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Rick’s Blog and Answers to Common Questions

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Hey Rick, can you explain SEER to me?

SEER is an acronym for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, and is used to measure the efficiency of your central air conditioning system. Explained in the simplest of terms, the higher a unit’s SEER is, the more efficient the unit is over the course of a “cooling season”. In more technical terms, SEER represents the measure of total cooling in BTUs of a central air conditioning unit or heat pump during the season as compared with the total energy input in watt-hours consumed during the same period. The “control” factor is the fact that the measure of efficiency is specific to the temperate climate in the middle of the United States.

So What’s a “Good” SEER rating?

When you’re buying an air conditioning unit with an Energy Star Label, you’ll notice that it lists the SEER rating. The model number also lists the unit’s rating. For example, a model number beginning with 20AC tells you that the unit’s SEER rating is “20”.

The minimum federally-regulated SEER number is 13 or 14 depending on where you live, and the ratings go up to 25, so you would surmise that a unit rated 18 is better than a unit rated 14, but there’s more to the story than just the number!

What Else to Consider

The size of your home and where it’s located will also factor in to determining a good SEER rating for an air conditioning unit for your home. Energy Star has a handy calculator tool to help you determine what range of SEER ratings you should be looking for in a new air conditioner. However, there are general guidelines for helping you decide on whether a SEER rating is good based on your geographic location …

Where You Live Matters

Here’s a general breakdown of acceptable SEER ratings for each of the three climate-based geographical areas of the U.S.:

North

Most of the U.S. — including all of Alaska — falls into this climate-based region. The new minimum SEER ratings for this area are 14 for packaged HVAC systems and 13 for split systems (aka part of the unit is inside the house, and part is outside the house). Heat pumps have a minimum SEER rating of 14.

Southwest

If you live in Arizona, California, Nevada, or New Mexico, you’re in the Southwest in terms of SEER ratings. In this region, the minimum SEER rating for AC units is 14. The same rating — 14 — applies to all heat pumps.

South

The Southern region is made up of Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware, as well as Hawaii and the District of Columbia. The minimum SEER rating for your area is also 14 for both air conditioning and heating units.

One more detail to consider: If you have an HVAC gas pack instead of a standard heat pump, it must be rated at least 14, no matter what part of the country you call home.

Finally, make sure that you get a unit that’s the right size for your home. Installing a system that’s too small will make it work overtime, and that will ultimately have the opposite effect on your energy bill from the one that you’re looking for. Similarly, buying a unit that’s too big isn’t going to make it more efficient. And making sure that your home is properly insulated will go a long way toward saving you money on your energy bills, too.

Have questions about your air Sarasota-area conditioning system? Contact us at Nice Air LLC for the answers!

Hey Rick, how does HVAC affect Your Electric Bill

Living in Florida, you already know that as the temperatures rise outside that your utility bill is going to rise as well. However, you need your home to be cool enough to get through the day, and you grin and bare it. So what is the connection between your HVAC system and your electric bill? And what can you do to help lower your bills? Here are a few ways that your HVAC affects your electric bill.

Air Filter

In the simplest terms, your HVAC works by drawing air from your home into the system, dragging it over frozen coils, and returning cooled air back into the rooms. With the air, there are dust and dirt particles that are removed by the air filter. If the filter is dirty, the motor of your HVAC system works harder and hotter to cool the air, and your utility bills soar.

Thermostat

The thermostat determines the temperature in your home and turns the unit off and on according to the results. Have you ever looked at the thermostat, and it reads 70 but your home feels like it’s sitting on the equator? Your thermostat may need calibrating to more accurately read the temperature in your home. If it’s out of calibration, the system may run more often and stop and start more often, both of which cause a rise in your utility bills.

