Cleaning With Light

If you’ve spent any time under the sun on a long, hot, clear day, you’ve probably gotten a wicked sun burn. I may have overcooked myself a bit during our nice Easter weekend too. This brings up an interesting thought: what happens to airborne pathogens exposed to the same light? A sunburn is the result of millions of skin cells being irradiated by UV Radiation. Sunlight contains UV, Ultra-Violet, which can cause skin cancer in high enough exposures. It’s not dangerous in the same way X-Rays are, those would be lethal with a few hours of exposure. UV is weaker, but it still wreaks havoc on small cells. Messing With Molecules Let’s start out with some basic physics. We’re going to ignore the whole “particles & waves” thing for now and just say that all light is made of particles called Photons. When you turn on a light, it spews out photons, that bounce off the wall, lose some energy, strike your eye, and then you perceive the ‘color’ of that photon. What happens is the photon rams a cell in your eye with a certain amount of force, it’s energy, and that tells you it’s ‘color’. To the 3 physicists reading this, shut up. I know it’s more complicated. The problem happens when we give that photon more speed, more energy. Eventually, the photon moves too fast for our eyes to detect. It’s not visible light any more. It […]

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Indoor Air Quality

Heating your facility is important. It’s probably in the top ten most essential things to keep your workers and customers happy. It’s not the only thing. Warm air is useless if people can’t stand to breathe it in. Over time, air will get stale and become unpleasant to breathe. We need to not only heat the air, but clean it. What Is Stale Air? The air around you isn’t pure (unless you’re in a hyperbaric chamber, but that’s an entirely different can of worms). More accurately, the air we breathe is more like being in the ocean: it’s full of microscopic things floating around. If you’ve seen sea water, you usually see little things carried around in it. The same is true for air, but most of the things floating us are too small to see. Typically the air in a busy facility will be carrying: Skin Flakes and Hair Bacteria Viruses Mold Trace Chemicals (from cleaners, machinery, etc) Vaporized Sweat Chemicals from Oral Bacteria (Bad Breath) Particulates from Fabric, Food, and Product Offgassing Air becomes stale largely as a result of all these things becoming to abundant. The human body is incredibly perceptive to these things. We can smell, taste, and even feel that the air is not clean. There’s no way to just hide the problem either. Some scents can be fought off with aerosols, candles, and other products that alter the air. The only problem is that […]

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A Crappy Tunnel

Once upon a time our public rivers and streams were essentially our sewers. In the 1800s, it wasn’t uncommon to essentially leave waste in the streets and let it get washed into the river by the rain. In the 1900s, it wasn’t uncommon for public sewers to dump raw sewage into the nearest major body of water. In some places, this is even still common practice. In the 1980s, Boston Harbor was one of these places. The Grossest Harbor in the Country Boston’s original sewer system dumped raw sewage 500 feet off the coast line. The belief at the time was that the ocean was so vast that the sewage would be harmlessly diluted. It was the 1800s and Boston was a smaller place back then. For a few decades, the system worked, but as the population grew, it became impossible to wash away that much waste. The entire harbor was soon contaminated with excrement and all the biohazards millions of sick and healthy people produce every day. By the 1940s the contamination was becoming evident, with cloudy, gross water in the harbor. By the 1950s there was some waste treatment, but it wouldn’t be able to keep up with Boston’s growing output. It takes time and space to treat waste like this, and the plants that were built didn’t have enough of either to keep things running smoothly forever. On days when the plants couldn’t keep up, the sewage […]

