If there’s one thing we’d like you to know about us, it’s that we’ve been serving Lansing, MI, and the surrounding areas since 1981. With over 40 years of HVAC experience, we know the particular issues that Michigan homeowners face when it comes to heating and cooling their homes and their indoor air quality.
A-1 Mechanical Blog: Archive for the ‘Air Conditioning’ Category
Be sure to bookmark the A-1 Mechanical blog to start learning the ins and outs of HVAC.
We’ll regularly post energy saving tips, how-to’s on troubleshooting your systems, and breakdowns on even the most complex industry related terms and concepts.
Need help now? Send us a message or get in touch today.
Many homeowners wait until an AC unit fails beyond repair. While A-1 Mechanical provides excellent air conditioning installation services even in emergencies, knowing the warning signs of a faltering air conditioning system is important to save money. If you notice cooling costs are rising, performance is wavering or you experience frequent breakdowns then you should begin to consider new air conditioners.
Signs Your Air Conditioner Needs Replaced
As summer heat rises, older units can often show indications of failure. Beyond monitoring energy use be alert to these top signs your air conditioner is going to break:
- Uneven temperatures throughout the home
- Shutting down before the desired temperature is achieved as known as short cycling
- Refrigerant leaks, frozen lines and odd noises from outdoor unit
- Odd smells from vents when the air conditioner is running
- Constantly running or blowing warm air
- Unit is older than 10 years
How do Ductless Mini-Splits Work?
Ductless mini split heat pumps are a great way to heat your home efficiently. They consist of an outdoor compressor/condenser unit and several indoor air handling units connected to the outdoor unit. The air is heated by the compressor and returned to the air handling unit to disperse into rooms.
Each room or area can contain an indoor air handling unit, which can be controlled separately from the others using a remote control. This makes it an ideal solution for homes with multiple rooms that may not need to be heated, allowing you to control where your heated air is being sent.
Not only is this system efficient, but it’s also convenient and easy to use. So if you’re looking for an excellent way to heat your home, consider a ductless mini split heat pump over a traditional heating system.
Ideal Thermostat Settings for Winter
As the weather gets colder, you may wonder what the best settings are for your home thermostat. After all, you want to stay comfortable without wasting energy on your heating system. A programmable thermostat is a fantastic way to bring convenience to your home’s heating system, however, they are not necessary.
Here are a few tips to help you find the perfect balance this winter. Of course, these are just general guidelines – you may need to adjust the settings based on your specific needs.
As you shop for a new cooling system, there is one important question you need to ask: “What size air conditioner do I need?” It’s important to get the right fit, or else your comfort and costs will be negatively impacted over the lifespan of your new air conditioner. A-1 Mechanical shares what you need to know about air conditioner sizing and how to find the right unit size for your Grand Rapids area home.
What Does Air Conditioner Size Mean?
Air conditioner sizing doesn’t refer to the physical dimensions of the new unit, but rather its capacity to cool a space. Air conditioner sizes are referred to in tons, but tonnage does not refer to the unit’s weight – tonnage refers to the air conditioner’s capacity to remove heat from the home.
The tonnage of an air conditioning unit describes the amount of heat the system can remove over the course of one hour to cool the home. In the HVAC industry, we use British thermal units (BTUs) to measure heat, and there are 12,000 BTUs of heat per one ton of air conditioning. So, a 2-ton air conditioning unit can remove 24,000 BTUs of heat each hour; a 3-ton air conditioner removes 36,000 BTUs of heat per hour, and so on.
Why It’s Important to Buy the Right Size Air Conditioner
When you find out the right size air conditioner your home needs, it’s important you stick to this size as you purchase your new cooling unit. Air conditioners are not one-size-fits-all, and it’s not wise to size up or down to find a better fit as you can do with clothing and other items. This is because the size of your unit will impact the amount of energy the air conditioner consumes, how it operates, and the comfort levels inside your home.
