Next Generation Air & Heat, Inc. Blog: Posts Tagged ‘Brevard County’

Sebastion Indoor Air Quality Advice: Sick Building Syndrome

Monday, February 13th, 2012

When you buy a house in Sebastion, you assume that it’s safe to live in. You assume that the construction is sound and the air quality is good so that you never need to worry about things like excessive illness due to contamination. However, the World Health Organization estimates that nearly 30% of homes built in the 1980s subjected homeowners to Sick Building Syndrome – a situation where indoor air quality causes symptoms and feelings of illness without a clear cause.

That number has dropped in the last 25 years as many homes have been remodeled and retrofitted to stay comfortable year round, but without proper air quality control, a home with poor ventilation and filtration may still be unsafe.

How Do I Know We Have Sick Building Syndrome?

There are quite a few potential symptoms of poor air quality and SBS in your home. Chest tightness and coughing is a primary factor and can lead to fevers and chills. Often, recovery from the illness has nothing to do with your health, but with the conditions of your home – you may not feel better until repairs are completed or you leave the house.

Other symptoms of sick building syndrome include headache, eye and nose irritation, dry skin, nausea and dizziness, fatigue and trouble concentrating. And throughout it all, your doctor likely won’t be able to determine the cause of your discomfort.

What Causes This

The most common reason for sick building syndrome is poor ventilation. In the 1970s, the ventilation requirements for new homes were reduced by 66% to help save energy. However, air quality measures were not included to ensure people stayed healthy. That has since changed as ASHRAE, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers raised the recommendations back to the pre-1973 levels and even increased them in some cases.

There are other things as well you should look out for including indoor chemical exposure to carbon monoxide from exhaust fans, nitrogen dioxide, and formaldehyde. Outdoor sources can make you ill as well. Smoke, exhaust, and various gases from outside your home can enter your indoor air and cause illness to your family if they aren’t properly filtered out.

Finally, there are things like mold, bacteria and pollen which are always issues for indoor air. Proper purification and filtration will help with each of these problems, but only if you monitor and test for them regularly. If you have any concerns about your home’s indoor air quality, call Next Generation Air and Heat today!

Continue Reading

Vero Beach Furnace Repair Question: What Causes Cracks in a Heat Exchanger?

Friday, February 3rd, 2012

Furnaces are designed so that the heat – and the combustion byproduct produced inside – doesn’t interact directly with the outside air. This design is to ensure you have a safer furnace in your Vero Beach home that won’t inadvertently affect your family’s health.

The metal piece that separates the furnace heat from the outside air stream is called the heat exchanger. The heat exchanger performs a very important function, and if it is broken or cracked, it can’t work properly.

A cracked heat exchanger is very common problem with heating systems, as well as one that should be repaired as soon as possible. But what causes a heat exchanger to crack? Here are some of the most common reasons:

  • A long period of normal use. A furnace heat exchanger naturally expands and contracts with the heat of the furnace, over and over again as the furnace is turned off and on to heat the home. Over several years, this stress can crack the metal.
  • Poor air flow, often caused by dirty or obstructed vents, can result in poor air flow through the furnace. This overworks the furnace, which can crack the heat exchanger prematurely.
  • Poor, incomplete or improper combustion can also cause a heat exchanger to crack. When the combustion process is less efficient – which can also be a result of poor air flow — your furnace’s burners have to run hotter and longer to heat your home, which means extra stress on the heat exchanger.

Essentially, if a furnace is running at less than optimal efficiency for an extended period of time, the heat exchanger is put under additional stress beyond the usual and can crack prematurely. Therefore, the best way to prevent a cracked heat exchanger is proper maintenance, particularly keeping all vents clean and unobstructed and getting an annual maintenance inspection.

If your heat exchanger does crack, do not hesitate to call a professional and get it repaired. The crack can allow potentially dangerous combustion gases to seep into your home, which can have a negative impact on your family’s health.

Continue Reading

Humidity Be Gone – How a Heat Pump Can Help in Merritt Island

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

Humidity is a big problem for a lot of families in Merritt Island. When not properly controlled, excess humidity can lead to damage to your furniture, excess mold growth and dust mites. Fortunately, if you have a new heat pump, you have a strong weapon against excess humidity.

Air conditioning has long been a natural dehumidifier. Because the process works through evaporation and condensation, water can be extracted from the air by the device whenever it is on.

However, for your heat pump to truly provide the dehumidification you need to remain comfortable, it must first have a dehumidification setting – often called the “dry” cycle. During this cycle, the device will dehumidify your home, pulling air from inside the house and extracting moisture from it through the indoor evaporator coils.

