What’s That Smell? Things You Don’t Want Your Household Guests Noticing Before You Do

Every house has a smell. Smells come from the people who live there, their pets, and possibly the foods they cook. And most often these odours are harmless, but sometimes, they are unpleasant or even bad for your health.

You certainly wouldn’t want your guests to notice these smells before you do!

Household odours run the gamut from innocent and unpleasant, to noxious and harmful to your health and the health of others. Good habits like taking your garbage out regularly, banishing cigarette smokers outside, and not letting sweaty sports equipment pile up can help.

But indoor air can become particularly dry and stale when the temperatures fall and our homes are locked up tight to keep the cold air out. At these times, an air freshener doesn’t cut it.

Ensuring adequate ventilation systems can improve poor indoor air quality and keep humidity from building up in your home.

Here are some common household smells in your home and what you can do about it.

Pets and Other Animals

You love your pet, but he’s not always the cleanest!

Pet odours can be tough because they are constant and can become embedded in fibres. Sprinkling baking soda on furniture and carpeting, letting it sit for at least 10 minutes before vacuuming out can minimize odours.

If the smell is noxious and sickly, trust your instincts on this one! If something smells like a dead animal, it likely is one. You may have an insect nest or a deceased animal somewhere in your plumbing or duct system. Time to call a home comfort specialist for a precision drain cleaning or duct cleaning before this problem gets any worse.

Fishy Smells

Unless you’ve just brought home a fresh catch, the smell could come from burning electrical equipment. Electrical wires or other plastic components can emit a fish or urine smell when exposed to high heat.

Go around house check outlets. Look for electrical equipment that looks burnt or melting. Remove any plastics that are close to any heat source.

Musty, Dusty, Mouldy Smells

If you have any damp areas in your home, or water leaks and moisture build-up, these can all lead to musty smells and even worse, mould build-up. Surface mould can be easily cleaned up with a vinegar and water solution, but severe mould can be dangerously toxic and needs a more extensive fix.

You can control mould and humidity in your home with an adequate ventilation system. Air purifiers and other accessories can improve indoor air quality and keep humidity from building up in your home.

Rotten Egg Smell

A rotten egg smell could indicate a natural gas or propane leak and will need immediate attention. You will need to call your gas company for repair.

This smell could also come from a clogged P-trap in your drain. A P-trap that is working properly will contain trapped water to create an air-lock to prevent sewer gases coming up your drain. Sometimes it will dry up from lack of use and cause sewer gases and odours to release. Water should be run at least once a month to prevent this from happening.

Cooking Smells

Not all smells emanating from your kitchen are good ones! Everyone loves your Sunday chicken curry dish, but perhaps not the smell it leaves behind. And do you really want everyone to know that you’ve been frying bacon and onions?

Eliminating cooking smells can be as easy as turning on your stove’s overhead fan or opening a window. Though some chefs recommend sprinkling some salt over halved potatoes on a plate in your kitchen while you cook or lighting a scented candle.

Good kitchen habits, like washing all the dishes after each meal, and taking the garbage out promptly will help. If the garbage is not yet full, sprinkle some coffee grinds over to eliminate odour. If the garbage can itself smells, wash the container with warm water and vinegar, and sprinkle some baking soda in before putting the plastic liner in.

Bathroom Smells

Make sure your bathroom exhaust fan is working to draw out moisture and odours from the bathroom. Having a spray bottle handy for emergencies is a great idea! Simply mix 2 cups of water with 1 tbsp. white vinegar, I tsp. baking soda, and 10 drops of essential oil.

Reducing Indoor Air Pollutants

Many indoor air quality problems can be resolved with proper ventilation. Enhancing your HVAC system with accessories like air ventilators, humidifiers and purification systems to ensure your indoor air is as fresh and clean as possible.

It’s also important to know that not all air pollutants come with a tell-tale scent. Carbon monoxide, a potentially-deadly gas, has no taste or smell. Every home in Ontario, no matter its size or age, must have a certified CO alarm to warn inhabitants of the presence of carbon monoxide.

What Does ‘Home Comfort’ Actually Mean?

Home comfort is important to your overall happiness and health—both physical and financial. Creating the ideal indoor environment includes several factors: air temperature, humidity and air quality. Read on to learn how these elements work together to optimize your home’s comfort level.


