The Second Wave of the Coronavirus is here – October 2nd Update

The second wave of COVID-19 has arrived. Case counts are climbing every day. We expect that the Provincial Government will continue to constrain our ability to congregate socially not only in the community but also with our families and friends. It was relatively easy to maintain social distances from one another this summer when we could spend the majority of our time outdoors. It is a whole other ballgame now that fall and soon winter will be upon us. We will all definitely be spending a lot more time in our homes. Our home is our oasis and we need to ensure that it stays that way.

We receive a lot of questions every day about how we can help folks improve the quality of the air in their homes. Good practice would be to eliminate or isolate the source of the problem. Unfortunately, we can’t do anything about the coronavirus. However, we can improve ventilation and filtration. Good mechanical ventilation is now standard in the Ontario Building Code for new homes, but few older homes have been retrofitted to date. A ventilator becomes the lungs of your home. A steady supply of fresh, filtered, outdoor air is good not only for keeping ahead of the coronavirus but also for controlling the levels of humidity, chemicals in the air and carbon dioxide in your home. Installations are sometimes difficult due to physical constraints around common venting of combustion appliances and finished basements. The cost, however, is reasonable, usually in the range of $3,000 – $5,000 for a typical home. This is the single best thing you can do in your home.

The next thing we can do is improve the filtration system. Firstly, AtlasCare can upgrade furnace filters. We usually recommend a deep pleated filter to maximize the surface area and trap the most particles. The filter efficiency or MERV rating is important. Too low and not much gets filtered out. Too high and the air flow can become restricted. We can advise you on the best filter for your home. A HEPA filter can take it to the next level. This is a hospital grade filter that can remove very small particles. Lastly, we can install a germicidal ultraviolet light. While research on their efficacy with the coronavirus is yet to be established, these are known to kill many other viruses.

In my last letter, I mentioned that supply chain issues were starting to rear their ugly head with the supply for furnaces. That hasn’t changed and now we can definitely add UV lights and HEPA filters to the list. School boards and office buildings have been buying them up in quantity and we are now looking at 4-6 weeks to get these units. If you are thinking of getting one for your home this winter be proactive and get one on order with us now.

Stay healthy everyone.

Roger Grochmal, P.Eng.




Roger Grochmal sitting in his office wearing a face mask

Is COVID behind us or not? – August 24th Update

So far, we have endured most of the COVID journey outdoors thanks to the best summer in living memory. It truly has been glorious and allowed us to physically distance in the great outdoors. As summer winds down and the reality of spending more time indoors sets in, 2 thoughts/questions occur to me.

Firstly, will we experience a second wave of coronavirus infections due to the 3 C’s? This is defined as Closed spaces that are Crowded places with Close contact especially for an extended period of time. Will we be as comfortable in our homes or having people in our homes as we want/need to be? Will we be ready for winter? I had my furnace serviced and safety checked last week. I also had my ERV filter cleaned, my steam humidifier cleaned and made ready, and my UV bulb in my air purifier changed as well as surge protectors installed. Lastly, I had my drain inspected as I live in a flood prone area. I want to be as comfortable as I can be with the least amount of disruption. There are going to be a lot of issues and uncertainties to deal with and our homes shouldn’t be one of them. Our proactive customers are getting their homes in shape now.

The second issue we are facing is the effect on business. The home service/renovation/building sector has been very busy during COVID. There is high demand at a time when there are substantial issues all up and down the supply chain. Just ask anyone trying to get lumber or a hot tub. The HVAC industry experienced shortages of air conditioners this summer and from what we are hearing, there will be a shortage of furnaces this fall and winter. We are seeing it already. The bottom line is that if your furnace is nearing the end of its useful life, and you are not confident that it will last the winter, then you might want to change it out now. Take advantage of our BOGO sale and upgrade your air conditioner at the same time. Please visit our website at for program details.

It’s never too early to be ready. Stay safe everyone and be ready for the fall.


Roger Grochmal, P.Eng.


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Summer Has Fully Arrived – June 11th Update

This is the third week in a row where we will be experiencing 30°+C temperatures. The result is that with

the volume of air conditioner repairs that we have had to perform, we have had to re-schedule many prebooked annual AC maintenance visits and we will be in the same situation this week. We truly appreciate the patience and consideration in making room for those who have no cooling and need us to respond.

Despite our best efforts, COVID continues to challenge our ability to get things done in as timely a manner as we would all like. There are a number of issues we have to deal with.

