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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

I once got a phone call....

*I once got a phone call from a man who had a broken central air system. It was under a year old, so he asked me about the parts & labor warranty. I told him that most contractors warranty their work for up to one year, so in order to get free labor on repairs he would have to contact the contractor who installed his system.

He told me his Uncle Ned put it in, but moved to West Virginia. I had to break the bad news that only Uncle Ned can warranty the labor costs.

Most of the brands Integrity Air installs(Trane, Amana, Goodman) have parts warranties of 5 years and longer. We also warranty our work on both installations and repairs for one year. And we have no plans to move to West Virginia.

*I once got a phone call from a new homeowner who was having trouble with his central air system. Since it was installed less than six months ago when the home was built, the homeowner never saw the air conditioning contractor. He eventually was able to find the installer.

This is why Integrity Air always leaves a business card sized magnet with our number on the air handler or refrigerator so that there will be no question as to whom to call for air conditioning service.

*I once got a phone call from a lady who was shopping around for a new outdoor section to her home central air system. Her old outdoor unit was stolen. She said that the repairman told her that he would have to take the unit back to the shop to repair it.
Apparently this repairman was not in the phone book, so she had no idea how to track her old system down. To the best of my knowledge, there is no situation where a legitimate contractor would need to take your air conditioner away in order to fix it.

Like all professional repairs done in your home, it is always good to make sure that your air conditioning contractor is properly licensed by the state of Florida.

Or call Integrity Air at 932-2665 for your heating, cooling and air quality needs.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

December Internet Special

$300 off the installation of a new Mitsubishi Mini-Split.

Ideal for cooling an added room or an enclosed porch.

Mention this ad when you call.

Offer expires December 22.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

November Internet Special

Before The First Cold Snap
Inspection of your heating system
req $89 now $59

Expires November 30, 2008

Our Top Performance customers already enjoy two tuneups per year under our Top Performance Program.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Before You Replace One Section...

...of your central air system.

I was having a conversation the other day with a customer whose outdoor unit failed. Wanting to save a little money, (which is a good thing) he asked me about replacing the outdoor unit only.

Under normal circumstances this would be a good idea. But these are not normal circumstances.

Most older systems use a refrigerant called R-22. By January of 2010 manufacturers will stop selling central air conditioning systems that use R-22. Actually most manufacturers will stop making these systems sooner in order to empty their inventory. The new systems will use a more environmentally-friendly refrigerant called R-410a. Integrity Air has been selling R-410a systems for the past few years in anticipation of this change.

But I digress. The question before us is: What should you do if only one unit of your R-22 split system fails? The problem you have when you only replace that unit is that R-22 systems are not compatible with R-410a systems. If you install a new R-22 outdoor unit and you indoor unit fails around the fall of 2009, their may not be an R-22 indoor section available. You may be forced to replace the entire system with a new R-410a system.

These are some things to consider when shopping for a new system or partial system.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Keeping your home comfortable in the fall

Now that the weather is starting to cool, the Tampa Tribune has published some tips on keeping your home comfortable when you are staring to open windows and let air in.

You can read the entire article here, but here are some highlights:
The article says not only to open windows but to use fans for comfort. Jay Hoover, president of Integrity Air, recommends that you be sure to turn off fans when you leave the room to save energy.

The article says that doing laundry at night when it is cooler helps as well as replacing standard incandescent lightbulbs with the new compact flourescent bulbs, which give off much less heat. Compact flourescent bulbs are more energy efficient, give off less hest and last longer. However, they contain mercury, and must be disposed of with care and time of replacement.

Also running the bathroom exhaust fan for 10-20 minutes after a shower will help lower indoor humidity.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Benefits of Routine Maintenance

I received a phone call from a customer who wanted to know the age of the central air system we in installed in her home.

"This will be easy", I thought. "I'll just pull the invoice from our file."

The invoice wasn't there. Our current customer files only go back to 2000, and it seemed that our customer's system was older than that. So I climbed up into our attic and found the pre-2000 invoices in a box.

Our customer's system was installed in December 1998. The average life expectancy of a central air system is 12-15 years, and this one was nearly 10 years old and remarkably, had never broken down and shows no sign of doing so. I can look at two reasons for this fortune:

1) The customer invested in quality filters and changed them regularly. This is the air conditioning equivalent of brushing and flossing each day. Good filters will help keep your indoor coil clean which helps with indoor air quality and efficiency.

2) This system had regular tune-ups and inspections under our Top Performance Program. We see this system twice a year, so any minor issues get resolved before they become major ones.

