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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

You Could Be Losing HALF Of Your Air Conditioning Bill

Posted by John Sims on Wed, Jul, 19, 2017 @ 11:07 AM

And, not even know it! Even though you get some cold air each time you turn on Cooling Loss.pngyour air conditioner, the stats are not in your favor.

BECAUSE, seven out of ten systems are incorrectly charged; A 23% refrigerant undercharge(your Freon) could result in a 52% efficiency loss

One of the signs is frost build up on the copper lines running to your condenser outdoors in the back or side of your home.

Check the Refrigerant Lines- Refrigerant lines are the two copper pipes that connect the outside condensing unit to the inside evaporator coil. The larger one is usually insulated with a black rubbery foam insulation. Refrigerant lines should always be properly insulated. Having refrigerant lines that are insulated will help keep your system running at peak efficiency. If you find that the refrigerant lines need repairs, have a trained technician inspect and fix the situation.

The Consequences of Undercharging the Refrigerant Level in an Air Conditioner are more than your electric bill.

When an air conditioner is undercharged, you get improper operating pressures, too low: too little refrigerant in the system can actually drop the temperature in the cooling coil below its normal operating range creating frost on the coils and copper lines.

Loss of cooling capability: eventually when enough refrigerant leaks out of the system temperatures rise again because we no longer have any heat exchange between the condenser coil and the outdoor air nor between the then empty cooling coil and the indoor air.

More expensive operation: There is not enough refrigerant in the system, for example to properly fill the cooling coil - then we remove less heat (per unit of time operation of the equipment) so we are decreasing the operating efficiency of the system.

Compressor motor damage: Too little refrigerant in an air conditioner is likely to cause overheating of the compressor motor. Because in a properly-charged refrigeration system, the refrigerant is cooling the electric motor that is sealed inside the compressor unit. An overheated A/C motor may trip a circuit breaker, may have trouble starting, and eventually will fail to run at all.

Bottom line about undercharging refrigerants: For air conditioners to work properly you must have exactly the correct charge in the system.

There's good chance yours is 'draining your pocketbook' and shortening the life of your equipment. The potential savings from correcting these deficiencies are substantial.

When's The Last Time You Had Yours Checked - 

 

Topics: A/C Systems, Cooling, AC Problems, Diagnostics

Inspect The Drainage Line of Your Air Conditioner

Posted by John Sims on Fri, Jun, 16, 2017 @ 12:06 PM

If it's been a few years since checking this, now may be a good time. Remember your air conditioner is really a big dehumidifier.  It's primary role is to REMOVE moisture from the air in your home. Well, in order to do that, moisture needs to have a place where it condenses and then drains safely.

Warmer weather is here and your air conditioner is working a lot more to keep your home comfortable over the next few months. The cooling process creates condensation – occasionally, issues with your drip pan or condensate drain lines may cause water to back up into your home or furnace. Yes, your furnace. It's an important component of your air conditioner. It houses the evaporator coil and uses the blower motor to circulate air

Condensation occurs on the evaporator coil located in your furnace just above the heat exchanger. As the blower motor in your furnace circulates air through your home through the supply and return vents, the air passes over the evaporator coil which has the cold refrigerant running through the tubing to your outside unit. The moisture in the air condenses on the fins into water. It also exchanges heat from the air as well.

Looks like a radiator

Evaporator_Coil.gif

Water on the floor around your furnace is a sign there is a problem with your condensation drain lines. The system will have a drip pan, which is typically located to the bottom of the unit. The drip pan connects to the condensate drain line, which carries water out of the home.

When the drip pan becomes full or clogged, or the condensate line is clogged, water can spill over the drip pan’s edges, onto the floor surrounding your furnace.

Musty odors and increasing humidity inside your home are additional signs of a condensate drain system issue. If left untreated, this issue could lead to serious water damage inside your home.

Inspect your condensate drain lines for clogs may save you a ton of money on repairs.

Next up: Steps To Fix A Clogged Condensate Drain Line

Need to 'fix' it right now?

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Topics: A/C Systems, Maintenance, Cooling, Evaporator Coil

Time For Programming Your Thermostat For Cooling Season

Posted by John Sims on Wed, May, 31, 2017 @ 14:05 PM

If you haven’t already done so, now is the time to set your programmable thermostat-2-carrier-2.gifthermostat with your summer temperature cooling schedules. Take a little time now to pre-program your thermostat to automatically adjust comfort levels in the home during the cooling season.

