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Air Conditioning

Air Conditioning (40)

During our hot, humid Connecticut summers attics and upper floors of a home can become very hot, even when central air conditioning is available to cool the space. If an attic is a living space, such as a bedroom, and is not connected to air ducts, there are a couple of options available to effectively cool the space.

Ductless Cooling For Attics

Cooling an Attic With Central Air Conditioning

If the house has central air conditioning, but there are no vents connecting the attic, one option is to simply extend the existing air duct system into the attic space. However, before adding an additional zone to a central air conditioning system it's important that a qualified AC technician inspect the unit and calculate the air volume to ensure that it can handle cooling and heating the additional space. If the AC unit or furnace do not have enough capacity, they may run longer than they should to condition the additional space, wasting energy and shortening the lifespan of the unit.

Cooling an Attic Without Central Air Conditioning

If the house does not have central air conditioning, or expanding the existing ventilation system is not an option, a ductless cooling system may be a good alternative. Ductless, or mini-split, systems are small appliances that can provide effective cooling and heating to almost any space in a home from attics and basements, to sun rooms and garages. As the name implies, ductless systems are stand-alone compressor/fan units that deliver conditioned air directly into a living space from a compact appliance that can be mounted on a wall, inside a ceiling or even under the floor.

If the attic has more than one room, the ductless system can also  be split into separate zones (up to 8 zones with some models). Like a central air conditioner, a mini-split system can be programmed to run only when needed. Most offer a programmable wireless remote and some have advanced mobile apps for controlling the unit while your away from home.

Ductless or Window Air Conditioner?

Window air conditioners can be a convenient and inexpensive way to cool an attic. However, ductless systems offer several advantages, including:
  • Better aesthetics - no ugly metal boxes sticking out of the windows
  • Window units block view out of the window and can allow air to leaks around the window enclosure
  • Better efficiency - Ductless system use state-of-the-art technology to provide highly efficient heating an cooling in a compact package. With SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) ratings as high as 21.0, you can count on these systems to meet your efficiency needs.
  • Quieter operation - no rattling and hissing to keep you awake at night!
Another big advantage of ductless mini-split systems is the option to heat as well as cool a room – you'll enjoy year-round comfort.

Visit our ductless mini-split heating and cooling page to learn more.

Have questions about cooling or heating your attic or other room not connected to a central heating or cooling system? Give Air Specialties Heating and Air Conditioning a call. We can help explain all your options and answer all your questions.
Because most new central air conditioners built within the last decade are designed to operate very quietly, with variable speed motors and fan blades designed to reduce noise, when you do hear unusual noises, or the unit is runs much louder than usual, it is often a sign of a problem. It may be a symptom of a part has worn out and is about to fail. By being aware of these noises you can address the small problems before they lead to an expensive breakdown. 

Central Air Conditioner Noises

A central air conditioner is going to make some sounds when it is working normally. Subtle thumping, hissing and whining sounds are normal. By becoming familiar with the normal operating sounds that an air conditioner makes, you will be able to more easily recognize unusual sounds that could be a cause for concern.

The Sounds of a Malfunctioning Air Conditioner

Air conditioners have many parts; there are fans, hoses, belts, compressor motors, coils and other components that work together to move cool air throughout your home. As air conditioners age belts often loosen, leading to thumping sounds. A clogged air filter will reduce air flow and can cause the unit to whine as it cycles on and off. Loose hardware on compressor parts can lead to rattling sounds.

One of the most common causes of a central AC unit running more loudly is a lack of maintenance. Annual maintenance is important to address the small problems like worn out belts, loose mounts, and other problems before they result in a major breakdown. Preventative maintenance is the best way to minimize the likelihood of air conditioner repairs. An AC tune-up includes the following steps that keep your air conditioner operating quietly and reliably. Annual AC maintenance includes some common items like:
  • Inspection and lubrication of moving parts
  • Inspection and replacement of worn belts and hoses
  • Replacement of dirty air filters
  • Ensuring that the unit cycles on and off properly
  • Inspection of electrical connections
  • Inspection of refrigerant levels

AC 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 duct work that carries the air throughout the home. Examine the seams around these areas for loose connections and re-tighten any screws or bolts. If heat tape was used to also cover the seals, make sure the tape completely adheres to the duct seams.

AC 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.

