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Archive for the ‘Indoor Air Quality’ Category

Top 5 Questions about Duct Cleaning

This time of year is the perfect time to address your duct cleaning. It’s something that many people put off, but it can have serious implications on your family’s health. Here, we break down the top five questions we hear from our customers when we stop in for a duct cleaning.

1) What Does a Duct Cleaning Entail?

A duct cleaning involves searching for leaks and then 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. Alongside a duct cleaning, we often find other problems with ductwork, and many homeowners would not even know about them until they received a professional inspection.

For a list of what we provide 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.

2) When Should I Get My Ducts Cleaned?

The most common answer to this question is: as soon as you notice 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.

3) 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.

4) 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.

5) 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.

The Importance of Duct Sealing

According to the Department of Energy, one of the best ways to increase energy efficiency is to examine your ductwork. Did you know that duct systems typically lose up to 40% of its heating or cooling energy? Unlike plumbing leaks, duct leaks are very common and often go unnoticed because homeowners cannot see the issue.

The Benefits of Duct Sealing

air duct blaster test

The longer duct leaks go untreated, the worse the consequences are on your health, comfort, and wallet. There are four main benefits of duct sealing, all of which contribute to the enjoyment of your home.

Improved Air Quality

Regularly replacing air filters are one of the most common ways to improve indoor air quality. However, air filters are unable to prevent duct leaks from promoting mold growth and spreading unwanted contaminants like dust, pests, and more. This can aggravate allergies and can even cause respiratory issues. This is particularly important for children, who spend “as much as 90% of their time indoors” and are more vulnerable to developing asthma. By sealing your ducts, you can further improve your indoor air quality and eliminate respiratory risk factors.

More Comfort

Houses offer relief from unbearable weather, especially during hot summers and cold winters. Leaky ducts can disrupt your sanctuary by pulling outside air into the duct system and affecting the indoor temperature. One of the biggest issues in Florida is that the inefficient ducts pull in humid air and overwhelm the dehumidification capacity. As a result, your home may feel more humid and your clothes, belongings, and furniture are susceptible to mildew, mold, and moisture rot as a result. Duct sealing prevents humidity from entering your home, making it more comfortable for you and your family.

Increased Safety

Gas appliances such as water heaters and clothes dryers produce combustion gases, like carbon monoxide. These harmful gases travel through the ventilation system and are released outside, where the threat is neutralized. Duct leaks can create a backdraft that pulls these gases back into the home, making the air more dangerous to breathe. Duct sealing can minimize this risk by ensuring the gas leaves the home instead of lingering inside.

Lowered Utility Bills

Air conditioning accounts for 50-70% of your electricity bill, which makes it important to own an energy efficient system. Leaky ducts can significantly impact utility bills because they require more energy to cool or heat the home. Homeowners can save up to 20-40% by sealing their ducts, resulting in a more efficient system.

What is a Duct Blaster® Test?

A Duct Blaster® test is the most common method for testing duct tightness. The tighter the duct, the less leaks there are. It is a relatively quick process and helps determine whether homeowners need to seal their ducts.

Duct Blaster Air® Test Process:

duct blaster test for leaky air ducts

  1. Cover all the grills and registers to isolate any leakage
  2. Turn air handler fan off
  3. Attach the Duct Blaster® near the furnace or return-air grill
  4. Turn on the Duct Blaster® to pressurize the duct system
  5. Monitor the pressure and airflow gauge to determine efficiency losses

While the Duct Blaster® test is highly effective for determining the precise leakage of your duct, it cannot identify where the leaks are coming from – but theatrical fog machines can! Smoke billows out of any leaks, illustrating exactly where duct sealing is needed.

Schedule a Duct Blaster® Test and Duct Sealing Service Today!

Protect your family, home, and wallet by scheduling a quick test to identify any duct leaks. If any are found, we can seal them to maximize your system’s energy efficiency. At Gator Air & Energy, we are committed to understanding the ductwork of every system we service to properly care for your home. Our HVAC experts are happy to help and just a call away.

Will Air Conditioning Help Allergies?

Here in Gainesville, FL, we’re already beginning to see the tell-tale signs of spring: cars covered in green pollen, seeds sprinkled on the ground, and of course the rise in seasonal allergies.

For many people, this time of year is torture. Stuffy noses, watery eyes, and sore throats are common symptoms of seasonal allergies, and here in the Sunshine State we never truly get relief from the pollen created by our beautiful foliage.

