Kool Breeze of Northwest Florida, Inc. Blog : Archive for December, 2014

The Composition of Snowflakes: Are No Two Alike?

Thursday, December 25th, 2014 by Tom Vatter

“No two snowflakes are alike.”

This is a statement nearly every schoolchild has heard at least once, either while crafting unique snowflakes with a sheet of folded paper and some scissors or while learning a lesson on the science of snow. While even most scientists don’t quite understand what causes a snowflake to form such complex and beautiful columns and points and branches, one thing is for certain, the composition of snowflakes guarantees that no two will ever be identical.  However, it is possible for two snowflakes to appear to be nearly exactly alike.

A snowflake begins to form when a piece of dust catches water vapor out of the air. Water is created when two hydrogen molecules attach to an oxygen molecule. The two hydrogen molecules are angled from one another in such a way that they form a hexagonal shape when they come together during the freezing process; thus, a snowflake begins as a simple hexagonal shape or as layers of hexagons called diamond dust. The emergent properties that follow from the original hexagon are what differentiate one snowflake from another, as the humidity, the temperature in the air, and many other factors (some of which remain unclear to scientists) allow each snowflake to form in an entirely unique way with a seemingly endless variety of shapes.

However, in 1988, a scientist named Nancy Knight claimed to have located two that were the same while studying snowflakes as part of an atmospheric research project. And it appeared to be so; when put under a microscope, the emergent properties looked nearly identical. But while it is feasible that two snowflakes can appear to be exactly alike on the outside, they are never identical on an atomic level. Deuterium is an atom that appears attached to about one in every 3000 hydrogen molecules in the air. Because there are millions of atoms that make up a snowflake, the random assortment of deuterium in any two snowflakes—even in two that so very closely resemble one another—simply cannot be the same.

Here at Kool Breeze, we’d like to remind you to grab a cup of cocoa and relax with your family this holiday, perhaps by crafting some unique snowflake creations of your own. We wish you a very happy holiday season, from our family to yours!

Signs You Need Repairs for Your Commercial Heating

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014 by Tom Vatter

Commercial isn’t all that much different from home heating, really. Sure, there are minor details that might differ, some parts present in one system that may not be necessary in another. For the most part, though, there are only two differences: scale and consequence. By that, we mean that a commercial system is bigger, and creates bigger issues when it fails. You don’t want your customers being uncomfortable when they enter your place of business, which can certainly happen when the heat goes out. Read on to find out how you can avoid this particular disaster.

Strange Noises

Whenever you hear strange noises coming from your heating system, it’s a pretty good sign that you should call a professional. There are a couple of signs, however, that merit special attention. We’ll start with grinding. If you hear grinding coming from your heating system, it’s probably the bearings failing on your air handler motor. The bearings are designed to help the motor run smoothly by lessening friction, thereby lightening the workload on the motor. When the bearings fail, however, the motor begins to experience more and more resistance as it tries to rotate. Eventually, it comes up against so much friction that it burns out.

Another noise you should watch out for is a squealing sound when you first turn on the heating system. This is caused by the system’s fan belt failing. The fan belt is a rubber belt that connects the motor and the fan in the air handler. When the fan belt wears out, it begins to stretch and crack. This causes the squealing sound in the heater.

Short-Cycling

Short-cycling is when your heating system won’t stop turning on and off throughout the day. This is caused by the system overheating, causing the limit switch to shut it down to prevent any damage or fire risk. When the system has cooled off enough, it starts up and overheats again, trapping it in an endless on/off cycle. This severely shortens the life of the heating system, and can cost a lot of money in lost efficiency.

If you are having trouble with your heating system, call Kool Breeze. We provide quality commercial heating services in the Navarre area.

