Hurricane Safety Tips for your Home Comfort System – 2014

August 26, 2014

 

August 26, 2014

Evacuation RouteThe 2014 hurricane season runs from June 1 – November 30.   We have had a couple of tropical storms already pass us by in Florida this year, the latest being Hurricane Cristobal.  We have been very fortunate that we have not had a major hurricane hit the Florida peninsula directly in several years. If we trust in the odds or in statistics, we must realize that we are due for one or two major storms to hit Central Florida in the not-too-distant future. Keeping your family and your home safe during a hurricane is important. You also want to make sure your air conditioning system is protected, before, during and after the storm.  Here are a few tips. To stay safe, here’s what you need to do:

Before the Storm

  • Add hurricane straps to your unit. Your outdoor condenser can be blown around in a hurricane, causing damage to your home and to the equipment. Anchoring the condenser with hurricane straps keeps it in place and prevents damage. Required by law on new installs since 2007, Pro-Tech can add them to equipment installed prior to that date.  
  • Remove debris and secure dangerous objects that could be blown into the outdoor equipment.
  • Remove the blades from outdoor ceiling fans.
  • If you evacuate, turn off your air conditioner before you leave.

During the Storm

  • If you lose power, turn off your air conditioner immediately. Turn it back on only after power has been restored in your area. 

After the Storm

  • If the unit faced heavy or driving rain, it’s highly recommended that you have it inspected before you turn it back on. If the unit was submerged, you must have it inspected before operation. In both cases it will likely be full of dirt, water and other debris, and cleaning will prevent serious damage to the equipment.
  • Do not turn the unit on if the drain line is still submerged.Globe
  • If your ductwork got wet due to roof damage, it will need to be replaced.
  • If the indoor air handler or thermostat got wet they will need to be serviced before the system is turned back on. You can call the Pro-Tech’s Hotline 24/7 at 407-291-1644.

Why should one get a Permit?

July 10, 2013

Building Permit

There are many important reasons to obtain the required permit(s) and to obtain the required inspections for your project.

 Protects property value – Your home or business is an investment. If your project does not comply with the codes and standards adopted by your community, the value of your investment could be reduced.

Saves money – Property insurance may not cover work or damages caused by work done without permits and inspections.

 Makes selling property easier – When property is sold through a multiple-listing association, the owner must disclose any improvements or repairs made and if permits and inspections were obtained. Many financial institutions will not finance a purchase without proof of a final inspection. If you decide to sell a home or building that has had modifications without a permit, you may be required to tear down the addition, leave it unoccupied, or do costly repairs.

 Improves safety – The permit review and inspections process is designed to ensure that all construction is safe. By following code guidelines, your completed project will meet minimum standards of safety and will be less likely to cause injury to you, your family, your friends, or future occupants. Mandatory inspections complement the contractor’s experience and act as a system of checks and balances resulting in a safer project.

 It’s the law – Work without a permit may be subject to removal or other costly remedies.

 At Pro-Tech Air Conditioning and Plumbing Service, we ALWAYS pull a permit!  It’s the right thing to do!


Tankless Water Heaters: Myths and Misinformation

June 7, 2013

 

With all the talk and hype swirling around the mythical tankless water heater, I felt it was time to bring to light all of the great qualities of the tankless water heaters and debunk some of the myths. Personally, I love natural gas and propane fired tankless water heaters, electric well…not so much. Electric  tankless have a place and application where they work perfectly to help save energy.Tankless Water Heater

First of all there is really more misinformation than myth. There are two types of tankless water heaters. First there is the whole house system that replaces the standard tank type water heater. Second there is what is known as a Point-of-Use water heater. This type would simply install under the fixture that it services. These would typically be electric and used for just one or two sinks.

I explained all of that because that is where the facts start to get blurry.

Misinformation: I will have instant hot water coming from my faucet with my new tankless water heater.

Fact: Point-of-Use tankless water heaters will give you instant hot water at the fixture it serves. On the other hand, whole house tankless water heaters are typically located close to where the old tank water heater would have been, so the amount of time it takes to get the heated water from the heater to the fixture will be about the same. Once the hot water gets to that fixture it will remain hot as long as you choose to run the water.

Myths: Tankless water heaters  are newest, latest, and greatest thing in water heating.

Fact: Tankless water heaters have been use for decades in every other country in the world.  Due to their small design they fit into limited spaces. As Americans we live in much more spacious conditions, so putting a 40 to 50 gallon tank in the garage or utility room isn’t a big deal and comes with a cheaper up front cost.

Myths:  My new tankless water heater will cut my electric bill in half.

Fact: Electric tankless water heaters they use electricity when they are on. This translates to about a 15% saving on your water heating portion of your electric bill, because it’s only on when the hot water is being used. With gas fired tankless water heaters there is a reduction in the water heating portion of your electric bill by about 98%.  This is sometimes misleading because you should factor-in the cost of the propane or natural gas to get an accurate saving number. It is normal to see a 30% to 40% savings overall.

