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How times have changed

In 1896, great-grandpa Antonio came to Ybor City from Sicily following the American dream. He started working in a cigar factory and eventually saved enough to acquire some land and some cows and start his own little dairy farm. In between, he met and married another Italian transplant, Theresa. In 1916, their daughter Mary was born here in Ybor City in a home still standing on 19th Street. Eventually, Mary grew up and married Joe Leto, founder of an Ice production and delivery company that opened in the 1950s. Joe brought ice to Tampa residents to keep them cool and chill their ice boxes, since refrigeration wasn’t yet available, in the summer, and then delivered kerosene to keep them warm in the winter. As times changed, and technologies developed, and as A/C became more widespread, Joe and Mary’s son Pete decided to take his electrical skills into this growing industry, founding Independent Air in 1990. Eventually, Pete’s son Joe took over day-to-day operations. Four generations of Tampa Bay residents, and three generations of Letos determined to keep Tampa residents comfortable. At Independent Air, we’re proud of our heritage and grateful for the opportunity to serve. Thank you Tampa Bay. We’re glad to be here. If you want a longer history, visit our site for the whole story!

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What’s that smell?

Now that the weather is changing, our thoughts are turning to the upcoming holiday season. Pumpkin patches are dotting our neighborhoods, and maybe some of us are thinking ahead to the recipes we’ll need in just a few weeks at Thanksgiving! Ah, the aromas of roasting turkey, gravies and rolls and pies… but there’s that other smell… It’s so strong! It’s coming from the vents! If you turn your heater on and you suddenly smell an unpleasant odor, don’t be alarmed. Over the year, since you’re using your air conditioner almost exclusively, dust, pollen, pet hair and dander and other particles may build up on your heating coil while it’s not being used. When you first turn your heater on to combat the chill in the air, this material burns off, causing that odor. Within a few minutes, you’ll notice the smell lessens, so just allow the heater to run normally, perhaps open a window or two briefly to clear the air, and then things will get back to normal.

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Do you have a furnace?

Before the first true cold snap, take some simple precautions to make sure that your furnace will be working efficiently and safely! If you need assistance, just let us know and we’ll be there! Take a look at the filter—is it clean or dirty? A dirty filter makes your furnace work harder to deliver less heat because it restricts the airflow. You will have to clean or replace the filter! Is the blower belt frayed or cracked? Don’t risk a broken belt late on a Sunday night when there’s nothing you can do and temperatures are dropping! Replace your frayed or cracked belts! If your belt is loose, make sure to get it tightened! Do you have a sealed motor blower? If so, you don’t need to oil the motor but if you do not, then a few drops of oil in the motor will keep it running smoothly. Are the blower doors sealing properly or do they need to be replaced? It’s important that your blower doors shut tightly to prevent combustion byproducts, especially carbon monoxide, from mixing with the warm air that’s circulating in your home. Are the vents clear? Clean vents will circulate warm air more efficiently. Is the exhaust flue to the outside clear of obstructions? The exhaust flue is very important and a blocked flue can mean that carbon monoxide or other byproducts of combustion get pushed back into your home. The flue is also how your furnace breathes, so if it’s blocked, your blower motor will work harder, potentially increasing its risk of a breakdown or a fire if it gets too hot. Check the flue by removing the flue cap by the furnace and then looking through the flue to the outside. When you replace the flue cap, make sure it’s secure. Is your furnace in a closet or enclosed room? Make sure it gets plenty of air, either through vents or a duct directly to the outside. Also remove all flammable objects from around your furnace—clothes, paint, boxes, yard equipment, gasoline and more. and that Furnaces deserve our respect and attention—taking a few moments to check the condition of your furnace can protect you, your family, and your home and ensure your warmth and comfort as temperatures continue to drop. Let us know if you need assistance with any of these steps! We’re ready to help!

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Do you have a Carbon Monoxide Detector?

Many Florida homes have furnaces, and we were talking the other day about the risks furnaces can pose to homeowners if something goes wrong. If you have a furnace, do you also have a carbon monoxide detector? Any gas appliance, from hot water heaters to stoves to furnaces, can potentially create carbon monoxide—a colorless, odorless gas that, in sufficient quantities, can cause lightheadedness, sleepiness, and even death! We at Independent Air want to make sure that you’re safe, especially as you turn on your furnace to take the chill from the air. A carbon monoxide detector is inexpensive, easy to install, and can be found at any home improvement store. Don’t take any chances! If you need a detector, please get one and install it today.

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Hot summer

Get ready for some hot weather! As summer is in full effect and endless hot, muggy days are upon us, it’s time to get ready for the heat – get an a/c tune up, slather on the sunscreen and drink lots of water! Did you know that in June, the average high temperature is 89.5 degrees, in July 90.2 degrees and in August 90.2 degrees? From June – August alone, there are an average of 60 days in which the temperature soars above 90 degrees! Though the average temperature stays in the low 80’s, this combines the low (usually in the evening) with the high (usually mid-afternoon). When are you most active? During the high temperature of the day! Don’t forget to call for an a/c refresher service to make sure you’re a/c is running at its best all summer long so you can survive those 90+ degree days! The average humidity for June – August is 73.5%, and with an average of only 4 perfectly clear days each month, you can expect to see a lot of rain! Tampa Bay is famous for its afternoon showers and isn’t known as the lightning capital of the world for nothing! It rains an average of 15 days each month from June – August.

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Crazy stories from the A/C Business

Believe it or not, you can see some pretty crazy things when you specialize in air conditioning like we do. While most A/C places here in Tampa are qualified and can install units properly, I have personally seen cases that got me wondering what the installers were thinking. I was just thinking about two unusual stories that I wanted to share with our readers. In both cases, these home owners called me because their recently installed equipment was not working. I arrived to find that their equipment had been installed in ways that literally could not work. My first story began when a homeowner here in Tampa Bay called me to say that someone had installed a system for them just the day before and it was already not working. I drove right over to check out the situation. The customer led me to where the installers had put the A/C unit, and I was shocked to find that it was installed in a closet! It was literally just set on top of concrete blocks in a small closet behind a closed door. When that door was closed, there was no way for the unit to receive and return air as the airflow was blocked completely. Luckily, I was able to find a better place and install a unit to assist the customer the correct way. On another similar occasion, I received a call from a customer saying that another company had installed a unit for them a few months ago that had recently stopped working. Again, I jumped in the truck to go assess the problem. In this case, I found that the unit had been installed above the ceiling of the office building it was supposed to be servicing. The unit was upside down and a hole had been drilled into it for draining. It seemed as though the installing company had noticed that there wasn’t enough space for the unit. Rather than find a more appropriate place to put it, they modified the unit to fit, which unfortunately also eliminated our ability to service the unit without taking it back down. Certainly, the problem was obvious, so we corrected the issue. I’m happy we could help keep both of these customers cool! If you worry about how your unit was installed, or you don’t feel like the unit is able to keep up with your needs, let us know. You might also have something funky going on. We can help you!

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