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Why Is My AC System Blowing Warm Air?
Posted: July 19, 2018 by Andy

The vents in your home should be blowing cool, refreshing air when it's hot outside. If they're not, you might have a big problem!

It's been a hot summer so far, with record temperatures being set often - and we're only halfway through the summer! The hottest months are still to come. If your central air conditioning system is blowing warm air, the time to get it fixed is right now.

Several different problems could be behind why your AC isn't producing cold air, and fortunately, you can do some troubleshooting before calling us to come and visit. Here are three common issues to check:

Incorrect thermostat settings

This may seem obvious, but it's pretty common to turn your furnace on instead of your air conditioner accidentally. It's the best place to start. Begin by checking your thermostat settings and its batteries - the problem could be as simple as changing the system's mode or merely flipping a switch.

Your AC unit outside is dirty

While your indoor unit is responsible for absorbing heat from your living space, the outdoor unit is responsible for releasing it. Your system relies on the joint operation of both your indoor and outdoor units. If the outdoor unit won't start or isn't working correctly, the warm inside air won't be released into the outside atmosphere. As a result, you'll feel warm air from the vents inside your home. Check your outdoor unit from time to time, to be sure that it's free from dirt and debris.

A dirty air filter

A clogged or dirty air filter won't make your AC blow warm air, but it can cause less air to flow through your system. Reduced airflow can cause you to experience hot and cold spots in areas of your home.

When was the last time you checked your air filter? It's probably been longer than that since you replaced it. If you can't remember how long it's been, we highly recommend that you turn off your system and clean or replace your filter.

If you've checked all of these potential problem areas and you're still experiencing warm air, give us a call and we'll be happy to help you keep your home - and your family - comfortable this summer.


Reduce Humidity To Stay Cool
Posted: July 12, 2018 by Andy

Does your home feel muggy or damp? The extra moisture in the air could be keeping you from feeling cool too!

If you're not already feeling summer's heat, additional humidity can make your home feel even hotter. Why is this? It's because airborne moisture prevents your body from being able to cool quickly since sweat can't evaporate as effectively as it would in drier conditions. Ohio tends to be pretty humid overall, and during the summer when your windows and doors are closed all day humidity can start to build up. You'll also notice an increase after a good rain as the extra moisture begins to return to the atmosphere.

Besides causing discomfort, excess moisture in your home can cause damage and can encourage the growth of mold and mildew. It lowers the quality of your air and can cause you to feel sick or congested.

To help reduce your moisture levels indoors, we've compiled some tips on how to get rid of excess humidity in your home.

Ventilation

Perhaps the simplest and easiest way to prevent humid air from lingering is by ventilating your home. Start by opening your windows and by using the vent fans in rooms with higher humidity, like your bathroom or kitchen. Your bathroom probably has a ceiling vent installed that you can use to remove excess moisture during or after showering to help pull the humid air out. In the kitchen, your range hood's vent (sometimes built into an overhead microwave) can help distribute the humid air from cooking.

Take a shorter, colder shower

A hot, steamy shower feels fantastic - especially in the winter - but all of that wonderful steam eventually has to go somewhere. When you open the bathroom door, it wafts through your home, raising humidity levels. To prevent this, you can either take shorter showers, to produce less steam or lower the temperature of the water. Colder showers don't create as much steam and are better for your overall health, especially your skin!

Dry those clothes outside

Hanging your clothes to dry inside acts like turning on a humidifier. As wet clothes dry, moisture evaporates into the surrounding air, which happens to be the inside of your home. Wherever possible, dry your clothes outside or at least in a well-ventilated indoor area. As an alternative, you can still dry your clothes in the dryer - just run it at lower temperatures to reduce humidity - and this will also help prevent damage to your garments!

Relocate your plants outside

All plants release a level of moisture into the air. Plants open their stomata (small pores on the underside of their leaves) to absorb carbon dioxide (CO2). When this happens, small amounts of moisture are released. The soil around the plant also contains moisture, and any water the plant doesn't absorb will evaporate back into the air.

This moisture can accumulate and raises the humidity level in your home. To prevent this, keep only a few plants in your home or even move them all outside. Also, keep the size of your plants in mind, as ones with larger leaves will give off more moisture.

