Problems that Result from Poor Duct Design

February 25th, 2015

For something so simple, ducts actually have a huge impact on the environment in your house. Those simple hallways, no more than shaped sheet metal, tubing, or cloth, have the power to affect not only your home’s climate, but the very quality of your air as well. Unfortunately, most ducts are installed quite poorly. Let’s explore some of the problems that result from poor duct design and installation.

Massive Energy Loss

The biggest problem with poor duct installation is that it tends to leave large holes in the duct. These are often the result of sections not being connected properly, or misaligned so that there are open areas for air to slip through. While a few leaks here and there may not seem like a big deal, they are actually quite problematic. According to the US Department of Energy, the average home forced air system loses up to 30% of its output to duct leaks. That means that nearly a third of your heater or air conditioner’s energy is being wasted every time you turn it on. You’re still paying for that 30% that goes to waste, resulting in much higher heating bills than you should be paying. All of this unnecessary cost is a direct result of poorly designed and installed ducts.

Decrease in Air Quality

Ducts aren’t just important for moving the air around your house; they help to keep your air clean, as well. The air inside the average home is infested with millions of microscopic pollutants like dust, germs, pollen, and pet dander. Ducts that are properly sealed are harder for these pollutants to infiltrate. Poorly installed ducts, however, serve as both a haven and transportation network for these particles. Moisture can also infiltrate ducts much more easily if they are misaligned, promoting mold growth that can be harmful to your air quality. The best way to ensure that your ducts, and therefore your air, remain as clean as possible is to have them installed correctly the first time.

If you think you may need your ductwork replaced, call Ultimate Air Conditioning. We provide professional ductwork replacement services throughout Siesta Key.

Can I Replace My Air Conditioning System with a Heat Pump?

February 16th, 2015

You absolutely can! Heat pumps have many great qualities that set them apart from other heating systems, one of which is the ability to provide both heating and cooling functions. While most homeowners have to have a separate system for both heating and cooling, those who have heat pumps only need one. This can be a huge advantage, as it saves both space and money that would otherwise be consumed by installing an air conditioner. Let’s take a look at how exactly a heat pump can work as both a heater an air conditioner.

How a Heat Pump Works

A heat pump is actually quite similar to an air conditioner in both construction and operation. There are two primary parts of a heat pump, the inside unit and the outside unit. The inside unit is the one connected to the home’s ductwork, while the outside unit is installed up to 100ft away from the house. The two units are connected by a conduit, which allows them to exchange vital resources like power and refrigerant.

Inside each unit is a coil, which is connected to the refrigerant line. These coils are a couple of the most important parts of the system. When the heat pump is turned on, one of the coils becomes an evaporator while the other becomes a condenser. In cooling mode, the inside coil is the evaporator while the outside coil is the condenser. The inside unit evaporates refrigerant inside its coil, drawing heat from the air inside the home and into the gaseous refrigerant. The refrigerant gas then travels down the refrigerant line to the outside unit, where it is condensed back into a liquid. This releases the heat out into the air. Air conditioners operate the exact same way, not actually blowing cold air into your home so much as taking the warmth out of it.

What makes a heat pump capable of heating as well as cooling is its ability to reverse the flow of refrigerant, taking heat from outside and releasing it in the home. This is what separates it from a simple air conditioner.

If you’d like to know more about the benefits of installing a heat pump, call Ultimate Air Conditioning. We provide air conditioning installation throughout Sarasota.

Some of the Unusual Movies Released for Valentine’s Day

February 14th, 2015

Hollywood has always tried to match movies up to the seasons to draw droves of viewers to the theaters: October is packed with fright-offerings, while the winter holidays skew toward warm and pleasing family films (as well as Oscar hopefuls). Valentine’s Day falls in an odd spot when it comes to the movie release calendar, however, since February tends to be a slower time for the film industry. The studios are as likely to slot strange movies that don’t fit anywhere else in their annual schedules into the Valentine’s Day weekend as they are films with powerful romantic appeal.

So, while the second weekend of February has featured hugely successful romantic comedies like Hitch, The Wedding Singer, and (of course) Valentine’s Day, some truly weird choices have debuted in this weekend as well. And a few have even gone on to tremendous success despite the bizarre match with the holiday. Here are a couple of the odder Valentine’s Day movie releases:

