Lupercalia: The Origin of St. Valentine’s Day

February 14th, 2015

Many people may think of Valentine’s Day as a holiday essentially created by card and gift companies, but the truth is that the holiday has long-standing roots going back to the Roman Empire. The name “Lupercalia” has its origins in the word “lupus”, which means wolf, and the reason for this is that according to Roman pagan religion, the she-wolf Lupa nursed the two orphaned infants Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome.

 

The Festival

The Festival of Lupercalia spanned two days each February, from February 13th to 15th. The festival was about fertility and was led by Luperci priests, known as “brothers of the wolf”. The festival was serious with intention (fertility) but was executed as quite a romp for both the priests and citizens of Rome. The process was this: two male goats and a dog were sacrificed at the beginning of the festival by the priests; two young Luperci were then anointed with the blood from the animals, and the hides of the animals were cut into straps. As food and drink flowed, the male priests would run around the city wearing nothing but thongs made from the animal skins, and they also carried a strap from one of the sacrificed animals. The strap was used to strike the palms of Roman women waiting for the priests in the city, as it was believed that being hit with the strap could help with infertility issues and a safe, healthy labor for women who were pregnant.

 

The Transition to St. Valentine’s Day

The Christian influence of the holiday came around the 5th century. The Roman Empire was still strong, but Christianity was rapidly taking hold throughout the world. It is believed that to try and remove the paganism from the holiday, the deaths of two men, supposedly both named Valentine, were added into the mix. During the 3rd and 4th centuries, a law created by Claudius II forbade young men eligible for military service to marry, because Rome wanted a strong army. The two men named Valentine were priests, and married young couples in secret. Both were found out and executed on February 14th, although in separate years. The Church made Valentine a saint (they chose one), and Lupercalia became St. Valentine’s Day.

 

Here’s wishing you and your loved one a Happy Valentine’s Day!

Signs Your Walk-In Freezer Needs Repair

February 5th, 2015

Walk-in freezers are a part of your business because they are necessary. As such, when your freezer starts malfunctioning, it’s critical to your business to have it repaired as soon as possible. However, being able to get ahead of malfunctions and/or total breakdowns can save you both money and headaches, so here are some signs to be aware of that may indicate your walk-in freezer in Corcoran needs repair:

  • Seam leaks – leaks from the sheet metal seams are not normal and shouldn’t be treated as such. Seam leaks are an indication that excess condensation is building under the seam and is escaping. Not only is the water a problem, but mold and mildew growth may also be a problem.
  • Freezer is too warm – if items are defrosting in your freezer or there are other indications that it’s just too warm inside, call for help immediately before your entire freezer turns off.
  • Freezer motor is always running – your freezer operates in cycles, so it should never be on continuously. If it is, there is a secondary problem that is telling the freezer to keep running. Continuous operation can lead to burn out and damage, so if you have noticed that your freezer is running non-stop, call for an expert.
  • Major frost build-up inside freezer – it is normal to have a thin layer of frost on items coming from your freezer, but if there is significant frost build-up, this is an indication of a problem that requires attention.
  • Problems with the door – the doors of walk-in freezers are not like regular doors. To ensure that your freezer locks in the cold air, the doors have gaskets, special locking mechanisms and door closures. When any of the door components develops a problem, keeping the cold air inside the freezer can be a challenge.

Water dripping from motor area – one of the main components of your freezer’s mechanical operation is the evaporator. However, the evaporator can develop problems, and one of the telltale signs of a problem with the evaporator is water leakage.

Don’t wait for a total breakdown before repairing your business’s walk-in freezer.

If you see any of the signs that it’s time for repair, call the experts at Shaw’s Air Conditioning and schedule an appointment to repair your walk-in freezer in Corcoran.

Furnace Components You Should Know about

January 29th, 2015

Before you go out and buy a car, you do research on it. You check the safety rating and the features, the available colors and the MSRP. You learn as much as you can about what you’re after so that when you show up on the dealership lot, you’re in a better position to get what you want. This is a really common practice. Why, then, do so few people do the same thing when shopping for a furnace? There are many, many factors that you should consider before purchasing a furnace for your home, and the components in the furnace are some of them. Let’s examine some of the furnace components that you should know about before buying a furnace.