Age

As one of the most expensive appliances in your home, The HVAC is expected to last somewhere between 10 to 15 years with various factors determining the actual age. Your HVAC system begins to run less efficiently as it ages. The motor can run harder or hotter and the compressor that cools the air can begin to falter. In some cases with the advances in efficiency, you save enough money on utilities to make it worth purchasing a new unit now.

The best way to deal with issues and lower your utility bills as much as possible is to hire a professional to perform regular maintenance on the system. Now, in the months before the cooling seasons is the best time to schedule that maintenance so your system is running optimally when you need it. Nice Air LLC is ready to help. Call us today to schedule an appointment.

Hey Rick, Can Indirect Lightning Strikes Damage My Air Conditioner?

While it stands to reason that a direct lightning strike can damage your air conditioner, what most homeowners aren’t aware of is that even indirect lightning strikes can be problematic. Don’t underestimate the effect that lightning strikes can have on the electrical system of your central air conditioning. Here are a few things you should understand about lightning and your air conditioner.

Not All Damage Is Immediately Apparent

Some homeowners fall into a false sense of security about their air conditioner if they don’t notice a problem immediately after the storm has passed. While most problems will become evident right after the unit is affected, some issues are cumulative. That means that it could take a couple of lightning storms that cause indirect surges before you actually see the problem. If you have any reason to believe that lightning strikes may have hit anywhere near your property, you should consider having your air conditioner inspected by an air conditioning repair technician to spot any potential hidden problems.

Power Surges Can Cause Thermostat Problems

Any time lightning strikes near your property and travels through a path that affects your air conditioner, the sudden surge of electricity can short out the delicate thermostat components. If you find that your air conditioner isn’t engaging when it’s supposed to or isn’t regulating the temperature in the house correctly after a storm, there’s a good chance that it suffered an indirect lightning strike. If you are certain that there’s power to the system and the thermostat is set correctly, you should talk with a repair technician about testing the circuit.

Lightning Can Affect The Compressor

Your air conditioner relies on a series of steps to actually cool the air. Once the thermostat engages the system, it activates both the fan and the air conditioning compressor. If you’re hearing the fan engage but the compressor isn’t turning on, that may mean that the compressor suffered damage from the lightning. An air conditioning repair technician will have to address this because the compressor is inside the condenser unit. Turn the air conditioner off until you can have this serviced, because running it with a malfunctioning compressor could further damage the system.

For more information, contact us today.

Hey Rick, There are Odors in my Heating System. What Can I Do About It?

As there is a shift in season, you begin to experience odors emanating from your heating system. An unfamiliar smell coming through the drains and vents can affect your health and the air quality in your home. If it persists, call an expert to take care of these odors professionally. Here are some common odors that you may smell:

  1. Odors Caused by Animals:

If there is any living or dead animal in your ductwork, you may find strange smells caused by the animal or its waste. Small rodents and bugs are uncanny, and they breed faster than you will anticipate. Apart from the waste and odors, they can cause severe damage to your heating system. Hence, you need immediate action to remove it from your system.

  1. Musty Odors:

When you turn on the furnace after a long time, you may experience a musty odor coming from it. This may be caused due to dust and dirt that gets collected in the system when it is lying unused. It may get blown through your home affecting the overall air quality. Check the air filters and if the problem persists, call the professionals.

  1. Odors Caused by Mold:

This is a pungent smell that you can easily recognize. Mostly, the molds that grow behind the walls are hard to detect. You need to address this issue at the earliest before it causes health concerns for you and your family. We are the experts of heating repairs in Bradenton to handle such issues with care.

For more information about odors, contact us now.

Hey Rick, some of my AC components are frozen!

Surprisingly, the components of your AC freezing are not normal. You would think an air-conditioner should have parts that can become iced over, but this can be a sign that your AC is worn down. When checking your air-conditioner, technicians look for frozen components and you should too, especially if you think you might not be getting the best performance out of your AC. Look at the coils, if they are frozen it is a sign that you might have a hot sticky problem in the future.

What Causes Air Conditioners to Freeze?

