All posts by darwyn mcdowell

About darwyn mcdowell

Darwyn has been involved with Power Vac since 1989. He has an extensive marketing background in the HVAC Remediation industry . He holds his ASCS and VSMR through NADCA. Connect with Darwyn at Google +

Improve the indoor air quality in your home

 indoor air quality info graphic

We tend to think of air pollution as something outside — smog, ozone, or haze hanging in the air, especially in summer. But the truth is, the air inside homes, offices, and other buildings can be more polluted than the air outside.

Changing your HVAC air filter regularly is an important first step, but consider the indoor air quality impacts of the products you buy. Everything from cleaning products to furniture, rugs, and carpets can release volatile organic compounds. Furnaces and stoves pollute the air with carbon monoxide. Dust and pet dander can collect in all sort of places. At a minimum, a periodic airing out of your home will help clear some of these irritants and health hazards out.

Spend some time with the information below, and then give some thought to what you’re already doing to keep clean air in your home. What more could you be doing? Share your thoughts, and tell us what you do to make sure that your family is breathing indoor air that’s as clean as possible.


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Solve your airflow problems before the dog days of summer

duct cleaning

5 Common Steps To Help Solve Poor Air Flow Problems

Proper air flow is one of the most critical things your air conditioner needs to do its job properly. Even if the system is properly removing heat from the air that flows through the unit, it doesn’t help your comfort if the conditioned air doesn’t make it to the space that needs heated or cooled.
We are entering the dog days of summer, and already we’ve seen high humidity & sweltering 90+ degree temperatures. It’ times like these when people everywhere are either thankful for their air conditioners or are sweating and sleeping in the basement because their air conditioners don’t work! Weak airflow is one of the most annoying air conditioner problems there is, not only because it’s uncomfortable but also because you can’t immediately be sure of what’ wrong with it. There are a number of reasons why you might be experiencing weak airflow, some are easy fixes, some require the help of a service professional.

Dirty Fan Blower

Within the furnace cabinet there is a fan-blower which distributes the air. Overtime dust and debris builds on the fan blower blades reducing its ability to grab and distribute the air. By routinely cleaning the furnace you can improve your homes airflow.

Distance from the Furnace is too long

As the HVAC system is in operation, it blows and draws air through a series of air ducts to condition each space of the home. While there is a strong force of air pressure as the air is blown from the HVAC unit , the strength of the airflow dissipates as it reaches the furthest points of the ventilation system. More often than not this airflow problem relates to poor design in the architecture of the home or poor installation practices of the HVAC system. Sometimes modifications can be made to the ventilation system to provide a greater volume of air with less restriction. A booster fan is a good solution if you have a heating run that’s too long. A booster fan will give you that extra push so the air can get to where it needs to go.

Lack of Return Air

Proper airflow within a home is always related to the circulation of air flow. Your home relies on supply air vents which blow conditioned air into the home, and return air vents which draw the air back to the furnace or air conditioner. A lack of return air vents decreases the circulation of airflow within a home, adding additional return vents in areas with poor airflow will help improve a homes air circulation.

Plugged AC Coil

Regardless of it being the heating season or cooling season, air still has to be able to blow through the coil. If the coil gets dirty , it restricts air greatly. A regular cleaning of the evaporator coils on an regular basis can improve your homes airflow.

Seal up Ducts

Leaking air ducts are more common than you might think, in fact, they’re among the leading causes of weak airflow! If you think you have leaky ducts, shine a flashlight in one of your vents and see if you can see any light coming through. If you can, call a Duct Sealing contractor to come out and seal them up, duct sealing will improve your air conditioner airflow, making you more comfortable and saving you $$$ on your heating and cooling bills!

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It’s Nifty Being Fifty

duct cleaning









50 years old or 18,250 days young!

50 years ago Power Vac began an epic journey that would ultimately bring our company to the forefront of the Duct Cleaning Industry.
We are humbled as we look back at the journey we have taken. At the same time, we realize how profoundly indebted we are to our loyal customers and partners . We could not have reached this important milestone without your commitment to the company. So we are honored to celebrate this anniversary with you .

