Posts Tagged ‘Elfers’

Tampa AC Tip: Outdoor Air Conditioning Components

Monday, May 14th, 2012

As long as all the parts are working well, air conditioning in Tampa is a modern convenience we can easily take for granted and overlook. Cool air makes our lives simply better, but is a complicated process based on an old theory and modern technology.

No matter the size, in every unit, the basic purpose is one of extracting heat from the conditioned space and moving it to the outside, leaving cool air in its place. This process easily divides into indoor and outdoor components.

Air Conditioning 101

Utilizing the basic principal of thermal energy that heat gravitates toward cooler temperatures, compounds known as refrigerants travel through a closed looped system, repeatedly transforming between liquid and gas forms. Chosen for their ability to rapidly change at low temperatures, they alternately absorb and release heat along the way.

Having expanded to a vacuous state with plenty of room between molecules to absorb heat, the refrigerant is compressed tightly, condenses back into liquid form and releases the heat to the outdoors.

In the Box Outside

Placed on a small slab on the ground alongside many homes or on the roof of large buildings, air conditioning units contain the compressor and condensing coils that enable the main (and noisiest) function of the process.

The refrigerant is contained within a closed loop, entering the compressor as an expanded gas full of heat.  Under pressure, that heat is released when the molecules are squeezed so tightly together the refrigerant returns to its liquid state.

Then passing into the condensing coils, a series of delicate fins, the released heat is allowed to dissipate through the fins into the air where a small fan blows it away.  Water is also a by-product of the condensation and drains into a pan and eventually into the ground.

The condensing coil ends at the exchange valve where it is held to create just the right pressure for the evaporating coil indoors to operate at its maximum efficiency.

Refreshing Maintenance

When maintained on a regular basis, the system requires little attention and over sight beyond scheduled appointments with a Tampa air conditioning company like Air National.

Elfers Indoor Air Quality Guide: How an Electronic Air Filter Works

Monday, February 13th, 2012

For a long time, the most frequently used kind of air filter in Elfers has been the mechanical variety. This is the kind you probably think of when you hear the terms air filter, air cleaner or air purifier. They use pleated fibrous filters in-line with an air handler to trap particles in the air before circulating it back out into the home.

Many models of these work very well and have for many years. They have the added benefit of being flexible because you can put in whatever filter you need depending on what size particles you need to trap.

However, these traditional devices are not the only option. A second kind of air filter exists for trapping particles in the air– one that does not use a fibrous filter that physically snags them out of the air on the way through.

These electrostatic — or electronic — air filters work in a different way to produce a similar result. The filtering component is still a fibrous sheet, but the difference is that the fibers are made of plastic, which becomes charged when air passes through it and causes friction.

(Think something like when you rub a balloon and stick it to the wall.)

These friction-charged fibers carry an electronic charge, which attracts the ions in the air around it. These ions — and the particles that they are a part of — get trapped in the fibers and stay out of your air supply.

Electronic air filters are generally very good at trapping particles that are 1 micron in size or higher, putting them about on par with a mechanical air filter that carries a MERV rating of 12. The electrostatic method works well for many common household air pollutants, such as dust, pollen, mold and pet dander.

As with many ventilation-related decisions, the choice of what kind of indoor air quality system is right for you depends on your needs and those of your family. If you are having trouble deciding, then a consultation with Air National can be a good way to reach a decision.

5 Reasons to Replace the Furnace in Your Town n Country Home

Monday, January 2nd, 2012

Many Town n Country homes are heated with furnaces, since they generally provide safe and efficient heat.  Furnaces have also improved dramatically over the years as manufacturers find ways to make them more efficient. Even if your furnace has been reliable for many years, it may be worth the money to replace your old furnace with a newer, more efficient model.

Here are five major benefits to upgrading your furnace.

1. Lowering Your Utility Bills

Whether you realize it or not, your current furnace could be costing you more than it should in heating bills. If your furnace is 15-20 years old, it’s probably not heating your home as efficiently as the newer models with higher AFUE ratings. Even if your heating system has been replaced within the last ten years, the technology has advanced enough to consider an upgrade.

2. Fewer Repairs

Repair costs can add up if you are constantly repairing your furnace. Routine maintenance for your furnace can help reduce the need for repairs, but as furnaces age, they tend to need more repairs and replacement parts. If you need frequent repairs for your furnace, it may be time to replace it with a newer one.

3. More Consistent Heat

While maintaining consistent temperatures throughout your home involves several factors, such as insulation and thermostat control, your furnace could also be the reason you aren’t getting enough heat to all parts of the house. If some rooms are colder than others, or if your heating bills have recently gone up, it may be time for a furnace replacement.

