Category Archives: maintenance

Using Your AC to Beat The Summer Mugginess?

Then It’s Time To Get  AN AC Check Up Before Your AC Checks Out!

After the rains of Tropical Storm Colin swung through the Tampa Bay area, it has been unbearably muggy outside. That, stacked with the hydrologic cycle kicking in for summer has lead to heavy air conditioning use for many homeowners and small businesses.

Heavy usage means your AC unit will be more taxed than normal. If you haven’t replaced your filters, done a check of your drainage lines or a general  inspection for wear & tear, you could very quickly be headed for higher than normal energy bills, but even worse, a more expensive repair bill or a system replacement.

Save money, sweat & headache by calling for your seasonal AC check up from the Air Doctor. Get our 24 Point Air Conditioning & Heating Tune-Up, which covers all your heating & cooling inspection needs to insure that you’re comfortable, breathing clean air and most of all, SAVING MONEY during those times of heavy usage.

Call us at 813.891.9444 in Hillsborough and 727.821.1961 in Pinellas Country, or submit the handy form below and we’ll get you scheduled for an appointment with the Air Doctor today!

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Why Is Water Leaking From My Central Air Conditioner?

No doubt with the mugginess hitting us this week, the Tampa Bay area is in the full swing of Summer. With these 90 degree temps and the humidity high, your air conditioning must be working overtime in those daytime hours to keep your home or office comfortable.

If you haven’t had a checkup this year, pay attention to minor leaking around or water stains on walls and ceilings inside your home near your central ac unit. It could be the tell tale signs of a serious problem developing, which can lead to damage to your ac or, depending on where your central unit inside your home is positioned, flooding, dry wall damage, mold or a collapsed ceiling.

If you’re starting to see problems form, there could be a number of reasons why water is leaking from you AC unit:

Clogged condensate drain line or rusted condensate drain pan

If the drain line gets clogged by dirt, insects, mold, or anything else, the water has nowhere to go but back into the home. (Some home’s have a secondary drain line but that may also be become clogged.)

Use wet-dry vacuum to suck out the obstruction from the outdoor PVC condensate pipe.

Also the root of the problem may be a dirty evaporator coil. The dirt will mix with the water and fall down into the pan, clogging the drain. Have a professional clean this coil annually as part of an annual AC maintenance visit.

Also, the drain pan may be rusted through and is falling onto the floor and causing  damage to your home. So you’ll need to replace that.

Note: Your air conditioner may have a secondary drain pan to catch the water. This pan has a float switch that turns off your air conditioner to prevent water damage.

Installation issues

If you have a newer air conditioner, the problem may be installation related. An improperly designed condensate trap will stop the condensate from draining. So all that water builds up in the drain pan and overflows into your home, causing water damage.

You’ll need a professional to examine the condensate trap to see if it has been designed properly and fix it if necessary.

Frozen evaporator coil

Open the blower door of your inside AC unit. Is the evaporator coil covered in ice? When that frozen evaporator coil melts there may be so much water that it flows over the drain pan and then onto the floor.

There are 2 common causes of a frozen evaporator coil:

  • Dirty air filter—A dirty air filter blocks airflow over the evaporator coil, causing the temperature to drop below freezing and ice up. Check the air filter and change it if it’s dirty.
  • Low refrigerant— Low refrigerant causes the evaporator coil to become much colder than normal, causing it to freeze up.

To defrost the evaporator coil, turn the air conditioner off. Then turn the blower from “auto” to “on.” The fan should melt the ice slowly enough for the drain pan to handle all the water.

In the meantime, you should call a professional AC repairman to check your air conditioner to make sure it’s is working properly and ensure nothing was damaged.

There are a few major reasons why this happens, but primarily this can be prevented with regular maintenance. Before you get too deep into summer, let the Air Doctor make a house call to stop unnecessary and expensive damage to your home and your AC unit. Call us today, or use the handy form below to get in touch with the MD for your AC:

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To Repair or Replace-That Is The Question!

The Bard of Avon initially asked, “To be, or not to be-that is the question”, but surely he’s couldn’t have known that existential query would be made centuries later when you’re making a decision on the life of  your AC unit!

Let’s paraphrase it by saying, “To replace, or not to replace”. That is the REAL question. But how do you know when it’s time to say goodbye to your old AC unit or keep repairing it?

There are two factors that come into play when you’re considering whether it’s time to switch out your air handler: Age and Money, and they’re both inextricably linked.

