Should I Repair or Replace My Older AC?

March 4th, 2015

You may have noticed that your older AC has slowed down in performance over time. Air conditioning components will begin to wear out eventually from overuse. After a time, your air conditioner may begin to use up a little bit more energy, and it might take a bit longer for your home to get to the right temperatures.

Does this mean that a new air conditioning system is necessary? Not always. Sometimes, you can get your air conditioner back in good working order with a scheduled tune-up. A professional will visit your home to clean, adjust, and inspect your system, steps which may help to improve the overall condition of the AC.

But in some cases, repairs and adjustments won’t do the trick. When you decide it may be time for new air conditioning installation, call on the help of the friendly professionals at Astro Air Inc. Follow along with our guide for some tips on when new installation may be best.

  • Frequent Repairs – If you find yourself calling a technician for repairs more than once in a year, your air conditioner is in poor shape. And if you’re replacing major costly components, it’s probably a lot less expensive to replace the unit right now than it would be to replace each part individually.
  • Poor Efficiency – You may also choose to repair an air conditioning system if the unit does not run efficiently. High energy bills are common in the summer, but it’s frustrating when these bills seem so much higher than they were the years before. A new air conditioning system will likely run far more efficiently than one that’s over a decade old, especially if you choose one highly rated for efficiency.
  • Old Age – In some homes, a sudden air conditioning breakdown could be disastrous. For those in poor health, reliable air conditioning is necessary to keep people in good spirits. You should replace your air conditioner before it fails so that it’s less likely to breakdown during a heat wave or whenever you need it the most.

Call the knowledgeable people at Astro Air Inc. for more information about air conditioning installation in West Palm Beach.

What Type of Insulation Is Used in the Attic?

February 25th, 2015

Many people associate the term “insulation” with cooler weather. When it’s cold outside, you want there to be enough insulation in your home to lock in some heat so that your home stays warm. You can also purchase insulated blankets, jackets, and travel mugs, all of which are products manufactured to retain heat. However, insulation is just as important in the summertime as it is in the winter.

When you decide it’s time to take charge of your monthly bills and keep your home more comfortable in both the summer and the winter, call our team of skilled professionals. We can evaluate your existing insulation and help you to decide whether and where more insulation would help. Call Astro Air Inc. for attic insulation services in Wellington today.

Materials Used in Insulation

There are a number of different types of materials that may be used for attic insulation, but what they all have in common is their ability to slow the transfer of heat. In the colder months, your heating system works hard to generate heat, and for maximum efficiency, you should do everything in your power to keep this heat in the home. Insulation keeps heat from moving easily out through the walls, attic, or ducts. In the summer, insulation helps to keep heat from entering your home, making your air conditioner run more efficiently.

The materials used in insulations are most commonly some type of fiber, either natural or synthetic. The most common type of blanket insulation is made of fiberglass, though some blanket insulation is made of mineral wool or natural wools. A technician can lay these batts and rolls in the attic, though blown-in insulation is sometimes preferable.

Blown-in or loose-fill insulation involves using a machine to blow fibers into the area. In the attic, this is often ideal, since loose fill insulation can reach little nooks and crannies, and because the R-value of these materials is generally quite high. The R-value is an indicator of how effective and insulation material is, and the higher the number, the greater the efficiency.

You should always allow a professional to help you pick out your new insulation materials, as they have the right training to make such an involved decision. Call Astro Air Inc. for attic insulation services in Wellington today!

How Can I Tell I Need Duct Repair?

February 16th, 2015

If you’ve ever driven down a road full of potholes, you know how ineffective the travel can be; you may also incur expense due to a flat tire or other problem caused by the holes and cracks. The same happens with your faulty ductwork: the air flow becomes slow and contaminated, and can result in the need for repair. So how do you know when it’s time to schedule duct repair service for your Lake Worth home? Here are some tips from the trained experts at Astro Air, Inc.

High Energy Bills

Faulty ductwork can allow a significant amount of air to escape from your HVAC system; in fact, faulty ductwork can account for up to 30% of your home’s total air loss. The reason you’ll see this reflected in your energy bills is because your HVAC system will compensate for this air loss by working harder, which means your system uses more energy.

Poor Indoor Air Quality

Not only can a significant amount of air escape from faulty ductwork, lots of things can get inside the ductwork, too. Contaminants such as dirt and dust can become excessive, air pollutants and excess moisture have direct access to your living spaces thanks to the faults in your ductwork.

Uneven Temperatures

Your ductwork doesn’t corrode or break in a uniform way across your ductwork system; instead, there are usually sections that are more problematic than others. This uneven corrosion can result in uneven heating and cooling for your home, as the vents that are more affected by problems will have less ability to deliver the air you need.

