2018 Fall/Winter Weather Forecast: What to Expect in the GTA

When the Farmer’s Almanac released its 2018 winter forecast for Ontario and the rest of Canada, it sent shivers down our spines. The 200-year-old periodical predicted a “teeth-chatteringly cold winter” for most of Canada, with the lowest temperatures afflicting the Prairies, Quebec, and our home province of Ontario.

But the story doesn’t end there. On September 1st, Environment Canada released its own extended winter forecast, which paints a different picture of winter in the Greater Toronto Area.

Since our team is on-call 24/7 for furnace repair in Toronto and the GTA, we’re always paying close attention to the weather. To that end, we want to take a closer look at these opposing predictions to understand what’s really in store for Ontario’s 2018 winter forecast.

What Climatologists Say About the 2018 Fall and Winter Forecast

Per Senior Climatologist Dave Phillips, Canadians can expect a “milder than normal” fall and winter this year.

He predicts the transition from summer to fall will be a gentle one, with warmer-than-usual temperatures across the country. This is already evident here in the Greater Toronto Area, with record-high temperatures hanging over the first week of school.

Around the Great Lakes (including the GTA) the warm weather will likely be punctuated by plenty of rain and thunderstorms. Our region has already seen a severe thunderstorm watch this week.

Brett Anderson, a Senior Meteorologist for AccuWeather, adds that the widespread fall warmth might delay the peak fall foliage season by a week or two.

Regardless, the weather should leave plenty of time for Toronto homeowners to get their homes ready for winter. Environment Canada’s Dave Phillips agrees: “This fall, Canadians shouldn’t be thinking about migrating or hibernating,” he said in an interview with CTV, “Canadians should be outside enjoying the mild fall weather instead.”

As for winter? In contrast to the Farmer’s Almanac warning of teeth-chattering cold, Environment Canada’s long-range forecast calls for an unusually warm winter thanks to the influence of El Niño.

El Niño, a warming in the Pacific Ocean, typically results in higher temperatures and greater precipitation in the Greater Toronto Area. The last two El Niño winters occurred in 2016 and 2010, two of the warmest winters in Canadian history.

To summarize Environment Canada’s 2018 fall and winter forecast for Ontario:

  • There will be a gradual transition from summer, with milder temperatures lasting well into fall.
  • Toronto and the GTA can expect plenty of fall rain and thunderstorms.
  • The influence of El Niño will likely make for a milder-than-normal winter.

Why the Difference?

It’s not unusual for the Farmer’s Almanac and government climatologists to come to vastly different conclusions about the forecast.

Environment Canada’s method centres on analysing water temperatures in Canada and around the world, using what we know about patterns like El Niño to anticipate how global trends will impact Canada in the coming months.

The Farmer’s Almanac, on the other hand, keeps their methodology secret, but says it combines “sunspot activity, tidal action of the Moon, the position of the planets, and a variety of other factors.”

Long-range weather forecasts are never an exact science. However, we know Environment Canada uses recognized models that incorporate mathematics and climate science. Besides, we couldn’t blame you for hoping for a gentler winter after last year’s frigid temperatures.

Don’t Wait Until Winter for Furnace Maintenance

With a potentially warm fall on the horizon, you may be tempted to postpone this year’s furnace maintenance appointment a while.

But just because it’s not cold yet doesn’t mean you shouldn’t prepare.

Late summer/ early fall is a great time of year to close your air conditioner and get your furnace ready for the winter. With the back-to-school hustle behind us and the holidays months away, there’s finally time to deal with these essential but often-overlooked home maintenance tasks.

Call us or fill out our contact form to book your furnace maintenance appointment.

