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Air Conditioning and Heating blog by Melo Air Inc. In addition to HVAC industry news, we'll post cooling and heating related information we come across during our daily routines. 

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Nest Or Lyric....Which Is Better For A Tampa Air Conditioning System?

Posted by AC Contractor on July 21, 2014 at 8:50 PM Comments comments (0)

Thermostats have been making headlines lately and for good reason too. Their significance in an HVAC system has been largely neglected until now. Thermostats can save a substantial amount of money particularly in areas with a long cooling season like Tampa, Florida. Much of the buzz revolved around Google's acquisition of Nest but there has also been a number of advancements in the technology used for heating and cooling controls. It seemed like Nest had them all outsmarted but now face a worthy competitor. Lyric is a new thermostat created by Honeywell to rival the Nest thermostat. They look awfully similar so we'll take a look at what sets them apart.

Packaging and Appearance - Appearance would probably be a coin flip but the Honeywell packaging is clearly better. Honeywell also has their original "round" design thermostat on the packaging, possibly to indicate to Nest that they did not copy.

Cost - Currently the Lyric is about $25 more expensive than the Nest but we expect that price to drop. Margins may be further compressed on both products due to fierce competition. 

Intelligence - Nest is said to be a "learning" thermostat. It remembers your usually settings at different times of the day, work schedules, etc. Lyric uses geofencing where an app running on your smart phone would give the thermostat your location. It would know when you are on the way home and whether to cool the home or not. The Lyric also has the ability to sense humidity and adjust temperature settings accordingly. It makes sure that 72 degrees always feels like 72 degrees. The Lyric also has added features which gives cues when maintenance is needed or the system is not performing properly and is in need of a service call.

Although these thermostats can add value to an HVAC system, they are likely not the biggest bang for the buck. These thermostats are high end with sophisticated features. At Melo Air, we believe a Tampa air conditioning system would likely receive the most ROI by installing the Honeywell Pro 6000 thermostat with Wifi ability. If you have more questions about HVAC controls and your central air conditioning system, contact us today.

Things To Consider When Installing A New Air Conditioner

Posted by AC Contractor on July 17, 2014 at 10:05 PM Comments comments (0)

It is summer time in Tampa, Florida and that means that air conditioners are working overtime. The month of July can easily be one of the busiest months as the heat and humidity are approaching their highest points of the year. People aren't just having their air conditioners repaired, they are replacing them in large quantities also. Often times a homeowner will receive conflicting information on the type of system they need so we'll offer a few points of consideration if you are in the market for a new air conditioner.

1. Contractor selection is the single most important factor. All of the other considerations are made much easier when you're working with a dependable company. We advise to never choose on the lowest price alone because quality installations can save hundreds and even thousands of dollars over the life of the equipment.

2. How long do you plan on living in the home? Of course you can save money on energy bills with a more efficient HVAC system but that doesn't mean the investment is worth it if you plan on moving in the next couple of years. You can use our SEER calculator to determine whether or not you can recover the initial investment before you plan to leave. Another drawback with a high end HVAC system is that most air conditioning and heating manufacturers' warranties will not transfer to a new homeowner which causes a significant reduction in the value of the system.

3. Explore various forms of payment. Many contractors offer attractive financing options for new air conditioner installations that would make the monthly expense of a new system almost nothing. Terms on some loans are as long as 12 years and the low monthly payment is almost entirely off-set by the reduction in cooling costs.

4. Brand selection should also have some consideration as well. We recommend to buy well known brands such as Goodman, Trane, Rheem, Lennox, Carrier, etc. It is common for lesser known brands to be sold through some distributors for a limited time. It has also become common for smaller HVAC wholesale distributors to go out of business. There is less confidence with an unknown brand that warranty parts will be readily available (if at all) in the future.

5. Some thought should also be given to the current system's performance. Are there hot or cold rooms? Do some rooms of the home require more cooling or heating than others? It is common for duct systems in Florida to be inadequate. Often times they require larger and/or more returns and larger ducting in other areas. This happens because of a flawed design from the start in attempt to cut costs.

Although this isn't everything that should be considered when replacing your air conditioner but it is a good start. If you're in the Tampa area and are interested in a free estimate on a new AC installation, contact the experts at Melo Air today.