Whistling Noises

Hearing air move through your ductwork is normal, but if you are hearing whistling noises through your vents with each cycle, the whistling can be an indication that there are holes and cracks through which air is escaping.

Duct repair is a long-term solution for some fairly serious problems; if you are seeing the signs of faulty ductwork in your home, call the experts at Astro Air, Inc. today!

Some of the Unusual Movies Released for Valentine’s Day

February 14th, 2015

Hollywood has always tried to match movies up to the seasons to draw droves of viewers to the theaters: October is packed with fright-offerings, while the winter holidays skew toward warm and pleasing family films (as well as Oscar hopefuls). Valentine’s Day falls in an odd spot when it comes to the movie release calendar, however, since February tends to be a slower time for the film industry. The studios are as likely to slot strange movies that don’t fit anywhere else in their annual schedules into the Valentine’s Day weekend as they are films with powerful romantic appeal.

So, while the second weekend of February has featured hugely successful romantic comedies like Hitch, The Wedding Singer, and (of course) Valentine’s Day, some truly weird choices have debuted in this weekend as well. And a few have even gone on to tremendous success despite the bizarre match with the holiday. Here are a couple of the odder Valentine’s Day movie releases:

  • Dracula (1931): Yes, this Halloween perennial and the start of Universal Studio’s Classic Monsters actually came out on Valentine’s Day! But perhaps this makes some sense, as the Dracula legend has often received a “doomed lover” approach in the many years since Bela Lugosi made the aristocratic vampire a screen icon.
  • The Silence of the Lambs (1991): Does any film seem less appropriate for Valentine’s Day than this unnerving and sometimes very violent psychological thriller? What’s even more astonishing than the film’s release date is that The Silence of the Lambs eventually nabbed the Oscar for Best Picture, an almost unheard of occurrence for a movie released so early in the year.
  • Daredevil (2003): This Marvel comic adaptation featuring Ben Affleck as a blind superhero does contain a romantic subplot, but the stronger connection to Valentine’s Day may just be that Daredevil wears a bright red costume.
  • A Good Day to Die Hard (2013): The least successful of the Die Hard film franchise, this is an excellent example of a studio dropping a film into a weekend where it doesn’t fit in the hopes that it works as counter-programming. (It didn’t.)
  • Wayne’s World (1992): Now here is an example of counter-programming that clicked with audiences. This comedy based on a Saturday Night Live sketch turned into one of that year’s biggest hits and spawned a sequel.

Whether you celebrate Valentine’s Day with a trip to the movie theater, or you have your own special plans, everyone here at [(site_name)] hopes you and your loved ones have a wonderful weekend.

How UV Germicidal Lights Improve Indoor Air Quality

February 4th, 2015

It is common knowledge that dust is a ubiquitous airborne pollutant in homes across the country. What is less common knowledge, however, is the incredible amount of other contaminants in your indoor air that you are exposed to every day. Pollen and dander from pets and insects are lung irritants, similar to dust. Many allergy sufferers find their symptoms severely worsened by exposure to these contaminants. Viruses, bacteria, and mold are also quite common, and contribute to the frequency of illnesses among homeowners. These biological contaminants are much more detrimental, and much harder to get rid of, than minor irritants like dust and pollen. So, how can homeowners fight against these microscopic pollutants? One of the best ways is with a UV germicidal light. Let’s examine what a UV germicidal light is, and how it benefits your home by sterilizing your air.

What is a UV Germicidal Light?

A UV germicidal light is a type of air purifier, which can be used either in a portable format or installed in such a way as to service the entire house. It is actually very simple in design, just one or two special light bulbs that give off short-wave ultraviolet light. This light is harmless to humans, but can be very effective at cleansing the air around it of biological contaminants.

How does a UV Germicidal Light Cleanse the Air?

Many biological contaminants are extremely phobic of certain kinds of ultraviolet light. Exposure to this light destroys parts of their cells that they need in order to keep multiplying, rendering them sterile or even killing them completely. This is why darkness is a necessity for most mold growth. The cells that make up the mold’s structure cannot survive in direct sunlight. The UV germicidal light takes advantage of this genetic weakness by subjecting the air around it to enough ultraviolet light to kill most biological pollutants. In this way, the light improves your air quality by killing any germs that might infect and sicken you.

If you’re interested in installing a germicidal light in your home, call Astro Air Inc. to schedule an appointment with us today. We provide indoor air quality services in the West Palm Beach area.

