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Prevent AC Repair with Maintenance

Prevent AC Repair with Maintenance

The best way to prevent an air conditioning system problem is to properly maintain your unit. You’ll find this information helpful in your mission:

“AC maintenance prevents the need for AC repairs. Maintaining your system properly means you’ll be less likely to experience breakdowns during cooling season. Protect your system and prevent expensive repair bills!

  • Clean off your unit. Keeping your exterior air conditioner condenser unit free and clear of obstructions allows air to flow through the system correctly. This eliminates stress and keeps the system working properly. Clear away vegetation and clean off debris – follow these simple AC cleaning instructions.
  • Clean indoor vents and registers. As air circulates through the home, dust and dirt can stick to your vents and registers. This not only makes your home dirtier, but diminishes your indoor air quality. Follow these vent cleaning instructions to do so easily!
  • Change your air filter. Air filters need changed every 30 to 90 days, depending on the type of filter you have. It’s a wise idea to get on a regular schedule – note filter changes on your calendar, and make a note to check them every month during the summer, when your system runs ‘round the clock. Follow these filter change instructions to get the job done.
  • Keep pests out. When critters get in to your home’s HVAC system, they can cause great destruction. Their presence and leftovers have a negative impact on your indoor air quality. Pest-proof your AC components to keep them out! “

Common AC Repairs

Should you experience a system breakdown, know that there are a few common causes of summer AC repairs. Below you’ll find a few of the most common ones AC repair technicians face each day throughout the warmer months. Having a better understanding of the troubles your system may face can help you feel more at ease with the AC repair process, and better comprehend the information given to you by your technician.

Home AC Repair: Refrigerant Leak

“Air conditioners contain refrigerant, which allows the system to run efficiently, releasing heat from the air to cool it. Air conditioners are charged with refrigerant upon installation; a poor charge or a refrigerant leak can cause the system’s refrigerant level to fall below the proper amount. To remedy this, the home AC repair which is performed is a refrigerant recharge, accompanied by fixing the leak if that was the source causing low refrigerant levels.

It is important that the technician performing your home AC repair charge your cooling system with the proper amount of refrigerant. The manufacturer will specify this amount – correct refrigerant charge allows your cooling system to perform efficiently and accurately.

Home AC Repair: Drainage Issues

An air conditioner’s cooling process produces condensation, which normally flows away from the equipment, causing no problem. If there is a clog in the condensate drain lines or drip pan, or if outdoor humidity levels are high, moisture may back up into your air conditioner. Excess condensation will increase indoor humidity levels and hinder the air conditioner’s performance. It could also cause damage to your air conditioner’s components.

To correct this issue, your home AC repair technician will inspect all condensate lines and the drip pan. The lines will be cleared of clogs, and may be treated for algae growth to prevent future clogs. If air conditioner components have been damaged, your technician will provide you with an estimate to repair this equipment.

Home AC Repair: Broken Compressor Fan

Your air conditioner’s outside unit is home to the compressor, fan, and condenser coils. These components work to release heat from the air, transferring it out of your home to produce a cool indoor climate. When the outdoor fan isn’t working correctly, the heat transfer process is hindered. Not only will this prevent your air conditioner from adequately cooling your home, a broken fan can cause the system’s compressor to overheat. An overheated compressor could trigger the air conditioner’s safety controls, turning your air conditioner off; overheating can also cause damage to the compressor itself, requiring home AC repair or compressor replacement.

A qualified home AC repair specialist will diagnose the issue preventing the outdoor fan from working properly. Your fan will be repaired or replaced if necessary, and the outdoor unit will be inspected to assess whether the issue has caused further system damage.

Home AC Repair: Frozen Condenser Coils

If your air conditioner’s condenser coils, which are located in the outdoor unit, freeze up, your system will not run properly. Poor airflow through your cooling system can cause ice to form on the coils. Obstructions are typically the cause – such as dirty air filters or blocked return air ducts. Low refrigerant could also be the cause, requiring a refrigerant charge. A home AC repair technician can diagnose the issue behind your frozen coils, resolve it, and safely thaw your coils to restore cooling in your home.”

Emergency AC Repairs

AC breakdowns don’t always happen at convenient times. When your cooling system goes out in the middle of a hot day or night, it can be easy to panic – but stay calm! If you need AC repair after hours or in a hurry, there are a few steps you should take first – then call for local air conditioning repair.

