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Air Conditioning Tips and Advice (104)

Humidity and Indoor Air Quality in Florida

In the subtropical climate of southwest Florida warm humid air keeps our central air conditioners working almost year round to keep the air in our homes cool and comfortable. While one of an air conditioner's main purposes is to remove moisture from the air to reduce humidity, in many homes high humidity can lead to air quality problems.

If your indoor humidity is above 60 percent you may notice condensation on windows, a musty smell and mold growth in bathrooms and other areas of your home.

What Is a Healthy Indoor Humidity Level?

Many newer digital and smart thermostats will display the relative humidity (RH) in your home. You can alos buy a hygrometer to measure the humidity. For healthy air and comfort a range of 30-50% is ideal.

The Effects of High Humidity In the Home

Besides being just plain uncomfortable, excessive humidity can cause a number of problems that can effect your health, including crating an ideal environment for mold growth and dust mites – both of which can lead to allergies and other respiratory ailments.

High humidity can also damage your home by warping wood furniture, cupping wood floors and peeling paint and wall paper.

Controlling Humidity Levels In the Home

While your central AC will remove much of the humidity in the air, it's also important to avoid creating a lot of humidity inside. Sources of humidity include: cooking, doing laundry, bathing and other household tasks. Ensure that there is adequate ventilation in the kitchen, bathroom and laundry room. If humidity is a problem in these spaces, consider increasing the size of the ventilation and exhaust fans to remove the humid air.

When the temperatures are lower, consider leaving doors open to allow air to circulate and opening drapes and partially opening blinds on sunny days can also reduce the buildup of excess moisture in the home.

If you're concerned about excessive humidity in your home, call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning we can help.
Central Air Conditioner Smells
Is your central air conditioner emitting a musty or sour smell? There are a few things you can check. In addition to lowering the temperature in your home your air conditioner also dehumidifies the air by blowing warm air over coils that contain refrigerant. This both reduces the temperature of the air and extracts the moisture from the air through condensation. The moisture drips off the coil and collects in a condensate pan where it can flow down the drain.

Condensate Pan

The condensate pan is located inside the air handler right under the refrigerant coils. When dirt and debris collect in the pan it can clog the drain hole, causing mold and mildew to grow – resulting in a musty smell.

If the drain is clogged you can us a piece of wire or a paper clip to clean out the drain opening. If there are signs of mold or mildew, wipe the pan clean with a sponge and  diluted chlorine bleach.

Air Ducts

If humidity levels reach high enough levels it can cause the dirt inside air ducts to turn to mold. Mold in the air ducts can be a serious health hazard. If you notice mold inside air ducts, or experience musty smells coming from the air registers, your ventilation system could be harboring mold. You should contact a mold specialist to have the duct work inspected.

Dirty Air Filter

A dirty air filter can limit the amount of air that can cycle through the system, creating an increase in humidity and dampness in the ventilation system – creating an ideal environment for mold to grow. Replace your air filter at least once a month, or at the interval recommended by the filter manufacturer.

If you suspect your central air conditioner is causing strange smells in your home, call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning, we can inspect the system and ensure that it is operating safely and reliably.
Tuesday, 05 March 2019 00:54

6 Solutions For Uneven Cooling in the Home

Written by
Sarasota AC Repair

It's not uncommon for homeowners to tell us that their living room is perfectly comfortable while their bedroom is always too warm. If you have noticed that some rooms in your home are too warm while other rooms are comfortable, there are several things to check.
  • Ensure that air vents are not blocked by furniture or other objects
  • A central cooling system works best if all vents are open and doors are open to allow air to circulate evenly
  • Check the air ducts for excessive dirt and debris. If necessary, have the ducts professionally cleaned to restore airflow.
  • Your home should be properly insulated to prevent cool air from escaping. Inadequate insulation in your attic is a primary cause uneven cooling problems.
  • Install ceiling fans. Many times the solution to uneven cooling is just inadequate air circulation, especially in rooms with high ceilings.
  • Air duct leaks. It's not uncommon for air ducts to have significant gaps and holes that can let air escape. Taping the gaps or having professional duct sealing performed will help the conditioned air reach the farthest reaches of the home more easily.

Zoning

If none of the above tips makes a significant difference in the uneven temperatures in your home, another option is zoning. Be segmenting, or zoning, the different areas of the home with separate ventilation fans and thermostats, you can gain more control over the comfort in each room.

Have questions about uneven cooling in your home? Give ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning a call, we're here to help.
How Long Should My Central Air Conditioner Run?