If you don’t already have a programmable thermostat, upgrading to a programmable model can be done inexpensivley. When used properly, it can make a nice difference in your heating and cooling energy consumption.

There Are 4 Settings (remember it will only 'kick on' your system if the temperature in your home is higher than the setting):

  1. Before you wake up - program temperatures to adjust about 15 minutes before you wake up for optimal efficiency and comfort.
  2. When you're at work - set temperatures to rise 10 to 15 degrees
  3. Before you return home - about 15 minutes before you get home, set the thermostat to return to the level you feel comfortable
  4. After bedtime - set the temperature to a higher temperature

Now I realize there are many more scenarios to people's lifestyle. Your family maybe home during the day, so #2, and #3 don't apply.

According to ENERGY STAR, when used correctly, a programmable thermostat could save you approximately $180 each year.

Here's some additional information from their website:

  1. Keep the temperature set at its energy savings set-points for long periods of time (at least eight hours), for example, during the day, when no one is at home, and through the night, after bedtime.
  2. All thermostats let you temporarily make an area warmer or cooler, without erasing the pre-set programming. This override is cancelled automatically at the next program period. You use more energy (and end up paying more on energy bills) if you consistently “hold” or over-ride the pre-programmed settings.
  3. Units typically have two types of hold features: (a) hold/permanent/vacation; (b) temporary. Avoid using the hold/permanent/vacation feature to manage day to day temperature settings. “Hold” or “vacation” features are best when you're planning to be away for an extended period. Set this feature at a constant, efficient temperature (i.e. several degrees warmer temperature in summer, several degrees cooler during winter), when going away for the weekend or on vacation. You'll waste energy and money if you leave the “hold” feature at the comfort setting while you're away.
  4. Cranking your unit up to 90 degrees or down to 40 degrees, for example, will not heat or cool your house any faster. Most thermostats begin to heat or cool at a set time, to reach setpoint temperatures sometime thereafter. Units with adaptive (smart/intelligent) recovery features are an exception to this rule - Adaptive recovery units are constantly calculating the amount of time required to heat or cool the house, so that it reaches that temperature when the homeowner programmed it. By "examining" the performance of the past few days the thermostat can keep track of the seasons. In this way, your house is always at the comfort levels when occupied, but saving the most energy when unoccupied.
  5. Many homes use just one thermostat to control the whole house. If your home has multiple heating or cooling zones, you'll need a programmed setback thermostat for each zone to maximize comfort, convenience and energy savings throughout the house.
  6. If your programmable thermostat runs on batteries, don't forget to change the batteries each year. Some units will indicate when batteries must be changed.

Here's a little secret if you don't like the idea of having to change the setting of your programmable thermostat. If you decide to build a new home and you get your hands on the right information before you start, you can build an Ultra Energy Efficient Home where you can set the thermostat one time and FORGET it. The only thing you'd have to do is switch over from cooling to heat and back. Check out 'Building Science' and 'Energy Efficient Solutions' posts in the right hand column. It's a great place to start

 

Topics: Energy Efficiency Tips, Cooling, Comfort, Thermostat

Does Closing Registers Reduce My Heating Costs?

Posted by John Sims on Mon, Jan, 23, 2017 @ 14:01 PM

It's a question we get asked often. No one like to waste money. This informationregister2.jpg will give you 3 reasons why it's not really a good idea. When it comes to heating and cooling bills, homeowners think I'll just close off the air vents in the rooms I'm not using!

 “Why bother heating a room in my home I barely use? I’m going to shut the air vents so I don’t waste energy! I mean, those vents blowing out air have little levers. So you should be able to use them, right?"

That sounds nice in theory but I'm going to discuss 3 reasons why it's not really a good idea. If you have a forced air heating system in your home, do not close the doors and heat registers in unused rooms.

But closing those vents can actually DAMAGE your heating/cooling system. This can cause damage to the ducts and furnace, which is calibrated to provide heat through the whole house. Instead, your furnace will just be required to maintain a very low level of heat throughout the house. It's almost like pretending you don't have a whole-house system at all.

