What Do I Need to Know for My Air Conditioning Installation?

April 17th, 2014

If you have decided to install a new air conditioning system this spring, you’ve picked an excellent season to schedule the work. Your new AC will be ready to cool you down in time for summer, and the lighter transitional spring season for HVAC professionals will make it easier to arrange for the work at a convenient time.

Here are a few facts you should know about your air conditioning installation in Boynton Beach, FL that will make sure the job goes smoothly and you end up with the ideal air conditioner for a great summer. For the quality results you want, call on the almost three decades of experience at Astro Air Inc.

You must have professionals install your AC:

We live in an age that praises the “do-it-yourself” mentality, not only as a way of saving money but also as an enjoyable hobbyist pursuit. Although DIY is a fine idea for many household tasks, you do not want to apply it to air conditioning installation. Nor do you want to leave the job to unlicensed amateurs. Putting in a central AC requires trained knowledge and professional-grade tools. Incorrect air conditioner installation will lead to numerous repair needs, inefficient and energy-draining performance, and inadequate cooling. Start with professionals, and you’ll end with quality.

The AC will need to be sized for your home:

“Sizing” doesn’t mean fitting the physical size of the air conditioner’s indoor and outdoor unit to the available space (although installers will take that into consideration). It means determining the level of cooling power, measured in BTUs, the AC must have to match your home’s needs. To figure this out, professional installers will look over your home for places where outside heat can enter, inspect the insulation, and make calculations based on additional sources of heat. The ideal air conditioner will be neither too big nor too small, so you won’t suffer from uneven cooling or a system that short-cycles and drains excess power.

To start off your air conditioning installation in Boynton Beach, FL right, turn to Astro Air Inc. You can count on us to provide top quality work done right the first time.

Installing Ductless Mini Split Systems

April 10th, 2014

If you are searching for a more efficient way to heat and cool your home, or for a system that provides you more flexibility with interior design, then you should give ductless mini split systems serious consideration.

Ductless mini splits are heat pumps that require no ducts to distribute heated and cooled air. They have the same power as standard central heat pumps, with effective heat for a Florida winter, and high levels of cooling for the heavy summers. However, because of their lack of ductwork, ductless mini splits are easier to install, need fewer repairs, and provide very effective zone control.

If you are interested in ductless mini split heat pump installation, contact Astro Air Inc. and speak to our skilled installers. We’ve helped Delray Beach, FL with air conditioning and heating since 1986.

How are ductless mini splits installed?

First of all, you’ll need professionals to install a ductless heat pump: the lack of ducts doesn’t mean these systems are easy for “do-it-yourself” or amateur work. It requires professional tools and trained precision to execute this job correctly.

Installation starts with mounting individual blower units within various rooms. Technicians first put in wall mounts in the proper locations (usually high on walls, often over doors and windows), then drill holes through the walls for the refrigerant, condensate, and electrical lines. They place the interior blower units on the mounts and run the lines through the walls, making certain no condensation can escape and create damage to the walls of your home.

After each of the interior units are set up, the installers place the outdoor unit and secure it. They connect the refrigerant lines from the indoor blowers to the outdoor unit and perform a series of leak checks. The final step of installation hooks up the outdoor unit to your home’s electrical power. The installers will go over the whole system to double-check for other leaks and make sure the electrical connections are secure and the voltage matches. They won’t leave your home until they are certain the heat pump works the way it should and can provide comfort in both heating and cooling mode.

Make sure a ductless system is right for you

If you have reduced room for a ventilation system in your home, or if you want additional space for new construction, a ductless mini split heat pump is an ideal choice for installation. Contact our ductless specialists at Astro Air Inc. to learn more. Our staff will find the ideal heating and air conditioning in Delray Beach, FL for you.

Signs of an AC Compressor Problem

April 3rd, 2014

The compressor in your central AC system adds the energy to the refrigerant, changing it into a hot high-pressure gas.  It then sends the refrigerant on its way to perform heat exchange, first to the outdoor condenser coil to release heat, and then to the indoor evaporator coil to absorb heat. The refrigerant then returns to the compressor to re-initiate the cycle.

