Friday, 27 December 2013

Residential HVAC Tune-up

As we have been discussing, periodic tune-ups for your residential units is a must. However, there are a few things that you have to keep in mind that are essential when you actually are tuning up your air conditioner.   

These tips will help a great deal in your regular tune-up activities.

  1. Finding leaks can be a tedious exercise while you are in the process of tuning up your air conditioner. However, it is very essential. If you find a leak in the coils, it is best you replace the system.
  2. Take a look at the condenser coil. You may need to clean it. However, it is advisable that you hose off the condenser coil once every month.
  3. Hose off the coil with a biodegradable cleaner. This way, you preserve the environment and do not harm your plants or pets.
  4. Inspection of the evaporator coil to check if it is properly plugged is important. The evaporator coil needs to be cleaned when the air filter of your air conditioner has not been changed for a long time.
  5. The next important thing is the inspection of the blower wheel. If you want to know how dirty your evaporator coils are, you need to look at the blower wheel. If you find a lot of dirt accumulated, there can be a hindrance in the evaporator coil.
  6. Oil motor is the next check. It is important that the oil ports face upward. This ensures that there is no oil draining out.
  7. Clean the evaporator condensate line every time you inspect the system.
  8. Check the operation of the condensate pump. You can empty a cap full of white vinegar in the pump once a month. This helps to keep the pipe line and the float clean.
  9. Next comes the inspection of the amp draw of the air conditioning unit. If you notice that the compressor is working at a higher- than-normal amp draw, it means that there is some weakness in the compressor. This could be due to restricted airflow across the compressor to the condenser coil.
  10. If the compressor is operating at a higher amp draw than normal, it could indicate there’s a weakness in the compressor, or you could have a restriction of airflow across the compressor through the condenser coil.
  11. Also check the amp draw of the condenser fan motor. Make sure that the condenser fan motor and the blower motor are all within range.
  12. Checking the voltage drop across the contactors is important. You need to make sure that no contactors are burnt or pitted. If the voltage drop in more than 10%, it is recommended that you replace the system.
  13. Though there are not too many belt-driven blowers seen in the last two decades, it is required that the belt n the blowers are checked for any cracks or glazed surfaces.
  14. The next stop will be the condensing unit. If it is a little off the level, it is okay. But the inclination should not be too much as the oil within may spill off.
  15. Check the thermostat. It should be secured to the wall. In the case of mercury thermostats, the level and calibration should be proper. A digital thermostat is always advised.
  16. The heat exchanger may have some carbon monoxide leaks, especially during the cooling season tune-ups.
These were some tips on what a periodic air conditioner tune-up should consist of. It is advisable that you hire the services of an experienced technician or a contractor to carry out these tune-ups.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Air Conditioner Tune-Up

Have you ever wondered whether a tune-up for your air conditioner is really required?

Have you laughed quietly when the HVAC contractor advised you on a regular tune up?

Have doubts about how a tune-up can save energy cost have cropped in your mind?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then this article is for you.

You regularly service your car or truck, change the oil filter, air filter, and any other part that is likely to cause a breakdown, so that you get maximum life and mileage out of your vehicle. In the same way, your heating and cooling units need to be regularly checked and tuned.

Before we actually go into why a tune up is required and what to endure during the tune-up sessions, lets take a look at the benefits of periodic tune-ups.

  • Savings as you reduce energy costs
  • Longer life of the equipment
  • Improved performance and efficiency
  • Reduced risk of break downs
  • Protection and safety
  • Comfort and well being

If you think that all this is important to you, read on!

The government site for HVAC,, says that an annual tune-up of your heating and cooling unit improves the efficiency of the system, increases comfort levels prevents future problems and unexpected costs. 

There are HVAC contractors and technicians who will come over periodically to check your air conditioning units. This is especially so when the season starts. With winter around the corner, it is required that you keep your heating systems in good condition so that you are free of any likely breakdowns and your comfort levels are maintained through out the season.

Here are some essentials of a HVAC tune-up for a residential unit.

