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Air Source America Blog : Archive for December, 2014

The Composition of Snowflakes: Are No Two Alike?

“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 Air Source America, 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!

How Do I Choose The Right Type of Insulation?

You’ve heard that insulation is key to surviving harsh winter climates. But did you know that insulation is just as important here in Florida as in areas with less agreeable winters? Insulation provides a barrier which makes it difficult for heat to move back and forth. Heat moves naturally from a warm area to a cooler one. In summer, heat transfers from the air outside through the walls and into your house, and in the winter it tends to move outdoors, even if your heater is running at full force.

So, without proper insulation, your heating and air conditioning systems have to work a lot harder to make up for the excess heat transfer. This means that you’re spending far more on your energy bills and possible repairs due to an overworked system. Besides that, your family members may complain about discomfort. But insulating material is effective enough to prevent this heat transfer and keep you feeling more comfortable at any time of year.

However, there are so many different types of insulating material that it can be difficult to choose the right type of insulation in Neptune Beach, FL. A contractor may recommend any of the following:

  • Fiberglass
  • Mineral Wool
  • Cellulose
  • Plastic Fiber
  • Cotton
  • Sheep’s Wool
  • Polystyrene
  • Polyurethane

How can you tell which type of insulation is right for you? Well, for one, you’ll likely want to choose a material that can be retrofitted into an existing home, instead of one that’s intended for new construction. In most cases, blown-in or loose fill insulation includes fiberglass or cellulose materials, and you’ll need professional-grade equipment to handle the job.

You should also check the R-value of your insulating material. The R-value indicates how effectively a material can resist heat transfer. The R-value needed for your home will depend on which area of the house you are insulating, and a higher number is best.

But insulating a home also requires some expertise and calculations which most homeowners don’t know to perform. Therefore, you should always choose professionals for your new insulation in Neptune Beach, FL, like the folks at Air Source America. Our skilled contractors can help you to choose where insulation is most needed and which type will give you the most comfort year-round.

Why Choose Whole House Air Filtration over a Portable Device

Proper air filtration is incredibly important if you have a forced-air heating or air conditioning system that requires ductwork to deliver air into the home. When you have a ducted system, you probably keep your doors and windows sealed tight and you may have plenty of insulation to ensure that very little heat leaves the house in winter or enters in the summer. The unfortunate side effect of this decision to seal the home is that any contaminants in the air will continuously cycle through the ducts and throughout your house.

Yes, the air you breathe in every day may contain harmful contaminants like airborne mold spores, bacteria, viruses, dust, smoke, and chemical residue, all of which can cause illness and be especially irritating to those with respiratory issues. Your heating and air conditioning system most likely contains a filter (which you must change every one to three months) to keep out some of the larger particles, but the smaller particles (like bacteria) can be just as harmful, if not more so.

This is why it’s important to have supplementary air filtration systems in Nocatee, but there are a lot of options out there. Many homeowners choose to purchase a small portable filtration device to sit in a room and pull particles from the air, as these are often available in department stores. But these simply don’t provide the power you need to clean the air throughout the house. These are intended for a single room only and cannot inhibit particles at every location in the house from making their way into the ducts.

Besides, cleaning the air through your home’s heating and air conditioning system is a more energy-efficient way to control the indoor air quality. The large fan in your HVAC system is used already to suck in air, so very little extra energy is consumed to run the supplementary indoor unit, if any is used at all. You can choose between whole-house mechanical or electronic air cleaner, a UV air purifier to kill microorganisms like bacteria, a heat recovery ventilator for ventilation, dehumidifiers and many more.

Talk to an IAQ expert at Air Source America to learn more about choosing air filtration systems in Nocatee.

How Low Refrigerant Affects Your Air Conditioner

There are multiple components in your air conditioning system that work together to cool your home. But none of these components can operate without refrigerant. Refrigerant is the chemical in your system that helps facilitate the transfer of heat; without this chemical, the cooling process cannot happen. Every air conditioner is made to operate with an exact amount of refrigerant; should the level be too high or too low, your system won’t work correctly. Whenever you have an issue with your refrigerant, particularly refrigerant leaks, it’s important to call for air conditioning repair in Jacksonville. Why? We’ll explain more below, but know that the trained and certified technicians of Air Source America are available to help with all your air conditioning repair needs.

Effects of Low Refrigerant

Low refrigerant is usually the result of a refrigerant leak. Leaks can be difficult to locate, and working with refrigerant requires certification, which are two reasons why calling for an expert for any refrigerant problem is important. Here are some problems that can develop when your system operates with a low refrigerant level:

Icing on Evaporator Coils

Seeing ice on your AC can be a strange site, particularly if it’s hot outside. The reason low refrigerant causes ice to form is this: low refrigerant causes an imbalance in the heat release/cooling process of your system. The warm parts of the system get too warm and the cool parts become too cold; this results in the formation of condensation that then freezes on the cold parts, resulting in a build-up of ice. Simply scraping the ice off does not fix the problem. The refrigerant leak needs to be found and repaired, and if enough refrigerant has been lost, your system may need a recharge.

Warm Air

Seguing from above, a secondary problem that can develop from low refrigerant is warm air blowing into your home instead of cool air. This occurs because the refrigerant imbalance doesn’t allow the heat to release properly, so proper cooling can’t be achieved. As a result, the air that is blown into your home isn’t chilled.

Compressor Problems

Like your AC system, your compressor is made to compress an exact amount of refrigerant. When the level is off, the compressor can overwork, leading to overheating and possible breakdown.

The bottom line? Operating your AC with low refrigerant is never a good idea.

Contact Air Source America and schedule an appointment for air conditioning repair in Jacksonville with one of our expert technicians.

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