What Is SEER Rating?

It’s easy to be overwhelmed by all the standards and ratings of HVAC products proudly display on their labels. Knowing what these numbers mean can be the difference between choosing the right heating and air conditioning unit for your home or wasting money on a system that doesn’t quite do what you want it to do.

Measuring and Reducing AC Systems Noise

Thanks to recent innovations, air conditioning systems continually update with better features. One of the most prominent features that homeowners look for these days is quiet operation. After all, comfort isn’t all about temperature levels; it’s also about calm serenity.

FAQs About Home Heating, Cooling, and Ventilation

Learning more about residential HVAC systems can help you make better future decisions regarding your own heating and cooling system. ACS Air Conditioning Systems has helped local homeowners since 1969, and since that time we have helped answer a lot of HVAC related questions.

Signs Your Air Conditioning System Needs Repairs

Constant use has a way of reducing an air conditioning system’s efficiency. That’s why it’s crucial to have a stringent maintenance schedule to nip problems in the bud. Even then, there can be times when issues to various components can arise. By then, you’ll need prompt air conditioning repairs from a qualified professional to bring your system back to peak performance. Read more

Summertime HVAC Troubleshooting: Why is my A/C Blowing Warm Air?

It’s no fun going without proper cooling during the summer months in the Bay Area. Fortunately, air conditioning units are pretty reliable for a number of years, providing your home with refreshing cooled air to keep you and your loved ones comfortable. But sometimes, things go wrong, and one of the most common concerns people may ask about is why their A/C unit is blowing warm air.

If you’d like an overview of reasons why your unit might be blowing warm air before you call in an HVAC professional, then we’ve got you covered. Here we outline some of the most common reasons that your A/C may be blowing warm air, rather than cold air.

The Thermostat is Set to “Heat” or “On”

It sounds obvious, but oftentimes homeowners will wonder about the air coming from their vents being warm, without checking the temperature setting on their thermostat. Do this first before anything else. You may have accidentally set your system to have the heating unit kick-on, in which case, it’s probably working just as it should be. It also could be set to the “on” function, which will cause the system to blow uncooled air while the outdoor unit isn’t running.

Refrigerant Leak

Refrigerant acts as a cooling agent in A/C systems by absorbing heat from the air, which in turn provides you with “conditioned” air. If your refrigerant gets low, that means there is a leak. Check your outdoor unit for a frozen refrigerant line, or for any unusual noises. If it’s making a hissing noise, then the leak is probably pretty major. If you notice these signs coming from your A/C unit, then it’s time to call in a professional to find and repair the leak as well as replace the lost refrigerant.

Restricted Air Flow

If you haven’t replaced your HVAC air filter in a long time, or, if you haven’t had maintenance performed on your A/C system this year, then you could be dealing with restricted air flow. This type of issue can result in too little air coming from the vents, which can seem as though the unit is blowing warm air. Improper air flow can also cause other major issues for your home’s cooling system, which could cause your outdoor unit’s compressor to stop functioning.

Faulty Ductwork

A less common cause of an A/C unit blowing warm air is a faulty return duct, which could be either disconnected or broken. If this happens, then the return duct is pulling in air from either the outdoors, or from a warm attic space. If this is your issue, you’ll need to call in a professional HVAC technician.

Need Professional Help? Call us Today!

Aside from your thermostat being improperly set, if you notice any of the above issues with your A/C unit, then you’ll want to seek the help of a certified HVAC professional.

ACS Air Conditioning Systems has been helping Bay Area residents with their cooling needs for over 40 years, offering professional service to satisfied customers. Call us today to schedule an appointment with one of our highly skilled technicians: (925) 270-1613.

How Air Conditioning Negatively Impacts Our Health

It’s no secret that most of us love our air conditioning, but that doesn’t mean these systems are without issue. In fact, there are several problems that have been linked with climate-controlled environments.

The Top 5 Health Issues Caused by Air Conditioning

Consider these five crucial issues that can have negative consequences on your day-to-day health.

  • Fatigue and Illness

Feeling cold can leave you feeling drained. Employees who work in heavily air-conditioned areas are prone to headaches and fatigue. That’s because approximately 80% of our energy goes to our BMR, or basal metabolic rate. This number is a measurement of the calories it takes to maintain body temperature and other bodily functions. The colder you are, the harder your body works to keep your systems running, which can lead to feeling exhausted.

Solution: Adjust the thermostat, if you can. It may feel silly to bring a sweater to the office on an 80-degree day, but if you can’t control the thermostat, bundling up while you are there can keep your temperature at a more normal level. Drinking a hot beverage, such as coffee or tea, can help, too.

  • Dry and Irritated Skin

One reason we love the A/C is because it removes the humidity from the air, but that also means our skin is exposed to less moisture. Spending hours in the air conditioning can cause widespread irritation and flaking, especially in people who already have dry skin.