Heating and Cooling

The average homeowner spends a lot of money on household energy, especially to heat and cool our homes. How much you spend depends on where you live, and the length of the heating or cooling season. The forms of energy used to deliver ideal home temperatures also matter.

According to Stats Canada, natural gas is used by almost half of Canadian households, electricity is used by one-third, while wood is used by only 4%. However, wood used in wood stoves or fireplaces are often a secondary source, and more for the cozy ambience they create.

Ideal Temperatures

During the heating season when occupants are home and awake, temperatures should fall in the range between 20 to 22 degrees Celsius. When household members are asleep or away, between 16 to 18 degrees Celsius is recommended. Your home should be somewhat warmer for seniors and infants. Ensuring optimal night-time temperatures will allow you to get a better night’s sleep, as well as save on energy costs.


For energy savings in makes sense to regulate the temperature using a wall thermostat. Most thermostats include settings for daily and weekly programs. The newest generation of thermostats are the “smart thermostats”, that can be easily controlled from anywhere, using your iPhone, smartphone, or tablet.



The level of humidity in the air can affect your home comfort, as well as the proper functioning of your heating or air conditioning unit. If humidity is an issue with your home’s air quality, then you may want to consider a humidifier or dehumidifier. In the winter months, it’s essential to add moisture, while it is more important to have drier air in the summer.

Air Quality

Indoor air quality is important to protect the health of household members. Air pollutants can include mould, fungi, bacteria, house dust mites, pollen, and spores. Air contaminants come in the form of vapours, gases, and particles. You can protect your home’s air quality by taking various measures:

Air Ventilation and Circulation

One of the easiest ways is to use your heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system. You can do this by setting your system to the “fan only” option. This option will move interior air and pass it through your filter system.

Ceiling Fans

Not only are ceiling fans attractive, they also serve a function by moving air around the room.

Exhaust Fans and Vents

Ventilation is especially important in the kitchen and the bathroom. Exhaust fans draw moist air outward and remove contaminants from the air. Make sure that your stove, dryer, and bathroom exhaust fans vent outside. Your home will also have exhaust vents in the attic which help warm air flow out from the roof.

Duct Cleaning

Having your home’s ductwork professionally cleaned will also protect your health and energy consumption costs. A lot of nasty stuff can collect in your ductwork, such as dust, cobwebs, fungus and even mould. With all this debris piled up, your furnace has to work harder to filter and push clean air throughout your home.

Smoke Detectors and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Protect yourself and your family by installing at lest one carbon monoxide (CO) detector, and smoke detectors outside each bedroom, and sleeping area, and on each level of your home, including the basement.

Looking to learn more about the importance of home comfort and how we can help you achieve this? Contact us today for a free quote!

4 Troubling Things People Discover in Their Air Ducts

What’s in your ducts? Well, there’s bound to be dust – that’s a given. A light amount of ordinary household dust in the air is no cause for concern. However, that isn’t the only thing people have discovered hiding in air ducts.

Ductwork can play host to numerous airborne contaminants. Not all are harmful, but some can trigger allergic reactions and other adverse symptoms.

It’s safe to assume almost anything that can fit into an air duct has been found there at one time or another. Rather than venturing into the absurd, we’ll focus on the troubling things that are commonly found in air ducts – and explain why they’re problematic.

1. Animals

It’s a rule of Canadian living: if there’s a way into your house, you can be certain that critters will find it.

Improperly-sealed air ducts can become a convenient passageway for rodents and insects (and occasionally snakes). Ductwork is especially appealing to mice and other rodents who make nests out of soft insulation materials.

Once inside, these pests can cause numerous problems:

  • Furry creatures will also shed hair and dander, a potential allergen.
  • Rodents can chew and create gaps in the seals between ducts and air vents.
  • If an animal expires inside the ducts, the smell and contaminated air can spread throughout the home.

When there’s evidence of rodents inside your air ducts, it’s best to call a professional exterminator to evict them before having the ducts cleaned. After that, have your ducts properly sealed to ensure critters cannot re-enter.

2. Mold

Where there’s moisture, there is often mold.

Spots of grey or brown mold on or around your air registers, return ducts, or other parts of the HVAC system are a red flag for mold growth inside your air ducts. The same goes for a musty smell.

If there is mold inside your ducts, the spores could be circulating throughout your home. Not everyone responds to mold exposure the same way, and some people, including children and seniors, are more vulnerable to mold than others.

