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

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 Polar Bear Air Conditioning & Heating Inc. wish you nothing but the best for 2014. Have a safe and happy New Year!

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Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 23rd, 2013

Holiday greetings from Polar Bear Air Conditioning & Heating Inc.! 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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Signs Your Boiler Needs Repairs

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013

Boilers are an old and reliable form of heating technology that continues to be popular today.  They tend to be more efficient than gas heaters and don’t suffer from problems like drafts or cold spots. But like any piece of equipment, they still need repairs from time to time. The sooner you can spot signs your boiler needs repairs, the sooner you can call in a qualified Alexandria VA boiler technician to help, and the more quickly your heating system can get back up to strength.

Odd noises are the most obvious sign of a boiler in need of assistance. Kettling – a build-up of sediment in the heat exchange – can lead to rumbling noises, while low water pressure and similar problems can create bubbling or whistling noises in the system. Keep in mind that sound may travel through the system far from its source, and sounds in one part may actually indicate a problem in another part.

Leaks sometimes spring up in boiler systems, and can sometimes be spotted by puddles or moisture nearby. Keep in mind that not every leak creates puddles, however. Hot water and small leaks may combine to evaporate the leaking water, making it tougher to spot.

Problems with the thermocouple may prevent the heater from turning on, while faulty valves and build up may create low water pressure that prevents certain parts of the house from being heated properly. Any situation where a radiator doesn’t appear to work, where the heating isn’t being applied at all. And of course, any situation where the heater fails to turn on entirely is a sign that you need to call in a repair service.

Luckily, in Alexandria VA, boiler systems can be repaired by the experts at Polar Bear Air Conditioning & Heating Inc.  Our trained experts know how to spot signs your boiler needs repairs and correct it with speed and efficiency. Pick up the phone and give us a call today!

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My Pilot Light Won’t Stay Lit: What Repairs Are Needed?

Tuesday, December 10th, 2013

Pilot lights are a necessary component of many gas furnaces. Although some furnaces today use electrical igniters to start up the gas jets along the burner, the pilot light is still the standard method for most models. As long as the pilot light is burning, the gas jets responsible for creating the heat inside your furnace will be able to come on whenever your thermostat requires heat.

A pilot light can occasionally go out because of a strong draft, in which case you should have no trouble relighting it. But if the pilot light will not stay lit, going out repeatedly, then your furnace will need an expert eye to see what’s wrong and offer solutions to repair it. Without a pilot light burning, you won’t have the heat you need to get through the winter.

When it’s time for furnace repair in Washington, DC, contact Polar Bear Air Conditioning & Heating Inc., where we’ve made a commitment since 2001 to deliver quality heating services.

Repairs for a fluttering and failing pilot light

The most common repair that technicians do to restore a pilot light is to clean off the burner unit. The pilot light requires oxygen to ignite, and if grime and dirt have coated the burner unit, it will prevent the pilot from activating. The technician will remove the burner unit to have it properly cleaned.

The trouble may come from the gas line itself. There might be blockage along the pipe, damage to a gas valve, or a safety control feature that has malfunctioned so that is activating at the wrong time. Technicians can usually handle gas flow issues… and you should never attempt to do repairs to a gas line on your own.

Some newer furnaces have electronic control systems which can malfunction and affect the pilot light. These are complex systems, and require a skilled technician to look over their circuit boards and find what is necessary to repair to restore the pilot light.

The trained technicians at Polar Bear Air Conditioning & Heating Inc. are ready to assist you with your furnace repair in Washington, DC so you’ll stay warm and safe through the winter. Call us today!

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What Causes a Boiler to Leak?

Monday, December 2nd, 2013

Boilers remain a key component in many homes, using hot water and a system of pipes to safely warm every corner of the house. They’re fairly easy to maintain, though  they still experience difficulties just like any other heating system. What causes a boiler to leak? The sources vary, but the effects can be spotted without too much difficulty.

The most common source of boiler leaks comes at the seals and fittings between pipes, which are often vulnerable to fissures. Corrosion can sometimes take place in the central system, particularly if it hasn’t been serviced or maintained in a while, but often it occurs at points where the seals or connections have had a chance to deteriorate.  Hard water often adds to these tendencies, since the minerals contained within the water will slowly damage your pipes over time.

“Over time” is a key phrase here, because a leak will rarely show up right away. The fissures and corrosion that result in leaks appear slowly over months or even years, and become apparent only after they’ve progressed very far indeed. In many cases, the leak is small enough to escape casual notice, since the hot water simply evaporates rather than creating a puddle. The best way to notice such a leak is to check the boiler’s water pressure. If the pressure has dropped for no apparent reason, you’re probably looking at a leak somewhere in your heating system.

Regardless of whether the signs are subtle or overt, there’s  no question about what to do. Shut off the boiler and contact a Washington DC boiler repair professional immediately. He or she can determine what causes a boiler to leak, then instigate repairs with courtesy and professionalism.  Our technicians can arrive at your home, inspect the heater for problems and discuss your repair options with you before moving to correct the issue. Pick up the phone and give us a call today. You’ll be glad you did!

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