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Air Conditioning Tips and Advice

Air Conditioning Tips and Advice (95)

Turn off AC when Away?

Central air conditioners are one of the most energy intensive appliances in the home. Using a programmable thermostat to automatically control the cooling schedule can avoid energy waste, increase comfort and save you money. So what about when you're going to be away from home on vacation for more than a few days? Should you turn the AC completely off, or just turn the temperature up so it runs less often?

One important factor to consider is humidity. If the forecast includes a chance that the temperature and humidity are going to reach tropical levels, mold and mildew could be a concern if the windows are closed. Remember, an air conditioner doesn't just cool the air, it removes moisture. Turning the thermostat up 10 degrees will enable the AC to turn on every occasionally and keep humidity levels in check.

Have a smart thermostat? Some include an app that will let you monitor temperature and humidity while you're away. If the temperature and humidity get too high, you can simply turn on the AC when your away.

If excess humidity is not a concern and you plan to turn off the air conditioner while you're away, it's a good idea to close the drapes or blinds on all windows that receive direct sunlight during the day.
Allergies

As the spring season arrives and trees and plants bloom, filling the air with pollen, many allergy sufferers retreat indoors with the AC turned on and windows closed. But is there more that can be done to keep the air on the home free of pollen and other allergens?

Changing the HVAC filter once a month is a good practice, but does buying a more expensive filter advertised to trap smaller particles really make a difference in how clean the air is in your home? It's important to remember that the main purpose of HVAC filters is to keep the equipment free of dirt that can damage the unit and cause it to wear out prematurely, or lower its performance. While the filter may do a good job of removing many of the larger particles from the air, removing pollen and other allergens are not what HVAC filters are design to do.

To effectively remove allergens from the air we recommend a whole home air cleaner. Depending on the design, these systems can not only remove the finest pollen, mold and bacteria particles from the air, but can even kill biological contaminants live viruses and remove harmful chemical vapors.

Have questions about improving the air quality in your home? Call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning, we can help.

Indoor Air Quality
According to the EPA, indoor air pollutants ranked among the top five environmental risks to public health. Because we spend around 90% of our time indoors, where the air can be 2 to 5 times as polluted as outdoor air, it's important to take steps to reduce the harmful health effects of pollutants like dust mites, mold, chemicals, radon, pet dander and more.

Here are 10 steps you can take to create a healthier indoor environment.

1. Vacuum Carpets and Dust Your Home Every Week

Although they can't be seen with the naked eye, dust mites are common in most homes. Dust mites can aggravate allergies and asthma, leading to respiratory irritation. A vacuum with a HEPA filter is the best way to reduce the number of dust mites in the bedroom and throughout the home.

2. Change Your Furnace Filter Every Month

A dirty furnace air filter not only makes your central heating and cooling system operate less efficiently, it can cause dirt to build build up inside your air ducts, creating an ideal environment for dust mites, mold and mildew.

3. Wash Bedding Every Week In Hot Water

Using a washable dust cover on mattresses can also reduce reduce allergens like dust mites.

4. Ensure that Kitchen and Bathrooms are Well Ventilated

Proper ventilation of cooking fumes and stale, humid air is critical to reducing the growth of mold and mildew.

5. Maintain Humidity Levels Between 30–50%

When the air is too dry in the winter, it can lead to cracked, dry skin and respiratory irritation. If the air is too humid it can lead to harmful mold growth.

If the humidity levels are difficult to control in your home, consider installing a whole house humidifier or dehumidifier that works in conjunction with your home's central heating and cooling system to maintain healthy humidity levels.

6. Test For Radon

Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas and comes from the natural breakdown (radioactive decay) of uranium. Exposure to radon can cause lung cancer. Buy a radon test kit and if the radon levels are unhealthy, take steps to reduce the entry to your home by sealing cracks inside the walls and on floors.

8. Let Fresh Air Inside

Whenever possible, increase ventilation by opening windows to let fresh air inside the home.

9. Buy Air Cleaning Houseplants

Years ago NASA conducted study on the effectiveness of different houseplants in removing harmful chemicals from the air. They found many houseplants are effective at removing chemical pollution. By choosing house plants like Boston Fern and English Ivy, you can reduce chemicals like formaldehyde, benzene, ammonia in the air.

10. Consider Installing a Whole House Air Filtration System

If someone in the household has allergies or asthma, consider installing a whole home air filtration system. With features like UV light and advanced, multistage filtration, advanced home air cleaners can remove almost any type of indoor pollution.