Any sign of mold inside the air ducts is a sign they’re due for a cleaning. However, that alone won’t prevent regrowth. It is necessary to eliminate the source of moisture that lead to mold growth in the first place, which could be a plumbing leak, water damage, or a malfunctioning air conditioner or humidifier.

3. Bacteria

Bacteria is everywhere, and your air ducts are no exception. In fact, if you placed a speck of household duct under a microscope, you’d find thousands of species of bacteria residing within it.

Most of the bacteria living in air ducts are harmless. However, it is possible for ducts to harbour bacteria and viruses you’d rather not breathe in, especially during cold and flu season.

Cleaning your ducts of excessive dust and debris helps to keep your air healthy and germ-free. A whole-home air purification system equipped with UV-C filtration can also assist in eliminating bacteria.

4. Debris

Dust in the air ducts is normal. Excessive debris is not.

One of the most common mistakes people make when it comes to their ducts is using them while the house is being renovated. Drywall dust, sawdust, or any construction-related debris can quickly accumulate and reduce air flow inside the ducts. We recommend switching off the furnace or air conditioner or at least closing the vents to the room in question during such projects.

For minor projects that produce a small (but greater than usual) amount of dust, be sure to replace your air filters afterwards. Filters are an essential part of your heating and cooling system, and are designed to keep dust and other contaminants out of the air away from your equipment.

What’s in Your Ducts?

Plenty of other things can find their way into air ducts, especially in older homes with floor registers. There, you’ll see everything from coins to magazines to toy soldiers.

But aside from objects that fall in by mistake (or are dropped in by a curious child), most of the things you’ll find in air ducts suggest one or more underlying issues that should be investigated.

AtlasCare has provided professional duct cleaning services to thousands of homes in the Greater Toronto Area. Whatever is waiting inside your ducts, our Home Comfort Specialists can locate the source of the problem and leave your ducts cleaner than they’ve ever been. Get in touch to talk about air duct cleaning for your home.

5 Reasons Why Your House Feels Stuffy in the Fall

What does it mean when the shifting seasons make your house feel stuffy and stale? It could be down to a single cause or a combination of things. Allergies often play a role, and low humidity doesn’t help; stuffiness could also demonstrate a need for furnace maintenance or duct cleaning.

Here are the potential reasons why your house feels stuffy in the fall, and what you can do to fix it.

Why Does My House Always Feel Stuffy?

Think about all changes in your home when the seasons transitions from summer to fall.

  • You switch on your furnace for the first time in months.
  • You close the windows and may keep them shut until spring.
  • Outside, fall plants release pollen and leaves flutter to the ground.

The drop in outdoor temperature and increase in indoor temperature contributes to low humidity. Problems with the furnace and ventilation system, combined with closed windows, can result in staler air.

These issues can further exacerbate allergy symptoms, especially for people sensitive to ragweed.

We’ll discuss each of these factors below.

1. Low Humidity

Throughout the fall and winter months, the ideal indoor humidity level is between 40 and 60%. Constant fluctuations in humidity (or consistently low humidity) can damage wood furniture and fixtures, wallpaper, drywall, and other parts of your home.

The other unfortunate side effect of low humidity is its impact on the home’s inhabitants – us! When the air is dry, it dries out the membranes in our nasal passages, leaving us more vulnerable to the cold virus and other respiratory issues. That could be one of the reasons why your house feels stuffy in the fall.

Low humidity is a frequent complaint when a home has central heating, but no humidifier. Stuffiness is definitely a sign your home could use a humidifier.

2. Contaminated Air Ducts

When you turn on your furnace for the first time in months, it can stir up dust mites and other particles that were sitting in your air ducts. These contaminants can make the air feel staler, as well as trigger sneezing and other allergy symptoms.

If years have gone by without a proper duct cleaning, it could be affecting the air quality inside your home. Having the air ducts cleaned out can help alleviate the problem.

Be sure to hire a reliable HVAC company that uses proper duct cleaning equipment and takes appropriate steps to protect the inside of your home from dust. Ordinary vacuums can’t cut it.

3. Air Leaks

Another potential air duct problem. Ducts are the passageways that allow your furnace to pull stale air out of your living space and replace it with fresh, outdoor air. If there’s a leak, it prevents the furnace from delivering that air effectively, adding to that stuffy feeling.

4. Fall Allergies

Most people assume spring is “allergy season”, but many suffer from fall allergies as well.

