Atlanta Air Conditioning Guide: Indoor Air Conditioning Components

Monday, May 21st, 2012

Air conditioning in Atlanta is a modern convenience that we can easily take for granted as long as all the parts are working well.  In every unit, no matter the size, the basic process is one of extracting heat from the conditioned space and moving it to the outside, leaving cool air in its place.

This process easily divides into indoor and outdoor components.

Air Conditioning 101

Based on the principal of thermal energy which states that heat gravitates toward cooler temperatures, compounds known as refrigerants are moved through a closed loop system, repeatedly contracting and expanding between liquid and gas forms, alternately releasing and absorbing heat along the way.  The particular chemicals are selected for their abilities to transform from one state to the other at low temperatures.

While the refrigerant evaporates into a gaseous state within the looped system, it absorbs heat, removing the stale air from the space being conditioned and evacuating it to the outdoors. The warm air is pulled through ducts to meet with the cooling loop.

Ductwork

The cooled air is distributed through ducts or tubing and released into individual spaces.  Additional ductwork is required to remove the stale air and pull it back to be reconditioned as it passes over the loop containing the refrigerant.  The air is moved in both directions by a blower, usually electric and sized to handle the amount of air no matter the building.

Ductwork is also sized to handle appropriate volumes of air. To maintain efficiency, large trunks distribute along central lines to smaller ones reaching farther out. The return air is usually taken from common areas.

The grates are found in the walls, floors and often as part of the dropped ceiling. When combined with a forced air heating system, the total energy use is much more efficient.

Looped Coils

The refrigerant is enclosed in a loop where it can expand and contract to make its transformation from gas to liquid and back again.  To change into a heat-absorbing gas, it travels through the evaporating coils, an intricate series of delicate fins that meets with the ductwork to regenerate the conditioned air.

An exchange valve allows just the right amount of liquid refrigerant into the evaporator coils.  If there is too much, the tube is flooded too tightly to allow expansion of the molecules and room to attract the heat.  If too little, the process is inefficient.

Cool Maintenance

When set up and maintained on a regular basis, your Atlanta air conditioning system should function with little attention and over sight. To schedule a maintenance visit today, give Cool Air Mechanical a call!

 

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Atlanta Air Conditioning Tips: How to Troubleshoot a Failed AC Unit

Monday, April 16th, 2012

In most cases, a failed air conditioning system may be fixed by going through some troubleshooting guidelines. If you would like one of our Atlanta air conditioning technicians to help you get your AC unit running again, give Cool Air Mechanical a call for assistance. We can also send someone to your home if we can’t get your system working again.

Here are some basic steps to try before you call for a repair.

Check All Controls and Fuses

Atlanta Air Conditioning RepairWhen your air conditioner won’t cool your home properly, always check the thermostat to see if it is on “cool” and set for the right temperature. If the air conditioner has shut down, check to make sure that the unit is receiving power by looking in the fuse box for a flipped circuit breaker and also making sure it is plugged in properly. You can also inspect the visible wires and electrical components for obvious damages. Call an Atlanta air conditioning technician if you see physical damage to the electrical components. Never try to fix this yourself.

If the weather is very hot outside, your air conditioner’s high-pressure switch can get flipped and turn your unit off. On most air conditioners the high pressure limit switch can be found on the compressor’s access panel. If you can’t find the switch or you would like someone to make sure nothing more serious is wrong with your AC, give us a call.

Check for Refrigerant Problems or Condensate Pan Leaks

Refrigerant problems caused by the wrong amount of refrigerant can keep the AC unit from cooling your home properly, and you can usually tell if there’s a refrigerant issue by looking for frost or icing on the evaporator coil. When there’s excess coil icing, it means that there isn’t enough cool air being delivered to your home. If you see thick frost on the evaporator coil, a technician will most likely need to charge the refrigerant, or there could be a leak in the refrigerant line.

Condensate leaks into the condensate pan can also cause an air conditioner to fail. The condensate drip pan is installed underneath the air handler to catch condensate leaks if the drain system gets clogged. Most of the time, a small clog in the drain line can be easily cleared. Also check the condensate switch for issues; sometimes these can be defective and cause your air conditioner to shut down.

At Cool Air Mechanical, we want to be the only Atlanta air conditioning contractor you’ll ever need. Call us any time to get troubleshooting advice for your AC system.

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Winston Heating Repair Tip: Is Your Furnace Not Blowing Enough Air?

Monday, January 30th, 2012

Have you ever been in your Winston house in the winter, listening to the furnace churn away trying to heat the house, but noticed that the whole place is still cold? If you checked the heating vents in this situation, you would probably find that there is not much air flow coming out of them, which is why you are still freezing.