- If you buy an air conditioner that is too small for the home, the unit will not have enough capacity to remove the necessary heat from the space in order to keep rooms at comfortable temperatures. The unit will run more often as it attempts to make up for its shortcomings, wasting energy and increasing wear and tear, which causes more breakdowns and repairs as well as earlier system failure.
- An oversized air conditioner won’t keep your home comfortable, either. With excess capacity, the AC unit will rapidly cool but fail to do so evenly, causing discomfort. This creates cooling cycles that are much too short for the health of the appliance, which strain the equipment, add wear and tear, and take the system out of service sooner than a correctly sized air conditioner. They will also not run long enough to remove humidity from the air.
What Size Air Conditioner Do I Need?
The best way to find out what size air conditioner your home needs is to work with a qualified HVAC technician. Many components play a role in determining the right size AC unit for a home – it’s not just about square footage. Various elements, to name a few, that impact the home’s cooling load (how much heat needs to be removed) include:
- Square footage
- Number of stories
- Ceiling heights
- Number of windows and doors
- Insulation levels
- Building materials
- Number of occupants
- Home’s orientation
These elements are factored in as a professional HVAC technician performs a Manual J load calculation, which provides the home’s cooling load. This calculation indicates how many BTUs of heat need to be removed from the space over the course of an hour, so you’ll know the appropriate capacity in tons for your new air conditioner.
Find the Right Air Conditioner for Your Grand Rapids or Lansing Home
If you’re in the market to buy a new central air conditioner, it’s time to call A-1 Mechanical. Our qualified HVAC technicians will determine the right size unit for efficient performance and reliable comfort in your home, and provide skilled installation so your new cooling system performs as expected. Contact us today to request an estimate for air conditioner installation.
Cool air blowing throughout your home provides a refuge from hot summer days. When you find the air conditioner blowing warm air, your frustration levels are likely to rise alongside the heat within your house! As frustrating as it may be, air conditioning, or AC, blowing hot air is actually a pretty common problem. Many causes may be resolved with some DIY troubleshooting of your air conditioning unit.
As a local Grand Rapids business, the technicians at A-1 Mechanical aim to protect the safety of our neighbors. Before you experience an issue within your AC unit know the most common causes, what to do to fix it, and when to call in our expert air conditioner repair pros for solutions. This may keep your AC unit blowing cold air without interruption.
Causes Behind an Air Conditioner Blowing Warm Air
If you have an air conditioner blowing hot air during the summer months, here are the most common causes and what you can do to correct them or when you should call for AC repair services.
Incorrect Thermostat Settings
In larger households, it’s easy for thermostat settings to be adjusted without the knowledge of other family members. If someone accidentally turns the thermostat to HEAT mode, it won’t be your air conditioning system generating hot air – it’s actually your furnace running, heating the home! If vents are blowing warm air check your thermostat first.
Another issue with thermostat settings that can send hot air into the home is a fan set to ON mode instead of AUTO. When the AUTO setting is selected, your HVAC system’s fan only runs with a cooling cycle to circulate chilled air into living spaces across the house. When ON mode is selected, the fan will run all the time. In between cooling cycles, the fan pushes warm air through the vents, because air is not actively being cooled.
Some thermostats feature a lock setting. This feature prevents switching between modes and adjusting the temperature settings. Since many homeowners only interact with the thermostat occasionally, it is easy to think you changed modes even though the thermostat was locked. In these cases, the issue is simple to resolve.
Whenever you have an AC system that’s blowing hot air, it’s wise to check the thermostat settings first.
- Make sure the thermostat switch is set to COOL mode, not HEAT or HEAT/COOL.
- Check the fan settings switch and make sure it is set to AUTO mode, and not ON.
- On smart thermostats you should verify that the app is working by adjusting settings directly on the display.
As they age, thermostats can become faulty. Components may corrode and fail due to time, power surges and other factors. If the display is not working properly or if the thermostat is over 10 years old, our team can install a new thermostat and improve the efficiency of your system.
Dirty Air Filter
A dirty air filter can cause your air conditioner to blow hot air out of the vents. When contaminants build up, a blockage may be created. Clogged air filters force your cooling system to work harder, starving the system of the air needed to circulate smoothly. Your air handler may not be able to generate enough airflow, leaving the air feeling warm as it exits your vents. All the while, clogged air filters will be wasting electricity as the air handler attempts to compensate for the restricted filter.
