Why Is Pollen A Problem?

It’s Spring! The grass is green, the trees are leafy, and the flowers are quite pretty. This however, brings with it an air quality problem: pollen. The HVAC solution to pollen is to maintain positive pressure in the building, good filtration, and implement some good cleaning practices. That however, is not what we’re talking about today. We’re talking about the science of pollen and why we have pollen allergies, because few HVAC Blogs look at this type of science, but we do. Plant Reproduction Most complex life on Earth needs two organisms to reproduce. You have two parents, your dog had two parents, and the tree in your front yard, probably had two parents. The thing is though, trees and flowers can’t walk up to each other to reproduce, they’re just static-things that shift in the breeze. Something has to move genetic material from one plant to the other. Pollen is how plants reproduce. They’re hardy cells that get carried off into the wind in such vast quantities that they’re all but guaranteed to swarm a compatible plant. These cells contain that tree’s genetic material and they’re designed to mix with another plant to produce seeds that will eventually grow into another plant. This is an ongoing process, but it’s worse in the Spring when plants are bursting back to life after a long, dormant winter. Varying weather conditions will cause days with more or less pollen. After a period […]

Read More →

What is the Equinox?

We have two major ways to divide the year: the Equinoxes and the Solstices. These are events coinciding with specific details about the Earth’s orbit and they’re used as the basis for when each season begins. The Spring Equinox just passed us, on March 20th. Let’s look into exactly what that means. Orbital Movement of the Earth The Earth’s movement through space is a little more complicated than just going in one big circle. Our great, big blue marble: Rotates around its Axis This creates the days. One side faces the sun, the other is in shadow. Wobbles back and forth on that Axis This plays a role in creating the seasons. The wobble causes the Summer in the northern part of the world to be warm, while it becomes cold in the southern part. And vice versa for the winter. Moves around the sun in an uneven circle (elliptical orbit) This is where we derive Years from. 1 orbit of the sun is 1 year. This doesn’t break down exactly into an even number of days, which is why we have Leap Years. These movements ultimately work out two 4 major things: the longest day of the year is the Summer Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere, the shortest is the Winter solstice. On these days, the Earth’s steady wobble has reached it’s peak. It’s rocked as far on its side as it’s going to move. This movement to the […]

Read More →

History of Groundhog Day

Groundhog day is a bit of a big deal in Pennsylvania, we all gather around to see if Punxsutawney Phil will come out or see his shadow. If his shadow scares him back underground, then winter will be longer. If he stays outside, then Spring is right around the corner. The tradition dates back several centuries if we look for its oldest roots. Evolving Holidays The oldest holiday like Groundhogs Day is the Celtic Imbolc, a celebration of the beginning of Spring. This was traditionally held on February second, what we now call Groundhog’s Day. Christianity eventually turned Imbolc into Candlemas, a holiday revolving around Jesus in Jeruselam. Candlemas brought about the first predications for when Spring would arrive. In some parts of Europe, Christians believed that a clear day on Candlemas meant another forty days of snow and cold weather. A cloudy or otherwise inclement day would mean Spring arriving early. This is starting to sound a lot like Groundhog Day, isn’t it? The Germans would give the holiday the final major evolutionary step: if a small animal emerging from its den is scared back inside, winter will be longer, and if not it will be shorter. Their animal of choice for the holiday was a Badger. Moving to the States Pennsylvania has a massive German Heritage, often called PA Dutch (a mispronunciation of Deutsche by the English speakers of the 1700s). On top of having strong influences of […]

Read More →

Sealing In The Heat

There’s more than one way to insulate your facility. We often think of insulation as just the stuff in the walls or on the pipes. It’s important to remember we need to also essentially insulate the air, isolate the air inside our buildings from the air outside. In a perfect world, all the air we heat up stays inside. In reality, every opening to the outside door is money lost in the breeze.   The Doors The doors in your facility are where you’re going to lose heat the fastest. In a large department store for example,  the doors may as well not even be there for peak shopping hours. Customers will enter and leave so frequently that the doors are constantly open. In arrangements like this, it’s important to choose a door configuration that retains as much heat as possible. You may notice that most large stores feature an enclosed entry. That is, you go through two sets of doors to actually enter their building. This reduces the volume of air going straight to the outside world, and tries to keep that warm air at least inside the entry way to warm guests as they begin to enter. The only major downside to this type of entry is some slight inconvenience to the customer. Some large chains forgo this design in order to make their entry into the store more open. They believe the enhanced aesthetic of just one […]

Read More →

You Really Should Weatherproof That

Today we’re going to look at a massive plumbing FAIL and hope that people can learn from a billion dollar mistake. It’s relatively common knowledge among plumbers that pipe + water + freezing = big paycheck @ 3am. When water freezes inside a pipe, it starts to expand outwards, and eventually the ice crystals will force themselves into a rigid shape, which will push outwards on the pipe like a microscopic bottle jack. Pipes are pretty rigid, but water doesn’t compress well and ice doesn’t really squeeze down either. It’s going to take on the shape it wants to take. The pipe bursts and things get expensive.   Russia’s Plumbing Problem The USSR, the Soviet Union, was apparently unaware of these issues in physics when building their only aircraft carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov. It’s been reported that the onboard plumbing was not weather proofed. When the ship entered sub-freezing environments, it was possible for pipes to freeze and burst. This can be a massive issue for a combat vessel. You don’t want to be fighting your own cooling systems, drinking water, or risking flooding your ship with your own water supply while you’re fighting off an attacker. That makes for a really bad day. Repairing this isn’t a small task either. The Kuznetsov is an aircraft carrier. It’s about as long as three football feels end to end, with change left over. It weighs 55,000 tons. There’s room for a […]

