Archive for the ‘Gainesville AC Repair Tips’ Category

AC Repair: Characteristics of a Reputable AC Company

What’s worse than having your AC unit stop working? Gainesville residents are fully familiar with the oppressive heat and humidity in North Florida, so we love our central air conditioning. In the unfortunate event that your air conditioner stops working, you need to know what AC repair company you can call and trust. You want to make sure the company has certain characteristics. Read on to learn some of the most relevant ones.

What Should I Look for in a Reputable AC Repair Company?

Licenses and Certifications

Like any homes services industry such as plumbing, electric, or general contracting, the HVAC industry comes with its own list of required licenses and certifications. In Florida, technicians must have a license from the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR). You can also verify their license on the DBRP website.

There are different classes of licenses that carry different requirements depending on where and on what type of equipment a contractor wants to work. Reputable Florida AC repair contractors will have an updated license that is verifiable on the DBRP website.

Transparency

When it comes to finding a reputable contractor for AC repair services, another red flag to look out for is a lack of transparency. Reputable contractors should gladly and willingly walk you through every step of the AC repair process and answer any questions without push-back.

After the diagnostic tests and before performing any AC repairs, the HVAC technicians should go over the scope of work necessary to fix the issue and outline the cost of the repair. They should explain why they’re replacing a particular part of your unit and why that part is important.

Industry Best Practices and Regulations

Reputable AC repair companies will follow local ordinances and regulations like pulling permits and getting inspections when necessary.

If a replacement unit is installed, it’s required to be inspected by a certified inspector. This state-certified inspector will pass or fail the inspection based on the city codes currently in effect. Copies of the report are also made available to both the customer and the contractor. It’s a major red flag if an HVAC company tries to circumvent or dismiss the need for an inspection.

Contact Gator Air and Energy for AC Repair Services

Here at Gator Air & Energy, we can help you with your AC emergency service needs. Our services start with proper diagnostics followed by clear advice to help you determine the best solution.

Allowing us to provide routine maintenance every 6-12 months will also help you prevent unnecessary repairs. Please reach out to us today for all your air conditioning repair service needs here in Gainesville, Florida, and the surrounding areas.

Common Issues Leading to AC Repair Service

As Florida homeowners, we have unique challenges regarding our air conditioning repair service needs. Due to North Florida’s long summers and nearly year-round demand for air conditioning, our HVAC systems experience different types of stress than our northern counterparts. For this reason, we are taking a look at the most common issues that require AC repair service in our area.

Signs You Need AC Repair

Having to call an AC repair service company to come out to your home or business can feel a little intimidating. We ask ourselves questions like, “What if I call an HVAC service technician to come out, and it turns out to be something simple that I could’ve solved myself?” We may also wonder, “How much is this going to cost?”

The following are the most common issues that air conditioning repair service technicians encounter during service calls.

  • Bad AC contactor or capacitor
  • Blown breaker
  • Air handler condensation line blockage
  • Faulty compressor

AC Repair or Replacement

Bad AC Contactor or Capacitor

What is an AC contactor and capacitor? Think of this duo as being like your AC unit’s “spark plug.” An AC contactor and the separate capacitor are small components that fit in the palm of your hand that build up enough electrical charge to initiate the compressor in your exterior condenser unit to “kick on.” Over time, corrosion builds up on the contactor, or the capacitor loses its charging ability — preventing them from doing their job.

Keep in mind the contactor and capacitor don’t have to go out simultaneously. If one is bad, they will not work in tandem. Usually, when one or the other is out, it’s easiest to have both replaced simultaneously. One telltale sign that you have an issue with your contactor or capacitor is if your outdoor unit’s fan is turning on, but your system is not blowing cool air. The lack of cool air means the compressor is not turning on.

It’s important to note having a bad compressor will also cause this issue. We will cover a bad condenser in the final section.

Blown Breaker

Every electrical circuit in your home has an associated breaker. Appliances and systems like your HVAC System require higher amperage, so they tend to have higher amp breakers in your home’s electrical service panel. Sometimes, the breaker associated with your AC unit will go out for various reasons. One cause is if the AC unit is pulling a high load of amperes (amps) that exceeds the breaker’s limit.

Breakers are rated according to their maximum amp load. If this load is exceeded, newer breakers have a mechanism that will automatically shut them off. However, in some cases, the breakers are damaged due to overload. This requires breakers to be replaced. Your constantly-running AC unit places a great load on the breaker. An indicator of this issue is if your HVAC system won’t turn on at all.

It’s best to have a professional replace breakers. It can be dangerous for homeowners to attempt to replace breakers on their own.

Air Conditioner Condensation Line Blockage

Central HVAC systems have air handlers. Air handlers are usually in the home’s utility closet or garage. These units have internal coils that create condensation as they cool the air. This condensed water collects in a condensation pan near the bottom of the air handler, where water is then drained out via a condensation line. These condensation lines usually drain the water outside on an exterior wall.

When air filters become dirty or if there are leaks in the system that allow air to circumvent the filter, debris builds up in the condensation pan and mixes in with the water. This dirty water can lead to blockages in the condensation line.

Newer HVAC systems come with a float switch component designed to shut the system down should the water level in the condensation pan exceed a certain threshold. This prevents the pan from backing up and causing water damage to your home.

Often, blocked condensation lines are the culprit for a system that won’t run. A blocked condensation line is an easy fix and can be solved by flushing the line or physically clearing the blockage.