Doing this may not guaranty a long life for your system, but the money invested in a regular maintenance program will help your air conditioner run at Top Performance for a long time.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Beware of AC Copper Thieves

You’ve probable read or heard on local news that, with the rising price of copper, there is an increase in the theft of central air outdoor units in the Tampa Bay airwaves.

Copper everywhere is at risk of being stolen. Thousands of dollars of damage are done to half-built houses when thieves rip out the walls for a few hundred dollars worth of copper wire.

In the case of central air outdoor units, the places most at risk are abandoned houses and businesses. For example, bars and nightclubs would get hit in the morning or churches would become victimized on weekdays when no one is there.

Many churches have put chain link fences around their outdoor units. Also available are various kinds of alarms (much like home security systems) to notify you when someone is tampering with your outdoor unit.

The sad thing is that many central air contractors acquire scrap copper from old units they have replaced. Some contractors would be happy to freely give these old units to someone who would take them away. Instead, criminals would rather cost a church or business thousands of dollars in damages to steal under $100 worth of copper.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

September Internet Special

Kill bacteria on your indoor coil with a Free Blue Tube UV Light.
Included with purchase of a complete central air system.
until September 30th, 2008

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Cooling an enclosed porch or addition.

If you are planning to enclosed a porch or add a room to your home, one of the challenges you face is how to cool the new space.

You could run duct to the new space from your home air conditioning system, but in most cases your home system isn’t large enough to cool the new space.

You could use a window unit, but window units can be noisy and use a lot of electricity, and may not be able to suitably cool a large porch or room.

The answer to the question of how to cool an addition or an enclosed porch is the minisplit or ductless system.

A minisplit is a central air system (either straight cool or heat pump), and can have a capacity as large as 3 tons and an efficiency as high as 18 SEER, so it can cool a very large room or enclosed porch while saving electricity and money.

Most minisplits also have a remote controller which not only serves as a thermostat, but can adjust fan speed and direction to your comfort.

Integrity Air would be happy to answer any of your questions about how a minisplit can meet your comfort needs

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Various Methods of Improving Indoor Air Quality

Some folks are looking for improved indoor air quality because of allergies, pet dander or tobacco use in the home. Here are some solutions offered by Integrity Air:

1. Have your indoor coil cleaned if needed. This will also improve the efficiency of your air conditioning system.

2. Use quality filters. A quality, pleated cardboard filter, or Integrity Air can provide a metal frame and polyester, tackifed filtrers. If you can see through your filter, then it’s not good enough. Another test is to hold your filter horizontal and shake pepper on the top to see how much falls through. Anything more than a few grains should be a cause for concern.

3. Install an electronic air cleaner. Ideally installed at the same time a new indoor section is installed, this device, attached to the indoor section, sends an electric charge through particles and then collects the particles like a magnet. Most of these devices can trap up to 98% of particles 0.3 microns in diameter.

4. Install a Whole House HEPA filter. HEPA stands for High Efficiency Particulate Air filter. Like the electronic air cleaner, this device is attached to the indoor section and filters all the air going through your air conditioning system. Most of these devices can trap up to 99.97% of particles 0.3 microns in diameter.

5. Install a UV-C light in your indoor coil. A UV-C light kills bacteria, germs and other stuff growing in the condensation on your indoor coil.

If you are looking for more information about indoor air quality, feel free to call Integrity Air at 932-2665 and we would be happy to help you with whatever solution works for you.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Tips on saving energy and money with your central air conditioning

1. When receiving quotes for new central air, ask your contractor about a high efficiency system. Your old system was probably 10 SEER when new and less efficient now in its old age. The industry minimum for new systems is now 13 SEER, but 14-16 SEER and higher efficiencies are available. The initial investment may be higher, but over the average 15 year life of a central air system you will gain a return on that investment through lower electric bills.

2. Have your system inspected at least once a year. And a good time to have this done is in the spring before it gets hot. This may also head off problems which may shut your system down in the heat of summer.

3. Have your ducts checked for leaks. Remember when you left the door open in the winter and Mom said, “are you heating the outdoors”? Having your ducts checked for leaks and those leaks sealed will help you to keep from cooling your attic. And while the air conditioning service tech is in your attic he can….

4. See if you have enough attic insulation. One of our customers converted a garage into air conditioned living space without realizing that the attic above had no insulation. Correcting that problem allowed us to install a system one half ton smaller than his existing one. And last but not least,

5. Buy quality air filters and change them regularly. This is the brushing and flossing of maintenance, the easiest thing you can do not only to improve efficiency of your central air but also improves indoor air quality.

