Replace, Repair or Maintain? What Your Air Conditioner Wants You to Know
Here in Belleville Ontario, we are quite accustomed to cold weather. Another snowfall? No problem. Sleet and ice in the forecast yet again? We've got this.
But an epic heat wave? More of the kind of sweltering weather we saw last summer? That is another matter entirely.
This type of weather is quite simply hard to handle. This is especially true if you do not have an air conditioner at your permanent residence or seasonal cottage.
Are you worried about another round of skyrocketing summer temperatures? Now is the time to implement a plan to stay cool this summer season.
Looking for professional heating and cooling in Belleville, Ontario, to get you through the summer with great HVAC service? Contact our team at Bi-Temp LTD.
Should You Replace, Repair or Maintain Your Air Conditioner?
Here are the key milestones you can watch out for to indicate whether you are looking at an air conditioning repair, replacement or simply a need for routine preventative maintenance.
Happy 10th Birthday, Air Conditioner!
Has your current air conditioner system celebrated its tenth birthday?
EnergyStar states that this is always the right time to start thinking about an air conditioner replacement.
You may think this is just because your air conditioner is old. Major parts and systems are wearing out. Air conditioning repairs can become expensive.
But there is an additional component many people overlook.
Newer air conditioner units can deliver efficiency gains of up to 20 percent!
This is due to technology advances - even a perfectly maintained older air conditioner cannot hope to compete with the efficiency of a brand new unit.
But what if you inherited your AC unit with your current property and you don't know how old it is?
There are a few things that can help here.
1. Locate the make, model and unit serial or product number and give the manufacturer a call. They may be able to hook you up with a manufacturing date.
2. Take a look on the nameplate of the unit and look for a little note that starts with MFG. This is the manufacturing date!
3. Give your Bi-Temp HVAC service technician a call. We can do the research on your behalf and try to lock in a firm date for you.
Is Your Air Conditioner Jumping Into Your Wallet?
Escalating air conditioning repair bills and/or monthly energy bills can be a very reliable indicator that your air conditioner is pondering retirement.
Of course, you want to first verify that the power costs in your local area have not increased. If all else remains equal, it is likely due to an aging AC drawing more power to do the same job.
Sometimes simple preventative maintenance can ease this type of issue - at least to get it through one more summer season.
But once your air conditioner starts to dip into your wallet and eat away at your home maintenance budget on a regular basis, you can expect more of the same in the months to come.
Since our warm season is relatively brief here in the far north, this can also mean enduring a system blowout right in the middle of the hottest part of our year.
Do You Have an Aspiring Rock Musician Inside Your AC Unit?
Yet another very reliable warning sign that your air conditioner is heading for a major repair or an outright breakdown is operational volume.
This may mean hearing a simple increase in the normal on/off cycling sounds. Or sometimes it can mean the introduction of new knocks, bangs, clangs, whistles, whirs, sighs, rumbles, rattles and screeches reminiscent of your grunge rock days.
When your AC unit starts to sound like you have a garage band practicing in your attic or basement, this is a clear sign it is time to call your Bi-Temp service technician for an evaluation.
When Was the Date of Your Last Air Conditioning Maintenance Service?
Many of our clients inherited their current HVAC system when they purchased their home or commercial space.
And in many cases, the prior owner provided little to no history regarding the existing HVAC units and their past repair and maintenance history.
Because of this, it can be difficult to know what to expect as summer rolls in again.
When was the last time the system was thoroughly cleaned, balanced, calibrated and lubricated? What about topping off refrigerant levels, clearing the drain pipe or cleaning the condenser coils?
Are the electrical wires, fuses, contractors and breakers intact and secure? And how about that all-important air filter - is it clean and clear or clogged and crusty?
How does your indoor air smell? Are you constantly running around the house spritzing air "freshener" or burning candles to combat mystery odours? Does your indoor air feel strangely humid or unevenly cool?
Not only are all these the classic signs and symptoms of a poorly maintained air conditioner, but they are also all too frequently the precursors to bigger issues like mould and mildew and home fires.
Contact Us for a FREE Air Conditioner Quote
Summer is a busy season here at Bi-Temp heating and cooling in Belleville Ontario. With major surprise repairs and AC outages, our HVAC service technicians stay busy making service calls to our residential clients and commercial HVAC systems.
This is why spring is a great time to schedule your air conditioner preventative maintenance and safety inspection service appointment!
Spring is also the ideal time to request a free quote for a new air conditioner!
Today's HVAC service technology is more sophisticated and efficient than at any other time in history.
We have options to fit all budgets, from simple low profile ductless air conditioner units for non-ducted spaces to central air conditioners, commercial rooftop units, heat pumps and even geothermal systems.
Bi-Temp LTD. In Belleville Handles All Your HVAC Needs
Dreading a return of last summer's triple digit temperatures? Bi-Temp in Belleville can help! Our expert HVAC service technicians install, repair and maintain all makes and models of air conditioner equipment.
We can keep you and your family cool and comfortable all summer long!
We Know the Secret to Maximum Furnace Energy Savings
It is no secret that winter is not just the longest, but is also the most expensive season here in Canada - at least when it comes to energy bills.
While we still have our fair share of residents who go without air conditioning during the brief summer season, the same is not true for heating.
Heating is simply not optional with the type of severe winter weather we get here in Ontario, Canada.
But budgeting for winter heating bills can be anxiety producing, especially as the cold temperatures linger on and on.
The good news is, our furnace experts at Bi-Temp know the secret to getting the most heat from your furnace for cheaper! Read on to learn the key to trimming your heating bills.
Thermostat Differential - What It Is & Why It Matters
If the term "thermostat differential" is not exactly ringing a bell, you are definitely not alone.
This is actually one of the least-known features of the modern furnace. It is also your first key to maximizing furnace efficiency and minimizing energy bills.
Thermostat differential is a term that refers to a built-in factory pre-set that triggers your furnace to cycle on or off.
Here, "thermostat" refers to the temperature you select on your furnace thermostat. And "differential" refers to how many degrees above or below that temperature your furnace needs to reach before cycling on or off.
How to Adjust the Furnace Thermostat Differential
Having a wider thermostat differential can be helpful in the summer to ensure maximum compressor lifespan (which is a complicated topic better suited to a different blog post).
But in the winter, when compressor run-time issues are less of a concern, a narrower thermostat differential is possible - and greatly beneficial to trim those exorbitant heating bills.
Most new HVAC units that feature an in-built programmable thermostat will also come with a pre-set thermostat differential that is adjustable.
But an older HVAC unit with a manual thermostat may not have this feature. For an older furnace that has a static thermostat differential pre-set, read on to learn about an easy, affordable solution.
(Our friendly, qualified Bi-Temp HVAC service technicians in Belleville can take a look at your furnace’s make and model to determine if adjusting the thermostat differential is possible.)
The Best Thermostat Differential for Reducing Heating Costs
For our customers who have the option to adjust thermostat differential, this is what we generally recommend:
Air conditioning: between 0.8 and 2 degrees.
Heating: between 0.5 and 1 degrees.
This differential strikes an optimal balance between too-frequent cycling, which can prematurely age your compressor, and excessive energy draw between cycles.
Programming Your HVAC Thermostat = Instant Savings
There are two ways to program your furnace thermostat.
