With spring almost here and summer not far behind, homeowners are beginning to think about installing a new or replacement AC system. And while there are many choices out on the market today, Stay Comfy always turns to Carrier air conditioners. Carrier’s reputation, reliability, and quality combine to make their units pretty much the best investment you can make in air conditioning. So if you’re in the market for a new AC, be sure to check out what Carrier has to offer.
In the past, we’ve talked about how you can tell your air conditioner is leaking and the different signs that indicate you’ve got a refrigerant drip. Now, we want to let you know even more about what to do if your AC is leaking – it’s not always as easy as a DIY fix!
If you are a homeowner and you notice that your air conditioner is freezing up – then that’s a good indication that you’ve sprung a refrigerant leak. You may also notice a wet, oily stain – that’s likely the point of the leak, because the refrigerant circulates with a lubricating oil and can create that wet, oily puddle.
So, what steps should a homeowner do next? Can you fix it yourself or do you need to call in a pro? Our resident expert, Keith Hill, technical support manager at Minnesota Air, says when it comes to AC leaks – they always require a pro.
So, as a homeowner, that should be your first and only step when dealing with a leak – call a pro. Here are three reasons why.
It’s The Law
Keith says the first reason an AC leak requires a professional is that federal law requires it.
“It requires special tools and special skills to repair the leak and recharge the unit – and it may be dangerous,” he says. “The passage of the Clean Air Act in 1973, which was meant to reduce the amount of ozone-depleting chemicals into the atmosphere, led to a federal law that requires only EPA certified technicians are allowed to install or repair appliances with refrigerant in them.”
Pop Quiz: We bet you could name a few different brands or models of cars, clothes, and cell phones, but could you name off more than one type of air conditioner. Not to worry if you can’t – this quiz isn’t graded, but it is important to know how to compare ACs, especially if you are in the market to buy a new one. After all, that’s what’s responsible for the comfort of your home during the hot and steamy summer months. Here’s a quick guide on how to compare different types of air conditioners.
When most people think about getting an AC for their house, a conventional central air conditioner is the most common type found in Minnesota homes. Often referred to as central air, those types of air conditioners move cool air through a home with a system that uses ducts and registers to distribute the conditioned air throughout the home. Central air conditioners fall into two types: a split-system unit and a packaged unit.
Keith Hill, the technical support manager at Minnesota Air, says that it’s called a ‘split-system,’ because, “its two units connected together with copper refrigerant tubing and control wiring.”
There are many different pieces of advice to be given when it comes to keeping cool in the summer, but air conditioning experts can agree that when it comes to ACs, nothing will help keep you more comfortable than taking good care of your air conditioner and learning to use it efficiently. Here are four things experts want you to know about your air conditioner.
Make Sure To Get Regular Maintenance/ Inspections
It may seem like a non-essential out-of-pocket expense to get your AC checked once or twice a year, but regular maintenance checks are shown to improve efficiency and overall longevity of your AC. That means you likely won’t need to replace out the whole expensive system anytime soon and it will cost you much less to run it.
A professional can check to make sure your coils are clean and all parts are working properly. Our resident expert, Keith Hill, technical support manager from Minnesota Air, says to remember that neglect can lead to bigger issues.
“It’s so easy to take our HVAC systems for granted,” he says. “If they are working properly, they are ‘out of sight, out of mind.’ But that’s the issue. If we neglect them, they could develop problems.”
This is a problem – you want to stay cool inside your home but your air conditioner seems to have the same idea and keeps freezing up. So why does an AC freeze up and what can you do to fix it?
The Science Behind ‘The Freeze’
Keith Hill, manager of technical support at Minnesota Air says that the indoor coil on the AC will freeze up when the refrigerant within the coil has a boiling point (or evaporating point) below 32 degrees. Remember that refrigerant is the substance that actually cools the air that gets pushed into your home. Normal operating range with proper refrigerant charge is 38-45 degrees. If the charge is low, the temperature drops significantly.
