Tuesday, April 29, 2014

How a Refrigerator Works

It doesn’t matter how far refrigeration has advanced these days, all refrigerators universally work by utilizing identical technologies that have been tried-and-tested through the years. Here’s a short explanation of how a refrigerator works.
Refrigeration is a process run by five major components: the fluid refrigerant, a compressor, condenser coils, evaporator coils, and an expansion device. The fluid refrigerant is the so-called blood of the appliance as all cooling begins with it; which is controlled by the compressor and the coils.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Facts you should know about Home Insulation

Unless you want your AC unit or heater to spend more and more energy, causing your power bill to keep increasing until you can barely fit it into your budget, you’ll need to have insulation in your walls and attic. Doing so prevents the warm or cooled air from escaping out of your house, making it much easier to reach the temperature you’ve set in your thermostat.


The first thing you should know about getting home insulation is its R-value. Basically, this measures the resistance of your chosen insulation type to thermal resistance or heat conduction. The higher the R-value, the more efficient the insulation is. You should know though, that the Department of Energy measures this value differently based on where your home is located.


Two of the most common types of insulation are blown-in and fiberglass. Blown-in insulation contains loose-fill particles of fire-retardant insulating material. A compressor then blows these particles into your attic. This is an efficient way to get insulating material into the nooks and crannies of your attic, making for an even distribution, even if your attic has a particularly irregular shape.

Fiberglass insulation, on the other hand, comes in rolls or strips of varying lengths. This type of insulation is excellent for your floor joists, wall studs, and even your ceiling rafters. A paper backing, which can be stapled onto studs or beams, is attached to the insulating material.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Signs it’s Time to retire your Air Conditioner

Your trusty air conditioner works for you non-stop, but eventually, it will have problems, or maybe even completely break down. In most cases, you can have it up and running again by hiring an HVAC contractor to do some repairs. Nevertheless, there are times when you should know how to give up on it and buy a new one, as constant repairs at that point could be too costly.

Ten Years of Service

Sure, there may be many air conditioners capable of running for much longer than ten years, but its efficiency will already have been significantly reduced. Besides, your ten year old AC might already be outdated, so you should consider upgrading to a more advanced and perhaps more energy-efficient model.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Facts about DIY AC Coil Maintenance

As homeowner, it’s always important that you keep your HVAC system clean and well-maintained. However, you don’t always have to hire a professional for some of the tasks; there are some things that you can clean out on your own, just like your air conditioner’s evaporator and condenser coils, for instance. Here are some facts you should know about these components:

What They Are
Basically, the cooling function of your air conditioning system works on cycles of shifting a substance, called a refrigerant, from gas to liquid and back to gas. The condenser coil turns the heated gas refrigerant liquid, allowing it to pass through the evaporator coil, which in turn transforms it back to gas.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Planning on Buying a new Air Conditioner?

If you think that your old air conditioner is already way past salvage with a few repairs, it might be time to buy a new one. With spring well on its way, the urgency to have a dependable cooling system is only all the more heightened. However, there are a few things you should take into consideration before buying a unit?

Which one?
Manufacturers like Trane have multiple types of ACs available for your purchase, and each one could be a boon or bane for your home, depending on how well you choose based on your needs, that is. For instance, if you want to cool your entire house without expending too much in energy cost, you might want to opt for a central unit, but if you only plan on cooling certain rooms at a time, get a window unit.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Fine-tuning Your Air Conditioning

It's always crucial to check your HVAC system so you know what needs tuning up and repairing. Here are a few things you should take a closer look at in order to maintain an effective and efficient air conditioner:

Air conditioner filters
Routinely inspect filters to ensure that dirt will not block normal airflow and that it will not be carried into other parts of the unit. When dirt reaches the coil, it can impair your equipment's ability to absorb heat and cool your home.

Air conditioner coils
Like filters, coils can also accumulate enough dust and dirt to lower the functionality of your air conditioning unit. Make sure to check your evaporator coil and condenser coil annually. Eliminate any debris blocking proper airflow and prune plants near the unit.

Coil fins and condensate drains
Coil fins can easily bend back and block airflow, while condensate drains can become clogged, making reducing humidity harder. Acquire a fin comb to brush back the fins into their original condition. In turn, pass a stiff wire through drain channels to eliminate debris.

Though it's great to tune up an AC by yourself, you should still hire a professional technician trained to find problems in your unit. An experienced technician can check for the right amount of refrigerant, test for any chemical leaks, inspect electric terminals, and verify control sequences to make sure that everything is in good working condition.

AC Repair Basics You Need To Know

Your air conditioning system has conked out and you're looking at repair websites again. The main problem is that when an AC unit breaks down, it means you haven’t done the necessary maintenance or early repair, which could have prevented the breakdown in time. Here are a few things you need to know about AC maintenance.