Hiring A Tampa Air Conditioning Company? Use This Checklist First

Posted by AC Contractor on July 14, 2014 at 9:20 PM Comments comments (0)

Hiring an air conditioning company is the Tampa area is not the easiest task in the world. This is especially true if you are not from the area. With literally hundreds and hundreds of companies in the Tampa area to choose from, homeowners are not even quite sure where to begin looking. We've created a list of items that all reputable contractors in the Tampa area have. If you potential AC company is missing some of the following qualifications, you should continue you search for a new contractor.

You potential air conditioning contractor should have a CAC or CMC license that is issued by the Florida Construction Board. You can verify a licensee at http://www.myfloridalicense.com/dbpr/ where you can search by name or number. This assures you that the contractor has passed some technical and business testing and is also completing their continuing education that is required to maintain their license. 

While it is required for licensing, it is still a good idea to check your contractor's insurance to make sure it is still active. Things can go wrong with installations and the damages can be very expensive. Air conditioning contractors are probably most likely to cause damages to ceilings either from water leaks from the secondary drain pan or from simply stepping through the ceiling while navigating across the attic. Problems can also be much worse, check out this Trane air conditioner that caught on fire.

You contractor should have some brand association. It doesn't really matter what brand they are pitching so long as they have one. If your contractor has no preference, something is wrong. They should be advocating a particular brand and when they don't it shows a lack of confidence. Contractors will typically prefer to install one brand over another. They think one is easier to work on or that one performs better. Maybe they think the distributor carries more warranty parts in stock which prevents hassles in the future. If they don't pick a brand, it seems like they don't know the business.

License, insurance and a brand association are the three basic things a potential Tampa air conditioning contractor should have before you hire them. In a future post we'll explore further screening of AC companies to help you separate the wheat from the chaff. All this information is not completely necessary because you do not need to look any further than Melo Air when it comes to air conditioning service in Tampa. We've worked on thousands of HVAC systems since starting in 2006 and have technicians standing by 7 days a week.

How Air Conditioning Manufacturers Increase Efficiency

Posted by AC Contractor on July 7, 2014 at 10:00 PM Comments comments (0)

If you've ever shopped for a new central air conditioning system you've noticed that there is quite a variety even within a single brand. Many manufacturers make HVAC equipment from base 13 SEER models up through 20 SEER plus. These systems often look identical or at least very similar, it may be difficult to tell exactly how they increase efficiency. We'll take a look at some of the things they can do to the indoor and outdoor units to make them more energy efficient.

The easiest ways for HVAC manufacturers to make systems more energy efficient is to increase the coil surface area. More rows of copper coils will help the system cool or heat more effectively. This is not always a practical option because the cabinet sizes will also increase and make the equipment more heavy. It will become difficult to the contractors to install them and they will become more expensive because of the extra raw materials needed to make the larger equipment. Homes have also been constructed in such a way where the original condensing unit or air handler would barely fit in a closet, attic or patio and a larger system simply won't fit. That is why manufacturers can only take equipment size increases so far.

Another way HVAC manufacturers make equipment more energy efficient is by using a more efficient compressor. Compressors have evolved from reciprocating to scroll to two stage scroll to variable speed scroll to inverter compressors. The idea behind the increases in technology is that there is rarely a full load that is required to cool a space. Often times a half or even quarter capacity would suffice. More efficient compressors ensure the system is not running "full throttle" when it doesn't need to.

Condenser fan and evaporator blower motors are other areas of opportunity when it comes to increasing energy efficiency in air conditioning and heating systems. Similar to compressors, these have evolved from single speed to multi speed to variable speed. Variable air flow is the most efficient today as it uses only the RPM's required by the cooling load. They also add to the comfort level in the home because the tend to run longer and remove more humidity from the area.

As we move into the future, we expect more zone controls and advancements in air distribution technologies to increase energy efficiency in HVAC systems. If you have any questions about your air conditioning and heating system's efficiency ratings and how it may impact your electric bills, contact Tampa's AC experts at Melo Air today.