The biggest culprit for fall allergy symptoms is ragweed, which begins releasing pollen when the nights cool in late August. According to WebMD, about 75% of people with spring allergies also react to ragweed pollen.

Mould is another fall allergy trigger. Mould loves to grow in piles of wet, fallen leaves, and mould spores can be carried indoors on your shoes.

To combat mould and pollen allergies, consider adding a high-MERV air filter to your HVAC system. We recommend consulting the manufacturer’s guidelines or speaking to an HVAC professional to make sure your system can handle the change in air flow.

5. Need for Furnace Maintenance

Your home might feel stuffy due to problems with the heating, cooling and ventilation system. If you haven’t had a furnace check-up this year, now is the perfect time to do it.

It’s always hard to find time to book a furnace maintenance appointment when the holiday season ramps up.  Getting it done in the fall ensures your heating system is ready to go when the temperature really drops later this year.

We welcome you contact us for furnace maintenance in Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area. Feel free to call us or fill out the contact form any time for a free quote on our services.

We also offer 24-hour emergency furnace service for urgent situations.

8 Surprising Things That Can Trigger Allergies in the Winter

Ever wonder why your so-called “seasonal” allergies seem to linger on in the colder months? You might be allergic to more than just pollen. The air inside our homes is full of microscopic particles, many of which can trigger allergy symptoms throughout the year.

These are the facts on winter allergies: how to tell allergies apart from a cold, what causes them, and how to keep your home as allergen-free as possible this holiday.

Is It Allergies or a Cold?

According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI), two-thirds of allergy sufferers have year-round allergy symptoms in addition to seasonal pollen allergies. If you’re prone to summer allergies, you are likely to experience symptoms in the winter as well.

However, many people don’t recognize the potential allergy triggers that roll in each year with the winter weather.


That’s because people tend to attribute their winter allergy symptoms to the cold virus. When you wake up in December with a sore throat and a runny nose, a cold is the first thing that comes to mind – not allergies.

According to Web MD and Harvard Medical School, the biggest clue that you’re dealing with allergies instead of a cold is how long the symptoms last. Cold symptoms are often at their worst in the first few days, but mostly taper off after a week; allergy symptoms, on the other hand, can persist for weeks on end with little to no change.

What Causes Allergies in the Winter?

When the temperature drops, most of us start spending a lot more time indoors, increasing our exposure to indoor air pollution and airborne allergens.

Some of these triggers are present in the home year-round; others are more common in the winter, especially around the holidays. It might surprise you to learn how certain holiday traditions can contribute to poor indoor air quality and trigger coughing, sneezing and other allergy symptoms.

The prominent winter allergy triggers and irritants include:

  • Wood smoke
  • Scented candles
  • Fresh-cut trees and boughs
  • Holiday decorations
  • Airborne dust
  • Mold and mildew
  • Pet dander
  • Dry air

1. Wood Smoke

Not everyone enjoys a roaring fireplace. Although wood smoke is not a sole cause of allergies, it can irritate the lungs and worsen the impact of other symptoms. If someone in your family has allergies or asthma, consider gathering around a gas fireplace instead of a wood fire (it’s just as cozy and safer to boot.)

2. Scented Candles

Scented candles, aerosols and potpourri can contain tiny particles and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that trigger allergy symptoms. Save your real candles for special traditions and decorate with flameless candles around the house.

3. Freshly-Cut Trees and Boughs

Few people are allergic to evergreen trees, though some do react to the terpenes that give trees their pine-fresh scent. The trouble with Christmas trees is their tendency to harbour mold spores. The longer it sits outside, the more likely freshly-cut wood is to attract mold.

4. Holiday Decorations

As for artificial trees? Depending on how you store them, these and other decorations can become the source of another common allergy trigger: dust mites. To avoid this, seal your festive décor in a closed storage box during the off-months.

5. Mold and Mildew

Fallen leaves and other yard debris are a haven for mold, which can hitchhike into your home on the soles of your boots. Make a habit of wiping your shoes on a mat outside the door until the ground is covered by snow.

6. Pet Dander

Pets usually spend more time indoors in the winter, too, leading to more pet dander particles in the air. High-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filtration can help to reduce the levels of these allergens present inside your home.

7. Airborne Dust

When you fire up the furnace for the first time in a while, it can stir up dust that has settled in your central heating ducts. Having your air ducts cleaned professionally every few years can help reduce the volume of dust circulating in your home’s air.

