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Is It Normal For Air Conditioner To Run All Day?

Posted by John Sims on Thu, Jul, 19, 2018 @ 14:07 PM

During the last heat wave here in Battle Creek, I'm sure you were thankful but thinkingmaybe concerned about how long it was running. For some homeowners it may seem like it's running non-stop.

Is this normal? Well, because it’s hotter outside, it’s normal for a central air conditioner to run without cycling on and off as often. Also, running with fewer cycles (turning on and off) is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, running longer can be positive because it helps dehumidify your home

It can decrease wear and tear on your system from less starting and stopping. When the electric motors of your air conditioner start up, it uses the greatest amount of electricity.

IMPORTANT: An air conditioner is a "big whole house dehumidifier"; which needs to run long enough to remove the moisture; it needs long run-times. How long? It takes about 15 minutes of run-time before you start getting serious dehumidification of the air, so over-sized systems will not dehumidify well. If the AC comes on, runs 10 minutes or less, and then shuts off, the house may be cool, but when it comes to high humidity levels, in a humid climate, the indoor humidity levels will stay high, probably over 60%.

Here's a rule of thumb:

Under normal conditions at average summertime highs and a correctly sized system, 2-3 cycles/hour would be good. At extreme outside temps, it is possible to see system running continuous for hours. Not an ideal situation especially if system is not maintaining your inside comfort temperature. You will never get good dehumidification with 3-5 cycles/hour.

When you should be concerned if it's running constantly:

You may have a problem if your air conditioner runs constantly, you’re never comfortable and your thermostat temp is never satisfied. These are signs something is wrong and needs correcting.

If that’s you, here are few things that could be causing your air conditioner to run constantly.

  1. Undersized air conditioner (pretty rare) 
  1. A frozen evaporator coil

Air conditioners must be sized correctly for each home. An undersized system struggles to cool your home, which is why it’s running constantly. This constant running will reduce pressure in the evaporator (cooling) coil until it freezes over.

Call us if you have concerns!

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Topics: Cooling, AC Problems, Comfort, HVAC Sizing

My Air Conditioner Has Ice On It

Posted by John Sims on Tue, Jun, 19, 2018 @ 15:06 PM

If you have ice forming on your air conditioner, that's not a good thing. During theIced ac line heat wave we've been having when your air conditioner is running a lot, I know it's hard to believe, but your outside air conditioner unit or heat pump could be coated with solid ice.

A 'frozen' A/C system can make for a frustrating and uncomfortable day; it happens more than you think.

The buildup of ice and frost is a sure sign that your air conditioner is not operating properly. Air conditioner freeze-ups should be addressed immediately; continued ice accumulation can cause permanent damage to your a/c unit.

There are two fairly common reasons for homeowners to understand about the likely cause of the problem.

#1 - Blocked air flow from a dirty air filter.

When your home's air flow is restricted, there's not enough air moving through the air conditioning system to keep the moisture on the coil from freezing. Anything that restricts air flow will cause the temperature of the system’s evaporator coil to drop below freezing. Humidity in the air will collect on the coil causing ice to build-up and reduce the system’s cooling capacity. Dirty air filters or dirt build-up on the evaporator coil can seriously restrict the air flow.

The culprit is usually the air filter. Changing air filters on a regular basis is inexpensive but it delivers lots of benefit. If you'd like a friendly reminder you can sign up for our monthly email reminder.

#2 - Refrigerant Leaks: Leaks or low levels of refrigerant can cause pressure drops in the air conditioner’s evaporator coil, which will allow moisture in the air to freeze and accumulate on the coil.

Air conditioner ice up is a serious problem! If the evaporator coil turns into a 'block of ice', it prevents the heat transfer to occur within the evaporator. The block of ice is blocks the airflow through the evaporator coil. The cold Freon within the evaporator coil is supposed to absorb the heat and turn it to gas; which it is prevented from doing.