If you're hearing unusual sounds from your central air conditioner, call Air Specialties Heating and Air Conditioning. We will inspect the unit to ensure it is operating safely and reliably.



Choosing a ductless cooling system

As technology and efficiency have improved over the years, ductless cooling and heating (also call mini-split systems) have increased in popularity. For homes without central heating and cooling or air ducts, and difficult to cool and heat rooms like attics, garages and additions, ductless systems can be a good option. When deciding which ductless system is right for your home, consider the following questions.

How Many Zones?

One of the advantages of ductless mini-split systems is the ability to control each zone separately. Depending on the model, you can have from 1 to 8 seprate zones. Maybe you will have only one zone, say a 3-season porch. Or, you may have a zone for every room in your home. Having multiple zones controlled independently not only improves comfort in each room, it can save you a lot of money in lower utility bills.

Sizing

Choosing the right size unit for your home is critical to ensuring comfort and efficiency. The power of air conditioners is measured in BTUs. The higher the BTUs, the larger the volume of air an air conditioner will be able to effectively cool. Some product specs will list the size of a room it is designed to cool. Or, you can also do the calculations yourself based on the products BTU rating.
Generally, the square footage of a room translates into the following number of BTUs needed:
  • 300 sq. ft. 7,000 BTUs
  • 350 sq. ft. 8,000 BTUs
  • 400 sq. ft. 9,000 BTUs
  • 450 sq. ft. 10,000 BTUs
  • 500 sq. ft. 11,000 BTUs
  • 550 sq. ft. 12,000 BTUs
  • 625 sq. ft. 13,000 BTUs
  • 700 sq. ft. 14,000 BTUs
  • 1,000 sq. ft. 18,000 BTUs

Installation Location

One of the main advantages of ductless systems is the flexibility of installation locations. While a window air conditioner is stuck in the window, a ductless unit can be installed in the floor, the ceiling or on the wall. Wherever they are installed, most mini-split units are compact and unobtrusive.

Additional Features

• Remote control operation - Most ductless systems come with a wireless remote for controlling the unit. Some offer smartphone apps that let you monitor and control the system while you're away from home.
• Timers
• Reusable filters

Have questions about ductless cooling and heating for your home? Call Air Specialties Air Conditioning and Heating. We can help answer all your questions.

If you're considering a window air conditioner to cool individual rooms in your home, you may want to consider a ductless, or mini-split system instead. While initial installation costs are usually higher, in most cases a ductless system will offer better aesthetics, efficiency, convenience and versatility that will pay for itself.

Ductless or Window Air Conditioner?

Here are a few of the advantages ductless systems offer versus window AC units.

1. No window needed. A window air conditioner blocks the view outside and can present security issues. Window AC units can also be unsightly both inside and outside the home. Ductless systems are typically small, narrow units that can be mounted up high near the ceiling or in the floor where they won't get in the way.

2. Heating. In addition to cooling, some ductless systems can provide heating.

3. Expandability. Mini-split systems can be connected together to cool and heat up to 8 rooms.

4. Lower Noise. Because the condensor is located outside the house, minisplit systems are typically much quieter than window air conditioners.

5. Advanced Features - With some models you can monitor and adjust your ductless system with a remote control and create programs and schedules from your smartphone or tablet.

If you're considering replacing your window air conditioners with a ductless cooling system, call Air Specialties Air Conditioning and Heating. We can help answer all your questions.

Thermostat


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 wasting energy, increase comfort and save you money. So what about when you're going to be away from home on vacation for more than a week or more? 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 thermostats like the Nest® include a phone app that will let you monitor the temperature and humidity in your home while you're away. If the temperature and humidity get too high, you can simply turn on the AC remotely while your away. 

If excess humidity is not a concern and you plan to turn off the air conditioner while you're away, it's also a good idea to close the drapes and blinds on all windows that are facing sunlight during the day.
Air Conditioner Maintenance West Haven

Before you schedule your annual air conditioner maintenance there are a few simple steps you can take yourself to ensure your central air conditioner is ready to run when the first hot day of the season rolls around.

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 cooling correctly, give Air Specialties Air Conditioning and Heating a call.
How Long Does a Central Air Conditioner Last?

