Archive for February, 2012

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

Wednesday, 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

Friday, 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?

Wednesday, 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!

Monday, 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?

Friday, 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.

 

Happy Valentine’s Day from Your Sarasota Area Heating and Air Conditioning Contractor!

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

Everyone at Baker & Sons Air Conditioning, Inc. wishes you a very happy Valentine’s Day! We hope you have a day filled with lots of candy, flowers, and Valentines! Today is all about showing your appreciation for those you love, including your friends, your family, or your significant other. Take a moment today to think about everyone who makes a difference in your life and how you can let them know how special they are to you.

While traditional gifts like candy and flowers are wonderful idea, why not think a little out of the box this year? Upgrading your HVAC system can make your whole house more comfortable, which is something that your entire family will appreciate! A new air filtration system can help you breathe easier, and a new heating and cooling system can significantly lower your energy bills. While not the most romantic of gifts, it certainly will let your family know that you care.

For more information about how a few HVAC upgrades can make your house more comfortable, give Baker & Sons Air Conditioning, Inc. a call. In addition to making your home cozier, you can also make your friends and family happy by making this delicious recipe for Fudge Truffle Cheesecake:

“When the chocolate addict in you begs for a sweet fix, bake this fluffy chocolate cheesecake over a chocolate cookie crust. Decorate it with even more cocoa delights, such as chocolate-dipped fruit or chocolate whipped cream.”

INGREDIENTS:

1 1/2 cups vanilla wafer crumbs

1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/3 cup butter, softened

2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese

1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed

milk

4 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C).
  2. In a large mixing bowl, mix together crushed vanilla wafers, confectioners’ sugar, cocoa, and butter or margarine by hand. Press ingredients into a 9 inch springform pan.
  3. In the top of a double boiler, melt the chocolate chips, making sure that they are very smooth.
  4. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese until fluffy with an electric mixer. Gradually beat in condensed milk until smooth. Mix in melted chocolate, eggs, and vanilla. Beat with electric mixer on low speed until the ingredients are thoroughly blended. Pour the filling into the prepared crust.
  5. Bake at 300 degrees F (150 degrees C) for 55 minutes. The cake will seem underbaked in the center, but will continue to cook after you remove it from the oven.

For more details, visit allrecipes.com.

Riverview Indoor Air Quality Guide: Air Filters and Mold

Monday, February 13th, 2012

Among the potential problems that can plague Riverview homeowners, mold is particularly frustrating. It is persistent, the spores are tiny and easily spread and it can be hazardous to your health.

Preventing a mold problem involves properly ventilating moist areas, such as bathrooms, to prevent mold from thriving in the moisture. It also means spotting and eradicating any patches of mold that do manage to take hold. Perhaps most importantly, it also means keeping mold out of the air in your home.

Mold particles and spores can readily break off from a mold colony can get into the air. Eventually, they can be drawn up into your HVAC system and redistributed throughout your house. Once airborne, they can settle elsewhere to start new mold growth or wind up in your lungs, potentially causing respiratory problems.

Simply put, having mold in your home is a health risk, so you want to keep it under control as much as possible. The best way to keep out of the air is with an air filter.

The good news is that most mold spores are rather large (relatively speaking), so a HEPA air filter installed in your air handler can remove them from the air pretty easily. They are often 3 microns in size or smaller, so a filter with a MERV rating of 8 should do fine, although some spores can reportedly be as small as 1.5 microns. If you want to be very vigilant, or if anyone is your home has a particularly sensitive respiratory system, you can get a filter with a higher MERV rating of 12 or so.

Also, UV germicidal lights can be a good addition to your HVAC system. These lights emit UV radiation that is safe for humans to be around, but kills many microorganisms, including mold spores. They also kill bacteria and other pathogens that can cause disease.

In addition to proper ventilation, a quality filtration system can effectively eliminate the health risks to your family caused by mold. If you are interested in an indoor air quality system for your home, give Baker & Sons Air Conditioning, Inc. a call!

South Sarasota Heating Service – $25 off a Service Call for New Customers!

