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Does Humidity Affect My Air Conditioner?


High levels of humidity indoors are not only uncomfortable but can damage valuables in your home. Additionally, high moisture levels will impact your air conditioner’s ability to regulate temperatures. In regions where it is hot and humid, your AC will struggle to maintain comfort. This article will explore the different ways humidity affects your AC and some practical solutions for addressing humidity levels.

How Humidity Levels Affects Comfort and AC Efficiency
The primary role of an air conditioner is to draw out hot, stuffy air and replace it with cold and fresh draught. But your HVAC unit has another function, which is to regulate humidity and keep the levels low. When the humidity level rises dramatically, most systems cannot handle the excess moisture in the interior.

Even when the AC is at its optimum performance, considerable amounts of vapor can affect its function. When it’s humid, the air feels hotter and muggier than it is. As a result, there is a temptation to turn up the air conditioning to raise the comfort levels in your home.

The ideal humidity levels are typically between 30% and 60%. Above 60%, and the atmosphere is moist and damp. The concentration of vapor can be high enough that your skin starts to feel clammy. Another critical sign is a musty or pungent smell coming from parts of your home. It is an indication that microbial growth is beginning to spread due to excess moisture.

When humidity is below 30%, it can also have adverse effects on your valuables, health, and comfort. It can cause itching and skin irritation. Additionally, dry air damages valuables made of wood, forcing them to crack and weaken. For optimum comfort, the challenge is to keep humidity levels between 30% and 60%. In such situations, we recommend using a humidifier.

Humidity Levels and AC Sizing Factors
It is a myth that you need a high-capacity air conditioner to keep your home cozy through the summer. Accurate sizing is crucial for optimizing the efficiency of your unit. An oversize system will not only raise your utility bills but will also affect your home’s comfort.

When AC is oversize, it will cycle at a frequency higher than a regular cooling system. It will keep switching on and off to prevent overcooling the room. As such, your equipment does not run enough to remove excess moisture from your home’s interior.

For that reason, it is essential to have an HVAC system that is the correct size of the interior. It will also be challenging for an undersize or aging cooling unit to keep humidity levels in check.

Ventilation System Design and Impact on Humidity
Another factor that can impact humidity levels is the type of air conditioner you use in your home. A single-speed air conditioner will have the same effect as an oversize HVAC unit. It will keep running until it reaches the desired temperature levels and then switches off until temperatures rise again.

A variable-speed motor can run at varying speeds, as the name suggests. With variable speed systems, the temperature regulation is gradual and slower. Your equipment has a better chance of removing humidity in the air than a conventional single-speed AC.

A variable-speed AC unit works best when you pair it with Smart systems. You can change the settings of a programmable thermostat to ensure temperature regulation is accurate. Not only will you be reducing your equipment’s energy consumption, but also manage the levels of moisture in the building.

Poor ventilation design allows negative air pressure to accumulate inside the ductwork. The AC draws too much air into the ducts, creating negative pressure. When the air is very moist outside, it will pull the vapor into the interior, raising humidity levels.

Maintaining Healthy Humidity Levels
When indoor moisture levels are high, your body struggles to remain cool. That is because vapor makes it harder for sweat on your skin to evaporate. It is the evaporation process that absorbs heat from your body. As a result, you have a higher risk of heatstroke due to high humidity levels.

Indoor moisture levels can be higher than in the outdoors. That is often due to air finding its way into your home through crawlspaces or openings on the wall. Activities taking place in your home can also raise the humidity to unhealthy levels. You can optimize home comfort by doing some tasks outdoors or taking practical precautions.

Showering, cooking, and hanging clothes to hang outside are some activities that could raise moisture levels. If you must carry out these tasks indoors, consider using an exhaust fan. Exhaust fans are used in bathrooms and kitchens or rooms where humidity is likely to be a problem.

Another way to control moisture is to encourage circulation around the house. Leave doors between rooms open to allow movement of air across spaces. That way, heat moves to cold surfaces preventing condensation and the accumulation of moisture.

Moisture Problems and Weatherization
Moisture issues tend to vary depending on your location and climate. In Florida, the air is often hot and humid, as opposed to hot and dry, in the southwest regions. The solutions to these humidity problems must consider the climates and their implications.

For example, using a single-speed or oversize air conditioner could worsen the moisture problems in places like Florida. You will be tempted to raise the thermostat settings to keep your home cooler. But you’ll only overwork your AC and increase energy consumption.

The design of your cooling system is, therefore, most crucial in maintaining healthy humidity levels. At Reliable Ducts Heating & Cooling, we offer exceptional air quality services in Jacksonville. Our acclaimed team can carry out ventilation testing and duct cleaning. Our humidity control solutions will keep your Jacksonville home cozy even in extreme weather.

When to Use Dehumidifiers
When it is hot and muggy in Florida, you can reduce moisture levels by using a dehumidifier. A dehumidifier removes moisture from the indoors, preventing microbial growth and musty odors. You can use it when you experience discomfort, but how you utilize it will impact energy savings.

The best time to run the dehumidification system is before humidity accumulates in the house. If moisture accumulates, occupants will feel like the interior is hotter than it is. So you can run it as soon as you notice humidity levels rising.

