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Air Conditioning Tips and Advice

Air Conditioning Tips and Advice (96)

Inconsistent cooling in the home is one of the most common reasons homeowners contact us for service. Hot and cold zones around the home are not only an annoyance, they’re a sign that the home's air delivery system is not operating correctly. Many homeowners will simply close or open vents, or adjust the thermostat well above or below where it should be to maintain a comfortable setting. This wastes energy and can shorten the life of your air conditioner.

Air Conditioning

Several factors can contribute to uneven cooling, but, fortunately, they can all be fixed. Here are a few things that you can do to address uneven cooling in your home

Have Your Home's Ductwork Inspected

If airflow to certain parts of the home is imbalanced, you’ll experience uneven cooling in those areas. An airflow imbalance also causes your system to work overtime in order to compensate, which in turn will shorten your system’s life and decrease its efficiency.

In order to create a balanced airflow ABC Southwest will need to inspect and assess the adequacy of your home’s ductwork. If the ducts are not properly sized, it’s important to replace them with correctly sized ones.

Identifying leaks and blockages is also important, as leaks are a major contributor to inefficiency and uneven temperatures. If blockages are identified, they will be removed to restore airflow. Once the underlying causes of the imbalance have been identified, the appropriate repairs or replacement will be made to get your system functioning normally again.

Variable Speed Motors

Variable speed motors provide more even heating and cooling, and allow for more precise control of airflow throughout the home. By moving the air more slowly through the system, variable speed motors can help make a home’s air filtration and moisture control systems more effective. They adjust the system’s output based on the home’s cooling needs. They can also be helpful in situations where uneven cooling is actually desired. If there are rooms in your home that are rarely used, you can save money by keeping them at a slightly higher or lower temperature than the other rooms in your home. This involves “zoning,” which means customizing temperature settings for different areas of the home. In general, variable speed motors are the only systems that allow for zoning within the home.

Ensure Your Air Conditioning System Is Sized Correctly

Just as you’re experiencing discomfort due to uneven temperatures, your system is constantly trying to compensate, which means high utility bills and the potential for costly repairs.

Sometimes, an improperly sized HVAC system may result in uneven cooling. This could be the result of either an incorrect load calculation at the time of the system’s installation or a home’s heating and cooling needs changing over time. For example, it is common that an extra room is added or an area like an attic is converted into living space. If your HVAC system is too small to properly heat or cool your home, uneven temperatures and system failures could result. To determine whether your HVAC system is properly sized, contact ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning for an up-to-date load calculation.
Does your central air conditioner constantly cycle on and off? Or, does it seem to run forever? If so, it could be a symptom of an AC that's too large or too small. When a new central air conditioner is installed in a home one of the most important tasks the HVAC technician performs is matching the size of the unit to the amount of air being conditioned. If the unit is too large or small for the home, problems can occur.

Some of the symptoms of an air conditioning system that is sized too large for the house include the inability of the unit to adequately dehumidify the home and powering on and off too frequently. This occurs because an overly large system will cool the air so quickly that not enough humid air is allowed to flow over the cooling coil to remove the moisture from the air. The thermostat quickly reaches the set temperature and shuts off, leaving too much humidity in the air. The only practical solution is to install a properly sized condensing unit and coils.

Have questions about your air conditioner? Call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning, we're here to help.
Even if your home has the most efficient central air conditioner available, heat and humidity from inside your home could be reducing its efficiency, resulting in higher cooling bills. The reason is that many of today's, tightly sealed, well insulated homes are great at trapping heat and humidity from appliances and other sources.

Reducing heat and humidity

While simple steps like closing blinds to block the sun, and running ceiling fans to circulate the cool air near the living space can make a big difference, there are many sources of heat and humidity inside the home that can reduce the efficiency of a cooling system. Here are some things to look for:

1. Turn off incandescent bulbs. Because most of the energy from incandescent bulbs goes to generating heat rather than light, turning them off or using a dimmer will reduce heat significantly. Better yet, replace old light bulbs with cooler lighting options like CFL or LED light bulbs. They will convert more of their energy into light, thereby operating much cooler.

2. Install the thermostat away from windows and heat sources like lamps and TVs. With the popularity of wireless, smart thermostats, many homeowners are installing the devices in a less than optimum location. A thermostat should be on an interior wall away from air ducts and electrical appliances that can cause it to read higher than normal temperatures. Interior hallways are usually a good place to mount a thermostat.

3. During hot weather, use an outside grill or cook with a microwave instead of the oven or range. Kitchens are a main source of heat and humidity inside the home.  During hot weather consider skipping the oven and stove and cook outside instead.

