You’ve boarded the pets, asked the neighbors to get the mail, and turned off all your appliances and lights. You’ve taken care of everything, and now you can enjoy a few weeks of well-earned vacation away from the hassles and tasks at home.
Not quite. Before you hit the road, there are a few things you need to do regarding your HVAC system to keep it in good shape and ready to resume service when you return. At the end of your vacation, the last thing you want to do is return to a hot, sweltering home and a big heating contractor bill because you failed to take a few simple precautions before leaving on your trip.
Your HVAC unit is one of the most complex pieces of machinery in your home. It’s also one of the biggest consumers of energy, accounting for about 48 percent of energy use in the typical home in America, and likely even more in hot and humid areas like Tampa. Properly maintaining it when it’s in use and during periods of dormancy such as vacation travel will help preserve the longevity of your unit and help you keep your energy costs down.
Vacation HVAC Checklist
Before your next vacation, be sure to take care of these tasks to keep your unit in good repair and to lower energy costs while you’re gone:
- Turn it down, don’t turn it off – Contrary to popular belief, you shouldn’t completely shut down your HVAC unit while you’re gone. HVAC units are designed for regular usage, and when they are inactive for long periods, important components can deteriorate and operate at diminished capacity when put back into regular use. Also, when your HVAC isn’t active for long periods of time, moisture can build up in your home, creating conditions where mold can flourish.
- Change the air filters – Under normal conditions, you should change your air filters once a month to prevent them from becoming clogged. While you’re gone, your HVAC unit will be running less often, and dirt and dust will have less of an opportunity to build up on the filters.
- Prepare for adverse weather – Tampa is prone to storms during the summer, and these storms can cause damage to an HVAC unit. The most likely cause of storm damage to an HVAC unit is that of downed trees and limbs. Before leaving on vacation, inspect the area around your unit to see if there are any limbs hanging over it. If there are, remove them. Also, clear the area of underbrush and other objects a storm could cause to collide with your unit.
- Give your home a good vacuuming – Dust and other contaminants will accumulate while you’re gone and will circulate through your HVAC system. Reduce the amount of dust and allergens available to accumulate by giving your home a thorough vacuuming and cleaning before you leave for vacation.
When preparing to leave your home for a vacation, turn your thermostat up by about five degrees. Your unit won’t run as often as it does when you’re there, and the need for a comfortable temperature is paramount, but it will run enough to prevent moisture buildup and to provide sufficient activity for the system. Experts say the ideal temperature to turn up your unit to in the Tampa area is around 80 degrees.
You should still pop a fresh one in the unit before you leave to ensure the unit has the best possible protection from dirt and dust while you’re away. If you’re leaving for an extended vacation of several months, it may be worthwhile to have a neighbor or your regular ac maintenance technician change the filter a few times during your absence.
- Ensure sufficient airflow to your outdoor unit – Good airflow is essential to the operation of your HVAC unit. When the outdoor unit’s air intake is clogged, it has to work harder to perform, consuming more energy and putting more wear and tear on the device. Before leaving on vacation, check the intake on your unit and clear any leaves, limbs, or grass clippings from it.
- Make sure all windows are closed – Closing all the windows will reduce the amount of hot air entering your home, causing your unit to run less often. It’s also just good common sense from a security and safety standpoint.
- Close all your blinds and curtains – Blocking sunlight from entering your home will reduce the temperature inside, thus reducing your unit’s workload. You’ll want to make sure that there’s no direct sun shining on your unit’s thermostat, as this can cause it to indicate the room is hotter than it actually is, resulting in increased usage of the unit.
- Make sure the unit isn’t leaking – A leaking unit is the sign of a serious problem. If your unit is leaking, resolve the issue before you leave for vacation. An AC technician can quickly diagnose the problem and make a fix, averting the likelihood that the leak will result in the system failing. Replacing a system is much more expensive than fixing one, in most cases, so you’ll need to take care of this problem ASAP.
