Is your AC system oversized?

The answer is YES if you are using a conventional air conditioner with a single speed compressor and motor.

All single stage air conditioning systems are in fact oversized at least 80% of the time.  A properly designed HVAC system is designed to achieve the desired results on the hottest day of the year.  But what about the other 80%-90% of the time that it is not the hottest day of the year? Well your system will be oversized during those times.  Oversized systems lead to humidity problems, higher electric bills, and temperature swings in your home.  So why would a reputable AC contractor install a system in your home that is oversized at least 80% of the time?  Because that has been our only option for decades.  The system must be able to cool the home on the hottest day of the year, therefore air conditioning contractors were left with no choice but to size the system accordingly.  Air Conditioning contractors have been battling this issue for decades until the recent AccuComfort Technology was introduced.  With this new technology the air conditioner is still designed to cool on the hottest day of the year, however it will adjust its own capacity according to the current inside and outside conditions to ensure that your system is always operating at the appropriate capacity.

Next time you are in the market for a new HVAC system, we highly suggest you consider an AccuComfort system. As more and more people become aware of this new technology, conventional systems will eventually become a thing of the past.

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2017 Best of the Emerald Coast!

Last week, we announced that we were voted as the 2017 “Best of the Emerald Coast” for Best Heating and Air Service AND Best Customer Service. We’re so honored and thrilled about this achievement, not only because we work so hard every day to be the stand-out heating and air conditioning company in the area, but also because we continue to live by our main pillar of providing excellent and unparalleled customer service—and it feels great to be recognized for that.

As an example, we had one customer who turned her A/C down at night like most people do before they go to sleep, but she noticed after a few minutes, the temperature continued to stay at a steady (and too warm!) 76 degrees. Not knowing what to do, she gave us a call at 11 PM on a Monday night. Mark Barber answered the phone and walked her through how to check and clear the drain line after diagnosing the issue. Luckily, the customer owned a shop vacuum and could clean it out herself, but if not, Mark would have been over in a heartbeat to get her A/C back up and running.

After clearing the drain line, the customer’s A/C kicked on and ran smoothly after that. We know that when issues happen in your home, whether it be air conditioning related, plumbing related, technology related, or anything else under the sun, it’s stressful. Questions run through your mind wondering how much repair will cost and how long will it take to get an appointment with a repairman?

The answer from us at Gulfshore will always be “right away” no matter the time of day or night, and for a reasonable price at that!

We’re so happy and proud to serve our community in any way that we can and want to thank everyone for helping us win Best of the Emerald Coast in TWO categories!

Right now, it’s time to vote for Best in Destin 2018! Please consider voting for us under the “Heating & Air Service” section in the “Services” category. Thank you in advance!

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Life Pre-A/C is Hard to Imagine!

As the sweltering heat and humidity of the summer continues, it makes us pause to think about what life was like pre-air conditioning. You’ll see that here at Gulfshore, we’ve been posting about it on our social media channels as we’ve researched the origin of air conditioning, and the positive effects it has had on the world.

Many people take air conditioning for granted because it’s so easy to forget that without it, we wouldn’t have things like computer servers (A/C systems are used to keep the room cool to prevent the servers from overheating) certain medications that need to be kept at specific temperatures, and, well, people; especially here in Florida. According to The Atlantic, the population in the Sunbelt increased from 28 percent in the 1950s to 40 percent in 2000.

The first modern air conditioner was invented by Willis Carrier in 1902 to try and remedy the issue that Sackett-Wilhelms Lithographing and Publishing Company was having with paper wrinkling and curling up in the intense NYC summer heat. Movie theaters were the first public spaces to install air conditioning, as it encouraged people to go to theaters to watch a film on scorching hot days. Fun fact: the first person to air condition his private home was a man named John Gates, who was a notorious gambler.

Today, in terms of architecture, most modern homes are built around a central air conditioning system, but way back then, people built homes that had higher ceilings so heat could rise, they planted trees and shrubs on the east and west sides of their homes in order to create more natural shade, and they added windows on opposite sides of rooms to create even airflow.