First Week Of July One Of The Busiest For Tampa Air Conditioning Companies

Posted by AC Contractor on July 3, 2014 at 9:05 PM Comments comments (0)

With temperatures exceeding 90 degrees and humidity levels well over 60%, the first week of July has proven to be one of the busiest weeks of the year for Tampa air conditioning companies. In addition to installing a variety of systems this week ranging from base efficiency through two stage high efficiency HVAC systems, we've also run a record number of service calls. When the weather is as hot as it is, air conditioners run almost all day long. They can cycle on and off well over 100 times a day. In addition to added wear and tear, it appears that many homeowners are also planning on having visiting relatives and want to make certain their air conditioner is in reliable condition. In addition to the cook outs and trips to the beach, many folks are participating in the 4th of July activities in the Tampa Bay area. No matter which side of the pond you are on, there is plenty going on.

For Tampa residents, the festivities begin at Channelside at 5 p.m. with food and live bands featuring N Tunes and Soul Circus Cowboys. The fireworks display begins at 9:15. Get more information on the July 4th Channelside fireworks show and other summer fireworks events.

The fun in Clearwater also begins at 5 with the Stars and Squirts Kid's Zone followed up by live music and a fireworks display starting on 9:30 p.m. Get more information on Clearwater's July 4th celebration.

St Petersburg also has no shortage of fun planned for Independence Day which include parades, family picnics, a Rowdie's soccer game and a fireworks display visible from the waterfront. Find out more information on St Petersburg July 4th activities.

Our office will remain open for emergency air conditioning repair calls. Don't let a broken air conditioner ruin your holiday weekend, call the HVAC experts at Melo Air for prompt service.

Condenser Vibrating More Than Normal? Check The Fan Blades

Posted by AC Contractor on June 30, 2014 at 9:25 PM Comments comments (0)

Over the past 10-15 years, air conditioning and heating systems have become much, much more quiet. Homeowners began to demand it because so many condensing units are located next to a bedroom window. The constant rattling of metal was keeping people awake during the hot summer nights. Units that were once quiet have the ability to become noisy, vibrate and rattle and it is generally pretty easy to identify the culprit.

Of all the parts in the condensing unit, there really only is a couple that move a substantial amount and generate noise. One is the compressor. They are likely the noisiest part of an HVAC system. Many today come with thick "jackets" to muffle the noise. Although they are the heartbeat of the central air conditioning system, they aren't going to move too much. They are mounted to the base ban which is in turn fastened to a concrete pad with hurricane strength anchors. That leaves the condenser motor and fan.

If your system is vibrating and rattling more than it had before, it is likely the condenser fan. The fan circulates transfers heat by circulating air across the condenser coil. The fan is attached to a motor which, on most air conditioning and heat pump condensers, is mounted to the top of the condensing unit which is much less reinforced than the base of the system. From wear and tear over time, condenser fans can become warped. This could be caused from debris falling on the blade, worn bearings that cause the blade to rotate out of balance, etc.  The uneven blades will cause the motor to want to jump up and down depending on where the blades are in the rotation. Although there is no immediate threat of failure, the system should still cool properly. Extended usage will be harmful for the system. It forces the system to work harder than it should have to and the "bobbing" could cause the ball bearing to fail in the motor and place a strain on the coil guards and screws holding them together.

If your air conditioner or heating system has become much more noisy as of late and you suspect it is your condenser fan, you can conduct a visual inspection of the blade to determine if it has warped. If you need assistance in replacing the condenser fan or your system is making other strange noises, call the HVAC experts at Melo Air. We have repair technicians standing by 7 days a week.

Low Inventory Levels At Some AC Distributors In Florida

Posted by AC Contractor on June 27, 2014 at 9:00 PM Comments comments (0)

Whether or not it is a sign as to how far we've come in regards to how efficiently businesses will operate or that there are still some tough economic times ahead. Distributors in Tampa along with the rest of the state of Florida are experiencing some low inventory levels. They appear to be meeting the demand but could be caught with nothing to sell if there was a sudden surge in the business. You may be asking yourself why this could be, after all we are in the middle of summer. Distributors in Florida typically reduce their inventory during the winter months when supply is down, but now in the middle of the summer. So what gives?

