Couple on laptop researching air purifier vs humidifier

How To Improve Your Indoor Air – Humidifier Vs Air Purifier

Dry, dirty air is bad for your health. In fact, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency, poor indoor air quality has both long-term and immediate effects on human health.

This is especially true during the winter. We Georgetown residents like to spend those chilly months either on a beach in Florida or snuggled up inside the house. Unfortunately, a house with poor indoor air quality can produce annoying symptoms such as:

  • Dryness of hair, skin, lips, and nose (the latter often leads to nosebleeds)
  • Allergy and asthma attacks
  • Sinus irritation
  • Sore throats
  • Unexplained cold or flu-like symptoms
  • General tiredness and lethargy
  • Heavy snoring

The good news is that there is help in sight. Either an air purifier or a humidifier can do wonders in terms of correcting your indoor air quality and ultimately, your physical health. These two devices are not interchangeable, though.

So the question is: Air purifier vs. humidifier — how do you know which you need in your home? Find out the differences and learn which is best for your situation.

How Does A Humidifier Help?

A humidifier will add moisture to indoor air which is overly dry – that is, below 30% relative humidity, the minimum recommended humidity level. You can actually measure relative humidity with a simple, inexpensive gadget called a hygroscope. Dry air in your home is most common during the winter, due to the drying effects of our heating systems. (Ever noticed how static builds up indoors in the winter months? That’s caused by excessive dryness in the air.)

Small freestanding humidifiers like the type used for childhood illnesses are available. However, for more convenient, effective results, installation of a whole-home furnace humidifier is preferable.

How Does An Air Purifier Help?

An air purifier (or “air cleaner”) is designed to improve indoor air quality by getting rid of airborne contaminants such as VOCs, dust, or pollen. Although these appliances are sometimes referred to as air filters, many air purifiers work by means of other processes like ionization.

While many sources can contaminate the air of your home, some of the most common examples are:

  • Dust and dust mites — very irritating, particularly to someone already prone to allergies or asthma.
  • Pet dander (skin cells sloughed off by your pets) — actually more problematic than fur shedding.
  • Mould spores
  • Formaldehyde — an ingredient in the glue used for many household furnishings and materials
  • Emission from fuel-powered combustion appliances, such as furnaces or gas stoves
  • Tobacco smoke

TIP: Different types of air purifiers have different capabilities. Talk with one of our indoor air quality specialists about the best model for your specific situation. Be sure to mention if a family member suffers from a respiratory problem such as allergies, asthma, or emphysema.

Freestanding or Whole-House Air Purifier?

As with humidifiers, air purifiers come in freestanding and whole-house versions. We recommend the whole-house variety for a number of good reasons:

  1. Whole-home air cleaners live up to their name, ameliorating air quality throughout your home, rather than in just one room.
  2. They are quieter than standalone versions.
  3. You will have to change the filter less frequently.
  4. They are more discreet and space-saving since you won’t need separate units in every room.
  5. They clean more efficiently.

The Best Air Quality Solution

Whether you need a whole-home humidifier or air cleaner, the best solution is one that is tailored specifically to your home and your family’s needs. Dr HVAC carries a range of air quality improvement products. Talk with us about which is right for you.


Air Filtration Buyer's Guide

What Is Home Air Filtration? A Buyer’s Guide

Clean is the key to health these days – clean eating, clean energy, and clean air. Clean air in the home is especially important if you or other family members are among the one in five Canadians bothered by allergic rhinitis (nasal allergies).

Allergic reactions tend to be triggered by allergens in the air — such as pollen from trees and flowers — even inside the house. Fortunately, there are excellent practical solutions to improve your indoor air quality, namely, removing the source of contaminants, improving ventilation, and home air filtration systems.

Here we’ll take a closer look at home air filtration.

How Does Air Filtration Work?

Air filtration is an important process which traps airborne particles and prevents them from circulating in your home. The filtration works by screening out contaminants via a mesh or sieve-like device.

Home air filtration comprises the filters in your HVAC system and in portable air cleaning devices. For optimal functioning, air filters must be changed or cleaned according to manufacturer’s directions, every 1-3 months, as they become clogged with dirt and debris. If your filter system takes single-use filters, always keep a few spares on hand.

Different Types Of Air Filters

There are three main types of air filter which are commonly sold for home use, as described below.

1.  Fiberglass. These popular, inexpensive disposable filters are composed of multi-layer fiberglass filters, supported by a metal grate.

2.  Pleated. This kind of filter, which is made up of polyester or cotton, is more resistant to airflow and more effective at dust removal.

3.  HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air). HEPA filters are the highest efficiency type, recommended for allergy and asthma sufferers. Studies show that HEPA filters block 55 percent of fine particles and 23 percent of outdoor particulate pollution from entering the inside air.

In addition to these categories, you should also look at MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) ratings, which measure how effectively air filters trap particles. MERV ratings ranging between 7 and 13 are the ones most commonly used in home filtration systems, with the larger numbers indicating greater efficiency.

While filters with MERV ratings of 14 and higher are available, they are utilized mainly in health care and food service establishments.

Benefits of Air Filtration

  • Reduces levels of airborne contaminants and allergens in the home, including dust and dust mites, pet dander, plant pollen, and soot
  • Mitigates household air pollution to improve indoor air quality for better health
  • Eases symptoms such as sneezing, sniffling, wheezing, coughing, itchy eyes, fatigue, and headaches
  • Protects high-risk individual such as heart patients, infants, and the elderly
  • Acts as dust protection for delicate components of your heating and cooling system

Difference Between Air Filtration & Air Purification

Air filtration mechanically removes particulate contaminants from the air, by means of a screen. Air purification sanitizes indoor air, extracting gases, VOCs, and smoke, with the help of processes that include UV rays, activated carbon, and ionic or electrostatic attraction.

Air filtration and air purification are often used in tandem when a high-level quality of indoor air is desired. 

Call the Clean Air Experts

When you’re ready to install a home air filtration system, our team of HVAC professionals is ready to help.

Do you still have questions about the best ways to improve indoor air quality and create a healthy home? We’ll take the time you need to answer each of your concerns in detail.

How Long Does A Water Heater Last?

A water heater is a home plumbing essential but like all appliances, it does have a limited service life. And when your water heater is about to fail, you had better be ready!

Otherwise, you will be facing cold water just when you’re craving a hot shower and – even worse – dealing with possible water damage to your home.

So be prepared. Learn how long a water heater typically lasts and what you can do to help it last longer.

How Long Does A Tank Water Heater Last?

A conventional electric or gas water heater maintains heated water in an insulated storage tank. The average tank lasts 10 – 15 years. If you’re not sure how old your unit is, check the serial number.

How Long Does A Tankless Water Heater Last?

Tankless (“on demand”) water heaters  are energy savers. They do not have a storage tank, but instead heat water as needed. Because there’s less wear and tear, tankless models last at least 20 years, and longer with good maintenance.

How Do You Know When A Water Heater Needs To Be Replaced?

Look for these warning signs:

  1. Age. An aging tank water heater (over 9 – 12 years) is often an accident waiting to happen, especially when it’s installed in an area of your home that is vulnerable to water damage. Look into a replacement.
  2. Strange noises. Sounds of banging or cracking are often caused by sediment deposits in the tank. Excess sediment buildup might signal the need for a new water heater.
  3. Lukewarm or cold water. A hot water heater’s job is simple: heating water. When a heater just doesn’t perform as well as it used to, it may be due for replacement.
  4. Rust. Rust on your appliance’s exterior tends to be obvious. Discoloured or metallic-tasting water can be a good clue that the tank is corroding on the inside. A rusted hot water tank is too far gone to repair.
  5. Leakage. Leaking from your hot water tank almost always signals that you need a replacement … now!

How To Make Water Heaters Last Longer

Try one or more of the following methods. You’ll help your water heater last longer.

  • Scheduled Tune Ups

Regular tune ups help your water heater work more efficiently and last longer. A trained technician is also more likely to spot warning signs that your water heater might be about to fail.

  • Scale Inhibitor or Water Softener

If you live in an area with hard water, like Brampton, limescale mineral deposits can harm both conventional and tankless water heaters. Use a scale-inhibiting filter to protect your water heater and help it last longer. Alternatively, install a whole-house water softener.

  • Flushing

Drain (“flush”) your hot water heater tank every 6 – 12 months to clear out sediment buildup. While this can be a DIY home maintenance task, if you are unsure of what you’re doing or the tank is being drained for the first time in years, you may want to call a professional.

  • Anode Replacement

The anode, a metal rod inside your water heater, attracts ions and minerals which would otherwise corrode the tank. After 2 – 3 years, have the anode checked annually and replaced when it deteriorates. Help your tank last longer; for additional protection, install a second anode rod.