4. Reduce the Chances of a Breakdown

When a furnace breaks down, it not only leaves you without heat, but it is also a major expense. Budgeting for a new furnace before it breaks down will put less financial burden on you than needing an emergency furnace replacement. Newer model furnaces are also more reliable and less likely to give you problems if maintained properly.

5. Safety

There’s higher potential for safety concerns with older or poorly maintained furnaces. In addition to fire hazards, carbon monoxide poisoning is another serious threat. When the heat exchanger stops working because it’s corroded or faulty, carbon monoxide can leak into the home. If you’ve had your furnace for more than 20 years, it could create safety hazards that you may be unaware of.

No matter how long you’ve had the furnace in your Town n Country home, it’s always wise to speak with a qualified HVAC technician about furnace upgrades, particularly if you have expensive heating costs. Call Air National today to talk with one of our heating experts about furnace upgrades.

A Guide from a Tampa Contractor: Just How Much Heat Can a Heat Pump Produce?

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

Heat pumps are interesting devices in how they operate. They quite literally draw heat from the air outside and transfer it into your Brandon home. But, how exactly does this work? It’s actually surprisingly simple.

Heat is energy and energy is in all things. As air cools, it has less energy, but it still has some energy. A heat pump can extract that energy from the outdoor air at temperatures much cooler than you’d expect. However, there is a limit. For example, most heat pumps work best at temperatures at or above 50 degrees F. Those same heat pumps tend to only produce heat down to temperatures of between 40 and 50 degrees F and almost no heat pumps will produce sufficient heat after they reach the 37 degree F mark.

Supplemental Emergency Heat Is a Must

Because heat pumps are only effective as long as the temperature outside is warmer than your refrigerator, you should have an emergency source of heat – usually a gas or electric furnace. Some heat pumps come in packaged systems that include a small gas or electric heating unit to provide supplemental heat. Others can be connected to an existing furnace in your home’s heating system. Your technician can outline for you the best setup for supplemental, emergency heat.

Maximizing Efficiency

To ensure your heat pump draws as much heat as possible during the cooler months of the year, perform regular maintenance and keep the area around the device clear. Ice, snow or even water can cool the air around the device further and make it hard to extract enough energy to warm your home. Clean your filters on schedule as well and make sure your heat pump is properly serviced by a professional every fall, before the heating season begins. A well maintained heat pump will work through the majority of the fall and winter.

Is Your Heat Pump On Way too Often? A Tip from Temple Terrace

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

If your heat pump has suddenly started turning on when it clearly isn’t needed, there might be a problem. But, before you call your Temple Terrace HVAC repairman and spend a lot of money to have it inspected, consider a few common solutions that you can take care of on your own.

Check the Mode

Step one is to check the mode of your heat pump. Make sure it is in the mode you expect it to be in. If the weather outside is mild especially, it’s often best to leave your heat pump in auto so that it doesn’t turn on when not needed. Leaving it set to “on” all the time will result in it turning on even when the heating or cooling elements aren’t needed.

Indoor and Outdoor Thermostats

You should also check the thermostats both inside and outside to make sure they are accurate. If the thermostat reading isn’t accurate, the heat pump will turn on unnecessarily and frequently. If you’re unsure how to check the thermostat settings for your particular heat pump model, consult the owner’s manual or contact a professional to inspect and repair the problem.

Keep in mind that heat pumps are designed to run constantly in cold weather – it’s necessary to keep your home comfortable (the cooling component should never do this so call for service if it does).

Other Issues

There are some other issues you can check to make sure your heat pump isn’t broken. Check the outdoor unit for ice – which can directly affect the thermostat settings. Check the return duct work as well for leakages, which can reduce efficiency and force it to keep operating when not needed. Poor insulation in your house can cause problems as well, especially in the attic, where cold air can be pulled in and affect thermostat settings, even when you don’t notice the cold.

If none of these things are the problem, it may be time to call for professional assistance. Things like bad compressor valves, AC mode starting in the winter or refrigerant problems all need to be fixed by a Temple Terrace HVAC professional.

How to Get My Furnace Ready for Winter: A Tip from a Lithia Heating Contractor

Thursday, November 17th, 2011

Being cold in the winter is normal – as long as you are outside. But you shouldn’t be cold inside your Lithia home. If that happens, the first place to look to is your furnace, which may not be working correctly. Furnaces are like any other piece of mechanical equipment. They need to be maintained and serviced on a regular basis to ensure they are working at peak efficiency and warming your entire home at your desired comfort level.