Dry cycling is effective because it doesn’t draw new air in from outside to cool your home. It uses the same air already in your Merritt Island home and can therefore remove humidity over time. While new air is draw into your home through vents, the system is designed to continuously cycle the humidity out of the air and keep you from being uncomfortable.

Choosing the Right Heat Pump for Humidity Control

Not all heat pumps offer humidity control settings, so you should talk to a Merritt Island professional about your needs before selecting a new model for your home. Make sure it offers the dehumidification options you’re looking for and can cover the full area of your home.

Continue Reading

Easy Ways to Lower My Heat Pump’s Energy Bill? A Question from Cape Canaveral

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

One of the biggest advantages of a heat pump in your Cape Canaveral home is that it is highly efficient for both heating and cooling. There is always room for improvement, though, so here some tips to lower your energy bill even more:

  • Get it checked. It’s been said many times before, but it’s always worth saying again: consistent maintenance is one of the biggest keys to keeping any appliance running efficiently. Get your heat pump inspected by a professional at least once a year. This will keep it in good shape and provide an opportunity to make small repairs, before they have a chance to turn into big problems.
  • Keep it clean. When it comes to HVAC equipment, a clean unit is an efficient unit. Check and replace the filters regularly, according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Keep the coils and fan clean. This will also be part of the annual maintenance, but you can – and should — do touch up cleaning on your own.
  • Install a thermostat. A programmable thermostat is a great energy efficiency tool for any home heating and cooling system, not just a heat pump. A thermostat will keep the temperatures lower during the day or any time no one is home, so that you are not wasting heat.
  • Let it run. It may seem counterintuitive, but turning off a heat pump to save energy may actually do more harm than good. Heat pumps operate most efficiently when they stay running on a regular basis. The components don’t need to take time to spin up, and the refrigerant stays warm so it can keep moving. Your best bet is to have your heat pump connected to a programmable thermostat, program it and then stop thinking about it. You’ll save a bundle over manual operation.
  • Protect the outdoor unit. The outdoor portion of your heat pump has to put up with a lot from the elements. Strong winds can damage them or negatively impact the efficient operation of the pump, so keep the outdoor unit protected from wind.

These simple measures, in combination with a highly efficient heat pump, will help slash your energy bills. In addition, check to see if your heat pump is eligible for a federal tax credit, which can save you even more money.

Continue Reading

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 24th, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving! We are very thankful for all of our customers; you really make what we do worthwhile. We hope you all have a great holiday and enjoy a delicious Thanksgiving feast! And if you are looking for some dessert ideas, here is a recipe for pumpkin pie from allrecipes.com that will make your day a little sweeter:

“A mixture of fresh pumpkin puree, brown sugar, spices, evaporated milk and eggs is poured into a prepared pie crust and baked. ”

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 sugar pumpkin
  • 1 recipe pastry for a 9 inch single crust pie
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 (12 fluid ounce) can evaporated milk

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Cut pumpkin in half and remove seeds. Place cut side down on a cookie sheet lined with lightly oiled aluminum foil. Bake at 325 degrees F (165 degrees C) for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the flesh is tender when poked with a fork. Cool until just warm. Scrape the pumpkin flesh from the peel. Either mash, or puree in small batches in a blender. Increase oven temperature to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C.)
  2. In a large bowl, slightly beat eggs. Add brown sugar, flour, salt, 2 cups of the pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice, and evaporated milk. Stir well after each addition.
  3. Pour mixture into the unbaked pastry shell. Place a strip of aluminum foil around the edge of the crust to prevent over browning.
  4. Bake 10 minutes at 450 degrees F (230 degrees C), then reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Bake an additional 40 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Remove the strip of foil about 20 minutes before the pie is done so that the edge of the crust will be a light golden brown. Cool pie, and refrigerate overnight for best flavor.

For more details, click here.

Continue Reading

Sources of Carbon Monoxide: A Guide from Ocoee

Monday, November 14th, 2011

The risks of carbon monoxide have been well documented for years, and everyone in Ocoee knows how dangerous it can be. It can be fatal at high concentrations, but even in low levels it can be poisonous enough to make you sick.

What you may not know is that there are many sources of carbon monoxide, also known as CO. This poisonous gas is formed by any incomplete combustion process. Since combustion is not 100% efficient, that means carbon monoxide is released any time something burns.

