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The Part of Your A/C System That You Don't See Is Costing You $$ and Comfort

Posted by John Sims on Tue, Apr, 18, 2017 @ 11:04 AM

Keeping A/C evaporator coils clean boosts the system's efficiency and increases cooling capacity.

Your air conditioner comprises multiple parts that depend on being free from dirt to ensure the highest efficiency possible.

The A/C evaporator coil is a major component that can either make or break your energy costs. Keeping them clean also boosts the potential comfort level of your home, too.

The evaporator coil is located inside the typical furnace above the heat exchanger so circulating air can pass over it. As the blower/fan pulls warm, moist air into the system, the evaporator coil — along with the refrigerant — absorbs the heat energy and sends it/transfers it to the condenser(your outside unit). It also is the place where the moisture/humidity in your home condenses and goes out your drain line.

EvapCoil4.png

Under ideal conditions, like when the evaporator coils are clean, the system operates at peak efficiency.

Dirt buildup IS the coils' number one enemy. Dirt prohibits the proper transfer of heat over the coils, acting as an insulation of sorts that prevents heat from moving through the coils as it should.

Some experts estimate that dirty coils consume as much as 37 percent more energy than coils that are clean. Energy costs aren't the only consequence. Dirty coils have a direct correlation to a lower system cooling capacity, in worst-case scenarios delivering a 30 percent reduction in capacity.

The Technical Explanation: The dirt resting on coils increases the total pressure within the system when it's operating, and it increases operating temperatures, too. Over time, these conditions compromise the lubricant on the compressor, causing a costly system failure.

You can take several steps to prevent an expensive repair or system replacement and higher energy costs. Don't leave the cleanliness of your coils, and your air conditioner, to chance.

Here's how to keep your A/C evapoartor coils clean:

Pay attention to the air filter. Your air filter is the coils' first line of defense against dirt buildup inside the system. During the summer, when your air conditioner runs continuously, change the filter every four weeks, and even more often if you have pets that shed in the home or you're in the middle of a home-improvement project.

Professional service. Hopefully you see why regular maintenance is a good thing; schedule annual service for your cooling system. We follow industry-leading practices for cleaning the coils, which may include employing pressure-washing tools, a specialized vacuum or a foaming detergent.

 

Topics: A/C Tune Up, AC Components, Dirt Problems, Evaporator Coil

Don't Wait Until The First 'Hot' Day To Think About Your Air Conditioner

Posted by John Sims on Fri, Apr, 14, 2017 @ 11:04 AM

Some quick attention to your A/C System in springtime could prevent regrets 4_AC_Spring_CleaningTips.pnglater. Under ideal conditions, like when the A/C coils are clean, the system operates at peak efficiency. However, multiple factors can lead to lower efficiency and higher energy costs.

It is generally a good idea to consider doing some basic maintenance on your air conditioning system in the spring.

4 Steps To Inspecting Your Outdoor Condenser Unit (where the condenser coil is housed).

The condenser coil moves the heat that the A/C collects from inside your home and deposits the warm energy outside. In essence, this coil releases heat. Here's what to check on your outside condenser before starting your A/C for the first time. With a few checks and a little effort, you can really improve the performance of your air conditioner.

1. The system condenser coils in your outside unit are designed to transfer heat, and any debris limits this effect. To get the best possible performance from your system, remove this debris from the coil and surrounding area.

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You should regularly clean the outdoor coils, which are easily accessible. Open the casing on the condenser and gently spray the coils with water from a garden hose. Take care not to use too much pressure because the force of the water can bend and damage the fins. 

2. Inspect the outdoor unit panels: These panels are designed to enclose the electrical connections and must be in place to help protect both you and the system. If you are missing a panel, this could cause potential risks for both you and the operation of the equipment. If the panel covering the electrical connections is missing or out of place, have a technician come out and fix it. 

3. If you covered the outdoor coil thinking you were protecting it during the winter months, be sure to remove the cover before starting the system. In our last article we discussed the shortcomings of doing that. Starting the system with any of these covers in place, even for a short time, could severely damage your system.