Knowing When to Call

It's pretty obvious that you have to call for help when the AC unit becomes completely frazzled. However, did you know that you could have called earlier and saved a lot of money? One of the warning signs for AC repair is a loud noise from the unit. Low airflow and lack of cooling are also valid reasons to call a repair company. You could probably live with these problems, but the longer you delay the call, the greater the chance you'll have to completely replace the unit.

When calling a pro to do repairs, always check their references and license to ensure that they're above board, and that your AC system is in good hands.

Maintenance You Can Do

The above symptoms could have been avoided, too. Always ensure that you have clean air filters. Clogged air filters slow down airflow, leading to less efficiency. You also need to turn off your AC when you are not using it. This may sound basic but plenty of people are tempted to leave it on to maintain room temperature. Long operation hours, however, can lead to breakdowns as well.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Making Sure Your Air Conditioner is in Great Shape

Air conditioners are pretty robust pieces of machinery. However, there are times when they conk out, mainly because of the lack of maintenance. Your air conditioner going into disrepair can be an uncomfortable experience, especially during the long, hot Houston summers.

Air conditioner repair can be pretty expensive, so it would be better to prevent the problem by doing minor maintenance on your air conditioning unit. Here are a few things to check as you give your air conditioner a once over.

The main parts that you yourself can check are the filters and coils. Dirty filters can impede the airflow, which can significantly reduce the efficiency of your unit. Cleaning or replacing these filters can increase your air conditioner's efficiency by a factor of fifteen percent. Central air conditioners usually have filters in the walls and ceilings, while room air conditioners have it inside the grill facing the room.

Coils are the other part that you should be concerned with. The evaporator and condenser coils of an air conditioner accumulate dirt over a period of time. Dirty coils will have difficulty absorbing heat, meaning that you will have hotter air being piped in. A yearly cleaning would make sure they are in top condition.

A professional technician would also be able to check and do more, so hiring them for the job is advised. Maintenance fees are lower than repair fees, after all.

Signs That the Water Heater is Giving Up

It is hard to live each and every single day of the year when a blast of cold water rudely awakens you in the morning. This harrowing thought is one of the biggest reasons why a proper, functional water heater is a necessity for every Houston household.
However, all things break down immediately. Undoubtedly, a machine like a water heater is sure to be worn out fast due to the fact that it deals with an element as powerful as water. As hot water is an important component to a comfortable life, it is important for homeowners to know when it is time to start thinking about having a new water heater installed.
One of the most obvious signs of heater failure is colored water. When brownish water comes out of the faucet, it most likely means that the interior of the tank is already rusting. Obviously, this is dangerous to your health, so replacement is definitely in order.
Another thing that has to be considered is the age of the water heater. If the water heater has outlived its warranties, then it is probably a good time to replace it. Waiting for any signs of trouble is a surefire way to win a month’s worth of horrible baths.
Finally, it is time to consider replacement if the heater is leaking on places it’s not supposed to. It probably means that the heater is about to give in, so a replacement should be in order before flooding occurs.

Monday, April 7, 2014

A Primer on Common Water Heater Problems

Hot water is an important component in a comfortable life. It is difficult to take a bath if every tap in the bathroom spews nothing but freezing water. The necessity for hot water makes the water heater one of the most important components of a home’s plumbing system.
However, like all tools and components that are constantly exposed in water, a water heater is bound to have its set of problems over time. When these problems arise, it is important that the homeowners immediately do what they can to solve these issues and keep clean, hot water flowing through the tap.
Cold Water Temperature
If the water is not hot enough, then there must be a problem with the thermostat. If the temperature in it is high but the water tells you otherwise, it should also point to the same problem. Apart from that, a faulty thermocouple is also a suspect.
Noises from Inside the Tank
No one likes noises coming from a tank that is supposed to only contain nothing but water. The noise may have been caused by sediment buildup and the heating element burning it. Another plausible cause is the heating element slowly burning out.
Water Smells

If the water smells like rotten eggs, it is an early sign that the sacrificial anode is at the end of its service life. It calls for a replacement. You’d want to call in a professional for this so that you don’t further damage your system.

