The Ball in Times Square

Monday, December 30th, 2013

New Year’s is a time for parties, fun and great traditions, some of which go back more than a century. Among them is the famous “dropping of the ball” in Times Square, an event which is broadcast to millions of people every New Year’s Eve. With 2014 nearly upon us, we thought we’d take the opportunity to look at the history of this popular New Year’s Eve festivity.

The idea began in 1907 at what was then the New York Times building at One Times Square. The newspaper’s owner, Adolph Ochs, had been celebrating the New Year with fireworks since 1903. He wanted make the event even more remarkable, and added the ball in December of 1907 to welcome in the New Year. The first ball was designed by Artkraft Strauss, who made it out of iron, wood, and light bulbs. It took six men to hoist the ball up the building’s flag pole; once midnight struck, the tremendous ball was carefully lowered, and all were allowed to marvel at it.

Since then, the ball has undergone many changes in materials and design, and even the New York Times has moved to another building. But the tradition remains and the ball has dropped over One Times Square ever since. Today, the ball is electronically controlled, and uses LED lamps for its construction: designed by Waterford Crystal and weighing in at over 1,200 pounds.

A number of television broadcasts have helped carry the event over the years, but by far the most famous is “New Year’s Rockin’ Eve,” which first ran in 1972. The show was created and hosted by Dick Clark, who became a staple of the event as much as the ball itself. Clark hosted the show every New Year’s Eve from 1972 until his death in 2012. Since then, it has been hosted by Ryan Seacrest, who shared hosting duties with Clark starting in 2005.

Whether you’re watching the ball drop on TV or have some other New Year’s Eve plan in mind, we here at Cool Air Mechanical wish you nothing but the best for 2014. Have a safe and happy New Year!

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What Types of Materials Are Removed During Duct Cleaning?

Friday, December 27th, 2013

Ducts are a vital part of your HVAC system, extending out from your central heater/air conditioner and carrying conditioned air to every corner of your home. Over time, dust and debris can build up in the system, necessitating cleaning from a trained professional. Duct cleaning can help improve your system’s efficiency, as well as improving the overall quality of your indoor air. But what types of materials are removed during duct cleaning in Atlanta?

  • Household dust. Most of the time, duct cleaning removes common household dust, which can include cells of shed skin, dirt tracked in from outside, pet dander, and dust mites. They rarely affect air flow in your ducts, but they can decrease air quality as they build up and get blown around your house.
  • Biological containment. Mold and bacteria growth is common in a humid environment like Atlanta, and it thrives in hidden corners like ducts if you’re not careful. In particular, look for spots where moisture has entered the ducts (either through a breach or through imperfect seals) or areas where the ducts may be close to the external walls. If you are concerned about a mold infestation, be sure to call a mold remediation specialist in addition to having your ducts cleaned.
  • Uncommon items. Objects found in ducts can vary widely, depending on former occupants of your home. We’ve found such odd items as old VHS tapes, baseball cards and teacups in ducts, as well as less pleasant contaminants like insect droppings. Regardless of their nature, they don’t belong in your duct system and need to be removed ASAP.

Knowing what types of materials are removed during duct cleaning can help you understand why it’s so important. If you need Atlanta duct cleaning services, call Cool Air Mechanical. We’ll get your ducts clean are restore good air flow to your system, improving your household’s quality of life in the process. Pick up the phone and give us a call today!

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Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 23rd, 2013

Holiday greetings from Cool Air Mechanical! We hope you are having safe and pleasant season, enjoying your favorite traditions for this time of year. We wish you the very best, and we thank you for your business this year.

In honor of the season, here are some fun facts about one of everyone’s favorite holiday movies: It’s a Wonderful Life.

For years, one of the enduring December traditions in the United States was watching the movie It’s a Wonderful Life playing almost nonstop on numerous television stations. No matter the time of the day, you could turn on the TV set, flip through channels, and discover It’s a Wonderful Life playing. Whenever you needed him, you could find Jimmy Stewart shouting, “Hello, Bedford Falls!”

But now… It’s a Wonderful Life only appears on broadcast television a few times during December, and most families instead choose to watch the movie on video. What happened?

The reason goes back to the film’s initial wide release in January 1947. (That’s right, it opened after the holiday season. It was not even promoted as a holiday film.) It’s a Wonderful Life was a box-office disappointment at the time, and its studio, RKO Radio Pictures, lost more than half a million on it. The movie’s production company, Liberty Films, was sold to Paramount to avoid bank foreclosure. (A bit ironic, considering the movie’s plot.) In 1955, the National Telefilm Associates (NTA) took over the rights to It’s a Wonderful Life, which included the television syndication rights.

