Top 3 Frequently Asked HVAC Questions Heading Into The Summer

HVAC systems keep your home comfort and safety in check, but do you know how they work to maintain this comfort and safety? For the average homeowner, these high-tech systems can be tricky to understand. That is why we have honed the expertise of our Afterglow specialists to answer our most frequently asked questions leading into the summer.

“We made it through the winter with our old furnace/boiler. Can we wait for the fall to replace it?”


We get it, everyone wants to save money if they can. But when it comes down to your furnace or boiler, we highly recommend that you don’t wait! Just because your furnace or boiler survived the winter does not mean it is working efficiently. You may be investing more money the longer you wait. Why? Your air-conditioner relies on your furnace to blow air throughout your home. If that furnace is not in good shape, it could cause your AC to stop working entirely. In the summer months —this is not a problem anyone wishes to have! Do not suffer from heat in vain. Replace your furnace or boiler now so that you are not rushed when the colder weather hits!

“Does the efficiency of an air conditioner really make much of a difference?”


If you like saving money and the environment, yes, air-conditioner efficiency matters! AC efficiency is measured in SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio), which is the rating calculated by the amount of cooling outputted during a typical cooling season divided by the electrical energy (BTU) inputted during that same time period. Essentially, the higher the SEER rating, the more energy efficient the unit is. For the average Canadian home running their AC from March to September, a bump up one point in SEER may result in savings of $10-$15 per month!

“If I have a boiler at home, can I even get air conditioning?”


Many of our clients think that if they have a boiler installed, they are out of luck with an AC system because boiler systems do not use ducts to transport heat throughout the home. That is not the case! Air conditioner technology is becoming more and more inventive! Ductless options with wall-mounted AC heads are available and can be quite cost-effective. These powerful systems can cool rooms or even entire floors quite rapidly, saving you at the hottest time of the year! Ducted systems are also available and can work alongside your boiler.

You asked, we answered! Do not suffer in the scorching heat this summer. Bask in the cool air you always dreamed of! Do you have any HVAC questions nagging you? Contact us —our HVAC specialists would be happy to help provide you with some clarity and expert advice!

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!

Hot Box History

Are you sitting in your home or office, shivering, waiting for summer to return so that you can stop cursing your faulty thermostat under your frosted breath? Do you hate wrapping yourself up like a burrito and trying to type with gloves on every day? Sometimes the struggle is just too real. Now imagine a time where heating was a concept only dreamed of. Imagine rubbing two sticks together to survive. Over the years, humans had to become inventive in order to combat the frigid weather. This is where radiators, as we know them today, come in. Let us start from the beginning, with a look at primal heating techniques.

Hearth Heating

When we think of building fires today, we think of camping and getting back to nature. We do not necessarily think of heat as a means of survival. For the Neanderthals, building hearths was imperative for eating and staying alive. However, these hearths brought with them their own dangers due to the sparks being created. These sparks could easily fly up and ignite the vegetation present in the caves.

Roman Hypocausts & Bronze Age Ondol

Many years later, the Romans and Koreans began simultaneously experimenting with an early form of central heating. A Roman engineer by the name of Sergius Orata invented hypocausts, which circulated hot air and smoke generated by furnace flames underneath home floorboards. The Ondol from Korea used a similar, albeit more efficient system, that directed the heat more quickly throughout the house.

Benjamin Franklin

In 1741, Benjamin Franklin further improved these methods by lining his fireplace with metal and creating a hollow baffle with a duct attached. This duct led to an upside down tube-like structure, which directed furnace fumes up and restricted where the fumes could travel, forcing them to take a longer route. The metal lining conducted the heat more readily and the longer travel path meant that fumes were circulating longer, heating the home for an extended period of time before they escaped.

Industrial Steam Heating

Later in the 18th century, two Englishmen by the names of Matthew Boulton and James Watt, understanding the importance of materials used, began experimenting with soldered copper sheeting to steam heat mills and factories in England. A few decades later, in the USA, high pressure steam engines were used to heat prominent buildings like the White House and the Capitol Building.

