Repairing Your AC Blower Motor

It takes approximately 1.5 to 3 hours to troubleshoot and repair your AC system depending on part availability and unit location. During summer, the constant use and high heat causes AC blower motors particularly the old ones to burn up. There are many different types of AC motors which you must be aware of so that your choice can be informed.

PSC motors are considered more efficient than shaded pole motors and as such befitting for your air handler blower motor replacement. Another factor that should serve as a caution to you if you are using shaded pole AC motors is that they are gradually becoming rare. If you have come to the point of replacing your blower motor, consider replacing the capacitor too.

Types of Specialty Motors

AC units that are fitted with a double shafted motor cost anything up to $300 for motor replacements and repairs. That said, double shafted motors are comparably rare in residential units, but that is not to say they don’t exist.

The ECM blower motor is another medium ticket item that you can easily replace. Commonly found in high SEER units, the ECM blower motor is a variable speed motor which is more efficient than the PSC motor. Because of this efficiency, the ECM blower motor is a bit more expensive than the rest.

In case you are doing replacements and somehow you cannot afford new OEM motors, you may decide to go for the after-market variable speed motor.

In a typical scenario, AC blower motors are replaced with stock blower motors sourced from the HVAC supply store. The stock blower motor may not necessarily be from the same brand, but if it will serve you well, you can give it a trial.

When fitting in the blower motor, the bracket in existence within the unit may not be reusable. This means a new bracket will have to be fitted that will mount the motor properly. Depending on the existing circumstances, you may have to change the blower wheel as well.

Blower wheels can be damaged or go out of balance. Your HVAC technician should be able to quickly recognize these things and offer solutions. Because of the need to have competent repairs done by skilled technicians, most OEM stores and HVAC supply houses do not sell blower motors to the public.

Fitting in the Capacitor

Every time the blower motor is replaced, consider adding a new capacitor. The capacitor you go for should be properly rated and matched to the new motor. The replacement of capacitors should not be a headache to you because they are comparably cheaper and thus affordable. The interesting thing with capacitors is that since they are tested when they are cold, they may seem fine only to become dysfunctional as they get hot while running.

It is always good to have your blower motor inspected and cleaned regularly by a professional HVAC technician preferably on a service contract.

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How Do I Keep My Restaurant Cold If I Have To Keep the Door Open?

Restaurants can be notoriously hot especially in the area around the kitchen. Because every customer is looking for a cool restaurant to dine in, the best approach is to combat the heat so as to make your restaurant comfortable. This article looks at several ways you can cool off your restaurant regardless of the external temperatures.

Venting

Exhaust hoods are very instrumental in capturing and filtering out smoke, fumes and heat thereby making it easier for air conditioners to work at optimum level. Ventilation systems come in different designs and models. Each of these models has its own efficiency and power consumption rating. It is therefore important that you get professional advice before installing them. During the installation, you may also consider variable speed ventilation fans that power on and off in response to the state of activity in the restaurant. Side panels also reduce cross drafts.

Run a Well Maintained HVAC System

Your HVAC system is your first line of defense against heat and indoor air pollution. Even if you have opened your doors, a strong and efficient ac unit should be able to maintain the temperature inside the restaurant at a comfortable range. The components of the HVAC system should be fully functional as this will boost the output of the HVAC unit.

Use Fans

In hot environments, fans are useful to push out warm air and recirculate cold air thereby making your restaurant cool all the time. Before installing fans, you need to know the type of fan that suits your restaurant. There are window fans, ceiling fans and those that you can mount on walls. Each of these fans has their own efficiency levels and depending on where they are located, they can successfully cool off the entire restaurant. To ensure that dusty or dirty air is not re-circulated, you should always keep the fans clean.

Install Swamp Coolers

Swamp coolers make use of the evaporative cooling strategy. These coolers work best when the door or window is open because they require an outside air source. They come in different sizes and can be mounted on roof tops or windows. The benefit of swamp coolers is that they use less electricity compared to the conventional air conditioners and they circulate fresh air.

Place Monitor Thermometers around the Restaurant

Although monitor thermometers do not cool down your restaurant, they help you in detecting temperature rises. This can alert you and your staffs so that you can take necessary measures to cool the restaurant down and prevent heat-related illnesses such as nausea, dizziness and headache.

 

 

 

 

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How Do I Prevent My AC Unit from Failing?

When you critically analyze the reason behind HVAC unit failure, you will be surprised to note that most of them are preventable. Apart from the failure, these issues may shorten the lifespan of your unit therefore giving you less value for your money. Below is a snapshot of the common reasons of AC unit failure.