- Make sure all vents are open – Open all the vents in your home to ensure that air flows throughout the system and your house. HVAC systems are designed to operate with maximum airflow, so opening the vents will allow the system to operate in optimal conditions while you are away.
- Clean your system’s condenser coils – Your outdoor condenser coils are vital to the operation of your system. Condenser coils take heat collected from your home and release it into the outdoor air. When condenser coils are dirty, they won’t function at peak efficiency.
You can easily clean your condenser coils with water and coil cleaner but, if you’re not comfortable with doing this, you can get an firm to handle the job for you. If you clean the coils yourself, be sure to turn off the power to the unit before beginning work.
Keeping your coils clean is one of the most helpful things you can do to reduce energy consumption. According to the Department of Energy, dirty coils can increase the amount of energy needed to run your unit by about 30 percent . Giving the coils a good cleaning before leaving for vacation helps ensure they don’t accumulate debris and dirt that can hinder their effectiveness.
- Use a smart thermostat – If you haven’t invested in a smart thermostat yet, now may be an opportune time. Smart thermostats allow you to program your thermostat to run at certain times or maintain certain temperatures. Many can be managed remotely from your mobile device.
Smart thermostats are great for people who own multiple vacation properties, as they can adjust those properties’ thermostats remotely for reduced use when guests aren’t in residence. For vacationers, a smart thermostat can ensure that they don’t return to an uncomfortably hot home.
By taking appropriate steps before they hit the road, vacationers can avoid expensive A/C repair bills when they return. Homeowners can also avoid expensive repair work by entering into service agreements with reputable ac repair and maintenance companies. These contracts provide regular service, such as inspections, coolant recharging, duct cleaning, and more and can help homeowners avoid having to replace their units too early.
Air Rescue is a Tampa HVAC repair and maintenance firm offering a wide range of services, including ac repair, ac maintenance, duct repair and replacement, total system rejuvenation, and furnace repair and replacement. For comprehensive care from a firm with the experience and expertise to handle all problems, contact Air Rescue today.
Most people give little thought to their HVAC system’s ductwork until something has gone horribly (and expensively) wrong with it. This is a huge mistake as a little preventative air duct maintenance can go a long way toward keeping your system running efficiently and preserving the indoor air quality of your home or business.
Let’s face it. Here in Tampa, air conditioning is something you just can’t live without. With average highs in the low-to-mid 90s in the summer and an average daily humidity of around 74 percent , life in Tampa becomes quickly unbearable without a properly functioning air conditioning unit.
Your air ducts are important infrastructure for your HVAC system. Your ducts provide a conduit for the cool or heated air produced by your HVAC system to flow into the various rooms of your home to achieve your desired temperature. When ducts are obstructed or have leaks, it can cause your system to lose efficiency, running up your energy bill and increasing wear and tear on your HVAC unit.
Air conditioning repair experts recommend duct cleaning every few years to dislodge dirt and other debris in the ducts. If your ducts haven’t been cleaned in a while, here are a few signs that cleaning is needed immediately.
Warning Signs Your Ducts Need Cleaning
- Unexplained spikes in your energy bills – If your bills are climbing and there’s no good explanation for the hike, such as increased usage or mechanical problems with your unit, you may have clogs or leaks in your ducts that are reducing the system’s efficiency. Air conditioning repair services can inspect your ducts to see if this is the problem and take steps to clean and seal your ducts as needed.
- Signs of rodent or insect infestation – If you see or smell evidence that rodents or insects may be living in your ducts, it’s definitely time to have your ducts cleaned. Debris from these infestations can cause damage to your HVAC system, reducing its efficiency. Over time, the smell from droppings and other debris can also become highly unpleasant. Also, having contaminants from rodent or insect droppings and shells and husks from insects circulating through the air that you and your guests breathe can cause sickness. A rodent or insect infestation in your ducts represents a big health threat, and one you should deal with immediately.
- Dirt and debris around your vents – If you’re noticing dirt and debris around your vents, there’s a very good chance that your ducts have developed blockages or have a high amount of contaminants circulating through the system. High levels of dirt and debris circulating through your system can exacerbate allergies and other respiratory problems, so it’s well worth your while to have your ducts cleaned.