Read More →

Don’t Underestimate a Hurricane

Today’s blog post is once more, early for the pending hurricane in the Carolinas. We will return to your regularly scheduled blogging later next week. Hurricane Florence has weakened to a category 2 storm, but it is no less deadly. It might be worse than if it had remained a category 4 and kept moving.   The Category System There are a lot of factors that go into how strong a storm is. We don’t have an easy system to boil this down to a master deadliness rating. There’s the amount of rain, the storm surge, the wind, the size of it, how long it’s going to impact a given area, and more. If we had a complex system that factored in everything, the average person wouldn’t be able to understand the taxonomy and understand the storm. As a result, we build our hurricane categories on one factor alone: windspeed. We start out with tropical depressions and tropical storms, then work our way up to faster and faster winds, all the way up to roaring 150mph+ category 5 storms. The wind is a predictable, understandable factor. We know the faster the wind gets, the more damage there will be. In some ways, the wind speed is a measure of how much energy is in a storm. This is an understandable set up. You see Category 5 and you know the storm is gonna be a whipping bulldozer that levels everything […]

Read More →

How to Prepare for a Hurricane

This week’s blog post is coming out early. We at Procure Inc feel that knowledge can save lives and in times of emergency, the least we can do is spread useful knowledge to anyone in need. Everyone in the path of Hurricane Florence, stay safe and good luck.   How Bad Is The Hurricane? The first thing to know about surviving a hurricane is to know what a hurricane is and just how bad things will get. In a sense, you can think of the hurricane as a tornado about the size of Texas. There will be extreme wind, rain, and flooding. The air is going to move so fast that it will literally rip the roofs off homes. Tree branches, parts of houses, and anything not tied down is going to become airborne. If the wind doesn’t directly hurt you, the debris will, and if the debris doesn’t, significant portions of the state will be underwater. Hurricane Florence is expected to become a Category 5 hurricane. The steady wind speeds will exceed 160 miles per hour. If you had a small airplane, you probably would “hover” if you flew into the wind or even end up flying backwards. There is no stronger category of storm, though there has been consideration for a category 6 to be made. Storms of this size are basically flying bulldozers. Homes will be demolished or washed away. Electrical service will be wiped out. Trees […]

Read More →

How Hot is Too Hot?

Mother Nature is not yet done roasting us with the summer sun. We’ve had a good week or two of cool weather but now Philly is roasting hot. Factoring in humidity, it feels a little over 100 Degrees Fahrenheit outside. Put another way, if we cracked an egg on the hood of lead salesman Scott’s Jeep, it’d probably turn to dust in about a minute. The US National Weather Service has issued heat advisories and warnings to stay inside. Where do we put that boundary, between mere comfort and necessity to live?   Beyond Uncomfortable When we start to see these excessive temperatures proper cooling becomes not a matter of comfort, but of health, life, and death. When the Heat Index breaks past 100 degrees, we start to have issues cooling ourselves. The core of your body wants to be at about 98 degrees. If the air outside of you is above 98 degrees, it can be physically impossible to remain cool. In these situations, any movement or activity outside can make you hotter. The hotter you are, the more you sweat. The more you sweat, the more dehydrated you are. At the same time, excessive humidity will make sweating less and less effective at cooling your body. At some point, it just becomes impossible to remain healthy. You’ll either become too dehydrated or start to suffer heat-stroke and exhaustion from your body becoming too hot. These situations are more […]

Read More →

It’s 50 Degrees Out, Why Do I Need AC?

Every now and then we get asked a question and realize, “the truth is not as straight forward as it seems.” Or “there is a lot more at play here.” Today, that question focuses on why we need to flip on the AC, despite it being perfectly cool outside our homes. The Environment It’s late Spring in Pennsylvania, quickly approaching Summer. Our daytime highs range anywhere from 68 degrees clear to 92 degrees right now and this is considered the ‘cool’ part of the season before things heat up. At night, the lows can range anywhere from 48 to 62 or so for now. This is just pleasant weather. We don’t necessarily think about the air conditioner much yet. Take off your sweaters and you’re going to be pretty comfy outside. The same however, is not necessarily true for inside the house. Despite it being merely 65 degrees outside, and the heater having sat quietly off all night long, my house was already 80 degrees this morning. We had windows open and fans running to suck in the outside air, but the house was still roasting inside. Trapped Heat The first culprit for all this heat is a key part of any efficient building: insulation. My house, like most others will do its best to resist losing heat. There’s thick insulation in the walls and as we’ve covered before, it works well. Whatever thermal energy is in the house, is […]

Read More →

When CAN we turn on the AC?

As the weather warms up, we’re caught in a bit of a pickle. Some days it’s 60 or 70 degrees outside, but other nights we can still see lows dipping to 26. Some days we look to our AC systems and desperately want to run them, but is it time? Is it good to run AC for just a few hours a day? Is it good to run them in the bitter colds nights? Are we going to regret running these?   Physics Hate Us We’re going to run into a few issues running our air conditioning in less than roasting weather. We’ve built modern AC, from window units up to multi-ton rooftop monsters, to take a brutal 100 degree summer down to a cool 70 degree oasis. These machines can create temperature drops from twenty to forty or more degrees. This involves creating some intense coolness inside the air conditioner. If the ambient air is 60 degrees and we drop that by 40 degrees inside the air conditioner, we’re going to make it 20 degrees inside. This extreme cold will create ice, the great nemesis of all things mechanical. We don’t start to get to ideal temperatures until it’s about 70 degrees outside. Around that point, we can actually run the AC without having to worry so much about the ice build up. Why is ice a problem? It’s mother nature’s wedge. As water freezes it expands. As water […]

Read More →