Is It Possible to Purchase New Ductwork and Handle Replacement Myself?

January 20th, 2015

Most homes in the U.S. come standard with a set of ducts so that it is easy to install a central heating or air conditioning system. Unfortunately, many ducts are not installed with care, and it’s actually probable that your ducts have some sort of problem delivering air to the home—from minor air leaks that are hardly noticeable to entire areas of ductwork that have collapsed. In some cases, poor design, faulty installation, or improper sealing will lead to premature ductwork replacement, a job which should only be left to professionals.

Duct Considerations that Should Be Left Up to Professionals

While you may be able to get your hands on some sheet metal ducts and a couple of guidebooks on the installation process, you should keep in mind that this is not a job for amateurs. Improper installation can lead to overworked HVAC equipment, poor indoor air quality, and even a fire hazard. Experts keep in mind all of the following when deciding on a design for the ducts.

  • Considering the Proper Placement: First, an expert will have to decide which parts of the home the ductwork should run through. Ideally, you want your ducts to run through a conditioned space to minimize unwanted heat losses and gains, but this may not always be possible.
  • Choosing a Duct Material: There are many different types of materials used to make ducts, but an expert knows which materials comply with building codes in your area, and whether flexible ducts, for example, are a possibility in your home.
  • Finding an Efficient Configuration: The technician should try to keep duct runs as short as possible with few twists and turns for maximum efficiency.
  • Sizing the Ductwork: This is perhaps the most difficult step in designing the ducts, as it involves some complicated engineering calculations, charts, and spreadsheets. You must also understand the heating and cooling needs of the home and the capacity of the existing system, as well as the power of the blower fan used in air distribution.
  • Sealing Leaks: Finally, a technician will check the air pressure and make sure there are no further leaks that must be sealed. And professionals have the proper tools to do so, which does not include standard home duct tape (which can pose a fire hazard when you run your heater).

Call the friendly technicians at Ultimate Air Conditioning today to speak with an expert about complete or partial ductwork replacement in Lakewood Ranch, FL.

Your Air Conditioning System Won’t Turn On? Here’s What You Can Do

January 13th, 2015

Is there anything worse than having your air conditioner break down during a hot day? We don’t think so. If your air conditioning system won’t turn on, you should call a professional to have the system checked. Before you do, though, there are a few things you can do to try and diagnose your air conditioning system yourself. Let’s take a look at what you can do when your air conditioning system won’t turn on.

Check the Thermostat

The thermostat is the central nervous system of your air conditioning system. It is responsible for tracking the temperature in the house, and turning the air conditioner on or off based on sensor readings. As such, if your thermostat malfunctions for any reason it can cripple an otherwise healthy air conditioning system. Check your thermostat display, making sure that the information being displayed is correct and that the settings are where you want them to be. If anything seems off or incorrect, it is possible that your thermostat needs reconfiguring or repair. If the thermostat seems to be correct, you may have issues elsewhere in the system.

Check the Power Cable and Motor

Just like any electronic system, it is possible that your air conditioner won’t turn on because it’s simply unplugged. Check and make sure that the power cable is plugged in, as well as any other wiring that might be frayed and need replacing.

If the wiring seems to be intact and plugged in properly, you could have a burned out motor. Now, you probably don’t have the knowledge to open up your air conditioning unit to check the motor, and if not then you shouldn’t try. Even so, it’s a pretty good bet that if everything else seems intact, your air conditioner motor isn’t working. Most air conditioners have safety measures in place to shut down the entire system if the motor malfunctions. Either way, you’ll need to call a professional to confirm the issue.

If you’re having issues with your air conditioning, call Ultimate Air Conditioning to schedule a service appointment. We provide air conditioning repair services throughout Lakewood Ranch.

Is It Possible to Repair Ductwork on My Own?

January 6th, 2015

There is nothing wrong with aiming to take care of household repairs on your own as much as possible. With the correct store-bought tools and do-it-yourself online resources, there are many fixes you can handle around the home that will save money on hiring professional repair services.