4. Repair or replace any damaged copper tubing insulation: (NOTE: ONLY the larger line needs insulation. Do NOT insulate the smaller copper line). The larger copper tube on the outdoor unit or "suction line" helps to supply cool refrigerant back to the compressor in the outdoor unit. If it has damaged insulation, this could cause a loss of cooling capacity which could damage your system, also, it may cause you to lose energy as well. 

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Topics: Maintenance, AC Problems, AC Components

Are You Familiar With The "Internet of Things"?

Posted by John Sims on Tue, Mar, 14, 2017 @ 13:03 PM

The Internet of Things (IoT) Is Far Bigger Than Anyone Realizes!

Never imagined I'd have information on our website about these types of topics. I wanted to share some information with the homeowner and building owners in the Battle Creek area. We all know technology is moving faster than many people can adapt. So to lead into covering topics related to our home automation systems that you'll really like and not that hard to install.

Our goal is to make it easy to understand. Think of the first time you learned how to use a smart phone.

The speed of change is accelerating. I don't claim to be an expert in this area, I'm like you discovering this on a daily basis and then relying on the smart people at Carrier to introduce systems that will make life easier for our customers.

So here's a little tech background from an author from Wired Magazine:

The internet of things revolves around increased machine-to-machine communications; it's built on cloud computing and networks of data-gathering sensors; it's mobile, virtual, and instantaneous connection; and they say it's going to make everything in our lives from streetlights to seaports "smart" One of the biggest technology trends.

But here's what I mean when I say people don't think big enough. People never think big enough. This is a huge fundamental shift. When we start making things intelligent, it's going to be a major engine for creating new products and new services.

Imagine building bridges with smart cement: cement that is equipped with sensors to monitor stresses, cracks and warpages. It alerts us to fix problems

Self driving cars with traffic flow optimizations. Imagine buying a smart vehicle and then loan it out during the day while you're at work.

Here's an example for our industry: For instance, let’s say you typically get home from work at 7 p.m. Your thermostat knows this and usually adjusts everything to your own environmental Goldilocks zone – just right. But what if you hit a little traffic? Your HVAC system will be wasting energy—and money—for half an hour. Thanks to machine-to-machine communications, we’re entering an era where your car can assess the situation, calculate the delay, and transmit an updated time of arrival to your home thermostat. In response, your thermostat will tailor its startup to your new estimated arrival. With just a little machine-to-machine chatter and intelligent decision-making, you saved some money and lowered your carbon footprint. Now multiply that by the U.S. Census-estimated 124 million households in the U.S, and you’ve got some serious impact.

Now, if I could just find my keys, oh, wait they have technology for that.

FOR A FEW years now, the absentminded have found salvation in Tile, the simple tracking gizmo that helps you locate your keys or anything else you can hold onto. Late for work? Fire up your iPhone and the Tile app, then listen for the Bluetooth-activated sing-song or check the on-screen map for Tile’s last known location. Have your keys but not your phone? Press the Tile’s button and your phone will ring.

Tile is affordable and brain-dead easy to use—just attach it to whatever you tend to lose. Although it must be within Bluetooth range of whatever you’ve lost, Tile does offer a killer feature: If other Tile users are near your lost keys, the Tile on your keys can still chime and update its location on the map. The people who use Tile, the easier it is to find everything. Crowdsourced memory. Beautiful.

 With a rising user base—Tile says people use the app to locate more than half a million items every day—the march of progress has finally addressed another complaint: Tile is too big.

 

More to follow about the products and services we provide!

 

Topics: Thermostat, AC Components, Furnace Components, Home Automation

How Do Air Conditioners Cool My Home?

Posted by John Sims on Tue, Jun, 02, 2015 @ 14:06 PM

A common question is how does an air conditioner cool my house; but more important is why isn't cooling HowDoesACCoolvery well? Cooling the inside of your home is not the same as heating air during winter months using the combustion of a gas.

The energy it uses is the electricity required to turn motors to move the "gas to liquid to gas" refrigerant cycle; then move the air over the evaporator coils to your duct system. Even though most people think an air conditioner is supplying cool air, actually, it’s removing heat from your home and the result is cool air coming through your vents.