We are grateful for the opportunity to serve and we look forward to serving customers for the next 50 years and beyond.

Thank You

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Air Conditioner Freezing Up

Air Conditioner is Freezing

Freezing of your AC coil occurs when the refrigerant inside a central air conditioning unit falls below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, Canadians would measure it as 0 degrees Celcius. What is actually happening is the humidity that surrounds the coils is freezing up. The coils become encased in ice and the air conditioning unit fails to cool the home properly. Once you’ve thawed the coils, you have several options before calling a repair person to fix the unit. Just be sure to turn off the air conditioner first. Running the unit with the coils iced over can strain the compressor and cause major damage to the unit.

Usually Coils freezing up means low air flow or a slight undercharge of refrigerant. Low air flow is the most common. It could be a result of a dirty filter, dirty ductwork, damaged evaporator coil, restrictions in the ductwork or even a mismatched system where the outside unit is to large for the evaporator coil inside the furnace.

Thawing the AC Coil

Don’t be tempted to help the thawing process by removing chunks of ice by hand, resist that temptation. The coils and cooling fins in the evaporator portion of the central air conditioner can be easily damaged. Ice clings tightly to these components, and forcefully removing it can bend fins or rupture the coolant lines. It is a good idea to turn off the power to the the air conditioner and the fan on the furance. You do not want water to drip down into the furnace and possibly damage electrical component boards inside the furane . Thawing may still take several hours.

Possible Quick Fixes

One of the first things to check is the filter. If they are dirty or clogged, replace them with clean ones. Another cause of restricted airflow occurs when too many supply registers are closed. Check all the rooms in the house and make sure the supply registers are open. Clogged and dirty cooling fins in the frame that surrounds the coils might strain the system enough to cause icing. If outside air temperatures fall below 60 degrees Fahrenheit, 16 degrees Celsius most central air conditioners do not work properly. Consider shutting the system off when temperatures fall below 60 degrees.

Topping Up Refrigerant

This is not a Do It Your Self Job. Call your local qualified service technician to check and refill refrigerant. Air conditioning repair people understand how to work with the pressurized refrigerant system and will be able to quickly determine which type of refrigerant your system needs.


Cleaning The Ductwork

Frequently when Power Vac is cleaning ductwork we do find blockages in the evaporator coils inside the furnace. Blocked coils are a result of the fins of the evaporator coil getting plugged up . The close spacing of the aluminum fins on an evaporator coil makes it easy for dirt, dust and other debris to stick. Lodged debris causes blockages, affecting the overall performance and efficiency of your air conditioning. Air flow across the coil becomes blocked, degrading heat transfer. Blockages come in the form of build-up from skin cells, fabric fibers, pet hair, grass clippings, tobacco smoke, pollen, mud, rust and bacteria.


Dirty AC Coil

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House Dust

House Dust

We Vacuum, we dust but despite our best efforts dust always seems to come back. Dust happens. It’s a universal truth that as soon as you dust your furniture, more dust will collect. But, that doesn’t mean that the battle has to end there. Dust can be – and should be – fought. Why? Dust creates lots of problems, from eye irritation to lingering colds and allergies to that annoying itchy or runny nose. More importantly, it makes a house dirty and that attracts more dust. Not only that, but with newer construction practices  our homes have  become  more air tight – which can lead to indoor air quality concerns.

Some rooms have more dust than others too. The bedroom, with all its fabric in the mattress, pillows, bedding, curtains, blinds, and carpeting is one giant dust magnet, making dusting in the bedroom especially important. Have you ever noticed that when you go to bed, your nose suddenly gets stuffy and you reach for the breathing strips or antihistamine . A lot of people have this same “problem.” But the problem probably isn’t your sinuses, it’s house  dust.

What is Dust ? – Dustology 101

Dust is a hodgepodge of all sorts of things . As a general rule, the majority of household dust — about 60% — comes from outside, through windows, doors, vents and, significantly, on the soles of your shoes. Smaller dust particles — from 28 to 49 microns, or thousandths of a millimeter — tend to stay on your shoes. The rest is shaken off inside.