If you're noticing that your air conditioner is running for longer than usual, or not running for as long as usual, it's important to consider all the factors that determine the length of a cooling cycle. The air temperature outside, the size and condition of air ducts, the amount of insulation, and the quality of the weather stripping around windows and doors, are just a few of the factors that will determine the length of the cooling cycle.

Outside Temperature

The cooling cycle lasts until the temperature on the thermostat is reached. It shuts off at that point and starts again when the house begins to warm up again.  If it is just a few degrees warmer outside, it may run for a few minutes. If it is very hot and humid, with a 30 degree difference between the thermostat setting and outside temperature, it may need to run much longer to reach the desired temperature.

Air Ducts and Circulation

Because a central air conditioner performs best when cooling the entire house, it's best to keep all vents and doors open when possible. Closing off rooms will not save energy, it will only make the AC work harder. Keeping your AC properly maintained, including changing the filter regularly, will also ensure that it's performing at peak efficiency.

AC Sizing

Air conditioners perform best when they are properly sized for the space they are cooling. The size of an air conditioner is measured in BTUs. One BTU is equal to the amount of energy needed to raise the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit. If your air conditioner has more BTUs than necessary, it will cycle more frequently. If it has too few BTUs, it will run much longer per cycle.

Assuming your central air conditioner is properly sized for your home, it should be able to cool and remove moisture from the air in 7 to 10-minute cycles. If not there could be a problem.

Have questions about your central air conditioner? Call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning, we're here to help.
Choosing a smart thermostat

Smart thermostats offer many advantages over conventional thermostats, from increased comfort, improved energy savings and remote access to temperature controls. However, there are differences between manufacturers that you should be aware of. Here are a few questions to ask when shopping for a smart thermostat.

Is it easy to install?

Do you need a device that can be installed by a homeowner without a lot of technical know-how? When installing the thermostat it's important to keep it away from vents and sources of heat that could affect the temperature readings. Place the thermostat in an area with minimal disturbance such as an interior wall.

Do you have a C-Wire?

A C-wire, or common wire, provides continuous power to your smart thermostat display and WiFi connectivity. If you don’t have one or aren’t sure, give us a call and we can help install one if needed.

Does it work remotely from your phone?

If you plan to use it from your phone make sure that the app works on your device.

Is it compatible with Other Technology in Your Home?

One of most convenient features of smart thermostats is their ability to interact with voice assistants like Google Home, Alexa® and Siri®. Check the manufacturer's website to see if your assistant is compatible with the thermostat models you are considering.

Tracking Savings

If you're primarily interested in improving efficiency and lowering energy costs, consider a model with data tracking and reporting. You'll be able to see hour-by-hour and day-by-day how often your heating and cooling system are operating.

Have questions about smart thermostats? Give us a call, we're happy to help.
When we think of air conditioners and indoor air quality we usually think of the air filter being the most important factor in keeping the air healthy. But there is another potential problem that can make the air unhealthy: mold.

Air Conditioners and Indoor Air Quality

Mold in HVAC Systems

Mold is commonly found in varying amounts in home air conditioning systems. When small amounts of mold go undetected they can grow to levels that decrease air quality and lead to health problems.
  • Some of the health problems caused by mold include:
  • Sinus congestion and runny nose
  • Itchy, red, watery eyes
  • Respiratory problems and difficulty breathing
  • Throat irritation
  • Sneezing

Preventing Mold in Air Conditioners

AC drain pans, which hold standing water for long periods of time, are a favorite spot for mold to grow. In addition, pipes that contain bends and curves may hold water from unit operation and lead to mold growth. Often when there is mold growing inside the unit, mold is also visible growing inside air ducts.

While it may be easy to spot mold around your air conditioner, removing it is not as simple as cleaning the surfaces where mold is visible, you must find the source of the problem to prevent mold from growing in the future.

The cause of mold is excess moisture. The interior parts of your HVAC system are ideal places for mold to grow. This is usually a symptom of water leaks and flaws in the unit. A professional HVAC technician can locate the cause of excess the moisture and recommend solutions.

Keep the AC Drain Clean

To avoid dealing with mold issues in the future, examine your condensation drain regularly for clogs. If this drain gets backed up, the standing water can develop bacteria, which may turn into mold. Once you’ve removed the mold from the system, you’ll need to make sure it doesn’t return by regularly maintaining the unit to keep the ducts clean.

Have questions about your air conditioner and mold? Call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning, we're here to help.
Does Your AC Need a Recharge?

A central air conditioner is designed to never lose refrigerant, it should last longer than the system itself. When a refill is needed it's usually the result of a leak caused by a manufacturing defect, lack of maintenance, or damage to the unit.

