Category Archives: Tips

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Just A Reminder…

When was the last time you changed your AC filter?  If you haven’t done it recently (for example, within the past two months) or you can’t remember when you last changed it, it’s time to head out to your local box store & pick up a new filter.

Ideally, you should aim to change it monthly, but there are a couple of factors to to consider which can greatly determine how frequently you should change it:

  • Allergies: Are you an allergy sufferer? If so, you may need to change your AC filter more frequently, and you also may need to invest in some allergy friendly AC filters. Though more expensive, they will greatly reduce the level of allergens in your air, even if you have to change them with more frequency.
  • Pets: Pets mean hair and dander…and guess what gets caught in your AC filter? Multiple pet homes will need to be changed more frequently to maintain clean air quality and to keep your AC unit from working harder.
  • Frequency of usage: does your AC unit get heavy usage, or is the unit in a vacation or seasonal home? Keep in mind, the less you use your AC, the less frequently you’ll have to replace it. But for heavy usage homes, monthly to bimonthly replacement is necessary to keep your air quality high & your bill lower.

Remember these points, and if it’s been a while since you’ve last had a check up on your AC, call the MD for Your AC at Air Doctor to make a house call today!

 

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Should I change the temperature of my thermostat when I am not at home?

The short answer is yes, but be careful. What many people don’t realize is that your HVAC system isn’t just raising or lowering the temperature of the air in your house, but it is also affecting the temperature of your insulation. If you just turn your air conditioner or heater off every time you leave the house, then you can actually see an increase in your energy bill.

How is this possible? Simply put, it takes hours for your HVAC unit to penetrate the walls of your house – that’s the whole point of insulation! If you allow the outside temperature to infiltrate your insulation all day, then your air conditioner or heater will have to spend additional energy cooling or heating it back to your desired temperature. This can sometimes cost you more than if you had just set it a few degrees higher or lower before you left the house.

Here are a few tips to save money on energy:

  • In the summer, set your thermostat 5 degrees higher than your ideal temperature when you leave the house.
  • Only turn your system completely off if you are planning to be gone longer than 24-hours.
  • Buy an air conditioner with a high SEER rating, but realize that SEER isn’t everything.

Or instead of dealing with the hassle, get more efficient equipment or a Smart Thermostat.

In most US homes, over 40% of a household’s electricity bill is a result of air conditioning and heating, and in Santa Clarita, California and other arid climates it can be over 50%.

The ideal daytime temperature comfort range for most Americans is between 70 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit.  So setting your thermostat to the highest temperature in this range during the summer months is key to reducing energy costs.  Set your thermostat to 75 if you can handle it, or even higher if it is comfortable but don’t sacrifice your comfort.  At that point, why even bother having an air conditioner?

At night, the ideal temperature range for Americans drops to 65 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit (or about 87 degrees if you are my wife).  Don’t hesitate to lower your thermostat at night though, because your air conditioner actually works less at night than it does during the day due to lower outside temperatures and the fact that the sun is no longer hitting your house causing radiant heating.

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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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What’s Happening in The Tampa Bay Area This Memorial Day?

Next week’s Memorial Day holiday will once again offer an abundance of good food and good times around the Tampa Bay area. But of course, we won’t overlook the real purpose of the holiday, which is to remember the sacrifices that our service men and women have made for us. In fact, the origins of Memorial Day go all the way back to the Civil War when it was originally called Decoration Day, established to honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, officially proclaimed this in 1868 but it wasn’t fully recognized by all northern states until 1890. Initially, the Southern states refused to acknowledge the day, preferring to pay respects to their dead on separate days. After World War I, the holiday expanded its scope beyond the Civil War and became a day to remember all Americans who fought in any war.

If you’re looking for a way to celebrate next week, here is a sampling of events for you to try:

Tampa Bay Margarita Festival featuring Blues Traveler: Saturday, May 28th

The 4th Annual Tampa Bay Margarita Festival is back and saltier than ever in Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park. Over “21-ers” can choose from an assortment of 40+ margarita flavors while listening to the festive sounds of the band Blues Traveler. Plenty of delicious food options to indulge in too! Visit www.tampamargaritafest.com for ticket and festival information. All the fun begins at 1pm. But of course, please drink responsibly.

