ventilator. As a side benefit, a good ventilation system will also boost air circulation throughout your space.
How Ventilation and Humidification Work Together
Humidifiers on their own are a great asset. So are heat recovery ventilators for improved air circulation and replenishment of the fresh air supply in any space.
But as you now know, when you are trying to achieve a certain consistent indoor air humidity level safely, you really need to pair humidification with ventilation.
Together, these two make great indoor air quality partners.
With a whole house humidifier system, you can regulate the relative humidity levels in your indoor air to stay between 40 and 60 percent depending on your individual health needs and concerns.
Modern humidification systems can also keep your indoor environment stable and healthy no matter what the seasonal weather conditions may be like outside.
And with proper ventilation, you can make sure the humidity does not concentrate in certain areas, such as closets, bathrooms, laundry rooms or basements, which can lead to mould and mildew problems.
How to Add Humidification and Ventilation to Your Home
At this point you are probably wondering what is required to add a whole house humidifier and heat recovery ventilator to your home's indoor air quality toolkit.
If you have a central (ducted) HVAC system, we can simply add a whole house humidifier and a heat recovery ventilator that will work seamlessly together with your existing system.
Heat recovery ventilation options are very similar. Ducted HVAC systems can be easily retrofitted with an extra set of ducts and vents to work with a heat recovery ventilator.
If your home runs on ductless A/C and heat, the newest heat recovery ventilators do not require air ducts to ventilate each room in your space.
This compact HRV system takes up very little space and operates silently as the lungs of each room - keeping your indoor air fresh, clean and humidity balanced throughout the year.
Trust Shipton's CleanAir Solutions for All Your Ventilation and Air Quality Needs
Shipton's CleanAir Solutions is proud to be of service to our residential and commercial customers in Hamilton and surrounding areas for nearly a century now.
Indoor air quality needs are changing based on new airtight construction standards, new HVAC technology and the ongoing global pandemic. We know you are concerned and we want you to know we are here to help keep your family safe and healthy now and in the future.
HEPA Filter vs MERV Filter - Which Is Better for Your Indoor Air Quality?
Two years ago, the topic of air filtration rarely came up. And if you were talking about indoor air quality, you were probably just working in a related industry.
Today, all that has changed. Now, everyone is interested in filtering and purifying their indoor air. We realize that air quality is directly linked to health! It can even help protect us from coronavirus and many other airborne illnesses and pollutants.
But what isn't quite so clear yet is what does what. There is a whole new language to learn, complete with new acronyms and vocabulary!
In this post, we tackle one of the most common sources of indoor air quality confusion. A MERV filter vs a HEPA filter.
What does each type of air filtration system have to offer? How can you be sure which one is best for you? Let's find out!
What Is a MERV filter?
MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. Air quality experts often talk about "MERVs” when they are discussing the effectiveness of various air filters to capture a certain class of airborne solid particulates.
MERV-rated air filters are designed to capture particles between 0.03 and 10 microns in diameter. To give you some perspective, 0.03 microns is about 1.181102e-6's of an inch and 10 microns is about 0.00039's of an inch.
So here, we are talking about pretty small particles.
Still, not all air filters are capable of capturing the smallest airborne solid particles.
This is where we turn to MERV ratings to help us select the air filter that is right for our indoor air quality concerns and needs.
Let's take a quick look at the ASHRAE official MERV rating chart to get a sense of how this might work.
- MERV rating 1-4: can trap pollen, dust mites, carpet fibres, dust/sawdust.
- MERV rating 5-8: all of the above plus mould spores, lint and concrete dust.
- MERV rating 9-12: all of the above plus lead dust, legionella, coal dust and humidifier/nebulizer dust.
- MERV rating 13-16: all of the above plus tobacco smoke, bacteria, car fumes, insecticide dust, cosmetic dust, sneeze particles, copier ink fumes and pet dander.
- MERV rating 17-20: all of the above plus virus particles and carrier particles, salt, carbon and radon dust, micro-allergens and combustion smoke.
What Is a HEPA Filter?
HEPA stands for High-Efficiency Particulate Air. But are there different types of HEPA filters?
Not really. All true HEPA filters must have passed the HEPA standard test for filtration efficiency.
