a/c repair new haven, ctIf you’ve been running the AC in your house all day and it’s not cooling your home down, not only are you wasting energy and money, but it’s probably pretty miserable inside. 

There are a host of reasons why your AC might not be cooling things down properly. In this blog post, we break down what could be causing your AC to malfunction, and then explain whether it is a DIY fix or one that requires calling in the pros. 

9 Reasons Your AC Isn’t Cooling The House 

If you realize your cooling system has been running but is no longer cooling things down, before you assume the worst, check this list of easy fixes first:

If none of these things do the trick, then it’s time to look at potentially bigger issues. 

Here is a list of a few things that could be to blame:

1. Wrong Size AC Unit for the House 

If you didn’t use the correct measurements to determine what size AC unit you need to efficiently and properly cool your house down, you may be using a unit that is too small. This would be like using a garden hose to put out a massive wildland fire. It’s important to fully understand the many factors, including square footage, geographic region, insulation type, and the number of windows, that can affect what tonnage you need so you can select a better suited AC the next time around. 

DIY vs. Pro: You will need to call the professionals on this one. An HVAC technician can use the right formula to determine the proper size AC unit for your use, ensuring it’s cooling the house.

2. Lack of Maintenance on the Outdoor Unit

Your outdoor unit isn’t a “set it and forget it” system. Just like your entire cooling and heating system, you need to visually inspect the area around the unit on a regular basis. Ensuring you have at least two feet of space around the unit allows it to run more efficiently. 

DIY vs. Pro: This one you can, and should, do on your own. Remove leaves, branches, and debris from around the unit, keeping a clear space around it. You may even want to place a cover around the unit to protect it from dust, mud, and debris that could clog the unit. And, don’t forget to inspect the concrete slab the unit is sitting on to make sure it’s even, and the unit isn’t unbalanced, and running on overtime.

If the AC still isn’t operating properly after outdoor maintenance, it’s best to call in an expert for a professional inspection

3. Poor Airflow

If you don’t have sufficient air coming through the vents, it won’t matter what temperature you set your AC unit at, it won’t work efficiently. There could be several reasons including dirty air filters, vents, or ducts. 

DIY vs. Pro: This is a multi-arm approach to get to the root of the problem. First thing, check your air filters. This is probably one of the most overlooked tasks that should be done every one to two months. If the filters are filthy, changing them out can increase airflow and improve the efficiency of your air conditioner. You should also regularly clean your vents, which can accumulate years of dirt, grime, pet hair, and dust.

The other solution to this problem requires a call to the professionals: Cleaning your ducts is more involved and you need to have trained HVAC techs come in and make sure to do it properly, without causing further damage. 

4. Tripped Circuit Breaker 

If you didn’t know, most AC systems have two separate circuit breakers for both the inside and the outside unit. If your AC is running and is blowing air, but your house isn’t cooling down, the circuit for the outside unit may have been tripped. 

DIY vs. Pro: Of course, the easiest thing to do is to check your breaker box and see if the circuit is tripped on the outdoor unit. If it is, go ahead and switch it on. 

If you do reset it and it trips again do not touch it again. This is when you will need to call the professionals. It’s usually indicative of a larger electrical issue that needs to be fixed by a trained technician. 

5. Issues with Your Thermostat 

If your house is not cooling properly, it may be your thermostat. The thermostat includes a sensor that tells the system what the ambient room temperature is. This temperature reading is what stops and starts the cooling cycle. If the thermostat is malfunctioning, your cooling system would not know how to function properly. 

DIY vs. Pro: The root cause of the thermostat issue will determine if you can make this fix yourself, or need to call in the pros. If the display is blank on the thermostat, try changing the batteries. If that doesn’t do it, then it points to a larger issue with the electrical wiring. Now, it’s time to call in HVAC technicians for repair. It may be time for a new electrical board or a new thermostat. 

6. Your Air Handler is Frozen 

Look behind the air filter at your unit’s evaporator coils. If they are frozen, the air will heat up. The ice blocks the warmth inside your home from reaching the refrigerant in the coils, which means your air isn’t cooling, and your AC isn’t able to dehumidify the air. 