However, NTA failed to properly renew the copyright in 1974 because of a clerical error, which allowed the film’s images to enter into the public domain. Although the movie’s plot was still under copyright protection because it was adapted from a published story called “The Greatest Gift,” television stations across the world could now broadcast it with only minimal royalty payments.

In 1993, Republic Pictures, which now owned the NTA library, tried to enforce their claim to the copyright of the film, as they possessed the rights to “The Greatest Gift.” Republic Pictures succeeded, and licensed exclusive television rights to NBC. Suddenly, It’s a Wonderful Life vanished from local television stations, and NBC made the movie’s broadcasts—usually twice during December—into major events. As of 1998, Paramount again has the rights to It’s a Wonderful Life… 43 years after they lost them.

It’s still easy to make It’s a Wonderful Life a part of whatever traditions you observe during the holidays, whether through home video or television broadcasts. Despite its lackluster initial reception in 1947, Frank Capra’s film is now an inseparable part of December in the United States.

Have a great holiday week!

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Benefits of Dual Fuel Systems

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013

Heat pumps are popular options for home comfort in Georgia; we often recommend them to our clients because of their energy-efficiency and double function as both a heater and an air conditioner.

However, heat pumps do have one drawback that sometimes makes homeowners hesitate about installing them: they begin to lose their heating efficiency in when the outdoor temperature drops below freezing. This is where dual fuel systems come in so handy. We’ll explain what a dual fuel system does and how it can benefit your heating in Marietta, GA.

For installation of a dual fuel system, or repairs and maintenance on an existing one, contact the experts at Cool Air Mechanical—24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

What a dual fuel system can do for you

A dual fuel system is a hybrid of a heat pump and a second heater that uses a different fuel source. Usually, the second heater is a gas furnace. The back-up heater will activate when the outdoor temperature drops below the “economic balance point,” i.e. the point at which the heat pump will start struggling to reach its target temperature.

The first benefit of a dual fuel system is that you will have all the advantages of a heat pump—its use as both a heater and an air conditioner, its energy efficiency—without the main disadvantage.

The second benefit is that you will not experience high heating bills because of the back-up system. The back-up heater will need to run only a few times during the winter (especially a mild Georgia winter), so the increase in your energy bills over the heat pump working alone will not be significant. You’ll have the warmth of a furnace without the full price of running a furnace.

The third benefit is that the system is automated. You don’t have to think about the back-up heater at all, because it will come on when it needs to and then shut off when the heat pump no longer needs it.

Dual fuel system repairs and maintenance

Because dual fuel systems add a layer of complexity to a heat pump, they require professional repairs when anything goes awry with them. Sometimes a heat pump can lose its connection to the back-up system, and trained technicians can easily repair this and restore the full heating power of the system. You’ll also need expert technicians to maintain both your heat pump and the second system so they will work up to their full potential each winter.

For heating in Marietta, GA, a dual fuel system is a great option if you have concerns about low temperatures. Contact home heating professionals like those at Cool Air Mechanical and schedule an appointment to see if installing a dual fuel system will work for you this coming winter.

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If the Air Is Chilly, How Can a Heat Pump Heat?

Friday, December 13th, 2013

Heat pumps are marvelous devices for keeping a home comfortable year round. But how exactly does a heat pump both heat and cool? Even when people know a bit more about the process of heat exchange that allows a heat pump to perform these two different tasks, they still feel puzzled about how heat pumps function during cold weather.

We’ll explain in a bit more depth in this post how heat pumps provide heat during the cold weather, even when they have to extract heat from the chilly outdoors. If you need repair, installation, or maintenance for a heat pump in Atlanta, GA, contact our skilled technicians at Cool Air Mechanical.

Heat pump operation: heat from the cold air

Here are the basics of how a heat pump works: using refrigerant that cycles through it in a closed loop, a heat pump moves heat from one location (the indoor unit or the outdoor unit) and moves it to another. This is called heat exchange, and the heat pump uses the air as its heat exchange medium. During hot weather, a heat pump acts as an air conditioner, taking heat from inside a home and moving it to the outside. Then, during colder weather, it moves heat from outdoors and brings it indoors.

And that’s where people become confused. Where is this heat coming from if the outside is already cold?

Although it may be hard to believe when you’re standing outdoors on a chilly day, there is still heat in cold air. As long as there is some molecular motion, there is heat available. (Absolute zero, the point of no molecular motion, is only a theoretical temperature.) Using evaporation along the outdoor coil, a heat pump absorbs some of this available heat and brings it indoors.

However, there is less heat outdoors in lower temperatures, which leads to one of the few drawbacks of a heat pump: they perform less effectively in extreme low temperatures. Once the thermometer drops below freezing, heat pumps will struggle with efficient performance. To balance this, some homeowners have a dual fuel hybrid system installed, where a second heating system (such as propane-powered furnace) comes on when the heat pump can no longer handle the low temperature.

