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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 Thermostat Hacked! Should You Be Concerned About Your Security?

Posted by AC Contractor on August 18, 2014 at 10:25 PM Comments comments (0)

The air conditioning and heating industry has seen many technological advancements recently. One particular area where great advancements have been made that can save energy and increase comfort is with the control. Thermostats have become very smart. They can be controlled remotely via smart phone. Some know whether you are home or not and your habits and adjusts the temperature accordingly. Some use geomapping where you thermostat knows your location via your smartphone and adjusts to the ideal temperature as you are heading back to the house. Thermostats have become tech products, they have even attracted investments from one of the biggest tech companies in the world. Because these devices are technology they may come with a new set of risks. Earlier this month at a security conference it was demonstrated how Google's Nest thermostat could be easily hacked. Although the thermostat was hacked, the risks associated with owning a Nest thermostat have been overstated. 


There are thousands of Nest thermostat's in use today and have not been one report where a hacking crime was involved. The demonstration required physical access to the device. This would mean that one would actually need to break into your home in order to hack your thermostat. It would probably make little sense to do this since they would already be in your home with access to valuables including jewelry. 


As with any piece of technology there are risks associated with privacy. We do not believe the risks as too great and encourage homeowners to upgrade their HVAC control. It is one of the most effective ways to reduce cooling costs as well as comfort. If you're interested in how the features and benefits of a smart thermostat like Nest can improve your Tampa air conditioning system, call Melo Air today.

Large HVAC Distributor Acknowledges TXV Failures

Posted by AC Contractor on August 14, 2014 at 9:55 PM Comments comments (0)

Earlier this week we mentioned that some air conditioning manufacturers are experiencing TXV failures and Nordyne was attempting to address the situation. Gemaire, an HVAC wholesale distributor, has also announces the increase frequency of thermal expansion valve failure rates. While the announcement does not mention particular brands affected, Gemaire distributes Frigidaire, Rheem and Maytag brands in the Tampa area. Below is an excerpt of the statement made by Gemaire:


 

As you may know our industry is experiencing metering device failure in the refrigerant cycle of split systems and packaged units. Gemaire is very concerned about this issue and want to share the information and knowledge that we currently have available from our manufacturers:


  • A sticky material is developing inside the refrigerant cycle and collecting in the metering device.
  • In the case of the TXV it is causing the metering pin to stick.
  • Split Systems as well as packaged products are impacted.
  • Manufacturers have informed us that they believe the TXV is not the root cause of this problem.
  • Date codes affected by this issue are random and fluid from our manufacturing partners.
  • All manufacturers are working diligently to resolve this issue with a great deal of testing in progress.

  

We are working closely with all of our manufacturing partners to obtain corrective actions for you but unfortunately none is available at this time.

 

Gemaire understands that you and your customers are frustrated with this situation and we want to assure you we are using our utmost influence to provide a solution and have this problem resolved as soon as possible.

 

 We will continue to keep you informed as we get information and updates, and as always we value your business, loyalty, and patience during this period.


Failures such as these can impact many brands because they often use the same suppliers for many of the components within the system. This does not, however, appear to be an industry wide issue as there are a number of manufacturers and distributors that are experiencing little or no TXV failures. Call the air conditioning and heating pros at Melo Air if you have concerns about the TXV on your HVAC system.

Some Manufacturers Are Struggling With Thermal Expansion Valves

Posted by AC Contractor on August 11, 2014 at 9:25 PM Comments comments (0)

Often times in HVAC, there are industry wide quality problems occurring with various parts of a system. While many will experiences issues, it does not mean that all manufacturers are going to. Some recent issues facing the HVAC industry have been copper coils and X-13 motors. The latest product bulletin we came across is from Nordyne which manufacturers air conditioning and heating products under a number of different trade names including Maytag, Frigidaire, Broan, Nu Tone, Westinghouse and others. Below is an excerpt from a product bulletin released by Nordyne this past July.


