Next Generation Air & Heat, Inc. Blog: Archive for the ‘Services’ Category

Air Conditioning Guide: Finding an Ozone Friendly Air Conditioner

Monday, June 25th, 2012

We’ve heard about ozone depletion for almost 20 years as a major problem caused by a variety of chemicals we use almost every day. Propellants in aerosols, certain cleaning materials and the refrigerant in your air conditioning system are all culprits in the depletion of the ozone layer. So when you purchase a new AC in Rockledge, you want to be sure you won’t continue to contribute to the problem.

What Causes Ozone Depletion?

The number one contributor to ozone depletion is chloroflourocarbons, the man-made chemicals used in air conditioners since Thomas Midgley, Jr. invented the compound in the 1920s. When these chemicals reach the stratosphere, the ultraviolet light from the sun breaks the compound down to its base components, including chlorine atoms which subsequently break down thousands of molecules of ozone before dissipating.

The earliest CFCs used in air conditioners were incredibly damaging to the ozone. But since legislation was passed to stop the damage and new technologies were developed, there are less damaging alternatives.

Specifically, the refrigerant R410-A is considered environmentally friendly in that it doesn’t cause ozone depletion. Some air conditioners still ship with the older refrigerant R-22, however, which has been linked to ozone depletion and will no longer be allowed in new products after 2020.

Which Products Can You Buy?

When searching for a new air conditioner, look for a system that uses only R410-A.  Of course, while R410-A doesn’t cause ozone depletion, it isn’t necessarily 100% environmentally friendly. Remember that to keep your Rockledge air conditioning system working at peak efficiency, you should schedule a maintenance check up every year – give Next Generation a call today!

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Do I Need Surge Protection for My HVAC System?

Monday, June 18th, 2012

You probably know that to keep your Melbourne HVAC system in good working order you need to keep up with regular maintenance. This includes things like changing air filters, cleaning out air ducts and clearing debris from both inside and outside the system. Surge protection for your system may not be something you think of immediately, but like those maintenance tasks, it’s an important part of keeping your equipment functioning properly over time.

How Surge Protection Works

Surge protection essentially shuts off your system in the event that power levels in the system rise suddenly and unacceptably. When a sudden increase in electricity occurs, any electronic device is at risk. But, unlike your stereo, your HVAC system costs thousands of dollars – no one wants to lose something so valuable to a surge that could have been prevented. That’s why a surge protector is so vital for your system.

The surge protector monitors the levels of electricity coming into your Melbourne HVAC system. In the event that a surge occurs for any reason (faulty wiring, a lightning strike, etc.), the surge protector will immediately cut off power to the HVAC unit and shut all of the equipment down.

A Sizeable Investment

Your HVAC system was not an impulse buy. This is a collection of equipment that you probably spent a good deal of money on and that you rely on to keep your family comfortable throughout the year. When you look at it that way, it’s easy to see why it’s worth doing anything you can to protect your investment. Installing a surge protector is a relatively minor expense compared to the money and inconvenience it could save you by preventing serious damage to your HVAC equipment.

Proper Restart

Once a surge protector shuts off your HVAC system, you’ll need to restart it properly. The best thing to do is talk to the Melbourne HVAC contractor who installed your system. They can walk you through the restart process step by step to ensure you know exactly what to do. After going through all that trouble installing a surge protector, the last thing you want is to make a mistake when turning it back on.

If you don’t already have a surge protector in place, call Next Generation Air & Heat today and learn what your system needs to be fully protected. It’s a small expense and a quick installation, so there’s no reason to put it off any longer.

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Air Conditioning Tips: Cleaning Your AC Condenser in Three Easy Steps

Monday, June 11th, 2012

Keeping your Melbourne air conditioning unit clean can help to maintain efficiency levels and prevent repair needs. It can also help the system last longer and improve indoor air quality. Because the condenser is part of the outside unit, it’s constantly exposed to outside dust, dirt, and yard debris; therefore, it is very important that you take the time to thoroughly clean the condenser coil and fan. Remember, before you clean any part of your AC system, always turn off all the power to the unit.

