Common Problems with Heating and Cooling Ducts

Seal Your Heating and Cooling Ducts

Ducts are used to distribute conditioned air throughout houses with forced-air heating and cooling systems. In typical houses, about 20 percent of the air that moves through the duct system is lost due to leaks, holes, and poorly connected ducts. The result is an inefficient HVAC system, high utility bills, and difficulty keeping the house comfortable, no matter how the thermostat is set.

Common Duct Problems

  • A Leaky, torn, and disconnected ducts
  • B Poorly sealed registers and grills
  • C Leaks at furnace and filter slot
  • D Kinks in flexible ductwork restricting airflow

Common Duct Problems

Simple Steps to Improving Duct Performance

Because ducts are often concealed in walls, ceilings, attics, and basements,
repairing them can be difficult. But there are things that you can do to improve duct performance in your house.

Start by sealing leaks using mastic sealant or metal (foil) tape and insulating all the ducts that you can access such as those in the attic, crawl space, basement, or garage. Never use ‘duct tape,’ as it is not long-lasting.

Also make sure that the connections at vents and registers are well-sealed where they meet the floors, walls, and ceiling. These are common locations to find leaks and disconnected ductwork.

Working with a Contractor

Many homeowners choose to hire a professional contractor for duct improvement projects. Most heating and cooling contractors also repair ductwork. Look for a contractor who will:

  • Inspect the whole duct system, including the attic, basement, and crawl space (if you have these).
  • Repair or replace damaged, disconnected, or undersized ducts and straighten out flexible ducts that are tangled or crushed.
  • Evaluate the system’s supply and return air balance. Many systems have air return ducts that are too small.
  • Seal leaks and connections with mastic, metal tape, or an aerosol-based sealant.
  • Seal gaps behind registers and grills where the duct meets the floor, wall, or ceiling.
  • Insulate ducts in unconditioned areas with insulation that carries an R-value of 6 or higher.
  • Include a new filter as part of any duct system improvement.
  • Use diagnostic tools to evaluate air flow after repairs are completed.
  • Ensure there is no back drafting of gas or oil-burning appliances, and conduct a combustion safety test after ducts are sealed.

Dust Mites: Serious Allergens in Your Home

Dust mites scavenging a bed sheet for dead skin (magnified 500 x) TIME

The quality of life inside your home is directly related to the quality of the air inside your home. Your house—walls, windows, doors, and roof—likely keeps in more air pollutants and allergens, like dust mites, than it keeps out leading to environmental allergies caused by high concentrations of allergens. The primary causes of poor indoor air quality in homes is the release of gases or particles (dust, smoke, and insect parts) that lead to indoor pollution and possibly life-threatening breathing problems such as asthma. Inadequate ventilation increases indoor pollution levels by not allowing enough outdoor air into the house to dilute indoor pollution.

Indoor pollutants are often a greater health hazard than the same pollutants in an outdoor setting because of the concentration of the indoor air pollution. Since American families spend most of their time indoors, asthma and other respiratory problems are on the rise from poor indoor air quality. Fortunately, there are steps that you can take to reduce the health problems from existing indoor air quality and prevent new ones.

A dust mite is one of the major sources of indoor air pollution. Dust mites are spider-like microscopic insects that are often allergens to humans. Dust mites live on dead skin cells and pet dander found in house dust. The waste from dust mites and their dead body parts are the leading cause of allergy in humans. Dust mite allergies are not seasonal and cause health problems all year round. Though dust mites are microscopic and airborne, they can have a large role in the occurrence and severity of children’s asthma.

Dust mites live in warm, moist areas where dust accumulates freely and is not easily cleaned or cleaned often; both common conditions found in most of our homes and work places. Carpets, curtains, bedding, mattresses, upholstered furniture and even stuffed toys are places that dust mites thrive. The bedroom is the most affected as there is plenty of cloth surfaces for the tiny creatures to live, and there’s humidity from people’s bodies.