So be careful when reviewing the marketing information about different types of air filters. For example, saying a filter is "HEPA-like" is not the same as saying a filter is a HEPA filter.
There is also such a thing as medical-grade HEPA. The difference between regular HEPA (HEPA 10-12) and medical-grade HEPA (HEPA 13-14) is a very small one, but is vital if what you are trying to trap is a tiny COVID-19 aerosol riding on an equally tiny solid airborne particulate.
At a minimum, any HEPA filter you choose should be rated as a true HEPA filter.
Can You Upgrade Your MERV Filter to Work With Your Existing HVAC?
Every day, we get calls from excited homeowners and employers who want to know if they can just take out their existing HVAC air filter and put in a higher-rated MERV filter or a HEPA filter instead.
We truly wish it were this easy.
But the truth is, there is a reason the furnace and A/C you have right now is only rated to work with a certain level of MERV filter. The reason has to do with the blower motor and fan.
The highest-rated MERV filters and all HEPA filters are made of incredibly dense material. They have to be dense to trap such incredibly tiny airborne particles.
This means the HVAC blower motor must be incredibly powerful to push air through the filter with sufficient force so that the unwelcome particles get trapped in the air filter.
If you try to retrofit an HVAC system with a higher grade of MERV filter (or HEPA equivalent) than it is rated to run with, you run a very high risk of either overheating the blower motor and starting a fire or literally burning out the blower motor.
What Can You Do to Improve Indoor Air Filtration Without a New HVAC system?
Luckily, there is another way you can improve the air filtration at your home or workplace without having to upgrade your entire HVAC system.
What we recommend here is to upgrade to a new standalone or integrated HEPA filter system.
There are two ways you can do this.
We can add on an aftermarket HEPA filtration system if you have a central HVAC system that works with an existing air duct system. This system will bypass the blower motor and filter the air after it leaves your furnace, AC and before it enters your air ducts for distribution.
If you do not have ducts, we can add one or more standalone HEPA air filtration units that are appropriately sized for the size of your space.
This is an efficient and affordable way to get all the benefits of HEPA-grade air filtration today.
Shipton's CleanAir Solutions in Hamilton, Ontario, is Your Indoor Air Filtration Expert
We are proud to have been serving our customers in Hamilton, Ontario, and surrounding areas for nearly 100 years!
Our residential and commercial HVAC and indoor air quality clients trust us to provide superior air duct cleaning, air filtration, ventilation and a wide variety of other highly effective indoor air quality aids. We even offer air purifier and whole-house humidifier solutions!
Can Professional Air Duct Cleaning Services Help Limit Asthma and Allergy Symptoms? Find out Here!
"Stay inside," they said. "You will have fewer allergy symptoms," they promised. But we are now finding out that the opposite is often the case! Especially with sensitive individuals, such as young children and the elderly.
What is causing the shift? Toxic indoor air.
The average person spends less than five minutes a day outdoors. And the pandemic has caused us to stay home even more than usual. If you and your family are breathing the same indoor air day in and day out, you really need to know that your home air is safe to breathe.
Read on to find out what to do to help your kids - and you - breathe easier and feel better. We’ll discuss how to test air quality in-home, mold removal, and the benefits of both a whole-house humidifier installation and air duct cleaning services.
Is Your Home's Indoor Air Harming Your Kids?
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the average person's indoor air is up to five times more toxic than the air outside. Modern, airtight and insulated homes have made this problem much worse by literally trapping the airborne toxins indoors!
3 Places You Can Find Airborne Toxins In Your Home:
- Off-gassing from mattresses and furnishings
- Toxins found in home cleaning and personal care products
- Fumes from craft glues and so-called air fresheners
Chances are, your home's indoor air is a recipe for respiratory distress!
Right now, stop reading and just take a quick look around your space. What do you see? What do you smell? Can you pronounce the ingredients on that bottle of counter cleaning spray? What about the scented candle in your bathroom - what is it made of?
The truth is, we are all tempted to blame the great outdoors for our respiratory symptoms. But all too often, the real culprits are the ones we bring home with us.
When Should You Book Your Air Duct Cleaning Services?
According to the EPA, there are four key signs to watch for that will tell you when it is time to consider professional air duct cleaning services.
1. When you see mold on, around or inside your air registers, exhaust vents, duct surfaces and heating and cooling components.
