Advantage Airtech Blog

Some of the Unusual Movies Released for Valentine’s Day

February 14th, 2015

Hollywood has always tried to match movies up to the seasons to draw droves of viewers to the theaters: October is packed with fright-offerings, while the winter holidays skew toward warm and pleasing family films (as well as Oscar hopefuls). Valentine’s Day falls in an odd spot when it comes to the movie release calendar, however, since February tends to be a slower time for the film industry. The studios are as likely to slot strange movies that don’t fit anywhere else in their annual schedules into the Valentine’s Day weekend as they are films with powerful romantic appeal.

So, while the second weekend of February has featured hugely successful romantic comedies like Hitch, The Wedding Singer, and (of course) Valentine’s Day, some truly weird choices have debuted in this weekend as well. And a few have even gone on to tremendous success despite the bizarre match with the holiday. Here are a couple of the odder Valentine’s Day movie releases:

  • Dracula (1931): Yes, this Halloween perennial and the start of Universal Studio’s Classic Monsters actually came out on Valentine’s Day! But perhaps this makes some sense, as the Dracula legend has often received a “doomed lover” approach in the many years since Bela Lugosi made the aristocratic vampire a screen icon.
  • The Silence of the Lambs (1991): Does any film seem less appropriate for Valentine’s Day than this unnerving and sometimes very violent psychological thriller? What’s even more astonishing than the film’s release date is that The Silence of the Lambs eventually nabbed the Oscar for Best Picture, an almost unheard of occurrence for a movie released so early in the year.
  • Daredevil (2003): This Marvel comic adaptation featuring Ben Affleck as a blind superhero does contain a romantic subplot, but the stronger connection to Valentine’s Day may just be that Daredevil wears a bright red costume.
  • A Good Day to Die Hard (2013): The least successful of the Die Hard film franchise, this is an excellent example of a studio dropping a film into a weekend where it doesn’t fit in the hopes that it works as counter-programming. (It didn’t.)
  • Wayne’s World (1992): Now here is an example of counter-programming that clicked with audiences. This comedy based on a Saturday Night Live sketch turned into one of that year’s biggest hits and spawned a sequel.

Whether you celebrate Valentine’s Day with a trip to the movie theater, or you have your own special plans, everyone here at Advantage Airtech hopes you and your loved ones have a wonderful weekend.

Ways Duct Repair Helps Heating

February 5th, 2015

When was the last time you thought about your ducts? Probably not recently. You can’t really be blamed for that. After all, ducts don’t really do much to demand attention. When your heating system breaks down, you know it because you can’t heat your home. Duct damage, however, is often unannounced. You may be suffering the effects of some serious duct issues right now and not even know that it’s happening. Let’s take a look at some of the duct issues that require professional repairs, and how those repairs help with heating your home.

Duct Leaks

Ducts are actually not the sturdiest of heating parts. In fact, they are often quite vulnerable to developing leaks. This can be due to the expansion and contraction experienced when transporting warm air, or even from simply being installed incorrectly. Regardless of how they happens, duct leaks are a common and very problematic condition that affect millions of homes.

The two major issues caused by duct leaks are heat loss and moisture accumulation. It is estimated that the average home loses about 30% of its heat output to leaks in its ductwork. That’s a staggering amount of heat going to waste that you are still paying for. Duct leaks contribute to a large increase in the average homeowner’s heating bill, and most homeowners don’t even know that they’re a problem.

Moisture accumulation occurs when a duct leak opens in a damp area, like a basement. If enough moisture can get into the ducts, it will create an ideal environment for mold growth. The mold in the ducts can then release spores that travel around the house and infect people.

Benefits of Duct Repair

By having your ducts checked and repaired every couple of years, you can save money and increase the quality of your air. A qualified HVAC technician can find and seal any leaks in the ducts, as well as remove any contaminants that might be growing inside. This ensures that your ducts don’t waste any heat, and don’t expose you to harmful mold spores.

If you haven’t had your ducts checked a while, call Advantage Airtech. We provide duct repair services throughout Pickering.

Common Problems with In-Floor Radiant Heating

January 29th, 2015

Radiant floor heating has become very popular with homeowners for some obvious reasons. Not only is it a gentle heat, it’s also very nice to have warm, toasty floors in your home. There can be some concerns when it comes to radiant floor heating repairs due to the outlets, which can either be electric cable or matting under your floors, or PEX tubing for hydronic (water) systems. Most radiant heating repairs in Scarborough shouldn’t be cause for worry as they can be pretty straightforward repairs for a trained expert, like the ones at Advantage Airtech.