DIY vs. Pro: The first thing to try is something you can try on your own: turn off the cooling system for 24 hours. This allows the ice to defrost and the coils to return to normal. If the problem continues then it’s a larger issue. 

Now it’s time to call the professionals who can clean your evaporator coils. They use chemicals designed to remove the dirt and grime from the coils. They take special care not to bend the fins or coils. 

7. The Unit is Low on Refrigerant

Think of refrigerant as the lifeblood of your AC unit. Without the proper amount, the cooling process won’t function at all. The unit needs the right amount of refrigerant to produce cool air. Refrigerant is what circulates through the evaporator coils and cools the ambient air. That cool air is then pushed back out into the home to help cool your house down. There are two main reasons for low refrigerant levels: A leak or lifetime usage. 

DIY vs. Pro: When it comes to refrigerant levels, whether due to a leak or usage, you always want to call in an HVAC technician. Not only will a reputable service technician have the right tools with which to measure your refrigerant level, but they are also the only ones that can properly and safely dispose of your older, used refrigerant. 

8. A Faulty Compressor

If the refrigerant is the lifeblood of your AC system, then the compressor is the heart of your AC unit. It’s responsible for pumping the refrigerant from inside your home, removing the heat from the air inside your house and moving it outside. If your compressor isn’t working, your AC unit could be running, but it won’t be cooling your house. 

DIY vs. Pro: The bad news, the compressor is the most expensive part of your cooling system. So unless your unit is under warranty, you may want to consider investing in a new unit. Unfortunately, because compressors are hermetically sealed, repairs are costly, and usually involve replacing the entire compressor. A compressor issue is most certainly a job for the pros. You should not attempt this type of compressor repair on your own, or it could lead to even bigger problems. 

9. Your Air Conditioner is Aging

Like every other mechanical or electrical item in your house, the AC unit has an expected lifespan. The older it gets, the more issues it will start having, and the less efficient it will become. An older unit will start to use more energy and it will take more effort to cool things down. While regular maintenance on your AC unit will help extend it’s life, at some point, you will need to replace the unit for improved cooling, efficiency, and energy consumption. 

DIY vs. Pro: While you can definitely conduct your own research when it comes to purchasing a new cooling system, ultimately, you will want to consult expert help. That’s where an experienced HVAC technician can come in to answer your questions. Not only will they help determine the right size unit, but they can also answer all of your questions about thermostats and properly maintaining the unit. They will also be the ones you turn to for proper and safe installation. 

choosing a/c system new haven, ct

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If you’ve decided to invest in a cooling system for your home, you already know it’s a major investment, so you want to be sure you’re buying the right unit for your house. 

While there are several things to consider when deciding which AC unit to buy, perhaps the most important question you may be asking yourself: What size AC unit do I need?

Not only do you want to avoid wasting money on the wrong air conditioner, but you also don’t want to throw your money out the window each month, as the unnecessarily large AC unit burns up your energy bill. 

Likewise, you don’t want to buy a unit that’s too small for your house, which means it will be running all the time to try and cool you down, eventually leading you to buy a second unit. 

Thankfully, you can avoid guessing games and calculate the right size AC unit your house needs. 

Calculating The Right Size AC Unit

There are several things you will need to consider, all of which will affect the size of the AC unit you will need for your house:

To come up with a ballpark, the three most important numbers you need to know:

  1. The square footage of your house
  2. The required tonnage of the unit
  3. The height of your ceilings

What Is AC Unit Tonnage?

Tonnage actually has nothing to do with weight. A ton refers to the AC unit’s capacity to cool the air, in other words, how much heat the unit can remove in one hour. 

That capacity is measured in BTUs or British Thermal Units. Why BTU? A long time ago, they determined it takes 286,000 BTU to completely melt one ton of ice in a 24-hour period. HVAC experts eventually divided that number by 24 hours and came up with 12,000 BTU/1-ton AC capacity. 