First, let’s talk about age. Typically an Air Conditioning unit over 10 years old is the right age to reconsider keeping your current air unit. Aside from the fact that units nowadays are more efficient and have advanced over the the 10 years since you last purchased or installed your unit, there’s a simple math that comes into play with ac handlers of age. As HVAC Specialist Brad Wentz mentions:

We use a 5,000 rule…You take the age of the equipment and multiply that by the repair cost. If the number is more than $5,000, then you should consider replacement. For example, a 10-year-old unit with a $350 repair equals $3,500. It’s OK to repair.

And that brings us to the second part of the equation: Money. Certainly that $5000 rule is a good barometer, but if you’re noticing the frequency of repairs increasing as you get closer to that golden age of 10 years or older, or you’re seeing your electricity bill go up, that may mean your air unit is becoming inefficient. In the Tampa Bay area, where your AC unit is going strong from late April to October, this can mean saving big bucks on your monthly energy bill.

Add to the mix the dreaded coolant leak! R-22 costs have steadily increased since the EPA announced they would be phasing out use of the coolant, which means that the cost for the coolant alone is skyrocketing, and eventually will all coolant leaks, eventually the AC compressor is soon to fail.

So if you’re checking all the boxes above, you’re a prime candidate to replace instead of repair your aging unit. Even though it may cost more upfront to purchase a new air conditioning handler, the short, intermediate and long term savings will keep your from sweating those repair costs and hot nights should your unit fail.

So what’s the right air handler for your home? Next week we’ll discuss the difference between standard and variable speed units.

Photo: Source

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Have You Had Your Pre-Summer Tune-Up Yet?

Though it’s not hot yet, we’re only  a few months away from warmer, muggier temps in the Tampa Bay area. That means more usage of your thermostat & more energy usage. And if you haven’t had an AC unit Check up in a while, you could be ignoring some potential problems which could lead to breakage…and a very uncomfortable night while you wait for a service call!

Now is the perfect time to tune up your AC, not just to ensure you & your family are staying cool and running an affordable and efficient unit, but also to prep for the cold evenings which are inevitably coming!

Call Air Doctor today for a 24 Point Air Conditioning & Heating Tune-Up, which covers all your heating & cooling inspection needs to insure that you’re comfortable, breathing clean air and most of all, SAVING MONEY during those times of heavy usage.

Call us at 813.891.9444 in Hillsborough and 727.821.1961 in Pinellas Country, or submit the handy form below and we’ll get you scheduled for an appointment with the Air Doctor today!

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So My AC Has Mold-Now What?

Since we’ve discussed the telltale signs of mold, how a mold infestation can impact your health and the importance of preventing mold in your AC unit, it’s important to know what to do when you know you have mold in your AC unit.

How Do I Get Rid of & Prevent Future Mold Growth In My Air Conditioner?

Given the potential health risks involved with a mold infestation, it can certainly be a scary discovery, but it’s not the end of the world. The most important step you can take upon finding mold is to call your HVAC specialists to have your HVAC unit examined for the scope & level of contamination. Based on the examination, mold can find its way into three areas of your AC unit: the Vents, Blower and Evaporator.

Based on where the contamination has spread to, the next step is what to clean. Vents are scrubbed clean, vacuumed and sanitized, the evaporator is cleaned and the blower can be disassembled and cleansed of any mold and residue.

Once the mold and debris are gone, your unit should be clear & free of mold. Usually a cleaned duct systems will last a number of years, but only if you continue to maintain it. It is recommended to follow a few common sense steps post-clean up to increase the liklihood of keeping your AC unit mold free:

1. Using the right filter

Use a good-quality pleated filter…We need to stop a good percentage of dust particulates from getting into the air handler and ducts. A good disposable pleated filter fits the bill.

2. Install an ultraviolet light

The second step: we must stop the mold from growing back, despite the wet evaporator coil and the hot humid Florida air.

UV light has been used in hospitals, clinics and meat markets for years to fight bacteria. These lights work well when properly installed in the middle of the evaporator coil.

If you believe your AC unit or duct works may be contaminated with mold, have Tampa Bay’s HVAC Specialists make an house call today! Call the Air Doctor for an in-home visit at 813.891.9444 in Hillsborough County or 747.821.1961 in Pinellas.

Photo: Source

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So How Do You Prevent Mold In Your AC Unit?

Follow These Five Steps to Prevent Mold Growth in Your AC Vents

In our past few posts, we’ve talked about the importance of mold control & air quality, and how mold in your AC vents can greatly affect the health of you and your family. Certainly with the warmer months upon us in the Tampa Bay Area, certainly your AC will start getting a workout soon, if it hasn’t already.

If you’re noticing a musty smell in your vents or starting to get the sniffles, there’s the possibility that you may have mold growing in your system.