Ideally, the dehumidifier should run for about 12 hours a day when moisture levels are in the upper range. Home comfort specialists consider that to be the best way to eliminate humidity at optimum energy efficiency.

The high levels of humidity in your home could also be from indoor activities. In such situations, it is advisable to determine the precise moisture levels using a hygrometer. Reliable Ducts Heating & Cooling will be glad to assess your Jacksonville home for humidity and energy efficiency.

We provide indoor air quality solutions such as ventilation testing, duct cleaning, UV light, and humidity control. As a family-owned company, we have a reputation for offering customer-focused services. Our range of services includes AC installation, maintenance, and repairs. Our services come with a 100% guarantee. You can count on Reliable Ducts Heating & Cooling for unbeatable solutions in Jacksonville.

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Why Is My Air Conditioner Making Noises?


Most people love to spend time in a cool air-conditioned house when summer hits. However, when the AC unit starts making some strange noises, it could make your home less comfortable. Ignoring such signs can cause major issues in your cooling system, resulting in expensive future repairs. The sooner you can spot the cause of the noises and fix it, the better. Beware of the following noises from your air conditioner.

1. Banging or Clanging Noises

Any time you hear clanging sounds from the outdoor unit, it means that something is disrupting the fan’s operations. It could also be a sign that the AC unit has some broken components. Due to normal wear and tear, various compressor parts may become loose, creating loud banging sounds. Unfortunately, you might need to get a new compressor.

Other times the blower motor can get out of balance, hitting other components. Such issues can worsen when ignored, so immediately turn off the system and call a professional to check the issue before it damages other parts.

2. High-Pitch Screeching or Screaming Noise

If your AC unit produces loud screaming or screeching noises, it could be having issues with the compressor or fan motor. If the unit kicks on and you immediately hear the noises, the compressor is likely operating at very high pressure. In this case, you need to shut off your system and immediately call a professional. You might need to replace the compressor or the entire appliance. On the other hand, if the noise is present the entire time while running the air conditioner, you could have a loose fan motor. Again, contact an experienced HVAC technician to replace it.

3. Rattling Noises

Rattling sounds indicate a problem with the blower or assembly motor. This happens when a part of the assembly motor or blower becomes loose and begins to toss around inside the outdoor condenser unit. Turn off the power, and then inspect the condenser unit for any loose parts you can fasten. Additionally, your AC unit may produce rattling noises when clogged with twigs or leaves. Clean the area around the outdoor unit.

4. Unusual Hissing or Bubbling Noise

Hissing sounds from the indoor unit are signs of a refrigerant leak. During normal operation, the refrigerant runs in a closed loop. When these capillary tubes corrode or wear off, they create holes where the refrigerant escapes at a high pressure, producing hissing sounds.

Shut off the system immediately and call a professional. Note that a refrigerant leak can reduce the system’s efficiency and cause some health risks to your family.

If the hissing sounds come from above the ceiling or under the floor, it could be due to leaky ductwork. This will not only cause annoying noises but also waste energy. Depending on where the leak is, you can fix it yourself using duct tape, or you may seek professional assistance.

5. Loud Humming Sounds

A neglected fan can cause humming sounds. Your air conditioner requires constant maintenance to clean its components and keep them in working conditions. If one of the blades in the fan motor bends, it can also cause humming sounds. Sometimes it’s due to electrical problems that need immediate attention. Other times the AC unit produces humming noises due to loose wiring.

6. Loud Clicking Sound

A consistent clicking sound signifies a defective thermostat, contractor, or controls. It’s a good idea that you leave electrical issues to professionals. You can sometimes hear loud clicking noises when an object finds its way into the blower fan, so it continuously hits against the fan as it runs.

7. Buzzing Noise From the Outdoor Unit

A buzzing sound from your air conditioner means that you could be having electrical issues. It mainly happens due to loose wiring or issues with the fan motor or circuit breaker. For the circuit breaker, the cause of the problem is usually dirty air filters or debris around the unit. Although it might seem like a simple issue to fix, electrical problems are hazardous and require a professional approach.

Other causes of buzzing noises include a dirty condenser coil, an imbalanced blower, a loose outdoor fan motor, copper lines rubbing against obstacles, and refrigerant leaks.

8. Unusual Whirring Sounds

Whirring sounds in an air conditioner usually appear due to mechanical problems in the indoor or outdoor fans. When the fan blades become loose, they produce some helicopter-like whirring sounds. The noises may also result from broken belts, and you need to call a professional to assist you with this.

Additionally, this can happen when a piece of paper or other debris gets trapped in the blower motor, causing rapid whirling sounds. If you can, remove the obstruction. Be sure to also keep the area around the unit tidy and discourage your kids from playing too close to it.

9. Pulsating Noises From the Outdoor Unit

A little pulsing noise from your air conditioner shouldn’t raise concerns since this happens with the unit’s normal operations. However, if the outdoor unit makes excessive pulsating sounds, such that you can hear them inside the house, you need to have the unit inspected. It’s a sign that there’s a loose part inside the appliance, like the fan motor, which may need replacement.

