J & W Heating and Air Blog

How to Determine Whether Your Air Conditioner Can Be Repaired

March 17th, 2015

You have probably invested a good amount of money for your home central air conditioning unit.  Central air is not a cheap investment, but it is certainly a valuable one if you are living in the Jacksonville, FL area.  Just like any other investment in you home though, it is going to break down over time.  When things start to take a turn for the worse with your air conditioning unit, the initial reaction for homeowners is to have the unit replaced.  This may not be the best approach to take as there are professionals who have the knowledge and the experience to repair home air conditioning units and renovate them to their prior state.

Air conditioner on backyard

Why is repair and renovation such a good option when it comes to your central air conditioning unit?  Sure, money does play a factor, but there are other things to consider too.  These include thinking about the major components of your air conditioning unit, many of them which could still be working perfectly fine.  There is also the quicker turnaround time with the repair versus having an entire replacement job scheduled to be done.  Let’s take a closer look at the possibilities of a repair for your home central air conditioner.

The Major Components of a Central Air Conditioner  

When you are thinking about a repair of your home central air conditioner you need to first understand the major components that make up it.  A central air conditioner has two key components to it.  The first is the condenser and the second is the evaporator.  The condenser unit is what you will usually see on the outside of a house that is sitting on a piece of concrete or in a driveway.  The evaporator gets placed on top of a furnace where the main duct is going to begin to go out.  When a home air conditioner is installed it is typically set up to go through the forced hot air distribution system of a home.

Once things begin to go wrong with a home central air conditioner, it could be for a variety of reasons.  There could be issues with the condenser unit itself or the condenser coil.  The fan may not be operating appropriately, or the evaporator coil and/or drain lines.  These are all components that need to be paid attention to as it pertains to a central air conditioning unit.

Saving Money on a Repair Versus a Replacement

With all of these different key components to a home central air conditioning unit, chances are that not everything is broken once something starts to go wrong.  If you can get a professional on-site in a timely fashion they are going to be able to do a full assessment of the unit.  This is going to help them diagnose the root cause problem and figure out a plan to get things working normally again.

There are a lot of main components to a home central air conditioning unit.  When you can just have the one part that is broken replaced or repaired, it is going to be far less costly than having the entire unit replaced from top to bottom.  Think of it like a car.  When your brakes go bad, you do not get rid of the car for a new one, you get them fixed.  The same idea is present here with a central air conditioning unit.  Seeking out a repair makes more sense financially to help you get the most longevity and value out of your unit.

Avoiding Costly Repairs With Routine Cleaning and Maintenance

What can you do as a homeowner to help you avoid these issues with your central air conditioner?  Regular cleaning and maintenance are two things that are going to go a long way to helping you avoid any breakdowns or repair jobs.  Having a professional on-site every six-months or so to take a peek at your unit and clean it and such is a great approach to take.  This is going to help you ensure that it is working in an efficient manner and it is going to be ready when you need it most in the hot summer months.

Professionals in the central air conditioning arena are quite talented and experienced in repairing units.  If you are running into issues with your central air conditioner, getting a professional to your home to see if a repair is feasible can save you money and get your unit back up and running in no time at all.

How to Choose the Perfect Air Conditioner for Your Jacksonville, FL Home

March 9th, 2015

No one likes to sit in their house in the dead heat of summer without any relief.  Thankfully, air conditioning is there as a real option to help us get some comfort back into our homes.  The end result of this is regulated temperature that can help us not only relax, but also rest our bodies after being outside in the heat all day long.  Air conditioning units are a great investment as a homeowner in the Jacksonville, FL area due to all of the heat that you have to deal with.  This is especially the case in the months of May through August, when it is arguably the hottest.  The thing is, you have to be sure you choose the perfect air conditioner.

So how is it that you can choose the right air conditioner for your Jacksonville, FL home?  There are a few things to take note of including the size of the unit that you purchase, the type of unit that you purchase, and so on.  It is all about striking a balance between meeting your budget and getting your home a central air conditioning unit that is really going to make a difference overall.  Let’s take a closer look at how you can chose the perfect air conditioner for your Jacksonville, FL home.

Avoid the Window Units

The first rule of thumb if you were to ask any experienced homeowner is that you usually want to avoid the costly window units.  Window air conditioners may seem like an easy quick fix solution, but the reality is that these units are costly not only out of the gate, but also to run.  There is also the added work that goes along with taking out the units and putting them in the windows during those hot summer months.  You run the risk of damaging your windows and the way in which the units cool, they struggle with comfortably regulating the temperature in your home in an evenly dispersed fashion. Some rooms may feel cool while others may feel steaming hot.

