Archive for the ‘AC Tips’ Category

Will Mini-Splits Heat Your Home?

Ductless mini-splits are becoming an increasingly popular way to cool your home, but will they do a sufficient job when temperatures start to drop? Mini-splits will heat your home and they offer benefits that a traditional air conditioning unit does not.

Mini-Splits act as a Traditional Heat Pump

Traditional air conditioners are truly heat pumps, meaning they take air outside your home and pump into your house either heated or cooled. When you turn on the heater, your AC unit takes cold air and heats it, distributing it around your house.

Mini-splits utilize the same principles as a traditional air conditioner, but they use a system of wall units that you hang in the different rooms of your home.

The Benefits of a Mini-Split

The major benefit of ductless mini-splits is their efficiency. They can be much more efficient than traditional HVAC units, saving you up to 50% in energy usage. Less energy means more money in your wallet due to lower utility bills.

Mini-splits are also much easier to install and take up much less space. Additionally, they have a couple benefits specific to heating your home:

  • They Are Ductless – Mini-splits don’t use ductwork, which is a major source of energy inefficiency. Ducts are notorious for heat and cooling loss, up to 30% of the heat generated by traditional AC units can be lost through ductwork. That could be even higher if your ducts are old and haven’t been checked in a while. If you’re struggling to heat your home with a traditional unit, it might be time to get your ducts inspected.
  • They Heat Only the Rooms that You Want To – Mini-splits are installed only in the rooms that you want. That means that you don’t have to heat the rooms that you don’t use. If you only want to heat your living room, bedroom, and kitchen, you have that option. By controlling where the heat goes, you spend much less energy and money to stay comfortable in the winter.

If your heating bill is traditionally very high in the winter, it might be a good time to consider switching to a mini-split system. They’ll save you energy and money.

Interested in Switching Systems?

Some families are hesitant to switch to a mini-split system because they have a higher initial cost compared to traditional units. Often the savings in energy of a mini-split system can help offset some of the initial cost. We can help walk you through your options, lay out the costs, and map out installation and where to put the units.

Setting Your Thermostat For Florida Winters

Florida winters aren’t known to be terribly cold, but there are nights where heat is needed to stay warm. Improperly setting your thermostat can mean uncomfortable temperatures in your home and higher energy bills due to too much heat.

Properly Setting Your Thermostat Can Save You Money

Changing your thermostat by a single degree can affect the energy you use by nearly 10-12%! That can mean higher energy bills and more money out of your pocket. Setting your thermostat at the right temperature can keep you comfortable during the winter, and save you money.

So what is the right temperature? There are multiple answers:

  • During the Day – 68°-72°. The most comfortable temperature range when someone is at home.
  • At Night – 62-66°. When it’s time for bed, turn the thermostat down, bundling up at night can save you energy (and money).

Setting your thermostat at the right temperature can make a huge difference in your home’s energy bill this winter, but it isn’t the only thing. Using a ceiling fan and adding insulation can also lower your energy bill.

Use a Ceiling Fan and Check Your Insulation

It may seem counterintuitive to use a ceiling fan when temperatures begin to drop, but warm air rises to your ceiling. A fan can be a great way to move that air back down to your living space and keep you from turning up the heat.

Another reason you may be struggling to stay warm can be the fact that your home lacks sufficient insulation. Check your attic, walls, and the areas around your windows and doors. If you have holes through which outside air can enter your home, you’re forcing your heat pump to work overtime to keep your house warm. Look for opportunities to add extra insulation and use foam to seal up holes through which outside air may pass.

Consider Investing in a Programmable Thermostat

Programmable thermostats allow you to set the temperature based on the time of day. They will efficiently and effectively adjust the temperature so that you save money.

Let Us Know How We Can Help

If you’re interested in a new thermostat or want to have your HVAC unit inspected in time for winter, we can help. Your comfort is our primary concern, and we can advise you on all your air conditioning questions.

HVAC Unit Can’t Keep Up With The Cold?

As the temperatures start to drop at night and you turn up the heat, you may start to notice that your HVAC unit can’t keep up with the cold. While we don’t often deal with prolonged bouts of cold weather in North Central Florida, it can be uncomfortable and frustrating. Don’t suffer through the winter, there could be several fixable reasons for your lack of warmth.