NORDYNE has received a number of calls from several customers regarding abnormal TXV failures. In addition, we have received bulletins from other manufacturers indicating TXV issues. It appears the issue is spanning multiple valve suppliers. While our warranty claim data does not indicate an issues (claims are actually down year-to-date versus last year), NORDYNE is taking these reports seriously and is taking appropriate actions.


All of the data is not in yet, but there is a possibility that the TXV is not the root cause of the issue; therefore, NORDYNE is working to understand and resolve the issue.


NORDYNE has brought back several valves from the field, and a thorough analysis has begun. Two valves were inspected at NORDYNE - initially, an unknown substance was discovered on the valve metering pins. These valves were sent to Saint Louis Test Labs, and the substance has been identified as coagulated POE oil. The cause of the coagulation has not yet been determined but is the focus of our continuing efforts.


Sample valves have also been sent to our valve supplier for analysis. And, NORDYNE is working with other system component suppliers in an effort to determine the root cause of the issue.


In summary, NORDYNE is very much aware of the issue and is taking appropriate action. We will update distribution through the bulletin process as more information becomes available.


While we feel that the most important decision is the contractor you select and the emphasis should not be on brand, at Melo Air we do not recommend Nordyne products. The major blow came when Equiguard filed Chapter 11 and many homeowners lost warranty coverage on their equipment. We have had difficulty in regaining confidence in the product since.


Because equipment failures can run in strings and across multiple vendors, it is a good idea to get multiple opinions on products and talk to folks who have recently installed equipment. That way you are less likely to purchase a product with a manufacturing defect that has not been corrected.

Trane XB300 And American Standard Silver SI Air Conditioners Recalled

Posted by AC Contractor on August 7, 2014 at 8:45 PM Comments comments (0)

While it seems to be commonplace in the automotive industry to have a massive recall, it has been some time since we have seen an HVAC manufacturer issue one. A little over a month ago, Trane issued a recall on their XB300 model that included some 100,000 plus systems. Below is an excerpt of the correspondence sent from Trane to customers regarding their HVAC systems:



 

June 2014


*** IMPORTANT SAFETY REPAIR NOTICE ***


Dear valued Trane customer,

Based on our records, your home or property currently has a Trane XB300 outdoor cooling unit installed. The ground screw used for production in some of these products may not be as required for equipment grounding which requires two screw threads’ engagement with the cabinet. All units inspected to date have a ground screw installed that engages the cabinet; but some may not meet the two-thread requirement. If the ground screw does not meet the requirement, and an electrical component fails creating an electrical short, the exterior of the product could become energized. If a person touches the unit while it is energized, it could pose a potential shock hazard. As a result, in cooperation with the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), we are recalling these units and reaching out to our customers that purchased these units to schedule an appointment to inspect and repair accordingly.



There will be no cost to you for the repair. To schedule your appointment, there are two options available for your convenience:



1) Contact your Trane installing or servicing dealer to schedule an appointment for the repair

2) Contact our independent service contractor at 888-731-7561 to schedule your repair


Thank you for trusting Trane.


As of this time it appears that there have been no major incidents involving the ground screw and the manufacturer is covering repair costs free of charge. To help determine whether or not your system is affected and any potentials issues you may face, Trane has offered some additional frequently asked questions.



 

1. How do I know if my unit is impacted?

The scope of the impacted product is limited to our XB300 units. They have a distinctive look as illustrated below. For a complete list of model numbers, please visit the following site: www.trane.com/residential/XB300ProductRecall



 

2. What is the issue with the ground screw?

The ground screw used in production may not meet the requirement of two threads’ engagement with the cabinet. If the ground screw does not meet the requirement, and an electrical component fails creating an electrical short, it may be possible that the exterior of the product could become energized. If a person touches the unit while it is energized, it could pose a potential shock hazard.



3. Have there been any injuries associated with this issue?

No.