  • Inadequate regular servicing
  • Improper installation
  • The presence of debris in and around the unit
  • Improper AC unit care

Through a variety of measures, each of the above-mentioned AC unit failure causes can be prevented. To start you off, think about the following measures.

Regular Servicing of Your AC

This is the first and most recommended way to enhance your AC unit lifespan. Because of the high voltage involved, AC units go through a number of electrical strains and therefore need regular maintenance. Among the causes of HVAC failure is electrical glitches. The best way to handle this is to have your local AC technician conduct regular servicing of your unit. Also, the moment you detect a malfunction, do not try to solve it yourself rather call in a professional.

Cleaning of the AC Unit and Its Surrounding

The existence of debris around the unit as well as inside the system can cause failure. The condenser requires regular cleaning and the area around which it is installed should be free of debris. The condenser is the section of the AC unit which is responsible for the cooling and when it has layers of dirt, the effectiveness of the cooling process goes down.

Debris such as dust and mud tends to accumulate on the coil system and this minimizes the heat dispensed by the system. Because of this, it has to run for a lengthy period of time so as to cool the building. With a clean condenser, chances of overheating and power overloads are significantly reduced. This lessens damage to the unit and cases of periodic breakdowns reduce. In humid seasons, HVAC units do not just cool your home, but also dehumidify it. This means any failure of the unit may cause algae growth which is a problem on its own. If you maintain your HVAC unit well, it should last you approximately 15 years in service.

Shading Your Unit

Many homeowners miss out on this one, but it is an important fact in HVAC operation. When your AC heats up, it has to function more so as to deliver the same amount of cooling. If you can, ensure the external component of the AC unit is installed under vegetation so as to provide shade for your unit. Where there is no vegetation, you could construct shades from corrugated metal and wood. The cooler the temperatures, the lesser the unit has to work hard hence a longer lifespan.

Correcting Poorly Installed Units

When your AC is poorly installed, it will comprise on the cooling process. For instance, if you have kitchen and bathroom vents installed to regulate temperature and humidity in your home, if not properly outlined, these vents may decrease the lifespan of your unit. Vents that are poorly designed can even pull back cooled air which is created by the AC units thereby overworking them.

If your AC unit is working less efficiently, call in a professional to help you out. It will save you money and reduce inconveniences.

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How Do I Choose the Right Programmable Thermostat?

Thermostats last the longest among the HVAC components. Their lifespan averages 35 years. While manual thermostats are still useful because they can still do some basic things such as switching from heat to cool and adjusting the temperature, holding onto them can lock you out of the benefits that come with programmable thermostats. The latter can enhance the operational efficiency of your HVAC system which directly translates into improved indoor comfort and value for money. To start you off, here are some of the pointers to a good programmable thermostat.

Heating and Cooling Options

First things first, your programmable thermostat must have the ability to manage both cooling and heating. It doesn’t matter whether your home has a heat pump or it operates on a furnace and air conditioner for the heating and cooling seasons. Your thermostat should be able to accommodate them.

A good number of thermostat models can seamlessly switch between cooling and heating automatically following a change in conditions. This can give you a high level of convenience especially if you are used to the manual switching.

Zoning Systems

This is the major divide between programmable thermostats and their manual counterparts. The programmable thermostats can control individual heating and cooling zones within your home. through the zoning system, you can divide your home into several areas which independently rely on different temperature settings during heating and cooling. The best places to install zoning systems is in larger homes as well as those that contend with major temperature fluctuations. There are some programmable devices which allow you to set up to 8 different zones in your home for ultimate convenience and comfort.

Scheduling Capabilities

Programmable thermostats, by design, allow you to set schedules for heating and cooling. That said, some thermostats have limited options compared to others. If you want the greatest flexibility, go for a programmable device which allows you to set a schedule for each day in a week. Devices with more capabilities allow you to program a schedule which accommodates your bed time, your time away, as well as when relaxing at home with your family. Scheduling saves you energy.

Reminders and Alerts

HVAC systems speak, but not to humans rather to thermostats. Having a programmable thermostat that is able to communicate with your HVAC system ensures that you receive reminders and alerts to do some of the basic things such as changing air filters which will go a long way into improving your indoor air quality and performance of your system.

Remote Adjustments

You do not have to be in the house to adjust your programmable thermostat. You can do so even when you are away on holiday or at work. However, this is possible if your programmable thermostat has the capability to link with your smartphone so that you can turn your climate control system either on or off as needed. Some smart thermostats can also pick your location and automatically turn on the HVAC system as you near home so that you find an air-conditioned house.