Dust is made up of a variety of things from blowing dirt, bacteria, pollen, pollutants, molds, animal dander, hair, decomposing insects, fibers, dryer lint, insulation, dust mites and their excrement, and mostly, skin flakes that humans shed.

Where does dust come from?

It comes from a variety of sources including plants, roads, wind, clothes dryers, electronics, attics, basements, air conditioning and heating ducts and vents, pets, pollen, insects, carpeting, knick knacks. If you live in the south, coastal states, desert, or Southwest, you have more than your fair share of dust due to excess pollen, windy, and dry conditions. But not matter where you live you can not hide from dust.

How to cut down on house dust

Keeping your home dust free is one thing, keeping it dusty free is quite another. Dust seems to accumulate so quickly and keeping on top of it can be a losing battle.   There are some great ways to combat the piling particulate  blues.  The following useful steps will go along way in battling the war on dust!

Step 1

Ask people to remove their shoes before entering your home. Dust is tracked in on the bottom of shoes.

Step 2

Use quality filters in your furnace and air conditioner. Cheap fiberglass filters don’t prevent fine particles of dust from passing through, allowing dust to scatter throughout your home See filter info  Pleated air filters catch more dust particles, and some are electrostatically charged to attract pollen and other allergens. Make sure the filter is ranked for the blower capacity of your system. Use the air conditioner to reduce humidity; dust mites love a moist environment.

Step 3

Humidify your home if you live in a dry area. Dry air creates static electricity, which attracts dust. Try to maintain a humidity level of 40 to 50 percent. Purchase a whole-home humidifier that attaches to the furnace, or use a portable humidifier in your home. For more information see our humidier blog

Step 4

Wipe dust with a cleaning rag or a microfiber duster, rather than using a feather duster. Feather dusters scatter dust, which sends it into the air, just to settle again in your home. Microfiber cloths attract and hold dust.


Step 5

Clean your air vents. Hire a Nadca Certified duct cleaning company to clean out your heating and cooling vents to remove any accumulated dust.

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Floods and your HVAC system




Floods can affect your HVAC system

Flooding can happen at any time of the year. Whether there is a heavy rain fall, snow has melted causing ice damming or a pipe bursts within your home. Considering the cleanliness of the HVAC system after a flood should be a high priority because that system will be circulating the conditioned air throughout the structure. If a dirty HVAC system has been contaminated by water and humidity, microorganisms have the potential to grow and multiply as soon as 48 hours after contamination.

All surfaces of an HVAC system and all its components that were submerged during a flood are potential reservoirs for dirt, debris, and microorganisms, including bacteria and mold. In addition, moisture can collect in areas of HVAC system components that were not submerged (e.g., air supply ducts), and this also can lead to the growth of microorganisms. Therefore, all flood water‐contaminated components of the HVAC system should be thoroughly inspected, cleaned of dirt and debris by a professional duct cleaning constractor . If HVAC systems are not properly cleaned and disinfected to prevent the dissemination of mold and other debris throughout a building, bioaerosols of mold and other microorganisms might exists and can cause a variety of adverse health effects to the building’s occupants. To prevent cross contamination during remedial activities, the  HVAC system should be shut down .

Call Power Vac if you suspect that there may be microbial growth within your HVAC system, or if your HVAC system was compromised during or after a flood. We have 50 years experience helping Canadians with their IAQ and dust concerns






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Is Window Condensation a Problem

condensation on the window

What Is Condensation?

Is your Window glass “sweating” in the winter . Is water beading or ice forming on the inside surface of your windows?

Don’t be too quick to blame the windows! There’s a good chance that what you are seeing is condensation,
a sign that there is excess humidity in your home. Humidity – water vapor mixed with air – is drawn to
the coolest surfaces, such as your window. Condensation problems arise because air can hold only a limited
amount of water vapor at any given temperature. Cold air can hold less water than warm air.

Cool air cannot hold as much moisture as warm air, so windows and doors often collect this moisture and make it visible.

Sources of moisture

The principal sources of water vapor in today’s homes vary with lifestyles but the following is just a small list
of normal daily activities and the water vapor they introduce per day.