A Faulty Compressor

Earlier, we talked about how a bad capacitor or contactor can allow the outdoor condenser unit’s fan to run but keep the unit from cooling because the compressor won’t turn on. When your fan is running, but your air isn’t cooling during a cooling cycle, the hope is that it’s just a bad capacitor or contactor because they’re cheaper and easier to replace.

However, a faulty compressor will present the same symptoms, and it’s much more expensive to replace. An HVAC professional will determine the cause after running a few diagnostic tests.

Contact Gator Air & Energy for Air Conditioning Repair Service

At Gator Air & Energy, we help the residents of Gainesville and surrounding communities keep their homes cool. We provide AC repair service in Lake City, High Springs, Alachua, and Melrose. Our experts can troubleshoot and solve any of your AC repair needs. Do you need air conditioning repair service at your home? Call us today at (352) 389-4396 or fill out our online contact form to get a quote!

How Can I Protect My Outdoor Condenser?

There are a host of outdoor elements that your condenser is exposed to daily. Animals, debris, extreme heat, and flooding can all cause damage to your outdoor unit, but there are ways to protect your investment from damage. At Gator Air & Energy, we want to help you keep your air conditioner running as long as possible, so we have some advice on how to prevent damage to your outdoor condenser.

At Gator Air & Energy, we want to help you keep your air conditioner running as long as possible.

Protecting Your Condenser From Animals

dead snake inside a condenser Gator Air & Energy Gainesville FL

The animals in Gainesville are adorable but they can also wreak havoc on your outdoor condenser. The tiny lizards (known as anoles), snakes, raccoons, squirrels, birds, and even pets can cause physical damage to your unit.

Particularly, animals can cause damage to your condenser fan motor and capacitor. Snakes, for example, like to curl up inside the condenser when it is off. But when it turns back on, it’s bad news for the snake and bad news for your air conditioner!

Use a Pest Repellent

One way to prevent animals from harming your outdoor condenser is to spray pest repellent around the unit. Commercial pest repellents are found at most hardware or outdoor stores as well as online. They use a scent that most pests will find unattractive. Spray the pest repellant evenly around the unit, and it should help keep the pests away.

Clean the Area Around the Condenser Regularly

If animals urinate around the unit, it can attract other animals to the area. Spray down the area around your condenser unit with water regularly to ensure that no other animals come around.

Protecting Your Condenser From Leaves & Debris

Leaves, pollen, branches, and other debris can get caught in your outdoor condenser. This debris not only harms the unit’s fan, but if enough debris is sucked through the system, it can drastically reduce your air conditioner’s efficiency. As part of AC maintenance service, we clean your unit and ensure that your unit is free of debris.

Use a Condenser Cover

Once you have cleaned the outdoor condenser, you can use a condenser cover to protect the unit. These covers are made of a thin sheet of fabric that allows the unit to take air in but also prevents debris from getting in the unit.

Use a Year-Round Exterior Filter

Another option is to use a year-round exterior condenser filter. This option is typically made of a thin mesh of metal and protects the unit from larger debris. You can find these filters at any major home improvement store as well as online.

Protecting Your Condenser From Extreme Heat

Extreme heat can take a toll on your air conditioner on all fronts, but the outdoor condenser unit is especially vulnerable. There are a few things you can try to keep your unit from overheating, but it’s important to note that these methods are only necessary if the temperatures rise above 120℉. Air conditioners can withstand high temperatures in normal operation, even for the high temperatures in Gainesville.

Use a Mister

In extreme heat, you can use a water mister to cool the unit down from the outside. However, this is only a strategy for extreme heat and shouldn’t be used on a regular basis. Prolonged exposure to misty water can rust the unit’s components.

Check Your Ducts

If air is escaping anywhere in your air conditioning system, then it will affect how efficiently your condenser runs. Our duct sealing service ensures that your system is working as intended, which will help your outdoor condenser function, even in extreme heat.

Protecting Your Condenser From Flooding

A typical rainfall, even the downpours we experience here in Gainesville, won’t damage your outdoor condenser. Condensers are built to withstand even the heaviest downpours, and the components in the unit are well protected with plastic and are water-repellent.

However, flooding is a different story. If your unit gets submerged in water, it can cause damage to the unit and also pose a serious safety concern.

Immediately Turn Off Electrical Power

If you notice that your outdoor condenser is flooded, immediately turn off any electrical power going to the unit. The circuit breaker in your home should have a switch labeled for the condenser. Leave your condenser off until you have a qualified HVAC professional inspect the unit.

Get Rid of Standing Water

If you can, get rid of any standing water around your unit. You can use a shovel to create a makeshift drain to carry water safely away from your unit. Also, remove any debris that you see that may have settled around your condenser due to the flooding.

Contact Gator Air & Energy for AC Repair and Maintenance

If you have experienced any of the problems listed above, we can help you repair your outdoor condenser and get it back to running efficiently as quickly as possible. Also, we recommend regular AC maintenance service is performed on your unit every 6 months. During our service, we inspect, clean, and tune up the outdoor condenser to make sure it works properly.

Call us today and let our experts help you keep your condenser running at its best!

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. 

 

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. 

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!

5 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade To a Smart Thermostat

At Gator Air & Energy, we do all that we can to help our customers in Gainesville save money and energy. A thermostat is an essential piece of your air conditioning system, and yet it is often overlooked. If you haven’t changed your thermostat in a few years, you may be losing money and energy by using an outdated thermostat. Thermostats made even 5 years ago aren’t as efficient at keeping your system running as the modern thermostats of today.

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