If you're buying a home you'll have a lot of items on your home inspection checklist. Among the most important is the air conditioner. Here are a few simple things you can check yourself to ensure that the air conditioner is working properly and has been regularly maintained.
Check the Condenser Unit Outside the Home
The outside section of the air conditioner, called the condenser, should be clean and unobstructed. The unit draws air in from the sides to dissipate heat so ensure that there are no trees, shrubs or other objects near the unit that could be obstructing the flow of air and reducing efficiency. The fins and condensing coils of the air conditioner should be clean, without excessive dirt or debris that could also reduce performance.
The air conditioner should be sitting on a clean level surface, preferably a stone or cement slab. The unit may also be suspended from the side of the house. In either case ensure that the unit is level and that the refrigerant lines are not stressed.
Inside the Home
If the AC is not running, turn the thermostat down about five degrees cooler than the indoor temperature. Once the AC is on check outside again to ensure the fan at the condenser unit is turning. The unit should make a steady sound when operating. If it makes rumbling, rattling or other strange sounds or surges, a cooling technician should inspect the unit further.
Check that the air filter is clean and the right size for the unit. A dirty filter reduces air flow, which reduces efficiency and increases the likelihood of problems.
After the air conditioner has been running for at least 15 minutes, check the temperature of the conditioned air coming out of the register closest to the evaporator cooling inside the home. Blowing air will feel cool on your skin, so use a thermometer to accurately measure the temperature and ensure it's cold.
In addition to removing heat from the home, an air conditioner also removes moisture from the air. This is the job of the evaporator coil. A drain pan sits below the evaporator coil and empties condensation (water) into a drain line. Ensure that the line is unobstructed and the pan is draining completely.
While the above items cover the basics of a central air conditioner inspection, there's no substitute for a thorough, professional cooling system inspection performed by a trained technician. So the next time you're moving into a new home, give us a call. You'll rest easy knowing your air conditioner is operating reliably and efficiently.
Many times a central air conditioner will provide clues that it is not working properly. By paying attention to the symptoms of a malfunction and repairing the small things right away, you can avoid an unexpected and costly breakdown in the future.
1. The AC is Making Strange Noises
If you hear knocking, pinging or other unusual sounds, don't ignore them. They may indicate that there are loose or worn parts that are about to fail.
2. Your Utility Bill Is Unexpectedly High
Air conditioners generally become less efficient as they get older, making annual maintenance all the more important. As the system runs more to keep the temperature the same, your utility bill will also increase.
3. All Or Some Areas of the Home Are Not Comfortable, Even If You Lower the Thermostat
If the system is not able to keep up with demand, it may be low on refrigerant, have a blocked, frozen or leaking evaporation coils.
4. The Air Is Cold, But Too Humid
Humid air can be a sign of leaking air ducts, an AC unit that is not properly sized for the home, a frozen condenser coil or another malfunction. Your HVAC technician can diagnose the cause and recommend solutions.
Have air conditioner problems? Call Maitz Home Services. We can quickly diagnose the cause and offer effective solutions to keep your air conditioner running reliably.
Running a central air conditioner during the hot, humid summer months can take a big chunk our of the average household's energy bill. If you're noticing that energy use rises even more than normal while running your air conditioner, there are several steps you can take to lower your home cooling cost.
1. Fix Air Leaks - A minor air leak in one window may seem like no big deal, but many leaks around doors and windows can add up, causing your air conditioner to work harder. Use weather stripping or caulk around doors and windows to seal air leaks around the entire house.
2. Program Your Thermostat - Your thermostat is the brains of you cooling system. Be sure to program the temperature around your household schedule by turning the temperature up when your away from home. Learning, or Smart thermostats can help you save energy automatically by learning your household routine and automatically adjusting the temperature accordingly.
3. Perform Regular Maintenance - A sudden increase in your utility bill could be a sign that your air conditioner is in need of service. If you have skipped annual maintenance and your energy bill has suddenly increased, have an AC technician inspect the unit to make sure there are no problems.
4. Replace Old Equipment - If your air conditioner is more than 10-12 years old, it's time start planning for a replacement. While a new air conditioner is a major investment, the good news is a newer unit is likely to cost significantly less to operate every month.
5. Replace Dirty Air Filters - One of the most common reasons an air conditioner will begin to run less efficiently is a dirty air filter. Replacing the filter monthly is one of the most important maintenance tasks you can perform.
Heating and cooling account for the biggest chunk of your home’s energy consumption. With an investment between $99 and $400 you can save money by reducing wasted energy. Regardless of the heating or cooling system you have in your home, you can save money without giving up comfort simply by upgrading to a smart thermostat. Here are the benefits you will gain:
How would you like to save up to 33% on your energy bills without sacrificing comfort? A basic smart thermostat comes with preset temperature settings for different times of the day. A lower temperature when nobody is home will use less energy which will lead to savings on your energy bill.
If you’re a technology buff or just like the thought of a high resolution touchscreen, some of the latest models offer greater control, easy programming, and access via your computer or smartphone.
