Archive for December, 2013

The Ball in Times Square

Monday, December 30th, 2013

New Year’s is a time for parties, fun and great traditions, some of which go back more than a century. Among them is the famous “dropping of the ball” in Times Square, an event which is broadcast to millions of people every New Year’s Eve. With 2014 nearly upon us, we thought we’d take the opportunity to look at the history of this popular New Year’s Eve festivity.

The idea began in 1907 at what was then the New York Times building at One Times Square. The newspaper’s owner, Adolph Ochs, had been celebrating the New Year with fireworks since 1903. He wanted make the event even more remarkable, and added the ball in December of 1907 to welcome in the New Year. The first ball was designed by Artkraft Strauss, who made it out of iron, wood, and light bulbs. It took six men to hoist the ball up the building’s flag pole; once midnight struck, the tremendous ball was carefully lowered, and all were allowed to marvel at it.

Since then, the ball has undergone many changes in materials and design, and even the New York Times has moved to another building. But the tradition remains and the ball has dropped over One Times Square ever since. Today, the ball is electronically controlled, and uses LED lamps for its construction: designed by Waterford Crystal and weighing in at over 1,200 pounds.

A number of television broadcasts have helped carry the event over the years, but by far the most famous is “New Year’s Rockin’ Eve,” which first ran in 1972. The show was created and hosted by Dick Clark, who became a staple of the event as much as the ball itself. Clark hosted the show every New Year’s Eve from 1972 until his death in 2012. Since then, it has been hosted by Ryan Seacrest, who shared hosting duties with Clark starting in 2005.

Whether you’re watching the ball drop on TV or have some other New Year’s Eve plan in mind, we here at Astro Air Inc. wish you nothing but the best for 2014. Have a safe and happy New Year!

Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 23rd, 2013

Holiday greetings from Astro Air Inc.! We hope you are having safe and pleasant season, enjoying your favorite traditions for this time of year. We wish you the very best, and thank you for your business this year.

In honor of the season, here are some fun facts about one of everyone’s favorite holiday movies: It’s a Wonderful Life.

For years, one of the enduring traditions of December in the United States was seeing the movie It’s a Wonderful Life playing almost nonstop on numerous television stations. No matter the time of the day, you could turn on the TV set, flip through channels, and discover It’s a Wonderful Life playing. Whenever you needed him, you could find Jimmy Stewart shouting, “Hello, Bedford Falls!”

But now… It’s a Wonderful Life only appears on broadcast television a few times during December, and most families instead choose to watch the movie on video. What happened?

The reason goes back to the film’s initial wide release in January 1947. (That’s right, it opened after the holiday season. It was not even promoted as a holiday film.) It’s a Wonderful Life was a box-office disappointment at the time, and its studio, RKO Radio Pictures, lost more than half a million on it. The movie’s production company, Liberty Films, was sold to Paramount to avoid bank foreclosure. (A bit ironic, considering the movie’s plot.) In 1955, the National Telefilm Associates (NTA) took over the rights to It’s a Wonderful Life, which included the television syndication rights.

However, NTA failed to properly renew the copyright in 1974 because of a clerical error, which allowed the film’s images to enter into the public domain. Although the movie’s plot was still under copyright protection because it was adapted from a published story called “The Greatest Gift,” television stations across the world could now broadcast it with only minimal royalty payments.

In 1993, Republic Pictures, which now owned the NTA library, tried to enforce their claim to the copyright of the film, as they possessed the rights to “The Greatest Gift.” Republic Pictures succeeded, and licensed exclusive television rights to NBC. Suddenly, It’s a Wonderful Life vanished from local television stations, and NBC made the movie’s broadcasts—usually twice during December—into major events. As of 1998, Paramount again has the rights to It’s a Wonderful Life… 43 years after they lost them.

It’s still easy to make It’s a Wonderful Life a part of whatever traditions you observe during the holidays, whether through home video or television broadcasts. Despite its lackluster initial reception in 1947, Frank Capra’s film is now an inseparable part of December in the United States.

Have a great holiday week!

What is Photohydroionization?

Tuesday, December 17th, 2013

Photohydroionization is quite a long word, but if you break the work down into its roots, you will have a better idea of how to pronounce it: photo-hydro-ionization. However, that still won’t explain what it actually means, or why this technology can help you combat what the EPA has declared the biggest health risk in the U.S.: poor indoor air quality.

Photohydroionization (or PHI) is a technology that can protect you and your family from airborne germs and pollutants, such as MRSA, strep, swine flu, and other viruses. Guardian Air PHI technology installed in your home works more effectively than a filter at protecting your indoor air quality. If you’re interested in outfitting your home in Lake Worth, FL with Guardian Air PHI technology, call Astro Air Inc. today.

What is Photohydroionization and why is it beneficial?

Photohydroionization is a process of cleansing air that does not use the common method of passing the air through a filter. Filters have a limit on the size of particles they can trap; any particulate matter smaller than 10 microns will slip through them. This means that the microbes that can cause many illnesses will freely move past these filters, as will indoor gasses like benzene, ammonia, and hydrogen sulfide.