Step 1: Try Air Conditioner Troubleshooting

Did you know that sometimes, what we assume to be a serious emergency air conditioner repair can actually be solved with some simple troubleshooting?

Cooling system issues may seem like an emergency, especially if you aren’t familiar with the ins and outs of HVAC equipment. Cooling system troubleshooting steps can be performed by most any homeowner – sometimes, your emergency air conditioner repairs may be solved with the flip of a switch or a filter change.

Before calling a technician for emergency air conditioner repairs, check out our Air Conditioner Troubleshooting Guide. These fixes could restore cooling sooner and save you an expensive emergency repair bill.

Step 2: Shut Down Your System

If your air conditioner isn’t cooling, or is experiencing another performance issue, shut it off. Don’t continue to operate a malfunctioning air conditioner, as that may worsen the problem at hand. This is one reason we do preventative maintenance checks pre-season – a technician identifies and corrects problems, so you don’t run your system with faulty components, causing more damage.

Shut your air conditioner down when performance issues arise. These include lack of cooling, no airflow, sudden system noises, or even outrageous energy bills. Shutting the system down will prevent further damage. Operating your system with performance issues could exacerbate the problem, even wrecking your system beyond repair.”

– See more at: https://www.hvac.com/blog/need-know-ac-repair#sthash.fxATO2Lx.dpuf

 

What is Energy Star?

5785b5_53bed37fce804a6883c12a5369bd954f.png_srb_p_149_153_75_22_0.50_1.20_0.00_png_srbTo qualify for ENERGY STAR requires heating and cooling units to meet or exceed minimum efficiency ratings. The minimum efficiency required by the EPA for ENERGY STAR recognition includes: air conditioner and heat pump units with a SEER of 14.5 or above, 12 EER, or HSPF of 8.2 or above.

Many factors can influence the potential savings on your energy consumption, including efficiency rating, lifestyle and having the right-sized system for your home.

When properly selected, higher efficiency Heating and Air Conditioning matched systems give you improved comfort at reduced operating costs by using fewer energy resources.  Proper selection requires a load calculation to identify the required-sized system that meet or exceed ENERGY STAR guidelines.  You can keep your utility bills down and reduce energy costs.

Efficiency Rating

Remember that the higher the efficiency rating, the greater the energy savings. All of the HVAC split system air conditioner and heat pump matched systems with a SEER of 14.5 or above, 12 EER, or HSPF of 8.2 or above and all gas furnaces with an AFUE of 90% or above meet or exceed the minimum efficiency required by the EPA for ENERGY STAR recognition.

A Plus Comfort helps you identify higher-efficiency products with an ENERGY STAR logo on the product’s nameplate.

Proper Heat Loss & Heat Gain Calculations

Another vital step to getting a more efficient matched system for your home is to have A Plus Comfort conduct a load calculation. Most homes today are heated and cooled by units that are too big for the home—others are too small. When an air conditioner or heat pump system is not the proper size (capacity) for a home, an array of problems can result. Temperatures might be uneven. Units might not run long enough to properly control humidity. You may have more maintenance problems over time. And the money you think you might be saving may be reduced, because with units that are too big, you’re essentially paying to heat or cool space that isn’t there.

Along with a proper load calculation from A Plus Comfort —we accurately calculate the right size system for your home—we offer products in a variety of capacity sizes to make sure that each one works as intended.

Benefits of Conserving Energy

Household energy use contributes to air pollution, including 20% of all U.S. emissions of carbon dioxide. It also accounts for 26% of all U.S. emissions of sulfur dioxide and 15% of nitrogen oxides. By reducing your personal energy use, using more energy-efficient appliances and heating and cooling equipment, and constructing more energy-efficient homes, we can reduce pollution and save energy at the same time.

Regular Seasonal Maintenance

Have A Plus Comfort perform preventative maintenance before the summer cooling and winter heating seasons begin.  Our professionals will check your system will increase the life of the system, improve energy efficiency, reduce pollutants and save money.

A dirty furnace filter can restrict airflow and increase energy use in your home. Keeping your furnace clean, lubricated and properly adjusted can save about 5 percent on heating costs. To increase the efficiency of your furnace, replace or clean filters once a month during operating season.

HVAC Design Factors

The following discusses the design, quality, cost, and maintenance factors that A+ Comfort considers before going ahead with any comfort system installation.