  • Everything just takes longer
    • Our customers have to wait for us, AtlasCare has to wait on our local distributors and they in turn have to wait on their plants in the United States.
    • Extra time is required on every call to implement all of the hygiene practices we need to do to keep everyone safe.
    • We still have a few staff members off dealing with issues of personal health vulnerabilities and caregiving responsibilities related to the pandemic. We have brought on 8 new technicians and are looking for more. As they get up to speed, our response times will improve.
  • Scarcity is starting to develop
    • Yesterday when I went to the grocery store, I had a list of some 2 dozen items to pick up. The supermarket was out of stock on 6 of them. Similarly, we are now seeing supply issues with some original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) for both new equipment and warranty repair parts.
    • COVID outbreaks in several manufacturing and distribution plants in both Mexico and the United States has disrupted supply chains. Depending on the issue, there is only so much we can do with a temporary repair. There are instances where repair parts are being estimated to take weeks instead of days to get here.
    • At AtlasCare, we have a good inventory of parts and replacement equipment for our key suppliers in our warehouse. We evaluate our inventory daily and reorder as needed.

The staff at AtlasCare are working flat out every single day. We are proud of the dedication and hard work they are demonstrating to look after each and every customer issue. Thank you to everyone who took the time to provide us with an online review. Feedback is important and is very much appreciated.

Stay healthy and safe everyone!

Roger Grochmal, P.Eng.


mental health

Mental Health and Wellness Resources You Can Trust

2020 has been a year for the history books. What began with jovial celebrations and resolutions for making this year ahead one to remember and look back on fondly, has resulted in a true test of who we are as businesses, families, and individuals. COVID-19 has altered every aspect of our daily lives. While some individuals have thrived during this time, others have faced hardships that have also impacted their mental health and wellness

Mental health and wellness have become a topic of conversation across the country thanks to Bell Let’s Talk, an initiative “designed to raise awareness and combat stigma surrounding mental illness in Canada.”A stigma has typically surrounded mental illness, preventing individuals who are struggling, to speak up. The goal of organizations across the GTA, and our goal at AtlasCare, is to create a space where open conversations can be held and support can be provided on any required level.

We all need to feel supported, and have the opportunity to chat with others regarding the struggles we are facing, whether it’s related to what is taking place in the world at this time, or not. We are truly in this together, and that means that everyone should have access to the support they need.

While this list is not extensive, we hope it can act as a hub of information that you can make use of, or pass on to others who may find it helpful. The professionals who offer these services understand that it can be challenging to share what is taking place in our lives, and ensure that you feel comfortable throughout the entire process. To get to know the specific offerings of each organization, please contact them directly.

If you are in urgent distress, please dial 911 immediately.


Toronto Distress Centre416-408-4357


Kids Help Phone – 416-586-5437

Toronto Rape Crisis Centre416-597-1171 

Distress Centres Ontario416-486-2242

Good2Talk Post Secondary1-866-925-5454 (Students Helpline)

Crisis Services Canada1-833-456-4566

First Nations and Inuit Hope For Wellness Helpline1-855-242-3310


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Good News! Summer is finally here – May 28th Update

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As I write this the temperature outside is finally above 20° C. It has been a long time coming. The other bit of good news is that the Province of Ontario is starting to open things up a bit allowing limited recreation options as well as the opening of certain store front retailers. It is very welcome after 8 weeks of self-quarantine.

This, however, should not be construed as a return to “normal”. We are a very long ways away from whatever our new normal will be. Workers will not all be flocking back to work anytime soon for a couple of good reasons.

  • Physical distancing in elevators will severely limit the number of people going to work in high rise office buildings. One person calculated that it would take 36 hours to get all of the workers in the TD Centre up to their offices and just as much time to leave. I’m sure this is already a big issue in high rise condominiums as well.
  • The lack of childcare will be a stumbling block for many workers with young children and women will bear the brunt of most of this. A number of our employees have restricted availability because they have no childcare and/or share it with a partner.

The result is that many people for the foreseeable future will continue to spend the majority of their time at home. This is your safe haven.

One preventive measure that must not be overlooked is the cleanliness of the lowly furnace filter. Please check it at least once per month. All of this additional activity in the home keeps dust circulating and it all ends up in the furnace filter. If yours is dirty, we can get you a replacement and better yet order an extra when setting up your maintenance visit and our technician can leave it with you. Not keeping filters clean can cause serious problems for an air conditioner.

We are all used to waiting in line to get into the grocery store these days. The same will be true when the hotter weather arrives, and you find yourself needing service. There will be a lineup. Since so many HVAC contractors chose to defer maintenance for their clients or the clients chose to not have maintenance done this spring, there will be a backlog of demand. We have hired extra people in anticipation of this demand and will do our best to see that our customers are not disadvantaged.