- Unexplained respiratory problems – If you or members of your family are having unexplained allergy, sinus, asthma, or other respiratory problems, excessive dirt and debris circulating through your ducts may be the problem. Air cycles through your home about seven times a day, and if your ducts have high levels of dirt and debris, it can have a big impact on indoor air quality. If sneezing and wheezing have become a problem in your home, and if it’s been years since your last duct cleaning, you may want to call an air conditioning maintenance company out to inspect your ducts and clean them.
- Visible mold growth – Because of Tampa’s humid climate, mold growth is a huge problem here. Mold exposure in homes has been linked to many health issues , some of them very serious. Mold can often cause respiratory issues, eye irritation, throat irritation, and even skin irritation. People with compromised immune systems or chronic lung illnesses may develop serious infections if exposed to mold.
If you see mold growing around your vents or inside your ducts, do not hesitate to call an air conditioning repair company to perform an inspection and cleaning of your ducts. Mold is more prevalent in Florida than most parts of the country, so homeowners must be constantly vigilant against this serious health threat. Catching mold infestations early before they can spread throughout the home and become difficult to eradicate can help reduce the cost of remedying this problem.
- Dusty air filters or air return grilles – If your recently installed air filter is covered in dust, chances are that your ducts are clogged and need cleaning. Return air grilles with thick, fuzzy coatings of dust are also indicators of a duct problem.
How Ducts Are Cleaned
Professional duct cleaning services can provide a thorough cleaning far beyond what the average homeowner can do on his or her own. Air conditioner maintenance service technicians have specialized tools and training that allow them to remove nearly all dust and contaminants from duct work, even in the most hard-to-reach places.
When duct cleaning services visit your home, they’ll often inspect the unit and ducts. Technicians will use small cameras to check the more inaccessible areas of the ducts. After inspection, technicians will use specialized brushes and tools to loosen debris within your ducts.
Next, they will use a vacuum to remove dirt and debris from the ducts. They will also likely clean the cooling coils and the blower unit. Your technician may also decontaminate your ducts with germ and odor-killing compounds. In addition to cleaning the ducts and other parts of your unit, your technician will also clean grilles and vents.
If your technicians detect leaks in your ducts, they may offer to seal these leaks. It’s well worth your while to have leaks sealed, as the U.S. Department of Energy estimates that 20 to 30 percent of the air that moves through your home is lost through leaks in your duct work. A properly sealed duct system can reduce air loss, thus reducing the amount of work your HVAC system must do to maintain comfortable temperatures in your home.
Taking care of your ducts can reduce your power bills and increase the longevity of your HVAC system by reducing its workload. As new HVAC systems can cost thousands of dollars to install, keeping your system running efficiently for as long as possible can save you lots of money. Regular cleaning of your HVAC ducts can also greatly benefit the indoor air quality in your home or place of business.
Poor indoor air quality is being increasingly linked to a variety of illnesses , and modern home design has made maintaining good indoor air quality difficult because new homes are so tightly sealed for energy efficiency purposes. Cleaning your ducts can help keep mold and contaminants from constantly recirculating through your home and giving rise to respiratory and other illnesses.
When hiring a company to perform air duct cleaning services, make sure you hire a professional company with the tools, training, and experience to do the job correctly. Check online reviews and ask your friends and neighbors who they use for air conditioner service. Talk to prospective service providers about their professional credentials and experience. Also, don’t be afraid to ask prospective providers for references.
Air Rescue is a Tampa-based air conditioning repair and maintenance company. In business since 1946, Air Rescue has experienced staff and a well-earned reputation for excellence. Air Rescue also is committed to staying abreast of the latest changes to the HVAC industry—the company’s technicians regularly train with the newest HVAC technologies. The company has several affordable maintenance options available to customers, including a club membership program that provides discounts on important repair and maintenance services.