Focus on Energy Efficiency

When shopping for a sound central air conditioning unit you want to start by looking at the efficiency.  The best central air conditioners are going to be extremely energy efficient.  This means that they are going to be able to operate on very little electricity.  This is going to help drive down utility bills on a monthly basis.  They’ll also be dependable and very easy to maintain.

The other things to look out for from a feature standpoint with a central air conditioning unit include the noise level that it has as an output.  How noisy is this unit going to be?  Also, what is it rated for in terms of a lifespan?  Does it have a warranty that comes with it?  The goal here is to invest in a central air unit that is going to last you a very long time.

Making Sure It Is the Right Size

Outside of features, you need to be sure that the central air conditioning unit you choose for your Jacksonville, FL home is the right size.  A unit that is too small may not be able to keep your home cool enough.  This could result in you having to make it work overtime and actually drive up energy costs to keep the temperature as low as you can.  If you have one that is too big what will happen is that it is going to cycle too often, turning on and off more frequently than it should have to.

Getting a professional central air conditioning individual on site in your Jacksonville, FL home can help you assess what the right sized unit is going to be for you and your family.  This is all about finding a balance where the unit is going to be ale to keep your home cool, while not having to work overtime.

When you are in the market for a central air conditioning unit you want to consider a few different factors.  The first thing, as long as your budget permits, is to try and avoid window units.  Central air conditioning is a great investment that can make your home comfortable and also drive up the value of it.  Once you have your mind set on central air, it comes down to choosing one that is energy efficient and reliable, but also is the perfect size to keep your home at the temperature you desire.

Cost Benefits Associated With a Central Air Conditioning System

March 2nd, 2015

It is often difficult to try and determine whether or not the costs associated with a home improvement such as central air conditioning is worthy of the benefits that it brings.  We perform a cost and benefit analysis in virtually everything we do on a daily basis.  It is cold outside and we are thinking about walking to go and get a coffee.  Is the walk in the cold worthy of the coffee that we will get in the end?  This is a simplistic example, but that sort of drives home what we do mentally when we try and justify home improvements and other similar purchase.s

When it comes down to central air conditioning, we want to be sure that we are going the extra mile to see if it is worth the money that the improvement is going to require.  Central air conditioning is one of the bigger home improvements that you can make.  When you live in a warm climate such as the Jacksonville, FL area, though, the comfort that the air conditioning can provide could be invaluable.  We all want our homes to be comfortable safe havens.  They should be a place where we can relax and escape the harsh climate that is outside, especially in Florida in the months of July and August.  Let’s take a look at the costs and benefits associated with central air conditioning.

Heating and cooling unit

The Money Wasted on Room Air Conditioners  

Homeowners often do not realize just how much money they taste on room air conditioners annually.  These room air conditioners can do a decent job of keeping an individual room or two in your home cool, but they are extremely expensive to run.  The energy costs associated with these units is going to be far above and beyond what you would have to spend with a central air unit.  The added costs are due to the fact that the units are often left having to run endlessly just to try and keep your home at a reasonable level.

The Initial Costs for a Home Central Air Conditioner

The big detractor with a central air conditioning unit is the initial expense of having the central air installed in the first place.  This is especially the case if your home does not already have ducts.  In order to have everything installed it is going to carry a pretty hefty price tag.  Once you can get over this initial cost, though, you are then going to be able to experience the true benefits that a central air conditioning unit can provide.

Comfortable Temperatures Throughout Your Home

Window air conditioners can do very little to adequately regulate the temperature of your home.  One room may be freezing while the other may be steaming hot.  With central air you are going to be able to experience comfortable temperatures throughout.  The evenly dispersed cool air is going to make for an extremely cozy home, one where you are going to be able to freely from one to room to another and have that same temperature.

Saving by Making Your Home More Energy Efficient

Energy efficiency is very important when it comes to your home.  We do all that we can to try and cut down on our heating and our cooling costs monthly.  With window air conditioners though you are going to find that you are wasting a lot to get very little in terms of relief from the heat.  Central air conditioners are going to carry a higher price tag out of the gate than a window air conditioner, but you are going to save money monthly in terms of the cost to operate the central air versus those other units.

When you are thinking about adding a central air conditioning system to your home, the first consideration has to be the cost.  If you can find it in your budget to endure the initial outlay of capital though, the benefits that you are going to experience are going to be worthwhile.  A central air conditioning system is going to provide you home with the ability to regulate its temperature and keep you cool in those hot summer months.  It will do this in a very energy efficient manner so that you are not endlessly wasting resources with window units to try and keep cool.  Central air can cost a bit out of pocket at the start, but in the end you will find that your home is more of the comfortable safe haven with it than without it.