PHI takes a proactive approach to eliminating pollutants. It sends aggressive oxidizers into a room to destroy these pollutants. The Advanced Oxidation Process consists of hydro-peroxides, super oxide ions, and hydroxide ions, all of which safely revert back to oxygen and hydrogen after finishing their job. (These are known as “friendly oxidizers.”)

But how does this work with your HVAC system? A Guardian Air REME by RGF® is installed into your HVAC system’s ducts, where the HVAC–PHI Cells send out the oxidizers to destroy any pollutants that slip through the filters. (We should emphasize here that Guardian Air is an addition to your filters, not a replacement for them.) The recirculated air passes over the PHI cells, and the friendly oxidizers eliminate all those microbes and gasses that can lead to unhealthy indoor air quality.

Having professionals install Guardian Air in your Lake Worth, FL home is not difficult nor is it intrusive. Astro Air Inc. has long specialized in providing homeowners with ways to improve their indoor air quality. We are proud to offer Guardian Air Photohydroionization technology to help keep your family safe and well all year round. Contact us today for everything from air cleaners to dehumidifiers: clean air is our business!

What Causes a Heat Pump to Shortcycle?

Monday, December 9th, 2013

A common problem that heat pumps encounter is called “short cycling.” This is when the heat pump shuts down its heating (or cooling for air conditioning) cycle early instead of the standard ten minutes or more, and then turns back on again a short time later, only to again run for a brief time. Aside from creating a noise annoyance, short cycling poses a danger to the heat pump’s operation, because all of this starting and stopping forces the components inside the system to work harder. This additional work will make the heat pump wear down faster and need repairs earlier—or possibly require full replacement many years before it should. Because a heat pump uses the most power when it starts up, a short-cycling system will also cause an increase in your energy bills.

Short cycling almost always calls for repairs from professionals. For excellent heat pump repair in West Palm Beach, FL, contact Astro Air Inc. Let our NATE-certified technicians find out why your heat pump is short cycling and discover a way to stop it.

Why does short-cycling happen?

Heat pumps will start short cycling for different reasons. Here are the most common:

  • Thermostat malfunction. A heat pump will end its cycle when it reaches the target temperature set by the thermostat. But if the thermostat is misreading the temperature because of a miscalibration, it will prematurely shut down the heat pump. Faulty wiring between the thermostat and the furnace can also cause this. Check the programming on the thermostat first before you to decide to summon repairs, just to make sure this isn’t user error.
  • Loss of refrigerant: If leaks develop that allow the refrigerant that carries out the heat exchange to escape, the heat pump’s ability will be impaired and it will start shutting off early.
  • Improperly sized heat pump. This is a serious problem, because its not easy to fix. If the heat pump is too large for your home, it will raise the temperature so rapidly that it will sense it has reached its target temperature too soon and shut down. Talk to a contractor about possible solutions if you have this issue.

Have experts inspect and then repair your heat pump

Since there are a multiple explanations for a heat pump starting to short cycle, you should consult with an HVAC expert as soon as the trouble starts. The longer the problem continues, the more problems it will cause. A professional can pinpoint the problem and offer solutions to restore your heat pump.

Heat pumps are fantastic year-round comfort solutions in Florida, so don’t lose the benefits of yours: for heat pump repair in West Palm Beach, FL, call up Astro Air Inc.

When Is Duct Repair Necessary?

Monday, December 2nd, 2013

The furnace and air conditioner in your home perform their vital job of providing you comfort by channeling air through ducts that run through your walls and ceilings. These ducts need to remain in good condition, or they will have a negative effect on your HVAC system’s ability to keep your home warm and cool. It will also reduce the quality of your indoor air. Call professionals with expertise in duct repair to fix breaks, leaks, corrosion, and loose connections as soon as you can.

Astro Air Inc. has more than a quarter of a century of experience with duct repair in Deerfield, FL. Make us the first place you contact when you think you need repairs on your ducts.

When is it necessary to schedule duct repair? The simple answer is “the moment you know something is wrong.” Here are some signs that there are issues inside your ducts that require attention.

  • Foul odors from the vents: There are a number of reasons you might detect a noxious smell from the vents. A dead animal is one possibility, but it could also indicate that breaks along the ducts have allowed the heater to draw air from musty sections of your house. Corrosion can also create bad smells, and corrosion usually means serious damage somewhere along the vents.
  • An increase in dust throughout your home: Ducts that have developed breaks will rapidly gather a thick layer of dust inside them. Fans will then blow this dust into your house. If you notice that no matter how much cleaning you do, the dust comes right back, then your ductwork may be at fault.
  • A decrease in airflow from the vents: Ductwork is supposed to remain a sealed system from the heater all the way to the vent. Any disruption to this seal from a break will cause the air pressure to drop, reducing the flow coming from the vents into your living spaces. If you notice that air no longer blows from the vents as well as it used to, call for professional assistance.

Ductwork repair and cleaning requires more than duct tape and a broom. Only duct repair experts can safely access your ductwork and provide the sealing that will hold out for many years.

When you know it’s time for duct repair in Deerfield Beach, FL, contact Astro Air Inc. We handle many services to help your vents: repair, sealing, and testing. If your ducts need help, trust the work to us.