Shipton's CleanAir Solutions Blog

 

July 2022

Is The Air You’re Breathing At The Cottage Really That Fresh?

Shipton's CleanAir Solutions Explore Ways To Improve Your Cottage Indoor Air Quality.

Is The Air You’re Breathing At The Cottage Really That Fresh? 

Your cottage is your escape. Your oasis. Your peaceful home away from home. 

It’s your chance to get back into nature. To explore, play, and breathe fresh air again. 

But what if the air you’re breathing at the cottage isn’t that fresh? 

What if indoor air pollution has taken over - leaving your peaceful oasis full of harmful allergens and contaminants? 

Suddenly, your relaxing getaway isn’t so relaxing. 

Instead, it’s become a vacation home for unwanted guests - including pests, mould, dust mites and other hazardous pollutants.

In other words, your cottage indoor air quality is actually putting your health at risk! 

The opposite of what it’s supposed to do for your mental and physical well-being.

The solution?

First, we have to understand the specific contaminants we’re dealing with. 

Then, we can discover the potential ways in which these contaminants invaded your cottage. 

Once we know what they are and how they got there, we can take effective action to remove these contaminants from your cottage air. 

Ready? Let’s get started!

 

Common Cottage Pests

Many suburban homeowners in Hamilton spend their summer weekends at their northern Ontario cottages. And who can blame them? Having a peaceful home away from home is the DREAM!

It’s what makes cottages such a hot commodity!

But the thing is, suburban homeowners aren’t the only ones looking for a comfy little retreat. 

If you have a cottage out in the boonies, then you’ve probably dealt with at least a mouse or two. These rodents are one of the most common household pests. And their infestation rate of cottages is no better!

If your cottage isn’t properly sealed, you might unknowingly be sharing it with a few other Canadian critters! Including:

  • Mice
  • Rats
  • Cockroaches
  • Raccoons
  • Bats
  • Squirrels… etc. 

And these guests aren’t the clean and tidy type. 

They're known to rade food supplies, destroy furniture, chew through wiring and burrow through insulation - all leading to some expensive and time-consuming repairs.

And that’s not even the worst of it! 

Certain pests, like rodents, can even contaminate indoor air quality with their urine and faeces. 

Once dry, this urine and faeces become airborne. Spreading throughout your home and polluting the air you breathe. 

Some of these rodents carry viruses too, such as hantavirus, which can harm your health - causing nausea, fatigue, headaches...etc. 

Cockroach droppings and saliva can also irritate your airways, causing allergy and asthma symptoms.

The Solution:

  1. Seal up any openings in your walls, foundation, soffits, ceiling, flooring… etc. 
  2. Leaving food open and accessible at the cottage is never a good idea. Instead, bring the food home with you, or package it in resealable food containers.
  3. Unless you want your neighbourhood racoons throwing a party while you’re away, you must deal with your garbage. Either dispose of it on your way home or lock it away in a sturdy garbage can. 

 

Using Plywood Indoors 

Plywood is a manufactured wood panel usually used for walls, roofing, flooring, cabinetry and furniture. 

It’s cheap, sturdy and makes a great makeshift bookshelf at the cottage!

But did you know that plywood, among other building materials, can emit formaldehyde? 

Manufacturers use urea-formaldehyde (UF) resins to adhere pressed wood pieces together. And in certain conditions, the finished plywood panel can actually off-gas this chemical - releasing it into your indoor air. 

Have you read our recent blog about the indoor air quality effects of remodelling? If so, then you already know all about this harmful gas. 

A low concentration of formaldehyde, roughly 0.1 ppm, doesn’t usually affect your health. However, according to the EPA, a higher concentration can cause:

  • Nausea,
  • Watery eyes,
  • Burning sensations in your eyes and airway, and
  • Respiratory difficulties. 

The Solution:

  1. Use exterior-grade pressed wood products with low emissions. 
  2. Maintain a moderate temperature in your cottage at all times. 
  3. Install a whole home ventilation system.
  4. Invest in a whole home dehumidifier. 

