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Indoor Air Quality: How Dangerous is Something You Can’t See or Feel?

Have you ever walked outside, breathed in the crisp morning air, and wondered why the air outdoors can seemingly be so much cleaner than that in your house? While we often hear about the dangers of outdoor pollution, the threats building up inside our homes tend to get far less attention. According to the EPA, air pollutants inside homes can be up to 2 to 5 times higher than outdoors, regardless of whether you live in an industrial city or even a rural area. 

Treating the indoor air quality of your home is incredibly important for the health of your family. But, knowing how to detect the quality of your home’s air and effectively improve it can be challenging. In this article, we’ll break down the threats of poor indoor air quality and provide you with a clear path to breathing easier, knowing that the ones you love are safe in your home.

How Harmful is Poor Air Quality?

When it comes to your home, we know that your family’s health and safety is paramount. Of course, the air we breathe directly impacts our health. Poor air quality can exacerbate existing health conditions and lead to new illnesses and diseases. Some air pollution effects manifest quickly, including irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat, and the onset of headaches and fatigue. Air pollutants can also aggravate existing conditions, such as asthma and other respiratory diseases. With years of exposure, dangerous health effects can take hold, including new respiratory diseases, heart diseases, and cancer.

The effects of coming into consistent contact and living with poor indoor air quality vary greatly from person to person. Further, air quality can impact your household’s health in quick, noticeable ways, or it can gradually contribute to new or worsening conditions years after exposure. So, taking preventative measures to combat poor indoor air quality, learn effective practices, and invest in cleaner air equipment is crucial.

Sources of Indoor Air Pollutants

In reality, there are many particles in our indoor air, and we often do not even realize which of our everyday household tasks put them there. Some of our most basic chores cause emissions, and while most of the effusions are non-toxic, the air inside the enclosed spaces of homes can easily build up harmful pollutants. Therefore, purifying the indoor air inside your home should start with preventative practices and comprehensively cleansing the air.

What Causes Indoor Air Pollutants?

Our daily routines can leave harmful toxins and pollutants trailing in the air behind us. Fumes from simple activities such as cooking on a gas stove or warming a room with a fireplace can emit and disburse dangerous toxins into the air, including carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, and harmful airborne particles. 

The products you choose to use throughout your home can also contribute to poor indoor air quality. From what you use to build and furnish your home to what you use to clean it for the years to come, these choices can be the root cause of polluted air. Sources include: 

  • Disintegrating insulation containing asbestos 
  • New flooring, upholstery, or carpet
  • Paints
  • Cabinetry or furniture constructed with pressed wood products
  • Household cleaning and maintenance products
  • Personal care products and sprays
  • Aerosol sprays  

While combustion sources tend to be the most significant indoor pollution sources alongside what homeowners choose to put into their homes, the air inside also naturally accumulates potentially pathogenic airborne microorganisms, fungi, and mold.

There are dozens of contributors to poor indoor air quality, but many of these sources stem from some sort of humidity or water. In houses, humidity is a constant concern. If there is too much, homes turn into breeding grounds for bacteria and fungi, especially mold. Conversely, if there is too little, the dry air could cause eye and respiratory irritation. Finding a comfortable medium with your humidity levels is just one of the many important reasons to have a properly working air conditioning system that will help moderate your home’s moisture.

Another cause of built-up pollutants is poor ventilation. Ensuring that your house is adequately ventilated is paramount for producing clean air. Stagnant air, much like stagnant water, is a breeding ground for mold and other bacteria to collect. Especially in houses that are well insulated, it can be difficult to keep air moving throughout, so healthy air conditioning systems significantly assist in circulating fresh air.

What Can We Do About Indoor Air Pollutants?

While we’re discussing something that you often can’t even see, treating indoor air quality isn’t a guessing game. Below we outline some of the best ways you can improve the indoor air quality of your home.

