J & W Heating and Air Blog

Reasons to Rely on Professionals for New Insulation

January 21st, 2015

DIY is a popular notion for homeowners, but unless you really know what you are doing, it’s always best to hire an expert for important jobs like insulating your home. Good insulation is necessary for year-round comfort and energy efficiency, and if your insulation is poorly installed, it can result in high energy bills, stress on your heating and cooling systems and even damage to your home.

Hiring trained professionals helps ensure that your insulation will be installed correctly and efficiently the first time around. So, if you are in need of new insulation or added insulation in the Jacksonville area, call J & W Heating and Air today.

Why Hire an Expert?

  • Training – insulation isn’t just a simple stuffing process; today’s experts understand the different types of insulation available to homeowners, which types will work best with homes and how to install it in the correct manner, including making sure there is proper ventilation and moisture barriers.
  • Experience – trained insulation installers do this kind of work every day; this gives them a breadth of knowledge and experience a homeowner most likely won’t have. Experience not only makes the installation move faster, it also helps when challenges are encountered, such as damaged insulation or moisture damage on joists, etc.
  • Understanding of codes and regulations – building work is highly regulated, and if you install insulation yourself, and it isn’t up to code, you may have to re-install it. A trained expert will go into your insulation job knowing these codes, so you are assured that your work will be performed at or above required standards.
  • Can properly dispose of damaged insulation – insulation can become moldy, infested with animals or simply breakdown. The issues with removing insulation is that you can’t just toss it into the garbage – it needs to be removed according to your area’s guidelines. Trained professionals will remove any damaged insulation from your home correctly and safely.

Television shows make home repair look pretty easy, but don’t forget that the people on those shows are experts; that’s why they are so good at what they do. Don’t miss out on expert assistance with your insulation by attempting to install your insulation yourself.

Instead, call J & W Heating and Air and let our experts insulate your home correctly in Jacksonville.

Can I Have Ductless Heating from Furnace Installation?

January 13th, 2015

Ductwork comes standard in a large percentage of homes across the U.S. because it was once necessary for delivering warm or cool air into a living space. But in Florida, not all homes come equipped with ductwork, due in part to new innovations in heating and air conditioning technology that allow homeowners to go ductless and also because our heating and cooling needs aren’t nearly as demanding as they are in other areas of the country. Our climate is generally temperate, and our heating needs are not intense for most of the year. But sometimes, you still crave the all-around comfort of a forced-air heating unit, like a furnace.

Unfortunately, hooking up a furnace to a home or room without any ducts would involve some costly and time-consuming renovations, which many homeowners would rather avoid. However, Jacksonville residents can get the same level of comfort and convenience from ductless heating installation.

Why Furnaces Require Ducts

Furnaces hook up to the natural gas line provided by your utility company. Combustion occurs in order to produce heat, and the combustion gases need somewhere to vent. This system is large and complex, which is part of the reason it’s largely hidden from view. It’s also safer to keep it in a hidden location, to prevent any lingering combustion gases from making their way into the living space. In any case, air from your home is blown past the heat exchanger and must get to all the rooms in your home in some way. And the only effective way to deliver warm air from a central heating system is with a set of ducts.

How Ductless System Works

A ductless heating system uses technology that is entirely different from that used with furnaces. The reason it’s able to deliver heat to various areas of the home without the use of ducts is because it uses refrigerant to move heat around from the outside to the inside. Like a traditional air conditioner, there is an outside part and an inside part. But unlike a traditional air conditioner, the inside air handler can be mounted to the wall in various locations throughout the house. The outside unit uses refrigerant to absorb heat and move it through a refrigerant line that leads to the various air handlers in the house. This system works for AC and heating and won’t struggle even in very chilly weather.

Call the experts at J & W Heating and Air to learn more about ductless mini-splits and to schedule your new heating installation in Jacksonville.

Why We Recommend Energy Audits

January 7th, 2015

A home energy audit, also known as a home energy assessment, is a professional evaluation of how efficiently a home uses energy. During an audit, technicians locate places where a house is losing and gaining heat and unnecessarily wasting power. The process looks over many different parts and components of a home, examining ductwork, windows, ductworks, the heating and cooling system, insulation, and appliances. The auditors use tools such as blower doors and infrared cameras to find the spots where a home is losing energy.

If you have never scheduled an energy audit for your house, we strongly recommend that you do so. Although there are steps you can take to perform an energy audit on your own, only professional auditors can give you a thorough room-to-room examination with blower door tests and thermographic scans. The details that our energy auditors at J & W Heating and Air provide will help you make changes to your house that will reduce energy waste and lower your bills. Call us today to arrange for energy audits in St. Augustine, FL.