A problem in the compressor of your AC can soon turn into a failed AC. If you notice these signs of a compressor with trouble, call for professional air conditioning repair in West Palm Beach, FL. Astro Air Inc. has 24-hour emergency service so you won’t end up stuck in the summer heat without relief.

Compressor problem warning signs

  • Loss of cooling power: If you find the air coming from your vents no longer feels as cold as it should, then a number of repair issues might lay behind it. A broken compressor is one of the major ones; if refrigerant isn’t moving through the coils, the heat exchange responsible for cooling down your home simply cannot work.
  • Grinding noises from the cabinet: A motor runs the compressor, and the compressor itself uses a piston action similar to a motor. Wearing down, lack of lubrication, or dirt can cause either the motor or the compressor to begin to strain, leading to a grinding sound (and sometimes a shrieking sound). This needs immediate investigation from a professional; sometimes, a repair technician can fix a “tight” compressor or overworking motor with lubrication. If not repaired, the compressor or its motor will break down and become fixed in position. In this case, parts replacement is usually the only solution.
  • Hard starting: If the compressor is “hard starting,” the air conditioner will stutter at start-up and then stop early before finishing its cycle, only to restart again. A hard starting compressor may also cause circuit breakers to trip. A repair technician will need to look over the unit and see where repairs or replacements need to be applied.

Without a working compressor, you won’t have anything except a fan blowing room temperature air through the vents. At the earliest sign of compressor issues, make a call to Astro Air Inc. Since 1986, we’ve helped people in West Palm Beach, FL with air conditioning repair.

My AC Has Stopped Cooling! What Should I Do?

March 27th, 2014

Your house feels abnormally warm, although you can still hear the pleasant hum of the fans in your air conditioning. You go to one of the vents and place your hand in front of it, expecting to feel the crisp chill of conditioned air flowing out. The air still slides past your hand, yet it lacks the refreshing cool you expect; instead, it feels no different than the warm air in the rest of your home.

There are a number of different reasons your air conditioner might lose its cooling ability while still continuing to run. We’ll look at some possible causes, most of which require the help of repair technicians to remedy. The trained staff at Astro Air Inc. is ready around the clock, seven days a week, to help you with air conditioning repair in Boca Raton, FL—whatever the trouble.

Reasons your AC has stopped cooling and what you should do

  • Thermostat issues: You should always check your thermostat first whenever your AC has ceased sending out cool air. If the thermostat is improperly set, the air conditioner’s fans may turn on, but the cooling cycle won’t start and you’ll only receive recycled, room temperature air. However, if the thermostat appears set correctly, there may be a fault in the thermostat itself, such as trouble with the wire from the thermostat that turns on the AC’s compressor. This requires the work of a repair technician to fix.
  • Broken compressor: The compressor is the component in the air conditioner’s cabinet that supplies energy to the refrigerant and sends it through the system. If the compressor breaks or freezes in place because of dirt contamination, the process of heat exchange will stop and the fans will only blow warm air. Call for professional repair technician to replace the broken compressor.
  • Loss of refrigerant: If the refrigerant coursing through the AC starts to leak, either because of breaks in the line or loose connections, the unit will start to rapidly lose its cooling power. Check to see if ice has formed over the indoor coils, which is a strong indication of leaking refrigerant. Professionals need to find the leaks and seal them, then recharge the refrigerant to its normal level.

Except for making adjustments to your thermostat if it was set incorrectly, the other problems that can cause your air conditioner to stop blowing out cold air require that you call for professional air conditioning repair in Boca Raton, FL. Astro Air Inc. is here to help.

Sounds that Indicate You Need Air Conditioning Repair

March 19th, 2014

Here in Boynton Beach, air conditioning repair is no laughing matter. Our summers are as hot and muggy as they come, and without reliable air conditioning service, you may be left without a comfortable home just when you need it the most. Spring makes an ideal time to perform lingering air conditioning repairs: before the temperature climbs too high and you need the services of your air conditioner every day. Do how can you tell if you need it? Sounds and noises are an excellent indicator that something is wrong. Run your air conditioner for 15-20 minutes and listen for some of the following sounds that indicate you need air conditioning repair.

