Today's central air conditioners are designed to never leak coolant. In fact, the coolant in an air conditioner will often outlast the AC system itself. In rare cases, however, coolant may leak from a system and need a recharge – or more accurately, a refill.
Refrigerants are used to extract the heat from the air, without this heat transfer the system will fail to cool, so the most obvious sign of a leak is when the air coming out of your vents feels warmer than normal. Of course, this will also trick the thermostat into making the AC run longer than normal. This will happen gradually over time as the refrigerant slowly leaks out. Another sign of a refrigerant leak is a buildup of frost and ice on the surface of the AC unit. Once outside the coil, refrigerant is a gas that will freeze on any exposed surface.
If the system does need a coolant recharge the work should be performed by a qualified air conditioner technician who is certified by the EPA to perform the work. Annual AC maintenance is also important to find small leaks before they degrade system performance. If the system is 12 years or older and the leak is large, it may be more cost effective to replace the air conditioner with a newer, more efficient model rather than repair and refill unit.
Your home's central air conditioner is a power-hungry and complex machine that can fail at any time without warning. However, there are a few simple ways you can identify air conditioner problems that could tip you off to a potential problems before the unit fails completely.
Some of the early warning signs of potential problems are:
One of the most common complaints we hear is that the air conditioner is making a wailing noise. Left unchecked, the minor annoyance can quickly grow deafening when the unit is operating at full capacity. Loud noises such as these are generally caused by a fan belt becoming dislodged over time. Your technician will check the bearings in the motor, as they may require lubrication or replacement.
Another issue that often arises is frozen coils. Frozen coils and ice can impede the operation of the unit, creating blockage in the circulation of Freon and air. Heat pumps often contain heating elements to reduce this problem, but sometimes the unit doesn’t cycle quickly enough. Recalibrating the unit can eliminate this problem.
An air conditioner that is leaking water inside your home can cause significant water damage as well as mold and mildew. If your AC unit no longer drains away condensation effectively, it could be the result of a rusted out condensation pan or blockage in the drain itself. Check the pan and drain lines for signs of leaks.
One of the most common causes of air conditioner failure is blocked grills. Annual maintenance to clean the unit's fins, fan, motor and other parts of dirt and debris will allow the unit to operate at peak efficiency during the hottest weather.
If the air conditioner simply isn’t cooling, more advanced diagnostic tools may need to be applied. Is the fan or compressor running without the other? Does the unit work only part of the time? Does it over cool or not cool enough? Questions such as these can help you give your technician a head start in quickly zeroing in on the source of the problem, so be sure to take a second to observe operation before you turn of power to the unit and call for service.
Generally most problems can be identified from the details above. If, for instance, the unit shuts off before the room is a comfortable temperature, it may not be cycling enough air through the thermostat to take a measurement. This could be due to poor calibration or a blocked sensor.
A Freon leak can render the machine weak or ineffective, especially if recharging the gas supply doesn’t solve the problem. The thermostat could be broken as well, which usually means it has to be replaced. Finally, the A/C unit may be short-circuited to the ground, causing circuit breakers to fail every time the machine turns on. Be sure to provide a description of the problem to your technician to help him solve your problem as quickly as possible.
With the summer heat wave upon us, it's is time to break out the swimsuits, iced drinks and power up the air conditioner. Unfortunately, along with the rising temperatures come rising electric bills. Here are a few helpful tips to keeping cool this summer, while saving energy dollars.
Set your thermostat to work around your schedule. When no one is home, set it to kick in a few degrees higher. You might save up to $200 doing this.
By following a these simple steps this summer you'll be able to relax knowing you've helped keep your home cooling costs in check.
With hot summer weather fast approaching, this is the time to ensure your HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) systems is prepared for the consistently hot months ahead. Proper cooling system maintenance, along with a few simple steps to keep your house cool, will ensure that your air conditioning operates at peak efficiency throughout the summer.
According to the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), your HVAC system could be costing you an additional $1,000 per season to run, due to dirty coils and clogged filters, it if it is not clean and properly maintained.
