Baker & Sons Air Conditioning Blog

Sarasota HVAC Tip: Improving Indoor Air Quality with UV Germicidal Lights

April 2nd, 2012

Ultraviolet germicidal lights improve indoor air quality in your Sarasota home by killing the harmful bacteria, viruses, and toxic mold that can cause respiratory problems and other health concerns. These microorganisms spread by releasing airborne spores containing the genetic material used to create a new organism. UV lights use a wavelength of ultraviolet light to destroy the organism’s DNA, which takes away their reproductive capabilities and also kills them.

UV germicidal lights are fairly inexpensive and can be installed to work with your existing Sarasota forced air HVAC system. They are typically used in tandem with either an electronic or mechanical air cleaner. While air cleaners can filter pollen and other irritants, UV germicidal lights destroy the viruses and mold spores once these pollutants have been trapped by the air cleaner. After the air has been filtered through your Sarasota HVAC system, it will circulate more easily through system and increase the efficiency of the unit. In addition, UV lights are useful in killing hidden mold growth, which can only be detected by special thermal imaging equipment.

Homeowners with particularly chronic allergy problems or extremely poor indoor air quality choose to install both types of air cleaners, in addition to a UV light, for the ultimate protection from indoor air pollutants—from bacteria to pet dander.  If your home lacks adequate ventilation, or if you are unable to control the source of common pollutants, you might benefit greatly by installing UV germicidal lights. Poor indoor air circulation can exacerbate the spread of harmful microorganisms, so make sure you have proper ventilation if you don’t have UV lights in your home.

UV germicidal lights have also been used to filter tap water because they are more reliable and easier to install than other water treatment systems. However, they are typically used to provide cleaner indoor air.

Call Baker & Sons if you have questions or concerns about the quality of the air inside your Sarasota home.

Sarasota Springs HVAC Guide: Why Routine Maintenance Improves IAQ

March 26th, 2012

Furnaces and air conditioners in Sarasota Springs are by far the most common way to circulate air throughout homes, offices and institutions, heating in the winter months and cooling in the summer.  Adjust the thermostat and controlled air is delivered almost immediately.

If a system is not regularly and properly maintained, however, that air can be dirty, dusty and full of odor, having passed through the heat exchanger, filters and ductwork that have accumulated a build-up of residue over time.  IAQ or interior air quality quickly deteriorates.

The Basics

HVAC systems heat or cool air at a central point. The air passes through filters to sift out dust and unwanted particles, then travels through a system of ductwork to be delivered to the space.  Return air ducts bring it back to the central point.

Along the way, the air accumulates the dust, germs and debris of the places it inhabits.  Over time, the filters become clogged and eventually contribute more contamination to the processed air than they can clean.  The enclosed and hard to reach ducts are also deposits of dust and decorated with spider webs that are quickly another form of filter that gives back more than it receives.

The Costs

Without routine maintenance, the system runs poorly and distributes more dirt into the living space than it is able to filter and clean, reducing the quality of life for the inhabitants, homeowners.  Poor air quality can lead to serious health issues.

Not only does the quality of the air decrease, the strain on the system lowers efficiency.  Having to work harder consumes more energy, creating an immediate and noticeable rise in utility bills.  The stress also reduces the lifetime of your Sarasota Springs HVAC system and requires more rapid replacements of parts or the entire furnace, a huge financial cost.

Regular Maintenance is the Easy Solution

To maintain high levels of quality air, it is essential to schedule regular replacements of filters and a clean-out of the ducts.  The filters are accessible as part of the furnace and air conditioners and easily swapped out by the home owner once or (better) twice a year.

Ductwork, however, is enclosed and often out of site, just as easily out of mind and certainly harder to reach.  Scheduling duct cleaning along with an inspection and routine maintenance of the entire system with a licensed company such as Baker & Sons Air Conditioning, Inc. ensures longevity and efficiency along with peace of mind.

Bradenton Air Conditioning Installation Tip: Why it Is Important to Examine Your Ducts

March 21st, 2012

For most Bradenton homeowners the day a new air conditioner gets installed is a great one. It means you can look forward to plenty of days of cool comfort, sheltered from the blistering summer heat that would otherwise make you feel sticky and sluggish.

Before that installation can take place, however, there are many smaller tasks that must be performed. You have to do some research, shop around, consult with a Bradenton HVAC contractor and finally decide on the best system for your home. Finally, you should have your ducts examined.

