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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.
Thursday, 21 February 2019 00:41

How Long Should My Central Air Conditioner Run?

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.
Thursday, 07 February 2019 19:42

Choosing a Smart Thermostat

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.
Thursday, 20 December 2018 14:23

Does Your AC Need a Recharge?

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.
Thursday, 13 December 2018 16:22

5 Tips To Prevent Mold Growth In Your Home

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.
Tuesday, 27 November 2018 15:19

5 Common Central Air Conditioner Problems

Central air conditioners are generally very reliable. When problems arise it's usually the result of lack of maintenance or an aging unit that is reaching the end of its lifespan.  Here are some things to check of your AC is not cooling.

Air Condioner Problems

1. Low Refrigerant Levels
An air conditioner that is running, but staying on too long and not cooling properly, may have a refrigerant leak or be insufficiently filled.

2. Thermostat or Sensor Problems
Check that the thermostat is set to "cool" and is set low enough to turn the unit on. Also ensure that the batteries are charged if the thermostat has batteries. If the unit does not turn on, check the circuit breaker to make sure it hasn't tripped.

3. Drainage Problems
A damaged refrigerant line or broken fan can cause an air conditioner coil to freeze, casing the unit to malfunction. Also ensure that the drain pan is not backed up, by clearing the drain line if needed.

4. Dirty Air Filter
Air filters should be replaced monthly or as recommended by the manufacturer. A dirty filter will cause the air conditioner to run more frequently, reducing efficiency, wasting energy and shortening the lifespan of the unit.
 
5. Leaking or Obstructed Air Ducts
Air ducts are an often overlooked part of a home's cooling system. Air duct cleaning and sealing can ensure that your system cools as efficiently as possible without wasting energy.

Have questions about your central air conditioner? Call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning. From annual AC maintenance and repairs, to new cooling system installation, we have you covered.
As smart devices make there way into every aspect of our daily life, one of the most popular devices for the home is the smart thermostat. Brands like Honeywell, Nest and Ecobee all promise ease of use and automated control over the climate in our homes. They also have the potential to increase efficiency and energy savings by learning when to heat and cool automatically based on household routines.

How much do smart thermostats save?

So how much many can you actually save with a smart thermostat, and are they worth the price premium over a conventional digital thermostat? A study by Nest® and two independent researchers found that customers saved an average of 10 to 20 percent on heating and 15 percent on air conditioning costs.

Because much of the savings from a programmable thermostat depends on the homeowner programming the unit to operate at the right time of day, they are prone to not being used at the optimum settings, either because they are to complicated to program or schedules that change to often, leading to settings being manually overridden.

Smart thermostats, on the other hand, make it more likely that the unit will operate at peak efficiency by automatically learning the household routine. For example, turning up the air conditioning when the home is unoccupied, then turning it back down when it detects that the home is occupied. Additionally, many models offer smart phone integration, humidity control and detailed power consumption reports and money-saving suggestions.

Have questions about setting up your smart thermostat to work with your home's heating and cooling system? Call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning, we're here to help.
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.
Wednesday, 25 April 2018 14:33

Spring AC Maintenance Checklist

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.
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