For Fast Expert Service

Are you wondering whether your water heater is still good? Thinking of upgrading to a John Wood tank heater … or installing a tankless model? Or would you just like to schedule a routine tune-up?

We’re here to answer your questions and provide the service you need. No pressure, no upselling – just professional, personalized help.

Technician Working on a Furnace Tune Up

How Will The R22 Phase Out Affect You?

No, we’re not talking about a droid from Star Wars. We’re talking about R22 refrigerant, which is commonly found in older air conditioners and heat pumps. By January 1, 2020, it will be illegal to sell any R22 related products in Canada. 

So, how will the R22 phase-out affect you and your existing equipment? To understand this question, we first need to uncover what R22 is and what it’s effects are on the environment.

What is R22?

R22 is apart of the Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFC) family. Try saying that 5 times fast. The job of these gas or liquid chemicals is to evaporate quickly, creating a quick and powerful cooling reaction. You’d often find R22 in refrigerators, freezers and air conditioners.

Although R22 is quite useful, it’s a dangerous chemical that affects our environment. When evaporated, this chemical is released into the stratosphere and damages our ozone layer. Thus reducing protection from the sun’s harmful UV rays.

If you’re researching whether your heating and cooling equipment contain R22, here is a list of scientific aliases R22 goes by:

  • HCFC22
  • Freon 22
  • Arcton 22
  • Refrigerant 22
  • Chlorodifluoromethane
  • Difluoromonochloromethane
  • Monochlorodifluoromethane
  • Difluorochloromethane

Let’s just say we’re thankful this chemical is commonly referred to as R22. Now that you have some understanding regarding the dangers of R22, your next step is to understand how R22 is phasing out and how that’ll affect you as a consumer.

How is R22 Phasing Out?

Back in 1998, the Government of Canada started a phase-out program regarding a multitude of ozone-depleting substances. Gradually reducing the amount of ozone-depleting products from the Canadian market.

As of 2020, the Canadian government will put a halt to the production and imports of all HCFC products, thus depleting the supply of R22. Over time, these older products will begin to deteriorate and require Canadian’s to purchase new and efficient HVAC products. But, don’t let Father-Time do the work for you.

All air conditioning systems and heat pumps will be switching out R22 for one of the more environmentally friendly types of refrigerants listed below:

  • R410-A
  • R137-A
  • R404-A
  • R407-C
  • R507

Each chemical substance provides ozone-depletion ratings of zero and higher safety ratings than R22. Even if you’ve bought your AC system or heat pump recently, it’s crucial you research your HVAC product and determine whether it’s utilizing R22 Freon. You can do that by inspecting your user manual or requesting maintenance.

Recycle & Upgrade

If your air conditioning system or heat pump was installed in the last few years, inspecting your heating and cooling products for R22 is our professional suggestion. Simply because it’ll soon be illegal to utilize such products. Your R22 phase-out process should consist of these steps; “inspect”, “recycle” and “upgrade”.

If you’re an R22 system owner, it’s not as simple as dropping it on the side of the road with your garbage. Heating and cooling systems that contain dangerous chemicals cannot be recycled normally. We encourage you to contact a licensed professional who has been trained and certified to handle R22 Refrigerant.

With the cold weather on its way, now is the best time to maintain your heating and cooling systems and find out whether you’re affected by the R22 phase-out. Reach out to us today and set an appointment for a licensed technician to come and ensure your HVAC equipment is free of R22 and in peak running condition. Trust Dr HVAC, your service experts.

Schedule to have your HVAC system checked for R22 today!


What is the Most Energy Efficient Heating System?

Climate change is a hot-button topic today. Concerned consumers across the country want to minimize their carbon footprint (and save money) by reducing their energy use. An efficient heating system is essential in cold climates like Ontario’s, where heating costs can account for as much as 61% of your home energy consumption.

Benefits Of An Efficient Home Heating System

  • Eco-friendly
    Energy efficient heating and cooling is healthier for the environment.
  • Economical
    Reduced energy consumption means lower operating costs.
  • Comfort
    Enjoy cozy warmth, even during those c-c-cold Canadian winters.

Measure the Efficiency of your Heating System

We are going to compare heating systems by their AFUE (Annualized Fuel Utilization Efficiency). This translates into what percentage of fuel the system will transform into usable heat for your home.

Energy efficient heating systems will have an AFUE rating of 90% or greater. A high AFUE indicates that minimal heat is being wasted due to poor system design, inefficient burners, or air leakage.

Compare The 3 Most Popular Types Of Heating Systems In Ontario

Forced Air Furnace

Trane XT95 Furnace

Forced air furnaces work by heating air and then circulating (forcing) this warmed air through your home via ductwork. Common fuels are natural gas, heating oil, wood, propane or electricity. A forced air furnace will quickly provide pleasant, even heating throughout your home. However, it usually relies on fossil fuels, requires connection to a nearby gas supply line or a large tank of heating oil, or in the case of wood, can be one of the dirtiest and least efficient ways to heat your home. An electric furnace is safer and clean, but will rarely provide any cost efficiencies since the amount of electricity needed to match the heat output of a gas furnace is significant. 

Efficiency rating: AFUE for the most efficient Gas forced air furnaces is between 95 and 98%. Electric furnaces may score as high as 100%. Wood burning furnaces can see AFUE ratings as high as 88% putting them a distant third in the efficiency rankings. Installation of a new, efficient furnace is likely to save you energy and operating costs.

Heat Pumps

Unlike furnaces, heat pumps don’t actually create heat. Instead, they collect and redistribute existing heat from the air (air-source heat pumps) or the earth (geothermal systems). Although heat pumps are ultra-efficient and can reduce your monthly heating costs, installation and repair are often pricey. You may need a backup heating source if your local temperatures dip below minus 28-30 degrees Celsius (minus 10-25 degrees Fahrenheit) depending on the size of your system.

Ductless Air Conditioners

We are seeing an explosion in demand for a new type of air-source heat pump: the ductless mini-split system. These systems have a condenser outside and one or several air handlers mounted high on the wall inside the home. Recent efficiency improvements from Trane and Mitsubishi make these systems one of the most efficient ways to heat — and cool — your home.

Efficiency rating: Because heat pumps create more energy than they consume, they’re usually rated according to COP (Coefficient of Performance), the annual cooling efficiency (SEER) and heating efficiency (HSPF) rather than AFUE. A COP of 1 means the heat pump is working at 100% efficiency; the higher the COP, the better your heat pump’s functioning. ENERGY STAR specifications require that the EnerGuide SEER rating be 12.0 or greater for a single package unit or 13.0 or greater for a split system.


in floor heating

Boilers are a kind of heat exchanger, burning gas, propane, wood, or oil to heat (or boil) water. This hot water then moves through a series of pipes to warm your home, by means of radiant piping or radiators in each room. Zoned heating (heating individual rooms as you choose) is often simplified when using a boiler-based heating system. A boiler also results in better indoor air quality with fewer allergens, since dust and pollen are not being pushed around by a furnace fan. However, boilers are declining in popularity as a home heating system, as the installation and design costs can be significantly more expensive than other options.

Efficiency rating: AFUE for the most efficient boilers is 90-98.5%. But this figure can be misleading when it comes to the overall volume of energy consumed. Radiant heating systems use water or glycol to transfer the heat from the boiler to the rooms in your house, a much more efficient way to transfer heat than air. This means that while your forced air gas furnace may run at an AFUE of 98% — and your boiler may only run at 90% — you won’t feel as cold setting your thermostat at 20 degrees Celsius instead of 22.

Which Heating System is Best For You?

For overall efficiency in terms of cost, a forced air furnace with a high AFUE rating will be your most affordable high efficiency solution. For an example, take a look at our high efficiency furnaces from Trane.

For overall efficiency in terms of the actual amount of energy consumed to heat your home, a high efficiency, boiler-based hydronic system will use the least amount of fuel over its life. We have several models and systems to choose from.

Then you get into the specifics of which one will be the best for your home. That is a difficult question to address in a blog post. Finding the right heating system requires that we work closely with you to understand your particular home, your personal needs and desires, and of course what fuel is currently available to you and at what cost.

Oldest Air Conditioning Contest Winner 2015

Furnace, heat pump, or boiler? Dr HVAC has you covered. We offer a variety of high efficiency heating solutions to Southwestern Ontario homeowners who are taking the right steps forward for the environment. Call for details.

How to Extend the Life of Your Furnace

The last thing you want is to come home, on a cold winter night, to find your 15 year old furnace on its deathbed. It’s every Canadian’s nightmare, and for good reason. Especially with the Farmers’ Almanac predicting a cold winter this year, you want to be prepared.

