Running the Air Conditioner During the Winter

Now that the summer heat is a distant memory we need to make sure we are ready for what winter has in store for our homes. Part of getting ready for winter includes winterizing your air conditioner. Every year in the spring we repair and replace many units because they were turned on during the winter months by accident. Sometimes kids playing with the thermostat are to blame and sometimes we push the wrong button. Other times the cause is excessive heat trapped indoors that causes us to use the air conditioner for some relief.  No matter how it happens if your unit starts in the winter serious damage can occur.

Reduce Heat Gain

Running the air conditioner when it is less than 60 degrees outside can cause serious, irreversible damage to the system’s compressor. It must be 60 degrees for at least a few days before you can safely use the air conditioner without worry of blowing the compressor. If the home is gaining too much heat, turn down the temperature at the thermostat and consider closing drapes or blinds. The sun may be heating up the inside of your home and closing the blinds will help bring the temperature down. If the house is still too warm, shut down the furnace and crack of few windows on opposite sides of the home. Take advantage of the free cold air outside, but don’t waste energy by running the furnace at the same time. Continue reading

Repetitive Part Replacement: Condenser Fan

Some air conditioning systems are plagued by the same problem year after year. No matter how many times the homeowner replaces a part, they only get one or two years of function out of it. The air conditioner could be a lemon, but there may be another issue causing the same damage to the part every season. Get to the source of the problem and you could put the problem to bed for good. Although we may be entering the winter season, problems you are having during the summer may be caused by damage that is done during the winter. The condenser motor and condenser fan are costly parts to replace, but many homeowners are replacing them every other season without ever finding and correcting the source of damage.

Air Conditioner Fan Function

As the refrigerant or Freon inside your air conditioner pulls heat from the air, the condenser fan and motor work to cool the refrigerant down so that it can continue to absorb more heat. If the refrigerant is not cooled down, the air conditioner will overheat and cease to work properly. Continue reading

Severe Storms Can Severely Damage Air Conditioners

With the severe storms that recently came through the Chicagoland area, it is once again worth mentioning that you need to check on your air conditioner occasionally to ensure debris-free operation. Heavy winds blow down tree branches among other things and sometimes they end up stuck in our air conditioners. Turning a unit “On” in this condition could cause damage to your unit.

Clear the Way for Proper Operation

To avoid any possible damage you to your unit you simply need to take a moment and check the unit before turning it on! If you do find debris lodged in the unit simply turn the unit off and remove anything that may obstruct proper operation. After the debris is removed, take a moment to pull the weeds or plants surrounding the system that may impede proper air flow. Once everything is cleared out of the way, test your air conditioner. Everything should be working properly, and these few moments of your time could have saved you hundreds in air conditioner repairs.

Closing Up the Air Conditioner for Winter

It sure doesn’t seem like fall is close but we are just a couple days away from September. As we get closer to the end of the air conditioning season we need to make sure we protect our air conditioners from the winter elements. Many units get damaged during winter months simply due to not being protected. Tree debris, ice and snow all can damage your unit during the fall and winter months.

Finding the Right Fit for Your AC Cover

Most manufacturers recommend protecting your unit with a proper fitting cover. Covers that are two big can allow debris into the unit and covers that are plastic or a poor fit will cause moisture to remain in the unit causing them to rust. A cover designed specifically for your unit gives you maximum protection at a minimum cost. So protect your air conditioner and contact your HVAC dealer to get a cover that fits and protects without causing damage.

