Atlanta Air Conditioner Repair Tip: Common Cause of Short-Cycling

Monday, June 11th, 2012

Air conditioning can make even the hottest summer bearable. If you live in Atlanta or the surrounding area, you know how important it is to keep your air conditioning system functioning effectively. If your air conditioning is turning on and off frequently, otherwise known as short-cycling, it is not only working inefficiently, but it is also wearing down its components quickly. If you notice signs of your air conditioner short-cycling, you should call to have an Atlanta air conditioning professional examine your unit right away.

There are a few main causes of AC short-cycling, many of which are quick and easy fixes:

  1. Refrigerant Leaks: Short-cycling can be caused by a leak in one of the refrigerant lines. While adding more refrigerant will temporarily fix the problem, you will need a professional to find and repair the leak. Only a certified professional should handle refrigerant, and they will be able to charge your unit with the correct amount after they fix the leak.
  2. Ice on the Coils: If your cooling coil has ice or frost build-up, it can cause the unit to turn on and off rapidly. Turning off your AC and letting the ice melt can fix the problem, but you will want a professional to examine the system to find the underlying cause of the icing.
  3. Oversize Air Conditioner: If your air conditioner has always short-cycled, it might be a result of your air conditioner being too large for your home. Bigger is not always better, and an air conditioner that is too large will cause uneven cooling and improper dehumidification as well as short-cycling. An air conditioning contractor can do a load calculation on your home to make sure you get the right unit for your home’s needs.
  4. Control Board Problems: If your AC’s control board or a control switch has been damaged, it can cause erratic starting and stopping cooling cycles. An AC technician will be able to replace a broken board or switch.

While an air conditioner that is short-cycling is still functioning, it is both inefficient and ineffective. Call Cool Air Mechanical today if you notice any signs of your air conditioning malfunctioning!

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Things You Should Never Do To Your Atlanta Air Conditioner

Monday, May 7th, 2012

Your Atlanta air conditioning system provides such comfort on blistering days, it seems it was a gift.  If it is broken, however, it can be very frustrating.

With proper care and maintenance, a central air conditioner should last for a decade or two.  Sometimes, however, people can do simple things which, in retrospect, should have obviously been avoided.

Some examples:

  • Don’t block the air intake–air is vital to the process, so laying anything over the unit (a towel or clothes to dry) will significantly strain the motor.  Always make sure there is enough clearance.
  • Don’t block the vents–likewise in a home, it is easy to move a sofa or lay an area rug over a grate in the floor or cover an unsightly vent in the wall with a pretty painting.
  • Don’t just set a unit in the window and trust the sash to hold it in place–make sure it is fastened properly according to the directions;
  • Don’t think it will run forever without cleaning the fins, vents and changing the filter at least once a heating season;
  • Don’t leave the units exposed in winter–always cover when not in use for long periods of time;
  • Don’t bury the condensate drain in the ground–in central units it is vital that the drain is left with a clear flow away from the house;
  • Don’t install the central unit on the ground–there are pre-made pads or mix up a little concrete and have the satisfaction of pouring a nice little pad yourself (and you can write your name in it too).
  • Don’t steam clean or use hot water to clean the fins–damage and corrosion can easily be caused by the heat; flush with warm water or spray.
  • Don’t overload the system with refrigerant– a task performed by a Atlanta AC professional, but a problem you should be aware of.
  • Don’t remove the overload relay to force continuous running–VERY dangerous and a guarantee of damage.

Air conditioners–especially the ones fitting in windows–are pretty much “plug and go” appliances, but a little attention goes a long way to ensure years of comfort. For more information on how to keep your AC in peak condition, give Cool Air Mechanical a call!

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Common Alpharetta Air Conditioner Problems

Monday, March 26th, 2012

Air conditioners are an important part of our lives in Alpharetta. They keep us comfortable despite overbearing heat and humidity outside, but because they run constantly for months and because they are such complicated pieces of machinery, they are prone to a number of problems. Here are some of the most common problems you’re likely to run into with your Alpharetta air conditioner and how to solve them:

 Leaks

A common problem that many people ignore or are unaware of is refrigerant leakage. It is possible that when the system was installed, it wasn’t properly charged, but most of the time if your system is low on refrigerant, it is because of a leak. You can’t just pour more refrigerant in and call it good, though.

The leak needs to be fixed, both for health and environmental reasons. If you notice that your system is low on refrigerant or you smell something off – often like acetone, call an Alpharetta air conditioning professional immediately for inspection and repair.

Alpharetta Air Conditioner Repair Sensors

An often overlooked part of your air conditioner is the sensors, but they are essential for its operation. If your sensors are broken, they will not correctly adjust to the temperature in your home – your air conditioner will fail to turn on when you need it. If it is 85 degrees outside but your air conditioner’s thermostat thinks it is only 72, it obviously will not cool your home to the temperature you want. This can happen even if the rest of your air conditioning system is working perfectly.

You should examine the sensor to make sure it was not moved or knocked toward the evaporator coil, which will cause it to read a falsely cool temperature. If a quick visual inspection doesn’t reveal the problem, it is best to call an Alpharetta air conditioning professional.