The first and easiest way is to use a programmable thermostat. The second way is to manually adjust your thermostat.
Many of our customers who have older model furnace units do not realize it is often still possible to use a third-party (after market) programmable thermostat with these systems.
And for our customers who have newer model furnaces, using a programmable thermostat is typically as simple as programming the one that came with your unit.
Yet, it can feel oddly daunting to decide how to program your thermostat!
In order to start trimming your heating bills, you first have to spend some time getting to know your own daily schedule and heating patterns.
Once you have done this research, it is much easier to program your thermostat in a way that will start showing an immediate energy savings payoff.
Just like with setting your furnace thermostat differential, the goal when programming your furnace thermostat is to strike just the right balance between too-frequent cycling and excessive energy draw between cycles.
The Department of Energy states that you can trim up to 10 percent off your heating bills for every one degree you lower your thermostat setting. The easiest way to start realizing these savings is to think in terms of zones.
For example, when everyone is gone during the day on weekdays, you can lower the setting on your programmable thermostat by 10 degrees. And in the evenings when everyone is bundled up in bed, you can lower the setting by five degrees.
If you don't have a programmable thermostat (or the option to retrofit your furnace with a third-party unit), you can manually adjust these settings before leaving each morning or retiring each night.
How Much Can You Save By Understanding Thermostat Differential?
The average Ontario, Canada homeowner spends about $2,358 per year on energy. 62 percent of that goes to heating the home, which is about $1,462.
If you made just one adjustment to your furnace thermostat to save 10 percent, you have already put $142 back in your pocket!
Contact Bi-Temp LTD. In Belleville for All Your Furnace Needs
Click here to schedule your preventative annual furnace maintenance and tune-up with Bi-Temp. Our friendly technicians are happy to evaluate your thermostat differential during your tune-up!
Is Your Furnace Leaking Carbon Monoxide? Warning Signs To Watch For!
Keep your family safe this winter season!
This has been a historic weather month here in North America, but the really historic and shocking thing is that the historic weather hasn't taken place here.
It has been happening far to the south of us in Texas and much of the southern United States.
This week's news has highlighted just how devastating it can be to go into a major winter storm warning unprepared. Loss of power, heat, water, shelter - these events can quickly turn deadly.
One of the worst perils is also the least likely to introduce itself. It is silent, odourless, colourless and quite capable of claiming lives in minutes. This killer is called carbon monoxide.
This week, NPR called carbon monoxide poisoning a "disaster within a disaster," with more than 450 reported incidents in the last week. In this post, find out how to tell if your furnace is leaking carbon monoxide and stop it before it is too late.
If you are worried about a carbon monoxide leak in your home right now, contact Bi-temp Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning in Belleville immediately! Our team of technicians will ensure that this is fixed as soon as possible for you.
With families coming together to stay indoors this winter, due to both the extreme weather and the pandemic, keep your family safe this winter is a huge priority! We can help!
Questions to Ask About Furnace Carbon Monoxide Leaks
During the warm season, we all tend to forget our furnace even exists. But when our longest season of the year arrives, suddenly our furnace is the star.
We rely on our furnaces to keep us warm and safe. But in order for your furnace to do its job, you need to know how to tell when operating your furnace is becoming dangerous.
Asking these questions can help you identify if your furnace may be leaking carbon monoxide.
1. How are you and your family feeling?
Major carbon monoxide leaks kill quickly. Often affected individuals don't even really have time to link their health symptoms to CO leaks before it is too late.
Smaller leaks, however, are much more likely to produce low-grade chronic health symptoms that don't resolve no matter what you do.
Common carbon monoxide-related health symptoms include:
- Flu symptoms
- Mental fogginess
- Chronic headaches
- Burning eyes or nasal passages
- Chest pain
- General confusion
- Gastrointestinal upset
From this list, it is easy to see why you might miss the warning signs and think you have allergies, a cold or the flu.
2. How old is your furnace?
According to Energy Star, the average furnace will run for up to 15 years before it is time to start seriously thinking about a replacement.
There are a number of smart reasons to consider replacing an older furnace:
- Rising energy bills and furnace repair costs
- Inefficient or noisy operation
- Uneven airflow
- Uncertainty about how long the unit will last
These can all be good reasons to replace your furnace!
But the best reason is when you have answers to other questions you will find here that all add up to a furnace that could potentially cause more harm than good.
3. What colour is the furnace pilot light?
Simply having a pilot light is already a warning signal that your furnace is past its expiration date. In most cases, old school pilot light furnaces are upwards of two decades old!
If you do have a pilot light furnace (whether constant or intermittent), the furnace light should always be a blue colour.
If you see any other colour (yellow being the most common) this is a warning sign of incomplete combustion.
Incomplete combustion occurs whenever the conditions are not optimal to allow complete consumption of fuel. When incomplete combustion is occurring, two things happen:
a) The pilot light changes from a blue colour to a different colour.
b) By-products produced include carbon monoxide.
4. What do you hear when your furnace cycles on and off?
All types of furnaces will make noise occasionally. Even the quietest units may rumble or hum a bit when cycling on or off.
But if your furnace sounds like you have a family of raccoons (or elephants) trapped inside, or if you hear clangs, bangs, knocks, rattles, whines and/or similar sounds, these are all indicators something is amiss inside your unit.
5. How much are you paying for heat-related energy bills?
Many different things can trigger an increase in heating bills:
Rising energy costs
Increased furnace usage
Air leaks inside your space
An aging furnace
All of these can drain your wallet during the winter season!
But the most concerning reason is when you have incomplete combustion, which requires more and more energy input to produce the same heat output.
And along with that heat output, you will be getting a side order of carbon monoxide.
6. What was your last major furnace repair or furnace maintenance need?
One of the best ways to determine whether your furnace is getting close to replacement age is when you see repairs that escalate in cost and seriousness.
7. When was the last time your furnace had a tune-up and safety inspection?
Every year, many people move into a home with an existing furnace that has a sketchy maintenance history.
Did your home's previous owner provide you with any maintenance and safety inspection records?
If the answer is no, you want to get this done as quickly as you can.
Does Your Furnace Have a Carbon Monoxide Detector
Carbon monoxide detectors are not only your best defence against carbon monoxide off-gassing. They are also your only defence.
Because carbon monoxide is odourless and colourless, there is literally no way you can determine levels inside your home or workplace without a detector.
Carbon monoxide detectors save lives every single year.
When you have your regular furnace tune-up and safety inspection, be sure to have your carbon monoxide detector inspected too.
Bi-Temp Handles All Your Quinte Furnace Repair, Maintenance and Installation Needs
If you need us, we are on call for you with 24/7 emergency repair services.
Call us at 1-613-967-1066 or visit us online. (When you call, ask us about our COVID-safe contact-less service, payment and invoicing options.)
The Boiler Blues: 10 Troubleshooting Tips to Get Your Boiler Working Again
Throughout winter, if you rely on your water boiler for more than heating water for your morning shower, you sure will notice if it conks out!
I’m Your family members will also notice. They will also likely be keenly impatient for you to troubleshoot and get the household boiler working again.
Remember, Bi-Temp in Belleville, Ontario, provides 24/7 emergency repair service for both homeowners and commercial business owners. We provide maintenance servicing for Heating, Cooling, and Ventilation Systems. If these troubleshooting tips don't set things to rights again, pick up the phone and give us a call.