Some Common Furnace Repairs

February 4th, 2015

Furnaces have a number of moving parts, more so than some other systems, so they can be more prone to developing repair issues. However, this doesn’t mean you should endeavor to make repairs on your own. There are some furnace repairs that our J & W Heating and Air experts see more than others, but common or not, our specialists are always here to help you with any heating repair you may have in Jacksonville. Here are some of the more common problem areas of your furnace:

The Blower

The blower, which is the large fan of your furnace, pushes the generated warm air into your home. Several types of problems can develop with the different components of the blower: motor issues, electrical problems, including with the wiring and capacitors, problems with the fan belt and issues with the fan blades. Any of these problems can affect how your blower operates, so it’s important to have them fixed as soon as possible.

The Heat Exchanger

The biggest problem with heat exchangers is that they can crack. During use, heat exchangers are constantly subject to high heat and then to cooling; this means metal is constantly expanding and contracting, which wears the metal down. Eventually the metal can crack. The problem with a cracked heat exchanger is that the toxic byproducts inside it can escape; as such, the heat exchanger will need to be replaced.

Ignition Problems

Combustion heating systems have either a standing pilot light or electronic ignition to light the burner. With either type, dirt in the nozzle can inhibit the ability of the pilot to light; when the pilot can’t light, neither can the system’s burner, which is necessary for generating heat. Other ignition problems include a pilot that won’t stay lit, or malfunctioning of safety switches.

Whether big or small, heating repairs in Jacksonville should always be attended to right away, for both your comfort and your safety. Having problems with your heating? Call J & W Heating and Air today!

How You Can Benefit from Air Duct Cleaning

January 30th, 2015

Have you noticed that when your HVAC system turns on, visible dust begins to blow and you start sneezing? These problems are usually signs that your ductwork has gathered a lot of dust, and that a professional duct cleaning is in order for your Jacksonville home. Your ductwork can gather all sorts of contaminants that can adversely affect both you and your HVAC system, and simply cleaning the registers with a vacuum doesn’t remove them. A professional duct cleaning from a company like J & W Heating and Air not only removes the contaminants, it helps your entire system breathe easier, so call us today.

Types of Contaminants

Your ductwork can be a great hider of many things. As we mentioned above, dust and dirt are two of the main contaminants you’ll find, but there are others, including mold and mildew, debris and even vermin droppings or nests. Every time your HVAC system starts a new cycle, these contaminants blow directly into your home – something no homeowners wants. And if you have allergy sufferers in your home, these contaminants can make your indoors an allergy-laden nightmare.

Benefits of Professional Duct Cleaning

Clearly one of the main benefits of having your ducts professionally cleaned is the removal of contaminants; but there are other just as important benefits worth noting:

  • Better energy efficiency – your HVAC system needs a specific amount of air flow to keep it running optimally; many things can cause air flow restriction, including excessive build-up in your ductwork. When the air flow is restricted, your system has to work harder to compensate for the problem, which can increase energy usage. Cleaning your ductwork allows your air to move freely, which helps reduce energy usage.
  • Less stress on your system – when your HVAC system has to work harder, it doesn’t just use more energy; it’s also under stress. Excess stress can cause malfunction, breakdown and premature aging of your system.
  • Improves comfort levels – a clean ductwork system delivers the correct volume of air to your home, which helps improve comfort levels.

Having clean ductwork is good for both you and your HVAC system. It’s recommended that ductwork is cleaned every 3-5 years, so if it’s been that long or longer since you’ve had a professional duct cleaning in Jacksonville, call J & W Heating and Air today to schedule an appointment.

Reasons to Rely on Professionals for New Insulation

January 21st, 2015

DIY is a popular notion for homeowners, but unless you really know what you are doing, it’s always best to hire an expert for important jobs like insulating your home. Good insulation is necessary for year-round comfort and energy efficiency, and if your insulation is poorly installed, it can result in high energy bills, stress on your heating and cooling systems and even damage to your home.

Hiring trained professionals helps ensure that your insulation will be installed correctly and efficiently the first time around. So, if you are in need of new insulation or added insulation in the Jacksonville area, call J & W Heating and Air today.

Why Hire an Expert?

  • Training – insulation isn’t just a simple stuffing process; today’s experts understand the different types of insulation available to homeowners, which types will work best with homes and how to install it in the correct manner, including making sure there is proper ventilation and moisture barriers.
  • Experience – trained insulation installers do this kind of work every day; this gives them a breadth of knowledge and experience a homeowner most likely won’t have. Experience not only makes the installation move faster, it also helps when challenges are encountered, such as damaged insulation or moisture damage on joists, etc.
  • Understanding of codes and regulations – building work is highly regulated, and if you install insulation yourself, and it isn’t up to code, you may have to re-install it. A trained expert will go into your insulation job knowing these codes, so you are assured that your work will be performed at or above required standards.
  • Can properly dispose of damaged insulation – insulation can become moldy, infested with animals or simply breakdown. The issues with removing insulation is that you can’t just toss it into the garbage – it needs to be removed according to your area’s guidelines. Trained professionals will remove any damaged insulation from your home correctly and safely.