2. When you have or are now dealing with an insect, vermin or rodent infestation.
3. When you can see visible signs of dust and debris exiting your air registers or HVAC components.
4. When your air ducts have accumulated built-up dust and debris that has gotten trapped inside.
Now, reading through this list, you can see it may be tricky to determine whether some of these criteria apply to you. This is especially true if you have no idea whether the previous homeowner did any maintenance on the ductwork at all.
So how can you know if your home is overdue for indoor air duct cleaning services?
How to Tell If Your Air Ducts Need to be Professionally Cleaned
Here at Shipton's CleanAir Solutions, we are not a fan of doing an indoor air duct cleaning sight unseen.
This is why we always start every air duct cleaning evaluation by taking a look inside your air ducts and inviting you to look along with us!
How do we do this?
Our professional Rotovision video inspection system allows us to insert a tiny camera up into your air ducts. This tiny camera is linked to a larger external video monitor so we can see exactly what is lurking inside your air ducts.
(Want to see this in action for yourself? We invite you to watch this short video of a client's RotoVision ductwork inspection.)
Is your primary problem dust? Mildew? Insect debris? Rodent waste? Mold? All of the above? We won't have to guess. Rather, we will look together and decide what the best approach should be.
This systematic approach also ensures that if any advance prep work needs to be done, like mold removal, we can take care of that first to safeguard you and your family.
There have also been cases where we insert the tiny camera up into a customer's ductwork and discover the air ducts really don't need to be cleaned. In this case, we will defer the treatment and offer you other recommendations for any indoor air quality concerns you may have.
If you’re not sure how to test air quality in-home, we can help! Contact our team today to learn more about home indoor air quality testing!
What to Expect During Your Superior Air Duct Cleaning Appointment From Shipton’s CleanAir Solutions
So, how does duct cleaning work, really? And what actually happens during an air duct cleaning service call?
After we verify that your ducts do need cleaning, our crew gets to work. The Rotobrush unit is low-profile and portable to allow minimal disruption to your living space.
Our technicians will remove your air registers to clean and sanitize them for you. While we do this, the Rotobrush air duct cleaning system snakes through your entire air duct system, securely suctioning out all debris into a commercial-grade vacuum container.
Our home air duct cleaning services take between three and five hours. This means that in less than half a day we can drastically improve your home’s indoor air quality!
Your air duct cleaning result is air so clean that our customers often say they can literally smell the difference!
How Much is Duct Cleaning? Bundle and Save on Our Air Duct Cleaning Services Today!
Worried about your air duct cleaning cost? Right now, you can save $100 when you bundle together our professional air duct cleaning services with your choice of either a whole home ultraviolet air purifier or a whole-house humidifier.
Choose from any one of our three popular indoor air duct cleaning services to claim your special $100 savings.
Shipton's CleanAir Solutions Is Your Trusted Ontario Duct Cleaning Expert
If someone in your family suffers from allergies or asthma, give them the gift of better health with a superior air duct cleaning for your home. We offer duct cleaning in Brantford, Burlington, Hamilton and surrounding areas!
Not all air duct cleaning companies are the same. We don't just tell you how air duct cleaning can improve your respiratory health - we show you!
Learn more about our cutting-edge Rotobrush system to clean, sanitize and disinfect your ducts using the same EPA-certified products used in many hospitals and nursing homes.
Give your family the gift of better health, better sleep and better quality of life with air duct cleaning services. Ready to get started? Call your friendly Shipton's CleanAir Solutions service technician at 1-905-549-2470 or schedule a no-obligation quote here!
What Is the Right Winter Setting for Your Whole House Humidifier?
Up. Down. Wet. Dry. Windy. This is Ontario Canada's unpredictable winter season at a glance. Just when we think we know what is to come, it changes again.
This can make winter the most difficult season for staying healthy. Your sinuses - the gateway to accessing the interior of your body - can't keep up with the increase in threats plus the chronically changing environmental conditions.
Too much damp encourages mould and mildew. Too much dry hangs out the welcome sign for cold, flu and COVID-19 droplets to come in and make themselves at home.
Adding a whole-house humidifier can keep you healthier all year long. But in order to stay protected, your central humidifier setting must be right for the season. Learn what to set your humidifier at in winter.
