This time of year I am often asked why the air in a home sometimes feels heavy or muggy, even when the temperature in the home is at the desired temperature set-point.
In the Hill Country part of Texas (New Braunfels, Seguin, San Marcos, Selma), removing humidity is a major and necessary part of the Air Conditioning Cycle. To remove the humidity, the air has to contact the cold (40 degree+-) evaporator coil long enough for the water to “fall out of the air” and accumulate on the coil fins. This moisture is then supposed to run down the drain.
This process is fairly easy to picture when you place an ice and water filled glass on the table and watch the water drops form on the outside. The longer the glass is allowed to stand, the more water forms and runs onto the table. This is the same moisture we are removing from the air in your home.
The problem is that when it is 85 degrees outside, and 70 degrees inside, with high humidity, the air conditioning system is effectively over sized. The system does not run long enough to remove the moisture in the air. Systems are sized for hot summer weather not mild springtime weather.
In the high humidity climate we live in, this creates a real problem. It is uncomfortable, and this damp air can sometimes aid in the formation of damaging mold and mildew. The single stage systems most people have on their homes are limited in what they are able to do to combat this issue. There are good quality, high efficiency systems today that have variable capacity built in to combat this exact issue.
If you want more information on these systems, how they work and what they cost, call me. I am happy to discuss them over the phone with you.
Are you hearing strange noises from a bathroom sink or from the washing machine drain in the laundry room?
The noise probably is the water in the p-trap of your condensate drain.
During the winter, the drain dries out and you are hearing the final dregs of water moving with the trash in the drain. Since the p-trap prevents sewer gas from getting into the air stream of your air handler, it needs to have fluid added back into it. Either vinegar or bleach will work to kill the stuff growing in the drain. Both work well, but in a pinch, you can add water into the drain to stop the noise.
During the spring, summer, and fall when the air conditioner is working and removing moisture from the air, it is a great idea to add bleach or vinegar monthly to the vent in the p trap to kill the stuff growing there.
Please note: if there is a vent or area to add bleach or vinegar between the p trap and the air handler, it must have a removable cap added so the air handler will drain properly.
Final note: If you have a tub or shower in the home not being used, often this time of year when it the air in the home is so dry, the p-trap for the sink, tub, or shower will dry out and a horrible stink smell will occur in the bathroom, just run some water in the drain to refill the trap and get rid of the smell.
In 1991, I was living near Ruston, Louisiana and my home burned down. We lived in a rural area about 8 miles out of the city limits and depended on a volunteer fire department. Though they responded rapidly, by the time they got there the home was completely engulfed in flames. We lost everything we accumulated over 10 years of marriage. A month later my 1st son was born. My pregnant wife and I were alerted by working smoke alarms and we got out before we were hurt. I am a firm believer of smoke alarms and what they can do to save lives.
Many things have changed since 1991. Then a smoke alarm was placed in hallways near bedrooms and on each floor. As you can see from the list below, the standards have greatly changed over the years.
Installing smoke alarms:
The NFPA, as well as Consumers Reports, recommends that smoke alarms be tested each month, batteries changed yearly, and smoke alarms be changed at least every 10 years.
After living through that fire 26 years ago, I recommend:
Final note: Make a plan of action before it is needed. Practice it with your family. Figure out what you will do if there is ever a fire in your home before it happens. If you hear the alarm go off scream and yell to everyone to get out of the home and GET OUT OF THE HOME! After you are out call 911.
If you have any questions about your alarms, how to maintain them, where to install them, or how to test them, call us at Clear Springs Air Conditioning and Electric. We are here for you.
Mother Nature Wrecks Havoc on Air Conditioning Systems in Many Ways!
Forget the anticipated 100 + Degree Days Coming, forget the kid’s running back and forth leaving the doors wide open and the AC System running constantly.
These can kill the system too, but look out for the little buggers that bite!
This video is from a house that had no cooling with house temperatures upstairs reaching over 85 degrees in a matter of hours - and we weren't even in the heat of summer.
Upon inspection of the air handler, I found ants crawling in and around the coil. Upon further investigation, I found the ants were traveling up the thermostat wire into the air handler from the condenser unit.
The contactor in the condenser would not close due to literally hundreds of ants balled up dead underneath the contactor points. Many more ants were alive and well trying to do more damage!
If your air conditioning system is not operating correctly, have Clear Springs Air Conditioning & Electric out to diagnose and repair your situation so you can keep your home nice and cool through this spring and summer!
How does your air conditioning company clean your condenser unit during a spring tuneup or checkup? Do they wash the unit from the outside in? Do they always use coil cleaners on the aluminum fins and copper tubing?
