Monthly Archives: November 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

From all of us to all of you–have a very happy and safe Thanksgiving!

kitchen exhaust

International Kitchen Exhaust Annual Meeting 2015

Save the date for the International Kitchen Exhaust Cleaning Association (IKECA) on April 22-25, 2015 in Florida. The IKECA 2014 Annual Technical Seminar & Expo in Columbus this year was a big success. According to the organization, they found several highlights such as an energetic trade-show floor, informative vendor demonstrations, and an offsite visit to IKECA Member Company, Hardgrove Fire Protection and Hood Cleaning. If you are part of the kitchen exhaust cleaning exhaust industry and the IAQ industry it is a great opportunity to attend these events to learn more from organization, companies and members. Learning about fire safety as well is important to teach your employees and overall staff.

For the upcoming annual meeting the organization has a lot in store for all those who attend. The IKECA meetings are premier events of the kitchen exhaust cleaning industry and the meetings are intended for manufacturers, kitchen exhaust cleaning specialists, technicians, owners and operators of kitchen exhaust cleaning companies, insurance loss prevention specialists and more personnel who are part of the industry. What you can also expect are standards and code reviews and any updates and conducts for the IKECA exams.

You can learn more about the upcoming annual seminar and technical seminars by visiting the IKECA website. Did you attend the fall technical seminar? If you did we would love to hear about your experience. In addition, if your company needs kitchen hood exhaust cleaning and any hospitality services contact us to set up an appointment.

 

You can Request a Free Estimate, or download a free copy of our Asbestos, Lead Paint & Mold eBook to learn how to mitigate the liability risks associated with common environmental threats found in residential properties.

7 Types of Common Indoor Air Pollutants

There are seven major categories of indoor air pollutants. If you know what they are, you can start reducing your exposure and improve your indoor air quality. Do you know them all?

The Seven Types of Common Indoor Air Pollutants

1. Outdoor pollutants–Factory emissions, car exhaust and particulate matter get indoors and have a hard time getting out again without effort being made. Our homes are very well sealed to conserve energy, but they also keep unwanted pollution inside where we breathe it in for hours out of every day. Make sure your home is well-ventilated and that fans are used when cooking and in the bathroom.

2. Volatile Organic Compounds–Furniture, carpeting, equipment, personal hygiene products, air fresheners and other objects and substances you find in your workplace either are or produce these irritating and sometimes even unhealthy chemicals.

Formaldehyde is only one chemical that is commonly found in furniture, carpeting and adhesives. Paint and varnish also off-gas, sometimes for years. Feeling sick at work? It might be your building.

Choosing greener building materials and decorative items can make a big difference. Ask what adhesives and chemicals are used to make the things you buy at the home improvement and furniture stores.

3. Mold spores–Mold is everywhere and just needs moisture, warmth and food to grow. If you are sensitive to mold, even damp weather makes it hard for you to breathe. Controlling the humidity in your home and fixing leaks promptly are the keys to preventing mold growth.

4. Dust mites–There are tiny bugs living off our dead skin cells anywhere that has stuffing or upholstery. That’s your bed, pillows, couch, office chair, pretty much everywhere. And their feces can be very irritating or even cause asthma attacks.

Wash and dry bedding on hot at least once a week to keep dust mites at bay.

5. Tobacco smoke–Even if you are not a smoker yourself, second-hand smoke can damage your indoor environment. Smoke outdoors and ask your guests to do the same. Or better yet–quit!

6. Germs and bacteria–Did you know that you are most contagious BEFORE you exhibit symptoms of a cold or flu? And the best way to keep your germs to yourself is NOT covering your cough with your hand or sneezing into a tissue. Use your elbow–they are teaching this in kindergarten now, but most of us are not used to it yet.

NOTE: With the Ebola virus in the news, we would like to point out that Ebola is NOT contagious until a patient is showing symptoms. The above tip refers to COLD AND FLU ONLY.

7. Cleaning products–Whether you prefer lemon or pine, Fresh Spring or Mountain Fresh, all of those scents are polluting your indoor air. Try greener options and unscented cleaners to keep your indoor air clean. The same applies to scented candles. You are better off putting a pot of water with cinnamon and other spices to simmer on the back burner of your stove to make your house smell like the holidays!

Many of the products we use every day add contaminants to our indoor air. But you are in some degree of control of all of the categories listed above. What can you do today to improve your indoor air and minimize indoor air pollutants?

home

How To Save on Winterizing Your Home

Do you know how to save on winterizing your home? It is time to prepare for the winter months. Winter is here and its time to prep your family and your home for the cold months ahead. Having a checklist of winter maintenance tasks is important and as we’ve discussed in a previous post,servicing your HVAC system is top on the list. Checking your system will allow your system to properly work efficiently and can save your wallet from costly bills.

