Command Comfort Blog : Archive for December, 2014

Why Do We Hang Up Mistletoe?

Thursday, December 25th, 2014

Of course, you probably know part of the answer to this question already. You hang up mistletoe so that the people standing underneath can share a romantic holiday kiss! But what you may not realize is that the origin of this longstanding ritual predates many of the other holiday traditions we celebrate today. Why would a plant that has many poisonous varieties (most types sold for use in the home have few negative effects, but you can wrap it in netting to prevent children from consuming any fallen berries or leaves) be used as a symbol of holiday affection?

There are a couple of ways to explain the positive associations of (potentially hazardous) mistletoe. For one, this semi-parasitic plant has long been hailed as a treatment for illnesses and pain. The ancient Greeks and Romans used it to cure cramps, epilepsy, and more. Even today, mistletoe extracts are one of the leading alternative medicines studied for their effectiveness in killing cancer cells. And because the early Celtic Druids saw it as a sign of healing and life, they may be the first to bestow upon the plant its romantic associations, deeming it worthy of treating the infertile.

But it is Norse mythology that is likely responsible for a majority of the modern traditions associated with this small hanging bunch. One of the powerful Norse god Odin’s sons, named Baldur, was said to be invincible due to an oath his mother took to protect him from harm. But Loki, a god who often set out to make trouble for the gods, set out to find the one thing that could do some damage, and eventually discovered that Baldur’s mother Frigg had never included mistletoe in her invincibility oath. When mistletoe was finally responsible for her son’s demise, the grieving Frigg vowed that the plant would never again be used to hurt another living thing, and that she would plant a peaceful kiss upon anyone who walked underneath it.

And that is one of the reasons that, today, kissing under the mistletoe is viewed as a source of good luck. From our family to yours, we wish you a safe holiday season, and we hope that you and your family are full of joy and good fortune—mistletoe or not! Happy holidays from Command A/C!

Continue Reading

Gas vs. Electric: Which Type of Furnace Is Best?

Friday, December 19th, 2014

Choosing a heating system can be a challenge, mostly because there are so many choices available for homeowners these days. Even if you know that you want a specific type of heating system, like a heat pump or a boiler, you have choices within the choices. When it comes to installing a furnace, you have two options: an electric furnace or gas furnace. Choosing which one is best for your home depends on a few things, including your needs and your preference. The best way to make an informed decision is to understand how each system works and by working with a trained expert through every step of the process. The technicians at Command A/C have the experience and expertise to ensure that you choose the heating system that is best for you, and they can install, maintain and repair it as needed.

Electric Furnaces

Electric furnaces blow warm air into your home as gas furnaces do, but do not use combustion to generate heat; instead, they use a component called a heating element. The heating element is comprised of a number of tightly-wound metal coils that become red-hot when electrified. When they reach the right temperature, a large fan known as a blower pushes the hot air generated by the coils into your ductwork. The coils heat in a sequence so they don’t overload your electrical system. Once your home reaches the desired temperature, the heating cycle turns off. Benefits of an electric furnace include:

  • Good energy efficiency – electric furnaces can have an AFUE rating as high as 100% because they don’t lose any heat to exhaust fumes, the way a combustion furnace can.
  • No need for a gas line – not all homes and neighborhoods have easy access to natural gas, and some homeowners don’t want fossil fuels for their heating. Electricity is available to just about everybody and can alleviate the necessity of managing fuel deliveries.

Gas Furnaces

Gas furnaces generate heat via combustion. Using a component called a heat exchanger, the toxic byproducts are vented from your home while the warm air generated on the outside of the heat exchanger is blown into your home by the blower. Some of the benefits of a gas furnace are:

  • Hot, quick heat – gas gets very hot very quickly, so your home heats up fast.
  • Clean burning – gas is the cleanest-burning fossil fuel available, and it is also a very efficient-burning fuel.

Each system can deliver warm air to your home, but your needs and the set-up of your home dictate a lot of your decision in choosing between one system and another. If you need help with your furnace installation in Cypress, call Command A/C today and schedule an appointment with one of our installation experts.

Continue Reading

How Does Faulty Ductwork Affect Heating?

Friday, December 12th, 2014

At first glance, the ductwork for your heating system may seem like an incredibly simple construction. Truth be told, it kind of is. Ducts are usually simple rectangular tunnels of sheet metal, with the sole purpose of directing air throughout the house. Being simple doesn’t mean that they are trivial, however. The quality of your ductwork has an immense effect on the quality of your home heating. Let’s take a look at a couple of examples.

Leaks

Your ductwork is likely to develop a leak here or there sooner or later. Ducts, especially rectangular sheet metal ones, expand and contract with the heat of the air moving through them. This flexing and fluctuating will eventually cause small cracks to form in parts of your ducts. One or two small ones aren’t too big of a problem. However, faulty ductwork has the potential to form many more leaks than usual.

The US Department of Energy estimates that forced air heating systems lose between 20 and 30% of their heat on average to leaks in the duct work. That’s almost a third of your system’s heat that is being lost during operation, for which you are still paying. This is where faulty ductwork can have a major effect on your home heating. Even though the USDE makes no distinction between the quality of the ductwork in those statistics, it’s a fair assessment that faulty ductwork is far more prone to more and larger leaks.

Mold

Mold requires darkness and moisture to thrive and spread. If mold were to ever take root in your ducts, it could release spores into the circulation system. These spores can provoke allergy attacks, make you sick, and generally lower your indoor air quality. Normally, ducts are specifically designed to keep moisture out. Faulty ducts, however, are often not sealed properly. This can allow moisture into the ducts, causing mold growth along with a host of other issues. This doesn’t affect the quality of your heating right away, but it will cause the degradation of your ducts.

If you haven’t had your ducts inspected in a while, call Command A/C. Our heating service professionals cover the entire Cypress area.

Continue Reading

Do I Have to Change My Furnace Filter?

Friday, December 5th, 2014

Yes and no. Yes, the furnace filter should be changed once every 1-3 months. No, you don’t have to do it yourself. A professional should always be happy to replace it for you. In order to understand why the filter needs to be replaced, you need to have an understanding of what it actually does. Let’s examine the role of the furnace filter, and what can happen if it isn’t changed frequently enough.

What Does the Filter do?

The furnace filter, often simply called an “air filter” is a woven fiber mesh over a metal frame. This frame is installed in the air return of your furnace, in order to protect it from the dust and debris that is circulated through your home’s ducts. Every time your furnace is turned on, the filter accumulates more and more debris until it eventually becomes clogged.

What Happens when the Filter is clogged?

A furnace filter is designed so that it can catch airborne contaminants without restricting air flow. A clogged filter does the exact opposite, restricting air flow to the point of causing damage to the system. A furnace needs a steady flow of air, not only to keep warming and circulating it, but to help maintain the temperature inside the furnace itself. With that air flow restricted by the clogged filter, the internal temperature of the furnace will increase. Problems associated with this increase in temperature include:

  • Short-Cycling. This is when the furnace control circuit detects an internal temperature above the safety limit. It then shuts down the furnace to prevent a fire. After the furnace has cooled off, it restarts and the cycle repeats all over again. This rapid on/off behavior throughout the day is characteristic of short-cycling.
  • Cracked heat exchanger. The heat exchanger is responsible for venting toxic gases to the exhaust flue, while heating the indoor air that passes over it. The increased heat can cause the heat exchanger to flex and warp much more rapidly. Eventually it can create cracks in the heat exchanger. This can be a fire hazard, as well as allow combustion gases to escape into the house.

If it’s been a while since you’ve had your filter changed, call Command A/C. We provide heating services throughout Cypress.

Continue Reading