Using that measurement, a two-ton AC unit will remove 24,000 BTUs, while a three-ton AC unit will remove 36,000 BTUs. Therefore, the more tonnage the AC unit is rated for, the more air it can cool down.

DIY Calculations

To  get a rough estimate of the tonnage you will need from your AC unit, use the following calculation:

Square footage of your home x 25 (estimated energy to cool one square foot is 25 BTU) / 12,000 –1 =  AC Unit Tonnage

For example, the calculations for a 1,200-square-foot home:

(1,200 x 25) / 12,000 –1 = 1.5 Tons

You would need a 1.5 ton AC unit for your house. 

If you live in a drier or hotter region, don’t subtract 1. 

For example, the calculations for a 1,200-square-foot home located in New Mexico:

(1,200 x 25) / 12,000 = 2.5 Tons

You would need a 2.5 ton AC unit for your house.

This table should give you an idea of what size AC unit you need, depending on the square footage of your house (located in a temperate climate region):

Square Footage BTUs per hour AC Unit Tonnage
450 to 550 12,000 1 Ton
550 to 700 14,000 1.5 Tons
700 to 1,000 18,000 1.5 Tons
1,000 to 1,200 21,000 2 Tons
1,200 to 1,400 23,000 2 Tons
1,400 to 1,500 24,000 2 Tons
1,500 to 2,000 30,000 2.5 Tons
2,000 to 2,500 34,000 3 Ton

Of course, all the other factors we previously discussed will also affect the unit you ultimately end up purchasing:

Which Type Of AC Unit Do I Need?

There are commonly two different types of air conditioning systems you can install in your home: a packaged unit or a split system. 

Packaged Unit

The packaged unit air conditioner is the one most commonly associated with a central air system. With this system, the evaporator, condenser, and compressor are placed in one single cabinet. This cabinet is most often located on a concrete slab outside or on the roof. This type of packaged air conditioner usually includes electric heating coils or a natural gas furnace. This removes the need for an entirely separate furnace. 

Split-System Central Air

This type of system is most often used in homes that already have a furnace but no air conditioner installed. It’s the most cost-effective way to install air conditioning in a house. 

With a split-system central air conditioning unit, an outdoor cabinet holds the condenser and compressor. An indoor cabinet holds the evaporator. This indoor cabinet may also hold the furnace. 

Buying The Right AC Unit

While it’s fairly simple to come up with a rough estimate on the right size AC unit you will need for your house, ultimately, it’s safer and will save you money in the long run, if you work with an HVAC expert to determine the proper size. 

Installing central air can cost you between $3,779 and $7,429, according to HomeAdvisor.com. So you want to make sure you’re buying the right unit the first time. 

Getting the right unit will ensure your cooling system can perform efficiently for years, especially with regular maintenance

HVAC money savingsYou already know how important a properly functioning HVAC system is to your family – especially on those sweltering hot days, and those freezing cold nights. Unfortunately, most of us take our heating and cooling systems for granted until it suddenly stops working. 

There are, however, several things you can do to ensure your HVAC system is not only running smoothly when you need it but will be for a long time to come. Plus, HVAC maintenance is way more cost-effective than expensive, last-minute repairs or replacement. 

Read on for a money-saving HVAC maintenance checklist.

1. Schedule an Annual Inspection

One of the best ways to save money on your HVAC system is to schedule an annual inspection with the professionals. This not only increases efficiency and performance but could extend the life of your unit. While you should be conducting visual inspections of the unit on a regular basis, having a professional come out to inspect the more intricate parts such as airflow could save you from a more costly repair later. 

During the inspection, most HVAC technicians will:

2. Change Out Air Filters

This often tops the list of most-overlooked-but-helpful tasks to prolong the life of your HVAC: filter replacement. 

Regularly changing your air filters can go a long way toward ensuring your HVAC system is running at optimal levels. Regularly replacing the air filters can lower your air conditioner’s energy consumption by 5-15%. Dirty air filters can block airflow, reduce efficiency, and lead to greater damage to the system. 

