Tag Archives: air conditioner

Air Conditioner Failure & 3 Ways to Prevent It

air conditioner failure

Nothing can ruin an entire week like unexpected air conditioner failure. Everything was going great, then, suddenly, the A/C stops working and the whole family gets crabby. It’s hard to be happy about life when you’re sweating yourself to sleep every night. Plus, who wants to pay a costly repair bill? Ugh.

Air Conditioner Failure – Stop It Before It Starts

Fortunately, there are a few simple things you can do to keep your system running smoothly for years to come.

Check Air Filters Monthly

The single most important thing you can do to keep your air conditioner functional is to check and clean your air filters. Those filters are not designed for you. Yes, they do clean interior air. Yes, that can be good for your health. Again, no, they were not designed with you, presumably a human, in mind.

Air conditioner air filters are designed to keep dust, dirt, and debris away from the sensitive interior components like the evaporator coil. Dirty coils corrode faster, reduce operating efficiency, and make the unit work harder to keep your home comfortable. Those factors can all build up to a colossal mechanical failure.

You, obviously, want to prevent that. Check your filters once per month, minimum. Check it even more if you have a lot of pets or a large family. If the filter is so dirty that you can’t see through it, you need to clean or replace it. Making this simple step a regular habit will keep your unit running efficiently while it helps you avoid a big air conditioner failure down the road.

Pre- & Post-Season Cleaning

Imagine that you leave your car sitting outside for six months. One day you decide you need to drive it somewhere. Are you going to just jump behind the driver’s wheel, start it up, and expect everything to go smoothly? Or are you going to check the car to make sure the tires haven’t gone flat and that a family of badgers hasn’t taken up residence in the trunk?

I really hope you’d at least give the thing a quick glance before you expect it to run.

Your air conditioner is like that car. It sits unused all winter. Bad weather can deposit leaves, sticks, and debris inside the cabinet and clogging the coils. Before you turn the unit on to keep you cool during the summer, you should give your air conditioner a quick clean up. We go into detail about how to do that elsewhere. Rest assured that the cleaning process is not very complicated.

You also want to make sure you clean the unit before you let it sit all winter long. Summer thunderstorms and high wind can dirty up the condenser in the same way bad winter weather can. Plus, a little weatherization will make things easier come springtime.

So, why bother with all this cleaning? Keeping the exterior condenser free of contaminants will keep it running more efficiently and prevent premature air conditioner failure. This step is not less important than periodic filter inspection, but you only have to do it twice a year.

Annual Maintenance

You’re a heating and air expert, right? You’d be able to spot all the small signs that point to a big air conditioner failure coming, right? No?

Well, it sounds like you need to schedule regular, annual maintenance for your unit. Many local HVAC contractors will perform this service for a reasonable fee. They come out to your house, inspect the unit, and make sure everything looks good for the upcoming cooling season. These are the experts that can spot a problem before it grows out of control, and you only need them to do it once per year.

See, I Told You It Was Easy

And that’s pretty much it. Check your filters regularly, keep the condenser clean, and schedule a maintenance inspection once per year. If you do those three simple things, you will ensure a much longer and failure-free air conditioner life.

Winterize Your Air Conditioner

winterize your air conditioner

Right now, Winter Storm Ajax is blasting its way across the country. It’s dumping snow and ice and misery on homes, cars, and, though you might not have thought about it, air conditioner condensers. This storm isn’t special. Your outside air conditioner condenser has to put up with a lot of seasonal abuse. That’s why you need to make sure you properly winterize your air conditioner every year.

How To Easily Winterize Your Air Conditioner

Now, don’t panic, it’s not too hard to winterize your air conditioner. You can do it yourself without any special tools or training. However, if you are a moron, we take no responsibility for anyway you might injure yourself in this relatively straightforward and simple process.

Let us begin.

Your’re going to need some basic equipment to do this job. You’ll need, in no particular order, the following:

  • A simple garden hose.
  • A clean towel.
  • Some pipe insulation (maybe).
  • A dedicated outdoor air conditioner cover or a tarp and some bungee cords.

That’s about it.

Our 100% Easy Winterization Process

First, lots of weird stuff can get blown into the vents during summer – leaves, twigs, grass clippings, candy wrappers, etc. Remove it all and throw it away.

Second, with the big stuff gone, use your garden hose to clean out all the finer dirt and debris sticking to the fins.

Third, let the unit dry out completely.