First of all, check and see when you last had your furnace serviced. If it has been over one year ago, you should schedule a maintenance inspection from your local qualified heating and cooling professional. And when you make that appointment, ask about service agreements and getting on a regular maintenance schedule. Most heating and cooling contractors offer service agreement plans which include furnace and air conditioning check-ups on an annual basis.

Okay, so you know who to call for maintenance but what can you do yourself? First of all, give your furnace a little ‘help’ by checking the vents and returns throughout the house. Ensure that there are no obstructions or blockages such as rugs, clothing, furniture, etc. You need to have unobstructed paths for your heated and return air to flow. The more congested the path, the harder your furnace will have to work. And while you’re at it, make sure your vents are open or closed, depending on how much you use your rooms. For example, if you have an extra bedroom that doesn’t need to be heated, closed off the vent or close the damper in the ductwork. The heated air will be diverted to other parts of your home where it is needed.

You can also help the airflow by vacuuming the vent cover or removing it and vacuuming any of the ductwork that you can easily get to. For a more thorough job consider calling a qualified and professional duct cleaning contractor. Many heating and cooling contractors also offer duct cleaning service, too.

Another maintenance function that you can perform is cleaning or replacing the furnace filter. Depending on the size of your home and its air quality (occupants, pets, etc.), you may want to clean or replace your air filter every one to three months. A dirty filter can restrict airflow and can put contaminants like dirt and dust right back into your air system. If you don’t know how to replace your air filter, consult the furnace owner’s manual or go online to learn more. If your furnace uses an electrostatic air filter, it will need to be removed and cleaned, either by using a hose or with soapy water and a hose. Make sure you let it dry before re-installing it.

You may also want to inspect any electrical wires around your furnace to ensure none are broken or frayed. A visual inspection should be good enough.

Once you have done what you can, let your heating and cooling professional take over from there. They are licensed and trained to inspect your furnace and ensure that it is in peak operating condition.

Home Energy Myths

Friday, July 8th, 2011

Measuring and controlling your home’s energy consumption is a little tricky. There are plenty of talking heads and information resources on the internet that tell you how it’s supposed to work, but in most cases you’ll find that so called common knowledge about your home’s energy use isn’t always true. Here are some of the most common myths and how to differentiate from the truth.

  1. Conservation and Efficiency Are Different: Many people think that by getting an energy efficient appliance, they are conserving energy and helping the environment. To some degree this is true. However, in reality, you are merely reducing how much energy it takes to complete a task. Conservation is finding ways to actually stop using energy for common tasks. Taking baths instead of showers, not watering your lawn, and turning off lights completely are all examples of conservation.
  2. Turning Off an Appliance Saves a Lot of Energy: Regardless of whether an appliance is physically on or not, it still consumes power as long as it is plugged in. The only way to completely stop your energy consumption is to unplug an item completely or use a power strip that blocks access to electricity when the switch is turned to off.
  3. Turning on Items Creates a Power Surge:  While turning a computer on and off uses a bit more electricity than simply leaving it on all the time, it isn’t a significant difference. In fact, the longer you leave an appliance on, the more it wears down and the faster it starts to use extra power to remain effective.
  4. Extra Insulation Creates Pressure: If you insulate a certain area of your home, you don’t need to worry about air leaking out. While it’s a good idea to complete all of your insulation at the same time, if you skip the windows or doors for now, it won’t hurt. All insulation is a good investment, no matter how much you install at any given time.
  5. One Energy Source is Cheaper than Another: This depends largely on the type of energy source you have for heating and cooling, the cost of that source and how much heating and cooling you need. A single portable electric heater is cheaper than running your entire oil heating system. But, electric heaters are rarely cheaper if you use them to heat your entire home.

Myths abound when it comes to energy use around your home. Make sure to get all the facts before making decisions that could end up costing you more money in the long run.

Window and Through Wall Units: Benefits and Disadvantages

Friday, June 17th, 2011

When you’re trying to decide what type of air conditioner to get for your home, you’ll first have to determine whether a central air conditioning system or smaller individual unit is best for you. These smaller air conditioners are generally installed either in a window or through the wall of your home, and they can provide excellent cooling under the proper conditions.

