Summer brings lots of fun in the sun. However, lots of sun means increasing temperatures throughout the Northeast and all over the state of Connecticut. In addition to rising cooling costs, hot temps mean uncomfortable homes. As a result, hot (and humid) temperatures put lots of pressure on your home HVAC system as we run them throughout the summer. Naturally, homeowners ask some questions about reducing their cooling costs. To help, please find some frequent summer HVAC questions and answers.
Does insulation help reduce my bills in the summer?
Yes. Quite simply, insulation works all year long and in particular, insulation works in the summer.
Insulation in a home works almost like a thermos. It helps keep your home warm in the winter and cool in the summer. In simple terms: insulation blocks heat from entering the home in the summer and holds heat in during the winter, which results in a cooler home in the summer, warmer home in the winter, and lower energy bills. It’s that simple and it really works. Additionally, the adding insulation pays for itself in about a year!
You may ask yourself what kind of insulation does my home need or what part of my home needs the most insulation?
SolvIt is here to answer all of your questions because we help homeowners identify the correct areas and type(s) of insulation your home would benefit from most. We even provide FREE quotes and estimates! Interested in learning how proper home insulation can make a difference? Give us a call today!
What happens if my A/C breaks?
Many of us may wonder if the A/C is actually broken or another issue may be impacting your home comfort. Therefore, if you think your A/C broke, then first, conduct a few DIY checks prior to calling your A/C tech.
- Check the thermostat settings to make sure they have not been switched off of the “cool” or “auto” settings. If you have a programmable thermostat, make sure it is still on (if not, check the batteries).
- Ensure the A/C coils are not blocked or dirty.
- Clean the A/C air filter to ensure it is not dirty or clogged.
- Inspect the electrical panel if the A/C does turn on. The switch that controls the A/C could be tripped.
- Locate the A/C unit fan switch and ensure it is on. If the fan starts, you know your A/C receives power. If it doesn’t turn on you might have a problem with the blower motor.
- Listen to the A/C because a noisy AC indicates a potential problem with the compressor motor or condenser fan, which can compromise the system’s efficiency.
- Look at the drain line because water surrounding the indoor unit that couldn’t have come from another source and likely plugged.
Upon completion of these DIY checks, if the A/C still won’t turn on, then it likely requires professional repair service.
Why is my HVAC system not blowing cold air?
First and foremost, there a handful of basic reasons that create A/C problems. For example, the following components and issues occur over time.
- Power Issues, which seem like a no-brainer, actually remain the cause of many issues. To address, check the plug and ensure the power cord is still intact. If everything checks out, then look at the electrical panel for a blown fuse.
- Thermostat Issues, which offers a straightforward explanation. Address any potential issues by checking the settings and temperature. Check by turning the temp to the lowest level to see if the A/C triggers.
- Clogged Filters, which restricts adequate airflow or simply shuts down the A/C (on newer machines) in order to prevent motor damage or overheating.
- Clogged Drains, which often shut down A/C units as a safety feature, so if a clog exists, then the system stops working.
- Dirty Compressor, which accumulates dirt and debris. To address, check the compressor and clean if dirty.
- Ice Buildup, which derives from dirty coils or filters (or even low refrigerant). To address, clean the filter, coils or add more refrigerant.
- Condensate Airflow Switch, which offers a safety mechanism that trips and shuts off the A/C unit when the drain pipe clogs. Therefore, check if the switch tripped. If so, then clean the drain pipe and reset the switch.
What if my AC doesn’t turn on?
Along the lines of checking your A/C if the HVAC system is not blowing cold air, homeowners may have an A/C that simply does not turn on. To start, check the power and thermostat settings. Next, check the fan, which powers the AC unit and frequently creates cooling problems when the fan motor overheats. If your AC still doesn’t turn on, check the condenser fan.
The condenser fan motor powers the fan blades and blows air across the condenser coil, which cools the air prior to entering your home ductwork. Maintaining the condenser fan motor helps prolong the life of the AC compressor. However, condenser fan motors overheat, which creates home cooling problems, such as:
- Bad Motor, which means checking the warranty for a possible replacement at no charge.