However, there are some repair jobs that you should never attempt on your own because of the complexity involved and the potential risks from improperly done work. Repairs for air ducts are one of them. There are a number of issues with duct repairs that make them too difficult for anyone except a trained professional to manage.

If you have broken or leaking air ducts, call for ductwork repair in Siesta Key, FL from Ultimate Air Conditioning. We’ll take care of fixing your ventilation system quickly and accurately.

Why can’t I use duct tape to fix the ductwork?

This is the question people ask most frequently when it comes to duct repairs. Almost everyone has duct tape somewhere in the house that serves a variety of functions. Why not use the tape for the job for which it was intended?

There’s a good reason not to: duct tape isn’t actually designed for ducts. Despite the name, duct tape is an ineffective method for sealing up damage in air ducts. This cloth-backed tape rapidly fails when exposed to the heat changes inside ductwork. Laboratory tests have shown this time and time again. Leave the duct tape in the drawer and call for professionals instead.

But are there other ways I might handle duct repairs on my own?

Unless you have professional training and tools, no. Duct repairs require extensive knowledge of HVAC systems and how to keep them working efficiently. Proper repairs need equipment such as mastic sealant and metallic tapes, as well as custom-cut duct sections to replace older damaged ones. Any amateur attempt to fix ducts will likely end up causing more damage to them. Even reaching the ducts is difficult unless you have years of experience.

The consequences of badly repaired ductwork

Poor quality repairs for ducts will cause an increase in the problems that were already present: more air leaks, less comfort, and greater outside contamination getting into the air shafts. Your HVAC system will lose more energy efficiency, triggering a rise in heating and cooling bills and possibly damage to the comfort system itself. You will also encounter a drop in your air quality as debris infiltrates the ducts.

Who can I call when I need professional ductwork repair?

The HVAC professionals at Ultimate Air Conditioning are ready to help you with whatever you need for ductwork repair in Siesta Key, FL. We work on many types of HVAC systems and provide repair and replacement services for ducts so that heaters and air conditioners will work at their best. Whenever you sense that the ducts in your home have suffered damage or developed leaks, contact us to take care of the job fast and right.

12 Grapes for 12 Months: An Unusual New Year’s Tradition

January 1st, 2015

Across the world, many cultures have specific traditions to celebrate the transition from the old year to the new. In the U.S. and Canada, we associate New Year’s with the ball in Times Square, kissing at the stroke of midnight, resolutions, and singing “Old Lang Syne.” But for many Spanish-speaking countries, one of the key traditions has to do with eating grapes as fast as possible.

The “twelve grapes” tradition comes from Spain, where it is called las doce uvas de la suerte (“The Twelve Lucky Grapes”). To ensure good luck for the next year, people eat one green grape for each of the upcoming twelve months. However, you cannot just eat the grapes during the first day of the new year any time you feel like it. You must eat the twelve grapes starting at the first stroke of midnight on Nochevieja (“Old Night,” New Year’s Eve) as one year changes to another. And you have to keep eating: with each toll of midnight, you must eat another grape, giving you about twelve seconds to consume all of them. If you can finish all dozen grapes—you can’t still be chewing on them!—before the last bell toll fades, you will have a luck-filled new year.

Where did this tradition come from? No one is certain, although it appears to be more than a century old. One story about the Twelve Lucky Grapes is that a large crop of grapes in 1909 in Alicante, Spain led to the growers seeking out a creative way to eliminate their surplus. But recent research through old newspapers shows that perhaps the tradition goes back almost thirty years earlier to the 1880s, where eating grapes was meant to mock the upper classes who were imitating the French tradition of dining on grapes and drinking champagne on New Year’s Eve.

It can be difficult to consume grapes this fast, and the lucky grapes of New Year’s Eve have seeds in them, making the job even trickier. (Seedless grapes are not common in Spain the way they are over here.) For people to manage eating all the grapes before the last stroke of midnight requires swallowing the seeds as well and only taking a single bite of each grape.

Oh, there is one more twist to the tradition: you have to be wearing red undergarments, and they have to be given to you as a gift. The origins of this part of the tradition are even more mysterious, and it’s anybody’s guess why this started.