Your ducts are the pathway by which cooled air will be distributed through your home. Without regular maintenance, ducts are less efficient in transferring air and can cost you money, not only in electricity but in air quality control. Like any major component of your HVAC system, they need to be properly maintained to work properly.

So, you want your ducts to be in tip top shape for your new AC system. Having a professional inspect them thoroughly prior to installation will identify any damage, dirt, debris, leaks, corrosion or other trouble spots that could impede your air conditioning.

This gives you the opportunity to get any of those problems fixed before the new system is installed. Plus, a professional inspection is an important part of routine duct maintenance anyway. Having it done at this juncture is easier and ensures you know will have a smooth running air conditioner for some time to come.

Having duct work in good repair is vital to the operation of your HVAC system, including the new AC system you want to install. If you are contemplating having a new air conditioning system installed or even if you are not, now is the time to call Baker & Sons Air Conditioning, Inc. for full inspection of your ductwork. Especially if you have a forced air heating system and those ducts are used year round, you want to know for a fact that they will work properly in the future, no matter what is hooked up to them.

Boyette Heat Pump Repair Tip: Signs You Should Replace Your Heat Pump

March 14th, 2012

The decision to replace major equipment can be a difficult one. How do you know when to call it quits on a part of your Boyette heating and cooling system that is as important as the heat pump?

Here are some signs that you should replace your heat pump:

  • If your heat pumps is making significantly more noise than it used to, it can be sign of major mechanical distress. Many times, replacement is the best solution.
  • Some components of a heat pump cost as much or more to repair as the whole unit does to replace. These components may include the compressor, the outdoor coil, the accumulator and the reversing valve. Once one of these goes, you are often better off replacing the heat pump than the broken component. Additionally, when repairs become so frequent as to no longer be cost effective, it’s a good time to replace the equipment.
  • A malfunctioning heat pump can cause problems with the humidity in your home. This is not a definitive indicator, but if you notice the humidity level rising in your home, you may need a heat pump replacement.
  • Any time your energy bill rises without a significant increase in usage, faulty or failing equipment is one of the top suspects. Your heat pump could very well be the culprit.
  • If you notice a cooling imbalance, such as rooms being too warm while others are too cool, your heat pump may be close to breaking.
  • Finally, if your heat pump is ten or more years old, replacing it is a good idea, even if it seems to be working fine. A new model will be much more efficient and chances are that the old one is headed for a major breakdown soon.

Keep in mind that these are not always definitive signs that your heat pump is done for good. Also, some of these may occur in combination. For example, you may have an old heat pump that is making a lot of noise and causing humidity problems.

Consult with Baker & Sons for full diagnostics before making the decision to replace any major household equipment.

Your Branches Hammock HVAC System and the Gas Line

March 7th, 2012

What happens if you lose your gas line? What relationship does that simple copper pipe have to the comfort control of your Branches Hammock home? It depends largely on the scope of your HVAC system and what time of the year you lose gas, but the answer is almost always that it will have a pretty big impact.

What Uses Gas in Your Home?

There are a number of components that use gas in your home. The first and most common is your furnace, but you will find that your water heater may also use a gas line and some packaged air conditioning systems use gas for heating components.

  • Heating – If you have a gas line, it’s very likely that your heating system uses gas as an energy source. It’s the least expensive of the three major energy sources (oil, gas and electricity) and gas furnaces are extremely efficient. In terms of how much gas you will use, one cubic foot of gas contains 1040 BTUs of heating energy per hour.So, if your furnace offers 100,000 BTUs of heating capacity, it would use 96.15 cubic feet of natural gas when running at full capacity. Keep in mind, though, that a gas furnace is rated with an AFUE rating. This is the percentage of the fuel consumed that is actually converted to heat. So, if your AFUE rating is 90%, your actual BTU production would be 90,000 for the same 96.15 cubic feet of gas. The cost of natural gas varies by location, but is generally around $1 per cubic foot.
  • Water Heating – For a water heater, gas rates are charged by kWh. Your water heater should have a placard or sheet that lists its maximum production per hour so you can determine how much gas it uses per hour when your hot water is in high demand.

Gas is a highly volatile substance and while there are a number of safety measures implemented in your Branches Hammock home to protect your family, it’s important to ensure the gas lines are well maintained. Annual maintenance is a must to keep the gas working properly. If you do notice a leak or sudden loss of gas, don’t call a contractor – call the gas company immediately as it could be an emergency.