This Illustration Shows How An Air Conditioner Works:

This is how it works: To understand what goes on in the system, let's start where the refrigerant gas enters the compressor located in your outside unit. As the refrigerant gas enters the compressor, it squeezes this refrigerant gas that has just absorbed heat from the indoor air (Physics - Hot moves to Cold), causing it to become extremely hot.

ACHeat_to_Cool

When the refrigerant gas is compressed, its pressure rises, making it very hot. This now high-pressure Freon gas, that is now many times hotter than it was before it got squeezed, runs through a set of coils outside. The fan blows on it to cool the high temperature gas, so that this concentrated heat is removed by blowing it into the air. Have you ever felt the air coming of the top of your outside unit? You'll see what I mean.

As the Outside unit cools this hot vapor, it condenses into a liquid just like steam condenses into water when it loses its heat. This high pressure refrigerant liquid which has now had a lot of its original heat forced out of it, thereby lowers the heat and converts the Freon gas back to a liquid.

The refrigerant liquid then flows through an expansion valve, which causes it to cool down until it evaporates. The result is low-pressure gas. At this point, it is then pulled back into the house where it passes through a tiny opening at the entrance to the indoor evaporator coil which sits within your home's air handler---typically in your furnace.

As the cold gas is channeled through the indoor evaporator coils, this allows the gas to absorb heat and lower the air inside the home. The 'cooled' air is then spread through your home by your home's duct work. Meanwhile the heat that was taken out of your home's air, has entered the warming refrigerant so that when it gets back to the compressor the whole process is repeated.

Your AC system uses the blower in your furnace to move the air through your duct system. 

Many factors effect this cooling process, some of which are low or contaminated refrigerant, shrubbery that is too close to the outside air conditioner, or low compressor performance.

If Yours Isn't Cooling Like It Used Too, Let's First Perform An AC Tune Up! Give Us A Call Or Click Below.

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Topics: A/C Tune Up, Air Conditioning, Building Science, AC Components

How Much Does It Cost To Repair A Condenser Fan Motor In The Battle Creek Area?

Posted by John Sims on Tue, Jul, 29, 2014 @ 16:07 PM

In continuing our series of articles on "How Much Does It Cost?" we wanted to address some common questions homeowners ask and are searching online for an answer or giving themCondenser Fan Motor2 some idea on what the costs might be. In today's world, you can just Google your questions. At Sims Heating & Cooling, it's our goal to be the ones to answer the questions the best we can with amount of information we have to work with.(i.e. not being able to look at your HVAC System)

Hey, is it more than $100 or $2000..., there's a big difference.

There's a feeling we've all experienced if you've owned a car or truck long enough when you need something repaired and in your mind you're thinking the repair is probably $200 - $300, but the actual bill ends up to be $1100. Yikes!!

Unless money is no object that causes an increase in stress when personal cash flow is tight today for most people. It can be stressful.

Having transportation to get to work or being cool during hot summer nights, fall into similar categories; rather high on your 'importance meter' in life.

Let's first identify what the condenser fan motor is:

The condenser fan motor keeps an air conditioner’s compressor from becoming overheated. It cools the superheated refrigerant that moved through condensing coils of your outside air conditioning unit. When your air conditioner is running, you can put your hand above the unit and feel the heat being 'sucked' away from your unit. Keep in mind, if you wish to increase the life of your AC condenser fan motor, it is important to do annual maintenance. Even just a bit of oil on the fan’s motor can make a great difference in this.

We have plenty of stories of customers who would use some straight object to turn the fan when it was stuck to get it going. The problem with that is you can be "penny wise and pound foolish". A bad fan motor could end up shortening the life of your AC Compressor.

Replacing an fan motor may run between $400 - $500. But it sure beats replacing an AC Compressor which runs in a range of $1000-$2000.

Obviously, it takes a well trained technician to be able to correctly diagnose the problem, know how to install it, and can test the new part or system to make sure it works properly. In addition, the costs associated with trucks, diagnostic equipment and time for the tech to get to your home.

Most homeowners are looking for ranges when you are trying to get an idea about the costs. You can schedule an appointment so we can make the right recommendation and solve your problem.