The HVAC DESIGN

The design should be the first step to ensure a quality system. A Plus Comfort will provide a quality design. A quality hvac design follows Manual J, and Manual D equipment selection protocols. This is the only method that can help ensure a properly sized comfort system, heating or air conditioning.

Any hvac contractor that tries to convince you that this step is not necessary, either doesn’t care about your comfort (just wants your cash), or they simply do not have the knowledge or capability to provide the proper hvac load calculations.

HVAC calculations/designs are now being required in Alabama and many areas of the United States.   When performing an HVAC design, A+ considers the following parameters:

Heat loss and heat gain (btu cooling and heating loads) of each room to be conditioned.

  • Weather data of your area.

  • Air flow (cfm) required for each area to be conditioned.

  • No. of occupants.

  • Direction structure/home faces.

  • Envelope properties, such as insulation values, quality of windows and doors, height of rooms.

  • Ease of installation, for minimal disruption and to keep installation cost within budget.

  • Efficiency. Higher efficiency means less money for utilities, but can also raise installation costs.

  • System type. Not all equipment types or models will satisfy requirements.

 

COST

Cost should not be your most important driving factor.  Cost, all too often, is the main consideration for a comfort system installation, but the initial installation costs are not the only cost you should consider. This decision can cost you dearly later on. The following factors should weigh heavily in your decision.

  • The quality of the installation is very important. If you go with the cheapest bid, you will probably get a bottom quality installation. Especially if there is a wide cost difference between your bids, the lower bids are cutting corners somewhere. But also be careful of price gouging. Heating and air conditioning companies need to make profit just like any other business! You need to find the balance between the two. Don’t be afraid to question your prospects to help with weeding out the rotten apples.

  • Top end equipment and installation materials should always be considered. Higher efficiency equipment from all manufacturers tends to be more dependable, as well as, saving dollars at the meters. Those service calls to keep lesser equipment running can cost considerably more, over time, than the initial installation cost for the better eqipment.

  • Operation cost. The higher the efficiency, the less money escapes your wallet on a monthly basis. Lesser quality/efficiency equipment will cost a lot more to operate during it’s lifetime, and they tend to fail sooner and more often. Service calls!

A+ Comfort’s comprehensive design bid/quotation details the following:

  • Copy of the calculated hvac design requirements following Manual J and D protocols.

  • The scope of work to be performed.

  • The recommended equipment to be installed.

  • Estimated installation time.

  • Warranties: Installation and Equipment.

  • Exclusions: Work that the contractor will not be providing or to be provided by others.

  • Price and payment terms.

  • Contract mutually agreed upon by both parties.

  • Installation and end-user manuals for all equipment installed.

Installation Quality

If the Hvac design is not followed or a sub-grade installation is provided, the system will perform poorly. This means your equipment may run constantly, using up electricity, costing you a lot of money and still not providing the comfort levels you had hoped for. Also, the harder your system must work, failure is more likely, and premature equipment replacement inevitably must follow.

A typical accepted low bid installation is commonly seen where a single indoor air conditioner is installed where 2 separate systems would have been called for, had a proper Manual J design been undertaken. The single system is cheaper to buy than the double system, cheaper to install, and certainly cheaper in material and equipment costs. The cheap guy gets the job because the customer sees a savings. His installation is sub-par, he has to cut corners wherever he can to show a profit on the job. The result is complaints about warm and cold spots throughout, the clients are uncomfortable, humidity is not controlled, and operating costs are sky high. Soon the unit breaks down and after numerous service calls, the inevitable decision must be made to scrap the inferior system and start over again.

Had the more expensive multiple system been installed originally, the system would provide the promised and expected comfort levels, no hot or cold spots, no unexpected breakdowns occur, and money is not thrown away on inefficiency. Overall a quality installation can ensure this scenario with proper annual maintenance.

Maintenance

Comfort system maintenance should be performed, at least, semi-annually. This allows the unit to work at full efficiency. Filters, air conditioning evaporator coils, and heat exchangers can become blocked, which will result in the system not working efficiently. The unit may then fail and cost increased utility bills, and worse.

Many companies offer annual maintenance contracts. Maintenance is provided at the beginning of each winter and summer season. Some maintenance certainly can be performed by the homeowner, such as filter changes, regular cleaning of equipment surfaces, and blowing debris out of the outdoor condensing unit.

