What Type of Thermostat is Best For Your Family?

Your thermostat is a major part of what keeps your heating and cooling system working efficiently, even on Southwest Florida’s hottest days. Because there are several types of thermostats, it takes some research to find the one that’s best for your home.

Source: iStock.com/doomu

Source: iStock.com/doomu

Manual Thermostats

These are the types of thermostat you can still find in older homes and that you may have used years ago. On the oldest models, you’ll select your desired temperature by physically turning a dial on the face of the thermostat. There are also digital manual thermostats that offer an LCD display screen and buttons used to adjust the temperature. If you don’t mind having to adjust the thermostat manually every time you want a different temperature, you might be content with this thermostat.

Programmable Thermostat

The very oldest programmable thermostat, the clock thermostat, allows you to choose two temperature settings per day: a warmer and a cooler period. Modern programmable thermostats let you choose up to four different temperatures.

These thermostats come in three types. A 5-2 day model lets you set one program for five days and another for two days, such as for the weekdays and weekend. A 5-1-1 day model lets you choose two different settings for each “weekend” day. With a 7-day model, you can choose a setting for every day of the week. These types of thermostats work well if you have a fairly predictable schedule but don’t like having to fiddle with the thermostat.

Smart Wi-Fi Thermostat

Smart thermostats give you all the benefits of conventional thermostats and then some. With one of these thermostats, you can customize your home’s temperature schedule with as many periods as you want for each day of the week. You can also set the thermostat over the internet from your computer or a smart phone app. Consider one of these if your schedule is unpredictable, or if you want to fine-tune your heating and cooling use for the greatest energy savings.

For guidance on choosing from among the types of thermostats on the market, contact us at Conditioned Air in Southwest Florida.

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Fix Frozen Evaporator Coils With These Troubleshooting Tips

Frozen evaporator coils are more than just a nuisance. Ignore them and they can shut down your air conditioner or damage the components, leaving you with no cooling in the Southwest Florida heat. A little troubleshooting can save you from that situation.

Source: iStock.com/Maudib

Source: iStock.com/Maudib

Correcting Airflow Problems

When airflow through your A/C is restricted, too little warm indoor air passes over the evaporator coils and their temperature can drop below freezing. Take a look at your air filter and replace it if it’s covered in dust. Also check your air return grates and supply registers to make sure they aren’t caked with debris buildup or blocked by items such as furniture. Keep all your supply registers open.

Inspect the evaporator coils for buildup. Dirty coils can’t absorb heat efficiently, causing the coils to become to cold. After the coils have thawed, you can clean them with a soft brush or foaming coil cleaner. If you find heavy debris buildup or rust, though, schedule a professional cleaning.

Identifying Other Issues

When you find frozen evaporator coils, turn the system off at the breaker and let the coils thaw naturally. This could take up to 24 hours. Avoid picking the ice off because this can damage the delicate coils.

Once you start your A/C again, note how long it runs. It should run until the thermostat temperature is reached, then shut off. If the outdoor unit keeps running, a malfunctioning thermostat could be to blame. Consider replacing yours if it’s old. It’s also possible the outdoor unit has a blown fuse or damaged electrical contactor. Call an air conditioner technician for help with this.

If you’ve noticed a steady drop in cooling capacity, you may have a refrigerant leak. Check your outdoor unit’s copper refrigerant lines for damage, an oily substance or a hissing sound. If you notice any of these or otherwise suspect a leak, contact a technician to prevent more refrigerant from escaping.

If you’ve been having problems with frozen evaporator coils, contact us for help at Conditioned Air anywhere in Southwest Florida.

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How to Troubleshoot an Overheating Compressor

Overheating is one of the most common reasons compressors fail early, and a failed compressor will leave you without cooling in the Southwest Florida heat. While many of the causes require help from an A/C technician, knowing how to troubleshoot an overheating compressor lets you provide the technician with valuable information.

Source: iStock.com/dgdimension

Source: iStock.com/dgdimension

High Head Pressure – High pressure inside the condenser can be caused by condenser coils that are dirty or blocked with leaves or other debris. Cleaning the outdoor unit may help. A malfunctioning condenser fan is another cause. This is often due to a bad capacitor, which can be replaced. Refrigerant overcharge is also a possible cause. A technician can measure your refrigerant charge.

High Superheat – Superheat means how much hotter the refrigerant is than its boiling point. Excess superheat is usually caused by a problem with the refrigerant flow, such as a low charge, a malfunctioning metering device or a blockage in the lines. It can also happen when the refrigerant lines are buried too close to a heat source, such as hot water pipes.

