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The Energy Star Qualified Contractor: Tips for Picking One

Installing a new air conditioner, furnace, heat pump, humidifier, or air cleaner can present the New York City homeowner with a dilemma, but an energy star qualified contractor can help! It’s often the next most expensive improvement or upgrade after the purchase of your home. An Energy Star air conditioner or furnace is already an expensive piece of equipment and using an Energy Star qualified contractor to install an air conditioner or a furnace can be just as expensive.

Do your homework.

A reputable Energy Star qualified contractor will have no problem with you visiting their place of business. It doesn’t have to be tidy, but it should look like they’ve been in business for more than a few years. Energy Starenergy star qualified contractor qualified contractors will also be more up to date with the latest equipment. Take a tour and get all your questions answered.

If you’re really shopping around for prices, don’t just go with the lowest bid. You want to see where your Energy Star qualified contractor is cutting costs. It could be by employing only unskilled workers. You’ll get better value from well trained and experienced workers who understand Energy Star equipment, the labeling and the concerns of consumers. Bigger and more costly mistakes tend to come with jobs that were underbid because of unforeseen situations or conditions.

Make sure your HVAC contractor is properly insured and current with their Workers’ Compensation policy. Your contractors Energy Star qualified status is another important thing to check.

Don’t accept any estimates over the phone. Any estimate requires a home visit and a full structural inspection. A heat-load or cooling-load calculation is also an indication of an experienced Energy Star qualified contractor.

A good contractor will also consult with you on every stage of choosing the equipment being purchased or installed. You should expect a well written and understandable, itemized estimate that details the equipment to be purchased and installed, and the time estimates along with pricing.

Energy Star labeled equipment is preferred and will give you a good idea of what you’re purchasing. You want a contractor who is knowledgeable about Energy Star labeling and equipment, and not simply the basics of heating and cooling. You should also question any HVAC contractor about employees’ familiarity with newer equipment, and Energy Star provides a wealth of resources for anyone purchasing an air conditioner or furnace.

A good contractor will also want to learn from you. Especially if you’re installing in an existing home or building, or replacing an air conditioner or furnace. Pay attention to the questions they ask and the experience they display through the wording of any questions.

Of course, we’ll be happy to discuss your own air conditioning or heating installation needs, along with our qualifications, call now 646-782-2475.

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.

Solutions To Common Air Conditioning Problems

common air conditioning problemsThe science of climate control may seem fairly complicated, these solutions to common air conditioning problems can save you plenty of trouble and probably add years to the life of your air conditioning unit, too. Most air conditioners simply stop running efficiently and you end up running them longer and turning the thermostat down even lower without achieving the climate control results you want. Soon enough, that’s insufficient and you repeat the process until you realize that the unit is simply not cooling and not going to cool. It may even run hot.

These common air conditioning problems are things you should watch for well before your air conditioner runs down and simply stops providing any climate control at all.

Water Leakage – All air conditioners can leak water and while this can cause significant problems in your home, it can also damage the air conditioner itself. A rusted out condensation pan or pipe can be the problem and it’s often very easy to replace. More simply, bits of rust or other debris can also block the drain or hose leading from the drain. Make sure all the drain parts are clear.

Frozen Coils – Frozen coils will very often indicate problems with the airflow into the air conditioning unit. In most cases, this is dealt with simply by replacing used air filters. Blocked air vents or ducts could also free up frozen coils and get the air conditioning flowing again. Low refrigerant or low freon pressure are less common air conditioning problems but will cause a bottleneck in the air conditioner and possibly the same frozen coils. Either refrigerant or pressure need to be adjusted according to the manufacturers specifications, mostly likely by an air conditioning specialist.

Fan Problems – Your air conditioner fan is working to move the heat from inside your home to the outside. When it’s not operating efficiently it will quickly overheat and trip the safety switch or the circuit breakers. It can even cause damage to the compressor or another part of the circuitry of the air conditioner. Most common air conditioning problems tend to start with a noisy fan. Loud noises almost always begin with the the fan belt that simply needs to be replaced. The manufacturer may also recommend lubricating the fan and the motor bearings which can also be the source of noise.

Temperature Controls – Air conditioning units can also seem to simply shut off without providing any climate control or much cooling. Air conditioners with blocked input vents or grills usually display such temperament though there may be more serious problems. Carefully cleaning the vents and taking the air conditioning unit apart to clean hard to reach areas will solve most of these problems, though .

Wiring Problems – Air conditioners are also often short-circuited to the ground which will cause the circuit breakers to fail. Most likely this is a problem that needs to be addressed by a climate control professional.

We talk about common air conditioning problems and more complicated HVAC issues just about every day. If find that your unit needs air conditioning service, just give us a call at 646-2-783-2475.

Portable Air Conditioners for your Apartment

portable air conditioners installation

In New York City, portable air conditioners are as common as delis and rooftop water tanks. In fact, some people can’t imagine New York without a portable air conditioner quietly humming, dripping gently from every window and ledge.

There are fewer window mounted portable air conditioners than in the past. New York City has gone through enough boom and bust cycles that more modern buildings are built to stay. They get modern centralized air conditioning and HVAC systems more often than not and their windows almost all remain clear and unobstructed.

But luckily, NYC is also loaded with historical and older buildings that will never get air conditioning. They make the city interesting, exciting and even affordable in some cases. But if you find yourself in one of these apartments, the dog days of summer may be better spent after doing your own window mounted air conditioner installation. Here’s what you need to know about installing any air conditioning in a window.

Prior to purchase measure the room, rooms or apartment. As a general rule of thumb, you’ll want 20 BTU’s of cooling capacity per square foot. If you plan on cooling the entire place, you’ll need a bigger portable air conditioner. In New York City, portable air conditioners of less than 36,000 BTU’s do not require a building permit.

Make sure the building management is going to be OK with a portable air conditioner. You may still need their permission, if not permission from the city.

Check that you have a solid grounded outlet near the window where you plan to install the portable air conditioner.

A window mounted air conditioner installation will require a good window with a solid few inches of wall and window framing on which to mount the portable air conditioner itself.

Window Mounted Air Conditioner Installation

  • Read the manufacturer’s instructions and guidelines. A window mounted air conditioner installation will also require considerable physical strength, and perhaps some physical agility depending on the location and structure. Portable air conditioners are still not that portable.
  • Support the unit from underneath, and install it according to the directions provided. You may also fasten the air conditioner from inside with brackets. Most building maintenance teams will have an opinion about the supports if not about the whole window mounted air conditioner installation, so you may want to check with them.
  • Secure any leveling objects to prevent movement or vibration.
  • Be sure to either fix the window so that it can’t be opened or fix the air conditioner so that it is not dependent on the window. This is one of the most common causes of serious accidents with falling portable air conditioners.
  • Include a very slight angle to allow the unit to drain properly while running the air conditioning.
  • Be sure that the air conditioner is not blocking any fire escapes or outside walk ways. Keep the top of the unit free of any obstructions and don’t use it as a shelf.

It’s very important that your portable air conditioner is properly installed for serval reasons. The most important is safety! If you need help with your own air conditioning installation, just give us a call at 646-782-2475, we’re happy to help!

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