People also took naps. Remember in Gone with the Wind when all the women take naps? That’s an accurate depiction of what life was like. Think of how Spain has “siestas” where businesses close for the hottest hours in the afternoon and then reopen in the evening. It’s similar to how business was conducted in the South pre-A/C. It was a different way of living, that’s for sure!

Air conditioning has also had an impact on global health throughout the years. It prevents dehydration (especially for senior citizens), cleans the air and improves air quality thus reducing allergens, reduces the number of bugs and parasites inside the home, and it improves overall physical comfort.

The above health reasons, along with the overall physical comfort level that air conditioning brings to others, is why we’re so passionate about providing free services to local charities and organizations like Alaqua Animal Refuge and Children in Crisis, Florida Inc. We want to make sure that all creatures and humans alike understand the importance of a quality air conditioning system that lasts for years!

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Food Drive for Children in Crisis, Florida Inc!

We recently learned that Children in Crisis Florida Inc., (CIC) located in Fort Walton Beach, needs some key pantry items to get them through the summer season.

The kids in the Children’s Neighborhood are out of school and in full summer mode, so the more we can help stock the pantry for this wonderful organization, the better!

Children in Crisis is a non-profit organization that provides safe, clean, and comfortable homes for the abused, neglected, and abandoned children of Northwest Florida. Since 2008, CIC has given homes to over 700 children while maintaining their goal to keep siblings together as much as possible.

In addition to the Susanna Wesley Emergency Shelter for children who are removed from an unsafe environment without notice, the Children’s Neighborhood has five long-term family foster homes with a married couple that lives in each of the houses. The full-time house parents create a stable domestic environment for children who are in long-term foster care. Each home can house up to 12 children between the ages of 6-17 years old.

For children who have aged out of foster care, (18-23 years old) CIC has built 8 studio-style apartments where a Transitional Living Counselor helps strengthen their life skills by teaching them about finances, bills, and so much more.

Right now, CIC needs the following food items:

  • Chicken Soup
  • Beef Vegetable Soup
  • Tomato Soup
  • Canned Tomatoes
  • Tomato Sauce
  • Carrots
  • Gravy Mix
  • Cereal
  • Mixed Vegetables
  • Peas
  • Peaches
  • Pineapple
  • Pop Tarts
  • Pears
  • Granola Bars
  • Mixed Fruit
  • Cream of Chicken Soup
  • Cream of Mushroom Soup
  • Cream of Celery Soup
  • Hamburger and Tuna Helper
  • Cheez-Its
  • Jelly
  • Microwave Popcorn
  • Coffee
  • Olive Oil
  • Canola Oil
  • Fruit Juice
  • Paper Towels
  • Snack Items
  • Crackers

Gift cards to stores like Walmart Fort Walton Beach, Publix, and Sam’s Club will also gladly be accepted. Food and gift card donations can be dropped off at our offices located at 1439 Live Oak St. Suite C, Niceville, FL. If you already have an appointment set up with us, our technicians will be accepting donations as well.

CIC is also always looking for willing volunteers. To ask about volunteer opportunities, email events@childrenincrisisfl.org.

We’re looking forward to making this summer food drive successful. It’s our goal to make sure that all the kids in the Children’s Neighborhood have plenty of healthy, nutritious meals to eat and snacks to munch on!

Thank you in advance for your generous donations!

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Summer is Here

The summer heat is already upon us here in the Panhandle, and it’s only going to get hotter! Our friends in Fort Walton Beach, Destin, Miramar Beach, Sandestin, and 30A are getting ready for the summer vacationers to hit in full force starting Memorial Day weekend! Summer 2017…here we go!

It’s important to know how your A/C unit should work all the time, but especially in the summer months when it’s hotter than a jalapeño outside.

If your air conditioning is working correctly, it’s removing both heat AND humidity from your home. Since most residents in our area live on or very near a body of water—whether it be the ocean or the bay—humidity is a big issue to consider.