It is important to check your furnace and air conditioner throughout the year, but it is most important during the summer and winter seasons. When you check your furnace’s pilot light, pay attention to the color of the flame. This is very important to the continued function of your old or new furnace in Tampa . Normally, the flame should be blue, but here is what it means if the flame is yellow:
A yellow flame in your pilot light typically means that there is dirt in the burner. If there is dirt, then the natural gas and surrounding air are not mixing correctly. When these gaseous materials do not mix properly, you may risk running an inefficient furnace or suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning. The yellow flame indicates that the gas is not being lit completely, so your heater may not heat up well enough; or carbon monoxide may not be burned up enough, which can then leak into your home. If you notice an irregular flame color, then call a qualified HVAC repair company right away.
When you are shopping for a new air conditioner , you will want to learn about SEER ratings. In this video, you will receive a detailed explanation of SEER ratings and how they affect the performance of your air conditioner. To achieve the best efficiency from your ac installation in Tampa, you will want to purchase an air conditioning unit that has a SEER rating of 16 or higher. A higher SEER rating translates into improved efficiency from a heating and air conditioning system.
For answers to your questions about SEER ratings, be sure to get in touch with an HVAC company that serves your local area. A team of air conditioning installation experts can explain how SEER ratings are calculated, and they can also tell you more about the advantages of upgrading your current air conditioner to a new, energy efficient model.
As winter nears, many homeowners start turning their attention to heating and air conditioning maintenance in Tampa. An effective and efficient HVAC system plays a critical role in keeping your home comfortable once cold weather hits, meaning that seasonal tune-ups are a must. The following steps should be completed before it gets too cold to help ensure that your HVAC system is ready for winter.
Change the Filters
Cleaning or switching out the filters is one of the most important things that you can do to help keep your heating and air conditioning working well and efficiently. When the filters become too clogged with debris, this forces the system to work harder to heat and cool your home, a problem which can shorten its lifespan and raise your energy bills. Additionally, the filter is what helps keep your indoor air clean, so changing it every 1 to 3 months can help maintain your indoor air quality.
Inspect the Unit
While the majority of HVAC maintenance should be handled by professionals, performing an occasional visual inspection is a great way for you to catch any warning signs of a potential problem. Start by trimming back any overgrown foliage and removing any debris that may have accumulated around the external unit. If you notice water or any or leaks, dirty condenser or evaporator coils, or frozen coils, contact a heating and air conditioning technician about a maintenance visit. Performing these checks and arranging maintenance visits as needed can help prevent small issues from turning into larger and more expensive ones.
Schedule HVAC Maintenance
While you should always contact an HVAC repair company when the system isn’t functioning well, being proactive and scheduling preventive maintenance is a great way to extend the lifespan of your heating and air conditioning unit and to keep the system running smoothly year-round. HVAC technicians are busiest in summer and winter, so spring and autumn are ideal seasons in which to have your HVAC unit tuned up before extreme temperatures arrive.
During the hot summer months, there are several steps that you can take to beat the heat and help your air conditioner operate at its best efficiency. In this video, you will tour some handy tips to help you keep your home cool in the summer. Your air conditioner will be able to cool your home more effectively when you install shades, curtains, or awnings over the sunniest windows in your home. Additionally, you can save energy when you connect your heating and air conditioning to a programmable thermostat. With a brand new ac installation in Tampa, you can rest assured that your air conditioning unit is operating at the best level of efficiency. By keeping these simple times in mind, you can achieve the best cooling performance from your air conditioning system.
Your air ducts are one of the most integral parts of your heating and cooling system. When you are experiencing trouble with the performance of your HVAC, you may want to consider scheduling air duct cleaning with a company that specializes in HVAC repair in Tampa.
When your HVAC technician arrives at your home, you may have the option of choosing to either clean your air ducts, or replace them entirely. If your air duct problems are primarily caused by a build up of dirt and debris, you may be a good candidate for an air duct cleaning service. By contrast, air ducts that have collapsed or started to leak should be replaced. By working with your HVAC professional to assess the precise problem with your air duct system, you will have a better idea of whether cleaning or replacing your air ducts will be the appropriate choice for the needs of your HVAC system.