8. Dry Air

Turning up the heat can make the winter air even drier. Low humidity causes your throat and nose to become more prone to irritation, increasing your sensitivity to airborne allergens. Living in a house with very dry air can even increase the odds of getting sick.

If the humidity in your home drops below 35% (check your thermostat display or use a hygrometer to find out), you can install a furnace humidifier to regulate it.

Create a Comfortable Home for the Holidays

Indoor air quality is key to your family’s comfort throughout the year. Browse our selection of ventilators, humidifiers and air purification filters designed to keep your indoor air fresh and clean – or contact us to discuss how we can help your family breathe easier this winter.

10 Reasons Why You Should Check the Humidity This Winter

Winter is a strange season. When it’s wet, slushy, and just plain damp outside, you can almost count on your home feeling bone dry. However, alleviating that discomfort is just one reason you should take steps to ensure your dwelling maintains a proper level of humidity in winter (40-60% is ideal).

Here are some of the things that suffer when your home’s air is too dry.

  1. Health

We could write an entire article about how low humidity levels in winter are bad for your health. Here are just a few:

  • Higher rate of bacteria survival
  • Dry and/or inflamed mucus membranes, leading to greater chance of cold or flu
  • Dry skin
  • Nosebleeds
  • Increased chance of allergy symptoms
  • Irritated throat and sinus
  1. Wood

Lack of humidity can cause wood to both shrink and swell. That leaves it more likely to sustain cracks and other damage. Low humidity can also cause wooden floors to warp and separate.

  1. Wallpaper

Too much humidity is bad for wallpaper and so is too little. Insufficient moisture in winter can cause the paste holding the paper to dry out and weaken, leading to peeling.

  1. Electronics

Many people worry about how summer humidity can wreck their TV or computer, but lack of moisture is no good for them either. Dry air is more likely to conduct static electricity and that can lead to costly damage. And who likes getting a static shock?

  1. Paintings

Do you like to display art in your home? Dry air can wreak havoc on even the finest oil paintings by leaving the paint in a state that is brittle and prone to cracks.

  1. Books and Photos

Dry air can also cause these keepsakes to weaken and damage. Paper shouldn’t shrink and expand, as that leaves it brittle.

Low humidity is not as damaging to photos as the opposite end of the scale, but it can still be quite bad. The gelatin emulsion in the image will gradually separate from its support, which keeps the picture stiff. That causes the photo to bend and curl. Although they do not have the same composition, a digital photo printed using a pigment-based ink jet device could still suffer from fading and colour bleeding in low humidity.

  1. Wine

If you are a wine connoisseur, you know the importance of cork integrity. Dry air causes cork breakdown, which creates shrinking and cracking that lets in air and causes wine to spoil. This is particularly disastrous for those who consider their wine collection an investment.

  1. Musical Instruments

Whether you play piano, violin, or guitar, the wood contraction resulting from dry air can throw things out of tune. It can also wreak havoc on any parts of the instrument held together with glue.

  1. Doors and Windows

Here are some more things in your home that you don’t want to warp. When a wooden door or window changes shape due to low humidity, it will no longer fit properly. That makes them tougher to open and close.

  1. Drywall

Noticing cracks and separation in your drywall? Insufficient humidity could well be the culprit.

A humidifier suitable for your living space can make all these issues go away. Talk to one of our home comfort professionals today to learn how AtlasCare can help you have a comfortable and healthy home over the winter months.

Image: akhug

5 Ways to Improve Indoor Air Quality Without Opening the Windows

Does the air in your home feel a bit…stale? Your first instinct is probably to crack open a window. That’s a great solution on most days, but not when there’s is a high level of air pollution outdoors. Although trends show our air quality is beginning to improve, residents of Toronto and the GTA still have to be on watch for smog alerts in the summer time.

Here are a few ways to breathe easier and improve your indoor air quality without opening a window.

What is the Difference Between Indoor and Outdoor Air Quality?

Most people think of “air pollution” as the hazy smog that descends on metropolitan cities some humid, summer days. But air pollution isn’t just limited to the outdoors. Believe it or not, the quality of air inside some homes can actually be worse than the air outside — though the source of pollution is different.

Outdoors, air pollution is mainly a result of vehicle emissions. Indoor air pollution comes from three different sources: microscopic particles like pollen, dust mites and pet dander, bacteria, and chemical vapours called volatile organic compounds or VOCs. Since modern homes are built to be well-insulated and tightly sealed in order to save energy, these air pollutants can get trapped inside the home.