Sunset Music Festival at Raymond James Stadium: Saturday, May 28th

Once again the Sunset Music Festival returns to Raymond James this Memorial Day weekend. To see the DJ line-up and get ticket info, visit www.smftampa.com . There’s even an app to follow the fun. Just like last year, this will be an epic two-day electronic dance party beginning Saturday May 28th; gates open at 2pm.

Cheer for Tampa Bay! Bring the family and cheer for your team. The Tampa Bay Rays take on the New York Yankees at home over the Memorial Day weekend with games on Friday, 5/27th, Saturday, 5/28th and Sunday, 5/29th. Support our Tampa Bay Lightning hockey champs as they get one step closer to the Stanley Cup!! Click here for tickets and scheduling.

american-standard-air-conditioners

What’s The Right Variable Speed Unit For Your Home?


Over the past couple of weeks we’ve talked about the benefits of switching over to a variable speed air conditioner over a standard AC unit. Now we’ll get into what we recommend for your home.

Remember SEER rating? Your SEER rating is your Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio which measures how efficiently your AC equipment runs year round. As we mentioned, the higher the SEER unit, the more efficient the unit, the more you save AND the less your waste. The government mandates that all AC equipment has a SEER rating of no less than 13 at bare minimum, but there’s real incentive both financially & environmentally to purchase ac units and equipment whose SEER rating is much higher.

Air Doctor recommends switching over to the AccuComfort line of variable speed air conditioners from American Standard for a number of reasons. Aside from the fact that we’re an authorized Amercian Standard dealer, we became one for the unparalleled level of quality that American Standard instills in every unit it builds.

The AccuComfort variable speed line of units is a multi-stage system that consistently adjusts to find the most efficient speed to maintain your personal level of comfort based on your temperature. This speed efficiency leads to energy efficiency as well as annual savings on your electric bill.

The AccuComfort comes in both in a 21 and 18 SEER rating,  which means they’re super efficient, infact, some of the most efficient air conditioners on the market.

Nw only are they efficent, but now with American Standard’s 2016 rebates, you can save even more on both models! You can save $800 on 18 SEER and 1000 on 20 SEER rated AccuComfort. To take it a step further, you an get an additional  $100 for installing an Accuclean Whole Home Air Filtration System. Point blank, it’s the most effective whole-home air filtration system in the nation.

Cool air, lower electricity bills, energy efficiency, and rebates. In the heat of summer, when it’s muggy and hot, can you ask for anything more? Sure you can! Ask the Air Doctor for a home visit on the best model for your home. Contact us today for a consultation on the best variable speed unit for you and your family today:

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Looking to Replace Your AC Unit? Variable Speed Is Right For Your Needs!

Variable Speed Air Units Save More & Make Your Home More Comfortable

We’re only weeks away from those muggy Summer temperatures creeping into the Tampa Bay area, which means you’ll no doubt be turning the thermostat down to make your home more comfortable. And there’s more heavy usage on the horizon.

If you remember last summer’s energy bills being high & your air handler is over 10 years old, it means that your AC unit is rapidly becoming inefficient and you’re probably going to have to replace it soon. The great news is that in the ten or more years since you’d last replaced your compressor, air handlers have becoming not only more efficient but they’re now making your me less comfortable and less humid, which is a big point to consider living in the greater Hillsborough and Pinellas county area.

The biggest progress is the are of  Variable Speed Units, which are the pinnacle of energy efficiency. So what’s the difference between a standard model and a variable speed air conditioning unit? Angie’s List describes the difference:

In a standard air conditioner, the air-handling component cycles on at full blast, delivering air into the home using 100 percent of its capacity. However, this much air isn’t always necessary, particularly when the cooling load of the home is lower.

Instead of cycling on and off repeatedly over the course of the day, a variable speed unit starts up at full speed in the morning to quickly restore the home to a comfortable level. Then, the unit reins in the speed, dropping down to a lower speed, but running nearly continuously throughout the day. The handler saves energy by operating at lower speeds, but energy savings also results from avoiding repeated stops and starts, a process that requires a large amount of electricity.

Next week we’ll talk about the real benefits of having a variable speed unit & what that means too your and your pocket book!

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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.

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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.

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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.