You replace the air filter in your HVAC system every month or two, especially during high-use months. But, if you operate in dustier conditions or have pets, you may need to change them out more often. 

3. Seal Your Ducts

Did you know leaky ductwork can result in a 20% to 40% loss in energy? This is why you should be checking for leaks, separated joints, stuck dampers and blocked registers. The air ducts are the backbone of your HVAC system. Sealing any leaks could mean an extra half-ton of air conditioner capacity – for free!

4. Clean Your Vents

If you can’t remember the last time you inspected the louvers on your air vents, it’s time to clean your air vents. Years of use can cause dirt, grime, pet hair, and dust to accumulate on the vent covers. 

Not only will a thorough cleaning make them look better, it will help reduce the allergens in your home, and more importantly, it will allow your HVAC system to operate more efficiently. 

5. Check Your Outdoor Unit

Visually inspect your outdoor unit on a regular basis. It’s not a “set it and forget it” system. Remove any leaves, branches, or debris that may have settled around the unit. Ensuring there is at least two feet of space will help it run more efficiently.

Consider placing a cover over the unit to protect it from dust, mud, or other debris that may clog the unit. And, lastly, make sure the concrete slab the unit is sitting upon is still even. If it’s on an uneven surface, your unit could be running on overtime. 

6. Consider a Programmable Thermostat

While it may be an investment upfront, transitioning to a programmable thermostat could save you money, help your heating and cooling system run more efficiently, and ensure lower energy bills. 

Turning your thermostat back 7-10 degrees when you’re away can save you up to 10% on cooling and heating costs each year.

7. Take the Pressure Off

Nearly half of your utility bill goes toward cooling and heating your home each year, according to the Department of Energy. 

That’s why the last item on your HVAC maintenance checklist includes the ways you can lighten the load on your HVAC system entirely, which translates into greater efficiency and lower bills:

Taking the time to maintain your HVAC system can prevent future problems and unwelcome additional costs.

a/c installation fairfield, ct

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Those hot and sticky northeast summers aren’t so bad when you can escape to the cool refuge of your air-conditioned home. If you don’t have a cooling system to keep you comfortable this summer but are fed up with the heat, installing central air in your home is probably top of mind. 

According to the Department of Energy, three-quarters of all homes in the United States have an air conditioner. Those who don’t often struggle to find relief during those hot summer months. 

In this post, we’ll break down everything you need to know about central air, and how much it can cost to install in your house.

What Is Central Air?

Most simply put, an air conditioning unit removes the heat and moisture from inside your home and replaces it with cooler air. 

The AC unit moves the heat inside your home, outside, consists of a:

The pump, also called the compressor, moves the heat transfer fluid (refrigerant) between the evaporator and the condenser. 

The refrigerant evaporates in the indoor coil, extracting the heat from inside your home, and cooling it down. The hot refrigerant is then pumped outside via the condenser. 

With a central air system, the cooling compressor is located outside your home, and the fan unit is located inside the home. The system utilizes the existing heating and cooling ductwork in your home to distribute the cool (or warm) air evenly. 

Types of Central Air

Many homeowners don’t realize there are two types of air conditioning systems you can install in your home: a packaged unit or a split system. 

Packaged Unit

The packaged unit air conditioner is most commonly connected with a central air system. With this system, the evaporator, condenser, and compressor are placed in one single cabinet. This cabinet is usually located on a concrete slab outside or on the roof. A packaged air conditioner usually includes electric heating coils or a natural gas furnace, which removes the need for an entirely separate furnace. 

Split-System Central Air

If you have a furnace but no air conditioner installed, a split-system is for you, as it will likely be the most cost-effective way to install air conditioning in your house. 

With a split-system central air conditioning unit, an outdoor cabinet holds the condenser and compressor. An indoor cabinet holds the evaporator, and may also hold the furnace

Can You Install Central Air In Older Homes? 

It is entirely possible to install central air in an older house; it just may take additional work from the experts.  

