Monthly Archives: September 2014

Air Pollution and Asthma

People with asthma have good days and bad days. They keep an inhaler handy and try to avoid the allergens that can trigger an attack. After all, asthma can be fatal. But is there more they can do?

We know there are a lot of asthma triggers in our environment:

  • Dust and dust mites
  • VOC’s from paint, varnish, furniture, carpeting
  • Chemicals from cleaning products
  • Pollen
  • Pet dander
  • Perfume
  • Air freshener
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Mold spores

A new study has found that the environment itself could also be a culprit–air pollution can worsen asthma symptoms.

Improving Asthma Symptoms with Lifestyle Changes

Experts from the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology recommend that you analyze your lifestyle in light of exposure to air pollution to improve your asthma symptoms:

Where do you exercise? If you run or bike, see if you can change your usual route to one with less car traffic and exposure to car exhaust. If you bike to work, there might be a better way to get there. Working out indoors exposes you the least.

When do you exercise? Time of day and temperature can make a big difference in how much air pollution is affecting you. Early morning is the best time to work out for air quality. The second best is after sunset.

Monitor the air quality–If you can make choices that keep you indoors on poor air quality days, it might make a big difference to your asthma. Before you decide what to do, check AirNow for real time air quality in your zip code.

Having asthma isn’t easy, but your choices can be the difference between a good day and a bad one.

Dryer Danger: Clean the Dryer Exhaust System Too!

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Dryer fire can happen to anyone and recently it happen to college roommates.  Their clothes dryer caught on fire and the fire spread through the kitchen. Dryer fires can spark in a matter of seconds and become a serious dryer danger to residents. Fortunately for this case, no one was hurt and they were able to move into another unit safely. The moment you begin to use your dryer lint starts to accumulate. Cleaning out the lint trap is not enough.The lint trap does not catch all the lint that builds up. If you pull out the lint trap and look underneath it, you may find lint that has accumulated. Cleaning the vent exhaust system is key in order to avoid a fire.

Most manufacturers recommend an annual cleaning and more than once a year if you use your dryer frequently. Cleaning out the exhaust system is recommended to be part of the whole dryer vent cleaning process. We recommend calling a professional who will not only clean the necessary areas but run a test to reassure that the system is clean. After the system is cleaned by a professional there are several steps you can take that can help prevent a dryer vent fire:

  • Keep the dryer away from being close to the wall. Doing so, will clog the vents.
  • Make sure the lint trap is of good condition and not torn or damaged.
  • Check that the outside area around the vents are not blocked by nests or debris.
  • Keep the area where the clothes dryer free from any items.

These are several key steps that are recommended and can be found in the national fire protection association website. Keep these steps in mind and keep anythings that’s combustible away from the dryer. If you have not clean your dryer exhaust system contact us to set up an appointment and we will be of assistance. In addition, if you would like to check if your dryer is up to code we can test the performance of your dryer exhaust system. Our AirTek team follows the NADCA Dryer Exhaust Duct Performance standard for single and multi family dwellings.

Restaurant kitchen

3 Benefits of Restaurant Hood Cleaning

Those who have worked in the restaurant industry for some time understand the importance of restaurant hood cleaning as an essential aspect of regular maintenance and upkeep. Here are just a few of the main reasons why you should invest in restaurant hood cleaning on a regular basis.

Compliance with National Safety Standards

By investing in duct cleaning and hood cleaning, you can ensure your restaurant is always within compliance of national safety standards. Health inspectors will certainly notice the difference as well as employees, customers and visiting corporate owners. While keeping air vents and duct work clean goes a long way to enhance the comfort of any restaurant, it is important to bear in mind that it’s also the law. By scheduling a professional duct cleaning from time to time, you can rest assured your restaurant will not be cited for a health code violation.