Refrigerant is what extracts the heat from the air through the transfer of heat. If the refrigerant level is low or empty, there will be no transfer of heat. So how do you know if your central air conditioner needs a recharge? The symptoms of low refrigerant levels include:

Warm air is blowing through the vents. This is a telltale sign of lack of refrigerant. While there can be other causes, such as a malfunctioning thermostat, a slow reduction in cooling is most likely caused by a refrigerant leak.

The AC unit is freezing. Refrigerant is supplied through the unit's condensor coils. If you notice a buildup of frost or ice on the coils it usually indicates that there is a leak.

If you're having either of these symptoms a qualified HVAC technician should inspect the unit. If the refrigerant level is low, the cause of the leak should be diagnosed and repaired before recharging the unit. Refilling the AC's refrigerant is a task for a professional HVAC technician. In fact, the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) mandates that a certified professional perform the procedure.

An annual AC inspection will help to find small problems before they lead to problems like a loss of cooing from a refrigerant leak.

If you're central air conditioner is not cooling, call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning. We can help diagnose the cause and recommend solutions to get the cold air flowing again.
Preventing mold growth in Southwest Florida

High humidity is a feature of the tropical southwest Florida climate. One of the keys to controlling humidity indoors is a central air conditioner and good ventilation. If the AC and ventilation are not optimal, mold and mildew can quickly gain a foothold, leading to potential negative health effects. Inhaling or touching mold spores can cause cause an allergic reaction, leading to hay fever-like symtoms, such as a runny nose, sneezing, red eyes and skin irritation. For those with a health conditions such as upper respiratory diseases, including asthma, and compromised immune systems, mold can represent a more serious health risk.

Because it can be difficult to remove mold once it begins to grow on walls and inside air ducts, it's best to prevent its growth in the first place. The best way to prevent mold is to control moisture indoors.

Here are 5 ways to prevent mold growth inside your home:
  1. Look for water stains in ceilings and under sinks. Locate the cause of the leak and repair it. These are usually caused leaking roofs or plumbing.
  2. Reduce indoor humidity by properly venting bathrooms, kitchens and laundry areas. Install or upgrade existing exhaust fans if there is excessive condensation.
  3. Keep your air conditioner maintained and ensure that the condensate line is draining. There should be no standing water in the drain pan.
  4. Use moisture proof flooring in bathrooms and indoor spas.
  5. If excess humidity is a concern, consider a whole-home dehumidifier to supplement your AC and HVAC system.
Have questions about preventing mold in your home? Call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning. We can help.
AC Won't Turn On
Here in southwest Florida a central air conditioner is not just a convenience, it's a necessity. When the AC won't turn on there can be several causes, some of which can be simple fixes that you can do yourself without calling for service. If your Air Conditioner has suddenly stopped working and won't turn on, there are several things to check.
  1. First, make sure that the thermostat is receiving power and is set to "COOL" and not been accidentally moved to "OFF" or "HEAT".
  2. Ensure the the thermostat temperature is set low enough to activate the AC unit.
  3. Check that the external safety switch (usually located outside the home near the condensing unit) is set to the ON position.
  4. Check that the circuit breaker that controls the air conditioning compressor and the circuit breaker that controls the blower or air handler, are in the “ON” position. If a circuit breaker has tripped, reset the circuit breaker. If the circuit breaker cannot be reset, do not try to reset it again. Have a qualified technician check the unit to determine the cause of the problem.
  5. Ensure that the air filter is not clogged. A clogged filter can obstruct airflow to the unit, causing it to shut off. A clogged filter can also cause the unit to freeze up.
If the air conditioner still won't turn on, call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning, we can quickly diagnose the problem and recommend solutions.
Thursday, 06 December 2018 00:48

Maintaining Even Temperatures Throughout Your Home

Written by
In a typical Florida home it's not out of the ordinary to have temperature differences of several degrees from room to room. Attics, basements and additions often have the greatest air temperature differences. When one room is uncomfortably hot or cold there are several things to consider when trying to maintain even temperatures.

Inadequate Insulation

Even in a warm climate like Southwest Florida, proper insulation is essential. Insulation keeps the cool air inside and makes it easier for your air conditioner to maintain even temperatures without running constantly.

Air Leaks

Weather sealing around windows and doors will prevent cool air from escaping and reduce energy loss.

Check the Air Delivery System

One of the most common problems we see in cooling systems that are not cooling well are air ducts that are not properly sized. To check for potential problems ABC Southwest can perform an air delivery analysis to determine if air is reaching all areas of your home.

Air Duct Leaks

Sealing the gaps and joints in your air ducts will allow your furnace and air conditioner to work more efficiently and ensure all the air reaches all areas of your home

Have cooling questions? Call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning, we're here to help.
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