What To Do When Your Air Conditioner Freezes Up:

What should you do: Switch off the system so it can defrost but you can keep the fan running so it will defrost faster. Let it run for 60 to 90 minutes. Check your air filter and turn it back to "cool" and it should start working again.

P.S. It's probably time for service or a tune up!

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Topics: AC Problems, AC Repair, Ice Build Up

My Air Conditioner Is Leaking Water

Posted by John Sims on Tue, Jun, 05, 2018 @ 11:06 AM

First, understand that your air conditioner is a great big whole-house dehumidifierWindowMoisture2 where the primary function is to remove, or pull moisture from the humid air (what makes you uncomfortable) in your home.

Here's the 'normal' function of your air conditioner, the way it's designed to work:

We mainly count on our air conditioners to cool the air in our homes, but they also perform another function: dehumidification. When your air conditioner is running, the evaporator coil gets extremely cold. As warm air from your home is blown over the coil, the air cools down and releases moisture (thereby dehumidifying your air).

Your AC’s inside unit contains the evaporator coil that cools the warm air blown over it. This causes condensation to form on the coil. Everyone has seen water droplets form on a cold glass of water or cold pop can on a hot day.

The moisture on the evaporator coil drips into a drain pan and then it runs down a condensate drain line (a white PVC pipe) that leads to a floor drain or exits out your home

This is a GOOD thing, and a sign that your system is doing its job. But, there's a difference between water draining and water leaking.

So Here's A Common Problem For A Neglected Air Conditioning System

PluggedDrainLineWater leaks in central air conditioners are almost always caused by a problem with the condensate pan or drain pipes. A clogged condensate drain line is the most common cause of water leaking from your AC into your home.

When your drain line gets clogged with dust, dirt, or mold, water backs up in your drain pan. With nowhere to go, that water will begin to spill over your drain pan and onto your furnace or air handler and then onto your floor.

You’ll need to unclog it. There are multiple unclogging methods, you can try a rigid wire to poke up the line or better yet, use a wet/dry vac on the condensate line.

But the surefire way is to have a professional use a special vacuum to suck the stuff that's blocking the line out. Also, a pretty good argument to schedule a tune up.

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Topics: AC Problems, Air Conditioning, Evaporator Coil

Why Does My Air Conditioner Not Turn On?

Posted by John Sims on Wed, May, 02, 2018 @ 11:05 AM

When the weather changes to much warmer temperatures in Battle Creek, we getsummer-sun 'fired up'. We start doing more outdoor activities! For those who know me, get the motorcycle out and go for a ride. It also gets us going over to the thermostat and switching it over to "COOL". That's when we get the "NO COOL" calls. So before you CALL US, run through the following steps if you're air conditioner won't turn on.

If You Have An Air Conditioner

  • Check the settings on your thermostat. Make sure the temperature control selector is set below the current room temperature, and the system switch is on the COOL or AUTO position. The fan switch should be set to ON for continuous airflow or AUTO if you want the blower to operate only while the air conditioner is operating.
  • Try to get the air conditioner to turn on by lowering the thermostat to its lowest temperature setting.
  • If the air flow out of your registers seems low, check the air filter. An extremely dirty air filter can block air flow.
  • Make sure all registers are open and not obstructed.
  • Check the power disconnect switch by each unit (outdoor and indoor).
  • Check the fuse/breaker at the electrical panel for both the outdoor and indoor unit.
  • If the problem persists, please call us.

 If You Have A Heat Pump

  • Check the settings on your thermostat. Make sure the temperature control selector is set below the current room temperature, and the system switch is on the COOL or AUTO position. The fan switch should be set to ON for continuous airflow or AUTO if you want the blower to operate only while the heat pump is operating.
  • Try to get the heat pump to turn on by lowering the thermostat to its lowest temperature setting.
  • If the air flow out of your registers seems low, check the air filter. An extremely dirty air filter can block air flow.
  • Make sure all registers are open and not obstructed.
  • Check the power disconnect switch by each unit (outdoor and indoor).
  • Check the fuse/breaker at the electrical panel for both the outdoor and indoor unit.
  • If the problem persists, please call us.

