- Why do I have to keep turning my temperature down to be comfortable?
- Should I run my fan on Continuous or Automatic?
- My Air Conditioner isn’t very old, Do I need to have it checked?
- I have a pilot light on my furnace, should I let it run all summer or turn it off?
- How long should my air conditioner run before it cycles off?
- Am I going to be able to get Freon for my unit in the future?
- I don’t use my heater much, Do I need to have it serviced every year?
In most cases if you have to keep turning down your temperature in the summer time and still don’t feel comfortable, you have a humidity problem. The higher the humidity in your home, the cooler you have to keep it to feel comfortable. In many cases you cannot keep it cool enough to be comfortable. There are a couple of problems that can cause this. If your air conditioning equipment is not running properly it will not dehumidify properly. This can be cured by having a licensed professional come out and fine tune the air conditioning system.
Another cause could be that your air conditioner is oversized for your home. If your air conditioner is oversized, it will not run long enough to pull the moisture out of the air. One simple way to tell if your air conditioner is oversized is a summertime run test. If it is 95 degrees outside and the thermostat is set for 75 degrees inside the unit should run 100% of the time. If it cycles off at these conditions then it has excess capacity and is oversized. The amount of time that it is cycled off will determine how much oversized it is.
Another potential humidity problem is the fact that new High Efficiency equipment does not pull as much moisture out of the air as the older less efficient equipment. Most of the 14, 15, & 16 SEER equipment gets the extra efficiency at the expense of dehumidifying the air. It takes less energy to cool the air down than it takes to pull the moisture out of it. Thus less dehumidifying leads to more efficiency. The fallacy of this is that you have to keep your thermostat at a much cooler setting when you don’t get the dehumidification than when you do. This actually increases your electric bill and decreases the effective efficiency of your equipment.
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Should I run my fan on Continuous or Automatic?
In most cases I recommend for the fan to be run on Automatic for better humidity control. When the air conditioner cycles off, the inside coil is saturated with water. If the fan continues to run the moisture will be blown back into the home. This decreases the dehumidifying capacity of the air conditioner.
There are some homes that need the fan to run on continuous because of rooms that have a faster warm-up time than the rest of the house. Rooms with western exposure or a lot of windows may heat up faster, and in those types of applications you need to run the fan on continuous to mix the air and avoid hot and cold spots in the home. The key is to set the fan where it is the most comfortable for you.
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My Air Conditioner isn’t very old Do I need to have it checked?
A lot of people think that just because their air conditioner is running and it seems to be cooling the house, it doesn’t need to be serviced. Well there have been many studies done and the one thing that all of them have concluded is that having your air conditioner checked by a licensed professional each spring can save you money. The average savings in the study is about $32.00 per month in the summer time. This more than covers the expense of having your system checked.
Did you know that an air conditioner that is only one pound low on freon can actually cost you 15 to 20 percent on your cooling bill. It may seem like it is cooling all right because it is actually slightly oversized but you are suffering on the efficiency. In Corpus Christi the average run time on an air conditioner is about 2600 hours a year. If you drove your car at 40 mph for 2600 hours it would be over 100,000 miles. You wouldn’t think of not having your car serviced in that period of time. Many times our skilled technicians can find and fix small problems in your system before they become large inconvenient problems.
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I have a pilot light on my furnace, should I let it run all summer or turn it off?
If you have a gas furnace with a pilot light you should have the pilot light turned off for the summer. Many people think that leaving the pilot light burning all summer will help cut down on the humidity in the house. This is not true and the big problem is that the extra heat on the heat exchanger causes extra rust. When you run your air conditioner with your pilot light on, you have the cool air from the house passing across the hot heat exchanger and this causes condensation to form in the heat exchanger. This condensation helps to rust the heat exchanger out much faster than normal.
I have seen hundreds of furnaces that have failed prematurely because the section of the heat exchanger that the pilot light was in had rusted out and developed holes. If you have a furnace with a pilot light you need to shut the pilot light off every summer, and have a trained professional inspect the heater at the beginning of each winter to insure that it is clean and operating safely.
The new furnaces all come with an electronic ignition system. This system automatically turns the pilot light on when the heater calls for heat and then lights the burners. When the heater shuts off it automatically turns the pilot light off. With this system the pilot light doesn’t have to run all the time and it causes less rust and corrosion to form on the heat exchanger. Beside the convenience of not having a pilot light it also helps prolong the life of the heat exchanger.
So even though it is cooling season don’t forget to do the maintenance on that old heater to keep it running safely.
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How long should my Air Conditioner run before it cycles off?
