A-1 Mechanical Blog: Posts Tagged ‘Air Conditioning Installation’

What Size Air Conditioner Do I Need?

Wednesday, August 18th, 2021
Air Conditioning

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.

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Why Is My Air Conditioner Blowing Hot Air?

Monday, July 19th, 2021
Air Conditioning

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.

AC Coils

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.

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Air Conditioning Systems: When to Repair vs. Replace?

Monday, August 31st, 2020
Air Conditioning

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.

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