The Real Scoop on Summer AC Tune-Ups
Three out of every four properties in the United States have an air conditioner, and most homeowners purchase these products in the summer when the temperatures soar and they face extensive air conditioning repairs. You might have heard that it’s a good idea to buy an air conditioner in the winter, long before the summer rush. This is just a myth. Summer’s a great time to invest in a new air conditioning system or upgrade your existing one. Here’s why.
Yes, most people buy air conditioners in the summer, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find a good deal. Many vendors reduce air conditioning units in the summer as they compete with other companies for customers. If you want to repair your existing air conditioning unit, maintenance typically costs the same in the summer as the winter. There’s no need to wait until the temperatures drop to fix your system.
The average American household spends more than $900 on heating and cooling every year. Upgrading your air conditioner could reduce these costs significantly. The latest AC units let you regulate air flow in your home, so you could save money on your summer utility bills.
Though winter temperatures will continue to fluctuate, it is not too early to begin planning for the long, hot summer cooling season ahead. Are you considering purchasing a new, more efficient air conditioner before temperatures hit the 90’s and above? Do you need help deciding which air conditioner might be right for your home? Please read on to learn more.
By The Numbers
As with choosing the right heating system, your first step needs to be figuring out the total amount of square footage in your home that you will need to cool. Logically, the majority of Texas is located in the hottest of the US climate zones (Zone 1). The capacity of AC units is measured in a range from 1-5 tons, for most residential settings. Each ton is able to cool approximately 12,000 BTU per hour. For example, if you need to cool 2000 square feet, you will need a minimum of 20 BTU/hr per square foot. This would be equal to 40,000 BTU per hour (2000 x 20 = 40,000). To figure the tonnage of the correct cooling unit for your home, given this example you would take 40,000/12,000= approximately 3.33, likely making a 3.5 ton unit the most appropriate for the space. The efficiency of air conditioning units are measured with the SEER rating (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio). This can be determined by figuring the cooling provided over a period of time in BTU divided by the amount of electricity used during that same period of time. Units with higher SEER ratings are more efficient. Other factors to consider include how well your home is insulated and if there are an ample number of shade trees on your property.
Cooling Things Down: Choosing the Right New Air Conditioner
You can find information about new air conditioning units at a number of trusted manufacturer websites, or by contacting your local HVAC professional. If you choose to compare a new unit to the unit currently existing outside your home, you can study the outdoor unit for a code linked to tonnage in the model number. These numbers increase by a factor of six for each half ton. For example, the number 18 denotes a 1.5 ton unit (18,000/12,000= 1.5), while the number 60 would denote a 5 ton unit (60,000/12,000=5). To return to our previous example, a 3.5 ton unit would contain the number 42 within its model number, because (42,000/12,000 BTU per hour) = 3.5. When considering the costs compared to repairing an older model, versus purchasing a newer, more efficient unit, it is important to consider such factors as capacity, efficiency, and household budget. If you purchase a cooling unit that is too large for the space you need to cool, the unit may cycle too often, increasing the wear and tear on the unit, thus decreasing the overall lifespan of the air conditioner.
To learn more information about new HVAC systems available on the market, or to schedule your seasonal performance check, please contact the professionals of Expert Air and Refrigeration at (512) 255-6525.
Have you been thinking about replacing your heating unit with a newer and more efficient model in the new year? How do you know you are choosing the right unit for your home? Please read on to learn more.
Doing the Math
First, you need to determine the amount of square footage in your home that you will need to heat. Texas is in the warmest of the US climate zones. That means that you will need a heating unit that can provide you with approximately 30-50 BTUs (British Thermal Units) per square foot. This is known as the heating factor. If your home is well-insulated, you can likely use a number closer to the lower end of the spectrum. The higher end of the range should be used if your home is poorly insulated. Older homes will also require more heating than newer, more efficient homes. To figure this out, simply multiply the number of square feet you need to heat in your home times the heating factor. For example (an older home with less insulation): 2000 square feet times a heating factor of 35 would equal 70,000 BTU per hour. This will help you determine what size of furnace you will need to properly heat your home. This is known as capacity in the manufacturer’s specifications and is measured in BTU per hour. Another factor to consider, is the efficiency rating in the manufacturer specifications. These typically fall between 80-90%. For example: If you require a 70,000 BTU per hour heating unit, and the efficiency of said unit is 90%, in reality, it will provide you with approximately 63,000 BTU per hour, because 70,000 x .90 is equal to 63,000.
