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The Rinaldi's Blog

by Scott Hudson, Vice-President

Humidity and the Seasons: How to Manage Levels Year-Round

Improving your home’s air quality and comfort often requires managing humidity levels. In the winter, the air could be too dry and in the summer it’s usually too humid. Air that’s too dry or moist isn’t good for you or your home. Bacteria and viruses thrive in dry conditions and mold needs damp air to proliferate. The optimal indoor humidity levels range between 30 and 50 percent. You can track yours by using a hygrometer. These inexpensive meters are often included in multifunction thermometers or indoor home weather stations, available at big box and online stores. Check the humidity level periodically, and when it’s too high or low, use these recommendations to bring it up or lower it. During the Heating Season Avoid using the kitchen and bathroom fans when it’s possible. Cooking and bathing add considerable humidity to the air, which will raise the indoor level. Bring potted patio plants indoors. Not only does it keep them warmer, their moist soil will supply a constant level of moisture for the air. Simmer a pan of water on the stove. Consider adding a humidifier to your HVAC system. Central humidifiers attach to the air handler and tap into the plumbing system for filling and draining. They require little maintenance and turn on and off automatically by use of a humidistat, which is just like a thermostat. Unlike portable humidifiers, a central system will supply humidity evenly to your whole house. During the Cooling Season Turn on the bathroom and kitchen fans while bathing and cooking. Use the air conditioner for managing humidity levels. It condenses water vapor as a... read more

What Goes Into an HVAC System Estimate? And Other Questions

You’ve done your homework online, and you’ve asked neighbors and coworkers if they know any good HVAC companies. You make the call. You inquire if the estimate request is free, like their website or your neighbor said, and when can the technician come to your home? Then, you wonder what’s involved with an HVAC estimate anyhow? Here’s what to know about a comprehensive HVAC system estimate and more good questions you should ask. Comprehensive HVAC System Estimate Your HVAC system touches many aspects of your life, including your home comfort experience, your energy budget, and your health concerning indoor air quality. That is a tall responsibility. So, when it comes time for a new or replacement HVAC unit, it’s important to get it right from the very start. Your technician should perform a free home energy evaluation. The cooling/heating load of your home is measured. This dictates the correct size HVAC system your home needs to keep you comfortable. Your air ducts are inspected to determine if they are in good condition or if they need repairs. You should receive an itemized written estimate of efficiency upgrades, ductwork specifications, HVAC system purchase price, and labor costs. Questions to Ask So far, so good, but there are important questions to ask — many of which should be explained in talking with your technician or during the initial phone call. Why should I choose your company? Only work with HVAC companies with a long track record of great service and companies that are licensed, bonded, and insured. How will it help mitigate mold and mildew problems? Your technician should explain the... read more

HVAC History: A Timeline

In the midst of relentless heat and humidity, your HVAC system is performing an incredible engineering feat. It is keeping your home cool. The technology and principles your HVAC system is based on span thousands of years. Read on for a timeline of HVAC history that helps keep your Orlando home comfortable today. Radiant and Central Heating and Cooling During the Greco-Roman era, the first radiant and central heating and cooling systems were developed. Wood-burning furnaces sent heat through tubes and channels (i.e. ducts) under tile flooring to heat multiple rooms. Wealthy citizens of ancient Rome utilized their amazing aqueduct system by circulating water through the walls of their homes to stay cool. Evaporative Cooling Electrically-driven evaporative coolers are widely used today in arid climates, such as the southwestern United States and the Middle East regions of the world. In fact, cooling by evaporation has been used for thousands of years: In ancient Egypt, people hung wet reeds in windows, which cooled outdoor air as it blew through the reeds. Benjamin Franklin discovered that evaporating alcohol could cool an object enough to freeze water. Around the same time, it was discovered that compressing or liquefying ammonia could freeze water. In 1881, air forced through sheets soaked in ice water helped keep ailing U.S. President James Garfield cool. In 1906, a contraption called an atomized sprayer used water-filled ducts that sprayed a mist, which would cool air as the mist evaporated. This device gave birth to the term “air conditioning.” Electric Fans Schuyler Skaats Wheeler of New Orleans invented the electric fan in 1882. A few years later, Philip Diehl... read more

Is Checking for Air Leaks Necessary?