4. Ensure that your clothes dryer and bathroom exhaust fans are venting outside and not into the attic. An improperly installed bathroom or dryer vent can lead to excessive heat and humidity, which can also create an ideal environment for mold and mildew to grow. If your bathroom or laundry room experience high levels of heat and humidity, ensure that an exhaust fan is installed and is powerful enough to clear the air.

5. Dry clothes outside. Dryers not only generate a lot of heat, but also a lot of humidity. Also ensure that the dryer vent it well connected and not leaking warm air inside the home.

6. Skip the heat dry cycle on your dishwasher. Another common source of hot, humid air inside the home is the dishwasher. The drying cycle of a dishwasher generates a lot of warm, humid air, so allow the dishes to dry at cooler temperature if possible.

7. Use a water heater blanket to reduce heat loss and make your water heater operate more efficiently. While most tanks are well insulated, a blanket will ensure it isn't wasting energy.

8. Turn off the gas supply to fireplaces and heaters. Pilot lights generate heat and waste natural gas.

Have questions about keeping your home cool? Call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning we're here to help.
Air Conditioner Efficiency Ratings

For most homeowners energy efficiency and lower utility bills are at the top of the list when deciding on a new air conditioner.

When researching cooling systems you're likely to run across a lot of industry alphabet soup. While these acromymns can be bit confusing at first, they're meant to provide a simple scale to compare which systems that offer the highest efficiency and lowest energy costs.

Here are two of the most common measurements of energy efficiency.

SEER Ratings

The Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) is a measure of efficiency for air conditioners. A high SEER number means more energy efficiency, and lower cost to operate. All new air conditioners have a 13.0 SEER rating or better. The most efficient systems can achieve SEER ratings over 20.

AFUE Ratings

For gas furnaces, the Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) rating is a common measure of energy use and efficiency. The AFUE rating tells you how much of the fuel used by your furnace is used to actually heat your home and how much is wasted. The higher the AFUE rating, the greater the efficiency. For example, a 90% furnace creates heat, 90% of which is used directly by the home with 10% lost, generally as a result of venting. Some newer furnaces have an AFUE rating that exceeds 98%.
Central air conditioners have many moving parts that must work together to keep your home cool. Over time these parts are subject to wear and tear. AC noises can be a simple fix, like a loose panel cover, or a sign of a more serious problem.

Central Air Conditioner Noises

Air Conditioner Rattling Noises

Rattling noises are a pretty common with air conditioners. Over time the various fasteners attaching components to the unit can come loose. If you hear rattling, check the screws or bolts holding the cover plates in place. If the rattling noises persist after tightening the panels, remove the cover and check internally for the same issue. After listening for rattles, always turn the power to the unit off at the breaker.

AC Whistling Sounds

Whistling sounds are usually heard when seals are leaking. Check for cracks and gaps in the seams of ducts near the unit and the ductwork that carries the air throughout the home. Examine the seams around these areas for loose connections and retighten any screws or bolts. If heat tape was used to also cover the seals, make sure the tape completely adheres to the duct seams.

Screeching Sounds

Like your car, the air conditioner motor uses belts. If there is periodic screeching that only occurs when the unit turns on to blow air or cool the air down, it is likely a worn-out belt that needs to be replaced. Over time belts can stretch and wear out. A qualified HVAC technician should check the belt and replace it if needed.

Clunking Sounds

Clunking sounds can mean something has come loose inside the air conditioner unit. A loose fan blade on a motor can make sounds as it turns. Or it could be a plastic component or cover plate coming into contact with the. A qualified HVAC technician should inspect the unit to ensure it is operating safely.

Concerned about noises from your central air conditioner? Call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning, we're here to help.
Sarasota Air Conditioner Maintenance

Many of the problems we see that lead to unexpected air conditioner repairs are simply the result of poor maintenance, or ignoring the signs of a potential problems for too long. Annual maintenance is critical to ensuring your air conditioner operates reliably and efficiently. But there are also a few simple steps you can take yourself to ensure your central air conditioner is kept in good shape. Here are a few things you can do before you schedule your annual air conditioner maintenance.

Outside the House

The outside section of the air conditioner, called the condenser, should be clean and unobstructed. The unit draws air in from the sides to dissipate heat so ensure that there are no trees, shrubs or other objects near the unit that could be reducing the flow of air. The fins and condensing coils of the air conditioner should be clean, without excessive dirt or debris.
  • Vacuum away any dirt, leaves and debris outside the main cabinet. Never use a power washer to clean an air conditioner!
  • Inspect the base pan for blocked drain openings
  • Inspect the coil and cabinet for any holes and leaks
  • Inspect the fan blades for any damage
Inside the Home
  • Replace the air filter - A dirty filter can increase energy costs and damage your equipment, increasing the likelihood of early failure.
  • Ensure that air vents or registers are unobstructed in every room of your home.
  • Update your thermostat for the cooling season.
  • Check for any unusual odors when your system starts.
  • Listen for abnormal noises when your system starts.
If you experience any strange odors or sounds, or the air conditioner is not blowing cold air, call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning. We can help with all your home cooling needs.
Tuesday, 24 April 2018 21:34

Controlling Humidity In the Home

Written by
In the humid Florida environment the air conditioner is the main defense against excess humidity. When the humidity is too high, moisture build-up can damage your home and cause health problems when mold and mildew take hold.

