McCutcheon Air Conditioning and Heating Blog
If low quality AC filters are used, or if your ductwork is not adequately sealed, you may accumulate some dirt and other debris over a period of time.
There are many companies out there who will try to scare you by claiming your home is making you sick. They create advertisements that warn about cancer causing mold, dust mites, and toxic insect parts that cause asthma and allergies. One company claims they can extract up to 15 gallons of debris from your ducts and by doing so, you will save up to 30% on your electric bill.
Unfortunately, most of the information available about duct cleaning originates from people associated with the industry or from firms who market air duct cleaning services.
It seems that the air quality business is very profitable and very easy to get into.
For example, the following is from the www.air-care.com website.
"...The air duct cleaning and decontamination industry is currently experiencing unprecedented growth. ..."Gain unlimited earnings, Realize a 50 - 70% net profit, Operate with a low overhead..."
This is one of countless companies that offer equipment and training for those wanting to start a profitable residential duct cleaning business. For a low price (and 0% financing) you can get lightweight one man duct cleaning equipment that will help you rake in the big bucks.
It is very simple to get into the air duct cleaning business, anyone with the slightest bit of interest can do it, and any requirements are minimal. There are also virtually no uniform standards of professional practice, This has caused small companies to spring up that offer questionable and controversial techniques.
What methods are used to "clean" residential ducts, and do they work?
Vacuum equipment: The claim is that dirt can simply be sucked out of the ducts. This is actually very ineffective because it is impossible to vacuum debris from even a few feet of duct work. Just try vacuuming your floor by holding your duct buster 6 inches above the carpet.
Blowers: They only dislodge loose debris from the very end of the ductwork – the first couple feet that anyone can actually see. Only a very small portion of the total ductwork is cleaned..
Brushes on flexible rods and compressed air fed through the ductwork: This method removes only a very small amount of the debris and will damage ducts creating an even larger problem. Using any kind of brush or forced air will also blow all of those contaminants throughout your home. If the ducts are fiberglass – this method will damage insulation and release fiberglass fibers throughout the home.
Bottom line is that if you actually have dirt in your residential air conditioning ducts, it is almost impossible to effectively remove it by any method available without damaging your ducts and making your air quality worse.
Can you sanitize ductwork?
Companies often claim they can sanitize residential ductwork. The problem here is that the biocides needed to kill mold and bacteria will also cause a danger to the occupants of the home. Simply spraying Lysol into the ducts does nothing. And believe it or not – some companies have been known to do just that.
Sean McCutcheon's Air Conditioning and Heating, Inc. will not clean residential ducts because there just is no effective way to do it.
The best way to ensure you have the best air quality is to use a good quality air filter that is changed on a regular basis, and make sure your duck work is in good condition and is not leaking. Installing Ultra Violet Lights will also kill germs, germs, bacteria, viruses, mildew, and mold spores such as stachybotrys and black mold.
If you have any questions, or need a second opinion, please call Sean McCutcheon's Air Conditioning and Heating, Inc.
All of us like to try and find the best deals – especially when it comes to expensive home improvements.
However, if a plumber, electrician, or air conditioning contractor has just given you a very low quote that seems too good to be true, there is a good chance they are unlicensed.
As tempting as it may be to hire an unlicensed contractor who offers a great bargain, it is against the law!
Now if you are ever in doubt you can whip out your smart phone and make sure you have the right person for the job!
Just search for the Florida DBPR Mobile App – it's free, and will let you easily search for companies and individuals to make sure they are licensed.
Besides it being illegal to hire unlicensed contractors, unlicensed contractors are subject to arrest and prosecution for working without a license.
Here are some other reasons not to use them:
Unlicensed contractors may not have the proper skills and experience. They also don't have professional or legal standards they must abide by.
Unlicensed contractors are dangerous because they expose you to significant financial harm if injury or property damage happens.
Homeowner's insurance does not cover unlicensed contractors, and by law the homeowner is held responsible for hiring an unlicensed contractor and is held accountable for any work associated with the contractor. If an unlicensed contractor's carelessness leads to injury or damage to your neighbors property, the problem is yours.
If a contractor files bankruptcy or skips out while working on your home, you are responsible for all fines and unpaid bills to suppliers. You're also responsible for the wages of employees who worked for the unlicensed contractor.
Many people prefer to have a heat pump.
With a heat pump, you do not need to have a separate AC system and a heater, the heat pump actually provides both heating and cooling capabilities.
During colder temperatures a heat pump will extract heat from the air outside and pump it inside. This means that they use much less energy than even the most energy efficient furnaces.
Unfortunately however, heat pumps work best at temperatures above 40 degrees.
