Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Learning how to troubleshoot your central air conditioner

Central air conditioner units can work without problems for years if serviced and maintained properly. In case they don’t work properly, call up a skilled technician. However, before making the call, make sure the problem is not just a minor glitch that you can fix on your own.

The unit stops to work:

If you get your system cleaned and inspected annually, it must run with no trouble. However, if the air conditioning system stops working and you are not sure why, troubleshoot the problem before calling a professional:
  1. Check the fuse box or circuit breaker to find out if the system has power.
  2. Check the fuses near the condenser, to ensure there’s power.
  3. Clean or replace the furnace filter.
  4. In case the condenser coils are covered with debris or dust, clean them off with a garden hose.
The unit won’t stop running:

If the system won’t quit running then here’s what you should do:
  1. Turn the thermostat up.
  2. By setting the thermostat a little higher, you will save a lot of money on energy bills.
  3. Take the lid of the condenser off and check if something is blocking the flow of air.
  4. Vacuum the condenser’s interior, and then clean it with a garden hose.
  5. In case the fan blades are dirty or bent, clean them or get them straightened.
  6. Check the blower and furnace filter to see if there is any blockage. Make use of a vacuum cleaner to clean the dirt and dust around or on the blower.
  7. Get the filter replaced if required.
The system freezes:

In case the high pressure lines from the evaporator coil or furnace to the condenser are iced up, then make sure you shut the unit down:
  1. Either pull the switch outside or turn off the breaker within the control panel.
  2. Call a professional for help.
  3. Water begins to pool below the evaporator
In case there is water under the evaporator, the drain may get clogged. Although it can be cleared, the best thing to do is to replace it.
  1. Take the trap off, and in case it’s plastic, cut the pipe and do away with it.
  2. Pour bleach-water or a vinegar-water inside the drain. This should help in removing algae and debris.
  3. In case you have flexible tubes, clean them. You can also use a wire to scrape the tube walls. Make sure you perform this maneuver gently.
  4. Reassemble the trap and tubes.
Although its isn’t rocket science to troubleshoot a central air conditioner, if you find the whole procedure tiring and cumbersome it is best to hire an expert to do the job for you.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

The various types of heating panels

Heating panels are available in a variety of colors, sizes, and designs. If you are planning to buy panels, below are few of the most common ones you can opt for:

Wall-mounted:

Wall mounted panels are the most popular and come in a range of shapes and sizes. The best thing about them is they can be utilized in both large and small rooms.

Standing:

One of the best things about these heaters is that they are portable, i.e. you can move them around easily (the panels have caster wheels). In addition to having wheels, the panels also have different heat settings, adjustable thermostats, and handles that make it easy for them to move around. Standing heating panels are best for medium and small spaces.

Apart from this, they are a lot less expensive in comparison to their wall-mounted equivalents.

Hanging:

Hanging panels normally hang on the wall flush. They come with hooks that make it very easy for the user to hang them correctly. The hooks also make sure the panels remain flat against the wall surface.

Hanging panels are best for rooms with medium to large capacity. The good thing about them is they come in a variety of sizes. They can also blend in with the d├ęcor easily and are lightweight. Cutting-edge hanging heating panels also come with remote controls that permit you to control them from a distance. In case you want to customize these heaters, you can do so by getting them painted in your desired art or color. However, if you wish to move the panels from one area to another, you must buy the ones with wheels.

Insert

Insert panels are a lot smaller in size in comparison to standing and hanging panels. They work best in areas like, kitchen and bathrooms. The panels are best for users looking to heat up a small area. When compared with other types of panels, these panels turn out to be pretty cost effective. They are also known to consume low amounts of electricity, making them planet friendly.

These are a few kinds of heating panels that you can consider buying for your house. However, when making the final purchase, make sure you buy from a dependable store. It is also recommended that you get in touch with a professional who can not only help you in selecting the right panels for the house, but also the correct designs for the house.

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Beware of unlicensed HVAC contractors making a mess of your house

Even though hiring an unlicensed HVAC contractor may seem like a cheaper choice than an insured, bonded, and licensed company, the long-term risks associated with such collaboration may lead to unnecessary trouble. The issues are simple but complicated.

What to expect from unlicensed contractors:

  1. Low quality workmanship leading to below average equipment performance
  2. Unreliable air conditioning services, such as inferior A/C installation
  3. Downright deceitful or incomplete troubleshooting reports
  4. Unforeseen cost increases or inadequate HVAC equipment reliability
Dealing with unlicensed and untrained service techs may appear to be a great way to save money, but in a flick of a second such preconceived savings can explode into a big financial nightmare. AC technicians who work outside the parameters of law have a tendency to ignore industry-accepted installation and service regulations. Such people take complete advantage of lax in enforcement of licensing requirements, permitting rules, and the Clean Air Act.