How You Will Benefit From an Energy Audit

  • Find and seal insulation leaks: Your home probably has numerous air leaks where lack of insulation or aging insulation allows heat to escape during cold weather and heat to enter during warm weather. Many of these leaks are difficult if not impossible to locate unless you have skilled auditors conduct a blower door test or thermographic scan. After the tests, the auditors will tell you where you need new and replacement insulation to create a better heat seal on your house.
  • Save money on fuel costs: Auditors will analyze your previous year’s fuel bills to determine the home’s base energy consumption. Once they complete the audit, they can find out the best ways you can lower those bills through both your patterns of energy use and and energy upgrades.
  • Increased safety: An audit does more than simply spot the waste of energy. It also pinpoints places where your heating and cooling system may be creating unnecessary dangers and health risks. This is especially important if you have a gas-powered furnace in your home; the auditors will make sure that the system is properly venting. Auditors also inspect fireplaces, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, the electrical system, and dryer vents. If they spot anything potentially hazardous, they will notify you so you can remedy it.

When you call on J & W Heating and Air for an energy audit, we will send experienced specialist to your home for a top-to-bottom inspection and analysis. When they are done, they will present you with detailed findings that will help you improve your home for better and safer energy use. You can also count on us for many of the energy upgrades you may require. For energy audits in St. Augustine, FL that will help you make a difference, trust us to get it done right.

12 Grapes for 12 Months: An Unusual New Year’s Tradition

January 1st, 2015

Across the world, many cultures have specific traditions to celebrate the transition from the old year to the new. In the U.S. and Canada, we associate New Year’s with the ball in Times Square, kissing at the stroke of midnight, resolutions, and singing “Old Lang Syne.” But for many Spanish-speaking countries, one of the key traditions has to do with eating grapes as fast as possible.

The “twelve grapes” tradition comes from Spain, where it is called las doce uvas de la suerte (“The Twelve Lucky Grapes”). To ensure good luck for the next year, people eat one green grape for each of the upcoming twelve months. However, you cannot just eat the grapes during the first day of the new year any time you feel like it. You must eat the twelve grapes starting at the first stroke of midnight on Nochevieja (“Old Night,” New Year’s Eve) as one year changes to another. And you have to keep eating: with each toll of midnight, you must eat another grape, giving you about twelve seconds to consume all of them. If you can finish all dozen grapes—you can’t still be chewing on them!—before the last bell toll fades, you will have a luck-filled new year.

Where did this tradition come from? No one is certain, although it appears to be more than a century old. One story about the Twelve Lucky Grapes is that a large crop of grapes in 1909 in Alicante, Spain led to the growers seeking out a creative way to eliminate their surplus. But recent research through old newspapers shows that perhaps the tradition goes back almost thirty years earlier to the 1880s, where eating grapes was meant to mock the upper classes who were imitating the French tradition of dining on grapes and drinking champagne on New Year’s Eve.

It can be difficult to consume grapes this fast, and the lucky grapes of New Year’s Eve have seeds in them, making the job even trickier. (Seedless grapes are not common in Spain the way they are over here.) For people to manage eating all the grapes before the last stroke of midnight requires swallowing the seeds as well and only taking a single bite of each grape.

Oh, there is one more twist to the tradition: you have to be wearing red undergarments, and they have to be given to you as a gift. The origins of this part of the tradition are even more mysterious, and it’s anybody’s guess why this started.

Whether you go for the grape challenge or find another way to ring in New Year’s, all of us at J & W Heating and Air hope you have a great start to the year and a, uhm, fruitful 2015.

The Composition of Snowflakes: Are No Two Alike?

December 25th, 2014

“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 J & W Heating and Air, 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!

Options for Air Filtration Systems in Orange Park

December 17th, 2014

The quality of the air in your home is important to you, but you may not currently own a filtration system strong enough to meet your needs. With whole-home air filtration, you’ll get indoor air quality control that is powerful enough to eliminate contaminants that aggravate allergies and other respiratory illnesses like asthma. When you choose to work with a team of experts to choose between air filtration systems in Orange Park, you can be sure that you get advanced protection with minimal effort on your part.

Keep Your Whole Home Clean with an Electronic Air Purifier

Your home heating and air conditioning system comes with a filter so that your air conditioner and/or heater is protected from harm and from any stray debris passing through and so that you can help protect the air that you breathe in every day. However, this filter may be ineffective at removing some smaller particles from the air, such as bacteria and pollen. Electronic air purifiers give particles a charge so that they become attracted to large flat plates in the unit with an opposite charge.