1. Check operating pressures.

There may be leaks in your system that you may not know of. You can find this out if the operating pressure of your system does not fall into the proper range for superheating or subcooling. This could also be due to restriction in the airflow, compressor valve problems or mechanical failure in the compressor.

If you find discrepancies in the pressures, you need to first check is the air filter to check if it is dirty. Check the suction pressure. If it is low, it means that the air flow is good and the filter is not dirty. If not, then you will need to clean the filter.

2. Check air filter

This is one of the first things that most technicians will do. This check will rule out if there are any frozen coils that are hindering the working of the air conditioner or dirt that may have accumulated and causes problem in the running of the system. 

It would be beneficial to change the filters periodically, whether they give a problem or not. This is not an expensive exercise and helps in keeping major problems at bay.

3. Check for leaks.

When the refrigerant pressure is not satisfactory, there is a need to check for leaks. Finding the leak is where technician expertise is required. You need to look for brazed and mechanical connections first and then you look at the coils. You may not know where the leak is and even if you find one you may not know the best solution to fix the leak.

The best way to fix a leak after you find it is by repairing it or replacing the system. However, if the cost is high and you do not wish to spend much at the moment, you can use a leak sealant as an alternative. If there is a leak in the coil, it best to replace the system.

There is more to the essentials of a tune-up for HVAC. We will bring all the tips. Read on!

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Making Optimum Use of Natural Environment

Every country is proud of its resources. They are the backbone of the economy. Using the economy’s resources and transforming them into positive energy results in building capital stocks. These again add to the wealth for generations to come.

However, the current use, or rather misuse, of the existing resources is delivering a message, loud and clear, that there are slim chances that there will be enough resources left for future generations to use. This scenario is especially dominant in the developing countries, where access resources are plenty, but their use is so rapid that their share of the already scarce resources is endangered.

On the other hand, there are serious consequences of our use of the resources. The impacts, or rather the harmful impacts on the environment can induce damages that go far beyond the capacity of the environment.

Let us see why our natural resources are essential.

Measuring the essentialness of a resource has different dimensions. It can mean several things. One could be that a resource might be essential for disposing waste or processing waste. Then, a resource may be essential because it offers satisfaction to the human psyche. There are some resources that can be termed as essential because of ecological reasons.   

A resource could also be essential for production. The production of oxygen, clean air, graceful surroundings, etc.

Here are some tips on how we can use natural resources to our advantage, without polluting the environment. We can actually save energy, reduce pollution and help in preserving the environment by proper utilization of the natural resources. The bottom line is awareness.

Planting Trees the Right Way

Ø  Trees provide multiple benefits to us. They give us shade, block the wind, prevent soil erosion, attract birds and make the air pure.
Ø  They also clean our water and make our surrounding more beautiful with their greenery. 
Ø  We all know that in winter, we look for methods to avoid the chill wind from blowing indoors. And in summer, we enjoy the shade under the trees.
Ø  What we do not know that planting trees in the right direction can help save up to 30% of our energy bills. 
Ø  Deciduous trees are trees that shed their leaves in winter. If we plant deciduous trees on the east and west sides of the house, the house will be cool in the summer and warm in winter.
Ø  The shade from the foliage of leaves will protect the house from the direct rays of the sun, preventing the walls from getting hot.
Ø  You will need to run the air conditioning lesser or maybe not too. Reduction in energy use means savings in terms of money.
Ø  Plus your green gas contribution also reduces and helps you fight global warming.
Ø  Planting trees and shrubs in a position where they can provide shade to the outdoor unit of the air conditioners helps in cooling the building more efficiently and reduces about 10% of our energy consumption.
Ø  Trees can be used to shade the patios, sidewalk, and driveway too. The shade will keep the concrete, yard and the surroundings cool.
Ø  If you want to block the cold winter winds, plant an evergreen conifer on the north and northwest of your house. A row of conifers will create a kind of wall to keep off the cold winter winds. This will also save heating costs up to 30%.
Ø  When the leaves of the deciduous trees fall in winter, the sun pours into your house through branches, reducing your need to keep the heater on to ward off the chillness.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Winter is the Time to Save Energy

Fall and winter are the best times of the year for some and not so for others. While attempting to keep warm, most of us end up in spending far more energy than what is required. You try to keep the heater or furnace on all day in an attempt to keep your indoors warm and save the chill from sweeping indoors. These activities can prove costly in terms of energy, which translates into cost for which payments need to be made.