With summer comes thunderstorms than can bring power surges and power outages. One product that is proving very popular is a surge protector for your air conditioner and furnace. This device can prevent an untimely breakdown of your AC system when you need it most. Ask your service technician about it when they come to do your maintenance service. Thank you and stay healthy everyone!

Roger Grochmal, P.Eng.

Life Member ASHRAE


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Air Conditioning & COVID-19 – April 27th Update

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We recently received some calls from customers about a news item circulating in some media outlets online suggesting that air conditioning can cause COVID-19 to spread between people. As we all know, COVID-19 is spread mostly by human to human contact. Secondly, it can be obtained from surfaces where droplets land which is why we should not touch our faces. I read the research paper about the one case being cited in Wuhan. A team of Chinese engineers identified that both the supply and return vents for the central AC system in a restaurant were right above the table of some infected patrons and may have contributed to people at the next table becoming infected. In this case, the researchers were unable to come to a conclusion about the impact of the central air conditioner. However, they recommended that improved ventilation with fresh air could have made a difference.

People using their home air conditioning are not at risk of infection, especially if they are remaining at home, having no contact with the rest of the population. The key as always is not the temperature of the air but rather the quality of the air. Generally speaking, the poor quality of indoor air can help in the spread of all diseases and other pollutants. One key factor is humidity. COVID-19 lives longer in a dry environment. It is important to ensure that you maintain a humidity level in your home at all times in the range of 40%-60%.

We have been seeing strong interest in other solutions to improve the quality of the air in homes. The first is mechanical ventilation. The installation of an ERV/HRV air exchanger is now in the building code for new homes. We recommend an ERV because it does a better job of managing humidity in our climate. Every home, not just new ones, should enjoy the benefit of continuous fresh air.

The second item is an ultraviolet light. There is no proof yet that a UV light will kill the COVID-19 coronavirus. However, these lights have been proven to kill other viruses. Installation by a knowledgeable professional is important as UV light can damage certain plastics if the light shines directly on them.

Lastly is improved filtration. Filters can’t filter out virus particles on their own but can filter out other particles that the virus might attach itself to. A hospital grade HEPA filter is a good option as is the Lennox Pure Air filter.

There is no silver bullet here. I have always taken the approach in life and in business to minimize risks wherever I find them. For the past 20 years, every home I have lived in has had the 4 solutions above, namely, steam humidifier, ERV, UV light and HEPA filter. These are proven solutions and working together give me the best quality air with the least amount of contamination at all times.

Is it time you to upgrade the quality of air in your home? In the meantime, stay healthy and safe.

Roger Grochmal, P.Eng.

Life Member ASHRAE


Spring has Sprung! – COVID-19 April 20th Update

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We have had several customers raise the issue of whether what AtlasCare does is an “Essential Service”. This is a valid concern, but I want to put it to rest. The Premier’s Office laid out a list of essential services and had this specifically to say about what we do:

“Businesses that provide support and maintenance services, including urgent repair, to maintain the safety, security, sanitation and essential operation of institutional, commercial industrial and residential properties and buildings, including, property management services, plumbers, electricians, custodial/janitorial workers, cleaning services, security services, fire safety and sprinkler systems, building systems maintenance and repair technicians and engineers, mechanics, (e.g. HVAC, escalator and elevator technicians), and other service providers who provide similar services.”

Last week AtlasCare began moving into full swing with spring maintenance services. As expected, we identified many common problems that we were able to rectify that could have led to emergency service calls down the road. In some cases, we identified furnaces and air conditioners that were of an age and condition where replacement was more appropriate than a costly repair. We also found a number of plugged dryer vents that needed to be cleaned out. Plumbing and drain issues continue to lead the list due to the ongoing hygiene precautions we have all adopted and the extended time we are all spending in our homes. We would like to offer a complementary plumbing or drain inspection for our loyal customers who think they may have a potential issue developing in their home.

We have had some great feedback from our customers over the past week. One customer wrote: “On my Spring Maintenance Service of April 14th, 2020, Sean, the service technician was sent as per Nimo to do the Spring tuneup on the A/C and followed the guidelines set forward by AtlasCare. And in conversation with Sean, one of the main reasons he is with AtlasCare is his manager Nimo. Thank you to Nimo for his caring of his staff and customers in this very trying time.”

Our spring schedule is starting to fill up and we are now booking into June for our maintenance visits. Don’t hesitate to call to schedule yours. Remember that these are placeholders and can be rescheduled if need be. If you have any health concerns and would require an earlier service, please call and we will do our best to accommodate you. In the meantime, stay healthy and safe.

Roger Grochmal, P.Eng.