Fuel Type

Admittedly, this isn’t really a component. However, it does drastically affect a lot of the other components in the system. The inside of a natural gas burning furnace are far different from an electrical furnace, which are far different from a wood burning furnace etc. etc. Most combustion furnaces use burner assemblies to burn fuel and generate heat, while an electrical furnace uses a large heating element instead. Know what fuel type will best fit your home before you go shopping for a furnace. If you pick a fuel type that is not ideal for your needs, it will end up costing you in the long run.

Pilot Lights

The type of ignition device for combustion furnaces is very important. Older furnaces are often equipped with a standing pilot light, which is a continuously burning gas flame used to light the burner assembly. As this type of ignition system wasted a lot of energy, it was replaced in more modern systems with intermittent pilot lights. These new systems are electronic, using an electrode to create a spark that ignites the burners. Intermittent pilot lights are far more reliable and energy efficient than the older standing pilots. Make sure that you are selecting a furnace with a more modern ignition system.

If you aren’t sure about what to look for in your furnace, contact Shaw’s Air Conditioning. We provide heating service throughout the Clovis area.

Gift of Warmth – Thank you!

January 28th, 2015

thank youThis winter season, we’ve had our share of cold weather, and it serves as a reminder that the kind of warmth and comfort that so many of us enjoy is hard to come by for others.

With the help of Island Elementary School students, Shaw’s Blanket Drive was a huge success! This last week we delivered 350 blankets to KCAO in Hanford. They will in turn give the blankets to the Kings County women’s shelter and a number of different homeless families in our community.

Thank you to all of our customers, family, friends, and Island School families for your generous donations.

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Why Isn’t My Furnace Blower Working?

January 22nd, 2015

If your furnace seems to be lit and functioning properly, but you aren’t receiving any air flow, then you have a problem with your furnace blower, also called an air handler. The furnace air handler is the part responsible for actually circulating air throughout the house, while the rest of the furnace is devoted to heating. If your air handler stops working, the furnace is essentially useless, as it is unable to deliver its heat to the rest of the house. Let’s take a look at the problems that could be preventing your air handler from working properly.

Broken Fan Belt

The fan belt is a rubber loop that connects the air handler motor to the fan that circulates the air. When the motor turns on, it rotates the fan belt, which in turn rotates the fan. All three of these parts need to work together for the air handler to do its job. Over years of stress, however, the fan belt will begin to stretch out. Cracks will form in the rubber of the belt, increasing the amount of friction between it and the motor. This friction can create a loud squealing sound, which can sometimes be heard across the house through the ductwork. If the fan belt is not replaced, it will eventually break, severing the connection between the motor and the fan. This essentially prevents the fan from turning and disables the air handler.

Burned Out Motor

The motor in an air handler is extremely vulnerable to wear and tear, due to the level of stress that it’s constantly under during operation. To prevent the motor from burning out, it is equipped with bearings that are lubricated to decrease the resistance on the motor. However, these bearings can occasionally dry out, increasing the resistance on the motor. This often manifests as a loud grinding noise coming from the furnace. If the bearings aren’t fixed, the motor will overheat and burn out, once again crippling the entire air handler.

If your furnace blower isn’t working, call Shaw’s Air Conditioning. We provide heating repair throughout Clovis.

My Pilot Won’t Light – What’s Happening?

January 15th, 2015

Pilot lights have an irritating tendency to blow out at the slightest provocation. It’s inconvenient in the extreme, but it’s not actually that big of a problem with your heating system. However, there’s a difference between a pilot light blowing out and a pilot light that won’t light in the first place. There are a couple of different things that could be causing this behavior, depending on what kind of pilot light system you have in place. Let’s take a look at the various reasons that your pilot light may not be lighting.

Bad Thermocouple

In older heating systems, a standing pilot light is the most common type of ignition system. This is a continuously burning flame, often located underneath the system. The standing pilot is fed by its own gas line, which keeps it burning 24/7. The thermocouple is the part that actually decides when to feed gas to the pilot light. When the thermocouple senses the heat from the pilot light ignition, it sends an electrical current to the gas valve to open it. When the pilot light blows out for whatever reason, the thermocouple’s electric current stops and the gas valve closes. This is a safety measure to prevent the home from filling up with gas. A bad thermocouple will often fail to produce the electric current to open the gas valve, rendering the pilot light unable to ignite.