Fall Tips For Senior Home Maintenance

As summer slowly comes to an end, now is a great time for seniors to start thinking about preparing for winter. Taking care of your home before any issues arise is a great way to minimize unexpected damages. Maintenance is important to improve health, safety and possibly your bank account! Here are some tips for seniors to consider while we still have some sun:


  1. Check the furnace. Every home should have good indoor air quality. Inspect your furnace filter and ensure it’s clean for the winter. You may be spending more time indoors so you will want to make sure you and your loved ones are breathing in clean air. Read this for more tips.
  2. Protect the air conditioner. Your air conditioner should also be cleaned from summer use. Removing any debris may prolong its lifespan and save you time next summer when you’re ready to use it again. After it’s been cleaned, be sure to cover it so that it doesn’t become damaged throughout the winter.
  3. Get your ducts in a row. Duct cleaning is also linked to good air quality. When dust collects inside ducts, it can affect your furnace’s performance. Dusty ducts will fill up the furnace’s filter and the dirty cycle begins. You may also find some lost treasures you’ve been missing in the ducts, or unwanted critters. AtlasCare technicians are experienced and can do this for you.
  4. Check your windows and doors. Cold air can get through any crack or gap. Inspect your windows to ensure there aren’t any obvious issues where winter can make its way into your home. Your furnace will continue to run if the temperature inside the home is not controlled. For both windows and doors, also check that the locks are working. Keeping them locked can keep the cold and other unwanted guests out.

These easy steps can allow for a stress-free winter – even spring. It’s important for anyone to stay on top of home maintenance, but if you’re a senior and need assistance, seek help from a loved one or a professional.


5 Steps to Securing Your Home for Summer Vacations

If there’s one upside to this scorching-hot weather, it’s the excuse to escape the city for a summer vacation. But don’t forget to secure your home for the summer before you go!

These tips will help give you peace of mind that your house and home comfort system are safe and secure while you’re away.

1. Remove Your Home Address from Your GPS

Does your GPS device or mobile phone app have a “Go Home” button?  If so, anyone who has access to the device can discover where you live.

And if they ‘find’ it your bag or vehicle at the airport, they also know you aren’t home.

Be sure to remove your home address from GPS apps or devices before you hit the road. Otherwise, leave them at home.

2. Install a Smart Wi-Fi Thermostat

In just a few short years, smart thermostats have grown from a high-tech niche to a must-have device for millions of Canadian homes.

One of the benefits of a smart thermostat is that it allows you to monitor the status of your home remotely. That’s great news for summer travellers, since it lets you know if something goes wrong with the air conditioning while you’re away.

With the help of a smart thermostat (and a friend or neighbour to let in the technicians), you can arrange an emergency air conditioner repair in Toronto from a campsite up north or a beach down south.

3. Turn the Thermostat Up to Save Energy (But Only a Bit)

Turning the thermostat up when nobody’s home is the most tried-and-true ways to save energy in the summer. However, we do not recommend shutting off the air conditioning entirely.

In addition to keeping the house cool, central air conditioning also regulates the humidity inside your home. Fluctuating humidity levels can damage your home in numerous ways:

  • Causes wood to shrink and expand, which can damage wood floors and furniture
  • Leaves moisture on the outside of pipes, causing rust
  • Spurs the growth of mold, mildew and dust mites

Turn the thermostat up just a few degrees while you’re away. You’ll save energy and keep your home safe from humidity hazards.

4. Put Mail on Hold

If your trip lasts more than a few days (and your house still gets home mail delivery), your mailbox could quickly fill up with flyers and bills. This poses two potential problems: first, it tells onlookers that you’re away from home, and second, it leaves you vulnerable to mail theft.

Here in Ontario, you can stop mail delivery to your house for a time by purchasing a mail hold from Canada Post. You must do this at least five business days before the date you want to mail to stop. For newspapers, you will have to call the person or company responsible for delivery.

You could also ask a neighbour to collect the mail and newspapers for you.

5. Leave Signs of Life, Even Though You Aren’t Home

There are many ways a potential burglar could catch on to an empty house: no lights, tall grass, empty driveway, and untouched newspapers, to name a few. You can secure your home against all these issues with a bit of ingenuity and some from your friends and neighbours.

  • Put a few indoor lights on timers so they will turn on for a few hours at night. In addition to the traditional plug-in timers with a dial, you can now find Wi-Fi-enabled “smart lighting” that can be adjusted using a mobile app.
  • Have a friend or neighbour mow your lawn once a week, so the grass doesn’t grow too tall. You could also hire a landscaper.
  • Ask a neighbour on your street to park their car in your driveway while you’re on summer vacation. They can collect your unread newspaper at the same time.