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Topics: A/C Systems, Air Conditioning Service, AC Failures

Who Is The Best Heating Contractor In Battle Creek?

Posted by John Sims on Tue, Apr, 17, 2018 @ 08:04 AM

It's human nature to make the best buying decision. One you can feel confident Best Dealmaking. No one wants to make the second best buying decision or have regrets. In this day and age, it seems difficult to determine who or what sources are credible and who you can trust. I thought I'd address that.

I know there are plenty of choices out there when it comes the heating and cooling contractors. At Sims Heating and Cooling, we don't 'claim' to be the best deal, but we can make a pretty good case!

Click on the following links to find out:

Who We Are - Our Qualifications

How We Work - Getting The Best Installation

4 Ways We Hope To Establish Our Credibility With You And Earn Your Trust

 

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Topics: Best Furnace Service, Best Price, Customer Value

My Air Conditioner Won't Work - 5 Things You Can Check Yourself

Posted by John Sims on Fri, Apr, 13, 2018 @ 10:04 AM

The warm weather is just around the corner for Battle Creek homeowners. 5 AC ChecksThinking about your air conditioner becomes more important. What condition was it at the end of last season and over the winter.

When your air conditioner won't come on, it can be very frustrating; you just sit there and sweat! No Fun!

Air Conditioners are designed for reliability (assuming they've been maintained) over a long period and are one of the most expensive and most needed appliances in almost every home.  

Reasons for the air conditioner not working can be complex or very simple. While you are probably better off leaving the difficult problems of thermocouples, wiring and motors to a qualified professional, there are a good number of things you can check before you phone a qualified HVAC contractor for service.

Here are some initial things to check if you decide to do your own troubleshooting: 

Check the settings on your thermostat. Make sure the temperature control selector is set below the current room temperature, and the system switch is on the COOL or AUTO position. The fan switch should be set to ON for continuous airflow or AUTO if you want the blower to operate only while the air conditioner is operating.

Try to get the air conditioner to turn on by lowering the thermostat to its lowest temperature setting.

If the air flow out of your registers seems low, check the air filter. An extremely dirty air filter can block air flow.

Make sure all registers are open and not obstructed.

Check the power disconnect switch by each unit (outdoor and indoor).

Check the fuse/breaker at the electrical panel for both the outdoor and indoor unit.

If the problem persists, please call us.

Here's a little more in-depthl trouble-shooting Follow These 5 Steps When You A/C Isn't Cooling Your Home. It just might save you a service call.

Follow This Trouble-Shooting Checklist First Yourself (if you feel comfortable doing it.)

Try 'Troubleshooting' The Problem:

  1. The first place to look is the thermostat. It may sound simple, but check to see that it is turned on. All modern thermostats have an on off switch, but they are not clearly labeled with an “on” position. The “on” position is labeled “heat” or “cool.” Obviously you want to make sure the switch is in the “cool” position. If you have a programmable thermostat be sure you bypass the program by adjusting the temperature number and pressing the “hold” button. If the A/C still does not come on you’ll want to check to see if your thermostat has a replaceable battery and check it. 
  2. If your A/C system still does not come on, look for an on/off switch at the furnace itself. It looks just like a light switch and is often attached to the unit itself, or very nearby. Make sure the switch is on. If you have central air-conditioning as part of your system and it worked properly over the summer, then more than likely your switch is already on. 
  3. Is the furnace/air handler fan running? If it is not, then, check to see if the fan on the outside unit is running. If the fan on the outside unit is not running either, check to make sure that the breakers in your electric panel for the furnace/air handler and the air conditioner are on.  The breaker could have tripped and the solution to the problem could be as easy as flipping the switch.  
  4. If all switches are on, the problem could be with the cover on the front of the furnace. The cover often has a trip switch which shuts off the system when it is opened. If the cover is not properly closed, the switch can prevent the blower in your furnace from running.  
  5. If the blower(in your furnace) is running but the fan on the outside unit is not, then continue your air conditioner troubleshooting at the outside unit. If the blower on the furnace is running, check to see if you see any frost or ice around the units. You might also notice water around the furnace. Is there ice on the copper lines going outside? If yes, then shut the outside unit off for a couple of hours but let the blower on the furnace run. This will allow the ice to melt.(also a good time to have it serviced)

 

 

Topics: Air Conditioning Tune Up, Emergency Repair, Air Conditioners

Will Replacing My Windows Lower My Energy Bill?

