Posts Tagged ‘Sun City Center’

Your Branches Hammock HVAC System and the Gas Line

Wednesday, 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.

How Bad Is the Air in Your Home? A Question from Boyette

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

Every day you hear about another awful contaminant that can get into your Boyette home’s air supply. Radon gas. Carbon Monoxide. Nitrogen Dioxide. Smoke. Mold. The list gets longer with each passing year and many homeowners are understandably worried. However, before you run out and by the newest lineup of filters, purifiers, and UV lights, stop and think about just how bad your indoor air actually is.

When Was Your Home Built?

Homes built in the last 10-15 years tend to be well ventilated and may even have air quality systems already in place. It’s those built in the late 1970s and early 1980s that tend to have the worst ventilation (assuming they have not been updated since then).

This kind of poor ventilation can be dangerous, but usually only in that you have less fresh air and more indoor allergens and contaminants. Specifically, you’re most likely to suffer from things like pet dander, dust, pollen, and dirt in the air. On their own, these are not dangerous, but without fresh air to circulate them outside and ensure you get a steady, clean supply of air to breathe, they can make you ill.

How Bad Can It Get?

While it’s rare, some homes suffer from more advanced contaminations. The most common is mold. Mold grows primarily in dark, damp spaces. If your humidity levels get too high in the summer, the ductwork in your house is perfect for mold and it will blow the spores directly into your air, putting everyone at risk.

You should also be wary of exhaust fumes from your appliances that may not get properly removed from the house. Both of these problems can be fixed with regular duct and exhaust cleaning.

Outdoor contaminants can also make it into your indoor air. Things like exhaust and smoke, gas, radon, or other outdoor pollutants should be tested for when you setup a new indoor air quality system. There are filters and purifiers that will remove almost all of these contaminants, but they are not always required, so you should check before making a decision.

Ultimately, the odds are that your home suffers only from some stale, dusty air. But, it is very important to keep everything clean and test it regularly to make sure nothing worse develops. Poor air quality is about more than just comfort – it’s an honest health issue.

What is a Matched HVAC System? A Question From Boyette

Friday, September 9th, 2011

It has been about 200 years since the arrival of interchangeable parts during the Industrial Revolution. Today in Boyette, we laud being able to take a malfunctioning part from a car, computer or vacuum cleaner, replace it with a newly minted part from any number of manufacturers, then keep right on plugging along.

Although this is a blessing in most arenas, when it comes to an HVAC system, it is not necessarily a good practice. Heating and cooling systems work best when they are matched – but what does that mean? And why does it matter?

Why Matched Parts Matter in HVAC Systems

When referring to HVAC systems, a matched system is one in which various components are designed to work together. For example, an air conditioner and furnace made by the same manufacturer can be matched, as can a furnace and a heat pump.

Typically, the matching is done in such a way that the “outdoor” components, such as air conditioners and heat pumps are designed to work best with their “indoor” partners, like air handlers and furnaces. There are also matched systems in which every component is matched to every other.

Efficiency Boosts

While this may seem to make maintenance and repairs a pain, the practice provides a big boost to the efficiency of the system. Because the components were designed and manufactured by the same team to work in harmony, the system performs optimally. Although you can often replace one component of a matched system with one from another manufacturer and have it work fine, the system can lose efficiency, often to a significant and noticeable extent.

For these reasons, it is best to make use of matched systems in your home whenever possible. This means choosing a new matched system to install, replacing broken parts with ones that match the rest of the system and even replacing older systems with newer ones to properly match, when necessary.

It may seem like a hassle at first, but it saves money in the long run by adding increased efficiency over unmatched systems.

Your HVAC System’s Condensate Drain Line: Some Pointers From Desoto Lakes

Friday, August 26th, 2011

There are a lot of components involved in a properly working Desoto Lakes home HVAC system. One component that many people overlook is the drain line for the air conditioning system. Your air conditioning system has condenser coils that sweat the water drawn from the air in your home as it is cooled by your AC unit. These coils produce a significant volume of water, especially when it humidity is high, so a condensate drain pan is installed to capture the moisture and keep it from damaging your home.

A drain line from the drain pain out of your home is required to transfer all that extra water, but it can easily become clogged by debris in the area or simply from heavy condensation. If this happens, the drain line might need to be cleared or even replaced.

Inspecting your Condensate Drain Line

Full inspection of your drain line involves checking quite a few components, so I will point you to Inspectapedia for a thorough rundown of what you should look for (and some pictures to show you what you don’t want to see). But, in short, you want to look for evidence that your condensate drain is overflowing or that the liquid in your drain pan is backing up into the air handler.

