Types of Air Filtration Systems Available in Vinings

January 22nd, 2015 by David Roussel

Just because it’s cold out and some traditional outdoor allergies are at abeyance for the winter doesn’t mean you won’t have indoor air quality problems. In some ways, winter indoor allergies can be more of a challenge due to swirling dust from forced air systems and an inability to throw open a window and increase ventilation. You also may have concerns about infections, as winter is the purveyor of some very nasty bugs. So what can you do to better manage winter allergies and colds? Consider the installation of an air filtration system in Vinings.

Air Filtration Options

When it comes to adding an air filtration system to your home, you have a couple of choices, namely between an electronic air filter and a mechanical one. Mechanical filters use media to capture contaminants while electronic ones use negative ions. To better understand your choices, it’s good to have some basic knowledge about how the different types work.

Mechanical Filters

When people see the words “air filtration” they are more likely to think of a mechanical filter than an electronic one, simply because we see them more. Mechanical filters use a fibrous media that is stretched across a square frame to capture contaminants like dust, dirt, mold spores (not all), bacteria (some) and viruses (some). Mechanical air filters have a rating system called MERV; the MERV scale runs from 1 to 20 and the higher the MERV rating, the stronger the filter. It is important to note that home air filters shouldn’t exceed a MERV of 13 as filters with a high MERV rating can restrict air flow.

Electronic Filters

There are two types of electronic filter: ion generators and electronic precipitators. Each uses electricity to capture contaminants, but each does it slightly differently. Ion generators create and then disperse negative ions into your home’s air; these negative ions attach to the contaminants in the air and land on the surfaces of your home due to mutual attraction. The contaminants are removed when the surfaces are cleaned. An electronic precipitator draws air into it where contaminants are pushed into an ionization section and charged; as the charged particles move through the precipitator, they are collected on oppositely-charged metal plates.

As you can see, there you have some options when it comes to installing an air filtration system in your Vinings home.

For help with choosing and installation, call the people you can count on: South Air Inc. Contact us today!

Why Some Owners Choose Electric Furnaces Over Gas Furnaces

January 15th, 2015 by David Roussel

Not too long ago, there wasn’t much in the way of choices when it came to installing a furnace that was both effective and efficient. Fuel choices were limited mostly to natural gas, although some furnaces could also operate with oil and later, propane. Today, homeowners in Atlanta can choose a furnace that doesn’t heat via combustion by opting for an electric furnace.

How Does an Electric Furnace Work?

Every furnace generates heat, but electric furnaces do it using a component called a heating element. Heating elements are comprised of multiple tightly-wound coils made of metal that are electrified when your thermostat calls for heat. The electricity heats the coils until they are red-hot, and when they generate enough heat, the fan turns on and pushes the warmed air through your ductwork and into your home.

Why Choose an Electric Furnace?

There are a few reasons why a homeowner would want to consider installing an electric furnace over a gas furnace:

  • No access to a gas line – while many homes have access to a natural gas line, not all do – but almost all homes can connect to electricity. If your home doesn’t have access to a natural gas line, you may want to consider an electric furnace for heating.
  • No fossil fuels – some homeowners don’t want to use fossil fuels for heating; an electric furnace helps make this possible.
  • Energy efficiency – AFUE ratings for electric furnaces can be as high as 100%; this is because there is no fuel loss due to combustion byproducts.
  • Safety – while combustion furnaces are just as safe as electric furnaces, some people may still have concerns about the combustion byproducts created by a gas furnace and opt for an electric furnace.

Is an electric furnace a good fit for your home in Atlanta? If so, call South Air Inc., today and schedule an appointment with one of our installation experts.

Advantages and Drawbacks of Water Source Heat Pumps

January 9th, 2015 by David Roussel

When people think of heat pumps, they may think of the kind with an outdoor unit that holds the compressor and condenser – but this is only one type of heat pump. There are actually 3 types of heat pumps: air source, which is the kind we just described, ground source and water source. Ground-source and water source heat pumps are used with geothermal systems, and can be either ducted or ductless systems. Today we’re going to look at a water source heat pump: how it works, its benefits and its disadvantages.

How It Works

All heat pumps work by transferring heat from one location to another. Heat pumps need a solution inside the system to help facilitate this transfer. Air source heat pumps typically use refrigerant, but ground and water source typically utilize environmentally-friendly antifreeze solutions. In the summer, heat pumps absorb the heat in your home and transfer it to the outside; during winter, heat pumps absorb the heat that surrounds them, concentrates it and transfers it into your home. Water source heat pumps work by absorbing the latent solar heat from its water source and transferring it into your home. The two types of water source heat pumps are:

  • Pond/lake (closed loop)
  • Well water/surface body water (open loop)


Water source heat pumps offer the same advantages of any geothermal system, including:

  • Excellent energy efficiency – water source heat pumps do not use any fossil fuels and use approximately 25% of the electricity of a whole home heating or cooling system to operate.
  • Excellent humidity control – water source heat pumps maintain an average of 50% humidity year-round, making it very comfortable no matter what the season.
  • Few moving parts – the more moving parts a system has, the more prone it is breakdown; heat pumps do not have many moving parts, making them very stable during operation.