Pre-COVID Winter Temperature Indoor Humidity Guidelines
In past years, general guidance has suggested aiming for indoor air relative humidity at twice to three times the actual air temperature.
Here are some examples:
- If the indoor temperature is 0 to 10 F (-17 to -12 C), set your humidifier for 20%
- If the indoor temperature is 10 to 20 F (-12 to -6 C), set your humidifier for 25%
- If the indoor temperature is 20 F (-6 C) or greater, set your humidifier for 30%
However, as the global pandemic continues to unfold and evolve, that guidance has changed.
Post-COVID Winter Temperature Indoor Humidity Guidelines
Virologists have discovered that humidity can be a major player in reducing the transmission of airborne viral droplets. Heat won't do it. Neither will the ever-present cold.
But with sufficient amounts of ambient humidity, viral particulates can't live as long or travel as far to infect us.
Today's guidance reflects this.
As of 2021, the new goal is to maintain 40 to 60 percent relative humidity indoors at all times. This is already being done in many research laboratories and COVID-19 hospital wards. Increasingly, businesses and homeowners are also opting to follow suit.
So how does this translate to setting up your whole-house humidifier in winter? And what do you need to know about adjusting your humidifier settings?
Identify Your Specific Type of Whole House Humidifier
The best humidifier setting for your personal whole house humidifier system will depend on what type of system you own and how it is set up. So first, you need to be sure you know what type of whole house humidifier you have.
There are two main types of whole-home humidifiers:
- Steam Humidifier
- Flow-through Humidifier
Let's review the major features of each humidifier type.
Whole-House Steam Humidifier
Whole-house steam humidifiers inject steam directly into the air.
Steam humidifiers don't need to be connected to your HVAC blower to do their job. A steam humidifier also has its own inbuilt heating element that converts water to steam. Steam humidifiers also typically have two settings: automatic and manual.
The most interesting feature of a steam humidifier is that it can be used in homes and workplaces that do not have forced air systems or air ducts in place.
Whole-House Flow-Through Humidifier
Whole-house flow-through humidifiers are designed to work in tandem with your home's existing forced-air HVAC system.
Flow-through humidifiers don't need their own heating element. Rather, they make use of a bypass valve that sends the warmed air across a humidifier pad that adds back moisture to the air before it gets pushed out through the air ducts for distribution.
Some flow-through humidifiers use a seasonal damper system with two settings: "summer" and "winter."
Newer flow-through humidifiers have lots of added features, such as evaporative technology for water conservation and automatic digital settings.
If you still are not sure what type of whole house humidifier you have, scroll down to the last section here and contact us - we are happy to help!
Choosing the Best Humidifier Setting for Winter in Canada
Many whole-home humidifiers have dials (or the digital version of the same) numbered 1 through 7. These settings might appear to correspond to the amount of humidity, but actually relate to the type of insulation in your home.
In most cases, your humidifier will come with out-of-the-box presets that will maintain indoor air relative humidity at 35 percent when the indoor air temperature is 70 F (21 C). This preset will hold true as long as the temperature outside is 20 F (-6 C) or higher.
However, many other factors can also influence how much humidity is present in your indoor air, including:
- Airtight construction
- Ceiling height
- Room size
- HVAC age
- Thermostat preferences
For example, the Coleman humidifiers and Aprilaire humidifiers we carry include a settings guide in the user manual.
You will notice different outcomes for each of the settings (1 through 7) based on the temperature of the air outside. You can change the amount of relative humidity in your indoor air by adjusting this setting up or down as the outside temperature changes.
Here is an example:
Let's say the temperature outside is -10 F (-23 C). Setting your whole-home Aprilaire humidifier to "7" will deliver 30 percent relative humidity. But then let's say it gets warmer outside and the temperature is now 10 F (-12 C). If you want to keep 30 percent relative humidity, you would need to adjust the dial to 4.
Shipton's CleanAir Solutions Is Your Trusted Air Quality Expert in Hamilton Ontario
Shipton's CleanAir Solutions has been serving our customers in Hamilton, Ontario, and surrounding areas for nearly a century!
Have you inherited a whole-house humidifier along with your home? Are you ready to upgrade from low quality portable humidifiers to a central humidity system for your whole house? Do you need assistance maintaining or setting your whole-house humidifier?