Another thing to keep in mind is to prep your home from water damage and mold. Winterizing your home can help your home be ready for the winter. Proper ventilation allows warm air to escape through vents near the top of the attic and cold air through other cents in the home. Plumbing is also a big issue during the winter. Check the pipes of your for any leaks or damaged pipes. Make sure to check the exterior of the walls for any cracks and holes. If there are any, fix them and sealed them off.

Clearing the gutters and drains from debris is another step to winterized your home. The IAQ Network released another educational video that we will like to share That talks more about winterized your home. The video talks about ways to prevent water damage and mold to be a issue in your home. If you have any additional questions or concerns on how to winterized your home or need service for your HVAC system, we can be of assistance. Airtek has helped many achieve a cleaner and healthier environment for 25 years.

 

You can Request a Free Estimate, or download a free copy of our Asbestos, Lead Paint & Mold eBook to learn how to mitigate the liability risks associated with common environmental threats found in residential properties.

Flu virus

Indoor Air and Seasonal Flu

Have you had the flu yet this year? Or a flu shot? There is a really nasty virus going around my circle this last month. I’ve already had it, but I’m still coughing after a month. No fun!

Who is in danger from Seasonal Flu?

Seasonal flu can be deadly to the young, the elderly and the immune compromised. Flu virus spreads from person to person, most often via droplets in the air from a sneeze or cough or droplets that have landed on a non-porous surface which can survive up to 24 hours.

How can you protect yourself from getting the Flu from your Indoor Air?

The Indoor Air Quality Association has put out an informative video about Seasonal Flu and we would like to share it with you.

How to avoid coming down with Seasonal Flu this year?

There is no sure way, but here are some tips:

    • Wash your hands. A lot.
    • Don’t rely on hand sanitizer, use soap and water!
    • Get out of the habit of touching your nose and eyes. Your mucous membranes are a virus’s best route to the rest of your body.
    • If someone is sick at home, be extra vigilant about keeping surfaces, your hands and their hands clean. You might be able to avoid infection.
    • If your doctor recommends it, get a flu shot. It may or may not protect you against the strain of flu you encounter, but it is definitely better than nothing.
    • Make sure your home is well-ventilated. Those droplets in the air are less likely to get into your body if they are quickly moved outside.

We hope you miss the flu this year! I wish I could get rid of the last of it myself!

HVAC Design in the Health Care Industry

health care

  An interesting article about building safe and effective health care facilities by the Consulting Specifying Engineer website. Part of designing a safe and effective health care facility is to design a successful HVAC system to create a healthy and comfortable environment. A questionnaire was done by the website and many project managers, electricians, engineers and director of health care answers questions on HVAC design. They also talk about their experiences with HVAC systems. One of the important subjects they talked about is how health care facilities can achieve optimal HVAC and air quality.

Many had dealt with indoor air quality challenges and each had different ways of resolving it. One of the senior mechanical engineers rearrange the air devices and increased the exhaust air quantity and doing so, was able to improve air flow and odors were not present in the area. Another engineer was facing with a surgical room that needed the temperature of the room to be 68F and humidity levels to be 50%. Different equipment was used to maintain the area clean and the temperature and humidity levels to follow the correct requirements.

A mechanical and project manager each said that understanding the life safety plans is important in determining smoke and fire damper locations. In previous we have talked about how important it is to regularly maintain these areas. Understanding the peak of hours of operation and how many people are in the building during the corse of the day can help those involved with the design of the systems and create a regular air flow through out the building. To read more about the article, click here. If you need maintenance for the health care industry, contact your local AirTek office to set up an appointment.

Gym

Indoor Air Quality at the Gym

You go to the gym to get healthier, right? And when you are exercising you get your heart and respiration rate up pretty high, or you should. You are breathing in a lot of whatever is in the air at your gym–is the indoor air quality at your gym healthy?

What is in the Air at the Gym?

According to a recently released study done by the University of Lisbon in Portugal and the Technical University of Delft in Holland the air at your gym may be pretty bad. There are many common air pollutants that could be present.

The researchers measured two sizes of particulates, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde and volatile organic compounds while people were in the gyms exercising.

The levels of carbon dioxide, formaldehyde and volatile organic compounds were “exceeding the national limit values.” Levels of these pollutants increased “when the spaces were occupied during classes.” Abstract, Science Direct.

“Results indicated that it is crucial to optimize the HVAC systems, ventilation rates and occupants behavior in order to reduce the exposure to air pollutants in fitness centers and to potentiate the benefits of sport activities.”

What does that mean about Indoor Air Quality?

So in layman’s terms, it is important that gyms and fitness centers keep their indoor air quality healthy by proper maintenance of their ventilation systems–and AirTek can help with that!

Do you go to the gym regularly? Do you ever feel sick after a class or crummy after a workout? It may be time to ask the management about their ventilation, how often their HVAC systems are cleaned and maintained, and how they are optimizing their indoor air quality the next time you go.

