Air Conditioning Service

Air conditioner repair overview

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Air conditioner repair overview

Air conditioner repair overview

Air conditioner repair overview

Everyone relies on their air conditioning unit during those unbearably hot summer months. But like all machines, your air conditioning system relies on you, too. Central air conditioning systems and individual units need regular maintenance and repair to continue to function well. Without regular maintenance, filters become dirty, coils become bent and drains become clogged. If it’s not taken care of, it can result in damage to your air conditioning unit over time. What’s more, you’re going to pay huge amounts in energy bills without the benefit of a temperate home because poorly maintained air conditioning units.

THE HIDDEN COSTS OF AC PROBLEMS

inadequate maintenance is one of the most common causes of ac problems that end up requiring repairs from a technician. Additionally, allowing the system or unit to get dirty and forcing it to work overtime causes compressors and fans to fail far before their expiration date. You could end up paying for an expensive repair or even an ac replacement all because you failed to have the system cleaned regularly. Many people don’t notice their air conditioners until they don’t work. But here, we’ll outline the costs of inefficient air conditioners, the most common problems with ac units, and how HVAC technicians are an important part of making your home more efficient.

According to the Department of Energy, heating and cooling make up approximately 48% of all the energy use in a typical home. Air conditioning alone makes up 6% of all the energy used in the United States every year. If you factor in the intense heat in Texas and the demands on air conditioning systems in the summer, these figures may even be higher. As you can see, a huge portion of your monthly energy budget goes to heating and cooling, so you want to make sure you’re using that budget as efficiently as possible. If you’re not, you could see something that’s already energy expensive become even more expensive. Allowing your air conditioning system to run inefficiently because it’s dirty, old, or in need of repair may do more than failing to cool your house. It could also drive up your energy bills at the same time. So, while maintaining your air conditioner may not seem like a major priority, the consequences of forgetting about it could be dire. Not only will you pay through the nose for a house that isn’t cool, but you could also run your air conditioner out of service years before a well-maintained system would need replacing.

Three Symptoms That Your AC Needs Repair
Your air conditioner needs refrigerant to operate smoothly. If it’s low on refrigerant, then either it leaks or there wasn’t enough added when it was installed. You can’t simply add more refrigerant if it’s leaking. In fact, it’s bad for the environment to do so because it will be released into the air. If your refrigerant is low, call a technician to see if there is a leak.
The thermostat sensor in your air conditioner is found behind the control panel. It measures not the room temperature but the temperature of the air moving through the evaporative coil. You might have a sensor problem if the air conditioner begins to behave strangely or if it cycles constantly. The sensor needs to be moved back into place for it to begin working normally again.
The electrical connections in your act unit should be checked by a professional during a professional service call. If the wires begin to show signs of corrosion, it can lead to the early loss of the compressor or fan controls. This can also happen when the air conditioner turns on and off too often, like when it behaves erratically because of sensor issues.

WHAT CAN AN AC SERVICE NEAR ME DO FOR MY HOME AC UNIT?

A home air conditioner repair consists of performing all the maintenance and repairs that you’re unable to do.

A well-trained technician can:
Most HVAC systems hover in the range of $4000 to $4400, but some can be as high as $5000 or more and as low as $1900. Although performance should be your number one priority, it’s also important to know how much to expect to pay so that you can find one that fits within your budget.

MAINTENANCE AND PREVENTION

The best way to put off major repairs is to put a maintenance program in place.

Here are a few of the things you can check in on and maintain on your own:

The filter of the air condition needs to be cleaned or replaced on a regular basis. When a filter becomes dirty or clogged, it blocks the airflow from the system. It dramatically impacts the efficiency of the air conditioner because the whole system must work harder to expel the air. You may even notice the system lagging and turn on a higher setting, which only wastes efficiency and energy. The Department of Energy says that a clean filter alone can lower your machines energy consumption by up to 15%. Replace or clean your filter at least once every two months during the hotter months. If your house is dusty or you have pets, it’s better to replace it once a month.
The thermostat sensor in your air conditioner is found behind the control panel. It measures not the room temperature but the temperature of the air moving through the evaporative coil. You might have a sensor problem if the air conditioner begins to behave strangely or if it cycles constantly. The sensor needs to be moved back into place for it to begin working normally again.
The coils on your air conditioner have aluminum fins that are easily bent. If they’re bent, they might block the airflow through the coil. These fins need to move back to their original position. If you’re familiar with your unit, you can do this with a tool known as a “fin comb.” If not, an ac repair technician can diagnose the problem and bend them back without a problem.
The condensate drains become clogged over time if they aren’t regularly maintained. When the drains become clogged, the air conditioning unit can’t reduce the level of humidity in our home. The result can cause discolored walls and floors because of the excess moisture and condensation.

THE REAL COSTS OF HEATING AND COOLING

The HVAC system in your home is what keeps your heating and cooling working correctly. Before you install or replace one, it’s crucial to know the costs and work involved. There are several types of HVAC units – and even some other heating and cooling options – to consider, and this guide can help you find the right one for you.