- Incorrectly Sized Motor, which means checking the manufacturer’s recommendations for ensuring the right sized motor.
- Overamping, which results from installing the incorrect run capacitor or an incorrectly sized fan blade.
- Poor Airflow, which typically occurs with incorrect installation of the fan blades.
- Lack of Maintenance, which generally means improper lubrication or cleaning of the motor.
If you think the condenser fan presents the A/C issue, then simply place your hand on top of the unit (or check the temperature with a thermometer). Generally, it feels warm to the touch. However, if it is noticeably or excessively hot, there is likely a problem that needs to be addressed.
What if my A/C works, but my home is still hot or uncomfortable?
During the summer months, many homes are hot and sticky. Therefore, understanding the contributing factors as to why many homes experience comfort issues in summer help us understand the problem and offer practical solutions. To help, here are some hot and sticky home solutions.
- Seal Your Home, which means homeowners air seal as many connections, gaps, holes and cracks between the air in your home and the outside air. Otherwise, the cool, conditioned air in our homes escapes through these holes. Losing the cool, conditioned air costs you money and the replacement hot, humid air makes the home uncomfortable.
- Insulate, which follows proper air sealing and should be increased wherever it is missing, poorly installed or installed to a minimum thickness (usually the attic is the best place to start). In addition to attic insulation, many homes need insulation installed in exterior walls, floors over unheated spaces and kneewalls.
- Add Exhaust Fans, which help remove moisture from your home at its source by using exhaust fans. Additionally, verify that your exhaust fans connect to an exhaust vent (or hose) that terminates outside of your home. Exhaust ducts that terminate in the attic lead to moisture damage, mildew and eventually mold growth.
- Seal Air Ducts, which minimizes air leaks. In particular, when the duct leaks are outside of the conditioned space because ductwork is pressurized (and depressurized) by the central air conditioner or heat pump fan. Therefore, duct leaks are exaggerated and significantly impact poor comfort conditions in the home.
Improving the home comfort during the summer remains challenging. As a result, consider a home energy assessment if your home remains uncomfortable and/or your energy costs rise. When done properly, an energy audit pinpoints the true sources of comfort problems and energy waste in your home, such as excessive air leaks or insufficient insulation levels.
Are there are any warning signs of a broken HVAC system?
Yes, a broken HVAC system offers some warning signs. For example, walk through your home and ask yourself a few questions about your A/C unit.
- When was the last time you replaced the air filter? Most homeowners don’t worry about their air filter until there is already a problem present. For dirty filters, then your A/C unit might run continually, but your home temperature may not cool down.
- How hot is it outside? On those unbearably hot days, the outdoor temperature could be too intense for older systems to function at maximum efficiency. If this is case, it could be time to upgrade.
- Did you check the thermostat? Sometimes the problem is simple, your thermostat might just need a fresh set of batteries. Look for the battery symbol or light on your thermostat indicating the batteries need to be changed.
- How is the outdoor A/C unit? If you have an outdoor unit(s), you should be able to see and hear if the fan is still on. If it is working, that is likely not a problem. However, many homeowners never think their outdoor air condenser needs any maintenance, which is not accurate.
Any final summer HVAC tips?
Yes. In particular, some leading experts provide a few summer HVAC tips that help avoid additional A/C issues.
Missing ceiling saver kit.
“Drip pans are responsible for collecting water that forms through condensation, another process necessary for successful air conditioning. When this small supply of water has no exit route, it collects inside of the home and the air conditioner itself. Be sure to ask your HVAC technician to supply and test a secondary drip pan, which we call a “ceiling saver kit”, to prevent any potential for water damage.”
– Common Mistakes Found in AC Installations, Service Champions Heating & Air Conditioning
Installing incorrect size refrigerant pipes.
“The pipes that connect the indoor and outdoor units of a central AC should be kept short. If an inexperienced installer puts in pipes that are too long, it will make it difficult for the air conditioner to complete the cooling cycle. This will lead to a compressor that runs continually, draining energy and rapidly wearing itself down.”