Other times this happens when the refrigerant line comes into contact with walls as it passes through. Contact a professional to move the refrigerant lines away from the walls and add insulation to stop the pulsing.

10. Whistling Noises

Whining or whistling noises from your AC unit signifies problems with airflow. It can happen if the ductwork is incompatible with your HVAC unit. Also, if the ductwork is too narrow for the air blowing through the appliance, it can cause whining sounds. This can happen when you have cracked ducts or clogged filters too. You can resolve this by cleaning or changing the filter, or you can call a professional to seal the ductwork.

Additionally, if you have an older unit with multiple repairs or replacements, it can produce whistling sounds if the parts fail to fit correctly.

11. Cracking or Popping Noises

If you notice constant cracking noises from your air conditioner, ice could be forming inside your unit. This happens when you set the temperature too low or when the system fails to drain appropriately. You can resolve this by setting your thermostat to a higher temperature. If the sounds persist, have a professional technician assess the issue. Additionally, pull out the drain pan, empty it, and clean it to prevent backup of cold water that can freeze in the air conditioner.

Summing Up

Investigate the cause of noises in your AC unit before calling a technician, as you may be able to resolve some issues with simple adjustments. If the problem persists or involves complex tasks like electrical faults or compressor replacement, contact a professional. Note that regular air conditioning maintenance can help prevent noise occurrence. An HVAC technician can identify problems early on and fix them to eliminate disturbing noises.

If you experience any noises with your AC unit, reach out to Reliable Ducts Heating & Cooling. We offer a range of services, including heating and air conditioning installation, replacement, and maintenance. Our company also deals with duct cleaning, duct repairs, ventilation testing, and humidity control services. We serve Jacksonville, FL, and the surrounding regions. Call us today to schedule an appointment.

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What Are the Most Common Indoor Air Pollutants?


Everyone wants to have a clean home, especially when it comes to indoor air. Pollutants, unfortunately, can cause a wide range of problems. According to the EPA, there are plenty of indoor air pollutants. Many of them fall into four categories: combustion by-products, biological contaminants, VOCs and legacy pollutants. In any case, you never want to breathe in these irritants. If you’re concerned about your home, you need to watch out for these common air pollutants.

Asbestos

Asbestos occurs naturally in the soil, and it is considered a mineral fiber. Since it is heat resistant, it is often used in construction products, such as roofing shingles and insulation. At one time, asbestos was used as a fire retardant. You can even find asbestos in cars. However, it is known to cause significant health problems, including mesothelioma, lung disease and asbestosis. As a result, many countries have banned the distribution of products containing this fiber.

Biological Pollutants

Any contaminant that is produced by a living thing is considered a biological pollutant. These pollutants include viruses, bacteria, pet dander, dust, pollen and mites. You can often find these pollutants in places with excessive moisture, such as an unvented bathroom. Any spots with excessive moisture are a breeding ground for bacteria, mold and mildew.

Formaldehyde

Some household products and building materials contain formaldehyde. If you use glue, cosmetics, paints or pesticides around your home, you might be exposed to formaldehyde. This chemical compound is a combustion by-product, and it is often emitted from fuel-burning appliances. High exposure to formaldehyde can lead to death. However, even a small amount of exposure can cause throat, nose, skin and eye irritation.

Carbon Monoxide

When fossil fuels are burned, carbon monoxide (CO) is released into the air. In your home, you might want to monitor gas heaters and kerosene lamps for any excessive amounts of CO. When carbon monoxide is inhaled in large quantities, it can affect the oxygen in your blood. As a result, reduced oxygen is delivered to your critical organs. Carbon monoxide causes dizziness and unconsciousness. In some severe cases, it can be deadly. CO is commonly found in enclosed places with poor ventilation.

Stoves and Heaters

If you burn wood or charcoal in a building, it can reduce your indoor air quality. Some people use wood-burning stoves for cooking food. However, it can lead to problems in the air. When combined with poor ventilation, the smoke and fumes can create substantial lung and health issues.

Nitrogen Dioxide

Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) is another pollutant that comes from burning fuel. If you have a pre-existing respiratory condition, exposure to this pollutant can cause difficulty breathing, coughing and wheezing. Over time, exposure increases your chances of respiratory infections.

Lead

Lead can find its way into your home from various sources. If you burn leaded fuel, such as gasoline, you might introduce some lead emissions in your home. Lead inhalation can create issues with your cardiovascular, nervous and reproductive systems. Children are also susceptible to lead inhalation problems, and it can cause behavioral and learning difficulties.

Pesticides

If you use pesticides to control rodents, pests or insects, it can increase your exposure to these pollutants. All pesticides are toxic, and you need to limit your time around these chemicals. Pesticides can even be found in disinfectants. In some cases, exposure can result in eye, nose, throat and skin irritations. You might even increase your risk of damage to the central nervous system.

Indoor Particulate Matter

Particulate matter is also known as particle pollution. These pollutants mix with solid particles in the air to cause health issues. Dust, sand, smoke and dirt are large enough to be seen by the human eye. However, some small particles can only be viewed through a microscope. Some particulate matter is the result of a complex chemical reaction from other pollutants. Any prolonged exposure can lead to irregular heartbeats, respiratory issues and asthma. For those with pre-existing health issues, you have a greater risk of experiencing adverse reactions to these particulate particles. If you’re worried about air quality in your home, you might want to schedule an indoor air quality test. With these tests, you can find out if there are dangerous pollution levels in your home.