For most of us, we usually don’t pay attention to our heating and air conditioning systems until it’s too late. When your furnace inevitably breathes its last breath, you’ll be waiting for that emergency HVAC technician to arrive while you and your family are wearing jackets and toques around the house.

This is an experience nobody wants to repeat twice, and probably the reason you stopped by our blog. If you are concerned about your furnace lasting the upcoming winter, we want to equip you with the proper tools and the following 5 tips on how to extend the life of your furnace.

1. Install a Programmable Thermostat

Overworking your furnace is a great way to send your furnace to heaven early. Although you’re currently toasty warm, you’re diminishing your furnace’s longevity. Without implementing balance with your furnace usage, you’ll need to start booking the funeral.

But, we’re human. Sometimes we forget to turn it down or off. So, how do you create a balance with your furnace’s usage without human error? Introducing smart and programmable thermostats.

Nest Learning Thermostat

Installing a programmable thermostat controls the usage of your heating system. Basically, it allows you to set a predefined schedule that adjusts the temperature of your home based on time of day and season, turning the heat down at night and during the day when no one is around.

Smart thermostats add an additional level of control by reacting to movement (are people home or not), creating schedules on the fly, smart control via phone apps and additional tracking to allow you much better control of your system – from anywhere in the world. Not only are they useful for furnace longevity but these new thermostats will also save you money on energy costs.

2. Replace Air Filter

If your air filter looks like an old, dusty accordion, it’s past time to replace the filter. Often neglected, your air filter can cause your furnace to blow cold air and drain the life out of your furnace if not replaced or cleaned. The air filter function is to clean the air and protect your system from allowing dirt and debris to enter the furnace.

GeneralAire AC22 And AC24 Cleaners

When dirt begins to cover the filter, your furnace must work much harder to move air. Because dirt and dust are covering the filter, the furnace fan will need to work hard to overcome the additional resistance. Also, since less air is moving through the system, your furnace will need to run longer in order to raise the temperature. Our Dr HVAC suggestion is to clean and check on your air filter regularly. By doing so, you’re allowing your furnace to emit warm air normally without any obstructions.

3. Prevent Air Leaks

Air leaks rob you of the warm air your furnace works so hard to produce. Not only do air leaks drain your home of that warm air but it also pushes your furnace to work harder and longer, resulting in a reduction of its lifespan. Your front door, windows, walls, bathroom and kitchen vents, basement intrusions and any small gaps and spaces can allow air to infiltrate.

Preventing drafts and eliminating air leaks to ensure your home is properly sealed and insulated is one of the best things you can do to improve the comfort of your home as well as the life of your furnace.

A useful trick to determine if your door or window is causing an air leak is by lighting an incense stick and placing it in front of your inspecting area. If the smoke rises up, there’s no leak. If the smoke moves in a different direction, you have a leak. Most big box DIY stores have a whole section on weather stripping and caulking to help fill these gaps and stop leaks.

4. Perform Regular Maintenance

To avoid the nightmare of getting your furnace repaired, we recommend having your furnace maintained at regular intervals. When you get your furnace tuned up, an expert HVAC technician will run through an extensive checklist of items to ensure you’re eliminating future issues that could occur on the coldest Brampton winters.

Why not schedule your maintenance with us, Dr HVAC. We understand the hustle and bustle of everyday life and how a broken furnace can throw a wrench into your schedule. By performing maintenance with us, you can expect an immediate response and honest, hard work. Schedule your maintenance and trust the doctor.

Schedule to have your furnace checked today!

10 Health Benefits of Air Conditioning

Everyone wants to know they’re living in a house that’s safe and healthy. One way to keep your home’s air healthy is by installing an air conditioner. There are many health benefits to air conditioning that you may not know about. 

1. Reduce High Humidity

The most important health benefit of air conditioning is reducing your home’s humidity. Living in a house that prevents high humidity creates a less damp home, as well as keeping you healthy. High humidity is linked to dust mites, mould, heatstroke and dehydration.

Although there are other methods to stay cool, owning an air conditioning system is the best to reduce high humidity.

2. Reduce Asthma Attacks

For those suffering from asthma, you want your home to be a safe haven, a place you can call a safe haven. One of the health benefits of air conditioning is it reduces the chances of asthma attacks. 

This is done by filtering dirty air that may contain dust mites, pollutants or allergens, as well as eliminating any dampness that can lead to mould. These are all symptoms of increasing asthma attacks.

Don’t neglect to change your air filters. By keeping the same air filter, you’re cycling dirt through your air conditioner back into your home. On average, you should be changing your air filters from 30 to 60 days.

Cleaning your air filter also prevents your air conditioner from acting up. A dirty air filter can cause your AC to freeze up or blow out warm air.

3. Better Air Quality

Another reason to breathe easy is by installing air conditioning. From dust to bacteria, your indoor air can become a hazard to your health thanks to improper ventilation and overheating. You can develop coughs, colds, headaches and fatigue.

Your air conditioner is the Brita filter for your house by improving ventilation and controlling the temperature of your home. There are many other ways to improve your air quality but air conditioning is the best option.

4. Reduce the Risk of Dehydration & Heat Stroke

Since dehydration’s cause is lack of water, one key factor that some forget to account for is sweat. Our sweat contains water from our bodies. The more you sweat, the more water you lose, and the more vulnerable you are to dehydration.

With heat stroke, you can obtain this illness when your body begins to overheat due to the surrounding temperature.

Both of these illnesses can be prevented by air conditioning. The cool air in your house will reduce sweating and lower your body temperature. Remember to stay cool on those crazy hot days.

5. Stop Insects & Parasites

People are looking for any method, tool or spell to put a stop to mosquito bites, ant invasions and house flies.

Not many know this, but your air conditioning reduces the number of insects and parasites. These pesky critters aren’t only annoying to deal with but also can transmit diseases.

A few ways air conditioners stop insects and parasites are by:

  • Cooling your house to create a cool atmosphere for insects, who desire a warm climate
  • Cooling your body temperature to make you less desirable for mosquitos, who enjoy warm body temperatures
  • Creating a dry atmosphere for insects, who desire damp atmospheres

6. Decrease Work Stress

When you’re working, the last thing you need is added stress from the heat of a hot day. You can become unfocused and stressed due to the temperature of a room.

Creating a good work environment allows your workers to get their job done without the stress of turning into a melted popsicle.

7. Count Sheep, Not Sweat

What’s worse than a nightmare? A hot, sweaty sleep. Tossing and turning in your bed, flipping your pillow, and feeling around for any sliver of cold not yet absorbed by your body heat.

When you’re not able to achieve REM sleep, the restlessness of the previous night will carry into your day and cause you to be more tired and grumpy you.

The best way to maintain a cool sleep is by owning an air conditioner. Using your air conditioner at night lowers your body temperature for a more restful and cool sleep.

8. Odours & Fumes

Whether it’s fumes, dirty air, cleaning chemicals, or expired milk, air conditioning helps keep those odours and fumes at bay. 

By cycling out the smelly air with clean air, you’re destroying any smells or chemicals that can affect your health. 

9. Mould Growth

Without air conditioning, your room can become damp and wet. Which, allows your room to be susceptible to mould. The health benefit of air conditioning is preserving a dry atmosphere and thwarting any trace of mould.

10. Better Living

Smile! Maintaining a room with cool air makes for a happier home. Instead of complaining about how hot it is, you can take time to appreciate whatever you’re doing indoors.

Prescribed Remedy: Air Conditioning

Our prescribed remedy for a healthier house is an air conditioner. The health benefits of air conditioning allow you to maintain peace of mind and focus on enjoying summer.

At Dr HVAC, we provide homeowners like you with efficient and top-notch air conditioning services. To learn more about our AC installation services, request a quote and see why it’s important to trust the doctor.

Interested in learning more about what Dr. HVAC can do for you?

Learn More About Our Air Conditioning Services

How to Efficiently Get Rid of Humidity at Home

What is humidity? Basically, it’s a way of measuring the amount of moisture in the air. Obviously, heat plays a part in humidity but the focus is on the amount of moisture in your home.

The dangers of high humidity levels are mildew and mould growth, dust mites, risks of asthma attacks, heatstroke, and dehydration. A telltale sign for high humidity is when your rooms feel damp and wet.

So, how do you get rid of humidity at home? The main solution is to dry the air in your home. From developing good habits, the use of tools and even DIY methods, you’ll be well-prepared to reduce any excess humidity in your house.

Change Habits

Without knowing it, there are daily routines we’ve developed that contribute to creating moisture. Here are different habits you can implement that not only get rid of humidity at home but also improve energy efficiency.

Most of these changes will be exchanging convenience for energy efficiency. This all depends on how far you’re willing to go to get rid of humidity at home.

Shower Less
Whether you like your showers at cooking temperature or taking your time, you’re contributing to your indoor humidity levels. The steam produced from your hot shower is a huge contributor to moisture in your home.