Posted by John Sims on Thu, Jan, 04, 2018 @ 12:01 PM

I always get a little 'riled up' when I see advertising for replacement windows that is pretty OnlineComfortHighBills.pngmisleading. You may have seen the TV ads by a window company trying to connect the purchase of a 'houseful' of replacement windows as the solution to the upcoming Winter. As we covered in a previous article, the Farmer's Almanac is claiming to be very cold like last Winter.

Here's what they say: "Remember last winter? Order windows today & beat winter this year!"

Replacement windows are a several $1000 dollar investment. The question is, is that the wisest investment you can make?

Here at Sims Heating And Cooling, we continually look for the best information in the marketplace that we can deliver to homeowners in the Battle Creek area. Our goal is to keep your heating and cooling costs to their absolute minimum--while maintaining comfort and safety for your home; and if we can bring other credible information from various building science experts that help you make good decisions for your home we want to share it with you.

With all the advertising for replacing your windows, homeowners ask the question, are they worth it? So we thought we'd let, Craig DeWitt, Ph. D., P.E. at RLC Engineering answer it:

Q: Are replacement windows a cost-effective way to lower my energy bills? Some companies are claiming that my energy bills will be up to 49% lower.
 
 
A: In most situations, replacement windows are NOT cost effective from an energy standpoint. From analysis of several houses using energy auditing software, I see realistic savings closer to $50-$100 per year. In one recent house with a replacement window estimate of well over $10,000, the savings were estimated at $52 per year. You'd be better off putting the money in the bank and drawing 1% interest.
I do see a couple reasons for considering replacement windows: 1) You can't see through the old ones, 2) The old ones won't open, 3) The old ones are rotten, falling apart, or expensive to maintain, 4) Personal belongings are subject to fading, or 5) You have a lot of un-shaded windows facing east, south or west.
Be aware of a couple items. The glass in replacement windows will probably be smaller than in the old windows. The light coming in may be less, especially with Low-E coatings. Air infiltration may change significantly, which may cause some borderline situation to become problems.

From a personal business stand point and something very near and dear to our heart, a furnace tune up will be worth every penny this Winter. If you'd like to learn why, spend 3 minutes and watch the video we put together called the, "The TOP 10 Reasons for a Furnace Tune Up."

Topics: Furnace Tune Ups, Heating Costs, Windows

What Do Furnace Tune Ups And Underground Sprinkling Have In Common?

Posted by John Sims on Fri, Oct, 13, 2017 @ 14:10 PM

Both sould be done before winter. This is the time of year that if you have underground sprinkling you better get the

water in the lines blown out. It's one of those Fall time 'to-do's' that have bad consequences if you forget. There's a window of time to get it done. Lots of URGENCY, right?

The point I want to make is having your furnace tuned up should be right up there when it comes to home maintenance; should be common sense. I know you may be thinking that I haven't had a tune up for years and my furnace still comes on and heats my home without 'catastrophic' damage. I get that.

What most homeowners don't understand is there's a risk of death component from carbon monoxide poisoning whenever you have gas in your home. Obviously, that's a much greater consequence than your underground sprinkling cracking from the water freezing up in the winter.

A furnace tune up is kinda like changing the oil in your car. Seriously, who goes 6,000, 7,000 or 10,000 miles without changing you oil?

Unfortunately, we see too many (91%) who do that very thing with their furnace. Regular maintenance is just as important, and it's not just what we are saying.