11. Have Your Air Ducts Professionally Cleaned

Over time, dust and dirt can build up inside air ducts, providing an ideal environment for dust mites, mold, bacteria and other harmful pollutants to thrive. Regular duct cleaning will ensure that the air blowing through your air ducts is not spreading pollution throughout your home.
Sarasota Air Conditioner Maintenance

Many of the problems we see that lead to unexpected air conditioner repairs are simply the result of poor maintenance, or ignoring the signs of a potential problems for too long. Annual maintenance is critical to ensuring your air conditioner operates reliably and efficiently. But there are also a few simple steps you can take yourself to ensure your central air conditioner is kept in good shape. Here are a few things you can do before you schedule your annual air conditioner maintenance.

Outside the House

The outside section of the air conditioner, called the condenser, should be clean and unobstructed. The unit draws air in from the sides to dissipate heat so ensure that there are no trees, shrubs or other objects near the unit that could be reducing the flow of air. The fins and condensing coils of the air conditioner should be clean, without excessive dirt or debris.
  • Vacuum away any dirt, leaves and debris outside the main cabinet. Never use a power washer to clean an air conditioner!
  • Inspect the base pan for blocked drain openings
  • Inspect the coil and cabinet for any holes and leaks
  • Inspect the fan blades for any damage
Inside the Home
  • Replace the air filter - A dirty filter can increase energy costs and damage your equipment, increasing the likelihood of early failure.
  • Ensure that air vents or registers are unobstructed in every room of your home.
  • Update your thermostat for the cooling season.
  • Check for any unusual odors when your system starts.
  • Listen for abnormal noises when your system starts.
If you experience any strange odors or sounds, or the air conditioner is not blowing cold air, call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning. We can help with all your home cooling needs.
Exposure to mold in the home can cause health symptoms, including coughing, itchy eyes, and hives. In people with underlying health conditions such as respiratory impairments like allergies asthma, mold can lead to difficulty breathing.

Air Conditioner Maintenance Sarasota

Because air conditioners create moisture through condensation, standing water can potentially lead to mold growth. If mold is present on the air conditioner, the air handler can circulate this mold spores throughout the home.

If you notice a musty odor when the air conditioner is running, or see mold on the outside of the unit, have a professional inspect and clean the unit. The drain condensate lines should be cleared to ensure that moisture is draining away and collecting in the pan to allow mold to grow.

Take Steps To Preventing Mold Growth In Your HVAC System
  1. Replace air filters monthly, or at a minimum every three months. 
  2. Seal air ducts to reduce condensation.
  3. Keep air conditioner drip pans clean.
  4. If excess humidity is a problem in your home, consider installing a dehumidifier.
  5. Check your air ducts for excess dirt and have them professionally cleaned if needed.
Have concerns about mold in your air conditioner or air ducts? Call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning, we can help diagnose the cause and recommend solutions to remove existing mold and prevent future mold growth.
Running a central air conditioner during the hot, humid summer months can take a big chunk our of the average household's energy bill. If you're noticing that energy use rises even more than normal while running your air conditioner, there are several steps you can take to lower your home cooling cost.

1. Fix Air Leaks - A minor air leak in one window may seem like no big deal, but many leaks around doors and windows can add up, causing your air conditioner to work harder. Use weather stripping or caulk around doors and windows to seal air leaks around the entire house.

2. Program Your Thermostat - Your thermostat is the brains of you cooling system. Be sure to program the temperature around your household schedule by turning the temperature up when your away from home. Learning, or Smart thermostats can help you save energy automatically by learning your household routine and automatically adjusting the temperature accordingly.

3. Perform Regular Maintenance - A sudden increase in your utility bill could be a sign that your air conditioner is in need of service. If you have skipped annual maintenance and your energy bill has suddenly increased, have an AC technician inspect the unit to make sure there are no problems.

4. Replace Old Equipment - If your air conditioner is more than 10-12 years old, it's time
start planning for a replacement. While a new air conditioner is a major investment, the good news is a newer unit is likely to cost significantly less to operate every month.

5. Replace Dirty Air Filters - One of the most common reasons an air conditioner will begin to run less efficiently is a dirty air filter. Replacing the filter monthly is one of the most important maintenance tasks you can perform.

Have question about your air conditioner? Call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning. We can help.

How Long Does a Central Air Conditioner Last?