Reason #1 - How closing vents makes you uncomfortable in other parts of your home

To understand why closing vents can make you uncomfortable, let’s review some information on how your forced air heating and cooling system works; the way it distributes air in your home:

  • The inside unit (your furnace) has a blower that pulls in air from your home via return grilles. 
  • The AC or furnace cools or heats that air. 
  • The blower pushes that cooled or heated air out the supply vents (the thing homeowners try to close).

The blower in your furnace is designed to push against air up to a maximum pressure. But if you close a vent, you’re increasing pressure in your duct system. This causes the blower to keep running but at a lower speed. So now you have less air coming out supply vents in rooms you are using, leaving you uncomfortable. In addition, the increased pressure in the duct system will make the blower work harder, decreasing its efficiency.

Both air and water are considered fluids; remember, when you put your thumb over the end of the garden hose you get higher pressure which then backs up to the faucet.

Reason #2 - How closing vents cost you money, increases air duct leaks and wastes money.

You probably don’t know this, but your home’s air duct system probably leaks air. According to ENERGY STAR, the average home’s duct system loses 20-30% of the air blowing through it thanks to leaks.

Closing the vents increases pressure in your duct system, increasing the amount of air coming out of those leaks. It may even create more leaks. More duct leakage=money wasted and less comfort for you.

Reason #3 - How closing vents can damage your cooling or heating system

Remember, closing vents reduces airflow coming out your vents; which means it also reduces the amount of air flowing over your, air conditioner’s evaporator coil(the part that cools the air) during the cooling season and the furnace’s heat exchanger (the part that heats the air) during the heating season. That’s not a good thing because now they’re not absorbing enough heat (in the case of the evaporator coil) or giving up enough heat (in the case of the heat exchanger). 

Here’s how that can cause costly damage:

  • In the summer, the AC’s evaporator coil will get too cold and turn into a block of ice (reducing airflow). Eventually liquid refrigerant flows back to the AC compressor, destroying it. 
  • In the winter, the furnace’s heat exchanger will get too hot, crack and possibly leak dangerous carbon monoxidethroughout your home. 

OK, don't 'freak out' because you are closing one vent, but closing multiple vents and keeping them that way certainly can lead to all of these problems.

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Topics: Cooling, Heating Costs, Air Flow

What's The Difference In Energy Usage: Heating vs. Cooling

Posted by John Sims on Tue, Aug, 02, 2016 @ 15:08 PM

There's always homeowners who still need to understand the basics when it comes to heating or Heating_vs_Cooling.pngcooling their home. You may be a first time home buyer and no one has ever explained this to you.

We never assume all homeowners understand the difference between the energy usage of heating and the energy usage of cooling.

At Sims Heating and Cooling, we've always found that a better educated homeowner always ends up with the best results.

Let's look at the similarities:

  • Both use the same duct system to distribute air in your home.
  • Both use the same blower or air handler to move the cooled or heated air through the duct system.
  • The evaporator coil cools the air as it passes by (and removes the moisture)
  • The heat exchanger heats the air as it passed by.

Here's an illustration of the typical split-system HVAC System.

HVAC_System-1.png

From an energy stand point there's a difference:

  • Heating burns natural or propane gas to create a continuous flame to heat the air. The blower motor uses electricity to move the air.
  • Cooling is ALL electric which powers the fan motor and compressor of the outdoor condenser unit.

Obviously, that's why your gas bill drops dramatically in warmer weather and your electric bill soars in summer.

Topics: HVAC Systems, Cooling, Heating, Air Conditioners

Low Air Conditioning Refrigerant Will 'Steal' Money From Your Wallet

Posted by John Sims on Tue, Mar, 29, 2016 @ 12:03 PM

We're making an effort for homeowners to get a jump on the cooling season with another potential and unknown problem with your air conditioner. Those who do will reap the greatest benefit. The subject is refrigerant levels. Most modern home air-conditioning systems share a common design, similar to that of your refrigerator. Here's how the cooling works.

The Refrigerant Cooling Cycle
Let's start where the refrigerant gas, it circulates through copper tubing that runs between the outside unit and the evaporator coil located in your furnace. This refrigerant 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 dissipate the heat to the outside. (Physics - Hot moves to Cold),

The refrigerant. Federal law requires R-22 to be phased out in 2015; what little that remains available for servicing after that will be very expensive. I recommend systems that use the environmentally friendly R-410a

Skyrocketing utility bills...Yikes! Neglecting necessary maintenance ensures a steady decline in air conditioning performance while energy use steadily increases. A Texas A&M University study concluded: A 23% refrigerant undercharge could result in a 52% efficiency loss.  

