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Ventilation & Air Quality Upgrades to Keep You Safer This Fall

Ventilation and Air Quality Upgrades To Keep You And Your Family Safer This Fall

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.


Get in Touch With Bi-Temp LTD. In Belleville

Our pandemic extra safety protocols at Bi-Tempt LTD. in Belleville, Ontario allow us to continue providing our clients with prompt and professional 24/7 emergency service - including nights, weekends and holidays!

Looking for local heating and cooling specialists? Give our qualified technicians at Bi-Temp a call at 1-613-967-1066 or visit us online. We service Quinte and the surrounding areas!

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Essential Tips to Use Your Air Conditioning Safely During COVID-19

Bi-temp Air Conditioning Safety Tips

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.

Inadequate Ventilation

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.

Give us a call at 1-613-967-1066 or visit us online!


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Can Ventilation Spread COVID-19? 

Bi-Temp Ltd. in Quinte Ontario provides updated recommendations on air ventilation and COVID-19

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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Mitsubishi and Bosch are currently offering rebates up to $1,000 on popular heat pumps and water heaters.


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!

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Ventilation, Filtration, Purification: 3 Safety Essentials All Businesses Need to Implement

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!

Give us a call at 1-613-967-1066 or visit us online.


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New-Construction HVAC Selection: Tips to Make the Perfect Choice

new home construction hvac

Building your own home or custom workspace can be so exciting. Finally, you can have everything just the way you want it instead of having to make someone else’s vision work for you.

But having the chance to bring your own vision to life can also add to the stress of the process – you want to do everything right the first time. Plus, if you are like most homeowners, your budget isn’t unlimited and mistakes can cost you.

Choosing your new-construction HVAC system may not be the most glamorous aspect of your new-build process, but get it right and we guarantee it will be one of the comfiest!

From heating and cooling options to ductwork decisions, cost estimates to installation approaches, learn what you need to know to make the perfect HVAC decision.

1. To Duct or Not to Duct

In past eras, any new construction consisting of more than two rooms would automatically be a candidate for ducting and installation of a central HVAC system.

Ducted systems

Central HVAC systems with a traditional air conditioner paired with a traditional furnace are still the reigning favorite and give you the most options for how to combine your heating and cooling equipment.

Heat pumps are becoming more popular today and also pair well with ductwork. Compact and energy-efficient air-to-air heat pumps are great for smaller spaces. For larger spaces with more available land, geothermal heat pumps offer the greatest energy efficiency and a very long useful life.

But today, you have another cooling option that doesn’t require ductwork: the ductless mini-split.

Ductless systems

A ductless mini-split offers quiet, efficient cooling and heating along with the option for zoned thermostat control, which means you can adjust the temperature as needed for up to eight different zones.

Ductless components are non-invasive, simple and compact. The indoor component can be installed on the wall or ceiling. The outdoor component connects to the indoor system by means of a single slim cable.

If you live in an area that doesn’t require air conditioning, a heating boiler paired with a radiator system is yet another option for non-ducted heating. As a perk, a heating boiler can heat your water, too.

2. Fuel Type: Electric, Gas, Propane, Oil, Off-Grid, Combination?

Homes and workplaces today have a dizzying array of options when it comes to fuel.

Fossil fuels are slowly being phased out in favor of more planet-friendly resources, but this process takes time and sometimes traditional fuel sources are still the most readily available and economical choice.

It can be smart to survey power costs for your area before deciding to go all-electric, gas or propane-powered, for instance. Don’t just look at the price today but also examine the trends going back a few years to get a good idea of what you will spend annually (talking to your neighbors can also help here).

Off-grid options like solar and geothermal can require more up-front investment. However, to compensate, they are historically low-maintenance options with a useful life of up to 50 years, meaning these systems typically pay for themselves early on and can even make you money if you can sell unused stored power back to the power company.

In many cases, it is possible to mix and match electric, gas and off-grid options to conserve energy and keep your power bills manageable.

3. Ventilation: How & How Much

As concerns about our planet’s dwindling natural resources continue to increase, there is rising pressure on the construction industry to create new air-tight construction practices to conserve energy.

This has been great for the average homeowner’s power bill but not so great for people’s health. As indoor spaces become more airtight, the ventilation that ensures a continuous supply of fresh, oxygenated air is increasingly absent.

This means it is no longer enough to open a window or door on nice days, especially during the hot summers and long cold winters when the result is a corresponding need to crank the cool or heat.

Ceiling fans aid greatly in air circulation, which can help you conserve energy and lower power bills by inching your thermostat up without feeling noticeably warmer, but they don’t serve a useful ventilation purpose.

In the Toronto area, all new construction is now mandated to include a heat recovery ventilation system – you can think of it as a set of mechanical lungs for your home, since most new construction spaces can no longer “breathe” on their own.

