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

Check Out Our Blog for Advice on All Things HVAC

Wednesday, May 10th, 2023

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.

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How to Save on AC Installation This Summer

Saturday, March 11th, 2023
Digital Thermostat

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

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What Are the Advantages of a Ductless Mini Split for Heating?

Saturday, February 11th, 2023
Mini Split Air Conditioner

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.

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What Are the Best Thermostat Settings for Winter?

Wednesday, January 11th, 2023
A woman adjusting a thermostat in her home

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.

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HVAC Options for Older Homes in Michigan

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2022

What Makes an Older Home Different?

HVAC in Older Houses

The first thing to consider is exactly how old your home is. If your home was built before the 1950s, there is a good chance it does not have the ductwork needed for today’s HVAC systems. This eliminates traditional central air conditioning and heating systems as a viable method for your home’s heating and cooling needs unless you want to spend thousands of extra dollars on having a new duct system installed.

We are well aware of the difficulties of living in an old house and have come up with the best solutions to optimize an older home’s heating and air conditioning system.

Ductless System

A solution we often recommend for homeowners in older homes is a ductless system, also called a mini-split system. As the name suggests, these HVAC systems do not use any ductwork at all! Ductless systems use individual air handler units in each room; this allows for complete control over the temperature in separate spaces or “zones.”

Since there is no need for ductwork, homeowners of older houses absolutely love the convenience of ductless HVAC systems. When paired with a heat pump, they can also be used for both your home’s heating and cooling while helping to cut back on your monthly electric bills.

Ductless mini-split systems are versatile and can be operated on a by-room basis. This is because each “zone” has its own thermostat that can be controlled independently of the others. If you do not want a particular room to have heating or cooling, but the rest of the house should, you can simply adjust the temperature in that room. This also makes them energy efficient and one of our favorite modern HVAC options.

High-Velocity HVAC System

In today’s homes, ductwork is usually in areas of the house that we cannot see. Meaning, that if your home was not built with the intention of having central heating and cooling, then you probably do not have the space necessary to make ducts work.

Fortunately, high-velocity systems operate differently, using dedicated units connected to “mini-ducts.” Unfortunately, high-velocity systems also typically come with a price tag that is higher than ductless systems.

High-velocity HVAC systems are similar to traditional HVAC systems in that they provide heating or cooling using a heat pump or compressor and then distribute the air into a home’s living areas. The most significant difference is how the air is distributed in a high-velocity system.

Instead of traditional ductwork, high-velocity HVAC systems use much smaller tubes and vents, which are about 5 inches in diameter and much smaller than vents that are about 6 inches tall and 12 inches wide.

Using the smaller tubes and vents allows them to need less space in the home to be effective, making them a perfect choice for an older home that cannot support modern-day HVAC systems. Homeowners also love that the smaller size allows them to be better hidden in the home, adding to the home’s overall aesthetic appeal.

Why Trust A-1 Mechanical?

When dealing with something as important as your home’s heating and cooling, you do not want to work with just any company you find on Facebook. A-1 Mechanical has been one of the most trusted HVAC companies in the area for years. We have built a solid reputation for high-quality work and fantastic customer service.

Older homes can be tricky to work on and, and when installation is performed incorrectly, it could result in irreversible damage, which is why it is crucial to work with an experienced company that has done it before. Our team is well-versed in HVAC solutions for older homes and would love to help walk you through the process and get you exactly what you need.

Contact Us Today

If you are ready to upgrade your home with a new HVAC system from the state’s premier HVAC company, do not hesitate to reach out!

We would be happy to answer any questions you may have and schedule an appointment!

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How to Install HVAC Zone Control Dampers

Tuesday, March 1st, 2022
HVAC Zone Control

For far too many homes, some areas of the house will be the perfect temperature, while other rooms suffer from hot and cold spots creating an uneven temperature throughout the room. This is a frustrating issue that can not only cause discomfort but also much higher heating and cooling bills.

In the latest blog post from A-1 Mechanical, we’ll discuss how an HVAC zone control system can fix these issues with dampers, as well as how they’re installed. For more helpful information about HVAC zone control dampers, reach out to A-1 Mechanical.

What Are HVAC Zone Control Dampers?

Zone control dampers allow heated or cooled air to spread amongst the rooms in your home, leading to more even and regulated temperatures. Zone dampers are plates that are used to redirect air to all areas of the home, ensuring that warm or cool air reaches the areas that it is supposed to.

In an HVAC system without zone dampers, air freely flows through your ductwork and out of the vents within your home. This can cause uneven distribution, as there is not any equipment in place that could otherwise ensure that all areas of the home receive the same access to the air from your heating and cooling system.

Why Should You Install HVAC Zone Control Dampers?

A zone control system offers significant energy savings, as your HVAC system won’t need to stay on as long in order to bring your home to the set temperature. As heated and cooled air is evenly distributed throughout the home, a zone control system makes it much easier for the house to reach your set temperature.