Refrigerant Problems: Here are the typical problems an air conditioning tune up will help solve:

Undercharge of refrigerant - We know many 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.

Refrigerant leaks - If your air conditioner is low on refrigerant, either it was undercharged at installation, or it leaks. If it leaks, simply adding refrigerant is not a solution. A trained technician should fix any leak, test the repair, and then charge the system with the correct amount of refrigerant. Remember that the performance and efficiency of your air conditioner is greatest when the refrigerant charge exactly matches the manufacturer's specification, and is neither undercharged nor overcharged.

Too much or too little refrigerant charge can damage the compressor, reducing the life of your equipment and increasing costs.  

A well-trained technician will find and fix problems in your air conditioning system. The technician should:

 Check for correct amount of refrigerant

 Test for refrigerant leaks using a leak detector

These are just part of an A/C Tune Up.

Topics: Cooling, AC Problems, Energy Efficient Solutions, How It Works

Warning: 2016 Is The Year To Make Sure Your Air Conditioner Is Ready To Go!

Posted by John Sims on Wed, Mar, 16, 2016 @ 14:03 PM

I don't know if you saw this article on MLIVE, but I wanted to give you a heads up 1thermometer.jpgif you didn't. Mark Torregrossa, the chief meteorologist for MLIVE  wrote an article about the "Bermuda High". In it he points out that this summer looks like it could be a HOT one!

Here's what he said in the article: Crazy Bermuda High bringing warm weather

Typically, the pattern will form in June or July out over the Atlantic. As we get into late summer, the Bermuda High will move west and become centered over the southeast U.S. There it circulates warm, humid air into the eastern U.S. and Michigan.

This year the Bermuda high formed in December. I noticed it, and thought this to be very strange, but it dissipated in January and February. It's no surprise that's when Michigan had its coldest weather.

But in the last few weeks, the Bermuda High has formed again. It's now as strong as it typically is in mid-summer.

Bermuda_High.jpg

What does this mean for Michigan?
If the pattern exists now, it should continue to strengthen and shift west into the U.S. during summer. Based on its strength now, I'd think it would continue to influence Michigan's weather more and more as we go into summer.

If this Bermuda High does continue to strengthen, and shift west, Michigan is in for a hot summer. And it won't be a dry heat. Look at the top graphic. I've indicated the flow around the Bermuda High. We would expect a lot of southerly winds, with lots of water vapor from the Gulf of Mexico.

That would bring Michigan a hot and humid summer. The warmest temperatures may stay under 100 degrees because humid air doesn't get extremely hot. But we might have a lot of 90 degree days and 75 degree nights.

What to watch
We will just have to watch this pattern in April and early May. If we continue to see this tendency for the Bermuda high to keep building, a hot and humid summer is probably on the way.

I will say that, based on this pattern now, I see spring coming early, and summer coming early.

Don't procrastinate on boat and pool projects. You may want your boat in the water by May 1. And if your air conditioner needs work,, take advantage of an 'out of season' deal.

Check this out. It's a comparison from last year to this year and it may provide some evidence:

March15vsMarch16.png

The AC Tune Up & maintenance is commonly overlooked measure by homeowners because we're more of a heating climate, and attention to the AC unit takes a backseat.

It's very apparent when we get emergency "NO COOL" calls when it's hot & sticky. A great number of units look like they've been ignored for years.

The best thing you can do is schedule an AC Tune Up NOW! You'll be glad you did. 

 

Topics: Air Conditioning Service, Cooling, Air Conditioning Tune Up, Service

A Critical Mistake Homeowners Make...

Posted by John Sims on Wed, Mar, 02, 2016 @ 15:03 PM

... when replacing their air conditioner is automatically replacing it with the same Sad_Emoticon.jpgsize unit. It's an assumption that may not be in your best interest.

What made me think about is was looking ahead at next week's forecast. It's that time of year again: 'March Madness' weather - not only for college hoops. GO SPARTANS! (had to work a plug in there)

Here's the thing. For years and years the heating and cooling systems in most new homes were NOT designed or sized correctly! In fact, the Air Conditioning Contractors Association, admits that the average air conditioner in this country is from 150% to 200% as big as it really needs to be. This was attributed to a business environment where lowest bid got the business.