Why Air Conditioning Maintenance Is a Yearly Necessity

January 29th, 2015

Most people wouldn’t ignore an odd behavior coming from their air conditioner, because they wouldn’t want it to develop into a bigger issue. Despite the tendency to call a professional HVAC technician whenever they suspect a problem, just as many people neglect to schedule yearly preventive maintenance for their air conditioning system. This not only shortens the lifespan of their air conditioner, but increases the possibility of an expensive breakdown. Let’s examine why air conditioning maintenance is a yearly necessity.

Preemptive Repairs

A lot of people ignore scheduling maintenance unless they notice a problem because they believe the air conditioner is fine otherwise. Unfortunately, this assumes that every problem that an air conditioner can have will give ample warning with some sort of outward sign. Many problems in an air conditioner, including ones that are bad enough to cause a breakdown, are asymptomatic. That is, they give no visible or audible warning before having a negative effect on the air conditioner. The only way to detect these invisible issues before they strike is to have a professional HVAC technician inspect the system. This is the main purpose for scheduling yearly maintenance on your air conditioner.

An HVAC technician can identify and repair or replace parts that are starting to fail long before they can cause collateral damage to the rest of the system. An air conditioner relies on all of its parts to work properly for the whole system to do its job. If one part quietly fails without anyone noticing, it will begin to contribute to the damage and failure of other parts. Eventually, this can result in the need to replace the entire system.

Ultimately, yearly air conditioning maintenance comes down to saving money. If you conduct yearly air conditioning maintenance, your air conditioner will be healthier, last longer, and save you money on replacing part or all of the system. If you ignore yearly maintenance, your air conditioner will have more problems, die faster, and you’ll have to spend a lot more money.

If you haven’t scheduled maintenance in the past year, call Astro Air Inc. to schedule an appointment. We provide air conditioning maintenance throughout Palm Beach, FL.

Wood Rot: What It Is and How to Prevent It

January 20th, 2015

Rotting wood creates an unstable foundation for your home, which means structural beams, flooring, and ceilings may need some major renovations. Once wood rot begins, the structure of your home can quickly fall into decline, and it can be difficult to control the problem without taking drastic measures. That’s why most experts recommend focusing on prevention: worrying about how to stop wood rot before it happens. And what’s the key component leading to wood rot that we can control? Moisture.

Fungus and Wood Rot

Wood rot occurs when fungi breed on a wood surface, which can only happen if the wood is wet. Any type of fungus needs a few things to live: water, oxygen, and food. And the type of fungi that wear down wood get their food source from the carbohydrates therein. There are three basic types of wood rot—brown rot (or dryrot), white rot, and soft rot—and all three are caused by the presence of moisture, oxygen, and a food source. The only difference is in the appearance and the effect on the wood. Brown rot, for example, causes the wood to turn dark brown and eventually crumble. White rot leaves wood with a soft spongy feeling.

Installing a Dehumidifier

All wood contains the carbohydrates lignin and cellulose, so you cannot prevent wood rot by choosing different building materials. You can’t take away the oxygen either, which is why removing moisture from the air is the best mode of prevention. And a whole-home dehumidifier is the best way to reduce moisture levels in the home.

Dehumidifiers remove moisture much like central air conditioners do. The blower fan draws in the indoor air and moves it across a coil where moisture collects as condensation. The major difference is that it’s far more efficient to run a whole-house dehumidifier than to keep the AC on at all times. A dehumidifier can make the air in your home feel more comfortable and help people to cool down. It can also keep mold from developing, a fungus which does not directly cause wood rot but can contribute to poor indoor air quality.

Allow the professionals at Astro Air Inc. to install your new dehumidifier in Wellington, and gain some control over your home comfort and stability. Give us a call today to schedule an appointment.

Problems Caused by Poor Duct Installation

January 13th, 2015

Your ducts are the unsung heroes of your home’s infrastructure. When properly installed and maintained, they circulate warm and cool air throughout the house to keep everyone comfortable. They prevent the air in your home from getting stale, and make central heating and air conditioning possible. When poorly installed, however, your ducts can have quite the adverse effect on your home. Let’s take a look at the kinds of problems that poorly installed ducts can cause.

Leaks

Ducts come in a wide variety of sizes, materials, and configurations. One thing that links them all is their vulnerability to leaks. Ducts are often simply sections of sheet metal fastened together to form a tunnel. This is all well and good for the purpose of directing air throughout the house, but it does mean that there are small cracks in the ductwork every few feet where the sections connect. A skilled installer will know how to seal these cracks to prevent air from escaping. Unfortunately, there are far too many technicians who don’t properly seal the ducts when they first install them. This leads to an incredible waste of energy over time.

The US Department of Energy has estimated that forced air heating systems lose as much as 30% of their heat on average to leaks in the ductwork. That equals almost a third of your heating system’s total output. You’re still paying for that heat, but it’s dissipating through the duct leaks before it can actually get to its destination. This leads to much higher heating bills, as your system has to stay on for longer to compensate for the lost heat.