Electric Radiant Heating Repairs

Radiant heating has two heating options: electric or hydronic, which is hot water or steam. As such, the repairs for each type of system are different. Some of the more common electric radiant heating problems you may see are:

  • Tripping circuit breakers – while electric radiant flooring doesn’t require a lot of excess electricity, it is still necessary to have enough power from your electrical box to support the system. The average amperage of today’s home electrical panels is 200 amps; if your electrical box doesn’t carry this amount of power, you may want to upgrade prior to installation.
  • Damage to cable or electric mat – just because the electric cable or electrically-conducive mat is under the floor doesn’t mean it can’t be damaged. While these materials are durable, they aren’t indestructible and they can be damaged by cracked tiles or heavy objects.

Hydronic Radiant Heating Repairs

A hydronic system requires a boiler in order to work. Some problems that can develop with a hydronic radiant system are:

  • Issues with zone valves or circulator pumps – if you have a hot water hydronic radiant system, your system needs zone valves or circulator pumps to push the hot water from the boiler’s vessel into your piping. These small pumps can break for a number of reasons, and this will affect the quality of your heating.
  • Air lock – any boiler system is pressurized, and sometimes air bubbles can develop inside pipes. When this happens, the air bubble can act as a block and stop the flow of the hot water; this is known as air lock.

The experts at Advantage Airtech have been helping customers with heating repair in Scarborough since 1987. If you have having issues with your radiant heating, call us today!

Troubleshooting the Circulator Pump of a Gas Boiler

January 22nd, 2015

Boilers are some of the most effective heating systems out there because they fill the room with warmth. Forced-air heating systems heat up air to blow into a room, and it often results in spotty heating and uneven temperatures throughout the home.  Hot water boilers simply use circulator pumps to move hot water from the tank into the various rooms in the house including via an endpoint like a radiator, convector unit, or a series of pipes under the floorboards. It may be surprising when the boiler suddenly stops working as it should. But if the problem is only with a smaller part like the circulator, you may be able to have a professional simply replace the part.

Potential Problems with the Circulator Pumps

A circulator pump may run into any of the following problems over time, all of which require a professional to repair or replace the part.

  • Leaking at the Pump: The circulator pump both a pump and a connecting piece, which is why water may sometimes leak from an older pump, one that has worn down, or a pump that was not properly installed. It may wear down because of the high water pressure it handles every day. It may cause reduced heating due to the hot water deficiency.
  • Pump Not Running: If the pump is not working at all, it may only need replacement. It could also be a sign of an electrical problem like a broken relay.
  • Pump Only Works Intermittently: A pump that only works sporadically or only starts up sometimes could also be suffering from electrical trouble. It could also be a sign of a damaged valve in the pump.
  • Hot Water Only Pumps to Some Areas of the House: When hot eater only reaches some areas of the home, it could indicate an electrical malfunction. On the other hand, it could be an issue with the setup of the zone control system in a larger house.
  • Noisy Pump: A circulator pump should be fairly quiet. A noisy pump may have air inside of it that a professional can purge using a bleeding valve. It can also be a mechanical issue like a loose bearing.

At Advantage Airtech, we have experience diagnosing and repairing all kinds of problems with gas boilers in Whitby. Give us a call!

Is Your Thermostat Responsible for Your Heating System Repair Needs?

January 15th, 2015

It has the ultimate control over our heating system, but it is often the most overlooked item when the heating system needs repair: your thermostat. Your thermostat tells your heating system when to turn on and off, making it the control center for your heater. When your heater is operating poorly, or won’t come on at all, the thermostat should be the first place to check for heating system repair in Pickering. Why? Because your thermostats can malfunction and break just as any other part of your heating or cooling system can. Here are some common problems our Advantage Airtech technicians see with thermostats:

  • Dust and dirt – the instrumentation inside your thermostat is delicate; as such, a layer of dust and/or dirt can affect how the instrumentation works, which can cause problems with overall operation.
  • Thermostat isn’t level – thermostats need to be level in order to work correctly; a tilted thermostat may read the temperature wrong, which will affect when the thermostat cues your heater to turn on and off.
  • There’s a short – thermostats run on electricity which makes them as likely to develop as short as any other small electronic device. The best way to check if there’s a short is to see if a breaker has tripped in your electrical box.
  • It’s drafty – good placement is critical for correct temperature readings. If your thermostat is next to windows or doors, drafts can affect the thermostat’s readings.
  • The heat anticipator is off – the heat anticipator tells your heater how long it should stay on; if it isn’t calibrated correctly, your system may do what’s called short-cycling: constantly turn on and off. Your technician will know exactly how to fix the anticipator.
  • Corroded or frayed wiring – the wires inside your thermostat can become corroded or frayed over time, which will affect how they operate. Your technician can replace these wires during a repair appointment.

Problems with your thermostat can increase the wear and tear on your heating system, which can contribute to malfunction and aging.

If you suspect your thermostat may have a problem, contact Advantage Airtech today and schedule an appointment for heating system repair in Pickering.