Let's add to it the 'Confessions' of Doug Garrett, a building science expert at Building Performance and Comfort:

He says, "over the last few decades, many cherished beliefs about buildings and construction have been turned upside down. One belief that I, as a product of the South, had a hard time surrendering was the notion that there was no such thing as an air conditioner that was too big."

Bigger is better is an American mantra and, when it came to air conditioners, it was unquestioned wisdom. If a three-ton air conditioner was good, a five-ton unit was better. Not that we really knew what a ton of air conditioning was, but we knew that we wanted as much of it as we could get.

Building science research has not only turned this assumption upside down but also has revealed that following this mantra can lead to serious health problems. The right size for an air conditioner is the size that will cool your home on a hot summer afternoon with only about 15% to spare. Why? We found that when we install more air conditioning than this, it will do what we call short cycling. 

When the air conditioning (A/C) unit is oversized, it can cool the house like it's doing a part time job. It only runs for a few minutes--maybe five or ten at a time--and then shuts down for a few minutes, before starting up again. In these short cycles it cools the house, but it does a very poor job of removing humidity.

Here's the problem: Usually as an A/C cools the hot air in a home, moisture condenses out of the air and gets discharged into the condensate line, because cooler air cannot hold as much moisture as warmer air does. But an A/C doesn't get cold enough to remove water until it has run for three to five minutes. It also can't pull enough indoor air through the unit to wring out the water during such short run times. So homeowners get the cave effect in which a home is cool, but damp feeling. The excess moisture that builds up in the house encourages mold and dust mites to reproduce like mad is not a good situation for the occupants.

The solution: how big should your air conditioner be? The size of an air conditioner depends on: how large your home is and how many windows it has; how much shade is on your home's windows, walls, and roof; how much insulation is in your home's ceiling and walls; how much air leaks into your home from the outside; and how much heat the occupants and appliances in your home generate.

An air conditioner's efficiency, performance, durability, and initial cost depend on matching its size to the above factors. All of this is taken into account when we use the industry standard software to do the calculation.

It's important to know. When you work with a contractor who understands this and is qualified to do the installation correctly, the new A/C unit may be smaller, but will do a better job of cooling and dehumidifying your home at less cost.

If replacing your air conditioner is on your spring check list. Let's set up at time to do an evaluation. Just click on the "Need An Estimate" below

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Topics: HVAC Systems, Cooling, AC Problems, Proper Sizing

What If The Groundhog Doesn't See It's Shadow?

Posted by John Sims on Mon, Feb, 01, 2016 @ 14:02 PM

Tomorrow is Ground Hog Day. I can never remember what the significance of the groundhog seeing his shadow or not seeing it. This may help.

groundhog day happy animations animation animated gif gifs shadow funny lol photo: Groundhog Day Happy animations animation animated gif gifs shadow funny lol GroundHog04.gif

All I know is living in Michigan most of my life, you're never sure what prediction is accurate. It's been a fairly mild winter so far in terms of the heating season.

A couple of years ago it was the 'polar vortex'. Last year we had an early start in November, but January wasn't too severe. Then came  the frigid, record cold of February.

In fact, February was the coldest February on record in Kalamazoo with an average high of 23 degrees and an average low of 3.4 degrees. The average high and low for February is usually 34 degrees and 18 degrees, respectively. It seemed like furnaces were cranking out the heat well into April.

To contrast that, it was in 2012 you may recall that it was a balmy 79 degrees on St. Patrick's Day. Everyone was scrambling to get the A/C turned on.

So who knows what this month will bring and when Spring will arrive. We always tell homeowners that it's never too late to get a furnace tune up. The benefits are good for at least a full year so it doesn't matter when you get one. That's 12 months of benefit!

OR, does 'El Nino' bring an early Spring and get's homeowners thinking about getting their A/C ready with a Spring A/C tune up.

Here's a Feb. - April weather prediction from the National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center of 50% chance of above normal:

3_Month_Forecast_Spring_2016.gif

Hey, just giving people a heads up! It's Michigan!

Topics: A/C Tune Up, Furnace Tune Up, Cooling, Heating

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