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Should You Install A UV Germicidal Light Inside Your Air Conditioner?...

You’ve probably heard of the saying “sunlight is the best disinfectant” before. That’s because sunlight really is a good disinfectant—or at least the invisible ultraviolet energy that’s given off by the sun. That explains why moss never grows in sunny areas and why you need sunscreen whenever you want to spend the entire day out in the sun. UV germicidal lights are intended to prevent algae, mold, and other biological contaminants from growing inside of your air conditioning system. The following explains how these devices work, the benefits they can offer to your air conditioner, and the caveats you should be aware of prior to purchase and installation. Understanding the Power of UV Radiation To understand how UV germicidal lights work, it’s important to understand how UV radiation works in general. There are three types of UV radiation: UV-A, UV-B,and UV-C. UV-B is the most dangerous of the lot, since it can cause sunburn and even increase your chances of developing skin cancer with prolonged exposure. UV-A is a bit more benign, but it can still cause premature skin aging with prolonged exposure. UV-C is the most interesting of the three since it features the germicidal qualities needed to deal with mold, mildew, and algae. UV-C radiation is capable of damaging cells on a truly microscopic level by breaking up the cell DNA’s molecular bonds. These bonds are replaced with thymine dimers that repair the DNA, but can sometimes leave it too damaged to function properly, resulting in cell death and eventual death of the organism in question. How UV Germicidal Lights Work While UV-A and UV-B rays are in plentiful supply, the vast majority of UV-C rays emitted by the sun end up being absorbed by the Earth’s atmosphere before they can reach the ground. Fortunately, the effects of UV-C radiation can easily be replicated with the help of a specially-designed fluorescent light bulb. These bulbs contain a small amount of mercury at low to medium pressures. When excited by electrical current, it produces light at the wavelengths needed to create UV-C radiation.   UV germicidal light bulbs shouldn’t be mistaken for blacklight bulbs. The latter contains a special phosphorescent coating that produces UV-A radiation, plus certain materials and creatures that have a natural bioluminescence will also glow when exposed to a UV-A lamp. UV-C light bulbs don’t contain that phosphorescent coating, allowing them to generate the UV-C radiation that makes them more appropriate for use as a passive form of disinfectant. UV germicidal lights are commonly installed in very close proximity to an air conditioner’s evaporator coil....

3 Simple Signs Your AC System Needs Repair

From keeping you and your family comfortable during the various seasons to maintaining a healthy and safe amount of moisture in the home, it is easy to see the importance of your heating and cooling system. While it is used a great deal, you may not be giving your heating and air enough attention. Without ongoing maintenance, the system may struggle or stop conditioning the air inside your home. If you are noticing the following signs, your air conditioning is most likely in need of repair. High Energy Costs Half of your home’s total energy usage stems from heating and cooling.  Your energy costs may be higher in the summer and winter, due to extreme temperatures and need to run the air conditioning and heat more frequently, but abnormally high bills may stem from an underlying issue. Compare your energy usage to the energy usage at the same time the year before. If your bill is higher or you know you are needing to run your system longer and harder to condition the air, consult a technician. Damaged ductwork may be causing conditioned air to escape, increasing the amount of energy needed to move air into the home. Even the smallest holes in the ductwork can account of an enormous amount of wasted air, so it is important to repair this damage immediately to condition your home in an effective, efficient manner. High Humidity Levels Your home’s air conditioning cools your home, but it also removes moisture during the cooling process. If your home’s unit is not sized correctly, it will run long enough to remove the heat and cool the house, but not long enough to remove moisture from the home. Known as short-cycling, this problem can increase humidity levels in your home. High amounts of humidity are unpleasant, but the moisture can also damage your home. You may notice peeling paint, warped wood, and even condensation on your windows and doors. High humidity can also lead to the growth of mold. Mold is unappealing, but it is also dangerous. In severe cases, mold can interfere with your breathing. The physical signs of humidity are easy to see in the home, but you can also use a hygrometer to measure the moisture in the air. Place the tool in front of a few vents inside the home and take measurements. Also, measure the air in various rooms of the house to determine if you have humidity issues. Oversized units will need to be replaced or you can install a central dehumidifier in the home to remove the humidity....

