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90 birds nesting in dryer duct

Birds Nesting In Your Exhaust Ducts

Birds nesting in your exhaust ducts are a fairly common occurence in the Toronto area. Every exhaust vent leading to the outside of your home needs to have some kind of bird screening either over it or inside it to protect your systems and your home.

There is a new type of exhaust vent cover on the market that we have had a lot of success with, and this is a really good idea.

It is made of heavy duty plastic so it will not rust, and it can be easily opened by any human who can reach it. This will allow for cleaning of those exhaust systems at any time in the future.

Being able to open it in this way is good because most exterior exhaust grills are caulked in place, or screwed to a brick wall with plugs. That’s ok when they are there, but once you remove it, as we normally have to do to clean out the pipe, it is just that much harder to re-install. But these new screens make it so easy!

bird_screen_closed bird_screen_opened

Birds nesting in your exhaust systems can cause huge problems for your home. Sometimes you can hear them chirping while you are inside the home, and you know at that point you will be having some kind of problem. Bird nests really stink, too. They piss and shit inside your pipes and you just do not want to have this in your house.

The nests can also block your venting systems, and this is not a good thing either. Check all the exhaust openings on your home. For your own good and that of your family, you need to make sure these are all protected with some kind of screening.

These cages we’re talking about are easily visible but they look good. Some vents have screening inside them, and the screen cannot easily be seen from the outside. Be careful when installing screening inside your own air vents. Do not use a window screen, especially on a dryer exhaust vent. A window screen is too fine. You should be using 1/4″ chicken wire. This is way less likely to get clogged with lint.

If you have birds in your exhaust vents already, you could try to remove them yourself, but this is not always easy to do without the special equipment that we do it with.

We have been to a customer’s home recently who had a previous duct cleaner in to remove a bird’s nest. He took one out and they thought that was good, but the homeowner later discovered that she still had a problem.

She called us this time, and when we arrived we found two additional nests in that same pipe. We had to remove the custom screen he had sold her. It was a total custom job and he really didn’t do a bad job installing the screen… only he didn’t clean out the pipe properly. And he obviously did not check the air flow through the pipe once he thought he was done cleaning it. That’s what happens when your air duct cleaner shows up in his Honda Civic with only a shop vac. He borrowed a coat hanger from the homeowner and borrowed a ladder from the neighbor.

This happens many, many times. In some cases we are the 3rd or 4th company that some home owners call in to clean their dryer ducts. One lady spent well over $1000 on other duct cleaners before she finally got us there, and of course, we cleaned her dryer duct system perfectly!

It is strange that none of the other guys even brought a ladder even though she did mention on the phone that her exhaust vent is on the 2nd floor. Hmmm… and nobody else used an air snake, either.

We have said it many times, and this still applies… we are the problem solvers when it comes to bird’s nests in vented duct systems. You will not save money by calling the cheapest company you can find.

Our pricing is reasonable but is not guaranteed to be the cheapest out there. We will do the job right or we will come back and do it again for free. If you need this problem solved, call us first!


89mmx exhaust ducts

Is this MY Washroom?

What you can’t see, can definitely hurt you.

This is a typical washroom exhaust duct, which has not been duct cleaned for years.

The air won’t exhaust properly, causing the washroom to smell and the duct motor, duct housing and duct exhaust run will get clogged!!!

If you want to save money and have your exhaust ducts work efficiently, call City Duct Cleaning for a professional cleaning.

If you live in a condo, you may find that your washroom exhaust is actually served by the laundry exhaust fan. If this is the case, then the entire system will be cleaned all at once. But if your system is not configured that way, it is still cost-effective to also have us clean out your dryer vent system at the same time while our equipment is there.

It is not relevant what floor you live on. To clean these systems we use a portable electric vacuum system and also use compressed air. We run an air hose from our truck up to whatever floor you live on, that way we will be cleaning your system with high pressure air from the truck… way better than you could get from any portable system.

Watch this video to learn more about bathroom cleaning and maintenance problems you could encounter if your ventilation fan gets a little dusty. Sometimes all you need is a good cleaning to improve the longevity of your bathroom appliances and if that’s the case, then what you waiting for?

Cleaning your washroom exhaust fan regularly would definitely help with the overall indoor air quality of your home. But it might be a good idea to remove the cover and vacuum the fan and the housing before trying to blow the thing.

Also, if you can remove the fan, usually this is fairly simple and requires taking one or two screws, then you can clean off the blades of the fan and stick your blower inside the now exposed exhaust duct. That pipe leads directly outside.

Once you get everything cleaned out and put back together, run the fan and check its operation and check for new noises.

The final step would be to leave the fan on, then go outside and make sure that the flappers on the exterior vent are open. If they are, then you’re good to go.

Cleaning of your washroom exhaust fans normally takes only about 10 minutes and should be done about every 3-4 months. And whenever the bathroom grill looks dirty, take it down and wash it!

The same procedure basically applies whether you are in a house or a condo.

If you are not able to do this yourself or just don’t feel like it, you can ask for this service to be added for a minimal cost the next time you get your air ducts cleaned.

85mmx dirty condensing units

What about the exterior condenser?

Your outdoor air conditioning condenser unit is an integral part of your HVAC system. It contains the compressor, a fan and a coil.

The smooth and dependable operation of your air conditioning system overall, depends in large part on how clean your condensing unit is.

When your air conditioning is on, the compressor runs, as well as the condensor fan. This moves the required amount of air across that coil.

Grass, weeds and shrubs can severely impede the air flow across the coil, to the point where your system can freeze up. And as with anything, if you want it to work efficiently, it must be clean.