Fourth, check the pipe insulation. Hopefully, your installing HVAC contractor placed insulation around the exterior pipes. If they did not, you need to attach that pipe insulation yourself. It’s really easy to do. Places the tees and elbows first, then cut the longer sections to fit. You can even buy pipe insulation that is self-adhesive. This stuff isn’t very expensive, so don’t freak out.

Fifth and finally, you’re ready to wrap the unit with some kind of waterproof material. You can go buy an air conditioner cover made for the job or you can easily jury-rig your own. A simple tarp held down with bungee cords will do the trick. All you’re trying to do is keep most of the snow and rain away from the system. It’s not rocket science.

And that’s pretty much it. Periodically check the unit to make sure snow isn’t piling up on the cover and your air conditioner will be in excellent shape come spring.

See, I told you it was easy to winterize your air conditioner!

You, Your Dog, and Your Air Conditioner

dog

You’ve got a dog, right? Of course, you do, because they’re adorable and really good at moving sticks around the yard. You’ve also got an air conditioner. These two things probably don’t seem related. What would a dog have to do with an air conditioner anyway? However, the two can affect each other more than you might think.

What Does My Dog Have to Do With My Air Conditioner?

Good question! Unless your dog regularly uses your outside AC as a substitute fire hydrant, you might not think there’s much of a relationship.

But there is.

Dogs have fur. I realize I’m not exactly blowing your mind with that proclamation. You already know dogs shed. After all, you’re the one vacuuming the dog hair off the sofa before the in-laws show up.

No matter how clean you keep your house or how well groomed your dog, you aren’t catching all that pet hair and dander coming off Fido. Don’t feel bad. It would be virtually impossible to take care of it all.

Where does that hair go? Some of it gets embedded in carpet or clothes, but a lot gets sucked up by you air conditioner and lodged in your air filter.

Aha! Now we’re getting somewhere.

Dogs, Cats, and Air Filters

Yes, we’ve been talking about dogs, but the same principle applies to your cat or any other furry mammal scurrying around your house. Some loose pet hair is always going to get caught in your air conditioner’s filter. This is actually a good thing, since it means the air filter is doing its job. It is supposed to keep things like hair and dust and other airborne particles from getting to the coils inside the system.

So, you’re fine, right? Nothing to worry about?

Obviously not. Yes, a good air filter will do the job catching loose pet hair, but that means you have to do a good job regularly checking that filter. If you have a lot of pets, your filter is going to get dirtier faster than someone living alone. Some homeowners can go 2-3 months without cleaning or replacing their filter. You can’t do that. You need to check it every few weeks to be sure the filter isn’t completely filthy.

Won’t That Cost Me More Money?

Yes, it probably will. However, remember that air filters are cheap, but paying the bill to repair an air conditioner clogged with dog hair won’t be.

Air Conditioner Replacement – 3 Questions You Should Ask

air conditioner replacement

Your air conditioner is one of the most expensive, most costly, and most regularly used home appliances. Sadly, they don’t last forever. When your system does break, do you know what questions you should ask your HVAC technician about air conditioner replacement?

No? You’re not alone, and we can help.

Air Conditioner Replacement – 3 Questions You Should Ask

1. Does the new unit need to be the same size as the old one?

You think we’re starting off easy, because the answer is an obvious, “Yes.”

Right?

Maybe, but not necessarily. If your previous unit was properly sized, then your new air conditioner replacement will most likely be that same size. However, if you were stuck using the wrong size for your house, now is a great time to get the right one installed. A good HVAC tech will conduct a heat load calculation to know for sure.

2. Should I stick with the same type of system?

You might want to do a ‘same brand, same model’ air conditioner replacement, but maybe not. Depending on where you live it might make sense to go with an energy efficient heat pump instead of a cooling-only a/c unit. If your furnace is also on its last legs, maybe you want to install a dual fuel packaged unit to get powerful cooling and heating. There are a lot of options. Talk it over with your HVAC tech, and they’ll help you pick the best unit to fit your comfort needs.

3. Will an energy efficient unit make that much of a difference?

I don’t know if you’ve left your house in a few decades, but energy efficient technology is kind of a big deal right now. The heating and air conditioning industry isn’t any different. High efficiency air conditioners, heat pumps, and furnaces are saturating the market. Which one should you choose? Should you invest a little more money in a higher efficiency system or should you settle for something that just meets the latest Federal standard?

Talk to your HVAC technician about how much he thinks you could save. If you live in an area with really cheap electricity, a higher efficiency system won’t make much of a difference. Of course, the contrary is also true. If electricity costs in your state are really high, investing a few more dollars in better tech will pay off in the long run. Whichever system you choose you can be certain any modern unit is going to be a lot better than a previous generation system.