Ideally, indoor humidity levels should be in the 30-50 percent range. You can measure humidity with a device called a hygrometer, or using a weather station available at many hardware stores.

Proper Ventilation

Kitchens, bathrooms and laundry rooms are the primary sources of excess humidity in the home. It's important to ensure that these areas of the home are properly ventilated with exhaust fans as needed, and that the fans are vented out of the home and not just to the attic.

Excess Condensation

Condensation occurs when humid air comes in contact with cool surfaces like windows and doors. Having a barrier layer between the indoor and outdoor surfaces is the key to preventing moisture accumulation on cold surfaces. This can be accomplished by installing storm doors and ensuring windows are double glazed.

Leaving doors open to allow air to circulate and opening drapes and partially opening blinds on sunny days can also reduce the buildup of excess moisture in the home.

Have questions about controlling humidity in your home? Call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning, we're here to help.
If your home's cooling system is getting on in years and it may be time to replace it with a new, more reliable system, here are a few things to consider when it comes to new systems.

1. Reliabilty - An air conditioner is a major investment. Do your research and go with a proven brand and you'll reduce the chances of having problems down the road.

2. Efficiency - By choosing an EnergyStar rated system you'll save you up to 30% on your annual cooling bill.

3. Professional Installation - The most important day in the life of your air conditioner is the day it's installed. Proper sizing and correct installation is critical. Choose a heating and cooling company with experience and one that stands behind their work, now and down the road.

4. Air Quality - To reduce indoor pollution consider attaching a whole house air cleaner to your furnace or air handler. You can have peace of mind knowing your new system is capturing small contaminants that can cause health problems.

Have questions about choosing a new air conditioner? Call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning. We're here to help.

Should You Repair Or Replace Your Air Conditioner?

Should you repair or replace your AC?

If your old air conditioner is racking up the repair bills and still not performing well, it may be time to consider if replacement is a better option than yet another repair. Because a new air conditioner is a major investment, the following should be taken into consideration:

1. Repairing the AC unit may be the least expensive immediate option, but could cost more in the long run. For example if the evaporator coil has numerous leaks or is severely corroded, it’s time to replace the unit.
    
2. Depending on the age of your current air conditioner, installing a new, energy efficient system could pay for itself over time. By looking at the Energy Star Label on new air conditioners you can find out how efficient the unit is, as indicated by a SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating). The SEER rating tells you how efficiently a unit uses electricity: the higher the number, the greater the efficiency.

The typical SEER rating of units manufactured prior to 1992 is about 6.0. In 1992, the government established a minimum cooling efficiency standard for units installed in new homes at 10.0 SEER. High efficiency units have a rating of at least 12.0 SEER.

3. New Features - Some HVAC systems come with additional features that provide greater comfort. Two-speed units can run on low-speed (using about 50 percent of the energy) 80 percent of the time. Consequently, they use fewer on/off cycles and produce fewer drafts and small temperature swings.

At ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning our first priority is to keep your air conditioner running as reliably and efficiently for as long as possible. If you have questions about whether to repair or replace your current air conditioner our home comfort specialist can help.
Turn off AC when Away?

Central air conditioners are one of the most energy intensive appliances in the home. Using a programmable thermostat to automatically control the cooling schedule can avoid energy waste, increase comfort and save you money. So what about when you're going to be away from home on vacation for more than a few days? Should you turn the AC completely off, or just turn the temperature up so it runs less often?

One important factor to consider is humidity. If the forecast includes a chance that the temperature and humidity are going to reach tropical levels, mold and mildew could be a concern if the windows are closed. Remember, an air conditioner doesn't just cool the air, it removes moisture. Turning the thermostat up 10 degrees will enable the AC to turn on every occasionally and keep humidity levels in check.

Have a smart thermostat? Some include an app that will let you monitor temperature and humidity while you're away. If the temperature and humidity get too high, you can simply turn on the AC when your away.

If excess humidity is not a concern and you plan to turn off the air conditioner while you're away, it's a good idea to close the drapes or blinds on all windows that receive direct sunlight during the day.
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