  • Hissing noises: A hissing or bubbling sound usually indicates a leak in your refrigerant lines somewhere. It could also mean a breach in the air ducts, causing air to leak out.
  • Buzzing sounds: Buzzing sounds usually come from malfunctioning electrical components, such as the fan motor or any of the wiring connecting the air conditioner to the household power grid.
  • Humming noises: In some case, a humming noise can extend from a leak in the air flow, created when the metal of the air ducts vibrates. In many cases, however, it’s caused by an electrical malfunction, typically from the fan motor or the compressor motor.
  • Banging or clanking noises: Compressors sometimes makes banging noises when they suffer from a malfunction, as do other moving components that have become loose in their housings. Similarly, rattling noises may arise when bolts or other small objects become loose in the air conditioner. They rarely cause damage in and of themselves, but have the potential to damage other components if left loose like that.

If you detect sounds that indicate you need air conditioning repair – basically any noise that you don’t recognize as a part of the unit’s normal functioning – then call upon the experts at Astro Air Inc. to help. In Boynton Beach, air conditioning repair is best conducted sooner rather than later, and our staff has the expertise to get your system back on its feet again quickly!

A Guide to Air Conditioning Refrigerants

March 12th, 2014

Refrigerant is the chemical responsible for providing you with the cool air from your air conditioner. Refrigerant doesn’t actually create cold air; it removes heat from the air (which a blower sends into your home) and then transports the heat outside. The refrigerant shifts between a liquid and a gas as it moves through the AC, never dissipating in the process.

The term refrigerant does not refer to a single type of chemical. During the history of air conditioning, a number of different chemicals and compounds (known as blends) have served the purpose of heat exchange. In this post we’ll look at some of the major ones. If you need air conditioning repair in Boca Raton, FL because of loss of refrigerant—or any other reason—call Astro Air Inc. We’ve serviced air conditioners since 1986.

Refrigerant Types

Sulfur dioxide, methyl chloride, ammonia: These chemical compounds were the first refrigerants used in air conditioners. They fill the most important function of refrigerant—easy phase transition from liquid to gas and back again—but each has dangerous drawbacks that makes it hazardous. Sulfur dioxide (SO2) is toxic, methyl chloride (R-40) is highly flammable, and ammonia (NH3) is caustic. Eventually, all were discontinued from use in residential air conditioning.

Freon: Freon is a trademark of DuPont that applies to any of the non-toxic, non-flammable chemical blends that took over from the hazardous chemicals. The first Freon compounds were chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), the earliest of which was called Freon-12 or R-12. The “R” designated a “refrigerant class number,” a system that DuPont developed to identify the chemical composition of the different blends.

R-22 (chlorodifluoromethane): This was the most common type of refrigerant found in air conditioners for many years. Because it is a hydrochlorofluorocarbon, it contributes to ozone depletion. Beginning in 2004, the U.S. EPA initiated a phaseout of R-22, with an expected full discontinuation as of 2020. If you have an air conditioner more than 10 years old, it may have R-22 in it.

R-410A: This is probably the refrigerant blend contained in your air conditioner right now. A mixture of two other refrigerant blends, difluoromethane and pentafluoroethane, R-410A sometimes goes under the name “Puron.” R-410A does not contribute to ozone depletion and has become the principle replacement for R-22 in commercial and residential ACs during the phaseout.

The most important thing you need to know:

There are many other kinds of refrigerants, but here’s the crucial thing you should know about them: professionals need to handle them. Don’t try to replace refrigerant in an AC on your own; you may end up putting in the wrong blend, or put in too much or too little. If you have a problem with your AC’s refrigerant, call a specialist in air conditioning repair in Boca Raton, FL to take care of it. Astro Air Inc has NATE-certified technicians ready to help you.