Does the air in your home feel damp? Are your windows foggy? This could be a sign that your A/C isn’t functioning properly. According to HGTV.com, people tend to feel most comfortable when the humidity level is between 30-60%. If the humidity level drops lower than 30% then the air becomes too dry, and could damage your home and health. In our coastal climate with heavy humidity, if the level rises above 55%, that’s when the air starts to feel moist, which means your home could turn into a breeding ground for mold and other bacteria.  It is important to be sure your air conditioning equipment is capable of maintaining an indoor relative humidity below 55% at all times.

Therefore, when you cook and bathe, use the fan above the oven and in the bathroom so that any moisture is vacuumed up through the vent where it goes directly back to the outdoors. Use blinds and window shades and turn off lights indoors to help lessen the load for your air conditioning unit (and to save money on your bill!)

Regular air conditioning unit maintenance is a must in order to extend its life. This includes cleaning up the outside of your unit and removing leaves, dirt, bugs, and sticks and checking to make sure that your filters are nice and clean. Did you know that up to 72 trillion allergens can find their way into your home every day, and the average household generates 40 pounds of dust per year? Not to mention the pet hair! This is why replacing your air filters at least once every two months is very important to ensure that you and your family are breathing clean air.

The American Standard filtration units that we install remove 99.98% of allergens in the air, which makes for a comfortable home. In our climate here in Florida, it’s important to be able to trust that your air conditioning unit will last for many years to come—your health depends on it!

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Smells in the home

With pets, kids, dirty laundry, dirty dishes in the sink, the trash can, and all of the other smelly things that happen in our homes, keeping them smelling nice can be a real challenge.   Most of the bad smells in the home are caused by something that smells bad naturally remaining in the home, or from the growth of bacteria, yeasts, and molds which use the organic matter as a food source.   Gases are released which can produce some pretty horrible smells.   Have you ever wondered why the dog or the carpet smell a little worse on damp days, or on days when the air conditioner doesn’t run as much?    It is because of the presence of moisture in the air and lack of filtration.   Of course poorly maintained air conditioning equipment with dirty coils and blowers do a poor job of removing the moisture, and may even grow some interesting and smelly things of their own.   In a properly functioning and properly designed system, air is exchanged through the coil and blower six to eight times an hour.   As this occurs, moisture is removed and the air is filtered.   The quality and maintenance of the system determine how well it removes moisture and filters the air.   An old, neglected system with a clogged coil will not remove as much moisture as a well maintained efficient system with a HEPA or electronic filtration system and perhaps even an indoor air quality device.    It is not uncommon on humid days for a properly functioning air conditioning system to remove three or four gallons an hour from the air.   The pipe dripping water next to your condensing unit is the place to look.   You can also purchase a hygrometer from almost any big box store or on line that will monitor your relative humidity if you have not already purchased a system control such as our AS824 that will do it for you.   Remember that anytime your RH is above 55% you risk smells and mold growth.    Above 60% in our area, you are almost guaranteed to have an issue with mold growth.    If moisture is present to facilitate the growth of bacteria, molds, and yeasts, it will grow.    Variable speed communicating systems such as our American Standard Platinum variable speed compressors and air handlers will maintain your humidity set point year round at virtually no cost to you.    With a conventional ON/OFF air conditioning system, it only removes moisture when the refrigeration circuit is running.   Running the indoor fan does nothing to help and is ill advised in our area.   If the indoor fan is run without the refrigeration circuit, it is possible to draw in hot humid air from outdoors, or from the attic if the system is not properly balanced and the pressure in the home is negative.    This loads the space with humidity that the system must work doubly hard to remove once the compressor comes on. Most conventional systems simply cannot overcome this situation. Do not run the indoor fan in the summer.   It should be set to Auto. Conventional filters don’t catch much.   They catch the big stuff like large textile lint and dog hair.   They do little to capture dead skin cells, bacteria, mold spores, and the like.   In order to capture these from the air that cycles through the system six to eight times per hour, you need HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filtration or an electronic filtration system such as the American Standard Accu-Clean.    We are big fans of the kill/capture method which incorporates a device such as the REME Halo by RGF to kill and ionize particles so they stick together and are captured in the Accu-Clean.    If bacteria and spores can’t grow in a moist environment, and are killed and captured by your system, you have a great smelling home.     Your home is dry and comfortable, with air that is safe for your family to breathe when you incorporate these measures, and maintenance is very simple.    Our variable speed systems and indoor air quality products serve your entire home 24/7 and eliminate the need for sprays, stand alone ionizers, ozone generators, dehumidifiers, and all of the other temporary and inadequate measures many families take in an attempt to correct damp and smelly living spaces. Invite a Gulfshore comfort consultant to your home or business to assist you with all of your indoor air quality needs.