A little planning up front can save you big over the lifetime of your HVAC unit. When you are planning on installing a new HVAC unit, it is important to select the right tonnage and specifications.  A Plus Comfort offers Residential Heating and Air Conditioning System Design Services that include the following:

  • Heating and Cooling Load Analysis

  • Heating and Cooling Loss Analysis

  • Duct Performance Analysis

  • Equipment Sizing & Balancing

All Heating and Air Conditioning System Design Services include a comprehensive home analysis and evaluation.  Along with proper maintenance, the proper Heating and Air Conditioning Design insures your new or retrofitted Heating and Air Conditioning unit is sized properly and runs at optimum efficiency for years of comfort and energy cost savings.

Certain government rebates apply.  Contact us today for a FREE HVAC System Design estimate on a complete or partial design.

What Are HVAC Efficiency Ratings ?

Dealing with HVAC systems can be overwhelming. Not only are there multiple aspects (furnaces, ducts, air conditioning, air filters, etc.) but the industry also comes with a language of its own. What in the world is a MERV? SEER?

To help homeowners and future homeowners, we’ve put together an easy guide on the four most common HVAC system ratings — MERV, SEER, AFUE and HSPF — including what they mean and what they’re used for.

MERV: Minimum Efficiency Rating Value

MERV ratings measure the efficiency of an air filter. They range from 1-16 — and the higher the MERV rating, the more it filters out (dust particles, pollen, mold, pet dander, etc.). A high MERV rating means the air filter has small pores, filtering out more, while a low rating means the air filter has large pores, which can let more pollutants and particles through the filter and back into your home’s air.

However, higher is not always better. Furnaces are built to operate with certain airflows, so using a different air filter than what it was built for can cause airflow problems. Because high MERV ratings mean the air filter has smaller pores, it can be more difficult for air to flow through it, leading to a more inefficient system. Your best bet is to go with the MERV efficiency ratings recommended by the furnace manufacturer.

To find out what kind of MERV you currently have, check the side of your filter or the packaging it came in. If you have a low rating and are interested in increasing it, call our HVAC experts or contact your contractor to be sure your furnace can handle it. A higher MERV rated filter is especially great for those that have asthma, allergies, or any other respiratory ailments.

SEER: Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio

The SEER rating measures the efficiency of air conditioners and heat pumps to help homeowners know how much energy their system is using. The higher the SEER, the less energy it will use, which means lower utility bills and less of an impact on the environment.

SEER is measured by the amount of  cooling a system puts out for each unit of energy it consumes (like the amount of miles a car drives for each gallon of gas used). The highest SEER rating available is SEER 30, which would be applied to the most energy efficient system. The government requires a minimum SEER rating of 13.0 for newly installed systems, and to receive an Energy Star a system must have a SEER rating of at least 14.

AFUE: Average Fuel Utilization Efficiency

AFUE is a standard measurement of efficiency for gas and oil-fired furnaces. In basic terms, it measures the percentage of heat delivered to your house from each unit of fuel used.

For example, a 70 percent AFUE rating means the furnace converts 70 percent of the fuel/oil to heat your house (the other 30 percent gets sent out the flue).

In financial terms, think about it this way. A 70 percent rating means for every dollar spent, 70 cents goes toward heating your home and 30 cents gets wasted.

The higher the AFUE rating, the better. The minimum rating for newly installed furnaces is 78 percent, but the most efficient furnaces have AFUE ratings of up to 98.5 percent.

HSPF: Heating Seasonal Performance Factor

HSPF is a measurement used to gauge the heating efficiency of heat pumps. Heat pumps work by using the difference between outdoor and indoor air temperatures to cool and heat your home. Although they’re similar to air conditioners, heat pumps can cycle air in both directions, heating your home in the winter and cooling it in the summer.

The higher the HSPF rating, the more efficient and cost effective your heat pump will be to run. Translation: a higher rating means cheaper bills.

The minimum HSPF rating of a new heat pump is 7.7, and the most efficient heat pumps have an HSPF rating of 13. To qualify for an Energy Star Rating, a heat pump must have at least a rating of 8.2.

The different HVAC acronyms and ratings can be confusing, but remember the majority measure efficiency and are designed to help you get the most bang for your buck. Knowing where your equipment falls on the scale can help you to make the most out of your HVAC system without wasting money.