In addition to the energy savings, you’ll also find that a zone control system can affect the comfort of your home. For homes that struggle with hot and cold spots, dampers can provide a very effective solution. Zone control systems help to keep each room of the home at the same temperature.

Installing HVAC Zone Control Dampers

Installing zone control dampers is a job that is, ideally, left up to professional HVAC system technicians. There are many things to consider, such as the size of your ducts, the type of dampers that your ductwork requires, the location of the dampers, and more.

When you contact an experienced professional to install your zone control dampers, they’ll help answer any questions you might have. They’ll provide the best location for the dampers, as well as the best type of dampers, to provide the best results. Once you’ve had a zone control system installed into your HVAC system, you’ll notice an upgrade in energy efficiency. When you control airflow to all the rooms in your house, you’ll notice a decrease in heating and cooling costs because you won’t waste energy heating unoccupied rooms. Some zone control systems include their own thermostat, or all the dampers can be controlled with a central control panel.

There are a lot of different features and options available for zone control systems. If you’re interested in upgrading your HVAC equipment, talk to the professional technicians at A-1 Mechanical to learn more about For HVAC zone control damper installation in the Lansing and Grand Rapids, MI areas.

Contact A-1 Mechanical for HVAC Zone Control Dampers

Keeping all areas of your home the same temperature is key to a safe, happy, and healthy household. Installing HVAC zone control dampers can be exactly what your home needs to increase comfort and safety levels.

Contact us today to learn more about the benefits of dampers, or to schedule an appointment for installation services.

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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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Why Is My Air Conditioner Running, but Not Cooling the House?

Friday, June 4th, 2021
AC System

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 Leak

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.

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Signs You Need a New Air Conditioner

Friday, May 21st, 2021
Air Conditioning

With proper maintenance, an air conditioning system typically lasts around 15 years. When you experience frequent repairs or outages, however, you may need to install a new AC before then. In addition to frequent repairs and outages, there are other signs you need a new air conditioner. Read on to learn more about the signs your air conditioner needs to be replaced and how to prevent an outage during the hottest months of the year.

Common Signs It’s Time to Replace Your AC

Your air conditioner needs replaced if it’s showing any of the following warning signs:

  1. Your air conditioner is more than 15 years old
  2. Low energy efficiency
  3. Frequent repairs
  4. High indoor humidity

We’ll cover them in more detail below.

1.) Your Air Conditioner is More Than 15 Years Old

When properly maintained, air conditioners typically last around 15 years. If you are unsure of the age of your AC unit, schedule a maintenance check, and ask your technician. When your AC unit is roughly 12 years old, start planning for a replacement.

Professional HVAC contractors run through a rough cost and benefit analysis with you when your AC unit is 12 to 15 years old. If you find a major repair earlier and could upgrade to a more efficient model, consider it.

The difference in energy efficiency and the cost to operate often negates the replacement cost. This way you have the information you need to decide whether continued repairs or a new unit is best for your family’s financial plan.

Your HVAC contractor easily determines the best AC unit and style for your home and lifestyle.

2.) Low Energy Efficiency

If your energy bills seem unusually high during the warmer months, the culprit is probably an inefficient air conditioner. This is another sign you may want to replace your air conditioner.

SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) ratings measure the energy efficiency of an air conditioner. The higher the SEER rating, the less energy your air conditioner uses to cool your home. AC units on the market have at least a 13 SEER. However, if you have an older air conditioner in your home, the SEER rating is potentially 6 or less.

New ENERGY STAR air conditioners are beneficial to your wallet, as well as better for the environment. Whether you upgrade to save on energy costs, or to improve your environmental impact, a new AC unit lowers your monthly energy bill.

3.) Frequent Air Conditioner Repairs

Frequent cooling system repairs and service calls are signs that you need a new air conditioner. They potentially cost more in the end than a new system. A new air conditioning system saves you money on pricey repairs, as well as energy bills, if you install a more efficient system.

A good HVAC system technician provides a full picture of your current air conditioner costs as well as the costs associated with a new system. You might be surprised how much you save with a new air conditioner versus patching up your old one.

4.) High Humidity

Air conditioners remove humidity from the air as part of the cooling process. If your home’s air feels uncomfortable, the excess humidity is often to blame.

When the air conditioner cycles but does not seem to remove your home’s humidity, it is time for a check. A trained heating and cooling technician tests the humidity in your home and diagnoses any problems with your air conditioner.

Unsure If You Need a New Air Conditioner? Get a Free Estimate from A-1 Mechanical

If your home exhibits any signs you need to replace your air conditioner, give A-1 Mechanical a call! Our expert technicians believe your comfort is a priority. We provide maintenance, repairs, and new installations all summer long. Contact us today to keep your home and family cool all summer!

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