AC Maintenance

Scheduling routine maintenance for your air conditioner is key to cleaner indoor air. During AC maintenance with Gator Air & Energy, we take critical steps to ensure that your air conditioning unit is functioning optimally. We also clean the essential components of the system that can otherwise build up harmful substances. For example, an effective way to rid your air conditioning system of mold is by cleaning the condenser and evaporator coils. Dirty coils can create mold throughout the system by causing water buildup. 

AC Filters

Overall, one of the best ways to get rid of most pollutants in the house is to replace your air conditioning unit’s filter. This is a simple task that only needs to be done roughly four times per year. To change the filter, all you have to do is measure the filter’s size, often written around the edge of the filter, then pick up a new filter at your local hardware store, and replace the old with the new. Filtration best serves as a supplement to proper ventilation and air conditioning practices. 

Air Purification

Air purifiers serve to clean the air in an enclosed space by removing airborne particles and substances while also sanitizing the air. These systems can effectively filter pollutants and allergens like pollen, dust, smoke, toxins from the rooms in your home. 

Air purifiers are also best used alongside fundamental air quality practices like air conditioning, ventilation, and source control. While air purifiers can substantially improve air quality, to remove all pollutants from your home’s air supply, you’ll need to use these methods in conjunction with each other. 

UV Light Purification

Adding a UV light to your home’s HVAC system will serve to eliminate harmful airborne microorganisms, including mold, mildew, fungi, bacteria, and viruses. As a simple upgrade to your system, these lights offer a powerful tool to destroy or nullify almost all of the air pollutants that circulate through it.  

Switch to Greener Household Products

There are also natural remedies for cleaner air that support these initiatives. For example, to eliminate the toxins emitted by household cleaners, we recommend using more natural or organic cleaning solutions, as these generally have healthier ingredients. Of course, the cleaner you keep your house, the cleaner the air should be.

Trust Gator Air & Energy for Clean Indoor Air

Clean air is invaluable for your family’s health and safety, but it can be challenging to achieve without maintaining your heating and cooling equipment and following best practices. Be proactive in the move toward cleaner air by replacing your filters, scheduling AC maintenance, and investing in clean air technologies, as these are just a few effective ways to ensure a healthy home for you and your family.

View our page on air quality to learn more about what you can do to keep your home safe, and for more information on Gator Air and Energy’s indoor air quality services and to have our experts help make your house a healthier home, call us at (352) 389-4396. 

 

How an AC Unit Fights Against Florida’s Humidity

Living in Gainesville, homeowners are no stranger to their fair share of weather extremes. But a constant threat to the security of your home, indoor air quality, and overall comfort is humidity. Luckily, a properly maintained AC unit helps to protect your home and your family from humidity. This is because the main purpose of your HVAC system is to drive air to your unit, which conditions your air, pulling impurities and moisture from the air to deliver back to your home.

The Risks of Humidity and the Help of an AC Unit

Humidity poses risks if too much or too little exists in your home. The obvious threat is of course to your comfort, but some risks are not as noticeable and can do more damage.

Too Much Humidity

When your home has too much humidity, mold becomes a much bigger problem. This can cause mold spores to linger and lead to health or breathing problems, especially for those that suffer from allergies. Mold can even cause rashes or eye irritation.

The build-up of mold not only threatens your family, but can also compromise the integrity of your home. Hidden or noticeable mold damage can occur on ceilings, in insulation, or on your walls, causing more money to be spent on repairs.

Too Little Humidity

On the other hand, not having enough humidity can also cause issues. While this may seem like a very uncommon occurrence in Florida, it can happen in the dryer, winter months. Too little humidity can cause dryness and even irritation. Common discomfort with low humidity includes chapped lips, a scratchy throat, and nose irritation.

Like too much humidity, your home can suffer from less-than-optimal humidity levels. Wood floors can warp or shrink along with wood furniture. Plus, wallpaper can actually begin peeling off the wall if it’s too dry!