How Air Conditioning Maintenance Will Save You Money This Summer

March 3rd, 2014

The warm weather has arrived, and that means air conditioners are already humming away doing the job of keeping us cool. Now is the right time to schedule a yearly maintenance visit for an AC so it’s ready to handle the upcoming heavy summer heat.

Regular maintenance does more than make certain your air conditioner can survive a Florida summer. Aside from a precautionary step, air conditioning maintenance in West Palm Beach, FL is also a money-saving step. Considering how much use your AC will receive from now until the late fall, you’ll want to find ways to make sure it won’t place an extra strain on your budget.

You can sign up for an excellent maintenance program today with Astro Air Inc. Call to schedule that important tune-up for your air conditioning.

How maintenance saves you money

  • More efficient performance: The basic steps of AC maintenance involve adjusting and cleaning the parts of the unit that will cause inefficient performance if neglected. An air conditioner with dusty coils and dirt-covered motors will begin to work harder than it should and drain energy. Your maintenance technician will change the filter and make other adjustments that will reduce the strain put on the unit from aging. The result will be an air conditioner working at peak condition without wasting money.
  • Fewer repair needs: Regular maintenance is also called “preventive maintenance,” since one of its goals is to prevent potential repair needs. The maintenance technician will do a check-up on your AC to identify where extra wear and tear may lead to component malfunction. The technician can also take care of small repairs and replacements before they worsen.
  • Longer lifespan: The biggest bill you can incur for your air conditioning system is needing to replace it. A sudden breakdown during the summer can mean having an entirely new system put in because the old system is simply too worn down to keep working effectively. Maintenance increases the lifespan of an AC, keeping it in excellent condition so it does not age prematurely.

Astro Air Inc. can help you start saving money today

The Energy Savings Maintenance Agreement from Astro Air Inc. will deliver you the cleaning, adjustments, replacements, and tune-ups your AC needs to lower your summer cooling bills. If you sign up, you’ll also receive a 15% parts discount on all materials not covered by the manufacturer’s warranty, and a 15% labor discount on any additional work beyond the maintenance tune-up. For air conditioning maintenance in West Palm Beach, FL, look to Astro Air Inc.

Common Problems and Repairs for Walk-In Coolers

February 24th, 2014

Walk-in coolers and freezers are vital for any commercial enterprise that deals with food preparation or sales. From restaurants to catering business to grocery stores and convenience marts, they all need a reliable walk-in cooler in order to stay in business. Here in West Palm Beach FL, keeping your walk-in cooler functioning effectively is especially important because our local high heat and humidity. When they need repairs, you need to address them immediately. Some problems actually have simple solutions, such as an improper temperature stemming from a misplaced sensor. Others, however, indicate more serious issues and need the services of a technician to correct. Here’s a quick list of some common problems and repairs for walk-in coolers.

  • Compressor problems. The compressor is a vital part of the refrigeration cycle. If the compressor isn’t running, it could stem from an electrical overload, a defective coil, or a malfunction within the compressor itself. A repair technician will check the compressor, scan the electrical systems to make sure it’s functioning and then either repair the faulty component or replace the compressor.
  • Frost build-up. Walk in coolers usually have defrost cycles designed to keep important components clear of ice and frost build-up that might interfere with the cooler’s ability to function. If frost is building up, you may need to adjust the defroster to ensure that it runs its cycles more often (and perhaps check the timer on the defroster for damage).
  • High discharge temperature. High discharge temperature can be a result of a dirty condenser. There might also be a problem with the fan motor or the fan blade itself might be stuck. A qualified technician can quickly correct both of these problems.

Walk-in coolers are complex devices, and you need a professional to correct any problems you find. For more on common problems and repairs for walk-in coolers, talk to the experts at Astro Air Inc. We offer excellent West Palm Beach walk-in cooler services. Call us today to make an appointment!

Boca Raton FL Insulation FAQ: What Is R-Value?

February 17th, 2014

Insulation is an essential part of keeping a home warm during cold weather and cool during hot weather. The insulation in the walls and floors of your house serves a thermal barrier that prevents the movement of heat. During times when you need to stay warm, the insulation will keep the heat from your heating systems trapped so it does leak away and create drafts. During sweltering summer weather, the insulation keeps heat from coming through from the outside, removing the stress from your air conditioner.