Heat recovery ventilation not only ensures a steady supply of fresh incoming air but it also helps conserve otherwise wasted heat energy and balance the humidity inside your home.

4. Energy Efficiency Appliances & Fixtures

Once you have created your master list of systems and accessories, it is time to get down to the business of choosing the specific appliances and fixtures to outfit your new space.

From low-flow faucets and fixtures to high-efficiency HVAC units to tank vs. tankless water heaters and more, today’s appliances and accessories elevate conserving energy to a fine art.

Choosing the perfect mix of energy-efficient appliances and fixtures is one part selecting complementary systems and one part ensuring your space is set up to maximize their impact.

Selecting the right insulation, applying strategic weather stripping, identifying the optimal thermostat location, installing the right window type and even choosing landscaping that provides shade can all further reduce your carbon footprint and your monthly energy bill.

Why Choose Bi-Temp for Your New-Construction HVAC Needs?

We are licensed and insured to consult on air conditioning, heating, water and other needs for new-construction projects throughout Ontario.

We can also help you with expert installation on all makes and models of new systems and apply on your behalf for all available energy efficiency credits and rebates.

Get in Touch

Give us a call at 613-967-1066 or visit us online.

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Is Your A/C Winding Down Just as Summer Heats Up? 8 Warning Signs to Watch For

sweaty man due to broken ac

Summer is not the season to have your air conditioner suddenly conk out on you.

Yet of course this is the time of year when A/C outages are most likely to occur, since you are using the heck out of it as temperatures climb.

If you do experience an A/C outage, don’t panic. We are just a phone call away and we can get you back up and running (and cooling down) in a jiffy.

But if you know the most common warning signs to watch for, you may be able to stave off an actual outage by making some timely air conditioning repairs.

In this post, learn about eight warning signs that your air conditioner needs maintenance.

1. You start hearing things

An air conditioner in the prime of its life that is running smoothly isn’t going to be “talking” to you. And while it can be tempting to ignore the first minor attempts your A/C unit makes to strike up a conversation, you can be sure that if a whisper doesn’t work, it will escalate to a yell.

Bangs, clangs, squeaking, clanks, rattles, buzzing, whining and low-level white noise – these are all clear signs that your air conditioner needs some overdue attention.

2. Your house smells… funny

Many homeowners don’t initially notice this warning sign because it is easy to get acclimated to your home’s “homey” odour. Using fragranced candles, air fresheners and perfumed household cleaning products can also mask the scent of an air conditioner that is starting to stink.

But if one day you walk inside your home and your nose wrinkles, and all efforts you make to locate the source of the scent still leaves you coming up short, the culprit might be your HVAC system.

If you have central air conditioning that uses a system of ducts, the issue might also be microbial matter (mould, mildew, bacteria) that has colonized your ducts and is sending out its unique stinky signature along with each blast of cooled air.

3. Your home seems more humid

Humidity often increases in the warm summer months, but if your air conditioning system is working properly, you should only feel it when you are outside your house. When your indoor air starts to seem warmer and more humid no matter how much you run your A/C, this may point back to a problem with the air conditioning unit itself.

Older homes with lots of natural ventilation (leaks, cracks) may also benefit from refreshing the weatherstripping, caulking or insulation. In newer homes built to be airtight, the addition of a heat recovery ventilator can help your air conditioner cope with a lack of natural ventilation.

4. The air coming out of your registers feels warm

If there is one deeply dissatisfying experience most homeowners are familiar with, it is running a cooling cycle only to feel warm air blowing out of your registers and vents! Why does this happen?

It could be any number of things, from restricted air flow to a refrigerant leak to an accidental nudge of the thermostat setting from “cool” to “fan” mode.

Anytime refrigerant issues are involved, it is always best to call a pro. Refrigerant may work wonders for cooling down your indoor air, but it is a potent toxin and should only be handled by a professional who knows how to work with it and dispose of it safely.

5. You start to miss the sound of silence between A/C cycles

An air conditioner that never seems to stop running is not only burning a hole through your wallet energy-wise, but it also probably isn’t doing its best work in keeping your home cool.

Too-frequent A/C cycles can point to anything from an improperly sized or installed unit to a simple need for a cleaning and some minor repairs.

6. You hear your A/C working but very little air comes out of your registers.

When your air conditioner is running but you don’t feel much air coming through your registers, this doesn’t always mean your air conditioner itself is malfunctioning. It could also signal an issue with blocked air ducts or simply a dirty air filter.

But there are times when the air conditioner itself is to blame, and often the reason is a malfunctioning blower motor.

7. Your ceiling springs a leak

Finding a water leak inside your home is one of the most stressful experiences you can go through as a homeowner. It can also turn into one of the most expensive issues if you don’t quickly find and remedy the issue.

