Spring HVAC Prep

The weather is finally warming up. For the first time in months I left the office and didn’t have to worry about getting frostbite on my spleen. We hit 74 degrees last Friday here in Philly, I took a bike ride and came back looking like a drowned rat, but it was warm. It’s only 36 Fahrenheit today, but Spring is on the way. The coming warmth means we should start talking about your maintenance schedules. Do Your Chores It’s vital to inspect, clean, and maintain your HVAC equipment. It’s going to cost you if you don’t. You should inspect your entire HVAC System at least twice a year: once before spring, and again before fall/winter. These little maintenance checks will keep you, your employees, your customers, and any other guests comfortable year round. As the weather warms up, you will begin to dial back your reliance on your building’s heating system. This is an ideal time to find a warm day, shut it down, and have your contractor do some cleaning and inspections. Most burners will leave some measure of dirt/soot in the combustion chamber for you to clean up. Leaving this there will reduce your system’s efficiency and may eventually clog up the heat exchanger altogether. From a maintenance perspective, this is an ideal time to check that the ignition system is in good shape and doesn’t require any adjustment or replacement. Things like the spark rod in […]

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The Most Important AC Maintenance Item

In large part, modern HVAC systems are nearly maintenance free. We don’t mean that they don’t break down, we mean that you don’t have to get oil changes, rotate your tires, refill the blinker fluid, or anything else particularly special, they just work except for the occasional breakdown. That is except for the one, final frontier in user maintenance. There is one, absolutely essential thing you must do if you use an air conditioner.   CHANGE YOUR AIR FILTER   I’d have made that blink and flash, but the boss took my keyboard away until I agreed to stop putting neon-signs in the blog. Time after time after time, people ignore that blinking little light that says “change your filter.” This is a bad thing. We get it filters are expensive. They’re big and bulky, so they cost us more to ship in and out, and you always have to drag yourself to the supply room and mess with things to replace them. Nobody wants to sit around, changing filters, but you need to.   Effects of Dirty Filters There are three main problems with dirty filters: they stink, they can lead to mold, and they block airflow. With a gross enough filter, no one will want to be in the office, your customers will run away, and some poor sap is going to change it wearing rubber gloves and a home made hazmat suit. Once an air filter reaches […]

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Do I Need to Filter my Water?

We’ve covered how Water Softeners remove minerals which are harmful to your plumbing. What about things that are harmful to you? Water softeners are only effective against minerals. Bacteria, chlorine, even sediments will go through a water softener as if it were never there in the first place. With or without a softener, you’re on equal footing with everyone else: your water may be dangerous. Testing the Water Supply It’s a good idea to test your water supply every few years or after major changes such as construction in your area. We recommend testing because in most cases, it’s affordable, harmless, and it’s near impossible to notice subtle changes like lead leeching into the water supply without testing. This is an ounce of prevention to avoid a pound of pain. There are generally two ways to test your water: Over the Counter Kits and Mail-In Services. The kits can be found online and in your local plumbing and hardware stores. These kits will generally use testing strips and chemicals you mix with some water in a bowl. They start at around $20 for a basic test and it goes up from there for broad-spectrum tests that will cover everything you can find without ten tons of lab equipment. In some cases though, that ten tons of equipment might make sense. There are commercial labs and even universities that will test water samples for a premium. These tests will indicate specific […]

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Do I REALLY Need to Change My Filters?

There’s something that is often overlooked about winter preparation. Most people remember to turn off their air conditioner, shut off it’s power, clean them up, and put covers over their condensers and outdoor equipment. How many of you remembered to change your air filters before winter?   Why!? We have a couple of good reasons to replace every filter. Changing out filters ensures clean air, it prevents allergens and diseases from spreading, and it makes your office a better, healthier place. It’s just a matter of getting someone to actually change the filter. We’ve found  that filters are one of the most overlooked parts of HVAC Maintenance. They are tended to only after they’ve clogged an air vent or they’ve caused the CEO to have a day of sneezing due to allergens. Your switch over from cooling to heating is the perfect opportunity to check on those gross, old air filters and replace them. This is also the time when such a check up is a necessity. Depending on your exact configuration, there may be filters in the heating system that haven’t be changed since the spring, such as the furnace intake filter. A dirty intake is going to cost you fuel and early hardware failure in the furnace itself. The filters for your AC System may sit dormant all winter long if you have centralized cooling and a hot water heating system; in which case it’s better to get […]

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The Origins of the HEPA Filter: Nuclear Research

There has been some… grim news recently about a possible war between the US and North Korea over their developing nuclear capabilities. There is a ray of light though, in this grim news. It gives us an excuse to talk about HEPA Filters. It turns out, they were created specifically because of nuclear research and the fall out of nuclear weapons.   Filters Before HEPA Air filters have been around for a long time. The first air filters can be traced all the way back to the 1500s, a primitive respirator to protect the wearer from gases, dust, and fumes. Damp-cloth respirators started to come around in the 18th and 19th century. These used damp wool and valves to filter dust out of the air. The liquid-based approach would end up expanding to water and oil bath systems that essentially washed the air. Most contaminants would end up dissolved or pushed down in the water, while the air could eventually pass through. This technology was used on cars, trucks, tractors, and even some early air conditioning systems. It was pretty much the only known way to clean the air. At the time, there were no electron microscopes and the concept of cells and bacteria was still pretty new. There simply hadn’t been research into all the little things in the air and how effective or ineffective the existing filters were beyond subjective opinions. In the 1940s, there came a very […]

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