Articles for May 2014

2014 Hurricane Season about to begin

hurricane seasonIt is that time of year again… Hurricane Season begins on June 1st and ends November 30th.

A “Hurricane Watch” means that hurricane conditions (sustained winds of 74 mph or higher) are possible. The watch is issued 48 hours before the anticipated tropical storm winds begin. This is the time for you to prepare your home and make plans for a possible evacuation.

A “Hurricane Warning” means that hurricane conditions are expected. The warning is released 36 hours before tropical storm winds are anticipated. During the warning, you should complete storm preparations and leave the area if directed to do so by authorities.

Category 1 = Very dangerous winds of 74 to 95 mph will produce some damage.

Category 2 = Extremely dangerous winds of 96 to 110 mph will cause extensive damage.

Category 3 = Devastating damage will occur with winds of 111 to 129 mph.

Category 4 = Catastrophic damage occurs with winds of 130 to 156 mph.

Category 5 = More intense catastrophic damage with winds of 157 mph and higher.

2014 Hurricane Name List

  • Arthur
  • Bertha
  • Cristobal
  • Dolly
  • Edouard
  • Fay
  • Gonzalo
  • Hanna
  • Isaias
  • Josephine
  • Kyle
  • Laura
  • Marco
  • Nana
  • Omar
  • Paulette
  • Rene
  • Sally
  • Teddy
  • Vicky
  • Wilfred

Look for future posts to cover things like hurricane preparedness, evacuation routes, useful phone numbers and stay safe this hurricane season.

History of Air Conditioning in Houston

air conditioned neon signHouston was once touted as the “World’s Most Air Conditioned City”. Quite a claim for a city that by 1920 cooled its rooms, auditoriums and restaurants by placing a block of ice in a container and then circulating the ice water to fan radiators.

The first public room in Houston to be air-conditioned was the Rice Hotel cafeteria which was air-conditioned in 1922. The Second National Bank was the first air-conditioned building in Houston. An air-conditioner unit was installed there in 1923. Two years later, the Majestic Theatre followed suit. And by 1927, the other movie palaces on Main Street were air-conditioned as the public began expecting cool comfort to enhance their movie viewing pleasure. Houston’s first private home wasn’t air-conditioned until 1932.

The May 1938 issue of “Houston”, the old Chamber of Commerce magazine, described air conditioning as “manufactured weather”. According to that issue, there were 427 air conditioning units already installed, including 126 private homes. Houston at that time had a population of almost 400,000.

Air conditioning was still a luxury for most people through the  World War II era. It wasn’t until the 1950s that air conditioning became a middle-class necessity. All new office buildings were constructed with air conditioning. Local city journalists kept a close eye on the expansion of air-conditioning, using Census results to explain how Houston was indeed “the air-conditioning capital of the world.”

In 1965, Houston opened the “Eighth Wonder of the World”. The Astrodome was not only the world’s first dome stadium, but it was also the first air-conditioned stadium.

The overall acceptance and need for air conditioning was the beginning of the end for the typical home design with big front porches, wide eaves and high ceilings. The new, sought-after ranch homes with their low ceilings were much easier to air-condition than the old styles with their high ceilings. Air conditioning also claimed responsibility for the tremendous growth of Houston and other Sunbelt cities. Well, of course! Living through a Houston summer is only endurable if you have access to air conditioning!

The First Definition of Air Conditioning

carrier adIn 1908, G.B. Wilson authored a book titled “Air Conditioning, Being a short treatise on the Humidification, Ventilation, Cooling, and the hygiene of Textile Factories – especially with relation to those in the U.S.A.”. Wilson created what is thought to be the first functional definition of air conditioning. This same definition is what Willis Carrier, the “father of air conditioning” adhered to in his manufacturing of air conditioners.

  • Maintain suitable humidity in all parts of a building.
  • Free the air from excessive humidity during certain seasons.
  • Supply a constant and adequate supply of ventilation.
  • Efficiently remove from the air micro-organisms, dust, soot, and other foreign bodies.
  • Efficiently cool room air during certain seasons.
  • Heat or help heat the rooms in winter.
  • An apparatus that is not cost-prohibitive in purchase or maintenance.

For the most part, these statements still accurately define what modern air conditioning systems accomplish today, more than 100 years later.

Why Does My Air Conditioner Need A Filter?

ac filterMost air conditioners have a filter of some sort within the system. Located in various places, it may be in the return grille or even in the duct system.

What is the purpose of the air filter?

  • Remove particles from the air.
  • Keep the system clean.

Over time, the filter gets plugged with more and more particles. This increases resistance and reduces airflow. That’s when you’re supposed to change the filter. How often you change the filter depends on how dirty the air is to begin with and how big the filter is.

What happens if I don’t change the filter?

  • The air flow decreases
  • The system will not perform efficiently.
  • The filter can become a source of air pollution itself.

Can’t I just take the filter out completely?

  • Particles will build up on the system’s evaporator coil.
  • Eventually the system would fail.

Replacing the filter on a regular basis is better for your air conditioning system both short-term and in the long run. It helps your system run efficiently, which gives you more “cool” for your buck. It also keeps your AC unit running as many years as possible. Figure out a reminder system and put it on the calendar. Hmm…maybe there should be a “Time to Change Your Filter” app for your smartphone!