Radon

Radon is a dangerous radioactive gas. It has no color, smell or taste. Without conducting a test, it can be tough to detect this gas in your home. When radon becomes trapped inside a building, it causes significant health issues. Long-term radon exposure increases your chances of developing lung cancer. If you’re concerned about the radon levels in your home, you need to have a professional test your air. Any high levels can be corrected by increasing the airflow in your home or improving your ventilation.

Secondhand Smoke

Cigarettes and cigars are the biggest causes of secondhand smoke. This type of pollutant might also be known as environmental tobacco smoke (ETS). When tobacco products are burned, they release pollutants into the air. Secondhand smoke is a carcinogen. There are over 7,000 toxic chemicals released into the air when the products are burned. These pollutants are incredibly hazardous to your health. Exposure to these chemicals leads to stroke, lung cancer, heart disease, asthma attacks and respiratory issues.

Volatile Organic Compounds

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are gases that are emitted from liquids and solids. You can find plenty of products in your home with these compounds. Aerosol sprays, paints, wood preserves, cleaners, air fresheners and pesticides all contain these harmful compounds. When you’re exposed to VOCs, you can suffer from several issues. Some of the significant health effects include headaches, throat irritation and damage to your major organs. If the exposure levels are high, there is the potential for death.

Wood Smoke

If you have a wood-burning fireplace, you are putting yourself at risk for smoke inhalation. When wood is burned, the smoke contains fine microscopic particles and gases. Particulate matter is the main irritant found in the smoke. Despite all the risks, many people still use wood in their fireplaces. For those homes without the proper ventilation, you might release harmful smoke into your indoor spaces. You can do a few things to reduce your risk of smoke exposure. Make sure that all your air ducts are inspected to maintain healthy airflow.

Keep Yourself Safe

With all these common pollutants in your home, you will want to keep your home safe. You can purchase air filters to remove any fine particle pollutants. If you’re concerned about other types of irritants, you might want to invest in an air purifier. However, your first step should be scheduling an indoor test of your air. With a test, you will know the exact levels of any pollutants in your home. You can find ways to remove them for cleaner and healthier air.

Let Us Help With Your Ducts

If you’re concerned about the indoor air quality in your home, reach out to the experts at Reliable Ducts Heating and Cooling in Jacksonville, FL. We are a family-owned and -operated business with extensive experience in heating and cooling. Our company carries a wide range of products, including the Trane and Carrier brands. In addition to air quality tests, we can help with heating and cooling repairs, installation and maintenance services. When you need a home quality service in Jacksonville, contact the professional team at Reliable Ducts Heating and Cooling.

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How Often Should You Get HVAC Maintenance?


When the weather is a little too much to bear, most people seek relief from their air conditioning and heating systems. However, as your HVAC unit runs, it can accumulate dirt in areas like the filters or condensing coils, which affects its efficiency. It is therefore essential that you have your unit serviced regularly.

The best time to schedule HVAC maintenance is just before summer or winter. Have the heating system serviced during the fall season and the air conditioner in the spring. HVAC technicians are less likely to be on emergency calls at such periods, and they will be able to service your unit at your convenience.

The technician will fix any form of damage right away to prepare the HVAC system to handle your cooling or heating requirements. Here are the benefits of having a professional perform regular maintenance on your HVAC unit.

1. Improved Comfort

The main reason for installing an HVAC system at home is to maintain comfortable indoor conditions no matter the season. However, malfunctioning HVAC components can hinder your unit from meeting the desired temperature requirement set on the thermostat.

If you ignore regular maintenance, after a while, you might begin to note that some rooms appear chilly during the winter or extremely hot in the summer. Regular maintenance helps your unit distribute warm or cool air evenly. Some simple tasks like cleaning your ductwork or air filter allow steady airflow to eliminate chances of hot or cold spots in your house.

2. You Will Save More Money

It is worth noting that a neglected HVAC unit can work around 20 times harder to produce a similar amount of cooling or heating with a well-maintained system. During maintenance, a technician can unclog any blocked part of the unit that could be restricting airflow. This helps lower the level of stress on your unit’s components, reducing chances of wear and tear.

Regular tune-ups also keep your system in peak operating condition, so it expends less energy, thereby lowering your utility bills. Additionally, it is worth noting that most manufacturers will request maintenance proof if you submit a repair claim under warranty. So, investing in regular maintenance keeps you insured, and you can file your claims with ease since you already have evidence of care. Remember that most HVAC components are relatively expensive, so investing in regular maintenance will save you a lot of money should anything go wrong.

3. Fewer System Breakdowns

It is very frustrating to have a faulty HVAC unit in the middle of the summer or winter. With regular maintenance, you minimize the chances of your system breaking down when you least expect. Tune-ups, therefore, make your unit more reliable to avoid inconveniences.