Burned Out Electrode/Heating Element

In newer heating systems, the standing pilot light has been replaced with two other kinds of ignition systems. The intermittent pilot system uses a spark to generate a brief flame and light the burners, while the heating element pilot uses a filament to produce enough heat to start the system. These pilot lights are more complex, and that makes them tougher to diagnose when they break down. Most often, however, they each have one major contributor to their failures.

The intermittent pilot uses an electrode to produce the spark that ignites the system. This electrode can burn out, rendering the pilot system useless. The heating element system uses filaments that have a lifespan shorter than the rest of the system. This means that the heating element will eventually burn out and need to be replaced, just like a lightbulb.

If you’d like to know more, contact Shaw’s Air Conditioning. We provide heating repair throughout Riverdale.

Gas vs. Electric: Is One Type of Furnace Better Than Another?

January 9th, 2015

Part of why furnaces are so popular is that there are so many different types of furnaces to choose from. Each furnace has its own strengths and weaknesses, and is suited to a different environment. So, is gas or electric better than the other? Objectively, no. However, there are situations in which one is probably a better fit for your needs than the other. Let’s take a look at the two types, and help you determine which one would meet your needs best.

Gas Furnace

Gas furnaces are the most common type of heating system in the country. There are couple of reasons for this. For one, natural gas is a cheaper fuel than electricity is. For another, natural gas gives off a lot of heat relative to the amount of fuel consumed. Gas furnaces are a great option because they’re relatively cheap, effective, and don’t have any glaring drawbacks. They’re a middle-of-the-road choice that can serve well in many different environments and situations. However, they do have one or two minor weaknesses. The first is that they rely on natural gas being pumped into the home, which has to be done by the city. Some cities may not offer this option, thus excluding gas furnaces from consideration. The other weakness is that they produce a number of toxic gases as byproducts of the combustion process. These gases are vented outside of the house and into the atmosphere, but if something goes wrong they can cause serious problems.

Electric Furnace

Electric furnaces rely entirely on electricity to produce heat. They do this by running an electric current through a very large heating element, similar to a giant lightbulb filament. Instead of giving off light, however, this element generates heat. Electric furnaces cover the weaknesses of gas furnaces pretty well. They can be installed anywhere that electricity is available, and since they don’t burn fuel they don’t produce any toxic byproducts. As previously mentioned, however, electricity is usually more expensive as a heat source than natural gas.

If you’d like to know more, call Shaw’s Air Conditioning. We provide furnace services throughout Clovis, CA.

 

Is My System Worth the Cost of Heating Repair?

January 5th, 2015

This is a very interesting questions, and like most interesting questions it doesn’t have an easy answer. Most homeowners would rather repair their heating systems than have them stay broken. As such, the real question is “when should I replace my heating system?” Read on for some of the ways you can tell when your heating system is ready to be replaced.

Rise in Repair Frequency

Every system is going to require some repairs sooner or later. That’s simply the way our world works. Things break, and need to be fixed. However, the older your system gets, the more often it’s going to require repairs. This is due to the fact that different parts of the heating system experience wear and tear at different rates. Excessive wear and tear from years of use will cause a part to fail. Therefore, in an old system there will be multiple parts failing in rapid succession from years of wear and tear.

If it seems like your heating system needs to get repaired every couple of months, it might be time to invest in a new system.

Rise in Heating Bills

Your demand for heating is going to change from month to month. Everybody knows this. However, you should keep a close eye on your heating bills in case they begin to display a consistent rise in cost. If your heating bills are rising consistently, it is a sign that your heating system is not heating as efficiently as it should. Aside from the obvious problem of paying ever-higher heating bills, this is a good sign that your heater is or soon shall be experiencing issues that require repairs. The mounting cost of keeping your heater running past this point is often far more expensive than simply replacing the system.

Age

Though not quite an indicator in and of itself, age should be considered in conjunction with other factors when deciding whether or not to replace your heater. If your heater is older than 10-15 years old, and is experiencing other issues, it’s probably a good idea to replace it. If your heater is younger than that, or is otherwise healthy, then you might be able to get a few more good years of use out of it.

