Air Conditioning Maintenance Archives

Spring is the best time to schedule air conditioning maintenance with a qualified HVAC professional. Having your air conditioner maintained professionally will keep it in optimum operating condition during the cooling season, and will also save you money on utility costs by improving its overall efficiency. However, even with preventive maintenance, things can go wrong with your air conditioner. This troubleshooting guide will help you pinpoint the problem and possibly resolve it before service is needed.

Problem: Air conditioner won’t turn on.

  • Check the thermostat to make sure it’s set to “cool.”
  • Check the circuit breakers associated with your air conditioner to make sure they haven’t tripped.
  • Check that all the air conditioner switches, including the external safety switch.
  • If your unit has a condensate overflow tray, check to make sure it isn’t overflowing, which may cause a sensor switch to turn the unit off.
  • Make sure the blower door is securely closed.

Problem: The airflow from the vents is too low.

  • Check your air filter and replace it if it’s dirty. A dirty filter will impede the flow of air to your system.
  • Make sure your ductwork is intact. A loose joint can reduce airflow. Repair the damage with metal tape or mastic sealant.
  • Check the dampers on your supply registers to make sure they’re open.

Problem: The air conditioner kicks on too frequently.

  • Make sure your thermostat isn’t obstructed.
  • Check the outside condensing unit for debris or bent fins. If the fins are bent, straighten them with a fine comb.
  • Check your air filter and replace it if it’s dirty.

If your system is still operating improperly, call a service technician for air conditioning maintenance. If your system hasn’t been maintained, the problem will most likely be solved with a service call, but it’s a good idea to ask your technician to perform preventive air conditioning maintenance on your system to prevent more problems down the road.

HVAC professionals agree that your best defense against mid-summer breakdowns is preventive air conditioning maintenance at the beginning of the cooling season. If you haven’t already scheduled your service call, now is a good time to do so!

Heating and air conditioning systems are are among the most vital systems in our homes. The problem may well be that they often work too well. In fact, we usually don’t have to think about them at all.

heating and air conditioningIf your home is cool and comfortable in summer and plenty warm in winter, you can go for years hardly thinking about heating and air conditioning. Though a heating system and an air conditioner are both made up of pretty simple technology. It will break down eventually. Even a basic knowledge will help you to keep your system up and running and running well.

Heating and air conditioning systems aren’t so complicated that you can’t pick up the basics yourself, and get more and more efficient use out of your system. Here’s what you need to know.

Basics of Heating and Air Conditioning

All heating and air conditioning systems rely on three fundamental parts: a source for air that’s cooled or warmed, a fan or similar distribution system to blow the air where you want it and a thermostat that turns it on and off. Even most portable heating and air conditioning units have basically the same components. It’s usually just the distribution system that seems a lot smaller.

While central air conditioning is a lot less common in the New York City area, where it’s been installed, the cool air flows through the same ducts (the distribution system) as heated air. Getting familiar with these three parts is a good start to understanding how it’s working – or should be working.

A furnace will put heated air wherever it’s cooler, and an air conditioner will remove it and send it to an outside location, even if that doesn’t always seem cooler. Both systems rely on the principle that warm air will always move to a cooler location.

Heating and air conditioning systems all need a power source. Air conditioners run on electricity and your heating system will burn fuel, usually natural gas. You may also have a furnace that runs on fuel oil and in New York there are still lots of older boiler systems that heat water and run it through pipes to heat a building. You already know if you live with one of these (usually) cranky old set-ups. The boiler is used for heating and storing the water supply before it gets sent out to your home.They’re often supremely efficient, but boilers present some slightly different problems for home or building owners that we won’t go into here.

Still more recent technology goes into heat pumps that will do both jobs, heating and cooling, essentially by pulling the warm air outside in summer and by pulling the warm air outside to the inside in wintertime. Heat pumps provide central air conditioning and the same heat pumps are are often used in conjunction with a traditional furnace, in part because the electricity required to run them is always more expensive than natural gas. Heat pumps are actually the most common type of central air conditioning installed in the city. But a heat pump and a furnace used simultaneously will keep most homes comfortable, without over relying on either one of them.

When your heater or furnace is running, it’s burning fuel and heat is produced and sent to the cooler areas through the distribution system mentioned above. It’s really as simple as that.

In the same sense your air conditioner is using electricity to cool freon gas inside the coils until the gas turns to a cold liquid. When the warm air in your home cools on contact with the coils, warmer air is easily coaxed along and moved to where you want it. (Remember the principle mentioned above?) Heat pumps work exactly the same way except in reverse.

