Post Flood Cleanup Tips

florida hurricane water damage Living in a flood-prone area like South Florida or even a city like New Orleans that is below sea level means that people should understand how to approach clean up after such a disaster.

It is important to move quickly so that the home’s structure is not damaged and that personal belongings are saved. Waiting too long could not only damage one’s property but also prove harmful thanks to mold growth, bacteria and debris, and mud that have come into the home. Even a couple of inches of water can prove disastrous.

Get Rid of the Mud

It is important to get rid of the mud and any debris that has come into the home. This could mean shoveling out the dirt or using a hose to spray away mud from the home’s surfaces. Dirt should be brushed off or wiped off of furniture, paperwork, and all possessions too. After the mud is removed, water can be tackled.

Work on Water Removal

Getting rid of water is easier said than done. The liquid can sink into furniture and the home’s walls. All furniture should be placed outside to dry out and it will help to have a dehumidifier and air conditioner to remove moisture. A home owner should open all windows and doors to air the house out. Vacuums can be used to remove dirt and mildew from everything from the floor to the ceiling. Items like mattresses and blankets should be thrown away. Professionals can handle getting water out of floorboards and furniture since they have the equipment and know-how for this.

Safeguard Documents

Photographs and important paperwork can be saved and cleaned. It’s important that all mud is taken off of the documents, they are placed in plastic bags, and that they are then put into a freezer. The paperwork will then be safe from mildew, can be thawed, and then cleaned. Professionals understand how to work with even the most damaged of documents to clean and restore them.

Disinfect Everything

It is important to really disinfect all surfaces to prevent mildew and mold from growing. This means wiping down all surfaces, ceilings, walls, counter tops, and shelves with heavy-duty cleaning materials. Home owners should take the time to inspect hard-to-reach sections of the home as well as places like under sinks and carpets.

Report Everything to Your Insurance Company

It is important to always communicate with one’s insurance company. This of course can only happen if a home owner has property, possession, or home insurance. This is a chance to find out what will be covered and what will not. Home owners should take the time to list all damage and to take photographs and videos. Complete record keeping is important so that home owners can be rewarded money for damages and cleaning. This can also help if a person applies for government or disaster assistance programs.

Inspect Appliances and All Electrical and Central A/C Systems

All electrical items need to be turned off and looked out. Professional cleaning is suggested because the common home owner could be hurt when working with these appliances or could end up breaking them. Similarly, the electrical system in a home need to dry out to protect the home from harm, and the heating and cooling systems should be inspected. It is important to be smart about this because damaged wiring and heating and cooling systems can be incredibly costly to repair.

What is a SEER Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating?

A “seasonal energy efficiency rating,” also called a “SEER,” is a measure of an air conditioning system’s efficiency. By stating the average electricity consumption of an air conditioner during a typical “air conditioning season,” the SEER system allows consumers to more accurately estimate their energy usage than older rating systems allowed. A higher SEER indicates that an air conditioner uses less energy than those with a lower SEER.

For its calculation, a SEER assumes an air conditioner will be in use 1,000 hours per year, which represents eight hours of usage per day for 125 days during the course of a year. Those living in more southerly locations will significantly exceed this, so a higher efficiency rating is even more beneficial. Additionally, larger houses require more energy to remain at a comfortably temperature and benefit more from high efficiency.

The United States mandated that all new air conditioning units manufactured after 2005 be rated SEER 13 or higher. For an air conditioner to receive an ENERGY STAR certification, it must have a SEER of at least fourteen. Small window units have no such requirement and often have a SEER of around ten.

Upgrading an existing air conditioning system to one with a higher efficiency rating yields significant savings; upgrading from a SEER 9 system, which was previously a common rating, to a SEER 13 system will reduce electricity consumption by a bit over 30 percent. Upgrading from SEER 9 to SEER 16 will reduce energy consumption by nearly 45 percent. While exact savings depends on several variables, most homeowners will see an electricity bill reduction measured in hundreds of dollars per year.

To achieve a higher efficiency, manufacturers use thicker, more efficient metals in their air conditioners. Further, higher rated units generally have multiple compressors and larger coils. This raises the cost of the air conditioning system, so consumers must balance the cost of the unit with their expected energy savings. Most consumer guides recommend purchasing a system with a SEER of at least sixteen.

Additionally, air conditioning units degrade over time. An old unit which had a SEER of nine when it was first installed may currently be operating at a lower SEER. Air conditioning units today tend to retain their rating longer, but it is worth noting that the more expensive materials used in more efficient systems can be expected to help maintain the unit’s rating longer than less efficient systems.

And for those who seek to reduce their impact on the environment, a system with a higher efficiency rating helps reduce energy-related pollution. Systems with a higher SEER will also last longer and reduce the amount of material that ends up in a landfill.

At one time, those looking to purchase a new air conditioner had no means to calculate the energy cost of their purchase; manufacturers had no incentive to focus on efficiency over cost. The SEER system has provided consumers with a valuable tool to calculate the true cost of their new air conditioner.

Air Conditioning as an Investment in Your Health

Triple digit heat is plaguing the heartland of the nation this summer. Residents as far north as South Dakota are struggling to stay cool in an area where air conditioning rarely exists because it is rarely needed. Heat related deaths are a concern. Those in southern states like Texas are familiar with such heat waves and its affects and there are still heat related deaths every summer. Most of those deaths occur among the poor, the elderly and the very young. Among the poor and the elderly, their homes may not have air conditioning, or if they do, the air conditioning is broken and they cannot afford to get it fixed. In triple digit heat, air conditioning saves lives.

One Canadian joked that the coldest places in the world are Saskatchewan and inside a Dallas building in the summer. While the joke is slightly exaggerated, there is some truth to the drastic temperature difference between inside and outside during a Texas summer. With heat indices above 110 degrees Fahrenheit and indoor thermostats set around 72 in public buildings, individuals expect their bodies to adjust to the almost 40 degree difference each time they transition from inside to outside and vice versa. This can cause sinus problems or fatigue even among the healthiest of people.

So how can air conditioning service in Austin, TX contribute to your wellness?

In addition to preventing heat related deaths, it can also help to filter out pollens, dust and dander within the home. Central air conditioners have an intake vent inside the home. That is where air is pulled into the unit to be cooled. If the filter in that vent becomes dirty or clogged, the air conditioner does not function as efficiently as it should. Changing that filter every three to six months keeps the air conditioner running well. Using HEPA filters or other hypo-allergenic filters helps to clean the air as the air conditioning runs. This is most beneficial for those with allergies, asthma or other respiratory illnesses.

When buying a home or after a few years in a new home, get the air ducts cleaned. This eliminates dust, fur and dander that has accumulated over time in the duct work and keeps the air in your home cleaner. Additionally, be sure to keep the coils on the air conditioning unit clean. Most hardware stores supply an aerosol spray to help you clean them.

These basic maintenance tips are good for your air conditioner and for your health. An air conditioner cannot protect you from triple digit heat if it doesn’t work. Maintenance keeps it running longer and more efficiently. Adjusting the thermostat to 80 degrees while you are out of the house reduces the amount of work the unit has to do as well. And truth be told, when it’s over 100 degrees outside, walking into 80 degrees feels great.

Tiffany Marshall spent two summers in Colorado without real air conditioning before moving back to her home state of Texas. She prefers triple digits with AC to double digits without. Tiffany is a freelancer writing on behalf of BlueAir Heating and Air Conditioning, your source for any Austin heating and air conditioning need.

How to Improve Air Conditioner Efficiency During the Summer

Summer Energy Efficiency Tips: Air Conditioning Usage

Running an air conditioner in the summer is a luxury in some places and a necessity in others. Whether you need it, or just want it, running an air conditioning system can be the biggest consumer of electricity in your home in summer. Using your air conditioning system correctly, keeping it well maintained and taking some other actions toward saving electricity can help keep this cost to a minimum.

There are several kinds of air conditioning systems that are installed in modern homes. Window units, split and packaged systems are the most common. All types of air conditioners should be inspected at least once a year, preferably before they are put into use for the season. Any problems that could reduce efficiency should be fixed before the system is used. A few basic maintenance tasks can go a long way toward safe, efficient operation.

If you do it yourself, be sure to turn off the power to the A/C at the breaker box before opening or working on the machine. Cleaning the coils with a soft brush and removing dust and debris will make the air conditioner cool more efficiently. Filters should also be checked for dirt build up. Some kinds are washable and others must be replaced. Refer to the owner’s manual, or ask a service technician, if you are unsure about the filter in your unit. Having spare filters on hand can save time and frustration.

If the unit is a model that goes through a window or other opening in the wall, check that it is properly sealed all around and tilting outward slightly. If air is leaking around the unit, it will be working harder and costing more. If it is sloping the wrong way, it will not run well and could leak into the room.

Check the grooves that lead water out of a window unit , or the condenser pan if you have a split or packaged unit. Water should be draining properly and no leaks should be detected, except where water exits at the drain.

If all systems are go, and the air conditioner is well maintained and operating at good efficiency, you can still lower your electric bill in other ways. Keeping the thermostat set at 78º Fahrenheit when you are home and turning the unit off when you are ways are other measures that will cut the power costs.

Saving electricity in other ways around the house will also compensate for the increased electricity you need for the air conditioner. By turning off lights and appliances that are not in use and doing laundry at non-peak hours, money can be saved toward cooling costs. Most computers and TVs use power even when they are turned off. To save money on them, plug them in on a power strip and then flip the switch when they are not being used.

Having your house insulated and using double glazed windows cuts costs for both heating and cooling. Weather stripping around doors and windows is a smaller job, but can also significantly reduce the need for air conditioning.

By maintaining your air conditioner properly, keeping the thermostat turned up a bit and reducing other electrical uses, you can increase summer energy efficiency and keep your house pleasantly cool at the same time.

Home Buying Advice: Signs of a Faulty Air Conditioning System

New Homeowners: Never Purchase a Home without an Inspection!

new homeowners

New home buyers need to exercise caution about the condition of the appliances in any home that they are considering purchasing. Unless the buyer is exceptionally knowledgeable, arranging an inspection by a certified home inspector is advisable. It is a rude awakening when the buyers move into their new home and are faced with high appliance repair or replacement costs. Your realtor will be happy to assist in finding a qualified inspector.

Existing Maintenance & Repair Issues

The condition of the central air conditioning system is especially important. There are a few things that the buyer can do, but it takes an expert to accurately determine the condition. Air conditioner replacement can be as high as $5000; the cost could be $10,000 if duct replacement is needed.

The buyer should check for noisy operation. An air conditioner evaporator cooling coil is usually installed inside the furnace plenum. The furnace fan is then used to direct the cooled air through the duct work to all the rooms. The fan can be noisy, but that is fairly inexpensive to repair. If the coils are dirty, a simple coil cleaning may be all the A/C system needs to start cooling properly again.

A water leak around the furnace, while the air conditioner is operating, can be misleading. The air conditioner removes humidity from the home. The apparent leak may be caused by a plugged drain line and not be a sign of a larger problem. However, if the system continues to leak even while the air conditioner is off, than chances are the system needs to be seen and repaired by an A/C technician.

Because of improper installation of the duct work, a high percentage of homes do not receive the benefit of the ability of an air conditioner to provide high-efficiency cooling. Many contractors install sub-standard duct work to increase profits. This may result in uneven heating and cooling of rooms. Uninsulated duct work that passes though the attic or garage can cause condensation and loss of cooling efficiency.

A home inspection is needed to determine the condition of the duct work and issues that are beyond the skill range of the average home buyer. The following two videos show some example problems that can come up during a home inspection:

Energy Efficiency

Much efficiency can be lost by air leakage in the joints due to improper sealing. Ordinary duct tape can dry out and lose the seal. Resealing the joints can be extremely time-consuming. Ducts can be concealed under insulation and above false ceilings.

The seller should provide copies of electric bills for the months that the air conditioner was used. A transferable manufacturer’s air conditioner warranty is a tremendous asset.

energy star air conditionersAll air conditioners have a SEER rating, which means Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. A higher SEER rating means lower electric bills. Before 2006, the government required a minimum SEER rating of 10. Now the minimum requirement for a “high-efficiency” air conditioner is 16. Some high-efficiency units are rated as high as 20+.

Experts say that in warm climates that require a lot of air conditioning, the more expensive high-efficiency unit would probably be worth the extra cost. In cooler climates with minimal requirement for air conditioning, the savings on the electric statement may not justify the price difference. Sometimes there are power company rebates and federal tax credits that can reduce the price difference and change the benefit equation.

The proper size air conditioner unit is essential. A too-small unit will cause continuous operation on unusually hot days. A too-large unit will cycle on and off very often and not reach the point of maximum efficiency. Short periods of operation will not allow the home to reach a uniform temperature in all rooms. A reputable contractor will not try to sell a unit that is too large for the home.

Environmental Concerns

green eco-friendly air conditionerOlder units may contain refrigerants that cause degradation of the ozone layer of the atmosphere. Leakage of this gas is harmful. Newer units contain refrigerants that produce less ozone damage. The Carrier company is producing a unit containing the R134a refrigerant that does not damage the ozone. Other manufacturers are following suit.

The two most common reasons for replacing an air conditioning unit are a complete failure or maintenance has become too expensive. The information supplied by a qualified home inspector will help the buyer to make an informed decision about buying a home, by factoring in the cost of correcting any deficiencies in the air conditioning system.


EPA Ozone Layer Protection Homeowner FAQs

What to Do When Your Air Conditioner Stops Working

ac downLife in South Florida can be a lesson in an easygoing life, with lots of fun in the sun and no harsh, frigid winters.

However, the very same sun that makes a day on the beach so enjoyable often combines with Florida humidity to make life a swelteringly hot and miserable existence once the temperature begins to soar. When it comes to living here, your central air conditioner is your best friend. But if your A/C suddenly stops working, spending time in your home will quickly become a hot, sweaty inconvenience.

While living in a home with a faulty air conditioning system can certainly still beats life with no A/C at all, that relief will quickly end once your air conditioner stops working altogether. If your house is suddenly hot and sweaty and your air conditioner is not putting out any cool air, or if your a/c is leaking water it is time for a little air conditioner 101 before the problem gets any worse.

Troubleshooting the Causes of a Broken Air Conditioner

  1.  Start with the A/C power. It may seem too obvious, but many times the air conditioner is not working because it does not have power. Check the power cord and make sure the electrical plug is fully pushed into a working outlet. Inspect other appliances plugged into the same outlet and if they are not working either, then replace or reset your fuse or circuit breaker.
  2. Stop while the air conditioner is turned off, open the front panel to where the air filter is housed, and remove the air filter. You can either replace the filter with a new one from your local hardware store or clean the old one by vacuuming it or washing it with soap and water, then rinsing it and letting it dry thoroughly before you slide it back into the air conditioner. A clogged air filter can really slow down or even stop air conditioner performance.
  3. Now that you have a clean air filter, shut the access panel, look to see if the cord is plugged into a working outlet, and make sure the main power switch on the air conditioner is turned to “On”. There may be more than one “On” switch on the unit, so check the system thoroughly for switches. While you are at it, make sure the front panel of the unit is shut firmly, as most units will not function if the access panel is open.
  4. Next, move to your thermostat. Make sure the settings are placed at “On” or “Auto Cool” and the temperature is set to a point that is at least 10 degrees below the current outdoor temperature. If the fan is set to “Heat” or “Off”, then your air conditioner is not broken, it just needs to be set to cool correctly. Note: Turning up your thermostat a couple of degrees while you’re not home helps to prevent maintenance problems and can also help you save on energy costs during the summer.
  5. Give the air conditioner a few minutes to turn on once you have set the thermostat to “Cold” and the temperature down, then walk around and check all your vents and registers to make sure that they are all open so cool air can move around the house.
  6. If you still aren’t getting cold air, head outside and make sure the cover on the outdoor unit has been removed, since airflow is essential to proper function. In addition, make sure the unit power switch is turned to “On” and look around the outside unit for signs of damage, clogs due to leaves or other debris, or leaks around the unit. If you find debris or other items that may be blocking the condenser coil, turn the system off and let it cool and stop completely, then clean the debris from the outside of the unit and turn it back on. If you see signs of damage or leaks, turn it back off and call a repairperson for assistance.
  7. If you cannot identify why the air conditioner is still not working, you can try some of the more sophisticated repair attempts as suggested on, but you are probably best off calling for a Boca Raton AC repair person for help.

Tips to Prevent Your A/C from Breaking

Preventing problems with your air conditioner in the first place is actually simple and can save you quite a bit of money in the end. Here are a few air conditioning maintenance tips to make sure you are not dripping with sweat in the middle of the summer with a dead air conditioner:

  1. Perform regular maintenance on your air conditioner, even during months when you do not use it. This will help make sure the air conditioner will run when you DO need
  2. Every three to six months, remove and clean the air filter and make sure the access panel is shut firmly when you are done.
  3. Check the outside unit for any items that have blown into the unit, potentially blocking the condensing coil. It is best to keep the area around the unit clear of bushes, leaves and other items that can easily enter the air conditioner and cause trouble. Put a cover over the outdoor unit when it is not in use.
  4. Run the air conditioner for a few minutes after you have performed your regular maintenance to make sure everything is working fine, and then turn it back off.
  5. During the summer, set your thermostat to “Auto” and raise the temperature at night or when you are not at home, so that the unit only needs to run as needed. If you leave the thermostat at “On” or “Cold” and set at a chilly temperature 24 hours a day, you run a greater risk of burning the unit out.

Schedule Your A/C Repair

USA Air Conditioning Services offer same-day emergency service for broken air conditioners seven days a week. If your A/C is not cooling and you need help now, schedule your service online or give us a call today at (561) 404-0340.

Why is My A/C Leaking Water?

air conditioner leaking water One of the most common problems homeowners face with their air conditioning systems is sudden and seemingly inexplicable leaking. A/C window units tend to leak small amounts of water, which is normal, but when a central air conditioner begins to leak large amounts of water all over your floor, it is probably time to call up a technician.

There are a number of reasons that can cause an air conditioning system to leak water. Some are easily fixed, others are more complicated and some water draining out is actually a normal part of operation. The trick is knowing what is normal and what is an indication of a bigger problem.

central air conditioner

During normal operation, your air conditioning system will be removing moisture from the air inside the home. This moisture will condense on the A/C coils and then drain down and exit through a drain hole at the bottom of the machine. Some A/C window units have a groove in the base pan that leads the water outside rather than a drain hole. Either way, there is always a means for water to drain out of the machine.

If you see a small amount of water coming out of a pipe leading from your air conditioner when it is on, this is probably normal condensation and is nothing to worry about. If the water is coming out from somewhere other than the drain, or if it is excessive, then there is a problem. Regardless of whether you hire an A/C company or choose to fix the leaking yourself, running your A/C system while it is leaking water will only worsen the problem and reduce the efficiency and lifetime of your central air system.

Causes of Air Conditioning Leaks

One reason for water not making it to the drain and flowing into the room instead is the installation of the A/C. An A/C must be tilted slightly backwards toward the outside, so that water will flow toward the drain. If it is installed incorrectly and tilts inward or is level, water may drip into the room. If your A/C is tilting inward, call a repair person and have it reinstalled correctly.

ac leak Algae and other material can accumulate in the pan and clog the drain. A clogged drain is often the reason for an A/C leaking. The drain can usually be cleaned out by flushing with water or vacuuming, but making sure the power is off at the breaker is extremely important for avoiding dangerous accidents while cleaning an A/C drain.

When your air conditioner is running constantly (or in rare cases when the outside temperature in Florida gets below 60º Fahrenheit), ice can form on the coils and then melt causing water leakage. Turning off the A/C every couple of days to allow your system to is the best solution for avoiding this problem.

Why Window Units Tend to Leak Water

ac window unit leaking

Another installation factor that can affect water leaking from an A/C is not having a good seal around the unit where it goes through the wall. If warm air leaks around the machine and then meets cooler air inside the house, condensation can happen in the wrong place causing leakage into the house, or outside along the wall. Installing a foam sealer around the unit and creating a tight seal will solve this problem.

How to Fix an A/C Leak

Fixing a leaking air conditioner is simple, but a tad time-consuming for the motivated do-it-yourselfer. The video below briefly explains what to look for when checking your A/C for possible leaks and causes:

Having your A/C serviced regularly by a professional is one way of preventing water leakage problems in the first place, but chances are, you’re reading this article after the fact. Our A/C techs offer same-day service call for A/C repairs in Broward and Palm Beach county. Need service now? Give us a ring at (561) 404-0340.

Do It Yourself A/C Maintenance Tips

If you have an air conditioner helping you stay cool during Florida’s sweltering hot summer months, you can significantly reduce your energy and repair bills by doing a few regular maintenance tasks. Florida’s high heat and humidity levels can easily result in skyrocketing electric bills, even in late fall!

broken air conditioner Taking a minute to check your A/C system and doing some basic maintenance can help shave off quite a bit of money off an otherwise costly energy bill. Keeping up with maintenance can also increase the life and efficiency of your air conditioning system, saving you more money over the years.

Many people choose to save money on expensive air conditioning service costs by doing their own basic maintenance on their window units and central air conditioning systems. This is a common practice to which entire Do It Yourself forum communities have dedicated tips and instructions for the motivated home owner.

Getting Started

Taking care of your A/C is not hard and does not take a lot of time. But it will be time well spent, especially if your air conditioner is running a lot during the summer. You don’t need any tools to do the job, just a little common sense and a few minutes of time.

First, if you are unsure about how to do these tasks, talk to a professional A/C technician and have him show you what needs to be done. Then, you can do it yourself the next time. If you have a manual, that can be a useful resource, too.

Whenever you do any maintenance on your A/C, start by turning off the power at the thermostat and also the breaker switch (pictured below). Note: While examining your A/C system and opening the unit, be careful not to injure yourself on any sharp metal edges that might be inside your air conditioner when you take the cover off.

air conditioning breaker switch

Changing Your A/C Filter

One of the easiest and perhaps most important maintenance jobs is to check the filter and see if it needs replacing. The filter should lift out without the need for any tools. Once you have it out, hold it up to the light and see if there is dirt, dust, or pet hair clogging it. You should be able to see light through it. If not, it is time to change it, or wash it if it is reusable.

Changing the filter in your A/C should be done at least every three months when it is in service. For pet owners – especially those with long-haired cats or dogs – changing the A/C filter every month or other month is a must. Dirt particles from the air are trapped in the filter and will cause the machine to work harder, requiring more energy and raising your electric bills. In Florida, a clean A/C filter is the key to reducing indoor air humidity, which is hampered by dirt and debris. By keeping the filter clean, you can save as much as 25 percent on energy bills during months when the A/C is in operation.

Its a good idea to have a spare filter on hand before you need one. Publix and other major grocery and convenience stores typically carry disposable filters of all sizes, as well as pet-dander and allergen specific models. If you are running your air conditioning system everyday, check the filter more frequently, especially during the summer months. In areas with heavy particulate matter in the air, a filter can clog up in as little as two weeks.

How to Clean A/C Coils

The next maintenance task is to look at the coils and fins on the unit. The A/C coils are typically protected by a grill that has been screwed in, so keep a screwdriver handy for easy removal. Once you have exposed the coils on your air conditioner, softly brush them from side to side to remove any built-up dirt or leaves. Tip: use a hand clipper and cut away any bushes or plants that are touching the unit. Also, be careful not to apply too much pressure to the coils, or bend them in any way, which could damage your air conditioning system. Also check to see that water is coming out of the drain when the A/C is operating. If it is not, call your repair person for help.

ac coil cleaning tips

Checking the Freon Levels

Freon is the stuff that’s responsible for keeping the air that is blowing from your system nice and cold. Too little of it and the air in your house will remain stagnant and warm, regardless of what temperature you set your thermostat to. When it comes to A/C maintenance, taking care of the freon is an advanced task that is better left to the professionals. Under no circumstances should you consider recharge or flush your refrigerant lines without the proper tools and expertise.

However, a quick check up to make sure everything is working the way it should be is a simple enough task. A/C coolant line insulation can become worn or damaged from prolonged outdoor exposure, and is easy to see.

air conditioner coolant lines

Schedule Maintenance for Your Air Conditioner

Regardless of whether you hire an A/C company or choose to do the maintenance yourself, regularly checking the condition of your A/C system can greatly extend the lifetime of your system, in addition to maximizing efficiency and reducing energy costs.

Having a professional air conditioning technician service your A/C each year, along with these fast and easy maintenance tasks, will keep your cooling system running efficiently for a lot longer. You will stay cooler yourself, too, in more ways than one.

Need help with your air conditioner? Located in Palm Beach county? Give us a ring at (561) 404-0340 or click here to schedule your service call with us. We offer quick, professional same-day service and can help with maintenance, repairs and even new installations.