Television shows make home repair look pretty easy, but don’t forget that the people on those shows are experts; that’s why they are so good at what they do. Don’t miss out on expert assistance with your insulation by attempting to install your insulation yourself.

Instead, call J & W Heating and Air and let our experts insulate your home correctly in Jacksonville.

Can I Have Ductless Heating from Furnace Installation?

January 13th, 2015

Ductwork comes standard in a large percentage of homes across the U.S. because it was once necessary for delivering warm or cool air into a living space. But in Florida, not all homes come equipped with ductwork, due in part to new innovations in heating and air conditioning technology that allow homeowners to go ductless and also because our heating and cooling needs aren’t nearly as demanding as they are in other areas of the country. Our climate is generally temperate, and our heating needs are not intense for most of the year. But sometimes, you still crave the all-around comfort of a forced-air heating unit, like a furnace.

Unfortunately, hooking up a furnace to a home or room without any ducts would involve some costly and time-consuming renovations, which many homeowners would rather avoid. However, Jacksonville residents can get the same level of comfort and convenience from ductless heating installation.

Why Furnaces Require Ducts

Furnaces hook up to the natural gas line provided by your utility company. Combustion occurs in order to produce heat, and the combustion gases need somewhere to vent. This system is large and complex, which is part of the reason it’s largely hidden from view. It’s also safer to keep it in a hidden location, to prevent any lingering combustion gases from making their way into the living space. In any case, air from your home is blown past the heat exchanger and must get to all the rooms in your home in some way. And the only effective way to deliver warm air from a central heating system is with a set of ducts.

How Ductless System Works

A ductless heating system uses technology that is entirely different from that used with furnaces. The reason it’s able to deliver heat to various areas of the home without the use of ducts is because it uses refrigerant to move heat around from the outside to the inside. Like a traditional air conditioner, there is an outside part and an inside part. But unlike a traditional air conditioner, the inside air handler can be mounted to the wall in various locations throughout the house. The outside unit uses refrigerant to absorb heat and move it through a refrigerant line that leads to the various air handlers in the house. This system works for AC and heating and won’t struggle even in very chilly weather.

Call the experts at J & W Heating and Air to learn more about ductless mini-splits and to schedule your new heating installation in Jacksonville.

Why We Recommend Energy Audits

January 7th, 2015

A home energy audit, also known as a home energy assessment, is a professional evaluation of how efficiently a home uses energy. During an audit, technicians locate places where a house is losing and gaining heat and unnecessarily wasting power. The process looks over many different parts and components of a home, examining ductwork, windows, ductworks, the heating and cooling system, insulation, and appliances. The auditors use tools such as blower doors and infrared cameras to find the spots where a home is losing energy.

If you have never scheduled an energy audit for your house, we strongly recommend that you do so. Although there are steps you can take to perform an energy audit on your own, only professional auditors can give you a thorough room-to-room examination with blower door tests and thermographic scans. The details that our energy auditors at J & W Heating and Air provide will help you make changes to your house that will reduce energy waste and lower your bills. Call us today to arrange for energy audits in St. Augustine, FL.

How You Will Benefit From an Energy Audit

  • Find and seal insulation leaks: Your home probably has numerous air leaks where lack of insulation or aging insulation allows heat to escape during cold weather and heat to enter during warm weather. Many of these leaks are difficult if not impossible to locate unless you have skilled auditors conduct a blower door test or thermographic scan. After the tests, the auditors will tell you where you need new and replacement insulation to create a better heat seal on your house.
  • Save money on fuel costs: Auditors will analyze your previous year’s fuel bills to determine the home’s base energy consumption. Once they complete the audit, they can find out the best ways you can lower those bills through both your patterns of energy use and and energy upgrades.
  • Increased safety: An audit does more than simply spot the waste of energy. It also pinpoints places where your heating and cooling system may be creating unnecessary dangers and health risks. This is especially important if you have a gas-powered furnace in your home; the auditors will make sure that the system is properly venting. Auditors also inspect fireplaces, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, the electrical system, and dryer vents. If they spot anything potentially hazardous, they will notify you so you can remedy it.

When you call on J & W Heating and Air for an energy audit, we will send experienced specialist to your home for a top-to-bottom inspection and analysis. When they are done, they will present you with detailed findings that will help you improve your home for better and safer energy use. You can also count on us for many of the energy upgrades you may require. For energy audits in St. Augustine, FL that will help you make a difference, trust us to get it done 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 J & W Heating and Air 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 J & W Heating and 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!