Improve Your Home’s Air Quality

For 88 years, AtlasCare has cared about the health of our customers’ homes, but it has never been more important than it is now. With quarantine and social distancing in place due to COVID-19, our homes are where we spend most of our time. Staying indoors can, without a doubt, affect our quality of life in many ways. Our home’s air quality plays a huge part in our physical and mental wellbeing, as well as how we experience our home on a day to day basis. Here are a few ways you can improve your air quality and ensure you have the cleanest air in your home.

HEPA Filter

With the season changing, the High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) Filter might be your best bet. A HEPA Filter is designed to eliminate very fine particles and is crucial in limiting the spread of airborne bacterial and viral organisms which could lead to infection. Because it is a mechanical filter that doesn’t use negative ions or ozone gas, there is also little risk of developing any side-effects like allergies or long-term respiratory illnesses such as asthma. However, it does not filter out gasses and odour molecules.

UV-C light

When you think of UltraViolet light, the first thought that might come to mind is skin cancer and harmful radiation. However, the effects of UV light vary according to wavelength. UV rays from the sun are composed of a combination of UV-A, UV-B, and UV-C rays which clean our environment naturally. The UV light with the shortest wavelength, which is therefore the most powerful, is UV-C. It can destroy microorganisms by scrambling their DNA. This makes it a very effective form of air purification, sterilization, and disinfection. UV lights are chemical-free and can kill and sterilize mold and bacteria that may be growing in your HVAC unit, which can be highly beneficial for people who are allergic to chemicals and dust.

Lennox PureAir System

Small air cleaners may be great for targeting specific rooms in your home, especially dusty ones, but they don’t address pollutants that are circulating through your entire home. The Lennox PureAir System is a filter that offers a solution to this. This system is designed to improve air quality throughout the whole house. Unlike most air purifying systems, the Lennox PureAir System cleans 3 types of air pollutants:

  • Airborne particles: pollen, dust, pet hair
  • Germs and bacteria
  • Chemical odours and vapours

This system also does not generate any ozone which eliminates the chances of lung irritation. Because of its carbon filtration, it also helps to reduce ozone generated by other sources that may be found in your home.

With COVID-19 still in action, taking precautions for your health is the best and safest way of keeping you and your loved ones protected. At AtlasCare, we care about our customers. If you’re unsure which filter you need for your home, give us a call. Our team of experts is always there when you need us!

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Air Conditioning Season will be here Soon – COVID-19 April 13th Update

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AtlasCare was founded in 1932 during the depths of the Great Depression. It was not the best of times to start a business, but I suspect Harry Bach found himself out of work and decided to create his own job. Fast forward 88 years and we now find ourselves in the throes of another great upheaval in human history. AtlasCare was born in turbulent times and we are here for you as an essential service during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

We have now begun our transition from the heating part of our seasonal cycle to air conditioning. This is going to take on greater importance than in the past, not only because we are all going to be confined to our homes, but also because there are no alternatives. If your air conditioner breaks down, you can’t go to the theatre, shopping mall, hotel, relative’s home or take a walk in the park. We are all staying home for the greater good.

We have started performing essential maintenance services and I would like to review our key procedures:

  • We just received a supply of surgical masks and our staff now have them for added protection.
  • Please make a sink available for our technicians to wash their hands. They carry soap and towels to follow the recommended Health Canada procedures for handwashing.
  • Please ensure that you maintain 6’ – 10’ of physical distance at all times from our technician both inside and outside the home.
  • We need to make adjustments to your thermostat during the tune-up process. Let our technician know if you would prefer to adjust the thermostat yourself.
  • Upon completion, our technician will provide findings and make recommendations verbally from a safe distance or phone you from his/her truck to discuss.

Thank you to everyone in advance for helping us keep the AtlasCare community safe and healthy.

We are also starting to understand how being confined to home has affected mechanical systems.

  • As I mentioned in my last update, we are starting to get calls for backed-up drains due to wipes being flushed down the toilet. We even had one drain back up from cigarette butts. Nothing should go into a toilet but toilet paper.
  • A sewer back up can be prevented with a backflow preventer installed in the floor drain in your basement. This is now part of the building code and many municipalities have subsidies available to put one into an existing home. Again, like AC, if your sewer backs up, you have no place to go.
  • People seem to be doing more laundry and dryer vents are getting plugged. If your clothes don’t seem to be drying as well as they used to, you may have a plugged dryer vent. Call us to clean it out for you.

We have also seen our first round of price increases come through from our suppliers. At this stage, it is being driven by the reduced buying power of the Canadian dollar vs the American dollar. However, we do expect supply chain shortages to have an impact as well over time. We will continue to keep you updated. Stay healthy.

Roger Grochmal, P.Eng.