How Long Does a Central Air Conditioner Last?

As the warmer spring weather arrives in the Sarasota area and your air conditioner runs more ofter you may be wondering how many more years your central air conditioner will last. The short answer is approximately 10-15 years. But the long answer is more complicated, because it depends on many factors. Some of these factors include the quality of the furnace itself – lower costs models will likely need replacement before a more expensive, higher end model does. A lower cost air conditioner in a hot climate may be ready for replacement in as little as 6-8 years.

The good news is that many of the factors that determine how long a central air conditioner will last are under your control. The most important thing you can do is have your air conditioner professionally maintained every year. This will not only make the unit last longer, it will help it operate more efficiently saving you money on your utility bill and unexpected repairs.

Because most air conditioner parts can be replaced as they wear out, it's usually a good idea to repair parts as wear out. With new air conditioners operating at much higher efficiency than units made just a decade ago, replacing the unit may be more cost effective in the long run when compared to the repair cost of keeping a 10-15 year old unit running.

Have questions about your air conditioner? Give ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning a call, we're here to help.
Buying a new central air conditioner is a major investment. When repairing your old unit is no longer an option and it's time to purchase a new air conditioner, here are some things to consider.

Choosing an Air Conditioner

1. EFFICIENCY - Depending on the age of your old air conditioner, installing a new, energy efficient system could pay for itself over time. By looking at the Energy Star Label on new air conditioners you can find out how efficient the unit is, as indicated by a SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating). The SEER rating tells you how efficiently a unit uses electricity: the higher the number, the greater the efficiency.

The typical SEER rating of units manufactured prior to 1992 is about 6.0. In 1992, the government established a minimum cooling efficiency standard for units installed in new homes at 10.0 SEER. High efficiency units have a rating of at least 12.0 SEER.

2. MULTIPLE SPEED OPERATION - Multi-speed units can run on low-speed (using about 50 percent of the energy) 80 percent of the time. Consequently, they use fewer on/off cycles and produce fewer drafts and small temperature swings.

3. AIR QUALITY - If indoor air quality is a concern, you can effectively reduce indoor pollution by installing a whole house air cleaner to the AC units air handler. You'll breathe easier knowing that your new system is capturing the contaminants that can cause health problems.

Have questions about choosing the best air conditioner for your home? Call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning. We have decades of experience in air conditioning.
Many times a central air conditioner will provide clues that it is not working properly. By paying attention to the symptoms of a malfunction and repairing the small things right away, you can avoid an unexpected and costly breakdown in the future.

Temperature

1. The AC is Making Strange Noises

If you hear knocking, pinging or other unusual sounds, don't ignore them. They may indicate that there are loose or worn parts that are about to fail.

2. Your Utility Bill Is Unexpectedly High

Air conditioners generally become less efficient as they get older, making annual maintenance all the more important. As the system runs more to keep the temperature the same, your utility bill will also increase.

3. All Or Some Areas of the Home Are Not Comfortable, Even If You Lower the Thermostat

If the system is not able to keep up with demand, it may be low on refrigerant, have a blocked, frozen or leaking evaporation coils.

4. The Air Is Cold, But Too Humid

Humid air can be a sign of leaking air ducts, an AC unit that is not properly sized for the home, a frozen condenser coil or another malfunction. Your HVAC technician can diagnose the cause and recommend solutions.

How Switching to Energy Star Appliances Can Save You Money


ENERGY STAR® Air ConditionersIf you've been shopping for a new appliance like a refrigerator or stove, you have likely seen an ENERGY STAR® label. ENERGY STAR® is an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) program started in 1992 that helps consumers save money and reduce their impact on the climate through better energy efficiency.

The government has partnered with other industry to include not only major appliances but also air conditioners, water heaters and even new homes and buildings. In order to be Energy Star rated, appliances must meet strict energy efficiency guidelines, as set out by that program. Look for this label when shopping for an appliance if you want to reduce your energy costs.

One of the most energy intensive appliances in the home is the central air conditioner, accounting for almost half of the energy us in many homes. If you're replacing a 10 year old air inefficient conditioner you could save $100 on your energy bill with an Energy Star rated central air conditioner. The ENERGY STAR label guarantees significant energy savings and do not cost any more than standard appliances.

When its time to replace your old central air conditioner, ask ABC Southwest for information on the latest ENERGY STAR® units. You'll be surprised how much the savings can add up.
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