Ultimate Florida HVAC Checklist for End-of-Spring

Spring Maintenance for Your AC

As Florida residents we rely heavily on our air conditioning units, especially during the late spring and summer months. When our A/Cs aren’t working properly, it can quickly become extremely hot inside our home. This can cause bigger issues for your home than simply feeling overly warm and uncomfortable. Too much warmth and not enough good ventilation in your home can also make your indoor air quality suffer. Yet, there’s no need to endure unbearable heat! A little preventative maintenance goes a long way when it comes to the well-being of your home’s cooling system.

To help prevent the need for emergency AC repair services, it is important to make sure that your HVAC system is working just as it should be. Before the hottest days of summer set in, we at AC Engineers highly recommend scheduling a maintenance call with one of our trained professional technicians. And, there are several things you can do this season to ensure your AC is in excellent working order, such as:

  1.  Change Your Air Filter A lot of people aren’t aware that they need to change their HVAC system’s air filters frequently, at least once every two months if you’re running your HVAC system often, and monthly if you’re running it constantly. A dirty filter can increase your energy bills by reducing the efficiency of air flow within your home. If you need help changing your air filter, simply give us a call.
  2.  Have Your Evaporator Cleaned The evaporator is most often located above the main duct in your A/C unit, although we don’t recommend attempting to clean it yourself. Instead, call us and get a thorough evaporator cleaning as part of your summer tune-up.
  3.  Upgrade Your Thermostat Setting your thermostat to the correct temperature is important for home energy savings, and an easy way to control your home’s indoor climate with little effort is to invest in a programmable thermostat. One of these smart devices can save you big on energy costs each day of the year. A programmable thermostat makes it easy to control the temperature indoors while you’re both at home and away.
  4.  Check Refrigerant Levels It’s important to monitor the levels of refrigerant in your unit, as it’s possible to have either too little or too much, which can lead to problems. Too much can cause the system to become overcharged as well as cause compressor damage; and with enough damage, the unit will stop working altogether. This service is also provided as part of your summer tune-up from AC Engineers.

 

While you go through this air conditioner maintenance checklist, keep an eye out for any rust, corrosion, water buildup or moisture stains. If you notice any of these issues, consider giving us a call today so we can get your A/C working just as it should be all summer long: 850-243-3356.

3 Most Common Florida HVAC Questions Answered

Florida is one of the only places in the United States where you may very well find yourself using your air conditioner year-round. Though many refer to our state as paradise, the unique climate does pose some interesting challenges when it comes to HVAC and home comfort. Below, we will answer some of the most common HVAC questions Florida residents may ask.

Most Common Florida Home Comfort Questions

Whether you are new to Florida or have lived here your whole life, you may have questions about how to keep comfortable in the hot and humid climate that Florida provides. Here are some of the most commonly asked Florida HVAC questions:

Should I be concerned about the efficiency of my air conditioning system?

In the typical Florida home, the HVAC system is the largest consumer of energy. Air conditioning and heating can account for over 40% of home energy use and thus more than 40% of your utility bill. Since Florida homeowners rely on their air conditioning system to control humidity levels and maintain a comfortable temperature throughout the year, energy efficiency is a vital concern. The size, efficiency, placement, and proper installation of the HVAC system play an important role in home efficiency, which can significantly impact energy costs.

What are some short-term solutions for improving energy efficiency of my AC?

If you are not ready to replace your HVAC system with a more energy-efficient model, there are some temporary steps you can take to improve the energy efficiency of your current AC unit:

  • Set your thermostat to 78 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. (For every degree below this temperature, you can spend up to 8% more in air conditioning costs.)
  • Keep the home well-insulated and closed up during the hottest months to avoid letting in unwanted heat and humidity.
  • Periodically inspect and clean indoor and outdoor coils as dirt buildup is one of the most common causes for decreased efficiency.
  • Avoid using a dehumidifier while the AC is operating as this can increase the cooling load, making the AC work harder and expend more energy.

Is a bigger air conditioner better in the Florida heat?