And That’s That

Those are the three main questions you need to keep in mind when talking to your HVAC professional about air conditioner replacement. As always, if you have more questions, drop us an email or a message in the comments.

Stay cool, Internet denizen!

6 Ways to Cut Summer Energy Bills

cut summer energy bills

Summer is great. Paying a high utility bill is not so great. You could save money by turning off the A/C, but who wants to do that? All is not lost. You can cut summer energy bills, save money, and still enjoy great air comfort at the same time.

We’ll even tell you how.

Cut Summer Energy Bills Simply & Easily

All you have to do is keep these 6 easy steps in mind.

1. Keep the Air Filter Clean

A dirty air filter can be major drag on your air conditioner’s operating efficiency. You should check it at least once a month. If it’s dirty, change it out. Your unit will use less energy with a clean filter, so you’ll save money.

2. Buy & Use a Programmable Thermostat

Do you already have a programmable thermostat? Probably. Do you use it. If you’re like most people, you don’t. Did you know using a programmable thermostat properly can shave 20% of your annual energy consumption? It can.

3. Ceiling Fans!

Fans don’t actually change the temperature, but they can make a room feel a lot more comfortable. Which means you can set the thermostat slightly higher than you otherwise might. You don’t sacrifice comfort, but you do trim some fat off your bill.

4. Turn the Air Off on Cool Days

It seems like a no-brainer, but a lot of people leave the A/C running even during mild weather. Stop doing that. Turn off the air conditioner, open some windows, and let nature in. A few A/C-free days can make a real difference.

5. Grill Outside More

Yes, now you have a money-saving reason to grill steaks out on the porch. Why is that? Ovens and stove tops are hot. That heat is inside your house. It doesn’t evaporate magically, the air conditioner has to compensate. The more you grill out, the less your HVAC has to do.

6. Trim Back the Hedges

Air conditioners, not surprisingly, need steady air flow to operate effectively. If you’ve got weeds, vines, and who knows what else growing up and around your exterior condenser, you’re not going to get good efficiency. To make matters worse, dirt and debris inside the condenser from an untended yard can lead to mechanical failure.

You’re Welcome

And that’s it. Follow those six easy steps and you will, I promise you, cut summer energy bills significantly. Best of all, you won’t have to suffer to do it.

Is An Old Air Conditioner Costing You Money?

old air conditioner

How old is your air conditioner? 5 years old? 10 years? 15? Do you even know? You should find out. Modern air conditioning is one of the best things about being alive in this day and age, but if you’re relying on an old air conditioner, you might be paying way, way too much to stay cool.

Out With the Old Air Conditioner, In With the New

Air conditioner technology has come a long way since it was first invented back at the dawn of the 20th century. We’ve replaced the bulky, loud, and noxious A/C units our parents first installed with energy efficient, quiet, and eco-safe models that do an even better job cooling and dehumidifying. You are using one of the energy efficient, quiet, and eco-safe models, right?

There’s a good chance you’re not. Too many American households still rely on effective, but inefficient technology to keep them cool during hot summer temperatures.

It’s understandable.

Really, it is. Buying a new air conditioner is fraught with uncertainties. You’re not an HVAC expert. How do you know you aren’t getting swindled? How do you know which unit is better than another? Are the latest units really better than the old air conditioner you’ve gotten by with for years?

Yes, they are, and upgrading can make a lot of difference.

New Tech, Old Problems

The HVAC industry is full of great, innovative companies, but they aren’t building increasingly efficient air conditioners out of pure goodness. US government residential efficiency standards have been rising steadily over the last few decades, and the latest standards came into effect as of January 1st, 2015. The newest high efficiency units cool just as well as your old air conditioner, but they are a lot more efficient.

Of course, the big question is, “How much of a difference will they make?”

Consider this: A typical 2.5 ton central AC system uses more electricity in one hour of continuous use than leaving your refrigerator door wide open for the same period of time. You would never leave your fridge open for that long, so why do you settle for an inferior, old air conditioner’s efficiency? If you live in a particularly hot climate, your A/C could account for up to 70% of your electric bill by itself.

That’s a lot of money.

Take the plunge. Invest in a new, high efficiency air conditioner for your home. You’ll get the same great air comfort you always have, but your electric bill will go down and you’ll be doing something good for the environment.

If you don’t, all you’ll lose is money.

