Tag Archives: air conditioning

Does Your Air Conditioner Ductwork Need Repair or Replacement?

 Heated or cooled air circulates through your air conditioning ductwork to all the areas of your home to keep you comfortable. If air leaks out of the ductwork anywhere along the line, it can create problems for you: a system that has to work harder to reach the temperature settings on your thermostat, an uncomfortably cold or hot home environment, and higher utility bills.

Does Your Air Conditioner Ductwork Need Repair or Replacement?

An air conditioning system that is constantly running to match thermostat settings will need repairs more frequently, and it will wear out sooner. Leaky air ducts pull in dust, debris, and other particles from your attic and send them blowing through the vents into your rooms—resulting in diminished air quality in your home. If there is a hole or crack in an air duct leading to a particular room, that space will have hot or cold spots which make the room feel as if it is not being heated (or cooled) at all.

Leaky air ducts can lower the efficiency of your system by as much as 20-40% and that means higher energy bills as well. It doesn’t matter how good your HVAC system is if the duct system supporting it is not functioning as it should.

What to do?

Unlike a leaky water pipe where the dripping water is visible, a leaky air duct can be more difficult to find, especially since part of it may be concealed in areas you cannot reach. Should you have your air ducts cleaned?

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), there are no studies that prove health problems can be prevented by air duct cleaning. But your HVAC system will work more efficiently if there is good airflow in your duct system. If you have done extensive remodeling inside your home, generating a great amount of dust, it might be a good idea to have your ductwork cleaned, but, otherwise, it is not necessary to do so any more often than once every five years. If you are experiencing some of the problems mentioned earlier in this article; however, and your ductwork has been in place for a long time or has never been checked, it would be wise to have it evaluated.

A certified HVAC professional can evaluate and test your ductwork to diagnose any airflow problems that you may have. He can seal or add insulation to the ductwork depending on the problems he may find or advise you if the ductwork needs to be replaced.

Visit the National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA) to see a residential checklist of NADCA’s recommendations for what the air duct cleaning process should involve. You can also find NADCA-certified air systems cleaning specialists here. A person who is not qualified (or certified) to clean ductwork can do more damage to your system than having nothing done at all.



What You Need to Know to Choose the Right HVAC Replacement

Help! My HVAC Just Died!

You might think “That’s easy!  I will just replace my HVAC with a new one that is just like the one I had,” but it’s not that simple. Changes in your home over the years as well as improved efficiency in Heating and Air conditioning equipment can make a difference in the size of air conditioner you need.

What you need to know when you need to replace your HVAC.

Many factors—such as the addition of extra rooms, new and/or different types of windows and/or doors or other remodeling projects—will impact the choice you make when you purchase a new unit.

Although some do-it-yourselfers may undertake the task of determining what unit is best for them, it is wise to have a professional with years of experience do this for you. A HVAC professional understands all the variables that go into selecting the proper size HVAC system for your home. He can perform a heating and cooling load calculation to help accurately size the heating and air conditioning equipment that is right for your home. Using load calculation software, the HVAC  professional  enters the data he has collected (measurements of your home, amount of insulation and its R-values, window types, duct leakage, orientation, and more) and the calculation gives how many BTUs (British Thermal Unit)  per hour your home needs.

Can’t I just install a much larger unit than the old one to ensure that it will keep my home cool?

No.  An air conditioner cools and dehumidifies the air in your home. One that is too large will cool the air quickly and cycle off, but since it constantly cycles on and off, it does not run long enough to properly dehumidify the air. The constant cycling on and off puts wear and tear on the system and will shorten the life of your air conditioner. By contrast, an HVAC system that is too small runs constantly but does not provide the level of comfort you need.

The average lifespan of a home air conditioner is 10-15 years, although some last up to 20 years. It depends on whether the homeowner has given proper care and maintenance to the system—changing the filters when needed and having yearly maintenance performed by a HVAC technician (preferably one who is NATE-certified).