Cooking (three meals a day) 3-4 lbs
Dishwashing 1-2 lbs
Shower or Bath 1-2 lbs
Weekly Laundry 30 lbs
Occupancy (family of four) 12 – 15 lbs


What Can we do to reduce moisture in our  home

More and more of us are living in “air tight” homes, they are more economical to heat and cool and easier to keep clean but we
have created another problem and that is lack of air exchange and moisture traps. Since the moisture levels are not able to
escape we must take steps to reduce humidity in our home

  1. Reduce Moisture Sources
  • Stop or severely limit the use of humidifiers, or adjust them to the appropriate setting
  • Run a dehumidifier if needed.
  • Limit plants, aquariums, and pets. If you have a lot of  plants, don’t overwater them and you should
    put them in a sunny area.
  • Make sure that your clothes dryer is properly vented outside.
  • Malfunctioning gas appliances can deliver excessive water vapor into the air along with more dangerous
    contaminants. So have your appliances check regularly
  • Eliminate plumbing leaks.
  • Don’t air-dry clothes indoors.
  1. Increase Ventilation
  • Open your windows everyday  for a few minutes , particularly after steam-producing activities
    such as showering/bathing, laundry, and cooking. You will only loose a small amount of heat
  • Run kitchen, bathroom, and other fans longer and more often.
  • Improve or add a ventilation system in your home through attic, roof and soffit venting.
  • Open blinds and drapes. Heavy window coverings restrict the flow of warm air over the interior glass surface.
  • Operate ceiling fans to improve air circulation in your home


In most cases you can reduce window condensation by addressing  high humidity and condensation through
reducing the amount of humidity generated in your home. By providing your home with the proper level of humidity,
you are on your way to providing  healthier  Indoor Air Quality in your home.

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cleaning ductwork after renovations

Air Duct Cleaning After Renovations

cleaning ductwork after renovations



Should you clean your ductwork after a renovation

Should you invest your money in Air Duct Cleaning after completing your home renovation or home remodeling project? Customers frequently ask this question after a renovation project (bathroom remodel, kitchen remodel, finishing the basement ) or any other extensive remodel project where a lot of dust has been created. Power Vac always recommends it, because it can only help improve the home’s air quality, especially after a large renovation project that can create a lot of construction dust. If you suffer from allergies, it should be strongly considered
If you are moving into a newly constructed house, and have doubts about the diligence of the construction crew, duct cleaning can be useful. Drywall dust, fiberglass pieces, and sawdust have no place in ducts. Duct cleaning will also catch the odd occurrence where lunch bags or soft drink cans have fallen or been swept into the  duct system. For similar reasons, duct cleaning may be advisable for older houses following large renovation projects.

It’s always a good idea to have your ducts cleaned after a major renovation . Ripping down cabinets, tearing up old flooring, installing new electrical and drywall…it all creates a lot of nuisance dust and debris. Even when you cover the vents, bits and pieces of construction material can make their way into the ductwork.

Power Vac recommends that the homeowners inspect their air ducts to see if they look dirty. This is just a basic test, but if the air ducts in your home look dirty, you should call a reputable air duct cleaning company like Power Vac . Do your homework when deciding on a duct cleaning contractor. Make sure that that you check out the air duct cleaning company to ensure that they have the right equipment and have a solid reputation in the industry . Look for a NADCA Certified contractor. NADCA members work in accordance with the Association’s ACR Standard, which provides guidance on the proper and safe techniques required during HVAC Inspection, Maintenance and Restoration procedures.

The Benefits of Duct Cleaning after renovations

  • The first major reason a homeowner should invest in a Professional Duct Cleaning service, is that it improves Indoor air quality the home, which is great for people  suffering from allergies and asthma.
  • The second major benefit of Air Duct Cleaning after a remodel project is that air duct cleaning removes, dust, chemicals and contaminants from the HVAC System.
  • The third major benefit of Air Duct Cleaning after a remodel project is the impact on energy savings for the home. When your HVAC is clean, the system does not have to work as hard to maintain a room’s temperature, this requires less energy use, resulting in energy cost savings.