Anyone who wants an energy efficient home needs to check for air leaks. A home with unsealed leaks will have higher energy costs because air is constantly coming in or going out. It doesn’t matter if the outside air is colder or warmer, or if it’s still or windy outdoors. Air Leakage and Heat Heat is a type of energy that’s always on the move to cooler temperatures. Preventing its movement year-round is the primary function of home insulation and a tight exterior shell. Achieving an air/tight exterior isn’t hard to do and it’s not necessarily expensive. The best time of year to undertake the project is between winter and spring, when temperatures are cool enough to work outside and in the attic. How to Find the Leaks The most thorough way to find air leakage is by having a professional energy audit. Licensed auditors or HVAC pros use blower doors and thermographic cameras to find areas where air and heat infiltration occur. As the blower door pulls the air from your home, the auditing team uses the thermograpic devices to find the places where air enters the structure. The auditing team will give you a map of the places where the air leaks are. Finding air leaks can be a do-it-yourself project. You’ll need pencil and paper and incense or candles. After closing all the windows and exterior doors and turning on the kitchen and bathroom fans, light the candles and around the perimeter walls indoors. Focus on windows, electric receptacles and switches, and the baseboards. Recessed lights may have measurable air leakage, as well as exhaust fans... read more

Different Effects of Animal Damage on HVAC

We may not always see them, but animal pests are always with us. Unfortunately, they can get inside your HVAC system and cause damage that may not be noticed until it’s too late. Here are some of types of animal damage that may affect your heating and cooling systems. Damaged wiring Some animals tend to chew on wiring inside an HVAC system. Squirrels, raccoons, mice, and other rodents are among the animals that frequently damage wiring. The damage they cause to wiring can range from chewed-off insulation to completely severing the wire or pulling it out from its connection. In the best case, damaged wiring will only prevent your HVAC system from working properly. In the worst cases, it can cause electrical fires. Damaged components Animals can also damage components inside the HVAC units, both indoor and out. Movement by animals can dislodge, loosen, or even break components. Sensitive electronics could be damaged by being scratched, chewed, or stepped on. Animal urine, feces, and nests could also damage interior parts of the HVAC system. Damaged ductwork The most common form of ductwork damage caused by animals is the breaking of seals between connections. Ductwork sections can sometimes be completely torn loose by animals in the ducts. When this happens, the heated or cooled air from your HVAC system is lost at the broken connection. Energy and money is wasted and your heating or cooling bills shoot up. Odors and health hazards Animals can cause terrible odors in your HVAC system. Urine and feces are a major source of these odors. The smell of dead animals can be carried into... read more

How to Handle a Frozen A/C Unit

Discovering that you have a frozen A/C is frustrating, but there’s no need to panic. Simply shut the A/C off at the thermostat, then switch the fan setting to “on” so air movement can help thaw the coil. As the ice buildup melts, the runoff can easily overflow the condensate pan, so empty it frequently to avoid any water damage. While your frozen A/C unit thaws, you can check into the following possible causes to determine if you need the help of an HVAC pro: Insufficient Airflow Over the Coil When airflow across the coil slows or stops, the evaporator unit can get too cold and frost up until its completely encased in ice. A lack of proper airflow can be due to: Dirty air filter. If you’ve neglected regular filter changes, a clogged air filter may be the culprit. Simply replacing the filter may be the cure, but be sure to let the coil thaw completely before restarting your A/C. Closed/blocked registers. If you’ve closed some registers, or others are blocked by furniture or other household items, airflow through the system can decline. Opening/clearing all the registers may solve the icing problem, so you can turn the A/C back on once it has defrosted. Bad fan motor. If the blower fan is malfunctioning or has failed, airflow across the coil can slow or stop. If you suspect a problem with the fan motor, it’s time to call in an experienced HVAC technician. Dirt Buildup on the Coil The coil needs to be cleaned periodically, because a buildup of dust and debris will impair heat transfer and eventually cause... read more
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