Your Thermostat May Be Faulty

If you keep turning up your thermostat, but your home isn’t getting any warmer, your thermostat may not be working properly. Thermostats are one of the most underrated elements in your HVAC system, knowing which type of thermostat you have could help determine whether your thermostat is the culprit.

Mechanical vs. Digital Thermostats

Mechanical thermostats have a coil of metal that expands or contracts with changes in temperature. As it expands or contracts, the metal makes contact with electrical contacts that send a message to the AC Unit – either to heat the home or cool it down. If that coil gets dirty, your thermostat may not be registering the proper temperature.

Digital thermostats are the most common thermostats in modern homes. If your digital thermostat is miswired or is shorting out, it could be sending the wrong signals to your HVAC unit. If you think your thermostat isn’t working properly, have a professional inspect it to make sure that it’s operating as it should.

Blocked Ducts

The number one sign of blocked ducts would be weak or no airflow. Over time your air ducts can get dirty and restrict airflow to rooms around your house. Changing your air filter regularly can help reduce the amount of dust and dirt that circulates through your unit and keep your HVAC unit running at an optimum level.

If you turn your HVAC unit up or down and don’t feel much airflow coming through your vents, but you hear your unit running – it could be a sign that you need your ducts cleaned. Have your home inspected by a professional and order a duct cleaning to restore proper airflow to your HVAC system.

You May Have an Older Home

Older homes tend to deal with more heat loss. Outside air comes in through leaky windows, doorways, and other gaps in your home. If your home is poorly insulated, your HVAC unit may struggle to keep up with outside temperatures.

The problem may be exacerbated by the size of your HVAC unit. If it is undersized compared to the footprint of your home, your unit is already working hard to keep up. Have an air conditioning expert come out for an inspection and look for ways to seal up areas where you may be dealing with heat loss. A better-insulated home will lower your energy bill and keep you warm throughout the winter.

Recognize Common Commercial HVAC Issues

Air conditioning can be crucial to your business. It makes your space more comfortable for your employees and customers alike. Commercial HVAC units tend to be larger and more complex systems than your home’s air conditioning unit, but there are certain signs that should tell you to call your HVAC company.

Poor Air Quality

If your air smells bad, is too dry, or too humid, you could be dealing with air quality issues. The biggest culprit of poor air quality is a dirty or clogged air filter. If your air filters haven’t been replaced in a while dust, dirt and other allergens build up and reduce the quality of your air. Be sure to regularly change all your air filters to protect your unit.

Loss of Efficiency

If your air conditioning is working overtime, your energy bills will continue to run up. A loss of efficiency could be happening because of a variety of reasons:

  • A dirty air filter – Not only do dirty air filters affect air quality, they also force your air conditioner to work harder, making the unit less efficient.
  • Leaking refrigerant – Leaking refrigerant means that your air won’t be as cool, forcing the unit to try and work extra hard to lower the temperature. A sign of leaking refrigerant is rising temperatures in your building, no matter what you set the thermostat to.
  • An aging unit – Older units are less efficient and slow down over time. They require more energy to do the same job as newer units and require regular maintenance to ensure that they continue to run smoothly

A note on the last point: all units should have regular maintenance, regardless of age, to prolong the life of the unit.

Inconsistent Airflow

In larger office spaces, dampers in the ductwork may be in place to help control the airflow in your space. Those dampers work to send cooled or heated air to the rooms that need it. If the airflow in one of your rooms seems to be greater than in another, it could be the result of imbalanced dampers.

Another culprit may be your thermostat. Thermostats are often overlooked parts of your HVAC system, but they measure the temperature and tell the air conditioner to turn on and off. If the temperature sensor in your thermostat is faulty it could be sending the wrong message to your HVAC unit, leading to inconsistent airflow.

Strange Sounds

As units age, they can produce strange sounds that may be unfamiliar to you. If your HVAC unit starts making noises, contact your HVAC specialist to inspect your unit.

Regular Maintenance is Key

Regardless of whether your HVAC unit is a year old or ten years old, maintenance is the best way to keep your commercial air conditioner running smoothly. Your air conditioning can be a critical element to your customer’s experience and if it stops working it can cost you money in lost business and make your store, shop, or office very uncomfortable.