On top of losing energy, duct leaks provide a point of entry for moisture from sources like leaky pipes. If moisture gets into the duct system, it provides the perfect environment for mold growth. If mold manages to take hold in your ductwork, it will release spores that are then circulated throughout the house when the system is turned on.

If you haven’t had your ducts checked in a while, call Astro Air Inc. to schedule service. We provide professional ductwork installation throughout Lake Worth.

MERV Rating and Finding the Right Air Cleaner

January 6th, 2015

The air in your home could be contaminated with dust, bacteria, and other dangerous organic and inorganic particles. These contaminants can circulate through the air until somebody breathes them in. And if this person has allergies, asthma, or an immune disorder, it may become aggravated. In fact, even if this person has no preexisting conditions whatsoever, particles in the air can still trigger an illness.

You need an air filtration system that will do more than trap large debris, so turn to the experts to help you select a new air cleaner with a high MERV rating that will help to keep you breathing easier and give you peace of mind about the health of your friends and family. The friendly technicians at Astro Air Inc. can help you select the right type of air cleaner in Palm Beach according to the size of your home, your daily life, and your family’s needs.

What Is MERV?

The MERV (minimum efficiency reporting value) is a numbering system that indicates how effective a filter is at removing particles. A higher MERV on a filter indicates that it is capable of removing smaller particles, making it more effective. The MERV rating system goes up to 16, although it is extended to 20 in some cases. The air filter installed in your HVAC system is most likely at a MERV of around 1-4.

But here’s what makes a higher MERV so important. When the MERV is 4, it can eliminate pollen and dust mites, both of which are known allergens and irritants. But a filter with a MERV of 12 can eliminate lead dust, legionella, mold spores, and even vehicle emissions. Filters and electronic air cleaners alike can be equipped with a MERV, depending on how the air cleaner operates (ionizers and electrostatic precipitators do not contain a filter and, therefore, are not given a MERV).

So how do you choose the right air cleaner for you?

Sometimes, a technician will recommend a high quality filter or an electronic cleaner with a high MERV. Other times, the technician may instead recommend a UV germicidal light system for your ducts or a dehumidifier. It’s important to note that if the MERV of your filter is too high, it may block airflow and cause your HVAC unit to struggle. These are just some of the reasons you should leave the job to professionals.

At Astro Air Inc., our technicians are indoor air quality experts. Call today to purchase your next air cleaner in Palm Beach.

12 Grapes for 12 Months: An Unusual New Year’s Tradition

January 1st, 2015

Across the world, many cultures have specific traditions to celebrate the transition from the old year to the new. In the U.S. and Canada, we associate New Year’s with the ball in Times Square, kissing at the stroke of midnight, resolutions, and singing “Old Lang Syne.” But for many Spanish-speaking countries, one of the key traditions has to do with eating grapes as fast as possible.

The “twelve grapes” tradition comes from Spain, where it is called las doce uvas de la suerte (“The Twelve Lucky Grapes”). To ensure good luck for the next year, people eat one green grape for each of the upcoming twelve months. However, you cannot just eat the grapes during the first day of the new year any time you feel like it. You must eat the twelve grapes starting at the first stroke of midnight on Nochevieja (“Old Night,” New Year’s Eve) as one year changes to another. And you have to keep eating: with each toll of midnight, you must eat another grape, giving you about twelve seconds to consume all of them. If you can finish all dozen grapes—you can’t still be chewing on them!—before the last bell toll fades, you will have a luck-filled new year.

Where did this tradition come from? No one is certain, although it appears to be more than a century old. One story about the Twelve Lucky Grapes is that a large crop of grapes in 1909 in Alicante, Spain led to the growers seeking out a creative way to eliminate their surplus. But recent research through old newspapers shows that perhaps the tradition goes back almost thirty years earlier to the 1880s, where eating grapes was meant to mock the upper classes who were imitating the French tradition of dining on grapes and drinking champagne on New Year’s Eve.

It can be difficult to consume grapes this fast, and the lucky grapes of New Year’s Eve have seeds in them, making the job even trickier. (Seedless grapes are not common in Spain the way they are over here.) For people to manage eating all the grapes before the last stroke of midnight requires swallowing the seeds as well and only taking a single bite of each grape.

Oh, there is one more twist to the tradition: you have to be wearing red undergarments, and they have to be given to you as a gift. The origins of this part of the tradition are even more mysterious, and it’s anybody’s guess why this started.

Whether you go for the grape challenge or find another way to ring in New Year’s, all of us at Astro Air Inc. hope you have a great start to the year and a, uhm, fruitful 2015.