No. Though some homeowners are under the assumption that an oversized unit will better meet their home comfort needs, the truth is that a properly sized HVAC unit provides better humidity control while also helping the homeowner save energy. Larger units will cycle on and off more frequently, which can impact the life of the equipment. Your HVAC contractor can help calculate the cooling loads to find a unit that is properly sized for your home’s heating and cooling needs. In the end, a properly sized unit will have a longer life, help maintain efficiency, and ensure that you and your family are more comfortable year-round.

Still have questions about maintaining home comfort in Florida’s hot and humid climate? We would be happy to answer them. As Fort Walton Beach’s trusted HVAC company, we know what it takes to keep your Florida home comfortable year-round. Call (850) 243-3356 today for more information.

Take Advantage of Fall HVAC Deals

Did you know that fall is the best time to replace your HVAC system? If you have been thinking about upgrading your unit or even just getting around to calling a technician for your annual tune-up, now is the best time to do so. Fall is often a slow season for the HVAC industry, making it an opportune time for homeowners to take advantage of great fall HVAC deals. If you want to save money on your HVAC upgrade read on to find out why fall is the best time to look into your options.

Why Fall is the Best Time for HVAC Upgrades

You may be wondering, why is fall the best time to upgrade my HVAC system? One of the main reasons many homeowners choose to upgrade their system in the fall is because fall is typically a mild season when your HVAC system isn’t working as hard as it is in other months. Rather than trying to update your system while your air conditioner or heater is running full blast, it is often more convenient to make the change and transition to a new system just before things start to cool down a little in the winter.

Due to the mild nature of fall weather in most areas of the country, many HVAC companies tend to slow down during this season. In an effort to serve more customers and keep themselves busy, HVAC companies will often offer special fall promotions, coupons, and rebates for HVAC systems, equipment, and services. This is great news for homeowners who are due for their annual tune-up or want to explore their HVAC upgrade options as it allows them to save money.

Fall HVAC Deals from Air Conditioning Engineers

If you have been thinking about purchasing a new Carrier home comfort system, the best time to do so is right now. Homeowners who purchase Carrier equipment between September 1 and November 15, 2016 from Air Conditioning Engineers can qualify for up to $1450 in Carrier factory rebates. Our qualified team will help you find the right Carrier system for your home comfort needs and provide a quick and effective installation so that you can start experiencing the benefits of your upgraded system and take advantage of these special rebates.

In addition to these factory rebates from Carrier, Air Conditioning Engineers is offering $25 off any heating or air conditioning service call during the fall. If you have been putting off a repair or want to make sure that your HVAC system is ready for the winter, now is the time to take advantage of these fall savings from AC Engineers.

If you are ready to take advantage of these great fall HVAC deals, schedule an appointment with the experts at AC Engineers today. But make sure that you act fast as fall is coming to a close and the deadline is approaching for Carrier Cool Cash rebates.

Two are Better Than One: Replacing Indoor and Outdoor HVAC Units

If your outdoor HVAC unit is the source of your problems, you may be reluctant to upgrade the indoor portion at the same time. It’s a perfectly understandable mindset — why would you want to replace anything that’s still working? The truth is, those mismatched pieces may cost a bit less up front, but they are not a solid long-term solution. Here are the reasons why:

  • Matching Systems Perform Better

Modern heat pumps and AC units are designed to work with the complementing indoor unit. The same technology is used throughout, and because they’re a set, they are engineered to work well together. There are no miscommunications or incorrect airflows with which to contend because that’s precisely how the units were designed to be used. This results in improved efficiency and incredible dependability.

  • The Efficiency Rating is Based on a Matching Set

Many people let the efficiency ratings on new equipment steer (or at least gently influence) their decisions. After all, who wouldn’t want to bring home a unit that would cost less to operate? The problem with this comes when you don’t buy a matching set. The SEER and AFUE ratings are based on a matching setup. If you don’t have the coordinating equipment, it can be impossible to determine what sort of efficiency you’ll actually get.