If your air conditioner is not effectively cooling all areas of your home, or you notice unusual noise coming from your HVAC system, call Air Specialties, our experienced technicians can help diagnose the problem and repair your cooling system so it provides reliable cooling throughout the summer.
One common measurement of unit efficiency is called SEER, which stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. The higher the number the more efficient the system.
A SEER rating indicates how much heat a central air conditioning system can remove per hour relative to the power it consumes. An air conditioner with a high SEER number will require less energy to remove the same amount of heat as a unit with a lower SEER rating
The SEER formula: SEER = BTUs (heat removed) per hour / Watts (power consumed)
For example, if your old air conditioner removes 36000 BTUs per hour while consuming 3600 Watts, you can calculate its SEER rating as follows: SEER = 36,000 BTUs per hour / 3,600 Watts = 10
To achieve higher efficiency while maintaining the same cooling power, you need an air conditioner that consumes less power and thereby has a higher SEER rating. Compare the above calculation with the following examples:
For these examples, assume that you use your air conditioner for approximately 2,000 hours per year, and your electric power costs approximately $0.10 per KWhr (kilowatt hour). You can calculate your annual air-conditioning power cost as follows: Annual Cost = KW (kilowatts) Power consumed X Hours per year X Cost per KWhr
Higher SEER ratings reduce annual energy costs, as shown in these examples:
(These are average estimates and will vary with different types of equipment.)
Have Questions? Call the experts at Air Specialties. A Home Comfort Specialist will evaluate your home, your comfort preferences, and your budget. We’ll also address issues like allergies and indoor air quality in determining the best air conditioner to matches your home and your lifestyle.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy In the typical Connecticut area home, 40 percent of energy consumed is for heating and cooling. To reduce these costs as much as possible, we have put together a few tips on you can significantly decrease the amount that you spend to keep your home cool while still being comfortable.
1. Seal Air Leaks - Locate air leaks around windows, doors and outlets by burning a match stick while running the home’s fans. Weather-stripping is a simple and affordable fix that can cut up to 15 percent or more off cooling costs.
2. Switch to CFL or LED Lights - Conventional incandescent bulbs emit a lot of heat. You will keep your home cooler with energy-efficient light bulbs while saving electricity over the long term.
3. Use Curtains and Blinds - Keep south- and west-facing curtains and blinds closed on hot days and opened during cool evenings.
4. Laundry Strategies - Wash clothes in cold water to help keep the home cooler. Hang clothes outside to dry on warm days.
5. Unplug Electronics - TVs, DVD players, and computers that are turned off can still suck power out of outlets. Unplug electronics that are not in use. Use smart strips to make this easier.
6. Programmable Thermostats - Program the thermostat to turn air conditioning off when the household is away to help save up to 10 percent on your cooling costs.
Move the Thermostat - Make sure that the thermostat is located on an inside wall, away from drafts.
7. Insulate Attic Access Points - Insulated covers are available for attic doors, hatches and pull-down stairs. Adequate insulation can cut heating and cooling cuts by 10 percent or more.
8. Ventilate Attics - Ventilation fans help prevent the sun’s heat from building up in the attic.
9. Check the Ducts - Sealing and insulating the home’s duct distribution system enhances the cooling system’s efficiency.
10. Schedule Maintenance - Arrange for regular maintenance to keep your air-conditioning system operating at peak efficiency.
With the warm weather just around the corner in Connecticut, many homeowners with older AC systems are weighing the benefits of repairing and maintaining their older unit versus purchasing a newer, more reliable system.
The old saying "if it ain't broken, don't fix it." makes sense for a lot things around the home, but for energy intensive systems like air conditioners, putting off a new system could be costing you more in the long run.
The EPA suggest that homeowners replace their air conditioner if it's beyond 10 years old. The reason is new air conditioners are much more efficient that system installed over a decade ago. How much can you expect to save on your energy bill? With a newer, high efficiency system you could save up to 56% on your cooling costs.