4. It Extends Your Unit’s Lifespan

If your HVAC runs continually, it gradually begins to wear and may eventually shut down. Yet, when you have a clean, well-repaired, and lubricated unit, the parts move freely, and the unrestricted airflow ensures more years of optimum performance. Keep in mind that the better you maintain your HVAC unit, the longer it will last.

Routine maintenance will prolong your HVAC unit’s operating lifespan and extend the time between replacements. A properly maintained air conditioner can last between 12 and 15 years, while a furnace can operate for up to 20 years. When neglected, you will need to replace some components or the entire unit sooner.

5. It Keeps Your Home Safer

The main reason why you should opt for regular HVAC maintenance is to keep your house and its occupants safe. Routine tune-ups can help uncover some safety issues in your unit that could endanger your family members. For instance, a technician can spot a leak on the heat exchanger that can allow carbon monoxide gas to seep into your house. It is a colorless, odorless gas that can quickly kill, and only experienced personnel can detect it.

The technician can also check for any electrical faults that could otherwise cause hazardous fire outbreaks. If you are away from home during a cold season and your heating system stops working, it can freeze or burst your pipes, causing massive water damage.

If your unit malfunctions in the middle of the hot or cold season, extreme conditions can negatively impact your family members’ health. These conditions mainly affect younger children, the elderly, and people with compromised immunity. When you stick to a regular maintenance plan, one of our technicians will inspect the entire unit to identify and fix potential risks before they pose threats to your family. It also helps prevent any likelihood of floods, fires, or dangerous gas leaks.

6. Maintenance Helps Minimize Expensive Repairs

At one point, most HVAC units will require emergency services, especially during months of hard use. If you fail to clean and lubricate your HVAC system’s moving parts, they can cause a system failure. However, if you perform preventive maintenance at least twice a year, it helps you detect any minor issues before they escalate into major problems.

For instance, if you set your thermostat to a specific setting and the HVAC unit fails to respond, it could be that your thermostat needs new batteries or there is a significant problem within the system. When ignored, such an issue can lead to a pipe freezing and costly flooding that you could have avoided by calling in an experienced technician for repairs.

7. Enhanced Air Quality

Most people think that air pollution mainly happens outdoors due to congestion and industrial emissions, but indoor air is not as clean as we would wish to believe. Though you might not be aware, your house may contain dust, pollen, mold, and pet dander. Therefore, it is essential to have your HVAC unit serviced to improve its ability to filter out as many contaminants as possible. An improperly maintained HVAC unit with dirty filters is more likely to recirculate pollutants into your home. As a result, it might aggravate issues like asthma, chronic respiratory problems, and allergies.

8. You Will Have Peace of Mind

If you have a faulty HVAC unit, you will continuously worry about whether it will run through to the next season. However, if you plan for regular maintenance, it puts your mind at ease, knowing that your unit will operate properly. If you need a replacement, one of our technicians can suggest that you do it in advance before the cold or hot weather arrives. Again, throughout the maintenance process, you will get more familiar with your unit, so you can easily spot problems and call in a professional as soon as they arise.

Summing Up

You must have your HVAC system inspected and serviced at least twice a year just before regular use starts. Some people overlook the need to have tune-ups scheduled for their HVAC unit. Although it might seem like an extra expense, it will help you avoid costly repairs later on. If you need HVAC maintenance services, reach out to Reliable Ducts Heating & Cooling.

We offer various services to help homeowners in Jacksonville and the surrounding areas stay comfortable all year. You can depend on us for duct cleaning, repair, humidity control, UV lighting, and ventilation testing services. We also deal with heating systems and air conditioning installation, repair, and maintenance services. Call our friendly representatives today to schedule an appointment and enjoy our high-quality services.

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How Do You Replace an Air Filter in a Heat Pump?


To help save energy while still keeping your Jacksonville home comfortable, a heat pump makes a great option. Whether you’re just considering a heat pump for your home or you’ve just had a heat pump installed, it’s important to understand how to replace the air filter in your heat pump to ensure that you maintain the heat pump’s efficient operation. Fortunately, the designers of the heat pumps that we install at Reliable Ducts Heating and Cooling make it easy to replace your air filter at regular intervals. To learn more about this process, keep reading this guide on air filters for heat pumps.

How Often to Replace an Air Filter on a Heat Pump

The most important part of air filter replacement is frequency. If you don’t replace your filter often enough, you risk choking your heat pump due to a lack of air being sent through the air return. If you replace your filter too often, you’re simply throwing money away and harming the environment.

To find a healthy balance, it’s important to track your air filter’s progress when you first have a new heat pump installed. Check your filter at least once a week and take a picture of it to document how much dust it has collected. You can then compare these pictures to see how quickly your filter collects dust.

At Reliable Ducts Heating and Cooling, we recommend that you don’t go any longer than 90 days without replacing your home’s air filter. Of course, if your filter becomes saturated before that time, you should replace it sooner. If you aren’t home much or don’t need to operate your heat pump very often due to comfortable temperatures, you may be able to stretch an air filter past the 90-day mark.

How to Replace Your Heat Pump’s Air Filter

Before you replace your air filter, we at Reliable Ducts Heating and Cooling recommend that you make sure that your heat pump is turned off. After all, you don’t want unfiltered air pumping through your heat pump and ductwork.

