Posts Tagged ‘Manatee County’

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.

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!

West Bradenton HVAC Installation Guide: Programmable Thermostats

Friday, February 3rd, 2012

Programmable thermostats are one of the best ways to save on heating costs, especially if you have a hard time remembering to turn down the heat in your West Bradenton home. Installing a programmable thermostat will allow you to set the times you want the heat turned up or down. Not only will this make heating your home more consistent and save energy, but it will also allow you to tailor your heating needs to your schedule.

For instance, you can set the thermostat to turn on before you get up in the morning so that the house is already warm when you get out of bed, and conversely, set it to turn down after you go to bed or leave the house for work. Depending on the brand and setting options, programmable thermostats are relatively inexpensive and easy to install.

Although all styles are slightly different, here are some basic instructions that show you how easy it is to install a programmable thermostat.  Remember, this is only a general guide; always check the instructions inside the packaging of your new thermostat before you install it, or check with an electrician.

1. Remove the Old Thermostat

Before you remove the old thermostat, check to see where it’s mounted. If it’s mounted to an electrical box, the voltage used to power the old thermostat may not be compatible with the new one. Ask a certified electrician or West Bradenton heating technician if you aren’t sure.

CUT THE POWER TO THE HEATING SYSTEM TO AVOID ELECTRIC SHOCK. You should always turn off the main power supply to your heating system before installing any new thermostat. If you aren’t sure how to do this, ask your HVAC contractor. Once you unscrew the mounting plate for the old thermostat, just unhook the wires. Don’t throw an old mercury controlled thermostat. You should ask your local waste management facility how to properly dispose of mercury products.

2. Locate all Wires

Wrap the loose wires around a pencil to keep the wires from falling back into the wall. Identify and label each corresponding wire with a letter (do not use color coding since this is not always accurate). Strip the plastic off the ends of the wires about ¼ inch if you need to.

3. Install and Insulate Wallplate

If the area around the new wallplate is larger than the plate, insulate the hole with non-flammable insulation. Take the wallplate off the programmable thermostat and hold it against the wall to mark the screw holes with a pencil. Pull the wires through the large opening at the bottom and screw the plate to the wall.

4. Wiring

Make sure you are comfortable with wiring before you attempt to do any electrical installations. Check the manual for your programmable thermostat for instructions on wiring that specific model. In general, you’ll want to make sure you match the wire labels with the corresponding terminals on the thermostat. Sometimes there will be extra wires that aren’t needed. Always test it before completing the installation. Don’t forget the battery!

5. Install the Faceplate

Once you have it wired correctly, all you need to do is align the brackets on the faceplate with the corresponding slots on the wallplate and fasten the faceplate to the rest of the mounting. Lastly, tighten the screw at the bottom of the thermostat to hold it in place.

If you have any questions regarding programmable thermostats, give Baker & Sons Air Conditioning, Inc. a call.

Snead Island Heat Pump FAQs

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

Even if you installed a heat pump in your Snead Island home years ago, you may still have questions about the normal operation of your indoor and outdoor units. Here are answers to a few of the more common questions about heat pumps.

Do I need to schedule a heat pump maintenance visit before each season, or just once a year?

Scheduling a yearly maintenance visit is necessary to the proper upkeep and safe operation of your heat pump. This also extends the life of the system and helps it run more efficiently. However, scheduling a visit before the heating and cooling seasons isn’t necessary, unless you’ve had any concerns or issues with your heat pump.

Should I be concerned about the steam coming from my outdoor unit?

All heat pumps have a defrost cycle that melts the frost off of the outdoor coils in the winter. The steam rising from the outdoor unit results from the defrost cycle. If you notice that the defrost cycle lasts longer than ten to fifteen minutes, or if it cycles on and off frequently, you should call a service technician to look at your heat pump. There could be an issue with airflow that is affecting the compressor.

I just installed a heat pump. Why is my furnace running?

Many heat pump systems use the furnace fan blower to help distribute the heat throughout the house. Unless you’ve installed a geothermal heat pump, your furnace is most likely your backup heater, so it will kick on when the outside temperature drops below 20° F.

Is it really that important to clean my outdoor unit? It’s impossible to keep it clean all the time.

Yes, cleaning the outdoor unit is an especially important maintenance task. Not only does a routine cleaning of all the outdoor components maintain your heat pump’s efficiency and performance levels, it also prevents safety hazards. When you schedule a yearly maintenance visit with one of our technicians, cleaning the coils and outdoor unit is part of the service; however, if you want to clean the coils yourself, have one of our technicians show you how to do this before you attempt it on your own. You could suffer from electric shock if you are not familiar with the proper cleaning procedure. You can also help by making sure that the debris is cleared from around the outdoor unit.

