How to Clean the Ceiling Around AC Vents

How to Clean the Ceiling Around AC Vents

Dust, dirt, and debris around ceiling AC vents can be unsightly. Fortunately, the vents and the space around them are easy to clean. We’ll explain what you need, how to clean the ceiling around vents, and when you might need a professional for an evaluation.

Tips for Cleaning Around AC Vents Each Month

Changing the air filter regularly should limit the amount of debris that reaches the vent covers. When it’s time to clean the vents:

  • Turn off the AC.
  • Place a sheet on the floor/furniture below the vents.
  • Use a vacuum attachment to remove the dust and dirt.
  • Wipe the outside of the vent with a damp microfiber cloth.
  • Use the same cloth to wipe the surrounding wall and ceiling.

Avoid spraying water onto the ceiling or directly onto or near the ceiling vent. This can smear the dirt and spread dust, allowing it to reach other parts of your home. Also, avoid using cleaning chemicals. These can be harmful and make the buildup even harder to remove.

Tips for Cleaning Vent Covers Twice a Year

Air conditioner vents are usually attached to a fitting with corner screws. Use a screwdriver to remove the screws and then gently remove the vent cover. Place it on the floor or a solid surface. You can then clean it using the following steps:

  • Place the vent cover in hot, soapy water (or, a mix of water and a basic household cleaner).
  • Let the cover soak for a few minutes.
  • Clean the cover with a microfiber cloth.
  • Rinse it off with cool water.
  • If rusted, treat the cover with a rust remover and repaint it.

You can also wipe the cover clean with a sponge. This will effectively remove dust, dirt, grease, and other particles. If the cover is excessively dirty, you can start by scrubbing it with a foam paintbrush. 

How to Clean Black Dust From Around Ceiling Vents

Black dust can be many things, including black mold. If you suspect mold is present, have your home inspected by a certified professional. They may offer a mold cleaning service. But with a mask, safety goggles, and gloves, you may be able to clean it yourself. An effective solution is a mixture of 1 tablespoon of detergent, ½ tablespoon of baking soda, and 1 cup of water. While you can mix 1 part bleach with 16 parts of water on non-porous surfaces, vinegar and baking soda tend to be more effective than this. Also, look for EPA-approved mold cleaning products.

Turn off the vents before spraying a mold-removal solution, or soak a rag or light brush before scrubbing. Continue treating the ceiling around the vents until all traces of the material are removed. Afterward, spray an approved mold growth inhibitor around the area. If it’s not mold and instead dust, dirt, or ash/soot from a fireplace, wipe the area clean with a sponge or rag soaked with warm water and mild soap.

How Do I Clean the Ceiling Around AC Vents When There Are Water Stains?

A discolored ring around an AC vent is likely a water stain. Once you see a water stain, some water damage has already occurred. It can allow mold to grow and indicates an underlying problem, such as a duct leak or lack of insulation that caused condensation. To prevent further staining, insulate the vent boot that connects the duct to the vent, repair an air leak, and/or insulate ducts in your attic. However, a key concern is how to remove the water stain.

To remove a water stain around an AC vent, applying a primer and coating or two of paint is most effective. Just make sure there’s no mold, and damage hasn’t compromised the integrity of the ceiling. To begin cleaning, you can create a one-cup bleach to three-cup warm water solution, spray it onto the affected area, and then wipe it with a sponge. This will remove dust, dirt, mildew, and other contaminants that can prevent the primer and paint from adhering. It may also help fade the stain.

Contact Tri County Air

If it is excessively dusty around your AC vents, we offer indoor air quality solutions that can help. These include high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters, whole-home filtration systems, UV light kits, and more. Clients in Charlotte, Sarasota, and Manatee Counties also rely on Tri County Air for AC and heating maintenance, repair, and replacement, as well as duct replacement and attic insulation services. For more information on how to clean the ceiling around vents or to schedule service, request an appointment online or call 941-841-8574.

Do Heat Pumps Condensate in Heating Mode?

Do Heat Pumps Condensate in Heating Mode?

