Archive for December, 2014

The Composition of Snowflakes: Are No Two Alike?

Thursday, December 25th, 2014

“No two snowflakes are alike.”

This is a statement nearly every schoolchild has heard at least once, either while crafting unique snowflakes with a sheet of folded paper and some scissors or while learning a lesson on the science of snow. While even most scientists don’t quite understand what causes a snowflake to form such complex and beautiful columns and points and branches, one thing is for certain, the composition of snowflakes guarantees that no two will ever be identical.  However, it is possible for two snowflakes to appear to be nearly exactly alike.

A snowflake begins to form when a piece of dust catches water vapor out of the air. Water is created when two hydrogen molecules attach to an oxygen molecule. The two hydrogen molecules are angled from one another in such a way that they form a hexagonal shape when they come together during the freezing process; thus, a snowflake begins as a simple hexagonal shape or as layers of hexagons called diamond dust. The emergent properties that follow from the original hexagon are what differentiate one snowflake from another, as the humidity, the temperature in the air, and many other factors (some of which remain unclear to scientists) allow each snowflake to form in an entirely unique way with a seemingly endless variety of shapes.

However, in 1988, a scientist named Nancy Knight claimed to have located two that were the same while studying snowflakes as part of an atmospheric research project. And it appeared to be so; when put under a microscope, the emergent properties looked nearly identical. But while it is feasible that two snowflakes can appear to be exactly alike on the outside, they are never identical on an atomic level. Deuterium is an atom that appears attached to about one in every 3000 hydrogen molecules in the air. Because there are millions of atoms that make up a snowflake, the random assortment of deuterium in any two snowflakes—even in two that so very closely resemble one another—simply cannot be the same.

Here at Astro Air, we’d like to remind you to grab a cup of cocoa and relax with your family this holiday, perhaps by crafting some unique snowflake creations of your own. We wish you a very happy holiday season, from our family to yours!

Rule Your Attic: Benefits of Improving Attic Insulation

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014

*Astro Air Inc. no longer offers Attic Insulation services. Please visit our Indoor Air Quality service page to learn more about our services.

Cooler weather is finally here, which makes now the perfect time to address possible deficiencies with your heating system. And this doesn’t mean simply mean having a technician inspect and clean your unit, although yearly heating maintenance is highly recommended. One of the most common reasons that a heating system struggles and that you do not feel enough heat is lack of insulation. And one of the places that insulation matters the most is the attic.

A lot of heat can escape through the attic without the proper amount of insulation to keep heat from moving in and out. Find out more about the benefits of choosing a professional contractor for attic insulation with today’s guide.

  • Greater Comfort: Attic insulation can help to make you feel a little bit more comfortable since less heat can escape through the ceiling of your home. Often, a lot of the heat our heating systems create can be lost through the attic, the structure of which does not provide an adequate barrier for heat transfer. But with insulation, heat has a chance to fill your home before it escapes.
  • Energy Savings: When heat escapes from the roof of your home, it will be more difficult for the heating system to heat up the living space. So it will run for longer, utilizing a lot of energy in the process.
  • Fewer Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Finally, a home that is well-insulated amounts to a heating system that emits fewer greenhouse gases, an environmentally-friendly decision.

It takes a trained heating technician to select the amount and type of insulation material. Insulation is rated by its R-value, which helps a technician to know how effective the material will be. A qualified professional will check for any air leaks and take the proper safety precautions, such as ceiling plumbing vents and any recessed light fixtures. And a technician has equipment that can help you to save some money on the job, so you won’t have to rent any special equipment or purchase the wrong type of insulation yourself.

Astro Air Inc. would like to help you to rule your attic and lower the cost of staying comfortable in the winter with our professional attic insulation service in Wellington. Give us a call today to schedule an appointment.

What Are the Advantages of Ultra-Aire Dehumidifiers

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

Humidity plays an important role in our lives, as you may notice any of several problems in the home when there is not enough water vapor in the air. Too little moisture in the air you breathe every day can make you feel dry and uncomfortable, often leading to dried out nasal passages, dry skin, a scratchy throat, or chapped lips. But too much moisture is perhaps an even larger issue, making you feel hot and sticky, increasing moisture levels in the home, ruining the structure of the home, and creating an ideal condition for mold and mildew to thrive.

People generally say they feel most comfortable when humidity levels are around 30-50%. But in Florida, our climate often allows for levels that are well above this. That’s why many experts recommend dehumidifiers for homeowners in Deerfield Beach and the surrounding area, so that humidity levels are always right where they need to be in the home.

Can’t I Just Run My Air Conditioner Instead?

Air conditioners contain a similar system for dehumidification to a whole-home unit. As warm air blows over the cooling coil, condensation occurs and collects in an angled tray that leads to a drain pipe. However, using an air conditioner for dehumidification is an inefficient way to get the job done. You may feel uncomfortable when you cool your home to a level that allows for enough moisture control, and it’s pretty nonsensical to run the AC in the spring or fall. Besides, your bills are likely to suffer quite a bit if this is your only form of humidity regulation.

The Ultra-Aire dehumidifier line contains some extremely efficient units that provide exceptional dehumidification as well as some additional benefits. For example, you won’t have to worry about the feeling of stale indoor air from keeping your home sealed tight. Not only do these units remove moisture with consuming a ton of energy; they also protect your air quality with additional filtration and ventilation.

An Ultra-Aire Whole House Ventilating Dehumidifier offers precision moisture control with the added comfort of ventilation. Improperly ventilated homes contribute to stale air and an uncomfortable living space as well as allowing pollutants to recirculate through the air. With Ulta-Aire technology, you’ll also get fresh, filtered, conditioned air every time you run the unit.

Call Astro Air Inc. to learn more about purchasing a quality Ultra-Aire ventilating dehumidifier in Deerfield Beach today!

How Do Dehumidifiers Work?

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014

High humidity is a problem in many homes in Florida. Our climate is prone to excessive moisture in the air, which moves into our homes and makes the air feel stuffy and warm. Humidity makes it difficult for your body to evaporate sweat, which is why it can seem as though it feels warmer around you than the display on your thermostat. Furthermore, humidity can diminish the structural integrity of a building and allow for mold and mildew growth—which can make you sick.

One of the best ways to control humidity inside of your house is with a whole-house dehumidifier. While you can find a small portable dehumidifier at many department stores, these are intended for a small area only and will not help to control moisture in an entire house. A whole-house dehumidifier is designed to work in conjunction with your forced-air heating and air conditioning system, so you’ll need a professional to install it.

Dehumidifier Operation Basics

There are actually several different types of dehumidifiers available out there, many of them tend to operate under the same basic principles. While there are desiccant dehumidifiers, which use a desiccant like silica gel to absorb moisture (much like those small packets of silica gel in a new box of shoes) most dehumidifiers are refrigerative. This type of unit collects moisture from the air as condensation and moves it into a reservoir so that it can drain via a drain pipe (although some models require you empty the reservoir regularly instead).

A dehumidifier uses the same principles of refrigeration as an air conditioner, but running an air conditioner alone is an inefficient way to monitor humidity. With a whole-house dehumidifier, a refrigeration cycle requires refrigerant to cycle through and cool down the cooling coils in the unit. A fan pulls in air from your home and blows it over the coils which then pull moisture out of the air via condensation.

A dehumidifier requires some maintenance in order to work properly, so you should make sure to schedule annual heating and air conditioning maintenance, and have the technician check out your supplementary dehumidifier as well. Call Astro Air Inc. for installation, maintenance, or repairs for your dehumidifier in Deerfield Beach.