With all these goodies, it makes sense to upgrade your thermostat. Contact your local HVAC service provider to get the right programmable thermostat for your home.

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Off Grid Air Conditioning – The Future of HVAC Operations

 

There is a growing household trend in the US and other parts of the world where homeowners are going off the grid. As of 2013, data indicates that approximately 180,000 US families were living off the grid. Each year, many more are making the transition thanks to the increase in information access and environmental consciousness.

There are many reasons why an increasing number of Americans are going off grid. Amongst these reasons include:

  • Energy independence and security
  • Expected cost savings from off grid energy consumption
  • Reduction in carbon footprint

Residential cooling and heating systems are the most affected when it comes to energy decisions because they are costly to operate and emit a significant amount of carbon dioxide.

The Basics of Off Grid

The power grid that links average homes to utility services such as natural gas, water, and electricity is known as grid. When you go off grid, it means you literally delink your home from such utilities. The question then comes, where do you get your power from? Instead of consuming power from your local power company, as a homeowner you can generate your own electricity.

Standalone power systems can be used to generate the off-grid power. Some of these systems include solar panels, wind turbines, and other equipment which convert harvested energy into usable electricity. A typical standalone power system consists of safety and metering devices as well as batteries that store excess power so that it can be used for the daily needs.

The beauty with off grid homes is that they utilize natural and renewable resources including wind, solar, and geothermal to generate clean power that comes free of charge without the typical monthly fee. Off grid homes can also include backup fuel generators just in case of emergency situations.

Off Grid AC Solutions

If you make the decision to go off grid, one of the things you have to forego is your HVAC systems. The reason is that these systems are energy hogs and cannot be supported by the off-grid power system. The option you have is to incorporate specific building techniques that keep your structure cool.

There are several original equipment manufacturers who produce AC systems which are powered by solar panels. Some will operate directly from the DC power that is collected by the panels while others operate off AC power which means an inverter is to be used to convert the DC to AC.

There are other AC brands which are considered hybrid and as such can be powered by alternative energy sources. For instance, some may be equipped with photovoltaic solar panels which power most of the equipment thereby using lesser energy.

Geothermal heat pumps are another alternative for off grid homes. These systems get their energy from underground or water sources and have an exceptionally high coefficient of performance.

The last solution is to use evaporative coolers also referred to as swamp coolers. These pieces of equipment use evaporation to extract heat from indoor air as it passes through the unit. Compared to conventional ACs, evaporative coolers use far less energy.

In order to maximize efficiency of your off grid AC unit, ensure it is properly sized for your home. Look for a reputable HVAC contractor to help you in this.

 

 

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Things to Consider before Signing a Contract to Hire a HVAC Expert

hvac expertThe heating, ventilation and cooling system is one of the most complex installations in a home. This is why it is important for you to hire a well trained professional who understands all the safety issues in heating systems including those that use oil natural gas and electricity. A few decades ago, ventilation was a marginally understood concept because many homeowners had learnt to cope in the hard way with natural heat rises and air flows. However, today, the HVAC industry has fully-fledged professionals operating in the different areas to give you comfort, safety, and air quality.

The Requirements of HVAC Contractors

In the United States, a majority of the states require a minimum amount of training and on the job experience normally two to five years for a person to be licensed as a HVAC contractor. Experience is very important because the contractor must have competency and a solid understanding of how the different components of HVAC systems such as refrigerant, electrical wiring, combustion systems, and ducts work. This knowledge is important not only for comfort purposes, but also for safety.

Check the Licenses

There are look-up websites for contractor licenses in most state governments. Through these sites, you can quickly have a look on the type of license your potential contractor has and whether it is in force or something happened in between. Because HVAC may involve plumbing, repair, and installation, getting a contractor who also holds a plumbing license can be such an added advantage for you.

Bonding and Insurance

The reason why it is important to have bonded contractors handle your project is because HVAC repair and maintenance is a technical job and in the course of service delivery, something may happen leading to minor or major destruction of your home. For insured and bonded professionals, the insurance company will come in to compensate for any loss incurred by the homeowner as a result of contractor’s negligence or malpractice.

Brands Carried

There are lots of HVAC equipment brands in the market such as Carrier, Lennox, American Standard, Goodman, Trane and many others. When engaging a contractor, ask them the brands they carry. If you have a specific brand you are after, this process can help you to streamline your search for contractors and only hire those who have what you need.