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What can a variable speed heat pump do for me?

Variable speed heat pumps are a relatively new concept to the residential market, and can benefit homeowners tremendously by saving hundreds or thousands of dollars each year in energy use, as well as prevent damage to building materials and possessions from moisture and mold.   Accu-Comfort from American Standard is a true variable speed product with a compressor that can ramp between 400 and 6000 RPM with an inverter drive.   The outdoor section communicates with the indoor section and the controller to give a very well tailored comfort solution and dehumidification without spikes and hard starts as conventional systems experience, always missing their mark and either over cooling or under dehumidifying.   The Accu-Comfort system totally eliminates the need for a dehumidifier and allows the user to set desired humidity levels which are easily achieved without over cooling the home.    The result is a very crisp, cool, dry living space which is very efficient and totally controllable from a smart phone or other wireless device.     Invite a Gulfshore comfort specialist to your home to see if one of these systems is right for you.

I thought I had a variable speed system????

We at Gulfshore often hear clients say, I already have a variable speed.    What they mean, is they have a variable speed indoor fan.   This was all the rage when ECM technology was introduced into the residential HVAC market in the 1990’s,  and is still very important for indoor blower motors, but technology now allows us to have variable speed compressor and outdoor fan motors as well.    The department of energy would love to see PSC (permanent split capacitor) motors go away, and in years to come, they will.    Inverters and ECM technology take electric motor efficiency to a whole new level and we are excited to bring them to all of our clients.    American Standard and Gulfshore are on the cutting edge of product installation, education, and technician training, to be certain you have a great experience throughout the long life of your product.    We often hear from our variable speed clients that their utility bills are cut in half following the installation of an Accu-Comfort system.

I think I have black mold growing in my unit.

Probably not.   The species coined “Black Mold” by the litigators and scare mongers is Stachybotrys Chartarum.    This is a bad species to have in the home, but all fungal growth black in color is not Stachybotrys.    Molds of many species can be black in color, and the most prevalent species we see in homes are Penicillium / Aspergillus and Cladosporium.     These species have their ill affects on the body, however to most people, they are simply allergens or just something gross you don’t want growing in your house.    Older people and babies and those with depressed immune systems can be overly susceptible to the affects of these and other fungal growths, and fungal growths inside human tissue can be very difficult to treat.    A condition called aspergillosis is a perfect example of a fungal infection caused by the presence of Aspergillus in the body and can easily infect the lungs of those with COPD or other respiratory illnesses.    It is best to keep all species of fungal growth outside the home where they belong.   Gulfshore can help you recognize the presence of fungal growth and arrange testing to identify species and provide spore count, however the best approach is to prevent its growth in the home in the first place.