Myths: I won’t be able to use my hot water circulation system in my home or business with a tankless water heater.

Fact: You can use your hot water circulation system with a tankless water heater. There are only a couple of things that need done to make this happen. The problem I see is a lot of plumbing contractors are not familiar enough with the products to know what to do.

Myths: I need the temperature set to 120 degrees or more.

Fact: The industry standard for a tank style water heater is 120 to 130 degrees; this is done to help stretch the hot water by being able to add some cold to it to get the desired temperature. With a tankless water heater you are not going to run out of hot water so it’s not necessary to mix;  just set your desired temperature and let it go.

Bonus fun fact: We have all heard that women are tougher than men and here is another study pointing that way. Men typically shower in a temperature between 103 and 105 degrees. Women typically shower between 107 and 108 degrees.

I hope this will help you if you are considering a tankless water heater for your home or business.

Ron Collison, Master Plumber


How does an air conditioner control the humidity in your home?

May 28, 2013

humidity_control_01

Air-conditioning equipment usually reduces the absolute humidity of the air processed by the system. The relatively cold (below the dewpoint) evaporator coil condenses water vapor from the processed air (much like an ice-cold drink will condense water on the outside of a glass), sending the water to a drain and removing water vapor from the cooled space and lowering the relative humidity in the room. Since humans perspire to provide natural cooling by the evaporation of perspiration from the skin, drier air (up to a point) improves the comfort provided. The comfort air conditioner is designed to create a 40% to 60% relative humidity in the occupied space. In food-retailing establishments, large open chiller cabinets act as highly effective air dehumidifying units.

A specific type of air conditioner that is used only for dehumidifying is called a dehumidifier. A dehumidifier is different from a regular air conditioner in that both the evaporator and condenser coils are placed in the same air path, and the entire unit is placed in the environment that is intended to be conditioned (in this case dehumidified), rather than requiring the condenser coil to be outdoors. Having the condenser coil in the same air path as the evaporator coil produces warm, dehumidified air. The evaporator (cold) coil is placed first in the air path, dehumidifying the air exactly as a regular air conditioner does. The air next passes over the condenser coil, re-warming the now dehumidified air. Having the condenser coil in the main air path rather than in a separate, outdoor air path (as with a regular air conditioner) results in two consequences: the output air is warm rather than cold, and the unit is able to be placed anywhere in the environment to be conditioned, without a need to have the condenser outdoors.

Unlike a regular air conditioner, a dehumidifier will actually heat a room just as an electric heater that draws the same amount of power (watts) as the dehumidifier would. A regular air conditioner transfers energy out of the room by means of the condenser coil, which is outside the room (outdoors). That is, the room can be considered a thermodynamic system from which energy is transferred to the external environment. Conversely, with a dehumidifier, no energy is transferred out of the thermodynamic system (room) because the air conditioning unit (dehumidifier) is entirely inside the room. Therefore all of the power consumed by the dehumidifier is energy that is input into the thermodynamic system (the room) and remains in the room (as heat). In addition, if the condensed water has been removed from the room, the amount of heat needed to boil that water has been added to the room. This is the inverse of adding water to the room with an evaporative cooler.

Dehumidifiers are commonly used in cold, damp climates to prevent mold growth indoors, especially in basements. They are also used to protect sensitive equipment from the adverse effects of excessive humidity in tropical countries.


Is purchasing a new air conditioning system different than just purchasing any other product?

May 10, 2013

helpful-tipsAir conditioning and heating is a scientific complex topic. Although there are many sub-topics and themes that are interrelated, we can distill the most important answers down to four points.

 

1 – Does quality of installation matters more than brand?


It plays almost a larger role in proper efficiency and operation than the brand chosen to install. Professional installation includes, among other things, license and insured contractor, long term credentials in the community, following local permitting laws, and a precise load calculation for your specific situation — your location and building. You need to compare the features and benefits of the company and technicians who install your air conditioning system before you think about equipment and brand comparison. Look for contractors who use the “whole house approach” and are teachers more than they are sales people.

 

2 – Central AC and heating components are parts of a system that are includes in  your home or building.

Unlike refrigerators, air conditioning and heating systems are not “plug in and forget” appliances. Any component, features, or benefits that you could compare on paper must be installed and operate within a system that is affected by other factors. As just one example, duct work (which would not be included in a comparison of brands and models) is a huge variable – it will literally “make or break” your air conditioning  system, costs, and comfort.

 

3 –  Your satisfaction and cost of operation over the life of the system

Most buyers focus on initial cost, discounts, rebates, payments or financing. However, there are additional points to consider in an installed system: (a) how much does it cost to operate monthly, (b) how much are repairs and maintenance over the life of the system, (c) how many years before this system needs replacing again. Here again, the initial installation has a major impact on the performance over the years.