One good way to assess the energy efficiency of your home is to get a home energy checkup or an energy audit done just before winter. You can conduct an energy audit yourself or employ the services of a professional energy auditor.

Benefits of an Energy Audit

1. A home energy audit helps owners determine the places where the house is leaking energy, in other words, money.
2. An energy auditor will help you find problems and corrected them too.
3. Thermography or infrared scanning equipment used for home energy audit can detect the various leakages in your home that allow, warm air to move out and cold air to sweep in.
4. The blower door test is the best way to identify air leakages and analyze why the house is not comfortably warm in winter.

There may be air leaking out through the face plates on switches, windows, pipes, and may be under the sinks too.

Energy auditors may use thermography -- or infrared scanning -- to detect thermal defects and air leakage in building envelopes.

If you do not wish to hire a professional, you could conduct a simple do-it-yourself walk-through of your home. This can help you identify the energy gaps in your home and prioritize on some energy efficiency upgrades.

There are a few other ways in which you could refrain from using more energy in winter. Here are some tips that could prove useful.
  • Rearrange the furniture of your rooms. You could move your furniture in such a way that you are away from the exterior walls and windows of the house. These may be drafty and you may end up increasing the temperature to keep warm. 
  • Open the drapes and let the sunshine in. This holds good for windows that face the south as the rays of the sun in winter can reach indoors. Keeping drapes open, allowing sunshine in reduces the need to keep the room heater or furnace on for warmth.
  • Take shorter showers. People usually like to linger in the shower. If you are one among them, try to make your shower time shorter. This will save the energy spent on heating water that you use while spending that additional time basking in the shower.
  • Clean or replace the furnace filters every month. If the filters are dirty, they restrict the airflow into the furnace and thus the system has to work doubly hard to provide the required heat. This translates into excess energy usage, which again makes you end up with increased energy costs.
  • Keep your furnace well lubricated. This will help you save up to 5% energy.
  • Make use of your appliances efficiently. Using the dishwasher only when it is full, using cold water to wash reduces your washer's energy consumption by 75 %. 
  • Insulate the hot water pipe all the way to the wall. This will help in reducing heat loss in transit.
  • Plug all appliances that "leak energy." Many electronic appliances, such as VCRs, chargers, computer peripherals and TVs continue to consume electricity even when they are switched "off." Turn off all these when they are not in use.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Advantages of Replacing Your Old HVAC System

People in San Jose often have come across this question - do I repair my HVAC equipment or get a new one? 

Well, if your system has become old, you may definitely need to consider this question.  You may also face this question if your energy bills are high and increasing by the month. If you system is noisy, it probably means that there is some part inside that is wearing and tearing and a major expense may be round the corner.  

Considering the fact that new technology keeps coming and there is constant upgrading where equipment is concerned, it is definitely better to consider replacing your old system with a new one. 

Here are some advantages to replacing your system over repairing it.  

1. Energy Savings: As HVAC systems grow old, their efficiency reduces and their energy consumption increases. Studies say that a 10-year-old air conditioner can consume about 50% more electricity in comparison with a new one. The air conditioning and heating systems that have recently come into the market are definitely more efficient. You can save a lot of money by way of energy bills. 

2. No Repair Costs: An aging HVAC systems is a definitely costly as it attracts constant repairs. You can calculate the amount you have spent on repairs yourself by taking a look at your last two years’ bills. If you have replaced any major components like the compressor, evaporator or condenser coils, you are likely to spend on them soon too. A new system will give you relief from repairs for a few years.  
3. Competitive Rebates, Incentives, and Loans Rates: As new technology replaces the old one, new HVAC systems come into the market. Competition in the market increases as there is an increased variety available for customers to choose from. Competition paves way for rebates. The government offers tax credits for systems based on green technology. There are also special financing offers available from dealers and manufacturers. You can take advantage of these and consider purchasing a new air conditioning and heating system. Repairs do not have any rebates. 