THE COST OF HVAC UNITS

HVAC systems aren’t a one-size-fits-all element for your home. There are different brands to choose from that will vary in cost. Here are some of the more common brands and their median prices:

Most HVAC systems hover in the range of $4000 to $4400, but some can be as high as $5000 or more and as low as $1900. Although performance should be your number one priority, it’s also important to know how much to expect to pay so that you can find one that fits within your budget.

THE COST OF HVAC LABOR

Remember that, when installing an HVAC system, the system itself is only one cost involved. Another important – and, perhaps, most significant – cost is the labor it takes to install it.

Only a qualified HVAC technician can give you an accurate quote based on these factors. The technician will need to tour your home and take some notes so that he can provide a quote. However, you should always budget a little more than the quoted cost to account for anything unexpected during installation. Although labor costs can vary greatly, you should expect to pay anywhere from $50 to $200 per hour for your HVAC technician’s labor.

TYPICAL REBATES AND WARRANTIES

You may be eligible for rebates from the government, your state, or your locality for the HVAC system you installed, especially if it’s an incredibly energy-efficient model.

WARRANTIES

Another important factor when finding the right HVAC system is its warranty. Warranties can make the difference between a system that eats up your savings on maintenance and repairs and a system that saves you money over time.

For most systems, you’ll need to register with the manufacturer to become eligible for a warranty. Usually, you’ll have up to three months to fill out the registration but try to do it as soon as possible so you don’t forget.

Warranties typically cover things like:

However, you won’t have warranty coverage on some matters relating to your HVAC system, like labor costs for repairs and maintenance, filters and fuses, non-manufacturer parts you bought and replaced, parts that don’t affect the system’s performance, and any problems that stem from you or a non-certified person attempting to repair the system. In fact, the manufacturer may void your warranty entirely if you or someone else causes damage to the system or if the damage is caused by a failure to maintain your HVAC elements properly.

The average HVAC warranty lasts between 5 and 10 years, but some offer 20 years of coverage. It’s a good idea, when possible, to opt for a system that provides the most extended coverage to give your system more insurance.

UNDERSTANDING HOW HVAC WORKS

Although HVAC systems from different manufacturers all vary slightly, there are many components that are necessary to make them work. Most HVAC systems have the following elements in common:

  • Air conditioner: This unit is what will cool your air and usually requires electricity for power.
  • Furnace or heater: A furnace or heater is what you’ll use in colder months to warm your home. These can be either gas or electricity-powered, but it’s more common to see gas furnaces in modern systems.
  • Thermostat: The thermostat is what controls your temperature in your home. You might have only one, but it’s preferable to have at least one on every floor for more even heating and cooling.
  • Ductwork: Your home’s ducting is where your air will travel to heat and cool your home, escaping through the vents at the end of the ducts. Some newer systems now offer ductless installations for more flexible options.
  • Blower: The blowers are in the ductwork to help move cool and warm air through ducts efficiently.

 

There are also some premium elements that you might consider in your installation:

  • Central humidifier: Heating and cooling can affect the humidity level in your home. Humidifiers and dehumidifiers can help the problem, but you might be able to combat it more efficiently with a central humidifier installation, which can control the humidity in your home through your HVAC system.
  • Electronic air cleaner: Those with allergies might benefit from an electric air cleaner installation, which can maximize the filtration of your system.
  • Energy recovery ventilator: Bring fresh air into your home through your HVAC system with an energy recovery ventilator, which helps prevent bacteria in the air from getting trapped inside your home.
An air conditioner uses a refrigerant that moves through a compressor. The compressor’s coils contain the refrigerant. When warm air blows over those coils, the refrigerant absorbs it. It then gets pushed by a fan through the ducts and vents in your home. Once the cooling cycle is complete, the refrigerant moves back into the coils to start the cycle again.
Heating your home with an HVAC system can happen with a split unit or a packaged unit. A split unit separates the heater from the air conditioner, while a packaged unit contains both the air conditioner and heating units. Heaters work similarly to air conditioning in that cool air absorbs the hot air a heater creates. The fan then blows the air through the ducts and vents. An exhaust flue then moves toxic gases out of the home.

HVAC TYPES

The packaged HVAC units that we mentioned are typically installed on a roof. This makes them a bit challenging to install because they can be incredibly heavy. A certified technician must be able to tell where the best place is to mount the unit where it can be adequately supported by the roof. A technician will also need to install drain pipes to prevent mold and corrosion from condensation and coolant.
Split units don’t need to go on a roof. Technicians usually install them in a shady location, like near the back of your home, so that direct sunlight won’t prevent them from being as efficient as possible. The heat exchanger must have a concrete platform in place for installation.
HVAC units come in a variety of sizes that can be confusing if you’re not sure what their differences are or what you need. A unit that’s too large may be costlier than you need, but one that’s too small may not heat and cool your home efficiently. Fortunately, it’s easy to do a simple calculation to get a fairly accurate estimate of the size you’ll need. First, find out the square footage of your home. Then, multiply that by 20. A 1200 square foot home would need about 24,000 BTUs of cooling from your HVAC unit.