Strong distribution is a important part of the HVAC business. Because manufacturing facilities require significant capital to build, equipment makers typically only have a couple factories which supply product to an entire nation. Florida is a state with little to no manufacturing base. We are shipping out very little products. Shipping companies will take the work where they can bring a load back with them. Why not, they are more profitable for it. Without any product to ship back, freight charges have nearly doubled in some area. Because of the high costs, HVAC manufacturers and distributors have tried second-rate shipping companies and with poor results. Many of the loads have shown up with substantial damage. As of this point there have not been any costs passed onto the contractors. If this situation continues, we may expect prices increases in the future.

Many are surprised to find out that distribution costs can be just as high for a manufacturer as making the equipment. That is hard to imagine because air conditioners are large in size. In addition to the substantial amount of raw materials of steel, aluminum and copper, there are compressors, motors, control boards and many other electrical parts. It goes to show what could happen to the price of the equipment if the distribution situation is not resolved.

We are not suggesting that you should purchase a new system immediately because higher equipment costs are a possibility. Since we have been in business this has been the only time we have been aware of any such situation and the local distributors seem to be shrugging at the problem as of right now. That doesn't mean if you're interested in a new air conditioning system we wouldn't be anxious to help. At Melo Air we offer free estimates on new central air conditioning and heating systems 7 days a week.

2 Stage Compressor Q & A

Posted by AC Contractor on June 23, 2014 at 9:05 PM Comments comments (0)

Now that summer is finally here, there is a lot more conversations about air conditioners. After all, air conditioning contractors in Tampa replace almost as much equipment over the summer months as they do the other nine combined. Air conditioning is ones of the few investments you can make in your home that yields a return every month. You don't have to sell your home to realize the benefits like you would with granite countertops, a new roof or appliances. We're not talking a couple dollars over the course of a year that energy efficient windows will save you but potentially over a hundred dollars of energy savings every month. The way we get there is through high efficient, two stage heat pumps and air conditioners. Although they are becoming more popular, many people still don't know much about them. The main benefits are comfort and energy savings to answer how that works.

How do 2 stage compressors add to indoor comfort? You may notice on overcast days or any day in the spring or fall, that it is not as comfortable in your home as on really hot days in the summer even if the thermostat setting is the same. This is because the majority of air conditioning systems in Florida are oversized and do not run long enough to remove the humidity from the air. We (AC contractors) have oversized equipment for a number of reasons. The main reason is an old, erroneous “rule of thumb” sizing that was 500 square feet per ton of cooling. This rule of thumb has not been adjusted despite substantial advances in energy codes that have required homes to be built much more tight and energy efficient than before. We have calculated loads that needed as little as one ton per 1,000 square feet. Another reason equipment is oversized is because contractors do not trust the design conditions and believe the actual conditions (outside air temp specifically) is greater than the conditions used. 2 stage condensing units serve as a hedge against oversized equipment because they run at 70% capacity (a 5 ton system will run at 3.5 ton capacity) the majority of the time. This allows the system to run longer to remove humidity when it needs while still having the full capacity when needed.

How do 2 stage compressors save on energy bills? The fact that the system will run at 70% capacity the majority of the time is where the energy savings occurs. This 5 ton Goodman system is rated at 16 SEER. SEER is what the industry has chosen to use when talking about energy efficiency. SEER is a snapshot of how the system will perform under very specific conditions. The rating is no guarantee of the system’s actual performance. Things like duct leakage, thermostat setting, outdoor temperatures, insulation etc will all impact performance. 2 stage systems are rated when operating at full capacity/high stage so the actual performance would be much greater than comparing SEER to a single stage system.

Are 2 stage compressors less reliable than standard HVAC systems? Sometimes a contractor will try to convince a homeowner that installing a more energy efficient system is a bad idea because there are more parts to fail. This is typically an ignorant response made by someone that simply doesn't know how to work on the more advanced technology. We would argue that 2 stage systems are more reliable than standard speed HVAC systems because they are less likely to short cycle. We believe because the system will cycle on and off less, there will be less wear and tear and thus far more reliable.

If you're interested in having a high efficient air conditioner or heat pump installed in the Tampa Bay area, contact Melo Air today. We offer free estimates and all equipment sales come with a minimum 10 year warranty.

