Downtown Air and Heat Blog : 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 Downtown Air & Heat, 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!

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Reasons to Schedule Heating Maintenance

Friday, December 19th, 2014

Usually, when you call a technician to your home, you have a pretty good reason for it. Perhaps your heating system is making some particularly strange noises, your heater struggles to switch on, or you just want to upgrade with zone heating or a new thermostat.  But you may not know that there are plenty of very good reasons to call a technician when there are no apparent problems with your heating system.

Here in Orlando, we go for a long time without running our heating systems. This means that you may not know if there is a lurking problem with the components of your heater. And with a defunct heating system, you may leave yourself vulnerable to a few different problems that can affect your comfort, your bills, and even your safety.

There are a few good reasons to call a technician for maintenance on a regular basis. We’d like to remind you that it’s not too late for a heating maintenance visit this season, especially since you may end up with the following benefits afterwards.

  1. A more comfortable space: Maintenance includes an inspection, cleaning, and adjustment of some of the most crucial components to the operation of your system and some of the seemingly minor ones as well. This helps to make sure your unit is in top shape, as a unit runs at its very best well all of the components are in an optimal condition.
  2. Energy savings: When parts are loose, out of place, bent, or dirty, they have to run for longer and use up more energy to get the house to the proper temperature. This costs you more than expected every month, and a maintenance visit may actually offset the extra cost in some cases.
  3. Peace of mind: Finally, heating maintenance gives you peace of mind that your system will not breakdown any time soon. And with a gas furnace, you’ll feel confident that there is not a safety issue that could lead to a gas leak.

Call the experts at Downtown Air & Heat to make sure you get a thorough and complete heating maintenance in Orlando. We offer a twice yearly tune-up as part of our maintenance program with discounts on parts and services as well.

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What Type of Air Cleaner Do You Need?

Friday, December 12th, 2014

Poor air quality is quite common in homes across the country. Though many homeowners do not know it, their home’s air is often infested with microscopic pollutants. Dust, mold, pollen, insect dander, viruses, bacteria, and many more contaminants are circulated throughout the house every time the heating or air conditioning is turned on. These pollutants can cause allergy attacks, illnesses, and all sorts of other nasty symptoms when they come in contact with the home’s occupants. So, what can be done about it? If you want to improve your home’s indoor air quality, you’ll need an air cleaner. Let’s examine which one would best fit your needs.

Mechanical Air Filters

Mechanical air filters are the simplest type of air cleaner available. They are comprised of a woven mesh, usually of fiberglass, stretched over a metal or plastic frame and inserted into your home’s air ducts. These filters are finely woven enough to catch a lot of the dust and debris common to a home’s ductwork, while allowing air to pass through them relatively unobstructed. Some of these filters, like HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filters, are woven so tightly that they can even catch viruses and bacteria. Those filters are usually reserved for use in hospitals and the like, however, and are probably overkill for simple home use.

Ionization Air Purifiers

Ionization air purifiers are a lot more complex than mechanical air filters, though they have a few distinct advantages. Basically, a whole-house ionization purifier works by generating an electrical field around itself. As air passes through this field, the particles it carries receive a negative electric charge. These negatively-charged particles are then attracted to the positively charged metal plates inside the purifier. After the plates collect enough particles, they can be removed and cleaned. Ionization purifiers can capture a lot of airborne pollutants and contaminants. However, they do require a bit more maintenance than a simple mechanical filter.

If you’d like to know more about your air cleaner options, call Downtown Air & Heat. We install and maintain air cleaners throughout Orlando, FL.

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Why a Dehumidifier Is Necessary in a Tropical Climate

Friday, December 5th, 2014

According to the Köppen climate classification, the most widely recognized classification system for classifying the climates of particular areas, Orlando is not located in the area deemed a “tropical climate.” While Tampa has many of the characteristics of a tropical climate, it is actually located in what is known as a humid subtropical climate. In a humid subtropical climate, the winds from the tropics brings in warm, moist air which means humidity can be a real concern in our area, leading many to choose a whole-house dehumidifier.

High humidity occurs when there is a lot of water vapor in the air. This can cause a multitude of problems for Florida homeowners, including damage to the home, high energy bills, and poor indoor air quality. Rather than risk these negative effects, many homeowners choose to install whole-house dehumidifiers instead of point-of-use dehumidifiers which only alleviate the problem in a single room or area. Here are some of the risks you take if you don’t protect your entire home.

One of the most noticeable problems associated with high humidity is the level of heat you feel on your body. With too much moisture in the air, sweat cannot evaporate from your body as it should, which means a heat envelope forms around your body and makes you feel as though it is far warmer than the actual outdoor and indoor temperature. You crank up the AC to compensate, which could lead to an overworked unit that breaks down frequently or cots a lot of money to run.

The effects of high humidity on the conditions in your home can be even more of an issue. Water can ruin your furniture and do some damage for the structural integrity of your home. And in area with a lot of moisture, bacteria, mold, and viruses can thrive and move into the air, aggravating allergies, asthma, and other respiratory symptoms.

Choosing to install a whole-home dehumidifier in Orlando means you are protecting every area of your house, not just a single room. This type of system works with your HVAC unit to collect moisture as it sucks in air. Moisture is attracted to cooling coils as condensation occurs, leading to improved conditions and a feeling of overall comfort and relaxation.

Call Downtown Air & Heat to learn how you can get a dehumidifier in Orlando and get peace of mind about the state of your home.

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