HVAC System

Notable Women in HVAC History

When we talk about the great technological achievements throughout history, we tend to focus on the accomplishments of men. However, in any field, there are always plenty of women whose contributions are just as important, but often go unsung. The field of HVAC is no exception. Here are two women in HVAC history who helped define home comfort as we know it.

Alice H. Parker

For years, homes were heated primarily using wood or coal burning furnaces. Heat would eminate from the unit, which would then spread to the rest of the house. Then in 1919, African American inventor Alice H. Parker changed all that, by inventing a new, safer furnace that burned natural gas instead.

Furthermore, the furnace would heat up the air and distribute it throughout the house via a system of ducts and vents. This way, heat could spread through a home more evenly. Her furnace even allowed homeowners to set different temperatures for different areas of the house according to their individual needs - a concept that wouldn't become widespread until decades later, with the introduction of zoning systems.

Margaret Ingels

Another of the important women in HVAC history was Margaret Ingels. One of the first female engineers in America, she was the first woman to receive a professional Mechanical Engineering degree.

Spending six years in the American Society of Heating and Ventilating Engineers research lab beginning in 1920, Ingels researched how to measure the amount of dust and contaminants in the air in public places. Her crowning achievement, though, was the sling psychrometer, which measures the amount of moisture in the air.

In so doing, Ingels was able to develop the "effective temperature" scale. This scale considers factors like relative humidity and air movement in order to determine the "feels like" temperature when it comes to home comfort.

These are just a few of the women who helped define home comfort as we know it today. To learn about other women in HVAC history, contact us at Air Assurance. We've provided Broken Arrow with quality home comfort solutions since 1985.

Safety

How to Babyproof Your Home and HVAC

Your home’s HVAC system is an important item to add to your babyproofing list. This equipment can cause injuries to curious children who get too close. Even if your baby is a newborn, it’s never too early to start making your Broken Arrow home safer with the following HVAC system babyproofing tips.

Check Your Metal Vents and Registers

The metal vents and registers around your home can be hazardous to kids due to their edges. Children can get cut on these edges if they come loose from the floor or wall. Check each metal vent and register in your home to see if any are loose, and secure them to the wall or floor. If you want to avoid having to worry about these metal edges, you can switch to plastic vents and registers instead. Plastic ones are easy to secure and don’t have any sharp parts.

Put Screens in Registers and Vents

Young kids can sometimes lose toys that fall through vent and register slats, but there’s an easy way to prevent this. Cut out a piece of vinyl window screening that matches the size of the register or vent, and attach it beneath the cover. This screening will catch any objects that fall into your registers and vents, so that they’re easy to retrieve. This will also prevent your child from getting fingers stuck in the slats trying to reach toys that fall in.

Enclose Your HVAC’s Outdoor Unit

The outdoor unit of an HVAC system is among the biggest dangers for children. These units have wiring, blades that move when the system is running, and metal pieces with sharp edges. It’s important to make sure that your child isn’t able to access this outdoor unit at all. You can do this by putting up a fence all around your outdoor unit. This allows you to easily access it if needed while also keeping your child from being able to get near it.

If you’re looking for help with HVAC system babyproofing your home in the Broken Arrow area, please contact Air Assurance.

IAQ – Indoor Air Quality

How Dust Affects Your Indoor Air Quality

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What is dust and where does it come from? In Oklahoma, most of us have to deal with pervasive dust in our homes, so it's important to know its source and not only keep it from gaining entrance, but also to control the dust that wafts inside. Controlling dust will vastly improve your indoor air quality.

What Is Dust?

Many online sources claim that dust is us -- that is, most of it is made up of shredded human skin and hair. Turns out, that's untrue. Most human skin and hair particles are washed off during showers and go down the drain. Only a small percentage of the dust in our homes is human-derived.

Most dust blows in from the outdoors, particularly in homes that are less than airtight, or where the doors or windows are kept open, or from tracking the outdoors inside on our feet or on our pets.

The other dust particles are derived from pet hair and dander, decaying insect bodies, carpet fluff and clothing and textile fibers. Some dust may be made of pollen and soot.

