The Importance of Refrigerant

If you’ve ever experienced a problem with your air conditioning, there’s a good chance you’ve looked at the system and wondered what could be wrong. Have any fans stopped turning? Is something wrong with the vents? Maybe the thermostat just isn’t connected right or there is an electrical issue.

Ironically, the last thing on your mind happens to be the most important. The refrigerant is an often un-talked about component of your A/C system, but it contributes directly to its functionality. The refrigerant lines are what’s used to chill and condition the air in your home, and when there is a problem with them, you don’t get the cool air you want. 

If you suspect there may currently be an issue with your refrigerant or your A/C unit in general, it’s important to get professional help as soon as possible so the problem does not get any worse. In the meantime, read on to learn more about refrigerant and the important role it plays in keep your home cool and comfortable. 

What Exactly is Refrigerant? 

While most people don’t associate cool air with liquid, that’s exactly what refrigerant is. At least for a good part of the time. It’s really a chemical compound that exists either in a liquid or gaseous state inside the copper coils of your A/C system. There are different types of refrigerants used today, but they all generally work the same way. The refrigerant moves between the indoor and outdoor units of your A/C and transitions between its liquid and gas states. This allows it to absorb heat from the surrounding indoor air and carry it out, returning with freshly cold air in its place. In compression systems, a pressurizer and condenser are used to cause the vapor to liquefy as needed. But even though it is going through a constant state of evaporating into a low-pressure gas and then liquefying repeatedly as it conditions the air around it, refrigerant stays contained inside the A/C system the entire time. 

So, if refrigerant is blocked or leaking anywhere, this can prevent it from doing its job (which of course is cooling the air in your home). It is important to get these problems fixed quickly, or you may soon find yourself looking at an entire system replacement. 

Does Refrigerant Run Out or Need to Be Refilled

It’s possible that you may have some friends or family members tell you that you simply need to “top off” or “refill” your refrigerant if you are experiencing leaks or other problems. Sadly, this is largely because some so-called HVAC “professionals” have cut corner by adding more refrigerant to their customer’s leaking systems and calling it a day. However, this is wrong, and it can even cause further problems. 

The truth is that your A/C system’s refrigerant should never leak or “run low.” All A/C units are designed to use the refrigerant they come with for the duration of their time in service. Refilling it either delays an existing problem that is bound to get worse over time, or it could even cause more serious issues right away. Furthermore, there are different types of refrigerant, and combining different kinds can cause further damage to the system. 

That said, if an experienced HVAC technician examines your system closely and determines that a significant amount of refrigerant has been lost via a leak, they may determine that a replacement is in store. This will include fully repairing the leak and replacing (or “recharging”) the refrigerant compound in the system. The solution is not, and never should be, simply “topping off” the refrigerant in the system. 

Signs of Refrigerant Problems

Your refrigerant is meant to last the lifetime of the A/C system, but that doesn’t mean that problems can’t come up from time to time. It’s time to call in a professional if you notice any of the following signs:

  • Hissing, bubbling or other unpleasant noises coming from the walls or vents (or the unit itself)
  • Ice or frozen spots forming along the unit’s evaporator coil.
  • Uneven cooling / warm spots in areas of your home that used to be cool while the A/C was running.
  • Problems with your home not cooling or getting cold in general (constantly trying to set your A/C to cooler or more powerful settings is also a sign). 

In many areas, you may actually face legal repercussions if a refrigerant problem is known about and not handled correctly. For example, intentionally venting refrigerant into the environment is prohibited, as is disposing of old or leaked refrigerant improperly. In fact, you could face some hefty fines if your A/C is found to be leaking refrigerant into the surrounding community for some time without being fixed. The good news is that a professional HVAC tech will be able to address these issues and dispose of any refrigerant (if necessary) properly, as well as make sure the entire system is up to code. 

Give us a call today, and we’ll help with all your A/C refrigerant questions and needs. 

5 Signs You Need To Call AC Repair

Summer’s heating up, and there’s no better time to make sure your air conditioning is working as it should. Even minor AC unit problems can spell disaster if left unchecked, and full seasons of heavy use can cause wear and tear on units both new and old.