Casey Key HVAC Tip: Most Energy Efficient Upgrades for Your Home

February 29th, 2012

Before you decide which upgrades will make your Casey Key home more efficient, it would be best to get a home energy audit. You can do this yourself with a few simple tests, or you can hire a professional auditor. The auditor will use advanced equipment and techniques, such as blower doors and infrared cameras, to detect air leaks and places that need more insulation.

When your home is properly insulated and sealed, here are some upgrades you’ll want to think about to make your home more efficient.

High-Efficiency Furnaces & Heat Pumps

If you have an old single-stage furnace, it is time to upgrade. These furnaces were designed to run on two settings—either off or on, and when they are on, they run at full speed. Not only do they lose heat this way, but they also take longer to warm up your home. The new two-speed and multispeed models run at lower speeds to maintain a constant temperature. You can also buy ones with variable-speed blowers that operate on various speeds, which are the most efficient. Heat pumps are a good option if you need both heat and A/C in your home. While most heat pumps are manufactured to be efficient by design, the newer models are the most efficient way to heat and cool your home. If you have a heat pump older than 15 years, talk to an HVAC technician about a heat pump replacement.

Solar Water Heaters

When you’ve upgraded your heating system, it may be time to install a more efficient water heater. Solar water heaters are gaining popularity, and they are the most efficient way to save hot water if certain factors are in place, such as sunlight exposure and high fuel costs.

Water-Saving Toilets & Low-flow Plumbing Fixtures

Duel flush, or water-saving toilets are an excellent choice for an upgrade if you want to save water. These toilets use less water overall, and you have the option of using more or less water each time you flush. Installing low flow faucets and fixtures can also provide up to 60% in utility savings. Low flow plumbing fixtures reduce the flow rate for each fixture or application, which reduces the overall amount water used in the home.

Don’t hesitate to call Baker & Sons if you have any questions about upgrading your Casey Key home.

Bayshore Gardens Air Conditioning Repair Tip: Common Air Conditioner Problems

February 24th, 2012

Air conditioners are an important part of our lives in Bayshore Gardens. They keep us comfortable despite overbearing heat and humidity outside all summer, but because they run constantly for months and because they are such complicated pieces of machinery, they are prone to a number of problems. Here are some of the most common problems you’re likely to run into with an air conditioner and how to solve them:

 Leaks

A common problem that many people ignore or are unaware of is refrigerant leakage. It is possible that when the system was installed, it wasn’t properly charged, but most of the time if your system is low on refrigerant, it is because of a leak. You can’t just pour more refrigerant in and call it good, though.

The leak needs to be fixed, both for health and environmental reasons. If you notice that your system is low on refrigerant or you smell something off – often like acetone, call Baker & Sons Air Conditioning immediately for inspection and repair.

 Sensors

An air conditioner doesn’t do you any good if the sensors don’t work properly. Improperly working sensors will fail to properly read the temperature in the home or from your thermostat. So, it might be 80+ degrees in your home but if the thermostat reads it as 72, the system won’t turn on. The air conditioner itself probably still works fine, but unless it can successfully read the temperature, you won’t get the cooling you need to stay comfortable.

Check first to see if the sensor was moved or knocked toward the evaporator coil (which will keep the temperature reading low).

 Drainage problems

Your air conditioner acts as a dehumidifier as well, producing a liquid known as condensate. This liquid usually drains from the air conditioner into a designated area away from your Bayshore Gardens home. However, if the condensate drain gets clogged or if the system wasn’t properly installed, that condensate can start to build up in your home. If you notice leakage around the coils, you may need a pump to remove the condensate properly.

Properly maintaining your air conditioner can usually be done with regular maintenance each year, but if one of these problems pops up, call Baker & Sons and get them fixed right away.

Southgate HVAC Installation Question: What Is Involved in Replacing an Old System?

February 22nd, 2012

When your Southgate home’s HVAC system starts to fail — or if it already has — your options essentially come down to two: replace or repair. There are a lot of factors that go into making such a decision, but in general, if it is a newer system with a small problem and you haven’t had much trouble with it, then a simple repair clearly makes sense.

For older systems, or ones that have been repaired all to often lately, or ones that seem to be on their last legs, repair may be the only reasonable course of action.

Surely you know that a total system replacement would be a big job, but have you ever thought about just how big? Sure, you know you will have to swap out the failing furnace, and you may as well replace the air conditioning unit while you’re in there, but that’s it, right?