If you aren’t sure whether or not to replace your heater, call Shaw’s Air Conditioning. We provide heating services throughout the Lemoore area.

When New Year’s Day Was Not on January 1st

January 1st, 2015

Some holidays fall on shifting calendar days for every year, such as Thanksgiving (fourth Thursday in November) and Easter (the first Sunday after the first full moon to occur on or after March 21). Other holidays, such as Valentine’s Day and Halloween, are fixed. No holiday has a more solid calendar date attached to it than New Year’s Day. It has to fall on January 1st because it celebrates the first day of a new year. That only makes sense…

…except that, like most things that at first appear obvious, there is a bit more to the story. The beginning of the year was not always on the first of January. As with an enormous numbers of traditions in the Western World, the establishment of January 1st as the inaugural day of a new year goes back to the ancient Romans.

The modern solar calendar is derived from the Roman model, but the earliest Roman calendars did not have 365 days in a year spread over 12 months. Instead, there were 304 days spread over 10 months. The Romans believed this calendar originated with the mythical founder of the city, Romulus. If Romulus were a real person, we can credit him with a poor understanding of the seasons, as this abbreviated calendar soon got out of sync with Earth’s orbit around the Sun. Numa, one of the Kings of Rome (probably also fictional) receives credit for creating a longer year with two added months, Ianuarius and Februarius, bringing the number of days in the year to 355. The new month of Ianuarius, named after Ianus (Janus in contemporary spelling), the god of beginnings, would eventually be known in English as January. But when this new calendar was instituted, January was not the first month. March, named after the god of war, remained the first month, and March 1st was New Year’s Day.

This extended calendar still did not keep in synch with the seasons. In 45 BCE, Julius Caesar instituted reforms to align the calendar correctly according to calculations of astronomers, with an additional 10 days distributed across the year. January also became set as the first month, and offerings to the god Janus on this day started the tradition we now know as New Year’s. The date still fluctuated during the ensuing centuries, with a number of Western European holy days treated as the beginning of the year instead. It wasn’t until the next calendar reform in 1582, the Gregorian Calendar, that the date of the New Year was fixed at January 1st.

However you choose to celebrate the beginning of the current calendar, everyone here at Shaw’s Air Conditioning & Heating you have a wonderful 2015!

Why Do We Hang Up Mistletoe?

December 24th, 2014

Of course, you probably know part of the answer to this question already. You hang up mistletoe so that the people standing underneath can share a romantic holiday kiss! But what you may not realize is that the origin of this longstanding ritual predates many of the other holiday traditions we celebrate today. Why would a plant that has many poisonous varieties (most types sold for use in the home have few negative effects, but you can wrap it in netting to prevent children from consuming any fallen berries or leaves) be used as a symbol of holiday affection?

There are a couple of ways to explain the positive associations of (potentially hazardous) mistletoe. For one, this semi-parasitic plant has long been hailed as a treatment for illnesses and pain. The ancient Greeks and Romans used it to cure cramps, epilepsy, and more. Even today, mistletoe extracts are one of the leading alternative medicines studied for their effectiveness in killing cancer cells. And because the early Celtic Druids saw it as a sign of healing and life, they may be the first to bestow upon the plant its romantic associations, deeming it worthy of treating the infertile.

But it is Norse mythology that is likely responsible for a majority of the modern traditions associated with this small hanging bunch. One of the powerful Norse god Odin’s sons, named Baldur, was said to be invincible due to an oath his mother took to protect him from harm. But Loki, a god who often set out to make trouble for the gods, set out to find the one thing that could do some damage, and eventually discovered that Baldur’s mother Frigg had never included mistletoe in her invincibility oath. When mistletoe was finally responsible for her son’s demise, the grieving Frigg vowed that the plant would never again be used to hurt another living thing, and that she would plant a peaceful kiss upon anyone who walked underneath it.

And that is one of the reasons that, today, kissing under the mistletoe is viewed as a source of good luck. From our family to yours, we wish you a safe holiday season, and we hope that you and your family are full of joy and good fortune—mistletoe or not! Happy holidays from Shaw’s Air Conditioning!