How an AC Unit Protects Against Humidity

Finding a happy medium with humidity is important, and sometimes requires either a dehumidifier or a humidifier to accompany your AC unit. However, if you have a quality HVAC system, you shouldn’t have to worry about that.

Dehumidifying is a byproduct of cooling down a house and is done if your HVAC system is working as it should. Air conditioning removes moisture from the air in order to blow cold air throughout your home.

Is My AC Unit Working?

How can you tell if your AC unit isn’t pulling its weight? Well, if you are noticing that the inside of your house is humid, (you would detect a musty smell, possible signs of mold, etc.) then it is possible that your air conditioning unit is not working up to its full potential and might need to be fixed or replaced. Aging or damaged units are not reliable when it comes to maximum humidity protection.

You may have a properly working AC unit, but if you have an older home, humidity and moisture may still find their way inside. Make sure your doors and windows are properly sealed, otherwise, your unit will be working overtime while moisture continues to find its way in.

When Should I Be Concerned?

Of course, we all know that summer is the time when you feel the most moisture in the air, but interestingly enough, summer is not always the time when you should be worried about humidity in your house. Humid air often sneaks up on a house not when you feel it most, but when it is mild and your AC unit is not working as hard.

Because a byproduct of HVAC systems is clearing the air of humidity, when your AC unit isn’t being used heavily, then humidity can easily build up in the house. Therefore, look out for humidity in the spring or fall seasons, especially in Florida.

Contact Gator Air & Energy for Air Conditioning Services

In order to keep your house at a comfortable temperature and protected against humidity, your AC unit should be helping you fight the battle against humidity. Contact our team to schedule your AC inspection or repair if you begin to feel the effects of improper humidity levels.

AC Repair: Five Reasons Your AC May Need Repair

Reasons Your Air Conditioner May Need Repair

In the Florida heat, the best way to stay comfortable every day is to ensure that the home’s AC system is operating properly whenever you adjust the thermostat. Your HVAC system will require periodic service throughout its lifespan to continue working at peak efficiency. Even with this regular service, there are still times that your system will need repairing or replacing. We provide five reasons below that your AC may need repair services.

1. Improper Condensation Drainage

When the evaporator drain line develops a clog, it will cause water to build up in the drain pan. Once the water is high enough, it will trigger a sensor that shuts off the blower. In addition, if the drain pan overflows, it may lead to damage to the floor underneath the blower. If your blower is in the attic, which is common today, this may also lead to damage to the ceiling below the drain pan. Many times, homeowners call an AC repair company to discover why their blower is not working only to learn that there is too much water in the drain pan. The technician will remove the clog and empty the drain pan to restart the blower unless another malfunction occurs in conjunction with this issue.

2. Low Refrigerant Levels 

Without sufficient refrigerant, the AC system will blow warm air instead of cool air. If you do not catch this issue in time, your condenser unit will freeze up and completely quit working. When this occurs, the technician will hopefully be able to unfreeze the unit. Then, the technician will need to refill your condenser with the proper amount of refrigerant to return the unit to full operational condition. In the event that the technician cannot unfreeze the condenser, you may need to have a  replacement unit installed.

3. A Dirty Filter Can Lead to a Blower Break Down

An AC blower contains a filter to catch dirt and other foreign particles to prevent them from entering the ductwork throughout your house. When this filter is full, the airflow cannot freely move into the blower, and this will cause the blower to stop working properly. Certain filters are disposable while others are permanent, cleanable ones. Whichever your system has, you should clean or change your filter every 30 to 60 days. Blowers can completely break down from this problem when you neglect to follow this recommendation and may even need to be replaced.
Another issue that may cause insufficient airflow in your system is greenery or other items too near to your condenser unit outdoors. Keep the area around this unit clear to allow the air to flow freely.

4. The Condenser Fan Quits Running

On occasion, the condenser fan may break down and stop air from flowing through the unit properly. In this situation, the capacitor may need to be replaced, or the entire condenser fan may have burnt out and would need to be replaced.