It is entirely possible for the furnace to be burning away, producing hot air, without enough of that warm air ever actually being distributed through your home. So it continues to run and run, resulting in excess wear and tear on the heating system that will probably shorten its productive life, as well as keeping your whole home too chilly.

Why does that happen? There are a several common culprits for insufficient air flow from a furnace. Below is a list of the most frequent offenders, along with solutions for each:

  • Cause: Dirty or broken air filter. An air filter that has accumulated too much build up or is damaged will slow down air flow in a hurry.
    Solution: Clean or replace the air filter as necessary. This should be part of routine furnace maintenance in order to ensure efficient operation. Refer to the manufacturer’s recommendations to see how often you should check your air filter(s).
  • Cause: Damaged, corroded, broken or collapsed ductwork. Your ducts are like the road that warm air travels on. If the road is out, then no one can get through. Simple as that.
    Solution: Have a professional inspect and repair your ductwork. A routine ductwork check is also part of a professional’s annual maintenance inspection.
  • Cause: Blower fan not blowing enough. This can be caused by a loose fan belt, or a dirty motor.
    Solution: First, clean the blower fan and the area around it. It has to deal with a lot of air, so it naturally becomes dirty over time. If that doesn’t fix it, the fan belt probably needs to be replaced.

There are some other causes of improper furnace air flow, but those are the most common and easiest to detect and repair. If your heat registers are not returning any warm air at all, that is likely a different problem and you should call a technician to look at the system right away.

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What Size Water Heater Do I Need for My Winston Home?

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

When installing a new water heater in your Winston home, it is important to get one that is the appropriate size. Of course, one that is too small will not handle the capacity you need, so you will be stuck with water that is not quite hot enough.

You may think to just buy one that you are sure can more than handle the capacity you need, but there are drawbacks to this strategy. A water heater that is “too big” will also draw more power, resulting in waste and unnecessarily high bills. Plus, it will cost more up front than you really need to spend.

The trick is to get a water heater that is the correct size for your needs. For a conventional water heater with a tank, the metric you will need to refer to is the unit’s first hour rating, or FHR. To determine the necessary FHR, you first need to determine during which hour of the day your home uses the most water. Typically, this is either first thing in the morning or later in the evening, when most people are bathing. Once you know this, determine what the water usage is during that hour based on average usage for each task. For example, let’s say a typical morning in your home consists of:

  • 3 showers (average of 12 gallons each)
  • 1 food preparation (5 gallons)
  • 1 hand dishwashing (4 gallons)

That’s about 45 gallons of hot water needed during that hour, so you need a unit with an FHR somewhere in that ballpark. The U.S. Department of Energy has a good worksheet to use for these measurements, which includes average usage rates for common household hot water tasks.

If you are looking at getting a tankless water heater system, the process is a little more complicated. The important figure to know in that situation is the maximum temperature increase possible for a particular flow rate. That means adding up the flow rates for all the various appliances you may use at once, then figuring out how much you need to increase the temperature.

If you find any of this confusing, consider a professional consultation during the selection process. That will ensure you get the water heater that is right for you.

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Heat Pump Settings and Your Comfort Level: A Tip from Atlanta

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

Your heat pump has a number of settings that can affect your Atlanta home’s overall comfort level. One of those settings is the fan – which can be set to run automatically when heating is needed or left on continuously so that the device never turns off. Which is better for your home, though? Let’s take a look.

Comfort vs. Economy

The reason there are two settings on your heat pump is that one is more economical. The auto setting allows the device to minimize how often it is on. So, it only turns on when the house needs warm air to maintain the thermostat setting.

On the other hand, the always on setting is designed to provide better comfort. When you leave your heat pump’s fan on continuously, it provides steady heat over time. This means that the temperature remains consistent and mixes the air to ensure there are no uncomfortable pockets of poorly conditioned air in your home somewhere.

Which Is Better?

In terms of comfort level, it depends on your needs. If you’re not too picky about the exact temperature of your home, the auto setting is best because you will save money and it tends to be fairly accurate. However, if you want to ensure you and your family are perfectly comfortable, regardless of the weather outside, the always on setting is the best way to achieve this level of comfort.

Of course, if you’re concerned about the added cost of leaving the heat pump fan on all the time, you can adjust the thermostat to even out the cost. By raising the thermostat 2 degrees in the summer and lowering it 2 degrees in the winter, the added cost of running it constantly should be offset. If it isn’t, you should have your device inspected to ensure both of the settings are properly calibrated.

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