Replace your AC filter

While replacing your HVAC system's filter regularly is always a good idea, installing a new one also helps control the humidity in your home. Air filters are designed to remove dirt and debris from the air, but also to allow the air to flow efficiently throughout your home. Air can't flow through a clogged filter effectively, which allows moisture to accumulate due to inadequate ventilation.

Most air filters cost no more than $20, so this is a quick and inexpensive way to decrease the humidity level in your home.

Use your air conditioner

Warm air is more likely to be humid than cold air due to water's tendency to condense at lower temperatures. Moisture condenses and collects in colder temperatures, rather than evaporating into the air like it does in warm weather, leaving your home's air less humid.

To benefit from this effect in your home, use your air conditioner more often. The air in your home will be cooler, and your air conditioning system will help to make it less humid as well.

Get a dehumidifier

If you're still having trouble with humidity in your home, it could be time to invest in a dehumidifier. These units work by pulling in humid air, passing it over cooled coils, and then collecting the moisture as it condenses inside the unit. Depending on the size of your home or how many rooms you need to reduce humidity in, there are many dehumidifier options, including portable dehumidifiers for easy relocation throughout your house.

If you have questions about humidity in your home and what you might need to resolve it, give us a call!


Summer Energy-Saving Tips
Posted: July 5, 2018 by Andy

Is your electric bill outrageous so far this summer? Using that hot stove less often will help reduce it!

As unusually hot as it has been so far this summer, your latest electricity bill probably gave you quite a shock. Naturally, when inside, you want to run your air conditioning so you can stay cool. However, keeping the AC on all day, and relying on it to make your home comfortable, is a significant factor in your high energy bill.

We want to help you beat the heat, and we have some useful tips for saving energy - and money! - while also keeping your home cool this summer. Here are our top six ways to make your home more efficiently deal with the heat.

Set your thermostat properly

When the temperature rises outside, it's time for your AC to do its job inside. When you do run your air conditioner, make sure your thermostat is adjusted to make sure you can stay cool and comfortable while also helping you save money. A programmable thermostat allows you to tailor your AC's runtimes to fit your at-home and away times, and with some, you can even control your settings remotely, letting you optimize when the system runs.

On sweltering days, your central air system will have to work harder than usual to cool the air inside your home. To reduce costs, set your thermostat to a comfortable temperature, but also to a temperature inside that is somewhat close to the temperature outside. Why? Because the closer these two temperatures are, the easier it will be for your system to maintain the temperature it's set to.

The US Department of Energy recommends a thermostat setting of 78° for an ideal balance of efficiency and comfort. This may seem a bit too warm, but it'll still be considerably better than the unbearable temperatures outside. If you're looking to cool your home off without adjusting your thermostat, try our next tip - using fans to make the inside of your home feel cooler than it is.

Use fans to move the inside air

Floor and ceiling and fans are an easy and very economical way to make your home more comfortable - with or without turning on the air conditioning. A fan can make the room feel up to 4° cooler than the ambient temperature inside your home. That might not sound like much cooling, but a fan's refreshing breeze is always welcome.

If you do feel compelled to turn on the air conditioning, don't forget that you can use a fan in conjunction with the AC to improve efficiency! Your AC helps remove the humidity in the air and cools it, while your fans help distribute the newly-cooled air for even more refreshing relief.

Install window blinds

As the sun rises, and its glorious sunlight starts to fill your home, it's a welcome start to the day. But when afternoon comes, with nothing covering your windows to block the sunlight, that same light can bake the interior of your home like an oven.

By closing your curtains (or installing them if you don't have curtains already), you can significantly reduce the temperatures inside your home. You can even find curtains that provide UV and added thermal protection to lower the temperature while also protecting you and your home from the sun's harmful rays. Even low-cost curtains have been proven to reduce heat gain by as much as 33%.

If your home has blinds only, their horizontal slats do let some light and heat pass through. Being able to adjust blinds does provide a unique advantage, however. If you have light-colored ceilings, you can angle your blinds so that the incoming light is reflected towards the ceiling, where it's less likely to heat up your home. Reflective blinds will reduce heat gain by roughly 45% when closed completely.