If you aren’t sure how to locate the condenser, feel free to call Next Generation Air & Heat, and we can tell you where to find it and provide a few cleaning tips. In general, you can clean the air conditioning condenser unit in three, easy-to-follow steps, which are outlined below:

  1. Always start by ensuring that there’s nothing blocking the airflow to the unit. You may have to trim low braches or prune back bushes that are obstructing the airflow. Clear away any dead grass clippings, or weeds that have grown up around the unit.
  2. Once the unit is free of debris and dirt, clean the condenser with a professional coil cleaner, which should come with instructions on how much to use and where to apply the cleaner. Although some contractors recommend washing down the entire outside unit with a garden hose, you have to be very careful not to bend the fins. It’s best to use a specialized condenser cleaner and let it air dry.
  3. To clean the fins, you can use a dry, soft brush to remove dust and dirt. Remember to clean the fins carefully because they are bendable and damage easily. Straighten bent fins with a fin comb, which you can find at any HVAC supply store, or sometimes a hardware stores. Ask a professional if you aren’t sure how to use the fin comb.

When your AC is not in use, keep it covered with the condenser cover that came with your air conditioning system. If you don’t have a cover that fits properly, call one of our Melbourne air conditioning experts to help you find a replacement cover or one that will fit your particular model. Don’t use anything that could come off easily in inclement weather. Covering your AC unit in the winter will help prevent damage or corrosion.

If you do happen to notice physical damage while cleaning your outdoor condenser unit, call Next Generation Air & Heat so that we can send one of our HVAC technicians to assess the damage or make any necessary repairs.

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Orlando Air Conditioning Tips: How to Troubleshoot a Failed AC Unit

Monday, June 4th, 2012

In most cases, a failed air conditioning system may be fixed by going through some troubleshooting guidelines. If you would like one of our Orlando air conditioning technicians to help you get your AC unit running again, give Next Generation Air and Heat a call for assistance. We can also send someone to your home if we can’t get your system working again.

Here are some basic steps to try before you call for a repair.

Check All Controls and Fuses

When your air conditioner won’t cool your home properly, always check the thermostat to see if it is on “cool” and set for the right temperature. If the air conditioner has shut down, check to make sure that the unit is receiving power by looking in the fuse box for a flipped circuit breaker and also making sure it is plugged in properly. You can also inspect the visible wires and electrical components for obvious damages. Call an Orlando air conditioning technician if you see physical damage to the electrical components. Never try to fix this yourself.

Sometimes when there’s extreme weather conditions in the summer, such as very high temperatures or high humidity levels, the high-pressure switch can get flipped and turn off the air conditioner. You can easily find the switch on most AC models in the compressor’s access panel. Check your owner’s manual or call us if you don’t know how to locate or reset the limit switch.

Check for Refrigerant Problems or Condensate Pan Leaks

Refrigerant problems caused by the wrong amount of refrigerant can keep the AC unit from cooling your home properly, and you can usually tell if there’s a refrigerant issue by looking for frost or icing on the evaporator coil. When there’s excess coil icing, it means that there isn’t enough cool air being delivered to your home. If you see thick frost on the evaporator coil, a technician will most likely need to charge the refrigerant, or there could be a leak in the refrigerant line.

Condensate leaks into the condensate pan can also cause an air conditioner to fail. The condensate drip pan is installed underneath the air handler to catch condensate leaks if the drain system gets clogged. Most of the time, a small clog in the drain line can be easily cleared. Also check the condensate switch for issues; sometimes these can be defective and cause your air conditioner to shut down.

At Next Generation Air and Heat, we want to be the only Orlando air conditioning contractor you’ll ever need. Call us any time to get troubleshooting advice for your AC system.

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Landscaping, Your Orlando AC, and Saving Money!