UV Air Purifiers Help to Prevent Illness and Allergies

A UV air purifier is installed at you indoor air handler and uses ultraviolet light in order to kill organic material. When small microorganisms like bacteria and viruses are treated with UV light, they become sterilized so that they can no longer pose any threat to those breathing them in. A UV air purifier can sterilize bacteria and viruses which are often found living on the moist coils of an air handler as well as mold. It can even help to eliminate odors leftover from cooking or cleaning.

Choose an ERV or HRV for a Bit of Fresh Air

Energy recovery ventilators (ERV) and heat recovery ventilators (HRV) are two units that allow for increased ventilation in the home. Usually, you keep your house sealed up tight so that your air conditioning and heating system can continue to work without consuming too much energy. However, this means the air we breathe feels stale. In fact, in many cases the air outside is safer to breathe then the air in the home, which is why ventilation is key to your health.

Call J & W Heating and Air to learn more about all of our available air filtration systems and services in Orange Park.

How Air Purifiers Clean Your Air

December 10th, 2014

If you want to be comfortable and healthy at home, you need to be able to breathe clean, purified air every day.

While the standard heating and air conditioning system comes with a filter that helps to strain out some harmful contaminants in the home, this may not be enough to rid your living space of smaller particles that continue to cycle through the ducts. In some cases, particularly if your family members have a condition like asthma or persistent allergies, a technician may recommend that you install an electronic air purifier instead.

Electronic air purifiers utilize a process known as ionization in order to clean the air instead of the fine fiber media used in most standard one-inch air filters. There are two different types of electronic air cleaners: electrostatic precipitators and ion generators. Electrostatic precipitators contain an ionization chamber and two flat collection plates. Ions charge particles as a fan blows air through the chamber. The particles then collect on the two plates of an opposite charge, which you’ll have to clean off every one to three months or so.

Ion generators, on the other hand, project these ions into the air so that all of the particles moving in the air in your home receive a charge instead. Rather than collecting on large plates, the particles collect on surfaces in your home with an opposite charge, such as the drapes, a couch, or the walls. This is far safer than having particles float around in the air you breathe, and it will likely get cleaned up during your next home cleaning spree.

You can also choose a UV air purifier, which is installed on the indoor air handler to kill mold and microorganisms like bacteria and viruses so they are no longer a threat to breathe in. These contaminants often thrive on the indoor air handler of your HVAC system, as frequent condensation allows for ideal conditions for small organic matter to live.

We offer duct cleaning, duct sealing, humidifiers, and dehumidifiers, as well as energy recovery ventilators and heat recovery ventilators for greater control over the cleanliness of the air you breathe. Keep your home protected from contaminants by calling our office today!

Call J & W Heating and Air if you decide you need an air purifier in Jacksonville or to earn more about our many other air filtration services.

Some of Your Choices for Air Purifiers

December 3rd, 2014

Whether you realize it or not, the air in your home is full of all sorts of microscopic airborne pollutants. Some of these pollutants are simple annoyances, some can make you sick, and in rare cases a few of them can be fatal. What can you do about it? You can use an air purifier. Air purifiers are devices designed to cleanse the surrounding air of various kinds of common air contaminants. There are a variety of different methods that these purifiers use, each suited for a slightly different group of pollutants. Read on for a list of some of the more common options.

HEPA Filters

HEPA stands for High Efficiency Particulate Air. HEPA filters are very similar to normal air filters that you’ll find in furnaces and the like. The difference is in the quality of the construction. HEPA filters are composed of a fiber mesh woven over a metal frame. The mesh is woven so tightly that it can even capture microscopic viruses and bacteria, something that an average filter can’t do. HEPA filters are often used in sterile environments, like hospitals and server rooms. You may not need a filtration system of this quality, but it helps to know that it’s an option.

Ionization Purifiers

Ionization purifiers work by generating an electric field around themselves. As the particulates in the air pass through this field, they acquire a negative charge. This negative charge causes them to be attracted to any positively charged surface, including the metal plates installed in the purifier itself. These metal plates can then be removed and cleaned. Ionization purifiers can capture a wide variety of air pollutants. Be warned, however, that they can have their own side effects. The EPA has found that ionization purifiers produce ozone as a byproduct of their operation. Ozone is classified as toxic gas, and can be harmful to people. We highly recommend that you speak to a professional yourself before deciding on what air purifier to use.