Dust mites are a key trigger of allergic reactions such as sneezing, rashes, watery eyes, coughing, dizziness, lethargy, breathing problems (asthma), and digestive problems. There is no way to completely eliminate dust and dust mites, but here are ways you can reduce dust mites in your home and improve your indoor air quality and health.

  • Remove curtains, drapes, feather pillows, upholstered furniture, non-washable comforters, and soft toys.
  • Wash all bedding in hot water (hotter than 130°F) every 7 to 10 days. Don’t use mattress pads. Use plastic covers on mattresses and pillows.
  • Replace carpets with easy-to-clean stone, linoleum, or wood. Polished floors are best. Mop floors often with a damp mop.
  • Wipe dust off of surfaces with a damp cloth. Vacuum carpets and furniture regularly with a machine that uses a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter. Don’t forget to vacuum upholstered furniture and curtains.
  • Install an air cleaner with a high-efficiency particulate (HEPA) or electrostatic air filter.
  • Wash carpets and upholstery with special cleaners, such as benzyl benzoate or tannic acid spray.
  • Lower the humidity in your home using a dehumidifier.

All Quality Air is a leading provider of solutions for improving your indoor air. Call or contact us today for a healthy home analysis, and let us make recommendations that save you money, restore your indoor air quality and reduce health problems from allergens.

How to have a healthy home

Healthy House Solutions — Indoor Air Quality

American families spend more than 90% of their time indoors. The American College of Allergists report that 50% of all illnesses are caused by indoor air pollution. Asthma and other respiratory problems are on the rise due to poor indoor air quality caused by:

  • Mold/Mildew
  • Pollens
  • Bacteria
  • Dust Mites
  • House Dust
  • Smoke
  • Pet Dander & Odors

Reduction of tiny particles such as these can help prevent many illnesses, general lethargy, sneezing, sore throats, headaches and other symptoms triggered by pollution.

All Quality Heating & Air is committed to providing solutions to combat indoor pollution. Our Healthy House Solutions offer the best value for regaining a higher quality of life for you and your loved ones.

Healthy House Questions & Answers

Q. Do you have a leaky and poorly insulated pull down attic stair?

Discomfort
The pull down attic stair is one of the leakiest and most poorly insulated part of your home, causing cold drafts and dryness in winter, humidity and uneven temperatures year round.

Dust & Health
Leaks around the stair opening in the ceiling cause unsightly and unhealthy attic particles into your home – dust, insulation fibers, mold, insects and droppings.

Energy
The area around the stair opening has little or no insulation allowing energy to literally vent out of the living space causing tremendous heating and cooling waste.

Solution: An attic stair zipper seal

Features and benefits:

  • Reduces dust and allergy suffering, helps with insulation and debris from falling into your house.
  • Makes your home more comfortable year around
  • Pays for itself through lower heating and cooling bills.
  • Maintains easy access to attic space.
  • Fire safe – exceeds building code standards for flame retardants.

Q. Does your crawlspace have high humidity, odors or mold?

Crawl spaces are the more inaccessible, dark, dirty, and more often a breeding ground for fungi, mold and bacteria (dead critters etc). The dark unventilated area also promotes humidity that accelerates mold growth and wood rot.

Solution: Closed crawl space system

Closed crawl spaces do a better job of controlling moisture levels. Humidity control dampens and eliminates mold growth and once sealed properly – prevent ingress of insects, critters, dirt etc.

The result is improved energy efficiency, and humidity control.

Q. Feeling lethargic or suffering from headaches and mental fatigue?

Carbon Monoxide (CO) is a very dangerous and often fatal health hazard. Harmful levels of CO can occur in any home. Common sources are gas and oil furnaces, water heaters, vehicles, space heaters and motorized lawn equipment.

The common symptoms of CO poisoning are: sickness, lethargy, disorientation, and can cause permanent physiological and nervous system damage. There is no acceptable low level of CO in a living space.