Hopefully these tips are helpful in gaining some savings in your energy bill. If you have any questions or if there is anyway we can meet your comfort needs please call Integrity Air @ 813-932-2665

Thursday, July 24, 2008

August Internet Special

Fresh-Aire Double Bulb Germicidal UV-C Light
Mounts inside your Air Handler to kill germs and microbes. Helps to improve Indoor Air Quality
$200 off until August 31
reg $980 now $780

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Study finds link...

...between indoor air pollution and heart disease.

A recent study published in the “American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine” found that the quality of the air you breathe inside your home or office (recirculated indoor air) has an effect on your cardiovascular system - especially if you’re over 50. Although scientists have known for years that air pollution leads to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease (the number one killer in America), this was the first study to study the connection with indoor air. The results will not only surprise you, they’ll point out something you can do right now to help protect yourself and your family.

I could not find the article itself online, but the Balance-Your-Health Blog has a good summary. This blog also containds agvice on how to combat indoor air impurities. A few of which is to install a HEPA filter, or get quality air filters for your central air and change them often during times of high use.

Friday, May 30, 2008

June Internet Special

$450 off
Honeywell Whole House Dehumidifier
with transition to existing supply ducts
removes 90 pints/day
Regular $4112 Now $3662
expires June 30, 2008

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

May Internet Special

$300 off A New
Mini-Split System

The Mitsubishi Mini-Split is a ductless system which is much more efficient and runs much quieter than a window unit.

The ideal way to cool an enclosed porch or a one room addition to your home.

Offer ends May 31, 2008

Monday, April 21, 2008

Energy Savings Tips from TECO

The local electric company (in Tampa it's called TECO) is the only industry I know of which advises customers on how to use less of their product.

You can see TECO's energy savings tips here. In Tampa, there are still a few homes which have old gas furnaces. When we have a service call for a broken-down furnace, we usually recommend that it be replaced with a conventional air handler and electric heat. This will improve airflow and remove safety concerns (like carbon monoxide and fire) inherent with furnaces. The new electric heat will provide enough heat for what they call here in Tampa "winter".

TECO also has a rebate program to encourage customers to purchase high efficiency systems. a customer can get $275 if he replaces his old straight cool system with a new 14 SEER or higher heat pump. Replacing an old heat pump will get you $125.

Your local electric company may have a similar program.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Future of Refrigeration

Update of this post.

R-22 is being phased out earlier than expected. According to the EPA, in 2010 production of R-22 will be decreased by 75% of 1989 production levels.

Now most of that reduction will be taken up by the fact that all new central air systems will be using R-410 by 2010, but consumers who currently own an R-22 system need to be prepared for the gradual scarcity of R-22 as production is decreased by 90% in 2015 and is completely phased out by 2030.

It is very important that, if you are in need of a new central air system that you insist that your contractor quote a system with the new R-410a refrigerant.

If youn have an R-22 system, be sure to have it checked for leaks and have those leaks reparied

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Benefits of Top Performance

I received a phone call from a customer who wanted to know the age of the central air system we in installed in her home.

"This will be easy", I thought. "I'll just pull the invoice from our file."

The invoice wasn't there. Our current customer files only go back to 2000, and it seemed that our customer's system was older than that. So I climbed up into our attic and found the pre-2000 invoices in a box.

Our customer's system was installed in December 1998. The average life expectancy of a central air system is 12-15 years, and this one was nearly 10 years old, and remarkably, had never broken down and shows no sign of doing so. I can look at two reasons for this fortune:

1) The customer invested in quality filters and changed them reqularly. This is the air conditionig equivalent of brushing and flossing each day. Good filters will help keep your indoor coil clean which helps with indoor air quality and efficiency.

2) This system had reqular tune-ups and inspections under out Top Perfomance Program. We see this system twice a year, so any minor issues get resolved before they become major ones.

Doing this will not guaranty a long life for your system, but the money invested in a regular maintenance program will help your air conditioner run at Top Performance for a long time.

Friday, March 14, 2008

New Florida Building Code..

... for carbon dioxide monitors.

9B-3.0472 Carbon Monoxide Protection.

(1) Definitions: For purposes of this rule, the following definitions shall apply:

(a) CARBON MONOXIDE ALARM. A device for the purpose of detecting carbon monoxide, that produces a distinct audible alarm, and is listed or labeled with the appropriate standard, either ANSI/UL 2034 - 96, Standard for Single and Multiple Station CO Alarms, incorporated herein by reference, or UL 2075 - 04, Gas and Vapor Detector Sensor, incorporated herein by reference, in accordance with its application. Both documents may be obtained by writing to: Codes and Standards Section, Department of Community Affairs, 2555 Shumard Oak Boulevard, Tallahassee, Florida 32399-2100.

