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Do HVAC UV Lights Really Work?

In short – yes! In the last decade, air purification systems for HVAC systems have become readily available in a variety of technologies. These include return air duct-mounted electronic air filters and supply duct-mounted air purifiers. Together, these systems can remove 99.98 percent of particles entering the system. The price of these air quality products varies from $450 to $1500 for a complete installation.

Until the outbreak of the Coronavirus, many customers were skeptical of the need for these products but they are now gaining popularity. We have always recommended UV lighting on every new install or as a retrofit when servicing AC systems.

Adding a UV Purifier to Your Home or Business

Mold and bacteria are pesky intruders that ruin indoor air quality. Airborne germs blow past your HVAC system’s filter and circulate around your home or business. Your air conditioning system’s indoor coil is part of what cools your home, but it can also be a hotbed of microscopic misery that affects air quality and a system’s efficiency. Numerous health studies have shown that HVAC UV lights help to kill those bacteria and allergens as they blow through your system.

Electronic air filters are easiest to install when replacing the system as they mount under the air handling unit where the filter typically goes. They generally cost a few hundred dollars more than a supply duct air purifier. Sometimes they can be easily added if you have an exposed air duct to install it in, typically in a garage installation that has a vertical duct. For this reason, the supply duct air purifier with a quality pleated filter is sometimes a better option if a homeowner wants to improve air quality and an electronic air cleaner would be problematic to add to an existing installation.

What Does a UV Light Actually Do?

According to the manufacturers of UV lighting systems, UV light destroys harmful microorganisms, including mold, mildew, fungi, bacteria, and viruses. UV lights are typically installed near your primary AC coil or in your ductwork. Since mold and bacteria don’t like ultraviolet light, microorganisms that pass within the UV bulb’s line of sight will be destroyed.

Although they significantly improve hygiene within an HVAC system, UV lights will not remove odors or remove pet dander and small particles that an electronic air filter in the return air duct captures effectively. They don’t affect or increase the removal of contaminants since they are not filters.

Air purifiers that use a combination of UV lights and activated carbon aren’t filters, but they do remove odors and increase filtration. This is because air purifiers are effective to bind dust particles together and reduce dust in the air. We are often told that air filters have to be replaced more often, or are noticeably dirtier, after the installation of an air purifier.

How Do HVAC UV Lights Work?

There are two types of UV lights for HVAC systems:

  • Coil Sterilization – A “stick type” light installed inside the return air duct that sterilizes the air handler coil. A coil sterilization UV light runs 24/7 and is the most common type of HVAC UV light.
  • Air Sterilization – A complete UV light unit that sterilizes moving air. The UV light unit is installed in the return air duct and cycles on with the air handler blower.

Benefits of HVAC UV Lights

UV lamps are proven to minimize the microbial build-up on coils, improving system efficiency. While the main benefit of HVAC UV lights is improved indoor air quality, there are many other benefits including:

  • Mold and bacteria control.
  • Reduced cold and flu outbreaks – germs are not recirculated by the HVAC system.
  • Reduced smells/odors.
  • Removal of VOCs.
  • Reduced clogging in condensate drain lines by preventing algae growth.
  • Cleaner coils, improving cooling efficiency and reducing electricity costs.
  • Serving as secondary allergy prevention, especially where airborne allergens are concerned.

HVAC UV light fixtures are designed to serve as HVAC air cleaner systems, but Ultraviolet lighting does not clean HVAC systems and should not be used as a substitute for HVAC duct cleaning.

Improve Your Indoor Air Quality

Gator Air and Energy can install a UV light quickly and effectively into your air conditioning unit, and during annual HVAC system checkups, we can replace them as well, which makes maintenance of the UV light practically effortless. For more information on UV light installations and indoor air quality services contact us.

Refrigerant Leaks: Everything You Need to Know

Within your air conditioner, the key cooling agent is the refrigerant, which are fluids or gases that cycle throughout your air conditioner. You may not know much about refrigerants as a layperson, but your HVAC system could not run without them. Read on to learn more about why refrigerant leaks are important to address and their role in cooling. 

How Does Refrigerant Work? 

To start, the compressor forces the refrigerant through a series of cooling steps before compressing it. This compression produces heat as the molecules within the gas begin colliding with each other in a small space. The refrigerant then passes through the condenser where fans remove the heat and cool the gas to a liquid state. This liquid passes through evaporator coils where it becomes a chilled gas that finally releases into the airflow of your home or building through AC vents. 

As the refrigerant passes through the entirety of your air conditioner to produce the cooled air that chills your home, damages at any point can result in a refrigerant leak. However, there are some key root problems behind most leaks, including:

  • Corrosion. Over time, your air conditioning unit may develop rust, leaving corroded metal and cracks and holes where refrigerant seeps out. 
  • Loosened Joints. As with any machine, wear and tear weakens the joints that hold your air conditioner together. As these connections thin and loosen, refrigerant leaks become increasingly problematic. 
  • Manufacturing and Installation Errors. Sometimes, the issue lies with factory defects that couldn’t have been prevented. In these cases, a warranty replacement of any parts or unit is required. On the other hand, improper installation leads to parts that are not fitted properly, causing refrigerant leaks to be an inevitable part of cooling your home with a faulty unit. 

Signs of a Refrigerant Leak

When your air conditioner experiences a refrigerant leak, it can dramatically reduce its cooling power for your space. As refrigerant leaks out of your unit, the energy used to fuel the process up to that point is wasted, leaving you with a frustratingly warm environment and higher utility bills. To spot a refrigerant leak early on, look out for these warning signs: 

  • Increased electric costs. Regardless of the root issue, inexplicably higher energy costs should be investigated with a repair inspection of your air conditioner. 
  • Longer wait for a cool home. When you lower the thermostat, noticing that your AC takes significantly longer to cool your home to the new temperature is often the result of a leak. 
  • Frozen evaporator coil. If the refrigerant is leaking from your unit, there will not be enough circulating within the evaporator coils at the end of its typical cooling process. This means that the coil cannot absorb enough heat and will develop frost and ice around it as a result.

The Dangers of Refrigerant Leaks

Your AC’s refrigerant poses many health hazards before it is adequately processed by the unit. A significant leak through the vents of your home can lead to dangerous symptoms, including light-headedness, dizziness, shortness of breath, difficulty concentrating, and skin irritations. Further, a liquid leak of refrigerant is dangerous to touch as skin exposure to this liquid can cause chemical burns and frostbite. 

Concerns for Older AC Units 

For a noteworthy reminder, older air conditioners typically rely upon a refrigerant called the R-22 compound. Unfortunately for homeowners with these older units, this coolant has been phased out by the government since early on during 2020. 

If your air conditioner experiences a leak or other significant damage and uses this outdated coolant, it is recommended that you upgrade your unit rather than spending on repairs to stopgap inevitable investment. Often, these older units are riddled with additional issues beyond the leak at hand due to their years of wear, creating repair costs that match that of a new unit when considering the inflated cost of this now scarce refrigerant. 

Fix the Leak With Gator Air & Energy

While the internet provides a wealth of information and countless do-it-yourself guides, repairing your air conditioner is best left to trusted professionals with the expertise to get the job done correctly and safely. To get your air conditioner back to its former glory, trust your Gator Air & Energy team to restore your unit’s optimal cooling capacity and energy efficiency. Reach out today to book your AC repair by either contacting us online or giving us a call at (352) 389-4396.