Beware: Spring & Summer Allergies Are Near

The delayed winter snow has nearly melted, and you are giddy with thoughts of spring and summer adventures. Much to your surprise, your throat begins to itch in between bouts of coughing and sneezing fits. You think you can take refuge within the confines of your home but symptoms persist. What causes these torturous allergic reactions and is there anything you can do to limit their torturous effects? Find out below.

Hay Fever

Spring and summer allergies are primarily caused by the release of pollen into the air. As the weather warms up, trees, grass, and weeds begin to grow, producing little grains of pollen. The pollen travels by wind for miles, settling on many surfaces in its wake, including up the nostrils of unsuspecting and undeserving allergy victims. The human immune system, in turn, reacts by releasing the antibody, histamine, into the victims’ bloodstream to combat the unwanted intruder. This is where the pesky symptoms kick in!

Remember, during this time, the wind will be your enemy and rain will be your best friend. Pollen spreads more profusely when winds blow, so during these times, close your windows tightly to reduce allergy flare-ups. It would also be wise to replace any wind-pollinating plants in your home or garden.

Digesting Pollen

During these windy days, pollen can also land on the produce you consume! For those with allergies, make sure you wash all of your fruit and veggies to ensure that you are not consuming an unwanted kind of ‘snack.’

That being said, don’t avoid eating produce altogether! Eating bright coloured fruits and veggies, such as oranges, grapefruit, carrots, red peppers and watermelon can help you become you again. Rich in Vitamin C and bioflavonoids, these delicious treats lessen the punch of hay fever by tackling the symptoms that ail you. While you’re at it, try eating some apples and red onions as well! They contain a natural antihistamine, quercetin, which can relieve those itchy eyes and throat.

Insect Nibbles

As the warmer weather approaches, insects appear! This might be great for the environment, but if you suffer from allergies, their presence could spell trouble. Fire ant, honey bee, hornet, and wasp bites are quite common in Canada during the warmer months. They can cause painful swelling, itching, redness, and in some drastic cases, anaphylaxis. Protect yourself by wearing insect repellants whenever walking through heavily forested areas and keeping an eye out for these pests. If you think you might have been stung and are having trouble breathing, do not wait! Seek help immediately.

Smoke & Smog Triggers

When you think summer, you think of roasting spider-dogs on the campfire or road trips to the beach, right? While these are exciting plans, both are known to trigger allergic reactions in humans. Inhaling campfire smoke and the air pollutant, smog, can affect the way you breathe. To be safe, avoid standing directly in the way of campfire smoke and car exhausts.

These next few months are full of excitement and adventures, but when those dreaded allergies hit, don’t let them cut into your time to explore! Protect yourself, your family and your home by tackling them head-on. Our dedicated staff at Afterglow would be pleased to assist you with removing allergens from your home. Book a maintenance inspection today!

Spring Cleaning & Housekeeping: HVAC Edition

Spring brings with it the joys associated with warmer weather: hiking, nature walks, lounging outside on the deck with a drink in hand. However, it is also the time when the dreaded C word comes out to play. Don’t let ‘cleaning’ get you down! Sometimes all you and your home need is a little TLC to raise your spirits. Here are 5 spring cleaning and housekeeping tips to get you back into the groove of things.

Dry Your Humidifiers & Dehumidifiers

Humidifiers and dehumidifiers are tremendously beneficial for adding and eliminating moisture into and from your home; however, they come with their own health hazards. The body of the units tend to store water residue within, creating the perfect breeding ground for bacteria to collect and for mould to form. It is important to dry these cavities fully after use in order to prevent unhealthy particles from infiltrating the air you breathe.

Poke AC Drainage Holes

Every once in a while it is a good housekeeping idea to poke a paperclip into the drain hole located beneath your air conditioner’s evaporator fins. This hole’s purpose is to drain condensation from the interior of the unit outwards. If it is blocked by debris, your AC will not run at full capacity, causing you to spend more money over-time.