Heating Boiler 101: Mastering the Basics
Every day, somebody somewhere buys a home that has a different type of heating system than what they are used to.
Before you can start to troubleshoot, you have to understand what a boiler is and how it works.
A properly functioning boiler system does two main things:
1. A boiler heats water for your tea, shower, dishwasher and clothes washer.
2. A boiler heats water to warm up your home or workplace.
The ways that a boiler does these two jobs can differ depending on the exact system you happen to have and its power source (electric, natural gas, propane, oil, et al).
10 Common Boiler Problems & Troubleshooting Tips
As with all major appliances, boilers typically don't just stop working all at once.
First, you will start to get warning signs.
If you don't pay attention or simply don't understand what these warning signs are trying to tell you, one day you will wake up to a non-functioning boiler.
This is never a good way to start your day.
We hope these tips will help you identify common boiler problems so you can troubleshoot yourself! Or, give Bi-Temp Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning in Belleville a call to troubleshoot for you!
1. Erratic Heat
While you may think that erratic heat output points to a major repair, sometimes this is actually the easiest issue to troubleshoot and resolve.
Often, the problem actually stems from the thermostat - the small control box that tells the mechanical components of the boiler how hot you want it.
There may be a blown fuse or a dead battery. Sometimes the thermostat just needs recalibration. If that doesn't fix it, however, it is time to move on to other troubleshooting tactics.
2. Strange Noises
Quiet whirrs and low rumbles are considered normal for modern boilers. Sounds that make you imagine that last riveting Netflix episode of "72 Dangerous Animals" are not.
Bangs, pops, screeches, whistles, clangs, gurgles and anything that sounds like elephants on stampede require prompt attention - and likely professional service!
Have you been hearing strange noises from your boiler system? Now is the time to contact our Bi-Temp Heating Technicians in Quinte, Ontario to schedule a maintenance appointment.
3. A Funny Smell
If strange noises are waking you up at night, funny smells may simply keep you up.
The most concerning odours that require immediate attention include burning, rotten eggs or an acrid sharp smell in your home. These smells could be originating from your boiler system and require immediate attention. Call our Bi-Temp team in Belleville for 24/7 Emergency HVAC repair services!
4. Black Stains
Black stains on or around your heating elements or your pilot light point to incomplete combustion.
Not only does incomplete combustion force you to pay for more energy than your boiler actually uses (which means your heating bills will go up without giving you any more heat to show for it), but it can emit dangerous toxic gases into your indoor air.
5. Strange Health Symptoms
Speaking of carbon monoxide, since this gas is odourless and colourless, the only warning sign you are likely to get will come in the form of health symptoms.
Headache, dizziness, shortness of breath, weakness, nausea, vomiting, blurry vision, confusion, fainting - these are all urgent warning signs that may point to toxic levels of carbon monoxide.
6. Pilot Light Changes Colour (or goes out)
Pilot light problems are always considered urgent problems, whether yours happens to be a pilot light that won't stay lit or a flame that can't decide what colour it wants to be when it grows up.
(By the way, you always want your pilot light to burn blue.)
A yellow, green or other colour pilot light is an indication that there is an imbalance in the fuel-to-oxygen ratio required to make maximum use of fuel input.
Like black stains near the heat exchanger or pilot light, changing pilot light colours can point to dangerous carbon monoxide emissions inside your home.
7. Constant Small Repairs
A high maintenance boiler is often trying to tell you that its days are numbered.
Your Bi-Temp service technician will be able to advise you on whether it makes better financial sense to invest in a new energy-efficient boiler or not.
8. Increasing Heating Bills
Steadily increasing heating bills without a corresponding increase in heating output is one warning sign you will only catch if you are watching your bottom line carefully.
Often, the fix is as simple as scheduling your annual preventative maintenance, tune-up and safety inspection.
9. Fuel or Water Leaks
Finding small puddles of water, hydronic fluid or fuel can seem minor at first glance.
Anytime your boiler springs a leak, no matter how small, it is always time to power down and call in the pros.
10. Your boiler just had its 10th birthday.
A high quality, well-maintained boiler can easily last 10 to 15 years.
However, if your boiler is giving you trouble and has just had its 10th (or 15th) birthday, it may be more economical to simply replace it! That’s where your trusted heating services at Bi-Temp in Belleville come in! Our experienced technicians are on-call and ready to replace your boiler system this winter!
Bi-Temp Handles All Your Quinte Heating Boiler Unit Needs
Our friendly, knowledgeable service technicians at Bi-Temp in Quinte are here to serve your boiler, water heater, HVAC and indoor air quality needs.
And don't forget about our popular 24/7 emergency repair services - nights, weekends, major holidays, we are still here for you!
Vital Indoor Air Tools to Help Protect Against COVID, Cold and Flu Season
It is definitely furnace season here in the Quinte area. We are staying indoors this year for safety reasons as well as for warmth!
Winter can be a particularly dry time of year here in Canada, which is not always good news for our health. After all, there is a reason winter has earned the nickname "cold and flu season."
Only this year, we are facing "cold and flu and coronavirus season." This means the stakes are even higher if we let ourselves get sick!
Many people don't realize that how you use your furnace in winter can actually have a direct impact on your health during the cold season.
In this timely blog post, our team at Bi-Temp in Belleville shares top safe furnace tips to help protect you and your family from COVID, cold and flu. How? By making your indoor air toxin-free!
The Connection Between Winter, COVID-19, Cold and Flu
COVID-19, cold and flu share some similarities.
All three are primarily spread through airborne transmission. All three are viral illnesses. And all three seem to get worse in winter.
Is there a connection?
Many health officials believe people get sicker in winter for two key reasons:
- Winter is a time when we tend to stay indoors breathing stale air.
- Winter is a time when humidity is low and the air we breathe is dry.
The Danger of Dry Winter Air In Your Home
Humidity has gotten a bad rap because too much of it can lead to mould and mildew growth. However, too little humidity can also cause problems, ranging from increased risk of fire, to reduced resistance, to respiratory illness.
There are two main reasons dry winter air is especially concerning this year:
1. Dry winter air keeps viral aerosol droplets lighter so that they can stay airborne for longer and travel farther distances to infect more people. This holds true whether the viral aerosol droplet is carrying cold, flu or coronavirus.
2. Dry winter air also makes it harder for our respiratory tissues to mobilize beneficial mucus to trap viral matter as we breathe it in. With no mucus to fight back, the viral droplets travel quickly and easily down into our lungs.
How Humid Should Your Indoor Air Be?
So how humid should your indoor air be to keep you safer from viral illness?
According to a widely-cited Yale University study published earlier this year, the recommended indoor air humidity range is 40 to 60 percent.
The closer you can get to the 50 to 60 percent range, the safer you are likely to be, all other factors remaining equal.
How Can You Add Back Humidity to Your Indoor Air in Winter?
There are a number of ways you can add humidity back into your home or office space. Our team of cooling technicians at Bi-Temp in Belleville have the cost effective solutions to keeping your home’s humidity at a healthy level this winter.
The easiest way is simply to install a portable or whole-home (central) humidifier. Humidifiers allow you to change the relative humidity in the air quickly and easily. That way, regardless of the effects your heating and air conditioning has on your air, you are able to maintain a proper humidity level.
