Archive for the ‘Gainesville AC Repair Tips’ Category

How Attics Affect Your Home Cooling

It’s easy to forget about your attic unless you’re making routine trips into it. For most Gainesville, FL homeowners, the attic is a place for storage and is rarely considered unless it’s being used.

Ignoring it could be part of the reason for your escalating utility bills. It’s always possible that the cool air produced by your A/C unit is slipping through your home and into the attic, and the reverse is also true with the hot air from the attic coming into your home. Attics affect your home cooling in a major way.

Here are some tips on how to limit the impact your attic is having on your home as we head into the hot summer months.

Insulation is Important

To keep the cool air from escaping through your walls and into the attic space, insulation is a big deal. If home cooling is a big deal to you, adding insulation during the home building process can ensure savings over the lifetime of the house.

If you built the home, hopefully you had conversations with the builder about how much insulation would be put into the house. If you bought the house when it was already built, it can be tough to know how well insulated the house is. However, if you’re noticing some rooms heat up faster than others in the summer time, that’s a strong sign that those rooms didn’t receive the insulation the others did.

While trying to figure out if the bottom of your attic has enough insulation, a good rule of thumb is to look at how high it comes up. If the insulation ends at the top of the joists, then you should consider adding more. If it comes over the joists, then you should be fine and it wouldn’t make sense financially to add any insulation. Improving the insulation can reduce the way attics affect your home cooling.

Attic Ventilation Plays a Role

Just as insulation is important to your attic, ventilation is also a big deal. There are big problems, like hurting the life of your shingles and supporting mold growth, that come with a lack of ventilation. For home cooling purposes, lacking ventilation can have a negative impact on your attic’s insulation.

During the hottest months of the year, the built up heat in your attic can get over 120 degrees. When that starts to seep into your living space, home cooling costs can increase.

If ventilation is set up properly with your home, it should give a constant flow that pushes air from outside of your home and through your attic space. This gives your attic a chance to breathe and lower the temperature.

Pick a Color

Gainesville, FL homes are in prime location to get beaten down by the sun. One simple way to limit the impact the sun has on your attic is to go with a lighter colored roof. This can help reflect some of the sun’s energy and keep it from heating up your attic space.

If that doesn’t work, you can use reflective coatings on the roof to reflect the sunlight and keep it from having a major impact on the temperature of your attic.

Studies have shown that wood roofing panels under black shingles are usually 10-15 degrees warmer than white shingles on similar days. These temperatures can play a big role on the temperature of your attic and ultimately make your home cooling more difficult.

If you’d like to have your A/C unit looked at by a trained professionals, call Gator Air & Energy at 352-275-4827 or send us a message on our website.

What You Need to Know About Your First Home’s HVAC System

First-time home buyers learn a lot during the home buying process, but it’s not all about your mortgage. The home has many parts that must be considered and looked at before moving in or immediately after.

One of the most important steps should be to check out the HVAC system to get an idea of how old it is and how long it can go without being repaired or replaced. Here are some tips about the system when you move into your first home:

Have the HVAC System Inspected

You can do this by yourself with a quick check or hire a professional to do a thorough check. If you’re doing it by yourself, look at the unit to see if there is any rust and listen to see if it sounds normal when running.

The general rule of thumb is that an HVAC system needs to be replaced after 10 years, but that can vary depending on how well it was cared for throughout its life up to that point. If the unit is getting close to the 10-year mark, consider that if it needs to undergo any repairs. It could be cheaper in the long run for you to purchase a new system instead of continually paying for fixes.

If you can investigate the HVAC system before you move in, consider trying to use it as leverage to get the house for a cheaper price since the unit will likely have to be replaced in the future.

Ducts Play An Important Role

Seek out the ducts that are visible in the house — check the attic or basement for those — for any noticeable problems. Any rust, condensation on the outside, gaps or loose connections can be red flags with the ducts and should be fixed by the owner or an A/C professional.

If the duct issues go ignored, it will cost you monthly on the utility bill and could shorten the life of the system because it will put more work on the HVAC system. Duct work is an important part of making sure your first home is off to a good start.

Insulation Can Ease Stress

Insulation is one of the most important elements to your comfort indoors. If helps keep the cool air inside during the summer and the warm air inside during the winter. However, it’s tough to know much about the insulation when you move into your first home. Ask your realtor or the previous home owner to try gaining more information about how you should proceed.

The insulation is one of the most important areas of the house regarding your future comfort, but it’s also one of the most difficult to account for since you can’t see it. If you don’t have enough of it, you’ll notice almost immediately after moving into the house. It’s also important to remember that some rooms could have more insulation than others.