Solution: Low level CO alarm/monitor

Features and benefits of a low level CO monitor:

  • Alarms when there is as little as 10 ppm of CO (retail units alarm at 70 ppm!)
  • Precision digital display and memory recall features.
  • Sampling rates every 10 seconds.
  • Short term hush-silence depending on CO levels.
  • Battery operated for long term use – replaceable, and operates during power outages. Low battery warning.

Q. Feeling the stress effects of high humidity and high energy bills?

This is the most common problem that faces every homeowner, and is the result of several issues:

  • Outdoor air infiltration / leakage into the house
  • Poor sizing of HVAC equipment
  • HVAC not maintained, filters or returns clogged / blocked
  • Bad thermostat or improper settings
  • Incorrectly placed / sized roof power ventilators

Solution: Whole House Health and Comfort Analysis

Healthy Climate SolutionsGlobal warming, high energy costs, increased pollutants and poor building designs (shoddy construction) combined, cause quality of comfort issues and high energy bills. All Quality Heating and Air can help you solve these issues with a computerized test that was initially invented by the Department of Energy.

The “Blower Door” analysis, test uses a state-of-the-art Infiltrometer that measures leaks in the house. We check every possible HVAC input and output vent for leaks and provide you with detailed report that objectively shows the effects of air leakage on the efficiency of your Air Conditioning system, and the potential savings that are to be gained by using our solutions.

The cost of a house analysis will pay for itself in 1-2 years with the huge benefits of:

  • Energy savings – year after year.
  • Comfortable living – HVAC checkup’s, tuning and settings can make your system optimized for comfort.
  • Healthy living – window, door, and duct sealing can eliminate ingress of pollutants.

Note about Power Ventilators: contractors and building construction practices relied on the power ventilator to vent out the attic heat and remove moisture. But this mechanism works against you if the ventilator was not properly sized (too powerful), and placed in a location that creates negative pressure in the living spaces.

What that means is that the “conditioned” air in the house is being drawn out via cracks, attic stair openings, and canister lighting openings. This also pulls in hot or cold air into the house making your HVAC equipment ineffective.

We check for these problems when we do the whole house energy analysis, and make recommendations that save you money and restore your indoor living comfort, and air quality. Make a service request or give us a call today to make an appointment.

Freon and the Law

Freon tank charging air conditioner

Freon is a refrigerant used for most home heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) units in America. While only a brand name of DuPont, the name “freon” often represents all HCFC refrigerants. The makeup of freon includes hydrogen, carbon, fluorine, and chlorine, or HCFC (hydro chlorofluorocarbons).

HCFC was created to take the place of a refrigerant containing carbon, fluorine, and chlorine, or CFC (chlorofluorocarbons). It was argued that HCFC was safer than CFC because HCFC is nonflammable, nontoxic, noncorrosive, and odorless. After a long debate the CFC was finally phased out and HCFC was established as the most common refrigerant.

In the mid 1970’s new studies showed that HCFC was perhaps safer for use in homes but more damaging to the environment. The combination of hydrogen, carbon, fluorine, and chlorine create what is known as a fluorocarbon. Fluorocarbons have been monitored closely over the last 40 years. Thorough research has proven that their damaging effect on the ozone layer is a major threat to the environment. This finding quickly gained the attention of the federal government who stepped in to strictly regulate freon and other HCFC refrigerants.

Who Regulates Freon

Freon is regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA. The EPA works as part of the United States government to develop solutions and create laws to protect the environment. It is the EPA who declared freon was an Ozone Depleting Substance which must be “phased out” slowly. To do this properly the EPA joined forces with the international efforts to eliminate ozone depleting substances called the Montreal Protocol.

Montreal Protocol is an international project developed in 1987 to prevent damage to the ozone layer by banning all ozone depleting substances. Most countries around the world began enforcing the project shortly after it was created. The United States got a late start but as of January 1, 2010 is fully involved.

Phasing Out R-22 Freon

As part of the Montreal Protocol the Environmental Protection Agency has begun a Phase Out program which will lead to a U.S. ban on all ozone depleting substances. The targeted ozone depleting substances include all HCFC freon refrigerants; commonly referred to as HCFC-22 (R-22), and HCFC-142. The Phase Out works by slowly mandating the use of HCFC freon to the point of nonexistence.

Changes for 2010

  • Production and distribution of HCFC-22 and HCFC-142b freon will be limited by regulating manufacturers. Some manufacturers will be required to stop production.
  • Approved manufactures will be exempt from some or all of the regulating standards.
  • Existing HCFC-22 and HCFC-142b freon can still be reclaimed to be recycled for reuse.
  • All newly manufactured HVAC equipment must function without HCFC-22 and HCFC-142b freon. New HVAC equipment will be required to use refrigerant approved by the EPA.
  • 75% of freon will be phased out of the United States by limiting consumption and new production.

Scheduled Changes for 2015

  • Regulating standards will apply to all manufacturers, distributors, and consumers. No exemptions will exist.
  • Only HVAC equipment manufactured before January 1, 2010 will be recharged with HCFC-22 and HCFC-142b freon.
  • Existing HCFC-22 and HCFC-142b freon will still be reclaimed to be recycled for reuse.
  • 90% of freon will be phased out of the United States by limiting consumption and new production.

Scheduled Changes for 2020

  • All manufacturing and production of HCFC will be banned. No demand for freon will be met by production of new freon, even for equipment purchased prior to 2010.
  • Licensed reclaimers will be permitted by the EPA to recycle existing HCFC-22 and HCFC-142b. New regulations for recycling and reuse will be implemented.
  • 99.5% of freon will be phased out of the United States by limiting consumption and banning new production.

Scheduled Changes for 2030

  • All production, recycling, and distribution of HCFC-22 and HCFC-142b must end. This means that no old or new equipment will be charged with HCFC-142b or HCFC-22 freon beginning January 1, 2030.
  • HCFC-22 and HCFC-142b freon must be destroyed adhering to disposal guidelines and strict government law.
  • Possessing, using, or distributing HCFC-22 or HCFC-142b freon will be against the law.
  • 100% of freon will be phased out of the United States by limiting consumption and banning new production.

What This Means for the Consumer

Regulation of Freon in HVAC Units

  • Any owner of cooling equipment which uses more than 50lbs of freon must repair all found leaks within 30 days of notice. Exceptions to this rule do exist and can be found on the Environmental Protection Agency website.
  • All HVAC equipment using more than 2,000 lbs of freon must install a special system that will detect leaks immediately. It is law that this equipment be monitored, maintained, and all details be reported.
  • As of January 1, 2010 it is illegal to charge any residential hvac equipment manufactured after January 1, 2010 with R-22 freon. Units manufactured before that date can still be charged with R-22 if serviceable. If unserviceable, they may be replaced from the manufacturers existing inventory of unused/unsold units if available, of R22 refrigerant units manufactured before January 1, 2010 or the newer units manufactured after January 1, 2010 which utilize R410a freon. Units manufactured after January 1, 2010 for residential use may only be charged with R410a freon if a leak occurs.
  • HVAC units purchased and installed prior to 2010 may be recharged under strict guidelines.
  • All activity with freon must be recorded and reported to the Environmental Protection Agency by the technician or wholesaler.

Laws for Manufacturing and Purchasing Freon

  • Manufacturers of freon are governed by strict laws that enforce proper production. These laws limit amounts produced, how freon is distributed, and who is authorized to purchase it.
  • Under the Environmental Protection Agency Refrigerant Sales Restrictions companies purchasing new or recycled freon must be licensed.
  • A licensed technician who is certified to service appliances requiring the refrigerant may purchase it if able to present proof that the proper handling equipment is being used.
  • All freon purchases must be a minimum of 20lbs.
  • Manufacturers, wholesalers, and licensed technicians must all keep records of freon. These records must contain names of purchasers, date of purchase, and quantity (in pounds) of purchase.

Freon Disposal and Reuse

  • Any HVAC unit that will be destroyed must first have all freon reclaimed (collected for recycling).
  • A licensed technician with EPA approved equipment must be the one who reclaims the freon.
  • All freon reclaimed from HVAC equipment must immediately be contained and sent to an EPA certified reclaimer. The reclaimer will then recycle the freon. Once recycled it may be sold and reused according to law.

By phasing out freon over 20 years the Environmental Protection Agency is working to prevent stress of those with HVAC systems requiring the soon to be illegal refrigerant. Many environmental experts are working to put substitutes on the market for a easy transition into a safer alternative to HCFC refrigerants. With many lessons learned the EPA is confident these alternatives will benefit our environment which only helps the consumer. In addition, the substitutes will also quickly grow to meet demand to ensure that no home be left without adequate heat and air.

How Does the R-22 Phase out Affect Consumers?

Availability: R-22 must be recovered and recycled (for reuse in the same system), reclaimed (reprocessed to the same purity levels as new R-22), or destroyed. This could take some time but could also mean that R-22 will not be widely available.

Cost: with dwindling supplies, the consumer should be aware that prices of R-22 may increase. This is just the basic supply-demand economic forces in play.

A Common Sense Approach To Servicing Your System

Along with prohibiting the production of ozone-depleting refrigerants, the Clean Air Act also mandates the use of common sense in handling refrigerants. By containing and using refrigerants responsibly — that is, by recovering, recycling, and reclaiming, and by reducing leaks — their ozone depletion and global warming consequences are minimized. You should always select a reputable dealer that employs service technicians who are EPA-certified to handle refrigerants.

All our technicians are certified to “Section 608 certification” of the Clean Air Act that requires minimizing releases of ozone-depleting chemicals from HVAC equipment.

A Common Sense Approach To Purchasing New Systems

You should consider energy efficiency, along with performance, reliability and cost, in making your decision. And don”t forget that when purchasing a new system, you can also speed the transition away from ozone-depleting R-22 by choosing a system that uses ozone-friendly refrigerants like R-410 which is gaining widespread use for higher efficiency systems.

For more details on the Clean Air Act and to get more educated on the laws, please visit the EPA Site.

Common Myths about R-410A

There have been a number of myths and misconceptions about R-410A refrigerant and air conditioners that use it that we have heard over the years. Some of these are completely untrue, and some are simply exaggerated. Here are some of them.

R-410A costs are much higher
As with any new technology/product, the initial manufacturing process costs are higher. The same is true for the non-ozone depleting refrigerant R410A. With the deadline to change refrigerants, as more suppliers start manufacturing R410A, the cost will come down.

Over the next few years, you will see prices of R22 systems go up as these manufacturers have to switch production to R410A systems that are mandated by law.

R-410A technology is new and it”s better to wait
Air conditioners using R-410A have been available in the U.S. since the mid 1990”s, so they”re not new. They”re new to people who haven”t heard about them, and the fact that there will be no R22 systems going to be manufactured in years to come.

R-410A air conditioners are prone to break down more often
New technology used for R410A systems are designed and built with a heavier gauge metal to provide heavy-duty operation. This has the effect of less vibrations that lead to fewer equipment failures; additionally, this also reduces noise levels.

Manufacturers require their distributors and technicians to be fully trained on R-410A before they can sell, install or service R-410A equipment. As a result, a properly installed and maintained R-410A system is more reliable.

R-410A equipment is unsafe
With over a million R-410A air conditioners operating worldwide, and nearly a decade of field testing and product history, there is no evidence to suggest that R-22 systems are any safer than systems that contain R-410A.

R410A systems are rigorously tested by their manufacturers, as well as by independent safety testing laboratories such as Underwriters Laboratories. Most of the negative comments are from independent installers and equipment suppliers who are not certified and trained by the manufacturer.

How to take care of your air conditioning system

Common problems with existing air conditioners result from faulty installation, poor service procedures, and inadequate maintenance. Improper installation of your air conditioner can result in leaky ducts and low airflow. Many times, the refrigerant charge (the amount of refrigerant in the system) does not match the manufacturer’s specifications. If proper refrigerant charging is not performed during installation, the performance and efficiency of the unit is impaired. Service technicians often fail to find refrigerant charging problems or even worsen existing problems by adding refrigerant to a system that is already full.

Air conditioner manufacturers generally make rugged, high quality products. However, an air conditioner’s filters, coils, and fins require regular maintenance for the unit to function effectively and efficiently throughout its years of service. Neglecting necessary maintenance ensures a steady decline in air conditioning performance while energy use steadily increases. Inadequate maintenance to components will cause the air conditioner will not work properly, and the compressor or fans are likely to fail prematurely. If your air conditioner fails, it is usually for one of the common reasons listed below:

Refrigerant Leaks: If your air conditioner is low on refrigerant, either it was undercharged at installation, or it leaks. If it leaks, simply adding refrigerant is not a solution. A trained technician should fix any leak, test the repair, and then charge the system with the correct amount of refrigerant. Remember that the performance and efficiency of your air conditioner is greatest when the refrigerant charge exactly matches the manufacturer’s specification, and is neither undercharged nor overcharged.

Electric Control Failure: The compressor and fan controls can wear out, especially when the air conditioner turns on and off frequently, as is common when a system is oversized. Because corrosion of wire and terminals is also a problem in many systems, electrical connections and contacts should be checked during a professional service call.

Air Conditioner Filters: The most important maintenance task that will ensure the efficiency of your air conditioner is to routinely replace or clean its filters. Clogged, dirty filters block normal airflow and reduce a system’s efficiency significantly. With normal airflow obstructed, air that bypasses the filter may carry dirt directly into the evaporator coil and impair the coil’s heat-absorbing capacity. Filters are located somewhere along the return duct’s length. Common filter locations are in walls, ceilings, furnaces, or in the air conditioner itself. Some types of filters are reusable; others must be replaced. They are available in a variety of types and efficiencies. Clean or replace your air conditioning system’s filter or filters every month or two during the cooling season.

Filters may need more frequent attention if the air conditioner is in constant use, is subjected to dusty conditions, or you have fur-bearing pets in the house. Regular maintenance of air conditioner coils, cooling fins, and fans will lead to a longer, more efficient service life.

Air Conditioner Coils: The air conditioner’s evaporator coil and condenser coil collect dirt over their months and years of service. A clean filter prevents the evaporator coil from soiling quickly. In time, however, the evaporator coil will still collect dirt. This dirt reduces air flow and insulates the coil which reduces its ability to absorb heat. Therefore, your evaporator coil should be checked every year and cleaned as necessary.

Outdoor condenser coils can also become very dirty if the outdoor environment is dusty or if there is foliage nearby. You can easily see the condenser coil and notice if dirt is collecting on its fins. You should minimize dirt and debris near the condenser unit. Your dryer vents, falling leaves, and lawn mower are all potential sources of dirt and debris. Cleaning the area around the coil, removing any debris, and trimming foliage back at least 2 feet (0.6 meters) allow for adequate air flow around the condenser.

Coil Fins: The aluminum fins on evaporator and condenser coils are easily bent and can block air flow through the coil. Air conditioning wholesalers sell a tool called a “fin comb” that will comb these fins back into nearly original condition.

Sealing and Insulating Air Ducts: Insulating air ducts prevents the loss of hot or cool air before it reaches individual rooms. An enormous waste of energy occurs when cooled air escapes from supply ducts or when hot attic air leaks into return ducts. Recent studies indicate that 10 percent to 30 percent of the conditioned air in an average central air conditioning system escapes from the ducts. For central air conditioning to be efficient, ducts must be airtight. Hiring a competent professional service technician to detect and correct duct leaks is a good investment, since leaky ducts may be difficult to find without experience and test equipment. Ducts must be sealed with duct “mastic.”