Apart from the above considerations, you need to also look at the contractor estimates, payment schedule, service contracts if any, tax credits and rebates, as well as references of past customers.

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The Benefits of Condensing Furnace Systems in Heating

Condenser with Furnace

If you are interested in high performance heating systems that will use less energy and give more output, boiler or condensing heating systems are what you need. They are more costly in installation compared to the other conventional heating systems, but in the long run they cost lower in terms of fuel cost.

Thanks to today’s technology, there has been breakthroughs in the design of heating systems that have enabled manufacturers to come up with unique boilers or condensing furnaces which can attain almost perfect performance rating. This article looks at how the condensing furnace works and why you should consider investing in it for your next furnace replacement.

Condensing Furnace Design

A traditional furnace makes us of a heat exchanger in the generation of heat. However, a larger quantity of this heat is lost during the combustion process and it ultimately escapes from your home through the chimney. This is where a condensing unit comes into play; it brings in a second heat exchanger that captures the wasted heat and utilizes it to attain maximum operating efficiency. The secondary exchanger enables exhaust gases to cool down and in the process, transfers the latent heat given out during the vaporization of the gases.

In a study done by energy.gov, condensing models are relatively costly in acquisition and installation compared to non-condensing models, however, the former cost less in fuel expenses and can serve you for a period of between 15 to 30 years.

The Safety of Condensing Furnaces

Condensing heaters have sealed combustion which means the furnace utilizes the outside air only as a resource and thereby eliminates the risk of exposing your home to potentially hazardous combustible gases which are emitted during the heat generation process. There is no chance of backdrafting that can occur in your home. Backdrafting means dangerous exhaust gases are drafted back into your home and then distributed throughout the living spaces.

Flexibility in Installation

Due to the fact that a condensing furnace allows combustion gases to cool off, the venting system doesn’t have to be designed in such a manner as to take into account extreme heat factors. You can easily use standard PVC pipes for the venting system in order to direct the exhaust to the outside environment through a wall vent.

Just like with any furnace replacement or fresh installation, homeowners need to be careful when selecting a condensing furnace. Enlisting the help of HVAC experts can be a good idea because these professionals can help them get a right sized condensing system that will not only run efficiently, but also keep your home uniformly heated throughout the colder seasons. In order for the system to serve you for a long time, having regular annual maintenance appointments with a HVAC contractor is also advised.

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How to Discover Freon Leaks in Air Conditioners

Leak-DetectionFreon leakages from ACs have adverse effects on health and the AC unit itself. This is why it is important to keep these levels on check each and every time. Freon refers to the trademark name given to the chlorofluorocarbons refrigerant manufactured by DuPont. In the industry, this refrigerant is known as R22 and is being phased out by hydro chlorofluorocarbons or R410A refrigerants which are less harmful to the atmosphere.

Most AC units today face the problem of refrigerant leakage which renders the AC unit useless because without refrigerant, there is no cooling that can take place. Freon leakage means your AC will function more or less like an expensive cooling fan. Luckily, there are a number of leak detection solutions available in the market today. This article discusses a number of these solutions with an aim of helping you pick the solution that will serve your home and not throw your budget off balance.

Handheld Detection Devices

These are advanced electronic devices that are fitted with Freon sensors. They can detect the presence of excess gas in your home as well as the concentration of the gas through their semiconductor sensors. The market is awash with audio-visual and audible devices that can help detect leakages. One example is Robinair Leak Detector which utilizes corona discharge technology to sense as low as 0.5 ounce of gas leakage per year.

Electronic Leak Detectors

These detectors are suitable for sensing chlorofluorocarbons, hydro fluorocarbons and hydro chlorofluorocarbons. Normally, leakages occur at points of low pressure because of the changing pressure conditions. One of the top detectors in this category is the one made by Tek-Mate which works extremely well even in damp conditions. The problem with these detectors is that they cannot detect low concentration of leakages.

Portable Burner

This is the conventional method used for detecting Freon leaks. The burners do not harm the AC unit because it is a low flame. In areas that have leakages, the color of the flame will change to bluish green or green instantly. This method does not give results that are reliable.

Liquid Tracers

This is a precise method of detecting leakages. Florescent dyes are used together with the coolant and the AC system is allowed to run for some time. The dye remains in all the points of leakages and this can help you in detecting the malfunctioning regions. The dye is then removed through cleaning solutions. When the leakages are very small, you can use ultra violet lamps for detection.

In addition to the above methods, there is another detection technique known as bubble leak method or the soap bubble solution. This uses high pressure inert gas to help locate the detection. Gas is usually blown over the hose pipes and the AC components in an environment that is controlled. This causes pressure bubbles to emerge from the leaking surface. The bubble leak method is used when the size of the leak is huge.