  • Technology is Very Different

Both indoor and outdoor units are better than they’ve ever been. Basically everything about them has been renovated and improved — from noise level to air handling and debris resistance. Sticking with a mix of old and new units is a bad idea because you will be missing the opportunity to have these incredible advances.

  • You Save Money in the Long Run

In addition to mixed systems being less efficient than matched ones, you’re going to face higher installation costs if you install new components separately. For example, if the outdoor or indoor unit cost $500 independently, but only $600 together, you’re immediately saving $400. You’re also reducing the inconvenience for yourself if you only have to contend with one installation.  

  • Bringing Home New Units Brings New Warranties

Warranties are a very big deal. When you purchase new indoor and outdoor units, you’ll be covered by the manufacturer’s warranty on both pieces. That means you will never have to worry about only one of component of your system being covered. Some warranties also require matching components from the same brand for coverage. In many cases, you’ll also have an installation warranty from your contractor.

Long Term Cost Saving for HVAC

Sometimes, it’s better to think about the long-term benefits than any short-term cost savings. Replacing your HVAC components is definitely one of those instances. If you need a new unit, remember that upgrading the entire system together could cut back on a lot of unnecessary costs and hassle — all while giving you the efficiency boost that only matched systems can offer.

When you’re ready to replace your indoor & outdoor HVAC units, call the heating and cooling experts at AC Engineers. We carry some of the best HVAC systems on the market, and we’re ready to help you find the best system for your home.

Prolonging the Life of Your HVAC System

People often ask how long their HVAC systems will last. It’s a natural question, especially since these setups often cost thousands of dollars. There are variables according to brand, location, and installation, but for the most part, the answer is the same: How long your HVAC lasts depends entirely upon how much effort you put into its maintenance.

How to Maintain an HVAC

While it’s always a good idea to consult a professional for repairs or serious work, there are many things that you can do as a homeowner to extend the life of your unit. Make sure to:

    • Regularly change the filter. When these filters become clogged with debris and particles, they restrict airflow to the unit. This makes the unit work harder, and the increased workload causes the equipment to strain much more than it should, thus reducing the longevity of the machine. Dirty filters reduce the system’s efficiency, which can be reflected in your power bill. Filters should be changed about every one to three months, and you should always use the filter recommended by the manufacturer.  
    • Keep the unit free from debris. Leaves, sticks, and other materials can find their way inside the machine and cause serious problems. Make a habit of checking on the system and removing any matter you see whenever you’re outside. Having a clear view of the unit will allow you to keep a closer eye on it. Check the area around the unit is free from debris will make it easier to prevent materials from falling into the machine.
    • Do visual inspections. Can you see holes in the coils or on the outside of the unit? Is anything cracked or showing signs of wear? Being familiar with the hardware can help you spot potential problems earlier. You may notice a hole before much refrigerant is actually lost.
    • Schedule routine maintenance.  Be mindful of setting up yearly inspection appointments for your unit. HVAC contractors usually offer full-service calls and often are able to clean the systems.

How Long You Can Expect Your System to Work

As we said before, this depends largely on you, the homeowner. There are some averages you can use as estimates. A modern machine subject to no maintenance will last approximately 15 to 18 years. Little maintenance (doing a couple things from the above list) leads to 18 – 20 year lifespans, while the high side of the spectrum (4-plus maintenance items), a system can last more than 25 years.

Simple acts like cleaning debris and scheduling checkups can result in your unit lasting a decade or more longer than it would without interference. Just like your car or the rest of your home, regular care and attention to detail will leave your HVAC system running longer and more dependably than ever.

If you need help keeping your HVAC system maintained, contact the experts at AC Engineers. We know just what it takes to keep your heating or cooling unit running efficiently and prolong the life of your HVAC system.

 

Local Air Quality Report: Fort Walton Beach, Florida

Air pollution has become a problem in the United States, and it can have serious impacts on your health. To see if you are at risk, it is important to periodically explore the air quality in your city so that you can better understand pollution in the area and start taking steps to protect you and your family from harmful pollutants. Here, we’ve put together an air quality report for Fort Walton Beach, along with some tips for keeping your indoor air quality safe and comfortable.