 

Wood Smoke 

Many cottage owners choose to heat their cottages with a wood-burning fireplace. 

It offers a cheaper heating solution during the cold winter months. And, if you own acres of forest, you’ll have an almost endless fuel supply! 

But, if you choose a wood-burning fireplace, be wary of the wood smoke.

Without proper care and maintenance, wood smoke can seep into your home and lower your indoor air quality. 

According to Health Canada, pollutants caused by wood smoke include:

  • Particulate matter (PM)
  • Carbon monoxide (CO)
  • Volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
  • Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs)

And the health effects of these pollutants are not pleasant. From nausea to dizziness, headaches and eye irritation, wood smoke can affect anyone! 

The Solution:

  1. Properly maintain your wood-burning fireplace. 
  2. Clean your chimney and flues regularly. 
  3. Use your dampers. 

 

Dust Accumulation

Is your cottage seasonal? Weekend-use only?

Although you might not have pets and people contributing to the dust in your home 24/7, other factors are. 

Potential dust sources at the cottage: 

  • Pollen 
  • Soil 
  • Dust Mites 
  • Food Debris 
  • Insects 
  • Insect Droppings…etc.

So even while you’re away from your cottage, dust and dust mites can still accumulate! Giving you a warm welcome of sneezing fits, watery eyes, runny noses and congestion - not the summer vacation you imagined.

The Solution:

  1. Reduce your humidity. Dust mites thrive in warm, humid areas. Installing a dehumidifier and adjusting your air conditioner can help lower humidity levels. 
  2. Remove all potential dust mite homes - drapes, curtains, upholstered furniture, carpet…etc.
  3. Dust as regularly as possible (using a microfibre cloth for best results).
  4. Schedule a professional duct cleaning.

 

Purify Your Cottage Indoor Air Quality With Shiptons CleanAir Solutions!

Your cottage should be a breath a fresh air. A place where you can feel refreshed and rejuvenated - not sick and tired (literally). 

Get in touch with our team at Shipton’s CleanAir Solutions! We can help purify your cottage indoor air - ensuring that your vacation home is ACTUALLY a vacation for you and your family. 

You can contact our team at (905) 544-2470 or visit us online! 

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Does Indoor Air Quality Affect Your Sleep At Night?

Shipton's CleanAir Solutions Explores How Poor Indoor Air Quality Affects Sleep and Health.

Does Indoor Air Quality Affect Your Sleep At Night?

We all want a deep, restful sleep. Not only do our bodies crave physical rest, but our mental health and overall quality of life also need a good night’s snooze.

So how come we toss and turn? Could it be that our indoor air quality affects our sleep more than we know?

It’s time to throw back the covers and learn how we can improve our sleep. After all, our health is counting on it!

Keep reading to discover how poor indoor air quality can impact your slumber.

 

Our Bodies Need Sleep - It’s Nonnegotiable!

Sleep is fuel for our busy, on-the-go bodies. It restores our energy and allows us to begin each day with alertness, strength and vigour.

Sleep is also a necessary component of a high-functioning brain. Did you know that while you slumber, your brain is actually memorizing and learning the experiences you had throughout the day?

Maybe that’s why people always tell us to “sleep on it!” when we have to make a big life decision.

Beyond the learning process, sleep is also crucial for your emotions and stress management. Without enough sleep, you could experience higher stress levels. Or have difficulty processing emotions. You might even notice significant changes to your mood, memory, attentiveness, pain perception…etc.

In fact, according to Canadian Public Health, almost all your bodily functions require sufficient sleep - including the,

  • Immune System,
  • Brain,
  • Heart,
  • Lungs,
  • Metabolism and
  • Endocrine System.

Without enough sleep, your whole body suffers!

 

The Impact Of Poor Indoor Air Quality

What does our indoor air quality have to do with it?

Does the quality of our air really impact the quality of our sleep that much?