Hope this helps.

Topics: Pricing, AC Repair, Condenser, AC Components, Fan Motor

How Much Does It Cost To Repair The Contactors and Capacitors On My Air Conditioner?

Posted by John Sims on Wed, Jul, 23, 2014 @ 14:07 PM

Continuing our series of articles on "How Much Does It Cost?" we wanted to address some common questions homeowners ask and are searching online for an answer or givingtest running capacitor air conditioner them some idea on what the costs might be. In today's world, you can just Google your questions. At Sims Heating and Cooling, it's our goal to be the ones to answer the questions the best we can with amount of information we have to work with.(i.e. not being able to look at your HVAC System)

Hey, is it more than $100 or $2000..., there's a big difference.

There's a feeling we've all experienced if you've owned a car or truck long enough when you need something repaired and in your mind you're thinking the repair is probably $200 - $300, but the actual bill ends up to be $1100. Yikes!!

Unless money is no object that causes an increase in stress when personal cash flow is tight today for most people. It can be stressful.

Having transportation to get to work or being cool during hot summer nights, fall into similar categories; rather high on your 'importance meter' in life.

Let's first identify what an air conditioner capacitor is:

They keep your motors running. A capacitor is needed for each major motor running in your A/C system. There is a blower motor located in your furnace, condenser fan motor, and the compressor (the large pump inside the outdoor unit). For the outdoor unit you will usually see what is called a dual-run capacitor. This is a capacitor that runs both your condenser motor and the compressor. This is a very common failure during the summer. However, many times this part can be checked before it fails.

Replacing an air conditioner capacitor run between $100 - $300. 

Obviously, it takes a well trained technician to be able to correctly diagnose the problem, know how to install it, and can test the new part or system to make sure it works properly. In addition, the costs associated with trucks, diagnostic equipment and time for the tech to get to your home.

Most homeowners are looking for ranges when it comes seeking an answer to their question. We can give you a more accurate cost by scheduling an appointment.

Hope This Helps! If you have more questions...

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Topics: Air Conditioning Service, AC Problems, AC Repair, AC Components

The Typical Air Conditioning System Installed In Battle Creek Area Homes.

Posted by John Sims on Sat, May, 31, 2014 @ 11:05 AM

Most modern home air-conditioning systems share a common design, similar to that of your refrigerator. A special liquid flows in a sealed tube through a radiator-like box. There, the liquid boils to a gas, carrying heat away with it. A second unit, outdoors, liquefies the gas, removing its heat. The system pumps the liquid back indoors to repeat the process.

An air conditioner is able to cool a home because it removes heat from the indoor air and transfers it outdoors. A chemical refrigerant in the system absorbs the unwanted heat and pumps it through a system of copper tubing to the outside coil. The fan, located in the outside unit, blows outside air over the hot coil, transferring heat from the refrigerant to the outdoor air.

The typical system installed in the West Michigan area is as you can see in the diagram an outdoor unit which houses the compressor and condenser coil and then is connected to an indoor furnace fitted with an evaporator coil. Your AC System is all electric.

Every air conditioner has five main components:

1.    The compressor

2.    The condenser

3.    The evaporator coil

4.    The blower motor(usually the same one used for heating your home)

5.    A chemical refrigerant

Most central air conditioning units operate by means of a split system. That is, they consist of a ‘hot’ side, or the condensing unit—including the condensing coil, the compressor and the fan—which is situated outside your home, and a ‘cold’ side that is located inside your home. The furnace blows air through an evaporator coil, which cools the air. Then the blower motor of your furnace blows the cool air throughout your home by means of your duct systems and registers.

The compressor (which is controlled by the thermostat) is the ‘heart’ of the system. The compressor acts as the pump, causing the refrigerant to flow through the system. 

The condenser coil is a series of piping with a fan that draws outside air across the coil. As the refrigerant passes through the condenser coil and the cooler outside air passes across the coil, the air absorbs heat from the refrigerant which causes the refrigerant to condense from a gas to a liquid state. 