When your AC is blowing hot air, check your HVAC filter and replace it as needed. It’s wise to check air filters once per month in the summer, as replacement may be needed more often during this season of increased system usage.
- Remove the old filter from the filter cabinet.
- Look at the filter’s surface – if it is completely caked in grayish material, it needs to be replaced. If you are unsure, hold the filter up to a light and see if you notice any light shining through. If no light passes through the filter, replace it. The basic rule is to replace dirty filters once every month during the hottest and coldest months.
- Insert a new filter into the filter cabinet. Make sure to follow the airflow arrows on its frame which tell you the proper direction for filter installation. Make sure the filter is the correct size and fits snugly into the cabinet.
Dirty Outdoor Unit
Blowing warm air may also be due to blockages and clogs in the outdoor unit. A unit needs airflow to work optimally and stay cool. A dirty outdoor unit may overheat or experience unnecessary failure. During annual tune ups our technicians completely inspect and condition the AC unit. Detecting a refrigerant leak, damaged refrigerant line and especially dirty condenser coils is part of professional maintenance. If your outdoor AC unit is dirty, you should refer to the owner’s manual and most likely contact our team.
Frozen evaporator coils should prompt a call to our team. Your central air conditioner or heat pump uses two sets of coils – the indoor evaporator coil, and the outdoor condenser coil. If either of these coils are dirty, the system struggles to complete heat transfer, which can result in your AC blowing warm air. A dirty evaporator coil prevents it from absorbing heat within the indoor air; dirt on the condenser coil, meanwhile, prevents the system from efficiently releasing heat outdoors.
Coil cleaning is a job best left to the professionals. If you suspect your coils may be dirty, you can check by disconnecting power to the system and opening the access door to your furnace or air handler indoors to check the condition of the evaporator coils, or look inside the outdoor condenser unit or heat pump unit to check the condenser coils. If either are covered in dirt or grime, call your HVAC company to clean the coils.
Contact A-1 Mechanical for Relief from Hot Air
If you have an AC blowing warm air and the above troubleshooting steps don’t work, call A-1 Mechanical to perform air conditioner repairs at your home. Our technicians perform diagnostics to find out why you have an air conditioner blowing hot air so the correct repairs can be made to solve the problem once and for all.
It seems like each summer is hotter than the last. Brutally hot summers make air conditioning a necessity. Before summer starts, turn on your air conditioning system to make sure it runs and is efficiently cooling your home.
A common issue the technicians at A-1 Mechanical frequently see during the summer months is an AC that is running but not cooling the house down. If this is the case, A-1 Mechanical has a few steps you can try to make your home cool again. In our most recent blog, we’ll explain what you can do yourself and when it’s best to call a professional HVAC company.
Troubleshooting Your AC Problems
If your air conditioner is running but not cooling your house, doing a little poking around yourself might just solve your problem without calling an HVAC company. Even if you can’t fix it, you can save your technician a lot of time by telling them what you’ve tried already.
Thermostat Set Incorrectly
This might seem silly, but it happens all the time. Make sure your thermostat is set to “cool” and is set at the desired temperature. Sometimes people accidentally turn the fan on but don’t turn the air conditioner on. This won’t cool your house.
Dirty Air Filter
This is one of the most common causes for a system that is running but not providing any cooling. On your air conditioner, there is an air filter that catches dust, dirt, and airborne particles. If your HVAC filter is clogged, it can restrict the airflow to the air conditioner. Replacing the filter might be the solution.
Frozen Air Conditioner
If you’ve replaced the filter and are still not feeling cold air, then peek inside your air conditioner. If you find ice or condensation, then your air conditioner might be frozen. There are a few reasons as to why this could happen. Turn off the air conditioner and melt the ice before you call a technician. You can do this by turning on only the fan on the air conditioner or using a hairdryer to speed the process along. Once the ice is melted, try running the AC again.