Controlling Dust

The best way to keep dust under control is by frequent vacuuming with a HEPA filter. Be sure to vacuum carpets, rugs, furniture and baseboards. But do be aware that vacuuming can scatter dust particles into the air, so whenever possible, clean floors, such as tile or hardwood, with a damp mop.

Your HVAC system can play an important role in controlling dust, but to do so effectively, it needs frequent filter changing. Use a good quality, polyester, pleated air filter so it can catch the smaller particles that the cheap fiberglass filters can't catch. Filters should be rated 8-12 on the MERV (minimum efficiency reporting value) scale.

An in-house air purification system may also help. Consult your HVAC specialist to discuss the best type for your home.

Keep doors and windows shut to keep dust out. Air seal minute cracks around doors and windows that may be allowing dust inside.

For more on preventing dust from compromising your indoor air quality, contact Air Assurance of Broken Arrow.

HVAC System

The Biggest Changes in HVAC History in the Last 5 Years

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If you haven't updated your HVAC system in a number of years, you may not be aware of big changes that have taken place in the HVAC industry. Here are some things you might want to know about recent HVAC history that can have an impact on your next HVAC system purchase.

Smart Technology

Of course smart technology has been coming on for a while, but in the last five years, it's moved front and center in the operation and control of HVAC systems. With the introduction of smart thermostats such as the Nest and others, more and more consumers are controlling their systems from near or far with a smart device.

Efficiency Standards

In 2015, the Department of Energy adopted new energy efficiency standards for heat pumps, air conditioners and furnaces. These standards have motivated the HVAC industry to work harder on technological innovations for achieving ever greater efficiency.

Refrigerant Phase-Out

The widely used refrigerant R-22, which has been proven to be harmful to the ozone layer, began to be phased a few years ago. While older systems still use R-22, as of Jan. 1, 2020, the refrigerant will no longer be manufactured and cannot be imported into this country. That means owners of equipment using R-22 will have to pay big prices for dwindling stocks of the refrigerant when their equipment develops a leak, as you cannot use the new refrigerants in air conditioners that require R-22.

Sensor-Driven Equipment

So many systems are now being designed to be activated by sensors that we can't list them all, but here's one that was introduced in 2015 and can provide precise room-by-room temperature control: the Ecovent. Controlled by a smartphone app, the sensor-driven vents replace existing wall, ceiling or floor vents.

Non-Vapor Compression Technology

In 2015, the U.S. Department of Energy began funding research for non-vapor compression technologies, which won't require coolants to chill air. This could reduce energy use for cooling equipment by as much as 50 percent.

For more on HVAC history and innovations, contact Air Assurance. We serve the Broken Arrow area.

Furnaces, HVAC System

The Truth: Radiant Heat vs. Furnace

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There are many different options when it comes to heating your home. The most common is a forced-air furnace. But you can also install a radiant heating system. Both have advantages and disadvantages. Let's take a look at radiant heat vs furnace options.

Radiant Heating

With radiant heat, heating coils are installed beneath your floorboards. Heat then rises, spreading throughout the room and providing an even, comfortable layer of warmth. Not only are you warmed by the ambient heat, but also by direct contact with the heating source. There's nothing like walking on a radiant floor on cold mornings.

Radiant heating doesn't use ductwork, which eliminates the energy losses that can come from leaky or damaged ducts. Thus it uses much less energy than a forced air system, while heating a room more evenly. The drawback is, no ductwork also means no cooling in the summer. If you do get radiant heat, a dedicated duct system would still have to be installed for your A/C.

Radiant heat is also expensive to install, particularly when retrofitting an existing home, as it means tearing up the floorboards. And if you have thick carpet or area rugs on the floor, they act as insulation, and the radiant heat won't be able to spread effectively throughout your home.

Furnaces

A forced air system has its own advantages when it comes to radiant heat vs furnace. It warms your home more quickly and provides better air circulation.

The main drawback is dealing with energy loss from damaged ductwork, air leaks, poor airflow, and more. Additionally, the ductwork can circulate allergens and other contaminants through your home. The heat isn't as even, and the lower areas of your home will have trouble getting heat at all.