So what can be done? Outside of taking allergy medication, there are a few ways you can help control your allergies in the home. The air conditioning unit in your home helps to control pollen in a few ways. Air conditioners filter the air in your home and control humidity, which both contribute to improving indoor air quality.

As long as your air conditioner is properly maintained, your air conditioner can serve as your home’s first line of defense against Florida’s pollen counts. If you are concerned about your air conditioner maintenance or indoor air quality, Gator Air & Energy are Gainesville’s air conditioning experts, and we can help you breathe easier with our air conditioning maintenance and indoor air quality services.

The Role of Air Conditioning with Allergies

There are several ways that your air conditioner can help to keep your allergies under control in the home.

The Importance of Air Conditioning Maintenance with Allergies

If you notice that your allergy symptoms don’t subside when you get home, it may be a sign that your air conditioning unit is due for maintenance. Without regular maintenance, your air conditioning unit is suspectible to allergens and costly breakdowns.

At Gator Air & Energy, part of our process when we perform air conditioning maintenance is cleaning the condenser and evaporator coils within your system. Dirty coils can create mold throughout the system by causing a buildup of water, which in turn will affect your allergies.

In addition, we also offer duct cleaning services, which help to control allergens that may be thriving in the cool and dark environments of your duct work.

Call Gator Air & Energy for Air Conditioning Maintenance

Here in Gainesville, FL, allergies are a concern for many residents. Keeping your air conditioner properly maintained throughout the year can definitely help with airborne allergies. Call us today to schedule your air conditioning maintenance service and we’ll help you breathe easier this allergy season.

Winter Indoor Air Quality – What You Need to Know

The winter season brings about many changes to the air, including how you heat your home. In this season it’s especially important to know how your indoor air quality is affected by the heaters in your home.

Chuck Larsen, the owner of Gator Air & Energy, offers his insights below on what you need to know about how indoor air quality is affected by the changing temperatures in winter.

How Your Air Gets Contaminated

In the summer, the evaporator coil in your air conditioning unit run at 35°F – 45°F. This coil is what is cooling the air as it enters your home. An evaporator coil is similar to a radiator on a car. It has tubes where the refrigerant is evaporated and many small fins to aid in heat transfer to the tubes.

If your unit has no air filter or a fiberglass filter instead of a high-efficiency pleated filter (that captures more contaminants), the contaminated air is cycling through your home. Dirt from the air will accumulate in your system and ducts and will serve as food for the microbes that thrive in the dark, cold, wet environment of the coils. Remember the coil drains moisture out of the air and outdoors through a ¾ inch drain pipe all summer long.

Heat Pumps and Winter Indoor Air Quality

Due to Florida’s relatively warm climate, many homes in North Central Florida are equipped with heat pumps. Essentially a heat pump is the same as an air-conditioner, except for the fact that it is cycling warm air into your home rather than cool air. Throughout most of the year, air conditioners work as heat pumps in reverse by cycling hot air through cooling coils to cool your home.

In the winter, the coil works in reverse to heat your home and becomes a heat coil. When that happens, the dirt and microbes in your system will dry out. This is what causes a “musty” smell that many homeowners complain about when turning on the heat for the first time in winter.

Your system might also be equipped with an auxiliary electric heater to serve as a second stage heater or when the system needs to be defrosted. When this additional heater is activated, the dirt and contaminants will get burned off the heater elements (like they do in a toaster). This is what causes the short-lived “burning” smell when you turn on your heat pump in the winter.

Furnaces and Winter Indoor Air Quality

Furnaces are less common in North Central Florida, but there are still many homeowners who use them. In gas furnace heat, the cooling coil becomes inactive and gas is fired into a heat exchanger sitting below the cooling coil. With gas furnaces, the heat is much higher than in a heat pump. Temperatures in a heat pump are 90°F to 105°F whereas a gas furnace produces heat at 120°F to 150°F.

Similar to heat pumps, the coils in a furnace are heated and the contaminants in the duct system and on the coils can burn or become airborne. Some furnaces also produce heat using natural gas, propane, or oil. It’s especially important for homes with this type of furnace to watch out for CO (carbon monoxide) poisoning. If your home is not properly ventilated, you could be at risk.

Older combustion furnaces are also at risk of developing cracks in the heat exchanger. Annual furnace inspections are essential – even on newer furnaces – to detecting these often invisible cracks which could lead to carbon monoxide poisoning. If your furnace is in the 16-20 year age range, it may be time to start considering a new furnace.