When Clear Springs Air Conditioning and Electric cleans a condenser, we start by removing the top grill the fan motor is attached to off of the condenser unit. We do this for several reasons:
While the top is off, we check compressor wires and connections, reversing valve wires and connections, and fan motor wires for cuts, nicks, abraded areas, and burns. We check the fan motor bearings for slop while the top is off the unit.
As far as my question about coil cleaner use, I believe coil cleaners are a tool that can be over used. Most air conditioners in a residential setting, as well as most in commercial settings (restaurants and factory settings excluded) get lots of dust and dirt, leaves and grass, but little grease or other sticky pollutants embedded annually on the coil. If it is necessary and used sparingly, coil cleaner is great. If over used or improperly used in too strong a solution; it can remove paint, etch the aluminum and copper ultimately creating non repairable leaks. It can also kill your grass and plants. It gets very expensive to replace a leaky condenser coil! To extend the life of a unit, I usually try to wash it with coil cleaner only every 3 years unless there is a reason to do so more often.
If you have any questions about maintaining your air conditioning system or the electrical systems in your home or business, we will be happy to discuss them with you.
Clear Springs Air Conditioning and Electric is available week days as well as weekends by appointment.
When your Air Conditioning Company does your spring tuneup or inspection, do they pull your blower assembly out from your furnace, separate the motor from the blower wheel, and clean the wheel, the motor, and the housing?
If not, they are very possibly leaving the motor full of dirt and dust that will make the motor run hot, often leading to an early failure of your fan motor.
When Clear Springs Air Conditioning and Electric does a Spring Tuneup we pull the blower assembly and tear it down for cleaning.
This gives us the opportunity to clean the motor and oil it if it has oil ports. We also electrically check the motor and the run capacitor if it has one. The capacitor has to be within 6% of its manufacturers ratings or it can damage the motor winding's and cause the motor ultimately to fail to start. While we have the blower assembly apart, we clean the blower housing and wheel, thus ensuring the full air flow required for proper air conditioning.
Clear Springs Air Conditioning and Electric will do a complete checkup on your AC System. We believe it should take a couple of hours or ore to complete a thorough air conditioning tune up. We do not charge more to be thorough, we believe this is the correct way to do an Air Conditioning Tuneup. We do everything we can to leave your system in great shape to deliver clean, comfortable, and safe air to you.
This is why our complete Spring Air Conditioning Tuneup is not priced as a $25.00, $30.00, $45.00, or even a $60.00 so called tuneup or inspection. No company can afford do this high quality work for those prices.
You know the old adage...if it sounds to good to be true, it must not be true.
Call Clear Springs Air Conditioning for a real bargain in a spring Air Conditioning tuneup; a complete thorough tuneup, where everything is checked and you end up with a well functioning system - instead of you paying another company just to get into your home so they have the chance to constantly pitch you a new system or try to sell you expensive add on's every time they come to do work, which is the only reason they offer these very low, unrealistic prices.
Remember, if you live in New Braunfels, and use NBU as your energy provider; New Braunfels Utilities offers a $40.00 energy rebate for a complete and properly documented Air Conditioning Tuneup.
Evaporator Coil Failures and Refrigerant (Freon) Leaks
The common problem of refrigerant leaks often stems from the evaporator coil section of the home air conditioning system.
Historically, most evaporator coils were made of copper tubes inside of aluminum fins that were sandwiched between galvanized steel tube sheets. These surfaces stay wet when functioning correctly during the cooling cycle.
Formicary Corrosion, caused by the Volatile Organic Compounds or VOC’s often found in today’s home environment (often from the building materials of the home, furniture, carpet, hair sprays, etc.), cause the copper and steel to corrode creating many small leaks (this is sometimes called Ant Nest Corrosion) in the refrigerant system.
Galvanic Action, the corrosion of 2 dissimilar metals touching can also play a significant factor in coil failures.
Today, to help prevent these failures, many coils are made with aluminum tubes and tube sheets instead of copper and galvanized steel. Aluminum Coils are much less susceptible to Formicary Corrosion than Copper Coils are.
Clear Springs can help you with these and other problems you face from your Home Air Conditioning System and Electrical Systems. Call us!
Each year we get many calls and questions about heat pumps. We will attempt to answer some in this blog.
Why is My Heat Pump not Keeping Up?
In cold, rainy and snowy weather, your heat pumps may have problems keeping up. The Auxiliary Heat will probably come on. This is normal. The outdoor unit may form ice and may then go into a defrost cycle occasionally where it will go into cooling; the outdoor fan motor will cycle off while it is in defrost mode. The defrost cycle will not be on long then the unit will cycle back into heat pump mode.. If steam forms during the defrost cycle, don't panic it is not smoke and is normal.
Why is there water around my Heat Pump Condenser?