So what do you do now? Since we talked about the problem, what are the solutions to prevent mold from in your Air Conditioning unit? There are two options here: what to do to prevent mold & what to do if you believe you have mold. This week, we’ll mention five points that will prevent mold today and in the future. The first step is one which you’ll no doubt be doing when the temperatures start to creep up!

1. Keep your air conditioner on at all times to prevent the growth of mold.

Ever wonder why your air conditioner is called an air conditioner, instead of an air cooler?  Simply put, it doesn’t just cool your air, but it conditions your air by removing moisture.  Remember that moisture is one of the three required ingredients that are essential for mold growth, so keep your AC system on at all times if possible.

2. Ensuring that your attic has fans will minimize mold growth in your attic.

Your attic isn’t air conditioned like your house is, so keep it well ventilated to reduce the amount of mold that can grow and spread into your home or business.

3. Use a UV filter to prevent mold in your HVAC system.

This one is especially important if someone in your home suffers from allergies or asthma, ask your local HVAC contractor about a UV filter – adding a UV filter to your HVAC system regulates mold spores and helps allergy sufferers and asthmatics by destroying mold and it’s spores, removing them from the equation and reducing the symptoms of asthma.

4. Vacuum regularly to remove organic sources of mold growth

Dust is a great substrate for mold growth, and learning how to use a vacuum effectively is a priority.  Remember that one of the three requirements for mold to thrive is an organic substrate. ..Vacuuming regularly removes dust, pollen and other organic compounds from the carpet.  It also disturbs what it doesn’t pick up into the air column where your air conditioner can quickly filter it out.

5. Water leaks promote mold growth, so make sure you fix any leaks in your home.

Even the smallest leak can support mold growth, and controlling moisture is part of the mold trifecta…Water is probably the biggest contributing factor to mold growth in the home so take the time to fix even the smallest leaks.  A drop or two here or there under your sink might not seem like much, but after a drop per minute for an entire day, how much water would be there fueling mold growth?  What about after a week or a month? Fix all of your leaks and make no exceptions and if you don’t know how then choose a good plumber.

So now you know how to stop mold from starting in your AC unit. But what do you do if you believe you have mold in your system? Next week we’ll go over a few steps & products that will address existing mold in your AC unit.

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How Chilly Is It In YOUR Home Today?

We’ve hit the coldest patch of weather that we’ve had in the Tampa Bay area this winter. Sure, a high of 58 degrees isn’t the balmy 21 degree weather that Chicago is experiencing today, but it’s still enough to get your heating running pretty regularly.

And tomorrow will be the same-with even more chilly weather expected before the month ends. If you haven’t had your heating unit inspected in the past year, isn’t now a good time to make sure your heating unit is running well?

Now’s the perfect time to get a  24 Point Heating inspection today on your heating unit for those cold nights to come. For just $49.99, you can be assured that your heating unit is not only running efficiently but  prevent unnecessary breakdown today and insure that your AC unit is also ready for those heavy use months for the coming summer.

Air Doctor specializes in air conditioning and heating repair services for all brands in Tampa, Clearwater & Pinellas, and we offer a number of fantastic seasonal specials as well as financing for new systems! Give us a call today at 813.891.9444 and in Pinellas at 727.821.1961 today to schedule an appointment for a free estimate on your AC maintenance today!

 

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Get That Heating Tune Up Now…Before It’s Cool ;)

Who doesn’t like to be a trendsetter? Sure, the Tampa Bay temps now are starting to dip a bit & we’re into a little milder weather, but November is only a couple of days away which means chillier temperatures are around the corner.

Is you heating system ready? Aside from changing filters & cleaning dust from the vents, when was the last check up for your eating unit? It’s time to get ahead of the curve-if you haven’t had a check up in the past year, it’s time to call the Air Doctor for your 24 Point Heating Check Up, which will get your heating unit running cleanly & efficiently all through the winter months.

Don’t wait until it’s too late-get that Heating Check Up today…before it’s cool!

Call Air Doctor today to schedule your check up at 813.891.9444 or 727.821.1961

 

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What Steps Can You Take To Prep Your AC for Fall Weather?

Follow these points to make sure your HVAC System is running smoothly All Season Long!

As you no doubt know, Fall in the Tampa Bay area can indeed be mild compared to the seasonal transition in the northeast. However, it doesn’t mean there won’t be any chilly weather-just look at the people donning sweatshirts & jackets when the autumn highs dip into the 60’s!

Certainly, the colder weather is relatively to the people who live in the Bay area, and as you can expect, people will notice those cooler temps in their homes as well. Before the thermometer starts to drop, it’s a good idea to take a survey of your heating unit. In fact, there are steps you can take right now to prep for the inevitable dip in those temperatues in the coming weeks. HVAC.com mentions some great tips on how you can prep for the incoming fall temperature drops:

What You Can Do Yourself

DIY Outdoor System Care

  • Clear vegetation and debris away from your exterior heat pump unit. This will ensure adequate airflow and help to prevent damage to the unit.