So ultimately, which is better? It all depends on your specific heating and cooling needs. Talk to an expert and let them help you decide which is the best option for your home.

For help solving the radiant heat vs furnace conundrum for yourself, contact us at Air Assurance. We proudly serve all of Broken Arrow's heating and cooling needs.

Plumbing

Expansion Tanks & Why They're Important

If your home’s utilizes a boiler and radiators for heating, expansion tanks are an important factor. Hydronic heating produces energy-efficient home comfort as water heated by the boiler circulates through radiators in each room. However, one specific fact of physics presents an issue: Water expands when heated. As the water volume inside a closed hydronic system increases with heat, the mounting pressure has nowhere to go and could potentially trigger pressure relief valves, over-stress system components, and degrade reliability. That’s where expansion tanks come in to relieve that pressure.

Here’s how an expansion tank protects your heating system:

  • Connected to the water line between the boiler and radiators, the tank is divided into two segments: an upper half that receives water expanding under heat and an empty lower half that contains only pressurized air. A flexible rubber diaphragm separates the two halves of the tank.

  • When the system cycles on and the boiler is heating, water volume in the system expands. The resultant pressure increase pushes water into the top half of the expansion tank. The flexible rubber diaphragm expands downward to accommodate this influx and moderating pressure in the system, preventing actuation of relief valves and/or damage to components.

  • When the system turns off, water cools and system water volume decreases. Air pressure in the lower portion of the expansion tank pushes against the rubber diaphragm to expel water out of the upper portion and back into the system. This ensures that system water volume always remains in the safe range, without admitting air into the system.

Here’s a quick way to check expansion tank functioin. While the system’s running, feel the upper part of the tank. It should feel noticeably warm to the touch. The lower portion, however, should feel like room temperature. If both the upper and lower portions of the tank feel warm, contact a qualified HVAC service provider to check the condition of the internal diaphragm and make necessary repair or replacement.

For more information about the installation and maintenance of expansion tanks, contact the professionals at Air Assurance.

IAQ – Indoor Air Quality

IAQ Concerns: New Flooring

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New flooring sure can spiff up the looks of your home, so how it impacts your indoor air quality (IAQ) is probably the last thing you're thinking about when deciding which type of flooring to use. But the unfortunate fact is that some types of flooring create health concerns for the sensitive. Be aware of the pollutants given off by the various types of flooring, as well as the chemicals used to clean and install them.

Read on for IAQ concerns for several types of flooring.

Hardwood

Hardwood is one of the most desirable floors. It looks beautiful and is durable and easy to clean. The only health concern is from the volatile organic compounds (VOC)s that might be used to clean and polish the hardwood. Be sure to check chemical cleaners for VOC content, and substitute natural cleaners whenever possible. VOCs are gasses given off by chemicals and manufactured products that can be irritants for a host of respiratory issues.

Laminates

Laminates simulate wood but are usually made of a photographic applique layer, on top of melanine resin and fiber board. The adhesives used to install the laminates may give off VOCs, as may the laminates if cut. Some laminates emit formaldehyde.

Vinyl

Vinyl floors hold up well to foot traffic, are versatile and easy to clean. Installation usually involves VOC-laden solvents.

Carpets and rugs

Carpets and rugs add a warm interface between feet and cold, hard floors. However, they can harbor pollutants such as pet dander, dust mites, dirt and mold. Even with vacuuming and carpet washing, you never get all the pollutants out. They also can hold moisture and contribute to mold and mildew. A better choice might be a hard flooring with washable rugs.

Tile

Tile is easy to clean, and though hard, can be softened for contact with feet with washable rugs. As long as harsh chemicals aren't used for cleaning, you shouldn't have any issues with off-gassing of VOCs.

For more on IAQ concerns and new flooring, contact Air Assurance. We provide Broken Arrow with HVAC repairs, installations and maintenance.

Energy Savings

10 Steps to a Green Home

The effort to build and live green is not going away. In fact, energy efficiency will just continue to be more important as we move away from fossil fuels and find alternative, more efficient energy sources. But right now, there's a lot you can do to have a green home. Have a look at some of these tips and adapt them in your dwelling space.

1. Change the air filter frequently. A dirty air filter makes your HVAC system work harder. Change the filter as often as is needed.