Fortunately, Atlanta weather rarely plunges to temperatures where a heat pump will struggle, which makes them ideal for our city. Cool Air Mechanical can install a heat pump—or a dual fuel hybrid system if you need it—in your home to give you fantastic year-round comfort. Contact us today for all your needs for a heat pump in Atlanta, GA.

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Under What Circumstances Is Mold Testing Advisable?

Monday, December 9th, 2013

In the humid Georgia climate, the growth of mold and other biological contaminants inside homes is often a major concern. Mold can start to grow in the walls, roof, or basement of your home. You need to take particular care about the growth of mold inside your ductwork, since it can cause the rapid spread of contamination throughout your home and have a serious negative impact on your indoor air quality.

However, because mold often starts to grow in places hidden from sight, you may not immediately know of its presence. How can you tell if you should have professional mold testing done so you can find a way to eliminate the problem?

Here are a few circumstances that call for professional mold testing. Cool Air Mechanical has a staff of indoor air quality specialists who can perform mold testing in Atlanta, GA that will identify your home’s specific problems and then find the best way to protect you and your family from the dangers of mold growth.

Circumstances that call for mold testing:

  • Recent water leaks: If your home has recently had to deal with plumbing leaks—whatever the reason—then there is a high likelihood that standing water and increased moisture has encouraged mold growth. Often, leaks start in places you cannot see, and the water that enters material such as drywall will lead to a mold infestation.
  • Unusual odors throughout your home: If you detect the smell of mold in your house, but cannot see any evidence of it, then you should have testing done right away to find the hidden source for the unpleasant odors.
  • An increase in allergic symptoms: Mold will cause a specific allergic reaction in some people, but it can cause allergy-like symptoms in any one. Consider mold testing if you notice an increase in these health issues inside your home: wheezing, congestion, sneezing, coughing, itchy and watery eyes, or rashes.

Professional mold testing

Trained mold testers will use environmental inspections as well as indoor air quality assessments to detect the specific mold issues that are affecting your home, locate the source of the contamination, and then search for a method to remediate the problem.

Because you spend more time inside your home than any other location, you need to know that you have the best air quality possible. Don’t allow mold and other bacterial growth to jeopardize your health inside your home: the moment you suspect you have a mold infiltration, contact Cool Air Mechanical and put our Atlanta, GA mold testing experts to work for you. We will discover your issues with mold and take the necessary steps to eliminate it.

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What You Need to Know about Furnace Efficiency Ratings

Monday, December 2nd, 2013

If you are currently shopping for a furnace for your home, you need to know about how the efficiency of modern furnaces is rated. Efficiency is not the only factor in picking out a furnace—you also need to consider the availability of fuel, the heater’s effectiveness and size—but it is an important factor. An efficient heater can save you large amounts off your heating bills every year.

In this post, we’ll give you information about the principle efficiency rating used for furnaces, AFUE. This knowledge will help you narrow down your choices. However, this is only the beginning of understanding which heater will work for your home. To make the best choice possible, consult with experts like those at Cool Air Mechanical. We have years of experience with installation and furnace repair in Atlanta, GA.

AFUE: Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency

The initials AFUE stand for “annual fuel utilization efficiency.” This is the universal rating used to measure the efficiency of furnaces. It is expressed as a percentage, which represents how completely the furnace converts fuel into heat, as measured over a year. The higher the percentage, the more efficient the furnace. A furnace with an AFUE rating of 90% produces 90 BTUs (British Thermal Units) of heat for every 100 units of fuel it burns. This means it wastes only 10% of the fuel available.

For a useful benchmark, the AFUE rating of conventional firewood is 45%-55%. Boilers and furnaces from around 50 years ago had ratings usually in the 60s. Currently, the U.S. Department of Energy requires that all furnaces sold in the country must have a minimum AFUE of 78%—and most score much higher than that. A high-efficiency gas-powered furnace can have an AFUE of close to 96%, making it one of the most fuel-efficient systems on the market. Most furnaces will fall in the upper 80s range.

Although a high-efficiency furnace will save you money on your heating bills, they also tend to cost more initially to purchase. Also keep in mind that AFUE does not take into account heat lost from your house, only the heat lost during the furnace’s conversion of fuel to heat. You can have the highest efficiency furnace ever manufactured but see little difference on your bills if your home does not effectively trap the heat.

When you’re ready for the installation of a new furnace in your home, consult with an HVAC technician to go over your options. Perhaps a lower-efficiency furnace will suit your budget and heating needs better than a model with an AFUE of 96%. The technician will help you balance the various criteria and guide you toward the heating option that will suit you best.

Whenever you need Atlanta, GA furnace repair or installation, contact Cool Air Mechanical.

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