PATH, (Partnership for Advancing Technology In Housing), states this, "In most homes, heating, air conditioning, and domestic hot water systems are typically ignored until they malfunction" We agree!! From our perspective, that's exactly what we see day in and day out. That doesn't make sense to us.

Here are the 4 most important reasons to schedule a furnace tune up: 

Caution4-1.pngAvoid The Threat Of Carbon Monoxide. The furnace tune-up is first about the occupants safety. You want to make sure you don't have any lurking unsuspecting health threats. Think about it, you're pumping natural gas(or LP gas) in your home to meet up with a flame....Combustion-based heating systems consume oxygen and produce heat along with two primary combustion products (carbon dioxide and water vapor). There are also unwanted combustion byproducts, including carbon monoxide, nitrous oxides, and smoke. That's why inspecting the heating system for cracks and failed seals is worth the Tune-Up. You do not want flue gases to escape into the home.


Help.pngAvoid The 'Got NO HEAT' When Can You Fix It' Emergency! Most calls we get start with, "Ughh.. what a nuisance." Life is very busy and it's not worth letting it run until the inevitable. People want peace of mind.

 

 

Meter.pngEnsure Efficient Performance, Saving You $$. According to major industry studies conducted by Utilities, 75% of installed A/C equipment are improperly charged. A/C Systems with a 20% undercharge of refrigerant can DOUBLE your utility bills…That's why we say your electric bill may be burning a hole in your pocketbook. Refrigerant undercharge is hard on your compressor. It needs to be tested and charged correctly. An industry term used by some technicians is not acceptable for our tune ups. It's known as the 'beer-can-cold' hand test; that just doesn't cut it.

Comfort2.pngPrevent Premature Failure Of Your System. Because of notoriously poor specification and installation, HVAC equipment tends to operate inefficiently and deteriorate faster than necessary through problems such as over-sized equipment, excessive cycling, improper operating temperatures and leaky or faulty ducts.

 

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Topics: Maintenance, Furnace Tune Up, Safety, Carbon Monoxide

Problems With Battle Creek Ranch Style Houses

Posted by John Sims on Wed, Oct, 11, 2017 @ 12:10 PM

I know ranch homes are popular in the Battle Creek area. I ran across someRanchHomeProb.png helpful information for those who live in this type of home; especially when it comes to preparing this fall for winter season.

As the author points out they don't necessarily have large heating bills but they have some unique problems during the heating season. First let's define what is considered your typical ranch style home

Ranch Style Houses – Ranches are typically a single floor layout with a wide profile and a long shallow-pitched roof. The roof line can have either end gables or hip roofs. The roof eaves usually extend far past the building foot print, providing essential shade from the Southwest summer sun. The floor plans are open, simple and spacious, often including an attached garage; maybe some bay windows and French doors.

The Advantages - They’re reasonably priced and work well as starter homes. Because the framing is so simple, it’s quite easy to insulate and air seal (hey, insulation advantage).
 
The open layout of ranches are often incorporated into landscaping and views, creating nice living environment. Ranches are an obvious choice for elderly couples looking for single level living.

Disadvantages,

Ice Dam edition Do ranch style houses have intrinsic problems with heating and cooling (yeah, I wouldn’t have used the word ‘intrinsic’ if they didn’t). Partly it is a result of originating in the Southwest. Building features like the low pitch roof and extended eaves make great sense in a predominantly sunny climate. They provide extra shade during the long, much hotter summers. In a cold climate, this is a formula for ice dams. Ice dams are formed when an upper portion of the roof is over the freezing point and a lower portion is below it. The snow melts at the top and refreezes on the lower edge.

Roofs in northern climates usually have sharp pitches, enabling them to shed snow. The ranch’s shallow pitched roof allows snow to accumulate more easily. More snow means more snow to melt and the extended eaves are just more roof for the water to refreeze. Tada. 8″ ice dams.