By taking either cold or shorter showers, you’ll reduce the amount of moisture in the air. You’ll be preventing the chances of mould, which is common in bathrooms.

As a matter of fact, cold showers are healthy for your skin, scalp, energy levels, blood circulation, reducing stress, and heals muscle pains. Even though you may think hot showers feel better, taking cold showers are the best way to start your day.

Dry Clothes Outside
Depending on the way you dry your wet clothes, you could be contributing high amounts of moisture to your indoor air.

The first big no-no is using a dryer. Even though dryers are a quick solution to dry your wet clothes, these machines produce high amounts of hot air and humidity.

The second mistake is by drying your clothes inside. Even though hanging up wet clothes to dry is more efficient than using a dryer, you’re still contributing to your home’s humidity.

If you’re living in a colder climate, hanging up your clothes inside helps if you’re experiencing low humidity. But since we’re focusing on getting rid of high humidity in homes, allowing your clothes to dry inside creates moisture due to the dampness of the clothes.

Instead of these two methods, hanging your clothes outside is the best option. By air drying your clothes outside, you’re allowing the sun to evaporate the moisture instead of in your home.

Cooking Methods
Whether you’re cooking your filet mignon or five-star mac-and-cheese, cooking can attribute to your home’s high humidity levels.

A few cooking methods to avoid on humid days are:
– Boiling water
– Frying
– Indoor grilling
– High-temperature oven cooking

These all contribute to your house’s overall amount of moisture.

A few methods and tricks that reduce the humidity produced are:
– Cooking outside
– Covering pots and pans
– Turning on exhaust fans
– Opening doors and windows

Clean Wet Surfaces

We all have that one family member, roommate, or pet that treats your kitchen or bathroom like a water park. Be sure to clean up any puddles or dripping water they may have left behind. By leaving wet surfaces unattended, you’re adding moisture as well as a chance of mould growing within cracks and crawl spaces.

DIY Methods

CAUTION: Keep any of these methods out of the reach of children. Some may contain chemicals that are harmful when consumed.

Rock Salts
Rock salts were previously utilized for maintaining food’s longevity. When the rock salts are placed in a damp area, they absorb the moisture in the air and transform it into water.

1 bucket with holes
1 bucket without
Rock salts

1. Choose a location to place your DIY dehumidifier (basement, laundry room)
2. Place the bucket with holes inside the solid bucket
3. Place the rock salts in the bucket
4. Check on the bucket daily. If it’s filled with water, drain it.

Non-Dairy Creamer
1 large bowl
1 non-dairy creamer

1. Choose a location to place your DIY dehumidifier (basement, laundry room)
2. Fill the bowl with non-dairy creamer
3. Allow non-dairy creamer to harden
4. Repeat once hardened

Particular Plants
Although there are many plants that can attribute to your high humidity levels, there are a few that absorb moisture and reduce your humidity.

A list of plants that get rid of humidity at home:
– Peace Lily
– Orchids
– Boston Fern
– Cactus
– English Ivy

Not only can these plants help get rid of humidity in homes, but they also contribute to healthy air circulation.

Baking Soda
What can’t baking soda do? On top of all the superpowers baking soda possesses, it can also be used as a DIY dehumidifier. All you need is a bowl filled with baking soda. Place in areas that accumulate an excess amount of moisture like cooking areas, near your shower etc.


Humidity Monitor
Also known as a hygrometer, these handy tools measure your house’s current percentage of humidity. The ideal humidity percentage is 35-45%. A high humidity reaches anywhere above 50% and low humidity reaches anywhere below 30%. Use it to determine what you need to do to achieve the ideal humidity percentage.

Exhaust fans are located in bathrooms and kitchens, carrying humidity outside into the fresh air. Although it may be loud, it’s an effective tool to help dehumidify, allowing you to cook and shower with ease.

Air Conditioner
Installing air conditioning not only creates cool air but also reduces your humidity levels.

The most effective option to get rid of humidity at home is by using a dehumidifier. The functionality of a dehumidifier is to absorb the hot and damp air and transform it into cool and dry air. They’re quiet and energy-efficient, becoming the perfect tool to get rid of humidity in homes.

Trust the Doctor

We’ve provided many solutions to get rid of humidity in homes, some more practical and others more technical.

At Dr HVAC, we are knowledgeable in all things air quality. From air conditioning to dehumidifiers, we demonstrate efficient work and make it easy for our customers to understand their functionality. Request a quote today to put your humidity in check.


Why is My Air Conditioner Freezing Up?

Summer is upon us once again. Even though summer brings plenty of splendor, the heat can be a huge buzz kill when your air conditioner is on the fritz. How can you enjoy yourself when you feel like you’re melting on your couch?

If your air conditioner looks like it just returned from an expedition to the Arctic tundra, your air conditioner is freezing up – and that’s a problem.

So, why is my air conditioner freezing up?

Reasons for a Frozen Air Conditioner

1.Clogged Air Filter

One symptom that causes a majority of air conditioning issues is a dirty air filter. When your air filter isn’t cleaned monthly, dust and dirt can build up and obstruct proper air flow.

In turn, this causes your refrigerant to over-cool and freeze any condensation located on your air conditioner. It can also cause your air conditioner to blow out warm air.

The Cure:

Inspect your air filters monthly. If you see dirt beginning to form, give it a clean. We recommend to clean or replace your filters every 3 months. If the filter looks unrecognizable, the best option is to replace your air filter.

2. Low Refrigerant

Another symptom is low refrigerant levels. This can be one of the key causes for your air conditioner freezing up.

This culprit can be at the center of many issues you’re experiencing with your AC unit. In regards to freezing, a low level of refrigerant will cause the evaporator coils to freeze over.

Your refrigerant can run low when you have a leak, caused by holes or cracks in your coils.

The Cure:

Contact your Dr HVAC professional to make an assessment. If you do suspect a leak, turn off your air conditioner right away.

3. Drainage Issues

The main drainage issues are:

  • Dirt causing a blockage
  • The drain line and pipe are loose.

When it comes to a blockage, the water can be disrupted by dirt buildup and can eventually cause the air conditioner to freeze up.

When your drainage pipes are loose, the water will begin to leak all around the air conditioning system and later freeze over if the leak isn’t cleaned.

The Cure:

During humid days, check on your drainage pipes. Be sure you see water traveling through the drainage system.

If you’re experiencing a clogged drainage pipe, contact us to make an assessment.

4. Thermostat Levels

Blasting your AC can be an easy way to turn your air conditioner into an ice cube.

By frequently placing your thermostat at a low temperature, you’re producing a higher risk of freezing your coils.

The Cure:

Try to avoid overusing or running your air conditioner overnight. Only place your thermostat at low levels during heat waves or overly humid days.

At the end of the day, the more you use your air conditioner, the more likely you’ll run into problems in the future. One of those problems can be your air conditioner freezing up.

Are you experiencing issues with your thermostat? Dr HVAC’s thermostat installation process is a top-notch and efficient experience that will leave you in awe.

5. Fan Malfunction

A faulty fan is another issue that can result in a frozen air conditioner.

Good indicators for a fan malfunction is if you’re fan isn’t moving, propelling slower than usual or generating rattling noises.

Whether the fan has been damaged from overuse or wasn’t properly installed, when it’s not working properly,  condensation will build up over time.

The overage of condensation can build up on your AC coils and result in them freezing.

The Cure:

If the fan is damaged or simply not working, that’s a job for us.

Take Action

Whether it’s an easy fix or a more serious issue, a frozen air conditioner can put a huge dent in your cool, refreshing summer.

The best way to get to the bottom of your air conditioner issue is by contacting Dr HVAC to book a service appointment.

We provide an effortless booking process which can be completed online. Then, we call to confirm your appointment and you’re all set.

Learn About Our Air Conditioner Repair Service

We’ve Received the 2020 Best of HomeStars Award!

We are thrilled to share that we have received a 2020 Best of HomeStars Award in the Heating & Air Conditioning Category for our area!

We’re so excited about this huge honour, particularly because it was made possible by our wonderful customers.

About the Award

HomeStars is a popular online review site that allows homeowners to share their experiences with companies in the home sector. The HomeStars Best of Awards are given out every year to top companies in each industry.

The professionals at HomeStars go through the thousands of companies listed on their website to find those who go above and beyond to be the best and demonstrate honest, consistent, and high-quality service. This is determined based on a company’s star ratings and the reviews from homeowners that have worked with them.

Check out Dr. HVAC’s HomeStars Reviews >

Thank You to Our Customers

It’s really the customers who decide the best companies – and our customers have spoken! We have over 100 reviews from homeowners who have worked with us, and all together we have a 9.6/10 star rating. That is truly amazing!