In short, yes!

Indoor air quality can make it difficult to fall asleep. But it can also lower the quality of your sleep and prevent some of the health benefits of a good night’s rest.

Here’s how:

Allergens

How often do you clean the mattress, curtains, rugs and other materials in your bedroom?

Most people don’t even think of cleaning these areas.

Not weekly.

Not monthly.

Not even yearly!

So while you might think you’re sleeping on a fresh, clean cloud after changing your sheets, that’s not usually the case.

Allergens like dust mites, pet dander, pollen and mould are commonly found in the bedroom. You can usually find them hiding in a dark corner of the closet or within the fibres of your bedding.

And the impact of these hidden allergy triggers on your health is never pretty!

Nasal congestion, coughing, itchiness and shortness of breath are only a few of the allergy symptoms associated with these triggers. And all make it next to impossible to fall asleep!

Indoor Air Pollution

Did you know indoor air pollution is often more dangerous than outdoor pollution?

Your home is full of pollutant sources - many that you aren’t even aware of!

For example:

In one of our recent articles, we talked about some toxic chemicals emitted in things like laundry detergent and fabric softeners. And how cleaning your laundry with these products can potentially harm your indoor air quality.

Some of these laundry products emit harmful VOCs (volatile organic compounds). In fact, even your mattress, furniture and paint can emit VOCs!

VOCs are human-made chemicals that can cause short-term health effects like:

  • Nose, throat and eye irritation
  • Nausea
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches…etc.

In the long-term, they can even cause damage to your nervous system, liver and kidneys!

Not only can indoor air pollution make sleeping more difficult, but it can also harm your overall well-being if left unchecked!

Temperature

Would you rather:

a) Sleep in a warmer room, or

b) Sleep in a colder room?

Let’s see what Statistics Canada has to say about this!

In Canada, 29% of households turn off their conditioning overnight. 16% set their A/C’s to 24 degrees Celcius or higher. 33% prefer to sleep in a bedroom set between 20-23 degrees. And lastly, 9% prefer 19 degrees or lower!

So who’s right?

While the temperature of your bedroom usually relies on personal preference, science does recommend keeping a temperature of around 18.3 degrees in your bedroom. This temperature helps your body maintain a healthy and comfortable core temperature.

Did you know that your body temperature decreases while you sleep? Keeping your room cool will help your body sustain that ideal temperature so you can sleep comfortably throughout the night!

Humidity

Humidity - that unpleasant hot, stickiness that makes everything around you feel damp.

It’s undeniable that a lack of humidity control hampers our sleep like no other.

High humidity brings a high moisture content to your room - making it feel warmer than it really is.

Low humidity dries out your air - causing itchy skin, sore throats and dry nasal passages.

Both ends of the spectrum can significantly affect the quality of your sleep.

 

Better Air Quality Means Better Sleep

So, how do we prevent these poor indoor air quality factors from affecting our sleep?

Air Ventilation

Home air ventilation can help reduce stale air, pollution and moisture content!

At Shipton’s CleanAir Solutions, we offer Heat Recovery Ventilators. These systems are great for filtering fresh air into your home and circulating it - day and night!

Air Filtration

Adding air filtration to your home’s heating and cooling system is a great way to remove allergy triggers like:

  • Dust mite
  • Pollen
  • Mould spores
  • Pet dander…etc.

Our Pristine Air Filtration Systems offer features like HEPA filtration, UVC Light Filtration, whole house germ control and odour removal. So you can breathe easy at night!

Whole House Dehumidifier

A whole-house humidifier can help to effectively:

  • Control humidity levels.
  • Protect wood flooring and furniture from drying, cracking, buckling or separating.
  • Prevent static electricity.
  • Relieve dry, itchy skin.
  • Reduce susceptibility to infection.
  • Reduce nosebleeds (because nobody wants to wake up with one of those!).