Friday, February 10th, 2012

If you are a long time customer of Baker & Sons AC, you know that we are a company that you can put your trust in. Both our technicians and our service staff take the time to get to know you and your system, and they understand that each situation is different. Truly superior customer services from a custom solution to your problem, as well as respect for your home and a willingness to go the extra mile. Our company tries to meet those goals for each and every service call. We ask that if you have had good experiences with us in the past to recommend us to your friends and family. And we are offering a special deal to new customers- $25 off a Service Call! You know we give great service at a fair price, and with this awesome deal, now is the time to give us a try!

 

Boyette Heat Pump Maintenance Guide: Why Maintain Your System?

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

Just like any HVAC system, the heat pump in your Boyette home needs routine maintenance and yearly check-ups to operate as efficiently and safely as possible. You also don’t want your heat pump to wear down to the point of a major malfunction or breakdown, which can be costly to repair or may require a complete system replacement.

Here are some things that could go wrong and cost you a lot more in the end if you don’t keep up with the regular maintenance of your heat pump.

Damage to the Compressor

The compressor in a split-system heat pump works whether you are heating or cooling your home. In the winter, the compressor reverses the flow of the refrigerant to defrost the outdoor coils, and in the summer it supplies the refrigerant to cool the home, as well as cooling the outdoor coils. Proper airflow is vital to keeping the compressor running smoothly. Filters that are not changed regularly, dirty coils, and dirty fans can all restrict airflow, which will damage the compressor. Debris around the outside components should also be cleared to allow proper airflow.

Decreased Efficiency

When dirty or broken components restrict the airflow, this damages the compressor and decreases the heat pump’s efficiency levels.  Not only is it important to clean your heat pump regularly, but you should also have it checked by a certified heating technician once a year. This will also prevent safety hazards and other hidden issues with the heat pump.

Improper Refrigerant Levels

Most heat pumps are charged with refrigerant at the factory; however, if models that are charged when they are installed are not given the right amount of refrigerant this can also affect performance levels. Refrigerant leaks and other common problems can be prevented by scheduling an annual maintenance visit with one of our qualified technicians.

Don’t wait until the heat pump in your home stops working, call Baker & Sons Air Conditioning, Inc.  to schedule your yearly check-up.

Southgate Unusual Heating Tips: Four Ways to Save Heat That You Might Not Have Considered

Monday, February 6th, 2012

Finding new ways to lower the heating bills for your Southgate home is always a challenge. Maybe you’ve already insulated and sealed every crawlspace and crack, or you might have recently upgraded that old furnace, but there are always other ways to reduce heat loss in the winter.

Here are four ways to conserve heat that you might not have considered.

1. Insulate Recessed Light Fixtures

While recessed light fixtures save space and give you more control over lighting and design, such as task lighting in kitchens, they can be a hidden source of heat loss. Feel around your recessed lighting fixtures to see if there’s cool air or a draft. If you do, they could need more insulation. However, you have to be extremely cautious about what type of insulation you use around electrical wiring and fixtures. Check with the manufacturer, or call an electrician if you aren’t sure what  type of insulation to use.

2. Insulate Water Heater Tanks

Part of your heating bill each month goes to heating the water in your home. Whether you have a gas, electric, solar, or hybrid hot water heater, every water heater tank has an R-value that determines how much heat it loses. If you have a low R-value, your tank may need more insulation. Call a professional plumber or check your owner’s manual for the R-value of the model you own, but the general rule is that if the tank is warm when you touch it, you may need to buy a “jacket” for your water heater. These are fairly inexpensive, easy to install, and can be found relatively anywhere you buy insulation.

3. Open Curtains on South End

The southern end of your home will get the most sunlight in the winter. If you have curtains or blinds on your windows or doors, leave them open during the day, and make sure you close them at night. Opening them will help warm up the home naturally during the day, and closing them will help keep the cold air out and warm air in at night.

4. Storm Windows and Doors

Many homeowners know they have the option of upgrading old doors and windows that leak air, but not everyone can afford to upgrade all the doors and windows at once. You can also install storm windows and doors to help reserve heat. Before you start comparing prices, remember to measure, since measurements will affect the cost.

You can always call Baker & Sons Air Conditioning, Inc. whenever you have questions about lowering your heating costs for your Southgate home.