Incorrect Voltage – This can be caused by simple maintenance issues such as loose or corroded wires or connections, which cause low voltage in the compressor. A technician can correct these for you. Sometimes, though, you’ll need to contact your power company to troubleshoot an overheating compressor because the problem could be high voltage coming from the company or a problem with their transformer.

Short Cycling – If you notice the compressor turning on and off frequently, you may have an airflow problem. Replace your air filter if it’s dirty and check your indoor evaporator coil for ice or a buildup of dust. A low refrigerant charge or problem with the metering device can also cause this problem and both require a technician.

Less commonly, the problem lies with the compressor itself. The compressor’s internal overload should stop the compressor from running when it’s too hot, but if this device fails, the compressor will overheat.

For more pro tips on how to troubleshoot an overheating compressor, contact us at Conditioned Air in Southwest Florida.

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4 Reasons Why Your Air Conditioner Could Be Leaking Water

Water leaks may not stop your air conditioner from holding off the Southwest Florida heat, but the damage they can do means you can’t afford to ignore them. If your air conditioner is leaking water, there are four likely causes. Air condition examine or install

  1. A malfunctioning condensate drain – If anything stops this drain from working, condensate will back up and either overflow or trigger your system to shut down automatically. Test the drain by pouring in a cup of water. If the pump doesn’t start up, it may be broken or the float may be stuck. If the water doesn’t go down at all, the drain may be blocked with sludge. Using a wet-vac to suck sludge out of the drain’s outdoor end is often enough to remove the blockage.
  2. A clogged filter – A dirty air filter reduces airflow through the system, which can cause ice to form on the indoor evaporator coil. Eventually, this ice will start to melt and leave a pool of water. If your filter is dirty, put in a clean one. In the future, replace the air filter on schedule. One-inch fiberglass filters should usually be replaced every few months.
  3. Leaking air – If your air conditioner’s components aren’t properly sealed or the seals have deteriorated, warm air can enter the system where it shouldn’t. This can cause condensation to form inside the air conditioner, drip down, and pool on the ground. An air conditioning technician can solve this problem for you by re-sealing your system.
  4. Low outdoor temperatures – Leaving your air conditioner running when outdoor temperatures fall below 60 degrees can cause the coils to freeze. When the ice melts, you’ll be left with water leak. If you run your system over night and notice your air conditioner is leaking in the morning, but not during the the day, low overnight temperatures are likely the cause.

If your air conditioner is leaking water and you can’t solve the problem, contact us at Conditioned Air anywhere in Southwest Florida.

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Find Out Why Your Air Conditioner is Blowing Hot Air

Warm air is the last thing you want from your A/C on a hot, humid Southwest Florida summer day. If your air conditioner is blowing hot air, you may be able to correct the problem yourself.

ca4Airflow Issues

Too little air flowing through your system causes a number of problems, including reduced cooling. Debris buildup is the most common cause of poor airflow. First, check your air filter and replace it if it’s dirty.

Next, inspect your outdoor unit for a buildup of grass clippings or other debris on the exterior fins. You can clean the fins with a soft brush. The unit should also be professionally cleaned during your annual A/C tune-up.

A layer of dust on the indoor evaporator coil interferes with your A/C’s cooling ability, potentially making it seem the system is blowing warm air. If you’re not comfortable cleaning this component yourself, contact an HVAC technician.

Technical Problems

Check the outdoor condenser unit to make sure the power switch wasn’t turned off and the plug wasn’t pulled out. When the outdoor unit doesn’t get power, the indoor fan will run, but the system won’t cool the air. If you have a heat pump, check your thermostat settings to make sure your system is set to “cool” and wasn’t accidentally switched to “heat” mode.

If your air conditioner is blowing hot air, the system has been steadily losing cooling capacity (taking longer to cool your house), and you find ice on your indoor unit’s copper refrigerant lines, you could have a refrigerant leak. Leaks are typically caused by an installation error, deterioration in the lines or damage. Because refrigerant is toxic, contact a technician if you suspect there’s a leak in your system.

If your air conditioner is blowing hot air or you have any other problem with your home comfort equipment, contact us at Conditioned Air anywhere in Southwest Florida.