5. The Blower’s Control Board Needs Replacing

The AC blower contains a control board that supplies power to the various components of the AC system. When this board is defective, a technician will replace it with a new operational one. He or she will first rule out all other problems and issues, though, before replacing this board to ensure that the other components are not the cause of the problems.

Of course, these five reasons are just a few of the more common issues that may cause your AC system to require a repair. The technicians at Gator Air & Energy will always attempt to repair your AC system first before recommending a replacement for the blower, condenser unit, or both with an entirely new system. While replacement is a last resort, it may be the best solution to restore your HVAC system to operational status. Contact Gator Air & Energy the next time your Florida home requires an AC repair or replacement. We strive to resolve all air conditioning issues in a timely, quality manner.

How to Avoid Overworking Your Air Conditioner

HVAC systems in Florida probably work harder than most other air conditioning systems in the country, especially during the sunnier months of the year. People are working from home more than ever before which means your AC unit will be working overtime to keep you comfortable. Gator Air & Energy is here for any issue you may have, but hopefully you can alleviate potential issues with these tips to avoid overworking your air conditioner.

Fans

Using ceiling or box fans in your home can make the air feel up to four degrees cooler than it actually is. Using a fan to support your air conditioner can significantly reduce the work your air conditioner has to do, especially in rooms where several people have gathered.

Filters, Filters, Filters

We talk about the importance of a clean air filter a lot, but it’s because clean air filters are really important. Dirty filters obstruct airflow through your air handler and cause the whole system to work harder to move the air through your home. Timely filter replacement will drastically reduce the amount of maintenance needed for your air conditioner and will help improve your indoor air quality.

Nighttime Thermostat Settings

Once the sun goes down and the temperature outside drops (or at least gets less hot), our air conditioners do get a little bit of a break. Increasing the cooling temperature by even a few degrees and sleeping with a light blanket or just a sheet can put less strain on your HVAC system and lengthen the time between necessary maintenances.

Keep Your Blinds Closed

In a perfect world for air conditioners, homes wouldn’t even have windows or let in any sunlight. Natural sunlight is a wonderful thing to have in your home, but with light comes heat and with heat comes more work for your AC system. At a minimum, consider keeping your curtains closed during the hottest parts of the day and in rooms that receive direct sunlight through their windows. 

Give Your AC a Break

Finding time to let your air conditioner rest can be challenging when your family is spending the majority of your time sequestered in your home, but even short breaks can make a difference. If you are going for a long walk, playing in the yard, or venturing out to your favorite restaurant for take-out, raising your thermostat by 6-10 degrees can give your AC a much-needed break.

During a time of crisis, none of us want to add any avoidable stress to our lives. The team at Gator Air & Energy are here to support you in any way we can, with quality advice and even better service. If your air conditioner does need service or repair, call our office at 352-389-4396 or schedule an appointment online. 

Energy-Efficient Heating: 5 Myths

When it comes time to adjust your thermostat, there are quite a few factors that can influence your desired setting. Personal comfort, your spouse or housemates’ preferences, your pets and plants’ needs, your plans for the day, and weather shifts may all be major influences, but after reviewing your most recent utility bill, energy cost and efficiency might be an increasingly significant factor. Be sure to avoid these common energy-efficient heating misconceptions.

Drastic Changes Means Quicker Changes

One of the most frequent fallacies is that drastically altering your thermostat settings will result in a quicker return to comfort. You arrive home from work and find your house to be a frigid 50 degrees. You quickly set your thermostat to 80 degrees and plan to readjust the settings once your home reaches a habitable temperature.

Not only does your heater warm your home at the same rate, regardless of how dramatic the thermostat settings, but you will most likely forget to readjust the settings until your home becomes unbearably balmy. Instead, make conservative adjustments until you find the lowest, most comfortable temperature at which to set your heat (typically around 68 degrees.)

