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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What is a Rollout Switch?

Your furnace is full of sensors, regulators, switches, and detectors of near everything. There are flame sensors, temperature sensors, pressure switches. That’s a lot of stuff that mostly feed into a controller that operates the furnace as long as it sees all the right readings. That one device is an almost single failure point. The only good way to stay safe is with redundancy. In most cases, these are physical, mechanical safeties which will over-ride every other part of a system and force it to stop cold. Cutting Power on Failure The Roll Out Switch is in simplest terms, a very fancy fuse. Most furnaces will have several of them spread throughout, each tuned to a particularly temperature. One near the burner or heat exchanger may be designed to trip if the furnace exceeds it’s maximum rated operating temperature. Another near the controller board may be set much lower, perhaps around 90 degrees celsius, just shy of when most silicon chips start to fail. Some may rest near the fuel line and manifold, set to extremely low temperatures, in case a leak and fire occurs away from the burner. In the event that any of these switches trip, all power to the furnace is cut. There’s no shutdown process, it just loses all electrical power. If things were going wrong or at risk of going wrong, this usually stops the problem dead in its tracks. A shut down furnace cannot […]

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Are Condenser Covers Necessary?

One of the most overlooked parts of having a central air system is covering up your condenser. Most people think, “it was fine all summer, so winter will be no different.” We would beg to differ on this, for the simple reason that winter is Cold and Cruel to machinery. Just think for a moment of how many things you leave outside and find ruined by nature.   Dirt and Debris The smallest thing to worry about is what can get inside your condenser that shouldn’t be there. As temperatures drop, trees are going to lose their leaves and smaller branches. Rodents will invariably seek shelter anywhere warm or enclosed. And of course, wherever small rodents go, they’re going to build a nest. Where rodents build a nest, they’re probably also going to find some tasty wires to nibble on through those long, cold nights. These things may seem minor, but they can be a real pain come spring. You’ll need to get the cover taken off and remove all the debris that shouldn’t be there. You’ll need to wash off your condenser coils in order to get the maximum possible efficiency. If any little critters got in there and had a tasty copper and rubber salad, you’ll also have to invest in the repair guy coming out and replacing something expensive. Who wants to put up with that?   Water Damage There’s also the threat of what water can […]

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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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