If you are a concerned about the cost to install central air humidifiers, here are some other easy ways to boost the ambient humidity that don't require the purchase of a humidifier.
- Houseplants will naturally increase the humidity (as long as you remember to water them!).
- You can place bowls of water near your heating elements for natural evaporation.
- Allowing a pot of water to boil on the stove. Removing the lid will disperse humidity into your kitchen.
- Similarly, keeping the door open after a warm bath or shower or leaving the washer door open after a clothing cycle will allow humidity to naturally dissipate into your indoor air.
Our heating and cooling specialists in Belleville, Ontario have years of experience handling indoor air quality. Having been in business since 1968, we have the knowledge and equipment you need to help protect your home and family this winter season.
How Can You Keep Your Indoor Air From Getting Stale?
Stale indoor air is air that contains a higher concentration of potentially harmful toxins. These toxins may range from dust and pollen to bacteria and viral aerosol droplets.
There is only one way to keep your indoor air fresh and that is ventilation.
Ventilation basically means "adding fresh air." You can add more fresh air to your indoor space naturally or artificially. Keep reading for Bi-temp’s air ventilation tips!
- Examples of natural ventilation include opening a window or door to the outside and adding more houseplants that "inhale" carbon dioxide and "exhale" oxygen.
- Examples of artificial ventilation include running your furnace fan continuously or installing a heat recovery ventilator.
Contact our team at Bi-Temp in Belleville for more information about our ventilation services!
Are There Other Ways to Detoxify Your Indoor Air?
In addition to adding back humidity and fresh air, it is also important to do everything you can to keep toxins out of your indoor air in the first place.
Switching to natural cleaning supplies and personal care products will help to keep toxic chemicals out of your indoor air. As will taking smoking or vaping outdoors!
At a higher level, the two main defences you have against toxic indoor air are air filtration and air purification. Both have gotten a lot of news coverage this year in the wake of the global pandemic.
It is important to understand how both of these factors work alongside your HVAC system. Without proper air ventilation and air purification, your HVAC system could be causing more harm than good!
Air purification primarily acts on gaseous and liquid toxins, such as aerosol viral droplets. Ultraviolet light purification is the most powerful air purifier.
Air filtration primarily acts on solid toxins such as dust, pet dander, pollen, mould and mildew spores and bacteria.
The best way to improve indoor air filtration is to make sure to change your furnace filter each month and to schedule preventative HVAC maintenance twice a year to clean dust and toxins out of the inner components of your air conditioner and furnace system.
Does your heating system need servicing this winter? Contact our qualified team of HVAC experts for a furnace repair or furnace maintenance appointment.
You can also add a portable or central HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filtration system to filter out even microscopic solids from your indoor air.
Bi-Temp Belleville Handles All Your HVAC System Needs
Bi-Temp Heating, Ventilating and AC in Belleville is an essential service. We remain open to serve you this winter for all your heating and hot water needs. Read our important COVID-19 update here!
Contact us to schedule your preventative furnace safety inspection, cleaning and maintenance service.
Winter Water Heater Breakdown: Warning Signs and What to Do
This winter is predicted to be a cold one....a very cold one! And if there is one event guaranteed to create lasting winter memories, it is not being able to take a hot shower.
You may not want to remember this, but you likely won't be able to forget it, either.
The truth is, no water heater lasts forever. First-time homeowners often learn this when their first water heater suddenly calls it quits.
Long time homeowners learn this by keeping up with preventative maintenance, making minor repairs when called for and always keeping an eye on the ticking clock of our water heater's useful life.
This winter is likely going to be harder on your water heater than any in recent memory. With COVID still sweeping through the country, you are also likely to be using it more than you ever have while you are cooped up indoors.
Want to avoid your winter water heater breaking down this year? Be sure to follow these tips provided by our qualified team of heating experts at Bi-Temp in Belleville, Ontario! Don’t forget to contact us for more information or if you think your water heater requires maintenance this winter.
Warning Signs Your Water Heater Is Headed for a Breakdown
These are the most common warning signs that our Bi-Temp technicians have seen over the years! All of them have led to customers calling us out to make a major repair - or a new water heater installation!
1. Your water heater runs hot and cold.
It is one thing when the hot water just runs out, but it is quite another problem to deal with when your water temperature seems to change on its own after you set it.
This early warning sign is easily overlooked - you can even chalk it up to your mind playing tricks with you.
Inside your water heater's heating element, the struggle is real, whether due to a failing heating element, mineral deposits or simple old age.
2. Your water pressure is MIA.
Another commonly overlooked warning sign of an impending water heater outage is a reduction in water pressure while using the hot water.
Here, mineral deposits are typically the culprit, but a pipe leak is not out of the question either, especially in the dead of a brutal Canadian winter.
3. You haven't used the hot water, but there is water leaking around it.
Yet another issue that can too readily be passed off as something unrelated is standing water around the hot water heater.
If your water heater is leaking, you may not see the micro-drips that can lead to standing water around the unit itself. When you see puddles forming, however, this is a clear signal to look more closely in order to find out where that water is coming from.
4. The water looks, smells or tastes different.
Most of us can easily tell when the milk in the fridge has gone bad, but how about when your water quality has changed?
Signs That Your Water Quality Has Changed:
- Corrosion in the pipes
- Bacteria colonization
- Mineral deposits building up
All of these signs can cause the water to turn cloudy or discoloured, smell strange and taste even stranger.
5. The water heater sounds like the brass section of your local orchestra.
Clangs, bangs, pops, whistles, knocks, crackling and other sounds may indicate that those pesky mineral deposits are interfering with the operation of the unit. If the dip tube is compromised, this can also cause noise.
6. Your hot water runs out faster and faster.
This is the number one reason our HVAC team at BiTemp gets called out to service a hot water heater. Everyone notices right away when there is no hot water - especially in the winter months!
Most hot water heaters have two heating elements. When one goes bad, you won't completely lose hot water, but you will have less of it to go around.
How To Keep Your Water Heater Happy This Winter
You know what they say - when your water heater is happy, your family is happy (or something like that). At least that’s what our families at Bi-Temp in Belleville tell us!
Here is what our hot water experts at Bi-Temp recommend in order to keep your water heater humming:
SAFETY NOTE: For safety, ALWAYS power off your hot water heater AND turn off the main water supply valve before doing any type of inspection, maintenance or hot water heater repair.
1. Schedule a tune-up.
The best way to keep your water heater happy this winter is to schedule your annual water heater inspection, cleaning and tune-up as soon as possible. Do you need your water heater inspected this winter? Contact our hot water heater experts at Bi-Temp in Belleville!
2. Insulate your water heater and pipes.
The best way to safeguard against frozen pipes and also boost your water heater's efficiency is to insulate the tank and pipes.
3. Flush out the hot water heater tank.
Flushing out the hot water tank is the best way to remove built-up sediment and residue and improve output. What can make this task difficult is the location of your hot water heater.
If it is below ground level, you may need a pump to drain the tank. Alternately, our team is happy to help with this task.
4. Test out the pressure release valve.
If your valve does not send out a strong stream of hot water when opened, it probably needs to be repaired or replaced.
You definitely don't want to neglect this task, since this valve is all that stands between you and a potential hot water heater explosion.