An air conditioner can freeze up for a variety of reasons, however only two are common enough for you to take note of:

  1. There is not enough warm air and heat moving over the coils.
  2. The refrigerant in your AC isn’t doing its job of absorbing heat.

How Ice Can Make Your Home Warmer

When ice coats your AC’s indoor coils, your air-conditioner isn’t going to function optimally. It’s a bit counterintuitive as you would think that ice might make transferring cold air easier. However, when the indoor coils are frozen, they won’t do their job of transferring heat inside the air-conditioner. The cooling process in your AC system is created by heat being removed initially, and icy coils prevent the refrigerator in the AC system from moving air through and transferring the heat away from you and your family. An air-conditioner with frozen elements will probably also have other issues, so when you see frozen spots, know that maintenance is probably going to be required sooner rather than later.

Some Possible Causes of a Frozen AC Evaporator Coil

A few things can cause your evaporator coil to freeze like:

  • Broken fan motors that aren’t moving enough air through the coil
  • Dirty air filter’s blocking airflow
  • Shorten cycling; that may be caused by an air-conditioning unit being oversized and not getting enough air during each cycle

If your refrigerant levels are pretty low, this could cause your air-conditioning system to cease absorbing and releasing heat, which can lead to freezing.

If you think you might be suffering through a frozen air-conditioner and need a Bradenton AC repair service, contact the experts at Nice Air today and we can help you keep your home even cooler in the Florida heat.

Hey Rick, What Are Some Signs Your Air Conditioner Needs Repair Before the Blistering Months?

In places like Florida, high temperatures are here to stay, especially during the summer, and nobody wants to have to deal with that oppressive heat and a broken AC. There are many causes for broken ACs; they can be the result of overuse damage to internal systems, or outdated technology.

So, How do you know if your system needs to be replaced before the heat starts rising? At Nice Air, we pride ourselves on fixing broken down air-conditioning systems that have outlived their usefulness and on knowing when an AC system needs to be serviced and why. To be safe if you see any of the following things happening consider it time to have your AC system serviced:

  • Do you have an AC system that’s over ten years old? If you have an old system, it’s probably not energy efficient and costing you 20% more on your energy bill as a result.
  • Do you have to repair your AC system board often? Having repeat, routine repairs on a particular system is a sign that your AC system is outliving its usefulness and is likely costing you money.
  • Have you noticed your energy bill steadily rising? If you notice that your energy bill is getting higher as your usage remains at a steady and normal rate, then your AC system might be to blame.
  • Is your home typically filled with dust? A dusty home can be a sign that your AC system isn’t working properly. Typically, AC systems reduce dust, so this is a sure-fire sign of a malfunction.

AC systems perform a variety of functions in your home. It’s easy to see why they can be so overwhelmed and break down. Nice Air can repair your AC system and get you prepared for the hottest stickiest days in Bradenton Florida. We offer reliable AC repair in Bradenton Florida at a fair price when you need it the most.

Hey Rick, What Is That Sound My Furnace Is Making?

With cooler weather setting in, it’s nearing time to turn on the heat. The first few times your furnace runs through the winter will be prime time for problems to become apparent from the off-season. If you turn your furnace on and hear any unfamiliar or unusual noises, you may wonder what’s causing them. Here are some of the things you might hear and what you should know about them.

Booming or Banging Noises

There are a couple of things that can cause noises like these. Sometimes, these sounds are just because of the rapid change in temperature inside the air ducts. It can cause the metal to pop, and when the sound echoes through the ducts, it will sound like a bang or a boom.

However, if you’re hearing a banging sound like that which is paired with the odor of something burning, it may be an indication that your burner is dirty or the gas valve is malfunctioning. It’s important that you seek heating repair services in this case.

Rattling and Pinging Sounds

When the furnace shuts off at the end of a heating cycle, you may hear some rattling within the system. This is a direct result of the change in temperature as the furnace cools down. It isn’t a cause for concern. In addition to the rattling, the cooling process can also cause some light pinging in the air ducts as they cool off.