Use energy-efficient lights and bulbs

Traditional incandescent bulbs are not as energy efficient as newer LED models, and they also produce much more heat while in use. Keeping multiple lights on throughout the day gives your AC one more thing it has to contend with, reducing its efficiency.

The greater heat produced also means the lifespan of an incandescent bulb is much shorter and an LED bulb. So, while traditional bulbs may be cheaper initially, they'll need to be replaced more often and will result in higher energy costs over time. Upgrade your bulbs with LED or fluorescent lighting, and you'll save on your energy bill, and your light fixtures will also help you beat the summer heat.

Open your windows

In many areas, you're fortunate enough to have cooler evenings, regardless of how hot it gets during the day. Take advantage of the cooler temperatures by opening your windows at night and letting the cooler air flow into your home. You won't have to run your central air 24/7, and the outside air will be much fresher than what has been circulating inside your closed home.

Avoid hot appliances

A simple way to beat the summer heat is to save recipes that require your oven or stove top for the winter. Running appliances like your oven, or even your clothes dryer, will introduce heat into your home. Depending on the size of your home, this heat won't dissipate quickly, and this will drive up the temperature inside.

While you probably will still need to use these appliances on occasion, it's a good idea to use them in the evenings when it's cooler or use them sparingly. Running larger loads of laundry also helps as you can get more clothes clean and dry in one cycle versus running multiple smaller loads, and often save yourself time in the process. Just don't overload your machines, or you could cause a whole other set of problems!


Don't Neglect Your Filter!
Posted: June 28, 2018 by Andy

Letting your HVAC system's air filter become clogged with dirt, dust and other debris can have wide-ranging serious consequences!

One commonly-overlooked household maintenance item is your HVAC system's air filter. We see this all the time during system checkups. Many homeowners don't know where their filter is, while others have no idea that it should regularly be replaced. Some folks are even under the impression that a dirty filter is better because it's visibly trapping dirt!

Why is a dirty filter a big deal?

Your filter is an essential part of your entire heating and air conditioning system. It removes many contaminants that can reduce your system's efficiency or even damage it. Virtually any filter will prevent dirt, dust, pet hair, and bugs from entering your forced air unit and your home's ducts. Better-quality filters can capture mold spores and other allergens, leaving your conditioned air considerably cleaner than before it passes through the filter. When dust accumulates in your ducts and combines with moisture or high humidity, it forms a good environment for mold to grow. If your furnace emits a burning odor when you first turn on your furnace each fall, your ducts may need to be cleaned.

Dirty filters cost you money

A clogged filter's reduced causes your HVAC system to work harder. Its fan has to run longer to circulate all the air in your home and also works harder to pull air through the dirty filter, which in turn uses more electricity. Just like in a car, a high-quality filter allows better airflow, which improves performance.

Clogged filters can ruin your system

Your HVAC system must be balanced to ensure it operates at peak performance. The equipment must be sized appropriately for your home, and it depends on efficient airflow. If a dirty filter reduces the airflow, broad changes in temperature can damage your system, similar to how an obstructed radiator in your car causes it to overheat. Overheating can lead to cracks in the heat exchanger, which can allow Carbon Monoxide (CO) gas into the living space of your home, putting your family in considerable danger!

Likewise, if there is inadequate airflow in cooling mode, your system's AC coil can freeze and possibly crack from an insufficient amount of warm air moving across it. The overly cold air temperature causes too much moisture to condense, like the moisture on a cold drink on a warm day. The temperature drop that we look for during a checkup is 14-22 degrees from the air that enters the system and the air that is distributed back into your home. If it's less than 14 degrees, there could be a problem with the condenser or refrigerant. If it's higher than 22 degrees, it can indicate an unbalanced system or a clogged filter.

To sum up, the amount of airflow affects the temperature change in your HVAC system. Inadequate airflow causes too much temperature change, and that is bad. We recommend checking your filter monthly and changing it every other month - more often if you live in the country or have pets. Another thing to consider is having your system professionally tuned once a year. A yearly checkup is very reasonably priced and will save you money in repairs in the long run!


Create An Allergy-Free Home
Posted: June 21, 2018 by Andy

Sneezing? Runny nose? Watery eyes? Before you take a pill, check your air conditioner!