In winter, you may notice condensation around your heat pump. This is a normal part of its operation. While running in heating mode, the unit transfers heat energy from outside to inside your home. In the process, condensation can form on the outdoor unit and drip harmlessly to the ground. Below, we’ll explain how heat pumps condensate in heating mode and when to suspect there is a problem.

How Condensate Forms on a Heat Pump

Heat pumps are designed to operate in cold weather, but problems can develop if the air temperature gets very cold. Frost or ice can develop on the outdoor coils at temperatures below 32℉. The system will then not warm your home as effectively. 

However, the system is designed to prevent ice from thickening on the coils and potentially causing damage. It will automatically begin a defrost cycle. Melted ice from the coil will drip and can form a pool of water around the unit. Eventually, this will freeze over.

Once defrost mode is initiated, the outdoor and indoor fans will turn off. The outdoor unit, however, will still be running, so you’ll hear it. Vapor may come from the unit as well. This usually lasts about a minute. Depending on the model, the defrost cycle will run for 5 to 10 minutes and repeat every half hour to 90 minutes.

Heat Pump Condensation In Summer

Water can pool around the heat pump when it’s cooling your home too. This may occur on a hot, humid day. As humid air is drawn across the cold copper coils, condensation forms and drains off. The condensate drain line will carry this water outside your home. It can drain up to 20 gallons per day.

When Is Condensation a Problem?

There’s generally no cause for concern if a condensation puddle happens in the grass. The water should absorb into the ground or evaporate. But if there’s no sunlight in that location, the water may not drain or evaporate so easily. There may also be issues if the puddle forms on a sidewalk or walkway. Somebody can slip and get hurt while standing water can cause damage to the surface. Mold and algae can also grow if a surface remains damp.

How Do I Know It’s a Leak?

An evaporator coil can freeze if the refrigerant gets too cold due to a leak. Unlike condensation water, refrigerant can be harmful to human health, heat pump components, and the environment. Signs of a refrigerant leak include hissing or bubbling noises, which are caused by differences in pressurization. The heating output will likely decline if the refrigerant is leaking; you can identify a problem by seeing whether the heat pump takes longer to warm up your home. 

At room temperature, the refrigerant returns to its liquid form. It will look like a greasy film. If you see this on the outdoor unit or around it, assume there’s a refrigerant leak and first, turn the unit off, and then call a heat pump repair technician right away. Running the system if it’s leaking wastes energy and will increase your electric bill.

A refrigerant leak can cause ice to collect on the coils. Melting ice can create puddles that can be mistaken for normal condensation. There could be a drainage issue as well. A misaligned or blocked drain line, or rusted condensate pan, can lead to more water than usual pooling around the unit.

Call Tri County Air for Heat Pump Repair

Heat pumps do condensate in heating mode, but it’s important to periodically check for issues. At Tri County Air, we specialize in high-quality heat pump/furnace repair. Using state-of-the-art diagnostic tools, we can quickly find the source of a problem and offer many solutions to fixing just about anything. Professional repairs can improve system health, comfort, and energy efficiency. To schedule service, request an appointment online or call 941-208-0568 today.

Heat Pump vs. A/C: Choosing the Best Option

Heat Pump vs. A/C: Choosing the Best Option

A homeowner facing HVAC replacement can often choose between a heat pump and a new central air conditioning system. We’ll explain what each does and the factors to consider when deciding to install a heat pump or A/C. Knowing how they compare can help you make the most informed decision possible.

How Does a Central A/C Work?

An air conditioner’s primary function is to draw in hot air from inside your home. This air then passes over the evaporator coil while the refrigerant inside absorbs heat. The refrigerant then continues through the lines, is pressurized by the compressor, and heat is released at the condenser coil into the surrounding air.

Air is cooled and then pumped back into rooms via ducts and registers. But an A/C only provides cooling and does so by transferring heat to the outside air. To heat a home, you need to have a furnace installed that kicks in when you switch the thermostat to heating mode.

How Does a Heat Pump Work?