The 'gas' flows through the condenser, which is similar to the evaporator. A fan blows outside air past the condenser. This takes heat from the 'gas', condensing it like water condenses on a cold glass on a humid day. The 'gas' liquefies and is piped back into the house.

The evaporator coil is a series of piping connected to a furnace or air handler that blows indoor air across it, causing the coil to absorb heat from the air. The cooled air is then delivered to the house through ducting. The refrigerant then flows back to the compressor where the cycle starts over again. Liquid 'gas' flows through a set of tubing called an evaporator, located inside the home's furnace enclosure. The furnace's fan blows the house's warm air past the evaporator, heating the 'gas' and boiling it. As the 'gas' boils, it takes heat from the evaporator, chilling it and the air flowing through it. A pipe carries the 'gas', now as a gas, outside the home to the compressor.
Near the evaporator, the pressurized liquid 'gas' flows through an expansion valve, lowering the pressure and cooling the 'gas'. It then enters the evaporator, ready to begin another cycle.

The Refrigerant Cooling Cycle
Simply put, the refrigerant ('gas') circulates through copper tubing that runs between the outside unit and and your furnace. This refrigerant 'gas' absorbs and releases heat as it raises and lowers in temperature, changing from liquid to gas back to liquid(maybe you're having flashbacks to your physics courses in school). The refrigerant is especially cold when it begins to circulate through the indoor evaporator coil. As the blower motor in your furnace pushes warm air across the coil, the refrigerant absorbs so much heat from the air that it turns into vapor. As a vapor, it travels to a compressor that pressurizes it and moves it through the outdoor unit(coil), which gets rid of the heat. A fan also helps to blow off the heat. The refrigerant then passes through an expansion device that converts it to a low-pressure, low-temperature liquid, which returns to the indoor coil. And so the cycle goes

Other components that can wear out or go bad.

These are not the only components to your system. Other components subject to mechanical and electrical failures are high voltage contactors, high voltage capacitors and fan motors.

Hopefully, you can see why an AC Tune Up is your best interest, especially if you can't remember when the last time you had one.

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Topics: A/C Systems, Cooling, Condenser, AC Components

A Common Mistake With Home Air Conditioning Replacement.

Posted by John Sims on Wed, Jul, 17, 2013 @ 10:07 AM

"Unfortunately, I Went With The Lowest Price But I Didn't Realize It Didn't Include A NEW Evaporator Coil, Now We're Paying For It."

When it comes time to consider replacing their home air conditioning system, homeownersEvapCoil aren't sure how to make the best decision and as a result of what typically happens in our industry is, homeowners request a bid or quote from 3 or 4 contractors. Unfortunately, that can turn to making a decision based on lowest price.  

A contractor trying to compete on price to get the sale may either not know the evaporator coil needs replacing, or he may not tell you about it, thinking you won’t want to pay for it.

Here at Sims Heating & Cooling, our years of experience has taught us never 'short-cut' the installation. It doesn't work out very well.

Almost all new high efficiency air conditioners and heat pumps need a new indoor “evaporator coil” to work properly. Think of the radiator of your car, except this one is hidden inside your ductwork or air handler.

Also, the copper tubing that connects the inside and outside components of most air conditioners and heat pumps also has to be the right diameter. Many new high efficiency systems need bigger copper lines than you likely currently have.

The advertised efficiency of a new air conditioner or heat pump is based on the performance of both new outdoor and indoor components working together as a matched system. The EPA states: “...be sure your contractor replaces both indoor and outdoor coils for maximum efficiency.”

Richard Rue of EnergyWiseStructures recommends, "Only use HVAC equipment fromRRueEW the same manufacturer to optimize operating efficiency. Air conditioning contractors are notorious for mixing and matching equipment to save money. But the system will run more efficiently if all the components—including the condensers, furnace, and coils—are from the same manufacturer.”

Replacing all the old components of your system does initially cost more, but you get what we refer to as the Biggest Bang For Your Buck: lower utility bills, lower repair costs, improved reliability and warranty, and increased comfort. Not replacing it leads to higher utility and repair bills; plus premature compressor failures.

Topics: Done Right, Buying A/C, AC Components, Common Mistakes

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