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Energy Recovery Ventilators – Ventilating Your Home with Minimal Energy Loss

ventilatorThe need for fresh air is part and parcel of the comfort considerations in homes. If your home is energy efficient and air tight, an energy recovery ventilator can help you get sufficient fresh air without sacrificing the aspect of efficiency.

 

Adding insulation and sealing air leaks are two of the most important ways through which you can conserve energy in your home. That being said, some homes are so tightly sealed that they do not allow fresh air to come in hence creating a less healthy environment. In order to allow in adequate fresh air without incurring extra energy expense to cool or heat the incoming fresh air, you need to invest in a ventilation system. Also known as air heat exchangers, energy recovery ventilators are simply mechanical ventilation systems that remove polluted stale air from homes and replace it with fresh air from outside.

In order to conserve energy, these ventilators pass the warm outgoing air from inside the house through a component known as a heat exchanger. The heat exchanger transfers heat from the outgoing air to the incoming cool air. This exchange process is what is known as the heat recovery. For one, the occupants in the home are shielded from the blast of cold incoming air while at the same time; the process saves energy because the heating system in your home doesn’t have to warm the cold incoming air. During summer, the outgoing air cools the warm incoming air thus giving you comfort without skyrocketing your energy bills.

Energy recovery ventilators are normally operated by timers or controlled by humidstats which are sensors that detect levels of humidity in your home. Inasmuch as energy recovery ventilators remove excess humidity from your home, they can also be set to add humidity.

When shopping for an energy recovery ventilator, do not be mixed up by the terminology. Some homeowners confuse energy recovery ventilators with heat recovery ventilators. It should be noted that an energy recovery ventilator has a heat exchanger which transfers a given amount of water vapor together with heat energy to the incoming air. On the other hand, a heat recovery ventilator only transfers heat.

Since energy recovery ventilator transfers moisture which is contained in the exhaust air to the less humid incoming winter air, the humidity levels in homes that have these ventilators installed tend to be more consistent. This feature also enables the heat exchanger core to be warmer thus minimizing freezing problems. There are different varieties of energy recovery ventilators from small ones that can be mounted on windows or walls to large units that are suspended from utility rooms, basements, attics, or crawl spaces.

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Creative AC Strategies for Cooling Efficiency

air-conditioner-unitWhen you invest in an AC or heat pump, your first expectation is that it will perform as expected in cooling your home and last for the stipulated period. However, in most cases this doesn’t happen because of both external factors and other aspects around your AC system which needs to be resolved. The role of AC units in home is so central that many homeowners start taking their systems operation for granted. In providing your family with a comfortable and relaxing home environment, you need a preventive maintenance plan for your HVAC equipment.

A Thorough Cleaning of the HVAC Components

Every year, your HVAC system must be thoroughly cleaned and your coils inspected for any debris or film of dust. When accumulated on the coil, dust and dirt can prevent airflows from cooling off hence affecting the entire cooling system of your house. Dirty HVAC components also make it work extra hard to achieve a simple rise in comfort.

Professional Inspection

HVAC systems normally go through wear and tear cycle which means that from time to time the system should be inspected for cooling efficiency. Any component that may be found faulty should be replaced with an efficient one. The inspection can be a one off or a part of a contractual maintenance agreement where the specialists visit from time to time to look at the whole system and fine tune it just in case of any developing problems. Inspection can be done annually when the system is shutdown particularly over winter.

The inspection should cover the entire system from the air intake to the exhaust dust discharge. The air intake should specifically be checked to ensure it is open and the controls are working properly. External contaminants when drawn into the air supply can choke it and make it inefficient thus affecting the overall efficiency of the cooling system.

Ductwork Cleaning and Repair

Your ductwork is related to the cooling efficiency of your system. When moisture, dirt and other particles get lodged in the ductwork, its ability to complete the indoor air circulation is affected in a large way. This means your ductwork should be checked and cleaned every now and then to ensure it works effectively. Poor connections within the ductwork can also affect the efficiency of the entire machine.

Cleaning and Replacement of Filters

Your filters should be replaced once in a month to ensure efficiency in filtering the passing air. If the filters are not cleaned or replaced on a regular basis, they will accumulate dust and lose their filtration capacity making your HVAC system to work extra hard to deliver the desired temperature.

An efficient cooling system ensures that you and your family are comfortable throughout the year from late spring to summer and early autumn without spending lots of money on energy bills.

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