The Reversing Valve: The Key Component of Heat Pumps

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014 by Tom Vatter

Heat pumps combine two comfort functions into a single system: forced-air heating and cooling. During the long hot season in Florida, a heat pump can provide a level of indoor cooling that is equal to a comparably sized standalone air conditioner. During the shorter periods of cold weather, a heat pump can switch over to providing a sufficient level of warmth to keep a home pleasant without excessive energy waste. In Pensacola Beach, FL, heat pumps are one of the best ways to stay comfortable around the year.

In most of the important ways, a heat pump works like an air conditioner. The key difference between the two is a component called the reversing valve. Without this valve, a heat pump would remain in one mode or the other. If you have a heat pump that either won’t give you heating or won’t give you cooling, the fault probably lies in the reversing valve. Call Kool Breeze, any time of the day or night, for the repair work necessary to restore your heat pump to full operation.

The Reversing Valve

The job of the reversing valve in a heat pump is to change the route of refrigerant between the indoor and outdoor coils, which will cause the two the exchange their functions of condenser and evaporator. When the refrigerant moves first from the compressor to the indoor coils, the heat pump is in heating mode. When it moves first to the outdoor coils, the heat pump is in cooling mode.

A reversing valve operates by a pressure difference inside a metal tube, controlled by a solenoid. The pressure change moves a slider through the tube, and this slide straddles two of three tube openings. When at rest (de-energized), the slide creates a pressure difference on one side of the tube that allows the refrigerant from the compressor to move first toward the indoor coils and makes them act as the condenser, releasing heat to the inside of the home. When the slide shifts to the other side of the valve (energized) the pressure change now permits the refrigerant to move to the outdoor coils first, making them the condenser and releasing heat to the outdoors. An electrical connection from the thermostat controls whether the reversing valve is energized or de-energized.

A broken reversing valve will mean a heat pump that is trapped in one mode or the other. If this occurs, the reversing valve will need to be replaced (this is less expensive than trying to repair them), and this job requires professionals to handle. The thermostat can also lose its connection to the valve, which will usually trap the pump in heating mode because the valve will remain de-energized. If your heat pump starts to act as if it has a bad reversing valve, call for trained heating technicians right away.

At Kool Breeze, we want you to enjoy comfortable temperatures in your home no matter the weather outside. We install heat pumps in Pensacola Beach, FL and provide all the repair and maintenance work necessary to keep them working for many years. Give us a call the next time you need heat pump service.

How Does a Heat Pump Work for Heating?

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014 by Tom Vatter

Heat pumps are a great alternative to more traditional systems when it comes to heating your home. More and more homeowners are taking advantage of heat pumps for their energy efficiency, versatility, and safety compared to furnaces and boilers. However, many people are still ignorant of how heat pumps actually work. To remedy that, let’s take a look at the inner workings of a heat pump.

Parts of a Heat Pump

A heat pump system consists mainly of two parts. These parts are the interior and exterior units. As the name suggests, these units are installed inside and outside the home, respectively. The function of these units changes, depending on whether the heat pump is in heating or cooling mode. Since we’re only talking about heating in this article, however, we’ll call the inside unit the condenser, and the outside unit the evaporator. These names refer to the coils that are present in each unit.

The other major part you should know about is the refrigerant line. This line runs between the two units, and is filled with one of several kinds of liquid responsible for transporting heat.

How it Works

When the heat pump is turned on, the refrigerant flows out to the exterior unit and into the evaporator coil. The coil then evaporates the refrigerant, turning itself into a heat sink for the surrounding air. Through this process, thermal energy is leeched from the air and into the coil, where it is stored in the refrigerant gas. The refrigerant then runs inside to the interior unit, where the condenser coil condenses it back into a liquid state. This releases the stored thermal energy, which the interior unit can then use to warm the air to be circulated. The now-cold liquid refrigerant is then moved back out to the exterior unit to continue the process.

This method of moving heat from one place to another, rather than relying on combustion to generate heat, is what makes heat pumps so energy efficient.

If you’d like to know more about how heat pumps work, call Kool Breeze today to speak with a qualified technician. We professionally install heat pumps in the Pensacola Beach area.