How to Improve Indoor Air Quality in Winter

If you’re looking for ways to improve your indoor air quality this winter, there are several easy things you can do today.

  • Install UV Lights – Installing UV lights in your home kills the microbes and bacteria that thrive in your ducts and coils. As the air cycles through, the air is sterilized and prevents any contaminant growth.
  • Have Your Ducts Cleaned – Having your ducts cleaned regularly prevents the buildup of dirt and dust, keeping the air clean when your heater starts.
  • Change Your Air Filter – Changing your air filter at least every three months prevents dust and dirt from entering your system. It’s important to use a high-efficiency, high MERV rated air filter.
  • Coil & Pan Maintenance – Regular maintenance and cleaning of the coils and pans of your system not only improves air quality but also improves the energy-efficiency of your system.

Dirty coils can cost up to 37% more on your energy bills.

Call Gator Air & Energy to Improve Winter Indoor Air Quality

Although AC contractors are not microbiologists or certified mold remediators, we know how to prevent or remediate indoor air quality through proper maintenance and cleaning. We also offer HVAC system upgrades such as high-efficiency air filters, UV air purifying lights, or electronic air cleaners with activated carbon working with UV lights.

If you’re concerned about your indoor air quality this winter, give us a call today! We can help you choose the best option for your needs, and keep your family breathing easy this season.

Pre-Winter Checklist: What to Check With Your Heater

We may live in the Sunshine State, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t have to prepare for the winter season. Of all the cities in Florida, Gainesville is particularly likely to get very cold, due to its northern and inland location. With winter quickly approaching, it’s important to make sure your home is ready. Therefore, we’ve compiled a checklist of items to inspect with your heater and your house to ensure you will be comfortable throughout the winter months.

Gator Air & Energy’s Pre-Winter Heater Checklist

✓ Make Sure Your Heater Works

Since most Floridians don’t need to use their heater for a majority of the year, it’s important to make sure that your heater still turns on and churns out some heat. In order to not be too uncomfortable while testing your heater, turn on the heat after you get back home from work when it’s not so hot outside. Keep it running for 15 minutes or more to make sure that it’s still running effectively and blowing out heat. If it isn’t turning on, smells weird, or isn’t very hot, it could be due to one of the underlying problems explained below.

✓ Check Your Duct Sealing

Leaky ducts can lead to wasted heat, and wasted heat leads to wasted money. Because the holes in your air ducts are leaking into your attic instead of holding in heat and distributing it throughout your house, you’ll be paying to heat up your attic! A tell-tale sign of leaky ductwork is finding that you really have to turn up the heat just to get your house warm. You’ll also probably have a high electric bill, due to the cost of wasted heat energy. Thankfully, Gator Air & Energy offers Duct Sealing Services, where our inspectors patch and seal off holey ducts! Getting those checked and sealed before the winter will ensure a cozy house, despite the chilly weather.

✓ Make Sure Your Ducts Are Clean

Similar to holey ducts, dirty ducts also cause heating problems. As time goes on, ductwork can easily become dusty or dirty, especially if it’s left unchecked. When you start using the heater in the winter, the hot air combined with dust can become a fire hazard. The only way to ensure your ducts are clean is to have them regularly checked. However, the danger of dirty ducts can all be prevented with a duct cleaning, which can be performed by a Gator Air & Energy professional.

✓ Have Your Furnace Burner Checked

The furnace burner is the spot in your central heating unit where air and fuel are burned to produce heat. Because there’s an actual flame here, it’s very important that the burner is clean of any dirt, grime, grease, or anything else that could inadvertently catch on fire. This should be looked at by a professional, and a complete heater inspection from an HVAC professional can easily assess and clean out any issues there might be.

✓ Check For Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide is especially important to be aware of if your house has a chimney and you use your fireplace. If unchecked for an extended period of time, a chimney can gather grime and soot to the point where it traps some of the fumes in the house. Amongst those fumes is carbon monoxide. Even if you don’t have a chimney, the furnace burner, electrical wiring, mechanical controls, and more can be potential causes of carbon monoxide.

This colorless, odorless gas is impossible to detect with human senses, so a carbon monoxide test is very important leading into the winter months. Basically, the inspector can ensure that your house is clean of carbon monoxide using specific instruments, and they can help prevent future issues by finding areas where the gas might get trapped in heating the house.

