Commercial HVAC Trouble: When It’s the Thermostat’s Fault

January 30th, 2015 by siteadmin

When your commercial HVAC system isn’t working properly, you’re most likely going to get an earful from clients, customers, tenants, and/or employees. These people expect you to provide them with enough cooling or heating power to stay comfortable while on your property, whether it’s for 8 hours at a time or for a quick shopping trip. So if you want to improve work morale and keep clients and customers returning, you need to fix your unit quickly.

Fixing a large commercial unit may be an ordeal, especially if no one has looked at your commercial unit in quite some time. Because some business owners or managers may be concerned about the cost, they often try to look into the situation themselves. You should keep in mind, however, that repairing a large commercial HVAC system is very difficult—a task that even many residential HVAC technicians prefer not to take on. While most commercial heating and air conditioning problems should be addressed by a technician, there is one thing you should check before calling a professional: the thermostat.

If your thermostat has controlled the temperature in the building proficiently ever since you’ve managed the property, you may not assume that this part could be responsible for any mechanical issues. But it’s best to double- and triple-check the thermostat before calling for backup. Nearly every technician has a story about showing up to a home or business only to find that a child has messed with the thermostat settings or that it was never turned on in the first place.

Ask yourself the following questions while examining your thermostat:

  • Is the thermostat switched into the right mode? Is it set on “heating” or “cooling” as needed?
  • Is there a program in place that may have shut off the heating unit for the time being?
  • Is the thermostat set to today’s date and time? Many thermostats are programmed to turn on and off at certain times of day.
  • Are you locked out of the thermostat? Check your manufacturer’s guide to learn how to re-access the controls.

Sometimes, the settings on the thermostat are at fault, but other times a thermostat is malfunctioning due to improper wiring or a faulty sensor. In most circumstances, you’ll have to call in a professional for repairs.

Contact Cool Air Mechanical when you’re in need of commercial HVAC repair service, especially if changing the settings is not enough. Call us today!

What Does Rusty Discoloration in My Hot Water Mean?

January 29th, 2015 by Stephen Andrews

Discoloration in your water is never a good sign under any circumstances. Brown or red water coming out of your faucets means that there is rust present somewhere in your plumbing. Where that rust is located will determine how much trouble your system is in and what kinds of repairs will be required. If you’re only experiencing discolored water when you turn on the hot water, then it’s a good bet that the issue is in your hot water heater. Let’s take a look at the primary reasons your water heater would be rusting, both tank and tankless.

Storage Tank Water Heaters

Storage tank water heaters are actually very susceptible to rust, due to their constant storage of large amounts of water. A lot of water heaters possess a lining around the inside of the tank, usually made of glass, to ward off rust. Still, even that lining will eventually develop cracks and allow rust to start eating away at the tank itself. This is a very big problem, as a rusted out water tank can leak and eventually rupture, causing large amounts of water damage to the surrounding area. In order to address this weakness to rust, all water heaters have one or more sacrificial anode rods.

A sacrificial anode rod is a long metal rod that is inserted into the water heater tank. This rod actually attracts rust to itself, sparing the rest of the tank. Hence the “sacrificial” part of its name. Unfortunately, the anode rod will eventually become so corroded that it can no longer do its job. That’s when the rest of the tank starts rusting. If you catch rust in your water, you should call a professional to examine your water heater. Depending on how advanced the rust is, you may need to only replace the anode rod.

Tankless Water Heaters

Tankless water heaters don’t have to worry about rust resulting from storing large amounts of water. Unfortunately, they still have water flowing through them all the time, and can still rust. If your tankless water heater develops rust, it will most likely be on the heat exchanger. When this happens, the only solution is usually to replace the entire water heater. However, you should have a professional take a look at your water heater before making any decisions.

If you have discolored water, call Cool Air Mechanical. We provide water heater repair services throughout Alpharetta, GA.