View maintenance as insurance against lost business. If your unit hasn’t been inspected in a while, considering calling someone today!

Advanced HVAC Tech to Bring Your Unit Into the Future

If you live in Florida, air conditioning is not often seen as an optional accessory to your home. It is an incredibly important investment and can be key to your comfort during the hot summer months. For years HVAC units were pretty standard, but recent advances are bringing new units into the future.

Air Conditioning Can Now Be Apart of Your Smart Home

New smart home devices are constantly emerging to make our lives easier. We can now control our TVs with our phones, turn on our lights and devices remotely, access the power of the internet with our voice, and connect with people around the world with the click of a button.

Air conditioning is now joining the legion of smart devices on the market. Here are a few different devices that make your HVAC unit smarter.

Thermostats

Smart thermostats are one of the best new advances in HVAC technology. You can now access these thermostats with your phone, and adjust the temperature of your home without ever having to stand up.

Nest thermostats are some of the most popular smart thermostats available. They track the movements within your home and adjust the temperature when you’re home. The idea is that your HVAC unit doesn’t have to work hard and waste energy when you’re away.

Smart Vents

Keen air vents can pair with your Nest thermostat, and they provide a variety of services:

  • They track movement and temperatures and redirect airflow to the rooms that need it most.
  • They allow you to track the temperature and humidity in the rooms of your home from your phone.
  • They provide 3rd party integrations that allow you to purify your air.

Smart vents can give you finely tuned control over the way air conditioning is dispersed around your home.

Air Purifiers

Air purifiers are beneficial for our overall health and well being. Modern air purifiers are designed to blend in with your room and work more efficiently. Dyson’s Pure Cool air purifier has a modern design and tracks your air quality in real time.

If you suffer from allergies, consider investing in a smart air purifier to remove the pollutants and allergens that are circulated through your home by your air conditioner.

Solar Technology

Not only are there units that can work off of energy created by solar panels, but there are also solar devices that detect the heat hitting your house and adjust the amount of power your HVAC unit is using accordingly.

Solar technology saves you in energy costs and keeps your HVAC unit from overworking itself, meaning that it’ll last longer – protecting your investment.

Why Update Your HVAC Tech At All?

HVAC units are becoming more efficient every day. New technology means that the way cool air is distributed throughout your home is strategic and minimizes waste. Air conditioning units are big investments that should last between 10-15 years, but the smarter your unit is, the more money you save in the long run.

Efficiency equals savings. If you have questions about some of the latest HVAC tech and are interested in investing in some smart technology, feel free to give us a call. We’re dedicated to providing the highest quality service possible, and we believe in maximizing your HVAC investment.

We can walk you through what’s available and give consultation on price and set-up. Let us know how we can help!

Why Is My AC Freezing Up?

If your air conditioner is freezing up, it could be a sign of a big problem. Check for the following issues, and have a certified air conditioning expert take a look at your unit to make sure that everything is running as it should.

A Dirty Air Filter

Dirty air filters are a major culprit for your air conditioning freezing up. When your air filter gets dirty, it blocks the flow of air into your unit. The lack of air flow means that condensate gathers on your HVAC units coils and freezes.

Luckily the fix is simple: make sure that you replace your air filter often. Not only will that ensure that air moves freely through your air conditioner, but it will also maintain a high level of air quality within your home or office.

To get rid of the ice within your unit, take the following steps:

  1. Turn off your AC unit for 3-4 hours, letting the unit defrost.
  2. Turn the fan on and let the air move through your unit.
  3. Be sure that your air filter is replaced.
  4. After allowing the fan to run for a couple of hours, turn your air conditioner back on to see if it’s working.

A Refrigerant Leak

A refrigerant leak is the second most common cause for a frozen air conditioner. When refrigerant leaks, the pressure within your system changes. The warm air in your home moves across air conditioning coils, but instead of cooling it down and moving it along, it turns to ice as it gathers in your AC unit.

Unfortunately, unlike a dirty air filter, a leak is a much more serious problem. If you suspect that your HVAC unit is leaking refrigerant, contact your AC company and have them take a look. Leaking refrigerant is an environmental concern, and if it goes unaddressed, it could mean that you’ll need an all-new unit.