As the hot, humid weather arrives in the West Haven area and you prepare to switch on your central air conditioner for another summer you may be wondering just how many more years of service it will provide before needing replacement. The short answer is approximately 10-15 years. The long answer, however, is a little more complicated. How long your air conditioner will last depends on many factors. Some of these factors include the quality of the air conditioner itself – lower costs models will likely need replacement before a more expensive, higher end model does. A lower cost air conditioner may be ready for replacement in as little as 8 years.

The good news is that many of the factors that determine how long your central air conditioner will last are under your control. The most important thing you can do is have your air conditioner professionally maintained each spring. Annual maintenance will not only help the unit last longer, it will allow it to operate more efficiently, saving you money on your utility bill and reducing the likelihood of unexpected repairs.

Because most air conditioner parts can be replaced as they wear out, it's usually a good idea to repair parts as wear out. With new air conditioners operating at much higher efficiency than units made just a decade ago, replacing the unit could ultimately be more cost effective in the long run when compared to the cost of keeping an aging 10-15 year old unit running.

Have questions about your central air conditioner? Give Air Specialties Air Conditioning and Heating a call, we can help answer all your home cooling questions.
Buying a new central air conditioner is a major investment. When repairing your old unit is no longer an option and it's time to purchase a new air conditioner, here are some things to consider.

West Haven Air Conditioning

1. EFFICIENCY - Depending on the age of your old 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.

2. MULTIPLE SPEED OPERATION - Multi-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.

3. AIR QUALITY - If indoor air quality is a concern, you can effectively reduce indoor pollution by installing a whole house air cleaner to the AC units air handler. You'll breathe easier knowing that your new system is capturing the contaminants that can cause health problems.

Have questions about choosing the best air conditioner for your home? Call Air Specialties Air Conditioning and Heating. We have decades of experience in air conditioning.
With warm weather right around the corner we will soon be turning our central air conditioners on to cool our homes.  Regular maintenance is critical to ensuring that your cooling system is running reliably and efficiently. A dirty, unmaintained air conditioner not only costs you money in the form of more frequent repairs and a shortened lifespan of the unit, but every time it's running in the form of higher utility bills.

West Haven AC Maintenance

Consider these facts:

“A dirty filter will slow down air flow and make the system work harder to keep you warm or cool – wasting energy and leading to expensive repairs and/or early system failure...A buildup of .042(1/20) inches of dirt on the heating or cooling coil can result in a decrease inefficiency of 21%.” – EnergyStar.gov

“1/8th of an inch of dirt and dust build-upon the blower wheel can reduce airflow by up to 30%” – Texas A&M Study

In addition to keeping your air conditioner clean, an Air Specialties Air Conditioning tune-up includes lubricating moving parts, checking coolant levels, inspecting the blower motor, belts, electrical systems and much more. So call us today to schedule your AC tune up and keep your cooling system is operating reliably and efficiently all year long.

So don't wait until the busy summer season to tune-up your air conditioner. Schedule you air conditioner tune-up today and rest easy knowing your air conditioner is running efficiently all summer long.
Home Cooling MythsWe all have habits when it comes to keeping our home cool and comfortable during the cooling season that we think will keep the house cooler and save us on cooling costs. However, there are a few common habits that can actually end up costing you more without making the home any cooler.

1. Turning The AC Off When You're Away From Home For More Than a Couple of Hours Saves Money.
MYTH: While an air conditioner is obviously not using energy when it's turned off, turning the A/C back on makes it run longer to remove the heat that has built up inside the home, which can use a lot of energy.

2. Ceiling Fans Should Be Run All the Time During the Summer
MYTH: Ceiling fans don't actually cool the air in your home, they simply move the conditioned air down into the living space and provide evaporative cooling on the skin, making you feel more comfortable. They provide little if any benefit in unoccupied rooms. So they should only be used when the room is occupied.

3. Turning the Thermostat Temperature Way Down Will Cool the House Faster
MYTH: Lowering the thermostat temperature will not affect how quickly your air conditioner cools down your home.

4. Air Conditioner's Built Today are Better Made and More Reliable, So Annual Maintenance Is Less Important Than It Used To Be.
MYTH: Annual A/C maintenance is just as important as ever. In fact, to fully benefit from the high efficiency features of your new air conditioner, it needs to be kept clean and well maintained.

Have questions about your home's central air conditioner? Call Air Specialties Air Conditioning and Heating, we can help.
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