Choose Reputation over Low-price

A good reputation is vital in the industry of HVAC repair and maintenance, and word-of-mouth marketing is the essence of established customer trust. Experts believe, that unlicensed contractors can do a lot of damage due to lack of proper skill, training and knowledge, and can hurt the customer’s pocket. Hiring a reputed contractor will be cost effective. Moreover, since the customer has no real contract with the unlicensed service providers, they cannot hold them accountable.

Here are three main points to keep in mind:

  1. Unlicensed will mean low bids, but the legal and financial consequences may be more than a consumer signed up to face
  2. Hiring a reputed and licensed AC contractor offers better protection than any post event legal remedies
  3. Most licensed air conditioning contractors are dedicated, competent, well trained and financially responsible
To get a license, the contractor has to show capability and experience. The test is intended to disregard shade tree heating and cooling service techs. Construction licensing can help a consumer in finding a reliable and principled A/C contractor. Since, the cooling and heating industry is sprouting, reaching beyond cooling and heating and stretching into the fields of indoor air quality (IAQ), licensing can greatly benefit the consumers in differentiating.

Become a well-informed home owner:

Most homeowners can avoid construction problems by knowing their home improvement rights. Informed customers make better purchasing decisions. Working with a reputed AC contractor helps in ensuring that you do not get victimized by unlicensed or unscrupulous HVAC contractors. In case you have a new unit installed within your house, make sure you check the condition of your present ductwork. Even the most efficient energy-saving air conditioning equipment can fritter away energy where the duct require serious repair.

When as a homeowner you hire a questionable provider for HVAC service work, the final experience may turn out to be a nightmare. Therefore, it is important to keep the bigger picture in mind and hire a licensed contractor, even if it means paying a little extra.

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Mini split HVAC systems: Are they suitable for your space?

When you intend to save money on your AC and heating bills, it makes sense to look into mini split HVAC systems. Although these systems were introduced in the country in the 70's, they are still not used very widely. The main reason behind this is that not every house is conducive to a mini split HVAC system.

Here is a list of circumstances in which a mini split system will be a solid and recommended option.

Great retrofit add-ons

Because of minimal damage to the window structure or wall, split units tend to make excellent retrofit add-ons, especially in smaller and older houses where air ducts will take up too much space. Apart from this, when quietness in a space is extremely important, split units are the best choice. Places such as churches, hospitals can benefit a lot from mini split HVAC systems.

Apartments on first floor

Split units make a lot of sense for apartments on first floor where window units and portable unit vents represent a security problem because of the need to keep the window open during all times when making use of portable systems.

Also, when using duct extensions is impractical, like in small apartments, introducing a mini split unit makes more sense. Think bedrooms, sun rooms, home offices and workshops. Also, in industrial settings and warehouse posts making use of split system HVAC units is more conducive.

If you live in a place with moderate winter climates

In moderate weather conditions, such as the ones found in the state of California, split HVAC systems can be utilized effectively both as heat pumps and air conditioners to reduce the heating bills during the winter season and cooling bills in the summer season.

When people who live together want different temperature settings

In a house where people with different preferences for temperature settings live or work in the same premises, it is best to install a mini split cooling system on the wall near the ceiling or mid-height. You can either install it to a drop ceiling or suspend it from the ceiling. By choosing the right air flow direction and placement from a mini split unit, you can easily take care of the preferences of numerous different "temperature personalities" living in the same house.

Single family homes with around four rooms

Finally, large houses with more than four rooms are suitable for mini split HVAC systems as normally a single outside unit can lodge up to four units inside. You will easily save money by choosing a central air conditioning system as there will be more control over the temperatures in the individual "zones" or rooms as well as because of no losses within the ducts.

If these circumstances apply to your house, then your house is a good candidate for installation of a mini split HVAC system, either for heating, cooling or for both. One of the best ways to find out where you stand is to get in touch with an expert or by looking through the internet for more information. You can also find other budget friendly options for your house if you research well.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Determining the right size of HVAC for your house

For most homeowners, keeping their house at a comfortable temperature during the summer and winter months is important. If your HVAC unit is more than a decade old, it may be the right time to get it replaced. Today's systems are extremely efficient and offer a quieter operation than older units. However, it is very important to choose a system wisely. Here are a few things that you must consider when buying a unit:


Why does the right sized central air conditioner matter so much?