(b) FOSSIL FUEL. Coal, kerosene, oil, fuel gases, or other petroleum or hydrocarbon product that emits carbon monoxide as a by-product of combustion.

(2) Every building for which a permit for new construction is issued on or after 7/1/08 and having a fossil-fuel-burning heater or appliance, a fireplace, or an attached garage shall have an operational carbon monoxide alarm installed within 10 feet of each room used for sleeping purposes.

(3) In new construction, alarms shall receive their primary power from the building wiring when such wiring is served from the local power utility. Such alarms shall have battery back up.

(4) Combination smoke/carbon monoxide alarms shall be listed or labeled by a Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory.

Specific Authority 553.885(2) FS. Law Implemented 553.72, 553.73(2), (3), (7), (9), 553.885(2) FS. History–New 11-18-07.

In summary, starting July 1, 2008 any new construction which has a oil, gas or coal furnace, or a fire place, or an attached garage must have a CO monitor.

While this does not apply to existing homes, if your home meets the above description I strongly recommend that you get a CO monitor for the safety of your family.

More information about CO monitors can be found here.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Sometimes, All I Need is the Air that I Breath...

…at 30,000 feet.

To save money, airlines in the United States are circulating less fresh air into the cabins of many airplanes. As a result, flight attendants, as well as some passengers, have begun to complain that the practice is causing headaches, nausea and other health problems, especially after long flights.

The reduction of fresh air is done only on newer planes. Older aircraft built before the mid-1980's provided cabins with 100 percent fresh air that was circulated every three minutes. But the newer models provide half fresh air and half recirculated air that is freshened every six or seven minutes or longer. The recirculation system enables the planes to use less fuel to cool the outside air, which is heated by the engines as it is drawn in.

This is similar to a common problem with Building Related Illness or its more severe and newsworthy sister, Sick Building Syndrome. In the 1970’s, due to energy efficiency concerns buildings were built with the air conditioning bringing in less fresh air.

In the same article, the New York Times describes some of the problems attributed to poorly circulated air.

Studies have also found that passengers with respiratory problems can infect their fellow passengers unless enough outside air is supplied to dilute the contagious effects of coughs and sneezes.

"Reducing the amount of fresh air from outside the cabin and increasing the length of time between cleaning of the vent system increases the amount of contamination in the air that passengers and flight attendants breathe," said Mr. Witkowski of the flight attendants union.

Several Government studies have shown relatively high levels of carbon dioxide in airplane cabins. At the request of flight attendants, the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health studied MD80's used by Alaska Airlines last February. The agency found that carbon dioxide averaged 4,882 parts per million, more than four times the 1,000 p.p.m maximum set by the American Society of Heating Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers.

King 5 News out of Seattle reports another problem with air in airplanes.

Mysterious illnesses have been reported by flight crews around the world, who believe they are exposed to dangerous fumes aboard aircraft.

Scientists believe they have found the culprit.

Researchers have zeroed in on a chemical found only in airplanes, a jet engine oil additive called tricresyl phosphate, or TCP.

Here's how TCP could find its way from a jet engine into humans. All commercial jetliners, from both Boeing and Airbus, use air sucked in by the engine and then fed to the cabin in what's called a "bleed air" system.

Oil and hydraulic fluid leaks in the engine, which flight crews say happen more often than airlines admit, can send toxic vapors into the breathing air system and throughout the plane.

Dr. Clement Furlong of the University of Washington genetics lab has been studying this problem for the last three years.

There have been documented cases of sick passengers, but that's usually when there's a big leak and obvious smell and vapors in the cockpit.

Dr. Furlong's team suspect that flight crews, who spend 750 hours on a plane a year, suffer from lower level exposures to TCP. They're trying to find out if it accumulates in the body.

Boeing's new 787 does not use bleed air technology.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Decisions to be made a year from now, two years from now.

In the next two years, many homeowners will have to make some decision concerning their televisions and their air conditioning systems.

Less than a year from now (February 17, 2009), television stations will be mandated by the federal government to broadcast in digital. What this means for most people who own TVs made before May 25 of last year will need to get and adaptor or a new TV.

One word of advice if you are planning to use the adaptor and your TV antenna doesn't get UHF channels in clearly:

A special antenna generally is not needed to receive digital signals. You may have antenna issues, however, if your current antenna does not receive UHF signals (channels 14 and above) well, because most DTV stations are on UHF channels. In such a case, you may need a new antenna or to add a UHF section to your existing antenna system. This equipment should be available at most bricks-and-mortar and Internet consumer electronics retailers.