Image: maximkabb

5 Things Smart Homeowners Do When They Move

Your move-in checklist probably covers all the basics: labelling boxes, changing your billing address, replacing the locks, and so on.

But did you buy new batteries for the smoke alarms? What about an air duct cleaning? 

They don’t take long, but these steps will help keep your family safe and healthy in your new home. 

1. Take Photos of Your Empty House

Smart movers unpack their camera first. Why? There are good reasons to take photographs of each room in your new home before you start placing furniture:

  1. A lot can happen to a house between the time it passed home inspection and the day you finally move in. The only sure way to prove any changes or damage that occurred before you moved in is to document it, preferably with photographic proof.
  2. Documenting the state of the house before you move in is also important in case the movers cause any accidental damage (like scratching a hardwood floor). To the insurance company, a picture really is worth a thousand words!
  3. Having photos of each room with bare walls and floors is a big help when it comes time to renovate or redecorate. Once all your furniture is in place, it can be hard to picture the house any other way.

2. Test Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarms

It’s the law in Ontario to have at least one working smoke alarm on every level of the house, and at least one carbon monoxide alarm (or a device that combines the two).

One of the first things you should do when you move is replace the batteries in both devices, then test to ensure the alarms are working and your family recognizes them. This is also a good time to mark a reminder in your calendar to replace the batteries again in six months.

Did you know that smoke alarms have an expiration date? While you’re replacing the batteries, turn the device over and look for the date of manufacture on the back. If it has been ten years or longer since then, it’s time to replace it.

3. Check for Water Leaks

With the house empty and the plumbing unused for at least a few hours, moving day is a good time to test for potential water leaks. One simple way to do this is to look at your water meter. To check for water leaks using your water meter:

  1. Make sure all the faucets (indoors and outdoors) are shut off.
  2. Locate the water meter in your home. In Ontario, the meter is usually found in the basement, often in a basement laundry room or furnace room.
  3. Note where on the meter the red triangle is pointing. Take a photo of the meter with your phone so you don’t have to write it down.
  4. Check the meter again two hours later. If you haven’t used any water during that time, and the red arrow has moved, you may have a leak.

It pays to do the ‘water meter test’ as soon as possible after you move in. Leaky plumbing is a recipe for structural damage and mould growth.

4. Get a Duct Cleaning

If the house has central heating or air conditioning, most of the air you breathe inside the home circulates through the air ducts. And as a new homeowner, you don’t know what has been living in those ducts. Not only do air ducts accumulate dust, but they can also harbour mould and bacteria, which are things you definitely don’t want to breathe in.

While not as urgent as testing smoke alarms and checking for water leaks, duct cleaning should be on your to-do list within the first few months of the move. Not only will it improve your indoor air quality, but it allows your furnace and central air conditioner to run more efficiently, improving the longevity of those essential systems.

5. Locate the Emergency Switches

Every home has its quirks. It will probably take some time before you uncover everything about yours. But there are a few things you should track down right away: namely, the utility shut-off switches.

It’s important to know how to turn off the utilities in the event of an emergency. Every adult in the home should be able to locate the fuse box, natural gas shut-off, and main water stop valve.

If you have moved to a different city or town, you should also note the numbers for the local police, fire department, and by-law enforcement. These numbers are easily available online, but you don’t always have internet access in an emergency, so it’s smart to add them into your cell phone contacts or pinned to your fridge just in case.


Image: Petro

5 Ways to Keep the Kids Cool When the Air Conditioner Dies

Another school year is said and done. For many of us, that means the kids and grandkids will soon be spending a lot more time at home, taking over our refrigerators and living room TVs for a few months. Hopefully, your AC has had its yearly a check-up in preparation for what’s forecasted to be a very hot summer — otherwise, you could find yourself scrambling to keep your kids cool when the air conditioner dies. 

 Mother serving watermelon while her daughter watches. Frozen fruit is a great way to keep the kids cool when the air conditioner dies.


If your air conditioner calls it quits, these tips can help you keep everyone safe and comfortable while you’re waiting for emergency air conditioner repair. 

