Archive for July, 2012

What Does an Air Handler Do?

Monday, July 30th, 2012

Your South Palm Beach air conditioning system is a complex system filled with vital components tasked with keeping you comfortable. One of the most important of those component is the air handler – the device responsible for circulating the heated or cooled air produced by your system through the vents in your home and into each of your rooms.

The air handler is a metal box, usually consisting of a blower and the heating or cooling elements. It might also include dampers and sound attenuators along with an air filtration and humidity control system. The simplest air handlers are designed only to transfer the heated or cooled air to the various parts of your home, while the most advanced devices are designed to perfectly condition and clean that air as it is circulated.

 Types of Air Handler

There are a few different types of air handler as well, depending on the size of your South Palm Beach HVAC system and the nature of the heating and/or cooling used. Most homes, for example, use terminal units which consist of just an air filter, blower and coil. This very simple system is all you really need to heat and transmit air through your ductwork.

However, for larger systems, there are also makeup air units which use outdoor air instead of recirculated indoor air. There are also packaged and rooftop units which are designed to be placed outside. These devices are most commonly used for commercial applications when space is limited.

How the Air Handler Works

An air handler’s most basic component is a blower fan. This device is run by an AC electric motor and can be either single speed or variable speed depending on the size and scope of your air handler. The dampers on the fan will control the flow rate of the air going through the blower fan. Most residential blowers are part of the air conditioning or furnace system, while commercial systems often have multiple blowers to maintain steady airflow for a larger space.

Because an air handler passes all of the air that will go through your vents, it is the best place to install high quality MERV or HEPA filters to remove pathogens and contaminants. It is also a good place to install humidity control devices to either raise or lower humidity depending on the time of the year.

Your air handler is an incredibly important component in your South Palm Beach home heating and cooling system. Without it, all that heated and cooled air you pay for each year wouldn’t reach you. So, make sure to keep your system in tip top condition by scheduling a maintenance visit with Astro Air Inc. today!

What Are Limit Switches and How Do They Work?

Monday, July 23rd, 2012

When you set the thermostat on your Ft. Lauderdale air conditioning system, you pretty take for granted that the system will maintain that temperature throughout your house. But did you ever stop to think about how it’s actually accomplished? The truth is that there are many moving parts that all play a role in keeping your home cool and comfortable, and one of these is the limit switch.

What Is a Limit Switch?

Although you’re probably not aware of it, you’ve encountered plenty of limit switches over the years. A limit switch is anything that stops an electric appliance under certain circumstances. The little switch that turns the light on in the refrigerator when you open the door and then off again when you close it is the perfect example of a limit switch. Another common one is the switch that stops your washer or dryer from running when you open the door. Limit switches are used for a variety of appliances and gadgets to not only save electricity but to keep you and your device safe.

Limit Switches and Air Conditioning

The limit switch on your air conditioning system is the link between the blower on your air handler and the thermostat. When the thermostat senses that the desired indoor temperature has been reached, it stops the air conditioner from producing any more cold air. At that point, it’s important for the blower to stop functioning as well.

If it doesn’t, the blower will continue to move and warm air rather than cold will begin circulating throughout your home. However, if the blower shuts off too soon, the cold air that’s still being generated by the air conditioner won’t be able to circulate. So it’s essential that the blower be switched off at the same time the cold air stops arriving. That’s exactly what the limit switch does.

While it’s only one very small part of a large machine, the limit switch in your air conditioner plays a vital role in keeping your home comfortable and in allowing your air conditioning system to function as efficiently as possible.

If you notice that your air conditioner is shutting off too soon or not soon enough, it may be because of a broken limit switch. If your limit switch is broken, you should contact a Ft. Lauderdale air conditioning professional like Astro Air Inc. to take a look and determine if it needs to be replaced.

Save Money in the Long Haul with AC Maintenance

Monday, July 16th, 2012

Every year, it’s recommended that you have a Boynton Beach AC contractor visit your home and tune up your air conditioner. This visit will ensure the system is ready for the intense, regular use it will receive during the hottest months of the year. How much money can this visit save you, though? Let’s take a closer look.

Cost of Operating Your Air Conditioning

When a system has dirty filters, hasn’t been cleaned properly or the thermostat is no longer calibrated accurately, the operating cost increases – sometimes dramatically.

Just how much more could you be spending on cooling each month when this happens? The EPA’s Energy Star website estimates an increase in cost of between 10-30% resulting from poorly maintained systems, and it can be even higher if your system is old and is severely affected by a drop in energy efficiency.