While it’s always a good idea to call in a professional to assess your AC unit if it’s been sitting unchecked for years (or if you’ve recently moved into a new home), there are some key signs that indicate you shouldn’t wait. Here are five signs you need to call AC repair now: 

1. You Can’t Get ‘Cold’

At its highest settings, your air conditioning should feel not just cool, but downright cold. If you’re finding that you have to keep cranking up the power to get cool air or you can’t get cold no matter what you try, there may be a mechanical problem. Likewise, the temperature should not be fluctuating once you set it. Definitely call for AC repair if you notice you are often adjusting the temperature just to maintain an evenly cool temperature. 

2. You Aren’t Getting Good Airflow

Air conditioning has come a long way over the years, and these days there’s no excuse for poor airflow. When your AC is on, you should be able to feel the cool air flowing evenly out of the vents. If you feel like your air conditioning is weak, that it’s short-cycling (stopping and re-starting) or you notice that it just doesn’t cool the space very well, it’s time to have a professional take a look.

3. You Hear Noises

When your AC is working as it should, the only noise you should hear is the low, gentle hum of air flowing. In fact, it should barely be noticeable. If you notice any thumping, grinding, whirring, whining, banging, or any other kind of noise, you should turn off your AC (to prevent major damage) and call an experienced technician. The good news is that scary noises do not always indicate a serious problem, but it’s important to get them checked out as soon as possible. 

4. It’s Leaking

A tiny amount of condensation isn’t usually cause for concern, but any kind of leaking is. Your AC should never leak anything, and if it is, you probably have a problem with the refrigerant. And don’t wait to fix it, because ignoring the problem can mean serious mechanical issues later on. 

5. Your Bill is Too High

Don’t assume that high energy bills are just a part of running your AC. In fact, it’s a myth that cooling a home costs more than heating it (the opposite is usually true). If your cooling bills are running consistently high, your AC unit could have an issue that’s making it work too hard. 

When you notice AC issues, time is of the essence to get them fixed. Continued use of the unit can only worsen things and result in more extensive fixes. Furthermore, the beginning of summer is the best time to get your air conditioning working properly. Not only will you ensure your comfort for the entire season, but waiting too long can mean getting stuck in the mid-summer influx of other people trying to get their AC units fixed. Don’t wait to call in the pros! 

Is Your A/C Crying Out For Help?

The weather is warming up and summer is just about here. Is your air conditioning ready for the months ahead?

It’s always a good idea to try running your A/C a few times before those heavy months of use to clear out the system and prevent it from getting overwhelmed. You should also clean out any noticeable debris build up and replace filters if you have not done so for a while. This is also a good time to pay close attention to the system and check for any potential problems that may need professional attention.  

By taking the time to evaluate your A/C system now, you can save yourself a lot of time and stress (not to mention sweat) later on when the temperatures are at their peak. While the system can’t exactly tell you when something is broken, damaged or just needs a little care from a professional, it does tend to give off some key warning sends. Follow this quick guide to check your A/C out and see if it’s crying out for help:

Is it Running Quietly?

When it’s working properly, you shouldn’t be able to hear your air conditioning at all unless you are right next to it. Even then, the noise you do hear should be nothing more than a pleasant hum of air flowing. Banging noises, clanking, pounding, grinding, intense whirring, squeaking, etc. are all cause for concern. A good rule of thumb here is if it doesn’t sound right, it probably isn’t. A good A/C professional will be able to listen and diagnose the issue so it can be fixed. 

Does it Smell?

Your A/C shouldn’t give off any smells, much less bad ones. If you notice anything that smells like burning, dirty socks, mold, must, etc., turn off the system and make an appointment with a professional as soon as possible. There could be a variety of causes for this (such as mold/mildew, a dead animal trapped in the unit, a pest infestation, or even parts not working correctly and causing friction), but because you won’t know the severity right away, it’s best to keep your A/C off until the problem can be handled professionally. 

How is the Air Temperature?

One of the best ways to figure out whether or not something is wrong is to take stock of the air itself. Is it too warm despite being on the coldest setting? Is the air cool but very unevenly dispersed throughout your home? Do you need to keep running it for longer and longer periods of time just to get your home to an acceptable temperature? If you answered “yes” to any of those, it’s high time you had the system checked out by a pro. There are a few different things that can cause this problem, and the good news is that it often does not mean that the whole system needs to be replaced. 