Is a Heat Pump Enough for Heating in Scarborough?

January 8th, 2015

When you’re looking for a new heating and air conditioning solution in Scarborough, you may have found advice online recommending a heat pump. Heat pumps are used to replace both heaters and air conditioners, using refrigeration technology to both move heat out of a home in the summertime and bring heat inside in colder weather.

But will you get enough heating power from heat pump installation in Scarborough? Well, most likely, you’ll need an alternate source of heating installed as well. But this doesn’t mean you should write off heat pumps entirely. A heat pump is an efficient way to heat and cool and can help you to save money since you’ll only use your gas furnace sparingly.

How Heat Pumps Work for Heating

Heat pumps use refrigerant to move heat from one area to another, just like standard air conditioners do. Refrigerant has the ability to readily convert from a liquid to a gas and back again, given the right circumstances. When refrigerant evaporates into a gas, it can absorb heat, and when it condenses into a liquid, heat dissipates. With a standard air conditioner or a heat pump set in cooling mode, refrigerant absorbs heat at the indoor evaporator coil as a blower fan moves the warm air from your home over the coil. This heat is released outside at the condenser coil and the process begins again.

When a heat pump is set in heating mode, a setting made possible due to a special part called a reversing valve, refrigerant moves in the opposite direction. This means it can move heat from the outside of your house back indoors, even in very cool temperatures. However, when the temperature drops below freezing, you will likely need an alternate heating source, like a furnace.

While this may seem like an added cost, it’s important to note that a heat pump is efficient because it takes far less energy to move heat than it does to generate heat. This means that you can save money using your gas heater less frequently, and protect the lifespan of your furnace as well.

The experts at Advantage Airtech can help you to save money on your heating and air conditioning bills with professional heat pump installation in Scarborough.

Why Is There No Heat on One Floor of My Commercial Property?

January 5th, 2015

You may own or manage a very large commercial property, but even if there is a problem with the heating on only one floor, you’re bound to find out about it soon. When one floor of your multi-story commercial property has to go without heat, your business suffers. In order to keep clients, customers, employees, and/or residents happy, it’s important to get the trouble repaired as quickly as possible.

Always trust commercial specialist with large-scale commercial heating service in Ajax, like the friendly folks at Advantage Airtech.

While you wait for a technician to repair the issue, you may begin to wonder, why would heat cut out in only one area of the building? One possible culprit is the thermostat. This surprises many business owners to hear, but the thermostat is responsible for communicating to the heater when it is time to turn on, so a malfunctioning thermostat is a likely possibility. And the issue could occur on just one floor because most commercial properties have a zoning system that allows each floor, office, room, or zone to be controlled individually.

On the other hand, the commercial control system may be responsible as well. All commercial heating and air conditioning units have a main electric control system that automatically directs the supply fan, valves, and safety controls. A faulty controller may keep a damper or a fan from operating, which means it will not let warm air through the vent.

If your business heats via a commercial steam or hot water boiler, the issue may have to do with the circulator that directs hot water to that area of the property. A circulator pump could need replacement, or it may need to be rewired if there is an electrical issue.

Remember to call on commercial specialists for your repair needs. Residential technicians are often ill-equipped to handle such a large task. Commercial specialists are trained on these types of units with complex zoning setups and can address your issues quickly and accurately.

For your next repair, maintenance, or installation need for commercial heating in Ajax, call Advantage Airtech, serving the Greater Toronto area since 1987.

12 Grapes for 12 Months: An Unusual New Year’s Tradition

January 1st, 2015

Across the world, many cultures have specific traditions to celebrate the transition from the old year to the new. In the U.S. and Canada, we associate New Year’s with the ball in Times Square, kissing at the stroke of midnight, resolutions, and singing “Old Lang Syne.” But for many Spanish-speaking countries, one of the key traditions has to do with eating grapes as fast as possible.

The “twelve grapes” tradition comes from Spain, where it is called las doce uvas de la suerte (“The Twelve Lucky Grapes”). To ensure good luck for the next year, people eat one green grape for each of the upcoming twelve months. However, you cannot just eat the grapes during the first day of the new year any time you feel like it. You must eat the twelve grapes starting at the first stroke of midnight on Nochevieja (“Old Night,” New Year’s Eve) as one year changes to another. And you have to keep eating: with each toll of midnight, you must eat another grape, giving you about twelve seconds to consume all of them. If you can finish all dozen grapes—you can’t still be chewing on them!—before the last bell toll fades, you will have a luck-filled new year.

Where did this tradition come from? No one is certain, although it appears to be more than a century old. One story about the Twelve Lucky Grapes is that a large crop of grapes in 1909 in Alicante, Spain led to the growers seeking out a creative way to eliminate their surplus. But recent research through old newspapers shows that perhaps the tradition goes back almost thirty years earlier to the 1880s, where eating grapes was meant to mock the upper classes who were imitating the French tradition of dining on grapes and drinking champagne on New Year’s Eve.