Each year, the warmer weather brings sneezing, congestion, and watery eyes. The air is filled with the pollen produced by newly budding plants, causing respiratory discomfort from allergy symptoms while you're trying to enjoy the warmer days.

Eventually, this pollen makes its way into your home, and higher levels of humidity can create ideal conditions for mildew to grow, further advancing the assault on your sinuses. Fortunately, you can improve the quality of your home's air to help alleviate any allergy symptoms you're experiencing.

We aim to make your home a comfortable and irritant-free place to be. Here are some tips to help keep your air clean and keep those pesky allergy symptoms away.

Add a dehumidifier

During the cold winter months, a humidifier helps soothe irritated nasal passages caused by the cool, dry air. When summer comes, your humidifier can end up causing you allergy problems. In warmer areas of the country, humid air promotes the growth of mold inside your home, inflicting you with the same symptoms as outdoor allergies.

Using a dehumidifier indoors helps prevent any mold or mildew growth by keeping the moisture in the air at a low level and under control. Set it, so humidity levels are around 45-50%, thus preventing mold from growing, and keeping your allergy symptoms from flaring up.

45-50% humidity might seem low, but consider the average humidity is typically around 50% and can go as low as 35% in the afternoons.

Besides preventing mold, a dehumidifier also keeps dust and mites in check. Just like mold thrives in high humidity environments, so do these microscopic relatives of the spider. They tend to live in your bedding, furniture, and areas where dead skin cells accumulate. Fortunately, a low-humidity home prevents dust mites, as they cannot survive when humidity dips below 50%.

Add an air purifier

Over 30 million people suffer from respiratory allergies that are triggered by pollen in the USA alone. While blooming flowers do bring beauty back into your neighborhood after a frigid winter, for most, they also bring itchy eyes and runny noses. Fortunately, adding an air purifier can help make your day more comfortable by removing pollen and other airborne particles from your home.

There are two primary types of air purifiers. A filter-type air purifier is the most common and its filters screen out airborne pollutants. Each time air passes through the purifier, it becomes progressively cleaner, before distributing it back into your home.

A UV light air purifier uses ultraviolet light - which is invisible - to kill airborne organisms safely. This includes mold, pollen (which is comprised of living cells), and floating bacteria. Some UV air purifiers combine a filtration system with the light to destroy not only the floating allergens, but also prevent them from getting back into your air.

Invest in your central air system

The way your air conditioning system functions plays a significant role in the quality of your home's air. If your AC unit is not correctly sized for your home, it could be turning off prematurely throughout the day. When this happens, it may not run long enough to remove the humidity from the air.

Additionally, if your equipment is outdated or hasn't been maintained adequately, this can also cause issues. When your evaporator and condenser coils get dirty or clogged, your AC can't adequately transfer heat, resulting in humidity build-up and mildew starts to grow. By giving your AC system at least an annual tune-up, you can prevent an allergy issue or breathing problem before it starts.

Clean, well-routed ductwork also plays a crucial role in how air moves throughout your home. If certain rooms and areas aren't well ventilated, the stagnant air can allow humidity to rise and airborne particles to linger. For maximum allergen relief, you should make sure your home is well optimized for airflow and that you have the right equipment. If you're in doubt, let our HVAC experts take a look.

Replace your air filter regularly

While dehumidifiers and air purifiers provide the best results, a small step you can take for cleaner air is by replacing your AC system's air filter. These filters keep contaminants from entering your air conditioner so it can run efficiently year-round, but it's also useful in removing dust from the air. Be sure to replace your air filter on a regular basis. If you're prone to allergies, you should change your filter at least every other month, if not more often.

Also, the right filter goes a long way toward solving your allergy woes, and you want one with a high MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) rating MERV stands for - the higher its MERV number, the better the filter will be at removing dust and dirt from your home's air. Before selecting a new air filter, consult your system's filter recommendation or give us a call if you're uncertain. Some air conditioners are designed to be most effective with a filter of a specific MERV level.

By following these tips, you'll keep your home's air clean and free of pollen, dust, and other particles. You'll also minimize the adverse effects that allergy symptoms have on you, and you'll breathe easy knowing that unwelcome dust mites and mildew won't be able to survive - the only living things sharing your home will be your family, friends, pets, and houseplants!


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