If you’re moving into your first home and want trained professionals to make sure your HVAC system is in good shape, call Gator Air & Energy at 352-275-4827 or send us a message on our website.

When to Kick Your A/C Unit to the Curb

A/C unit repair is a frustrating option for homeowners, but when is it time to stop calling for repairs and start calling for a new unit?

This is a question many homeowners battle with, especially as their A/C unit ages. There comes a time where you should stop dealing with the frustrating, continued repairs and purchase a new unit.

Here’s how to know when that time comes:

Think About The Age

When an A/C unit passes the 10-year mark, it’s time to start planning for a replacement. It doesn’t have to happen immediately at the 10-year mark, but this is the general rule of thumb for the average lifespan of a unit. That can increase or decrease based on how well the unit is maintained throughout its life.

If you need continued repairs around the 10-year mark of a unit’s lifespan, this is the time to heavily consider starting over with a brand new unit. It’s also a good time to evaluate how long you plan to stay in the home and make the decision based on that.

Frequency of A/C Unit Repairs

A one-time repair is nothing to worry about. These small repairs aren’t uncommon and shouldn’t have you questioning the long term health of your system.

The problem comes when the repairs begin to happen frequently. When that becomes a routine and the system gets up in age, that’s when you need to start considering if it would be more cost effective to get a new A/C unit.

History of Energy Bills

It’s always a good idea to keep your eye on the price of your monthly utility bill. Any sharp spikes could be a sign of issues, but even without a quick increase, the bill can still tell you a lot about the unit.

HVAC systems are typically responsible for about half of the money in your bill. The bill will naturally go up as the system runs more when the weather gets hot, but continued increases in the bill can be a sign that there is something wrong with the unit. If the cost continues to go up and you have an old A/C unit, it’s not a bad idea to start planning for a new one.

Home Temperature

When the A/C unit gets up in age, it’s even more important to keep an eye on the temperature inside your home. If you notice it feeling hotter than normal, this can also be a sign that the HVAC system needs to be replaced.

These hotter temperatures can signal that your unit is having problems cooling the house. When that happens, it’s usually time to start looking at a replacement.

If you’re debating whether or not your A/C unit should be replaced and want the help of trained professionals, call Gator Air & Energy at 352-275-4827 or send us a message on our website.

AC Repair: What Does Regular Maintenance Entail?

Regular HVAC service can be compared to regular car maintenance: you can pay a little bit for routine service or wait and pay a hefty amount for major repairs. Many people wait until their air conditioner is making a strange noise or isn’t running properly before they call for service. However, did you know that even if your air conditioner seems to be running smoothly, it can lose about 5% of its operational efficiency every year?

According to regularly servicing a unit will maintain up to 95% of its original efficiency. This means that the cost of a regular service is quickly recovered in savings on your monthly electricity bill and in reduced repair costs. A properly serviced air conditioner will also do a better job of dehumidifying your home.

What does regular HVAC maintenance entail?
A service technician looks at and listens to your air conditioning system closely. Typically, maintenance includes:

  • Check for correct amount of refrigerant
  • Test for refrigerant leaks using a leak detector
  • Check for and seal duct leakage in central systems
  • Measure airflow through the evaporator coil
  • Verify the correct electric control sequence and make sure that the heating system and cooling system cannot operate simultaneously
  • Inspect electric terminals, clean and tighten connections, and apply a non-conductive coating if necessary
  • Oil motors and check belts for tightness and wea
  • Check the accuracy of the thermostat

What are the benefits of regular service?
All major equipment needs routine maintenance to keep it running reliably. Regular servicing of your air conditioner will provide you with a number of benefits, such as:

  • Improved efficiency
  • Chances of a costly, major breakdown at the worse time will be reduced
  • Lifespan of the unit will be prolonged
  • Your comfort will be increased
  • Energy efficiency that translates to lower bills

When should you have a HVAC “tune-up”?
A good maintenance plan calls for a comprehensive check on your entire AC system by an experienced contractor every three to six months. There are 2 main reasons regular maintenance is recommended:

  • You want to make sure your system is running smoothly, at its maximum capacity and its minimum energy consumption, BEFORE you really need to use it.
  • You are likely to get a more timely service if you arrange it for before service technicians get busy in heavy air conditioning season.

While it may be tempting to investigate and fix things yourself, more often than not, taking matters into your own hands can cause more harm than good. Have more questions about maintenance? Contact Gator Air and Energy for more information or to schedule your next maintenance appointment.