Whether you go for the grape challenge or find another way to ring in New Year’s, all of us at Ultimate Air Conditioning hope you have a great start to the year and a, uhm, fruitful 2015.

The Composition of Snowflakes: Are No Two Alike?

December 25th, 2014

“No two snowflakes are alike.”

This is a statement nearly every schoolchild has heard at least once, either while crafting unique snowflakes with a sheet of folded paper and some scissors or while learning a lesson on the science of snow. While even most scientists don’t quite understand what causes a snowflake to form such complex and beautiful columns and points and branches, one thing is for certain, the composition of snowflakes guarantees that no two will ever be identical.  However, it is possible for two snowflakes to appear to be nearly exactly alike.

A snowflake begins to form when a piece of dust catches water vapor out of the air. Water is created when two hydrogen molecules attach to an oxygen molecule. The two hydrogen molecules are angled from one another in such a way that they form a hexagonal shape when they come together during the freezing process; thus, a snowflake begins as a simple hexagonal shape or as layers of hexagons called diamond dust. The emergent properties that follow from the original hexagon are what differentiate one snowflake from another, as the humidity, the temperature in the air, and many other factors (some of which remain unclear to scientists) allow each snowflake to form in an entirely unique way with a seemingly endless variety of shapes.

However, in 1988, a scientist named Nancy Knight claimed to have located two that were the same while studying snowflakes as part of an atmospheric research project. And it appeared to be so; when put under a microscope, the emergent properties looked nearly identical. But while it is feasible that two snowflakes can appear to be exactly alike on the outside, they are never identical on an atomic level. Deuterium is an atom that appears attached to about one in every 3000 hydrogen molecules in the air. Because there are millions of atoms that make up a snowflake, the random assortment of deuterium in any two snowflakes—even in two that so very closely resemble one another—simply cannot be the same.

Here at Ultimate Air, we’d like to remind you to grab a cup of cocoa and relax with your family this holiday, perhaps by crafting some unique snowflake creations of your own. We wish you a very happy holiday season, from our family to yours!

What Are My Air Conditioning Installation Options?

December 17th, 2014

These days, homeowners have a lot of choices when it comes to installing a whole-home air conditioning system. Two of the most common types of whole-home air conditioning systems are heat pumps and traditional split-system ACs; these are also the types of air conditioners we carry at Ultimate Air Conditioning. Air conditioning installations are complex and require expert knowledge, so it’s always important to hire trained and certified professionals for any air conditioning installation. Ultimate Air Conditioning has been serving the air conditioning needs of customers since 1959, so if you are ready for a new air conditioning installation in Siesta Key, FL, call us today!

Heat Pumps

From the name, you might wonder how a heat pump provides cooling, so let us explain. First, heat pumps can offer both heating and cooling for your home, so they are 2-in-1 devices. The way heat pumps both heat and cool isn’t by generating hot or cool air; rather, they transfer heat from one location to the next, using refrigerant to facilitate the process. During the warm months, heat pumps absorb the heat from your indoors and transfer it outside; in the cold months, heat pumps absorb the available heat in the air, concentrate it, and disperse it to your indoor living spaces. Heat pumps are quite versatile and can work with ducted systems, ductless systems and geothermal systems. They also have an average lifespan of 20-25 years and are very energy efficient as they don’t use any fossil fuels and very little electricity to run.

Split-System Air Conditioners

Split-system ACs are one of the most common types of ACs around. As the name denotes, a split system AC has two main units: an outdoor unit that holds the condenser, compressor and condenser fan, and the indoor unit, which holds the evaporator and indoor blower. Split-system ACs are ducted systems, so in order to install one, it is necessary to have ductwork in your home. Split-system ACs are very energy efficient and have an average lifespan of 10-12 years.

Understanding your options is always important, but the best way to ensure that your air conditioning installation in Siesta Key, FL goes well is to work with a professional from start to finish, so call Ultimate Air Conditioning today!

Does a Heat Pump Installation Require New Ductwork?