Duct-Less Air Conditioning and Heating

Recently, a friend asked me to help him find a way to air condition his new TV room in the attic of his home. He has an old Chicago house with a walk up attic, and he and his wife thought that the attic was the best place for the kids to watch TV and be out of their hair all in one shot. Unfortunately, their attic was never a conditioned space, and therefore did not have any duct work attaching it to the existing heating and cooling systems. We checked out all of the possibilities, and even considered snaking flexible duct work up to the attic. Despite our best efforts, we could not come up with any way that wouldn’t involve ripping out a wall or two. Continue reading

Programmable Thermostat Location and Use

There has been a lot of talk about how much money programmable thermostats can supposedly save the average homeowner, but can a programmable really save you as much money as they say it can? Energy Star states that the average homeowner can save about $180 a year when properly using a programmable thermostat, but the problem is that most of us invest in these pricier thermostats but never use them correctly. You have to find a program that works best with your schedule and actually set the thermostat to run that program! If your schedule changes you have to adjust the program. This is the only way you will see these kinds of savings on your energy bills. Continue reading

Blower Motor Breakdown

The blower motor is one of the most important parts within your HVAC system. It works all year round with both the furnace and the air conditioner, and when there is something wrong with your blower it will either make a lot of noise or no noise at all. Without a functional blower motor, you will never feel the heating or cooling being produced by the furnace or air conditioner because the blower motor’s job is to circulate air across the heat exchange or the cooling coils and then deliver it to the home. When the blower motor is broken, homeowners will usually call with one of these two complaints:

  • It Sounds like there is a Helicopter Landing in My House: The blower motor is encased in a cage and unless the motor is properly balanced within the cage, it will make a lot of extra noise. The noise made by an unbalanced blower is caused by the blades knocking into the sides of the housing, and when this happens, the entire motor, blower, and housing will probably have to be replaced. Continue reading

Save Now on a New Air Conditioner

Despite already having several months of above average temperatures this year, the summer isn’t over yet. Now there is a scary thought for you. Yes, we can expect at least another month or more of heat and humidity. So the question is, “How is your air conditioner working?” Is the system cooling your home well, or is your old unit having trouble keeping up? You’ve lived with the unit this long into the summer suffering in the heat, but you don’t have to suffer anymore!

Potential Savings Mid-Summer

For those of you who have systems that are not working as well as you would want. There are some incredible sales and deals this time of year. Those deals include manufacturer rebates, utility company rebates, and very aggressive pricing along with no interest financing options for as long as 60 months. Getting to take 5 years to pay off your unit makes affording a new air conditioner easy! So if you think this might be your time to look at making the move to a more efficient and reliable piece of equipment give your favorite HVAC contractor a call and schedule an in home estimate. With the new system installed you will be able to enjoy the rest of the summer in a cool and comfortable home!

Why Should I Invest in a Wi-Fi Thermostat?

Unless you have been living under a rock for the past five years you have probably heard about programmable thermostats and the benefits they could potentially have for your home and your wallet. Unfortunately, very few people actually see the savings that a programmable thermostat can provide. Programming a traditional programmable thermostat is very tedious and if you don’t know what you are doing you might never figure it out. You are more likely to simply use the thermostat like a non-programmable digital unit because the programming is so difficult to set. However, programmable thermostats have been changing. Touchscreen capabilities coupled with Wi-Fi access is the new standard in programmable thermostat technology. Continue reading

Undercharged Air Conditioners Increase Cooling Costs

Cooling your home isn’t cheap. Every year the summer seems to grow hotter and hotter and the cost of electricity rises ever higher. If you want real relief from the heat the only real option you have is to suck it up and use the air conditioner regardless of the high costs you will have to pay later. What if you are paying more than you should? If you don’t have your air conditioner cleaned and assessed on a yearly basis, odds are you are paying more than necessary for the use of your cooling system. Dirt build up impedes energy efficiency, but many of these homeowners that don’t take care of their air conditioners have a much bigger problem lurking in their system.

Poor Maintenance Leads to Leaks

Poorly maintained air conditioners are far more likely to spring leaks than systems that are cared for regularly by a professional. Major Freon leaks are obvious and the air conditioner won’t work at all until the system is fixed. However, many air conditioners will develop small pinhole leaks that only allow a small amount of Freon to escape. These leaks can be far more costly and damaging to the air conditioner if they are not addressed early on. Continue reading