If you’d like to know more about which air purifier might be right for you, call J & W Heating and Air to speak with one of our qualified technicians. We professionally install air purifiers in the Jacksonville area.

10 Facts You Should Know about Thanksgiving

November 27th, 2014

Thanksgiving has been celebrated as an official holiday in the United States for over 150 years, so you may think you understand all there is to know about this family feast. Most of us have heard the story of the pilgrims’ first Thanksgiving in 1621 after arriving in North America on the Mayflower. But did you know that only about half of the people on this ship were actually pilgrims? This fact is one of ten things that may actually surprise you about the Thanksgiving tradition!

  1. Although we often consider Thanksgiving a holiday unique to the United States, many other countries and cultures celebrate their own set of harvest-time and thanksgiving traditions. In Korea, Chu-Sok (or “fall evening”) is put on in remembrance of forefathers on August 15th of every year. Brazil celebrates a contemporary version of the U.S. holiday. Chinese, Roman, and Jewish cultures all have a history of harvest celebrations as well.
  2. President Harry S. Truman began the tradition of a ceremony held before Thanksgiving during which the president receives a turkey. George H.W. Bush was the first to pardon the turkey instead of eating it.
  3. In Minnesota alone, farmers raise over 40 million turkeys a year. In fact, U.S. farmers produce about one turkey for every one person in the country.
  4. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, the average American will gain about one to two pounds every year during the holiday season.
  5. On the other hand, turkey is naturally high in protein and has been known to support and boost immune systems to protect against illness and speed up healing. So feast on!
  6. Abraham Lincoln issued a “Thanksgiving Proclamation” in 1863, but a woman named Sarah Josepha Hale can be credited with the idea. While Thanksgiving had been celebrated at different times of year in many areas of the U.S. for years, it was Hale, prominent magazine editor and author of the rhyme “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” who urged Lincoln to finally establish the national event.
  7. President Franklin D Roosevelt once tried to change the date of Thanksgiving to the second-to-last Thursday of the month in order to extend the holiday shopping season and boost the economy.
  8. Only about half of the people on the Mayflower were what we would consider today as “Pilgrims.” The other (approximately) 50 people were simply trying to find a way over to the New World.
  9. Gobble, gobble! Click, click? While male turkeys make a gobbling noise, females (hens) do not; it’s often described as a clicking.
  10. Even though we celebrate Thanksgiving on the last Thursday of November, the month of June has been declared National Turkey Lovers’ Month by the National Turkey Federation so you can continue the celebration in the summer as well!

From our family here at J & W Heating and Air, we’d like to wish you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving!

How Home Insulation Works

November 19th, 2014

Most homeowners know that insulation is important, but many do not know how insulation works and why it is so important. With so many insulation options available, it can be difficult to know which insulation products you should install into your home. Working with a trained insulation specialist can help you determine which types of insulation will be best for your home, and then professionally install it so you can gain the benefits for years to come. Let’s take a look at how insulation works and then we’ll describe the most common types of insulation currently available to homeowners.

What Insulation Does

Heat moves in three ways:

  • Convection – the way heat circulates through liquids and gases
  • Conduction – the way heat moves through materials
  • Radiation – heat that travels in a straight line and is absorbed by anything exposed to it

Heat always moves from warmer areas to colder areas. As such, the main job of insulation is to slow the transfer of heat; the second job of insulation is to form a barrier that stops your indoor air from moving outdoors. Without an effective resistance to heat flow, your home can become very inefficient and uncomfortable.

R-Values

R-values are the best way to determine how effectively a particular type of insulation will work. Specifically, R-values are the rating of an insulation material’s resistance to conductive heat flow; the higher the R-value, the greater the resistance. There are recommended R-values for every area of the country based on climate; as such, it’s important to insulate your home based on the R-value recommendation.

Types of Insulation

Here are the most common types of insulation:

  • Blanket insulation (also known as batt and roll) – this is the most well-known type of insulation, and is made primarily of fiberglass.
  • Foam board/rigid foam – foam boards are rigid boards of insulation that can be used from the top to the bottom of your home.
  • Spray foam – spray foam is an adhesive that forms an air-tight seal with whatever it comes into contact with. Spray foam also expands exponentially when it makes contact with the air, so it’s important to have a trained professional for the installation.
  • Loose fill/blown-in – loose fill is blown into your home, making it great for retro-fitting; it is mostly made of recycled materials.

If you have concerns about the level of insulation in your Middleburg, FL home, call J & W Heating and Air today and schedule an appointment with one of our experts.