4. Is this product being recalled?

Yes. We have filed a notice with the Consumer Product Safety Commission due to the potential of injury although none have been reported. The unit can be repaired at your home or property by a qualified technician.



5. What are my options for having the equipment repaired?

a) Contact your installing / servicing Trane dealer

b) Contact us at 888-731-7561 and our independent service contractor will schedule an appointment for your repair



6. Is there any cost to have the repair conducted?

No.


Stay tuned to Tampa's air conditioning and heating experts at Melo Air for more current information regarding your home's central HVAC system.



Top 5 Home Improvement Projects To Reduce Cooling And Heating Costs

Posted by AC Contractor on August 4, 2014 at 10:05 PM Comments comments (0)

Living in Tampa, we deal with some extraordinary heat and high expenses to stay cool. People are often looking for ways to cut their air conditioning costs. Although we would never recommend any of these projects be taken on for the sole reason of energy savings (excluding insulation) because the return on investment takes too long to recover, but it is a nice side benefit if you were to be upgrading any of these features. So below is our list of what we believe are the top 5 home improvement projects that will reduce heating and cooling costs.


5. Installing energy efficient windows. These windows typically block sun via a film or some reflective material. Without the sunlight penetrating through all the windows, the home will remain much more comfortable.


4. New roof installation. This is particularly true on a new construction roof because corners are typically cut during the building stage and the roof does not have adequate venting for hot air to escape. The poorly performing roof ends up trapping heat in the home and increasing air conditioning costs. During roof replacements, our number 3 home improvement project is often offered as an add-on service.


3. Adding insulation. Adding insulation to a home is one of the most efficient ways of reducing heating and cooling costs. Even if you have to hire a pro to complete the task, the original investment is often recovered within the first couple years.


2. Replace the duct system. Duct systems on new construction homes are typically poorly designed and undersized. Improper duct sizing can cause a significant strain on your AC system by causing it to work much harder than it would need to. The results of poorly designed ducts is limited airflow to some rooms of the house which usually ends in the homeowner turning the thermostat down even further to accommodate. New duct systems are not cheap, however, and can cost as much as a complete system replacement.


1. There should be no surprise that replacing your HVAC equipment is the single biggest way to reduce your heating and cooling costs. New central AC installations are not inexpensive and can cost anywhere from $2000-$20000 or more depending on the home and type of system you are looking for. 


If your heating and cooling system is more than 15 years old, you can likely save 25-33% on your electric bills by upgrading to just a minimum efficiency 13 SEER system. Melo Air offers free estimates on new installations. Contact us today, we are available 7 days a week and serve the entire Tampa Bay area.

Unusual Places Air Conditioning Is Installed Around Tampa

Posted by AC Contractor on July 31, 2014 at 9:40 PM Comments comments (0)

The weather in Tampa is hot. It is so hut and humid that even walking short distances can be very uncomfortable. We've gotten so used to the comfort provided by cool air that we are now installing AC's in some unconventional spaces. We'll take a look at a couple air conditioning installation projects in Tampa that you don't see every day.


Everyone knows that first impressions are important and that was the motivation behind this $1.8 air conditioning project at Tampa International Airport. 47 gates are scheduled to receive the new ductless HVAC systems. It appears that a large evaporator runs almost the entire length of the jet bridge. 


Cooling pedestrians was also the motivation for the plan to add elevated, air conditioned moving sidewalks in Tampa connecting the Channel District to Franklin Street.


As we move more into the future, we expect advancements will continue to be made to make people's environments more comfortable around them and we'll see air conditioning and places where we don't today. We're keeping our fingers crossed there is a way to provide air conditioning for the long lines at Busch Gardens. For more information on Tampa air conditioning systems, visit the experts at Melo Air today.

News Involving Tampa Air Conditioning This Week

Posted by AC Contractor on July 28, 2014 at 8:45 PM Comments comments (0)

Articles about Tampa air conditioning don't regularly make headlines but on occasion their mention makes for an interesting local story. We'll take a look at a few articles that made headlines this week involving Tampa air conditioning.