We appreciate our customers leaving us reviews, both good and bad. Every review gives us the opportunity to learn and grow as a company. They also give us an opportunity to share happy stories with our dedicated staff, many of whom are featured heavily in the reviews.

We want to extend the biggest thank you to all the homeowners who not only have joined the Dr. HVAC family, but took the time to leave us a review on any sort of platform, including Google. It’s a pleasure getting to work with so many homeowners and provide them with our best service.

If you would like to read some of our reviews, we encourage you to visit this page and check out what some of our customers have to say about their Dr. HVAC experience.

Interested in learning more about what Dr. HVAC can do for you?

Learn More About Dr. HVAC

couple sitting on couch smiling

What is the Best Humidity Level in Winter?

The healthy recommended indoor temperature is 18 – 21°C in winter. But what’s the best humidity level?

The Best Humidity Level in Winter Is…

We can’t give you one number, because it depends on the temperature, both inside and outside your home. But we can give you a range: between 30-40%.

It’s really important to adjust this number so you don’t get condensation on your windows…or you could damage your home and be in for some very expensive repairs.

To understand why, you first have to understand that humidity is the percentage of water vapour in the air. Then, you need to learn about condensation.

How Condensation Works…and How It Can Damage Your Home

When warm, moist air meets cold objects you get condensation. Think about enjoying a cold drink outside on a hot summer day. After a few minutes, the glass looks like it’s covered in sweat because the water from the warm air sticks to the glass.

The same thing can happen on the inside surface of your windows on a cold day, if your windows aren’t very energy efficient (think of single pane windows, or dual pane windows in which the seal between the two panes is broken). The windows get cold because they lose heat to the outside environment. The air inside your home is warm, so moisture wants to collect on the cold window.

It’s something you might not see if the temperature is close to zero, but if it drops to a colder temperature, the effect begins, and you can see condensation or (if the window is cold enough) frost.

A Balancing Act

Normally in winter, the air is so much drier inside our homes. That’s because the fire in the furnace dries the air out, literally burning the water vapour right out of it.

That’s why we use a furnace humidifier to prevent our homes from becoming too dry. Air that’s too dry can cause wood to shrink and crack, and can make your family’s eyes, throats, hair and skin dry too.

BUT… when condensation forms, it’s a sign you’re setting the humidity level too high.

How Condensation Leads to Damage

If the humidity builds up too much, condensation on the windows can eventually bead up and roll down until it soaks into the window frame. From there, it can leak into the wall below the window, leading to mold and wood rot. These are expensive problems to fix, especially if they become serious over time.

If you do see condensation on your windows, try adjusting your humidifier so your humidity level is lower. This should fix the problem, and you should see results in a short amount of time.

If it doesn’t, this could mean you have a ventilation problem, and you should contact us about your options.

Why? Most homes now are built to be airtight in the effort to save heat, but an unintended side effect is that humidity can’t escape. A ventilator system that retains heat but allows humidity out and fresh air in might be the right answer. These are called heat recovery ventilators, or HRVs.

These systems work so well that, as of January 2017, the Ontario Building Code requires new homes to have HRVs.

Other Problems with High Humidity Levels

Along with wood rot and mold, high humidity levels can lead to:

  • Respiratory issues
  • Aggravated allergies
  • Problems sleeping

Humidity is something you have to get right: not too much, not too little.

Other Factors That Affect Humidity Levels in Winter

No two families and their homes are the same, and there are a wide variety of factors that will impact your humidity level.

Besides ventilation and your humidifier setting, there’s also:

  • Your insulation: air leaking in and out of your house can change the climate inside.
  • Your daily routine: through activities like showering and cooking, we generate moisture. The more moisture you and your family generate, the higher your home’s humidity level will be.
  • Your climate: this one is pretty self-explanatory. Depending on the season the naturally occurring humidity levels will change. While most homes are well-sealed against outdoor elements, if you have any insulation problems or drafts, air entering your home will impact both the temperature and your humidity levels.

Different people have different comfort levels. While 30-40% is a good baseline for humidity levels in winter, you’ll have to go through a period of adjusting temperatures and your humidifier to find your perfect setting. But once you do, there’s no better feeling!

How Do I Know What My Humidity Level Is?

The best way to determine your home’s humidity level is to use a hygrometer.

A hygrometer (hy·grom·e·ter) is a tool specifically designed to measure the water vapour content of the air.

Hygrometers can be purchased at your local hardware store, and range from $10 and up.

Do You Need a Furnace Humidifier? Come to Us!

Does your home need some help to achieve the right indoor humidity levels?

At Dr. HVAC we carry a range of furnace humidifiers that will work with any make or model of furnace. Our home comfort specialists can take you through each one and find the perfect fit for your home and your budget.

Learn More About Humidifiers


Avoid Costly Mistakes by Working with the Right Installation Company

This winter we had a lot of calls from homeowners in desperate need of furnace repairs. What surprised us was how many of these furnaces were almost new: in fact, many were only 1-2 years old.

The cause? Improper sizing and bad installation. These people used low cost providers who didn’t take the time or have the knowledge to help them get the right furnace: now they’re having to pay for repairs that could have been avoided.

We want to keep this from happening to anyone else who is looking to upgrade. This article will explain the problems with getting the wrong furnace, and how to pick the right installation company the first time.

Low-Cost Providers Don’t Take the Time to Assess Your Needs

Low-cost installation companies will often just replace the old furnace with a new furnace of the same British thermal units (BTUs) and call it a day. But furnaces are becoming more and more efficient: you can’t simply hook up a new furnace without taking into account the following factors:

  • House size
  • Insulation level and quality
  • Furnace efficiency ratings
  • Climate
  • Housing and ductwork layout
  • Sun exposure, and even the number and size of windows

But many low-cost providers will disregard all of that, going off of old, outdated information. The end result of a low-cost installation is a furnace that’s entirely the wrong size for the home.

The Wrong-Sized Furnace Will Wear Out More Quickly

An oversized furnace turns off and on frequently because it runs hotter than it should. This not only heats up your home quickly and far too much, but it causes the furnace’s overheating safety mechanism to kick in, shutting it off. When this happens too much, it will cause your furnace to fail.

When a furnace is too small for a home, it will cause the furnace to run much longer than it should, with your home never quite getting warm enough. The end result is a furnace that becomes so worn out from constant use that it breaks down.

With an improperly-sized furnace, not only will you experience more breakdowns (which, according to Murphy’s Law, will happen on the coldest day of the year), but the lifespan of your furnace will be drastically reduced.

You’ll Spend Hundreds Trying to Make it Work

When we were called to these homes, the story was the same: the original, low-cost provider was making them wait days, even weeks for repairs to the furnaces they had installed. They’d been without heat the entire time.

We helped as quickly as we could with the repairs, but a wrong-sized furnace will stay the wrong size: it’s going to keep wearing out and needing repairs.

More frequent repairs means more money spent on operating your furnace. The wrong furnace size will also cost impact your heating bills: constantly turning off and on or being constantly in use is extremely inefficient.

This means that after getting an upgraded furnace to try and save money on bills and repairs, these homeowners are having to actually spend more on a furnace that won’t last as long.

It Could Have Life-Threatening Consequences

Not only were these homeowners having to spend more money: they also had increased safety risks.

A natural gas furnace creates carbon monoxide, an invisible gas that is normally vented safely out of the home. If something goes wrong, however, it can be deadly. In fact, it kills homeowners each and every year. It was just in March 2018 that carbon monoxide claimed the life of an infant, and it wasn’t that long ago that 3 people in Brampton passed away from a leak.

A furnace that is wearing out often and overheating is at risk of cracks and leaks in the heat exchanger, causing carbon monoxide to enter your home. It’s one of the reasons furnace maintenance is important for everyone, and why you need to have working carbon monoxide detectors in your home.

How Can I Avoid Buyer’s Remorse?

Deadly gas, hundreds in bills and repairs, constant discomfort: does this sound like a nightmare to you? It should. It’s incredibly frustrating and expensive to have a new furnace failing only a short time after buying it. But you can avoid buyer’s remorse by working with the right installation company the first time.

Do Your Research

It can seem a little scary when you don’t know much about furnaces, and there’s a lot of companies out there trying to get you to pick them. But if you do some careful research, you’ll be able to sort out the good companies from the bad.

Online reviews are an excellent way to get honest feedback from other consumers about their experiences with companies. You can read some of ours here >

Ask Questions

The best way to be confident in your decision is by asking questions. A company that evades your questions or gives you vague answers that leave you feeling uninformed won’t be your best option.

When we’re approached about an installation, the first thing we do is send our comfort specialist to the home to take measurements, ask the homeowner thoughtful questions about their heating or cooling needs, and give them a presentation of their options. We encourage all our customers to ask as many questions as they want: we want you to understand your options, and have your concerns addressed.