The efficiency of an air conditioning system is represented by a SEER number. Since 2006, the federal government has mandated that all central air conditioning units be at least a SEER 13, but the size of your replacement unit (and its SEER number) should be determined by the (load) calculation made to ensure that your new unit will meet the heating and cooling needs of your home.



How to Clean Central Air Conditioner Evaporator Coils

Prolong the life expectancy of your air conditioning unit!

A good quality air conditioning unit has a life expectancy of about fifteen to twenty yearson average. Replacing an air conditioning unit can cost you money, so you need to take all the measures necessary to prolong its life expectancy. Perhaps the best way to extend the life of an AC unit is to keep it clean.how-to-clean-ac-coils

Evaporator Coils – What you need to know?

Evaporator coils and condenser coils are the two most important parts of a home central air conditioning unit. Unlike condenser coils that are located outside your home in the condensing unit, the evaporator coils are located behind a panel on top of the furnace.

It is a common misconception that the refrigerant that runs through these coils adds to the coolness of your room. However, the primary purpose of this refrigerant is to suck heat in the air and through this action, it helps the air conditioning unit cool down the room.

If something causes an obstruction in the process, such as a dirt or dust on the surface of the evaporator coils, it may degrade the efficiency of your air conditioning unit and cost you money in increased utility bills.

Additionally, your system may have to run longer and harder to maintain thermostat settings and extract humidity from the air—which is one of the most important functions of an air conditioning unit. Dirty evaporator coils may also cause coil icing which, if neglected, may eventually freeze up the entire system, triggering an automatic shutdown of the system.

Since the evaporator coil of an air conditioning unit is placed in the air stream of your system, it automatically attracts contaminants and dust. To make sure your air conditioning system is working at optimum efficiency, an annual inspection of your system is critical.

Cleaning Evaporator Coils – The Steps Involved

The external surface of the evaporator coil in direct contact with the air flow is not very difficult to clean. Basic  cleaning can be a do-it-yourself job, but for more extensive cleaning, the services of a professional is recommended.

To clean the evaporator coils of your air conditioning unit, follow these steps:

  1. Turn off the power supply of your AC unit.
  2. To access the coils, remove the evaporator coil access panel. To remove the access panel, remove the metal tape that seals the panel.
  3. Next, remove the screws that secure the access panel of the evaporator coil to the air handler.
  4. You’ll notice that the evaporator coil is organized into a frame having two sides.
  5. Carefully examine the external surfaces of the evaporator coil for any traces of dirt or dust. Also check the coils for any signs of mold growth on them.
  6. If you find mold growth on the coils, contact your HVAC contractor instead of trying to clean it yourself. Mold growth is treated using approved biocides for cooling systems.
  7. To clean the dirt, gently spray coil cleaner on the exposed surfaces of the evaporator coil. Leave it for some time.
  8. After giving good time for the coils to soak in the cleaner, pour some water down the drain to make sure the coils are cleaned properly. The coil cleaner will automatically drip off the evaporator coils into the pan.
  9. If you notice that the water is not being properly drained from the drain pan, it indicates blockage in the drain tube. If that’s the case, contact your HVAC contractor  and immediately discontinue using your air conditioning unit until the problem has been corrected.
  10. Once you’re through these steps, examine the coils again. If you feel there is a need to reapply coil cleaner, do so as necessary.
  11. After completing the task, put the access cover on again and tighten the screws. Using a metal tape, tape the seams around the evaporator coil access panel.

Contacting HVAC Contractors in your Area

As the old maxim goes, “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should,” so instead of trying to do the job yourself, especially if you are unsure of your skills, call a HVAC contractor whose extensive field experience will enable him to make fast and accurate repairs to resolve your problem the first time.


Cool Your Attic with Natural Ventilation

Without a doubt, our attics are the hottest places in our homes. At times during the summer, attic temperatures can reach as high as 200° or more. No matter what steps you take to cool your home, without adequate ventilation in your attic, it can be a struggle to keep your home cool in the summer and warm in winter. In a sense, your home is alive and breathing much like we do. Let’s examine what I mean when I say that our homes are living and breathing. We will also consider natural ventilation and how it will help you save energy in a big way.