3 Common Signs That You Need Your Heating Repaired

January 20th, 2015 by Stephen Andrews

Though there are many different kinds of heating systems, each with their own unique construction and operation, there are still common problems that affect all of them. These common problems each give out signs and indications when they happen, helping the homeowner identify and react to them. In an effort to expand peoples’ knowledge of these common issues, we’re going to examine 3 of the most common signs that you need your heating repaired. If you notice any of these signs with your heating system, it’s a good idea to call a professional as soon as possible.

Strange Noises

When you first install a new heating system, every noise is going to seem strange. Once you get used to it, however, you’d be surprised how accurately you can pick out sounds that aren’t part of your heater’s normal operation. These sounds vary from system to system, and the severity of the problems they represent vary, as well. However, it’s always better to be safe and call a professional when you hear squealing, grinding, rumbling, or any other kind of unusual noise coming from your heater.

Failure to Start

This one is pretty obvious, but still worth mentioning. If your heater fails to start, there could be any number of things wrong with it. If you have a standing pilot light, you should definitely check to see if it’s still lit. If it isn’t, you may simply need to re-light it to fix the problem. If you don’t have a pilot light, it’s worth checking to see if you notice any other odd behaviors that might accompany your heater’s failure to start. Regardless, a sign like this usually indicates an issue that can only be solved by a professional.

Low Heating Capacity

This one is a bit harder to detect, depending on the situation. Still, once you notice, it can be quite annoying. Low heating capacity is usually a sign that your system is either having a fuel issue or that there is a break in the delivery system. If you notice that your heater suddenly doesn’t seem to be able to heat as well, call a professional to have a look at it. Don’t ignore it! If you do, it will only get worse.

If you are having problems with your heating system, call Cool Air Mechanical to schedule an appointment with us. We provide professional heating repair service throughout the Duluth area.

What You Need to Know about Duct Cleaning

January 14th, 2015 by Stephen Andrews

Though you may not know it, your home’s air ducts are some of the most important pieces of infrastructure in the entire house. They make central heating and air possible in the first place, and keep the rooms in your home from getting stale by circulating fresh air. They also happen to be among the most commonly neglected parts of your forced air system when it comes to maintenance. Let’s take a look at why it’s so important to have your ducts professionally cleaned.

Airborne Pollutants

Believe it or not, the air in the average home is infested with microscopic pollutants and contaminants. Most of these are only minor inconveniences. Pollen, dust, and insect dander often provoke allergy attacks and the like. However, there are nastier things like bacteria, viruses, and mold that are regularly found in a home’s air supply.

These airborne pollutants are most often found in the ductwork of a home, for a number of reasons. The ducts are often out of the way, beyond the reach of a homeowner’s normal cleaning efforts. They are also dark and more susceptible to moisture; an ideal environment for mold growth. The biggest problem is that every time a forced air system is turned on, the ducts serve as a transportation network for these pollutants. They are spread around the house in this fashion, making it more likely that they will have a negative effect on the occupants of the home.

Duct Cleaning

Duct cleaning attempts to address these pollutants by clearing out their ideal environment. A professional will either vacuum out the entire ductwork, or use a set of specially designed brushes to carefully clean out any dust and other debris. After the initial cleaning, any leaks that can let moisture in can be found and sealed. In some cases, a chemical treatment can be applied to kill off any bacteria. Duct cleaning improves your air quality by ensuring that the “lungs” of your home are healthy. The healthier your ducts are, the healthier you will be.

If you haven’t had your ducts cleaned in a while, call Cool Air Mechanical. We provide professional duct cleaning services in the Roswell area.

Benefits of Rooftop Commercial HVAC Installation

January 13th, 2015 by Stephen Andrews

When looking into HVAC systems for your business, you have a few considerations to make that homeowners do not have to deal with. For one, you have to select a unit that can handle a much heavier load due to the square footage. For another, you have space to consider. Commercial HVAC systems are extremely heavy, and take up a lot of space. In most businesses, every bit of space is at a premium. You probably don’t have an entire large room to devote solely to your HVAC system. That’s where rooftop installation comes in. Let’s take a look at the benefits of rooftop commercial HVAC installation.

Saving Space

As previously mentioned, commercial HVAC systems require a great deal of space that most businesses don’t have. If you’ve got the room to put a literal ton of equipment in a basement somewhere, more power to you. But if you’re like most businesses, that just isn’t an option. That’s why rooftop installation is so popular for commercial HVAC systems. The equipment is out of the way, freeing up more room for you to conduct your business.

Rooftop commercial HVAC units are also quite convenient for any repair or maintenance work that has to be done. If a commercial HVAC unit ends up being installed in a back room or basement, it tends to be very difficult to gain access to all parts of the unit. Rooftop units, on the other hand, tend to be surrounded by plenty of open space, making them much easier to access and repair.

There is one thing you should consider when deciding whether to install a rooftop commercial HVAC unit. Inclement weather can affect rooftop units, due to their exposure. As long as you conduct regular preventive maintenance, this isn’t really an issue. If you live in an area with lots of rain or snow, however, take special care of your system or you may find yourself paying for costly repairs.

If you’d like to know more about the benefits of rooftop commercial HVAC installation, call Cool Air Mechanical. We provide commercial HVAC installation throughout Decatur, GA.

Heat Pump Repair Problems: The Check Valves

January 7th, 2015 by Stephen Andrews

Although heat pumps work on a simple concept—moving heat from one location and depositing it in another—they are extremely intricate machines that depend on numerous precision components working in harmonious balance. Even a basic schematic of a heat pump shows how many different parts one requires to function. This is why you cannot rely on amateurs for repair work on a heat pump, or attempt to make repairs a “do-it-yourself” adventure. The chances are high that your heat pump will sustain damage from an incorrect repair and end up working worse than before—or not working at all.

Fixing a heat pump is fast and easy when you call for experienced HVAC technicians to take on the job. Cool Air Mechanical offers 24/7 heat pump repair to Lawrenceville, GA and throughout the greater Atlanta area. When you need your heat pump working again, make us your first call.

Is a check valve the problem?

One of the components in a heat pump that will give the unit trouble if it malfunctions is the check valves. Because heat pumps can move refrigerant two different directions through the system (one direction for heating mode, the other for cooling), they need devices in them to help direct the refrigerant flow. Not all heat pumps have check valves, but those that do have two, one each in the outdoor and indoor units. The purpose of these valves is to route refrigerant around metering devices that are not in use. This helps the system maintain proper refrigerant pressure no matter which mode it is in. Most modern heat pumps have check valves as part of the metering devices themselves. They are durable so they can withstand a heavy reversal of the refrigerant flow pressure, something that often happens when the heat pump completes its defrost cycle.

Like any mechanical component, a check valve can wear down and break. When this occurs, it can result in a heat pump that will not provide either heating or cooling. Professionals can remove the broken check valve (or check valve and metering device combination) and replace it with a new one. Problems with check valves can also resemble trouble with the reversing valve, so make certain that you have skilled technician on the job so the right repair gets done.

Never hesitate when you think your heat pump is encountering trouble. You can reach the Lawrenceville, GA heat pump repair experts at Cool Air Mechanical any time of the day or night, and they will get your comfort system back into shape. Give us a call today to schedule an appointment.

12 Grapes for 12 Months: An Unusual New Year’s Tradition

January 1st, 2015 by Stephen Andrews

Across the world, many cultures have specific traditions to celebrate the transition from the old year to the new. In the U.S. and Canada, we associate New Year’s with the ball in Times Square, kissing at the stroke of midnight, resolutions, and singing “Old Lang Syne.” But for many Spanish-speaking countries, one of the key traditions has to do with eating grapes as fast as possible.

The “twelve grapes” tradition comes from Spain, where it is called las doce uvas de la suerte (“The Twelve Lucky Grapes”). To ensure good luck for the next year, people eat one green grape for each of the upcoming twelve months. However, you cannot just eat the grapes during the first day of the new year any time you feel like it. You must eat the twelve grapes starting at the first stroke of midnight on Nochevieja (“Old Night,” New Year’s Eve) as one year changes to another. And you have to keep eating: with each toll of midnight, you must eat another grape, giving you about twelve seconds to consume all of them. If you can finish all dozen grapes—you can’t still be chewing on them!—before the last bell toll fades, you will have a luck-filled new year.

Where did this tradition come from? No one is certain, although it appears to be more than a century old. One story about the Twelve Lucky Grapes is that a large crop of grapes in 1909 in Alicante, Spain led to the growers seeking out a creative way to eliminate their surplus. But recent research through old newspapers shows that perhaps the tradition goes back almost thirty years earlier to the 1880s, where eating grapes was meant to mock the upper classes who were imitating the French tradition of dining on grapes and drinking champagne on New Year’s Eve.

It can be difficult to consume grapes this fast, and the lucky grapes of New Year’s Eve have seeds in them, making the job even trickier. (Seedless grapes are not common in Spain the way they are over here.) For people to manage eating all the grapes before the last stroke of midnight requires swallowing the seeds as well and only taking a single bite of each grape.

Oh, there is one more twist to the tradition: you have to be wearing red undergarments, and they have to be given to you as a gift. The origins of this part of the tradition are even more mysterious, and it’s anybody’s guess why this started.

Whether you go for the grape challenge or find another way to ring in New Year’s, all of us at Cool Air Mechanical hope you have a great start to the year and a, uhm, fruitful 2015.

Are Gas Furnaces Safe for Installation?

December 31st, 2014 by siteadmin

A very long time ago, furnaces used outdated technology that made them a somewhat scary addition to a home. While whole-home heating was once considered a luxury, it came along with another price: the risk of fire and health concerns over gas leaks. This is because there were no safety devices in place to shut the gas valve should the pilot light suddenly stop burning, which could sometimes lead to potentially hazardous effects.

Luckily, this technology was improved, and standing pilot furnaces manufactured in recent decades contain a safety mechanism that prevents this from happening, the thermocouple. If your home has a standing gas pilot furnace, it’s likely that it also contains a thermocouple, a small safety device that simply detects whether or not there is a flame. If there is not, it sends a signal out to shut off the gas valve.

Even though the safety of standing pilots is now much more secure, standing gas pilots are largely inefficient. The pilot light has to remain on throughout the day, burning gas even though you’ll only need it whenever the furnace must cycle on to raise the temperature in the house. That’s part of the reason for the development of new ignition systems, which also include several additional safety features.

Intermittent pilot ignition system furnaces and hot surface ignition system furnaces, two of the most common modern ignition systems, only use the gas when it is needed for the heating cycle. A flame sensor continues to monitor the presence of a flame and shut off the gas in its absence. But it also contains a limit switch which keeps the furnace plenum chamber from overheating. If this switch senses that the temperature in the chamber is too high, it also stops the flow of gas. One of the other key safety switches is the air pressure switch, which turns off the gas when there is not enough air pressure in the flue pipe to properly vent combustion gases.

While today’s gas furnaces are now seen as very safe, efficient, and effective, this may not be true if you don’t choose an experienced professional for installation. Amateurs may not know the safest modes and tools to use to install a modern furnace and ventilation system. Call Cool Air Mechanical to make sure your heating installation in Atlanta, GA goes as smoothly as possible and that your system runs safely throughout its lifespan.

The Composition of Snowflakes: Are No Two Alike?

December 25th, 2014 by Stephen Andrews

“No two snowflakes are alike.”

