Posts Tagged ‘Palm Beach County’

How to Use AC Most Efficiently in Palm Beach

Monday, August 20th, 2012

Air conditioning is definitely something most of us in Palm Beach wouldn’t want to try and get through the summer without. But just because you need to run your  AC unit all summer doesn’t mean you need to suffer under unnecessarily high 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 Programmable 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? Programmable thermostats offer the best solution in a case like this. 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.

To learn more about how to use your AC efficiently or to schedule a service, give Astro Air Inc a call!

What Does an Air Handler Do?

Monday, July 30th, 2012

Your South Palm Beach air conditioning system is a complex system filled with vital components tasked with keeping you comfortable. One of the most important of those component is the air handler – the device responsible for circulating the heated or cooled air produced by your system through the vents in your home and into each of your rooms.

The air handler is a metal box, usually consisting of a blower and the heating or cooling elements. It might also include dampers and sound attenuators along with an air filtration and humidity control system. The simplest air handlers are designed only to transfer the heated or cooled air to the various parts of your home, while the most advanced devices are designed to perfectly condition and clean that air as it is circulated.

 Types of Air Handler

There are a few different types of air handler as well, depending on the size of your South Palm Beach HVAC system and the nature of the heating and/or cooling used. Most homes, for example, use terminal units which consist of just an air filter, blower and coil. This very simple system is all you really need to heat and transmit air through your ductwork.

However, for larger systems, there are also makeup air units which use outdoor air instead of recirculated indoor air. There are also packaged and rooftop units which are designed to be placed outside. These devices are most commonly used for commercial applications when space is limited.

How the Air Handler Works

An air handler’s most basic component is a blower fan. This device is run by an AC electric motor and can be either single speed or variable speed depending on the size and scope of your air handler. The dampers on the fan will control the flow rate of the air going through the blower fan. Most residential blowers are part of the air conditioning or furnace system, while commercial systems often have multiple blowers to maintain steady airflow for a larger space.

Because an air handler passes all of the air that will go through your vents, it is the best place to install high quality MERV or HEPA filters to remove pathogens and contaminants. It is also a good place to install humidity control devices to either raise or lower humidity depending on the time of the year.

Your air handler is an incredibly important component in your South Palm Beach home heating and cooling system. Without it, all that heated and cooled air you pay for each year wouldn’t reach you. So, make sure to keep your system in tip top condition by scheduling a maintenance visit with Astro Air Inc. today!

Things You Should Never Do To Your Air Conditioner

Monday, June 18th, 2012

Whether it’s a large central system on the side of the house or a small unit in the window, with proper care and maintenance, your West Palm Beach air conditioner should last for quite a while.  Sometimes, however, people can do simple things which, in retrospect, should have obviously been avoided.

Some examples:

  • Don’t block the air intake–air is vital to the process, so laying anything over the unit (a towel or clothes to dry) will significantly strain the motor.  Always make sure there is enough clearance.
  • Don’t block the vents–likewise in a home, it is easy to move a sofa or lay an area rug over a grate in the floor or cover an unsightly vent;
  • Don’t think it will run forever without cleaning the fins, vents and changing the filter at least once a heating season;
  • Don’t leave the units exposed in winter–always cover when not in use for long periods of time;
  • Don’t bury the condensate drain in the ground–in central units it is vital that the drain is left with a clear flow away from the house;
  • Don’t install the central unit on the ground–there are pre-made pads or mix up a little concrete and have the satisfaction of pouring a nice little pad yourself (and you can write your name in it too).
  • Don’t steam clean or use hot water to clean the fins–damage and corrosion can easily be caused by the heat; flush with warm water or spray.
  • Don’t overload the system with refrigerant–hire a West Palm Beach air conditioning professional to add refrigerant to your system.
  • Don’t remove the overload relay to force continuous running–VERY dangerous and a guarantee of damage.

Your West Palm Beach air conditioner is pretty much a “plug and go” appliance, but a little attention goes a long way to ensure years of comfort. Call Astro Air Inc. today so schedule your annual maintenance visit!

Cooling Coil or Evaporator Coil Diagnosis & Repair

Monday, June 11th, 2012

Inside the air handler of your Palm Beach home’s air conditioning system is a cooling coil or evaporator coil. From a home cooling perspective, this is where the magic happens: where the actual cooling occurs. So, if there is a problem with the cooling or evaporator coil, you will notice a decrease in the performance of your AC system.

You may notice that the air flow has slowed significantly or even stopped, even though you can hear the air handler running. You may also notice that the air isn’t as cool as it used to be or should be. Aside from having a house that is not cool enough, this can also cause problems like high electricity bills or damage to other parts of the air conditioner. Use this quick guide to start diagnosing and repairing the problem.

 Diagnosis

For starters, just try to get a good look at the cooling coil. Some problems are obvious enough upon visual inspection that no further diagnostics or major repair is necessary. To inspect the cooling coil on your air conditioner, first turn off the electricity at your fuse panel or breaker box. Then, locate the access panel on the air handler that can be removed to at least partially expose the coil. Refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for help.

Once you are able to see the cooling coil, look for things like:

  • Dirt and debris
  • Mold
  • Staining that indicates a refrigerant leak
  • Ice or frost
  • Damaged fins on the coil

Repair

Any of these could be the culprit that is degrading the performance of your AC system. Some of these you can take care of pretty simply on your own – if there is obvious debris that you can remove safely, do so – but for most repairs you will want to call in a licensed air conditioning technician. Especially if the problem is something potentially hazardous like mold growth or a refrigerant leak, you don’t want to take the risk. Let a professional who is trained in safely and effectively repairing the problem take care of it, so that your home can be comfortable again. Call Astro Air Inc. if you need air conditioning repair on the Palm Beach area!

HVAC Tip: Things Your Air Filter Can’t Filter

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

Air filters are great to have in your home. Many people who own air filters, especially those who suffer from allergies or asthma, swear by them as being very beneficial to their health and general well-being. They help you feel comfortable knowing that your air is clean and fresh.

But how confident should you be in your Boca Raton home’s air filter? Is there anything your air filter is missing? Can you be sure that your air is as clean as can be?

Well, all air filters have limitations, and many do particularly well at trapping and removing certain types of air pollutants, but at the expense of letting others pass. What your air filter can and cannot do depends on what kind of equipment you have.

A conventional air filter, like the pleated kind you may have in your air conditioner, is designed to trap particles in the air. Pollen, dust, dander and other small but solid pollutants and irritants get trapped in their close-knit fibers. The thing to pay attention here is the filter’s HEPA rating—the higher it is, the smaller the particles it can trap. So, if you are using a lower rated filter, you may be trapping pollen but still breathing in smoke particles. Also, sometimes large, heavy particles settle before reaching the filter and can’t be trapped.

In addition to filters, there are other air cleaning options like ultraviolet germicidal (UVG) lights and photocatalytic oxidation (PCO) cleaners. PCOs are meant to filter out harmful gases, but have limited use in homes. UVG lights use radiation that is harmless to people but deadly to microorganisms to pure air of bacteria and other pathogens.

In sum, if you are concerned about the quality of the air in your home, the best strategy is probably to use multiple solutions, such as a combination of an air filter and UVG lights, in order to get rid of as many pollutants as possible. Keep in mind, though, that no system is perfect in keeping everything out of your air. For more information about how to maintain your Boca Raton home’s indoor air quality, give Astro Air Inc. a call today!

Why do you need an annual AC tune-up?

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

AC Tune-up | West Palm Beach | Astro AirCleaning the coils and changing air filters are maintenance tasks that many homeowners can do themselves. However, there are some things that need to be done by a professional at your annual maintenance tune-up. These include examining your electrical systems, verifying correct electric control sequence, adding oil to your motor, checking the accuracy of your thermostat, and many other tasks. We recommend you have a technician look over your air conditioner at least once a year; give us a call today to schedule your appointment! Astro Air is proud to provide the Air Conditioning Maintenance services required for Palm Beach and North Broward County homes since 1986. We are currently running a $69 AC Tune-up special. If you are looking to replace your current unit or install a new one, take advantage of our $100 discount!

Air Conditioning Repair Tip: Common Air Conditioner Problems

Monday, April 9th, 2012

Air conditioners are an important part of our lives in Palm Beach. They keep us comfortable despite overbearing heat and humidity outside all summer, 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 your Palm Beach home’s 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 an air conditioning 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 Astro Air Inc and get them fixed right away.

Air Conditioning Tip: Different Types of Refrigerants Used in HVAC

Friday, March 30th, 2012

We have all heard the phrases like “save the planet” or “save the ozone layer.” Up until the 1960s there wasn’t a lot of attention paid to the disintegrating protective ozone layer around the Earth’s surface. Since then, ozone-depleting CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) have been seen as the ozone-depleting culprit and new laws regulating the use of CFCs have had a direct impact on heating and cooling (HVAC) systems.

The “lifeblood” of any Boynton Beach air conditioning and heat pump system is its refrigerants – a chemical used in the refrigeration cycle. For several decades, the “refrigerant of choice” in HVAC systems has beenHCFC-22, also known as R-22. The problem is, HCFCs (hydrochlorofluorocarbons) are harmful to the ozone layer because they contain ozone-destroying chlorine.

Because of this, the use of R-22 is being slowly phased out from usage in HVAC systems. The Clean Air Act of 1970 has provisions in it to phase out HCFC refrigerants. As a result, chemical manufacturers will no longer be able to produce, and companies will no longer be able to import, R-22 for use in new air conditioning equipment (effective this year),  but they can continue production and import of R-22 until 2020 for use in servicing existing equipment. So, R-22 should continue to be available for all systems that require R-22 for servicing for many years to come.

But the “new kid on the block” replacing R-22 has been getting up a head of steam for several years now. Among the new alternative refrigerants recommended by the U.S. EPA is R-410A, a blend of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) that does not contribute to depletion of the ozone layer, but, like R-22, contributes to global warming. R-410A is manufactured and sold under various trade names, including GENETRON AZ-20®,SUVA410A®, Forane® 410A, and Puron®.

There are several other substitute refrigerants going by the names of R-407C, HFC-134A, and R-422C. A complete list can be found at www.epa.gov.

According to the U.S. EPA, homeowners with existing units using R-22 can continue to use R-22 since there is “no requirement to change or convert R-22 units for use with a non-ozone-depleting substitute refrigerant.” And it is important to note that R-407C is allowed for retrofits but R-410A is not, due to its higher working pressures. Substitute refrigerants would not work well with existing components unless a retrofit was made or in the case of using R-410A, a complete system changeout.

One of the leading causes for Boynton Beach air conditioner and heat pump failure are lower levels of refrigerant. If you are working on your own equipment, it is important to note that replacing refrigerants like R-22 and R-410A should only be done by certified HVAC professionals. You must show EPA certification to purchase these refrigerants.

If you are interested in “saving the planet” you might do well to give the boot to yourHCFC-consuming appliance. If you have any questions about your home’s air conditioner, please give Astro Air Inc. a call today!