Your outside air conditioning condenser needs attention just like the interior air duct system does. The maintenance required to keep this part of the system clean is very minimal considering the amount of work that it is required to do during Toronto’s long, hot summers.

The compressor and fan will very rarely require any maintenance from a homeowner. Those parts of the system are best left to a trained professional.

The outside coil, however, will need to be cleaned from time to time though, and this is the part that anyone can do themselves if they want to take the time to do it.

It is best to check the cleanliness of the coil at the start of the cooling season, or whenever you first turn on your air conditioning. The coil should also be visually inspected at a minimum of once per month during the cooling season as well, and especially so if you notice that your outside unit is starting to sound louder than it normally does when it is running.

If you have determined that your unit needs to be cleaned, this can be easily accomplished with your garden hose and a stiff brush.

First, make sure the power to the unit is off. Then use a strong spray from your garden hose and thoroughly wash the coil with water only. You can use the brush if needed, but be sure to brush any part of the coil in the same direction as the fins. You do not, under any circumstances, want to bend the fins at all, as this will restrict the air flow going across the coil.

If you forgot to turn the power off first and the unit comes on while you are cleaning it, you will get wet for sure!

Once you have the coil looking clean, that is it. It is not recommended that the homeowner remove the top part (condensing fan) in any case. If your unit requires further service at this point it is best to call in a professional.

Keeping your condensing coil clean will save you money because the system will not have to work nearly as hard to do its job.

Some quick tips for starting up your air conditioning at the beginning of the season include:

  • If you have a cover on your exterior unit, remove it first.
  • Visually inspect the condition of the outside coil and clean as necessary.
  • Check or replace your furnace air filter.
  • Check the drain tube that comes from the inside coil (normally above your furnace) for proper drainage.
  • Close the damper in the bypass tube of your furnace humidifier.

Once the system has been on for about half an hour, go back and check that water is draining out of the drain tube properly.

For best operation of the system in every home, you will need to adjust the air vents at the start of each heating and cooling season.

To set up your air vents for cooling, close the basement vents completely or block them off with vent magnets. On the main floor you want the vents, including dampers, to be half-way open. This setup will help to push more cool air upstairs, where you will need it most.

On the top floor, all vents should be fully open, unless you have an excess amount of air going to very small rooms such as washrooms or closets. And always make sure that return air vents are free and clear of obstacles or obstructions.

Making these small adjustments to your system as needed can have a huge impact on the proper efficiency of your HVAC system, and will do alot to add to your family’s overall comfort level inside your home.

Also remember, on hot days you should always block out direct sunlight, as this will add alot more load to your air conditioner.

If you ever have any questions about your furnace, air conditioner or duct system, no matter how small, feel free to call us and ask. We would be very glad to help!

Dirty air filters

Not So Cool?

Considering the extremely hot summer we are having, you are most likely operating your air conditioning system more than not. But why is it not cool in the house?

If you are experiencing a lack of cooling, chances are that your air filter is very dirty, or possibly plugged, therefore inhibiting proper air flow.

Your furnace and air conditioning systems both require clean air filters to run properly. Dirty air filters is the number one cause for “no heat” and “no cooling” service calls.

Before you call for service, check the condition of your air filter and clean or replace it as needed.

Also be sure to check the position of any volume dampers in your air duct system, and check to make sure that the damper in your humidifier bypass tube is closed for the summer.

If your air conditioner still does not seem to be cooling, check the outside condenser unit. When the air conditioning turns on, the compressor and the fan outside should come on immediately, as should your furnace fan.

You can hear the compressor, and you should see the outside fan when it is running. If either of these two items do not appear to be working when your air conditioning is on, then you should first confirm that the breaker or switch is “on”. Note too, that both your furnace switch and the air conditioning breaker or disconnect box should both be switched to “on” . If these steps fail to rectify the situation then you should call for service.

It is our hope that these quick central air conditioning tips will help prevent at least some people from prematurely calling for service unless it is 100% required.

Enjoy your summer and please stay cool!

82mmx cooling coils

What a Summer

HOT!!! Yeah no kidding. Here in Toronto it has been exceptionally hot this summer…but are we complaining? No Way!!

But is your air conditioner complaining? Maybe. Whenever you operate the air duct system for heating or cooling, the bottom of the Air Conditioning coil has a greater chance of clogging with dirt.

This can often cause your coil to freeze up and will definitely reduce your air flow down to almost nothing. Give us a call and we might be able to help you over the phone, and if not, then one of our friendly technicians will be happy to stop by and help with your cooling needs.

Here is a useful video that explains some ways of how to stay cool during our extremely hot summers.

Published on Jun 19, 2012

Toronto EMS Public Service Announcement, the dangers of hot weather and quick tips to stay safe.


Candles Are Pretty But Also Deadly

Did you know that it only takes seconds for a flickering flame to engulf your home? In past years, the popularity of candles has increased greatly and so has the number of house fires.

People leaving a candle burning on a table do not realize the potential damage awaiting them. Fires will spread quickly and the heat, smoke, gases, soot and toxic fumes could be deadly.Your home’s furnace ventilation system, when running, acts like a vacuum and can draw in all the smoke from a candle and spread it throughout your home in a matter of minutes creating a sooty mess you can’t imagine.

So in the future, please remember that even though candles are romantic and pretty…they can also be deadly.

How does this relate to an air duct cleaning blog? We’ve been doing fire restoration for over two decades now, and have been to literally hundreds of house fires that have been caused by burning candles… or at least by candles that people thought were extinguished but weren’t. What we do, the air duct cleaning and deodorizing of the HVAC system, is a small part of the complete fire restoration service.