If you have any questions about the heat pump in your Snead Island home, or if you’d like to schedule a maintenance appointment, give Baker & Sons Air Conditioning a call any time.

Palmetto Heat Pump Tip: Outdoor Maintenance

Monday, January 30th, 2012

Sometimes, the trickiest part about owning a heat pump in Palmetto is keeping the outdoor components maintained. Because they are outside and generally out of sight, it can be easy to forget or neglect them. But because they are outside and exposed to the elements, outdoor heat pump components need attention and maintenance to keep them running properly.

The two most important routine maintenance functions you can do as an owner of an outdoor heat pump are keeping it free of debris and keeping it level.

Every month or so, inspect and clean your outdoor heat pump to make sure it is free of leaves, dirt and other debris. These can easily be sucked in by the fan and reduce the efficiency of the whole system. Turn the power off to the unit and use a vacuum or broom to remove any accumulated debris.

Once or twice a year, use a carpenter’s level to make sure the whole thing is sitting level on the pad. Use the level to gauge both side to side and front to back. While you are doing this, check the insulation for erosion or gaps. If you see that it is not level or the insulation is wearing thin, have a contractor come out reset the unit on the concrete pad or patch up the insulation.

These are two small maintenance tasks that you don’t have to do very often, but they can make a big difference in the performance and life of your heat pump.

In addition, you should always have your whole heating, ventilation and cooling system inspected by a Palmetto professional annually in order to keep everything maintained and in good repair.

Bee Ridge Heat Pump Repair Tip: How to Handle Your Finicky Heat Pump

Friday, January 27th, 2012

A heat pump is designed to keep your Bee Ridge home comfortable. Warm weather, cold weather – it doesn’t matter. It should turn on when you need it and turn off when you don’t. So, when the device starts turning on and off without reason or when you need it to stay on, what exactly is the problem and how can you fix that problem without losing the heating or cooling capacity of your device.

Common Causes of the Problem

There are a number of reasons why your heat pump would turn off shortly after turning on, and most of the time this occurs in heating mode. If it occurs in cooling mode, you should have the device inspected immediately because there is likely something wrong with a core component like the compressor. For heating mode issues, here are some common problems:

  • Dirty Coils – If the coils are dirty, the device won’t be able to properly operate, especially if it has been some time since the last cleaning. Both sets of coils need to be cleaned at least once a year to avoid this becoming a problem.
  • Low Refrigerant Charge – If the refrigerant gets low, you’ll need to have it recharged because the pressure in the device will drop and it will therefore turn off after a few minutes of use.
  • Defrost Timer – If the defrost timer is forcing the device into a defrost cycle too often (usually it is set to 30, 60, or 90 minutes), the fan might turn off every few minutes after turning on. This is a common problem and is usually due to a thermostat or switch issue which can be fixed relatively easily.

Another thing to ask yourself when this problem occurs is whether the device is heating properly when on. Defrost timer issues don’t usually impinge on the heating ability of the device, while low refrigerant can. You want to make sure the device is working properly when on and not just cycling on and off without heating capacity.

Based on what you find, you’ll need a Bee Ridge technician to take a closer look and ensure everything is working properly. Most repairs for this type of problem are relatively simple.

Bradenton Heating Installation Question: Is Geothermal for Me?

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

Geothermal heating is a great alternative to other types of home heating systems in Bradenton. It is safe and efficient, costs very little to operate and makes use of a great renewable resource right below our feet. But is it right for you? Well, geothermal heating may be the right choice for many people, but there are many things to take into account before you can determine whether or not it is the best choice for your home.

The first important thing to understand when you are trying to decide whether or not to go with geothermal heating is how one of these systems actually works. A geothermal system heats your home by extracting heat from the ground and then transferring that heat into your indoor air. This happens when liquid, usually water or antifreeze, passes through a loop of pipes installed several feet below the ground.

The liquid absorbs heat from the ground, which in the winter is always warmer than the air, and carries is back up to an air handler inside your home where that heat is allowed to disperse into the air. Once the air is heated, the air handler blows the air through a system of ducts throughout your house, providing a constant stream of heated air to all areas of your Bradenton home. The liquid, on the other hand, simply cycles back through the ground loop to pick up more heat and repeat the same cycle over again.