There are two main things to consider when purchasing and installing an air conditioning unit: 

  1. Capacity 
  2. Efficiency

Determining how much cooling your home needs depends on a multitude of factors, including:

Given that older homes have a higher level of air infiltration due to gaps in molding, doorways, loose windows and doors, it will make it harder (but not impossible) to control moisture levels and humidity. 

The experts at Old House Journal, an online site that helps owners of older homes to repair, restore, and update their homes, say older homes usually do best with premium air-conditioning systems with a two-stage compressor or dual compressor, and adjustable speed blowers.

Other Considerations for Air Conditioning Systems in Older Homes

Deciding to make that investment depends on the cost to install, and whether you live in a climate where you have a longer cooling season. You should also ask:

Central air conditioning units are typically more efficient than single-room units. In addition to being quiet, convenient, and unobtrusive, they can also save you energy and money in the long run. 

Even if you already have a central air conditioning unit, maybe it’s time to think about an upgrade. Newer models use up to 50% less energy to produce the same amount of cool air as the older models. That means, if you installed your cooling system 10 years ago, you could save up to 40% in energy costs by switching it out for a newer model. 

How much does it cost to add central air to a home?

If you’ve decided to install central air, it is likely to cost you between $3,779 and $7,429, according to HomeAdvisor.com. 

Your final bill will depend on several important factors:

While installation is relatively uncomplicated, it’s important you don’t attempt to install central air on your own. Always work with a licensed air conditioning contractor to ensure your unit is properly installed. Experts with a license are also the only ones who can handle refrigerant chemicals. 

A properly installed unit can perform efficiently for years, with annual maintenance. Improperly installed units will perform just as poorly as older, more inefficient models. 

what is hvac connecticut.In the dead of winter or the heat of summer, it’s second nature for us to walk over to the thermostat and adjust the temperature to make our homes comfortable. 

Because this routine is so habitual, you probably don’t think much about the system’s technical processes. Like the one that works to ensure humidity levels in your home are optimal, or the one that filters and cleans indoor air to keep you healthy.

This comprehensive system of heating, cooling, and ventilation is also known as HVAC. 

If you’re a new homeowner or haven’t worked with an HVAC company, let’s discuss what HVAC is, how it works in your home, and where to go if your HVAC system needs repairs. 

What does HVAC stand for?

The acronym HVAC stands for:

Think of HVAC as multiple systems that:

What is an HVAC system?

HVAC systems consist of different layers and methods of output. Meaning, HVAC isn’t only about central air conditioning or central heating, though these are two of the most common systems. 

Let’s explore each part of the system.

Heating

You have several system options for heating your home, including furnaces, heat pumps, boilers, and ductless systems. For each system, there are different methods of heat delivery:

Ventilation

Without the ventilation component of HVAC, homeowners might notice a fluctuation in inside temperatures, and risk too much (or too little) humidity in the home, and unhealthy air quality. The most common types of ventilation systems are:

Air Conditioning

Homeowners also have a few choices when it comes to cooling their homes. The most common is using central air conditioning in conjunction with central heating, but that’s not the only solution. There are also split or ductless, window and portable units. 

All AC options operate in the same way, using energy to move heat from homes and buildings to the outside. 

Most air conditioning systems use: 

Refrigerant moves between a liquid and gas state, and as it changes, refrigerant can absorb and release the heat outside of your home.

Where can I go for HVAC repairs and maintenance?

Because there are so many working parts and methods of operation in HVAC systems, it’s wise to give them an annual tune-up by the experts. 

Preventive care of your HVAC systems can extend the life equipment and reduce costly and untimely repairs. When your HVAC systems are operating well, you can save on energy bills and keep your home’s air quality safe. 

central air installation connecticutAre you thinking about installing an air conditioner? If so, it’s probably been a while since you’ve last researched AC technology. Perhaps you’ve never done it before. The process may feel overwhelming to you — but fear not. We’ve created the following guide so you know what questions to ask to ensure you’re selecting the right equipment, the best HVAC company, and what steps you can take to achieve ongoing satisfaction with your new central air conditioner.