Residential Steam Heating

It was not until 1854, when stone maker, Stephen Gold, created the “mattress radiator,” that radiators became a residential commercial success. He addressed concerns regarding steam heaters being too complicated and unsafe, by creating a patent that mitigated a lot of the danger created by earlier models. Essentially, he riveted two indented sheets of iron together, allowing for a safe passage of hot air to circulate within.

Franz San Galli

Although it is widely disputed as to who actually invented the first radiator, Polish-born Russian businessman, Franz San Galli, is credited for its creation. In the midst of the harsh temperatures of St. Petersburg, Russia during the mid 19th century, Franz invented what he dubbed as the “hotbox.” This invention transformed the world of central heating we know today. Hooray for no more bulky bear skin fur coats!

Radiators Today

The use of radiators is still alive today, as the ornate Victorian style and metalwork is gaining in popularity. It is seen re-emerging in modern interior decor designs across the world. Talk about a blast from the past! Do you have a radiator that isn’t working to its full capacity? Are you moving and thinking about what HVAC system would be most suitable for your home? Contact us —we have the answers and professional services you need to get the job done right!

6 Furnace Fail Warning Signs

When it comes to HVAC systems, the changing weather of autumn can bring some unexpected problems. At the first sign of chilly fall winds, homeowners find themselves turning on furnaces that haven’t been used for several months. Have you ever turned on your furnace to discover that it’s not heating your home the way you expected? There are a few potential reasons why your furnace could be failing you:

Older Unit

Your furnace could simply be running on its last legs. Have you moved into an older home recently, or simply haven’t replaced your furnace in a while? It may be time to do so. Furnaces usually only last between 15-20 years, so if you are not feeling the warmth, your furnace may be telling you it’s time for an upgrade. You can check information about its age on the serial label posted on your furnace.

Cold Air Flow

Cold air flowing through your furnace could be another warning signthat your system is due for a revamp. If you find cold spots in your home, it’s time to contact a professional, as your blower fan may be malfunctioning!

Yellow Pilot Light

Behind the front panel of your furnace, you can find your pilot light. Check the colour; is it yellow? If so, this could be a sign that your heat exchange is leaking carbon monoxide, which poses a huge risk for you and your family. Seek professional service immediately, if there’s any potential for a carbon monoxide leak. Just remember, BLUE means GO, YELLOW means Oh NO!

Unusual Noises

Although furnaces do tend to generate sounds when running, pay attention to any sound that’s out of the ordinary for your furnace. In particular loud and high pitched pops and squeaks could indicate that there is something loose in your unit.

Dust

Finding an unusual amount of dust buildup in your furnace could mean that your furnace is not able to clean your air properly. If you are experiencing this issue, call one of our technicians for assistance – your family will be happy you did!  

Increased Heating Bill

Are you experiencing a spike in your heating bill lately? Inspect your furnace to ensure that all of the above furnace fail signs are not occurring. No matter what the problem with your furnace might be, we can find it!  Contact us to reach one of our friendly, experienced technicians.

Duct Discoveries: Surprising Finds and How to Safeguard Your Home

Have you ever been confused and frustrated by the lack of airflow in your house, despite your gruesomely high energy bills? Or, have you experienced foul, unexplainable odors in your home? There may be a reason… and it may not have crossed your mind before. HVAC contractors across the country have the distinct pleasure of adding “treasure hunters” to their list of credentials due to the discoveries they sometimes uncover while on the job. You may be surprised to learn that dirt, dust, and grime are not the only things that can be found hiding in your ducts.