A/C & Furnace Maintenance

We have talked about the importance of furnace maintenance and A/C tune-ups quite a bit over on our sister site - Shipton’s Heating and Cooling. And both preventative maintenance services are essential in maintaining good indoor air quality.

During a maintenance call, our HVAC technicians will ensure your system(s) are clean, in good working order and operating at maximum efficiency. 

We’ll also make sure to change your A/C or furnace filter too!

Changing your HVAC filter out about every 90 days can help ensure the air in your sleeping space stays clean and fresh. Plus, it can also help extend the life of your HVAC system.

A win-win if you ask us!

Duct Cleaning

Duct cleaning is another easy and effective way to help improve the quality of your indoor air. With the right duct cleaning package, you can:

  • Remove odours.
  • Remove mould.
  • Reduce dirt and debris.
  • Reduce harmful toxins and allergens.
  • Improve your HVAC system’s airflow.

 

Catch Some Z’s With Our Summer Savings Event!

Our Summer Savings Event is on now!

This summer, get 10% OFF our Duct Cleaning Services and $50 OFF our Whole-Home UV Filtration Systems!

*This offer expires on August 31st, 2022.

*Cannot be combined with any other offers or promotions.

 

Contact Shipton’s CleanAir Solutions To Learn More About Indoor Air Quality!

With good indoor air quality, you’ll sleep soundly in no time!

Give our IAQ specialists a call today for a free, no-obligation quote on our indoor air quality products. We’re happy to meet with you to discuss your unique needs. Contact us by phone at (905) 544-2470 or message us online!

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How Do Home Renovations Really Affect Your Indoor Air Quality?

Find out how home renovations can affect your indoor air quality with Shipton's CleanAir Solutions experts.

How Do Home Renovations Really Affect Your Indoor Air Quality?

‘Tis the season for home renovations! But as you’re tearing down drywall and painting room by room, don’t forget to pay attention to the air you’re breathing in too! Home renovations can quickly take a toll on your indoor air quality.

Although renovating your home is exciting, it can also be very, very, very dirty. The job itself creates a mess like no other!

And if you’re not careful, the fumes and particulate matter formed in the air can become dangerous to you, your family and your environment. Some of these contaminants can include drywall dust, VOCs, wood dust, formaldehyde...etc.

Do you know how these contaminants can affect your indoor air quality? If not, better put the paintbrush down for a few minutes and start reading!

Before any home project, you must learn the potential contaminants you are working with.

Where do these contaminants come from?

How do you handle them safely?

And how do you get rid of them?

 

Understand The Health Risks of Home Renovations and Learn How To Protect Your Indoor Air Quality

Are you an HGTV fan, full-fledged construction worker, home designer, house flipper or long-time homeowner? If so, you know the excitement of starting a new home project.

You can envision the end result perfectly! The beautiful new paint colour, bedroom addition or kitchen remodel. Whatever the project might be, you have a plan in mind and are ready to tackle it as quickly as possible.

But don’t go tearing down walls or stripping paint just yet!

Before you swing the hammer or lift a paintbrush, you should understand the effects and potential health risks of your renovation plans.

So, let’s get started!

Wood Dust

Have you ever been to a construction site? If so, then you know the drill. Before entering the work zone, you need the proper safety equipment - also called PPE (Personal Protective Equipment). This can include safety glasses, gloves, ear protection, hard hats, respiratory protection...etc.

PPE protects construction workers and anyone visiting from things like falling objects, loud noises, injuries and dust.

One of the things you’ll notice at a construction site is a hazy cloud of wood dust.

Airborne wood dust forms during different processes like sawing or sanding. And you can come into contact with it in different ways:

a) Directly when the wood is being cut/sanded or

b) Indirectly when cleaning the area.

Some potential health issues associated with wood dust include skin irritation, coughing, dermatitis, respiratory difficulty, sneezing, headaches...etc. 