Reduce the Chance of Fire

Dirty restaurant hood vents can become a significant liability, increasing the chances of a fire breaking out. The best air duct cleaning companies are certified by the National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA) along with the National Air Duct Cleaning Association (NADCA). A hot, busy kitchen poses enough of a fire hazard as it is and dirty hood vents only increases the danger. It’s also important to note that air duct and restaurant hood cleaning should only be performed by highly trained professionals. The debris in hood vents and air ducts can pose a serious health risk if inhaled. Also, any loose material that is not properly removed may ignite more easily, posing a very real fire risk.

Improves Indoor Air Quality

When hood vents and air ducts become dirty, indoor air quality begins to decline. When this occurs, various volatile organic compounds and irritants can begin to build up throughout the ventilation system. VOCs, mildew, mold and dust can all contribute to poor indoor air quality for anyone in the restaurant. By investing in hood cleaning you’re sending a clear message to customers and employees that creating a healthy environment is always your priority. Also, by reducing the irritants in your restaurants air, you will likely notice an improvement in employee health, increasing productivity and reducing call-ins due to illness.

If you would like to learn more about restaurant hood cleaning or get a free quote, contact AirTek today to get answers to any questions you may have. With more than 20 years of experience and a long track record of complete customer satisfaction, AirTek is a name you can trust for all your restaurant hood cleaning needs.

 

Increase The Performance Of Your HVAC System

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A clean and energy efficient HVAC system is better than one that operates less efficiently. However, many consumers forget about maintaining their system. According to NADCA, “Proper maintenance and cleaning practices can result in at least 11% energy savings for home and business owners.” Commercial property’s use their air conditioning year round. NADCA also advises consumers to have their systems cleaned at least annually.  HVAC systems will become dirty even in new homes and new buildings and debris can build up over time. When those systems begin to wear down over time they do not work at the greatest performance they were designed. As a result, the systems efficiency decreases.

What does a standard cleaning include in a system?

  • Replacing filter
  • Cleaning Ductwork
  • Ductwork including (blower, coil, head exchange)

We all want to reduce energy consumption at home and if you are a business owner this is also a top priority. Even though summer is over, it is still not late to check up on your HVAC system if it has not been maintained for over a year. If you have seen an increase in complaints about sneezing, coughing, or respiratory problems you might have poor indoor air quality and having a dirty hvac system does not help. A clean system will not only increase the performance of your system but can help the indoor air quality. If you are looking for more information on how to clean your air ducts and looking for a professional duct cleaning service contact AirTek to set up an appointment. To learn more tips follow our social media sites that include Facebook and Twitter.

 

 

Port of LA Fire Dept

Smoke from Fire Near Port of L.A. Puts Kids into Masks

We are used to hearing about wildfires–and the dangerous smoke they add to the air–in our forests, but not so much in the city. Today we are hearing reports of smoke from fire near the Port of Los Angeles which is causing evacuations in the local area, including an elementary school.

Some parents are angry that school was held this morning, as the fire was already burning and smoke from the fire which had spread to creosote-soaked pylons from World War II was already present:

“Earlier in the day, Los Angeles fire officials had recommended that two nearby schools — St. Peter-St. Paul and De La Torre Jr. elementary schools, both in Wilmington — close as a precaution. But L.A. Unified officials kept De La Torre Jr. open, saying in an email message to parents that they had determined toxic smoke from the wharf posed “no threat to the health of students or staff at the school.'” Los Angeles Times, 9/23/2014

The parents felt that the children, especially those with asthma, could have been spared all exposure to the toxic fumes if they hadn’t been at school or had to go in and out again when school was closed.

Inhalation of creosote smoke from fire can cause:

  • Breathing difficulties
  • Disorientation
  • Muscle spasms
  • Skin, nose and eye irritation
  • Lung damage, in large amounts

The health of our community and its children is paramount. It may have been better to cancel a school day today while firefighters dealt with the fire by the Port of Los Angeles. Hopefully all the children were evacuated safely and are doing well.