5. Check the anode rod.
The anode rod works to draw mineral deposits to it and away from the tank walls. But over time, all those sediments can build up and cause corrosion, or worse!
A simple visual inspection can indicate whether the rod may need to be cleaned or replaced.
Bi-Temp Belleville Is Here to Serve You
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Can Your Furnace Help You Stay Healthy This Winter? Experts Say Yes!
If there is one part of the body that is really in the limelight this year, it would have to be the lungs.
We are all talking about them, thinking about them and trying to do everything we can to keep toxic or infectious particles out of them!
Despite our best intentions and efforts however, COVID-19 cases are on the rise again in Ontario.
And now we are heading into another long, cold, dry Canadian winter, with cold and flu season still up ahead.
What does all this have to do with your furnace? As it turns out, your furnace can become your ally in keeping your lungs clean, strong and healthy this winter - read on to find out how!
If Your Furnace Is Dirty, So Are Your Lungs
We now know that COVID-19 is airborne. We recently also learned that just wearing masks and observing social distancing is still not enough protection against catching the virus.
The American Lung Association states that there is a direct link between residential heating emissions and lung health.
In other words, a dirty furnace equals dirty lungs.
This year, taking time to schedule your annual preventative furnace maintenance can do more than prevent an untimely and expensive mid-winter heating outage. This one small choice can potentially make the difference between catching COVID-19 and staying healthy.
A poorly maintained furnace can potentially emit a toxic cocktail of volatile organic compounds, carbon monoxide and airborne particulate solids.
This is especially the case with gas furnace systems, but is still an issue with all types of HVAC systems.
Inhaling these toxic emissions can lead to a wide variety of well-documented respiratory health symptoms including wheezing, shortness of breath, coughing, inflammation of the respiratory passages, asthma attacks, chest constriction and decreased lung function.
If Your Furnace Has Clean Lungs, You Have Cleaner Lungs
Research studies have confirmed we are more stressed now than we were at this time last year.
As stress levels go up, so do levels of infection and illness.
This has many of us grasping at straws for something - anything - to do to protect ourselves and our families.
Rising stress can also cause us to overlook the obvious fix we can take care of right now.
That fix is your furnace filter.
If your lungs are the filters of your body, then your furnace's air filter is the lungs of your HVAC system.
It is true there has been some ongoing concern about how to safely handle air filter changes during the global pandemic, but the general consensus now is that it is much safer to change your air filter regularly than to leave it in place for too long.
The reason for this is simple: COVID-19 is airborne. The more solid particles floating in your indoor air, the more transported airborne coronavirus droplets have to attach to. So, the cleaner your indoor air remains, the fewer vehicles those droplets have to reach you!
Best practices state that you should use the highest quality furnace filter that your HVAC system is rated to operate with. This will keep particles like dust, dirt, ash, pollen and pet dander out of your furnace and out of your indoor air supply.
Then you can add a standalone HEPA filtration system and/or an ultraviolet air purification system to work with your existing furnace.
Change out your furnace filter at least every 30 days or more frequently as needed. Bi-Temp in Belleville, Ontario can provide you with the highest quality furnace filter for your HVAC system. Contact our qualified technicians today for more information!
What to Expect When You Schedule Preventative Furnace Maintenance Service
Preventative furnace maintenance service is designed to achieve three big goals:
1. Give your furnace a thorough exterior and interior cleaning.
2. Make minor tune-ups and repairs to prevent a major repair or sudden outage.
3. Ensure your furnace is operating safely and efficiently.
Amazingly, all three of these goals can typically be achieved in a service call of one hour or less, but scheduling preventative furnace maintenance also achieves a fourth, less visible goal. A goal that National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director, Dr. Anthony Fauci, states could be the most important goal of all for fighting COVID-19 this winter.
Simply put, it gives you peace of mind.
When your peace of mind increases, your stress level decreases.
And when your stress level decreases, your immune functionality improves.
The moment your preventative furnace maintenance service concludes, you will know you have a furnace that is clean, safe and economical to use. You can breathe a sigh of relief - literally.
Other Indoor Air Quality Aids for a Safer Winter
These are additional safety precautions you can take to improve the quality of your indoor air.
1. Don't bring airborne toxins into your home.
Smoking or vaping, burning candles or incense, using commercial cleaners or so-called "air fresheners" and chemical-laden personal care products are not going to be friends to your lungs this winter.
2. Install a whole-home or portable HEPA air filter.
HEPA stands for high efficiency particulate air. A portable or whole-home HEPA air filter can remove even the smallest airborne aerosol infectious coronavirus droplets.
Contact Bi-Temp in Quinte for the highest quality HEPA air filters for your heating system this winter.
3. Add a portable or whole-home ultraviolet air purifier.
Ultraviolet air purification mimics the protection offered by our own su, but inside your space. These systems use a synthetic form of the most powerful band of natural ultraviolet light - UV-C.
When UV light comes into contact with airborne or aerosol coronavirus droplets, the light damages the viral RNA so it can no longer replicate to infect you and your family.
Are you interested in installing a portable or whole home ultraviolet air purifier? Contact Bi-Temp in Belleville today for the highest quality UV Air Purifier options.
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Essential Furnace Maintenance for a Safe and Healthy Fall
It is FINALLY official - fall has arrived!
While it is true that we have another full month or so to go before temperatures start their downward spiral, you don't want to wait until the big chill arrives to discover that your furnace isn't up to the task.
If ever there was a year when you want your home and workplace heating equipment functioning safely and at peak efficiency, this would be the year!
Essential preventative furnace maintenance isn't just about trimming dollars and cents off your bottom line this year. It is about safeguarding your health.
In fact, taking safety precautions now could actually lower your risk of contracting not only COVID-19, but also cold and flu germs.
Wouldn't it be wonderful if you avoided both COVID-19 and cold and flu this year? Read on to learn how timely essential furnace maintenance from your trusted Bi-Temp Heating and Cooling company may help you achieve this goal.
FACT: Cleaner Air Is Safer Air
Regardless of what the threat may be from year to year, this fact remains constant:
Cleaner air is always going to be safer air.
Add to this that the three biggest cold season health threats - COVID-19, colds and flu - are all airborne.
In fact, COVID-19 cases here in Ontario are already on the rise yet again. To that point, recent news reports warn of a "more challenging" second wave of COVID-19 coming to Ontario this fall
The reason is simple: we are headed back indoors to wait out the long, cold and often dry winter together.
Worryingly, data shows that the single greatest accelerator of COVID-19 cases is larger concentrations of people in enclosed spaces together for longer time periods.
This makes the number one safety factor the quality of the air we are all breathing. This is where our qualified HVAC technicians at Bi-Temp in Belleville come in! We provide the right knowledge, the right heating and cooling products and the right service to ensure that you are breathing in clean air.
Three Important Benefits of Preventative Furnace Maintenance
When most people think about preventative furnace maintenance, they think about preventing home fires and increasing energy efficiency.
These are two of the three biggest benefits of scheduling fall furnace maintenance.
The third benefit, as you just read about, is improved air quality.
And this third benefit is perhaps the most important of all as we face down the continued threat of COVID-19 this winter season.
Does Your Poorly Maintained Furnace Make You Sick?