If your gym or fitness center does not maintain their HVAC system on a regular schedule, have them contact AirTek. It’s hard enough to maintain a great fitness level without breathing in air pollution while you exercise. Don’t let all that good exercise go to waste!

Clear the Air for the Winter

winter

It is beginning to get chilly throughout this month and we begin to turn on our heating systems. However, mold and allergens can get trapped in the vents over the summer. Right now is one of the best times to service your system if you haven’t so. According to the Air Duct Cleaners Association, the average household collects 40 pounds of dirt, dust and allergens in its air ducts each year.  Over time the build up of mold, dust and debris can affect your health and your wallet. The system does not work the same when the system has not been maintained regularly and even worse the air travels through your house contaminating your air. Your system in addition works harder to maintain the air circulating throughout the home.

PREP YOUR HVAC SYSTEM FOR WINTER

  • Replace filter every month for optimal efficiency.
  • Update your thermostat so you can program it when to automatically be turned on and off.
  • Inspect your system for any cracks, dents or disconnected parts.
  • Make sure the HVAC contractor checks your system’s belts, motors, gas pressure, and motor.

These simple steps can help you prep your system for the winter. Proper maintenance and inspection is the best way to keep your HVAC system working at it’s best. Your HVAC contractor can further give you additional tips on how to help you save money and keep your environment comfortable this winter.Hiring a professional to assist you in maintaining your HVAC system will follows strict procedures to clean your system and also understands the importance of a healthy environment. AirTek technicians are certified by the National Air Duct Cleaning Association and have over 25 years of experience in making homes safer, cleaner and better for your breathing.

The Ins and Outs of Restaurant Vent Hood Cleaning

While it may seem to be an item of minor consequence to those outside the restaurant industry, keeping the vent hoods of a restaurant clean is actually a quite important task from a variety of standpoints. With this thought in mind, we thought you might like to know the “ins and outs” of properly dealing with your restaurant’s vent hood cleaning. Here they are:

1. First and foremost, clean hoods are necessary to keep the general environment of your restaurant as appealing as possible. Vent hoods remove a variety of adulterants from the ambient air including smoke, particulate matter, grease-laden smells and other offensive odors that would otherwise contaminate your reception, dining and public areas. From a purely customer service aspect, vent hoods are an essential guard against the smells – intoxicating or otherwise – coming from your kitchen and affecting the guest experience.

2. Second, the the Federal and state governments have a whole host of rules – and accompanying fines! – that have to do with the proper cleaning of vent hoods and their proper functioning to limit them from becoming fire hazards. It is simply common sense for a restaurant owner to comply with these regulations before an inspector notices otherwise. The result is a safer environment for everyone – staff, customers and other building occupants.

3. Third, from a cost-benefit perspective, it is clearly in the interest of a business owner to keep her or his vent hood equipment clean. Not only does it prolong the useful working lifetime, but it also aids in keeping other equipment working more efficiently and for a longer period of time.

4. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, from a legal liability standpoint, keeping your vent hoods clean and operating properly prevents a lot of accidents and lawsuits from happening in the first place. As the old adage states, “without smoke, there is no fire.” In this particular case, a lack of noticeable fumes means a lot less aggravation when it comes to customers, neighbors and building inspectors finding reason to fault your way of doing business.

As you can see, there are a host of issues that must be attended to in order to keep your vent hoods clean and operating at an optimal level. And it’s not really as simple as it seems even for a seasoned – if you will pardon the pun – restaurant owner. For more information on commercial vent hood cleaning and other restaurant related maintenance services, please contact us today for a free estimate. You can reach us directly at 877.858.6213.

Make a Healthy Indoor Environment Your Priority

indoor environment

More and more indoor environments are suffering with poor indoor air quality. Modern homes are well insulated but can suffer air pollution. Homes are being built tighter to decrease energy costs. However, poor ventilation leads to an increased in mold, bacteria, viruses, smoke and gases that can in the long run affect your personal health. Pollutants that can be found in your home can cause poor indoor air quality in your indoor environments. Home Ventilation plays an important part in keeping your environment comfortable at all time. The air we breathe indoors is circulated to maintain proper indoor conditions. However, when not maintained fresh air levels decrease. There are several ways that you can ventilate your home.

Whether it is by natural ventilation, infiltration or mechanical ventilation, an effective ventilation system will ensure air quality in your home or business is clean and free of contaminants that produce unclean air. The Indoor Air Quality Association shares a video that talks more about home ventilation and indoor air quality.

 

If you have any questions regarding your HVAC system, we service many areas in California and industries. Contact us with any of your concerns and questions and we will be of assistance. AirTek strives in creating cleaner, healthier and more energy efficient indoor environments and have been doing so for over 25 years.

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