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Air Conditioning Tips and Advice

Air Conditioning Tips and Advice (78)

It's understandable that homeowners to want to save money by tackling maintenance projects around the home. However, there are some projects that are definitely not DIY, especially work that involves electrical systems and air conditioners.

Always contact a qualified, licensed electrician to perform any electrical work in your home, including the installation and servicing of air conditioning and heating equipment.

Consider These Facts and Statistics
  • According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), 15% of consumer-product related electrocutions are related to contact with large appliances. These electrocutions occur most commonly while someone is attempting to service or repair the appliance.
  • In 2006, an estimated 33,500 injuries were reported to hospital emergency rooms as involving air conditioners, fans, humidifiers, dehumidifiers, air purifiers, and heat pumps. The leading types of injuries were laceration (14,890), contusion or abrasion (6,110), and strain or sprain (4,430).
  • In 2006, air conditioning or related equipment was involved in an estimated 7,400 reported U.S. home structure fires, with associated losses of 270 civilian injuries and $200 million indirect property damage.
  • In 2003-2006, the 7,000 reported home structure fires per year involving air conditioning and related equipment included 2,400 per year involving central and room air conditioners specifically and 3,700 per year involving fans.
  • In 1995-2003 (excluding 1999, which was not reported), there were 11.5 electrocution deaths per year involving air conditioners and 4.3 electrocution deaths per year involving fans.
The next time you need help installing or maintaining your home's air conditioner, call the experts at ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning, we're here to help keep you safe and comfortable.
While annual professional AC maintenance by a certified air conditioning technician is important for keeping your home's central air conditioner working reliably and efficiently all year long in Southwest Florida's hot and humid climate, there are also a few simple maintenance tasks you can do yourself to ensure your system is kept in good operating condition between professional tune-ups.

Here is a list of tasks you can safely perform yourself on the outdoor section of the air conditioner:
  1. Shut-Off Power to the AC Unit - First, and most importantly, always turn off power to the AC unit before performing any cleaning or maintenance tasks. There are electrical and moving parts that can easily injure you, so always use caution. On the outside of the home near the condenser/compressor, there should be an exterior shut-off box. Also turn off power to the unit at the breaker box.
  2. Clean the AC Unit - Remove the fan cage on top of the condensor/compressor. You will need either a screwdriver or wrench to remove the fasteners. Next, lift the fan grill off the top of the unit and set it aside. Using a wet/dry vacuum or gloved hands, clean away leaves and debris from the interior of the unit.
  3. Clean The Fins - Using a garden hose – NOT a pressure washer – gently spray through the fins from the inside out to blast away any built up dirt or debris from between them. If the water from the hose is not able to remove dirt that has built up, there are commercial sprays available at most home stores that can safely loosen the dirt so it can be sprayed off. Never use unapproved detergents or solvents to clean the air conditioner.
  4. Straighten The Fins - bent fins can restrict airflow and reduce efficiency. One way to straighten fins is with a butter knife. Fin straightening tools are also available. Be careful not to damage the tubing that is embedded within the fins.
  5. Clear the Area Around the Air Conditioner – Cut away tree branches and shrubs in all directions within two feet the unit. Rake away debris and leaves. If the unit will be unused for a period of time, cover the top of the unit to protect it from falling debris. Enclosing the entire condensor unit in a plastic cover can reduce ventilation and cause corrosion, and is not recommended.
Have questions about air conditioner maintenance? Give us a call, we are here to help.
During the summer months, does the upper level of your home feel hot and stuffy while the lower levels are freezing cold? In multi-level homes it's not uncommon for there to be an 8-10 degree difference between the lowest level and the highest level in the home during the summer months. Here are some steps you can take to even out the temperatures.

First, it's important to leave all of the air ducts open throughout the house. Central heating and cooling systems are designed to work with the air volume of every room. Closing air ducts can reduce the performance of the system and waste energy.