  • Can be more expensive – the initial costs for any geothermal system is higher than traditional heating and cooling systems, so this is something to consider.
  • Scaling – using a water source heat pump may put you at more risk for scaling, which is mineral build-up in the loop.

If a water source heat pump in Sandy Springs seems like a good option for your home, call South Air Inc., today and schedule an appointment with one of our installation experts.

The Outside Unit of My Heat Pump Is Running in the Winter: What’s Wrong?

January 2nd, 2015 by David Roussel

Nothing at all. Your heat pump is running exactly as it is supposed to, at least as far as the outside unit goes. We understand that it can be strange, or even alarming, for your heat pump to keep the outdoor unit running in winter time. It is working just fine, however. In order to understand why this isn’t a problem, let’s examine how a heat pump works.

Heat Pump Operation

A heat pump, as you know, is primarily composed of an indoor and an outdoor unit. These two units are connected to each other by a conduit that runs between them. Inside that conduit is a power line and refrigerant line, among a couple other things. The refrigerant line is the important thing here, though. It runs up into each unit, where it connects to a coil before running back down the conduit and into the other unit.

When the heat is turned on, the outdoor unit begins to evaporate the refrigerant inside its coil. This creates a heat sink effect, leeching thermal energy from the surrounding air and into the refrigerant gas inside the coil. The refrigerant then moves down the refrigerant line to the inside unit, taking the thermal energy with it. When the refrigerant reaches the inside coil, it is condensed back into a liquid to release the heat. The heat is then used to warm the air being circulated throughout the house.

This is why you shouldn’t worry about the outside unit of your heat pump running in the winter. As long as you turned the heat on, that is exactly what the unit is supposed to be doing. Without the outdoor unit evaporating refrigerant to collect thermal energy, your heat pump would not be able to actually heat your house. It would be nothing but a fan blowing air around, which wouldn’t be much use to anybody.

If you’d like to know more about how heat pumps work, call South Air, Inc. We install heat pumps throughout the Atlanta area.

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

January 1st, 2015 by David Roussel

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 South Air Inc. hope you have a great start to the year and a fruitful 2015.

The Composition of Snowflakes: Are No Two Alike?

December 25th, 2014 by David Roussel

“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 South Air 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!

Why Proper Venting Is Important to Your Furnace

December 18th, 2014 by David Roussel

Not a lot of homeowners think about how their furnace operates. They may buy and install carbon monoxide detectors, but most never really make the connection between their furnace and the problems that can arise from improper venting. Let’s take a look at why venting is so important to your furnace, and what can happen if a venting problem arises.

Incomplete Combustion

What a lot of people know, but never really think about, is that furnaces are incomplete combustion engines. This means that when a furnace burns fuel, be it oil, or wood, or gas, there will always be waste products left over. In the case of natural gas, which is one of the most common fuel sources, these combustion byproducts can be quite dangerous.

Combustion Byproducts

There are a number of combustion byproducts left over after a furnace burns natural gas. Carbon molecules often collect on the burners, as well as the walls of the heat exchanger. Water vapor is created and evaporates shortly afterward. The three most dangerous combustion byproducts, however, are carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, and sulfur dioxide.

Why Proper Venting is Important

Those last three combustion byproducts are all toxic gases, each of which can be fatal in high enough concentrations. Since these pollutants can never be completely eliminated by furnace combustion, they must be vented out of the house through the heat exchanger and exhaust flue. If these parts are obstructed, or develop cracks, the toxic gases can begin leaking into the home itself and poisoning the people inside.

In the case of carbon monoxide, there is no way for humans to detect it under normal circumstances. It is invisible, tasteless, and odorless. The only way to know if you have been exposed to it is to have a detector nearby, which is available at many hardware stores, or to know the symptoms of exposure. These symptoms include dizziness, nausea, unconsciousness, and seizures. If you begin to suddenly experience these symptoms, get out of the house and call emergency services.

If you think your furnace may have a venting problem, call South Air Inc. We provide heating installation throughout Woodstock.

How Zone Control Could Save You Money on Heating in Kennesaw

December 11th, 2014 by David Roussel

Despite their popularity, central forced air heating systems have a number of systemic problems. They do the job decently enough, sure, but they are a “one size fits all” solution with all the negatives that go with it. Some homeowners opt for entirely new systems to get around these issues. For those that don’t want to invest that much money, however, an effective solution can be found in zone control. Let’s take a closer look at the issues with central forced air heating, and the ways that zone control systems can mitigate them.

Central Heating Problems

The core problem with central heating is that it is simply inefficient most of the time. The whole system is controlled by a single thermostat, usually installed in a hallway close to the center of the house. This is done to prevent the thermostat from being affected by temperature fluctuations in the outer areas. The thermostat cannot sense the temperature levels throughout the house, of course. It can only register temperatures in its general vicinity.

When the thermostat finally does turn the heat on, the heat is directed to all rooms throughout the house. There is no way to direct the heat to the one or two rooms that are actually occupied. Instead, the entire house receives heat until the thermostat is satisfied. Not only does this waste energy (and thus, money) but it can create wide temperature fluctuations in rooms further away from the thermostat.