To be more specific, here are some examples of carbon monoxide sources you might encounter around your house:

  • A furnace or chimney can leak exhaust gases, including CO, into the home if it has been improperly sealed or vented. For example, if the chimney has a small crack in the flue that goes unnoticed, CO from the fireplace can be vented back into the house.
  • A furnace supplied by an under-sized gas line will often burn the gas at a sub-optimum temperature. The result is incomplete combustion of the gas, which means a source of CO.
  • Old, dilapidated or poorly maintained heating systems are a big culprit. Often the seals or fittings are loose on these units, causing CO to leak out of them and into your house. Or they may not burn fuel as efficiently as they used to, so carbon monoxide is more readily released.
  • Using machinery, like a propane generator or a gas-powered saw, in a poorly vented garage can be very dangerous. Sometimes people don’t think about this one because the garage is large enough that it seems to be ventilated better than it is.
  • There’s a reason that barbeque grills are labeled for outdoor use only: they release a lot of carbon monoxide. Both charcoal and propane grills should only be used outdoors, and you should avoid the smoke from charcoal in particular as much as possible.
  • Smoking tobacco releases carbon monoxide into the air, along with other potentially dangerous gases.

There are plenty of other sources, as well, but those are some common ones. To protect yourself and your family, make sure any areas where combustion occurs are well-ventilated, keep your HVAC equipment well-maintained and in good repair and invest in a home CO detector. They are inexpensive, and many are combined with a smoke detector, so you only need to buy one unit.

Continue Reading

How Do I Reduce Dust in My West Melbourne Home?

Monday, November 7th, 2011

Dust is everywhere. There is no way to stop it from occurring, so instead we turn to cleaning and filtration to keep the amount of dust circulating through the air in our West Melbourne homes to a minimum. Luckily, there are quite a few things you can do, even without installing new equipment, to reduce your dust levels.

Duct Cleaning

First on the list is regular duct cleaning. You dust your furniture and your floors, so why not clean out your ductwork? Properly cleaned ductwork is very important because of just how much stuff can build up in there over time. Imagine regular air flow in an enclosed space that never gets cleaned. How much dust and debris do you think could build up over the course of a year? Hint: it’s enough to keep a steady flow of dust in your indoor air.

Professional duct cleaning is important and should be done once every year or two depending on how often you use your home comfort system. However, you should also clean in and around the vents and ducts in your home where you can reach. This can be done weekly and will help immensely to reduce dust.

Filtration

Most air filters equipped with high quality HEPA filters work extremely well to remove dust from the air. Because HEPA filters can capture particles as small as 0.3 microns, they won’t just remove dust, but pollen, pet dander and even mold. Mold especially is a problem that occurs in far greater frequency in homes without filtration.

Simple air filtration is an affordable solution to a lot of different contaminants, so it’s a good fit for any home. However, there are more powerful systems as well that will reduce both dust and pathogens like bacteria – these purifiers use ionization to draw particles from the air electronically.

Humidity

Humidity imbalance can cause dust problems as well. Low humidity leads to more dead skin and dust in the house, while high humidity causes the development of dust mites. Properly regulating your humidity to slightly less than 50% will create a perfect environment in which less dust is created and circulated in your home.

The best way to reduce dust is to take a three pronged approach to indoor air quality. Cleanliness is always first on the list, but after that don’t neglect the value of filtration and proper humidity control. When used properly, these three things will ensure dust never bothers you again.

Continue Reading

Scary Air Conditioner Problems

Friday, October 28th, 2011

Happy Halloween weekend from everyone at Next Generation Air and Heat! We hope you have a fantastically spooky time! And since we are talking about scary things, here is some information about common problems with your air conditioner.

Air conditioners are an important part of our lives in Orlando. They keep us comfortable despite overbearing heat and humidity outside, but because they run constantly for months and because they are such complicated pieces of machinery, they are prone to a number of problems. Here are some of the most common problems you’re likely to run into with an air conditioner and how to solve them:

Leaks

A common problem that many people ignore or are unaware of is refrigerant leakage. It is possible that when the system was installed, it wasn’t properly charged, but most of the time if your system is low on refrigerant, it is because of a leak. You can’t just pour more refrigerant in and call it good, though.

The leak needs to be fixed, both for health and environmental reasons. If you notice that your system is low on refrigerant or you smell something off – often like acetone, call a professional immediately for inspection and repair.

Sensors

An air conditioner doesn’t do you any good if the sensors don’t work properly. Improperly working sensors will fail to properly read the temperature in the home or from your thermostat. So, it might be 80+ degrees in your home but if the thermostat reads it as 72, the system won’t turn on. The air conditioner itself probably still works fine, but unless it can successfully read the temperature, you won’t get the cooling you need to stay comfortable.

