Friday, July 7, 2017

Does Your AC Unit Need A Repair Or An Overhaul?

So much has changed in the world of air conditioning in recent years that if your system has almost any significant breakdown — or if it’s just not keeping you as cool as it used to — it may be worth replacing it instead of repairing it. Contact the expert at R.F. Ohl if you need a Lehighton HVAC company.
As of 2010, for example, manufacturers must use a new kind of refrigerant that’s not an ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbon. And a new system can use less than half the electricity of your old one while doing a far better job of keeping you cool and comfortable.
If your air conditioner is more than eight years old, repair is probably not worth the expense, unless it’s a simple problem like debris clogging the condenser unit or a worn fan belt. Still, to best weigh your repair-or-replace decision, ask your contractor to assess not just the condition of your existing equipment, but also the ducts that deliver the cool air and the overall quality of the insulation in your house. Scheduling a free appointment with R.F. Ohl will Improve those elements and might increase the effectiveness of the system as much, if not more than installing new machinery.

Assess the Efficiency of Your Current System
Even if your central air conditioner is just eight to 10 years old, it could suck up to twice the electricity that even a low-end new one would use. That’s because it operates at or below 10 SEER, or Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, which is the amount of energy needed to provide a specific cooling output. Until 2006, 10 SEER was standard, but these days, the minimum allowed by federal law is 13 SEER. That translates to 30% less electrical consumption and 30% lower cooling bills than equipment installed just a few years ago.
For an 1,800 square foot house, a new 13 SEER unit will cost $3,000 to $4,000. You can double your energy savings by jumping up to 16 SEER, which will reduce cooling expenses by 60% over a 10 SEER unit. At $5,000 to $6,000, these super-efficient units are more expensive, but they qualify for a federal tax credit of up to $300 and possibly local incentives, too.
“Your installer can run the numbers for you to see whether it’s worth the additional cost,” says Ellis Guiles of TAG Mechanical in Syracuse, New York. “If you’re south of the Mason Dixon line, certainly, you can make up those dollars pretty quickly.”

Inspect the Condition of the Ductwork
You could upgrade to the highest efficiency gear available and still not feel comfortably cool on hot days. That’s because the mechanicals are only part of the central air system. The average house’s ductwork leaks 10% to 30% of its air before it can reach your living space, according to Pacific Gas & Electric. Before deciding whether to repair or replace your condenser and blower units, your technician should run a duct-leakage test, by sealing the vents and measuring how much air escapes the system.
If the ducts are inefficient, he can locate and seal the gaps, typically for $25 to $35 per vent (per “run” in industry jargon), or replace the ductwork entirely with new, insulated pipe for around $100 per run, according to Guiles. Your technician may recommend doing the duct improvements in conjunction with replacement of the mechanicals or may recommend only one or the other job.

Consider the Building Envelope Itself
If your house is poorly insulated, it’s putting a strain on your aging air conditioner. Resolving the house’s flaws may mean that your old system will have enough cooling power to continue to do the job for a few more years. Or it may enable you to buy a smaller replacement system, lowering your upfront and ongoing energy costs significantly.
Your heating and cooling contractor should assess and, if necessary, upgrade the building envelope. For example, he might seal gaps and cracks in the outer walls and attic floor, or he might blow insulation into the walls, either of which could knock as much as 30% off your heating and cooling costs. Insulation also may get you a $500 federal tax credit, and in some cases, it may be a more effective solution to your cooling problems than replacing your equipment.
Make Sure a New System Is Sized Right

If you decide to replace, make sure the contractor’s bid includes a load calculation, which is a computer printout showing how big a system you need and why. Air conditioning is measured by the ton, which is the cooling power of a one-ton block of ice melting in 24 hours. Some old-school installers use a ballpark estimate for sizing equipment—say, one ton for every 400 or 600 square feet of living space. But that typically leads to systems that are too big, according to Greg Gill of Action Air Conditioning and Heating in San Marcos, Calif. Not only do oversized systems cost more, but they also do their cooling work too quickly, which means more frequent on/off cycles, wearing out components and gobbling electricity. Plus, they don’t have a chance to effectively dehumidify the air.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Upgrading Your HVAC System

Getting HVAC upgrades in Allentown Pennsylvania may not be something people often think about. With an HVAC, more likely than not he is going to recommend a repair. An upgrade would be a total overhaul of the unit and replacing it with a more efficient system. Obviously, replacing an old system doesn’t come without its own positives and negatives. Let’s look at both of them and decide if your system needs an upgrade.

The Positives Of An Upgrade

Replacing an old HVAC system with a new system could help better heat and cool your home and save you money in the long run. Heating and cooling is the biggest energy user in most homes, accounting for more than 40 percent of a home's energy bills.

Unless you are a qualified HVAC technician, you will need to call a professional. Installing an HVAC system is not something that should be taken lightly. An improperly sized or installed HVAC system can leak deadly carbon monoxide or other toxins into a home, cost you much more money, promote mold growth that can lead to chronic illness, or start fires. Seek a professional with some certifications such as NATE (North American Technician Excellence). A NATE patch signifies that the contractor employs technicians who have passed this national certification. Seek a qualified HVAC professional. This could be someone referred to you by an energy-efficiency or insulation company, a builder, even a friend. But you still want to qualify any expert. After all, this person or company will be installing systems in your home that can directly affect the health and safety of your family.

The Negatives

Cost. Installing a new system costs anywhere from $3,000-5,000. Before you spend thousands of dollars on a new heating or cooling system, it's a good idea to check your house and your HVAC system for costly air leaks. This could be the root of the problem, and would be a lot less expensive to treat.

It's a good idea to start by having an energy assessment done on your home by an energy efficiency professional. This can either be a walk-through with a clipboard, or a more comprehensive audit with a blower-door test that pressurizes the house so energy leaks can be detected. In some areas, electric utilities subsidize the costs of energy efficiency assessments, and some states offer rebates or discounts on having insulation installed or other work done to make your home more efficient.
Why is this a great first step? Because properly insulating your home and sealing leaks will help your heating and cooling system run much more efficiently. You may discover that you don't need to replace that system after all. And if you do replace it, your new heating or cooling system can then be sized properly and run more efficiently, potentially saving you significantly on both your upfront costs and energy bills in the future.

The Installation

If you have followed the above steps, had an HVAC technician audit your house and approve of an upgrade, next comes choosing the right system for your home. A lot of consideration goes into this process because this isn’t a small commitment. The next page talks about which systems you should consider.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Air Conditioner Blowing Hot Air?


Is your central air conditioning blowing hot air when you turn it on? While there are many reasons your air conditioner is blowing hot air, we’ll run through the most common causes that you can diagnose your HVAC repairs.
First and foremost, check your thermostat and make sure that it is correctly set. It may sound ridiculous, but sometimes homeowners incorrectly set their thermostat which will cause hot air to blow out instead.
Also, check to see if you have your thermostat set to “auto” or “on”. If it’s set to “on”, that means the fan will blow even when the air conditioner isn’t actually cooling. This causes your AC to blow out warmer air out the vents when the outside unit isn’t running.
A restriction in the airflow to and from your air conditioner often results in not enough air coming out of the vents to cool your home. Restricted airflow can also cause the compressor in your air conditioner’s outside unit to freeze up. a restriction in airflow is most like caused by a dirty air filter that has not been replaced in a long time, or dirty coils form your AC unit not having maintenance done.

Early air conditioner maintenance can prevent many small problems from becoming much larger ones. If you schedule an air conditioner checkup during the spring, make sure to get an HVAC 2nd opinions because you will beat the longer wait times and higher prices with peak season in the summer.

The Importance Of Having An Updated AC System

One of the main problems associated with AC systems that rely on/on-off cycling is they are prone to injecting extremely cold bursts of air indoors when they start running. This, in turn, degrades the comfort of residents. In comparison, the design of high efficiency units provides minimal variation in indoor temperature. Another benefit of installing an updated and more efficient AC is lower risk of breakdowns. This is largely because high efficiency units are not prone to the wear and tear risks associated with on-off cycling. As stated earlier, homeowners who install updated air conditioners benefit from lower maintenance costs. Besides this, modern ductless AC systems can cool indoor spaces efficiently with or without a duct network.
Air conditioning is an important part of any modern home, and air filters are also vital to the proper functioning of AC systems.

To start with, most modern cooling systems come with cooling features aimed at improving indoor comfort. For instance, some systems come with a variable air speed adjuster. You can use this feature to improve cooling efficiency in your home without sacrificing comfort. At the same time, high efficiency air conditioners regulate humidity levels better than standard air conditioners. They achieve this goal by using a continuous air circulation mechanism. This mechanism is used instead of the intermittent cooling functionality associated with traditional AC systems.

Similar to how you visit your general practitioner every year for a check-up, an air conditioner tune-up is an annual visit to make sure your central air conditioning is healthy and running properly. Most common A/C system tune-ups will entail condenser coil cleaning, calibrating the thermostat, evaluating your refrigerant levels and observing for leaks, examining and tightening all electrical parts, and analyzing the operation of the blower belt and motor.

Does Your AC Unit Need A Repair Or An Overhaul?

So much has changed in the world of air conditioning in recent years that if your system has almost any significant breakdown — or if it’s ...