Annual Tune Up Necessities

So, what should be at the top of your tune up list? If you call a Boynton Beach AC contractor, they will perform a variety of tasks including:

  • Inspect Coolant and Pressure Systems
  • Calibrate the Thermostat
  • Tighten Wiring, Capacitors, Relays and Contacts
  • Clean the Evaporator Coil
  • Clear and Clean the Condenser and Condensate Drain
  • Inspect the Condenser Fan and Motor
  • Check Compressor Efficiency

This is just a starter list for standard tune up of a central air conditioning unit. You can supplement this tune up by checking your filters once every 30 days and clearing away debris from around any outdoor units. You should also check your thermostat monthly to ensure it is working properly. If not, call for an inspection to avoid heavy increases in operating costs.

Major repairs to your air conditioning system generally take less than a day and when you’re on an annual maintenance plan, they cost significantly less than if you needed someone to fix the device in an emergency situation. Call Astro Air Inc. today if your need to schedule an appointment for air conditioning maintenance or repair!

Air Conditioning on the Today Show

Friday, July 13th, 2012

Air Conditioning | Boynton Beach | Astr Air Inc.This news release comes from the Air Conditioning Contractors of America site. Astro Air Inc. is a proud member of the ACCA and provides top quality air conditioning installation, repair, maintenance, and replacement service in Boynton Beach, Palm Beach, and North Broward County areas.

NBC’s Today Show Investigates Air Conditioning

For Immediate Release:
July 10, 2012

Contact: Melissa.Broadus@acca.org
703-824-8842

On July 10, NBC’s Today Show aired an undercover investigation segment on air conditioning repairs. The “sting” operation took place at a home in New Jersey, where contractors were called to a home experiencing a problem with its air conditioning system. When they misdiagnosed or misled the customer, they were confronted by the Today Show team about their methods.

Robert C. (Bobby) Ring served as Today’s expert consultant for the segment. Ring is president of Meyer & Depew Co.,  a contracting business in Kenilworth, New Jersey. He also serves as a member of the national Board of Directors of the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA), the nation’s largest non-profit trade association serving the indoor environment industry.

“I was glad to work with the Today Show to help educate the public about what they should look for in a quality contractor,” said Ring. “I was very disappointed by those contractors who did not seem to be doing the right thing. Overall I think this segment was an important reminder to homeowners that they need to do their homework before they call a contractor. But I also believe it is important to remember that upgrade options are sometimes about improving comfort, lowering energy bills, or solving a long-term problem, not just about increasing the size of the bill.”

ACCA, which develops and publishes the national standards used by professional contractors to ensure quality HVAC installation and maintenance, said the segment was an important reminder during a very hot summer.

“When choosing a contractor, it should not be about which company buys the most prominent search engine link, or has the flashiest website, or has the biggest yellow page ad,” said Paul T. Stalknecht, ACCA President & CEO. “While there are thousands of professional contractors who do outstanding service and care about their customers first, it is the homeowner’s responsibility to find them, and that takes a little work.”

First, ACCA says, it is vital that homeowners develop a relationship with the right contractor before their system breaks down. “Find the right contracting business, and sign up for their maintenance agreement program,” Stalknecht says. “This is important for two reasons: One, having your system inspected and cleaned twice a year is mandatory to ensure that your system lasts as long as possible. And two, if your system fails in the middle of the summer, the best contractors in your area will probably be busy taking care of their maintenance agreement customers and they may not have time to come visit you.”

In addition, when a system fails during the summer, and the homeowner does not have an existing relationship with a contractor, homeowners rarely take the extra steps needed to choose the right contractor. “Do it while your system is still working,” Stalknecht says. “Don’t wait until you find yourself stranded in 100-degree heat, feeling pressured to make a decision quickly.”

According to ACCA, the steps to finding the right contractor include:

  • Get referrals from friends and neighbors. “The best predictor of a contractor’s future behavior is to find out how well they performed for someone you trust,” Stalknecht says.
  • Verify that the contractor employs NATE-certified technicians. NATE is the industry’s baseline technician certification. (www.natex.org)
  • If your state or city requires HVAC licensing, verify that the contractor is properly licensed. Each jurisdiction has different rules, unfortunately, so you will need to check with the appropriate websites.
  • Verify that the company belongs to a reputable non-profit trade organization, such as ACCA. This can demonstrate a commitment to ongoing education in a rapidly-changing industry.
  • Ask the contractor to describe their employee training program. If they’re not able to answer this question, they probably don’t have one, and that’s a red flag.
  • Verify that the contractor provides a regular maintenance or service agreement program.