Check first to see if the sensor was moved or knocked toward the evaporator coil (which will keep the temperature reading low).

Drainage problems

Your air conditioner acts as a dehumidifier as well, producing a liquid known as condensate. This liquid usually drains from the air conditioner into a designated area away from your home. However, if the condensate drain gets clogged or if the system wasn’t properly installed, that condensate can start to build up in your home. If you notice leakage around the coils, you may need a pump to remove the condensate properly.

Properly maintaining your air conditioner can usually be done with regular maintenance each year, but if one of these problems pops up, call a professional and get them fixed right away.

Continue Reading

Who Invented Air Conditioning? A Question From Winter Park

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

For hundreds of years, people have been trying to figure out how to stay cool in the heat of the summer. But it wasn’t until 1902 that the first modern air conditioner was put into service in Brooklyn, NY. Since then, many adjustments and improvements have been made to make air conditioning available and convenient for people to use in their Winter Park homes and cars. But through it all, the basic principles used in that first air conditioner have remained constant.

The Sackett-Wilhelms Lithographing and Publishing Company

The heat and humidity in New York in the summer isn’t something to be taken lightly, but it posed particular problems for the owner of the Sackett-Wilhelms Lithographing and Publishing Company. The conditions inside his facility were such that the paper used was warping and the dimensions fluctuating, causing the printing to constantly come out misaligned.

To try and solve this problem, he hired the Buffalo Forge Company, which itself had just hired Willis Haviland Carrier, a recent recipient of a Master’s Degree in Engineering from Cornell University. Carrier approached this problem by trying to find a way to cool air by passing it over cold coils in the same way air was heated in those days by passing it over hot coils.

As it turned out, this process worked to reduce both the temperature and the humidity in the area and Carrier’s first air conditioner began running at Sackett-Wilhelms in July of 1902.

The Next Steps

As the potential for this new technology became more and more apparent, demand for Carrier’s device grew in all sectors of the economy. Employers were delighted by the way air conditioners increased the productivity of their workers during the hottest months of the year, and in order to keep up with demand, Carrier eventually founded the Carrier Air Conditioning Company which still exists today.

The coolants used in the earliest air conditioners were generally either highly flammable or toxic, and often both. In order to make air conditioning safer and easier to use, a safer coolant needed to be introduced, which was what drove Thomas Midgley, Jr. to develop Freon in 1928. Freon was initially made up of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), but as the disastrous environmental impacts of those chemicals became apparent, usage shifted first to hydrogenated chlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) and then to the hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) that are predominantly used today.

If you have any questions about modern air conditioners, talk to your local professional.

Continue Reading

How to Use AC Most Efficiently in Grant

Friday, September 23rd, 2011

Air conditioning is definitely something most of us wouldn’t want to try and get through the summer in Grant without. And for a lot of people, because of medical or other conditions, it’s an absolute necessity. But just because you need to run your AC unit all summer doesn’t mean you need to suffer under the weight of cooling costs.

So if you’re interested in ways to save on cooling without sacrificing comfort, here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Get a Digital Thermostat – When you come home at the end of a long day, you want your home to be cool and comfortable. But if you only have a basic thermostat, you would have to leave your air conditioning on all day in order to make this possible. Paying to cool an empty house is probably the last thing you want to do. But what is the alternative?Digital thermostats offer the best solution in a case like this. Some of these devices can be easily integrated into just about any home air conditioning system and they allow you to set different temperatures for different times of the day. That means you can have your air conditioning off while you’re not home and set it to come on a half hour or so before you get there. This way, you get the pleasure of walking into a cool, comfortable house without paying extra to keep it that way when you’re not home.
  • Incorporate Passive Cooling – The design of your home and how you use it can also have an effect on how hard your air conditioning system needs to work. Taking steps as simple as closing the blinds to block out the afternoon sun, putting up awnings and making sure that the exterior of your home is painted a lighter color to reflect sunlight rather than a darker one that will absorb it are all excellent ways to reduce the load on your air conditioner.
  • Supplement Your System – You can also take a good chunk out of your cooling bills by using things like ceiling fans in conjunction with your air conditioner. A ceiling fan can effectively lower the indoor temperature several degrees on its own, allowing you to set your thermostat a little higher.

Air conditioning is a major expense that most of us are paying, but there’s no reason to pay more than necessary with so many strategies available to save money.

Continue Reading