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

Who knew that proper landscaping of your home could save you money?  It’s true!  Soon enough those hot, summer months will blaze through making us sweat in the heat of the midday sun.  But our Orlando air conditioners will work harder and more frequently than we would ever want to in such direct heat and blinding light.  Since those hot summer days are still on the horizon and the beauty of spring is in full-swing, this is the time to prepare for the inevitable by giving the AC a break while at the same time saving money on utility bills.

Inspect, prune, and pay attention!  Get out in that garden and have a look at that AC unit!

  • Cut back any overgrown bushes or plants nearby, and remove any weeds growing near or over the AC unit, in order to ensure proper air circulation is maintained in the space immediately surrounding the AC unit. It might even be prudent to place stepping stones or cement in the foot of space immediately surrounding the AC unit, to keep a good barrier between the unit and surrounding foliage.
  • Pull out that green thumb and plant some flowers or greenery surrounding but not too close to the AC unit, making it a part of the yard’s landscaping, rather than an eye-sore which stands out.
  • Get your air conditioner under the shade.  This can be done simply by adding trees or tall bushes near the AC unit, protecting it from the blazing sun.  AC units can also be moved to the North side of a house or other building, making sure they are under the shade during the heat of the day.  Ensuring an AC unit is in the shade can mean not only saving approximately 5% on cooling bills, but can also increase the energy efficiency of the air conditioning unit by upwards of 10%.
  • Add trees or tall foliage all around a property to provide shade directly on the home or building, which can additionally contribute to overall cooling of the yard and buildings being cooled.

Proper landscape maintenance near, upkeep of, and airflow to an air conditioning unit ensures that there is reduced wear and tear on the AC unit, helping it to run more efficiently for a much longer period of time.  Pay attention to your AC unit and it will provide a great service for many years. To schedule a maintenance appointment today, give Next Generation Air & Heat a call!

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AC Contractor Tip: Air Conditioner Components

Monday, May 21st, 2012

Cool air on a hot day is a precious commodity, but modern technology has made it as basic in our lives as a part of most Cocoa homes, businesses and the places we visit.  Often taken for granted, the process of air conditioning has many components that combine to give us peace of mind and a good night’s sleep.

Air Conditioning 101

Utilizing a process of rapid evaporation and condensation, air conditioning is a process which involves the rapid evaporation and condensation of chemicals called refrigerants.  These are compounds that have properties allowing them to change from gas to liquid and back again at low temperatures.

When evaporating into a gaseous state, the refrigerant absorbs heat.  Compressed tightly together again, it condenses back into liquid, releasing that heat in the form of condensation which can be evacuated to the outdoors. Air is blown over the cooled liquid in the circulating system and distributed to the rooms through a system of duct works.

Round and Round

The refrigerant circulates through a closed loop system and maintains a delicate balance of pressure to compel its transformations. There are four components to the system:

  • the compressor
  • the condensing coil
  • the expansion valve, and
  • the evaporator coil

Starting with a compressor, the molecules are packed together tightly, creating and absorbing heat and becoming liquid.  The heated liquid enters the condenser coils, a series of delicate fins which allow the heat to dissipate to the outside.

The expansion valve controls the amount of liquid entering the evaporator coils.  If too much refrigerant is allowed at once, the system “floods” and is too dense to evaporate.  If there is too little, it idles inefficiently.

The evaporator coils are similar to the condensing coils with a series of fins, only these absorb heat from the conditioned space as the expanding refrigerant returns to gas and heads towards the compressor.

Inside and Out

Unlike the closed loop refrigerant system which is all about containment and control, the distribution system is about sending the heated and cooled air in different directions.  Employing two fans and extensive duct work, the heat is absorbed at one point and released to the outside at another.

Warm air from the conditioned space is blown over the evaporating coil where the heat which is needed to fill the expanding spaces between molecules gets absorbed by the gas.  The same blower that draws the heated air blows the cooled air back into the home, office or business.

Along the condensing coils, during the process of returning to liquid, the heat is released and blown to the outdoors by a second fan.

Two Make One

On the thermal energy principal that heat moves toward lower temperatures, air conditioning allows us to be comfortable in hot places.  Combined with fans and ducts, we can all work and rest more easily in comfort.