“It sounds counterintuitive,” Keith admits. “You would think that low coolant level would cause it to operate at a warmer temperature, but in an AC system, it’s the opposite. A low refrigerant charge causes the pressure in the system to drop, which lowers the evaporating temperature … and then when this boiling point of the refrigerant drops below 32 degrees the coil begins to frost.”
Keith says it’s just like when water has a lower boiling point at a higher altitude or with lower atmospheric pressure.
Here’s a link to a This Old House episode that talks about frozen air conditioners if you wanted to learn even more.
If you are thinking about getting a new air conditioner, you may be also looking for a ballpark figure of how much it will cost you. Unfortunately, it’s very hard to pinpoint an exact one-size-fits-all figure for the cost of an AC installation, because it depends on so many variables – such as the quality of the unit you choose, the size of your home, if you need additional ductwork installed, the technician’s basic installation rates, and difficulty of the install.
According to HomeAdvisor.com – a website that lets you find home improvement pros, compare, and read reviews from homeowners from around your area – most homeowners reported spending between $3,695 and $7,150. However, some spent as low as $1,888 and high as $10,000.
To really understand what an AC installation will cost, you need to get an estimate from a few local professionals. Finding a quality contractor to do the install will ensure you are getting the most bang for your buck. Did you know that if you buy a high-efficiency AC but don’t get a matched system, a certified match of the outdoor unit and indoor coil, you are basically throwing money and that efficiency down the drain? A good contractor would! Did you know that you may need to modify your ductwork if you get a different AC? Again, a good contractor will and there are various ways to find one!
A leaky air conditioner isn’t like a leaky boat or bucket. It’s not as easy to see it filling up with water or dripping fluid, and it’s not as easy to ‘plug up’ the leak. Refrigerant leaks in an AC system can be difficult to detect and can also be harmful to the environment, so we’ve got some tips on what you should do if you suspect your air conditioner is leaking.
Signs Of A Leak
According to our resident expert Keith Hill, manager of technical support at Minnesota Air, if enough refrigerant leaks out, the evaporator – or A-coil – can operate at very low temperatures and freeze up.
“It’s actually the water vapor in the air accumulating as frost on the coil and restricting air flow which only accelerates the freezing process,” says Keith. “The same symptoms can be caused by low airflow – dirty coil, dirty filter, so don’t automatically assume its low on charge.”
Keith says that you may be able to spot a refrigerant leak since refrigerant circulates with a lubricating oil. That means if you see a wet and oily stain, that’s probably the point of the leak. If you don’t see a leak but suspect one because you see a frozen coil AND your air filters are clean – then now is the time to call a technician and find the solution.
When the temperature climbs, you’ll find yourself forced to turn on the air conditioner for relief. But what happens when you go to turn it on and it’s not working? Sweating and discomfort – that’s what! Here is a list we put together of some of the more common air conditioning repairs in case you find yourself in that predicament this summer. There’s no need to sweat the small stuff when it comes to your AC.
If you notice that the big fan on the outside unit isn’t spinning, then you won’t get cool air inside or the hot air pushed outside. This may be caused by an obstruction – like twigs, leaves, debris, or even a critter – falling into the outside unit and stopping the fan from turning. However, it can also be caused by a lack of power going to the outside unit, a damaged coil, or contactor issues. You or your HVAC technician can make sure it’s clean and that power is going to the unit, but leave the bigger repairs to the pro.
With so many different options, brands, and types of air conditioners out there, you might lose your cool with all the choices before you pick one to keep you cool. We talked to our resident expert, Minnesota Air’s Keith Hill, to help clue us in on what we need to compare when looking at AC systems.
If it’s in the middle of a hot day, and your air conditioner goes out, won’t turn on, or is just blowing hot air. But you don’t have to call a repairman, yet. There may be a simple solution right in front of you that can save you some time and money before you bring in help. Here are three ways to fix your AC, easy things to try before calling a pro.