Air Quality: Unsafe Conditions due to Wildfires

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Wildfires are projected to burn more land as temperatures continue to increase. Unfortunately this past weekend a big event called the IronMan that was going to take placed in Lake Tahoe was canceled due to unsafe conditions. The decision to cancel this event was brought to the attention of the State of California and Placer County health officials. The particulate matter were high and unsafe for athletes and all those who were going to participate in the event. When the air becomes unhealthy due to a wildfire it is sometimes because of fire behavior and wind patterns change significantly. Since wildfire smoke contains particulate matter it is best to cancel events and not be outdoors when there is a wildfire.

Wildfire Smoke Contains Particulate Matter like:

  • Carbon Monoxide
  • Volatile Organic Compounds
  • Organic Compounds that may be carcinogenic

Air Pollution Greatly Affects

  • Those with lung or heart disease
  • Older Adults
  • Children
  • Adults who are active outdoors

A great tip to know whether smoke has reached levels that are unhealthy is if there is less than 5 miles of visibility.Your lungs will also let you know because it feels uncomfortable.Knowing the facts about how wildfires can affects the air quality and indoor air quality can help you avoid any discomfort. Your plans may not go planned when they are outdoors and there is a high risk of fire. Always check airnow.gov for any updates on the air quality. Fortunately,  for the athletes at IronMan were safe from any discomfort that they might have felt if they would have been doing activities outdoors when a near by fire was occurring. If you have any question regarding how to improve your indoor air quality give us a call and we can set up an appointment. The indoor air quality is as important as the air quality outdoors, especially when a wildfire is present.

Restaurant Fires are Preventable–Clean Your Ducts!

Have you ever lived above a restaurant? I have, twice. One was a lovely experience (espresso and cookies downstairs); the other, not so much (dishwashing water backing up into my bathroom sink every Sunday night like clockwork, blech!).

When I was a small child we had a kitchen fire in my house. I mostly remember the firefighters’ muddy footprints and the black walls and ceiling afterwards, but I know my father was hurt trying to put it out himself before it got too big to handle. Restaurant kitchens are even more prone to fire than home kitchens because of the volume of food they put out in a short time.

According to the National Fire Prevention Association, a vast majority of restaurant fires are caused by cooking equipment and a significant amount of damage by those fires flaring up into dirty stove vents and ducts.

How often should commercial kitchen ducts be cleaned?

hoodCleaningChart2

Proper maintenance of kitchen ductwork is essential in preventing fires from doing damage to restaurants and other tenants in a restaurant building.

Don’t take any chances in your restaurant! AirTek’s goal: clean and help protect your valuable asset from the threat of fire in your kitchen exhaust system. We clean the hood, plenum, duct risers, filtration system and filters, grease boxes, kitchen equipment, exhaust fans, washable ceilings, floors, commercial kitchens, ductwork, and rooftop.

We are here to help your restaurant thrive and prosper and prevent the thousands (or tens of thousands) of dollars of damage even a short-lived fire can wreak.

Wendy Stackhouse is the Online Community Manager for AirTek and our parent company, Alliance Environmental Group, which offers residential and commercial cleaning, pest control, demolition, structural pasteurization and many other environmental challenges. She is very happy to blog, post and Tweet for Alliance and AirTek and celebrates her three year anniversary with them on September 29th!

Several Orange County Schools Without Air Conditioners

oc heat wave

Many parts in California have been feeling a heat wave for many days.Summer will be sticking around with us longer than we had expected. During this time it is important to seek areas that will keep you cool and provide air conditioning when possible. Yesterday was the final day of a three-day excessive heat warning issued by the National Weather Service, but several students in Orange County were sitting in classes without an air conditioner.

