FB Integrated Solutions Inc. Blog : Archive for December, 2014

The Composition of Snowflakes: Are No Two Alike?

Thursday, 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 FB Electrical Services Inc., 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!

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Repairs You May Need for a Radiant Heating System

Thursday, December 18th, 2014

Radiant heating systems do not have a lot of moving parts, so it they aren’t as prone to breakdown as other systems can be. However, this doesn’t mean that you may not have to repair your radiant heating system. The type of radiant heating system you have – hydronic or electric – helps determine what kind of radiant heat repairs you may need. As with any kind of heating system, it’s always best to hire trained experts for repair. If you are experiencing problems with your radiant system in Brookline, MA, call for an FB Electrical Services expert today!

Electrical Radiant Repairs

Electrical radiant systems use electric cable to heat. The cable can be set into cement, installed to subflooring or be part of an electrically-conductive plastic mat that is installed to subflooring. A couple of common problems that can develop with electric radiant heating are:

  • Uneven heating – should part of the cable become damage, corrode or fray, it won’t heat. This is evident by areas of the floor that aren’t warm. Usually the cable will have to be replaced, so it’s important to call an expert for help.
  • Tripping breaker – your electric radiant heating will have its own circuit breaker in your home’s electrical box. Breakers trip for a few reasons: sometimes they are faulty, and they can also be too big or too small. If the breaker hasn’t been properly sized for your radiant heating, it will need to be replaced by one that is the right size.

Hydronic Radiant Heating

Hydronic radiant systems use hot water or steam to heat your home. The hot water is provided by a boiler and the water or steam travels through flexible tubing that can be set in cement or installed directly to subflooring. Common problems that can develop with hydronic radiant heating are:

  • Flooring gets too hot – while to some people this may not seem like a problem, it can be for your flooring. Hydronic systems are equipped with a valve called a mixing valve that keeps the water inside the tubing from being too hot or cold during the heating process; should this valve malfunction, you may have very hot floors, which, if left unattended, can damage your flooring.
  • Leaks – the most common reason hydronic heating develops a leak is from damage. Nails and other sharp objects can puncture the PEX tubing, creating a hole through which water can leak. Leaks can cause serious water damage, so if you detect a leak with your hydronic radiant system, call for help right away.

Radiant systems in Brookline, MA give a comfortable heat and allow you to walk barefoot in your home on the coldest of days. If you are experiencing a problem with your radiant heat, call us today!

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How Can Zone Control Save You Money on Heating?

Thursday, December 11th, 2014

If you’ve been trying to save a little bit of money on your heating bills, shutting off the heater every day for a short while certainly isn’t the most comfortable way to do so. If you feel you’re running out of ways to save a few bucks on your heating bills, you might consider installing a zone control system. A zone control system involves investing in an initial installation, but the results for your comfort and for your bills should very well be worth it. Zone control allows you and your family members to control the level of heating in one area of the home individually from the others, for maximum comfort and savings.

A zone control system involves the installation of dampers throughout the ductwork. These dampers are installed in different areas, or zones, of the home—in as many places as you would like to vary the temperature. Each damper is wired to its own thermostat, and they also all connect to one master thermostat capable of controlling all of the dampers at once. When you raise or lower the temperature in a particular zone, the damper that leads to that area opens or closes to allow more or less airflow.

This is only a job for a professional as it involves knowledge of duct design and the proper methods of dismantling the ducts and sealing them to protect against leaks. But once you get a new zone control system, you’ll notice the benefits right away. If there is an area of the home that goes unoccupied throughout the day or night, you can shut off the heat in that area only to save on your utilities.

You can also use zone control to adjust the heating throughout a house with multiple floors or a unique architectural design or feature that makes even heating difficult. Sometimes, the way your home is designed makes it difficult for heat to distribute evenly in every room. But with zone control, you can make sure that each area is the same with separate thermostats that ensure that room is heated to the desired temperature. As an added bonus, you’ll never have to hear the people in your home bicker about the temperature in the house when they can control their own area individually, and you get zone cooling in the summer as well for year-long savings.

Call the heating and air conditioning professionals at FB Electrical Services to learn how you can get zone heating in Newton today.

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How a UV Air Purifier Helps with Indoor Air Quality

Thursday, December 4th, 2014

Your HVAC system contains filters that keep a lot of particles out of the air in your home, provided you clean or replace the filter regularly. Unfortunately, your HVAC system may also be responsible for carrying a few contaminants into the air as well. And these contaminants can be quite harmful—biological contaminants living on the indoor air handler components have been known to cause illness or aggravate respiratory problems. In this quick guide, we’ll go over how calling for indoor air quality services and choosing a UV air purifier can eliminate biological contaminants and keep the air in your home in Boston cleaner and healthier.

One of the parts of your HVAC system that is most responsible for bringing contaminants into the home is the indoor cooling coil on the air handler. As air from your HVAC system blows over this coil, moisture collects, which could help control the humidity in the room. Unfortunately, this moisture can be slow to drain, and mold, bacteria, or viruses may thrive around this area. The fan continues to blow past the coil and these contaminants are then blown through your ducts.

Ultraviolet light is a good defense against microorganisms because it can actually kill organic matter and sterilize it so that it is safe to breathe. When we step out into the light of the sun for a short time, we’re usually okay. But even a small amount of UV can destroy a microorganism like bacteria. Don’t worry; the UV light will never make its way into your home to cause any damage or harm.

This technology has been used for purification since about 1910, and is a trusted form of sterilization in hospitals, labs, and other areas where high air quality is a must. In fact, UV air purifiers can also eliminate some odors, like those from pets and cooking, which is why they are also sometimes used to create sanitary conditions for workers in sewage treatment plants.

IF a UV air purifier is not right for you, allow an indoor air quality expert to help you select an alternative type of air cleaner.

At FB Electrical Services, we offer top-of-the-line indoor air quality services in Boston and the surrounding area. Contact us today!

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