A Blocked Line

Your air conditioner has lines that take excess humidity and turn it into water that is then drained away from the unit. If one of those lines becomes blocked, that moisture can turn into ice – especially if the block is near the coils (the coldest part of the air conditioner).

At Stellar Services we believe regular maintenance can help prolong the life of your air conditioner and helps prevent problems like freezing. We check every line in the air conditioner as part of our maintenance to ensure that blockages don’t occur.

A Broken Fan

Your air conditioner’s fan moves the cold air formed by the HVAC unit throughout your home. If that fan becomes damaged or broken, that cool air gathers up and eventually freezes.

If your air conditioner is running, but you don’t feel any air coming out of the vents, it could mean that you have a broken fan. Call your air conditioning company and have them check to make sure that your fan is running.

A Malfunctioning Thermostat

How hard an air conditioning works is dependant on the signals sent by your thermostat. If your thermostat doesn’t detect the right temperature in your home or is sending the wrong signals, it can mean that your HVAC unit is running harder than it should be.

Prolonged strain can wear out the system and lead to all kinds of problem. Be sure to have your thermostat checked. If your thermostat is old or aging, consider upgrading to a newer model. New thermostats can save you money by running your AC as efficiently as possible.

Schedule Regular Maintenance

Regular maintenance is key to keep your air conditioner running smoothly and protect it from problems like blocked lines and refrigerant leaks. In Florida, air conditioners have to work hard to keep your house cool and comfortable. Prolonged use means that there is a higher chance of something breaking down.

Save yourself from costly repairs or replacement by having your HVAC unit checked. Call us today for help.

The 5 Most Common HVAC Breakdowns

Your air conditioning unit is a machine, and like all machines, they can wear out – especially without regular maintenance. In order to diagnose problems with your HVAC unit, it’s helpful to know the most common breakdowns.

1. Check Your Breaker

If your AC unit has stopped working, the first thing you should do is check your breaker. Breakers trip for a number of reasons:

  1. Circuit Overload – Circuits become overloaded when the devices tied to that circuit demand more amperage than it can supply.
  2. Ground Fault – Ground faults occur when a hot wire hits a ground wire or something grounded. It’s essentially a form of short-circuiting.
  3. Short-Circuiting – A short circuit happens when two hot wires, or a hot wire and a neutral wire, touch and send extra amperage through the circuit – tripping the breaker.
  4. Issues with the Appliance – Large electrical devices can pull too much energy as they begin to break down and end up tripping your breaker.

AC compressors are liable to overheat and pull too many amps. Check your breaker box if your AC unit stops working. Look for your switch to be turned to the OFF position and turn it back on, then check to see if your AC unit starts running again.

2. Refrigerant Leaks

Refrigerant runs through your HVAC unit and cools the air that comes out. If your refrigerant line is leaking you may experience the following:

  • Loss of Cooling Power
  • Hissing Sounds Coming From Your Indoor Unit
  • Frozen Coils
  • Higher Energy Bills

Diagnosing a refrigerant leak can be difficult to do yourself. If you are experiencing a few of the symptoms above, call an AC professional to take a look at your air conditioner.

3. Blown Capacitors

Capacitors store energy and send a jolt of electricity to the motor to keep it running. This means that your HVAC unit won’t have adequate power to run if your capacitor blows. Symptoms of a blown capacitor include:

  • Humming noises.
  • Your AC unit turns off on its own.
  • Your AC unit won’t turn on.
  • High and rising energy bills.

4. Broken Thermostats

If your thermostat is broken, it may lead you to think that your air conditioner has broken down. The first thing to check is if your thermostat has power. If your thermostat has no power, it may need new batteries.

Other signs of a broken thermostat include differences between the thermostat setting and the room temperature, your AC unit won’t turn on, or won’t turn off. Check to make sure that your wires are clean and well connected, and that all elements in your thermostat is clean (for mechanical thermostats).

5. Dirty Condenser or Evaporator Coils

Regularly replacing your filter is key to keeping your air conditioning running smoothly. If your filter isn’t regularly changed, dirt can get into your condenser and evaporator coils, which can lead to decreased efficiency and ultimately shut your unit down if it gets too bad.