2. Switch to a permanent, washable air filter. This eliminates having to dispose of filters, which end up in the landfill. Make sure you clean it so it works properly.

3. Seal air leaks. You'll get greater energy efficiency and reduce your carbon footprint by sealing air leaks around plumbing, light switches, baseboards, doors and windows.

4. Use a programmable or Wi-fi thermostat. Set your schedule to reduce power use during the day when everyone's gone and at night when they are asleep. Stick to the schedule.

5. Reduce humidity in the home in summer. A humid home can make you feel warm so you use more energy to cool. Fix plumbing leaks, reduce shower times, and install exhaust ventilation to reduce relative humidity.

6. Look into solar solutions. Look into installing energy-efficient solar lights and other solar solutions around the home to reduce energy use. You may even want to install solar batteries for all your energy use.

7. Fix air duct leaks. If your air ducts are leaking, you're losing conditioned air. Have them checked out during HVAC maintenance.

8. Install efficient windows. Install double pane, efficient windows recommended by Energy Star to reduce solar radiation in the home, and to keep cold winds out.

9. Install window tinting. This can help reduce solar radiation in the home.

10. Install Energy Star appliances. As your older appliances wear out, look for efficient Energy Star-rated replacements.

For more on creating a green home, and to schedule repairs, maintenance and installations, contact Air Assurance of Broken Arrow.

Air Conditioning

What Are Swamp Coolers?

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A swamp cooler is a type of cooling system that relies on water evaporation to cool the air. Also known as evaporative coolers, these devices cool incoming air by as much as 30 degrees F. They’re the most energy efficient way to cool, as long as the humidity is low.

The coolers pump water over absorbent pads. A fan inside the cooler pulls air through the pads. The air blows through the home to cool it. Some coolers use thermostats to turn on and off. How much they cool is completely dependent on the weather. They are most effective in arid regions like Arizona, New Mexico and parts of Texas.

Their Benefits

  • An evaporative cooler uses about four times less electricity than an air conditioner.

  • The coolers cost much less than central air conditioners.

  • Swamp coolers pull in a constant stream of fresh air and run quietly.

Ideal Applications

The easiest kind of home to cool with an evaporative cooler is a ranch-style single-story home. They can cool two-story homes, but the airflow needs to be balanced to assure adequate cooling for the upstairs. Larger homes require larger coolers. They’re also good for spot-cooling a garage or outbuilding.

Their Limitations

  • Evaporative coolers are extremely effective in arid climates when the dew point is below 55 degrees F. Swamp coolers are not nearly as effective as the humidity rises.

  • They also require venting. The air they pull in has to exit your home through windows, doors, or up ducts.

  • They raise the humidity levels indoors. As humidity increases, so does mold growth. Dust mites also thrive in humid conditions. Anyone sensitive to or allergic to either should consult his physician before installing a swamp cooler.

  • They require more maintenance than air conditioners even though they're mechanically much simpler than A/C units and heat pumps.

A swamp cooler can provide comfortable and efficient cooling during the spring and fall in the Broken Arrow region. If you’d like to learn more about these appliances, contact Air Assurance. We provide HVAC services for Broken Arrow homeowners.

Dehumidifiers

5 Home Dehumidifier Benefits

The air in your Broken Arrow home can get awfully sticky in times of high rainfall, particularly in the summertime when it's warm. Whenever the humidity climbs above 50-55 percent you may find yourself wishing there was a way to keep it under control.

It's always a good idea to check your home for moisture leaks in the roof and in the plumbing, and to make sure your air filter is regularly changed so that the HVAC system does a good job of removing moisture from the air. But what if your home remains too humid? A dehumidifier can be the answer.

Read on to find out more about dehumidifier benefits.

1. Prevents mold, mildew and fungus.

Whenever relative humidity is more than 50 percent, you have a greater chance of developing mold, mildew and fungus in your home. These organisms reproduce by means of spores and can spread rapidly, destroying drywall, wood and fabrics. Mold, mildew and fungus are also the source of unpleasant odors.