December 10th, 2014

If you’ve never had a heat pump in your home, you may be curious about the installation process. Heat pumps provide both heating and cooling in a home, which may make it seem as though a heat pump uses a different process for heating and cooling than more traditional HVAC units. Some common questions for technician involve the types of renovations that may be necessary for this installation. Will I need to install new ductwork to get this unique technology in my home? And what’s this I’ve heard about ductless heat pumps?

We’ll answer these questions in today’s guide. If you decide that professional heat pump installation in Lakewood Ranch is right for you, or if you want to learn about the many other efficient heating and AC systems available for installation, call Ultimate Air Conditioning today.

Heat Pump Installation

Heat pumps are extremely efficient for heating and cooling because they do not actually create or generate heat. Instead, they move heat from one place to another, using refrigerant, a chemical blend that is also an effective heat transfer medium. As it continuously converts from a liquid to a gas and back again, it absorbs heat from your home in the summer and disperses this heat back outdoors.

This is actually the exact same technology that an air conditioner uses—which is why you won’t need to replace your ductwork. The only difference between a heat pump and a standard AC is that it has a reversing valve for heating so that it can absorb heat from the outside in the winter and bring it into your home. While you won’t generally need to install new ducts, you should have your ducts inspected to make sure there are no air leaks that could inhibit efficiency.

Ductless Heat Pumps

If you don’t have any ducts at all, don’t worry! You can still get heat pump technology without any ducts at all. Instead, you can get a ductless mini-split heat pump with a single outdoor compressor unit and one or more indoor air handlers. The only “construction” that must be done is drilling a small hole in the wall to accommodate the refrigerant line. And you get the added benefit of zone control, meaning you can control the temperature in each room separately from the others.

Call Ultimate Air Conditioning to learn more about ducted or ductless heat pump installation in Lakewood Ranch.

Is a Heat Pump a Better Choice Than a Furnace?

December 3rd, 2014

With so many choices available to homeowners for heating systems, it can be difficult to decide if one system is better than another. If you are deciding between two types of heating systems, it’s important to understand how each system works and what it can offer you and your home. Additionally, working with a trained professional can help you determine what size system you will need for your home. Today we’re going to look at two very different systems: furnaces and heat pumps. But remember that for all your heating needs, the trained and certified technicians of Ultimate Air Conditioning are here to help you. If you are ready to install a heat pump or furnace in in your Lakewood Ranch home, call us today!

Heat Pumps

Heat pumps work by transferring heat from one location to another. Heat pumps use refrigerant to help facilitate this transfer. During the summer, heat pumps absorb the heat in your home and transfer it to the outside. In winter, the heat pump absorbs the available heat in the air, concentrates it, then distributes the heat to your living spaces. Heat pumps do not generate heat as combustion systems do, so there is no need to use fossil fuels, and they use very little electricity. Heat pumps can distribute air through ductwork, flexible tube ductwork or ductless blowers.

Furnaces

There are main two choices when it comes to installing furnaces: electric or natural gas (propane and oil can also be used). Furnaces generate heat via combustion or, in an electric furnace, by tightly-wound coils that are electrified. A large blower pushes the generated heat into your home through ductwork. Both electric and gas furnaces heat quickly, and both types of furnaces have access to a continual source of energy, eliminating the need for fuel deliveries. These systems need ductwork, so if you have existing ductwork, a furnace may be a better choice.

Which Is a Better Choice?

Deciding which system will be best for you depends largely on your needs. Heat pumps are 2-in-1 devices, offering both heating and cooling; however, this means the system will run all year, and as such, may need more repair. Furnaces will heat your home quickly and efficiently, but if you want air conditioning, you’ll need to add a separate air conditioning unit. This is why reviewing your needs and seeing which system best matches them is a critical part of choosing a new heating system.

If you are having a hard time deciding on a new heating system, contact Ultimate Air Conditioning today and schedule an appointment with one of our experts.