If you are like most of our customers, you haven't powered on your furnace since early this year. It has been months since your furnace has had to do anything more taxing than sitting idly by, gathering dust.....lots and lots of dust.
Dust, dirt, debris, insect waste and remains, pollen, mould and mildew, bacteria, pet dander - all of these micro-particles have drifted down and settled into and onto your blower motor and fan blades, evaporator and condenser coils, belts and other movable parts.
Have you ever wondered what causes that signature "burning smell" so many furnaces emit when powered on for the first time each fall? That smell comes from part of all that debris burning away.
The rest gets pushed out and back into your indoor air supply. Then you breathe it in. Then your respiratory passages and lungs have to work harder to clean the air and filter out micro-toxins as you breathe.
With a part of your immune system constantly engaged in this low-level resistance work, it is easier for more serious threats like cold, flu and COVID-19 to slip in unchallenged and take hold.
How DOES Preventative Furnace Maintenance Help You To Stay Healthier?
If you are like most of our Bi-Temp customers, you have probably been reading a lot about air cleaners and air filters lately.
Powerful indoor air quality appliances such as HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filtration systems and ultraviolet air purifiers are big news this year.
The typical residential or commercial HVAC system cannot handle high-density MERV 17-20 or HEPA air filters. However, the option exists to retrofit an existing HVAC system with a standalone HEPA air filtration system and an ultraviolet purification unit.
COVID-19 has hit a lot of people in the wallet this year though, and not all of our customers have the budget for these types of radical indoor air quality upgrades.
The good news is, there is a lot you can do to upgrade your indoor air quality without going into the red financially.
A simple preventative furnace maintenance cleaning and tune-up with our Bi-Temp furnace technicians will remove solid sediment and micro-particulates that could otherwise serve as tiny transport units for COVID-19 droplets, cold and flu germs.
The less floating matter you have in your indoor air, the less likely it is that invading infectious droplets will be able to find transportation that will allow them to stay airborne for longer and find their way into your lungs.
In other words, the more micro-particulate solids you remove from the air, the safer you will be. Anything you can do to achieve this goal will stack the health deck in your favour.
The Three Most Essential Furnace Maintenance Tasks for Better Health
We truly do understand that some of our regular Bi-Temp customers have more limited financial means this year, due to COVID-19's impact. Our technicians have come up with three affordable maintenance tasks that can hugely benefit your indoor air quality without costing you a lot of money.
If you can do nothing else, be sure you tend to these three essential furnace maintenance tasks:
1. Change your furnace filter at least every 30 days.
2. Clean and dust the air registers, return grills and exhaust vents.
3. Remove all debris and clean the outside and inside units.
Reach out to schedule affordable preventative furnace maintenance service to protect your health this winter.
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Ventilation & Air Quality Upgrades to Keep You Safer This Fall
Boy has this year felt like a rollercoaster! For starters, the new decade had barely begun when we went into quarantine.
From there, we have heard one set of conflicting instructions after another, leaving us without a clear idea of how to avoid getting COVID-19.
Recently, the Ontario education minister released a $500M fund designed to upgrade the air quality and ventilation in schools this fall.
$500 million is a pretty forceful number - wouldn't you agree? This decision is in alignment with what air quality engineers and research virologists are now asserting: that the virus that causes COVID-19 is primarily an airborne pathogen.
Scary, yes, but it is also good to have actual facts to work from. Whether or not you can control the air quality at your children's school or not, you can absolutely improve the air quality at your home. We will explain how in this timely post.
Improve Air Filtration
Even back before research confirmed the airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had already released updates encouraging the use of portable or central air cleaners.
Here, the term "air cleaner" refers to both air filtration systems and air purification systems, however, all air cleaners are not equal when it comes to addressing concerns specific to COVID-19.
In particular, you want to avoid any air cleaner that produces ozone as a by-product. You also need to be aware of the limitations of basic air filters (lower-rated MERV HVAC filters).
The type of air cleaner that is being widely used in hospitals, clinics and laboratories worldwide is called a HEPA filter.
HEPA stands for "high efficiency particulate air" and it refers to the filter's ability to trap airborne solid particles, in effect straining them out of your indoor air.
Of course, this is exactly what your normal MERV filter does but HEPA filters do it much, much better.
A HEPA filter can remove particles as small as 1/100th the width of a single one of your hairs! Are you in need of your own HEPA filter to help improve your at-home indoor air quality? Contact our team at Bi-Temp in Belleville, Ontario!
Can HEPA filters trap SARS-CoV-2 particles?
The short answer is "yes", however, it is important to understand that the particles that carry the virus are liquid droplets, not solids. What happens is that a liquid droplet containing viral RNA hitches a ride on a solid particle.
The solid particle with its viral hitchhiker then gets propelled by air currents into the HEPA filter, which then traps it and permanently removes it from your indoor air.
The average size of an airborne viral droplet is 0.125 microns, or 125 nanometers (so, basically, it is very small).
HEPA filters can trap solid particles as small as 0.01 microns, or just 10 nanometers, and they can do it with 99.97% efficiency.
Installing a HEPA filter is a reliable way to trap any airborne droplets that have attached to airborne solids such as dust particles, specks of ash, mould or mildew spores, bacteria and other micro-solids.
The key here is making sure that the entirety of your indoor air supply passes through the HEPA filtration unit before it reaches you.
This can be accomplished in one of two ways: either through installing a central (ducted) HEPA filtration system that works with your existing HVAC system or through adding a portable HEPA air cleaner to your indoor space.
WARNING: What you don't want to do is go out and buy a HEPA-rated furnace filter and install that in place of your normal furnace filter. Unless your HVAC system is rated to handle a HEPA-grade filter, you risk a blower motor burnout, home fire and extremely expensive energy bills trying to clean your air this way.
Increase Air Ventilation
Circulation is the method by which you ensure that every single bit of your indoor air supply has to pass through whatever air cleaner system you choose.
Ventilation, however, is still the single most important ingredient to protect you when you are inside a space where infectious virus droplets are also present.
This is because ventilation is what reduces the concentration of infectious droplets and other toxins so that they are less dangerous if you come into contact with them.
Ventilation is the reason that people are being encouraged to hold necessary meetings and gatherings outdoors whenever possible. When you are outdoors, even if an infected person is in your immediate vicinity, the amount of infectious viral matter is likely to be at a lower density with so much fresh air surrounding it.
You can add ventilation by opening a window or door to the outside. Turning on your HVAC fan or running exhaust fans can also improve ventilation indoors.
The heat recovery ventilator (HRV) is the gold standard for adding back fresh, pure outside air into your indoor space. HRVs are a good choice for homes and buildings that have existing ductwork already installed.
Where it is not possible to boost ventilation in any of these ways, air cleaners are your best bet to reduce the risk of infection.
Add Air Purification
Air purification is another way to clean the air. The most powerful purifier on Earth is ultraviolet light from our Sun, and specifically the UV-C light band.
In its short-wave form, UV-C does a fantastic job of damaging the active RNA (the part of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that can harm you) so it cannot replicate and make you sick.
Here, again, it is vital to make sure that any infected air inside your space passes through the UV-C light band before you breathe it in.
And here again, as with HEPA air filtration systems, there are two main ways to achieve this: either install a central (ducted) UV air purification system or add a portable UV air purifier to your space.