When your air conditioner starts leaking, it could be something simple like a blocked drainage hose or an overflowing drip pan. But it could also mean there is a refrigerant leak somewhere in your system, and this always requires some help from an HVAC pro.

8. Your cooling bills start increasing

Keeping a close eye on your energy bills can give you an early heads-up that your A/C isn’t doing its best work. When all else remains the same but you start paying more to keep your home cool, it is time to schedule A/C maintenance!

Earn Up to $100 Just By Mentioning Your A/C Service!

How does a cool extra $50 or $100 in your pocket sound? 

All you have to do to earn this extra cash is start telling your network about the great A/C or heating service you get with Bi-Temp - make sure they mention your name when they call to schedule service.

For a furnace or A/C purchase, you earn $50. For a combo package, boiler or installation, you earn $100.

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3 Types of Home A/C Systems: Which One Do You Need?

27C thermostat

For many people, choosing a new air conditioning system can feel overwhelming.

You want to pick out a system that is sized properly for your space so you get maximum value for minimal energy cost, and that doesn’t require you to make expensive modifications to your space.

In this post, learn about the three main types of home air conditioning systems and how to determine which system is best for your space.

Meet the Three Types of Air Conditioners

There are three main types of air conditioning systems in use today, and each one can work well in certain types of spaces.

1. Split Air Conditioning System

The split air conditioner is the type most homeowners are already familiar with. This system houses half of its components indoors and the other half remains outside. Inside, you will find the blower fan and evaporator coil, while the compressor and condenser coil remains outside.

This type of A/C unit, often called a “central air conditioner,” uses a system of air ducts to conduct cooled air to different parts of the home. It also has an air filter to help trap airborne particles and remove them from the air.

Split A/C systems can be as simple or complex as a space demands, serving single or multi-story homes and integrating with third-party appliances such as air filtration systems, ultraviolet purifiers, heat recovery ventilators and more.

2. Packaged Air Conditioning System

Packaged A/C systems also rely on a system of indoor air ducts to transport cooled air throughout your home or office.

These systems get their name from the single unit design – instead of splitting off the condenser and compressor from the blower and evaporator, all are housed together inside the home or on the roof.

These systems are particularly popular where space is at a premium, in hotter climates and when a rooftop installation is preferred.

3. Ductless Air Conditioning Systems

Ductless A/C systems have been popular in Asia and Europe for many years but are just now starting to make an appearance in North America. Their rising popularity is well-justified.

Ductless air conditioners take up far less space than ducted A/Cs and free up valuable floor space in cramped quarters. Since only a small hole is necessary for mounting on a wall, they are also far less invasive than many ducted systems.

Ductless air conditioners, as their name suggests, do not require installation of an air duct system to work. And they can be set up to work in zones to adjust temperature differently in different parts of the home or office, making for more affordable, efficient cooling.

Sizing Your New Air Conditioning System

The next step is to determine what size and capacity of air conditioner is the right fit for the size and configuration of your space.

In past decades, it was popular to take a “the bigger the better” approach to sizing air conditioners. We now know this is a mistake, and a costly one at that. Installing an A/C unit too big for your house can drive up your utility bills, create indoor humidity and generate extra repairs.

There are several measures that can help determine which air conditioner is sized properly for your space and cooling needs.

Cooling capacity

Cooling capacity is a term that measures how quickly and effectively an A/C unit can cool your space in 60 minutes.

Two different measurements are used to calculate cooling capacity: BTUs, or British Thermal Units, and tonnage. It doesn’t matter which unit of measurement is used. What is important to know is that 12,000 BTUs is equal to 1 ton of cooling capacity.

SEER ratings

SEER is a term that stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. You can think of this like the mpg (miles per gallon) ratings for various cars. Some cars just get more miles per gallon of gas.

In the same way, some air conditioners just get more cooling capacity per unit of energy. SEER is not tied to the size of the unit, however, but to the local climate where you live. Two identically sized units can and often do have very different SEER ratings.

The best option here is to look for an air conditioner that is Energy Star-certified. This basically means the A/C unit uses less energy to do the same work as other similar units.

Load calculation

As you might imagine, it can take some number crunching to match the right cooling capacity and SEER rating to the size and configuration of your space.

This is called the load calculation, and it factors in more than 10 different variables to arrive at the right unit for you.

Get a FREE, No Obligation A/C Quote

Is your existing A/C unit starting to show signs of old age? Are you in the market for a new unit but are not sure what size, configuration or options to choose?

Let us help you! One of our prompt, professional and highly trained service technicians will meet you at your home to analyze your cooling needs and generate a free, no-obligation quote for a properly sized, highly efficient and affordable air conditioner.

Complete this online form to schedule your quote.

Get in Touch

Give us a call at 613-967-1066 or visit us online.