A heat pump provides cooling in a similar way that a central A/C does. It uses refrigerant as well, which is moved through the system by a compressor. However, it includes other components such as a thermostatic expansion valve to regulate refrigerant flow based on cooling or heating demand, and a reversing valve to change the flow of refrigerant.

A heat pump provides heat by moving it from the outside air (an air source heat pump) or underground (a geothermal heat pump) to inside your home. As long as it is above 30℉ outside, an air source unit can heat a home to at least 70℉. Many heat pumps have a supplemental electric heating element for when the temperature is colder than usual.

How They Compare

Both central A/Cs and heat pumps are extremely reliable, depending on where they are installed. The following considerations will help compare them and determine the best option for your home:

  • Efficiency: A heat pump is more energy efficient than an air conditioner. While energy usage increases when the electric heater turns on, heat pumps typically use five times less energy and ENERGY STAR® rated models use even less. By comparison, an air conditioner averages about 3,000 watts of energy consumption per hour (and that’s by running about 15 minutes twice in that time).
  • Durability: Both heat pumps and A/Cs have lifespans that can vary depending on the climate and how well they’re maintained. Air conditioners usually last 15 to 20 years. A heat pump can last 15 years. However, it tends to last around 10 years in a coastal climate but may last for 20 to 25 years in a moderate climate.
  • Cost: Air conditioners range from $3,000 to $7,000. There are many types to consider while a unit’s size and the need for electrical updates, ductwork, and other services can increase the cost. Heat pumps range from $1,500 to $10,000, as the price can vary considerably depending on the type of heat pump and the size of your home.1

Heat pumps and air conditioners look very similar to one another. They also require regular maintenance. You should schedule maintenance for a heat pump once a year, or twice annually if it’s used all year long. Air conditioners should be inspected in the spring and fall to ensure they will run during times of peak demand.

Speak to an HVAC Installation Professional

A heat pump will use more energy in colder temperatures. Air conditioners run seasonally but this depends on climate. They last slightly longer in most circumstances and are less costly. In Florida, homeowners rely on their ACs for much of the year. Fortunately, they can depend on Tri County Air for A/C services, including repair, maintenance, and installation/replacement. If you have further questions about choosing between a heat pump vs. A/C, or wish to schedule service, request an appointment online or call 941-208-0568.

How to Troubleshoot Your Outdoor AC Fan Motor

How to Troubleshoot Your Outdoor AC Fan Motor

Inside your outdoor AC unit, there is a motor that drives a fan, which in turn creates airflow for the system to function properly. Inside the assembly are start capacitors, to provide the energy needed to start the fan, and run capacitors that keep it running. There are a few signs of an outdoor AC fan motor problem. Here, we’ll cover these and how to check and test the motor to determine if repairs are needed.

Common AC Fan Motor Issues


  • The Fan Won’t Spin: If the unit isn’t humming, this means the blades aren’t spinning (but if you do hear a hum, there’s a capacitor issue). Check whether the compressor is working. If so and the fan won’t work, the motor and/or capacitor need to be serviced. However, if the compressor isn’t making any sounds, there could be a faulty contactor. Also, check whether the unit is powered.
  • The Fan Is Slow: Check for a loose fan blade or a burnt-out heat pump compressor pump. A circuit on the control board may have failed. This often includes low-voltage components. You’ll need an HVAC technician to perform repairs regardless of what’s causing the fan to run slower.
  • The Fan Is Noisy: If you hear humming, buzzing, or ticking, check whether the fan blade is obstructed. An imbalanced or damaged condenser fan can cause a humming sound. If it’s balanced and in good condition, a bearing or capacitor may be malfunctioning.
  • The Fan Blades Are Loose: If the fan isn’t working right and the blades seem loose, turn off the system and check if the blades are bent, cut, or loosely connected to the motor shaft. You can usually push a small bend back into place or tighten loose screws, but other issues must be addressed by a professional.
  • The Fan Short Cycles: If the fan keeps tripping the thermal overload switch, it will turn off. This can mean there’s a short in the motor windings. If so, the motor will run after you disconnect the capacitor.

