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AC Replacement or Repair: Which is Best for Your Air Conditioner?

Living in the Gainesville, FL heat, and experiencing problems with your air conditioning is on the top of any homeowner’s list of dreaded hassles. However, while the scorching sun is certainly a concern, the cost of getting your air conditioning back to working order is often a homeowner’s biggest worry. While repairing your air conditioner might offer a lesser expense at the time, putting a band-aid over a progressively declining unit may lead to higher accumulated costs down the road. Here, we’ll break down the best ways to tell whether AC repair or AC replacement is the optimal option for your home.  

Is It Time to Go for an AC Replacement? 

If your air conditioner is experiencing problems or has stopped working completely, it’s important to consider whether it’s best to repair the damage back to working condition or upgrade your unit for a lasting solution. To do so, there are some key points to evaluate, including the following. 

The Age of Your AC Unit

If your air conditioner is getting up there in years, you may also soon find your home getting up there in terms of indoor temperatures. The lifespan of an air conditioner is about 15 to 20 years. However, to continue cooling your home effectively and efficiently, it’s recommended that you replace your air conditioner with a newer unit after 10 years, or at most 15 years. 

Further, today’s best air conditioners consume 30% to 50% less energy to provide the same cooling power as older models produced in the 70s. So, if your air conditioner is even only 10 years old, replacing it with a newer unit can save you anywhere from 20% to 40% on cooling costs annually.  

Use of R-22 Freon

The federal government has begun to phase our freon to conserve energy across the nation for environmental sustainability. As a result, freon costs have exponentially risen. If your air conditioner still relies upon freon, you’ll soon have to make the switch to an upgraded unit that alternatively uses the new standard of R410A refrigerant. 

If your unit is encountering issues keeping your home or business cool, upgrading now may be the wisest financial decision. 

The Frequency of Repair Needs

All HVAC units will require some repair costs over their lifespan, as any machine or appliance does. However, if your unit has needed frequent repairs in the last few years and is experiencing subsequent issues, a replacement may be your best option. Similarly, if the cost to continue repairing your unit is comparable to investing in a new — and likely better — unit, it wouldn’t make much sense to continue pouring money into your current unit.

The Repair Cost

When considering purchasing a replacement for your air conditioner, it is important to also consider the applicable warranty that comes with your upgrade. If you are having to spend on repairs currently, those anticipated costs may far outweigh the cost of an upgraded unit, especially if the new unit has a valuable warranty that will work to stave off repair costs in the future as well. 

AC Replacement and Repair from Gator Air & Energy in Gainesville, FL

When your AC unit starts giving you problems, our team will expertly assess the state of your air conditioner and provide you with advice on how to best get your home cool once again. Whether repair or replacement is best for your unit, you don’t have to decide with uncertainty. Our team is committed to educating you to make the best decision for your family, considering cost, energy efficiency, longevity, and comfort

To ask our experts for advice on whether it’s best to repair or replace your air conditioner and get your home back to being cool and comfortable, contact us today! 

How to Keep Your AC Running Smoothly

When you’re sitting on the couch and feel the temperature steadily begin to rise within your home, the dreaded realization that your air conditioner (AC) is not working properly can set your day on an unexpected, stressful path. However, with proactive care and maintenance, you can avoid it all. 

Below, we’ll walk you through 4 of the most effective ways to keep your air conditioner running smoothly all year long and provide some simple steps homeowners can take on themselves to troubleshoot an air conditioner that isn’t performing correctly. 

Replace Your AC Filter

While replacing your AC filter should be on your to-do list approximately every three months, this is a great place to start troubleshooting issues with your air conditioner. If your air conditioner stops working, check here to ensure that your filter is clear of excessive dust and debris, and if you haven’t swapped it out for a fresh filter in over 90 days, take this opportunity to do so. 

Protect Your AC From Storms

As a Florida homeowner, you’re likely well aware of the damaging toll that storm season can have on your house. While we often consider preparing for hurricanes and thunderstorms for evacuation plans and assets like roofs, many homeowners neglect to protect their air conditioning unit as well. While you may inevitably lose power, and thus air conditioning, your AC unit can still take damages throughout the storm. 

To protect your air conditioner to restore your comfortably cool home after a storm, make sure to take these steps to minimize your need for AC repair or replacement.

  • Ensure that there are no overhanging tree limbs or loose items surrounding your air conditioning unit.
  • Turn off the electricity to your air conditioner during a severe storm to protect from electrical surges or consider installing an HVAC surge protector
  • Clear your air conditioner of any debris, including any leaves that have built up. 

To read more about how to keep your air conditioner safe in the event of a hurricane, read our blog for more information!

Maintenance Service Is Key For Your AC

To cool your home year-round without repair needs, it is imperative that you keep to a regular maintenance schedule for your air conditioner. To best protect your HVAC unit, we recommend that you schedule maintenance in the fall and spring. Doing so will ensure that your unit is equipped to combat the winter’s cold and the summer’s heat without exacerbating any issues that have arisen. 