INSTALLING AN HVAC SYSTEM

Before installing ductwork, your HVAC technician will have to map your home to create a plan for your ducts and vents. He’ll need to consider things like piping, furniture placement, and the types of vents you want (wall or floor). Sometimes, your existing ductwork will be just fine. However, if your ducts are old or not installed correctly, then the technician may have to redo the full ducting system to create one that will work with your new installation.

Smart thermostats can be costly, but they can also help you control the heating and cooling throughout your home more accurately. Some smart thermostats even let you control other things in your home, like door locks and lights, via a smart system

There are several types of thermostats to consider for your new HVAC system, including dials, programmable, and smart thermostats. Dialed thermostats are the simplest and most budget-friendly, but they also aren’t the most accurate or efficient.

Programmable thermostats are more efficient than others because you can adjust them according to seasons or the days and times of the week you’re home or out of the home.

Smart thermostats can be costly, but they can also help you control the heating and cooling throughout your home more accurately. Some smart thermostats even let you control other things in your home, like door locks and lights, via a smart system.

The installation cost and complexity will vary depending on the type of thermostat you want for your home.

REPAIRING AND REPLACING AN HVAC SYSTEM

Repairing an HVAC system can be a quick fix to a complex project, depending on what the problem is. It’s usually more cost-effective to repair a unit instead of replacing it, but a large repair could potentially cost you more over time than replacing the system for a more cost and energy-efficient model.

HEATER / AC SYSTEM REPLACEMENT

If your home is old and its HVAC system hasn’t had an upgrade in decades, then you might be leaning more toward a replacement.

First, you’ll need to consider what your current system does and how big it is. If you don’t plan to add to your home and the unit meets the BTU test we did earlier for its size, then you should stick to a similar size when upgrading.

Remember that, depending on where you live and the age of your home, you may experience some heating and cooling leaks or loss. For example, many older homes don’t have proper installation or energy-efficient windows to hold heat and cool air in. In that case, you’ll want to estimate an additional 10 to 20 BTUs per square foot of your home.

While an energy-efficient 2000 square foot home might only require 40,000 BTUs, a not as efficient home of the same size in a warm climate area may need closer to 80,000 BTUs.

You should also consider things like your home’s wall material, draftiness of doors and windows, how much sunlight your home gets, landscaping that blocks wind from your home, and anything else that can have an impact on your unit’s efficiency. An experienced technician can give you helpful pointers in this area.

If your home experiences very different temperatures in specific areas or levels, you might benefit from also having a whole-house zoning system installed. This system can help you control the temperatures in each room or zone to make your home more energy-efficient.

ELECTRICAL REPAIR

An entirely new HVAC replacement isn’t usually necessary in more modern homes with dependable systems in place. Sometimes, a few repairs are all you need to get your system working like new again.

Here are some of the common electrical parts that might warrant repairs and how you can tell if it’s time to fix them:

OTHER REPAIRS

The following components are also parts of an HVAC system that sometimes need to be fixed, but they deal more with piping than electricity:

IMPORTANCE OF MAINTAINING YOUR AC SYSTEM

Any HVAC system is only as effective as your dedication to maintaining it. Your system isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it piece of your home. It requires care and proper maintenance to keep it working in top shape. If you don’t routinely change filters or check the system, your heating and cooling will suffer. When components can’t run correctly, they’ll overwork themselves to make up for it, eventually causing them to stop running.

You should commit to doing the following maintenance tasks to keep your HVAC running smoothly:

SEER

SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. You’ll find this rating on HVAC units to describe how much cooling your air conditioning unit gives out compared to how much energy it uses. The higher the number, the better, because it shows that your cooling unit is efficient. The energy savings you’ll have from a unit with a higher SEER will fluctuate depending on your area’s climate. But, you can generally expect to cut your costs by 30-50% when you upgrade from a 13 SEER to a 20 SEER system.

ENERGY STAR CERTIFICATION

You’ll also notice an Energy Star Certification for an efficient HVAC system, just like you see on your appliances. This certification proves that the manufacturer made the system more environmentally-friendly and cost-efficient by meeting the standards for Energy Star Certification and guidelines set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Your home may also be Energy Star Certified, and your HVAC system will play an essential role in that certification. In addition to a professional checking your home’s water and insulation efficiency, he will also check your HVAC’s efficiency by looking at ductwork, insulation, components, and more.

INSULATION CONSIDERATIONS

One of the most important things to consider before upgrading or installing a new HVAC system is your home’s current insulation. Without proper insulation installed, your HVAC’s heating and cooling will escape through the walls of your home, rendering it less efficient than it could be. Insulation should, therefore, be something you consider upgrading before you start your HVAC project.

Some of the more common forms of insulation are:

OTHER HEATING AND COOLING OPTIONS AND COSTS

HVAC isn’t the only type of heating and cooling system around, even if it is most common. You should always consider other options because one may be a better solution for you and your home.

Here are a few favorite alternatives to an HVAC system: