Tag Archives: air conditioning

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Why Zoning May Not Be the Best Option for Your Home

With humidity and temperatures on the rise each summer, it’s important to stay cool and hydrated. Your home may be difficult to cool down, especially if you live in the inland or desert areas of California. Luckily air conditioning, better known by the acronym AC, allows for the ventilation of cool, clean air throughout your home with a touch of a button. Most air conditioning units allow you to control the temperature, intensity, and duration of operation. The EIA reported that air conditioning systems are present in 87% of homes in the United States alone. Certainly, AC has become a luxury many people aren’t willing to forgo.

What is Zoning?

Replacing an air filterEver since modern air conditioning systems were invented in 1902, manufacturers have attempted to modify units to be energy efficient and friendly to the environment, with relative success. The Department of Energy estimates that heating and cooling amount to 40 percent of the average home’s utility costs, so energy efficient air conditioning systems will not only help the environment, but your wallet too. Some energy saving features that are present in current air conditioning systems are being able to detect when a set temperature is reached, powering off automatically to reduce energy waste, and running for a certain time period, which eliminates the problem of overuse.

A popular method that companies advertise will save you money is called zoning. Zoning involves the installation of multiple air vents and thermostats that wire to a universal control panel. The consumer can determine what rooms or zones (depending on the home’s layout and needs) receive cool air. This system may be attractive to people who feel some rooms in their home are stuffier than others and wish for more ventilation in those rooms as opposed to their entire house. For example, you may not want to waste money and energy air conditioning the guest room in your home if that room is empty. Depending on the size of your home, multiple air conditioning units may be necessary to keep up with the energy demand and delegate air to the different zones. Essentially, zoning does allow for more control over the distribution of air conditioning throughout your home, but may also require a costly installation and energy bill, if not used properly.

Zoning in on Energy Inefficiency

Woman needs more air conditioningWhile the concept of zoning is certainly a step in the right direction for energy efficiency, the way zoning is currently being implemented in homes is contradictory to the promise of energy efficiency.  The main problem with zoning is the need for multiple AC systems. Having multiple air conditioning units responsible for cooling one home is excessive and will result in a costly upfront installation fee. Furthermore, what happens if one unit breaks before the other? Do you only fix one unit or replace them both at the same time? It’s a vicious cycle of replacing and reinstalling that will eat up your wallet. Instead of adding more air conditioning units to cool your home, it may be more effective to update other areas of your home to allow better ventilation and circulation. For example, poor ductwork and insulation in your home prohibit the cool air to flow from your AC system and through your vents. In other words, the route that the cool air travels through is not adequately sealed to allow the air to flow through your vents and reach you. Updating the ductwork and insulation is usually a one-time expense that can have a major impact. An alternative to multiple units is installing adjustable vents that you may close in certain rooms. These vents will prohibit air from flowing into rooms you don’t want and allow more air to flow in the rooms you do want. Finally, something as simple as closing your blinds and windows while running your air conditioning will allow the air to stay in your home more effectively. Zoning may not be the best option for every consumer, so be sure to investigate other options before purchasing or updating your current AC system.

 

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Keep Your A/C Running Cold This Summer With a DIY A/C Checkup

It’s August, the hottest month of the year in the San Diego area. Don’t be one of the unlucky residents to suffer an air conditioning failure. Follow these few steps to make sure your A/C keeps you cool the rest of the year.

Check Your Air Filter

A dirty air filter is the number one cause poor air conditioner performance. As the filter collects dirt and debris the air flow to your unit is restricted. The evaporator coils fail to get enough circulation around them and eventually ice up. Simply changing out your filter (or cleaning it, if you have an electrostatic model) every few months will prevent this from happening.

Remove Obstructions from the Condenser Unit

Another potential reason for poor air circulation in your outdoor condenser unit is exterior obstruction. This could be debris that has blown in against the unit, items like pallets leaned up against it or even vegetation growth surrounding the unit. Make sure that the area surrounding your unit is clear so it is able to get the air it needs to prevent coil freeze and poor overall performance.

Clean the Condenser

Dust and dirt can build up on the coils and fins of your condenser. This problem can be quickly remedied with a wet rag, some cleaning solution and garden hose. Disconnect the power to your A/C unit by switching it off at the breaker. Using a commercial air conditioner cleaner – available from us – spray the coils. Let it sit for about 5 minutes and then rinse it down with your hose. Wipe the coils and fins gently with a clean rag to remove any remaining dirt. Let the unit dry and then turn the power back on at the breaker.

Get an A/C Check-Up

Electricity isn’t getting any cheaper. The best way to make sure your unit is running efficiently and cooling you without breaking the back is to have an annual AC service checkup. It’s never too late to make sure that you have the proper refrigerant levels and your unit is working at its peak. The A/C checkup will also identify small issues with your system before they balloon into expensive fixes.

Prevent AC failure by taking a few small steps now to ensure a cool and relaxing summer!

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The Ductless Mini Split – Heating and Cooling for the 21st Century

If you are looking for a way to bring your heating and cooling into the 21st century, the ductless mini split might be exactly what you are looking for. It is a great solution for those of you who are putting on additions or looking for a way to turn a sun room into a year round paradise.

What is a Ductless Mini Split?

A ductless mini split system is composed of both an outdoor compressor and condenser system and one or more indoor evaporator and blower units. The indoor units may be mounted on any wall or in the ceiling. There are even hidden units available that fit in seamlessly with your décor.

How is it different than a window or portable air conditioner?

Mini splits don’t have to be mounted inside a window casing or through an exterior wall. They can be mounted anywhere within the living space. Additionally, because the compressor is located outdoors, the mini split is much quieter than a window or portable air conditioning system.

Why is it better than a central air system?

Most central air units are set to cool an entire home. Unless you have a zoned system, ductless mini splits are the best way to condition individual portions of the home as needed. Multiple indoor blower units allow you to only cool the areas that are occupied and not waste cooling power on vacant spaces.
Ductless systems also save energy by putting the cooling source directly in the room instead of in a centralized location. Up to 30% of all cooling energy can be lost in the ductwork of a traditional system. This waste is eliminated in the ductless system. This has made it possible for some ductless units to achieve SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) values of 27 and higher, making them some of the most efficient HVAC options available.

Do I Need an Inverter System?

Units with an inverter system run a variable speed motor. This allows them to deliver cooling at the rate necessary for the conditioned area. This can lead to a saving of up to 30% over older units without an inverter system. Inverters aren’t necessary, but they will lower your cooling bill significantly while also keeping the humidity in your home at a comfortable level.

What About Air Filtration?

One of the first questions we get about ductless systems is “where is the air filter?” The answer – there is an ion filer in each blower unit. These ion filters are similar to those on window air conditioners and remove odors, pollen, dust and dander just like traditional filters.

Can a Ductless Mini Split Be Used for Heating?

Since it doesn’t get too cold here in San Diego, units with electric heaters are often the mini splits of choice. There are also heat pumps that work with mini split systems. These forced air systems are often used instead of older baseboard heaters in the area.

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Summer Air Conditioning Costs Too High – Old Ductwork Could Be Blowing It For You

How old is your ductwork? No, really, it’s important to know. If your ducts were installed before energy efficiency was a key concern for home buyers (mid 1990s), your ducts could be leaking live a sieve. Ductwork used to be tossed in at the last minute and secured into place with a few metal screws. You’d be lucky if they met minimum building code. This fast and cheap builder mantra could be costing you hundreds of dollars every year.

With Old Ductwork Failure is an Option

Your cheap, old ductwork may be starting to fail if it even worked right in the first place. Your ducts could be rusting out, have significant air leaks, or a complete run may have already fallen and disconnected from main system. This is because the metal joints were often held together with six hex-head screws. That’s it. If you were lucky you got some duct tape to seal around the joints. Duct tape, by design, is only meant to hold ducts in place temporarily because repeated heating and cooling makes it brittle. A good duct tape will last about 5 years.

The point here is that you probably are losing a lot of heating and cooling efficiency behind your walls – maybe up to 30 percent. You’re paying to condition the spaces behind your walls and under your feet. In addition, unfiltered air is getting sucked back into the ductwork when your system shuts off. The negative air pressure created when the fan shuts off draws in dust, debris, insulation and chemicals into your system that are then pushed into your living areas when the unit kicks back on. We’d like to help you fix that.

Let’s Inspect Your Ductwork

First, there needs to be a visual inspection of your ductwork to make sure there are no major areas of concern. This is the place you’ll find disconnected duct runs, potential blockages and other problems. We suggest checking the attic and crawlspaces that are hard to access. These will be the places that the construction crew was likely to hurry through. Look for peeling duct tape, dust lines around joints and any areas of rust. If you don’t find any of those, congratulations! If you did, you’ll probably need to get a professional to fix it the right way.

Smaller leaks are harder to find, but easier to fix. Here’s a professional trick. Get yourself a smoke candle or incense stick and turn on the blower fan at your thermostat. Run the smoke candle along the joints. Any small leaks will become immediately visible. Aluminum backed tape can be used to seal these leaks – fast and affordable.

Once you’ve sealed up the leaks that you can find, do this last thing – check the airflow in each of your rooms. If you don’t have air movement somewhere, or the temperature is significantly different in one area, you could have a leak behind the walls where you can’t get to it. This is another time the professionals have the right tool for the job. We can run a video snake through the ductwork and see what is going on. We can also schedule a blower test to check for high pressure leaks in your system and clear them up as well.

Time for the Air Conditioner?

With such a warm winter, we can only expect a hot spring and summer. Today, with the temperature approaching 80 degrees, we’ve had many calls from people eager to turn on their air conditioners for the first time in many months. But, before you do, we recommend that you check a couple of things first:

  • Remove the cover. Cut back any old bushes near the unit and clean off any accumulated leaves.
  • Replace your air filters. A dirty filter means that dirt is sifting through the system and into your home, causing your system to run inefficiently.
  • Check your thermostat before using the system. You can do this by setting the system to auto-cool and lowering the thermostat setting to one degree lower than the actual temperature in the room. If the system turns on, the thermostat is working properly. Let it run for a few hours to make sure it remains consistent.
  • Check for Water Leaks .Your condensate overflow drain should work properly. Be sure to check for any potential leaks during the first 48 hours of operation. Small leaks now mean expensive problems later.

If you notice any problems, give My Plumber Heating & Air a call TODAY!  We can perform a Spring Tune-Up inspection to ensure that your air conditioner is ready for when you need it.

Dealing with the Heat

Don’t suffer through another summer of sky-high electricity charges.If an overworked or an under-maintained air conditioning unit is to blame, take these hints and get a grip on that utility bill.

Make sure that your filter is clean.Many people think that changing the filter or cleaning it twice a year is plenty of protection, but the filter should be checked once a month.If dust is apparent on the filter, it is time to change it.A dirty filter means that dirt is sifting through into the system and a dirty system requires more energy to work.
If your home is on two levels, make sure the upper level vents are wide open and the lower-level vents are slightly closed.Shutting them completely can stifle proper air-flow and harm the system.Heat rises, and limiting the intake on the lower floor will ensure that your home receives equal cooling distribution.
Check that your air conditioners fan is in the “on” position instead of on “auto”.This will improve air circulation and will allow you to be comfortable at a higher room temperature.
Keep curtains drawn against the summer sunshine.The sun beating through the window may brighten the room, but it plays havoc with the utility bill and sends electricity charges through the roof.
Get your A/C system cleaned and checked by a professional HVAC technician.This will improve your systems operations and the technician can spot potential problems before they cause a mid-summer breakdown.
Be a cool operator this summer.Use these tips in the name of “going green” or because you want to maintain a level of comfort while you save.Either way, using these tips will help you maintain your cool while you keep the electric bill under budget.

A Question About Our Service

A gentleman from Accokeek Md. recently wrote to us and asked:

I am unhappy with the company that I currently have a heating and A/C repair contract with. I was wondering if you offered contracts that for an annual fee provided a heating inspection in the fall and an A/C inspection in the spring and provided a reduced cost for repairs. We have been with the same company for 8 years however the technicians they have been providing have been doing substandard work of late that resulted in our system failing 2 weeks after the inspection 3 times in a row, all due to missing problems. We are looking for a new and reliable company to provide all services for our systems.


Our Answer

Sir, we have the kind of program you are asking about, with some pretty incredible side benefits.Our Priority Club offers three preventive checks a year, one for each of your systems (heating, cooling and plumbing) in addition to a fantastic bundle of services and perks available only to you, as a Priority Club member.

Some of these services include:

  • Extended Same Day Service Hours – Call before 2PM Monday – Friday and before 10AM Saturday and Sunday
  • Waive the Plumbing Dispatch Fee
  • Double your Discounts, up to $200
  • Concierge Service! Each member gets a concierge phone number to call, and receive Priority service
  • Over $2,200 in Coupon Savings – available only to Priority Club members

You can look at our Priority Club online at our website. The address is here and if you have any questions our customer service agents will be happy to help you at 1-866-469-7586

Singing the Summertime A/C Bill Blues?

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Don’t suffer through another month of sky-high electricity charges. If an overworked or an under-maintained air conditioning unit is to blame, take these hints and get a grip on that utility bill.

  • Make sure that your filter is clean. Many people think that changing the filter or cleaning it twice a year is plenty of protection, but the filter should be checked once a month. If dust is apparent on the filter, it is time to change it. A dirty filter means that dirt is siftingthrough into the system and a dirty system requires more energy to work.
  • Ifyour home is on two levels, make sure the upper level vents are wide open andthe lower-level vents areslightly closed. Shutting them completely can stifle proper air-flow and harm the system. Heat rises,and limiting the intake on the lower floor will ensure that your home receives equal cooling distribution.
  • Check that your airconditioners fan is in the “on” position instead of on “auto”. This will improve air circulation andwill allow you to be comfortable at a higher room temperature.
  • Keep curtains drawn against the summer sunshine. The sun beating through the window may brighten the room, but it plays havoc with the utilitybill and sends electricity charges through the roof.
  • Get your A/C system cleaned and checked by a professional HVAC technician. This will improve your systems operations and the technician can spot potentialproblems before they causea midsummer breakdown.

Summer is almost over but it is not too late to be a cool operator. Use these tips in the name of “going green” or because youwant to maintain a level of comfort while you save. Either way, using these tips will help you maintain your cool and keep your electricity under budget.