When you notice water around your condenser unit (outside unit) during the winter, it is normal. The outdoor unit operates as the evaporator coil in the heating mode. As such it removes water from the surrounding air as the air temperature drops. Occasionally the unit will go into defrost to thaw out this water that has frozen on the coils. That is where the water comes from.
Why is my Heat Pump making a Noise?
Another common heat pump question: What is the sudden air noise, like a busted tire, that occurs at the outdoor unit? The heat pump has a valve in it that switches the flow of refrigerant between the indoor coil and the outdoor coil. This valve is operated by electricity as well as the pressure differential between the high pressure and low pressure sides of the unit. When the valve is energized, it will shift the pilot-piston and the pressures push the main piston/valve and the pressures equalize briefly. When the valve is de-energized it shifts back, making the noise again. Most manufactures have the valve energized in cooling mode; Rheem/Ruud energizes their reversing valves in heating mode.
Why is my A/C Unit on Fire?
In years past, we've gotten multiple calls from customers telling us their Heat Pump Condensing units were on fire. When the heat pump goes into defrost mode, it will often make vapor of the water accumulated on the coil. It may look like smoke, it is not. When it is in defrost, the outdoor fan does not run. This is to make the defrost cycle as short as possible. When it goes out of the defrost cycle, the fan will come back on. By the way, when it goes into and out of the defrost cycles, the reversing valve will operate, making the air whooshing noise we spoke about above.
It's Sleeting, should I worry about my Air Conditioner?
When we have freezing rain ice will form on your heat pump. This is normal and the defrost should take care of it unless we get lots of precipitation...The big concern is if enough ice forms so the fan blade hits it as it runs. If this happens, turn off the breaker to your Heat pump and leave your Air Handler on. Put your system to "Emergency Heat Mode" and you should be comfortable. If you leave the thermostat in heat pump mode instead of emergency heat mode, the heat strips will still come on just 3 degrees lower than you want the heat setting on for.
Dogs and Air Conditioning
Dogs kept in the same areas as the outdoor Air Conditioning Condenser Unit often pose threats to system function and longevity of the outdoor unit useful life. I often see 2 types of problems:
1. Chewing of parts of the unit. This includes chewed up thermostat wires, copper line sets, and the deadly 240 volt electrical voltage wires. These often show up in the spring when the air conditioning is first turned on. Fuses are blown and the thermostat often will not operate the system.
2. Constant urination by the dogs on the units. Copper is prone to damage, but aluminum is highly susceptible to these problems. We run into this damage (see image above) throughout the year, especially in yards with male dogs.
Fences or other similar barriers seem to be the easiest and most cost effective measure to protect the unit.
Some of this damage - like the urine damage above - leaves a homeowner with no choic but to replace their Condenser.
Are you looking for a trusted Air Conditioning and Heating Company? Give us a call today to perform a complete A/C Tune Up in time for Spring!
How does your air conditioning company clean your Condenser unit during a Spring Tuneup or Checkup? Do they wash the unit from the outside in? Do they always use coil cleaners on the aluminum fins and copper tubing?
When Clear Springs Air Conditioning and Electric cleans a Condenser, we remove the top grill the fan motor is attached to off of the Condenser unit. We do this for several reasons.
Some Condenser Motors are oil-able. The only way to check to see if they are and to oil these motors is to pull the top.
Another reason we do so is that when the system is running, dirt is drawn into the Condenser Coil through the coil guard from the outside in. A much better cleaning is completed by washing the Coil from inside out with the top off. This allows for a very through cleaning with much more dirt removed from the Coil. The top off also allows any trash and leaves that have accumulated to be removed from inside the unit at the same time.
While the top is off, we check Compressor wires and connections, Reversing Valve Wires and connections, and Fan Motor wires for cuts, nicks, abraded areas, and burns. We check the Fan Motor Bearings for slop while the top is off the unit.
As far as my question about Coil Cleaner use - I believe Coil Cleaners are a tool that can be over used. Most Air Conditioners in a residential setting, as well as most in commercial settings (restaurants and factory settings excluded) get lots of dust and dirt, leaves and grass, but little grease or other sticky pollutants embedded annually on the coil. If it is necessary and used sparingly, Coil Cleaner is great. If over-used or improperly used in too strong a solution; it can remove paint, etch the aluminum and copper ultimately creating non repairable leaks. It can also kill your grass and plants. It gets very expensive to replace a leaky Condenser Coil! To extend the life of a unit, I usually try to wash it with Coil Cleaner only every three years unless there is a reason to do so more often.
If you have any questions about maintaining your Air Conditioning System or the Electrical Systems in your home or business, we will be happy to discuss them with you.
Clear Springs Air Conditioning and Electric is available week-days as well as weekends by appointment.
Jonathan Smith has been in the Air Conditioning and Heating industry for well over 30 years and has spent more than 27 years in the Electrical industry.