How HVAC UV Lights Improve Indoor Air Quality

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. HVAC UV lights help to kill those bacteria and allergens as they blow through your system.

Why Do UV Lights Work?

Mold and bacteria don’t like ultraviolet light – to them, it’s a killer. UV lamps have been proven to minimize the microbial build-up on coils, improving system efficiency and keeping mold and bacteria out of your system. All mold in line-of-sight of the UV bulb will be killed, keeping the coil mold-free.

Numerous health studies have shown that ultraviolet light is very effective against mold, mildew, fungi and viruses, bacteria and spores by breaking down their DNA or RNA. UV light has also been shown to play a role in secondary allergy prevention especially where airborne allergens are concerned.

How Do HVAC UV Lights Work?

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.

There are two types of UV lights for HVAC systems:

  • Coil Sterilization – A “stick type” light installed inside the return air duct near 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

The initial benefit of HVAC UV lights is improved indoor air quality, but there are many other benefits including:

  • Control mold and bacteria
  • Reduce colds and flus – germs are not recirculated by HVAC system
  • Reduce smells/odors
  • Remove VOCs
  • Are more effective in humid climates than dry climates
  • Reduces clogging in condensate drain lines by preventing algae growth
  • Maintain a cleaner coil, improving cooling efficiency and reducing electricity costs

In addition to HVAC UV lights, regular coil cleaning and maintenance should be part of the measures to ensure optimum indoor air quality.

Contact Gator Air & Energy for HVAC UV Light Installation

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.

5 Tips to Save Money Heating Your Florida Home

Contrary to popular belief, Florida does get pretty cold in the winter. Here in North Central Florida, we spend many winter mornings scraping frost off of vehicle windshields. These colder temps mean that heating bills can be as high, or higher, than summer months. Aside from regular maintenance of your HVAC system, there are other steps you can take to save money on heating costs. Here are some useful tips for heating your home:

  • Set your thermostat at 68°F or lower during the winter months. For each degree you increase the temperature from the recommended setting, your bill can increase up to 4%. You can also install programmable thermostats that control set temps when you’re out of the house — reducing cost. Some models allow you control the thermostat from your smartphone.
  • Check your heating system’s filters once a month and clean or replace as needed. Maintaining the system helps it to run longer while using less energy.
  • Weatherize your home. The Department of Energy confirms that you can save 30% off heating costs by simply caulking, sealing and weather-stripping around all windows, outside doors or where plumbing, ductwork and electrical wiring penetrate exterior walls, floors or ceilings.
  • If you are considering buying a new HVAC system, make sure it is sized properly. An HVAC system that’s too large for your home can use more energy than necessary to heat and cool your home. A properly sized system can save you $600 a year.
  • Install the thermostat on an inside wall, away from windows and doors. The thermostat records the temperature of your home (specifically the room in which it is placed) and uses that information to judge whether the heating or cooling system needs to kick on. If the thermostat is located near a window and heated by direct sunlight, it “thinks” the house is warmer than it actually feels. These inaccurate readings cause heating and cooling systems to waste a ton of energy unnecessarily.
  • Use insulated or heavy curtains on windows that face north. Keep curtains and shades closed at night or on cloudy days. This especially helpful with drafty windows.

For more cost-saving information, visit the U.S. Department of Energy.

Your best bet when it comes to energy savings is to have your HVAC unit checked before the temperatures start to drop. A unit that is heating properly makes all the difference.

Still have questions or need an energy efficiency consultation for your home or business? Let one of our licensed HVAC energy saving experts help!

AC Repair: Five Reasons Your AC May Need Repair

Reasons Your AC May Need Repair

In the Florida heat, the best way to keep your cool daily is to ensure that the home’s AC system is operating properly whenever you click it on at the thermostat. Your system will require periodic service throughout its lifespan to keep it 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 the AC may need repair services.

1. Improper Drainage of Condensation Will Cause Issues

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, the drain pan can overflow if it overfills and this may lead to damage to the floor underneath the blower. If your blower is in the attic as other ones are today, this may lead to damage to the ceiling below the drain pan. Many times, homeowners call the technician out to discover why their blower is not working only to learn that there is too much water in the drain pan. The technician removes the clog and empties the drain pan to restart the blower unless another malfunction occurs in conjunction with this issue.

2. Low Refrigerant Levels Will Cause the AC System to Malfunction

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 hopefully, will 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 pay for a replacement unit.

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

An AC blower contains a filter to catch dirt and other foreign particles to prevent them from entering the duct work throughout your house. When this filter is full, the airflow cannot freely move into the blower, and this will cause it to stop working in the proper manner. 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. 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 open to allow the air to flow freely.

