Summer months and keeping cool………..
Now that summer is in full swing here in most of the United States my thoughts have turned to my central air conditioning unit and how thankful I am that I have it! My central AC unit is about ten years old and I’m going to have to start thinking about replacing it in the next couple years. In the meantime there are plenty of things I can do to keep my central air conditioning running efficiently and lasting a little longer.
Here are some central air conditioning maintenance tips that could save you some cash in the long run and keep you cool this summer:
Keep It Clear: The big AC unit that sits outside your house is called the condenser and it’s what actually cools the liquid in the coils of your AC. Cooler coils mean cooler air in your house. You’ll want to keep the area around the condenser clear of grass, bushes, leaves and just about everything else so that the fan gets the maximum amount of air that it can. A good rule of thumb is to make sure there is nothing blocking the vents or around the unit for one or two feet in every direction. And be careful to make sure that cut grass isn’t blowing into the unit each time you mow your lawn.
Keep It Clean: Different air conditioning units can be cleaned different ways, but you generally want to make sure that the interior is free of debris on the outside and inside. To clean your air conditioning unit you should always check your service manual first, but there are some general steps. Make sure you turn off the power to the unit before cleaning. Most units can be cleaned with a hose sprayed from the top down, washing any dirt or debris from the inside. You might want to remove one side panel of the outside unit and then take a broom or rake and any left over debris or leaves that have been washed down to the bottom. Some sites recommend cleaning the coils with soft brushes or wet rags, but coils can be damaged easily. I’ve found that spraying them down with water usually works fairly well.
You’ll also want to keep your AC unit clear and clean during the winter off season when you’re not using it. There are some pros and cons to covering your AC during the winter and your choice will ultimately depend upon your situation.
Keep It Cool: The U.S. Department of Energy recommends shading your central AC unit so that it doesn’t have to work as hard to cool the coils inside it. This is a great idea and one which I haven’t taken advantage of yet. My AC unit sits in the hot sun for about half the day until the sun moves over my home, so during the early afternoon my AC is working hard just to keep my house, not to mention itself, cool. Planting a shade tree near (but not too near) the unit is a great idea. According to the U.S. Department of Energy this one action could save you up to 10% on your cooling bill!
Keep It Consistent: Don’t turn your AC unit on and off because that can burn out the interior switches and sometimes even mess up your thermostat. You’re better off setting your thermostat temperature and letting the air conditioning catch up and do its job without your interference. To save even more money you can use an automatic thermostat which you can program to change the temperature to be a little warmer in your house when you’re typically away during the day. You’ll also want to keep your central air conditioner fan on AUTO and not ON all the time. These systems are meant to cycle on their own terms and keeping your furnace fan ON all the time could actually make your home warmer as you blow warm air back into your home.
Keep It Checked: Okay, I’m pushing the heading style, but you’ll want to check a couple different things on your AC about once a month. You’ll want to check your air filter and replace it a little more than usual. Some sites recommend replacing it once a month, but I think that might be a little over zealous. My filters cost me nearly $20 a piece and the manufacturer suggests changing them every six months. I usually end up changing them three or four times a year as I see a need. Besides the filter, you’ll also want to look around for any leaks in the hoses or air ducts. You’d be shocked at how often you’ll find loose ducts with small gaps and tiny air leaks around older duct work. You might also consider insulating your home’s air ducts which will not only help with heating, but also on cooling.
Keep It Charged and Serviced: Even after all these checks on your own, you’re sometimes better off having a professional come in and look things over, especially if you suspect any problems. Some local utility companies actually offer affordable service plans you can buy that will include a free yearly check or two just to make sure everything is running as it should. A professional technician can also tell you if you the refrigerant should be recharged or if anything may need replacing sooner than you think. You might even want to consider having a full service on your AC unit every year or two. You’ll almost definitely make up the money in energy savings and peace of mind during those hot summer days.
I’ve also made sure to have ceiling fans installed in just about every room in the house this past year so that I can keep my thermostat set a little bit higher but still feel cool with the fans going. I make sure the ceiling fan direction is properly set and, yes, they really do make a big difference when they are running. It’s estimated that you can save 5% of your energy bill for each degree higher you set your thermostat in the summer months.
I hope this helps you save some cash and helps you and your air conditioner unit keep cool this summer!
We also install and service Commercial Ice Makers .
We keep them running for you…..
Many times, maintenance of a commercial ice machine in a restaurant or other business is overlooked for more pressing tasks. There are a few simple procedures that can keep a commercial ice machine functioning for much longer than when left alone. Replace water filters every six months. Water filters are extremely important to extending the life of your machine and should be replaced every six months. A water filter performs three tasks:
• Removes sediment from the water, keeping ice clean and clear in appearance
• Inhibits scale, which can build up in the machine over time and drastically reduce ice production
• Removes odor and bad taste, keeping customers happy
Although the filter may not appear to be blocked with sediment after six months, the scale inhibitor and carbon elements (which prevent odor and bad taste) are usually depleted and no longer effective. Some companies, such as ICE-O-Matic, offer extended warranties at no extra charge when customers replace the filter in their ice machines every six months.
Invest in antimicrobial protection. Slime and mold growth are another concern with regards to commercial ice machines. One way to combat this is by purchasing an antimicrobial stick or pouch and placing it inside the machine. These generally need changing every two to three months. Some commercial ice machine manufacturers have begun making machines that have antimicrobial protection built-in to the plastic used in the food-zone areas of ice production and are guaranteed to inhibit the growth of slime and mold for the life of the machine.
Sanitize your machine regularly. By regularly changing the water filter and using antimicrobial protection, you are on the right path to keeping your ice machine in good working condition for longer, but there is still no substitute for regular cleaning. Your ice machine should be emptied and thoroughly sanitized every six months. Clean the machine using a nickel-safe scale remover and an ice machine sanitizer. Some companies, such as Manitowoc, sell automatic cleaning systems that can be set to sanitize your ice maker every two, four or twelve weeks.
Additionally, condenser fins or air filters should be cleaned or replaced every six months. Failure to keep the condenser free from lint and grease build-up will decrease the machine’s ability to breathe and operate at peak capacity, thus reducing the ice production.
By taking the time every six months to clean your machine and change filters and antimicrobial devices, you can greatly increase the life of your machine and drastically decrease the cost of owning an ice machine over time.
Economize and save on your heating bill……
The Heat Manager fuel economizer is the newest advance in boiler controls for residential boilers. It works with any fuel, and improves hot water home heating systems. And, it’s guaranteed to reduce heating fuel consumption by at least 10%!
Your boiler burns fuel (i.e. natural gas, oil or propane) just like your car burns gasoline. When your boiler runs for long periods of time and creates lots of hot water, it is like a car cruising down the highway. It’s operating at its peak efficiency. However, when less heat is needed, our boiler must turn on and off over and over again to keep you from getting too hot. This is like city stop-and-go driving, and your boiler’s fuel economy decreases dramatically. To make things worse, your boiler only knows two speeds: pedal to the metal, and full brake. Imagine how low your gas mileage would be if you drove around town flooring it and then slamming on the brake! Unfortunately, this is how your boiler operates. Adding a Beckett Heat Manager to your heating system will reduce the number of starts and stops by up to 30% and will give you a boiler that cruises – no matter how much heat is needed! This greatly improves your boiler’s efficiency and best of all, saves you money.
Best of all, lower heating bills are guaranteed! You will experience a savings of 10 to 20% in heating fuel usage with the Beckett Heat Manager boiler control.
• Keeps your boiler running at peak efficiency.
• Saves fuel and money by automatically adjusting boiler output as energy requirements change.
• Far less expensive than alternative upgrades.
• Cost is recoverable in 12 to 24 months. After that, you continue to save money year after year.
• Installation by a qualified technician is fast and easy.
• No programming or follow-up visits are required.
• Provides worry-free, fail-safe operation at all times.
• Works with any heating fuel.
• Can be installed on most new or existing gas, oil, or propane fired boilers.
• No outdoor temperature sensor—no holes in your walls!
• More even comfort level, since the heat being delivered exactly matches what is needed.
• Less wear and tear on your boiler due to fewer on/off cycles.
• Sold by R.W. Beckett Corp., dedicated to the heating industry for more than 65 years.
• Backed by a 5-year replacement warranty.
• Guaranteed to reduce energy consumption at least 10% or we will refund the full purchase price of the product.
Service your Furnace……
If you’re heating plant is running at about 60 percent efficiency, it’s time to buy a new one because you’re losing 40 cents of every fuel dollar as exhaust. For everyone else, there are basic jobs (some you can do, some for a pro) that maximize the heating potential of a furnace.
The most basic is to have the system cleaned and, if necessary, tuned. Except for electric units (they rarely need service), a furnace is a combustion engine that gets dirty, gradually loses efficiency, and sometimes breaks down like a car engine.
To combat the possibility of an expensive repair call one morning when everyone is freezing, including the water pipes, a standard service call is a good investment. It should cover the mechanisms of combustion, like cleaning and adjusting the spray nozzle and ignition points on an oil-burning furnace. A good technician will also check the exhaust path, the blower, and probably change the filter on your oil supply line. In many ways it’s like a car tune-up. Unless your furnace is only a few years old, it’s wise to ask the technician to do an efficiency test. That produces a percentage — hopefully 80 or higher — that quantifies how much usable heat the furnace delivers to your home. Some modern systems run at over 90 percent efficiency, which means you lose less than 10 cents per fuel dollar as exhaust. (By way of comparison, most fireplaces lose about 50 percent of their heat as exhaust.) Granted, high-tech, high-efficiency heating systems cost the most, but often wind up saving money in the long run, particularly when fuel prices spike.
Time to replace your old heating system with a new high efficiency boiler….
Choose the best boiler. Let us help you select the right boiler that can save you money in the following ways:
• Dollar for dollar, a high efficiency boiler will provide you with more heat than a low efficiency boiler. However, this does not necessarily mean that you should buy the most efficient boiler on the market. That decision depends on many factors — for example: whether you use gas or oil, how well your house is insulated, and your climate. Furnace Compare has the most comprehensive efficiency data available. However, we do more than this — we provide you with detailed instructions on how to compare apples to apples when comparing boilers. We will help you make the efficiency choice that will save you money month after month.
• Did you know that an over-sized boiler (one which produces too much heat relative to the size of your house) is much more expensive to run than a correctly sized boiler? Using our data and the load calculation provided by your HVAC contractor, you can compare the capacities of different furnaces, to make sure you are buying the right sized furnace.
Air Duct Cleaning is important…
Why your air ducts should be clean and how to get them that way … Are there any health benefits that come from HVAC system cleaning? Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems have been shown to act as a collection source for a variety of contaminants that have the potential to affect health, such as mold, fungi, bacteria, and very small particles of dust. The removal of such contaminants from the HVAC system and home should be considered as one component in an overall plan to improve indoor air quality.
Will HVAC system cleaning reduce our home energy bills?
Research by the U.S. EPA has demonstrated that HVAC system cleaning may allow systems to run more efficiently by removing debris from sensitive mechanical components. Clean, efficient systems are less likely to break down, have a longer life span, and generally operate more effectively than dirty systems.
How should a residential HVAC system be cleaned?
The most effective way to clean air ducts and ventilation systems is to employ Source Removal methods of cleaning. This requires a contractor to place the system under negative pressure, through the use of a specialized, powerful vacuum. While the vacuum draws air through the system, devices are inserted into the ducts to dislodge any debris that might be stuck to interior surfaces. The debris can then travel down the ducts to the vacuum, which removes it from the system and the home.
What kind of equipment is best for cleaning-truck mounted vacuums or portable vacuums?
NADCA does not endorse one kind of equipment over another. There are two main types of vacuum collection devices: (1) those mounted on trucks and trailers, and (2) portable units. Truck/trailer mounted equipment is generally more powerful than portable equipment. However, portable equipment can often be brought directly into a facility, allowing the vacuum source to be located closer to the duct-work. Both types of equipment will clean to NADCA standards.
All vacuum units should be attached to a collection device for safe containment prior to disposal. Any vacuum collection device which exhausts indoors must be HEPA (high efficiency particulate arrestance) filtered.
A vacuum collection device alone will not get an HVAC system clean.
The use of methods and tools designed to agitate debris adhered to the surfaces within the system, in conjunction with the use of the vacuum collection device(s), is required to clean HVAC systems. (For example: brushes, air whips, and “skipper balls.”)
How often should residential HVAC systems be cleaned?
Frequency of cleaning depends on several factors, not the least of which is the preference of the home owner. Some of the things that may lead a home owner to consider more frequent cleaning include:
• Smokers in the household.
• Pets that shed high amounts of hair and dander.
• Water contamination or damage to the home or HVAC system.
• Residents with allergies or asthma who might benefit from a reduction in the amount of indoor air pollutants in the home’s HVAC system.
• After home renovations or remodeling.
• Prior to occupancy of a new home.
What is the normal price range for the air duct cleaning service?
The Environmental Protection Agency says that “duct cleaning services typically – but not always – range in cost from $450 to $1000 per heating and cooling system, depending on the services offered, the size of the system to be cleaned, system accessibility, climactic region, and level of contamination” and type of duct material.
What are sanitizers, and why would they need to be used?
Sanitizers are anti-microbial chemicals applied to the interior surface of the air ducts, designed to control microbial contamination. Before any sanitizers are used, the system should be thoroughly cleaned. It is critical that any anti-microbial treatment used in your system be EPA registered for the intended use in HVAC systems. Ask to see the chemical’s Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS). If you are still concerned, call the EPA at 1-800-438-4318.
How long should it take to clean a typical residential HVAC system?
The amount of time it takes to clean a residential HVAC system depends on many variables such as the size of the home, the number of systems, the extent of the contamination and the number of HVAC cleaners performing the job. Ask at least two contractors to inspect your system and give you a time estimate for your particular system. This will give you a general idea of how long the job should take as well as an idea of how thoroughly the contractor plans to do the job.
How can we determine if the HVAC system cleaning was effective?
The best way to determine if the HVAC system cleaning was effective is to perform a visual inspection of the system before and after cleaning. If any dust or debris can be seen during the visual inspection, the system should not be considered cleaned. While you can perform your own visual inspection using a flash light and mirror, a professional cleaning contractor should be able to allow you better access to system components and perhaps the use of specialized inspection tools. In addition, following this post-cleaning check list can help to ensure a top quality job.