Sitting in one place without air conditioner for a couple of minutes is uncomfortable when it is hot and humid. This issue brought a lot of attention in finding a long term solution, which is to install air conditioning systems throughout schools in Orange County. The district’s board of trustees has authorized a survey or poll to see what the community think about installing air conditioning systems. I think it is important to invest in the educational school system. Although many schools in the O.C don’t have air conditioner teachers and schools were doing their best to keep cool. The American Environmental Group offers advice on keeping cool:

  • Stay in the shade or in a ventilated, air-conditioned area during the hottest  part of the day.
  • Rest as often as possible.
  • Water, water, water.  Stay hydrated.
  • If you see someone who do not look well seek for help to make sure they are not suffering from heat stroke or heat exhaustion.
  • Cooling centers are open across Southern California for people without air conditioning. In Los Angeles, people are directed to call 311, while people in many other areas are told to call 211.

Keep cool and keep yourself and others hydrated! You may visit the National Weather Service website to be updated on the latest news for the weather and for any new alerts in your area. If you are a resident in Orange County voters will be able to complete a poll about installing air conditioning systems in several schools. Most importantly at this time,keep cool and keep yourself and others hydrated!

National Pollution Prevention Week

It may feel like it’s National Heatwave Week here in Southern California, but it is actually National Pollution Prevention Week. Pollution affects our water, our food supply, our climate and our air quality every week, not just the third week of September.

What can we do to prevent pollution right now–this very day?

Conserve Energy–Emissions from power plants add a huge amount of pollution to the air. The less energy we use, the less pollution we produce as a society. It’s easy to think about how much running the air conditioner at a low temperature costs on our electric bill, but how much is it costing our planet and our health?

Recycle–Plastic does not degrade. Putting in the trash is putting it in a landfill or the ocean. There’s an island of plastic the size of the State of Texas out in the Pacific ocean. Don’t add to it, recycle everything you can.

Use Greener Products–The chemicals you use to clean your house go down the drain and into the environment. Phosphate-free has been the rule for many years, but there are still ingredients in our cleaning products that harm the environment. There are alternatives–give them a try.

Clean up after your dog–Back when “pooper-scooper” laws were new, you really had to think ahead. Now many cities provide waste bags in public spaces so you have no excuse at the park or on the bike path. Be considerate of your neighbors, too, and use biodegradable bags.

Don’t let your car leak fluids–Do you see a patch of oil or other fluid where you typically park your car? Those fluids are going down the storm drains and into the environment. Fix any leaks promptly.

Put in Native Plants–Grass lawns are water hogs. Research the plants native to your area and use them for landscaping to save water and storm runoff.

Go to the Car Wash–Rather than wash the car yourself in the driveway, use a commercial car wash. It’s more expensive in cash up front, but saves lots of water and the environment from soap.

Drive less–Walk, bike, take public transportation. Cars make pollution, full stop.

We’re having a hard time turning off the air conditioning this week, but the weather is supposed to break tonight. I’m going to try turning up the thermostat and make dinner in the crock pot instead of the oven. How about you?

2014 Fall Technical Conference

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One of the best ways to be up to date with the industry and network with other professionals is to attend conferences. The biggest event in the industry is the 2014 Fall Technical Conference provided by the National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA).The Conference is only two days away and will offer the opportunity for individuals to attend training and certification on all aspects of HVAC inspection, maintenance and restoration. The conference will also be focusing on expanding information about the all new Dryer Exhaust Duct Performance standards. During the dates of September 19-20 those who have registered can participate in educational classroom training, general sessions and hands- on training.

During the conference all those who are attending will be able to have the opportunity to see an assortment of products, equipments and services that will be displayed in exhibits. This year, NADCA will also offer the Certified Dryer Exhaust Technician exam on September 18. It is an optional activity hosted by NADCA but managed by the Chimney Safety Institute of America. It is a great opportunity for all those who are involved in the industry to network and become educated on all levels to help not only your employees and company but to educate consumers. Will you be attending the conference this year? Let us know if you will. For more information on the conference visit NADCA’s website and send us a tweet if you are attending the conference!

Source:NADCA

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