Once that’s done, the first step in replacing your heat pump’s air filter is locating the air filter within your heat pump. Some heat pumps put the air filter in the air handler, while some put the filter in the return duct. Either way, there’s likely to be a small door that helps keep the filter in place. Open the latches on this door and swing it open.

Reach into the filter compartment and slowly slide the filter out. It’s a good idea to have a plastic trash bag waiting nearby so that you can slide the filter directly into the bag. This helps to keep the dust on the filter instead of allowing it to escape into the air. Replace the filter with a filter of the same size, making sure to orient the filter with the arrows on the filter facing in the direction that air flows through your system. Finally, close the filter compartment door, and then turn your system back on to make sure everything works properly.

How to Know When Your Filter Needs to Be Replaced

Beyond the time intervals mentioned above, there are a few things you should be on the lookout for that could indicate your air filter needs to be replaced.

First and foremost, if your system seems to be struggling to provide enough conditioned air to your home, always check the air filter before calling Reliable Ducts Heating and Cooling. If an air filter is saturated with dust, the lack of airflow could cause your system to work harder for longer to maintain your home’s temperature. If you run your system like this for extended periods, you could cause your system to fail.

Additionally, if you notice extra dust on surfaces in your home, it could be an indication that it’s time to replace your air filter. If there’s too much dust on the filter, any dust that comes into the filter chamber could bounce off the dust that’s already there and settle in your living space instead. To avoid excess dusting, it’s important to keep a clean air filter in place at all times.

How to Choose an Air Filter for Your Heat Pump

If you’ve ever gone shopping for air filters at your local big-box store, you’ve likely been overwhelmed by the number of options available. Fortunately, with these tips from Reliable Ducts Heating and Cooling, you’ll find that choosing an air filter isn’t as complicated as it seems. First, make sure that you choose the correct size. A filter that’s too small won’t effectively trap dust as it flows through your system.

Second, you’ll need to choose the MERV rating of your new filter. MERV stands for minimum efficiency reporting value and is a measure of the size of contaminants that a filter can capture. A filter with a higher MERV rating can capture smaller contaminants. Filters with ratings of five and above are typically sufficient to protect your system and keep the air in your home relatively clean. However, if you have family members with severe allergies, a MERV rating of 12 or above is recommended.

You can also choose between disposable or reusable filters. While reusable filters save money over the long run, disposable filters are much easier to change since you don’t have to clean them.

A Note About Air Purifiers

To help keep your home’s air as clean as possible, you may need more than a standard air filter. Instead, a whole-home air purifier from Reliable Ducts Heating and Cooling may be your best option. An air purifier combines the mechanical filtration offered by an air filter with the exceptional filtering capabilities of activated charcoal and UV light.

Combined, these filters remove a vast majority of the contaminants in your home’s air, including odor-causing substances and certain bacteria. If you find that your air filter becomes saturated quickly and you still have a dusty home, an air purifier may be able to provide some relief.

Other Heat Pump Maintenance

Replacing your air filter at the appropriate intervals is one of the best ways to take care of your heat pump to ensure that it lasts as long as expected. However, there is more that goes into heat pump maintenance than simply replacing the air filter.

Every six months or so, your heat pump needs to be checked by a professional technician from Reliable Ducts Heating and Cooling. The technician will check the refrigerant line for leaks, test all of the electrical components, lubricate any moving parts, and perform a complete system check to ensure that your system is operating properly. Even ground-source heat pumps, which tend to last far longer than air-source heat pumps, need this regular attention to maintain optimal efficiency.

Helping Your Heat Pump Last

At Reliable Ducts Heating and Cooling, we want to come alongside our customers to help them extend the life expectancy of their HVAC equipment. That’s why we offer maintenance and repairs for all types of heat pumps, furnaces, and air conditioners. When it does come time to install new equipment, we can take care of that, as well. Plus, we can install indoor air quality equipment so that you can breathe easily whenever you’re in your home. Our loyal customers consistently reward us with five-star reviews to thank us for our superb service. To learn more about maintaining your heat pump, contact us at Reliable Ducts Heating and Cooling today.

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What Are the Best Options for Heating a Finished Basement?


Whether it’s a game room, a home theater, or simply a space for extra bedrooms, a finished basement can quickly become one of the most valuable rooms in your home. Of course, if your basement is comfortable during Jacksonville’s changing seasons, that makes it even better. To maintain exceptional comfort during Jacksonville winters while achieving low utility costs, it’s important to consider all of your options when it comes to heating your basement. At Reliable Ducts Heating & Cooling, we want you to know that there are a variety of options available.

Radiant Heating

If you have hard-surface floors in your basement, one of the most unique options for heating your basement is radiant heating. Radiant heaters consist of a series of tubes that are filled with warm water. These tubes are laid underneath the flooring surface of the concrete subfloor. When you turn the system on, the water circulates around the tubes, resulting in an even temperature for the entire floor.

This heat then rises or radiates up from the floor to heat the entire room. One advantage of a radiant heating system from Reliable Ducts Heating & Cooling is it keeps your basement at a consistent temperature because it’s meant to be left on longer than a typical HVAC system. Plus, a radiant heating system often uses less energy than a traditional HVAC system, allowing you to save money on utility costs.