Here are a couple of other reasons to consider replacing your old air conditioner.
1. Your air conditioner is in need of regular repairs and your energy costs are rising as it has become worn out and less efficient.
2. It's LOUD! Newer air conditioners operate at variable-speeds to cool your home more quietly in most situations.
Without refrigerants, air conditioning as we know it would not be possible. These liquid cooling agents circulate inside the air conditioner's coils to cool and dehumidify the air in our homes. Up until very recently the most common refrigerant found in home air conditioners was R-22, or Freon. However, Freon is also a very potent contributor to the depletion of the ozone layer in the earth's atmosphere, so its use is being phased out.
As manufacturers phase out R-22 refrigerants, newer environmentally friendly alternative are being developed. R-410A is an EPA-rcognized, ozone-friendly refrigerant. Many of the industry's highest efficiency cooling systems are now designed to use R-410A refrigerant, benefiting the environment as well as your budget.
Although air conditioner manufacturers are required to phase out the use of R-22 systems, use of R-22 refrigerant is still allowed in older systems manufactured prior to 2010. If you have an older air conditioner that uses Freon, it's important to ensure that the unit is well maintained and not leaking into the atmosphere.
As the availability of Freon for air conditioners become lower in the coming years it makes sense to plan on upgrading to an R-410A system now. When your old air conditioner is removed ABC will properly recycle the components to ensure the Freon does not damage to the environment.
The in between seasons of spring and autumn in the New Haven area can be unpredictable. Once day it's over 80, the next day it's back in the 40s. In these constantly changing conditions, adjusting your home's thermostat to maintain comfortable inside environment can be a challenge. Larger, multi-level homes with large windows can present a particular challenge when trying to maintain comfort throughout the home. During the spring months the lower levels may be ice cold, while the upper level may be uncomfortably warm.
Zoning simply means segmenting rooms and levels of the home into environments that can be adjusted separately to specific temperature requirements. If one family member prefers to sleep in an ice cold upstairs bedroom, occupants on the lower levels can control their own thermostat rather than piling on extra clothing.
By working with your home's HVAC system, zoning will increase, reduce or shut off heating and cooling in each zone by opening and closing dampers located inside the air ducts.A programmable thermostat on an inside wall regulates damper function, allowing each zone to be climate controlled separately.
Zoning will not only maintain comfort levels in all areas of the home, it will significantly reduce home energy use and utility costs. When properly set up, a home zoning system can pay for itself in as little as three years.
The thermostat is the brains of your home's heating and air conditioning system. In order for the thermostat to provide the best balance of comfort and efficiency, it must be programmed for each climate and adjusted to a home's comfort needs.
Here are a few tips to help you get the most out of your thermostat during the cooling season.
It's not uncommon to find homeowner's using their programmable thermostat as a simple on-off switch for their heating and cooling system, never realizing the potential for energy savings and increased comfort that the device is capable of providing.
Programmable thermostats work by shutting off systems when your home is empty, so you are not wasting money heating and cooling an empty home. They do this by running according to a schedule that you program based on the hours that you are home.
By scheduling the thermostat to heat and cool around your schedule you will see immediate savings on your energy bill
To program a thermostat for the best mix of comfort and energy efficiency, we recommend setting your thermostat as follows:
In the summer -
In the winter -
In the spring and fall these temperatures can be adjusted based on the greater degree of temperature changes from day to night.
Humidity plays a large role in home comfort. While it may be only 80 degrees outside, it can feel like 95 when the humidity levels are high.
Some thermostats offer humidity control, enabling more energy-efficient cooling and heating. Systems that operate at variable speeds can also help control humidity levels by drawing air across the coil slowly to remove more moisture when starting up.
Your central air conditioner has many moving parts that must work together to keep your home cool. Over time, moving parts are subject to wear and tear. Some of these problems can be easy to fix, like a loose panel cover, or require professional repair. Here are some noises you may hear.
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.
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.
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 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.