Energy-Efficient Heating: Closing the Vents in Unused Rooms Helps

Another mistake we often see homeowners making, is closing the vents in guest rooms, offices, and dens that they are not typically using throughout the day. While it may make sense, not heating those rooms doesn’t make your heater’s job easier.

In fact, this strategy may actually lead to more work for your heater as it struggles to heat the rooms with the vents open while cold air is blowing in from the rooms without access to the heated air. A better option would be to insulate unused rooms by putting blankets or bubble wrap over the windows and leaving all your vents open. 

Leaving the Thermostat at the Same Setting All Day is Better

There is some debate about whether it is more efficient to maintain one temperature constantly or to adjust your thermostat multiple times throughout the day based on home usage and outside temperature changes. Simply put, the second option is the best choice according to Energy.gov.

Adjusting your thermostat by 8 degrees when you are not at home may save as much as 10% per year on your energy usage. This method is best utilized when paired with a programmable thermostat. 

Space Heaters Use Less Energy

If you live alone in a large space, this one may be true for you, but it takes a little more math to figure out. A well-maintained, energy efficient heating unit may use less energy than multiple cheap space heaters throughout your home. This is especially true if your heater runs on natural gas, as it is typically much less expensive than electricity. 

Smart Thermostats and Energy-Efficient Heating

This one is a little bait-and-switch, but it is still true. Simply replacing your thermostat with a WiFi-enabled or “Smart” thermostat is not enough to start saving you money. To truly maximize your investment, you have to USE your new air handling automation. Setting up your air conditioning schedule can be a daunting process, but will end up saving time and money when done properly.  

If you are looking for more fiscally responsible advice, check out this article Tips to Save Money Heating Your Florida Home.

Energy-Efficient Heating with Gator Air & Energy in Gainesville, FL

When it comes to all your energy-efficient heating needs, we have you covered at Gator Air and Energy! We proudly serve Gainesville, FL area residents. Get in touch with us today to learn more or to schedule our services. 

5 Common Questions About AC Filters Answered

According to Energy.gov, routinely replacing the filter on your air conditioner is the most important maintenance task that you can perform to ensure the efficiency of your air conditioner.

That’s because a clogged, dirty filter will block the normal airflow and significantly reduce your system’s efficiency. When normal air flow is obstructed, the air that bypasses the filter may carry dirt directly into the evaporator coil and impair the coil’s heat-absorbing capacity. Replacing that dirty, clogged filter with a clean one can lower your air conditioner’s energy consumption by 5% to 15%!

But which air filter do you choose?

If you’ve been to the hardware store lately, you’ve probably noticed how much the air filter aisle has grown over the last few years. Let’s take a closer look at the myriad of choices available to homeowners now and answer 5 of the most common questions we hear from our customers about their AC filters.

What Size AC Filter Do I Need? 

 It’s important to use the size of filter recommended by the manufacturer of your unit. Using an improperly-sized filter can be just as detrimental to your unit as having a dirty filter! If you’re not sure how to determine what size filter your unit needs, let us know and one of our friendly technicians would be happy to assist you!

Thickness

Most air filters are 1” in thickness but can range in thickness from 1” to 4”. Thicker filters are preferable to thinner filters because they trap more contaminants and need to be replaced less frequently. Not all AC units are designed to accommodate thicker filters, however, so you should measure the filter area of your unit to make sure it will accommodate a thicker filter before purchasing one.

What Type of AC Filter Do I Need?

Filters are generally categorized by the material they are made of and by their MERV rating. 

MERV rating

All filters have a Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) rating. MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. These filters are rated on how small of a particle they can filter out of the air. The numbers range from 1 to 16. The higher the number, the better the filtration. 

A low ranking filter is rated 1-4 MERV.  A medium filter falls into the 5-13 MERV range. A high-efficiency filter will range from 13 to 16 MERV. 