4. The Condenser Fan Quits Running

At times, the condenser fan quits running, and this stops air from flowing through the unit properly. One reason that this issue may occur is that the capacitor needs replacing. The other reason for this to happen is that the fan motor is not operational.

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 some of the issues that can cause your AC system to require a repair since other problems may also occur in it. Typically, a technician always tries to repair your system first before he or she recommends a replacement unit for the blower, condenser unit or both with an entirely new system. When the system is beyond repair due to one reason or another, you will need to replace at least part if not all of your system. While replacement is a last resort, it may be the best solution to restore your AC to operational status. Contact Gator Air & Energy the next time your Florida home requires an AC repair or replacement. We strive to resolve all AC issues in a timely, quality manner.

Indoor Air Quality: The Dangers of Something You Can’t See or Feel

Causes of Indoor Air Pollutants and Ways to Overcome Them

Question: what is in our household air? According to the World Health Organization, fumes from such simple activities as cooking on a gas stove or warming a room with a fireplace can emit dangerous toxins. Carbon monoxide and physical particles are among the toxins that arise from the fire, and others commonly found in our indoor air include microbes, fungi, mold, and radon. In reality, there are many particles in our indoor air, and oftentimes, we 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, we are still better off with indoor air that is as pure as possible. Therefore, in order to being purifying our indoor air, we must know what specifically causes these pollutants and what can be done to eliminate them.

What Causes Indoor Air Pollutants?

There are literally dozens of sources of indoor pollutant problems, but many of these sources stem from some sort of humidity or water. In our modern houses, humidity is a constant worry. If there is too much, our homes turn into breeding grounds for bacteria, 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.

Another cause of pollutants is ventilation. Making sure that your house is properly ventilated is paramount for producing clean air, according to Green Facts. Stagnant air, much like stagnant water, is a great place for mold and other bacteria to form. Especially in houses that are well insulated, it can be difficult to keep air moving throughout the house, so air conditioning systems can significantly assist in these situations.

Various other causes of air pollutants include:

  •    Open fires (gas stove, fireplace, etc.)
  •    Pet dander
  •    Cleaning chemicals
  •    Appliances
  •    Dust
  •    Aerosol sprays

Again, there are countless sources of pollutants, as nearly everything emits something into the atmosphere, but these particular causes that we have discussed are dominant.

What Can We Do About Indoor Air Pollutants?

The answer to this question may be overwhelming, as it seems as though there are as many solutions to getting rid of pollutants as actual pollutants. However, one of the best ways overall to get rid of most pollutants in the house is to replace the filter on your air conditioning unit. 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 size of the filter (oftentimes, the size is already written around the edge of the filter), pick up a new filter at your local hardware store, and replace the old with the new. Thankfully, just by changing the air filter, you can wipe out a large portion of the pollutants in the air.

Another wonderful 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 a buildup of water.

Other ways to get rid of pollutants are specific to the type of pollutant of which you are trying to rid your house. To get rid of the toxins emitted by household cleaners, we recommend using more natural or organic cleaning solutions, as these generally have healthier ingredients. Keeping your air conditioning on or just turning on fans will keep the air in your house circulating and thereby prevent stagnant air. Of course, the cleaner you keep your house, the cleaner the air should be.

What Will You Do For Cleaner Air?

Clean air is incredibly important for the health and safety of your family, but it can be difficult to achieve without maintaining your heating and cooling equipment and choosing the right products. Be proactive in the move toward cleaner air by replacing your filters, cleaning your air conditioning coils, and ventilating your house, as these are just a few effective ways to insure a healthy atmosphere 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 the indoor air quality services of Gator Air and Energycontact us.

How to Properly Take Care of Your Ductwork – Part 2 of 2

Answers to common questions about duct inspections: what they are, what they do, when to get them, and who should do them

Finding mold on or around your A/C vents? Problems with spotty air conditioning or poor power? These issues probably indicate that it is a good time to have your air duct system checked by a professional. However, a duct inspection is not a very common occurrence for most households, so oftentimes, homeowners have a lot of questions about them. Therefore, Gator Air and Energy has provided the answers to many of those questions in order to give you a greater understanding of how duct cleanings can help to keep you safe and to save you money.

What Does a Duct Cleaning Entail?

Commonly, a duct cleaning involves searching for leaks and then literally cleaning the ducts. Most professionals have specific tools they use to discover leaks in your system or any other problems associated with your A/C unit or ductwork. These other problems with ductwork can actually be quite numerous, and many homeowners would not even know about them until they received a professional inspection. For a list of what Gator Air and Energy provides in order to solve these problems and for more information on our services that address ducts, visit our duct cleaning page. We even offer dryer vent cleaning, which is a great way to get rid of a potential fire hazard.