To protect yourself from these health issues, we recommend:

  • Choosing safe materials.
  • Increasing ventilation.
  • Sealing vents.
  • Moving furniture out of the designated area.
  • Sealing off work areas.
  • Reducing dust production.
  • Cleaning up after yourself.
  • Wearing respiratory protection.
  • Wearing protective clothing.

It also helps to understand the varying health effects of specific wood types so that you know the risks at hand.

Drywall Dust

Drywall dust is also considered a health hazard. It’s formed during the process of cutting or sanding drywall.

And just as you would wear respiratory and skin protection while dealing with wood dust, you’ll want to wear the same PPE when dealing with drywall dust.

As it becomes airborne, this dust can cause irritation in the eyes, nose, throat and respiratory tract. And, if exposed to drywall dust for a long time, it can even cause respiratory difficulty, coughing and phlegm.

To prevent this dust from attacking and irritating your airways, we recommend controlling its spread by:

  • Sealing vents.
  • Hanging up plastic sheets.
  • Using box fans to direct the dust to open windows.
  • Cleaning up after yourself.
  • Changing the A/C or furnace filters regularly.
  • Moving furniture out of the designated area.

Learn more about the risks and controls associated with drywall dust at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

VOCs in Paints and Primers

Everyone loves a fresh coat of paint. It can make the old new again! Or the outdated, modern! But is it safe for your indoor air quality?

That depends!

If built before 1960, your home could likely contain lead-based paint. So if you’re planning on remodelling, you need to be extra careful when removing, repairing or disturbing this type of paint.

If exposed to lead-based paint fumes, you are at risk of lead poisoning. And the health dangers of lead poisoning are not to be taken lightly. They include anaemia, brain damage and nervous system damage.

If you’re unsure whether there is lead-based paint in your home, visit Health Canada!

Today, most consumer paints produced in Canada are lead-free. But that’s not to say that all paint products are safe.

In fact, most paints contain VOCs (volatile organic compounds), which can cause short and long-term health issues.

Some potential short-term health effects of VOCs:

  • Headache.
  • Respiratory difficulties.
  • Dizziness.
  • Eyes, nose, or throat irritation.
  • Nausea.

Some potential long-term health effects of VOCs:

  • Nervous system damage.
  • Liver damage.
  • Kidney damage.

We recommend using low-VOC or no-VOC paint products to help prevent these health risks. We also recommend increasing ventilation while dealing with VOC-containing products.

Harmful Chemicals in Building Materials

Did you know that many building materials contain harmful chemicals, like formaldehyde? That’s why choosing the safest materials is vital to your and your family’s health!

Formaldehyde is an invisible yet harmful gas. And according to the EPA, it can cause irritation, respiratory difficulty, allergic reactions, nausea…etc.

The most significant source of formaldehyde in homes is usually pressed-wood products made with formaldehyde-containing adhesives. Some of these include the wood products used in cabinets, plywood, particleboard, laminate flooring and furniture. Even curtains and drapes can contain formaldehyde!

When working with materials that contain formaldehyde, we recommend:

  • Using exterior-grade pressed wood products.
  • Running your air conditioner to prevent the room from getting too warm.
  • Running a whole-house dehumidifier to reduce humidity levels.
  • Increasing ventilation.
  • Airing out new products before moving them indoors.

 

Always Practice Proper Clean-Up, Storage and Disposal

Lastly, we always encourage the proper clean-up, storage and disposal of all building materials, equipment and work areas.

  1. Contact your local hazardous waste management company for more information on waste pickup/drop-off near you.
  2. Clean the work area with a HEPA filter vacuum cleaner.
  3. Once you have completed the job, change your air conditioner and/or furnace filters.
  4. Store your paints and other materials in tightly sealed containers.

 

Our Shipton’s CleanAir Crew Is Always Here With Expert Indoor Air Quality Advice!

Now that you know what you’re dealing with, it’s time to get to work! But don’t forget to keep this article on hand should you have any questions or concerns along the way.

Want more indoor air quality tips and tricks? Stay in touch! We post bi-weekly articles full of quality advice from our air quality experts!
 

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