You might think that the filter with the highest MERV rating is automatically the best choice but the same technology that traps small particles in a high-end filter will also reduce airflow which causes your AC unit to work harder. The best filter to choose is one that balances good filtration with good airflow. 

Types of Filters

Fiberglass

Fiberglass filters are typically the least expensive choice. They have a low MERV rating of 1-4 and trap only the largest particles. Fiberglass filters need to be replaced every 30 days. Many HVAC professionals prefer fiberglass filters because they have minimal impact on unit airflow and overall efficiency.

Pleated

Pleated filters are more expensive than fiberglass filters but are capable of holding more particle contaminants due to their accordion-like structure. They typically have a mid-level MERV rating of 8-13. With a lifespan of 90 days, pleated filters don’t need to be replaced as often as fiberglass filters. Because they trap more contaminants, they typically reduce unit airflow more than fiberglass filters.

HEPA filters

HEPA stands for High-Efficiency Particulate Air filters. They typically range from 17-20 MERV. 

HEPA filters meet standards that remove at least 99.97% of airborne particles. Hospitals often use these types of filters to stop the spread of disease-causing organisms.

How Often Should I Change My AC Filter (Really)?

At Gator Air & Energy, we recommend that customers change their AC filter roughly four times per year but this number can vary based on the individual. For instance, if you rarely use your AC, you might be able to go six months without changing your filter. If you have multiple pets or someone in your home has allergies, you might need to change your filter as often as every three weeks. To change the filter, all you have to do is measure the size of the filter (the size is usually written around the edge of the filter), pick up a new filter at your local hardware store, and replace the old with the new. If you need help removing your old filter and installing the new one, give us a call

How Can I Make it Easier to Remember to Change My Air Filter?

If you’re someone who has trouble remembering to change your filter, you’re not alone.

Many filter manufacturers and retailers (including Amazon) now offer home delivery so you don’t have to make a special trip to the hardware store to buy a new one. You can even sign up for a monthly subscription plan and get a fresh, new AC filter delivered right to your door every few months. At a minimum, you can use daylight savings time (Spring Forward, Fall Back) as a reminder to change your filters once every six months. 

When Should I Call a Professional?

As we explained in a previous article, changing your air filter regularly is only half of the problem when it comes to dust, mold, and mildew in your home. A thorough air duct cleaning will also help to improve the air quality in your home and improve your HVAC system’s efficiency.

We hope you found this information helpful! If you have additional questions about home filtration or indoor air quality, contact us and one of our friendly Gator Air & Energy professionals would be happy to help you. We wish you and your family good health all through the year!

5 Reasons to Clean Your Dryer Vent

With the holidays approaching, you’re probably busy getting your home ready to entertain friends and family. In addition to cooking, cleaning, and shopping, there’s one more important task to add to your holiday to-do list: Dryer Vent Cleaning.

While there are a lot of great reasons to complete this often-overlooked maintenance item, we’re going to list the top 5 for you, starting with the most important:

1) Safety

While many of us look forward to the cooler fall and winter temperatures here in Gainesville, it’s important to remember that this time of year is also peak season for home fires caused by dirty dryer vents.
According to the U.S. Fire Administration:

  • 2,900 home clothes dryer fires are reported each year, causing an estimated 5 deaths, 100 injuries, and $35 million in property loss.
  • Failure to clean the dryer is the leading cause (34%) of home clothes dryer fires.
  • More home clothes dryer fires occur in the fall and winter months, peaking in January. 

Why is there an increased risk of dryer fires in the fall and winter? The answer is lint.

Lint is composed of tiny bits of fabric fibers that are shed from the edges of our garments. Fabrics made of natural fibers like cotton and wool generate more lint than fabrics made of rayon or other synthetic materials. As outside temperatures drop, more of us turn to thicker clothing and bedding to keep us warm. The thicker the fabric, the more lint it produces when it is washed. 