You may also notice that there is no liquid coming out of the condenser – a sign that there may be a major problem in the system that needs immediate inspection. If this happens, make sure you check for blockages and if nothing is present, call a contractor.

Cleaning Your Drain Line

Each year, it is recommended that you clean your drain line to make sure it is clear and ready for the summer’s heavy cooling and high humidity. The simplest way to do this is to disconnect the drain line and attach a hose to blow the line clear. This can get a little messy, so make sure you dress for the occasion. Another option if you have a wet/dry vac is to attach the hose to the end of the drain line and suck free any moisture still in there. Most wet/dry systems have attachments for drain line clearing or you can order one.

If your drain line is not clearing properly, call a professional for a more thorough inspection. If you have regular maintenance done on your AC system each spring, this should be part of the process so make sure you write down any questions you have for when the contractor visits your home.

Save Money with Coupons – HVAC and Plumbing

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

HVAC and plumbing services are not things that you usually think about using coupons for. After all, you almost never call an HVAC specialist or plumber unless there is an emergency, and that means you probably do not have time to go hunting for a coupon. You are going to go with the person who is able to respond quickly and get the job done fast.

But that does not mean you should have to pay too much for emergency or other HVAC and plumbing services. In fact, if you know where to look, you can find coupons for great deals on anything from annual maintenance to full new system installation. Of course, not all of these deals are that great. But even saving a little on each service will add up over time. Plus, gathering up some coupons ahead of time will make it easier for you to choose a good HVAC service or plumber because you can see which one in your area offers the best deals.

So where do you find these great coupons? Well, a lot of them can actually be tracked down online. A simple search for HVAC or plumbing coupons in your area should turn up quite a few results for services you could use now or in the future. Some of these offer quite substantial savings as well, so even if they are for something you do not need at the moment, take a look at the expiration date. Even if you are not sure you will be able to use the coupon in that space of time, there is certainly no harm in holding onto it just in case.

It is also important to remember that you do not need to stay with the same company that installed your system, for instance, if you can find a coupon for great savings on annual maintenance with someone else. Just about every company in this field is well versed in handling all types of HVAC or plumbing equipment and they can easily take care of a system that another company installed.

Particularly if you are not satisfied with the service that you get from the company you are now using, look around for coupons from someone else. That is a great way to figure out which new company is worth a try.

2011 AC Federal Tax Credits

Monday, June 6th, 2011

You’ve probably heard many arguments for why you should purchase an energy efficient air conditioner. They may cost a bit more up front, but they’ll save you money in the long run by cutting down on your monthly energy bills. They’re also better for the environment because their lower energy usage means less fossil fuels are burned to keep them running.

But there’s another reason energy efficient AC units are better buys than your standard alternative. There are Federal tax credits available to consumers who purchase them. This tax credit can more than make up for the higher purchase price of the units, allowing you to enjoy your monthly savings much sooner and know you’re doing your part to protect the environment.

How to Qualify

In order to qualify for 2011 air conditioning Federal tax credit, you need to purchase an appropriate energy efficient AC system. Your HVAC contractor or salesperson can tell you which models and units qualify for this program. Just make sure you save all documentation and proof of purchase in case you need them to validate your claim.

The AC units that qualify you for this tax credit include those with a SEER (seasonal energy efficiency ratio) of 16 or greater and an EER (energy efficiency ratio) of at least 13. These two numbers are the best and clearest indicators of the overall energy efficiency of the product and can easily be found on the packaging for any air conditioning unit. While a 16 SEER is very good, it is not the highest rating currently available, either, so you won’t be forced to buy the most expensive model available to get your credit.

Credit Details

The tax credit is good for up to 10% of the purchase price of the unit up to $300. Keep in mind, though, that you can only claim up to $500 lifetime towards this program. So if you’ve previously claimed $250, you can only claim an additional $250 for 2011. That’s still a significant savings, though, and well worth looking into if you’re in the market for a new AC unit or system.

So if you’ve been thinking about upgrading your AC system, but haven’t quiet gotten around to, now may be the time to take advantage of this great tax credit opportunity before it’s too late.

Control Your Home’s Moisture – Humidity Is Key

Monday, April 4th, 2011

Most people don’t give a second thought to humidity until it is either much too high or uncomfortably low. And if you have a state of the art home comfort system, you’re probably comfortable inside all year long anyway. But there are several reasons to pay attention to the humidity level in your home and take action if you realize that it isn’t providing the comfort level you’ve come to expect.

Many problems arise from excess or inadequate indoor humidity levels. For instance, a lack of humidity causes your skin and nasal passages to dry and crack, which is obviously pretty unpleasant. But air that’s too dry can also make the symptoms of allergies, asthma and colds worse. Anyone in your home suffering from these conditions will be much more comfortable when the right level of humidity is restored. Another great benefit is that the indoor air quality will no longer contribute to longer and more sever colds and flus in the winter.