Caulk Window & Doors

As many homeowners will be able to tell you, even the best of caulkings do not last a lifetime. Weathering takes its toll. Therefore, it is important to give your windows and doors a bit of a refresher every couple of years. If you notice the sealant cracking or changing into that gross yellowish colour, you can bet moisture is making its way into your home. Seal that moisture out!

Change Toilet Flappers

Toilet flapper or flush valve malfunctions are the most common reason for toilet leaks. Over time, this flapper—whose job it is to periodically turn the fill valve on-and-off, draining water within its core—ages and stops sealing the toilet valve, causing leakage into the bowl. Stop wasting money on water! If you notice your toilet’s flapper not sealing properly, save yourself the hassle of cleaning up a big mess in the future and get yourself a new one!

Replace Furnace Filters

Furnace or AC filters keep the air blowing into your home nice and fresh! If these filters are clogged with dust and debris, they will not do their job properly, spreading allergens into the air. If you don’t want to change your filters every month, invest in a HEPA filter which only has to be changed every 6 months and can be cleaned with a vacuum in between replacements!

 
The C word does not have to be overwhelming. The tips above are simple enough to get your home spring ready in no time! In need of more helpful HVAC tips? Contact us for answers to your questions! One of our knowledgeable and reliable HVAC specialists would be happy to assist you!

4 Danger Signs You Need to Know In Your Home

Keeping your family safe should always be a top priority, but what if you don’t know what types of dangers lurk within your own home? Sometimes good intentions are no match for unforeseen circumstances. Take the first step and educate yourself on any potential HVAC issues that may arise in your home. Below are 4 danger signs you should look out for.

Rotten Egg Smell

Did you walk into your home only to smell the stench of rotten eggs? Leave and call your gas company immediately. Natural gas furnaces are one of the most popular home heating choices due to their convenience, energy efficiency, and cost-effectiveness. However, be aware of the dangers associated with a gas leak. Natural gas in itself is odourless, so the harmless yet poignant chemical mercaptan is added to the compound in order to warn home occupants that a gas leak has occurred. Gas leaks are dangerous because they can not only spark fires, but inhaling large amounts of natural gas can also reduce the oxygen levels in your body, causing dizzy spells, shortness of breath, and in serious cases, even death! Do not look for the source, simply GET OUT!

Electrical Overheating

Does your HVAC unit give off an electrical smelling odour as if something is overheating? It very well could be! If it is your first time turning on your furnace in a long time, this scent could just be built-up dust burning off. But if it does not dissipate after 30 minutes, it could signal something more serious. Turn off your unit if the smell continues, and first check your air filters for dust and debri. If your air filters are clear, your furnace or air conditioning motor may be damaged or burned out. If left unchecked, this can lead to a fire. Turn off your electricity on your master switch, and contact your trusty HVAC professional as soon as possible!

Musty Smell

 

If you start to smell a musty whiff of air near your air conditioning unit that isn’t going away, this is a sure sign that there is moisture somewhere nearby. The biggest issue is not the smell. Built-up condensation from the unit can migrate up into your air-ducts, creating mould. Prolonged mould exposure can lead to respiratory issues if not dealt with in a timely fashion. If you notice this warning sign, contact your HVAC service agent to perform a much-needed duct cleaning!

Leaks

Have you noticed a puddle of water pooling around your air-conditioning unit lately? This can happen as summer approaches. When the evaporator coil in your unit cools the warm air being blown over it, it creates moisture. This condensation drips into a pan and down a condensate drain pipe that leads to the outside. When this pipe is blocked up by sludge, mould, dust and debris, the water has nowhere to go, causing the water to back up. Taking care of this issue quickly is highly recommended to prevent water damage to your floor and foundation. This will also make sure mould does not begin to form.

 
Do not turn a blind eye to these warning signs! Keeping your family safe depends on your due diligence. If you smell rotten eggs, electrical overheating, must and mould, or see water leaking from your air-conditioning unit, seek help from HVAC and gas professionals who are trained to safely eliminate these issues.