IceDams2.jpg

Now, THAT'S an Ice Dam

Cold Spots: Another issue is cold spots. Random cold spots crop up in ranch-style houses. There are many thermal bypasses common to all house designs. Holes through the frame like the chimney, plumbing chases, recessed lighting and interior wall seams all whisk heat out of the house. This aggressive heat loss wouldn’t be as noticeable in a 3 floor colonial. It wouldn’t be any less but just not as noticeable. The single level living of ranch style houses means cold drafts can be unavoidable. If the plumbing chase makes the bathroom in a big Colonial unbearably cold … go to another (warm) bathroom. With a ranch, the cold bathroom may be the only one.

Excessive Foundation Heat Loss: The extended footprint of a ranch means more exposed basement concrete. The most aggressive heat loss in a house is usually through the above grade foundation. The foundation concrete has almost no insulating value (about R-1 per 8 inches) and 12-24 inches of it protrudes out from ground level. Take two 1500 square foot houses, one a 2-story colonial, the other a ranch. The colonial will have a foundation perimeter around 160 linear feet while the colonial would have one around 110 linear feet (very ballparky, of course). In this example, the ranch house would have 45% more exposed foundation concrete than a colonial of the same size.

Lastly, ranch style houses are often built on slabs. These concrete slabs are very rarely insulated since the era of ranch construction (post-World War II through the 70s) pre-dates slab insulation as a best practice. In extreme cases, the cold edge of an uninsulated slab can be a moisture condensation point. An uninsulated concrete slab is a massive heat sink though the majority of heat loss can be addressed by trenching out around the perimeter and installing edge insulation.

Ranch style houses gained popularity in the Baby Boom generation. They were well suited to expansion in the Southwest but were not ideal for cold weather climates. Keep in mind those heating challenges of the ranch design and you can make your home warmer and more comfortable.

Source:Erik North

As always, we hope to provide credible information that helps homeowners in the Battle Creek area.

If You Want Your Furnace To 'Fire-Up" Like You Hope And You Haven't Had A Tune Up In Several Years, Give Us A Call Or Schedule Below

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Topics: Ice Dams, Comfort, Cold Drafts

Get The 'Biggest Bang For Your Buck' When Adding Insulation

Posted by John Sims on Wed, Oct, 04, 2017 @ 11:10 AM

If you decide to add insulation this fall, focus on your attic or roof line and thenBiggest_Bang.png reducing air leakage in the basement and/or crawlspace. Especially, where your foundation meets your floor joist.

Access to your walls is not really a good option because you're not going to remove the drywall unless you're doing some remodeling. If you're planning to remove your siding and re-side the house, there are some measures you may want to consider at that time to improve the insulation.  

REMINDER: R Value – Fact or Faulty Myth R-Value in the lab just doesn’t cut it in the field when it comes to the real-world. Most consumers are familiar with the term but have no concrete understanding what it really means other than it has to do with insulation and energy efficiency. The problem is the understanding stops there and crowds out the important information and science necessary to realize/achieve the results your hoope for. Unfortunately, in the construction world r-value is the “pink” standard.

The problem IS "R-values can be misleading! To use a quote from an ultra energy-efficiency engineer, “if both insulation materials have the same R-value, they should perform the same,”  ask yourself this question, “would you rather pour hot coffee (which is served at around 180 degrees) over your lap into a thin foam cup or into 1″ of fiberglass insulation (which is about the thickness of your furnace filter)?” Does one inch of foam truly perform the same as one inch of fiberglass? No! You get the idea!

All insulation materials (except for urethane foam) are going to test out at between R-3 and R-4 per inch. In fact, if air can penetrate the building materials(like fiberglass) the effective R-Value is ZERO, no matter how deep you stack it.

So before you add rolls of fiberglass insulation or blow more cellulose in your attic, make sure you seal any air penetrations in your attic floor

To get the 'biggest bang for your buck' when adding insulation, focus on your attic or roof line and then reducing air leakage in the basement and/or crawlspace. Especially, where your foundation meets your floor joist.

Hope that helps!

 

Topics: Energy Efficiency Tips, Attic Insulation, Basement Insulation

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