Mold needs moisture and an organic food source to grow.    Deprive it of one or the other and it will not grow.    Keep the home under 55% relative humidity and the chances of having mold grow in a building are greatly reduced.   85% of the mold cases we see are the result of improper HVAC design, being oversized equipment, or improper duct design most of the time.    Other causes are usually related to warm moisture laden air or water entering the building over a period of time.    HVAC related mold is easily preventable with proper design and the use of equipment designed to regulate the amount of moisture in the air.    All to often we think of the job of the HVAC system to cool the home and we stop there.    It is also the job of the system to remove moisture by having it condense on the coil and run out of the condensate drain.    This only occurs when the refrigeration circuit is running.    Conventional equipment may cycle off when the thermostat is satisfied and long before an appropriate amount of moisture is removed.    This may have the space at 74F and 64%RH.   This makes for a very sticky environment which lacks the crisp cool feel we all like, however if it is 74F and 50%RH it feels heavenly inside and mold will not grow!     An Accu-Comfort system from Gulfshore and American Standard can make this a 24/7 reality in your home.

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Is Replacement Right for you?

The question of A/C replacement can be complicated and the answer is not always easy. As a homeowner you will need to consider all options to decide what serves you best. In this article we will try to cover the 3 most common reasons to consider replacement.
If anyone says that your unit has to be replaced or that parts are no longer available, you should get a second opinion!

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Maintenance Checklist

Maintain your equipment to prevent future problems and unwanted costs. Keep your cooling and heating system at peak performance by having a contractor do annual pre-season check-ups. Contractors get busy once summer and winter come, so it’s best to check the cooling system in the spring and the heating system in the fall. To remember, you might plan the check-ups around the time changes in the spring and fall.

A typical maintenance check-up should include the following.

Check thermostat settings to ensure the cooling and heating system keeps you comfortable when you are home and saves energy while you are away.
Tighten all electrical connections and measure voltage and current on motors. Faulty electrical connections can cause unsafe operation of your system and reduce the life of major components.
Lubricate all moving parts. Parts that lack lubrication cause friction in motors and increase the amount of electricity you use.
Check and inspect the condensate drain in your central air conditioner, furnace and/or heat pump (when in cooling mode). A plugged drain can cause water damage in the house and affect indoor humidity levels.
Check controls of the system to ensure proper and safe operation. Check the starting cycle of the equipment to assure the system starts, operates, and shuts off properly.

Cooling Specific

Clean evaporator and condenser air conditioning coils. Dirty coils reduce the system’s ability to cool your home and cause the system to run longer, increasing energy costs and reducing the life of the equipment.
Check your central air conditioner’s refrigerant level and adjust if necessary. Too much or too little refrigerant will make your system less efficient increasing energy costs and reducing the life of the equipment.
Clean and adjust blower components to provide proper system airflow for greater comfort levels. Airflow problems can reduce your system’s efficiency by up to 15 percent.

Heating Specific

Check all gas (or oil) connections, gas pressure, burner combustion and heat exchanger. Improperly operating gas (or oil) connections are a fire hazard and can contribute to health problems. A dirty burner or cracked heat exchanger causes improper burner operation. Either can cause the equipment to operate less safely and efficiently.

Actions To Do Yourself

Inspect, clean, or change air filters once a month in your central air conditioner, furnace, and/or heat pump. Your contractor can show you how to do this. A dirty filter can increase energy costs and damage your equipment, leading to early failure.

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Is an Air Conditioner Tune-Up on Your Spring Cleaning List?

The calendar proclaims that spring is fast approaching many homeowners will soon be working on their spring cleaning lists. Most homeowners include things like putting away the winter linens, washing floors and windows and getting the boat ready for the water among their list of things that need done. Do not forget to include an air conditioner tune-up on your spring cleaning list. Before you know it, the hot weather will arrive and that air conditioner will be put to use in cooling and dehumidifying the home’s air.

There are many important reasons and benefits to including a tune-up for the air conditioning system on the year’s spring cleaning list.
A tune up service for the air conditioning system ensures that it will operate efficiently, effectively and safely. A dirty blower could overheat the motor, resulting in a system breakdown and costly repair bill. A low refrigerant level could result in ineffective cooling and dehumidification of the home. Loose electrical connections could damage motors or trip a breaker. A proper tune up service checks for these issues as well as any other potential problems and could prevent them from occurring.

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