 Drainage problems

Your air conditioner acts as a dehumidifier as well, producing a liquid known as condensate. This liquid usually drains from the air conditioner into a designated area away from your home. However, if the condensate drain gets clogged or if the system wasn’t properly installed, that condensate can start to build up in your home. If you notice leakage around the coils, you may need a pump to remove the condensate properly.

Properly maintaining your air conditioner can usually be done with regular maintenance each year, but if one of these problems pops up, call Cool Air Mechanical and get them fixed right away.

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Ellenwood Heating Repair Question: What Does a Furnace Thermocouple Do?

Monday, February 6th, 2012

Modern appliances are equipped with an array of safety measures to make sure that they operate safely in your Ellenwood home. This includes gas furnaces, which are harmless when working correctly but can be unsafe if something goes wrong. Perhaps the most crucial safety feature of a gas furnace is the thermocouple, also called a flame sensor.

Essentially, a furnace thermocouple works as a kill switch to shut off the furnace in case the gas is not igniting, like if the pilot light is out. Here is how it works.

The thermocouple is made up of two pieces of metal which are welded together at one end, called the “hot end” because it actually sits directly in the path of the furnace flame. On the cold end, it is wired to a circuit. Under normal circumstances, when the furnace is switched on, gas flows through the line and is ignited by a pilot light, ignition spark or glow coil. The flame heats up the thermocouple, and the furnace stays on.

However, sometimes the gas may not ignite, for example if the pilot light is out or the glow coil is faulty. In these cases, if there were no thermocouple, gas would continue to flow out without being lit, creating a very dangerous, poisonous and potentially lethal situation.

What the thermocouple does is detect heat, so if the furnace is on, but the hot end of the thermocouple has not heated up, that circuit up at the cold end kills the power to the furnace so that gas cannot continue to flow out unchecked. That way, you do not have to worry about a gas leak building to dangerous levels without being aware of it.

Sometimes, the thermocouple can malfunction, causing the furnace to shut off even if the burners are working just fine. Usually that is just the result of build up on the hot end over time, which can be fixed with some sand paper or emery cloth. If you think you have a problem with your thermocouple, give Cool Air Mechanical a call!

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Porterdale Heat Pump Guide: Outdoor Maintenance

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

Sometimes, the trickiest part about owning a heat pump in Porterdale is keeping the outdoor components maintained. Because they are outside and generally out of sight, it can be easy to forget or neglect them. But because they are outside and exposed to the elements, outdoor heat pump components need attention and maintenance to keep them running properly.

The two most important routine maintenance functions you can do as an owner of an outdoor heat pump are keeping it free of debris and keeping it level.

Every month or so, inspect and clean your outdoor heat pump to make sure it is free of leaves, dirt and other debris. These can easily be sucked in by the fan and reduce the efficiency of the whole system. Turn the power off to the unit and use a vacuum or broom to remove any accumulated debris.

Once or twice a year, use a carpenter’s level to make sure the whole thing is sitting level on the pad. Use the level to gauge both side to side and front to back. While you are doing this, check the insulation for erosion or gaps. If you see that it is not level or the insulation is wearing thin, have a contractor come out reset the unit on the concrete pad or patch up the insulation.

These are two small maintenance tasks that you don’t have to do very often, but they can make a big difference in the performance and life of your heat pump.

In addition, you should always have your whole heating, ventilation and cooling system inspected by a Porterdale professional annually in order to keep everything maintained and in good repair.

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A Question from Roopville: Why Do Heat Pumps Need Refrigerant?

Monday, December 5th, 2011

Despite its name, a heat pump is not designed solely for heating. In fact, the technology in your Roopville home’s heat pump was originally designed for air conditioning and is used today in air conditioners, refrigerators and cooling units in vehicles and airplanes. And the entire process relies on refrigerant – a chemical compound that is compressed and expanded to move energy from one environment to another.

How Refrigerant Makes Heating and Cooling Possible

Your heat pump has multiple components designed to transfer refrigerant from one state to another. The compressor, for example, compresses the refrigerant into a liquid. The liquid is then moved through the expansion valve to the evaporator coils where it expands into a gas. Because refrigerant evaporates at much lower temperatures than water, it does this rapidly and in the process draws heat from the surrounding environment.

That’s how an air conditioner or your refrigerator cool a space. However, in the case of a heat pump, the process can work in both directions. In cooling mode, your heat pump extracts heat from the air going into your home. In the case of heating mode, the heat pump extracts heat from the outside air. Because the heat is transferred into the refrigerant, it can then be recompressed by the compressor. The heat is then is then released in the condenser coils, where the gas returns to liquid state. A blower then distributes air blown across the condenser coils into your home as heat.

Troubleshooting the Process

A heat pump is a complex piece of machinery, but once you know how it works, you can perform quite a bit of troubleshooting should anything go wrong with the device. For example, if you notice cold air coming from your vents, you can check to make sure it isn’t in cooling mode and that there is enough refrigerant in the device.

Keep in mind that if any service needs to be performed on the heat pump involving refrigerant, you should call an HVAC contractor due to the volatile nature of the chemical. In most municipalities, you must have a license to distribute or dispose of refrigerant and even if not, it can be dangerous to both you and the environment.

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