Ask More Questions During the Installation

A company like ours has excellent installation technicians who answer questions and explain what they’re doing as they do it. That way everyone is on the same page. So don’t be afraid to approach one of us and ask away: we’re happy to answer.

Continue Working with the Installation Company That Knows Your Home

A reliable company won’t just install your furnace or air conditioner and say good day. They’ll be there for any heating and cooling repairs you may need, and help you book your annual maintenance appointments, making sure that everything is ship-shape.

Dr. HVAC actually has a maintenance plan that gives its members special front-of-the line services privileges, so you NEVER have to worry about whether someone is coming to help you. All you have to do is alert us to the problem, and we’ll be there.

Work with Dr. HVAC, the Installation Company That Cares

We don’t want to see anyone stuck with a furnace or air conditioner that doesn’t work. So before you make a decision, ask us for a free, no obligation installation quote. We’ll make sure you’re 100% informed of your options, and provide the quality of service you deserve.

Request a Quote

The importance of Air Quality

Why You Should Pay Attention to Your Home Air Quality

You hear the term pollution, and immediately your thoughts turn to fossil fuel emissions and oil in our oceans, not to mention the litter you see on the sidewalks. Wherever we go, we are breathing in a little something more than oxygen.

It makes sense that you breathe easier when you’re in your own home. After all, you know exactly what’s in the air…right?

Unfortunately, even the air in your home can be riddled with pollutants that, if they remain unchecked, could cause you serious harm.

What Is Indoor Air Pollution, and Why Should I Care?

Image putting a drop of food colouring into a large bowl of water. The food colouring will disperse and you may not even be able to see much of the colour.

Now imagine putting a drop of food colouring into a small glass of water. The colour will be more vibrant because it has less space to disperse in. It is more concentrated.

This is indoor air pollution. Your home is a concentrated space, and the pollution has no where to go. You may not see it or feel it, but it’s there.

The Causes of Indoor Air Pollution

You take care of your home, so how on earth does the air become polluted? Don’t worry, it’s not your fault. Indoor air pollution can be linked to a few key causes.

1. Smoke

As kids, we all heard about the dangers of smoking and secondhand smoke. Tobacco smoke is made up of approximately 4,000 chemicals, including carcinogens, which you breathe in even after the visible smoke has cleared the room.

If you or someone who lives with you smokes inside, the level of pollutants inside your home increases.

2. Mold and Fungi

A home that has its fair share of moisture is more prone to growing mold. Mold negatively affects your home air quality and your health.

The best way to solve this particular pollutant problem is to find the source of the mold and remove it properly.

3. Formaldehyde

You wouldn’t think that your common household products would slowly be leaching pollutants into the air, but they are.

Things like tile grout, paint, and cigarette smoke contain formaldehyde, which disperses through the air in your home. Thanks to your home being so well insulated, it doesn’t always leave.

For more information on formaldehyde, the Government of Canada has created this useful guide on air quality levels.

4. Dust Particles

Perhaps one of the most common indoor pollutants is dust. Now, we know everyone has dust, and that is perfectly normal.

But if you have dust building up in your duct work or air filter, particularly if you’ve recently completed a construction job, you could have higher than normal levels of pollutants. If you notice higher than normal dust levels, book a duct cleaning appointment with us.

5. Radon

Radon is a colourless, odorless, mildly radioactive gas that, if it builds up in your home, can cause major health problems, like lung cancer.

It can enter your house through cracks in the foundation, building joints, and drains.

The best way to determine if radon is present in unhealthy levels in your home is to hire a professional to complete a test and propose the best options for reducing it. If the amount of radon in your is deemed unhealthy, you will need a professional certified under the Canadian National Radon Proficiency Program (C-NRPP) help solve the problem.

Indoor Air Pollution is Dangerous to Your Health

The biggest problem with poor home air quality is the risk it poses to your health. There are some common symptoms that, depending on the state of your individual health and the amount of pollutants, you’ll experience.

These include:

  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Dry or irritated throat, skin, and eyes

If you have a pre-existing breathing or heart condition, indoor air pollution may cause an increase in symptoms.

Keep Track of Your Symptoms, and Talk to Professionals

If you begin experiencing any of the above symptoms, keep track of when they start, if they go away, and your location when you experience any changes. For example, if you start coughing in your basement, but the cough goes away when you’re at the park, there’s a chance your home has high levels of pollutants.

Speak to both your doctor and an inspector if you are concerned about your home air quality.

How to Improve Your Home Air Quality

It’s scary thinking about all the pollutants mixing unseen in your home, affecting your home air quality. Luckily, there are ways to combat the problem.

One of the best ways to combat indoor air pollution is to install an air filtration system. It will pull the air from your ducts, and take it through a stage by stage filtration process before sending it back into your home.

We’ll Help Get Your Air Clean Again

Our team of professional technicians will not only install an air filtration system that works with your home and your needs, but walk you through the process so you know exactly what’s it’s doing and how it’s helping you.

Contact us for a free service quote to start the process of improving your home air quality.

Request a Free Quote

prepare house for vacation

Before You Go On Vacation: Safety Tips for Your Home

Your vacation is fast approaching, and you’re getting more and more excited. We understand completely. But don’t forget that while you’re on vacation, your home needs to be taken care of.

We have some safety tips for your home you should do before you go on vacation.

1. Get Someone to Keep an Eye on Things

You don’t necessarily have to get a house sitter, but having a trusted friend or family member keep an eye on your home is an one of the most important safety measures. They can do little things to make sure your house looks lived in. For example, if you’re going out of town for a long period of time, have someone mow the lawn and collect flyers that may be dropped on your doorstep.

Taking these steps will make sure your house doesn’t look neglected and empty while you’re enjoying your time off.

2. Hold Your Mail

A pile of mail steadily building up is a clear ‘no one is home’ signal. Before you go on vacation, call the post office and ask them to put a hold on your mail.

If you don’t want to ask the post office, ask the person keeping an eye on your home to also collect your mail for you.

3. Put Your Lights On Timers

One of the safety measures we recommend is putting your lights on timers. This will give your home the lived-in look.

If you are able to, find a timer that can connect to your cell phone. This way, no matter where you are (as long as there’s cell reception) you will be able to set the lights to go on and off at different times. This will help discourage anyone who may be watching your house. Lights that go on and off at the same time will work for a few days, but it’s a pretty noticeable pattern if you’re away for any length of time.

4. Set Your Thermostat

You don’t want to waste energy and money went you aren’t home, but it is still a good idea to program your thermostat so that your air conditioner occasionally cycles on and off. This will give the impression that you’re home and it’s business as usual, because people will see or hear your outdoor condenser unit.

5. Check All the Locks

This may seem like the most basic tip, but there are a lot of locks in a home. It is important to go around and check every single one before you go on vacation.

Don’t forget to check all the windows, exterior doors, and your garage if you have one. If you have an sliding doors, place a metal rod or a piece of wood on the track to keep it from sliding open if someone tries.

6. Unplug

This is both a safety tip and an energy saving one. Make sure to unplug your appliances and electronics before you go on vacation. If no one is at home to monitor them, leaving them plugged in increases the risk that something could happen, like an electrical fire.

Unplugging appliances that won’t be in use during your vacation is also a good way to save yourself a little money on your next electricity bill. You don’t want to be paying for energy consumption that no one is using.

7. Security System

Particularly if you are going away for a long period of time, a security system is a great way to protect your home. Systems today can send alerts directly to your cell phone about any unusual activity, including broken windows.

8. Don’t Shout It From the Rooftops

It’s exciting to go on vacation, no matter where you’re going. You naturally want to share that excitement – and possibly brag a bit – to the people you interact with. This isn’t a good idea when it comes to ensuring your home’s safety while you’re gone.

Don’t tell people about your vacation plans unless they are close friends or trustworthy family members. You don’t want to advertise that your home is empty.

Get Your Furnace or Air Conditioner Serviced Before You Go

The last thing you need while you’re on vacation is an unexpected breakdown. You’ll return to an uncomfortable house and an expensive repair bill. By getting your system serviced pre-vacation, you can leave with the peace of mind that everything is working correctly.

Book Your Appointment

Best Exterior Paint Colors

Best Exterior Paint Colors for Selling Your Home

Curb appeal can make a big difference when it’s time to sell your home, and the color of your home has a big influence on its curb appeal. If you’re thinking about painting your home before putting it on the market, choosing the right color is very important.

Colors that Keep Up With the Neighborhood

Consider the colors of the other homes in your neighborhood. In neighborhoods that have unified color schemes, one of the most risky colors that you could choose is one that might clash with other homes in your neighborhood. Colors that disrupt the visual flow of the surroundings can make your property stand out in an unappealing way.