✓ Replace and Maintain Your Air Filter

Dirty air filters can cause dander, germs, and dirt to get transferred throughout the house when they’re not replaced. Replacing your air filter is a quick and easy task, as most air filters have a specific size that can then be bought at a home improvement retailer for a reasonable price. Just removing your vents and replacing them with a clean, new filter will allow for better airflow, cleaner air, and a fresher environment.

✓ Prevent Allergy Season With UV

Airborne germs can collect in your ductwork and then get distributed throughout the house, worsening allergies, causing lung problems, and more. In the winter, when allergies are typically stronger, immune systems can use all the help they can get! Therefore, installing UV lights in your A/C system can help kill any germs hiding in ductwork or coils. These lights can be easily installed by professionals during an inspection.

Contact Gator Air & Energy For a Heater Inspection

Our professional team knows exactly what to do to prepare your home or office for cold weather. With services like duct cleaning, sealing, UV installation, carbon monoxide tests, and more, we can ensure that you are ready to heat your house all winter. Contact us today for a consultation!

5 Tips to Improve Indoor Air Quality in Summer

If you notice that your allergies become more severe in the summer months, it may be because you are spending more time indoors to avoid the Florida heat. But did you know that, according to the EPA, indoor air is 2 to 5 times more polluted than outdoor air? While this statistic is alarming, you can still improve your indoor air quality in the summer with these five tips.

5 Tips to Improve Indoor Air Quality in Summer

Use a Dehumidifier

If you don’t have one already, it may be time to invest in a dehumidifier. During the hot and humid Florida summer months, pests and allergens thrive in the humidity. Dust mites are a common trigger for allergies and asthma, and they love the humidity. However, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, most dust mites die off in low humidity levels or extreme temperatures. Investing in a dehumidifier can help control dust mites and other allergens like mold from forming. Combating the humidity in Florida is difficult, but not impossible!

Have Your Pets Groomed Regularly

Pets shed more in the summer months to keep their bodies cool as well as prepare for their winter coats. Pet dander can negatively impact your indoor air quality and clog your filter faster. furry friends groomed regularly in the summer can help reduce the amount that they shed as well as keep them comfortable. Ask your groomer how short they can safely cut the hair, and try to keep it as short as possible in the summer months. You can also talk to your veterinarian about alternative methods to reduce pet dander in your home.

Change Your Air Filter Every Month

Your air filter is a crucial barrier between you and exposure to indoor air pollutants. Having a filter that is rated at least an 11 on the MERV scale can protect your home from numerous allergens. Equally important is to replace your air filter every month. You would be surprised how quickly an air filter can become ineffective when exposed to numerous allergens, especially in the summer months.

Summer Indoor Air Quality MERV Ratings Gator Air & Energy Gainesville FL

Consider UV Lighting

The inherent problem with AC units is that the ductwork stays cool and collects moisture almost constantly. By installing UV lighting to the interior ductwork, you can kill the mold and bacteria that thrive in those cool, dark environments. UV lighting is a simple and effective solution to reducing allergens in your home not just for the summer but all year round.

Contact Gator Air & Energy to Improve Indoor Air Quality

Gator Air & Energy has extensive experience dealing with indoor air quality. We offer many services that specifically target improving the quality of air in your home, including UV lighting, air filter replacement, and coil and pan cleaning. If you need help improving the air quality in your home, give us a call today.

Remedies For a Dusty Home

Do you catch yourself frequently cleaning your dusty home? Have you ever wondered where the dust comes from and how to prevent it from building up? Over the years, research has proven that the air inside of our homes can sometimes be a lot worse than the air outside. However, with some careful planning and a little elbow grease, we have some tips to help guide you to a cleaner and healthier home. (more…)

Five Tips to Avoid Costly Commercial HVAC Repairs

Commercial HVAC isn’t something you think about day-to-day. It’s designed to run in the background, take as little active maintenance from you as possible, and let you and your team work comfortably.

Until it doesn’t work. Then, it’s all that’s on your mind.

Nobody ever wants to get to that point. It’s an uncomfortable and frustrating interruption. Luckily, just a little forethought can prevent all that.

Preventative Maintenance

You’ve got two options when it comes to commercial HVAC maintenance: a reactionary approach, where you fix it when it breaks. The issue with that approach is that it involves your system breaking.

The other option is proactive and very low effort. Not only does it avoid the interruption of an HVAC system not running well, but it avoids the costs associated with repairs, and keeps your system running well. It involves your system running at peak efficiency.

Scheduling routine maintenance keeps you, your team, and your system happy.

Change Your Filters

You know that chore on your list every few months at home? The one that takes little time to actually accomplish, but keeps your AC running smoothly?