Thinking About Adding To Your Central A/C Yourself? Think Again...

If your central air conditioning system isn’t cooling like it should, you’re probably wondering if it’s low on refrigerant. You might even be tempted to add extra refrigerant yourself — after all, how hard can it be? A lot tougher than you think, as it turns out. There are plenty of good reasons why a DIY refrigerant charge could lead to more problems than it would possibly solve. The following explains why it’s a bad idea for homeowners to attempt to add refrigerant on their own and why this task should be left to the professionals. How Refrigerant Works Refrigerant, also commonly known under the trademarked name “Freon,” is a chemical compound that is capable of changing from liquid to vapor to gas at various pressures. The refrigerant cycles through a self-contained system consisting of a compressor, evaporator and condenser coils and expansion valve. During the refrigeration cycle, the refrigerant is used as a medium for absorbing and transporting latent heat away from indoor spaces and releasing it outdoors. You Should Never Run Out of Refrigerant Many homeowners mistakenly believe that their central A/C system’s refrigerant will run out sooner or later. Unlike other fluids, your refrigerant won’t evaporate or dissipate as long as it’s kept in its self-contained system. As a result, you won’t ever need to “top off” your refrigerant. In fact, one of the only reasons your central A/C system will ever run low on refrigerant is because of a leak somewhere within the system. It’s not uncommon for a pinhole to form somewhere along the refrigerant lines or within the evaporator or condenser coils. Failing gaskets and seals within the compressor or a leaky expansion valve can also cause refrigerant to escape. The other possible reason is that your HVAC technician failed to add the proper amount of refrigerant to your central A/C system in the first place. The amount of refrigerant a typical central A/C unit needs depends on a variety of variables, including system size, SEER rating and evaporator coil size. In most cases, the manufacturer will have the correct amounts listed in the service manual or on the unit itself. Without the right amount of refrigerant, your A/C system won’t be able to cool your home properly. Low refrigerant levels may also cause long-term damage to the compressor and other parts of your A/C system. You’ll Need Specialized Tools In addition to knowing how to handle your central A/C system, you also need plenty of specialized tools to actually add and recover refrigerant. For starters, you’ll need high-pressure and low-pressure HVAC manifold gauges...

4 Fascinating And Fantastic Facts About Your Furnace...

You may not place much emphasis on your home’s heating and cooling system, but understanding is key to ensuring it is in proper working condition. A well-maintained furnace is not only necessary for your family’s comfort, but also for heating your home in an efficient manner. Unfortunately, you may not be familiar with the working mechanisms of your gas furnace. Using this guide on fascinating and fantastic facts, you will have a better understanding of heating your home with a gas furnace. Furnaces are the Most Common Heating Method Although central furnaces are the most common method for heating homes, you may not understand how the system creates and moves heat into your home. The complete furnace system encompasses a burner, metal heat exchanger, and ductwork. The burner heats air and gas, creating heated air that will flow through the heat exchanger and into the system’s ductwork. Located in the ceilings, walls, attic, and crawlspace of your home, this ductwork is necessary for moving conditioned air to and through your home. Furnaces are Efficient Natural gas furnaces are a more affordable option for heating your home, but determining the exact savings will depend on your system’s AFUE. The Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency, or AFUE, rating will determine how efficient your system is. A mid-efficiency system has an estimated AFUE of around 80 percent. This rating ensures 80 percent of the gas goes towards heating purposes. The higher the AFUE, the more efficient your system. High-efficiency gas furnaces that utilize two heat exchangers are also options for your home. These units remove water from the gas before moving the gas through the second heat exchanger. This increases the efficiency of the system, resulting in a 90 to 98.5 AFUE. Furnace Design Has Come a Long Way Heating your personal space has always been a necessity, but you may be surprised to learn the origins of today’s heating systems. The first furnace heating system dates back to the 1200s at a city hall in Germany. A three furnace system generated heat through heat chambers connected to rooms. Iron covers were installed over the ducts in the rooms, allowing for temperature regulation. While effective, this early furnace system was not able to heat larger spaces efficiently. Fortunately, a more sensible furnace was designed for heating around 1821. Dr. Paul Meissner stated that removing cool air while moving hot air into a space was important for reusing the cooled air for reheating. This method of heating is the basis of efficient heating systems today. Furnaces Have a Long Lifespan Heating is important for...