If you’re still on the fence about what type of air conditioner is right for your home, here are a few items to consider:

  • Ducts: If your home already has ductwork installed for a central forced air heating system, it should be relatively easy to hook up a central air conditioner. But if there are no ducts currently in place, your installation costs will be a lot lower with window or wall mounted units.
  • Portability: Most window units are designed to be removed and stored at the end of the summer, so you can have your windows back and not have to look at that unit all winter long. Through wall units aren’t generally removable, but because they don’t take up window space and provide a more thorough seal against the elements, that’s not as much of a concern.
  • Aesthetics: With both window and through wall units, you’ll have something protruding into your room at least a few inches. These types of units are hard to hide, particularly when compared to the simple air ducts that central air conditioning systems use.
  • Flexible Sizing: No matter how big or small your room is, you should have no trouble finding a window or through wall unit to match it. A central air conditioning system needs to be sized to fit the entire house. If you’re only inclined to use air conditioning in two or three rooms during the hottest months of the year, you may not want to pay to cool the entire house all of the time. Smaller units provide that type of flexibility.
  • Affordability: Installing a central air conditioning system, even if you already have ducts in place, is a large undertaking and likely to cost you several thousand dollars up front. On the other hand, small window and through wall air conditioners are available for as little as $200 and you can buy more whenever you’re ready to spend that extra money. You can also usually install a window unit yourself, and the cost of having a through wall unit installed is minimal compared to that of a central AC unit.

WaterSense Label

Monday, May 30th, 2011

Many people know about the EPA’s EnergyStar certification, which is a third-party certification system that verifies manufacturers’ claims about the energy efficiency of home appliances. The EnergyStar label has helped hundreds of thousands of consumers choose high-efficiency, cost-effective appliances for their homes.

The EPA has also developed a certification for plumbing fixtures, called WaterSense. WaterSense labels can be found on a variety of products, including:

  • Bathroom sink faucets and accessories
  • Showerheads
  • Toilets

While there are specific guidelines for each category of plumbing fixture, in general, the WaterSense label indicates that the product is at least 20% more efficient than conventional products in its category, without sacrificing performance or comfort.

The goal of the WaterSense guidelines is to make a real difference in the amount of water consumed in the U.S.  - and the numbers bear this out. Let’s take a look at what would happen if every household in the US installed WaterSense products in their bathrooms.

If every household in the U.S. installed WaterSense bathroom sink faucets, it would save 60 billion gallons of water and $600 million in water heating costs. If every U.S. household put in WaterSense showerheads, the US would use 250 fewer billion gallons of water annually and save $2.5 billion in water heating costs. And if every household in the US upgraded to a new, efficient WaterSense toilet, it would save 640 billion gallons of water a year.

More realistically, even if only 1 in 10 U.S. households upgraded to WaterSense products, we would save about 74 billion gallons of water a year and $1.5 billion on our water heating bills.

Like EPA EnergyStar products, WaterSense products can be found at most plumbing retailers.

The WaterSense label can also be applied to entire homes. Homes that have the WaterSense label have:

  • Efficient hot water systems that deliver hot water quickly to minimize waste and waiting
  • WaterSense plumbing fixtures
  • EnergyStar dishwashers and clothes washers
  • Regionally appropriate outdoor landscaping that requires minimal maintenance and watering

In addition, landscaping professionals can apply for WaterSense certification to show that they have training in water-efficient irrigation system design, installation, maintenance, and auditing.

The Benefits of a Well-Insulated Home

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011

Insulation is a vitally important part of your home. While it is not something you look at or probably even think about much, the amount and quality of the insulation in your home can have a dramatic impact on many aspects of your quality of life while you are living there.

The most basic reason that insulation is important is that it keeps the cold air out in the winter and the heat out in the summer. Without proper insulation at these times of year, your house will be much less comfortable than it would if you had high quality insulation in the right places.

Going hand in hand with this, of course, is the fact that proper insulation will help you get more out of your home heating and cooling system. By preventing outdoor conditions from affecting the temperature indoors, insulation makes it easier for your HVAC system to keep your home comfortable all year round. That means that the HVAC system uses less energy and is subjected to less wear and tear.

And because proper insulation aids in temperature control, it also helps to keep moisture problems from developing. When there is too much or too little moisture in your indoor air, it can have serious consequences, both for you and for your wood furniture and fixtures. Too little moisture will quickly dry out your skin and can make cold and allergy symptoms worse.

Dry air also can make it harder for your heating system to keep your house warm enough to be comfortable and it can take away from the ability of your indoor air cleaner to remove contaminants from your indoor air. Air that is too moist, on the other hand, will make it more likely that mold will develop in various areas of your house.

Mold needs moisture to grow, and it also often prefers dark, warm areas. For that reason, you can have a significant mold problem and not even realize is if the mold is growing in the walls or in crawlspaces beneath the floor.

Proper insulation, however, can keep excessive humidity from becoming a problem and make it easier to create a comfortable indoor environment all around. Some types of insulation can even keep many potential indoor air contaminants and allergens from getting into your home in the first place.