Setting up an Amana AWUF for your HVAC System

Amana has long cemented a reputation as a manufacturer of air quality products designed to be used with heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems. A check of their catalog will give you a choice of options for your contractor to install. However, if you are on the market for a new HVAC air-treatment device that has durability and efficiency written all over it, Amana’s AWUF Series of wall-mount air handlers can be right up your alley.
The AWUFs – all 19 models of them - have a number of common features. They include a fully-insulated body made of galvanized steel, a direct-drive motor with variable speed controller, aluminum tubes and a built-in filter rack with integrated filter. An AWUF air handler also features a thermoplastic drain pan with primary and secondary connections.
The heating output differs across the entire AWUF line. The most basic model, the 180316B, churns out 18,000 BTUs an hour at 3.5 kilowatts of electric heat. On the other hand, the king-size 371016B fires up 36,000 BTUs/h while emitting 10kW. As far as refrigerants go, you have a choice of either R410 or R22 to install in your preferred AWUF.
An Amana AWUF is meant to last when hooked to the HVAC. They carry a ten-year limited warranty, extensive parts support options, and various settings to help you breathe better.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Backing Up the Attic Insulation

The attic will always be one of the spookiest places in your home. Admit it – it’s cold, dark, and no one will go up there unless you have something to store. However, the attic is also one of the prime places to watch for when it comes to keeping the heat warm in your home. A weakened insulation is one way to seek your energy bills climb up because the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system has to perform at higher capacity for the same amount of heat.
Installing further insulation requires determining the right R-values for your locality. In the case of Houston, a check of the Energy Department’s national chart shows the city, as well as most of southern Texas, at Zone IV. The category requires the attic to have a thermal protection value at R-49.
Your insulation specialist can determine if the existing insulation is enough for the value and may recommend installing extra. However, placement is key to getting the insulation down pat. Some experts state that if the attic is not used for storage, set up the insulation right on the floor; if the space has trusses linking down to the attic floor the gaps should be sealed with batts or spray-on insulation. However, plan on installing rafter vents to reduce moisture.

How the Btu came to be the Standard for Measuring Heat

The HVAC industry has been using the British thermal unit (Btu) for generations in measuring heat. For furnaces, how much Btu can one unit produce at a unit of time? For air conditioners, how much Btu can a unit remove from a room?

Articles on how the Btu came to be are scarce; nobody’s certain about its origin. The only viable basis is from statements made by 19th century scientists regarding the measurement of heat, the earliest date of the term’s use being 1876. At the time, the Btu was known as simply “heat unit,” arguably a simpler and more universal term.

The first to mention Btu was James Hargreaves, better known for his spinning jenny invention. He mentioned the unit of heat to be used for his thermo-radiometer to be expressed either in Btu or calories. Basically, heat is energy, so using calories to measure the amount of heat isn’t anything new or erroneous.

However, William Anderson gave the modern definition of the Btu. Anderson, in a lecture on 1884, defined the Btu as the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of one lb. of water by one degree Fahrenheit. The definition has been in use in the scientific community ever since. Despite its sketchy background, the world has embraced the Btu as the standard.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Combustion Science Courtesy of Your Furnace

The fire triangle, composed of fuel, oxygen and heat, needs to go through the process of combustion to release energy. Not only does this release the energy stored in fuel, it also makes sure that there’s enough heat to be reused in the process.

To better understand the science behind combustion, here are a few details, using your furnace as an example, to help you out.

Your Furnace Needs Heat
So you rely on your furnace for heat. The interesting thing here is that your furnace also relies on heat in order to give you heat. As long as the three elements are present, combustion can go on for practically forever. The process derives heat from the heat it produced with byproducts, such as soot.

Believe it or not, this phenomenon has been the talk of some handyman forums on the Internet. They claim that furnaces refuse to start if the weather gets cold enough.

Heat Depends on Fuel
As heat is basically energy, the type of fuel used determines the amount of heat released into the environment. Natural gas is one of the most common furnace fuels used because of the immense amount of energy it contains. While its energy content dwarfs that of wood by a great deal, natural gas is advantageous for furnaces in the big city.

Getting Your AC Ready for Spring

It’s been a long winter, and after a season or two of hibernation, it’s time for your air conditioner to take to the stage once again. However, considering it’s been a long time since its last use, don’t expect your AC to just work fine the moment you turn it on. Instead, you should look into simple preparation tips to make sure that your AC will work efficiently when the cooling season starts.

Change Filters

Even if your AC hasn’t been used in a long time, don’t assume that the air filters are still in perfect condition. Open up your unit, check the filter and replace or clean it up as necessary. Consult your cooling system’s manufacturer (it might be Trane, for instance) to know the right steps to take.

Check for Debris

Whether you have a window unit or a central air conditioner, you should always clear it of debris before you even consider using it again. Clean out the ductwork, reaching as far as you can with a reliable vacuum cleaner. The condenser fan is another frequent hangout spot of dirt and debris, so you should check there, too.

Schedule Repairs

It’s also important that you check your AC for any damage it might have incurred in the time it wasn’t in use. If you find any flaws or defects, make sure to call a reliable HVAC contractor to patch up your unit and return it to a good working condition.