Screeching, Squealing, or Squeaking Noises

Your furnace shouldn’t squeal, squeak, or screech when it’s running. If you hear high-pitched sounds like these, that’s an indication that the blower motor or fan belt may be failing. Any time you hear something like this, you should shut the furnace off immediately and call for an emergency repair.

Whining Sounds

Any time you notice persistent whining sounds coming from the furnace, that’s usually a direct result of a problem with the bearings in the blower motor. If the bearings are worn or not properly lubricated, they will cause whining due to friction caused by metal rubbing on metal. This is another sound you should not ignore. Shut the system down and call for heating repair.

Clunking Noises

Persistent clunking noises, typically rhythmic ones, are an indication that the belt on the blower motor may be cracked or otherwise damaged. Any time the damaged part of the belt hits a pulley, it will make a deep clunking sound. You’ll need to have the belt replaced right away, otherwise you risk it breaking completely.

Now that you know what sounds to be concerned about and what sounds are typical from your furnace, you’ll know when to call for service. For more information, contact us today.

Dear Rick: What are the Top 7 Things to Look for when Seeking Air Conditioning Repair in Bradenton FL?

Air conditioning troubles seem to strike with little warning and during the most inconvenient times. Finding a trustworthy, highly qualified repair company is essential to ensuring that you and are able to live and work comfortably again. Below are the top 7 things to look for when seeking an air conditioning repair company in Bradenton, Florida.

1) At least 5 years of experience. There is no substitute for experience in the air conditioning repair industry. As you evaluate providers, ask them how long they have been in business and zero in on providers that have successfully completed over 1,000 repair requests.

2) Factory authorized to perform repairs. Factory authorized repair companies are great choices because they must adhere to more rigorous industry standards than non-authorized companies. Less than five percent of companies are factory authorized, so you know you are receiving service from a first-rate company.

3) Licensed and insured. Before you enlist the help of an air conditioning repair specialist, make sure to confirm that the company is licensed and insured. Some companies include their license number on their website for easy reference.

4) Superb accessibility. Being able to reach your air conditioning repair company quickly is vital to your comfort. Ideally, you should be able to contact your repair company by phone, e-mail, or in person. You also may wish to inquire about your provider’s ability to provide emergency service on weekends and holidays.

5) A service vehicle that is fully stocked with parts. A fully stocked service van is critical to ensuring swift repairs. A service vehicle should be well stocked with thermostats, coils, controls, filters, and other frequently-needed replacement parts.

6) A 100% satisfaction guarantee. Factory authorized dealers are most likely to offer a 100% guarantee. This will ensure that you receive technical support within the specified warranty timeframe.

7) A proactive approach. Top-notch air conditioning repair companies go the extra mile to ensure that your air conditioner is functioning safely and smoothly. This includes providing customers with preventive maintenance guidance and suggestions.

For more information on key qualities to seek in your air conditioning repair company, contact us. Since 2009, we have performed over 1,400 service and repair requests in the Bradenton area. Our team of trained professionals looks forward to serving as your trusted resource for air conditioning repair!

Hey Rick, What Should I Know About Hurricanes And My Air Conditioner?

Living in a southern coastal area means having to be prepared for hurricanes, but for homeowners who are new to the area, this can be challenging. The more you understand about how to protect and inspect your air conditioning unit, the easier it will be to weather the storms and minimize your risk of needing AC repair due to storm damage.

Pre-Storm Preparations For Your Air Conditioner

Being proactive can really minimize the risk of damage to your air conditioner. When you know the storm is imminent, it’s time to shut down the air conditioner’s power source. Shut it off at the breaker panel so that you can be sure there’s no power flowing to it. This is important, because it prevents a power surge from striking the compressor and causing an electrical short or fire.