 

Air Quality Report: Fort Walton Beach, FL

In the past twenty years, the air quality in Fort Walton Beach has improved overall. Air quality is measured using the Air Quality Index (AQI), which looks at CO, NO2, O3, particle pollution and SO2 concentrations. While in 1999, AQI levels in Fort Walton Beach hovered around the 60s, current AQI levels have been between 20 and 30, which is considered good. It’s important to note that air quality changes over time, and in order to stay informed you should check air quality periodically by visiting the Florida Department of Environmental Protection website and looking at the air quality monitoring data for Fort Walton.

 

One aspect of air quality that is important to pay attention to, especially in Florida, is the humidity. High humidity levels are not only uncomfortable, but they can cause problems like mold growth. Another common air quality issue in Fort Walton Beach and across the state of Florida is pollen levels, which can impact a person’s allergies and comfort levels. Pollen.com is a great resource for checking weekly pollen levels so that you can avoid outdoor activities when levels are high and take extra measures in your home to ensure that pollen levels do not impact your indoor air quality.

Fort Walton Beach FL

Improving Indoor Air Quality

Indoor air quality is also an important factor in keeping you and your family healthy and happy. Here are some simple ways that you can continue to protect and improve the air quality in your home:

  • Clean or change all of the filters in your home regularly. In addition to changing the filters in your air conditioner and heater, make sure that you also clean or change those in your air purifier and vacuum.
  • Buy some indoor plants for your home. Indoor plants help reduce VOCs and improve air quality.
  • Use an air purifier in your home. When shopping around, make sure to choose a purifier that gets rid of VOCs and does not produce ozone.
  • Use a moisture or humidity gauge to adjust the levels in your home to avoid mold growth and other issues. Humidity levels over 50% are too high while levels under 30% can be too dry. Aim for humidity levels of 45%.

 

Now that you know about outdoor and indoor air quality in Fort Walton Beach, you can start making small changes to keep your family happy and healthy. Though we cannot control outdoor air quality, if you need help improving your indoor air quality, call the experts at Air Conditioning Engineers. We are ready to help you with all of your air conditioning and heating needs.

5 AC Maintenance Tips for the End of the Summer

As summer comes to an end, your air conditioner has been working hard to keep you and your family cool during some of the hottest months of the year. You want it to continue to keep your home comfortable into fall, which sometimes feels a lot like summer in Florida. AC maintenance is vital to keeping your air conditioning unit up and running year-round.

Pre-Fall AC Maintenance Tips

We have put together 5 AC maintenance tips for the end of summer that will help you maintain your AC unit and ensure that it continues to keep you comfortable through the holidays and beyond.

 

  1. Change your air filter.

Changing your air filter is one of the easiest things that you can do to maintain your AC. This is not only important for air quality but also the life of your air conditioning unit. A clogged air filter can cause your system to work harder. This uses more energy and may even cause the unit to breakdown, both of which are costly. Make sure that you are using the correct AC filter for your unit and replacing the filter on your central air system at least once every other month.

 

  1. Clean coils and drain line.

Blocked coils on the outside unit can also cause your AC to work harder than it needs to, which can lead to issues that need to be repaired. For central units, you can use a broom and your garden hose to remove debris. Similarly, you want to make sure that your AC’s condensate drain line is clean to prevent any malfunctioning. Use boiling water to clear any small blockages.

 

  1. Remove any obstructions from the unit.

Check to make sure that the outdoor unit is not blocked by plants or other debris that might have grown or accumulated over the summer. If you have hedges or other plants that you use to hide the outdoor unit, make sure that they are at least a foot away from the unit to avoid obstructions. Indoor units should also be free of obstructions like curtains or drapes.

 

  1. Program your thermostat.

If you have a central system, you should use your thermostat to slightly raise the temperature during the day when you are away from the house and then lower the temperature when you return. This helps reduce any unnecessary strain on your AC, while also helping you save on energy costs. Some thermostats can be controlled from your smartphone via WiFi, allowing you to make these adjustments even when you’re not home. Some smart thermostats will even learn your schedule and habits over time, making the process more automated.

 

  1. Get a tune-up or maintenance services from a professional.

To keep your central AC unit running smoothly throughout the year, it is important to get an annual tune-up from an HVAC professional who will check and clean the filter, test the system, and charge the unit with refrigerant. This is best completed in the spring before you start using it for the summer, but it is never too late for a tune-up. It’s also important to keep up with regular maintenance when you first begin to notice any issues or concerns.

 

If you are experiencing troubles with your air conditioner or just want to have it checked by a professional, don’t hesitate to call Air Conditioning Engineers today. We will help make sure that your air conditioning is running efficiently year-round.

How UV Lights Are Used To Battle Spreading Contagions And Infections In Hospitals And Your Home

Cold and flu season isn’t quite here yet, but most of us are already concerned about infections and contagions. As summer transitions into fall and back to school season begins, person-to-person contact increases—especially among children. Therefore, the likelihood of picking up an infection or pathogen increases as well. Hospital staff and other medical workers are especially at risk.

Most of us know the basics of protecting ourselves from disease, such as washing and sanitizing our hands frequently. However, technology plays a role in this, too. Ultraviolet (UV) lights can do plenty to protect you from pathogens and infections, both in your hospital and your home.

Why UV Lights Are Needed

In this age of sterilization and vigilant sanitation, some might wonder why UV lights are necessary in the battle against infections. One reason is that many of today’s pathogens are antibiotic resistant. The CDC reports that more than two million people get sick from these pathogens each year and that at least 75,000 die. Many of these antibiotic resistant infections are known as healthcare-associated infections (HAIs). According to the CDC, HAIs kill more people each year than AIDS, breast cancer, and auto accidents combined.

Many antibiotic resistant pathogens, including HAIs, are airborne. Thus, they easily spread through their environment without detection. Mechanical and functional operations, such as light fixtures, are the pathways that these pathogens often use.

How UV Lights Keep People Healthy

To be effective, UV lights must work in tandem with HVAC systems because of how easily infections spread through mechanical pathways. Integrating UV lights with HVAC systems prevents unplanned airflow and decreases the size of air-building envelopes. Additionally, UV lights can significantly reduce the bioaerosols that often slip through non-integrated ductwork. Bioaerosols include mold, mildew, and various kinds of bacteria, all of which can cause serious diseases.

When a UV light is installed in your HVAC system, it penetrates the DNA of any bacteria or other microorganism that tries to slip through the ventilation. This disrupts the microorganisms’ life cycles and, in many cases, kills them. In addition, UV lights actually make your clinic, hospital, or home’s cooling system more efficient by reducing humidity in the air. It keeps mold spores, mildew, and other contaminants from breeding.

Are UV Lights Safe?

Ultraviolet lighting gets plenty of negative press, but it’s safe to use in your home, hospital, or clinic. Within an HVAC system, UV lights operate on wavelengths. This ensures your patients or family members aren’t constantly exposed to the potentially harmful effects of UV light. It also ensures cool and heated air are dispersed efficiently through your building, which helps people maintain comfort and keeps them safe from bioaerosols.

Contact Us For Professional Advice

Winter means less Vitamin D and more time indoors, both of which make our immune systems weaker. Whether you’re considering UV lights for your home or your hospital, it can save you—and possibly your patients and employees—time away from work and fewer overall health concerns.

If you’re a medical professional concerned about pathogens, or if you’d like a safe and easy way to keep your home healthy, contact us about adding UV lights to your HVAC system. We’ll consult with you to determine what setup best fits your needs.

Servicing & Maintaining Thermal Expansion Valves

What is a Thermal Expansion Valve?

Controlling the flow-rate of refrigerant into the evaporator coil is the sole function of thermal expansion valves, also known as TXV’s (Thermal eXpansion Valve) or as EEV’s (Electronic Expansion Valve) if they are electronic. Both types of valve perform the same function within the HVAC system but through two different, yet similar, ways.

Thermal Expansion Valves

The majority of thermal expansion valves are the non-electric type. These valves use a ‘bulb’ – a small hollow metal body similar in size and shape to a CO2 cartridge, and filled with a similar gas as that in the system – to sense the temperature on the exit-side of the evaporator coil in order to precisely meter the amount of gas flowing into the evaporator coil. These valves are very efficient at their function and are the appropriate choice for most residential applications. The only things that would necessitate an EEV is on higher seer-rated equipment with a lot of variable speed processes.

Electronic Expansion Valves

The newest thermal expansion valves available are electronic. These valves offer a much higher accuracy of refrigerant flow regulation by using several variables to meter out refrigerant into the evaporator coil. On modern, high seer rated equipment with processes that require variable speeds on the blower, is when this valve type becomes essential for a smooth and efficient operating system.

Internal vs. Externally Equalized Valves

In addition to electronic and analog valve types there are two subsets of those: internally and externally equalized. These valve types differ only in how the effect of the evaporator pressure affects positioning of the needle or pin inside the valve. Externally-equalized valves will also compensate for pressure loss within the evaporator coil that can occur through normal operation.

Service and Maintenance of TXVs and EEVs

Generally speaking your TXV or EEV will not require regular servicing or maintenance. However they can experience some malfunctions if they, or parts of your HVAC system, weren’t installed properly. Improper temperature readings by the valve will also affect the way your system operates. If you think that your TEV or TXV could be malfunctioning, our trained and professional technicians at Air Conditioning Engineers would love to assist you. Give us a call today to discuss thermostatic expansion valves, or any other questions you have about your HVAC system, and schedule a home appointment!

Why Is Changing My Air Filter So Important?

Air filters are standard equipment on today’s HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) systems. These simple devices perform a number of important functions, and they must be changed regularly in order to reliably fulfill those functions. Let’s look at some of the top reasons for replacing your dirty HVAC filters as soon as possible.

Maintaining HVAC Efficiency

When dust, dander and other substances clog the surfaces of your HVAC filters, the resulting reduction in air flow can lead to a significant decline in the efficiency of your heating and cooling system. In fact, depending on the specifics of your situation, failure to replace a dirty filter can reduce overall system efficiency by as little as 5 percent or as much as 15 percent. This could translate into hundreds of dollars in needless utility costs over the course of a year.

Avoiding System Failure

The air flow reductions that decrease the efficiency of your HVAC system can also place undue strain on individual heating and cooling components. In turn, HVAC components under excessive strain can eventually stop working properly or fail altogether. By regularly changing your air filter, you can avoid the this costly scenario.

Avoiding Mold Growth

Dirty air filters sometimes grow damp after coming into contact with water condensation. This dampness can easily encourage the growth of mold, a fungus linked to serious respiratory issues such as asthma and allergic reactions. In addition, dampness trapped by dirty air filters can lead to moisture-related problems that interfere with the normal function of an HVAC system.

Maintaining Indoor Air Quality

Air quality is a major factor in your ability to feel comfortable in an indoor environment. HVAC filters help promote air quality by trapping common indoor pollutants such as pet dander, pollen and dust. However, a filter can only hold so many pollutants before it loses its protective function, and dirty filters can degrade rather than support the health of a building interior.

How Often Should You Change Your Air Filters?

Typically, you will need to change out your HVAC air filters at least once every three to four months in order to steer clear of common problems. However, a number of factors can decrease the effective lifespan of a filter all the way down to a single month. You may need to consider monthly replacement if you have multiple pets, live with a lot of people, have a household member with asthma or allergies, or run your HVAC system throughout the year. Regardless of the age of a filter, you should also replace it immediately if it gets wet, receives some sort of physical damage or shows visible signs of mold growth.

Make sure to follow this blog for future tips on maintaining the health of your HVAC system.