3 Spring Maintenance Steps To A Healthy Furnace Each Winter...

Once winter starts to fade, the last thing on your mind is probably your furnace. Yet, you should give some thought to getting it ready for spring. Using a little bit of preventive maintenance now means you likely won’t start next winter with a furnace that won’t work on the first chilly day. You don’t want to have to call a furnace repair person then, as the beginning of winter is their most busy season. You may have quite a wait while you shiver in your freezing house before a repair person has a chance to get out to see you. Here are some things you can do when the snow starts to melt to make sure your furnace is in tip-top shape next winter. 1. Check for Signs of Wear and Tear The winter really puts your furnace to work, and it can start to become worn and less efficient as time goes on. When spring arrives, the time is perfect to give your furnace a thorough inspection. Check the ductwork and casings to make sure there are no holes or areas that are blocked. This could make your furnace less efficient, and even dangerous. Have any damage fixed by a professional furnace repair business. While the technician is there, have them also check for things you can’t, such as the integrity of the electrical connections and the lubrication on moving parts, and fix what is needed. You’ll be glad you did this when winter comes again. 2. Change the Filters and Clean Them Your furnace’s filters are probably nice and dirty after a winter full of hard work keeping you and your family warm. When filters are dirty, it means the furnace takes more energy to do its job. This will increase your utility bills, and isn’t good for the environment. It is ideal to replace worn filters and clean dirty ones every month, but this may not always be possible during the winter. That is why you should do this as soon as the snow melts, and once again before the weather turns cold. This way, you can be sure your furnace will be at peak operating performance as soon as you need it to go back on duty. 3. Turn Off the Humidifier Your furnace has a humidifier switch that is connected to a device called a humidistat. The humidistat lets you control the humidity in your home during the cold months, as long as you keep the water panel filled. Winter air can get pretty dry, after all. You don’t need this part of...

Tips For Troubleshooting Your Central Air’s Uneven Cooling...

When the summer heat reaches its peak, you might find that you have one room in your home that’s constantly warmer than all the rest despite your air conditioning system. If this is the case for you, you don’t have to settle for uneven and insufficient cooling. In fact, there could be many reasons why your air conditioning isn’t getting enough cool air to that one part of the house. A little bit of basic troubleshooting can help you narrow down the potential cause of the problem. Here’s a look at some of the things you should check before you call your air conditioning technician. Obstructions Check the vents in the room in question to be sure that they aren’t blocked or obstructed by a rug, curtain or furniture. Your air vents need a clear path to the room for the most effective cooling. Also, make sure the vents are open, because closing the lever on the vent prevents any air passage. Air Circulation If the room in question is always a bit stale and lacking in general air circulation, you’ll want to think about installing a ceiling fan. While the ceiling fan may not physically cool the room, the improved air circulation may help the cooler air conditioning distribute through the room more efficiently. Other Vents One of the things that many homeowners don’t realize is that central air conditioning is designed to be at its best with full air volume throughout the house. This means leaving all of the vents open in each room and the doors open to allow air to circulate throughout the house. Ensure that all of the vents and doorways are open to help the cooler air reach the more obscure places and keep things cool. Air Ducts Your air duct system is another key area where problems can lurk. If the air ducts are dirty or clogged with debris, it can hinder air flow and lead to warm spots in the house. The best way to eliminate this as a possibility is to call an air conditioning contractor to inspect and clean your entire air duct system. While you’re at it, have them inspect the ducts for air leaks. If your air ducts are leaking anywhere in the house, that’s a significant cause for concern because you’re likely losing a lot of the cooling benefit of the air from your air conditioner. If the leak is in the section of duct work right before the warm room, that could be why you’re having trouble. There are many ways to deal with leaky...

Shopping For A Better Air Conditioner? 2 New Features You Should Look For...