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The Future of Waste

The blog is back, Happy New Year! Since it is now the future, we’re going to look into something about the future today: the future of toilets. We sell equipment for waste treatment and everything is awesome with science. The science of toilets however, is more than a little dated. The Same Old Technology Toilets as we know them are a pretty old idea. The toilet as we know it, a bowl that flushes with water was first thought of in 1596 and eventually patented in 1775. Nothing else in the world has stayed so simple for as long as the toilet. That original concept was a two foot deep bowl that you flushed with about eight gallons of water, and then would dump into a sewer or other waste-disposal location. Given the time period, it was probably acceptable to dump it in the streets, gross as that sounds. This is essentially the same thing we have today. We have improved the efficiency of the design so it uses less water, made the sewage cleaning process cleaner, and made it smell a little better, but it’s still the same concept, isn’t it? In the intervening centuries we’ve learned about bacteria, viruses, materials science, precision engineering and manufacturing, chemical sanitation, and so much more that could improve the toilet. You might ask: why fix what isn’t broken? In reality, the toilet is very broken. Our entire waste water system is broken, […]

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The Most Important AC Maintenance Item

In large part, modern HVAC systems are nearly maintenance free. We don’t mean that they don’t break down, we mean that you don’t have to get oil changes, rotate your tires, refill the blinker fluid, or anything else particularly special, they just work except for the occasional breakdown. That is except for the one, final frontier in user maintenance. There is one, absolutely essential thing you must do if you use an air conditioner.   CHANGE YOUR AIR FILTER   I’d have made that blink and flash, but the boss took my keyboard away until I agreed to stop putting neon-signs in the blog. Time after time after time, people ignore that blinking little light that says “change your filter.” This is a bad thing. We get it filters are expensive. They’re big and bulky, so they cost us more to ship in and out, and you always have to drag yourself to the supply room and mess with things to replace them. Nobody wants to sit around, changing filters, but you need to.   Effects of Dirty Filters There are three main problems with dirty filters: they stink, they can lead to mold, and they block airflow. With a gross enough filter, no one will want to be in the office, your customers will run away, and some poor sap is going to change it wearing rubber gloves and a home made hazmat suit. Once an air filter reaches […]

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Do I Need to Filter my Water?

We’ve covered how Water Softeners remove minerals which are harmful to your plumbing. What about things that are harmful to you? Water softeners are only effective against minerals. Bacteria, chlorine, even sediments will go through a water softener as if it were never there in the first place. With or without a softener, you’re on equal footing with everyone else: your water may be dangerous. Testing the Water Supply It’s a good idea to test your water supply every few years or after major changes such as construction in your area. We recommend testing because in most cases, it’s affordable, harmless, and it’s near impossible to notice subtle changes like lead leeching into the water supply without testing. This is an ounce of prevention to avoid a pound of pain. There are generally two ways to test your water: Over the Counter Kits and Mail-In Services. The kits can be found online and in your local plumbing and hardware stores. These kits will generally use testing strips and chemicals you mix with some water in a bowl. They start at around $20 for a basic test and it goes up from there for broad-spectrum tests that will cover everything you can find without ten tons of lab equipment. In some cases though, that ten tons of equipment might make sense. There are commercial labs and even universities that will test water samples for a premium. These tests will indicate specific […]

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Do I REALLY Need to Change My Filters?

There’s something that is often overlooked about winter preparation. Most people remember to turn off their air conditioner, shut off it’s power, clean them up, and put covers over their condensers and outdoor equipment. How many of you remembered to change your air filters before winter?   Why!? We have a couple of good reasons to replace every filter. Changing out filters ensures clean air, it prevents allergens and diseases from spreading, and it makes your office a better, healthier place. It’s just a matter of getting someone to actually change the filter. We’ve found  that filters are one of the most overlooked parts of HVAC Maintenance. They are tended to only after they’ve clogged an air vent or they’ve caused the CEO to have a day of sneezing due to allergens. Your switch over from cooling to heating is the perfect opportunity to check on those gross, old air filters and replace them. This is also the time when such a check up is a necessity. Depending on your exact configuration, there may be filters in the heating system that haven’t be changed since the spring, such as the furnace intake filter. A dirty intake is going to cost you fuel and early hardware failure in the furnace itself. The filters for your AC System may sit dormant all winter long if you have centralized cooling and a hot water heating system; in which case it’s better to get […]

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