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Is Your A/C Ready for Spring? How to Know For Sure!

air conditioner maintenance

The first day of spring has come and gone. Even though it may not feel like it yet, warmer weather is just around the corner!

It nearly goes without saying that your furnace is looking forward to a well-earned rest. Your air conditioner, on the other hand, is looking ahead into the busiest season of its whole year.

Are you feeling confident your A/C is up to the challenge?

While it may feel tempting to believe your air conditioner’s lengthy winter rest was sufficient to shake off any performance issues from last summer, unfortunately, this is rarely the case.

A better strategy is to learn the warning signs that indicate your air conditioner needs maintenance or repairs and take care of these minor issues before they become major.

A/C Maintenance Can Control Rising Cooling Costs

While spending money on utilities is not typically on anyone’s list of favorite things to do, at the same time, it sure can feel nice to stay comfy and cool inside as temperatures heat up.

But you don’t want to pay a premium to do so, either.

According to Natural Resources Canada, approximately three percent of the energy bill you pay each year is devoted to cooling your space. Knowing this can help you track cooling expenses over time. Increases can be a warning sign that all is not well with your air conditioner.

In fact, according to the Department of Energy, simply changing out the A/C filter monthly can reduce what you spend to run your air conditioner by up to 15 percent.

So imagine how much more efficient your air conditioner will be after being cleaned, tuned-up, lubricated and serviced!

7 Reasons You Are Paying More for Cooling

While air conditioning technology has delivered skyrocketing energy efficiency in recent years, the actual mechanics of how A/C systems work to deliver cool air has stayed consistent over time.

This means that if your cooling bills are increasing, chances are good one of these seven common problems may be to blame!

Leaking refrigerant

Refrigerant is that “magic ingredient” that keeps your air conditioner blowing cool air. When levels get low due to leaks or other causes, you may notice yourself cranking the A/C to stay cool.

Improper sensor position

This is particularly important for window unit and zoned A/C systems, which rely on sensors to adjust temperature cycles accordingly. If the sensor is pointing in the wrong direction, dirty or in the path of direct sunlight, the A/C unit may cycle more than is needed.

Thermostat calibration

An improperly calibrated thermostat can cause your air conditioner to think it needs to run more than it really does to meet your cooling needs.

Drain blockage

As your air conditioner cycles, it creates moisture (condensate) that then needs to be drained away from the unit. When the drain gets blocked, this often triggers a float switch that sends a warning signal to the unit itself to power down.

If your A/C unit frequently short-cycles (turns itself off prematurely) and you feel like you are always fighting to stay cool enough, a clogged drain may be the culprit.

Clogged air filter

The air filter operates much like your air conditioner’s “lungs.” Its job is to keep dirt, dust, debris and detritus from blowing into the interior components of the A/C unit and causing damage or blockage.

But over time, as the air filter traps more and more debris, it becomes clogged. At this point, it has to work harder and harder to push air through the filter and out into your home. This will run up your energy bill and lower cooling efficiency at the same time.

Control failure

A series of breakers, fuses and electrical contacts keep critical components of the A/C unit from wearing out or overheating. If the electrical controls are not functioning properly, the blower motor or condenser fan motor can overheat and stop working, causing major repair needs.

Duct problems

All kinds of things can happen as ductwork ages. Ducts can begin to sag or even tear away from the connection points. Leaks and tears may occur as material degrades or unwelcome winter visitors like insects or small animals make their way inside.

Ducts can also fill up with debris over the years, acting like a clogged filter to slow down air flow. When debris backs up into the A/C unit, a major outage or fire hazard is possible.

A/C Maintenance Ensures You Pay Only for Cooling You Really Need

If your A/C unit is still new and under warranty, scheduling annual preventative maintenance can be a requirement for keeping your warranty active.

For an older unit, preventative maintenance can make the difference between controlling cooling costs and watching them skyrocket.

For a late-life A/C unit, maintenance can extend its useful life and delay the need for costly upgrades.

Here at Bi-Temp, our recommended safety inspection and preventative maintenance A/C service includes each of the following:

  • Refrigerant leak test, level check and refill (if necessary)

  • Inspection of all connections, fuses, breakers, thermostat, sensors, components

  • Inspection and cleaning of drainage pan and hose

  • Lubrication of all moving parts, fans, motors

  • Replacement or cleaning of filter (depending on filter type)

  • Thorough interior and exterior cleaning, including evaporator and condenser coils

  • Thermostat calibration and blower motor/cooling cycle efficiency test

  • Inspection of ductwork and repair recommendations as needed

  • Recommendation of minor repairs

  • Overall safety inspection of the unit, components and A/C operation

Get in Touch

Take advantage of our nifty spring offer: schedule your air conditioner inspection and tune-up service and we will install a 1-inch air filter at the time of service, absolutely FREE!

Give us a call at 613-967-1066 or visit us online.

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