When it gets very cold and the air temperature falls below 40 degrees, the unit can freeze up. When this happens the system has to defrost itself. During a defrost cycle the air conditioning has to run in order to melt the ice, and the backup electric heater will turn on so cold air is not blown into the home. So basically you have AC and heat working at the same time which isn't all that efficient.
The way to avoid this situation is to go ahead and turn the heat on before it gets that cold. On most thermostats this is listed as EM Heat (Emergency Heat) When a thermostat is set to this, only the heat will turn on when the temperature drops.
Sean McCutcheon's Air Conditioning and Heating, Inc. advises that you test your electric heat before the temperature gets very cold. This way you know that you will have heat on those cold nights.
Most people never think to make sure the heat is working properly, and every year this results in great numbers of people calling AC repair companies for emergency service calls. There just aren't enough AC techs to handle these calls and some people go days without heat.
Another great idea is to sign up for a preventative maintenance program.
Your AC System will be completely checked every spring and fall so you will have peace of mind knowing it will heat when it needs to. Also, with a maintenance agreement, if you ever do need a repair, you will get priority as a preferred customer.
The question is "Can your A/C air ducts really be efficiently cleaned?"
Many disreputable Air Conditioning companies offer cheap duct cleaning. They run specials for $49.95 and claim to be able to clean the air in your home. They will scare you with warnings that you have filthy moldy ducts and the health of your family could be in danger.
One company even uses this line " The average single-family home will have gallons of dust collecting on the walls of air ducts..." They offer to clean your vents for $15.00 each. Funny enough - their ad looks like they are holding a vacuum up to an air vent. That must be one powerful vacuum to suck gallons of dust from hundreds of feet of ducts.
There have been horror stories about people spending thousands of dollars just to have an A/C company do nothing more than spray cans of Lysol into the vents while the AC is running and then claim the ducts have been sanitized.
Some companies use special brushes at the end of long poles and claim they can remove the dust, mold, and etc, that way.
So what is the truth about duct cleaning?
The truth is that most residential A/C Air Ducts cannot be properly cleaned.
If you have Flexible Ducts the act of stuffing a brush through them will rip the material and create holes in the ductwork. The result: Not only are your ducts not clean - but now you are losing cold air into your attic as well as letting more contaminants (and maybe a few little critters) into your home.
If your ducts are made of fiberglass board - not only can they not be properly cleaned, but the act of trying to clean them will most likely result in filling your ducts, and your home with tiny little fiberglass particles. Some fiberglass ducts have a coating that will reduce the amount of fiberglass particles created - but there will still be more than 50% of the "dust" left remaining.
Unfortunately the only type of ducts designed to be cleaned are usually for commercial applications.
Let us repeat: Very few residential duct systems can be effectively cleaned without dismantling or replacement.
So how about sanitizing ductwork?
One of the most efficient and acceptable ways to sanitize ductwork is by using a type of fog machine that will mist a chemical that can sometimes kill mold growing in ducts. Usually you will have to completely vacate the premises for up to 6 hours while this is going on. Even then, you can only expect a 40% success rate.
Bottom line - beware of duct cleaning scams. Usually the unscrupulous contractor will use this as a means to gain access to your home and intentionally mislead the homeowner into paying hundreds or thousands of dollars for additional work.
At Sean McCutcheon's Air Conditioning and Heating - we want you to you be informed, and we want you to know the facts. Feel free to call or email us anytime you have a question.
When you become a Priority Service Agreement Member with Sean McCutcheon's Air Conditioning and Heating, inc. you will enjoy many benefits including free maintenance when you refer customers to us.
Every time you refer a friend or family member to us and they sign up for a Priority Service Agreement, you will get your next maintenance visit free of charge. You can get a whole year free by having 2 people sign up. If 10 of your friends sign up with us you'll get 5 years of maintenance no charge.
Prevention is always better than the cure. A maintenance agreement will keep your air conditioning unit in good working condition and help you avoid expensive repair bills. A properly maintained system will also lower your energy bills. Some manufacturers warranties require annual maintenance.
What does it include?
Two thorough 38 point inspections per year.
Air filter cleaning or replacement (most models).
Wash and wax outdoor unit.
15% discount on service repairs.
Discounts on future replacements.
Indoor unit cleaning.
Some air conditioning companies have as many telemarketers on the payroll as technicians.
One of the first signs that an air conditioning company may be shady can be if you receive a phone call from them right out of the blue. This may be a company based in one city that is targeting other cities where it is not known. What they lack in reputation, professionalism and skill, they make up for in mass advertising.