2. Makes home's occupants feel more comfortable.

Warmer air holds more moisture than cool air, so that in the summer, a home's occupants may feel uncomfortable as the relative humidity climbs. A dehumidifier can dry the air out sufficiently that the occupants feel cooler.

3. Saves money on air conditioning utility bills.

The dryer the air, the cooler a home's occupants will feel, and the less likely they will be to turn down the air conditioner thermostat to a cooler temperature. By using a dehumidifier, you keep the humidity levels down and the home's occupants are more content at higher temperatures. Also, the wetter the air, the harder the A/C has to work to dehumidify the return air. A dehumidifier helps the A/C do its job, so that you use less energy.

4. Reduces the presence of dust mites.

Dust mites flourish in humid settings. By reducing humidity, you can make conditions less hospitable for these microscopic creatures, which are the source of allergic reactions.

To start reaping dehumidifier benefits in your home, contact Air Assurance. We serve Broken Arrow and the surrounding area.

Air Conditioning

AC Dangers: What You Should Never Do

Your HVAC is a sturdy piece of machinery, and is designed to withstand a lot of heavy use over the years. But it also should be handled with care, as certain practices will result in damage and expensive breakdowns. Some malfunctions that can occur with your HVAC can also lead to damage to your home, or danger to its occupants. Read on and learn about A/C dangers.

1. Neglect changing the air filter.

A dirty air filter will slow down air flow so that your system cannot cool properly. You will use more energy, and you may eventually cause a breakdown. Further, a dirty filter will not effectively filter the air going into your system, so that parts may become dirty (thus, burning hotter and causing friction), and also so that air won't be properly cleaned.

2. Turn the thermostat down so the A/C runs continuously.

This practice will put a lot of stress on your system, so that parts break down and you will need to do more frequent repairs.

3. Close off dampers in rooms.

Some homeowners think this practice saves money on energy by not air conditioning rooms, when in fact it creates negative pressure and makes the air conditioner run inefficiently. It can also stress the equipment so that you have more frequent breakdowns.

4. Open windows while the A/C is running.

Central air conditioners are designed to run with all windows and doors closed, and the home should be air sealed for maximum efficiency. Otherwise, you'll be wasting energy and causing the A/C to work harder than it should.

5. Neglect frayed electric wiring.

Always have your HVAC tech check the wiring during preventative maintenance visits. If frayed or old, it should be replaced, as bad wires can result in fires.

6. Neglect a plugged condensate drain.

When these drains get clogged (and they always do eventually), flooding in the home can result.

For more on A/C dangers, or to schedule maintenance, repairs or equipment installations, contact Air Assurance of Broken Arrow.

HVAC System

What Is a Manual J Load Calculation?

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Some HVAC terms are easy to understand while others may leave you scratching your head. For many Broken Arrow area homeowners, Manual J load calculation is definitely in the latter category. Not only is it the first step towards choosing the right HVAC system for your home, but it’s also an essential step.

Developed by the Air Conditioning Contractors of America, Manual J load calculation offers homeowners and contractors a way to properly size up a home’s HVAC needs and design an HVAC system that offers the best performance and efficiency match.

How Manual J Benefits Your Home

Different homes have different heating and cooling requirements and it’s easy to choose an HVAC unit that’s ill-equipped to handle your home. Depending on the age-old “rule of thumb” often results in an HVAC system that’s either underpowered or overpowered for the given environment. The former can make your home unbearable during the summer while the latter wastes energy while increasing overall discomfort.

Manual J lets contractors choose the right HVAC system by calculating a home’s precise heating and cooling needs. A typical Manual J calculation takes many of the following factors into account:

  • Square footage

  • Building materials

  • Location and directional orientation

  • Heat gain and loss throughout the entire home

  • Current HVAC system size and type

  • Insulation levels

  • Window types

  • Duct leakage

Using specially designed software, contractors can recommend an HVAC system that provides optimal comfort without using too much energy or wearing out early. Manual J load calculations are commonly done in conjunction with other ACCA design protocols, including Manual S equipment selection and Manual D ductwork design.

No HVAC system replacement should start without a Manual J load calculation. Contact Air Assurance today and let us take care of your heating and cooling needs, using the latest in modern HVAC technology.