An HVAC unit can be a large investment. We're not only speaking in terms of the initial cost of buying the system and getting it installed, but we're also referring to the amount of money you will be spending on your energy bills. As per the experts, you will have to spend more than $2,000 an year on energy bills. Your HVAC system uses up half of the total energy your house consumes. Hence, it is important to choose the right-sized system that will guarantee energy-efficiency.

How to determine the right size:

The Size of the House:

When investing in a new HVAC system, the square footage of the house must be taken into consideration. An over-sized unit can lead to extra costs and poor operation.  Some units are single zone and can serve only a part of the house, such as the first or second floor. In bigger houses, normally a dual-zoned system is installed offering different levels of conditioning. 

Although dual-zoned system may cost more, the cooling quality and energy saving is much better. Buying a unit on square footage is often called 'rule-of-thumb' sizing. Every HVAC system comes with a BTU rating that is linked to the square footage it is intended to accommodate. In order to ensure maximum energy efficiency, the owner must invest in a system that has an appropriate BTU rating. 

Home’s overall efficiency features:

The home’s efficiency features must also be taken into consideration when choosing a HVAC unit. A house that is built with energy efficient features such as double-paned windows, enhanced insulation and the like may be suited for use with a faintly lower BTU rating. Apart from this, the overall enviroment of the house also plays a significant role. A house that has ample of shade can work on an HVAC system with a lower British thermal unit rating in summers than a house that is exposed to too much sunlight, and vice versa.  

It can be extremely difficult to determine the correct size of an HVAC system. While it is reasonably easy to figure out the square footage of the area that the HVAC system needs to service, other elements such as the energy efficiency and age of the house and the outside environment are more abstract. The effect they will have on the efficiency of an HVAC system can be hard to determine by a typical homeowner. Hence, the best way to go about it is to hire an HVAC expert who will help you determine the right system for your needs.

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Do you know how your HVAC system works?

You pick up your electricity bill in February or August and cringe before even opening the envelope, knowing that the cost of your HVAC will drain out a fortune. But as notorious as cooling and heating are for putting holes in pockets, efficient practices can help you in saving a lot of money. One of the best ways to save money on maintenance and repair is to know how your HVAC system really works. Basically, having this knowledge can lead you to perform basic maintenance on your own, in turn saving you a lot of hard earned cash.

The basics:

There are three main components to any HVAC system. In simple terms, for people who have little or no clue about cooling and heating systems, the three components are the cooled or warm air source, a distribution method for the air that has been cooled or heated, and a way for regulating or controlling the amount of air being dispersed.

When the three components are put into action, here is what happens:

Heated air produced by the furnace or the cooled air coming out from the air conditioner is distributed with the help of air ducts. Same air ducts are used for distributing both the cooled as well as the heated air. However, the amount of cooled or heated air sent from these ducts is regulated by the thermostat and this is how an HVAC system works. According to experts, if you face any problem related to your HVAC unit, 99% of the times one of the three components is the culprit.

Apart from knowing the basic functioning of your HVAC unit, there are a few other points that must also be kept in mind:

  • Your HVAC system design is based on the floor plan of your house. The ductwork and ventilation is planned to hit each area of the building.
  • The air used for heating and cooling your home is typically pulled from outside but gets filtered with the help of ventilators that disinfect and clean the air brought in.
  • A blower and wheel send the air through the HVAC system.

Regular maintenance of your unit:

While the HVAC may sound pretty self-sufficient, cleaning your system is important. It is impossible for the filter to keep the system clean all the time, especially when it’s dirty and incapable of working properly. If you are facing HVAC issues, it is important that you contact a cleaning company ASAP. Failing to do so on time, can disturb the air quality because of which your house will not be as healthy and comfortable as you’ll like it to be. Getting the unit cleaned by a professional can ensure proper removal of dust, pests and other things stuck inside the unit.

A clean and well maintained HVAC unit is a more affordable unit. If the air ducts are dust free, you will be saving a lot of money because the air will move freely. You will see a drastic difference in your electricity bill. Apart from this, you will also be saving a lot of money on doctor or hospital bills that you would had to bear because of unhygienic, unhealthy conditions all around you.

Monday, 29 June 2015

Elements that have led to the advancements in HVAC systems

Today's HVAC systems are intended to meet the stricter indoor air quality, environmental, and user requirements. Most of the improvements in the efficiency of the HVAC systems have resulted from the advancements in the operating efficiency of system components. Other advancements are the result of using newer technologies. 