The day your air conditioner sputters to a halt, you might dread shopping for a new unit. However, replacing your air conditioner might give you the opportunity to take advantage of cutting edge technologies that didn’t exist when your old unit was built. Here are two new air conditioning features you should look for: 1: Antimicrobial Materials Wouldn’t it be nice if your air conditioning unit could clean itself? Although it might sound like a feature of the future, some modern air conditioners have components made from antimicrobial materials like copper. Copper particles actually punch holes in the cell membranes of bacteria, killing the pathogen. Here are a few places you might find antimicrobial materials, and how they could benefit your new air conditioner: Reduce Smells: As your air conditioner runs, it constantly pulls water out of the air. However, as time goes on, this moisture can accumulate on your air handler, wetting nearby insulation and prompting mold growth. To fend off the bad smells that mold can cause, some air conditioners contain insulation treated with antimicrobial materials. This high-tech insulation can also wick water away from your system, so that rust and corrosion don’t have time to destroy your HVAC equipment.   Fend Off Allergens: Some air conditioners even use air filters made with strands of antimicrobial materials, so that they kill germs on contact. As air is brought in from outside and circulated through your home, it can be purified to fend off allergens.    Prevent Blockages: Bad smells and aggravated allergies aren’t the only issues a little mold growth can cause. If mold develops into large chunks, it can get caught in drainage lines, which can make your evaporator coil drip pan overflow and cause water damage. Fortunately, some systems contain copper drip pans, which help to reduce bacteria and mold levels and keep drainage lines flowing. Because air conditioners fitted with antimicrobial components attack mold and blockages before they cause problem, the actual system is much more efficient. In fact, one copper air conditioner prototype made by a Chinese company has been found to be 56% more efficient than other models with the same capacity.   2: Handheld Remote Controls With modern-day luxuries like direct deposit, you don’t have to run to the bank anymore to deposit a check, so why should you run upstairs to adjust your thermostat? Some air conditioners even come  with easy-to-use remote controls, so that you can adjust your thermostat from anywhere in your home. Here are a few reasons this feature might be especially helpful: Impaired Mobility: If you have...

Fighting With A Clogged Drain? Use These Blockage-Busting Tips To Win The Battle!...

Fixing drain clogs can be a frustrating process. Often, you have to try multiple approaches to see what eventually works. If you’re at a loss for how to fix a stopped-up sink or tub, here are a few tips that might be able to get things flowing smoothly again. A Simple Plunger Works Wonders It’s already common knowledge that a plunger can help you unclog a stopped-up toilet, but did you know it can be used for other drain clogs too? Any time you have a solid clog and you can create a good vacuum seal, a plunger should be able to at least move the clog, if not pull it all the way out. If the stopped-up drain is in a bathroom tub, you’ll need to cover up the overflow hole with a wet rag before you start plunging. This hole leads to the same pipe as the drain does, so as long as it’s allowed to take in air, you won’t be able to get a good seal on the drain. Next, fill the tub part of the way with water, and use the plunger just like you would with a toilet. Keep in mind, because this works best with solid clogs, a plunger may not be able to pull out common hair clogs. In a kitchen sink, the principle is much the same. If your sink has two drains, be sure to plug up the one that isn’t clogged so you can get better suction. Then, just like with a tub, fill it up part of the way with water and give it a good plunging. If the clog is close to the drain, this should pull it out. If not, hopefully the movement will help break it up. You Don’t Have To Buy Chemical Cleaners For very stubborn clogs it can be tempting to use a chemical drain cleaner. However, if these fail to pass through your system quickly enough, their acids can eat away at your pipes. Instead, consider using gentler remedies that won’t harm your pipes if they have to sit for longer periods. If you know the clog isn’t a hair clog, the first solution you try should be plain old boiling water. While this seems like an underwhelming solution, boiling water is actually excellent at dissolving solidified gunk. For kitchen clogs, boiling water is especially good at liquefying pesky grease clogs. When boiling water doesn’t work, your next step is to use the one-two punch of baking soda and vinegar. The weak acids in the vinegar will help to dissolve clogs...