Advanced Temperature Control
A smart thermostat can be programmed to lower the temperature while you’re away from your home, which saves you money. Additionally, it can be set so it automatically raises the temperature when you return home. Many smart thermostats like the Nest® thermostat can learn your household routine and adjust the temperature automatically when you return home or leave on vacation.
The heating and cooling experts at Maitz Home Services will install your new thermostat, teach you how to program it and even show you other ways your thermostat can keep you comfortable while saving money. What are you waiting for? Start saving energy and money today!
Buying a new central air conditioner is a major investment. When repairing your old unit is no longer an option and it's time to purchase a new air conditioner, here are some things to consider.
1. EFFICIENCY - Depending on the age of your old air conditioner, installing a new, energy efficient system could pay for itself over time. By looking at the Energy Star Label on new air conditioners you can find out how efficient the unit is, as indicated by a SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating). The SEER rating tells you how efficiently a unit uses electricity: the higher the number, the greater the efficiency.
The typical SEER rating of units manufactured prior to 1992 is about 6.0. In 1992, the government established a minimum cooling efficiency standard for units installed in new homes at 10.0 SEER. High efficiency units have a rating of at least 12.0 SEER.
2. MULTIPLE SPEED OPERATION - Multi-speed units can run on low-speed (using about 50 percent of the energy) 80 percent of the time. Consequently, they use fewer on/off cycles and produce fewer drafts and small temperature swings.
3. AIR QUALITY - If indoor air quality is a concern, you can effectively reduce indoor pollution by installing a whole house air cleaner to the AC units air handler. You'll breathe easier knowing that your new system is capturing the contaminants that can cause health problems.
Have questions about choosing the best air conditioner for your home? Call Maitz Home Services. We can help you choose the right air conditioner for your needs.
One of the best ways to reduce your cooling bill during the summer months is to reduce the sources of heat and humidity inside the home that can make your air conditioner work harder to cool your home. Here are some of the most common sources of heat and humidity inside the home.
1. Lighting - Older incandescent light bulbs lose as much as 90% of their energy as heat loss. By upgrading to more energy efficient CFL or LED bulbs, you won't just reduce the heat, you'll save electricity as well.
2. Kitchen - Kitchens are a major source of heat and humidity inside the home. When the weather is hot, consider cooking outside on a grill, or use a microwave instead of your oven or range.
3. Laundry Room - Clothes dryers generate a lot of heat and humidity. Consider hanging clothes outside on a clothes line. An exhaust fan installed in the laundry room will help to vent the hot, humid air outside.
4. Dishwashers - During hot weather washing dishes in the sink will reduce heat and humidity. If you run the dishwasher turn off the heat dry and let the dishes air dry instead.
New air conditioners built within the past few years are designed to operate so quietly you will hardly know they are running. So when you hear unusual noises, it is usually the result of a lack of maintenance or a symptom of a part that is about to fail. By staying alert to the sounds of a malfunctioning air conditioner you can fix the small problems before they lead to a major failure.
When your air conditioner is working normally it will often make some noises. Subtle thumping and whining sounds are normal. By becoming familiar with the normal operating sounds that an air conditioner makes, you will be able to more easily recognize unusual sounds that could be cause for concern.
The Sounds of a Malfunctioning Air Conditioner
Air conditioners have many parts; there are fans, hoses, belts, compressor motors, coils and other components that work together to move cool air throughout your home. As air conditioners age belt often become loose, leading to thumping sounds. A clogged air filter reduces air flow and can cause the unit to whine as it cycles on or off. Loose hardware on compressor parts can lead to rattling sounds.
Preventative maintenance is the best way to minimize the likelihood of air conditioner repairs. An AC tune-up includes the following steps that keep your air conditioner operating quietly and reliably:
Inspection and lubrication of all moving parts
Inspection and replacement of worn belts and hoses
Replacement of dirty air filters
Ensuring that the unit cycles on and off properly
Inspection of electrical connections
Inspection of refrigerant levels
Have questions about your central air conditioner? Give Maitz Home Services, we can help with all your home cooling needs.
If your noticing ice around your air conditioner's condenser coil, or the unit has stopped operating because of freezing, there are a few possible causes.
1. Lack of air flow. An air conditioner works by taking the heat from inside the home and blowing it over the evaporator coil located outside the home. This split-system enables the heat exchange performed by the refrigerant to take place. Without the exchange of warm air the temperature of the coil will continue dropping, increasing the likelihood of a freeze up.
2. Low refrigerant levels. As the level of refrigerant drops, so does the pressure inside the system. When a smaller amount of refrigerant is forced to expand the same amount, it lowers the temperature.
3. Low outside temperature. If an air conditioner is run when the outside air is too cool, the pressure inside the unit can drop, causing a freeze up. This can occur at temperatures of around 62 degrees.
4. Malfunctioning mechanical systems. A damaged refrigerant line, broken fan, even a clogged up air filter, can cause the evaporator coil to freeze up.
Have air conditioner problems? Call Maitz Home Services, we can help diagnose the cause and offer solutions to fix the problem.