I like to bring the topic of home heating up every year right around this time as we will start getting the inevitable phone calls that start with a panicked voice saying, “I turned my heat on for the first time in forever and now my house is going to burn down!”
Stop right there! Your house is not going to burn down because you turned the heat on. The burning smell you are getting is just the small amount of dust that has built up on the heater coils in your air conditioner burning off. Let’s look at the heating system we need to break out and use every once in a while here in the sunshine state.
In the normal split air conditioning system configuration the heater is basically a glorified blow dryer. If you want to get an idea of what the heat strips look like, grab a blow dryer and take a look down the business end of it. See those metal coils that turn red and heat up when you turn it on? Those are the same type of coils that we have in the heating systems here in Florida. The typical blow dryer uses around 1 Kilowatt of power. In an air conditioning system, your heat strips can be either 5, 7.5 or 10 kilowatts in size depending on the size of the home and air conditioning unit. The concept for heating your home is exactly the same concept as a blow dryer just on a much larger scale.
Stop and think about this for a minute please, the wetter your hair is the longer it takes to dry, right? Same concept in your house, the colder your home is the longer it is going to take to heat it up. Albeit rare if the outdoor temperatures are down in the 50’s and you have the windows open airing out the house and it’s 61 degrees inside it is going to take that heater an hour or two to warm the house back up to say 70.
Please do not have great expectations when it comes to heating a home in South Florida. These types of heaters are not going to really get you a hot house if that is your goal. Why that would be your goal is beyond me, so please remember that our heaters are just going to take the chill off the air you are never going to get much warmer than 75 degrees or so, and that 75 degrees is saying the outdoor temps are in the 50’s. Some of you will remember a few years ago when we actually had winter in Florida and the temps went down into the 40’s for an extended period. We even went below freezing a couple of times! In those cases, getting your home much above 70 degrees is going to be close to impossible. If you want hotter you’re going to have to go for the space heater option. As a reminder, space heaters start lots of home fires every year so if using one please be careful, we really don’t want your house to burn down.
I’ll close with one more tip. If you were to put your heat on for just 3-4 minutes every time you change the filter in the ac system, when you really need it to run for an extended time the burning smell will go away a lot quicker or not occur at all. Since we are discussing the subject of heat, the video here just seems incredibly appropriate!
Until next time, I started to panic the other day when I locked the keys in my car and then thought wait, it’s okay, I’m inside.
House Whisperer out!!
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