Less than two years from now (January 1, 2010) The refrigerant used in most central air systems (R-22) will only be available for maintenance of existing systems. As of the above date all new air conditioning systems will have a new, more environmentally-friendly refrigerant called R-410a.

This will concern the homeowner who has an R-22 system when only the outdoor unit or indoor unit fails. Under normal circumstances, replacing the damaged unit would be standard procedure. However, this will leave you with a situation where one half of your system is young and the other half old, and in less than two years the replacement for an R-22 condenser or airhandler will not be available.

The homeowner who owns a relatively new R-22 system has anothe concern. The making of new R-22 will be reduced until January 1, 202o, when only recycled R-22 will be available. What this means is that, as we get closer to 2020, repares that require R-22 will become more expensive as the refrigerant becomes scarce.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

California Wants Control...

..of the thermostat in your new home.

California utilities would control the temperature of new homes and commercial buildings in emergencies with a radio-controlled thermostat, under a proposed state update to building energy efficiency standards.Customers could not override the thermostats during "emergency events," according to the proposal, part of a 236-page revision to building standards. The document is scheduled to be considered by the California Energy Commission, a state agency, on Jan. 30.

The description does not provide any exception for health or safety concerns. It also does not define what are "emergency events."

In the Tampa area, Tampa Electric (TECO) has a volunteer program called Prime Time. During a time of high use, instead of firing up another plant TECO would shut down air conditioning in selected homes to save energy. This is done so rarely that many Prime Time customers forget that they are on the program. In exchange for being on this program TECO customers get a discount on their electric bill.

This California proposal however, would be mandatory for new homes.

I know what you are thinking, and I am sure that there is a mechanism which would warn the powers to be if you should replace their thermostat with one controlled by you.

Friday, January 4, 2008

California Cracking Down on Ozone

Last September the California Air Resources Board voted to prohibit indoor ozone generators from putting out more than 0.05 ppm.

Robert Baker, Chairman & CEO, RGB Group, Tampa, FL, writing in Indoor Environment Connections, believes this is one of the
Worst AND Best Indoor Air Quality Event of 2007:

In my opinion, this represents one of the worst IAQ events of the year because it is an example of our private enterprise system and democratic processes failing to protect the health and welfare of American citizens and a regulatory authority being forced to step in.It ranks as one of the best of the year, however, because it appears that, after decades of debate and litigation involving manufacturers of such devices, one of the nation’s most influential bodies has initiated decisive action.

Mr. Baker continues:

Not only is ozone a respiratory irritant, but recent studies demonstrate that it can react with volatile organic compounds indoors and produce aldehydes and other harmful breakdown products.

And here are the comments of Jay Hoover, the president of Integrity Air Conditioning on the subject of ozone:

In general I agree. I am also happy that Florida still allows that air quality tool. ....So ozone can cause some volatile organic compounds to change into more harmful compounds. It however causes other known harmful organic compounds and other chemicals to be rendered harmless. For example carbon monoxide changes to carbon dioxide and O2 in the presence of O3. That can be great for people working in auto repair shops. We recommend a low level CO detector as a start for auto shops.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Are There More Spores Outdoors?...

…and do they have human health effects?

Below are excerpts from an article in the December 2007 issue of Indoor Environment Connections by Dr. Harriet Burge Director of Aerobiology, EMLab P&K, San Bruno, Calif. She is an expert in the field of Indoor Air Quality. You can read the entire article
here. - Way Cool

Yes, they do. Several papers in the literature document the relationship between asthma outbreaks and especially high concentrations of specific spore types. “New Orleans Asthma” is a syndrome blamed on basidiospores. Thunderstorm asthma has been blamed on a particular type of ascospore. In addition, clear relationships have been found between increased hospital admissions for asthma and outdoor spore concentrations. In the American Southwest, outdoor Alternaria exposure may actually initiate asthma in children.

Also consider the fact that gardening is considered to be a healthy form of exercise. You are outdoors breathing the “fresh” air (assuming you don’t live in the Los Angeles basin!) and are encouraging things to grow. You happily pull weeds and dig holes for the plants, breathing in the wonderful odors of the microbial volatiles responsible for the odor of new-turned soil along with all the spores (including those of Stachybotrys) that are growing on the dead leaves you are digging up.

On the other hand, gardening has never been reported to cause “toxic” symptoms such as headache, fatigue (other than that induced by using your muscles), memory loss, etc.