If your system requires replacement, ACCA says it’s important to remember that HVAC systems are complex, and a system’s successful installation depends more on the abilities of the installer than the equipment itself. “Replacing an HVAC system is not like taking one box out and putting another in,” Stalknecht says. “It’s a system that is part of another system, the entire building. There are numerous steps that must be taken to ensure maximum comfort and energy efficiency.”

To help consumers make the right choice when installing a replacement, ACCA developed a “Quality Installation Checklist” which homeowners can use to compare bids from different contractors. It outlines the necessary steps and lets the homeowner “score” each bid to show the true value of a proposal. The checklist, along with a number of other articles and online resources for homeowners, can be found at www.acca.org/consumer.

“While often hidden from view, when an air conditioning system stops working in the summertime, we suddenly realize how important it is,” Stalknecht says. “Unfortunately, when it’s working, too often we neglect it. Which makes it even more likely that it’s going to stop working! Just like cars, HVAC systems need regular maintenance. Take care of them and they will last a long time. Neglect them and they will leave you stranded when you need them most. The key is to find the right HVAC contractor to keep everything running smoothly.”

For more information about HVAC systems, choosing the right contractor,  the Quality Installation checklists, a database of utility and state incentives for high-efficiency equipment, and to find an ACCA member in your area, visit www.acca.org/consumer.

For more information about this morning’s Today segment, visit www.today.com.

The Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) is a non-profit association serving more than 60,000 professionals and 4,000 businesses in the indoor environmental and energy services community. Founded more than 40 years ago, today ACCA sets the standards for quality comfort systems, provides leading-edge education for contractors and their employees, and fights for the interests of professional contractors in every state in the country. Learn more at www.acca.org.

When Should You Call a Professional?

Monday, July 9th, 2012

If your Boca Raton air conditioning system suddenly stops working or is not keeping your house as cool as you think it should, the chances are good that you will have to call in a professional to make the necessary repairs and get you back on track. However, there are a few things you can do on your own before you make that call to ensure that this really is something you cannot take care of on your own.

While it may seem obvious, the first thing you should check is the thermostat to make sure that it is set to a temperature that will trigger the air conditioning to come on. If your thermostat for some reason is set too high, then the air conditioner will not receive the signal to start cooling the house. This is an easy fix, of course, and you will be back up and running in no time.

If the thermostat is indeed set where it should be, the next thing to check is the air filter. Most people with central air conditioning know that they should change the filter once every month or so, but this seldom actually happens.

If it has been a while since your air filter was changed, there is a good chance that it is clogged and therefore blocking air from circulating from the air conditioner through the rest of the house. This is an easy enough fix, as all you need to do is replace the current air filter and your system should be able to pick up right where it left of. However, if the blocked air filter has also caused ice to form behind it, you may have to wait for a couple of hours until the ice has a chance to thaw.

If none of these measures are able to get your Boca Raton air conditioning system up and running again, you should not hesitate to call Astro Air Inc.. Many air conditioning repairs are quite basic, but they still need to be performed by a licensed professional.

What Causes My AC to Freeze Up?

Monday, July 2nd, 2012

If you have ever experienced a frozen air conditioning system in Boynton Beach, you know the symptoms. The house is too warm. Water may be dripping from the ceiling. Sometimes you can hear the system running, but there is no cool air coming out of the vents. Ice and frost have built up in your air conditioning system, rendering it all but useless.

Yes, you may know what the problem looks like, but how about what causes it? Or better yet, how to fix it? Well, for that, read on.

Dirt

The most common cause of a frozen air conditioning system is a dirty air filter. Clean or replace the filter according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Turn the air conditioning system off, and just run the fan. This will help thaw the ice and get things running again.

It could also be that the cooling coil or evaporator coil is dirty. In this case, air flow will gradually decrease over time, but you may not notice until the system freezes up. If the coil is dirty, or if the system freezes again after replacing the filter, call a professional.

Low Refrigerant

Your Boynton Beach air conditioning system is a closed loop, so refrigerant is meant to stay within the system without needing to be replaced or replenished. Over time, though, the AC system can develop leaks, which can cause freezing problems. Common culprits that can lead to a refrigerant leak include:

  • Friction against the piping
  • Open valves
  • Weak solder joints, or
  • Loose fittings

The only way to correctly diagnose and repair a refrigerant leak is to have a certified Boynton Beach AC technician inspect it for himself.

Needs Repair

Finally, the problem could be that some part of the AC system is defective, faulty or otherwise in need of repair. The blower motor or the attached relay may not be working properly, which can cause freezing. When this happens, professional repair is the only recourse.

Now that you are able to figure what is causing your AC system to freeze up, go ahead and call Astro Air Inc get it fixed, so you can stop dealing with the dripping ceiling and start enjoying the nice, cool air.