Solution: Use lotion whenever possible, particularly on problem areas. Consider using a moisturizing body wash, as well, if you spend a significant portion of time in an air-conditioned area. And, for most issues, staying properly hydrated can be extremely beneficial.

  • Enhanced Symptoms of Chronic Illnesses

Spending time in overly air-conditioned environments can be especially taxing for those with chronic illnesses. Many painful symptoms are exacerbated by the cold. Arthritis sufferers, for example, may have more difficulty moving affected joints. This stiffness causes higher levels of discomfort and can make it more difficult to complete everyday tasks. Low blood pressure and neuritis are two other conditions aggravated by cold temperatures.

Solution: Look for warmer areas of the office to do your work, perhaps near windows which would offer more exposure to sun. Try silk undergarments; they offer a layer of warmth without bulk.  

Solution: Keep your AC consistent but not extremely cold. Try to temper yourself into warmer situations whenever possible.

  • Breathing Problems

The blowing air from air conditioners circulate germs and other microorganisms. This kind of contamination can lead to the spread of disease, particularly in office buildings. The constant presence of cold air also may irritate the mucous membrane and cause physical issues with breathing, too.

Solution: Change filters frequently, especially whenever someone has been sick. Keep your environment as clean as possible and have the system serviced regularly to prevent mold.

There are some definite concerns when using an AC system, but common sense and diligence can help you enjoy years of safe climate control. If you need help improving your indoor air quality, contact us today to discuss your IAQ options.

Benefits of Financing Your New Heating and Cooling System

The typical HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) system lasts for roughly 12 to 15 years. This means that when it’s time to buy an eventual replacement for your current system, increases in the average price since your last purchase may come as a very unpleasant surprise. Fortunately, HVAC financing offers a range of appealing benefits, both for you as a purchaser and for HVAC professionals.

How Does HVAC Equipment Financing Work?

HVAC companies benefit greatly from the financing opportunities available to their potential customers. However, the typical provider does not offer direct financing. Instead, it sets up relationships with lenders in the area in order to facilitate financing through those institutions. When the time comes to pay for your new system, the HVAC provider can walk you through the available options and help you create a plan that best suits your needs. In addition to using financing to pay for your new HVAC system, you can use it to pay for routine system maintenance and any needed repairs.

Key Financing Benefits

One of the most appealing benefits of financing your HVAC system is the ability to afford an energy efficient model that continues to save you money on utility costs throughout its lifespan. Key benefits of well-designed financing arrangements include a typically straightforward application procedure, rapidly resolved decisions on credit eligibility, a generally low monthly payment requirement, the ability to set up a range of payment options and the ability to avoid annual fees and prepayment penalties. Other potential benefits include a lack of closing costs, the ability to keep your current lines of credit intact, the lack of any liens established against your property, the availability of online statements and (in some cases) the ability to take advantage of occasional promotional offerings from a financing institution.

Do You Qualify?

Generally speaking, the average homeowner can meet the requirements for financing at least part of the cost of a new HVAC system. You have the best chances of getting offers from more than one financing institution if you have paperwork that details your financial status, including such things as your current credit score and your monthly income. It also helps to have firm price estimates for the type of system you intend to purchase. If you have a somewhat shaky credit history, you can potentially improve your chances of qualifying for financing by offering a letter of reference from your employer or your utility provider.

For more crucial information on the ins and outs of HVAC purchasing, be sure to follow the pages of this blog.

What Size Air Conditioner Do I Need for My Home?

In order for your air conditioner to do its job properly, its cooling output must match the operating conditions in your household. An AC unit that’s too small won’t have a sufficient cooling capacity, while a unit that’s too big can easily provide too much output. Several critical factors affect the size of the air conditioner that works best for your home.

What Does AC Size Mean?

In air conditioning terms, the word size refers to the maximum amount of cooling power a unit can put out in a single hour. In turn, this power is measured by the ton. However, tons of cooling capacity differ from tons of weight. An air conditioner has a one-ton capacity if it puts out 12,000 BTUs per hour. (A BTU is the amount of energy needed to make a pound of water hotter by a single degree on the Fahrenheit scale.) Most residential ACs in the U.S. have a 2-ton rating. Heavier duty units have a 3-ton rating.

Factors That Affect Your AC Size Requirements

The factors that affect your AC size requirements are complex and interacting. They include the overall volume of your home’s conditioned space, your home’s age, the number and position of your home’s windows, the condition and age of your home’s windows and the quality of your home’s interior sealing. They also include the quality and suitability of your home’s ducting network, your home’s typical level of sun exposure, the degree of shade protection provided by shrubs and trees on your property, the surface area of the outdoor walls that receive sunlight and the efficiency rating of the new AC unit you plan to install.

Use the “Manual-J” Standard

Professionals in the HVAC industry rely on a calculation commonly known as “Manual-J” to determine the right size of air conditioner for a given building. In brief, this calculation uses an analysis of all the relevant factors to arrive at the optimal AC size or tonnage. A “Manual-J” analysis can be done on a whole-house or room-by-room basis. As a general rule, HVAC specialists rely on the whole-house approach if you plan to keep the ducting network already in place in your home. However, some experts call for a more detailed room-by-room analysis even when you don’t intend to replace your ducts.

Call Your HVAC Specialist

Reputable HVAC specialists in your area should be familiar with the “Manual-J” standard and know how to use that standard to calculate the AC tonnage needs for your home. The specialist you choose should also know how to incorporate the efficiency rating of any new air conditioner into the size equation. In addition, a qualified HVAC professional should be able to install the unit you purchase.

For additional information on best practices for air conditioner installation, make sure to check back with us often.

Can I Save By Replacing the Outdoor Unit on an Old AC System?

Replacing components on your AC unit could cost more money in the long run. Consider installing a new AC system to reduce energy costs and save money.

Is your air conditioning unit no longer working? Are you faced with either replacing the entire unit or replacing certain components? Before you decide to replace any components on your air conditioner, there are a number of factors you need to consider. While replacing the outdoor unit of your air conditioning system may seem like an easier, cheaper option, it could end up costing you more time and money in the long run.

Air conditioning units are designed to function with specific compatible components, and replacing piecemeal components can cause malfunctions and reductions in efficiency. In fact it will often be more cost-effective for you to replace the entire AC unit.

How Does Air Conditioning Work?

In order to make an informed decision on whether or not to replace your entire air conditioning unit or simply replace certain components, you should understand the ins and outs of how your AC unit functions.

Essentially, your air conditioner uses a condenser, a compressor, refrigerant coils and an air handler to remove heat from the air in your home. First, refrigerant flows through copper tubing, absorbing heat at the evaporator coil and transferring it to the outdoor unit of the air conditioner. At this point, the compressor squeezes the refrigerant at the condenser, releasing the heat outside.

This process seems simple enough, so why are matching components so important?

The Importance of Matching Components

There are several reasons why it can be difficult to properly match old components with new components:

  • New components are designed to achieve higher seasonal energy-efficiency ratios, which older components are unable to achieve
  • New coils are more efficient than older coils, and combining new and old coils can reduce cooling capacity, increase energy consumption and cause motor failure
  • New coils are designed with different grooves and spacing, which makes them physically incompatible with older coils
  • New units include thermal expansion valves that provide enhanced control of refrigerant with a shut-off system that limits the movement of refrigerant to the compressor, which in turn can damage old compressors

 

The Breakdown of Mismatched Components

Many manufacturers have conducted tests on how mismatched components affect the function of AC units. These tests have found numerous issues, including:

  • Reduced operational efficiency
  • Reduced cooling capacity
  • 45% chance of the compressor breaking down within a year

These are significant functional problems that can occur when new components are introduced to an older air conditioning unit. Before you rush to replace the outdoor unit of your air conditioner, consult an HVAC expert who will understand the effect this could have on your system. Replacing components may be cheaper now, but it could cost you down the road. Call ACS today to schedule a consultation and find the best solution for your AC unit.

Myths About Air Conditioning

We might be living in a modern world where information is easily available but many of us still fall victim to a lot of myths. Take for instance the proper usage of air conditioners. False notions continue to hinder efficiency in many homes. Owners have a number of undesirable habits that result in higher energy consumption than is truly necessary. Here are three of the most prevalent air conditioning myths:

Myth #1: Cooling happens faster when you turn the thermostat down low.

When we get home during a hot day, the first thing we reach out for is usually the A/C remote control. We crave for relief from the warm weather by turning the thermostat down low. Some even go to extremes thinking that the room will cool faster if the settings are cranked lower. This simply isn’t true. Heat will be moved out of the room at a constant rate no matter the settings so there will not be a change in speed. The air will just feel much colder than usual, to the point that it might be uncomfortable.

Myth #2: Electric fans will contribute to cooling in empty rooms.

Electric fans can be used in tandem with air conditioners to increase the cooling effect while keeping energy consumption low. Homeowners should understand how fans are able to do their job so as to use them more effectively. Many think that keeping them turned on will contribute to cooling when there’s no one in the room. This is false. To reap their benefits, a person must be in the direct line of the fans. The moving air is what causes evaporative cooling on the skin.

 

Myth #3: It’s better to keep the system on during idle hours than to switch it off.

Allowing the system to keep going in an empty house is wasteful. Energy is expended without anyone benefiting from it. Those who are leaving for school or work should turn the air conditioner off and just turn it back on when they get back. Better yet, use a programmable thermostat to turn the system on 15 minutes or so before the usual time of arrival for a cool welcome.

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