Archive for January, 2015

Why Air Conditioning Maintenance Is a Yearly Necessity

Thursday, 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

Tuesday, 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

Tuesday, 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

Tuesday, 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

Thursday, 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.