Consider Architectural Style

Certain architectural styles are complimented by specific colors. When choosing colors for a structure of specific style structure, it’s important to prioritize traditionally selected colors. Doing so will underscore your home’s architectural design. For example, if choosing a paint for your desert southwest style home, try to combine neutral earth tones with bold, warm hues like deep red, burnt orange and golden yellow. This color scheme will match the expected colors for the type of home you own.

Historic Homes

For an older home, seek paint colors that are true to the time period when your house was built. Painting your home with a historically correct color scheme will draw attention to your home’s historic value and wow buyers when they come to take a look. For example, if painting a Victorian-era home, seek bright, colorful hues like blues, reds, purples, yellows. These colors will help make your house more authentic.

Consider Neutrals

When in doubt, neutral colors are a safe choice for most home sellers because they’re tasteful, easy on the eyes and they typically match a variety of other homes in the neighborhood. Neutrals that include earth tones like brown and blue gray also have the advantage of blending in with nature, which means your home will fit in better with your landscaping.

Work with Your Agent

If you’re having a hard time trying to pick the right color for your home, talk to your real estate agent. An experienced agent will be able to help you pick a color that will positively impact curb appeal and attract buyers to your property.

hands holding green paper house

9 Money-Saving Spring Home Maintenance Tips

Here’s a topic that everyone will love: spring cleaning! Yay!

Wait, what? Are you not down with that? Oh, come on! While spring home chores are not exciting, doing them — and doing them early — can really help you save money in several ways.

You will save on energy costs, for one thing. You will also avoid bigger problems later on– problems that are costly, stressful, and will take time away from summer fun.

In the following list of things you need to do, we’ll skip washing windows and jump to the really important stuff. We’ll tell you how much each item will cost and how much money or energy you can save by doing the task.

One thing to keep in mind about this spring home checklist is that not all homes are alike. If you own a townhouse condo, for example, you might not be able to get to your roof to inspect the gutters (well, maybe you could, but you’d tick off the neighbours).

Still, we’ve presented the items in the order that you should tackle them, so if something simply doesn’t apply to you, move on to the next item on the list.

1. Repair Your Sump Pump, If Needed

Approximate Cost: About $470 on average.
Potential Savings: Thousands of dollars from water damage.

This spring home chore is best done before all of the snow and ice has disappeared. Making sure your sump pump works properly can prevent bigger issues from arising later.

Sump pump maintenance is something worth hiring a contractor for, particularly if you don’t know what you’re doing. They will fill the sump pit with water to make sure your pump discharges it and that the float works properly. They will then clean the air hole in the sump pump’s discharge pipe and listen for weird noises made by the motor. If required, they can replace the battery on the backup sump pump.

Sometimes, it’s cheaper to replace the sump pump rather than repair it. Either way, there are some signs that you might be looking at a repair job or replacement:

  • The pump is seven years old or older.
  • It runs all the time.
  • It makes bizarre noises.
  • It vibrates a lot when running.
  • It hasn’t run since it last rained.

You may also have problems if:

  • You see rust on the sump pump.
  • You have a lot of moisture in your basement.

That last item on the preceding list is a particularly big problem. Your personal belongings could get damaged, or you may have mould or mildew issues to clean up. All the good reason to make sure your sump pump is in tip-top shape.

2. Check for Leaky Faucets and Pipes

Cost: Free.
Potential Savings: Up to $4,000 or more to replace water-damaged drywall and solve mould problems; costs can be much more if cabinets or flooring gets damaged.

Make sure your pipes and hoses under your kitchen and bathroom sinks are tightly sealed and free of leaks. Check around appliances such as clothes washers and dishwashers for any moisture. Make sure your water heater isn’t showing any signs of leaks or corrosion, too.

Preventing leaks means that you’re less likely to have water damage to the walls of your home. You’ll also prevent mould and mildew from taking root. That will save you money from having to call in a professional to look for and fix the leak.

If you do find a small leak that has caused damage, you’ll also save money, in many cases, by treating it in its early stages. You’ll only be replacing a section of drywall, for instance, rather than an entire wall. Drywall repairs are annoying and messy, folks, so this is something you should get on top of early, rather than later.

3. Seal Air Leaks Inside Your Home

Cost: About $40 to $65 for materials, plus taxes.
Potential Savings: Up to 20 percent of your energy bill.

It’s a good idea to seal up any cracks in your windows and doors, as the Energy Star program says that about 20 to 30 percent of your heated or cooled air is lost to leaks in a typical home. The US government notes you can save between 10 and 20 percent of your energy bill by plugging up leaks.

If you use caulk or weather stripping, you can save as much as $108 or almost three percent of your home’s yearly energy bill.

You can find leaks and drafts for free by using a candle’s flame to see how it acts around your windows and doors. If there’s a draft, the flame will bend towards it. Note that all candles are a fire hazard, so be careful when doing this.

More money can be saved by sealing your ducts with mastic duct sealant that you paint onto ductwork cracks. This keeps air from getting into your attic or crawl spaces, and can save you up to 10 percent of your heating bill in the winter. It’ll also help cool air from escaping during the summer, so your air conditioner won’t work as hard — saving you money on electricity, too.

4. Clean Your Gutters and Downspouts

Cost: Free if you do it yourself, about $150 on average if you hire professionals to do it.
Potential Savings: Thousands in future costs from water damage to roofs, walls and foundation.

woman cleaning guttersEach spring after the snow is gone, you should get rid of leaves and debris that are in your gutters. Plan to clean them more often if your home is in the shade or the Greater Toronto Area experiences more storms than usual.

You can do this yourself, but be sure that you have no problems with getting up on a ladder. Again, you can hire a professional to do this, but you’ll be spending more money with each additional storey they have to check.

If you have longer gutters, you’ll spend additional money to have them cleaned, too. Still, for safety’s sake, you might be better off hiring the pros if you have more than one storey to your home.

For about $50, you can buy a gutter cleaning kit that connects to a leaf blower. If you go this route, be sure to protect yourself from leaves and dirt that will be whipped around by wearing goggles and a dust mask.

Cleaning your gutters can save you a lot of money in home repair costs by preventing:

  • Rotting wood in your home that can invite insects in.
  • Mould.
  • Cracked foundations.
  • Leaky roofs.
  • Slippery sidewalks (water from blocked downspouts can pool and freeze on your walkways during the winter.)
  • Cracked driveways.

5. Look at Your Roof for Damage

Cost: Free to more than $250 for a roof inspection.
Potential Savings: More than $7,000 on average for a new roof – often much more.

While you’re up there on your roof, you should also make sure that everything is in order. Check for warped or missing shingles. Make sure that your shingles are nailed down properly. If you’re scared of getting up on the roof, or can’t get up there because your townhome has a neighbouring unit, you can use a pair of binoculars or a camera lens to take a look.

If you are thinking about paying for some repairs to your roof, many roof inspectors will do a general inspection free of charge. Some inspectors will charge to do an interior inspection from your attic as an extra service.

The cost of not checking your roof? It can run up to tens of thousands of dollars for a new roof due to water damage. So make sure you’ve plugged any leaks before they become a problem.

6. Examine Your Chimney and Foundation

Cost: Free to about $440 or more on average to repair a fireplace.
Potential Savings: Thousands in major repair costs.

You’re outside, and what’s next on your spring home maintenance checklist? Making sure that there are no problems with the chimney and foundation. Does your chimney lean like the Tower of Pisa? Then you have a foundation problem that needs to be addressed.

If there are plants growing between the cracks in your chimney, you have a water leak somewhere. That’s a major problem for next winter to repair now. The water will be acidic, and will rust dampers and damage any wood, including ceilings and floors, around your fireplace.

Carbon monoxide can escape through cracks caused by masonry joints expanding and contracting, and pose a hazard. If you have a wood burning furnace, hot ciders can find their way into these leaks and cracks, and start a house fire.

Examine your foundation for masonry cracks. If you have any, you’ll need to hire professionals to fix it. It’s too complicated for a home fixing job. If you have wood siding, make sure that it isn’t damaged so that insects won’t be attracted to tunnel their way into your house.

7. Attend to Outdoor Watering Systems

Cost: Free to about $230 on average to repair a sprinkler system.
Potential Savings: Hundreds or even thousands in damages to your home’s foundation.

After the threat of frost has passed in May, you can open up the water valves to the outside hose bibs. You should then check for damage to the outside hose faucets caused by winter freezing. Turn on the water and place your thumb over the opening. If the water flow stops, you’ll have an indoor pipe that’s damaged and needs to be replaced. Look at your garden hose for any rot, as well.

If you have an irrigation or water sprinkler system, you should check that it’s working as well. Check to see that:

No pipes have burst when you run water through the system.
Your sprinkler heads aren’t blocked by dirt. Adjust any heads spraying water at your house and windows.
Your timer on a sprinkler zone is working properly.