Leaky Ductwork
Even minor leaks from poorly aligned or uninsulated ducts can dramatically reduce airflow, making it difficult for conditioned air to reach the outer reaches of the home. An HVAC professional can help find and seal leaks with with special pressurizing equipment.

Check Insulation Levels
Improving attic insulation can mitigate air leaks and can reduce the effect of environmental factors on the temperature inside of the home. The US Department of Energy has some great tips for installing insulation here.

Consider a Zoning System
A zoning system allows you to control the temperature on multiple levels of the home independently using thermostats installed on each floor. The thermostats are rigged to control panels that adjust dampers installed inside your ductwork.

In addition to balancing the temperature on different floors, a zoned system will allow you to heat or cool individual rooms on demand, or close off unused rooms entirely.

Have questions about maintaining even temperatures throughout your home? Give ABC a call, we can help.
If you're considering replacing your old central air conditioner, there are a few important things to consider when it comes to selecting a new AC unit for your home.

1. Reliability - An air conditioner is a major investment that you will depend on for years to come. Do your research and go with a proven brand and you'll reduce the chances of having problems down the road.

2. Efficiency - By choosing an EnergyStar® rated system you can save you up to 30% on your annual cooling bill.

3. Variable Speed Operation - One of the features that has improved heating and cooling efficiency and comfort in the past decade is variable speed operation. By more precisely controlling the speed of the fans, the system runs quieter and provides more advanced control.

4. Professional Installation - The most important day in the life of your air conditioner is the day it's installed. Proper sizing and correct installation is critical. Choose a heating and cooling company with experience and one that stands behind their work, now and down the road.

5. Indoor Air Quality - To reduce indoor pollution consider attaching a whole house air cleaner to your furnace or air handler. You can have peace of mind knowing your new system is capturing small contaminants that can cause health problems.

Have questions about choosing a new air conditioner? Call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning. We're here to help.
In the hot, humid Southwest Florida climate, your central air conditioner works hard to keep your home cool and dry all year long. To keep it performing at it's best, heat and humidity sources inside the home should be kept to a minimum. Here are the main heat and humidity sources in the home that can make your AC work harder.

1. Lighting - If you're using incandescent light bulbs as much as 90% of the energy sent to the bulb is converted to heat. Consider upgrading to more energy efficient CFL or LED, which run much cooler while using far less electricity.

2. Cooking - Kitchens are a major source of heat and humidity inside the home. When the weather is hot, cook outside on a grill or use a microwave instead of an oven or range.

3. Laundry - Clothes dryers generate a lot of heat and humidity. Consider hanging clothes outside on a laundry line. Or, have an exhaust fan installed in the laundry room to vent the hot air outside.

4. Dishwashers - During hot weather washing dishes in the sink will reduce heat and humidity. If you run the dishwasher turn off the heat dry and let the dishes air dry instead.
Many homeowners waste energy by taking steps they incorrectly believe are helping them save money on their cooling bill. Here are some common AC myths that could end up costing you more than you think.

1. Turning The AC Off When You're Away From Home For More Than a Couple of Hours Saves Money.

MYTH: While an air conditioner is obviously not using energy when it's turned off, turning the AC back on makes it run longer to remove the heat that has built up inside the home, which can use a lot of energy.

2. Ceiling Fans Should Be Run All the Time, Even When Rooms Are Unoccupied.

MYTH: Ceiling fans don't actually cool the air in your home, they simply move the conditioned air down into the living space and provide evaporative cooling on the skin, making you feel more comfortable. They provide little if any benefit in unoccupied rooms.

3. Turning the Thermostat Temperature Down Will Cool the House Faster

MYTH: Lowering the thermostat temperature will not affect how quickly your air conditioner cools down your home.

4. Air Conditioners Made Today are Hi Tech and More Reliable, So Annual Maintenance Is Less Important Than It Used To Be.