When Should I Get My Ducts Cleaned?

The most common answer to this question is: as soon as you see a problem. That is, if you see mold anywhere near vents, if you notice that some rooms are getting A/C but not others, or if you are feeling less air power and still paying a higher energy bill, then there is probably a good chance that you need to have your ducts inspected.

However, if you don’t have these problems but want to be proactive, the best time to check your ducts is in the spring. Remember, your attic will not be astronomically hot yet in the spring, so reaching your ducts without drowning in the heat will be much easier. Also, as we all know, spring leads into the beginning of summer, and especially here in Florida, summer is when the A/C gets used more than ever, so you will definitely want to make sure your A/C is working at peak capacity.

What Good Does Cleaning My Air Ducts Do?

The biggest advantage to cleaning air ducts is cleaner air. Making sure your vents are clean means that the air blowing through them is also clean, and clean air will keep you healthy and less in danger of various respiratory problems. A nice byproduct of clean air ducts is that when they are in good working order, then your A/C does not have to work as hard to keep your house cool. When your air conditioning is not working so hard, it is burning less energy, and this status is advantageous to both your energy bill and the environment. Additionally, taking the time to clean the air ducts allows the opportunity to check for possible water damage and thereby prevent it or keep it from worsening.

How Can I Get My Ducts Cleaned?

Consulting professionals is the easiest and best way to get your air ducts cleaned. By placing the responsibility on professionals, you are ensured the best quality work and the peace of mind that your A/C is performing optimally. Of course, as an added bonus, working with professionals also spares you the hassle of crawling into the attic yourself to inspect every inch of the air ducts before taking them apart and cleaning them out. However, if you still would rather clean them yourself, you might want to see what Bob Vila has to say about this idea first.

Which Professionals Should I Work With?

Hopefully, this review of air ducts has deepened your understanding of your air conditioning system unit and encouraged you to make replacing the filters and cleaning the condenser coils (as mentioned in part one) a regular activity in your home. Finally, if you are from the Gainesville area, don’t forget to contact Gator Air and Energy for more information and to set up an appointment for air duct cleaning.

How to Properly Take Care of Your Ductwork – Part 1 of 2

The Preventative Measures That Keep Your Air Ducts In Peak Condition

Isn’t it every Floridian’s dream to breathe clean air within their mold-free home? If so, then Gator Air and Energy can help you turn your dream into a reality by revealing some simple ways in which you can do just that! By taking care of your ductwork, you can ensure that your air conditioning is operating to its full potential year round, so take advantage of our practical advice by incorporating these preventative practices into your regular home care routine.

Preventative Measures for Clean Air Ducts

Check Your Air Filter

Air filters are supposed to be replaced about four times a year, if not more. Dirty filters allow dirty air to flow through your house, so your air ducts will be filthy. While this occurrence usually doesn’t cause mold, it is still safer to maintain this habit as well as possible because dirty air can have unhealthy effects on you and those around you. Dirty air can trigger allergies, but clean air can help you, your family, and your coworkers avoid allergy issues and other respiratory problems.

Keep Your Condenser Coil Clean

What is the condenser coil? Technically, it converts gas to liquid, includes a refrigerant, and when air is blown over the top of it, it converts it to a cooler temperature. Essentially, the condenser coil is what makes your air conditioning cold. Unfortunately, if the coil or the fan is dirty, the air blowing over it can get restricted. From there, the air blows too cold and creates a lot of condensation. With all that water comes mold and of course, water damage. Both of these are dangerous for your house. Stagnant water not only erodes its surroundings, but it can also be breeding grounds for various insects, according to the World Health Organization.

Monitor Your Energy Bill

If you notice that you are consistently spending a lot more money for the same amount of air conditioning usage each month, then there might be a problem with your air ducts. Even if you can’t see mold, or the air conditioning doesn’t seem to be spotty, a problem such as a leak or a closed air duct valve could still exist. Therefore, it is definitely a good idea to have your air ducts inspected, just in case.

More Advice to Come

Those are the three best preventative practices to prevent you from having to deal with poor ductwork. These practices can save you money on your energy bill and keep the air in your home clean and cold.

However, if you already see mold around your vents or are experiencing erratic air conditioning, then stay tuned for part two of “How to Properly Take Care of Your Ductwork”, in which you can read about the importance of duct dnspections and duct cleanings. In the meantime, however, please contact us with questions or look up our services here.