The old standby of duct tape is ineffective for sealing ducts. Obstructions can impair the efficiency of a duct system almost as much as leaks. You should be careful not to obstruct the flow of air from supply or return registers with furniture, drapes, or tightly fitted interior doors. Dirty filters and clogged evaporator coils can also be major obstructions to air flow. The large temperature difference between attics and ducts makes heat conduction through ducts almost as big a problem as air leakage and obstructions. Ducts in attics should be insulated heavily in addition to being made airtight.

Tips for air conditioner or heat pump

Below are some tips, advice and maintenance guidelines for your outdoor air conditioner and/or heat pump. These tips are for better efficiency, longer life, and easier service.

Most of the information here applies to both air conditioners and heat pumps. But read carefully, some of the information is for one or the other. If you follow any of these tips make sure you know if you have a heat pump or an air conditioner or damage could result.

TIPS FOR BETTER EFFICIENCY:

1 – Set thermostat at one temperature. Constant adjusting can cause higher utility costs. If using your thermostat as a setback type, limit the setbacks to twice a day such as when you are at work and when you are sleeping. Only setback the thermostat 6% of desired temperature (approximately five degrees).

In heating, try not to set the thermostat below 65 degrees or above 75 degrees. Below 65 degrees a heat pump just won’t put out enough heat and above 75 degrees is using too much energy. In cooling, try not to set the thermostat below 70 degrees. Besides higher utility costs, this can cause the indoor coil to freeze and cause condensation in the house.

2 – Keep coils clean. If they get dirty you can use a heavy duty degreaser and hose them down. Just turn the unit off first.

3 – Don’t stack things on top of the unit. If the fan is on the top the air-flow cannot be restricted. Do not put your rolled-up garden hose or landscaping products on the unit. We see this all the time.

4 – When mowing the lawn, direct the mower away from the unit. A coil blocked with grass clippings and debris drastically reduces the efficiency.

5 – When using a weed whacker be careful near the unit. Debris can damage the coil, flatten the aluminum fins, and cut the thermostat wires; shorting out the transformer. We see this all the time and it is an expensive repair bill.

COMMON SENSE TIPS:

1 – Don’t plant prickly bushes like roses or holly around the unit. No one will want to service it.

2 – Don’t grow a garden or plant exotic flowers around the outdoor unit and expect the service technician to tip-toe around everything.

3 – When planting shrubs don’t block the access panels or the coil. Plan to keep 18 to 30 inches around the unit. Don’t forget to plan for the growth of the shrubs five, ten, even fifteen years down the road.

4 – Many people like to completely hide the outdoor unit behind shrubs. If you do this don’t be surprised if the technician refuses to service the unit. Please have some consideration and leave a path wide enough to accommodate the tech and his tools and room to work.

5 – Having crushed stone around the unit is best. It allows for good drainage, keeps the unit level and from sinking, keeps the coils clean from washed-up grass and dirt and also keeps the service technicians shoes clean. This will also keep your floors and carpeting clean.

6 – If building a fence around the unit allow for room to service, even replace the unit. If any major repairs need to be made, the service man may need access to all sides on the unit. Don’t expect the service tech to have to jump or climb over a fence. The unit needs to be serviced regularly. Install a gate that can be easily opened. We constantly see fences with out gates and the customer expects the tech to unbolt the fence and then re-install it when he is finished. Very Inconsiderate.

HEAT PUMPS ONLY:

1 – Keep snow, ice, and leaves away from the outdoor unit. This includes the top, sides, and bottom.

2 – Make it a habit to look at the outdoor heat pump during the winter months for signs of excessive ice or snow build-up on or around the heat pump. Especially after bad weather.

If the unit is covered in ice or snow it must be removed for it to work properly. Turn the thermostat to Emergency heat or off and remove the snow and ice. You can pour warm or hot water over the unit to melt the snow and ice. Even cold water from a hose will help. Do not use any sharp objects to pick or knock the ice off the coils of the heat pump. This could cause severe damage and personal injury. Once the unit is clear of snow and ice turn the thermostat back to normal heating. If the unit ices up again, call for service.

3 – Do not let the outdoor unit sit underneath a leaking gutter. In the winter months, water will drip on the top of the unit and freeze solid. This will restrict the air flow and cause the whole unit to freeze-up.

4 – Heat Pumps should be elevated 4 to 8 inches above ground level to keep coils clear of snow and ice and to allow for proper drainage. Contact our Service Department if you would like your unit raised.

AIR CONDITIONERS ONLY:

1 – Cover the outdoor unit including top and sides in the fall and winter when the air conditioner is not in use. Great for areas with lots of trees where falling branches can damage the unit. Also keeps heavy ice from bending the fan blades and hale from damaging the coil.

Caution, this is for air conditioners only, not heat pumps and make sure the unit is off. Do not attempt to run the air conditioning with the outdoor unit covered. Also remember to remove the cover in Spring before turning on the air.

Why isn’t the air conditioner cooling the house?

If a room is not getting cooled or heated like the other rooms, it’s very likely there are some simple checks to do before calling your service company. Here are some checks:

  • Check the air filters – both at the intake and return if any. They may be dirty or blocked.
  • Check the air registers to the room(s). Are they open, blocked/covered? If they are not, are the windows/doors sealed around the frame? You may have a room that is not well insulated.
  • If there is less air flow through the register, it’s likely the air duct to the room is long, has some restrictions, or a damper may be partially closed. Check the ductwork if it’s in the basement or attic. Open the damper if there’s one.

Simple steps like sealing window and door gaps, drawing the curtains when it’s the height of summer, and closing registers in un-used rooms can only help your A/C and reduce energy bills.

We can do a thorough inspection and energy audit of your home, so give us a call to save on your energy bills this season.

Why isn’t much air coming from the floor or ceiling vents?

If a room is not getting cooled or heated like the other rooms, it’s very likely there are some simple checks to do before calling your service company. Here are some of the checks you can perform:

  • Check the air filters – both at the intake and return if any. They may be dirty of blocked.
  • Check the air vents to the room(s). Are they open, blocked/covered?
  • If there is less air flow through the register, it’s likely the air duct to the room is long, has some restrictions, or a damper may be partially closed. Check the ductwork if it’s in the basement or attic. Open the damper if there’s one.
  • If there is low air pressure coming from all the room vents, it’s likely that the fan motor speed is not right. This does require a professional, so give us a call today.

Why isn’t the air conditioner cooling?

The thermostat setting is way down, but the room temperature still feels warm. There are usually two causes for this:

1. All thermostats are not equal. Do you have one of the dial types? They are the older mechanical type thermostats that must be calibrated at least once every two years or so. You are better off buying a new digital thermostat that will pay for itself in one summer.

Mechanical or digital – it’s also likely that the thermostat could have been placed in the wrong location – near a heat source, sunlight, or an un insulated wall. This is very common but a problem to fix. Repositioning the thermostat will require some knowledge of electrical wiring and fishing wire through a drywall can be a challenge.

Your best bet will be to protect the thermostat from obvious heat/cold source, and if that fails, then you will need to call in your expert service company to reposition and rewire the thermostat.

This will save you money on your energy bills in the long run.

2. The more serious problem is that your condenser coils are freezing up – this can happen during the cooling season. Try turning off the system for an hour or two (don’t worry, the unit was not cooling anyway!). Turn the system back on and see if there’s cool air coming from the vents. If not, the problems could be a leak in the system, lack of refrigerant, or dirt in the system that’s blocking the condenser unit. This does require a professional, so give us a call today.

Why won’t the air conditioner come on?

This is a common problem and you should check for the following before calling for a service technician:

  • Check the power cable, breaker first. Remember if you’re not sure call for service.
  • Check the thermostat: in summer it could be set too high, in winter it could be set too low
  • Check the condensate drain pump. The float could be stuck, drain blocked, or the pump may be off.

Beyond these simple checks, you will need a professional HVAC technician, so give us a call today.