On clear, summer days, opening the windows is one of the simplest ways to freshen and improve indoor air quality. However, when the level of outdoor air pollution is high, it’s recommended that homeowners keep windows and doors shut.

Ways to Improve Indoor Air Quality

You don’t have to sweep back the curtains and open the windows to combat indoor air pollutants. Try one of these other ways to improve your indoor air quality at any time of year.

1. Give Your Home A Routine Clean

Keep dust mites in-check by vacuuming carpets and washing hard floors on a weekly basis. Using a vacuum equipped with a HEPA filter will throw fewer dust mites back into the room as you clean.

2. Have Your Air Ducts Cleaned

Without good ventilation, the air inside your home becomes stale and contaminated with airborne particles. Homeowners should schedule a professional air duct cleaning at least once every three years to keep the ventilation system clear and healthy.

3. Purify The Air

Whole-home air purification systems like the Lennox PureAir actively remove all three types of indoor air pollution for cleaner air throughout the home.

4. Regulate Humidity With A Dehumidifier

Moisture spurs the growth of allergens like dust mites and mould. By keeping the humidity level no higher than 60%, you can curtail these major contributors to indoor air pollution. Smart thermostats like the ecobee and iComfort make it easier to monitor the humidity in your home.

5. Add Air-Purifying Plants

While plants alone cannot clean your air, some species are surprisingly good at absorbing and neutralizing certain volatile organic compounds. NASA made this discovery back in 1989 while looking for ways to clean the air inside space stations — and it works here on Earth, too!


Image: Antonio Guillem

The 8 Biggest Hiding Places for Dust, Uncovered

Dust is everywhere. It’s a fact of life. No matter how diligently you clean, there will always be a few dust mites lurking in the darkest corners of your home. Knowing where to find them is key to keeping your place as neat and tidy as possible.  

1. Carpeting and Rugs 

Dust mites burrow deep within the fibres of carpeting. In addition to vacuuming regularly, you should steam clean your carpets every few months to help get rid of them. If someone in the home suffers from reoccurring allergies, it may be worth replacing the carpeting with hardwood or tile flooring. 

2. Pillows 

Bed linens are prime real estate to dust mites, contributing to itching, sneezing, and other irritating allergy symptoms. To combat them, it’s recommended that you wash your pillowcase in hot water at least every three weeks and replace the pillowcases twice a year. 

3. Curtains 

You surely take time to wash your clothes, linens, and throw blankets — but when was the last time you gave your curtains a clean? When the windows are open, the curtains act sort of as a filter that catches airborne dust and pollen. It’s no surprise that curtains can fill up with dust by the end of the summer!  

4. Hanging Clothes 

When you bring your summer clothes out of hibernation, be sure to put them through the washing machine before you put them on. Dust often settles in the folds of clothes that linger at the back of the closet. You can prevent this problem by storing your off-season clothes in a plastic bag or storage bin. 

5. Ceiling Fan Blades 

The ceiling fan is a magnet for dust even when in motion. The simplest way to clean it? Use an old pillowcase, sliding it over each fan blade to prevent dust from flying all over. 

While you’re at it, don’t forget to switch the fan rotation from clockwise to counter-clockwise come spring! It will help keep the room cooler. 

6. Baseboards and Moulding 

It’s easy to overlook these tiny surfaces, but baseboards and molding can catch a lot of dust, especially in the corners. Wipe them down seasonally. 

7. Gaps Between Appliances 

That little space between your stove and countertop? You can bet it’s full of dust. Unfortunately, it’s also pretty tough to clean. Unless you have a vacuum attachment that fits into the space, your best bet is to move the appliance away from the wall in order to clean beside and behind it. You can also purchase counter gap covers that minimize the amount of dust and debris that gets there in the first place. 

8. Air Ducts 

Air ducts allow your HVAC system to deliver warm air throughout your home in the winter, and cool air in the summer. All the air that passes through your air conditioner also goes through the ductwork. And those ducts can get surprisingly dusty, even if you change your air filter regularly (as you should). 

It’s not just dust that accumulates in the ducts. Cobwebs, mould, and airborne allergens like pollen can also settle in.  

Not only does dust pollute the air, but it forces your furnace and air conditioner to work harder, bumping up your energy bill. 

