The dreaded AC break. It usually happens the hottest day of the year, so it goes. So you’ve checked the unit and maybe even had a professional come out and tell you you’re going to need a new one. Here are some tips about when it’s time to install a new AC unit.
A well maintained AC unit lasts about 15-20 years on average. Although that sounds like a long time, if you’ve moved into a previously occupied house, chances are you’re going to have to replace the AC unit at some point.
If you’re nearing the end of an AC unit lifespan, keep an eye out for warning signs of a failing unit. If the unit starts making unexpected or odd noises, there is a chance only a part needs to be replaced, as opposed to the whole unit. Listen for squeaks, chatters, or squeals.
Also look out for excessive humidity or water condensation. These problems can be fixed pretty easily with a new water collection pan, but left unattended, can damage your entire unit. On the other hand, the unit should not freeze either. Properly working units balance their own temperature. If you see ice forming on the unit, it may need recalibration or a Freon fix.
Clogged grills also cause units to fail. This can be avoided by cleaning the unit annually.
If your AC unit does fail and it’s time for a new one, shop around. Consider the new technology that may cost more upfront, but will save you in energy bills and future maintenance. Newer systems are smaller, have thermostats you can control from your phone, are barely louder than a whisper, and are even solar powered, using the sun’s rays instead of your energy bill!
Before you call for AC maintenance, or even better, before the weather gets warm enough for AC, you should double check to make sure your unit is operating properly.
Test to see what the problem is (if there is one!) Is it not working at all, not blowing cold air, or not cooling the house to the desired temperature? Then check controls like the plug, fuses, and cool setting on the thermostat. Then, check the actual unit for damage or excessive dirt and grime. Sometimes cleaning the unit can make a difference. If all else fails, it may be time to call in professional help.
You should also check and change your AC filter every few months to guarantee unit efficiency. While most AC units are outside, the filters are usually inside in your home’s ductwork or furnace unit. Check your owner’s manual (or Google it!) if you’re unsure. Make sure to check the filter for any type of brand or numbers/letters on it. You could also check your manual for the type of filter you’ll need. Be sure to check the size as well. Slide the new filter in and you’ll be cooler than ever in no time!
And finally, if your AC unit is functioning properly, it still needs maintenance! Here are a few things to look for in a properly maintained air conditioning unit:
- Filters filters filters. Clogged, dirty, or broken filters block airflow and reduce efficiency. A clean filter can lower your unit’s energy consumption from 5-15%
- Once a year you should check your AC coils, as they collect dirt and can reduce airflow just like a filter. The coils can also bend and block airflow.
- Protect your unit in the winter. If it’s moveable, move it inside or to safe and dry place. If it is outside, cover it to protect it from the weather.
- Check the Freon levels and recharge or patch up any leaks
Everyone’s concerned about energy efficiency these days. When it comes to finding ways to save money, consider the importance of effective insulation and proper home ventilation. During the winter months, there are many tasks you can tackle to seal in heat, improve indoor air quality and cut costs at the same time.
Correcting Heat Loss
Check around all of your home’s windows and doors for air leaks. If leaks are detected, there are many simple solutions to seal them:
- Caulking and weatherstripping of various types are available to seal windows and doors.
- Foam gaskets can be installed behind wall sockets and light switch plates.
- Foam sealant can be sprayed into large gaps around windows, doors, pipes and baseboards.
- Attic insulation should be a minimum of 12 inches deep, and ductwork should be checked for leaks and proper insulation, as well.
In order to have good air quality, you must have adequate ventilation. Here are several ways to accomplish this:
- An air purifier can remove unwanted bacteria, dust and other allergens that can affect your family’s health.
- A humidifier can keep air quality at just the right humidity level. It makes the air feel warmer, requiring less demand from your furnace.
- Air filters should be checked monthly and changed as dirt begins accumulating on them. Clean air filters maximize your furnace’s efficiency.
- Use exhaust fans to vent your bathroom, kitchen and laundry room.
For more information on insulation and ventilation in your Harrisburg home, contact the experts at All Temp Co., Inc. Air Conditioning & Heating.
Charlotte area homeowners are lucky to have mild weather for much of the year. In the winter, temperatures can fall below freezing, but usually for only short periods of time. This gives residents a choice between using a heat pump or a furnace for winter heating.
How Furnaces Work
Furnaces send heat throughout the home in one of two ways. Forced air furnaces directly heat air and send it into each room through a vent system. Other furnaces heat an intermediary fluid such as air, steam or water which is then pumped through pipes into a radiator in each room. Furnaces can be fueled by oil, natural gas or electricity, and they heat the air or intermediary fluid with a flame.
How Heat Pumps Work
Heat pumps work by transferring heat in a manner similar to a refrigerator. During winter, they capture heat from the outside air and pump it into the inside air handler where it heats the air flowing through your home. Heat pumps are always powered by electricity.
When to Choose a Heat Pump
The two main considerations in choosing a heat pump are operating cost and average winter temperature. Typically, natural gas is the cheapest power source, followed by electricity, and then oil. If you use an oil-fueled furnace, converting to a heat pump may lower your energy costs. Your HVAC contractor can help you compare the energy costs for heat pumps and furnaces in your area based on local rates. Remember also that heat pumps also provide cooling, so there may be additional installation and maintenance savings from having a combined heating and cooling unit.
However, if you live in a colder area with temperatures frequently below 40 degrees, a heat pump may not be for you. Because they draw heat from the outside air, heat pumps lose efficiency below this temperature and need a backup option to help them maintain a comfortable temperature. In these areas, a furnace is often best.
For more information on heat pump or furnace installation, contact All Temp Co., Inc. Air Conditioning and Heating.
One of the easiest ways to cut power consumption this winter is to stop the energy vampires in your home from draining electricity 24/7. It’s likely your home is populated by appliances and devices that use standby power, even when they’re not running. Anything that uses a timer or has a clock is draining electricity when it’s plugged in.
The top five offenders include:
- Computers – Computer monitors use more power than the CPU itself, but it’s easy to set the system so it goes to sleep after it sits idle for a short time. Set the computer to sleep after 30 minutes.
- Televisions – Any television that turns on instantly is wasting energy when it’s off. Plasma televisions are the worst offenders. If it doesn’t interfere with its programming, it’s best to put the television on a power strip. Alternatively, you can choose Energy Star certified televisions that use much less standby power.
- VCRs, DVD players and sound systems – This equipment draws power continually. Unless you’ve programmed them, unplug them.
- Portable electronic devices – Any handheld devices that need charging are energy vampires. The chargers continue to use power when they’re plugged in. The best way to avoid wasting energy is to gather up the chargers, label them for the device they charge and use one power strip. When you’re done, turn the power strip off.
- Kitchen appliances that have clocks or timers – Microwaves and coffeemakers have clocks that need a constant flow of electricity. If you don’t need them programmed, unplug them until you need to use the appliance.
While disabling devices that use standby power will cut your energy consumption, you can also save a considerable amount of energy by tending to your heating system. Keeping the air filters clean and performing seasonal maintenance will go a long way toward reducing overall energy consumption. Since your heating system consumes about half the energy you use, keeping it in top condition will reduce your heating expenses.
To learn more about energy vampires, contact the pros at All Temp Co., Inc. Air Conditioning & Heating. We’ve been serving Charlotte area homeowners for more than 28 years.