Science teaches us that hot air rises. It is this principle that makes natural ventilation work. Most of the heat that is generated in our attics hangs around in our attics; that is why attics are so hot. If there is no place for the hot air to escape, our houses will not start the breathing process. By breathing process, I mean hot air out and fresh air in—without it, cooling our homes efficiently becomes very difficult.

The ac unit in your home does more than just cool your home. The ac unit also circulates air throughout your house. That is the reason for air returns and filters on the ac unit. If you turn your ac unit on and go to a closed room and feel at the bottom of the door, you will feel air being pulled from the room towards the fresh air return on your ac unit. The same principle applies when your ac unit pulls hot air down from your attic through holes, light sockets, and ceiling fans as well as other small cracks in and around your ceilings. This is the main reason we need our attics to be cooler.

  • There are several ways to vent your attic and keep it cooler. There are natural vents that cost you no money at all to operate. These vents work from the natural movement of hot and cold air. There are many types of vents that operate using electricity and will do a great job of venting your attic. But the object here is to save money. You can use one of the following methods to vent your attic; the more you use, the better because all these types of vents work great together.
  • Continuous ridge vents are located and installed at the peak of your roof. They are designed to let the hot air escape through the openings located at the very top of your roof. There will be about a 2” gap on each side of the ridge, and it will run the total length of your building. This will allow hot air to escape from your attic.
  • Gable vents are located at the ends of your attic at the top of your gable ends. These vents will also allow hot air to escape from your attic.
  • Whirly birds are vents that are installed close to the top of your roof. These are installed on the outside of your roof. When the wind blows, the turbines are turned, and it helps exhaust the hot air from your attic.
  • Soffit vents are located at the bottom of your roof underneath the soffits. They are usually installed every 4’ around your house. These small but effective vents are very important because, when hot air leaves your attic, fresh air is pulled into your attic through these vents. This is where the “breathing” aspect of your home originates.

If you install these vents in your home, your attic will cool off several degrees, and your home will be easier to cool—saving you money. Another benefit is that after these vents are installed, it costs you no money for them to operate. You will be cooling your attic with natural ventilation.


Should You Get a Zone Control System?

Zone control systems are energy-saving inventions. The system links multiple thermostats that are strategically placed in your home so that you can adjust the temperature to a level of comfort in each room. This is useful if your home has many rooms or if your home is a programmable thermostatmultilevel structure.

A zone control system is composed of multiple thermostats on each level of your home and in different areas, or zones, of your home. Most homes have two thermostats, but some larger homes can have up to six thermostats installed. The group of thermostats monitors the air temperature throughout the structure. They are linked to a main control panel so that you can adjust the temperature at a main switch. If you are closing off a section of your home because you are not using it, you can handle that with ease at the control panel by turning the unit off in that area. If you are reopening a section because family members are coming to visit, you can quickly adjust the temperature in that zone of your home at the control panel.

Why Do You Need a Zone Control System?

If your home is constructed as a multilevel structure, the heat rises and causes the top floor to be warmer than the downstairs areas. The zone control system will monitor the air temperature and help regulate it to a comfortable temperature. Cool air sinks so the lowest level of your home will often be the coolest area year round. The zone control system will help you maintain a comfortable temperature in this area as well.

Traditionally, the thermostat is located in a hallway in the center of the home. It is an accurate gauge of the air temperature, but it is limited in scope and function as it can only measure the air temperature in the location where the thermostat is mounted on the wall.

What are the Benefits?

The zone control system will reduce the overworking of your unit. You can save on your utility bill because you are not constantly adjusting the thermostat. Selecting a comfortable temperature for each area of the home will reduce the need for constant adjustments and not force the air conditioner or heater to “catch up” with the temperature changes.  Family disputes will be resolved since you will no longer be cranking up the heat because someone is freezing downstairs while someone upstairs is complaining because they are “frying.” Family will become united once again.