DIY Indoor System Care

  • Make sure any combustible products are stored away from your heating system.
  • Inspect your air filter and replace it if needed. A clean air filter will work to reduce indoor contaminants throughout the winter season, as well as facilitate proper airflow into your home.
  • Make sure your registers are clear of obstruction. Move heavy furniture and other items which may be blocking registers, preventing heating from reaching your living spaces and potentially straining your system.
  • Change the water panel of your home’s humidifier. Doing so will help your humidifier function at its best throughout winter to alleviate dry air problems and ensure your home maintains proper humidity levels.
  • Replace the batteries in your carbon monoxide detector. This should be done annually to protect your family from undetected carbon monoxide exposure.

What You Should Leave to the professionals

There are some tasks best left to the professionals. Heating systems are composed of sensitive equipment which requires maintenance to improve performance and efficiency. This fall, make it a priority to schedule professional fall HVAC maintenance. A trusted HVAC contractor will provide essential cleaning, care, and inspection to ensure your heating system can handle the important job of keeping your home comfortable through the cold months.

For those difficult issues that are hard to handle, don’t hesitate to give us a call – the Air Doctor is here to help make sure your AC system is running smoothly, efficiently and cleanly this fall!

Why You Should Get a Fall Tune-Up

…Even If You’d Rather Not Think About It

Welcome to the Autumnal Equinox…or at least as close to fall as we get in September in the Tampa Bay area! Yes, it’s a high of 89 degrees here in Hillsborough country, but the temperatures look to be slowly trending down in the coming weeks. Thought it may not be enough to dip into chillier temperatures, the time is coming.

We found a great article this week that we thought we’d excerpt about Fall AC check ups & how important it is to check it out now as opposed to when the colder temperatures inevitably come.

Let’s be honest here. Unless you’re an HVAC contractor, you’re probably not particularly interested in your heating system. And that may lead you to skimp on routine maintenance.

But…if you really want to think about your heating system as little as possible, then routine maintenance is exactly what you need.

According to a study conducted by the Louisiana Cooperative Extension Service, 9 out of 10 HVAC system failures are caused by dirt and dust. That means that if you hire a professional to clean and service your furnace, and you change your furnace’s air filter once a month, you are 90% less likely to have a breakdown this year!

This, of course, is terrific news for your budget. Not only will you save by minimizing the possibility of a major repair, you’ll also increase your heater’s efficiency, which means lower energy bills this winter.

And that means more money for that new car, the kids’ college tuition, or (just maybe) your dream vacation.

But even better than that, routine maintenance leads to peace of mind. You’ll have less hassle, less worry, and a lot more time relaxing cozily in your house, doing whatever you want to do, while your heater minds its own business in your basement.

So, now that you’re persuaded…what routine maintenance do you need?

You should get an annual tune-up/inspection every year. A good furnace tune-up will include:

  • Checking the thermostat to ensure that the settings are comfortable and energy-efficient
  • Checking all electrical connections, motors, and controls
  • Lubricating the blower bearings and blower motor as recommended by the manufacturer
  • Cleaning dust from the blower compartment
  • Testing air flow
  • Checking vents, drafts, and flues
  • Inspecting the condensate drain (if the system includes central air)

Then, there are a few simple things you should do yourself.

  • Make sure nothing flammable has been stored next to the furnace over the summer (weed whackers, lawn movers, gas cans, etc).
  • Give the outside of your furnace a good dusting (also, dust the areas near it).
  • Test your heater for a few minutes while it’s still warm out (like in early September), to make sure that it’s working well on the first cold day. Also, you can comfortably open the windows to disperse that unpleasant “first time” smell.
  • Make sure that your thermostat is set in the heating mode when heating season starts. Just setting the dial above room temperature won’t activate the heat if the system is still in AC mode.
  • Change/clean your air filter regularly, especially during heavy use seasons (winter and summer). You should replace disposable fiberglass filters, and wash electrostatic or electronic filters, at least every three months, and more often if they look dirty. A dirty filter will slow down air flow and make the system work harder to keep you warm or cool (a waste of energy). A clean filter will keep dirt and dust out of your system, increasing its longevity and reducing the need for expensive repairs.

Everything on the list above should take you about half an hour a year, in total. That’s a pretty minimal amount of time in exchange for months and months of worry-free operation!

PS. Everyone is suddenly interested in their heating system if it’s the first cold night and their furnace doesn’t work. This is not the time to schedule a tune-up. Do it now and beat the rush!