If you have some knowledge about standard air conditioning systems, one could easily begin to wonder how they would install such equipment in high rise buildings such as the ones we have in Tampa. There are so many elements. You need an air distribution system, hot air must be vented outdoors, water needs to drain, refrigeration lines would have to be installed and the list goes on. The first article involves the challenges with designing HVAC systems in tall buildings. Florida has specific challenges with indoor air quality because fresh air must consistently be brought in from outside. Bringing in outside Florida air also means bringing in humidity. The answer to the problem is the use of outside air pre-conditioning systems.


Another headline this week in had to do with an acquisition. Mergers and acquisitions have been happening on both big and small scales and this one involved an air conditioning company. Tampa based Enviro-Serv is in talks to purchase a 20 year old company in SE Florida. Enviro-Serv is a Tampa based property management company that appears to own a pest control company as well. The purchase of an air conditioning company will not only help to reduce their air conditioning maintenance costs of the homes they manage but should also be a profitable enterprise. We have seen very few property managers, real estate investment trusts or other such companies purchase contracting businesses. It will be interesting to see how well they can manage a diverse business portfolio.


The third article we are featuring this week that involves Tampa area air conditioning are the upgrades to the Palladium Theater. The price tag on the renovation is $330,000 that includes a new air conditioning system in Side Door and new bathroom facilities in the main auditorium. Side Door is schedules to reopen August 1 while the rest of the facility will remain closed till the end of the month.


All and all a busy week for air conditioning news in Tampa. This recap is brought to you by the Tampa AC experts at Melo Air.

Enforcement Of The New Minimum Energy Efficiencies Reaches Some Snags

Posted by AC Contractor on July 24, 2014 at 7:15 PM Comments comments (0)

It seems like the DOE, HVAC manufacturers and distributors have substantial obstacles to consider when attempting to enforce the new energy standards which will increase the minimum SEER rating on new installations starting January 1 2015. Last week the DOE announced the formation of the Regional Standards Enforcement Working Group to address the issues surrounding the new minimum federal minimum efficiencies. We'll explore what some of those challenges are going to be.


1. All manufacturers make a base model condensing unit that they call a 13 SEER unit. Although they call it a 13 SEER, depending on the air handler the condenser is paired with, the actual system may be a 13 SEER. For an example, we'll take a look at Goodman products. Their base model heat pump condenser is the GSZ13. Pairing this condenser with a standard ARUF air handler and you will have a 13 SEER system. However, if you use their more energy efficient, AVPTC variable speed air handler you would have a 14 SEER system. The challenge exists because the ARUF air handler may also be paired with a SSZ14 condenser that would make a 14 SEER system. This means that wholesalers would still have equipment in their warehouse that would make a 13 SEER system. Because of the cost advantages of 13 SEER instead of 14, there may be a temptation to sell 13 SEER systems. At this time manufacturers will still be permitted to make base model 13 SEER condensers into the new year so long as they are sold with a matching air handler that gives the system 14 SEER.


2. Currently, contractors will have until June 30, 2016 to install any 13 SEER equipment that has already been manufactured. In order to pass inspection under the current guidelines, HVAC equipment must have a manufacture date prior to December 31, 2014. This would help to stop legitimate installations where a permit has been pulled but would do little to stop unscrupulous contractors or unlicensed contractors who are not pulling a permit.


3. Whether or not dry charged condensing units will be around in 2015 is still up in the air. At least one manufacturer plans on building a 14 SEER dry charged unit. In the state of Florida, the building code is strictly enforced and because of the AHRI certification requirement, dry units technically are not able to be lawfully installed. We see them mostly used in apartment complexes and other areas where it may not be cost effective or easy to replace an entire system or convert it to 410a.


Stay tuned to our blog, the AC experts at Melo Air will keep you up to date on all the developments with the approaching minimum efficiency increase in 2015.

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 (1)

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.


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