To schedule maintenance for your air conditioner, call us today to book or fill out our online contact form for more information!

Ensure That Your Thermostat Is Set Correctly

Adjust Your Home’s Temperature

An ideal temperature to set your thermostat to is 78 degrees during the day. This temperature will keep your family and guests comfortably cool while not overworking your air conditioning unit as it combats the grueling Florida heat. If you’re not home during the day, ensure that you raise the thermostat temperature to not only keep your AC from working harder than needed but also to save money on your summertime energy bills.

Check Your Thermostat’s Fan Settings

While looking at your thermostat may seem like an obvious answer when your air conditioning fails to cool your home, an unintentional press to the wrong button could be the root cause of your hot home. When you think something must be wrong with your AC system without a clear problem, one of the first things is to verify that your thermostat is correctly set. 

We often find that someone in the house had accidentally set the thermostat from “automatic” to “fan.” When set to “automatic” your thermostat correctly tells the air conditioner to turn on when the indoor temperature rises above a set point. Alternatively, when set to “fan” the thermostat signals your air conditioner to blow air through the ducts while no cooling occurs. 

Rely On Our Trusted AC Professionals In Gainesville, FL

From AC preventative care to emergency care needs, our team in Gainesville, FL has you covered. When it comes to getting your air conditioner working as it should, there’s no need to sweat in a hot house or a stressful situation. If the issue seems too big to fix yourself or if you’d like to entrust your system to a trained professional, our team is here to help. Give us a call at (352)275-4827 and we’ll send out our expert technicians to get your air conditioner cooling your home comfortably once again in no time!

Duct Cleaning and Root Cause Analysis of Dirty Ducts

What Causes Dirty Ducts?

At Gator Air and Energy, we not only clean dirty ducts but we look for the root cause of what is causing unhealthy air in the customer’s home. Ducts mainly get dirty for two reasons: 

  1. Poor quality or filter location in relation to airflow.
  2. The AC unit growing contaminants due to operating conditions. For example, fungal growth that builds in the cooling coil and blower wheel during the summer dries out in the heating and off cycles of the equipment.

Oftentimes, we see both conditions as well as condition 1 contributing to condition 2.

Duct Cleaning Done Right

Let us examine poorly placed filters or improperly installed filters with an example. Often, the house we visit is 30 years old with an air handling unit and filter in the garage that is of poor quality or the wrong size for the opening. The return air travels from an unfiltered grille in the house for 25 feet before “seeing” a filer in the unit. The owner of the house has 2 dogs that shed hair. In this house, we take a picture of the duct full of dog hair and the homeowner knows right away they are a good candidate for return duct cleaning at the very least. 

Next, we cut an opening in the supply air duct above the fan or cooling coil and take a picture of fungal growth in the supply air ducts. In this instance, the growth is likely being fed by the dirty duct conditions and the cold, dark, and humid conditions that all HVAC equipment in Florida operates in during summer without the addition of UV lighting.

For this home, we recommend cleaning (or replacing) the return air duct seeing unfiltered air in addition to supply air cleaning. We’d also recommend painting the first three feet of the duct with microbial paint and adding, at a minimum, a UV light to kill fungal growth or, even better, a combination of UV light and an air purifier to aid in dust collection and air purification. We could also offer a better filtration system, such as a 5-inch filter or an electronic air cleaner in place of a filter to remove 99.8% of all contaminants for an exceptional system that delivers the cleanest and purest air attainable for the customer.

In addition to duct cleaning, we pull and clean (or replace) the grilles and seal the boots to the ceiling that increase hygiene and typically reduce duct-leakage rates by 10 cfm per grille on average.

While $1,500 to $2300 for an average job may seem like a high price to pay for some customers, we believe in doing the job right the first time and fixing the “root cause” of an unhealthy environment, saving you money in the long run.

Duct Cleaning With Gator Air & Energy

Here is a picture of one of our recent jobs, where we added a Trane Clean Effects electronic air cleaner and a dust-free air purifier for long-term HVAC hygiene for a person who suffered from allergies. We also thoroughly cleaned the ducts that had collected over 30 years of dust.

Here, you can see the original dirty return duct. We’ve actually seen much worse as this customer didn’t have a pet to build up dog hair.

  Dirty return duct

For this home, we installed the Trane Clean Effects electronic air cleaner at the bottom of the unit and a Dust Free Air purifier in the supply duct.

Trane clean effect electronic air cleaner

Here, a thorough cleaning involved going into the attic to clean the vertical run of the supply duct.

thorough duct cleaning

Breathe Easier by Trusting Our Experts

At Gator Air and Energy, our trusted team prioritizes the health of your home and the quality of our work. For information on indoor air quality, we recommend customers research air purifiers and UV lights before we prepare an estimate or air quality analysis. Give us a call for professional duct cleaning at (352) 415-9559!