Actually, there is a lot more to an HVAC system than just those two machines. Think about all the behind-the-scenes components and the little components that are often overlooked, such as:

  • Ducts – Keep in mind that your ducts are probably as old as that furnace you are replacing, and that a new, efficient unit cannot operate at nearly its full potential with faulty duct work.
  • Thermostats – Your old ones may not even be compatible with a new furnace or air conditioner.
  • Wiring – For the thermostat, among other things.
  • Insulation – Many homeowners forget that insulation is part of an HVAC system, too. Just like we said about duct work, old insulation does not help a new system achieve maximum performance.
  • Piping – Such as refrigerant piping on a geothermal system or a ductless air conditioning system.

You can see that the job starts to get pretty complex pretty fast. This doesn’t mean you should shy away from a necessary replacement, just make sure that you fully consider the scope of what you need done, as well as the budget and time frame you have to work with. If you have any questions about replacing your Southgate home’s HVAC system, give Baker & Sons AC a call today!

Happy President’s Day from Your Sarasota, Manatee & Charlotte County HVAC Contractor!

February 20th, 2012

Happy President’s Day from everyone at Baker & Sons AC! Today we celebrate all of the great leaders that helped make our county what it is today. It is also a great time to think about ways you can help improve your community. Whatever town you live in, there are always ways you can help make it even better.  If everyone takes a little time to volunteer or help a neighbor, it can make a big difference! Remember that upgrading your HVAC system will make it more energy efficient, and making your house more green is good for everyone!

It’s an old tradition to celebrate Washington’s Birthday with cherries, in honor of the famous cherry tree story, so here is a recipe for some delicious cherry pie!

“You ‘ll be able to tell that this is a prize-winning recipe. The crust is flaky and buttery, the cherry filling is thick and perfectly sweetened, and there’s a lovely hint of almond extract.”

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup shortening

1/2 cup cold water

1 pinch salt

2 cups pitted sour cherries

1 1/4 cups white sugar

10 teaspoons cornstarch

1 tablespoon butter

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

DIRECTIONS:

1. Cut the shortening into the flour and salt with the whisking blades of a stand mixer until the crumbs are pea sized. Mix in cold water. Refrigerate until chilled through. Roll out dough for a two crust pie. Line a 9 inch pie pan with pastry.

2. Place the cherries, sugar, and cornstarch in a medium size non-aluminum saucepan. Allow the mixture to stand for 10 minutes, or until the cherries are moistened with the sugar. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Lower the heat; simmer for 1 minute, or until the juices thicken and become translucent. Remove pan from heat, and stir in butter and almond extract. Pour the filling into the pie shell. Cover with top crust.

3. Bake in a preheated 375 degree F (190 degree C) oven for 45 to 55 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown.

For more details, visit allrecipes.com.

Lido Key Indoor Air Quality Question: How Tightly Should You Seal Your Home?

February 17th, 2012

More and more products and solutions are available to us these days to help seal our Lido Key homes off from the outside world. The idea is that by keeping outside air out, our homes are more energy efficient and healthier, because all pollutants and pathogens are barred from entry.

This is a good idea in theory, but it can have its drawbacks. Most notably, sealing your home up too much can be bad for your family’s health. If your home is sealed too tightly such that there is not enough air flow from within the home to the outside and vice versa, then the indoor air just…stays indoors.

That means that all the sneezes, coughs, dust, dander, smoke and carbon dioxide stay inside with it. All that stuff can make you sick, completely flying in the face of your efforts to stay healthy by sealing your home.

Now, that’s not to say that sealing your home is a bad thing. Using LEED glass in your windows does keep heat in and increase heating efficiency. Air filters do help eliminate pollutants and pathogens from the outside than can make you sick. Good insulation and intact ductwork do help keep your home comfortable and efficient in both the cold and hot months.

So, sealing your home is not a bad idea. The trick is to not go overboard and seal it up so tightly that you are crossing the threshold from having a healthy home to having a giant Petri dish. You want to have a home that is insulated, but not vacuum sealed. You want a home with filtered air, but still plenty of air exchange with the outside world.  Thankfully, mechanical ventilation is a way to both keep your home energy efficient and keep your indoor air from getting stale.

To help you with this endeavor, there are guides available online, such as at the ENERGY STAR website. In addition, it is a good idea to consult with Baker & Sons Air Conditioning and ask plenty of questions when building a new home or making improvements to your current one. A qualified Lido Key technician will know how to insulate and ventilate your home properly to protect your family’s health.