 

4 – It is fine to compare equipment brands — after you have considered the more important points.
OK, now to brands. Once you have picked one or more local air conditioning companies who are qualified and diligent with load calculations and the other main points, you can choose from equipment brands and features. This is also a point where a teacher that helps you understand different aspects and all the multi facets to your decision of a very large and important decision.


Your Air Conditioner Unit is Frozen! Who-you-gonna-call?

April 15, 2013

You live in Central Florida. It is the middle of summer. It is hot. You are wearing shorts, but your outside air conditioner unit or heat pump is caked in solid ice.

How is it possible for the inside of an air conditioner to look like an igloo, even in the warmest summer months?  Needless to say, it is abnormal for ice to form in an air conditioner, and it is certainly cause for concern.

Condenser Froozen

Several common problems can cause air conditioner freeze-ups:

  • Problems with the System’s Refrigeration. Refrigerant leaks or low levels of refrigerant can cause pressure drops in the air conditioner’s evaporator coil, which will allow moisture in the air to freeze and accumulate on the coil.
  • Humidity in the air will collect on the coil causing ice to build-up and diminish the system’s cooling capacity.
  • Insufficient Air Flow: Anything that restricts air flow will cause the temperature of the      system’s evaporator coil to drop below freezing.
    1. Dirty air filters can seriously impede air flow.
    1. Collapsed, obstructed and undersized ducts can seriously impede air flow.
    1. Damaged blower motors can seriously impede air flow.
    1. Dirt build-up on the evaporator coil can seriously impede air flow.

What To Do When Your Air Conditioner Freezes Up:

The buildup of ice or frost is a sure sign that your air conditioner is not operating properly. If you notice a decline in your system’s cooling capacity, ice or frost build-up should be the first thing you suspect. Air conditioner freeze-ups should be addressed immediately.  Continued ice accumulation can cause permanent damage to your A/C unit.

The first thing you should do once you notice your air conditioner is frozen is to turn it off and let it defrost completely. Once it has defrosted, check the airflow. Clean or replace dirty filters or remove any visible dirt or obstructions; in some cases, this could be all that is needed.

More serious airflow and refrigeration problems require professional help.   You can call Pro-Tech Air Conditioning and Plumbing Services, Inc.; Your Pro-Tech technician has all the tools necessary to troubleshoot serious air flow problems and repair refrigerant leaks.


Is being cool the same as being comfortable?

April 1, 2013

“Comfort” is something that we all value, yet we neglect it every day and expect it to take care of us tomorrow. Our home “comfort air conditioning system” will run about 2400 hours every year and not ask anything from us until it is too late.  Being cool is great, but in reality it is more important to be “comfortable”:.

1)      Comfort in knowing a good service company. There are people that sell a machine, and there are companies that provide great service that  truly cares about you, your family, and your air conditioner throughout the year.  They are there for you in times of need.  A good service company should ask you questions, listen to your needs, and understand your goals. Being a teacher of technologies and relating to you with utmost compassion and heart, brings a service company to your door step as a member of the family. A good service company is one you can trust, is honest and has integrity.

2)      Comfort in knowing the system is cared for. Like any mechanical device, your comfort system requires maintenance to ensure it will take care of you for the longest time possible. A cared-for system will perform better, last longer for the years to come, be more reliable in times of need, and provide the comfort when it is running in peak performance.

3)      Comfort in knowing humidity is controlled. Being cool is good, but being comfortable is great!  Air conditioners are natural dehumidifiers. Having cool air is purely a by-product by design. Moisture in our homes provides discomfort and a greater feeling in temperature differences which is why one person is cool and the other is hot. This moisture also invites water to be trapped in our homes, many times in place where we don’t want it. A properly designed air conditioner and duct system will provide comfort as well as humidity control. Remember, cool air plus controlled humidity equals “comfort”.

4)      Comfort in knowing savings on the electric bill. With new technologies and installation performed properly, a new high efficiency comfort system will pay for itself (versus a budget friendly system) in about three years and earn, above and beyond, about $5,000 in the life expectancy of the system with today’s energy cost. If your home system is older than 13 years and would be able to survive another 15 years, it may cost you about $22,000 more in just electricity than if a high energy efficient system was installed properly today.

Being comfortable becomes very valuable as we become older, i.e., we yearn for comfort with our careers, comfort with our friends and families, comfort with our finances, and, sometimes, comfort with a good service company that you trust and rely on.

Since 1984, Pro-Tech Air Conditioning and Plumbing Service has been servicing the families of Central Florida with the utmost care, providing excellent service everyday of every year, even at night. We never close. We operate our business with honesty and integrity. We are the best in the business, with NATE certified technicians who are 100% focused on doing the right thing for you, the customer.

Service Hotline: (407) 291-1644

www.ProTechAC.com

www.Facebook.com/ProTechAC

Service@ProTechAC.com


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