When we put our clothes into the wash, the friction of the wash lifts more lint from the cloth where it is deposited on top of the wet garment. When we put that item in the dryer, the water is removed and more lint is created from the friction of the tumbling. Then hot air blows onto the garment, blowing the lint off the garment and trapping it in the lint screen. 

Not all of the lint is trapped, however. In some estimates, the lint trap only captures about 25% of the lint produced in a drying cycle. The majority of the lint produced in a load of laundry ends up in your dryer’s vent as well as underneath and around your dryer. The heat from your dryer is more than sufficient to ignite this material. In fact, dryer lint is so flammable, it is often recommended as a fire-starter by camping enthusiasts!

Once a fire has started in your dryer, it can quickly spread to the rest of your home as this video demonstrates. 

Even if the fire is contained, however, it could short out your electrical system causing expensive electrical repairs and smoke damage. And you’d need a new dryer!

How do you know if it’s time for you to call a licensed professional to clean your dryer vent so you can reduce this risk?

  • It’s been more than a year since your last dryer vent cleaning. (If you use your dryer daily, you should aim to have it cleaned 2-3 times per year.)
  • Your clothes are taking longer to dry.
  • The air temperature in your laundry area is hotter than usual.
  • Your utility bill is rising. (If your laundry room is hotter, this will make your air conditioner work harder.)
  • Your clothes have a musty or burnt odor.
  • You see buildup accumulating in the dryer vent.

Safety is obviously the biggest reason for having your dryer duct cleaned but dryer vent cleaning also provides the following benefits:

2) Increased Efficiency 

If your dryer vent is clogged with lint, your dryer will have to run longer and work longer to dry your clothes. If a load of clothes now takes 2 or 3 cycles to dry, it’s not only using more energy to do the job but it’s also putting a lot of additional heat into your laundry area which is making your air conditioner have to work harder too. Rising utility bills are one sign that it’s time to have your dryer duct cleaned.

3) Longer Life Span of Clothes Dryer

Once a dryer stops working properly because of a buildup of lint in the dryer vent, many owners mistakenly think the dryer needs to be replaced. In reality, a thorough cleaning may be all that’s needed to bring your dryer back to life. If left unchecked, lint buildup can make your dryer work harder and run more cycles than it would normally need in order to dry a load of clothes. That causes unnecessary wear and tear on your dryer’s components and makes it wear out faster. 

4) Elimination of Irritating Allergens and Mold

The role of your dryer is to eliminate all traces of moisture from your clothing. When your dryer vent is clogged, the lingering damp lint trapped inside the vent creates the perfect home for irritating allergens and mold to grow. To make matters worse, the excess humidity lingering in the laundry room as the wet clothes sit can make walls damp and moldy.

5) Reduced Risk of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

If you have a gas dryer, your dryer vent is responsible for removing dangerous exhaust dryer fumes like carbon monoxide. When the dryer vent is clogged, these colorless, odorless fumes can leach into your home and make your family very sick. 

Cleaning My Dryer Vent Makes a Lot of Sense, But Can’t I Just Do it Myself? 

According to Angie’s List, homeowners who attempt to clean their own dryer vents using a kit or attachment often think that they’ve eliminated any fire risk. Unfortunately, most of these tools do not remove all of the lint in the duct. Even worse, they can compact the link, creating a dangerous blockage. If you have old dryer duct tubing, the bristle brushes on many of these tools can also be damaging. 
At Gator Air & Energy, our service technicians are trained to gently and thoroughly inspect and clean your dryer vents to improve your dryer’s efficiency and ensure your family’s safety and peace of mind. Give us a call today to schedule that overdue inspection and cleaning!

7 Steps to Protect Your AC From Hurricane Damage

Here in Florida, hurricane season starts on June 1 and runs until November 30th each year. According to the National Hurricane Center, the majority of dangerous storms hit during peak hurricane season which falls between August and October. You may already know how to prepare your home to withstand torrential wind and rain, but do you know how to protect your AC from hurricane damage? 

