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!


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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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.

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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.


Mold In Your AC Vents is Nothing to Sneeze At!

Last week we talked about the cause & tell tale signs of mold in your AC ducts and vents. Yes, humidity is the enemy when it comes to keeping your air quality clean and your home & family healthy, and if you suspect that you may have mold in your vents, it’s nothing to ignore.

In fact, the relationship between humidity and poor air quality doesn’t just end at mold-as if that’s not bad enough! Sure, the potential for the increase of breathing diseases like asthma is ever-present, but in fact poor air quality and mold in your AC can be worse-a lot worse.

In fact, it can be a major contributor to Sick Home Syndrome, which is just like it sounds-when your sick home makes you sick in the process. It is estimated that 15 million homes fall under the categorization of being a “sick home”, for a number of reasons, but chief among them is the problem of mold, ventilation and poor air quality:

Toxic Home Syndrome occurs when individuals and families are exposed to a potent mix of airborne pollutants within the home arising from poor ventilation, causing respiratory and skin diseases to occur more frequently.

Allergy & Respiratory Medicine Specialist Dr. Peter Howarth goes into more detail as to how it can effect you:

‘Many people associate indoor air quality with more innocuous conditions such as eczema or asthma, however, I have seen many patients with serious health conditions due to pollutants within the home and the risk of cardiovascular disease should not be dismissed. With respect to asthma, mould allergy is recognised to be associated with worse asthma and poorer asthma control. The presence of moulds within the home is a reflection of poor ventilation and increased humidity. Homes with mould are also likely to have higher house dust mite allergen levels and this may worsen both respiratory and skin conditions.

‘The lack of adequate ventilation within the home can also be associated with the build up of non-allergenic noxious fumes which are detrimental to health’, he concludes.

So where does this leave you if you believe that you have AC vents that are making you sick? If you believe that you have a moldy AC ducts, now is the time to give the Air Doctor a call today.


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Is Your AC Smelling A Little Off?

Recent Warmer Temperatures Means More AC Use-Is Your Ductwork Succumbing to Mold?

We are starting the gradual incline into Springtime in the Tampa Bay area. Though temps are still pretty mind and the weather is, in fact, beautiful, temperatures inside your home may have required you to tip the thermostat down.

If your noticing an odor coming from your vents under recent runs, it may be time to get a mold check up. With colder temps over the winter potentially comes dampness in your ducts, which can range from a number of circumstances due to various reasons in your home’s conditions as well as your AC unit.

How does that happen? explains the issue:

Keeping humidity in a home low can help keep visible mildew from returning, but if mold spores get into the air conditioning system, they can settle in the air conditioning ductwork, along with dust and other contaminants, where you can’t see or smell them. This is a worst case scenario because duct systems in humid climates are incubators for microbial pollutants like mold and bacteria. With the alternating high and low humidity conditions that regularly occur in air conditioning ducts during normal AC use, mold will grow, produce spores, and spread throughout the house.

So if you’re noticing a funny scent, how can you make sure that it’s mold? There are three steps to determining if your ductwork is succumbing to mold:

Step 1 – Check for Reactions on Entering the Room

The nose will identify the mold before anything else. If there’s mold inside the house, you may experience sneezing or nose irritation on entering the room.

Step 2 – Check for Musty, Earthy Smell

Molds give a musty, earthy odor. It smells similar to the smell which one experiences while walking through a dense forest. Mold odor is quite unpleasant like that of rotten wood or paper. Some feel the smell of mold similar to that of cedar while some compare it to the smell of wet socks.

Step 3 – Recognize the Smell

…a mold smell is such that people easily get used to the smell. Hence when suspecting mold at home, it is better to first go outdoors, take fresh air to clear your nostrils and then come back to the room and experience the smell.

If you’re starting to smell something funky coming from your vents, it may be mold. Have the Air Doctor make a house call with a FREE duct sanitization with a maintenance agreement to keep your AC running smoothly through the year!

Next week we’ll get into the serious problems that mold case cause.

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So How Much Could You Save?

How Much You Save On Your Monthly Bill Depends on Matching Right SEER Rating To Your AC Replacement Needs

Last week we talked about the importance of your SEER rating when purchasing a replacement AC Unit, not only from the standpoint of savings on your monthly electric bill but also from an environmental impact.

Replacing your ac unit is an important investment in your comfort and long term energy savings, so it’s important to make the right choices up front by evaluating your circumstances. As we mentioned, the government mandates that all AC units have a SEER Rating no lower than a 13, but it’s important to make some determinations on the actual appropriate SEER rating for our home. Angie’s List mentions:

…the right SEER for your new A/C unit isn’t as straightforward as choosing a specific number. You also have to consider the climate of your home to determine the impact of swapping out your system to one of a different SEER rating…

The size of the new system, how long you anticipate living in your home, your regional climate and how often you expect to use your A/C factor into the decision.

So before you buy your next AC unit, make sure you’re using the right factors in your determination. Once you do, learn how much you can save by downloading the Office of Energy Efficiency’s Residential Heat and Air Conditioning Unit Calculator here.

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The Importance Of Your SEER Rating

Even though it’s still a little chilly in the mornings & mild in the afternoons lately, we’re not too far off from the upwardly creeping thermostat & warmer temps that late spring in Tampa brings.

Since we’re experiencing colder and now milder temperatures, maybe you’ve been putting off dealing with your AC replacement until Spring or early Summer, in which case now is actually the time to start shopping and comparing AC units. At Air Doctor, we always preach energy efficiency & reliability when choosing which AC unit to purchase, but probably a more obvious gauge by which to compare replacement units is the SEER Rating.

To the unfamiliar, your SEER rating is your Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. To put it succinctly, it’s the measurement used to gauge how efficiently your AC equipment runs year round, but primarily in Florida, during the hot & colder months (when your ac equipment typically gets the most usage).

Efficiency is the key: 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.

In fact, over the lifetime of a typical unit whose SEER rating is 16, Florida homeowners can expect to save over $2000 in cost of operation and produce 30,000 pounds less green house gasses. The higher the SEER rating, the lower amount of green house gasses  produced & the higher the savings. That’s real incentive to make sure your next ac unit is efficient.

At Air Doctor, we always preach energy efficiency & reliability when choosing your next AC unit purchase, which is why we stand behind American Standard as our units of choice. If you’re shopping to replace, have Air Doctor make a house call to make the best diagnosis for your new AC unit today.

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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!