Leaving For Summer Vacation? Check Out This AC To-Do List

Posted by AC Contractor on June 19, 2014 at 8:55 PM Comments comments (0)

We're not too far off from the start of summer and that means people will be taking vacations. With all the planning that goes into trips from booking flights and hotels, to making sure everything is packed to budgeting properly and just the stress of travel day, it is easy to overlook your home's air conditioner system. With the right amount of planning, you can not only keep the items in your house safe from adverse conditions but you can also save a few dollars on your cooling costs while you're away. Whether you are doing a little one day getaway to Disney or the beach or if you are taking a 15 day cruise, be sure to check these things on your air conditioner before you head out.

1. Have a routine maintenance completed. Even at the beginning of summer, it is still possible to get a good deal on a tune-up. This will give the technician an opportunity to look over the system for any wear and tear or signs a part will be failing. They will make adjustments, lubricate and recharge the system as needed to ensure it keeps going while you are away. Some failures are made much worse by ignoring the problem. You can't help to ignore the problem when you are out of town. Completing a thorough inspection of the system prior to departure helps to prevent a routine failure from turning into something much larger.

2. Program your thermostat. If you don't have one, it is a worthwhile investment. While you don't want to shut your system off, you don't need to have it cooling as normal either. Shutting your system down will increase the risks of mold and moisture damage happening to the items in your home. Your air conditioner is a dehumidifier and without it running, water hangs around. When you combine that with Tampa's heat and humidity, you have a recipe for disaster. You can set your thermostat a few degrees higher (80-81) and be safe from the threat of moisture as well as save some money.

3. Clear your drain line. Service calls as the result of a clogged drain line are one of the most common reasons we are called. In your air handler, there is a float switch. This safety device shuts down your system if your drain line has clogged which prevents overflow of the drain pan and possible water damage and leaking. Drain lines can be cleaned with a shop vac, hot water as well as other methods.

Taking the time to make sure these things are in order can save you headaches and frustrations and will allow you to enjoy your time off to the fullest. We hope you enjoy your summer in Tampa and rest easy knowing the AC experts at Melo Air will not be taking vacations. If you need air conditioning services, contact us today. We're open 7 days a week.

Important HVAC Documents That Should Never Be Discarded

Posted by AC Contractor on June 16, 2014 at 9:45 PM Comments comments (0)

Like with many other expensive items in your house, it is a good idea to keep records on your HVAC system. Keeping proper records can help to save a substantial amount of time and money in the future. We'll take a look at the most important documents to keep track of. 

Perhaps the most important document to have is the manufacturer's written warranty. It is important to understand the warranty you are receiving from the manufacturer to ensure that it has not been misrepresented by the contractor or salesperson. Wrong information regarding the warranty is not always with malicious intent, often times they simply don't know the answer. Not all contractors use every brand. Many manufacturers will change warranties and are regularly launching new equipment that may also have a different warranty. The air conditioning contractor may also offer warranties that exceed the manufacturers'. It is important to know what is being offered from the manufacturer and what is being offered from the contractor. This will help to determine where the liability is should there be an issue down the road. It is particularly important to keep track of your labor warranty if you have one and fully understand it. Often times there are limitations and hidden costs homeowners are unaware of.

In addition to warranty information, new installation contracts should never be discarded. Not only are they useful as a quick reference for a model and serial number done the road if a repair is needed but will also include other information on everything from maintenance that should be performed to guarantees on your system.  

Any invoices as the result of an air conditioner or heat pump repair should also be kept. With this information you are able to determine if there are repeated problems with a single part of other trends which don't seem quite right. It will also be beneficial evidence to show the manufacturer or distributor should should the homeowner want to declare their system a lemon.

Maintenance records of semi annual tune-ups are also important to maintain. Some manufacturers have begun requiring homeowners to provide that proper maintenance of upkeep has been done on the machine in order to receive warranty parts. We can probably expect manufacturers to continue this trend in the future as it happens in many other industries, namely automotive. 

Maintaining these records is becoming of increasing importance in the HVAC industry. They come in handy with unscrupulous contractors, manufacturing defects and installation flaws. If you have more questions about your air conditioning paperwork, contact the experts at Melo Air today.