Even though there are several individual developments that have been a catalyst in improving the operating efficiency of HVAC systems, much of the overall improvement can be credited to the factors mentioned below:

Chiller design changes

Higher energy efficiency is not the only advantage of the new generation of chillers. They also provide better refrigerant containment. While standard chillers lose ten to fifteen percent of the refrigerant charge routinely per year, newer chillers can keep the losses to 0.5 percent. Better purge systems and lower leak rates decrease the amount of non-condensable gases that are found in the new chiller system – an important factor in maintaining better performance of the system over time.

Another important development is in the operation of the boiler system: the replacement of manual and pneumatic controls with microprocessor systems. This has helped the systems to achieve 5% to 7% energy savings over traditional pneumatic-based boiler systems.

Energy-efficient motors

The HVAC systems today use energy-efficient motors. These motors provide a moderate but substantial increase in the operating efficiency over traditional motor designs. For instance, a ten horse power energy-efficient motor functions at about 90% efficiency; a traditional motor of a similar size is rated at 85%.

Chiller loads

Chillers inside the HVAC are sized for highest cooling loads. Standard control systems close vanes on the chiller inlet, dropping the efficiency of the system at the time of part-load operation. When VFD or variable frequency drives are applied, chillers regulate the operation by decreasing the compressor speed. The end result is full-load operating efficiency over an extensive array of cooling loads.

Conservation of energy is not the only benefit of VFD variable frequency drives. The electric motor along with the mechanical system is strained every time a fan, a pump or chiller is initiated at full-line voltage: Belts slip, high-pressure is developed and drive chains stretch. VFD helps in decreasing these stresses by starting systems at low frequencies and voltages in a soft start, leading to increased equipment and motor life.

At last, the most significant element in a modern HVAC system is the way it’s used. No matter how energy efficient or sophisticated the system is, its performance depends on the way it's maintained and operated. It is important to be properly trained before using the features of the system. Also, it is advised to get the system maintained by professional contractors. The personnel should be equipped and trained with the proper knowledge and tools to keep the HVAC operating in the way it was intended. Maintenance should never be taken lightly.

Monday, 25 May 2015

HVAC Maintenance: How to keep the costs low?

One of the best ways to keep your service costs to a minimum is by performing regular maintenance. An HVAC system is one of those machines that you need to sustain on a regular basis to keep it in good working order, particularly during the warmer months. Here are a few tips to help you cut down on repair costs:


Installing a digital thermostat:

Digital thermostats are a great way to gauge room temperatures more accurately. These devices are a lot easier to set in comparison to conventional thermostats. You can set and program the device to turn the system on and off when you want. On the other hand, using an inefficient, old fashioned thermostat will cause the unit to work harder than required and lead to technical problems with your system over a period of time.

Keep the attic clear: 

Another way to avoid HVAC repair is to ensure your attic is properly ventilated. As the weather starts to get warmer, you must clear out any needless clutter that can keep the air from circulating properly in the attic. Too much clutter can make it difficult for the system to cool the house efficiently.

Change filters regularly:

The easiest way to avoid HVAC repair cost is to change the filters regularly. AC filters must be replaced every three months. But, if you live in a dusty climate, you will have to change them more often. It is also important to change the filter frequently if you use your HVAC unit throughout the year. A dirty filter can reduce the air quality leading to a less efficient system.

Check the Freon regularly in the unit:

Refrigerants such as Freon are needed for the system to cool the air that comes inside the house. Low quantities of Freon indicate towards a possible leak in the system, which requires immediate repair. This type of leak can also be dangerous to humans or wildlife, as the chemicals are toxic.

Use a low maintenance unit:

An old-fashioned HVAC system that requires additional maintenance or is constantly failing will drain your resources. Make sure your maintenance costs remain low by switching to newer, more durable radiators, heat pumps, and quality condensing boilers. Since the latest units use the best technology, they will need less repair and decrease the costs linked to excessive replacement or maintenance.

Be careful of the set-up:

Poorly set up HVAC systems will end up wasting energy by cooling or heating an empty building. It’s smart to create a plan for your HVAC system setup. If the house remains empty during a particular season such as summer, consider reducing the cooling requirements significantly during this time. In addition, if there are times when the house is occupied, reduce temperatures accordingly to the changes.

Performing routine maintenance on your HVAC unit is an extremely simple task. By keeping your system in good working condition, you can reduce the need for extensive A/C repair in the future. Apart from doing your own maintenance, you must also have a skilled technician to check your system once every year to perform necessary repairs that you are unable to perform on your own.