These companies buy call lists and target certain neighborhoods and people who match a desired profile. The elderly are a favorite target, but anyone can fall prey to these dishonest businesses. One tactic they will often use is to call and claim they are just down the street at a neighbor's house and would like to offer you a discounted or free service. The person who shows up at the door is a salesman who works on commission. Their goal is to get you for as much money as possible.
These unscrupulous predators will try anything and everything.
They will claim to find mold, say the system is unsafe, and tell you that your family is in extreme danger. Some companies will even claim that they legally cannot leave an AC system running in such a bad condition. They will try to get you to sign a document and may even refuse to leave before you do. Obviously, the last thing they want is for you to get a second opinion.
The following are other things to beware of; wanting you to pay in full before any work is done, not allowing you to verify their license or insurance information, or making you feel intimidated.
There are many ways you can find out if a company or contractor is legitimate.
The Better Business Bureau is a great resource for information and ratings on companies, your local Chamber of commerce can recommend businesses, but the best thing to do is ask around. Contact friends and neighbors to ask who they recommend. Do a little research on the internet; see what other people say about the company. Finally, it never hurts to get a second opinion before you agree to spend a large amount of money on something.
Sean McCutcheon's Air Conditioning and Heating, Inc. is proud to have worked on the highest scoring new construction LEED platinum home ever built in Florida.
The 'Power Haus' built by Josh Wynne Construction in Sarasota has achieved the lowest HERS rating on record in the U.S., a negative 22.
To put this number into perspective, a HERS Index of 100 represents the energy use of the "American Standard Building" and an Index of 0 (zero) indicates that the Building uses no net purchased energy (a Zero Energy Building). In other words, the owners of this home actually get a check every month from the electric company because this house puts energy back into the grid.
The "Power Haus" has a LEED score of 118, which is just shy of also becoming the highest scoring LEED home in the country by 1.5 points. (A residence in Chicago holds the highest known score at 119.5).
In 2009 Sean McCutcheon's Air Conditioning and Heating also provided the HVAC System for the Codding Cottage in Sarasota which had a LEED score of 110. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is an internationally-recognized green building certification system developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).
The 'Power Haus" has been certified as a Florida Water Star Gold Home. Florida green Building Coalition designated it as a Certified Green Home – Platinum certification score 255. And it is a certified green building from the NAHB Research Center – an Emerald level green home.
Sean McCutcheon's Air Conditioning and Heating, Inc. installed a 21 SEER 2 speed Carrier Infinity HVAC system.
This is the most advanced Air Conditioning system on the market. Since some of the duct work is visible, there was a high degree of skill and creativity required to make the system installation not only functional, but pleasing to the eye. Sean McCutcheon's Air Conditioning and Heating, Inc. specializes in new installation, and they are also considered to be the experts when it comes to retrofitting systems.
The home has many energy saving and high efficiency features including a 14.2-kilowatt photovoltaic array., Eternal gas tankless hybrid water heater, Energy Star appliances and 100% LED lighting.
Sean McCutcheon's Air Conditioning and Heating is committed to promoting efficient and energy saving means of cooling and heating.
Their goal is to educate their customers so they can make the best decisions. Bigger and more expensive is not always better, and Sean McCutcheon's Air Conditioning and Heating works with our customers to help them choose the best system for their home.
If you are considering purchasing a new system, or if you just need maintenance to keep your current system running smoothly, please call them at 941-921-7208
For most of us, automobiles are a necessary part of our lives.
Whether it's a Prius or a Mack truck we all recognize the importance of keeping a car in good running condition. We change oil every 3,000 miles, replace worn tires, wash occasionally and get regular tune ups. Working headlights and Good brakes are always a plus unless you like driving into walls. We would never think of driving a car over 40,000 miles without making sure regular maintenance was performed along the way.
During only four summer months here in Florida your Air Conditioning runs the equivalent of driving your car 42,000 miles.
While it is true that your AC unit will probably never be seen heading south on I-75 at 70 miles an hour, it does serve the very noble purpose of keeping your home nice and cool. Just try going one day without AC in mid July and you'll appreciate that system a little more. Since we're in our cars every day, it's easy to see how much better our lives are when the car is running smoothly. If something is wrong with the car we can usually tell right away.
However, other than checking the thermostat to make sure the temperature is set correctly, we normally don't think much about our Air Conditioning. If something is not right with the AC system you may not know until it totally breaks down. Sure you may notice the electric bill creeping higher, or the house may not be as cool as it used to be, but it's easy to put off getting the AC checked.
Your Air Conditioning System is a tireless servant silently toiling away to make your family more comfortable.
It's dedicated, loyal and never complains. As long as it's supplied with electricity, a little maintenance twice a year and a clean filter it will be able to perform its job.