4. Less Noise, Quiet operation: New systems boast of noise-free operation. Reports say that both the external components and internal air handlers have become much quieter than their yesteryear counterparts. New technology claims that you will not even hear your HVAC system working. It is that quiet. Replacing your old system with a new one enables you to enjoy the quieter new equipment with zero noise pollution. 

5. Environmentally-friendly: There may be a point where you may feel that from a financial point of view, your payback period is longer than you expected. You can consider that you are helping the environment by saving fossil fuels and slowing down CO2 emissions. Though it may be difficult to calculate the saving in terms of actual dollar, it makes sense to add this benefit to the environment. 

6. Greater Reliability: With a new system, you are assured that there are zero chances of an event of breakdown when you least expect it.  Studies say that older equipment break when they are needed the most, usually in summer when the usage is the heaviest. If your system is old and the summer is coming up, you could make a smart buying decision and bring home a new HVAC. 

7. Better comfort: If your home has hot spots in summer and cold spots in winter, there may be a problem with the size of your air conditioner or heating system. It is often seen that over-sized air conditioners turn on and off quickly, but the air in the room has a damp feeling. New systems deliver more comfort and better air circulation.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Importance of Compressor Health in Air Conditioning Maintenance

The compressor is the most important part of the air conditioning system. This vital part is also known as the heart of the system. Just as the human heart needs to be in good condition, so is the compressor. And the compressor needs looking after to keep good health. The compressor, like the heart, depends on many other parts that are connected with it. There are circuits that pass electric current and the flow of air, these are vital to the compressor just like veins in the body that run blood to the heart. 

If the compressor is overworked, it will eventually wear out and stop functioning. To run efficiently, keep the compressor in tip-top condition and your air conditioning system will run smoothly and efficiently.
Here are some troubleshooting tips that will help you keep your compressor in good health.

1. Clean the coil

Make sure that the coils of the air conditioner’s compressor are clean. Dirt on the coils creates higher than normal head pressures. When this happens, heat is created, which results in warm saturated suction temperatures. Such a situation can lead to compressor failure.

2. Proper refrigerant charge

Ensure that the refrigerant charge is well maintained. There needs to be proper electrical current flowing into the compressor.

3. Prevent Oil Contamination

Remember, an oil leak can get trapped in the suction line. Oil contamination can cause oil pump failure. This is one of the ways that the compressor can fail.

4. Avoid voltage fluctuations

Electrical problems are the main cause for compressor failure and the most common is electrical failure. Ensure that there are no voltage fluctuations in the electricity system in your house. Imbalances in electrical supply result in improper voltage. This overheats the compressor, leading to its failure.

5. Avoid overheating

Overheating occurs when there is not enough suction cooling or there is lack of condenser cooling It can also occur if there is air inside the air conditioning system. This may give rise to both the pressure and temperature, resulting in incorrect compressor performance.

6. Periodic maintenance

Regular checks and cleaning is the key component that will keep your compressor in good health. You can hire the services of a professional technician for periodic maintenance checks. This will also help in identifying any major repairs that the system is heading towards, well in advance. Periodic maintenance plays an important part in preserving the life of the compressor.
In addition to the tips mentioned above, it will do you a world of good to have some basic tools handy at home. 

Have a megohmmeter handy as you can measure the integrity of the compressor winding insulation. Contractors suggest that this is a great diagnostic tool that alerts the HVAC owners of the potential failures that are likely in the near future. 

Most of the causes for compressor failure can be easily avoided with a little care and maintenance.  All you need to do is conduct regular checks, adopt preventative maintenance measures and replace old parts with new ones as soon as they show signs of wearing. Regular maintenance ensures long compressor life and a healthy and efficient air conditioning unit. 

While DIY top-up kits are also available, it would be advisable to employ a professional HVAC technician for the periodic checks and maintenance. An air conditioning specialist will also pressure-check the system to ensure that there are no environmentally toxic nitrogen gas emitted from the air conditioner. When the system is recharged with refrigerant, the required level of oil is needed to lubricate the compressor. The contractor will know how much oil is required for lubrication.