Do Any Areas of Your Home Feel ‘Stuffy’?

A good A/C system that is working as it should will distribute air evenly throughout your home without noticeable temperature differences. If you do notice that it is failing to do this or that any rooms feel like the air is suffocating or “stuffy”, then it is definitely time to call in some help. The problem could be as simple as a blocked or damaged vent that can be fixed or replaced, but it could also indicate more serious mechanical issues.

When your A/C is running properly, you shouldn’t have to throw open any windows or run fans to try to cool certain areas of your home. Please note that this is different from multi-zone A/C systems, which actually allow you to control the temperature in different rooms (still, no room should ever feel “stuffy”). 

Is the Thermostat Reading Accurately? 

Even if everything else seems to be functioning properly, an A/C unit with an inaccurate thermostat is cause for concern. While there could simply be something wrong with the display, an inaccurate reading could also indicate a more severe problem. Sometimes mechanical issues may not be noticeable by themselves (while they are still minor), but they may affect the temperature display depending on their placement. While it may not seem serious on the surface, this is a good problem to not ignore. 

Are Your Energy Bills Staying Consistent? 

Obviously, your air conditioning / energy bills will fluctuate between seasons and temperature needs. However, they should be staying fairly consistent throughout each season. If you notice that your bills keep jumping up throughout warm weather months, then your air conditioning may be pushing itself too hard. An air conditioning constantly going into overdrive is cause for concern, especially if you’re not constantly playing around with the temperature.

Even older A/C systems that are running properly will run efficiently enough so that you shouldn’t see much difference in your cooling bills from month to month. In this case, it’s time to call in a professional before the problem gets any worse and keeps costing you money. 

Is Your AC Ready for Spring Season?

The weather is getting warmer and sunnier, and like many homeowners, you’re probably starting to get downright hot during the afternoons. That’s right — Spring is here!

Temperatures will only continue to creep up as the weeks go on, and this is the perfect time to make sure you air conditioning is up to snuff. Whether your AC unit is years old or it was only installed last season, it’s time to give it a good look and make sure it is working as it should. Here’s a useful checklist you can follow to see if your AC is running properly and to identify potential issues:

Check Different Rooms

If your AC system is meant to cool your entire house, then it’s important to check different rooms after it’s been turned on for a while. There should be an evenly cool temperature throughout, and problem areas could indicate damaged parts. It could also be a matter of reassessing the ventilation flow in your home, which you will need a professional for. 

Check the Filter

AC units have a filter, just like the air unit in your car. While there are many different AC system designs, the air filter is typically located by the return air duct. Some systems may even have multiple filters. If you do not have a manual that helps you locate it, a professional HVAC tech can help you find it. If the filter is dirty and has not been changed in a while, it will not do its job properly. This could lead to poor cooling, and worse, contaminated air. It’s always best to switch your AC off while you are checking the filter. 

Now, it is possible to clean your filter instead of replacing entirely each time. You can do so by switching the system off and removing it carefully, then rinsing it off with a garden hose or cleaning it in your sink with water and a diluted vinegar solution. Always allow the filter to dry completely before putting it back in place. That said, filters are not designed to be permanent fixtures, and cleaning will only help delay replacement for a bit rather than preventing it entirely. 

Check the Vents

Go around to each vent in your home to make sure that they are open and air is coming out as it should. Sometimes people think there is a problem with their AC, but it’s just a vent that’s stuck closed or is otherwise blocked. If you notice the vent is dirty, it’s a good idea to clean it thoroughly to prevent further buildup and dirty air from being blown out into your home. 

Now, it’s worth noting that many older homes have ventilation issues. This is either because the current AC system was installed long after the home was built and may not have been done efficiently, or because the existing system is very old. If you feel that vent placement or air flow may be a problem, contact us for a consultation. 

Pay Attention to the Settings

When it comes to how cool people like their homes to be, personal preferences vary greatly. Because of this, modern AC systems come with a wide range of different temperature settings. If your AC doesn’t seem cool enough, check your settings to make sure they’re not too low. Likewise, it is important to make sure the system is not blasting at its top capacity all the time, as this can lead to it wearing down faster and even becoming overworked and blowing out entirely. 