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Essential Tips to Use Your Air Conditioning Safely During COVID-19
It’s difficult to comprehend that just a few months ago we were going about our lives as usual. We had no idea that a new novel coronavirus had been unleashed and a pandemic was about to hit the world.
The learning curve has been steep and sometimes feels never-ending, but we are getting there. We are learning how to stay safe and navigate a level of change that is unlike any other we have faced over the last century.
The latest learning curve we are tackling focuses on the role of air conditioning and ventilation in possibly spreading coronavirus droplets. Last month’s blog post focused on the potential link between ventilation and coronavirus.
This month, we bring you up to speed on what researchers know about safe use of your air conditioner during the pandemic. These essential tips will help you stay safe inside your home and/or workplace.
Should You Or Shouldn’t You Use Air Conditioning Right Now?
The first big question on everyone’s mind these days is simply: should you use your air conditioning right now or should you switch it off and sweat?
Which option is safer?
As of late May 2020, the Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technology in Health was asked to look into whether coronavirus droplets could potentially spread through central HVAC ducts.
At the same time, a survey of 100 hospitals from the hard-hit state of New York produced evidence suggesting that poor ventilation can work in tandem with HVAC systems to spread COVID-19 at greater distances than current social distancing guidelines protect against.
No one in the HVAC industry (or any other industry) has been happy to hear this, but it doesn’t mean it is safe to just switch off your A/C, especially with one heat advisory after another sweeping across the nation.
The under-appreciated dangers of heat stroke and heat exhaustion can cause fatalities long before a COVID-19 droplet is even a gleam in the eye of your immune system.
You need to stay cool. This simply has to be your first health priority. If you can stay cool without using your air conditioner and that helps you feel safer, then do that.
Otherwise, using your air conditioner is strongly recommended, especially if someone in your family is very young, very old or health-compromised in some way.
How You Use Ventilation Is More Important Than Whether You Use A/C
With further research, scientists and HVAC engineers now believe the link between ventilation and the spread of COVID-19 is a two-way link.
In other words, ventilation can potentially increase or decrease the risk of catching COVID-19.
1. Airflow from ventilation can propel infectious droplets further inside a space.
2. Inadequate ventilation can cause buildup of infectious droplets inside a space.
So let’s look at each one of these issues separately...
Too Vigorous Ventilation Airflow
In the case of the original restaurant in Guangzhou, China, where the pandemic is said to have started, researchers traced the trajectory of the infection from the index (first) patient to the other infected diners.
The path pointed directly back to where the index patient was seated and which direction the air conditioning vent was pointing.
In this case, the vent was directing airflow at the index patient and then outward towards the other diners who would later become infected.
Here, researchers now believe the presence of ventilation was not the primary problem. Rather, it was the directional airflow that caused additional infections.
In the case of the 100-hospital New York survey, which delivered the shocking news that 66 percent of hospitalized COVID-19 patients were already sheltering in place when they became ill, the issue appears to stem from the exact opposite problem.
When the air inside a space becomes too stale (i.e. not enough fresh air from ventilation is coming into that space) then the concentration of infectious droplets can rise.
This is one potential explanation for why the number of COVID-19 cases continued to rise in New York, a city where multi-unit, multi-floor housing is the norm, even after the stay-at-home order was issued.
4 Essential Tips to Use Your Air Conditioner in the Safest Way This Summer
These four essential summer safety tips will help you use your air conditioner safely.
1. Having a clean air filter in your HVAC system really matters!
If your air filter is dirty or is not properly installed, what you are going to get is an increase in toxins circulating throughout your space.
This is simply vital to understand, since scientists now believe infectious droplets get lighter due to evaporation and can attach to solid particles of dust and dirt and get sucked into your HVAC system, where they can travel much greater distances!
2. Air conditioning maintenance can make the difference between clean air flow and dirty air flow.
A dirty air filter will transport toxic particles into the guts of your HVAC system - the blower motor, the fan blades, the belts and the ducts. So you need to clean all that out before adding additional air flow.
3. Do not overcrowd your space so that proper ventilation is not possible.
Social distancing is important even inside your home, since scientists now know that a completely symptom-free person may still be carrying COVID-19 and can infect others.
In other words, you want enough ventilation inside your home or workplace to counteract the potential for an accumulation of infectious droplets that no one realizes is present.
4. Directional airflow matters in safely ventilating a space.
You don’t want the fresh incoming air to be blowing on you or at you.
Get in Touch With Your Bi-Temp Technicians
Our team of qualified technicians at Bi-Temp are here to serve your HVAC, ventilation, air filtration and purification needs. Located in Belleville, Ontario, Bi-Tempt services Quinte and the surrounding regions. We are also currently providing contactless service and payment options during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Can Ventilation Spread COVID-19?
Up until just a handful of months ago, terms like "HVAC" and "ventilation" weren't exactly hot topics on the world wide web.
All of that changed, however, when the first cases of the new novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, were announced.
Suddenly the race was on to deconstruct the Wuhan, China, restaurant where the index patient dined and then infected nine other diners.
At first the pattern of infections in that restaurant seemed like an open and shut case. Until researchers noticed something strange: some of the diners who caught COVID-19 were seated too far from the index patient to blame a lack of social distancing.
That left only one other obvious culprit behind the virus spread: the restaurant's ventilation system.
Could air conditioning be at the root of the now-worldwide pandemic we are facing? In this post, learn what we know, what we don't and what you need to know to stay safe.
Can Coronavirus Spread Through Ventilation?
Answering this question is tough - especially if you don't want to spark a worldwide panic.
After all, ventilation is an essential component to two modern conveniences that are near-universally loved: air conditioning and heating.
This may explain why none other than the World Health Organization (WHO) itself recently issued two completely different position statements regarding the role of ventilation in potentially spreading COVID-19.
- Twitter (March 28, 2020): COVID-19 is "NOT airborne."
- WHO official brief (March 27, 2020): Airborne transmission "may be possible..."
- Part of the challenge in interpreting the information in these WHO memos is that researchers are still arguing over the definition of "airborne transmission."
Could Proof of Airborne Transmission Be Found in Research Funding?
On April 2, 2020, the Canadian Government issued nearly half a million dollars in research funding to a team of scientists working to develop ventilation upgrades to protect against airborne transmission of COVID-19.
The team's stated goal for how they plan to use the research funds is to "make buildings safer."
Researchers say there is definitive evidence that infectious droplets containing active COVID-19 viral particles can go airborne and stay that way long enough to travel greater distances and potentially infect people.
The research team plans to delve even more deeply into the facts of how the air conditioning and ventilation system at the Wuhan, China, restaurant transmitted COVID-19 from the index patient to nine other diners who were not seated close enough for direct droplet transmission.
The team also plans to investigate a variety of HVAC filtration and air purification options to isolate how/whether certain measures have a greater impact on disrupting airborne COVID-19 transmission.
Ventilation Can Potentially Cause COVID-19 to Spread To Further Distances
From this information, it seems both smarter and safer to err on the side of caution and assume COVID-19 can potentially spread with help from ventilation air currents.
This is also scary information to take in! It means social distancing alone may not - and likely is not - sufficient to protect you, your loved ones and your workers from encountering virus droplets.
So, what now? What can you do to stay safe as researchers continue working to identify and introduce new protective strategies?