Has Your Maintenance Been Inadequate?

Regular maintenance is key to keeping your air conditioning running smoothly for longer. Our experienced technicians can look for signs of wear and tear, and replace any parts that may be starting to break down. Call us today if your HVAC unit has been showing signs of breaking down – we can help diagnose your problem!

Which Air Filter Is Best For Your Home?

Air filters are probably a device that you think very little about. They sit, hidden away, and yet they play an important role in keeping your air conditioner running smoothly and in keeping your family happy and healthy. Picking the right filter for your home can be overwhelming – there are so many options! Having a guide can help you make the right choice.

Why Quality Matters

Good air quality is so important to your health and vitality. A quality air filter will keep dust and other pollutants out of the air in your home. Indoor air quality is considered one of the top five environmental health risks, taking the issue seriously can help protect you from respiratory issues, allergy issues, and asthma problems.

Terms to Know

When shopping for a new air filter there are a few terms that you should know so that you can make the best decision possible.

  • Microns – Microns are the common measure of the size of airborne particles. Micron is short for micrometer and is roughly 0.00004 inches. As a comparison, a human hair is about 75 microns across.
  • MERV – Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. The MERV rating is on a scale of 1 to 16. The higher the rating the finer the filter. It is recommended to get a filter with at least a rating of 6.
  • MPR – Microparticle Performance Rating. MPR is a rating scale created by 3M. MPR measures the ability of the filter to capture particles smaller than one micron. The higher the MPR rating, the better the filter is at capturing particles.
  • FPR – Filter Performance Rating. A rating system developed by the Home Depot, FPR runs on a scale of 4 to 10. FPR is very similar to the MERV rating.
  • HEPA – High-Efficiency Particulate Air Filters. HEPA filters are extremely efficient and capture about 99.97% of all airborne particles. On the MERV scale, they range from 17-20. Most people do not require filters this efficient.

Generally, the lower the filter’s rating the cheaper the filter. Unfortunately, cheaper filters need to be replaced more frequently and don’t do as good of a job at trapping particles. Look for filters with a higher rating, they last longer and do a better job of filtering – which protects your health and prolongs the life of your AC unit.

Types of Filters

The filters you buy for your HVAC unit are generally classified as mechanical filters. Most mechanical filters work by trapping particles and pollutants in a sheet of synthetic fibers to keep them from circulating through your unit. The quality of the filter is often determined by the type of synthetic used to trap particles.

Fiberglass

The cheapest and simplest form of an air filter. Originally fiberglass filters were designed to protect your air conditioner, not improve your air quality. Fiberglass filters are a thin, flat panel and they only remove about 10% of air pollutants from your home.

Pleated

Pleated filters are made out of polyester or cotton sheets. The amount of pleats per foot is key to a pleated filter’s performance. A good rule of thumb is that a pleated filter should have at least 18 pleats per foot. Generally, pleated filters remove 45% of air pollutants from your home.

High Efficiency

High-Efficiency filters are very effective at removing particles and pollutants, capturing up to 85% of all pollutants. These filters are generally pleated and then covered with chemicals that eliminate bacteria and mold.

HEPA

True HEPA filters are the most effective filters for removing airborne particles. Unfortunately, these filters only work if you have a whole house filtration system or an air purifier. They restrict too much air for a normal HVAC system, but they remove close to 98% of all pollutants and particles.

Replace Your Filter Today

Air filters should be replaced regularly to keep your air conditioner running in optimal conditional. When you go to replace your air filter take a closer look at the ratings on the box, they can make a big difference in your home’s air quality, and save you money on air conditioning repairs down the road!

How Long Should My HVAC Unit Last?

Your HVAC unit is a huge investment and its crucial to your comfort as the temperature gets hot. Considering how much money your air conditioner costs, you want to maximize the lifetime of your unit, and maximize your investment.

Where You Live Plays A Role

The lifespan of your AC unit can be determined by where you live. In Florida, the humidity and heat mean that your air conditioning has to work harder and longer than in colder climates. Because your unit has to work that much harder, it wears down faster and is more likely to break down.