Don’t Ignore Noises

When running properly, your AC system should be fairly silent. In fact, the only sound you should notice (if any) is a gentle, low humming sound of air flowing. If you notice anything other than this, like banging, grinding, whirring, rattling, whining, squeaking, etc., then it’s time to have the system looked at by a professional. In the event that you notice any particularly alarming noises (like loud banging) or ones that seem threatening, then it’s best to turn the system off entirely and wait for professional assistance. 

The good news news is that strange noises coming from your AC do not automatically indicate that there are any major problems. In many cases, it could just be a loose part. Still, it’s better to be safe than sorry!

Don’t Settle for a Hot Home

If you notice something is wrong during your AC check, it’s important not to wait to reach out for help. You’re only doomed to a hot and sweaty home if nothing is done to fix the problem!

Now, if your AC is failing to cool your home or isn’t turning on at all, don’t assume right away that you need a whole new cooling system. Many times, it’s just a part or two that needs to be replaced or other simple fix. It’s a good idea to get an expert consultation sooner rather than later, so you can make sure you’re cool and comfortable straight through spring and into summer. 

Give us a call today or send us a message to schedule your AC consultation. We’re here to help!

Know Your AC Zone Systems

If you live with family members or roommates, there’s a good chance you’ve argued over your home’s temperature at times. In fact, for many people it’s a hotly contested issue. But long gone are the days where you’re doomed to reach a compromise where nobody is totally happy or one of you has to live forever cold or hot. With the right AC zone system, you can adjust the temperature in different areas of your home as needed. 

It’s important to not just jump on the first zone control system you find. Instead, take the time to learn more about temperature air flow in your home, as well as the different types of zone systems available. By doing so, you’ll find the perfect zone system for your home and make an important long-term investment that brings you both comfort and higher air quality! It’s also worth pointing out that many homeowners save up to 30 percent on their energy bill after a year of installation.

Here’s what you need to know:

What Homes Are Best Suited for Zone Control Systems?

Obviously, arguing with your roommate or family member over your home’s temperature is enough to make you start considering an AC zone system. But knowing whether or not such a system would actually benefit your home is another. If you meet any of the following points, a zone control system could work wonders for you:

  • Your home has multiple levels (stories)
  • You notice significant temperature differences when moving between rooms and hallways
  • You have large windows
  • You have rooms with high ceilings
  • You live in an older home, with insulation, walls and windows that may not have been updated in a while
  • You don’t use all of the rooms in your home all the time
  • All or part of your home is often shadowed by outside trees, landscape or other buildings

The good news is that even if you’re still unsure if a zone control system would work in your home, you most likely still have a lot of options. This is why it is so important to consult with an experienced air conditioning and heating expert before making any major decisions. 

How an AC Zone Control System Works 

It’s important to know how anything you’re installing in your home works, and AC zone control systems are no exception. This type of system plays off of the way airflow naturally works in your home, as in, which areas are naturally kept warmer and which are naturally maintained with cooler air. By identifying these different temperature spots, your zone control system can be set up in the most advantageous way possible. 

So, with this in mind, an AC zone system is actually fairly straightforward in function. First, you will need an expert to come in and form a plan for how best to divide up your home into different temperature zones. Each of these “zones” will have its own heating/cooling control thermostat placed in convenient locations. Dampers will also be placed all throughout your home’s existing HVAC system, allowing the zones to be sectioned off and closed / opened as needed. All thermostats will be centrally connected to one main operating system with an easy-to-use control pad. 

Are you starting to see how this system works yet? By dividing your home into these zones with their own thermostats, you will be able to adjust the temperature in each area either individually or all at once as needed. You will be able to do so either from the thermostats themselves or via the central control pad. 

What Kind of Zone Control System Does My Home Need?

Generally speaking, different AC zone systems all operate in pretty much the same way (as outline in the previous section). That said, the amount of temperature zones you have set up in your home can vary greatly. In this sense, the type of system you need will depend on a few different factors, specifically the size and shape of your home, the amount (and size) of rooms you have, and the naturally warm/cold spots. Homes with more levels and more rooms usually need more controlled zones, while smaller homes and apartments can usually get by just fine on between two and four. 

Now, because zone control systems vary in size means that installation time can vary greatly as well. However, in many cases a zone control system can be put in within one to two days. 

It’s also worth pointing out that many people who are in the process of renovating their homes use this time as the perfect opportunity to put in a zone control system. If you do so, it is recommended that you wait until the renovations are reaching their final stages, so you have a better idea of how temperature and air flow are going to naturally work between your new walls.

Ready to get started? We invite you to reach out to us today to learn more about AC zone control systems and how your home can be optimized for your temperature comfort needs!

AC Maintenance Tips Before Summer Arrives

Care and maintenance are vital to keep your AC unit functioning properly. The last thing you want is for it to break down during the hot summer months.  To avoid any interruption in your AC working all summer long, it’s best to have a professional perform regularly scheduled maintenance on your unit. Otherwise, you may find yourself with a broken AC unit and costly repairs. The heat will have you stressed out enough, don’t enhance it with having to pull out your credit card or dive into your savings to fix or even repair your AC unit at the last minute.  

There are some maintenance tasks you can perform on your own to keep your unit in tip-top shape. However, it’s important to know what these tasks are and which ones you think you can handle on your own. If this seems far outside your scope, it’s always best to hire a professional to inspect and service your AC unit. If you were to incorrectly perform a task on your unit, you may wind up damaging it. 

Read on to learn about a few tips to for keeping your AC unit running smooth and cool this summer.

Clean and Replace the Air Filter

This is a simple task almost anyone can do. Air filters need to be regularly cleaned and replaced. The amount of cleaning depends on the season. During the summer, clean the filters every month since this is when you use your AC unit the most. During the Spring, it only needs to be cleaned once or twice. Keep an eye on it and check it regularly to make sure it isn’t clogged with dirt, dust, and allergen particles that interrupt your unit’s cool airflow. To replace the air filter, you can follow the instructions on the package or hire a professional to help you with this. 

Inspect the Thermostat

After cleaning or replacing the air filter, next check the thermostat. If your thermostat is not working properly, your home will not be entirely cooled. One room could be warm, while another is freezing cold, or the entire house could be at a higher temperature than what it should be. The best thermostats to use with an AC unit are the programmable ones. They are easy to use and keep your property at a nice, comfortable temperature. They also save on power and the costs of running your AC unit. 

Inspect the Condensing Unit

Your condensing unit has an attached fan that should be in good working condition at all times. For this reason, it must be regularly inspected. What you want to look for are any chips or cracks on the fan blades. If you notice any, the fan should be immediately replaced. For older model AC units, we recommend applying oil to the fan motor on a regular basis. A professional HVAC technician can help you with this task.

Inspect the Wiring System

This is one maintenance inspection that you should definitely leave to the professionals. There are many wires connection your AC unit and it takes special knowledge to understand what goes where, why it goes there, and when it needs to be repaired or replaced. However, you can check the wires from time-to-time to look for any abnormalities. When you have your AC unit routinely inspected, the HVAC expert will inspect the wires for you. If they are damaged and need to be repaired, he will explain to you why and answer any questions you have. For example, the AC professional will check the system capacitor using an electrical tester, something the average homeowner can’t do. 

Clean Your AC’s External System Part

The AC unit is tucked away, out of sight and out of mind. It’s forgotten all winter and remembered again when the weather turns hot. Just like any other piece of equipment in and around your home, it collects dust, dirt, and other contaminants that wreak havoc on your AC system’s air flow and overall effectiveness. The external part of your system is no exception and must be regularly cleaned. Before doing this, be sure to shut off the system’s power and then you can remove all the debris and gunk with a regular garden hose. Better yet, call in a professional HVAC technician to do this task for you. 

The Bottom Line

As you can see, proper maintenance for you AC unit is a must. It will save you money, ensure your unit remains functional during the summer, and catch any repairs that need to be done. If you don’t want to find yourself living without AC this summer, it’s best to give (insert company name here) a call to come out and take a look at your AC unit ASAP. In the meantime, be sure you have extra air filters on hand and utilize the tips mentioned above in order to keep an eye on your AC unit.