The answer to this question varies greatly with the time of year, the temperature outside, the temperature setting on your thermostat, and the condition of your system. If your system cycles off in the afternoon in the heat of the summer then it is probably not too small for the house. If it cycles off a lot in the heat of the summer then it may be too large for the house. In either case there are problems. If the unit is too large for the house then you may not get enough run time and the unit will not pull the moisture out of the air like a properly sized unit will. If the unit is too small for the house then in the heat of the summer it will not keep up with the cooling demand and you will be uncomfortable.
When sizing an air conditioner for a normal house in Corpus Christi, we size the unit to maintain 75 degrees inside when it is 95 degrees outside. Since the equipment only comes in ½ ton increments we have to round up the size. When a unit is properly sized it will run 100% of the time when it is 95 or hotter outside. As the temperature cools down the percentage of run time will decrease. There are some other factors that also effect the run time such as the refrigerant charge and the condition of the equipment.
If your air conditioning system is only ½ pound low on refrigerant it can reduce the capacity of your system by as much as 15%. This can make your system seem like it is undersized. It will run longer, cost you more on your electric bill, and not be able to keep your house comfortable. It will also not be able to pull as much moisture out of the air, which will make you even more uncomfortable. If your air conditioner is a little oversized to begin with and then it is running a little low on freon you may not notice the decrease in capacity, but the increase on your electric bill will still hit you in the pocketbook.
An ounce of prevention can be worth a pound of cure when it comes to your air conditioning system. It is well worth the minimal cost to have one of our trained professional service technicians come out and fine tune your system to get the most capacity and efficiency out of it. And to keep you and your family cool and comfortable in these hot summer months to come.
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Am I going to be able to get freon for my unit in the future?
Updated May 2013:
The EPA has been changing the rules on the phase out of R-22 refrigerants. For the past two years they have been slow to come out with their reduced production allowances. This has put a supply shortage on R-22 and has driven the pricing up quite substantially. The price of R-22 refrigerant has almost tripled in the past couple of years. The manufacturers are allowed to produce outside condensing units that still utilize the R-22 refrigerant, but it is growing less and less economical for the consumer to purchase one of these units. Buying one now will lock you in to the R-22 refrigerant for the next 10 to 12 years. I would predict that in the next couple of years the refrigerant cost will at least double again. If you are looking at replacing your outside condensing unit only and are thinking about going the less expensive up front route of installing an R-22 dry charge unit you really should consider the consequences. I would predict that 5 years from now when you are only half way into the life expectancy of the unit the cost to replace the refrigerant in it could be in excess of $1000. Although the refrigerant will probably be available for many years to come, the cost will make it not a very good option. If you are looking at replacing your equipment your inside coil will have to be compatible with the new refrigerant to change over. If your coil inside is less than about 5 years old it can probably handle it, if it is older than that it is highly recommended to replace the coil when replacing the outside condensing unit with the new R-410a refrigerant.
I don’t use my heater much, do i need to have it serviced every year?
A lot of people think that just because their gas furnace is running and it seems to be heating the house, it doesn’t need to be serviced. Well there have been many studies done and the one thing that all of them have concluded is that having your heater checked by a professional each fall can potentially save your life. Carbon monoxide poisoning kills several people every year and should be a big concern especially to people with older standing pilot furnaces. Just about anyone can light a furnaces pilot but do you really want to trust your families safety to “just about anyone”?
Our skilled technician will do far more that just light your pilot. He will check all of you safety controls to make sure they are working properly, inspect your heat exchanger to make sure there are no cracks or leaks to let the deadly carbon monoxide into your home, check your vent pipe to make sure it is free and clear and goes all the way out side of the house, and check the operation of the entire system to make sure it is working to the best of it’s ability.
Even though we have a relatively short heating season here in the Coastal Bend, we do use our heaters and want them to be safe. Carbon Monoxide is an invisible and odorless poison. The symptoms of Carbon Monoxide poisoning resemble the symptoms of the flu. If you are running your furnace and are having headaches and fatigue, you need to turn your furnace off and have it checked IMMEDIATELY.
If your furnace is over 10 years old you are playing Russian Roulette with your entire family by not having it checked thoroughly every year by a trained professional. And if your furnace is over 15 years old you really need to think about replacing it before we get to the cold part of the winter.
If you have electric heat you need to have all of the safety switches checked to make sure they are working properly to protect you. You also need to have all the electrical connections checked to make sure they are tight and do not create problems. We also check the blower and drain line when we are checking the system to make sure everything is working as efficiently as possible. There have been numerous times when I have seen the electric heat running at the same time as the air conditioning because of a stuck sequencer. So it really does pay to have the system checked.
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