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How to Troubleshoot 3 Common Heat Pump Problems

Some basic heat pump troubleshooting can help make sure your system keeps working no matter what kind of heat or storms Southwest Florida’s climate brings. Learning how to solve a few common problems will give you a good start.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Heat Pump Isn’t Providing the Right Temperature

First, check that the thermostat is set where you think it is. If the room is too hot or cold, but the system hasn’t kicked on, try raising or lowering the temperature 5 degrees and waiting at least five minutes. Restricted airflow can also cause this problem. Make sure all your air registers are open and not blocked by drapes or furniture. Check your air filter and put in a clean one if necessary. If the outdoor condensing unit is blocked with leaves or other debris, clean the unit. If none of these steps help, the problem could be the blower, the auxiliary heat, or something else that requires a technician.

The Blower Isn’t Working

Check that the thermostat is operating correctly. If your thermostat has been set to “Fan”, switch it to “Off” or “Auto.” If it’s already on “Off” or “Auto,” something might be wrong with the limit switch. The limit switch is a safety device that shuts off your system if it overheats. It may need to be adjusted or replaced. If the fan motor runs, but the fan blades don’t turn, the problem is most likely a damaged fan belt, which is simple to replace.

It’s Cycling Incorrectly

If your heat pump turns on and off too frequently, the problem could be restricted airflow. Make sure your air registers are open, and your filter and outdoor condenser unit are clean. If you’ve recently installed a new thermostat, it could be incorrectly calibrated, placed where it can’t accurately read the room temperature or the heat anticipator is set incorrectly. Low refrigerant can also cause short cycling, so contact a technician if you notice a decrease in efficiency and can’t identify the problem.

If your heat pump troubleshooting doesn’t solve your problem, contact us at Conditioned Air anywhere around Southwest Florida.

Image Source: iStock.com/Maudib

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3 Causes That Contribute to the Most Common A/C Problems

A number of common A/C problems can prevent your system from keeping you cool in Southwest Florida’s heat. If you want to keep your system working reliably, start by getting familiar with what can go wrong.

ca2Debris Buildup

Dust, pollen, pet hair, and other debris can quickly accumulate to levels that impair airflow through the air conditioner. Weak airflow is at the root of many common A/C problems. You may notice a drop in cooling capacity and higher electricity bills. If things get really clogged up, the system can overheat and be shut down by an automatic safety device designed to prevent fires. To avoid this, keep your air filter, outdoor condenser unit, and indoor evaporator coil clean.

Impaired Drainage

Your condensate drain carries away the moisture your A/C removes from your air. If the drain stops working, water will back up into your home. Many air conditioners contain a device that senses when water has backed up and shuts down the whole system until the condensate can drain again. This line is prone to developing algae and sludge, which can eventually cause a blockage. You may be able to clear the blockage by using a wet-vac to suck sludge from the outside end of the line. A preventive maintenance agreement can help keep this issue from happening with regular checks.

Refrigerant Leak

Air conditioners don’t use up refrigerant. They’re designed to run with a specific amount of refrigerant and any more or less will reduce the system’s efficiency and impair its performance. Incorrectly installed, poorly made or old and deteriorating refrigerant lines can develop leaks. Tampering can also cause leaks. Copper refrigerant lines are valuable to scrap metal thieves who cut out the lines and leave the refrigerant to leak. If you notice a steady or sudden drop in your system’s cooling capacity, you may have a refrigerant leak, so contact a technician as soon as possible.

For help solving common A/C problems and other issues with your home comfort equipment, contact Conditioned Air in Southwest Florida.

Image Source: iStock.com/galinast

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Is Hiring a NATE-Certified Technician Important?

Keeping a cooling, ventilation or other home comfort system running in Southwest Florida’s hot, humid climate takes some real skill. By hiring a NATE-certified technician, you’ll be assured the person caring for your system has the technical and interpersonal skills necessary to do the job right.

ca1Better Performance From Your System

North American Technician Excellence (NATE) is the nation’s largest independent certification program for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning technicians. To become certified, a technician must pass challenging exams in one or more specialty areas, such as gas furnaces or air conditioning. Technician who pass these exams have proven their real-world skills. NATE certification isn’t legally required, so you know technicians who have invested in it are dedicated to their career and truly care about providing the best possible service.

Hiring a NATE-certified technician to install a new system helps ensure it’s installed correctly. Even small errors in installation impair a heating or cooling system’s efficiency, so getting installation right is the first step toward long-term savings.

Service You Can Rely On

The additional training NATE-certified technicians receive helps them spot developing problems early while they’re still quick and inexpensive to correct. This not only keeps your costs down, but also reduces the chance of surprise breakdowns.