  • Dracula (1931): Yes, this Halloween perennial and the start of Universal Studio’s Classic Monsters actually came out on Valentine’s Day! But perhaps this makes some sense, as the Dracula legend has often received a “doomed lover” approach in the many years since Bela Lugosi made the aristocratic vampire a screen icon.
  • The Silence of the Lambs (1991): Does any film seem less appropriate for Valentine’s Day than this unnerving and sometimes very violent psychological thriller? What’s even more astonishing than the film’s release date is that The Silence of the Lambs eventually nabbed the Oscar for Best Picture, an almost unheard of occurrence for a movie released so early in the year.
  • Daredevil (2003): This Marvel comic adaptation featuring Ben Affleck as a blind superhero does contain a romantic subplot, but the stronger connection to Valentine’s Day may just be that Daredevil wears a bright red costume.
  • A Good Day to Die Hard (2013): The least successful of the Die Hard film franchise, this is an excellent example of a studio dropping a film into a weekend where it doesn’t fit in the hopes that it works as counter-programming. (It didn’t.)
  • Wayne’s World (1992): Now here is an example of counter-programming that clicked with audiences. This comedy based on a Saturday Night Live sketch turned into one of that year’s biggest hits and spawned a sequel.

Whether you celebrate Valentine’s Day with a trip to the movie theater, or you have your own special plans, everyone here at Ultimate Air hopes you and your loved ones have a wonderful weekend.

How to Prevent the Need for Ductwork Repair

February 4th, 2015

The ductwork that forms the ventilation system of your home can occasionally require repair work. Usually these repairs are sealing air gaps along the ducts, a job that professionals can handle using mastic sealant or metallic tapes. (Don’t try to use duct tape and do the work yourself; duct tape is not for ducts.) In cases of more serious damage, technicians may need to replace whole ductwork sections.

There are a few steps you can take to reduce problems that will require duct repair jobs. In case you do need to have ductwork repair in Sarasota, FL, call up the experts at Ultimate Air Conditioning. We handle repairs and replacements for ducts that keep them in the best condition possible so your HVAC system stays efficient and your indoor air quality is not threatened.

Ways You Can Keep Ducts From Suffering Damage

  • Never rely on amateur work of any kind: One of the main reasons for inefficient and damaged ducts is that earlier repair or installation work was done by inexperienced amateurs. Poorly designed ductwork will suffer too much strain and begin to break apart. Never put in replacement duct sections yourself or let someone without years of professional experience handle it.
  • Watch out for mold growth: In the humid climate of Florida, it’s common for molds and mildew to start to grow inside ductwork. Not only is this bad for your indoor air quality, these growths will damage duct material and weaken them. Should you notice evidence of mold development (such as musty smells from the vents), call for indoor air quality specialists to install UV germicidal lights to eliminate mold and keep it from coming back.
  • Take steps to prevent dirty ductwork: You don’t want excess dust and dirt inside your ductwork, since this can lead to duct damage. To help reduce this, make sure that your HVAC system receives routine maintenance from professionals, have the ductwork properly protected whenever you are having home construction, and keep rooms clean so there is little dust to get pulled into the ducts in the first place.

Ultimate Air Conditioning is experienced with providing regular maintenance for HVAC systems, and our knowledge will help you keep a large amount of contamination from entering the ductwork. We also install UV germicidal lights to protect your ventilation system from damaging mold growth. With our assistance and a bit of work on your part, you should be able to avoid most needs for serious ductwork repair in Sarasota, FL. But we’re always available for repair work should you need it.

Is It Too Early for Air Conditioning Maintenance?

January 29th, 2015

Temperature-wise for January, we’re doing pretty nicely in our neck of the woods compared with other parts of the country – so well, in fact, that you may have turned your AC on a few times. You may have also wondered: is it too early to schedule maintenance for my AC? The answer is no, because there’s really never a bad time to schedule maintenance for your whole-home air conditioning in Siesta Key, FL.

Get Ahead of the Hot Temperatures

We can experience our first 90 degree days as early as March here, so scheduling maintenance now is actually a good idea. Why? Any time you can schedule maintenance before the heavy usage of your air conditioner is good for you and your system. But this is just one reason you want to schedule maintenance for your air conditioner; here are some others:

  • Prevent repairs – during a maintenance appointment, your air conditioner is thoroughly inspected, which allows the technician to detect any existing or developing problems. Some things, like corroded wiring, can be repaired during the maintenance appointment; more serious repairs will be reported to you with recommendations on how to remedy them. The inspection helps get you ahead of potential repairs that could develop down the road.
  • Increases energy efficiency – your air conditioner was manufactured to operate at a certain level of energy efficiency. When it has wear and tear from last season, plus dirt and dust accumulation from resting during the winter months, it can have a hard time achieving the energy efficiency it is supposed to. The cleaning, adjusting and lubrication that is part of the maintenance process allows the system and its components to operate optimally, which helps increase its energy efficiency.
  • Extends life of the equipment – maintenance keeps your entire system in good working order. When your system is healthy and in good shape, it doesn’t operate under stressful conditions that can prematurely age it.

Just because it’s still technically winter doesn’t mean that you can’t schedule your air conditioning in Siesta Key, FL for maintenance. If you are ready for maintenance, call the experts at Ultimate Air Conditioning today!

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!