Zone Control

Zone control attempts to rectify this inefficiency through the installation of buffers in the ducts leading to each room. These buffers can either open or close, controlling air flow to that room and directing it to other areas. Each of these buffers can be linked to its own thermostat, allowing individual rooms to be set to individual temperatures.

This solves the inefficiency problem that central systems struggle with. Multiple thermostats assure that each room is kept comfortable, while directing air flow to where it is actually needed. This prevents the massive waste of energy that most central forced air heating systems perpetuate.

If you’d like to know more about zone control, call South Air Inc. Our heating professionals cover all of Kennesaw.

Could these Symptoms Indicate an Indoor Air Quality Problem?

December 1st, 2014 by David Roussel

A lot of people attribute various health symptoms to allergies, flu season, and any number of other causes. What often gets left out of that list, however, is poor indoor air quality. Most homeowners never consider the possibility that their indoor air might be what’s affecting their health in such a negative way. Fortunately, we’ve assembled this short list of ways to tell if your indoor air might be a problem.

Increase in Allergy Attacks

Coughing, sneezing, painful sinuses, itching eyes, all symptoms that are altogether too familiar to allergy sufferers. If you’re outside in the middle of spring, this sort of thing is likely not out of the ordinary. When you start experiencing these symptoms inside, however, you should pay more attention. Pollen, dust, pet dander, and all sorts of other allergens can be circulated throughout the house by any forced air heater or air conditioner. These allergens often become trapped in the home, provoking allergic reactions again and again over time. If you’re experiencing severe allergy symptoms, especially if the frequency increases when inside, you likely have an indoor air quality problem.

Increase in Illness

If you’ve ever had to share a house with a sick person, you know how difficult it can be to stay healthy and avoid contamination. Viruses and bacteria are circulated through a home’s ductwork just as easily, if not more so, than allergens like dust and pollen. These germs can often live for astonishingly long periods of time while airborne, until they have the opportunity to infect someone and spread. If you seem to have an increase in the frequency of minor illnesses like the common cold or flu, it may be because of bad indoor air quality.

Sudden Nausea, Dizziness, or Fatigue

The most serious of indicators, suddenly experiencing nausea, dizziness, or fatigue could be a sign of carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon monoxide is an odorless and tasteless toxic gas, which is created by combustion heating systems. If inhaled, it restricts the ability of the body to acquire oxygen. At high enough levels, it can kill. If you start experiencing any of these symptoms for no apparent reason, leave the house and call emergency services.

If you’re experiencing problems with your air quality, call South Air Inc. Our indoor air quality professionals cover all of Mableton.

10 Facts You Should Know about Thanksgiving

November 27th, 2014 by David Roussel

Thanksgiving has been celebrated as an official holiday in the United States for over 150 years, so you may think you understand all there is to know about this family feast. Most of us have heard the story of the pilgrims’ first Thanksgiving in 1621 after arriving in North America on the Mayflower. But did you know that only about half of the people on this ship were actually pilgrims? This fact is one of ten things that may actually surprise you about the Thanksgiving tradition!

  1. Although we often consider Thanksgiving a holiday unique to the United States, many other countries and cultures celebrate their own set of harvest-time and thanksgiving traditions. In Korea, Chu-Sok (or “fall evening”) is put on in remembrance of forefathers on August 15th of every year. Brazil celebrates a contemporary version of the U.S. holiday. Chinese, Roman, and Jewish cultures all have a history of harvest celebrations as well.
  2. President Harry S. Truman began the tradition of a ceremony held before Thanksgiving during which the president receives a turkey. George H.W. Bush was the first to pardon the turkey instead of eating it.
  3. In Minnesota alone, farmers raise over 40 million turkeys a year. In fact, U.S. farmers produce about one turkey for every one person in the country.
  4. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, the average American will gain about one to two pounds every year during the holiday season.
  5. On the other hand, turkey is naturally high in protein and has been known to support and boost immune systems to protect against illness and speed up healing. So feast on!
  6. Abraham Lincoln issued a “Thanksgiving Proclamation” in 1863, but a woman named Sarah Josepha Hale can be credited with the idea. While Thanksgiving had been celebrated at different times of year in many areas of the U.S. for years, it was Hale, prominent magazine editor and author of the rhyme “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” who urged Lincoln to finally establish the national event.
  7. President Franklin D Roosevelt once tried to change the date of Thanksgiving to the second-to-last Thursday of the month in order to extend the holiday shopping season and boost the economy.
  8. Only about half of the people on the Mayflower were what we would consider today as “Pilgrims.” The other (approximately) 50 people were simply trying to find a way over to the New World.
  9. Gobble, gobble! Click, click? While male turkeys make a gobbling noise, females (hens) do not; it’s often described as a clicking.
  10. Even though we celebrate Thanksgiving on the last Thursday of November, the month of June has been declared National Turkey Lovers’ Month by the National Turkey Federation so you can continue the celebration in the summer as well!

From our family here at South Air Inc., we’d like to wish you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving!