If you find yourself having to change your air filter more often than you think you need to; there may be a few things that are causing your air filter to become dirty quicker.
Lack of regularly scheduled air conditioning maintenance and the way you operate your cooling and heating system could be causing your air filters to become dirty faster than they should!
A/C Filter Maintenance
If you are not changing your A/C filters monthly, or when necessary, your cooling and heating system will work less efficiently and cost you money.
The frequency at which you will need to change your A/C filter will depend on a number of factors such as how often you use your system, do you have pets, are you remodeling and how many contaminants are entering your home.
Quality of Your Filters
If you are not choosing one a good quality A/C filter it will not last very long before it needs to be changed. Air filter quality is measured by a MERV rating (minimum efficiency reporting value) – the higher the MERV ranking is, the more efficient your A/C system will operate.
Air Conditioning filters that have a lower MERV rating tend to be less expensive than filters with a higher MERV rating so they can be tempting to buy. While these filters may be less expensive, it is important to remember that they will last a shorter amount of time before needing to be changed, increasing your cost in the long run
Leaking A/C Ductwork
Another issue that affects how quickly your A/C filters are becoming dirty is when your system has leaking air ducts. When your system’s air ducts are leaking it causes dust and other airborne contaminants to be pulled into your unit from areas that are used less often and are generally dirtier than the rest of your home. Not only does this mean your system’s air filters will become clogged and dirty more quickly, but it also means your system will run less efficiently, use more energy and increase your costs.
Not Running Your Fan On “Auto”
Your system’s thermostat will provide you with two different fan settings to choose from – “on” and “auto”. When you choose to set your system’s fan to the “on” setting, your system’s fan will run continuously until you turn it off. When you choose to set your system’s fan to the “auto” setting, your system’s fan will turn on and off automatically as it cycles through each heating or cooling cycle. By setting your thermostat to “auto”, your system will be able to run and process the airborne contaminants coming into your unit more efficiently.
Is it tool late to have maintenance done on my ac?
Short answer is no. Assuming you are not asking the question “is it too late to have maintenance done on my AC unit” only after your current air conditioning unit has completely stopped working and is beyond repair, then the answer to your question is no, it is never too late to have maintenance performed on your AC unit. And unless you have had your current air conditioning unit for more than 10 years and have never had any maintenance performed on it during its life, it is very unlikely that your system has completely stopped working and is beyond repair. This means everyone with an AC unit that is not completely beyond repair should still be having maintenance performed on their AC units on a regular basis.
When is the best time to get my yearly maintenance done?
We know there are many homeowners out there who don’t believe having regular maintenance performed on their AC is necessary. We understand that you may not think you need to call a professional if you don’t seem to be having any problems with your unit. However, missing regular maintenance on your AC and only calling the professionals when there is something clearly wrong with your AC unit, can harm your unit even further and cause more costly repairs down the line. This is because most problems that arise within an AC unit are not obvious when they first begin to develop, and the longer the issue is able to go without being detected, the worse the problem becomes. Without having regular routine maintenance performed on your AC unit, by the time a problem becomes obvious with your AC unit it has likely become serious enough to require additional repairs.
By scheduling routine maintenance checkups for your air conditioning unit, you can prevent many stressful problems from occurring down the road. We recommend routine AC maintenance checks once or twice a year. Having a routine maintenance checkup done on your AC unit can improve your unit’s energy efficiency, reduce the risk of serious complications occurring, and extend the life of your unit significantly. While there are dishonest AC “professionals” who will sell you any service you will buy, AC maintenance is not one of them. The key is to find trustworthy AC professionals who will perform an honest evaluation and routine maintenance when needed.
The best time to have AC maintenance done
So now you know how important it is to have regular routine maintenance checkups performed on your air conditioning unit, but when is the right time to have this maintenance done? In Florida, our hot summer months begin early on in Spring. So Spring is an ideal time to schedule routine maintenance if you have not already had it done. Your routine maintenance should always be done before you are going to need to rely more heavily on your home’s cooling system, and those days are just around the corner for us. But as we stated earlier in this article, any time is a good time for routine AC maintenance as long as your system has not completely broken down already. The last thing you want to be doing is sitting in the sticky heat of your home waiting for an AC professional to come out and repair your broken system.
If your air conditioning unit needs a maintenance checkup, contact the experienced technicians at EasyBreezy A/C today! Our technicians will help diagnose and correct any problems your AC may be having, help prevent any future problems, and get it running at its maximum efficiency.
As we saw in Part 1, Dirty Sock Syndrome is caused by bacterial and fungal growth on the evaporator coil. In this article, we will discuss how to treat prevent the problem.
So, you have Dirty Sock Syndrome. Now What?
The good news is that there are ways you can fix dirty sock syndrome and enjoy high-quality indoor air.
Cleaning is your first remedy. You will need to do a thorough cleaning of the evaporator coils to get rid of mold and bacteria living inside as well as stop your house from smelling like an old gym bag. Use cleaning products along with gloves and wear clothes you don’t mind getting messy. Although, a DIY job is only recommended to those who have sufficient knowledge and proper tools.
Otherwise, call in a professional to do the work on your behalf. The HVAC professionals at EasyBreezy AC will first diagnose the problem and then clean the coil and drain pan. Specialists make use of non-acid or low-acid cleaners to effectively kill mold while not damaging the subtle inner workings of your AC unit. Book an appointment with a trusted air conditioning company now to treat your Dirty Sock Syndrome. Don’t forget to have regular maintenance and inspections scheduled once or twice a year to prevent further issues from happening.
You should also consider coating the drain pans and coils. The coating material should contain an antibacterial agent which prevents regrowth of mold. While the antimicrobial coating is effective, it is still imperative to keep your coils clean as possible because the buildup of organic material produces a base for mold and mildew to grow. Doing so will assure smooth performance of your air conditioning.
If any of these measures do not prove to be highly effective for you, then it is time to replace the coils and maintain them to ensure the problem won’t return. You have to take into account your unit’s age, though. If it is already fairly old (12+ years), it may just be time to get a whole new unit.
How to Treat Dirty Sock Syndrome
Choose a high-quality air conditioning filter
Bacteria, mold, and mildew need porous substances to grow. Get rid of them from the air before they get in your coils.
Use a whole home air purifier
They prove to be an excellent aid in killing mold and bacteria. Here at EasyBreezy A/C, we recommend cold plasma ionizers. They are especially ideal for people with compromised immune system, asthma, or allergy problems. A UV light is another option we can provide (though we prefer non-ozone producing IAQ products).
Hire a professional to clean your coil
While you can perform basic cleaning all alone, it is far better to team up with a professional for help. They will have special cleaners available to them that are designed to clean evaporator coils.
Prevention is Key!
Your AC unit is one of the biggest investments you can make for your home. Don’t let dirty sock syndrome give you so much stress. Early prevention is your best solution.
How to prevent Dirty Sock Syndrome?
1. Keeping up with the routine maintenance of your air conditioner is one of the best ways to prevent all sorts of problems with your AC. 2. Change your air filters regularly. If your filter tends to get dirty quickly, then there may be another problem with your system. 3. Installing a whole home indoor air quality (IAQ) product, like the Phenomenal Aire, will dramatically help reduce and prevent bacteria, fungus, and mold growth in your home.
No matter what the season is, it is always important to make sure your air conditioning unit is working efficiently and not converting into an ideal ground for dirty sock syndrome.
Upon entering your home, the first thing you noticed is the stinky odor. It is not the garbage, neither the piled-up laundry of your little munchkins. What could be the culprit then?
Your air conditioning.
Your house might be suffering from dirty sock syndrome.
The average American spends almost 93 percent of their life indoors, which makes indoor air quality an immediate issue. Dirty sock syndrome attacks most homes, and you need to pay strict attention to it.
In this two-part article series, we will discuss what dirty sock syndrome actually is, what causes it, and how to solve it efficiently.
Dirty sock syndrome is a stale, foul-smelling odor that is often produced from an air conditioner with a dirty coil. This coil is the heat pump coil in the blower or air handler of your AC. Apart from a very dirty coil, there are also little microbial organisms present that feed on the dust, dirt, and other things that’s accumulated on it. This is why your home is dealing with a terrible smell. The smell travels as your AC pushes air around the home, making all rooms have a disgusting odor. Some homeowners mistake dirty sock syndrome as a mold problem because of its mold-like smell. This can cause for a serious concern since mold leads to headaches and other health issues.
What Causes Dirty Sock Syndrome?
Bacteria and fungus growing on the evaporator coil. Constant use of your air conditioning can cause moisture formation on the evaporator coils. Dust will then be collected inside the system and fasten itself to the coils. Once attached, the dust and moisture can grow bacteria. The cold and hot temperatures used by the air conditioning makes it an excellent place for the bacteria to flourish. The bacteria and fungus growth will lead your AC system to slow rot from within. It is because of the decomposition that you smell a stinky odor when the unit is on.
Is Dirty Sock Syndrome Dangerous?
No doubt, dirty sock syndrome smells horrible and is a real annoyance. But fortunately, it is not usually considered devastating or life-threatening since the mildew and bacteria are not extremely hazardous to the health but could irritate asthma or other respiratory conditions. Though at some point, dirty sock syndrome can pose health risks if mold occurs in the air conditioning unit and starts to develop. It can cause sneezing and coughing and those with severe allergies, asthma, or have respiratory problems will likely the suffer most. You may also experience eye irritation and difficulty breathing if mold grows within your system. The strong smell from the AC unit can make you feel sick too. Long exposure to mold also carries long-term health risks as it emits microbial volatile organic compounds – gasses which generate the odor that associated with mold.
If you have Dirty Sock Syndrome or mold has grown inside your AC, you need have a professional conduct an immediate, thorough inspection and cleaning of the HVAC system.
What temperature should you set your thermostat to while away? Well, that depends, mostly on preference and goal. Here are some tips from the professionals at EasyBreezy A/C.
Before we begin, the most important step is…
Invest In A Programmable Thermostat
There is actually no perfect home temperature no matter what the season is or whether you are away or not – that mostly depends on the demands of homeowners. But if you want to make adjusting temperature less hassle on your part, consider what a programmable thermostat can do for you.
It enables you to set different temperatures all through the day, depending on various factors such as when you are home, when the house is empty, the time of the day, and the weather condition. Simply plug it, the programmable thermostat allows you to “set and forget.” You can even control the temperature through your tablet or smartphone with most programmable thermostats sold these days.
Now the tips:
What should be your thermostat setting when you are away for business or a holiday vacation?
Well, you do not want your unit to be completely off with no air movement. BUT, you also do not want to leave the AC running at full blast, cooling the house when no one is there to enjoy it. There is a Goldilocks zone in the middle. If your trip is in the middle of summer or even in the early warmer months, set your thermostat closer to 80° F. This will help you to save energy (and subsequently, money on your cooling bill) while you are away. If you have a programmable thermostat, you don’t have to wait for your home to cool down until after you get home. Adjust the thermostats settings so that it begins to cool off about an hour before you get home. As for vacations in the winter, Florida doesn’t get many consistently cold days – at least not until January, so set your thermostat to auto so it can switch to heat or cooling as needed and keep the cooling around 78° and the heat around 64°. Since you won’t be home, it won’t need to kick on as much while you are gone.
What temperature should I set my thermostat in the summer and spring?
During summer and spring seasons, the temperature increases in the home just as it does outside, which can make it extremely uncomfortable without the air conditioner running. However, it can be costly for keeping our home cool during the extreme heat of Florida summer. This is where thermostat setting comes very beneficial as it can help us save more in our energy bills but still manage to be comfortable while at home. When you’ll only be gone during the day, you can program your thermostat to adjust while you are gone to a few degrees warmer and then begin cooling again when you are on your way home from work. Just like while on vacation, there is no need to have heir air conditioner working overtime when you aren’t home to enjoy it. When you are home, your temperature can be set to personal preference but if your cooling bill is too high, consider rising your normal temperature up 2 or 3 degrees. Even a small change can make an improvement on your energy bill.
What temperature should I set my thermostat in the winter and fall?
The ideal temperature range during winter is from 60-65 °F, though, most people prefer 68 degrees. The best temperature during the winter will really be your preference but if cutting down costs or energy usage is your goal, then lowering the temperature for your heater will help lower your bills.
Air conditioning falls under the category of basic necessities (like food, shelter, and water do) given how important it is in a home in the present era. However, unlike most other necessities, air conditioners require maintenance and if not kept up with. Luckily, air conditioning systems typically give off warning signs when something is not right – poor air flow, warm air instead of cold, buzzing or other odd noises, and smells.
The following are some of the common smells that you might experience when something is wrong with your air conditioner, along with the likely culprit.
Smell musty or smell like mildew
This is a result of excessive humidity in your AC system along with the presence of mold or mildew in the ducts, clogged drain lines, or stagnant water in the drip pan. To solve the problem of this particular smell, you usually do not need help from expert. Check where the drip pan or wherever the AC releases the moisture pulled from the air for standing water or poor drainage. Also check the drain pipe – if it is dry, then there is likely a clog somewhere. Be sure to change all of the intake filters and continue to do so regularly. If your home is prone to humidity, install a humidifier in one of the main rooms to help pull moisture from the air and lighten the burden placed on your air conditioning system. If the smell persists, then your duct work may need a thorough cleaning. If you have never done this before, it is recommended to give us a call to ensure that no damage befalls your duct work or system.
Smell like dirty socks
Dirty Sock Syndrome is an actual “illness” that can affect your air conditioning system. The dirty socks smell (or gym bag, work boot, 3 day pile of wet laundry smell) is usually a product of mildew somewhere in your system. It could be in the duct work or around the evaporator coil. Like the above smell, it is typically the cause of high humidity in the home or clogged drain pipes only stage of mildew is long past changing filters to resolve the issue. This will require an in-depth cleaning of your system.
You guessed it – this smell is caused by of the presence of tobacco smoke residue in your AC system. Even if the smoker uses a designated room or part of the house for their smoking habit, the smoke can and will inhibit the air conditioning system and be filtered to the rest of the home. Change the filters more often and encourage the smoker to some only outdoors. At a minimum, better ventilate the areas where smoking is occurring by opening a window and using a fan to help circulate the air.
The scent of acetone, or nail polish remover, is an indication that you have a refrigerant leak in your system. A refrigerant leak can not only be disastrous for the efficiency of the system, but also your health. It poses serious health hazards so if you smell this odor in your air conditioning system then turn off the system immediately and get help from an expert.
This will only be a concern for residents or commercial offices who have gas-drive AC units. The smell of rotten eggs is a common description used when there is a gas leak. If you smell this in your house and you’re sure that it is coming from the air conditioning system, then immediately call a professional for help. Also, open the windows and turn off the appliances to avoid any spark that can result in an explosion, then wait outside for assistance to arrive.
In Florida, this smell is typically not a concern. You may experience a burning smell after turning on your systems heater after it is dormant for the majority of the year. When you don’t use your heater for a long period of time dust can settle on the heating coils. When you do start using it the dust gets burned off, resulting in a burning smell. The smell will eventually dissipate and fade away. However, if you have been running your heater for the last 24 hours and the smell has already dissipated, or you never experienced it and you now are, then the smell could be an indication of overuse. When parts are dormant and do not receive regular maintenance, they can wear out from lack of use (just like a tool in your garage that never gets used may rust). It can also be a sign of a bad or malfunctioning compressor. If you smell burning several hours after the heater is in use, then turn off your unit and contact us to evaluate your system.
Smell like Rotting Carcass
Sounds gross and the smell itself can be really disturbing and you can’t help but notice it. As the name shows, this smell is due to a bird, mouse, squirrel, or other creature dying after getting caught somewhere in your system. So, if there is a rancid, rotting smell and no other indication to its cause, you should turn off your air conditioner and contact an AC repairman. A decomposing body of a small mammal can be very harmful to your health and you don’t want your AC system to circulate it through your home.
In all cases, you can avoid, reduce, and prevent smells with routine maintenance and a whole home indoor air quality product.
Anyone who lives in Florida is no stranger to hurricane season and the other severe weather such as tornadoes, tropical storms, and thunderstorms that we are all subject to. And while the Tampa Bay area has not been directly hit by a hurricane since 1921, according to the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Tampa Bay area is one of the top five most vulnerable cities to hurricanes, and many experts estimate that the Tampa Bay area is well overdue for a direct hit, and even unnamed storms have been known to be severe enough to leave behind damage. It may seem like we are in hurricane season year-round at times, but hurricane seasons really runs from June 1 to November 30 each year.
While keeping our families safe is our top priority when severe weather threatens our area, we also can take precautions to ensure our homes are prepared to withstand the damage of a storm. We already know we need to stock up on sandbags to protect our doors and homes from flooding, and to board up our windows, but did you know there are also steps you should take to prepare your HVAC system ahead of a storm? Read on to find out what you should be doing to care for your HVAC unit before, during, and after a major storm.
RISKS SEVERE WEATHER POSES TO OUR AC UNITS
It is impossible for us to properly prepare for any major storm if we don’t understand the risks that are associated with the storm. Hurricanes and other major storms pose many risks to our HVAC units including:
Flood Damage – our HVAC systems are designed to withstand normal weather conditions, but not extreme weather conditions that bring an extreme amount of rain and flooding waters with them. This excess water can submerge our equipment and damage it beyond repair.
Wind Damage – high winds pose a couple different threats to our HVAC system. High winds can cause pieces of our HVAC equipment to become dislodged, and can also cause trees, electrical poles, and other flying debris to land on our systems and cause damage.
Lightning Damage – lightning poses the threat of striking and causing electrical damage to our HVAC systems, just like it can do to any other electrical equipment.
WHAT TO DO BEFORE THE STORM?
Use the following tips to prepare your HVAC system for a major storm before it arrives:
Keep Your Unit Maintained – proper maintenance to your HVAC system is important for many reasons, including keeping it well prepared to withstand the harsh conditions a major storm will bring with it. Having your HVAC system properly checked and maintained by a qualified HVAC professional is imperative to preparing your system for any potential risks well before a storm.
Anchor Your Unit – having your HVAC equipment properly installed and anchored is pivotal in protecting it from damage during a major storm. Once you know your HVAC unit is properly installed, you can also secure it with hurricane straps or metal braces to further secure it for threats posed by major storms.
Elevate Your Unit – if it is possible, place your HVAC unit on a higher platform and elevate it to protect it from potential flooding and water damage.
Clean Up Around Your Unit – look all around your HVAC unit and check for any loose items such as toys, plants, loose and dead tree limbs, and any other loose items that could be potential flying debris hazards.
Cover Your Unit – once you have cleared your HVAC system of any existing debris and cleaned up around your HVAC unit, use a nylon or vinyl tarp to cover your unit or cover it by surrounding it with plywood to further protect it from any potential flying debris during the storm.
Cool Your Home Before The Storm – major storms are known to cause large power outages, and during the storm you should be cutting the power to your HVAC unit off, so it is wise to cool your home by setting the thermostat slightly lower than you normally would to help keep your home cool a bit longer once the unit is off.
WHAT TO DO AFTER THE STORM?
Once the storm has passed careful inspection of your unit is important before you make any decisions on what to do moving forward. Remove any debris that has fallen on your HVAC unit and clear the area around your unit. If your HVAC unit or home has been affected by flooding water, or if you suspect your system may have any other damage, you need to have the HVAC unit professionally inspected before you turn it back on. Once your HVAC system has been properly inspected and cleared, it is important to turn it back on as soon as possible to help dry the inside of the home and limit mold from getting into your HVAC system or ductwork.
Contact EasyBreezyA/C today for your annual HVAC check-up to ensure your system is running the way it should be and is prepared to withstand any threats posed to it throughout the rest of hurricane season! We are also available for post-storm inspections if your HVAC unit has recently been exposed to severe weather and you suspect damage.