Choosing the Right New Unit for Your Home
You can find information about new HVAC units at a variety of manufacturer websites, or by contacting your local HVAC professional. When comparing units, it is important to consider such factors as the capacity, efficiency rating, and the type of fuel sources you have available to you at your location. Your household’s budgetary needs must also be taken into consideration.
To learn more information about new HVAC systems on the market, or to schedule your seasonal performance check, please contact the professionals of Expert Air and Refrigeration at (512) 255-6525.
As winter begins, and nightly temperatures dip lower, would you like to heat your home more efficiently and save money during this holiday season? Please read on to learn more.
Wrap It Up
It is important to identify areas in your home where leaks between inside and outside air are common. Air leaks can cause uncomfortable drafts, especially on windy days. These sorts of leaks can also contribute to condensation and moisture build-up, which can lead to common issues such as the growth of mold. Many air leaks around windows and doors can easily be repaired with caulking or new weather-stripping. There may be ways to improve your home’s insulation, which slows the heat flow and loss throughout your home. Gaps and cracks can commonly be found around baseboards, switchplates, electrical outlets, window and door frames, and places on the exterior of your home where two different types of building materials meet. If you have a wood-burning fireplace, make sure that the damper is closed when the fireplace is not being used to prevent warm air from escaping through the fireplace flue. However, it is not safe to close the damper of a gas fireplace while the pilot light is lit, because it can cause a dangerous buildup of carbon monoxide. As always, it is important to have a working smoke and carbon monoxide detector in your home. Since warm air rises, ceiling fans rotating clockwise can push warm air down to the living and sleeping areas of your home.
Cool Things Down
If you own a programmable thermostat, program it to lower the temperature a few degrees during work hours, or when you are otherwise away from home. Between 65-68 degrees is recommended for improved efficiency. Also, dressing yourself in light, warm layers and adding extra blankets to your bed can make you feel warmer and able to set the thermostat a few degrees cooler when you are in your home. Making upgrades to improve your home’s energy efficiency may save you an estimated 5-30% on home utility bills.
Calling the Professionals
To more thoroughly inspect your home for additional issues affecting your home’s energy efficiency, a professional energy audit can be done by a licensed technician. Depending on your household income, financial assistance may be available to help weatherize your home. An energy auditor can safely perform such tests as the blower door test, which can help locate air leaks, and determine the overall airtightness of your home.
To learn more ways to run your HVAC system more efficiently, or to schedule a seasonal performance check, please contact the professionals of Expert Air and Refrigeration at (512) 255-6525.
Once the air conditioning season has drawn to a close, what are some seasonal maintenance steps that should be taken so that your air conditioning unit is in top shape when spring and summer return? Please read on to learn more.
On Your Own
As at the start of the cooling season, regular maintenance steps can be taken to protect your air conditioning unit from cooler temperatures and harsher weather conditions until you will need it again when temperatures rise. As an easy reminder, these can occur around the time you call an HVAC professional to schedule your biyearly performance check. As a matter of routine, the filter for your HVAC system should be changed every one to three months, depending on the level of dust, pet dander, and other allergens that may be present in your home’s everyday environment. After the power has been safely shut off from the outdoor unit, any dirt, leaves, or other plant matter can be gently cleaned from the condenser fins.
Conditions to Consider
Some manufacturers make vinyl covers to protect the unit from rain and other moisture that can gather on the exterior of the unit during the off season and may cause rust. Hail may also be a concern that can cause damage to the exterior HVAC unit. Plywood used atop the unit can be an option to prevent autumn leaves from falling into your air conditioner. However, some manufacturers do not recommend covering the unit, as it can seal in moisture you are trying to keep out. Also, it is possible that a covered unit may become a home for outdoor pests that can cause additional damage to the condenser. It is always a good idea to consult the user manual for your HVAC components to consider safety precautions, to read what specific seasonal maintenance your unit’s manufacturer recommends, and to maintain the manufacturer warranty.
Time to Call the Experts
Before warm daily temperatures return, you will want to call a licensed HVAC professional to inspect your air conditioner and assure that it is still in good working condition after the dormant winter season. Such an inspection is likely part of the yearly service contract with the heating and cooling company. Actions such as checking the motor and fan, testing electrical connections, and checking refrigerant levels are likely part of this professional inspection.
To learn more about air conditioner maintenance, or to schedule a seasonal performance check, please contact the professionals of Expert Air and Refrigeration at (512) 255-6525.
Is the display on your programmable thermostat showing a low battery symbol? What does it mean? How does that affect your furnace or air conditioner? Read on to learn more.
First Signs of Trouble
Most models of programmable thermostats will display or flash some sort of low battery symbol when the batteries begin to run low. The warning usually starts 1-2 months before the batteries are completely dead. This warning may be a battery symbol, various words on the display indicating a low battery, or a flashing light on the unit. When the display goes blank, the batteries have run completely low. At this point, the thermostat can no longer control the HVAC system. This could possibly lead to excessive heating or cooling of your home, or no heating or cooling at all.
Why Batteries Are Important
In general, batteries help to retain thermostat settings during power outages. A 24 volt C (Common) wire provides power to thermostats that do not use battery backups. Low batteries in digital thermostats are a common cause of issues preventing the heating and cooling system in your home from running.
How to Change the Batteries
You should consult the owner’s manual for your individual thermostat, because the proper procedure to replace batteries may vary by model and manufacturer. This will likely involve either removing a battery compartment, or sliding the thermostat from its wall plate to reveal where the batteries are housed. The batteries should be changed approximately once a year, and a good habit to get into is changing the batteries at the beginning of the air conditioning or heating season. Depending on the model, the thermostat may take AA or AAA alkaline batteries, or possibly lithium batteries. Manufacturers discourage using rechargeable batteries, as many rechargeable batteries use improper voltage. If the batteries are not changed quickly enough, (the time allotted can vary by model), thermostat settings may be lost. This will result in the thermostat needing to be reprogrammed. A precautionary measure to take if you must leave your home for more than a month (such as a vacation home), is to change the batteries in the thermostat before you leave.
If your furnace or air conditioner stops running, check the batteries in your thermostat. If this doesn’t fix the problem, contact the professionals at Expert Air and Refrigeration at (512) 255-6525 to schedule a service appointment.
Have you ever wondered what the MERV rating on your furnace’s air filter means? Are you using a filter with the best MERV rating for your needs? Read on to learn more about MERV.
In 1987, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), created the standard by which the effectiveness of air filters is measured. This is known as the minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV). A related standard measures a filter’s ability to protect the HVAC system from damage. The MERV standard was created to help improve interior air quality and help improve the energy efficiency of HVAC systems.
Which MERV Rated Air Filter is Best for My HVAC System?
The MERV rating scale ranges from 1-16. Lower quality filters, in the 1-4 MERV range, are typically made of fiberglass. Most residential HVAC systems will use air filters with MERV ratings from 7-12. A higher MERV value of 5-16 would be recommended for commercial buildings. Anything above a 13 MERV rating is considered to be a High-Efficiency Particulate Arrestance (HEPA) filter, often used for hospitals and scientific research lab applications.
In general, filters with higher MERV ratings have smaller pores through which air can pass, while still capturing allergens. However, the smaller pores in these filters can estrict air flow to the HVAC system. This is especially true as the filter becomes dirty through use, which is why it is important to change it as recommended. The restricted air flow can reduce efficiency and increase wear on such components of the HVAC system as the fan and the compressor, and can increase energy consumption.
Better residential filters (5-8 MERV rating) will filter common household allergens such as dust, pollen, mold, and pet dander, while superior residential filters (9-12 MERV rating) will help to remove such things as cigarette smoke, which are more difficult to filter because they contain smaller particles. Many manufacturers recommend using an air filter with an 8-9 MERV rating to maximize the filtration of environmental allergens, while minimizing the strain on the HVAC system.
How Often Should I Change My Air Filter?
As a general reminder, most manufacturers recommend that you change your air filter about every three months. When you change your filter, don’t forget to mark the date on the filter as well as on your calendar. Dirty air filters put additional strain on your home’s HVAC system.
To schedule service or find out the best air filter for your HVAC system, please contact Expert Air and Refrigeration at (512) 255-6525.
There’s nothing worse than your air conditioning unit malfunctioning on a hot summer day. Luckily, there are only a handful of possible problems, and you can easily learn to identify the root cause. By keeping an eye out for the following, you’ll be able to correctly identify problem areas and converse more technically with your AC Repair professionals.
1. The AC doesn’t turn on
There may be a few reasons why your AC unit isn’t turning on. One of the main causes is a broken or inappropriately placed thermostat. Evaluate whether the sensor is broken or if the thermostat is placed in a much hotter or colder place than the space you’re attempting to cool. Another reason why your AC won’t turn on could be a broken circuit, a tripped breaker, or a faulty relay switch. If resetting or flipping the breaker doesn’t fix the problem, call the professionals as soon as possible to address electrical issues.
2. The AC is on, but isn’t cooling
Again, there is a myriad of reasons why your AC may not be cooling effectively. If your condenser coil is stalling, then resetting a breaker may work. If that doesn’t work it could mean there is not enough refrigerant in your system. If your levels are low, the culprit is probably a leak. In that case, a professional is needed to locate and repair the leaks and recharge the system with new refrigerant.
3. Airflow is restricted
The culprit may be as simple as a dirty filter, but can be as complicated as blockages in your outdoor unit. Make sure your filters are changed every 30-60 days depending on the frequency of AC usage and how many people and pets are in the household. Outdoor units should be kept clear of any encroaching foliage and debris. Additionally, if you are having problems with airflow, your condensation drains may be blocked with dirt, insects or even mildew and debris. Identify the source of the problem immediately!
4. The AC Unit makes irregular noises
Check your air-handlers! If an old model is motor-driven, a belt connecting the motor to the blower may have slipped and you may hear some squealing. A dirty compressor may also be to blame for a louder than normal unit. If a unit is poorly maintained, debris and frequent use will wear down the compressor and fans and cause them to fail prematurely.
5. Utility bills are higher than normal
A combination of electrical control failure problems, sensor issues, refrigerant leakage, and improper maintenance can lead to your AC not functioning properly.
If you have any questions about your A/C unit or have any of issues listed above, feel free to reach out to us via our contact form or call 512-255-6525.
The heavy rain and flooding Texas has recently endured has led to the mosquito population booming. We’re all familiar with the tired and true ways of avoiding being bitten (wearing long clothes, spraying DEET insect repellent, draining stagnant water), but did you know your air conditioner also plays a roll in keeping these pesky insects at bay?
Mosquitoes like hot, humid environments, so maintaining a cool home can help keep them outside where they belong.
That being said, Mosquitoes can sometimes travel through air vents. If you have a window air-conditioner, check the drain frequently to make sure it’s free of water, and that there’s no condensation build up or puddles on the inside. As long as you keep the drains clear, and check for drips now and then, mosquitoes should stay away.
Additionally, mosquitoes are drawn to the CO2 that humans emit, and a blowing air conditioner reduces the insects ability to detect the location of the scent.
Keep humidity at bay and stay cool with the added satisfaction that you’re also deterring mosquitoes from getting too close.
Rather leave it to the experts to make sure your AC is working properly and keeping the mosquitoes away? Contact us for a free consultation. Stay cool!
Jason G. was the technician that came out to my house. I didn’t feel like I was talking to a salesman at all, but more like a good friend. He spent as long as was needed to talk with me, and half that time we didn’t even talk about the a/c...the staff at Expert Air have restored my faith in service companies.”Read More Testimonials…