As soon as you have interrupted the power supply, you can shield the compressor from storm debris. Covering it with a tarp or off-season cover is better than nothing, but if you can plan ahead and build a solid wooden structure around it, that is even better.

Post-Storm Considerations For Your Air Conditioner

Don’t restore power to the compressor until you’ve uncovered and inspected it first. If, for any reason, there’s water in the compressor, starting it can cause a short that may be damaging. Not to mention, damage to the electrical wires or coolant hoses can also be problematic.

Remove the cover from the compressor and inspect it thoroughly. Look for any debris in or around the unit and clean it out. If you can see any punctures, water, or other damage, you’ll need to have that repaired before you restore its power. If you’re not confident that you can judge it adequately, a local Sarasota AC repair technician can help. Contact us for more information.

My AC Repair Bradenton FL Question: Hey Rick, My AC blows our cold air, but my house still feels humid even when my ac is running. Do I have to make expensive repairs?

Let’s face it. Winters don’t really get too cold here in Bradenton. Our annual lows typically just drop to what many of our relatives in colder clients like to call, “jacket weather.”

Therefore, in many ways, the wisest thing to start thinking about now is keeping cool next summer; instead of paying for expensive repairs at the last minute, in the smoldering heat.

Like you, one of the things many Bradenton residents find especially uncomfortable is the humidity that goes along with the Florida heat.

Yes, your AC does help to some degree. However, Florida heat is not dry heat like you’ll find out in the Western US. The AC can’t fix all of it.

  • Sometimes the humidity can make your home more uncomfortable when you have guests over or children running around and playing.
  • It can also waste money. You feel your home is hotter, so you run your air conditioner on lower temperatures for more hours of the day.
  • Your ac might also kick on more often because the humidity makes your home hotter.
  • In addition, too much humidity inside the home can lead to problems like mold and mildew which can lead to a whole host of health problems like allergies, upper respiratory problems and serious risks to the medically frail like the sick, elderly or pregnant.

The primary role of your air conditioner is not to dehumidify. However, it will take some of the moisture out of your air. Your air conditioner pulls the air out of your home and cools it by running it over refrigerant coils. Then it recirculates that cool air throughout your home. The heat your AC unit takes out of your home is then expelled outside.

A dehumidifier removes moisture from the air by pulling air into the body of the unit. It then cools the air, heats the air and disperses the excess moisture through a drainage system. Though both types of machines will dehumidify and make the room more comfortable, relying on an air conditioner as a dehumidifier is wasteful. In a way, it removes some moisture by accident.

Therefore, if you have a serious moisture problem in your home and it’s beyond uncomfortable throughout our beautiful summer months, then you should make sure to grab a dehumidifier.

My Answer

The average annual level of humidity here in Bradenton is 80%. Many residents find that unpleasant. Many people also rely on air conditioning units alone to ease the stress when there’s a cheaper and more efficient solution. By combining your AC with dehumidifiers and using ceiling fans, (which can lower the temperature in your rooms by an additional 10% as well), you will create a very pleasant climate in your home.

  • There are portable dehumidifiers you can move from room to room. They are the cheapest solution for homes under 3000 SQ. feet. You should make sure to keep one in rooms that produce the most moisture like bathrooms and kitchens etc, to reduce the moisture before it spreads.
  • You can also install dehumidifying heat pipes to a central AC unit as well if your home is larger than 3000 square feet. When the AC pulls air into the body of the unit, it will remove the moisture. These are very effective and remove 91% of the moisture from your air, but they also create heat around the ac unit, making it work harder. Because you’re removing the moisture, 75 degrees will feel like 70, so you should turn up the AC temperature to offset the additional work your AC unit will try to do.

At Nice Air LLC, we love our beautiful Florida summers, but we know how important it is to stay comfortable indoors, and to have your oasis. Contact us today. Our AC Repair Bradenton FL technicians can take care of any HVAC needs you have!