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Friday, December 21, 2007

Refrigerant Changes You Need To Know...

....when choosing a new air conditioning system.

What most folks have now

Currently, the vast majority of residential central air conditioners use a refrigerant called R-22. Some systems already use the newer, more environmentally friendly refrigerant called R-410a, but R-22 far and away is the most common refrigerant in homes.

What’s happening in 2010

Starting in 2010, a little over two years from now R-22 systems will no longer be available. Also, starting in 2010 the manufacturing of new R-22 will start to be limited until the only R-22 available by 2020 will be recycled refrigerant. This will cause repairs involving refrigerant for R-22 systems to be more expensive.

What this means for those looking for a new system today

If you need a new air conditioning system, Integrity Air recommends that you get an R-410a system. In most cases the prices are comparable. Also if you have a mix-matched system, that is, a system where one section is much older than the other, you may want to replace the older section before 2010.

Securing Units Before a Hurricane

The photo on the left is the rooftop of a local school. Integrity Air replaced a failed air conditioner with a new ductless mini-split system (the outdoor section can be seen in the right foreground).

The original unit was set on 4' by 4' lumber laying on the roof. As you can see, the new outdoor section has been secured to the wall on a stainless steel bracket.

Securing the outdoor unit in this fashion is much stronger for our hurricane-prone area......also makes for easier roof replacement when needed.

You Can't Smell It, But It Kills

The US Consumer Products Safety Commission estimates that between 8,000 to 15,000 people are examined or treated in hospitals for non-fire related CO poisoning each year.

The smartest way to confirm there are no dangerous levels of CO gasses in your home is to have a complete home CO check by a certified contractor. During the process your contractor should check every combustible appliance using a properly calibrated Carbon Monoxide Analyzer. Your contractor should also be checking for correct chimney draft on your fireplace, furnace and hot water heater.

Low concentrations of CO breathed over long periods of time may contribute to other illnesses.

First level (that is, most - Way Cool) U. L. approved Carbon Monoxide (CO) alarms are made to go off at 70 parts per million (ppm). (these are the type sold at home centers- JH) However, lower levels of CO can be harmful.

Low-level Exposure (less than 35 ppm): of carbon monoxide poisoning can be confused with flu-like symptoms, food poisoning, or other illnesses and can have significant long-term health risks if left untreated.

High-level Exposure (more than 35 ppm; less than 70 ppm): Severe throbbing headache, drowsiness, confusion, fast heart rate.

Crisis-level Exposure (more than 70 ppm): Unconsciousness, convulsions, cardio respiratory failure, death.

9 ppm - Maximum allowable CO in living space for 8 hours per the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration & Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE)

9 ppm - Maximum allowable outdoor 8 hours per the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

15-30 ppm - First level reported to cause harmful affects per the World Health Organization (WHO)

30 ppm - Earliest onset of exercise induced angina (WHO)

50 ppm - The maximum allowable concentration for continuous exposure for healthy adults in any 8 hour period, as recommended by the Occupation and Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) ina work environment.

(As you can see, the most common types do not protect - alarm at these levels. - Way Cool)

70 ppm - First level U. L. approved alarms must go off 2-4 hours.

200 ppm - Slight headache, fatigue, dizziness, nausea after 2-3 hours.

400 ppm - Frontal headaches within 1-2- hours, life threatening after 3 hours.

800 ppm - Dizziness, nausea, and convulsions within 45 minutes. Unconsciousness within 2 hours. Death within 2-3 hours.

These symptoms are typical for healthy adults. The critical or chronically ill, pregnant women, infants and others with respiratory difficulties can be impacted earlier and experience more adverse effects.

The excerpt above comes from Page 4 of the NSI 3000 Low-Level CO Monitor Owner's Manual.

Commercial Buildings and Hurricanes

Take a close look at the picture above. Which of these two objects would be most likely to blow away or cause projectiles during a hurricane?

The air conditioner in the background weighs 600 pounds. It has a center of gravity near the middle and low to the ground. It sits on a curb that is fastened to the roof and is wrapped by the hooked-shaped frame of the air conditioner.

The satellite dish weighs about 100 pounds and sits on a framework that is temporarily held down by another 200 pounds of bricks. Does it look more like a sled, a sail or a catapult?
You are probably asking yourself, "why is the 600-pound object securely fastened to the roof while the wind-catching dish is only held down by six bricks?"

The Florida building code regulates the installation of central air (both residential and commercial) is strictly regulated in the building code for safety and hurricanes.

The installation of satellite dishes is not covered by the building code. This should not prevent the responsible home or business owner from demanding that their satellite contractor secure the dish to withstand 120 miles-per-hour winds..

Dehumidification for Health and Comfort

Some particles in the air can be removed by filtration.

However, mold can grow wherever there is enough moisture and dust mite allergens are too heavy to stay suspended long enough to get caught in a filter.
The above chart shows that to prevent mold growth it is good to maintain humidity below 50% relativity humidity, and dust mites are dormant and do not reproduce when the relative humidity is controlled below 45%.

Integrity Air offers whole house dehumidifiers/purifiers.

Not only do they use considerably less electricity than portable ones, they are also much quieter and have no tub of water that needs to be emptied.