3 Ways to Be Kind to Your Home

January is a time to reflect and make some changes for the New Year. Sometimes, those changes can be small, like reading more or cutting down on alcohol; other times those changes can be monumental for one’s success and well-being. This year, make your health and home a priority. Set your standards high by being kind to yourself and your home. Below, we have outlined 3 simple ways to do just that.

Keep Boilers and Water Heaters Maintained

Boilers essentially work by pumping water through copper tubing, rapidly heating the water in the process. Unlike water heaters, boilers are used for larger scale heating initiatives such as heating pools, hot tubs, and whole complexes. On the other hand, water heaters heat and store water in tanks, and are generally used for smaller-scale heating projects. When you add heat to the mix, it is important to stay on top of maintenance, in case of any potential hazards from wear and tear. Regular maintenance inspections can mitigate the risk of fires caused by burners, pilot lights, gas pressure, and heat exchangers. They can also prevent water backflow and reduce safety concerns with venting, piping, and carbon monoxide gas.

Replace Furnace Filters Regularly

Furnace filters are used to collect dust, dirt and pollutants so that they do not circulate throughout your furnace and HVAC system. When these filters are clogged, it takes more time and energy to run a furnace properly, leading to more frequent repairs or replacements. As you can imagine, this can drastically increase your utility bills and the overall costs associated with continuous technical support. The simple and inexpensive act of changing your filter regularly can enhance your HVAC system’s efficiency and save on costs in the long run!

Don’t forget about the wonders clean furnace filters can have on your health! By changing your filters regularly, you can prevent the built-up debris from floating back into the air, polluting it, and introducing it back into the air you breathe.

Purchase A Humidifier

Humidifiers work by restoring moisture back into your home’s air. Air can become very dry and stale, particularly during the winter months. This can result in dry skin, congestion, allergies, and the spread of airborne viruses. Investing in a humidifier can help prevent all of those pesky ailments we associate with winter. We recommend consulting with an HVAC specialist before choosing a humidifier, simply because there are many different sizes and model options that work best in different environments.
Being kind to your home is a vital component of taking care of yourself. If you’re concerned about the air quality in your home, or are worried about how your HVAC systems are performing, contact us for support!

Ratty Radiator: Refurbishing Your Old HVAC Units

Hunting for a home can be a challenge, especially with the way the housing market has been looking lately. Now add the new home vs old home debate into the mix and you’re sure to be even more confused! New homes have that clean look and fresh smell that homeowners love. However, there is something to say about the charm and durability of an older home. Older homes have a unique structural design, are often found in desirable locals close to city centres, and are constructed with high-quality materials. If you want the best of both worlds, there are ways you can renovate your home, keeping safety and HVAC in mind.

Ratty Radiator – Towel Rack Transformation

I am sure you’ve heard of the term ‘vintage’ being thrown around in the last decade or so. More and more people are infusing their homes with vintage elements to get that unique flare and old-school charm. A few weeks ago we got the chance to revamp a ratty radiator, featured below, by making it into a fully functioning heated towel rack for one of our fantastic clients!

HVAC Vintage Finds

This project inspired us to explore other ways homeowners can renovate their old or new home, by keeping the elements they love intact. Check out this old boiler and German-style thermostat we found online! If you have one of these kicking around your home, instead of throwing it out, incorporate it into your interior design. This will add that little bit of history to your home’s otherwise cookie-cutter construction.

Old A/C DIY Project

Do you have an old air conditioning unit in your home that stylistically you just don’t know what to do with? Instead of moving or tearing your wall apart, try covering it up using inexpensive wood panelling. Vintage Meets Glam transformed the look of her bedroom by doing just that!

Safety First

DIY projects can be exciting and fun, however, working with HVAC units, whether functioning or not, could pose safety risks. Before starting a project like the ones above in your home, talk to a professional to determine whether or not a risk is present. Stay safe and happy decorating!

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