Yes, your commercial HVAC unit runs the same way. Find out what your manufacturer recommends, and take the simple step of changing out your filter when it’s time.

Clean Condenser Coils

If you have a rooftop unit, a lot of gunk can build up. Using a pressure washer (on a light setting) will help get a lot of the excess off, which can save you up to 30% over 20 years. It will help extend the life of your unit, and your unit will run much more efficiently (saving your money on energy costs).

Repair in the Winter

If you know you’ll need an upgrade or repairs that aren’t immediately pressing, wait until the winter. Or, get them out of the way in the winter before the summer months come around. More commercial HVAC technicians will be available in off-peak months, and it’s much better than dealing with emergency maintenance in the heat of summer.

Ask Your Commercial HVAC Professionals If It’s Time To Replace

Cleaning, regular maintenance, and filter changes will go a long way towards keeping your commercial HVAC running, but units still need repairs from time to time.

If you’re noticing that the repairs are getting more frequent, or more expensive, ask your technician if it’s time to replace. It may be more cost-effective in the long run to avoid costly repairs as they build up.

 

Your HVAC unit is important to your office, even though you rarely think about it when it’s doing its job. Contact Gator Air and Energy for more information or to schedule your next maintenance appointment.

Indoor Air Quality Cheat Sheet

Think about where you spend most of your time in an average week. If you’re like most Americans, you spend at least 90 percent of your time inside. Your home is an area that you would never consider a hot bed for air pollutants, but you would be wrong. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) points out that indoor air is often two to five times more polluted than outdoor air, making indoor air quality an important daily consideration. Here’s the ultimate indoor air quality cheat sheet on air quality to help you breathe easier at home every day. 

Choose an Air Filter

While the primary function of an HVAC air filter is to prevent dust from settling on the equipment, an added benefit is cleaner indoor air. When you shop for an air filter replacement, look for the Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV). This tells you how efficient the filter is on a scale from 1 to 16. To maintain a balance between airflow and efficiency, opt for a MERV 5 to 8 filter. Unless you have severe asthma or allergies, this is plenty efficient for your needs.

Run an Air Cleaner

A small portable air cleaner is perfect for your bedroom at night while you sleep. This device collects airborne dust and debris, leaving the air cleaner than ever. If you opt for a whole-house model, it replaces the air filter. This type of installation is known to decrease asthma and allergy symptoms. To learn how to get a whole-house air cleaner in your home, contact Gator Air and Energy.

Change the Filter Regularly

Changing the HVAC filter is one of the easiest ways to help improve indoor air quality. Stock up on a few at a time, that way you can easily replace the filter when the time comes. Plan to check the filter monthly and change it after no more than three months to keep airflow and efficiency at their peak.

Dust and Vacuum Often

It’s easy to put off dusting and vacuuming, but removing dust means you get rid of one of your home’s most prevalent pollutants. Dust with a wet rag or electrostatic cloth instead of a feather duster to trap debris instead of spreading it around. When you vacuum, turn the thermostat setting to ON so the fan blows continuously, drawing up dusty air and filtering it before sending it back into the air you breathe.

Avoid Chemicals

Everything from cleaning products to air fresheners to personal care items give off harmful vapors that become trapped in your home. Avoid chemically laden products and choose non-toxic, non-aerosol, unscented products instead to promote good indoor air quality.

Make Your Pet a Priority

If you want to avoid putting your furry friend up for adoption, make it a priority to brush and bathe your pet regularly. Wash his bedding frequently and make your bedroom a no-go zone for Fido. These efforts should reduce the amount of dander floating around the air and nestling in the upholstery, especially bedding.

Increase Ventilation

Aside from keeping your windows open all the time, whole-house ventilation is the best way to replace stuffy, stale indoor air with fresh, clean outdoor air. If you’re not ready to take that step, utilize existing spot ventilation around your home. For example, run the bathroom exhaust fan when you shower and clean; flip on the kitchen range vent when you cook and clean; and turn on the laundry room exhaust vent when clothes are drying. These habits help you eliminate pollutants at the source. With our ultimate indoor air quality cheat sheet, you’ll be breathing easier in no time.

Contact Gator Air & Energy for Indoor Air Quality Services

If you’re in the Gainesville, Florida area and are looking to improve the air quality in your home, call Gator Air and Energy. Our technicians care about the comfort of your home and wish to help you live a healthier lifestyle through indoor air quality. Call us today to learn more.

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