Air Filtration and Air Purification: Two Protections Available Now
We just talked about how the University of Alberta research team is spending their nearly half a million dollars in research funding to study air filtration and air purification.
The team wants to identify how varying the frequency of filter changes, the types of filters used and the indoor air quality aids installed may reduce the risk of COVID-19 airborne transmission.
How Air Filtration May Protect You From COVID-19
Let's start by looking at air filtration.
There are many types of air filtration that can be used with your garden variety residential or commercial HVAC (heating, ventilation, air conditioning) systems.
The type that is of greatest interest to researchers at the moment is called HEPA, or high efficiency particulate air, filtration.
HEPA filters are incredibly dense. They are too dense to work with the blowers in most residential and commercial HVAC systems.
But HEPA filtration can be added as a standalone filtration system to work directly with the ducts in a central HVAC system, bypassing the blower motor and simply filtering the warmed or cooled air before it enters the air ducts.
Portable HEPA filters can be used in non-ducted or single-room spaces in a similar way, simply by continuously filtering airborne micro-particles out of the air.
How Air Purification May Protect You From COVID-19
Air purification in this context refers to ultraviolet germicidal irradiation using short-wave band-C UV light - the most powerful type.
At close quarters, UV-C light can change the molecular structure of organic viral particles so the living RNA inside each molecule cannot function correctly.
UV light purification systems can be retrofitted to work with any central HVAC system, even if a HEPA filtration unit is also in place.
Portable UV purifiers are also available to neutralize airborne toxins in non-ducted and single room spaces.
Keep Changing Those HVAC Air Filters!
We also strongly recommend that you continue changing your HVAC air filters at least monthly, but even more often if you are able.
The cleaner your HVAC filter is, the less risk there is of toxic buildup that could get blown back out into your indoor air.
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Contact Our Team at Bi-Temp Ltd.
HVAC, plumbing, electrical and air quality are considered essential services here in Ontario province and Bi-Temp remains open for your emergency repair and service needs (read our COVID-19 service statement). Are you in need of heating and cooling services in Belleville, ONtario? Curious of the cost to install central air, ductless and other HVAC systems? Give us a call at 1-613-967-1066 or visit us online. Located in the Quinte area, we serve Belleville, Trenton, Brighton, Napanee and surrounding areas!
Rewind even just a few months ago and business owners were going about their days as usual - excited about implementing their carefully-laid out New Year's plans.
We were all anticipating the opportunity to launch into a whole new decade with gumption and gusto, generating new sales, welcoming new customers, evolving our businesses and achieving our goals.
Little did we know just how much gumption and gusto we would need to weather the storm up ahead. COVID-19 has shaken many businesses down to the studs, forcing some out of business and the rest to get creative at unprecedented levels in order to stay afloat.
Now, at last, the province of Ontario is slowly and tentatively beginning to open back up again. Some businesses are already welcoming local customers again while other businesses continue to operate for online or curb-side customers only.
Why the hesitation? There is still so much more to learn about in terms of how to keep ourselves, our staff, our families and our customers safe.
Thankfully, we also know a great deal more than we did about how the new novel coronavirus spreads. This has helped researchers identify three potentially effective methods to limit its impact - ventilation, air filtration and air purification.
Understanding Ventilation, Filtration and Purification
COVID-19 has brought with it a lot of new terms to learn. For instance, when washing your hands it is vital to understand the difference between disinfecting and sanitizing, as well as which one can do the best job in killing active coronavirus particles.
In the same way, now that breaking research has all but confirmed that coronavirus can travel via air currents - sometimes at great distances - it is important to know the difference between terms like ventilation, filtration and purification.
Which one does what? How do they work together? If you have to choose, which is most important? Let's find out.
What Is Ventilation?
Ventilation refers to adding fresh air to a space. This is different from circulation. Air circulation refers to air movement - simply moving the air around.
Circulation on its own can't dispel or disperse coronavirus droplets. But when circulation is combined with ventilation, the risk of infection via airborne coronavirus droplets decreases.
What you need to remember here is that ventilation equals additional quantities of incoming fresh air.
What Is Filtration?
Air filtration refers to separating solid particles from air, liquid or gas. Filtration can be accomplished through a number of mechanisms - biological, mechanical or physical.
The type of filtration we are most familiar with is the air filter on our furnace. Every so often you have to take out your air filter and either clean it and put it back, or replace it with a new one.
Here, what you want to remember is that filtration REMOVES solid particles from the air.
What Is Purification?
Purification is a process that hinges on first categorizing some substances as "pure" and some substances as "impure" and then rendering (neutralizing or changing) the impurities apart from the pure air.
There are different methods of purifying the air, including ionic, ozone, heat or light. Ultraviolet light is the purification method recommended for targeting airborne coronavirus droplets.
With purification, what you need to remember is that the process primarily works on gases and liquids, rather than solids.
Improve Your Indoor Ventilation
Last month we blogged about the confirmed link between dirty air and increased COVID-19 risk.
While concerns about dirty outdoor air are legitimate and documented, the toxicity of our indoor air has long been a much greater source of concern.
The EPA has confirmed that, on average, our indoor air is up to five times more toxic than our outdoor air. Indoor air is the air we breathe for 90 percent of the average day. For this reason, it is indoors where our greatest ventilation needs attention.
The simplest way to add more fresh air to any space is to open a window or door. Turning on a ceiling or floor fan helps circulate that fresh air faster to diffuse concentrations of coronavirus droplets and reduce risk of infection.
Additionally, upgrading air intake vents, adding a heat recovery ventilator, equalizing air pressure throughout a multi-room space and increasing air flow are all proven methods to increase ventilation.
Upgrade to HEPA Air Filtration
Standard residential and commercial HVAC systems typically do not have the capacity to work efficiently with HEPA grade air filters without risk of causing the blower motor to overheat dangerously.
These incredibly dense, intricate filters are rated to trap and remove up to 99.97 percent of airborne solids - particles as small as 1/100th the size of a single human hair.
A loophole is to install a standalone HEPA air filtration unit that bypasses the blower motor and works directly with your ducts. Portable models are a good choice for ductless spaces.
Add Ultraviolet Air Purification
There is no purification agent more powerful than our sun. Ultraviolet band C is the strongest band of ultraviolet light emitted by our sun. Synthetic short-wave UV-C radiation can effectively penetrate, damage and neutralize coronavirus on contact.
Strong evidence now exists to support coronavirus transmission via air ducts over longer distances. Once coronavirus liquid particles start to evaporate, they get lighter and can become airborne.
But when those liquid droplets come in contact with ultraviolet-C light, they are damaged and cannot infect you. This is one of several reasons why the province of Ontario is now recommending moving group activities outdoors whenever possible.
The best way to add UV air purification is to install an ultraviolet air purification unit to work with your HVAC system's ducts. Portable UV air purifiers are a good choice for ductless spaces.
Get in Touch
HVAC, electrical, air quality and plumbing have been deemed essential services in Ontario.
As one of the oldest heating and cooling companies in Belleville, Ontario, Bi-Temp is dedicated to offering the highest quality products, service and knowledge to the Quinte area and beyond. With our highly qualified technicians, we bring years of experience and professionalism in providing your residential, commercial and industrial business with quality heating and cooling services. Please read our COVID-19 contact guide to learn about the safety measures we have implemented to serve you safely!