Polar Bear Air Conditioning & Heating Inc Blog : Archive for November, 2013

The History of Thanksgiving

Monday, November 25th, 2013

Thanksgiving is upon us: a time to get together with relatives, eat some great food, watch a little football or the parade, and stop to appreciate the good things we have in life. Beyond all that, however, there’s a fascinating history to the holiday and its traditions.

The first Thanksgiving was celebrated in 1621 in the Plymouth Colony in Massachusetts. Records are spotty at the time, but indicate that the harvest was particularly good that year due to help from the local Native Americans. The meal was probably much different than the one we’re used to, with venison and fish more likely than turkey, but the general principle was unchanged.

It wasn’t a few centuries later, however, that Thanksgiving became an annual tradition. George Washington called for a “national day of Thanksgiving” in 1789, and again in 1795, but they were both “one shot” declarations, rather than a call for an annual tradition. Individual cities and states picked up the ball, but it wasn’t until 1863 that Thanksgiving became a national once-a-year event. President Lincoln declared the last Thursday in November to be a Thanksgiving “to heal the wounds of the nation and restore it.”

From there, it remained a tradition until Franklin Roosevelt signed a law in December of 1941 making it a federal holiday. The law also changed the date from the last Thursday in November to the fourth Thursday in November, making it a little earlier in some cases (which Roosevelt hoped would give the country an economic boost).

Wherever you celebrate the holiday and whoever you choose to celebrate it with, we wish you nothing but happiness and joy this Thanksgiving.  

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Your Furnace is Only as Good as Your Ductwork

Monday, November 18th, 2013

It’s an easy phrase, “your furnace is only as good as your ductwork,” and most homeowners won’t quite know what it means. Your ductwork is often out of sight, and as long as it continues to channel air to various parts of your home, it’s easy to focus on other things. But ductwork does affect furnace performance, since smooth airflow is key to heating your home efficiently. Here in Arlington VA furnace repair must address issues with ducts almost as often as they do the furnace itself.

Problems can start with the installation of the ductwork itself. You want the interior of the ducts to be as smooth as possible, without any grooves or pockets to trap moving air. Ducts that “bunch” or “gather” in places will slow the air flow down, decreasing efficiency in the process.

Leaks and fissures can pull air from the system too, forcing your heater to work harder to do its job. And if your ducts aren’t insulated, then they will lose heat on cold days, especially if they pass through unconditioned areas of your home.

A good technician can help address all of that, first by providing regular maintenance to your heating system. That clears up the dust and dirt, helping to keep it out of your ducts. He can also add insulation to your ducts and look into any areas where they might have bunched up or sprung a leak (both of which depend in part to the kind of material used for your ducts. In Arlington VA, furnace issues of all varieties (including ductwork) can be addressed by the professionals at Polar Bear Air Conditioning & Heating Inc.. Your furnace is only as good as your ductwork; give us a call today and let us take care of both!

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What Size Boiler Do I Need?

Tuesday, November 12th, 2013

Heating installation in Alexandria VA can be a tricky process. You need to size your boiler properly in order to heat your home with proper efficiency. If the boiler is too small, it won’t do the job. If it’s too large, it will operate inefficiently: cycling on and off too often and using up tons of unnecessary energy in the process. Considering how cold our Virginia winters get, neither option is acceptable.  “What size boiler do I need?” You ask. A trained technician can answer that (after examining your home), but a few of the basics can be found below.

Boiler “size” is measured in British Thermal Units (BTUs), which gauge how much heat the boiler generates. How many BTUs you need to heat your home depends on the size of your home, not only the square feet but the cubic feet, as tall ceilings will make a big difference in how much heat you need.

That isn’t the only factor involved in the equation, however. Your walls, roof and windows enter into it as well. In simple terms, it’s important to gauge how insulated your home is, both in terms of the insulation in your home and attic, and such factors as double glazed windows and the lack of cracks around the door. A technician will also take sunlight exposure into account: A room that gets a great deal of sunlight may be quite a bit warmer than one without. All of that can “move the bar” up or down, resulting in a smaller or larger boiler as appropriate.

Whenever the final decision, it’s important to consult with an expert to help answer the question “what size boiler do I need?” Not only can a trained technician perform exact measurements, but he or she can sit down with you to discuss you options and plan for an installation that meets your schedule. For these and other matters related to heating installation in Alexandria, VA, contact the experts at Polar Bear to help. We’ll help you determine the right size boiler for your home, then conduct the installation with professionalism and pride. Give us a call today!

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Why Does my Furnace Pilot Light Keep Going Out?

Tuesday, November 5th, 2013

Does the pilot light keep going out on the furnace in your Washington DC area home? Here are a few possible reasons your pilot light could go out and what to do about them. If none of these suggestions work, call Polar Bear Air Conditioning & Heating Inc. for help.

Down Drafts Causing Pilot Light to Go Out

If your furnace vents through a chimney, always check first for the potential of a down draft causing the light to go out. This could happen if the light tends to go out on windy days. The chimney design could also be causing the problem. Check to see if it is high enough, and that it has a proper chimney cap installed at the top.

Clogged or Dirty Pilot Valve

Once you’ve made sure that there are no down drafts, have a professional check the pilot light gas valve to make sure that it isn’t clogged in any way. They will also check to see if it is adjusted properly. One of our technicians can answer any further questions about how to operate the pilot valve and controls.

Not Enough Gas Pressure

Your technician also check gas pressure while the furnace is on to see if the pressure has dropped. If it has dropped, this could easily cause the pilot light to go out.

Always call a professional HVAC contractor you can trust to handle repairs for any type of gas heating system in your home. Call the furnace experts at Polar Bear Air Conditioning & Heating Inc. of Washington DC any time you need a furnace repair or tune-up.

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