What to Ask Before Purchasing an Air Conditioner

Before purchasing a new central air conditioner, ask yourself a few questions:

How many BTUs do you need?

BTU is a measurement used to determine heating and cooling efficiency in household appliances, like air conditioners. In other words, you need to know how much power your new central AC should have to keep your home cool but still efficient. To determine how much energy your new central AC should have, you can use the Manual J Load calculation. This calculation helps you pinpoint the heating and cooling capacity your HVAC equipment should have. There are several online resources to help figure out your needs based on your home dimensions, like LoadCalc and the CoolCalc.

Where are you located?

Your geographic location and the climate will also play a role in the type of AC unit you should purchase. Specifically, your location will impact the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) rating you need for your new AC unit. The SEER rating measures how efficiently your AC unit pumps out cool air. We’ve seen SEER ratings as high as 25, but in most cases, you’ll need 14 SEER or less. However, if you live in an extremely warm or desert climate, you might consider a 16 SEER.

What type of AC unit are you looking for?

The average lifespan of an AC unit is between 10 and 15 years, and if it’s been that long since you last shopped around, you may be surprised at how much AC technology has evolved, and what the new advancements can do for your overall energy bill. Newer, high-efficiency air conditioners could reduce energy use for air conditioning by 20% to 50%. For find a high-efficiency AC, look for ENERGY STAR certified equipment, as these products are specifically designed to save energy and lower your energy bills.

Should you also invest in a new furnace?

If you’re looking to save money, it might sound counterintuitive to tack on another purchase, but often when you bundle an AC with a new furnace HVAC companies will cut you a deal. It’s also a smart investment as mixing two systems — like an older furnace and a new air conditioner — can decrease the overall productivity of your systems.

Questions to Ask an HVAC Contractor Before Working with Them

Now that you’ve defined what you’re looking for in an AC unit, you’ll need to find a company who can deliver on your needs. Finding a suitable HVAC company is perhaps the most essential part of the equation because the ongoing maintenance of your equipment may depend on it. Apart from shopping around for the best prices, consider the following questions to ask an HVAC contractor.

What brands do you offer?

First and foremost, does the HVAC company you’re considering have energy efficient equipment that matches the BTU and SEER ratings you need?

Are your technicians state-licensed?

When determining the HVAC company you work with, you’ll want reassurance that the job will be done right. Make sure that the company you work with has state-licensed technicians and don’t use subcontractors.

What do the service plans look like?

A new AC unit is a significant investment. To get the most out of your money, ask your HVAC company how they’ll guarantee your equipment. For example, is there a warranty? And, post-installation, will the HVAC company include annual servicing plans? You can also ask if the HVAC company offers financing so you can break up the financial commitment of a new central AC unit.

How long will it take to install my AC?

Double check that the HVAC company doesn’t have a waiting list, especially if you’re purchasing your AC unit for an immediate need.

What is included in your installation contract?

Will the HVAC company handle all of the necessary permits and approvals with the local authorities? Will they help you dispose of your old unit? And, will they clean up their work area (ductwork, walls, flooring) after finishing the job?

What to Ask While Installing an Air Conditioner

The HVAC company you work with should walk you through the installation process, but to know they’ve done an excellent job, consider the following:

Is there a concrete pad below your outdoor unit?

This step ensures your unit is level. Without a level AC, the machine can’t correctly distribute fluids that allow the AC’s compressor run.

Are distance requirements adhered to?

For example, the outdoor unit for your AC should be at least 1 foot away from the house. There may be other state or local ordinances that your HVAC company should adhere to as well.

Is the piping well done?

Your AC unit will have a copper piping that aids the flow of the AC’s refrigerant. Take a quick look to ensure the copper line running from the outdoor unit to the indoor unit is well taken care of. If done correctly, the piping should be insulated, with additional supports every four feet, and the line should be as short as possible.

Has your HVAC company lived up to their contract?

If your agreement indicated clean up, make sure the technicians have cleared scraps of trash from the installation area. And, if they promised to take your old unit, ensure they’ve done so.

Finally, is your AC in working order?

Before your HVAC contractors leave, run the system through a complete cooling cycle to ensure it works properly. Check the levels of refrigerant as well to verify they’ve left a sufficient amount.

By selecting the correct equipment for your home, and working with an HVAC company you can trust with the installation process and on-going maintenance of your new piece of equipment, you’ll be able to enjoy your new central air conditioner years to come.

rusty a/c unit connecticutWe’re often asked how long an air conditioner’s lifespan is, though the answer isn’t cut and dry. According to the Energy Department, the average AC unit will last roughly 10-15 years. However, the actual longevity of your AC unit will depend on several factors only you can determine.

What factors play a role in your AC’s lifespan?

For a look at the possible lifespan of your AC, consider your personal habits.

Usage

Wear and tear will play a role in how long your AC unit lasts. While the average homeowner would need to replace their unit every 10-15 years, someone who rarely uses their AC might be able to wait for 20 or more years before replacing their AC.

Tip: To improve your AC lifespan?, reduce your usage. Remember to turn it off when you’re away, or resist the temptation to turn it on during moderately warm days.

Humidity

Humidity will cause your AC unit to work on overdrive even if it’s not cooling your home. The humidity will trick your AC unit into keeping the fan on because the coils inside will do their part to absorb the moisture from the air. This extra strain on your coils and fan can decrease your AC’s lifespan.

Tip: You can take steps to minimize humidity in your home by purchasing a dehumidifier, or growing plants that reduce moisture in the air like Boston Ferns, Palms, or Cacti.

Temperature

The cooler you run your AC, the more strain you are putting on it, especially if you forget to give it a break. Not only does frigid air force your unit to work harder, but it also increases your bills. According to the Department of Energy, 78 degrees Fahrenheit is the most efficient temperature to run your AC when you’re home, and you should increase it to 85 degrees or off while you’re away. Adversely, adjusting your thermostat to just 72 degrees can increase your bills by roughly 47 percent.

Tip: By nudging the temperature up just a couple of degrees, you will be putting less strain on your AC, and effectively increase its lifespan while decreasing your bills.

Cleanliness

Debris on coils, ductwork, or other components of an AC can cause it to malfunction due to a lack of airflow. Specifically, with an interruption of proper airflow, your AC can freeze up. And, if this happens, and isn’t caught early enough, the frozen unit can cause water damage your AC, reducing its lifespan.

Tip: Every two-three months, give your AC a routine checkup. Change the air filters, wipe debris from the coils, and check your ductwork to make sure nothing has collapsed or loosened. A clean unit makes for a longer-lasting system.

Preventative Maintenance

The better you take care of your AC unit, the longer it will last. Scheduling preventative maintenance with your local HVAC company can help extend your AC’s lifespan, and ensure it’s operating at maximum efficiency, which can also help reduce your monthly bills.

Tip: Industry experts agree that a bi-annual checkup — performed by professionals — for your AC unit is best practice to maintaining a long-lasting system.

What are the aging signs of an old AC unit?

Higher Energy Bills

The older your AC unit gets, the less efficient it can become. In fact, there is a measurement to help you gauge your lost efficiency called The SEER (seasonal energy efficiency ratio). Each year that passes, your AC unit can lose up to 9 percent efficiency. And,  every decrease in percentage points means an increase in your energy bills.

Strange Smells

Without proper maintenance to your AC unit over the years, it’s possible for mold and mildew to grow in the ductwork. This is harmful to the air you breathe, and also indicates that your AC is weathering damage. A burnt scent indicates issues with your wire insulation — another indication that your AC unit is aging. If you can smell your AC, then it isn’t operating well; start by giving it a good clean. If the smells don’t go away, consult an expert to see if your AC needs an update or an upgrade.

Increased Noise

When your AC unit makes noises like a squeal, grind, or grating noise, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize something is not right. These noises may indicate a simple fix, but can often require more technical maintenance. If your AC unit is making strange noises that you’d can’t quickly identify, it’s time to call in an expert.

Leaks

Leaks from your air conditioner come from two primary sources: refrigerant leaks and leaks from the condensate line. Both instances are caused by faulty components in your AC unit where parts are either broken or blocked, which can be a sign of aging. It can also be a sign of danger. Refrigerant leaks can be harmful to you and your family due to the toxicity of freon in the refrigerant. And, in both scenarios, without proper detection of a leak, mold can grow in the leakage, which is harmful to breathe. Ongoing maintenance can help with prevention and early detection of leaks. Additionally, if you spot a leak, call an expert to help you rectify the situation immediately.

How to decide when to replace your AC unit?

After diagnosing an issue with your AC unit, you may take steps to repair it yourself, or you might seek advice from an expert. Whichever route you choose, make sure to conduct a full inspection of the unit.

A comprehensive AC inspection includes:

After a thorough inspection, you and your technician should have a full picture of the severity of your AC issues. This is how you can decide if it’s more cost-effective to repair or replace your system.

Luckily, technology has evolved in a way that makes our HVAC equipment last longer than ever, and perform more efficiently than equipment of the past. In fact, the most efficient, modern air conditioners use 20 to 40 percent less energy than models made in the early 2000s. So, when it comes time to replace your outdated technology, it can actually be an opportunity for cost-savings for you as a homeowner.

Learn more about energy efficient air conditioning equipment in Fairfield and New Haven Counties, CT.

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One of the most common air conditioning malfunctions homeowners face is when their AC unit freezes up. Even though the frosty failure leaves solid ice on your unit, don’t be fooled, the issue will cause your home, and perhaps your temper, to heat up.

Follow this guide to identify why your AC unit is frozen, and how you can fix it.

What causes an AC unit to freeze up?

Regardless of if you have a window AC unit or a central air conditioner, the reasons behind your AC freezing up are likely the same, as are the solutions for fixing it.

The root cause for your AC freezing up is usually the manipulation of the Joule-Thomson Effect, which is the principle of thermodynamics that allowed us to create an air conditioning unit in the first place.

Stick with us, we won’t get too technical here.

The Joule-Thomspon Effect

The Joule-Thomson Effect is a theory that describes how the flow of gas and pressure work together. In short, the method says that if gas expands, then pressure and temperature will decrease as a result (and vice versa). This is important because your air conditioner works by the evaporator coil expanding refrigerant (the liquid agents that make your AC work) to absorb heat in your home, and then pushing cool air out as a result.

So, your air conditioning unit expands refrigerant and decreases the temperature, sometimes causing it to malfunction, and a frozen AC unit is the result.

The common culprits of a frozen AC unit

Though the process seems complex, the common causes are quite simple.

How can you fix a frozen AC unit?

When caught early, fixing your frozen AC unit is often a simple solution. Follow the steps below to determine the issue so you can take action.

Step one: Unthaw your AC unit

If your AC unit is frozen, take steps to unthaw the unit and let the coils dry. To do this, simply switch your thermostat to ‘off’ and your fan to ‘on.’ This will minimize further damage and let you get a better view of what’s happening to your machine.

Step two: Find the underlying cause
Step three: Ask for help

If you’re unable to diagnose why your air conditioner is freezing up, or if you notice issues like a leak that requires specialized attention, be sure to consult with an AC professional.

Not only will the pros be able to accurately assess the issues, but they will also be able to provide you an estimate for repairs or help you upgrade to a newer unit, which might be more energy efficient. They’ll help you determine how your return on investment will look over time. This will help you make an informed decision about how to move forward.

How to prevent AC issues before they arise?

It’s also wise for homeowners to schedule professional tune-ups on all heating and cooling equipment in your home to decrease significant issues that could cause you to replace your home appliances prematurely, and also ensures your systems are effectively functioning, which can reduce your bills.

For homeowners in the Fairfield and New Haven Counties in Connecticut, Santa Energy has been a reliable HVAC company for over 75 years. If you have any issues with your air conditioning unit that you’re unable to solve, we’re happy to help.