Here are 7 ways to ensure that your air conditioner will continue keeping your family cool long after the storm has passed. 

How to Protect Your AC From Hurricane Damage (7 Steps) 

Before the Storm

Step 1: Start With a Well Maintained Unit

You can protect your AC from hurricane damage by starting with a good maintenance plan. A good plan calls for a comprehensive check on your entire AC system every three to six months. If it’s been a while since you’ve had your unit inspected, you should call an experienced contractor to assess your AC for any potential problems which could be made worse by extreme weather such as loose electrical connections or dirt covering the condenser.

This would also be a good time to install an HVAC surge protector if you haven’t done so already. HVAC surge protectors were not common in the past decade because old HVAC systems had minimal electronic parts and were mostly mechanical in nature. (1) However, the more modern systems we have today have a plethora of electronic components that need to be protected against the sudden electrical surges caused by lightning strikes. 

If you live in a flood zone, your HVAC professional can also tell you if you should elevate your unit to protect it against water damage.

Step 2: Secure any loose items in your yard

Walk around your property and secure any loose items such as lawn furniture, plants, bikes, and sports equipment that could become dangerous projectiles in high winds and damage your outdoor unit. You will also want to clear away any shrubbery that is within 3 ft of your air conditioner to reduce the likelihood of debris entering the system. This will also make it easier for a technician to make any repairs after the storm if necessary. 

Step 3: Lower Your Thermostat

Once you are under a hurricane watch or warning, you should lower your thermostat a few degrees and close your blinds, drapes and interior doors. In the event of a power outage, this will help your home maintain a comfortable temperature until power can be restored. 

During the Storm

Step 3: Turn off the Electricity to Your Air Conditioner

In times of severe weather, Trane recommends you turn off the power to your AC unit from your thermostat and circuit breaker. Not only can lightning cause an electrical surge that could damage your air conditioner but flying debris could also lodge itself in your outdoor unit, causing the motor to burn out. If you have a window unit, you should unplug it from the wall. Window units can become projectiles in high winds, so you may want to completely remove them from the wall and then reinstall it once the storm has passed. 

Step 4: Cover Your Outdoor Unit

Intense wind gusts can topple trees and break branches that could damage your AC unit if they land on it. A tarp will protect your unit from smaller branches but if you have large trees in your yard, you may want to consider covering your HVAC unit with plywood. Make sure you have turned off the electricity to your unit before covering it! You’ll want to remove the covering as soon as it is safe to do so since any type of covering will eventually trap moisture and encourage the growth of mildew and mold. If possible, instead of a tarp, consider using a custom cover made from breathable fabric which may be available from the manufacturer.

Step 5: Secure Your Unit With Hurricane Straps

If your home has more than one story and you have an elevated air conditioner, you may want to consider securing it against powerful storm wind gusts with hurricane straps. Make sure the electricity to your unit is turned off before attempting to secure it. 

After the Storm Has Passed

Step 6: Inspect Your AC Unit For Storm Damage

Before turning your air conditioning system back on, it’s very important to inspect the unit for any possible storm damage. Electrical connections compromised by high winds and rain could start a fire and fluid leaking from your air conditioner could be refrigerant, which is toxic. If left unchecked, other problems caused by debris hitting your unit or water having entered the system could worsen over time. One of our licensed technicians would be happy to conduct a complete inspection of your HVAC system and alert you to any concerns about the safety of your unit. 

In the weeks following a storm, you’ll also want to watch for any of the following signs of damage:

  • Strange noises
  • Warm air coming from your vents
  • Spike in your electric bill
  • Strange odors coming from your vents
  • Dripping water is creating puddles
  • Electric breaker keeps tripping

All of us at Gator Air & Energy wish you and your family a safe storm season!

References

  1. http://ac-engs.com/blog/surge-protectors-and-hvac-what-you-need-to-know/

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