Stay Hydrated 

Just as your air conditioner uses more ‘juice’ in warmer temperatures, kids need to drink more water to fuel their body’s effort to keep cool when the air conditioner dies. Children aren’t as in-tune with their hydration as adults, so it’s up to you to make sure they’re drinking plenty of fluids (and not diuretics like caffeinated pop and sugary juice). Cold drinks also help to cool your internal temperature. 

Try offering frozen watermelon slices or ice pops as a fun alternative to plain water. 

Sleep Downstairs 

One of the major downsides to life without air conditioning? Trying to fall asleep in a hot, sweaty room. The higher the temperature, the harder it is to get a good night’s rest, leading to some seriously crabby kids the next morning. 

However, if you’re lucky enough to live in a multi-story house, there’s an escape: the basement. Heat rises, so the basement will likely be more comfortable sleeping quarters than your family’s second-floor bedrooms. Why not let the kids sleep in the basement for a night while the AC is out? You could even grab your flashlights and sleeping bags, put on a movie, and turn it into a summer sleepover. 

Create a Cool Breeze 

Fans don’t actually make the air colder, but you can set them up to create a refreshing indoor breeze. Try wetting a sheet or a towel in cold water (wring it out, so it doesn’t drip), then drape it in front of a fan so the air passes through it. This trick can help make your kids’ rooms feel much more comfortable when there’s no air conditioning. 


It’s hard to keep the kids cool with your electronic appliances working against you. Any home devices and appliances that have a standby or “sleep mode” consume phantom power — meaning they generate heat even when not in use. Some of the biggest culprits are your PVR, computer and computer speakers, satellite or cable box, stereo system, and video game consoles. 

It helps to unplug any devices that run on standby mode when you’re trying to keep cool without air conditioning. Your kids might protest at first, but you can seize the opportunity to spend some much-needed screen-free time together. After all, it’s only until the AC is fixed! 

Banish the Sun 

A lot of summer heat gets into your home via the windows. If the sun’s bearing down, make sure to cover any south or west-facing windows with curtains or blinds (car shades from the dollar store can also work on small windows in a pinch).  

Need Emergency Air Conditioner Repair? 

Our service team is on-call 24 hours a day for emergency air conditioner repair in the Greater Toronto Area. Contact us to get your AC back in working order as soon as possible. 

Image: Iopolo

2018 Forecast: What to Expect for Summer Weather in the GTA

After the winter we just had, we’re almost afraid to ask what the summer of 2018 has in store for us. Last year, our part of Canada saw lots of grey skies and torrential rainfall, contributing to a record-breaking rise in the shorelines of Lake Ontario.

So, what’s to come for summer weather in the GTA this year? Can we expect a record number of calls for emergency air conditioner repair in Toronto and the GTA?

While there’s no way to know for sure, we can’t resist looking ahead at the 2018 summer forecast. Here’s what climatologists and other weather-watchers expect we’ll see in Toronto and the GTA.

Environment Canada: Hot Summer in the GTA

Good news for beach-lovers: the summer of 2018 may bring more favourable weather to look forward to than last year.

At least that’s what Dave Phillips, Canada’s senior climatologist, predicts. Phillips says that Eastern Canada will see above-average temperatures in the summer of 2018, especially in the Great Lakes region.

The average summer temperature in Toronto is about 27°C, and the city typically sees between 15 days of above-30-degree weather. We had just nine 30+ days in 2017, while 2016 gave us almost 40 such days. Phillips expects the summer of 2018 will resemble 2016.

It almost sounds too good to be true, and unfortunately, it could be. Although Environment Canada derives its forecast from numerical weather prediction models, it’s not always on the mark when it comes to long-range forecasting. Back in March, for instance, Phillips forecasted that the spring of 2018 would be no colder than usual — until we got that big ice storm in April, that is.

Will There Be Less Rainfall?

While it wasn’t particularly cold last summer, the rain put a damper on many summer days. The heavy precipitation, combined with the melting snow, even resulted in flooded basements and ruined backyards all across the region.

Fortunately, we are unlikely to see a repeat of such weather in 2018. The International Lake Ontario—St. Lawrence River Board, which oversees the Moses-Saunders Dam on the Canadian border, sees no indication that the extreme rainfall that resulted in the flooding of Lake Ontario will occur again this year.

That’s especially good news for those planning a trip to the beautiful Toronto Islands.