Remember if your Air Conditioning is happy – you and your family will be happy! The very minimal price of a maintenance agreement will keep your air conditioning unit in good working condition and help you avoid expensive repair bills. A properly maintained system will also lower your energy bills. As a maintenance agreement customer you also get many added bonuses including discounts, priority scheduling and even free maintenance when you refer friends and family.
It is essential that an air conditioning company keeps up to date with pending changes in technology and energy regulations.
This is not only so the air conditioning company can ensure continued compliance, but also to ultimately better serve the customer. For example: Sean McCutcheon's Air conditioning and Heating has been recommending Environmentally Safe refrigerants since 2004. Some other air conditioning companies did not bother to inform their customers of the phase out of R-22, and as a result those customers have seen sky rocketing maintenance costs.
Today's voluntary guidelines often become tomorrow's state and federal policies.
For instance, in 2001 the EPA Energy Star Program enacted voluntary energy consumption guidelines for commercial refrigerators and freezers. The California Energy Commission later used those guidelines as the basis of a state law.
Sean McCutcheon's Air Conditioning and Heating, inc. proactively anticipates changes in regulations and advises customers as to the best option when deciding to repair or replace their Air Conditioning System. By complying with existing and pending energy use regulations we are able to help the customer select the most energy efficient products that will save them the most money in the long run with the least amount of maintenance.
We routinely try to discover financial incentives to offer to customers so they will consider installing the most energy efficient equipment.
We have also made it a point to be involved with LEED rated homes whenever possible. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. Some companies claim to be Green friendly, but at Sean McCutcheon's Air Conditioning and Heating, inc., we go out of our way to prove we are genuinely concerned about the environment and sustainable development.
Conventional incandescent lighting may actually make your AC work just a little harder.
Only 10% of the energy used by these light bulbs produces light - the other 90% becomes heat. The last thing you need in the middle of summer is something making more heat in your home.
The average Florida home owner could save up to $70.00 per year by using Compact Florescent Bulbs. It is estimated that almost $40.00 of this is from the AC having to run more. Not a huge expense but it does add up over the years.
Starting in 2012 a law goes into effect that sets new standards for general service light bulbs.
The main purpose of this law is to reduce our energy consumption and our dependence on foreign energy sources.
Compact Florescent bulbs are a little more expensive, but in the long run you'll save money and they last 10x longer. It may just be a good idea to start changing them out now...
During the hot Florida summer months it's easy to rack up a high electric bill.
Here are a few ways you can save money and still stay comfortable.
Did you know that setting your air conditioner only 5% higher can save up to 20% on cooling costs? You may not want to completely turn the thermostat off when you leave the house – but if you get into the habit of turning it to at least 80 degrees you will notice a significant decrease in the amount of your electric bill.
If you install an ENERGY STAR qualified programmable thermostat – It can save over $200.00 per year and usually pays for itself within the first year. Some programmable thermostats even allow you to connect them to your computer for programming, and most models are very user friendly.
Always try to look for ENERGY STAR products.
These appliances are up to 40% more efficient. If you do a little searching on the internet you can usually find rebates and incentives in your area.
Using fans will reduce air conditioning costs as well. A fan can make you feel three to four degrees cooler and you will be able to set your thermostat a few degrees higher and still feel comfortable.
Try to keep windows and doors shut and close your shades during the day.
Simply having your Air Conditioning unit serviced regularly can cut your cooling costs by as much as 15%.
The average home loses 15% to 25% of its cooling through leaking ducts. Have your heating and cooling ducts professionally sealed or replaced.
Regular maintenance will help your air conditioning system operate efficiently and last longer. When you have your air conditioning unit serviced twice a year you can cut up to 17% of cooling costs.
Be sure nothing is blocking your air conditioner.
To operate efficiently, an AC system needs free flowing air. Make sure any returns inside the house are not blocked by furniture or other items. Filters should be checked monthly.
If you replace your old air conditioner with a high efficiency unit, you will definitely see a difference. New air conditioners use up to 40% less electricity than older models.
If you have any questions, call Sean McCutcheon's Air Conditioning and Heating, Inc. at 941-921-7208 or visit http://www.keepingsarasotacool.com/.
At Sean McCutcheons Air Conditioning and Heating, Inc. We give our customers the quality and service they expect!
It is estimated that over half of all air conditioning systems operating in the U.S. were not installed properly.
An improperly installed system will not work efficiently and will result in expensive repair and utility bills. Hiring the cheapest contractor is never a good idea, and when it comes to the specialized and complicated industry of HVAC – you definitely need to hire a professional. The company that comes up with the lowest bid will have to cut their costs somewhere.