If you’ve recently considered replacing or upgrading the insulation in your home’s attic (the most important place for insulation, since it’s where the largest amount of heat enters and leaves), you will have come across the term R-value. Understanding this is important for knowing how best to insulate your home.

Contact Astro Air Inc. for more information about your options for insulation in Boca Raton, FL.

R-value: a rating of insulation efficiency

The R-value listed for insulation is an indicator of how well it stops the movement of heat. R-value is used throughout the construction industry as a measure of thermal resistance. It is determined as the ratio of the temperature difference across the insulation to the rate of heat transfer through the surface (a.k.a. heat flux). The higher the number, the more effective the insulation. To prohibit deceptive practices that might deceive customers, the Federal Trade Commission governs R-value claims.

As an example of the range of R-values, these are the usual ratings of the standard construction material found in homes: bricks have an R-value of R-0.2, hardwood is R-0.71, glass is R-0.14, and concrete is R-0.08.

Compare this to the R-values of insulation that can be placed in a home: standard fiberglass batts have between R-3.1 and R-4.3, high-density fiberglass batts are between R-3.6 and R-5, and spray foam is R-3.6. In all cases, the insulation is three to four times more effective at blocking heat than the building material. Although most insulation may look simple, in practice it makes an enormous difference in stopping heat from getting in or out of your home.

Make sure your home’s attic is effectively insulated

People often make the mistake of thinking that insulation is only useful for winter. This is misleading, since the proper insulation in Boca Raton, FL will make for a much more pleasant summer—and a less expensive one, since your AC will not need to work as much.

To find out how best to insulate your home’s attic this coming summer and the right R-value to keep you cool, talk to our experts at Astro Air Inc. today.

Who Wrote the First Valentine’s Day Poem?

February 14th, 2014

The celebration of Valentine’s Day is often seen as a modern institution, even if the roots of the holiday go back to Late Antiquity and the figures of St. Valentine of Rome and St. Valentine of Terni. It’s difficult to separate our view of February 14th from the more recent phenomenon of greeting cards, comical cupids, and specialty treats from candy companies.

However, not only are some of these traditions older than we might think (mass-produced Valentine’s Day cards were an enormous success in early 19th-century England), but the earliest Valentine’s Day love poem comes from none other than the first great English author, Geoffrey Chaucer, who wrote in the second half of the 14th-century.

Chaucer’s most famous work is The Canterbury Tales, an enormous collection of linked stories in poetry and prose. But his 700-line poem “Parlement of Foules” has the special distinction of being the first surviving record of a connection between Valentine’s Day and romantic love. Chaucer probably composed the poem in 1381–82. At the time, he was a member of the court of King Richard II, holding an important bureaucratic position in London. The date suggests that Chaucer wrote “Parelment of Foules” to honor the first anniversary of the engagement of the English king to Princess Anne of Bohemia.

The poem follows the dream of the narrator, where he walks through Venus’s temple and discovers a meeting of birds where they all choose their mates. This is where the mention of St. Valentine’s Day appears (English modernized):

For this was on St. Valentine’s Day,

When every bird cometh there to choose his mate.

The poem also contains a familiar Valentine’s image, Cupid with his arrows:

Under a tree, beside a well, I saw

Cupid our lord his arrows forge and file;                                                             

And at his feet his bow already lay.

When Chaucer mentions St. Valentine’s Day, is he referring specifically to February 14th? Late winter isn’t a time when birds in England would mate. However, the date for the start of spring—when some birds would have started nesting in England—was on February 23rd in the calendars of the time, certainly close enough for Chaucer to take poetic license and nudge it a bit to match with Valentine’s Day.

Love birds remain a popular symbol of Valentine’s Day even now, and for this we can thank Chaucer. In fact, he may very well have invented the link between love and Valentine’s Day, although we will probably never know for certain.

Whoever started these traditions, all of us here at Astro Air Inc.  hope you have a pleasant February 14th.