Regular Maintenance Is Key

Regular maintenance can help prolong the life of your HVAC unit. At Stellar, when you schedule maintenance we:

  • We clean the unit both inside and out
  • Inspect Your Air Ducts
  • Replace the Air Filter
  • Inspect and Tighten All Electrical Parts
  • Inspect and Test All Moving Parts
  • Evaluate the Efficiency of Your Unit
  • Test Your Air Conditioning

Have an HVAC professional inspect your air conditioning once or twice a year to ensure that your AC unit runs at optimal levels for as long as possible.

Signs That You’re Unit is Slowing Down

Even if you take really good care of your air conditioner, all AC units have a shelf life and can begin to slow down. Know the signs, so that you’re prepared to take on the cost of eventually replacing it.

Age

Most AC units last between 10-15 years (it can be up to 20 in colder climates). If your air conditioner is getting older, start preparing for a replacement (even if the unit hasn’t started slowing down). The financial strain of buying a new AC unit isn’t as bad if you’ve prepared financially.

Humidity

Your HVAC unit is designed to remove humidity from your home. If your home feels muggy even though your air conditioner is running, it could be a sign that your AC unit isn’t running like it should.

Jump in Costs

If your energy bill continues to increase, it could be because of your aging AC unit. Higher energy bills mean that your air conditioner has to work harder to keep your house cool. As efficiency begins to fail, you are wasting both money and energy.

Replacing Your Unit Could Save You Money

Modern AC units are becoming increasingly efficient. The money that your older air conditioner is costing you in energy could go toward a more efficient, modern unit.

AC efficiency is most commonly measured by Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating (SEER). The higher your SEER rating, the more efficient your air conditioner is in cooling off your home. As an AC unit ages, it loses increments off its SEER rating (each increment lost could mean a 9% drop in efficiency), meaning that it becomes increasingly expensive to cool off your home.

If you’re worried about your AC unit and are thinking about replacing it, request a free estimate and find out what it might cost. To prolong the life of your unit, schedule maintenance and keep your air conditioner running at maximum efficiency!

How Does Your Thermostat Work?

Thermostats aren’t often a device that you think about. If you own an HVAC unit then you own a thermostat, but you may have never thought about the impact it has on your comfort.

The thermostat measures the temperature in your house and tells the AC unit that it needs to turn on or off, either heating or cooling your house. When you buy a home you inherit the previous owner’s thermostat, and depending on its age, replacing it could save you quite a bit of money.

Electromechanical Thermostats vs. Electronic Thermostats

Thermostats have changed over the years and depending on the age of your home, your thermostat probably comes in one of two forms: Electromechanical or Electronic.

Electromechanical Thermostats

Electromechanical thermostats are older and operate on fairly simple principles. Inside the thermostat is a coil of metal that expands or contracts with changes in temperature. As it expands or contracts, the metal makes contact with electrical contacts that send a message to the AC Unit – either to heat the home or cool it down.

Some older electromechanical thermostats may actually have mercury thermometers in them to help control the temperature. Recycling these units can be tricky and dangerous. If your thermostat has mercury, make sure that you properly recycle it.

Check For Dirt and Residue Build-up

One major problem with electromechanical thermostats is that they are delicate and susceptible to error. The metal coil that controls the AC Unit can get dirty or residue build-up and that can lead to your thermostat not registering the proper temperature. If your AC unit is always running, or won’t turn on, it could be a sign that your thermostat is faulty.

Electronic Thermostats

Electronic thermostats are more modern and tend to be more reliable than electromechanical thermostats. Thermostats today are highly programmable and function like a small computer. They calculate the temperature using a device called a thermistor. The thermistor is a special resistor that measures the flow of electricity dependent on the temperature. The higher the temperature, the more resistance the thermistor creates, telling the thermostat to turn on the thermostat.

A Good Thermostat Can Be Crucial to Your Home Running Efficiently

Today’s thermostats are highly programmable and can help you from running your air conditioning when you don’t need it. You can set temperatures for while you are at work, when your home, when you sleep, weekends vs. weekdays. All these features keep you from cooling your house when you don’t need it.

Modern thermostats can now be controlled by your cell phone. By linking your thermostat to the internet, you can now check the temperature of your house at any time. Properly programming your thermostat can keep your energy bill low and save you money.

If you think it’s time for an upgrade, give us a call and we can walk you through your options.