When to Call an HVAC Technician
Did you try all those steps and still don’t have relief? Then it’s time to call an HVAC system technician. Here are a few other common problems that are best solved by A-1 Mechanical’s air conditioner service team.
Condenser Unit Is Blocked
A dirty or clogged condenser can also cause an AC system to run but not provide cooling. The condenser is a coil that pulls heat energy out of your home. These can get clogged with dirt, grass, and other airborne debris. It’s best to let a technician properly clean the coil to ensure no accidental damage.
Refrigerant is a chemical that cools the air before it’s transmitted into your home. It is not like the oil for your car that needs to be replaced regularly, but if it does start leaking, it could cause problems. An AC technician will be able to refill your refrigerant to proper levels and stop any leaks.
Do I Need to Replace My Air Conditioner?
Don’t fret if your AC unit is running but not providing cool air. The best indication for replacing your air conditioner is the age of your unit. Because air conditioners are outside, they have a shorter lifespan than furnaces and usually last about 15-20 years. If your air conditioner is older than that, you might want to consider an upgrade.
Call A-1 Mechanical to Stay Cool This Summer
The best way to make sure your air conditioner keeps you cool is by having it inspected and cleaned in the spring. An A-1 technician will be able to replace any defective parts and let you know if you’re due for an upgrade. Call A-1 Mechanical today to schedule your seasonal AC checkup.
As the weather steadily gets warmer, homes across Michigan will start using their air conditioners again. While air conditioners are a great way to cool down and keep you comfortable during the hotter months, many homeowners remain unsure of what they should do with the AC when they’re away from home, especially for longer periods of time. Is it best to keep it running as normal, have it run at a higher temperature, or shut the system off completely?
In our most recent blog, the technicians at A-1 Mechanical answer these important questions.
Why You Might Want to Turn Your AC Unit Off
If you’ll be away from home for days or even weeks for work or vacation, you’re likely considering turning your AC off. Most commonly, homeowners might turn their air conditioner off in an effort to save money on energy costs.
The team at A-1 Mechanical absolutely understands your desire to save on your energy bills. If nobody will be home to enjoy the comfort provided by your air conditioner, it might at first seem to make sense to turn the system off altogether. However, it’s safer to keep your air conditioner on when you’re not home.
Benefits of Keeping Your AC Unit Turned On
You’re likely aware that your home’s air conditioner does more than just keep your home at a nice, comfortable temperature. It also dehumidifies your home’s air supply. Without a running air conditioner, homes in warmer and more humid climates can experience mold and fungi growth, among other issues caused by high humidity.
Keeping your air conditioner turned on when you’re not home will allow the indoor air supply to be dehumidified, lowering the likelihood of any mold developing while you’re away. For this reason, it’s safer to leave your air conditioner on. However, that’s not to say there aren’t ways to save on your energy bills when you’re not at home for an extended period of time.
How to Save On Your Energy Bill When You’re Not Home
While you shouldn’t choose to turn the cooling system off entirely, adjustments can be made to the system to ensure that you’re still saving on your energy bills. For example, setting the temperature about 7 to 10 degrees higher than normal will cause the air conditioner to run less frequently. You’ll save on energy, while still allowing your AC to stay on and remove excess humidity.
If your home has a programmable or smart thermostat, there’s even more reason to turn the thermostat up before leaving! Depending on your specific model, you can program your thermostat to stay at the higher temperature while you’re gone and have it automatically lower the temperature just prior to returning. This increases energy savings and allows you to return to a home that is instantly cool and comfortable.
Contact A-1 Mechanical for HVAC Services
A-1 Mechanical provides high-quality HVAC services to customers in Lansing, MI, Grand Rapids, MI, and their surrounding areas. For air conditioning services or programmable thermostat installation, get in contact with us today. We’ll ensure that the job is completed quickly and effectively, keeping your home safe and comfortable.
Determining whether to repair or replace your air conditioning unit is not always an easy call. While repairs are generally lower in cost, this choice isn’t always preferred. Replacing an air conditioner is a major investment, but the benefits may be just what your family needs.
How do Greater Lansing area homeowners decide whether to repair or replace air conditioner equipment? A-1 Mechanical shares the factors you need to consider when faced with cooling system issues so you are able to make an informed choice that best fits your family, both now and in the future.
When Is It Better to Repair or Replace Air Conditioning Units?
From one home to another, every situation is different. Air conditioner repairs may be a wise option for one family, while replacement is the better choice for another. There’s no set list of criteria we can use that tells us when it’s best to repair or replace air conditioner equipment, but there are some guidelines that help guide this important decision. Your technician is able to advise you regarding specific issues and factors that pertain to your AC unit and how each may affect these general guidelines.
Air Conditioner Repair Is Typically the Best Option If…
The unit is still under warranty
The manufacturer’s warranty pays the cost of parts, while a labor warranty provided by the original HVAC installer covers labor required for repairs. If your manufacturer’s warranty is still valid, the repair it needs may be covered. If your labor warranty is still valid, the repair may come at no cost to you! In situations where a valid manufacturer’s warranty covers parts but the labor warranty has expired, the cost of the repair is still greatly reduced as you only need to pay labor costs, which makes the repair less of a financial burden.
The unit has been in service less than 8 to 10 years
An AC unit typically lasts 10 to 15 years. If your air conditioner is just a few years old and requires simple repairs, it doesn’t make financial sense to replace it yet.
The repair will improve system performance
If the required repair will boost air conditioner performance and energy efficiency for several years, repairing the system is the more affordable option.
The unit has been well maintained
Well-maintained AC units typically last longer and have fewer breakdowns. If the system has been properly cared for over the years, repair needs are often isolated while the overall system is in good shape.
The unit’s age multiplied by the cost of repairs is less than the cost of replacing the system
Cost is a major factor when homeowners have to choose to repair or replace air conditioner units. This formula can be used to help you determine if a repair is a wise financial investment or if your money is better spent when used for a new air conditioner.
Air Conditioner Replacement Is Often Preferred When…
The unit has been in service 10 or more years
When it comes to replacing your AC, system age should always be considered. As air conditioners only last an average of 10 to 15 years, replacement is typically the better option when an older unit is in need of repairs. Replacement is already on the horizon, and taking care of it now helps prevent surprise failures that leave the home without much needed cooling. Upgrading to an energy-efficient system will also reduce monthly energy bills.
The system uses R-22 Freon refrigerant
The type of refrigerant used has become an important consideration in the decision to repair or replace air conditioners. As of January 1, 2020, no new R-22 (Freon) refrigerant can be produced or imported, leaving only recycled refrigerant available for system repairs. With a limited supply of refrigerant on the market, costs for recycled refrigerant are quite high. When needed repairs involve recharging the air conditioner’s refrigerant levels, you should strongly consider replacing the system with a unit that uses R-410A refrigerant to avoid high prices. Plus, if your AC unit uses R-22, then it was built before 2010 and is already aging.
The required repairs cost more than half the price of a new air conditioner
If the cost of repairs totals more than half the cost of a new cooling system, most homeowners feel their money is better spent investing in a new unit.
The unit requires frequent repairs
More frequent repairs are typically required when air conditioners hit the final two or so years of their service life. If multiple repairs have been made over the last year or two, this is a sign that system failure is on the horizon, so go ahead and replace the unit now.
The unit is undersized or oversized for the home
When repair issues stem from improperly sized air conditioners, unfortunately there is no repair solution. In the decision to repair or replace air conditioner units, replacement is the only option to deliver an accurately sized unit that is able to deliver efficient performance and accurate temperature control.
Can’t Decide? Call A-1 Mechanical for Professional Guidance!
Knowing when it’s time to replace air conditioner equipment can be a tough decision to make, but you don’t have to decide blindly! Consult our NATE-certified air conditioning technicians for thorough diagnostics to pinpoint system issues and receive professional advice to help you decide whether to repair or replace the AC unit in your Lansing area home. Contact us today to schedule service with a Star HVAC technician.