Clean Your Coils

Most people think that it’s only the filters that get dirty. That’s almost right. Almost. Your filters are going to be the first thing you notice being incredibly gross, but the entire HVAC system is exposed to the same types of dirt, pollen, and mold. These can sometimes get past the filter, but that’s not where the biggest problems lay. Efficiency The key parts to your HVAC system are often radiators of some sort (depending on the type of system). If you have hot water heat, you probably have baseboards, which are essentially radiators. Your air conditioner has two radiators, a condenser and an evaporator (these usually called Coils). The job of these devices is to move heat from one place to another. In some places we take heat from the air and put it into a refrigerant. in other cases we take it from the refrigerant and put it in the air. When these things are designed, engineers use materials that are known to have incredible thermal conduction capabilities. We know that paper is an awful thermal conductor and that metals tend to be amazing conductors. Beyond that, we know that specific metals are better conductors than others, conduct into the air better, and we know the number of fins and distance between them necessary to get amazing performance. Under ideal circumstances, especially when these products are fresh and new, they will work flawlessly. When the coils are all […]

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The Mechanical Parts DO Fail

We use clever design and parts like bearings to prolong the life of our mechanical equipment, but that’s not enough to save them indefinitely. Even if the immediate friction of metal on metal doesn’t kill something, there are other forces at work that will. It’s only a matter of time before something gives out in a big way.   Friction is STILL the Enemy Bearings let us reduce the friction between spinning parts, that way we don’t have metal grinding on metal inside motors, valves, vents, or anything else mechanical. That’s not where the friction ends though. Friction is literally everywhere. Whenever two materials touch, there will be friction, including between the air and water against an object. This is destructive. Air and water seem soft and safe to us, but they’re actually capable of being extremely destructive over time. This is most evident in pumps. The impellers spin and push the water around, creating movement and pressure. A new impeller will have precise, ‘teeth’, shrouds, that work direct the water like the blades of a fan. Over time however, the smallest imperfections will be worn into massive design failures. These shrouds will be worn down until they don’t trap, grab, and push water around anymore. They won’t hold up to pressure anymore. Overtime, the water is grabbing bits and pieces of the metal itself and just carrying it away. Any weaker parts of the pump will be eaten and […]

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Why is the AC Hissing?

Air conditioners produce liquid water by design and by the simple nature of physics. Sometimes this harmlessly leaks out around the air conditioner, such as with window units, and sometimes it leaks when a drain gets blocked. There is however, a second leak an air conditioner can develop: refrigerant leaks.   The Cooling Compound Air conditioners work by exploiting physics around state-changes. When liquid turns into a gas, it can absorb heat.The effectiveness of the state change varies from compound to compound. For air conditioning, we tend to use things like R134a (freon), R12 (phased out/illegal in much of the world now), and even propane. These are all chemicals which have particular properties ideal for cooling. For example, they won’t turn solid at 0 degrees C like water, so they won’t clog up the air conditioner’s tubing and fittings. These chemicals though have some downsides we can’t really escape. Propane is outright flammable and probably capable of turning your air conditioner into a flaming set piece in the next post-apocalypse movie. R12 destroys the ozone. And R134a is toxic. It causes a wide range of symptoms from headaches to hallucinations and death in the worst case exposures.   The Hissing Leak When the air conditioner is running or has recently been run, the refrigerant will be highly pressurized. In order for us to make it work, we compress it. We’re cramming a lot of material into a small space, which […]

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Does a Water Softener Prevent Pipe Bursts?

The Procure Inc. office is a place of weird, exciting, and unexpected debates. Today we’re writing about our most recent thought-experiment: do water softeners prevent icing inside pipes? Let’s lay down some background about chemistry and water.   What Does Hard Water Do? Water straight from the ground is not pure. There’s going to be all sorts of things mixed in with water coming straight out of a well. Ground water contains a whole range of contaminants no matter where you live. There can be bacteria, metals, even run off and toxins in ground water. It all depends on the location. You get hard water when there’s a high mineral content. These minerals are harmless to most people. The World Health Organization has found no adverse health effects. Some researchers believe hard water may even be healthier than regular, purified water. Unfortunately, our plumbing is not so neutral. The mineral content in hard water will often start to build up inside the pipes. Eventually, the mineral build up starts to become more and more like a clogged artery. There will be a point of complete blockage. Blocked plumbing is not good. Blockages can cause damage to valves, pumps, heating equipment, and chillers. The narrowed flow of water increases the pressure and strain on equipment. For furnaces, these blockages are especially problematic. The various coils and heat exchangers used in how water heat often rely on narrow channels to maximize their […]

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Why Are There So Many Types of Actuators?

Actuators are really complicated. There’s a whole little ecosystem around them, all to provide exactly the right type of movement for every application. In principal, an actuator’s just moving something a few inches or a few degrees, but the way it moves really matters. This has lead to actuators with different types of movement speeds, different levels of precision, different return systems, and a lot of complicated terminology about what you’re actually buying into.   3 Types of Performance One of the key metrics is performance and the price it takes to achieve it. Consider for example, the damper actuator in your air vent. It doesn’t matter too much if it takes a minute or two to fully open as long as it works quietly and within the temperature range of your home. Compare this to an industrial fast-acting actuator on the safety systems in an oil refinery. When the plant alarm goes off that something’s might explode, you want that valve to slam shut with all the force of the hulk hitting the snooze button in the morning. In your home, a little electrical actuator would work just fine. In that refinery however? That needs something special. There, you need a pneumatic system that can throw thousands of pounds of force into a valve near instantly. There’s just no other good way to get the job done in a fast manner. Electrical motors on the rise but, in these […]

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