Energy Savings: Tips for Your Home

Reducing your household energy use can entail anything from small changes in your day-to-day behavior to making wise investments in your home for a more sustainable future. Conserving energy will save your household money on utility bills and protect the environment from the harsh effects of excess energy usage, making these changes smart choices for any homeowner. Read on to learn ways to generate energy savings for your home. 

How to Produce More Energy Savings For Your Home

Kick Your Energy-Draining Habits to the Curb

Going green without putting your budgets in the red may sound like a challenge, but you can start making energy-saving choices today that will not only cost you anything but will actually save you money. 

Changing your daily behavior is one of the simplest ways to control your energy consumption. From turning lights off when you leave a room to turning up your thermostat while you’re away from home, small changes in your daily routine can make big improvements in your energy usage. For example, the energy required to keep the lights on in the average household makes up 12% of utility bills. So, the next time you go to walk out the door, make the simple, conscious choice to turn off the light behind you. 

There are various other steps you can take to make smarter choices throughout your home to leave any old energy-wasting habits in the past, including:

  • Regularly cleaning or replacing air filters
  • Using blinds, shades, and drapes in the warmer months to block out excess heat
  • Using cold water to wash your clothes
  • Opting to air-dry your clothes rather than relying on a dryer
  • Turning off your bathroom and kitchen ventilation fans whenever they’re no longer necessary
  • Allowing your dishes to air dry after a dishwasher cycle rather than using the heated dryer
  • Using ceiling fans to help keep your home comfortable. Doing so can allow you to raise your thermostat up to 4 degrees without sacrificing comfort

Enjoy a Greener View with Energy-Efficient Windows

Windows tend to be a significant source of energy waste for most homes, with losses stacking up to about 10-25% of your total heating bill. Installing double-pane windows in place of any remaining single-pane windows is a great way to reduce the loss of heated and conditioned air throughout your home. 

Regardless of whether you’re looking to keep your home warmer in the winter or cooler in the summer, low-emittance, or Low-E, windows can help. These gas-filled windows help block infrared light from passing through the glass to minimize sunlight’s effects and reduce excess heat from building up indoors. So, the next time a baseball comes flying through one of your windows, make it a home run by taking the opportunity for an energy-efficient upgrade. 

Weatherize Your Home

Weatherizing your home refers to successfully sealing off any places where air can leak out around the house. The most significant sources of air leaks that could contribute to your high energy consumption include your vents, windows, and doors. To seal these areas, ensure that there are no cracks between the walls and the vents, window frames, and doorframes. Caulking and weather strips are inexpensive ways to adequately seal off areas in your home that will return your investment year after year.

Your duct system can also be a significant source of unwanted air leaks. According to Energy Star, many homes have improperly installed or sealed ductwork, which can lead to up to 30 percent of heated or cooled air to be lost through cracks, leaks, and poorly connected ducts. If your ducts aren’t properly sealed, your household can experience higher utility costs and be at risk of poor indoor air quality. Schedule a duct sealing service to protect your home and start saving energy.

Insulate Your Home, Insulate Your Wallet

Insulation plays an important role in retaining heat in the colder seasons and cool air in the warmer ones. By properly insulating your home, you can decrease the flow of heat into and out of your home by providing adequate resistance. Consider adding insulation to your attic, walls, floors, basement, and crawl space to help reduce any wasted energy expenditures. 

Get Smart About Your Energy Usage with a Smart Thermostat

Smart thermostats significantly reduce the use of heating and cooling systems without sacrificing your family’s comfort by adjusting to your household’s patterns and precisely regulating the temperatures throughout your home. With simple controls, savings on your utility bills, and a lighter environmental impact, smart thermostats are among the wisest changes you can make to invest your home.

When setting the thermostat, trying to balance reasonable utility costs with minimal family squabbles can be tricky. However, smart thermostats allow you to keep your indoor temperatures cool without raising your bills. Plus, by starting to use these energy-saving tips that can help keep your home cool without relying on your air conditioner, you can increase your thermostat without anyone noticing. Keep in mind that for every degree you raise your thermostat’s set temperature, you can save up to almost 3% on your utility bill.

Upgrade Your HVAC Unit

If your central air conditioning unit is on its last leg or has been working to keep your family comfortable for over a decade, it’s most likely time for an upgrade. Older HVAC units use more energy than is required to keep your home comfortable while also struggling to keep your home as cool as you’d like. A new air conditioner and heating system will save you money in the long run while avoiding costly repairs and inconvenient breakdowns, and you will cut back your energy usage with updated technology and optimized performance. 

Count On Gator Air & Energy for More Energy Savings

Gator Air & Energy is committed to providing energy-efficient HVAC services to the families we serve in Gainesville, FL and the surrounding area. We know that with each sustainable choice comes a generational impact of improved environmental conditions. That’s why we combine the most effective and affordable heating and cooling solutions with energy savings to give your family comfort and peace of mind.

Reach out to our team for energy-efficient HVAC services and home solutions today for a better tomorrow.