Steps to Checking the Outdoor AC Fan Motor


When the fan motor doesn’t seem to be running, follow these steps to troubleshoot the problem:

  • Check the thermostat to see if it is turned on.
  • Look for a tripped breaker at the main service panel.
  • Replace the air filter; dirt and debris can block airflow and affect the motor.
  • Examine the fan to see if the blades are turning or not.
  • If they’re obstructed, unblock the fan blades using a screwdriver or similar tool.
  • Give the blades a push; a kickstart can get the motor working once you turn the AC back on.
  • Inspect the capacitor visually and with a capacitor tester. If you’re not experienced or comfortable with this, call a professional for help and to avoid a shock.

You can also troubleshoot a fan motor by testing the windings with an ohm meter. A 120V fan motor has black, blue, red, and yellow wires, plus a white wire, black wire, and two brown wires. Check the resistance between the white wire and each colored wire. If it reads zero, the motor winding may have a short. An infinite reading can mean the motor winding is open.

Call an HVAC Technician to Service Your Outdoor AC Fan Motor


Customers trust Tri County Air for high-quality HVAC repair. Our trained technicians are professional, courteous, and able to quickly diagnose and repair any AC component. Whether there’s an electrical, mechanical, or other issue, we can get your outdoor AC fan motor working again. To schedule residential HVAC services in Sarasota, Manatee, and Charlotte Counties, request your appointment online or call 941-613-5675.

The Ins and Outs of AC Financing

The Ins and Outs of AC Financing

An air conditioning system helps keep your home cool, clean, and comfortable. But installing or replacing one can cost thousands of dollars. Most people don’t have this kind of money lying around. However, there are various options for funding your purchase. We’ll look at a few of them and highlight the facts and benefits of AC financing.

How to Finance Your HVAC System

There are several AC financing options. You can finance the purchase of a new unit, the replacement of an old system, or the costs of installation and modifying your home to accommodate a new HVAC system. Financing can cover the cost of parts, repairs, and maintenance as well. The option you choose can often be tailored to fit your needs.

Some avenues you can take include:


  • Home Equity Loans: If you’ve built equity on your house, you can borrow against it with the help of a bank, lender, or credit union. Secured by your home, the loan may have a lower interest rate, and interest payments may be tax deductible, although missing payments can risk losing your home.
  • Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC): With a HELOC, you get a line of credit to use as you need it. This works almost like a credit card. You can borrow up to your credit limit and repay as you borrow. However, you must have home equity to qualify for a HELOC, and interest rates are usually variable. 
  • Credit Cards: The interest rates on credit cards are relatively high, but using a credit card to cover the cost of minor work is an option for most. Look for cards with bonuses or an introductory 0% APR. But if you carry a balance, you’ll just be adding to your debt and interest payments.


Why Consider AC Financing?

If you’re approved for AC financing, your home equity or a credit card aren’t necessary. You don’t need to have perfect credit either. Many HVAC companies partner with established lending agencies. When your credit isn’t perfect, you can still have the best AC system for your home. And if you have good to excellent credit, you may get a lower interest rate.

Other perks include:

  • Cover AC costs with affordable monthly payments
  • Low-cost options, including 0% APR
  • Fixed interest rates and flexible terms


How Do I Get Approved?

Once you choose an AC financing option, fill out the application, provide proof of your monthly income, and select the type of financing you need. Then sign the agreement. The process usually takes under ten minutes and you’ll receive a decision about whether your financing is approved. If so, you can go ahead and purchase your system, have it installed, or schedule AC repair.

Financing options vary, but they often come with opportunities for discounts. At Tri County Air, you can save by prepaying or paying off your loan early. In Florida, financing rebates and energy rebates are sometimes available to homeowners and businesses. Plus, you can always take advantage of our HVAC system pricing specials. 

Apply for AC Financing with Tri County Air

We offer financing by GreenSky, with reduced-rate and no interest options; Synchrony Bank, with a dedicated credit line; and Renew Financial. Their RenewPACE financing is repaid on your property taxes at a fixed interest rate over a 5- to 25-year period. Our team will help you determine the best financing option, so you never have to worry. Learn more about our AC financing and apply today, or call 941-841-3688 for more information.