 

DIY Air Conditioner Condenser Cleaning

DIY Air Conditioner Condenser Cleaning

Your air conditioner condenser is like everything else in your home – it gets dirty. Obviously, this is less than ideal. Too much dirt and grime in your A/C will reduce energy efficiency, and is a leading cause of mechanical failure. Should you hire someone to clean the system or is DIY air conditioner condenser cleaning possible?

It is and it’s not as hard as you think.

100% DIY Air Conditioner Condenser Cleaning is Easy

The first thing you need to know about DIY air conditioner condenser cleaning is that you don’t need any special tools or chemicals. There are useful air conditioner cleaning products on the market, but they aren’t 100% necessary. Still, if you want to pick some up from your local hardware store, it won’t hurt a thing.

Let’s get started.

Exterior Condenser Cleaning & You!

An air conditioner condenser is the portion installed outside your house. As you might imagine, it can get really dirty. Dirt, dust, leaves, insects, and all sorts of other contaminants can gunk up the coils. You need to get this cleaned out for optimum running.

1. Alright genius, turn off the power. Accidental electrocution isn’t fun for anyone.

2. Clean away all the leaves, brush, and debris from the outside. Also, important tip, when you mow your lawn never point the exhaust side of the mower toward the condenser.

3. Get a wet/dry vacuum to remove the big stuff from the exterior.

4. Check to see if any of the condenser fins are bent. If they are, use a dull tool to GENTLY straighten them. Emphasis on the GENTLY.

5. Now, you’re going to remove the top grill. You’ll need some tools, but nothing exotic. Lift out the fan, set it safely to the side, and do NOT yank on any of the exposed wires. You did turn the power off, right?

6. Clean up any loose debris inside the cavity.

7. Take your garden hose and GENTLY spray the fins from the inside. You want to push any debris out. Spraying the fins from the outside will only push the trash inside the unit. This is bad.

8. Replace the fan and reattach the top grill.

9. Let the unit dry out for about 24 hours.

10. Turn the power back on to the unit, and you’re done.

And that’s pretty much all there is to DIY air conditioner condenser cleaning. It’s probably a lot less hard than you thought, and it’s a great way to keep your unit running strong all season long.

 

High Efficiency Air Conditioners Save Money…Right?

high efficiency air conditioners

High efficiency air conditioners are great, right? They must be. Everyone from HVAC manufacturers to contractors to the US government is talking about them. Surely, all these folks wouldn’t be talking about high efficiency air conditioners if they weren’t all they’re cracked up to be, right?

Right?

High Efficiency Air Conditioners – To Be or Not to Be?

We could just tell you yes or no, but that seems a bit pointless. After all, why should you believe us? We’re trying to sell HVAC product the same as the next guy. Let’s start somewhere other than a binary answer.

You and everybody else in the world wants air conditioning. Summer is great, but heat sucks. A lot. To beat the heat, you buy an air conditioner. It’s amazing! Then you get your first bill. After you come to your senses, you pay it, because it’s better than sweating out of orifices you didn’t even know you had.

High efficiency air conditioners, the theory goes, are supposed to deliver effective air cooling, but reduce your utility bill at the same time. Do they do that or are they just overrated high tech toys?

Upfront Costs, Long Term Expenses

Nothing in life is free. Except, I guess, oxygen, but that’s only because no one has yet to figure out a good way to charge you for it. So, yeah, you’ve got to buy an air conditioner, then pay your utility bill for the electricity you need every month to run the thing. You know all that. What you might not be thinking about is how much those long term expenses can add up and up and up.

Think about it like this. Suppose you buy a toaster for $20. It’s cheap, and, hey, who doesn’t love toast? However, every time you want to use the toaster you have drop a quarter in a slot. Some days you don’t want any toast, so you keep your quarters. Other days you and the family eat a couple piece of toast each, and you’re out a few bucks. It won’t take very long before the cost of using the toaster more than exceeds the $20 you paid for it.

An inefficient, outdated air conditioner is the same deal. Yeah, it’s cheap to buy, but whenever you want toast, or cool air in this case, you’re going to pay money. You don’t have to take the money out of your wallet right then, and so most people tend to forget about those costs.

You shouldn’t.

Let’s say you spend around $150 per month on utilities. Comes out to around $1800 a year and around $27,000 in 15 years. That’s nothing to sneeze at.

What if you bought a high efficiency air conditioner that saved your only $30 a month. That’s not very much, right? Well, it’s around $5,400 over 15 years. The average A/C unit will last 15-20 years.

So, do we think high efficiency air conditioners are worth your time and attention?

Only if you like money.