This is a statement nearly every schoolchild has heard at least once, either while crafting unique snowflakes with a sheet of folded paper and some scissors or while learning a lesson on the science of snow. While even most scientists don’t quite understand what causes a snowflake to form such complex and beautiful columns and points and branches, one thing is for certain, the composition of snowflakes guarantees that no two will ever be identical.  However, it is possible for two snowflakes to appear to be nearly exactly alike.

A snowflake begins to form when a piece of dust catches water vapor out of the air. Water is created when two hydrogen molecules attach to an oxygen molecule. The two hydrogen molecules are angled from one another in such a way that they form a hexagonal shape when they come together during the freezing process; thus, a snowflake begins as a simple hexagonal shape or as layers of hexagons called diamond dust. The emergent properties that follow from the original hexagon are what differentiate one snowflake from another, as the humidity, the temperature in the air, and many other factors (some of which remain unclear to scientists) allow each snowflake to form in an entirely unique way with a seemingly endless variety of shapes.

However, in 1988, a scientist named Nancy Knight claimed to have located two that were the same while studying snowflakes as part of an atmospheric research project. And it appeared to be so; when put under a microscope, the emergent properties looked nearly identical. But while it is feasible that two snowflakes can appear to be exactly alike on the outside, they are never identical on an atomic level. Deuterium is an atom that appears attached to about one in every 3000 hydrogen molecules in the air. Because there are millions of atoms that make up a snowflake, the random assortment of deuterium in any two snowflakes—even in two that so very closely resemble one another—simply cannot be the same.

Here at Cool Air Mechanical, we’d like to remind you to grab a cup of cocoa and relax with your family this holiday, perhaps by crafting some unique snowflake creations of your own. We wish you a very happy holiday season, from our family to yours!

How to Choose the Best Water Heater for Your Home

December 18th, 2014 by Stephen Andrews

Water heaters are not a one-size-fits-all kind of appliance. Installing one that is too small won’t provide your home and family with enough hot water, and one that’s too big may waste energy and result in higher monthly energy bills. Additionally, you need to consider what type of water heater you’d like and what kind of energy it will use. If you need help choosing and installing a water heater for your home in Alpharetta, GA, call Cool Air Mechanical today and schedule an appointment with one of our experts.

Types of Water Heaters

There are a few types of water heaters for you to choose from:

  • Conventional water heaters – the most popular and well-known type of water heater, conventional water heaters have a storage tank in which the heated water is held for usage. The average lifespan of a conventional water heater is 10-15 years.
  • Tankless water heaters – tankless water heaters, also known as heat-on-demand, do not use a storage tank to provide your home with water. Instead, when you open your hot water tap on a faucet, your cold water is run through a heat exchanger that quickly heats the water and pushes it through your faucet. Tankless systems have an average lifespan of 20+ years.
  • Heat pump water heaters – just as heat pumps for your home transfer heat from one location to another to both heat and cool, so, too, do heat pump water heaters – they just transfer the heat into a storage tank to heat your water. Heat pumps home heating and cooling systems can also heat water, or you can have a stand-alone heat pump water heater. Heat pump water heaters are very energy efficient and have a lifespan of 10-15 years.

Fuel Types

There are 4 main fuel types by which to heat your water:

  • Gas
  • Oil
  • Propane
  • Electricity

Deciding which fuel type to use for your water heater will depend largely on what’s available in your home and your personal preferences.

Sizing

Properly sizing your water heater requires a small calculation.  First, you have to determine your home’s first hour rating, known as FHR. This is the amount of water used during the busiest water-using time of day, such as a weekday morning. To do this, allot 12 gallons of water per person; then add up the number of bedrooms and add 1. Take the number of bedrooms plus 1 and multiply it by the 12 gallons; this gives you your home’s FHR value.

Taking the time to choose the right water heater is critical. Let the trained technicians at Cool Air Mechanical help you install a water heater for your home in Alpharetta, GA.