Calling a professional is best if you don’t know how to maintain your system.

8. Reseal Your Deck

Cost: About $800 on average, including both sealant and stain.
Potential Savings: Hundreds in damages to your home.

If your deck is starting to peel, it’s time to give it a reseal. Sealing your deck helps to protect it against the elements. It also prevents your house from being damaged, because a deck that can’t shed water allows moisture to pool against your home. This welcomes mould and mildew not only to your deck, but to your home’s walls and foundation, as well.

It might also be good to put waterproofing over your sealant and stain for a particularly rainy season. Waterproofing allows moisture to roll off your deck and away from your home. It may be worth the extra investment to protect your humble abode and all of its belongings.

9. Tune-Up Your Air Conditioner

Cost: About $120 to $150 to tune-up your AC.
Potential Savings: Up to $1,800 for major repairs.

There are lots of ways to save on cooling costs this summer. But you ensure you spend as little as possible when you do need your AC, giving your air conditioning system a little TLC will pay off, especially with electricity rates being the way they are.

When is it time to check your air conditioner? After your yard work is all done, so that any leaves or dead grass don’t get into the outdoor unit after you’ve cleaned it up.

Here are some steps to help you get started:

  • Start by making sure branches and debris are clear of the AC. Clear about 60 centimeters or two feet of space around the unit to make sure enough airflow is going in and out of it.
  • Remove the cover from the outside unit.
    You can clean the condenser fins on the outdoor unit with a fine paintbrush. Just be careful that you don’t bend or damage these fins.
  • Change the filter on your system indoors.
  • Check for any leaks in the pipes and hoses indoors and out. Make sure that the drain pans are doing their job and are draining.
  • Check that mice and rodents haven’t made a nest in your AC.

Beyond that, you should hire a professional to give your AC a tune-up. Be sure to call early enough in the season so that you’re not waiting in line when the weather starts to heat up.

With regular maintenance, you’ll be making sure your air conditioner lasts longer and runs more efficiently to save you money in cooling costs. Plus, you’ll save more with regular tune-ups than you would be paying for a major repair.

If you’re ready for that tune-up, you can learn more about our tune up service. If you have any questions, feel free to ask!

In the end, we hope you stay cool, relaxed and not dreading those spring home tasks that you have to do. Think of the potential money you’ll be saving and get to it!

Learn More About AC Maintenance

water softener for softer skin and hair

Do I Really Need a Water Softener?

Testing has shown that the water in the Peel region is considered moderately hard. In the surrounding rural areas where homeowners rely on wells, water may be even harder.

Hard water isn’t dangerous, it just means it contains dissolved minerals like magnesium, manganese and especially calcium. Where hard water becomes a problem is that these minerals will get deposited on anything the water touches, and it can be really tricky to remove, even if you can get at it.

While you may not need a water softener as a matter of survival, many of our customers are delighted with the benefits they get after installing a water softener. Here are some of the benefits you may not have considered.

1. Water Softeners Save Money

Energy Bills

Because calcium doesn’t conduct heat well, hard water scale means your water heater has to work harder to reach the temperature you set. According to a Salt Institute study, up to 62% of the efficiency can be lost when even a modest amount of buildup is coating the heat exchanger. When there’s no coating, the metal heat element has no problem transferring heat to your water.


Over time, hard water scale can cause the inner diameter of your plumbing to become narrower, and can lead to clogs. It can mean your plumbing won’t reach the usual 70 to 80 year lifespan and has to be replaced sooner.

Appliance Purchases

Scale buildup also reduces the lifespan of your water-using appliances, meaning you have to pay to replace them more often. This is for two reasons: as mentioned above scale causes any appliance that heats water to work harder, and also sometimes the coating itself directly interferes with the mechanical operation.

Household Cleaners and Personal Care

Having hard water means you have to spend more on soaps, shampoos, cleaners and detergents because they don’t lather as well in hard water. It also means you have to invest in specialized cleaners that are acidic enough to burn through the alkaline minerals in hard water scale.

2. Water Softeners Save Time

If you’ve ever spent time trying to clean the white ‘scale’ buildup on your shower doors, or on your kettle, coffee machine or faucets, you’ll appreciate a water softener. A softener won’t mean you never have to clean again, but it will mean that your weekly cleaning takes much less time spent on chores and more time for the important things in life.

3. You’ll Love the Improvement in your Skin and Hair

If you find your family is spending way too much money trying expensive hair and skin treatments, the problem might not be the products or yourselves, it may be in the water.

If your appearance is important for your self esteem or to make a good impression at work, it’s something to consider.

Get More from your Home

If you can see white scale buildup on your taps, kettle or other appliances, you have hard water. If your budget allows you to purchase a water softener, we recommend it. If you’re not convinced, check out our pros and cons of water softener.

We carry a wide variety of water softener solutions to treat a single source or your entire home.

Learn more about our water softener services and products

mother and baby playing

3 Ways to Get Natural Allergy Relief

As an allergy sufferer, you probably already clean your home several times a week during allergy season. You close the windows, you vacuum and dust, but you still suffer. It could be pollen, dust, mold, or other irritants, but it seems that there’s no escaping, even with medication.

There may be a better way – a way that’s completely drug free. When you take control of your indoor environment, you can dramatically reduce the level of environmental irritants in your home.

Take Control of Your Indoor Air

Ever since the energy crisis of the 1970’s people have been sealing leaks around doors and windows and installing better insulation. Our homes are closed up tight these days. That’s great for energy efficiency, but the problem is that it creates a dirt trap in your home: once pollutants get in they can recirculates for years. The EPA in the united states estimates that indoor air is almost always 2-5 times more polluted than outdoor air and can be much more.

But there are effective solutions. In the last few years, more and more allergy sufferers have been turning to air quality equipment to continuously treat their air as it flows through their homes.

Here are 3 ways you can improve your indoor air and reduce your allergy and asthma symptoms.

1. Air Filtration

You’ve probably heard about the 1” filters that go on your furnace or air conditioner, but we’re talking about something a lot more comprehensive. Those 1” filters are there to help protect the furnace, not get your air truly clean.

Get HEPA for Allergy Relief

What we’re talking about is whole-home HEPA quality filtration. A HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter removes 99.9% of particles from the air that are as small as 0.3 microns. That’s enough to trap pollen, dust mites, dust mite feces, mold spores, mildew spores, bacteria and some viruses.

Many of the best filtration systems are actually like a HEPA sandwich. They include a pre-filter to trap the larger particles like hair, dander flakes, and most dust particles. This is followed by a HEPA filter. Finally, a carbon filter removes odours and gasses like VOCs (volatile organic compounds).

Also, let’s be clear here. We’re not talking about tiny little desktop units or even larger portable air filters. We’re talking about top-quality solutions that clean the air in your entire house. That means you get the same clean air everywhere in your home.

Air Filter Checklist for Allergy and Asthma Sufferer

When shopping around for an air filter, look for these features:

  1. HEPA-quality filtration or better. Check for particle size as some companies advertise HEPA filters that don’t remove particles down to 0.3 microns.
  2. Powerful airflow: 4-9 changes per hour for the square footage of your home (or more).
  3. If you’re concerned about mould and mildew, you may also want to get a UV lamp purifier. Instead of just trapping particles, it uses ultraviolet radiation to kill them.

Don’t forget to ask your provider how much the replacement filters cost. Allergy and asthma sufferers typically require several replacements per year, depending on the manufacturer and home size. With air filtration systems, you typically get what you pay for.

2. Humidity Control

When it comes to humidity, you need a Goldilocks solution. If your home is too humid you risk helping mold and mildew along by creating moist conditions. If it’s too dry you end up irritating your own bodily tissues like eyes, nose and throat, which can contribute to reactions.

Aim for a humidity level that’s between 35% – 45%. This isn’t usually a challenge in the summer, but in the winter when the furnace is constantly drying out your air you may need to invest in a humidifier. For best results, invest in a steam humidifier, and avoid the old-fashioned drum humidifiers that rely on a pan of standing water. As you can imagine, this pan of water can get pretty disgusting over time.

3. Duct Cleaning

Your home’s air ducts carry air throughout your home, so if they’re dirty they will reduce the effectiveness of your air filtration solution.

You don’t need to go crazy – just get them cleaned every few years or after any renovations that produce a lot of dust. If you move into a new home, this should be one of the first things you do.

The Right Solutions

These are three solutions that will probably help allergy and asthma sufferers the most. But don’t just start throwing money at the problem. There are dozens of different kinds of air filtration systems that are designed to do different things. To make sure you get the right solution for your needs talk to an air quality expert.

Learn more about our air filtration solutions