If the ducts in your HVAC system are having a negative impact on the air quality inside of your home or leaking and causing your energy bills to skyrocket, you might be thinking about repairing or replacing them. Before you do, you should do your homework to make sure that you don’t give up on ducts that can be cleaned or clean ducts that should be replaced. A company that specializes in HVAC repair in Tampa will be able to help you regardless of which decision you make. Here are some tips to help make that decision easier.
Repair ducts that contain dirt, dust, and other debris in them.
Are the ducts in your home affecting your indoor air quality and causing allergic reactions in those in your family? You can change that by having air duct cleaning done. As long as your ducts are metal and don’t have a lining inside of them, they can be cleaned easily and restored to their original condition.
Replace ducts that have extensive mold growth in them.
While you can safely clean a small amount of mold from ducts, you shouldn’t attempt to clean ducts if they contain excessive mold growth. Often times, an HVAC company won’t be able to completely clean the mold off of your ducts, and you may face serious health risks as a result of it.
Repair ducts that have small leaks in them.
Small leaks in your ducts can force your HVAC system to work harder to heat and cool your home. By repairing these leaks, you can make your HVAC system more efficient and keep your home more comfortable than it is now.
Replace ducts that have collapsed completely.
Collapsed ducts in your HVAC system will reduce the airflow throughout your home and make it impossible for your system to keep up with your heating and cooling demands. You should replace ducts that are damaged beyond repair so that you can start heating and cooling your home more effectively.
Even if it doesn’t seem like there’s anything wrong with your HVAC system, there are probably parts of it that aren’t running as efficiently as they should. By having an HVAC tune-up done, you can improve the efficiency of your HVAC system, cut down on your energy costs, and prevent major problems in the future. Air Rescue Air Conditioning can perform a furnace and AC tune-up in St. Petersburg and bring your HVAC system back to life.
We provide our customers with a Total System Rejuvenation service that was developed by a former U.S. Air Force mechanic and licensed engineer. This service takes about two hours to complete and will do wonders for your HVAC system. We will check every single aspect of your HVAC system, sanitize it, and provide you with a six-month guarantee against any kind of HVAC breakdown. Our goal is to improve both your heating and air and to ensure that your HVAC system stays up and running for the foreseeable future. When you call on Air Rescue Air Conditioning for heating and air conditioning service in Sarasota, you will be impressed by our attention to detail and our unique Total System Rejuvenation service.
A furnace filter will usually only cost you a few dollars, but it’s one of the most important investments you will make when comes to maintaining your HVAC system. Your furnace filter stops dirt, dust, debris, allergens, and other contaminants from entering your HVAC system, and it can prevent the need for furnace repair in Tampa down the line. It’s why you should make sure you replace your furnace filter at least once every few months, if not sooner. Here are some tips for choosing the right furnace filter for your home.
Select a furnace filter based on how clean you want your home’s air to be.
Do you have allergies, or does someone in your family suffer from them? Or do you have a pet that sheds a lot? If so, you probably want to look for a furnace filter that is designed to filter out allergens and pet dander. It will help your HVAC system as a whole and keep your home’s air cleaner. If you don’t need to worry about things like allergies or pets, though, you might not necessarily need a furnace filter equipped to filter allergens and dander. It really all depends on what you need to filter out of your home’s air. Make sure you buy the best possible furnace filter for your specific situation.
Find out the MERV rating of a furnace filter before buying it.
MERV stands for “minimum efficiency reporting value.” It’s a rating that determines how effective your furnace filter is , and every furnace filter on the market should have a MERV rating that’s clearly labeled. The higher the MERV rating, the better, so when you are shopping for a new furnace filter, look for this rating.
Steer clear of relying on a reusable furnace filter that requires extensive maintenance.
Reusable furnace filters sound like a good idea in theory, but many of them are difficult to clean. If you are prepared to maintain them properly, they can be effective, but most homeowners opt to use disposable furnace filters that are easy to replace in their furnaces.
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