Examples of improperly installed air conditioning systems can include: undersized and un-insulated refrigerant lines, ducts not sealed or insulated, over sized or undersized air conditioning equipment, mismatched indoor and outdoor sections, improperly charged refrigerant, wiring that has not been upgraded.
Ever hear the saying "Jack of all trades – master of none".
A company that offers Air Conditioning, Plumbing, electrical and other services may not be able to offer the same high level of quality and service as a company that specializes in only Air Conditioning. Your local handyman definitely does not have the knowledge or the experience to properly maintain or repair your Air Conditioning.
Much in the same way that the backyard auto mechanic has become obsolete, the increasing sophistication of today's air conditioning systems requires technicians to constantly fine tune their skills.
Unfortunately some people view air conditioning technicians the same way they view house painters or landscapers – as low tech semi skilled labor.
This may be the reason some people tend to shop for price first. We have all heard the horror stories about unlicensed employees, and less than satisfactory work.
Long ago Sean McCutcheon acknowledged that the HVAC industry is always changing, and the importance of technicians that keep on the cutting edge of new technologies.
He believes a good technician can never stop learning so he supplies them with the training and information they need to be the best in their field.
When you call Sean McCutcheon's Air Conditioning and Heating, Inc., you will get professional, highly skilled and certified AC Technicians. You will also get a dedicated, hard working, and honest person that truly cares about your comfort, and the companies reputation.
At Sean McCutcheon's Air Conditioning and Heating, Inc., we don't try to outdo the competition; we set the standard.
A very common reason for calling an air conditioning technician is when an air conditioning drain line becomes clogged.
This is easily fixed and an avoidable problem, but a clogged drain line can potentially cost the homeowner much money and frustration.
When warm air from your home comes in contact with your air conditioning evaporator coil it creates a certain amount of condensation. This water has to go somewhere, and that is why air conditioning systems are equipped with a condensate pan and a small PVC pipe that leads to a drain system in or outside your home.
Unfortunately if the drain line becomes clogged it can back up into the pan and create a water leak. Depending on where your AC unit is located, a leak could cause some real damage, for example: if the system is located in an attic and the water leaks through the ceiling.
Drain lines clog up from dust and other matter that get into the AC System, as well as fungal and other buildup within the pipe.
When an Air conditioning technician services your A/C System they will make sure you have a clean condensate drain line. One of the methods is to attach a wet/dry vacuum to the end of the drain line and forcibly draw any buildup from the pipe while they pour a non-hazardous natural cleaning agent into the drain line. They will also place anti fungal condensate pan tablets to the condensate pan that will also help to prevent sludge and buildup.
When Sean McCutcheon's Air Conditioning and Heating, Inc. installs a new system they will take the extra time to create a cleanout in a section if the drain pipe that facilitates proper cleaning of the drain lines. Some systems do not have a cleanout and eventually the drain pipe needs to be cut in order to clean it.
In Florida, where we use our air conditioning for most of the year, drain lines should be cleaned twice a year to prevent water from leaking into the home.
You should also use a quality air filter and make sure to change it regularly since dust particles and other matter can accumulate on the evaporator coil and end up in the drain line which can contribute to a drain line clog.
If you are the kind of person who likes to change your own oil, you may decide to clean your own A/C drain line. However, your Air Conditioning technician is the best person to do this work, and if you have a maintenance service agreement with a company they will check the whole system while they are there
To help make sure your air conditioning system is running efficiently, you should replace filters on a regular basis.
Often people are tempted to buy inexpensive and less effective filters. At first glance it may be hard to see the advantage of spending the extra money for a better filter, but the extra you invest now may save you huge repair bills down the road
If any filter becomes clogged it will block normal air flow to the a/c system and reduce the systems efficiency dramatically. When a filter is clogged air will be forced to bypass the filter and contaminate the evaporator coil with dirt and debris which will impair its heat absorbing capacity. In other words, it will cost more to cool the home.
Coils will naturally collect dirt over time, but a good filter will greatly reduce the amount and rate of buildup. Lesser expensive filters cause problems over time because they affect the systems performance and contribute to expensive service calls.
The better the filter – the more particles it will collect. Dust that does not get collected by your filter gets redistributed back into your home. If you suffer from allergies or other health concerns, the more efficient filters are a good decision. Quality filters with high MERV ratings will remove more household allergens.
It is estimated that a clean new filter can lower your AC systems energy consumption up to 16%.
Quality filters cost more in the short run, but in the long run they will pay for themselves in healthier air, a more efficient Air conditioning system, and less change of expensive maintenance bills.