When your system does need repair work, NATE-certified technicians have the advanced skills needed to get the work done as fast as possible. They’re also more likely to do the job right the first time. You’ll save time by not having to call the technician back to do the job over again.

NATE training helps technicians stay up to date on the latest approaches and technology for keeping homes comfortable and energy bills low. If you need advice on how to better maintain your system, reduce your energy bills or when to upgrade to a new model, you can trust your technician to provide thorough, current information. Technician who haven’t developed and up-dated their knowledge may not be able to provide as much guidance.

If you’re considering hiring a NATE-certified technician, contact us at Conditioned Air wherever you are in Southwest Florida.

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What is the Importance of HVAC System Size?

One of the more confusing of common HVAC terms is “size.” The following brief information will explain HVAC sizing and why it is important to have a properly sized system for your home.

central air conditioning

Source: iStock.com/arenacreative

What Does “Size” Mean?

In an HVAC context, size does not refer to the physical dimensions of the equipment. Instead, it refers to the functional capacity of the system–its ability to produce heating or cooling. The furnace, heat pump, or air conditioner you choose for your home must be properly sized to ensure that it will generate enough heating or cooling to keep your home at the temperature you prefer.

Why Focus on Size?

Improperly sized HVAC equipment will not provide the amount of heating or cooling your home needs. If the system is too small, it will not be able to generate enough warm or cool air. It will also work harder to keep up with temperature demands, which means it will wear out sooner and is more likely to malfunction and need repair. A system that is too large will produce too much heating or cooling, wasting both money and energy. Air conditioners, in particular, will cycle on and off more frequently, interfering in the equipment’s ability to dehumidify the interior of your home.

How is Equipment Sized?

When you explore how to choose the right size HVAC system for your home, a load calculation is usually necessary. The load calculation is a sophisticated analysis conducted by your HVAC professional. It considers the physical and thermal characteristics of your home, in addition to your personal temperature preferences, to determine the necessary HVAC equipment size. Load calculations should be performed according to industry standards such as those in Manual J, “Residential Load Calculations,” published by the Air Conditioning Contractors of America.

Conditioned Air, an HVAC contractor in Naples, provides expert home comfort and HVAC services for customers in Naples and the surrounding Florida communities. Contact us today for more information on how to choose the right size HVAC system and for professional assistance with sizing and selecting new heating or cooling equipment for your home.

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5 Effective Summer HVAC Tips for Your Business

The demands of a Florida summer can put significant stress on the air conditioner in your commercial facility. Here are some summer HVAC tips for businesses that want to get the best performance out of their HVAC system for the lowest possible cost.

air filter

Source: iStock.com/Serenethos

  1. Change air filters: Air filters help keep your indoor air clear of particulates and other contaminants. They also contribute to the airflow that keeps your air conditioner working properly. Change the air filters regularly for clean air and better HVAC equipment performance. Check filters monthly and replace them when they get dirty. If your indoor air tends to contain a lot of particulates, you may need to check and change air filters more often.
  2. Have regular preventive maintenance performed: Contact your HVAC service provider for regular preventive maintenance on your air conditioner. A maintenance tune-up is the best thing you can do to keep your cooling system working at its best level of performance and efficiency throughout the entire summer.
  3. Install a programmable thermostat: Use programmable thermostats to control your cooling system. For example, they offer automated set points that will reduce AC operation when it’s not needed, such as at night when your business is closed. The thermostat will then automatically increase cooling in the morning to ensure a comfortable environment when you open again.
  4. Seal the building properly: Make sure there are no cracks, gaps, or other openings where cool air can escape and hot air get in. Put weatherstripping around doors and windows. Seal around door and window frames with caulking. Make sure the ductwork of the HVAC system is intact and sealed at all connections.
  5. Upgrade equipment: If possible, upgrade your HVAC system to a newer high-efficiency system. High-efficiency cooling equipment saves energy and will slash your monthly energy costs.

Conditioned Air, an HVAC contractor in Naples, has more than a half-century’s experience taking care of the heating and cooling needs of customers in southwest Florida. Contact us today for more information on how to keep your air conditioner working at its peak this summer and for more summer HVAC tips for businesses.

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  • About Theo

    Theo Etzel has been President and CEO of Conditioned Air Corporation of Naples, Inc. in SW Florida since 1995. Theo’s background is in economics and business development and he is also a writer on business management topics and sits on the editorial advisory board of HVACR Business Magazine. Theo enjoys mentoring other small business leaders in growing and improving their businesses.
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