– 4 Common AC Installation Mistakes Amateurs Make, Malek Heating & Cooling;
“Airflow plays a major role in the installation of air ducts. Contractors who don’t take airflow into consideration during air duct installation fail to ensure a correctly sized system.”
– Is Your HVAC Contractor A Hack?, On Time Experts
Poor position of your thermostat.
“If the sun or a nearby lamp blasts your thermostat for big chunks of the day, that could throw off its readings and cause it to crank your AC even though your place is pleasantly cool. Especially if you’re away during the day, you may not realize your system is working overtime due to a misplaced thermostat.”
– 8 Big Mistakes You’re Making With Your Air Conditioner, TIME
Poor position while Installing your air conditioner.
“The location of your air conditioner has a big impact on its energy efficiency. While it may seem convenient to put your bulky HVAC system in an unused corner on the west side of the house, that placement will force the machine to work harder to cool your home. Instead, find a shady spot to put the air conditioner; the less direct sunlight it gets, the less power it will need to cool your home.”
– 10 Air Conditioning Mistakes to Avoid, AC South East
Not removing the drip pan for vertical installations.
“Because this would add an additional step to the air conditioner installation process, the vast majority of A/C installers just don’t do it. Leaving this pan in the unit can cause a reduction of airflow up to 2% causing the system efficiency to drop by about 1%.”
– Common Air Conditioning Installation Mistakes That Could Cost You $3500, Kalos Services
Installing the wrong drainage system.
“If this water is not drained safely and effectively, it can spill over to other components and cause damage. The drain system design flaw is a mistake that is commonly made by the armature installation contractors, but can cost you a lot of money.”
– 3 Of The Most Costly AC Installation Mistakes You Can Avoid By Hiring Qualified Professionals, Crystal Air and Water, Inc.
Blocked return vents.
“In some older homes, you may find return air vents in closets and other out-of-sight places where they often end up covered up with boxes or furniture. When return air supply is restricted, the blower fan will try harder to pull the air in, which may shorten its lifespan significantly.”
– 3 COMMON HVAC INSTALLATION MISTAKES TO AVOID, Cool Breeze
Poorly installed electrical wiring.
“If the installation professional is not too experienced, then he could easily do sloppy wiring work which may not only prove risky but may even create faults in the working of the unit. Make sure there are no exposed wires as well.”
– 5 most common AC installation mistakes to be informed about, Ideas by Mr Right
Not properly sealing the ductwork.
“When the ducts are not properly sealed, the chance a leak may occur at any time is bigger. Most installers use low quality products, and they also cut corners when installing the duct system. This will eventually lead to many issues, which are very expensive to fix. Make sure you hire a reputable AC contractor in order to get the most out of your AC installation project.”
– Top Common AC Installation Mistakes, Futch Heating and Air Conditioning
Not using a qualified technician for your installation.
“A lot of businesses advertise that they install A/C’s but are not licensed to do so. If your A/C is not installed by a licensed technician it can void your Manufacturer’s Warranty.”
– Worst Air Conditioner Installation Mistakes, K&J Burns
Choosing a company that does not have NATE-certified technicians.
“Consumers can rest assured that with a NATE-certified technician, they are getting the best installation and service for maximum comfort and economy in their heating and cooling system. Better installation and service mean longer life for your heating and cooling equipment and increased energy efficiency.”
– Why Should I Choose a Contractor with NATE-Certified Technicians?, North American Technician Excellence (NATE)
Additionally, routine inspections, which simply take a few minutes every month or so, help provide peace of mind. After all, the old adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” remain true when it comes to your air condition system as well.
Therefore, count on SolvIt’s exceptional technicians to help work through any HVAC questions and answers! If anything goes wrong with your current system, the experienced team of SolvIt A/C techs will diagnose, explain, and fix the problem. SolvIt Home Services offers all of our air conditioning repair and maintenance services to all of Connecticut. Find all of our CT services areas here.