For instance, one contractor from Miami, Florida, reported finding an array of peculiar items throughout his career. This included recreational drugs and other contraband, remnants of food and beverage wrappers, and even human feces! Was it a nightwalking mishap, a messy party foul, or a toddler that just didn’t know any better? Your guess is as good as ours…

Several contractors living locally and abroad have reported finding dead critters and other animals; including, cats, mice, a tarantula, an iguana, and even a small fox and possum. Can you imagine the stench of decay wafting throughout your home? It is what nightmares are made of.

Some of the strangest items found in heating and cooling ducts were reported by contractors in both Scarborough, Toronto and the UK. When a family complained about the lack of airflow being generated from their HVAC units, the contractors they hired discovered the unusual reason for this blockage. Hidden in their ducts they found a total of 45 VHS tapes and 19 books. It was discovered that their child had been safeguarding his treasures for some time.

In the UK, a construction company was hired to work on a house. Little did they know they would experience a spooky awakening when they discovered a vintage Ouija board stuffed into the home’s heating vent!

Although most of these duct discoveries are not common findings, it serves as an important reminder: have your ducts inspected and serviced regularly! This will improve the quality of air you breathe, will reduce the energy your home consumes and helps you save money in the long run. Afterglow can help give you the peace of mind you need. Contact us today.

FALL ALLERGIES: What They Are & How to Cope

The end of summer often brings those pesky fall allergens that we detest. They pollute the air that we breathe, causing irritating symptoms like a runny nose, watery eyes, sneezing, coughing, dark under-eye circles, and itchy sinuses. These symptoms can last from mid-August well into October, so it is very important to understand what allergies are prevalent in the fall months so that we can reduce their strain.

RAGWEED

The worst fall allergy culprit is ragweed. The pollen from this invasive plant can travel airborne for hundreds of miles, and the dryer the air, the higher the concentration of pollen. Roughly 75% of people with spring allergies also suffer from reactions to ragweed in the fall due to the change in temperatures and winds. Symptoms from ragweed allergies peak at midday when many people are at work, and can be incredibly disruptive to your health!

MOLD

Mold is another trigger for allergic reactions in the fall months, and thrives in moist environments both outdoors and indoors. Keep an eye on damp areas of your home like the washroom, kitchen, or basement to make sure no mold is developing. Damp walls, leaky foundations, improper insulation and carpeting all provide the perfect breeding ground for musty mold.

DUST MITES

Dust mites prefer warm, damp climates; however, that does not stop them from thriving well into the fall. Turning on your furnace can stir up dust into the air, propelling dust mites into the sinuses and causing the allergic reactions suffers dread most.

HOW TO COPE WITH FALL ALLERGIES

TIP #1: Dusting and Duct Cleaning

If you are allergic to dust mites, ensure that you thoroughly dust your home. If your nose is especially sensitive, wear a mask to protect your sinuses as you clean. Since dust likes to settle on every surface, including clothes and bed sheets, ensure that you wash these items in hot water (at least 130 degrees) and dry them in the dryer. Avoid hanging these items to dry because the moisture present is enough to attract ragweed, mites, and mold. Dust often settles in house ducts, so it is also important to inspect and clean your ducts periodically to limit allergic reactions created from dust and mold.

TIP #2: High-Quality HVAC Systems

Dehumidifiers – Depending on the air quality and temperature in your home, using a dehumidifier can drastically improve the air you breathe, eliminating the pesky allergens found travelling in the air. Dehumidifiers will be your best friend in the fall because they work to extract moisture from the air where mold, dust mites, and ragweed thrive.

Air Cleaners and Filters – Find a purifying filter that is right for you. HEPA air filters in particular are fantastic for trapping tiny particles that make their way into the air. Cleaning and filtering the air you breathe in your home is essential for keeping allergies at bay.

TIP #3: Scheduled Maintenance Appointments
Sometimes it can be overwhelming trying to determine the best options for your home when it comes to eliminating pollutants such as ragweed, dust, and mold. Take the stress out of your day by getting advice from the experts. Schedule a regular maintenance appointments with Afterglow today.

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