Thursday, 30 May 2013

Common problems with radiators

As winter approaches, we start thinking about keeping warm. Warm clothes come out of the closets; blankets are aired out, and shopping for the rainy weather starts. Soon the chill sets in. The need for warmth becomes inevitable. We start feeling the need to replace the air conditioner with the radiator. 

Often, we never give a thought to our radiator until the cold actually sets in. We assume that it will work as efficiently as last year and without any hiccups. It never occurs to us that the poor machine has been in hibernation for a long time and probably needs a little attention. All we do is wait till winter and then the trouble starts. Then when winter is here, the radiator just doesn’t warm up! If you are lucky, and it does, it does not warm enough!

Know your radiator 

Radiators are common devices widely used to heat indoors. Central heating systems, steam generation and hot water systems are some heating systems that keep the houses and buildings warm in winter. These systems have radiators, through which the warm air generated in the boiler and circulated indoors. Radiators may be single-pipe or double-pipe ones. While the former is used to circulate steam, the latter generally works with both hot water and steam. The fans in the radiator blow the warm air into the room. 

Available in different sizes and shapes, radiators may be wall-mounting devices or covered under the floor of the room. Modern units have electrical filaments for heat transmission. The most commonly used radiators are central heating radiators. These are efficient and easy to use. They contain a furnace and a heat pump that warms the water to send out steam to the area you want to warm up. Other types include cast iron radiators, towel rail radiators and bathroom radiators.

Common problems with radiators
Some common complaints most people have about radiators include:
  • The radiator just does not start
  • The radiator does not generate hot air
  • The bottom section of the radiator is cold
  • The 'feed' pipe is very hot to touch, but hot air does not come out of the radiator
Here are a few things that can help your radiators function optimally:
  • You can turn the radiators on fully, meaning all the way up. This will make them warm all over and leads to better air generation.
  • Bleed the radiators. This means that you have to let all the air within come out.
  • Reduce the heat and open the bleed screw situated at the top end of your radiator. If you hear a hissing sound, it means that air is being pushed out by the water.
  • If your radiator does not start warming even after bleeding, check the radiator valve. This could be blocked.
  • Try removing the sensor from the valve and push the pin down. You will feel it moving just about 2 or 3 mm. Reattach the sensor on the valve and start the radiator. Ensure that there is no leakage in the stuffing box.
Some thumb rules
  • Use all the radiators fitted in the rooms of your house. It is better to have all your radiators running rather than keep one on maximum and the others off.
  • Leave windows open for about five minutes while ventilating the room. Keep the thermostat turned down to create a draft. This will make the walls and furniture warm.
  • Try to keep the minimum temperature around 16 degrees in all rooms.
  • Turn down the radiators at night. This will save money and energy.
  • Placing the thermostats in the right place is another way to ensure optimal heating. Do not place them where the sunlight will directly fall on them, or behind the curtains. This will restrict them from reading the exact room temperature. Installing a remote sensor will help a great deal.

Friday, 10 May 2013

Is your AC dripping water into your room? What is the problem?

There are times when we have noticed water around the base of the air conditioner. The bet is that most of us do not bother about this type of water leakage. We consider it quite normal. But it is not so. Air conditioners should not leak water. If they do, it means that there is a block in the drain pipe or there is a permanent clog that has stopped it from functioning.

Reasons for water leakage 

1. The drain line needs cleaning: When your periodic cleaning takes place, the drain pipes may be left clogged a little. Over a period of time, this clog becomes bigger and bigger and finally results in a complete drain pipe block. Ensure that this does not happen.

The remedy is to use the pills available for dissolving particulate accumulation. These pills are usually put in the pan under the frame. You could also use a 50/50 water bleach solution to prevent dust and particle accumulation. 

2. Air conditioner tubes may be leaking: Air conditioners have tubes that tend to leak. The water puddle you find under or around the air conditioner may be due to a simple leakage in the tubes. 

If you find a tube leakage, replace the leaking tube with another one. 

3. The condensate pump may not be working properly: To detect any error in the pump, you need to pour water into the pump and check if it begins working. If the condensate pump does not start up, there could be a block in the electrical power or the pump is no more operational. 

It is better to call over an electrician than meddle with the electrical connections. 

4. Improper installation: Incorrect installation can also cause water leakage or accumulation around your air conditioner.

You need to ensure that while installing, your technician places the window unit in such a way that the rear side of the unit is slightly lower than the front. This ensures proper water drainage, which in turn results in no leakage. 

5. Ice formation: Water that is de-humidified can crystallize into ice if your air conditioner ran into a problem. You can check for ice formation by removing the front grille, but only when the air conditioner is running. If you see ice present on the cooling coils, the water leakage could be from this ice.
You will need to call the technician to clean up your machine.

6. Water pool around the air conditioner in the morning: Usually, this occurs when you are nearing the end of the cooling season. It is seen that when the temperature outside drops below 60°F during the night, the cooling coil within the air conditioner may ice up.

Selecting the fan mode alternatively can help in preventing this type of leakage. 

Sealing the tubes can be done by reinsulation of the air conditioner. You could try to fix this problem by cutting the line near the drain pan and blowing it to remove clogged matter. For blowing, you will need high pressure air. A water hose will also suffice. You could also try connecting the vacuum cleaner to the outlet of the drain line. 

Air conditioners have some type of condensate management. In window units, there is a removable catch pan which can be emptied manually to drain out the water. Central units usually have an active draining system as there are large amounts of condensate generated. 

These tips will help you understand the working of your air conditioners and avoid that small puddle of water around your precious air conditioning units.