Because of the relatively complex technology that goes into any of these heating and air conditioning systems, they can get complicated. Read your manufacturer’s instructions thoroughly if you’ve got them. If not, give us a call and we’ll give you a point by point assessment of your system and how you can get the most out of it.

Beware of Air Duct Cleaning Ads

Air duct cleaning ads and circulars show up in the mail boxes of some of our best customers. Unfortunately these air duct cleaning scams are happening all across the country. Many of them make rather extravagant claims about the benefits of duct cleaning but the fact remains that most of the work and the expense is totally unnecessary.
air duct cleaning
Duct cleaning usually involves cleaning of the rigid and semi rigid vents and pipes that snake through the underside of your floors, in the walls or parts of the walls and through crawlspaces. The really dedicated duct cleaners will get both intake and outward flowing air ducts clean and clean your air conditioning coils and change your furnace filters.

This probably sounds pretty good. In fact, changing the air conditioning filters and the furnace filters is pretty important, but in combination with a lot of duct cleaning that probably isn’t necessary, it’s up to ten times more expensive than necessary.

Any central air conditioning or forced air system can be contaminated. Mildew and mold will occasionally start to grow where a plumbing leak or a water source from the air conditioner is leaking where it shouldn’t be. Identifying, repairing and drying such a leak will almost always solve the problem, and usually for almost every one.

People with allergies of any severity are usually the worst off. Only you can determine then, the severity of the need for cleaning, which depends really on the allergies suffered by the people frequenting the space, be it your home, building or work space.

People with more severe allergy problems, and depending on the specific allergen, may find homes with pets or the homes of smokers intolerable.These problems are actually more common than the scarier sounding molds and air borne contaminants. Air duct cleaning may spare some misery to those allergic to some of these more common irritants.

Some states will actually require that ducts be cleaned by a licensed professional duct cleaning company so broad have been the claims about the health benefits of air duct cleaning. Other than for allergies though, these health claims have not been proven.

If you or someone in your family really is suffering from allergies, either from pets, cigarette smoke or from mold, we’ll be happy to discuss an air duct cleaning that is thorough and that will eliminate any odors from the ducts or from your furnace or air conditioning. It will also remove irritants from your ducts at least temporarily. Changing the air conditioning filters and the furnace filters will often do as much good as a duct cleaning. But we do frequently perform or consult on air duct cleaning projects, usually as a result of water damage or a similar contamination.

Remember, furnace filters and cleaning a few other key spots around your ducts may be all the duct cleaning you need. They’ll likely put your system in good running order without the invasive nature and expense of a really complete duct cleaning.

Air Duct Cleaning for NYC: Myth or Must

air duct cleaning in new york cityNew York City homeowners are plagued by offers for air duct cleaning as they are for all kinds of services. Duct cleaning offers seem to all come at once, like regular migratory birds. Some years are quiet and the next you’ll be bombarded with allergy horror stories and a ton of reasons your home needs to be hypo-allergenic. All of this will come in a flurry of duct cleaning fliers and mailings that many of us are never quite sure if we should respond to.

Let’s face it. You probably don’t pay someone to clean the spaces between the drywall. You can’t see much of your duct work either. One can even make a good argument that if the dirt is inside there, so be it; it’s not in your house.

Air duct cleaning remains a relatively controversial subject. Unless you really find relief from severe allergy problems after a good cleaning, a thorough and possibly expensive air duct cleaning is probably not necessary. At least not very often.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency:

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If no one in your household suffers from allergies or unexplained symptoms or illnesses and if, after a visual inspection of the inside of the ducts, you see no indication that your air ducts are contaminated with large deposits of dust or mold (no musty odor or visible mold growth), having your air ducts cleaned is probably unnecessary. It is normal for the return registers to get dusty as dust-laden air is pulled through the grate. This does not indicate that your air ducts are contaminated with heavy deposits of dust or debris; the registers can be easily vacuumed or removed and cleaned.

Signs of mold or vermin, or any indication that air ducts are clogged would certainly be a different matter. In New York City, especially in older buildings, these are serious issues and are often found in the HVAC systems, air conditioning and heating duct networks that we inspect and clean all the time. Air duct cleaning under these circumstances is a must!

Air Flow and Air Movement

Both air flow and air movement can be vastly improved with a simple air duct cleaning and regular air filter changes. Good air flow and air movement are essential to air conditioning and to the proper operation of all HVAC systems. But most air flow or air movement problems originate with blockages, and that almost always means a filter that simply needs to be replaced.

In New York City, we provide air duct cleaning, as a part of a regular maintenance visit to improve air flow and air movement, and the same visit can include air filter changes, and a simple inspection of your air conditioning or other HVAC systems. Call now to schedule your air duct cleaning. 646-783-2475.

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