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Heat It Up.

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Let’s face it, heating our South Florida homes is not something that we spend a bunch of time or effort on, however, for at least three days a year you may find yourself in the position of desiring a little warmth in your domicile. First off, we are going to take a look at the different types of heat we utilize and how a little maintenance on the heat can save you grief and aggravation.

At bat in the starting position is a water source heat pump. This style of air conditioner and heater are typically found in larger high-rise buildings, traditionally over 10 stories. They can however be found in smaller buildings and I have seen a couple in single-family homes over the years. In a water source heat pump you have water lines that run between your indoor and outdoor units. The outdoor unit is referred to as a cooling tower and for most of the year the water travels in one direction producing that cooling effect we all love. These units have reversing valves in them that allow the direction of the water to be changed and we shift from cooling to heating. This is also the same process that a heat pump split air conditioner uses only instead of water producing the cooling and heating it is the Freon doing all the hard work here.  Freon travelling in one direction takes heat outside and disposes of it, when reversed the Freon carries the heat inside to allow the indoor coil to heat up and the house gets nice and toasty.  A heat pump split system will produce the most heat of any style of air conditioner used in the South East, so if you’re a big heat fan look to heat pumps the next time you are ready for an air conditioner replacement.

The most common type of heat we find is a very simple electric heat strip, this is the heating method used in what is referred to as a straight cool system.  If I was taking a guess, ninety percent of what we install are basic straight cool systems. The heat strip is mounted in the top or your indoor unit and comes in different sizes based on the size of the air conditioner and home.  This style of heat takes the outdoor unit and your indoor coil completely out of the equation and only uses the heat strip and the blower on the indoor unit to take the chill off. If you want a really good mental picture of what a heat strip looks like and what it does, grab the closest hand held hair blower turn it on and look down the business end. That is exactly what is going on when you turn the heat on with a straight cool system.

The biggest complaint we hear when the weather turns cooler is that “a terrible smell is coming from my air conditioner right after I turned the heat on”. In the words of the great Douglas Adams, DON’T PANIC, all that is happening is that the dust that built up on the heat strips over the last eleven months of non-use is burning off and this smell will dissipate in a few minutes. Remember the maintenance I brought up earlier? If you want to avoid that smell in a straight cool system every time you change your filter turn the heat on for three to five minutes and the dust particles won’t have the chance to really build up on the heat coils.

As someone who spends a large quantity of time outside I’m personally hoping that we need our heat quite a bit this winter however it is doubtful at best. As always I’m an email away at  or call us at 1-800-475-1504. On a complete side note, if you ever have the fortune of finding yourself in New Orleans as I was last week, try all the different gumbos you can it was a culinary delight. Until next week my friends, House Whisperer out!!


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