“According to the U.S. Department of Energy, 25 to 40 percent of the energy used for heating or cooling a home is wasted. When contaminants are in the heating and cooling system, it can shorten the life of your system by requiring it to work harder, even with using filters”

If you are in the pre planning stages of your renovation project, give us a call . We would be happy to provide you with an estimate that you can carry in your renovation budget. If you are finished your renovation and the dust levels are unmanageable we would be happy to schedule a service call. Remember when dust is a dirty word, you need Power Vac today!!!

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Pet Dander in the Ductwork

duct cleaning toronto

Pet Hair in the Duct work can create Indoor Air Quality Issues

Many people young and old suffer from respiratory illnesses such as allergies or asthma. Asthama today is a common problem  It is also  estimated that 10 to 15 percent of this number overall is allergic to dog or cat dander. Most of us have our furry friends living indoors, this is extremely significant to the air quality of your home. Pet dander accumulates inside of your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system , forcing the allergens to be released throughout your household when the furnace cycles. This in turn causes the air quality in your home to deteriorate.

Contrary to popular belief, pet dander is not animal hair. Dander is tiny flakes of skin, and is produced by each and every animal. This is the part that most humans are allergic to.

It is very easy to remove pet dander from your cat or dog. Regular bathing and brushing are all that is needed to do away with those pesky dander flakes.

There are a few things that you can do to help improve the quality of air in your home, and get rid of pet dander and irritating allergens. Many find it takes a combination of these methods to eradicate the problem permanently. It may take a few attempts before the situation is finally resolved.

Hepa Air Cleaners Remove Pet Dander from your environment

Adding HEPA air cleaners to your HVAC system can assist in eliminating allergens from the air. If you have a high efficiency furnace you should set your fan to auto or on, this will allow the fan to move air continuously, cleaning your air and removing viruses, dander, and bacteria.

Cleaning Your Forced Air System in an ideal way of removing Pet Hair and Dander

Pet hair , dust ,lint and other debris tend to buildup on furnace motors and fans. Once these contaminates accumulate, it drastically decreases the air quality in your home. It is necessary to the effectiveness of your furnace system, and helps to properly heat and cool the home and prevent expensive repairs.


Cleaning Ducts Can Help Rid of Pet Hair &  Allergens and Help Improve Air Quality in Your Home

As we operate the forced air system in our home, animal dander and other debris become lodged in the duct work and HVAC components . As these contaminates accumulate over time, your duct work is an optimum breeding ground for mold, bacteria  and fungus. Each time the system is switched on, these spores are ejected out and circulated through your home. Those who suffer from respiratory problems are especially prone to the effect of these contaminates.

By doing duct cleaning in your home every  3 to 5, your household’s IAQ can be greatly  improved. Cleaning the duct work can also help lessen the HVAC system operation time, resulting in lower heating bills, and restore the overall capacity of the system

duct cleaning


Here is a picture taken from inside the ductwork.  This is a typical example of pet hair and pet dander

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Do I Need A Furnace Humidifier

Furnace Humidifiers

A Furnace Humidifier should be a required component of your heading system.  A  humidifier installed directly into your cooling and
heating system will introduces humidity in the form of water vapor into the air that travels through heating ducts. The level of humidity
is then monitored and controlled by your thermostat, just like the temperature is, and an even level of moisture can be released into your
house all year long.

The Advantages of  a Furnace Humidifier Include:

  • Reduced static electricity
  • No more dried out nasal passages
  • Reduced susceptibility to colds and flu viruses
  • Fewer respiratory-related problems
  • Financial benefits (reduced heating costs)
  • Houseplants survive longer
  • Hardwood floors crack less


What To Know Before you Buy 

Compare Different Types of Units

Furnace humidifiers come in three basic designs, with each offering its own set of benefits and drawbacks. Drum-style units are the most
affordable, but also require the most maintenance according to Flow-thru models help to prohibit mold growth,
but require a built-in floor drain for proper drainage. Spray mist humidifiers are efficient for use with oil or gas-powered
furnaces, but are not intended for use in electric furnaces.

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