Baseboard Heating

Baseboard heating is another option for heating your space. This type of heating is produced near your floor. Although older baseboard heaters were notoriously inefficient and sometimes even dangerous, today’s baseboard heaters are designed to provide maximum heat using minimal energy.

Baseboard heaters are convenient because they don’t require any ductwork to operate. In fact, other than an electrical connection, they don’t require any modifications to your home’s existing structure. Plus, thanks to their efficiency, you don’t need a large baseboard heater, even in a large room. Therefore, baseboard heaters are largely unobtrusive so that you can maintain your decor theme without interruption.

The one drawback of baseboard heaters from Reliable Ducts Heating & Cooling is that they take a while to reach the desired temperature. Once they’re hot, though, they can stay hot for a long time, meaning that you can continue heating your basement without any energy input.

Space Heater

If you have a small area in your basement that you need to heat quickly, it’s hard to beat a space heater. Although a space heater is inefficient because it’s powered by electricity, you typically won’t have to run a space heater for very long to get a room nice and toasty.

Therefore, if you have family members living in the basement who want their room to be a little warmer before they fall asleep, a space heater makes a great option. You can also use a space heater as a transitional heating method to determine the optimal comfort levels for various areas in your basement. This determination will allow you to understand the most efficient heating methods to use in each area.

Ductless System

For a system that can provide both heating and cooling capabilities, a ductless mini-split system is worth considering. The small size and easy installation of ductless systems are two characteristics that make them appealing. Another key feature of ductless systems is their simple operation. Rather than using a complicated thermostat, a ductless system can be controlled using a basic remote control.

The significant air-moving capabilities of a ductless system from Reliable Ducts Heating & Cooling make it ideal for large basements. From a single source, you can heat the entire basement, allowing you to save on the costs of installing multiple smaller systems.

Plus, the heat that’s created by a ductless system is typically more economical than a standard furnace because a ductless system uses a heat pump to generate most of its heat. Thus, you can experience all the benefits of point-source heating in your basement while still saving on utility costs versus a comparable system.

Second System

If you’re like many homeowners, your basement wasn’t finished when you moved into your home. Thus, keeping your basement warm probably wasn’t a major concern for you. Now that you’re using your basement, though, the challenge of heating it efficiently has taken center stage. For many people, this is an ideal time to install a second HVAC system to separately heat and cool this additional space within your home.

Adding a second HVAC system ensures that you can achieve optimal comfort in your basement without over-exerting the HVAC system that you use in the rest of your home. Plus, since the second system from Reliable Ducts Heating & Cooling is devoted exclusively to your basement, you can take the time to properly size this system to provide the correct volume of conditioned air to space. What’s more, modern control interfaces allow you to control this second system from anywhere within your house.

Zoning Controls

In many cases, your home’s existing HVAC system may already have enough capacity to properly heat and cool your basement. The problem, then, is finding a way to efficiently deliver the conditioned air to where it’s needed. Fortunately, zoning controls from Reliable Ducts Heating & Cooling provide a solution to this problem.

Zoning controls work similarly to the hot and cold levers on a sink, as they open and close to allow the right mix of hot and cold air into a certain space to achieve the desired temperature. A thermostat in that specific room can tell the central system when changes need to be made and when the system needs to turn off and on.

With zoning controls in place, you will always be assured of the perfect temperature. Plus, since it makes more efficient use of your existing HVAC system, you will likely find that your utility bills decrease over time.

Fireplace

If you can add a chimney to your home, a fireplace makes a great way to keep your basement warm and add a homey touch to your space. While nothing beats the rustic charm of a wood-burning fireplace, a gas fireplace requires much less work and provides instant on and off heat that is like other types of heating solutions.

For a good compromise between a wood-burning and a gas fireplace, wood-pellet stoves provide a great option. These units use a fan to push warm air throughout the room, making them highly efficient while requiring less work than a traditional wood-burning stove. For an ultra-modern look, you can also opt for an electric fireplace that creates instant heat while projecting simulated flames for added ambiance.

Helping Make Your Home More Inviting

At Reliable Ducts Heating & Cooling our goal is to help make your home more comfortable. If you’re having trouble deciding on a heat source for your finished basement, we can help. Other services we provide include duct cleaning and repairs, UV lighting, humidity control, ventilation, and HVAC installation, repair, and maintenance. We’re available 24/7 for when the unexpected happens. Please give us a call today to schedule an appointment.

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How to Monitor Your Indoor Air Quality


According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Americans spend 90% of their time indoors. In addition, the EPA warns that air pollution is often two to five times more concentrated indoors than outdoors. In fact, without some form of air purification, indoor air quality will always be poorer than outdoor air quality in the same region. For these reasons, the EPA, CDC and other prominent organizations have recognized indoor air pollution as a serious health concern.

Mechanical Ventilation

There are two primary types of ventilation in a home: mechanical and natural. Mechanical ventilation refers to your air handler, ductwork, extractor fans, registers and all the other equipment involved. Modern homes are tightly sealed, which is advantageous when it comes to energy efficiency and cost-effectiveness. However, it can also be problematic if the ventilation system is not introducing fresh air at a high enough rate since air pollution will accumulate. It is therefore advised that you schedule ventilation testing and duct cleaning every three years or so.