Some people try to clean the duct themselves, but there’s simply no way to clear out all that debris with a standard vacuum alone. It takes a specially-designed truck-mounted vacuum system, like the ones our home comfort specialists employ, to really give your ducts a thorough clean. You can learn more about our approach here. 


Image: Dolgachov

7 Unique Ways to Deal With Spring Allergies

If you’re one of the 3 million Canadians who suffers from seasonal allergies, you might feel like you have tried everything to make your symptoms manageable. Unfortunately, dust and pollen don’t give up easily. It might be time to try one of the more unconventional ways to deal with spring allergies.

From pet baths to duct cleaning, we’ve gathered a few unique allergy solutions you may not have tried.

1. Use a Hygrometer

One of the best ways to deal with spring allergies is to make your home a haven from allergens. That means dealing with one of an allergy sufferer’s worst enemies: the dust mite. Not only are many of those allergic to pollen also sensitive to dust, but the presence of dust mites can make spring allergy symptoms even worse.

There is a direct relationship between the prevalence of dust mites and the humidity inside your home. Dust mites thrive when the humidity is 50% or higher; the lower it goes, the lower the dust mite population.

Try measuring the humidity with a hygrometer. If it is above 50%, it may be worth investing in a dehumidifier.

Smart thermostats like the ecobee4 and the iComfort can also monitor the humidity inside your home.

2. Bathe Your Pets More Often

Pollen has a knack for clinging to hair and fabric. If your pets spend lots of time outdoors (or a brief time in a forested area), those irritating pollen particles can enter your home via your pet’s fur.

Short of keeping them indoors, there is no easy way to prevent your pets from picking up pollen. What you can do is wash your pet’s feet and brush their fur before they re-enter your home. Giving your pets more frequent baths can also help.

3. Give Your Walls a VOC-Free Makeover

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are chemical particles that can originate from a variety of household products. While not harmful when the products are used as intended, VOCs can aggravate seasonal allergies and other environmental sensitivities. One of the most common sources of household VOCs is latex paint, which emits potentially harmful fumes into the air as it dries. If a home makeover is one of the things on your spring to-do list, consider using a low-VOC or non-VOC paint. Many of the big-brand paint companies market these alternatives under an eco-friendly banner.

4. Wash Your Pillows

Fair warning: you might want to skip this point if you’re on lunch break.

Seasonal allergies are made worse by the presence of household allergens like dust mites. These microscopic pests thrive in warm places with a steady supply of their favourite food: skin flakes. Thus, pillowcases are common habitats for dust mites. No wonder you wake up with a headache!

One expert recommends washing your pillowcase every three weeks and cleaning the pillow itself every three months. Replacing the pillowcase every six months is another smart allergy solution. Plus, you may sleep sounder knowing your pillow is not crawling with dust mites.

5. Upgrade Your Air Filters

If you have central air or heating, your HVAC equipment will come with air filters that help to prevent airborne allergens from re-circulating through the air ducts. It is important to clean (or replace, if they are single-use) these filters at least once every three months to maintain energy efficiency. Those who suffer from seasonal allergies may also benefit from an air filter upgrade.

All air filters have a Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value or MERV rating, which gauges how effectively it stops contaminants. The higher the rating, the fewer dust and other particles can pass through it.

Upgrading to a higher-MERV air filter can be an excellent way to deal with spring allergies – if your HVAC system can handle the air flow, that is. We recommend consulting the manufacturer’s guidelines before making the switch.

6. Put Stuffed Toys in the Freezer

Plush animals and other fuzzy toys are other places dust mites can hide. If the toys are not washing machine-friendly, there’s another way to deal with this spring allergy irritant: freezing them.

Place the toy in a freezer bag, then freeze it for 24 hours to eliminate any dust mites living on its plush surface. You can do the same for other fabrics that are not machine-washable.

7. Get an Air Duct Cleaning

Central air conditioning systems distribute cool air throughout your home via the air ducts. If those ducts are full of dust mites, that refreshing breeze will be bad news for your allergies.

You would be surprised just how much dust those passages can hold. When our technicians are out duct cleaning in Toronto and the surrounding region, they remove an average of six pounds of dust per home!

Duct cleaning is only necessary every few years, but it can make a world of difference for those who suffer from spring allergies. Feel free to contact us for a quote for duct cleaning in Toronto, Oakville, Mississauga, and other parts of the GTA. We use a NADCA-certified, truck-mounted vacuum and compression system to get the job done right.



Image: Daria Minaeva