Preparing Your Home for the Summer Ahead

If the forecast pans out as climatologists predict, you could find yourself switching on the A/C a lot more than usual. We saw an upswing in calls for emergency air conditioner repair in Toronto two years ago, and this year could bode the same.

We recommend that our customers have their cooling equipment inspected before the warm weather hits to ensure the system is running efficiently and fix any problems that could lead to a breakdown. If it’s been a few years since your last inspection, now is definitely a good time to make the call.

Learn more about our professional air conditioner maintenance service.


Image: Gary Blakeney

5 Laundry Room Tips for Cleaner Clothes

Have you noticed your clothes aren’t getting as clean as they used to? It could have to do with your laundry habits — or, your machine could be due for a dryer vent cleaning. Whatever the cause, these laundry room tips can help you get your clothes looking spotless and smelling fresh again.  

1. Use Less Detergent 

More detergent does not always equal cleaner clothes. Using too much soap or detergent can leave soapy residue behind on the fabric. To make matters worse, the excess detergent can clog up your washing machine and impede water from draining properly, resulting in a pile of wet, smelly clothes.  

So, how much detergent should you use? That depends on the manufacturer’s instructions. The detergent maker often recommends you use more than necessary, so you should follow the machine rather than what it says on the packaging. 


2. Clean Your Washing Machine 

Like the dishwasher, the washing machine is one appliance we often forget to clean. However, you should run a cleaning cycle at least once every six months to get rid of the soap residue that builds up inside. If your washing machine does not have a built-in cycle for cleaning, try adding a cup of white vinegar to hot water cycle (with the machine empty of clothing, of course). 


3. Have Your Dryer Vent Cleaned 

If your clothes are taking longer to dry (or are still damp at the end of the cycle) the problem likely rests in the dryer vent.  

The dryer vent is designed to push moist, hot air out of the machine so your clothes can dry. Over time, this vent gets clogged with lint, which makes it harder for the dryer to expel air as it should. Worse, it raises the temperature inside the machine, which makes the flammable lint a highly serious fire hazard. 

Many people are shocked to see how much lint gets trapped in the dryer vent. Just check out these before and after photos we took while performing a dryer vent cleaning in the Greater Toronto Area! It’s no surprise lint build-up is the number one factor contributing to dryer fires. 


4. Don’t Over-stuff the Machine 

Doing laundry only when you have a full load of clothes to clean is a tried-and-true way to save energy. But there is a catch: if you try to wash and dry too much at once, your appliances will not do the job properly. 

You have to leave enough room inside the washing machine for soap and water to circulate through the clothes to loosen and rinse away dirt. Otherwise, you will end up with a less-than-clean load of laundry that will require a second rinse. 

The same is true for the dryer. Dryers tend to use a lot of energy, so it is wise to dry a single big load instead of a several smaller ones. However, a single cycle may not be enough to get your clothes dry if you overdo it, negating the energy you might have saved. 


5. Sort By Fabric Type 

You know not to wash your best white shirt with your lucky red cap. But what about fleece sweaters and yoga pants? Stretchy fabrics like spandex are prone to attract and cling to dryer lint, so it’s best not to wash them with garments that shed. While you’re in the process of sorting your lights and darks, it pays to separate clothes by fabric type as well. 


Professional Dryer Vent Cleaning in the Greater Toronto Area 

Having your dryer vent cleaned has the dual benefits of helping your clothes dry faster and protecting your family from a hidden fire hazard. If your machine needs a clean, AtlasCare provides professional dryer vent cleaning services in the Greater Toronto Area.  

Request a quote or call us toll-free at 647-952-2012. 


Image: Vadim Guzhva

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

We are 85 Years Young!

You wouldn’t know it from our youthful energy, but 2017 is the 85th anniversary of AtlasCare.

This is a big milestone for our company. Over the coming year we will be offering some 85th anniversary specials so keep an eye out for them. We have had one employee, Dick Thomas, our vice president of the installation division, who has now been with the company over 40 years. (And he’s only 42!) He has worked in almost every role in the company from parts driver to executive and everything in between. I know many of you know Dick as he has been in your homes. Join me in recognizing special people like Dick Thomas who have made AtlasCare the special company that it has been since 1932.