10 Facts You Should Know about Thanksgiving

November 27th, 2014

Thanksgiving has been celebrated as an official holiday in the United States for over 150 years, so you may think you understand all there is to know about this family feast. Most of us have heard the story of the pilgrims’ first Thanksgiving in 1621 after arriving in North America on the Mayflower. But did you know that only about half of the people on this ship were actually pilgrims? This fact is one of ten things that may actually surprise you about the Thanksgiving tradition!

  1. Although we often consider Thanksgiving a holiday unique to the United States, many other countries and cultures celebrate their own set of harvest-time and thanksgiving traditions. In Korea, Chu-Sok (or “fall evening”) is put on in remembrance of forefathers on August 15th of every year. Brazil celebrates a contemporary version of the U.S. holiday. Chinese, Roman, and Jewish cultures all have a history of harvest celebrations as well.
  2. President Harry S. Truman began the tradition of a ceremony held before Thanksgiving during which the president receives a turkey. George H.W. Bush was the first to pardon the turkey instead of eating it.
  3. In Minnesota alone, farmers raise over 40 million turkeys a year. In fact, U.S. farmers produce about one turkey for every one person in the country.
  4. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, the average American will gain about one to two pounds every year during the holiday season.
  5. On the other hand, turkey is naturally high in protein and has been known to support and boost immune systems to protect against illness and speed up healing. So feast on!
  6. Abraham Lincoln issued a “Thanksgiving Proclamation” in 1863, but a woman named Sarah Josepha Hale can be credited with the idea. While Thanksgiving had been celebrated at different times of year in many areas of the U.S. for years, it was Hale, prominent magazine editor and author of the rhyme “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” who urged Lincoln to finally establish the national event.
  7. President Franklin D Roosevelt once tried to change the date of Thanksgiving to the second-to-last Thursday of the month in order to extend the holiday shopping season and boost the economy.
  8. Only about half of the people on the Mayflower were what we would consider today as “Pilgrims.” The other (approximately) 50 people were simply trying to find a way over to the New World.
  9. Gobble, gobble! Click, click? While male turkeys make a gobbling noise, females (hens) do not; it’s often described as a clicking.
  10. Even though we celebrate Thanksgiving on the last Thursday of November, the month of June has been declared National Turkey Lovers’ Month by the National Turkey Federation so you can continue the celebration in the summer as well!

From our family here at Ultimate Air Conditioning and Heating, we’d like to wish you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Reasons Ice Might Start to Develop on Your Air Conditioning System

November 19th, 2014

Sure, you want your air conditioner to be cool. That’s its job, after all: to keep you and your house cool. Even so, having your air conditioning system literally freeze up isn’t really a good thing at all. It seems like a pretty crazy thing to happen, especially during hot weather. It’s actually quite common, though, and stems from a few possible issues. Let’s examine what causes this phenomenon.

How Air Conditioners Actually Work

Many people think that air conditioners blow cold air into their homes. This is actually only half-true. What an air conditioner actually does starts with what’s called an “evaporator coil.” When the air conditioning system is turned on, refrigerant runs through the evaporator coil and is evaporated into a gaseous state. This process acts as a heat sink, pulling thermal energy from the air around it and into the refrigerant. The refrigerant then takes that heat outside and releases it into the air, while the now-cold air is circulated back into the house. So, the air conditioner is actually sucking heat out of your house, rather than blowing cold air in. Another side effect of this process is condensation, which collects on the evaporator coil. This is where things can become problematic.

Restricted Air Flow

If the air flow to the evaporator coil is restricted, it will lose access to the supply of warm air that it needs to work properly. Fan problems can cause this kind of air flow restriction, as well as debris in the evaporator itself. This will cause the surrounding temperature to keep dropping as the evaporator coil keeps working. It can actually get below freezing if it’s on long enough. When that happens, the condensation on the coil freezes and you end up with an ice block for an air conditioner.

Low Refrigerant Level

A leak in your refrigerant line will cause there to be much less refrigerant in the evaporator coil than there needs to be. This will cause the temperature of the coil to be much lower, again causing the condensation on it to freeze and form ice.

If your air conditioning system has ice building up on it, call Ultimate Air Conditioning to schedule a service appointment with us. We offer quality air conditioning repair in the Sarasota, FL area.