Too much humidity is a problem too, though. It promotes the growth of mold, which is a big contributor to indoor air pollution. Mold spores are a big time allergen. The more moisture there is in your home, the more mold there’s likely to be. High indoor humidity levels also promote the growth of dust mites, another major indoor air contaminant and allergen.

Of course, you probably have a great indoor air cleaner in place to get all of those contaminants out of your home’s air supply. But if the air inside your home is too moist or too dry, it can actually make it harder for the air cleaner to remove all types of contaminants. Not only are you putting a greater strain on your body and immune system, you’re asking your air cleaners to work much harder, which can cost you money in repairs and filter replacements.

For all of these reasons, it’s important to put in a humidification system to maintain the overall quality of your indoor air. Plus, a properly humidified environment is simply more comfortable to live in. A humidifier can easily be integrated into your current home heating and cooling system, so you don’t have to worry about high installation costs or equipment compatibility. All you have to do is sit back, relax and breathe in the fresh air that your humidification system makes possible.

It’s Time for a New Furnace

Friday, March 18th, 2011

Replacing your furnace is probably not something you want to think about. After all, a new furnace is a big investment and not something you probably have too much experience with. And sometimes having your current system fixed or tuned up is all you need to get your home heating situation back on track. But there are certain situations in which it makes more sense to just go ahead and get a new furnace rather than simply patching up the old one.

For instance, if you have to call for either minor or major repairs to your furnace on a regular basis, it’s probably time to consider investing in a replacement. All of those repairs cost money and chances are that the furnace you’re paying repeatedly to replace isn’t going to last that much longer anyway.

Rather than continuing to dump money into a furnace that just isn’t cutting it anymore, you’ll be better off making the investment in a new unit. The truth is, you’re going to have to do it sooner or later and by buying a new furnace now, you’re actually saving all of the money you would have spent on repairing the old one for another year or so.

Also, a furnace that requires such frequent repairs is probably not functioning all that efficiently either. When you replace it with a newer model, you won’t just save money on repairs. You’ll also likely notice a considerable savings on your monthly energy bills because of how much more efficient your new model is.

Even if you haven’t been repairing your furnace often, you may be able to notice some signs that the old unit isn’t quite up to the task anymore. If you’re suddenly having some significant humidity problems in your house or if your home isn’t being heated evenly, there’s a good chance your furnace is on its way out.

And, in fact, even if your furnace is functioning just fine but is more than 10 years old or so, it’s very likely you’d benefit by replacing it. That’s because the newer furnaces available now are so much more energy efficient than their predecessors that the savings you’ll incur monthly will quickly make up for the initial installation investment.

Of course, you don’t want to get rid of a good furnace if you don’t have to. But if your furnace is getting close to the end of its expected lifespan, you may very well benefit by putting out the money for a new one now so you can start saving right away on your monthly energy bills.

How Much Will a High Efficiency Furnace Save Me?

Friday, March 4th, 2011

The furnaces you can buy these days are all much more energy efficient than those available even 10 years ago. However, that doesn’t mean that all of the current models are created equal. There is still a pretty big variation when it comes to energy efficiency and when it comes to price, so you need to really know what you’re looking for if you want to get the best deal out there.

The first thing you should understand when you’re trying to pick out a furnace is how energy efficiency for this type of equipment it measured. All furnaces come with an annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) rating that reflects just exactly how energy efficient they are.

Any furnace you buy today will have an AFUE of at least 80%, but it’s possible to purchase models with AFUEs of 97% or more. Of course, energy efficiency is generally a good thing, but there are some other things to consider when you’re trying to decide just how energy efficient you need your new furnace to be.

What this calculation really comes down to is how much you’ll be able to save monthly and annually with a higher efficiency furnace. While your heating bills will certainly be lower the higher the furnace’s efficiency is, you will also pay more up front for the highest efficiency models.

This higher purchase price may be worth it, however, if you live in an area with particularly harsh winters. If your heating load is very high and you’ll be using your furnace a lot, your monthly savings will make up for the higher initial price of the high efficiency furnace in a reasonable amount of time.

However, if you live in an area with relatively mild winters and you won’t be demanding a whole lot of your furnace, then the amount you’ll save each month with the highest efficiency models really won’t add up to much.

Keep in mind that a furnace with an 80% AFUE is still quite efficient and will almost certainly save you a considerable amount monthly when compared to the unit you’re currently using. And because 80% AFUE furnaces are so much cheaper than those with upper 90% AFUE ratings, they often wind up as the more cost effective alternative overall.