MYTH: Annual AC maintenance is just as important as ever. In fact, to fully benefit from the high efficiency features of your new air conditioner, it is essential that it be kept clean and well maintained.
There are several conditions that can cause a central air conditioner's evaporator coil to drop below freezing, causing the air conditioner to freeze up. When this happens the air conditioner will not only stop cooling properly, it can cause damage to the unit. Here's what to check if the AC unit is freezing.
  1. Lack of air flow. An air conditioner works by taking the heat from inside the home and blowing it over the evaporator coil located outside the home. This split-system enables the heat exchange performed by the refrigerant to take place. Without the exchange of warm air the temperature of the coil will continue dropping, increasing the likelihood of a freeze up.
  2. Low refrigerant levels. As the level of refrigerant drops, so does the pressure inside the system. When a smaller amount of refrigerant is forced to expand the same amount, it lowers the temperature.
  3. Low outside temperature. If an air conditioner is run when the outside air is too cool, the pressure inside the unit can drop, causing a freeze up. This can occur at temperatures of around 62 degrees.
  4. Malfunctioning mechanical systems. A damaged refrigerant line, broken fan, even a clogged up air filter, all can cause the evaporator coil to freeze up.
Have a freezing air conditioner? Call ABC Southwest Plumbing and air conditioning. We can help.
If you're looking to replace your old air conditioner this spring, you may be surprised by how far technology has improved in the last 15-20 years. Improvements to air conditioners include:

Quieter Operation - By optimizing the shape of fan blades manufacturers have been able to made AC operation with less noise. Newer refrigerants enable compressors to operate more quietly.

Environmentally Friendly Refrigerants - Unlike the Freon® coolant used over a decade ago that caused damage to the earth's ozone layer, newer R410A are environmentally friendly and also perform better.

Reduced Energy Consumption - Decades ago it was not uncommon for a central air conditioner to consume 6,000 watts of electricity every hour to cool a typical house. Today, that level has been reduced to around 1,700 watts an hour, thanks to technology like variable speed fans and scroll compressors.

Have questions about central air conditioners? Call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning. We can help answer all your questions.
With central air conditioners running nearly year round in southwest Florida regular maintenance is critical to ensuring that your cooling system is running reliably and efficiently. A dirty, unmaintained air conditioner not only costs you money in the form of more frequent repairs and a shortened lifespan of the unit, but every time it's running in the form of higher utility bills. Consider these facts:

“A dirty filter will slow down air flow and make the system work harder to keep you warm or cool – wasting energy and leading to expensive repairs and/or early system failure...A buildup of .042(1/20) inches of dirt on the heating or cooling coil can result in a decrease inefficiency of 21%.” – EnergyStar.gov

“1/8th of an inch of dirt and dust build-upon the blower wheel can reduce airflow by up to 30%” – Texas A&M Study

In addition to keeping your air conditioner clean, an ABC Plumbing and Air Conditioning A/C tune-up includes lubricating moving parts, checking coolant levels, inspecting the blower motor, belts, electrical systems and much more. So call us today to schedule your AC tune up and keep your cooling system is operating reliably and efficiently all year long.

If you're a DIY type who has the time and patience to learn a few home improvement techniques, there are several ways you can upgrade the look of your bathroom for under $1,000.
  1. Paint the walls and redo the floors. A fresh coat of paint can go a long way in updating the look and freshness of your bath, while replacing old flooring with new vinyl or ceramic tile can create a dramatic new look. Many home improvement stores offer free classes in how to install new floors, saving on labor, usually the biggest cost of any remodeling job.
  2. Change the shower door. Because they make up such a large surface in the bathroom, changing the shower door can create a distinctive new look.
  3. Replace an old shower enclosure. Cracked, stained shower enclosures are an eyesore that can make any bathroom look old and tired. Replacing a tub with an enclosure and enjoy a more spacious, luxurious showering experience
  4. Replace plumbing fixtures. Newer, more contemporary faucets, shower fixtures and toilets are the finishing touch that make the bathroom more inviting and stylish.
  5. Lighting fixtures. Even the most carefully planned bathroom remodel will not live up to expectations if it's too dark and the light is not in the right location. Consider advanced LED lighting that can be adjusted for intensity and color temperature.
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