Because a geothermal heating system does not actually generate heat, it requires very little energy to operate. This means that it is both very cheap for you to run and environmentally friendly. But since installing a geothermal heating system involves putting pipes in underground, it can be pretty expensive initially. However, as long as the amount you save every month on your heating costs is enough to offset the high initial price of installation, it is worth it to put down the money up front.

Another alternative, of course, is a more traditional air source heat pump. These are much cheaper to install and nearly as cheap to run. However, air source heat pumps are not as efficient when the air temperature gets below freezing as a geothermal system can be.

Ellenton Heating Installation Guidelines: Heating System Ventilation 101

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

Maintaining Proper Ventilation for Combustion Systems

Anytime you maintain, retrofit, or replace a gas heating system in your Ellenton home you also need to be concerned with air quality. Combustion air is needed by all oil and gas heating systems to support the combustion process. This air is provided in some homes by unintentional air leaks, or by air ducts that connect to the outdoors. The combustion process creates several byproducts that are potentially hazardous to human health and can cause deterioration in your home. You can protect yourself from these hazards, as well as maintain energy efficiency, by ensuring that your chimney system functions properly and that your gas heating system is properly ventilated. In some cases, installing a sealed-combustion furnace can also help.

Chimneys

Properly functioning chimney systems will carry combustion byproducts out of the home. Therefore, chimney problems put you at risk of having these byproducts, such as carbon monoxide, spill into your home.

Most older gas furnaces have naturally drafting chimneys. The combustion gases exit the home through the chimney using only their buoyancy combined with the chimney’s height. Naturally drafting chimneys often have problems exhausting the combustion gases because of chimney blockage, wind or pressures inside the home that overcome the buoyancy of the gases.

Atmospheric, open-combustion furnaces, as well as fan-assisted furnaces, should be vented into masonry chimneys, metal double-wall chimneys, or another type of manufactured chimney. Masonry chimneys should have a fireclay, masonry liner or a retrofitted metal flue liner.

Many older chimneys have deteriorated liners or no liners at all and must be relined during furnace replacement. A chimney should be relined when any of the following changes are made to the combustion heating system:

When you replace an older furnace with a newer one that has an AFUE of 80% or more. These mid-efficiency appliances have a greater risk of depositing acidic condensation droplets in chimneys, and the chimneys must be prepared to handle this corrosive threat. The new chimney liner should be sized to accommodate both the new heating appliance and the combustion water heater by the installer.

When you replace an older furnace with a new 90+ AFUE appliance or a heat pump. In this case, the heating appliance will no longer vent into the old chimney, and the combustion water heater will now vent through an oversized chimney. This oversized chimney can lead to condensation and inadequate draft. The new chimney liner should be sized for the water heater alone, or the water heater in some cases can be vented directly through the wall.

Other Ventilation Concerns

Some fan-assisted, non-condensing furnaces, installed between 1987 and 1993, may be vented horizontally through high-temperature plastic vent pipe (not PVC pipe, which is safely used in condensing furnaces). This type of venting has been recalled and should be replaced by stainless steel vent pipe. If horizontal venting was used, an additional draft-inducing fan may be needed near the vent outlet to create adequate draft. Floor furnaces may have special venting problems because their vent connector exits the furnace close to the floor and may travel 10 to 30 feet before reaching a chimney. Check to see if this type of venting or the floor furnace itself needs replacement. If you smell gases, you have a venting problem that could affect your health. Contact your local utility or Ellenton heating contractor to have this venting problem repaired immediately.

Chimneys can be expensive to repair, and may help justify installing new heating equipment that won’t use the existing chimney.

A Question from Wimauma: Will Switching to Geothermal Save Me Money?

Monday, December 12th, 2011

There are simply a ton of different types of heating systems in Wimauma and they are each more appropriate in different situations. However, some are certainly always going to be cheaper to operate than others, although that alone may not make one or the other right for you.

In the case of geothermal heating systems, the operating costs are definitely quite low. But those are not the only costs you will have to think about when you are considering what type of heating system to put in your home to keep your heating bills down.

Geothermal heating systems do not actually generate heat – they absorb it from the ground. Because of this, they actually use very little energy when they are running. All you are really paying to power is the fan that blows the heated air around your house. Also, because geothermal heating systems are more efficient at extracting heat in below freezing conditions than traditional heat pumps, they can continue to keep you warm on their own in more extreme conditions.

When you are trying to assess whether or not switching to a geothermal heating system will save you money, you first have to start with the heating bills you currently have. Then, factor in the cost of the geothermal heat pump installation as opposed to the installation of a more conventional system.