For more information about how to keep your Cocoa AC working effectively, give Next Generation Air & Heat a call!

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Your HVAC System and Electricity

Monday, May 7th, 2012

While not every HVAC system in your home requires electricity, many of them do. Your air conditioner, electric furnace or water heater and ventilation system all need access to the central power line. So what does that mean for your system and what problems should be you beware of?

How Your HVAC System Uses Electricity

How your HVAC system works depends largely on which components need electricity to operate. Here is a quick summary of how each system uses electricity:

  • Air Conditioning – Most air conditioners are electric and therefore use electricity based on the number of BTUs produced. For example, if your air conditioner produces 25,000 BTUs and has a SEER of 16, it can produce 16 BTUs for every watt of electricity consumed per hour. As a result, it consumes 1,562.5 watts per hour when the system is running at maximum capacity. If it runs at full capacity for 8 hours per day, 30 days a month in the summer, that’s 375 kilowatt hours – which is the measurement unit you’ll see on your electric bill.
  • Heating – Your heating system may not use electricity, as many homes today use gas or oil combustion furnaces or boilers to produce heat. However, if you have an electric furnace, that electric power is used to heat the filament in the furnace. Electricity also powers the blower fan motor which pushes air across the filament and into the air handler. An electric furnace sized to heat a 1500 square foot home can use up to 8,000 watts per hour to produce enough heat for your home. That converts to roughly 5,000 kilowatt hours per month. The current price of electricity will determine how much this actually costs, you but it can really add up quickly.
  • Ventilation – Your ventilation system is almost always going to use electricity to circulate and filter air. While mechanical filters rely on the movement of air to remove certain particles, ventilation systems have a variety of components including fans and possibly even condenser coils to conserve energy as air is exchanged between the inside and outside.

Electricity plays an important role in your HVAC system no matter how your system works. To ensure yours continues to operate as intended, have your power system checked on a regular basis when the rest of your Melbourne HVAC system is serviced. Call Next Generation Air and Heat today to schedule your annual maintenance visit!

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Orlando Air Conditioning Tip: Keep Your Home Cool and Save Energy

Monday, April 30th, 2012

As the season of hot days and long evenings draws near, it is normal for questions to arise on how to keep your home cool and save energy.  There are some things which are easy to do and can help keep your house cool without overuse of your Orlando air conditioner.

Easy Fixes Which Cool the House from the Heat of the Sun

  • Provide effective shade for east and west facing windows, including planting shade trees around the exterior of the house
  • Delay heat-generating activities until evening
  • Keep the house closed tight during the day so that unwanted heat and humidity do not enter the home
  • Ventilate at night with open windows and fans
  • Use ceiling fans or room fans to increase comfort levels with higher air conditioning thermostat settings
  • Seal and insulate all air conditioning ducts, and seal leaky windows with caulk or weather stripping
  • Install window shades, blinds, awnings, sunscreens, or apply low-e films to windows to block most solar rays which cause heat gain
  • Close south and west-facing curtains during the day on windows which get direct sunlight, and invest in reflective solar curtains
  • Upgrade the insulation in the attic
  • Service the air conditioning unit annually, and place it in the shade with proper air flow to ensure it runs efficiently
  • Install a house fan to cool the entire home at once as well as cool the attic above

Eliminate Internal Heat Sources

  • Lessen stove and oven use during hot days and enjoy a backyard barbeque or cookout, keeping the heat out of the kitchen and in the great outdoors.  When cooking inside do so in the evening and employ use of the microwave, toaster-oven or counter-top grill which produces far less heat than the stove or oven.
  • Switch to newer, compact fluorescent lights which use less energy and produce far less heat than incandescent lights
  • Pass on the hot-drying cycle of the dishwasher and let dishes air dry, or dry them by hand
  • Line-dry clothes rather than using the dryer, or use the lowest heat setting on the dryer
  • Take shorter showers that are cooler, and turn on exhaust fans and open windows to properly ventilate the area, allowing excess heat to escape
  • Turn computers and other electronics off when not in use, and use electronic devices such as TV’s less often throughout the day

Combining the various home fixes while eliminating internal heat sources can turn out to be the best ways to keep your home cool and save energy during hot summer months.  Just try some and see how that energy bill decreases! For more information about how to take care of your Orlando air conditioner or to schedule your annual maintenance visit, give Next Generation Air and Heat a call today!