Natural Ventilation

Natural ventilation occurs through windows, doorways, cracks in your foundation and so forth. On a comfortable spring day, opening up some windows can be a good thing. But too much unintended natural ventilation is a bad thing. It undermines an otherwise well-functioning mechanical ventilation system, and it can introduce pollen, dust and other unwanted contaminants.

Avoidable Pollutants

Many homeowners unintentionally pollute their indoor air. There are, for instance, many household cleaners that contain toxic materials that are quite bad for your health when used in an indoor space. Chemical deodorizers are another example of a commonly used household product that actually degrades the quality of your indoor air. Houseplants can be a source of indoor air pollution as well if they are overwatered, which leads to mold growth in the soil that then emits mold spores into the air. It is therefore important to vet all of the products and substances you introduce into your home.

Dust Control

Controlling dust is the single most important step you can take to ensuring good indoor air quality. The problem with dust is that it traps pollutants and extends their lifespans by reemitting them over time. It is recommended that you perform a deep dust cleaning of your home once a week and that you spot dust problem areas on a daily basis. Deep dusting should be conducted top to bottom, and then you should vacuum your carpets and floors. Ideally, you should use a HEPA vacuum bag, which will help ensure that dust is trapped rather than redistributed. You should also use floor mats at all entrances to avoid introducing dirt into the home. Mats should be cleaned weekly and discarded annually.

Air Quality Monitor

You should also invest in at least one high-quality indoor air quality monitor, which can provide real-time data on indoor air pollution, humidity and other factors. Some of the best thermostats on the market have such technology integrated. If you own a large home, then you may want multiple monitors installed in various zones. You also have the option of a smart monitor that can use your Wi-Fi network or communicate through an ad-hoc mesh and be expanded throughout the home with sensors.

Humidity Control

It is also important to ensure that humidity inside the home is not too high or too low. The ideal humidity for your home will depend on your region, the season and your preferences. But 30% to 50% is a good rule of thumb according to the Mayo Clinic. Humidity above 60% is problematic because it fosters an environment conducive to mold growth. If the humidity falls below 30%, it requires you to run your heating equipment for longer periods and at higher temperatures, and it can also dry out and irritate your nose, eyes, mouth, throat, lungs and so forth.

Radon Testing

Radon is a naturally occurring gas that presents considerable health risks, and the gas can enter your home by seeping up from the ground. The EPA estimates that radon causes 7.5 times as many residential deaths as house fires annually. Since the presence of radon can develop over time, the EPA recommends having your home tested every two years. However, if you live in a “red zone,” which the EPA refers to as Zone 1, you may want to consider testing on an annual basis.

Air Purification

Without some form of air cleaning, your indoor air can never be less polluted than the air outside your home. You can check air pollution levels online by zip code. If you have good air quality in your neighborhood on a regular basis, then a well-functioning mechanical ventilation system may be all that you need. If, on the other hand, the AQI rating in your area is often at moderate or worse, then it is highly recommended that you invest in a whole-home air purification system.

Professional IAQ Test

You may also want to consider scheduling a professional indoor air quality test. It may be a good idea to schedule an IAQ test as opposed to just radon testing. Professional IAQ tests are extensive and in addition to radon, carbon monoxide and mold can extend to allergens, volatile organic compounds and even your water source. Such testing can also be useful in determining how accurate your monitor is, and depending on your equipment, it may even be possible to have your monitor calibrated.

Replace Filters and Clean Vents

Not replacing HVAC filters is among the most common indoor air quality mistakes. While the purpose of these air intakes and return registers is not indoor air quality, dust that accumulates on them can quickly undermine what is otherwise clean air. Check all filters and vents once a month. Dust the vents, and swap out filters as soon as there is visible discoloration of the filter media.

Pest Control

Pests are much more than a nuisance. They present serious health risks, and many people underestimate just how much mice, cockroaches, ants and so forth can degrade your indoor air quality. If you see any signs of such activity, you should schedule professional pest control as soon as possible. However, be mindful that some pesticides are worse than the pest themselves, so be sure to choose a company that takes the indoor air quality aspect of its trade seriously.

Monitor AQI

AQI stands for air quality index. Even if you live in a county that normally has a green AQI, you will experience bad days where the AQI is moderate or above due to climate changes. Moderate is acceptable for otherwise healthy people. If ever the AQI goes above moderate, it is best to stay inside, rely on your mechanical ventilation and perhaps use an air purifier that you can carry from room to room.

Your IAQ Experts in Jacksonville

Reliable Ducts Heating and Cooling in Jacksonville is proud to serve homeowners throughout Duval County and the surrounding areas. We are a family-owned and -operated business that offers a broad range of indoor air quality services, including ventilation testing, humidity control, UV air purifiers and duct cleaning. Our team also performs heating and cooling installations, maintenance and repairs. We offer maintenance plans and are available around the clock for emergency repairs. Call Reliable Ducts Heating and Cooling today to schedule your appointment.

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