It can be difficult to consume grapes this fast, and the lucky grapes of New Year’s Eve have seeds in them, making the job even trickier. (Seedless grapes are not common in Spain the way they are over here.) For people to manage eating all the grapes before the last stroke of midnight requires swallowing the seeds as well and only taking a single bite of each grape.

Oh, there is one more twist to the tradition: you have to be wearing red undergarments, and they have to be given to you as a gift. The origins of this part of the tradition are even more mysterious, and it’s anybody’s guess why this started.

Whether you go for the grape challenge or find another way to ring in New Year’s, all of us at Advantage Airtech hope you have a great start to the year and a fruitful 2015.

5 Facts about Santa Claus

December 25th, 2014

Many holiday traditions involve the story of Santa Claus, the lovable old man who spends most of his time at the North Pole taking a single evening to deliver presents and candy to children everywhere. But since Santa Claus is so elusive (unless he happens to be visiting your local shopping mall), how do we know so much about him? Where exactly does his journey begin? Our holiday guide details 5 of the most common traditions associated with Jolly Old Saint Nick.

  1. The Origins of Santa: The name “Santa Claus” comes from St. Nicholas (a name which became Sinter Klaas for short in Dutch), a Christian Bishop from 4 A.D. who was known for giving his fortune away to those in need in Turkey. Santa Claus’ first associations with gift-giving comes from Holland’s St. Nicholas’ feast day, during which children would leave out their shoes overnight and find presents waiting inside the shoes on the next morning.
  2. The Stocking by the Chimney: While many people associate Holland’s shoe tradition with the origins of hanging a stocking, this isn’t entirely accurate. Hanging stockings instead comes from the legend of a time St. Nick helped a man afford to marry off his daughter by throwing a bag of gold down the chimney, which landed in a stocking that was hanging up to dry.
  3. St. Nick’s Outfit: Santa got his fashion sense from a wooden cutout handed out during a meeting of the New York Historical Society in 1804. But it wasn’t until a 1930s Coca Cola advertisement that his traditionally blue, white, and green outfit was transformed into a big red suit.
  4. Leaving Cookies out for Santa: Food was traditionally used as ornamentation during the holidays in medieval Germany as apples and cookies commonly adorned the home at wintertime. When the Christmas tree became a common symbol of the season, edible treats began to vanish, a phenomenon which became attributed to Santa Claus’ snacking habits.
  5. Why Santa Drives a Sleigh: Santa gets his sleigh from a tale spun by Washington Irving, the same author who brought us the Headless Horseman. He wrote down an account of a dream in which Santa Claus drives a weightless wagon through the sky, and the stories became so popular, they stuck around.

Here at Advantage Airtech, we hope that you have a joyful and safe celebration, no matter what holiday traditions you engage in this year. Happy holidays!

A Guide to the Different Types of Gas Ignition Systems

December 18th, 2014

If you’re used to gas furnaces that break down frequently, pilot lights that won’t seem to stay on, or an inefficient, low-performance unit, you may be wary about purchasing a new furnace for installation. But never fear: modern furnaces contain a variety of safety features and controls that allow them to be far more efficient than ever before and offer improved performance as well. Besides, today’s furnaces don’t actually use standing pilots, which cuts costs and involves much less of a hassle. In this guide, we’ll show you some of the new ignition systems for furnaces, so you can see for yourself that a new furnace may still be a viable option for heating installation in Pickering.

Standing Pilot

A standing pilot must remain lit throughout the day so that heat can be made available at any time. Today’s manufacturers no longer produce standing pilot models, for a few good reasons. For one, standing pilots consume a lot of energy, as they require gas to flow at all times. Most standing pilot furnaces only have a 50-65% AFUE rating (annual fuel efficiency utilization) meaning they only use about half of the energy they consume to heat a space.

Intermittent Pilot

An intermittent pilot solves a couple of problems common to older units. Electronic components open the gas valve and put out a spark only when the furnace needs to switch on, allowing for greater efficiency as it will only run for the length of time that it is necessary. They can have an AFUE of well over 90%, a significant improvement over old furnaces. They’re also a lot safer, as most modern units contain more safety features and control switches and there’s a lower risk of a sudden blast from an overfilled combustion tank.

Hot Surface Ignition

An even more efficient option may be hot surface ignition. Hot surface ignition systems are made of silicon carbide, a material which conducts heat easily when energized. The hot surface ignition system is one of the most popular ignition methods for today’s units. They are very tough, and can last a long time with proper care and maintenance.

Contact Advantage Airtech to learn which of these furnace features is best for your home when you schedule heating installation in Pickering.