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Why Is My Air Conditioner Not Cooling?

Monday, April 16th, 2012

Designed for one to two decades of life, Melbourne air conditioners are able to run virtually trouble free with just a little maintenance annually.  If these little things like changing the air filter and cleaning the drain are not done regularly, the neglected units can really lose their cool.

The Basic Course

Through a process which involves the rapid evaporation and condensation of chemicals called refrigerants, air conditioners use compounds that have properties that allow them to change rapidly from gas to liquid and back again at low temperatures.

Heat is absorbed when the liquid evaporates and transforms into gas, making the space around it cooler.  Compressing it tightly together again, the heated gas condenses back into liquid with a residue of unwanted moisture that must be released and is vented usually to the outdoors.

The newly cooled air is distributed through the house by means of ductwork, pushed by fans driven by electric motors.  As the air moves along, it passes through a filter and can be further de-humidified.

Problems in the System

If the filter is clogged, movement of the cooled air is slowed to the point we might think the unit is broken.  If the condensate drain is plugged, the motor can get damaged and stop producing.  Regular maintenance performed by the home owner or as a service of Next Generation Air & Heat can avoid or eliminate these simple aggravations.

When the heat builds, however, and cool relief seems nowhere near the air ducts, it may be time to call a Melbourne air conditioning professional to dig deeper to find the reason and suggest solutions.

Back to Cool

If not serviced regularly, the amount of refrigerant in the coils may decrease over time or the coils themselves could get clogged and impede the evaporation/condensation process.  A leak in the coils could drain the system, rendering the unit useless and wholly unproductive.

There are belts on each of the two separate fan motors which may be worn or loose, causing the fans to blow less efficiently.  The motor may need to be oiled or have a broken part that doesn’t allow it to push the air at all.

Most of the time, these fixes are relatively minor and do not threaten the life of the air conditioning unit.  Schedule an annual inspection and service from a certified HVAC company like Next Generation Air & Heat to take it off your list and stay cool.

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Green Your Orlando HVAC System

Monday, April 9th, 2012

Regular Maintenance Avoids High Costs

No matter the energy rating of your Orlando appliance, a schedule of simple maintenance and replacement of filters can make a significant difference in its longevity.  A furnace rated at 95% efficient will burn nowhere near that great a rating if the air is blocked and unable to pass through the filter without effort.

Fan belts on the blower motor can loosen over time and become ineffective, forcing the heater to burn longer and hotter to distribute air that should normally breeze through the ductwork.  Working so hard, parts break and the furnace might need replacement.

To help keep your air conditioner and furnace working at peak efficiency, remember to schedule annual maintenance with your Orlando HVAC contractor.

Programmed Thermostat

If left to our own habits, furnaces and air conditioners might run for hours under unnecessary circumstances because we are not thinking to turn our thermostats up or down.  At the change of seasons, in particular, it may feel warm enough to open a window while the heat is still adjusted to come on at those fresher temperatures that now seem so inviting.

In older homes, the replacement of the old dial thermostats with the newer programmable versions can save hundreds of dollars annually on energy costs.  Smart phones allow adjustments to thermostats from anywhere in the world for the instance that a cold snap may threaten frozen pipes while we are away on vacation.

Changing World

Tax incentives, climate change and the economics of energy dictate that we look closely at our habits and find ways to conserve our resources.  Simple steps taken by each of us can lead to a wealth of improvements and make a real difference in our energy consumption.

For more tips about how you can improve your home’s energy efficiency, please give Next Generation Air & Heat a call today!

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