5 Indications That Your AC Needs Repair

It’s not always easy to identify flaws or faults in your air conditioning system. Sometimes there could be a minor issue with your AC’s compressor but you think the weather is getting hotter and simply lower the temperature for cooler air. In this case, you’re only doing more damage to your cooling system and will need to get major repairs done for it down the line. Hence, regular servicing is always advised for any HVAC related system. Still, there are a few signs you can look out for that will suggest your AC is in need of repairs or maintenance.

Below are 5 clear and not-so-clear indications that you need to call up a HVAC repair service.

1. Sudden Reduction or Fluctuation of Coolness

Regardless of changes in weather, if you put your hand against the AC vent and feel like the air coming out is not as cool as yesterday, there could very well be a problem that requires attention. Maybe it’s the compressor, or perhaps the Freon levels have dropped; there’s only one way to find out – call a professional!

2. Restricted Air Flow

Again, turn your AC on for a good 10 minutes and put your hand against the vent to monitor the air flow for a minute or so. You might find it to be rather weak as compared to before or there maybe fluctuations. These are both signs that the compressor is not running efficiently. Similarly, if there is uneven air flow throughout your home (i.e. some areas are not cooling), that would suggest your ductwork is the problem. A professional will be able to inspect and remove any dirt and debris in your ducts that may be restricting air flow. This, in turn, ensures that your AC is not being strained and keeps it running smoothly.

3. Peculiar Smells and Noises

Burning odors or peculiar smells may indicate that something has burned out inside your system. The wire insulation of your AC may have burned out or in the case of stale, musty odors, there could be mildew growing inside the ductwork or unit. For any smells out of the ordinary, it is advisable to call a professional to inspect immediately. As far as unusual noises are concerned, do not waste any time in having a maintenance man come in to repair and service your system. Grinding, screeching and vibrating sounds are all signs that there is something wrong with your AC.

4. Unexplained Leakages

If you find that there is water pooling somewhere, the drain pipe may be clogged or broken. It is a minor issue that can be solved quickly by a professional HVAC technician. Any leakages from the AC’s furnace may suggest a more serious issue that needs to be inspected right away.

5. Faulty Thermostat

Problems with an AC’s thermostat are quite common, but they are not always obvious. Your AC may be running fine but the thermostat is faulty. To identify this problem, walk around your house and check for any cold spots. The entire house may have a stable temperature while certain areas are much colder. This is an indication of thermostats problems.

Air Conditioner Noise: How to Measure It and Reduce It

As the air conditioners available on the market have become more technologically advanced, our demands of our air conditioning have increased at the same rate. Of course, the efficiency of your air conditioner is still a primary concern, but the noise level is important to consider. Different units emit different noise levels and can become noisier as they age, so it’s a good idea to have a general idea of how loud you can expect your air conditioner to be.

The Decibel Measurement

The intensity of the noise emitted from air conditioning units is measured in decibels (‘dB’). The decibel scale starts at a measurement of 0 dB for the smallest audible sound and increases in multiples of 10 dB. For example, a sound ten times more powerful than 0 dB is 10 dB and a sound 100 times more powerful than near total silence is 20 dB. Since it is very important that the noise levels for a home air conditioner do not interfere with daily life, where your air conditioner falls on this scale can be extremely important.

Too get an idea of the relative measurement of noise in decibels to see where your AC will fall, let’s look at a few average measurements. Normal breathing can emit around 10 decibels, while talking will fall between 40 and 60 decibels. On the other hand, extremely loud noises such as gunshots can emit up to 140 decibels. In comparison, air conditioning units emit between 37 and 82 decibels depending on their age and model type.

Measuring Your AC in Decibels

Air conditioner noise is unavoidable, but investing in a new unit or noise-absorbing equipment can play a big part in minimizing your unit’s noise output. The absolute quietest air conditioners on the market will emit between 37 and 46 decibels which is less than the average desk fan. The smallest air conditioners emit less noise than a TV (60 decibels) with larger air conditioning units emitting up to 70 decibels, about same amount of sound as occurs in an office space. Measurement of your unit’s sound emission is usually taken from about 3 feet away from the source, so using that measurement you can get a good idea of how noisy the surrounding area will be.

Reducing Sound Emission 

If the sound coming from your AC unit is bothersome, it could be that your unit needs to be replaced. Noise absorbing equipment, however, can minimize the noise coming from your unit such as the use of an insulator, rubber and other noise-absorbing materials. If you are hearing higher levels of noise inside the house from the indoor unit, the noise is likely coming from the blower (fan) which can accumulate dirt and other blocking materials over time. For this reason, it is always good practice to clean the air filters regularly. The internal parts that are not easily accessible should be cleaned by a qualified technician, as parts like the bearings of the fan motor may need to be adjusted.

If you are purchasing a new air conditioning unit, the decibel noise level is usually printed on the product specifications of the unit. Both indoor and outdoor units will have these specifications listed, so take this into account when determining the placement of your unit. If the decibel level is not listed on your unit, you can request that the installer provide you with the measurements.

What Size A/C Do I Need?

When you’re deciding on installing a new central air conditioner the first question that comes to your mind is “how do I escape this heat?” Right now we are in the middle of another heat wave in Toronto, and the questions that we get asked most often at EcoLife at this time of year always involve keeping your home cool. Getting a new AC will cover that, but when deciding on what size of unit to get there are several technical aspects to consider. The size of the AC is one of the most important, but these questions can get pretty technical if you don’t have prior HVAC knowledge (keep in mind that size and type are very different things). So that you know what to ask for, here’s a quick guide of how to determine what size central air conditioner you need for your home.

How A/C Size is Measured

Central air conditioners come in a variety of sizes and are measured in “tons”. Contrary to what you might think, tonnage is not based on its weight but on the air conditioner’s ability to cool. 1 ton represents the cooling of 12,000 BTUs (British Thermal Units) per hour. BTUs measure the amount of energy required to heat or cool one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit. That sounds complicated, but in other words, an air conditioner of 1 ton would be able to cool 12,000 pounds of water by one degree every hour. Plain and simple.

The tonnage of your home’s AC will usually range from 1 ton to 5 tons and increase in half-ton increments. If your home needs more cooling than 5 tons, HVAC professionals usually recommend installing several units in tandem because anything over 5 tons is considered a commercial HVAC unit. The reason for installing two systems would be that if one unit completely fails, another one will always still be running as back-up.

Getting the Right Size

It is very important to install the right size A/C in your home for a variety of reasons as units of the wrong size will cause energy bills to skyrocket and can compromise your comfort at home. Modern central air conditioners, on the other hand, function on high efficiency and run in cycles which slowly and steadily cool your home.

Air conditioners that are too big will turn on quickly, cool your home rapidly and then shut off. This will interrupt the cooling cycle that your unit was designed for and force your unit to turn on and off more rapidly, causing uneven temperature spikes. This constant on-off cycle will also defeat the purpose of its high-efficiency design and cause your electricity bill to skyrocket. Units that are too small on the other hand will run constantly to compensate for having too large a space to cool and will also cause your energy bill to increase.

A properly sized central air conditioning system will keep your house comfortable and run according to energy efficient cooling cycles. What this means is that a properly sized unit will use energy more effectively and will not only lower your energy bills, but keep your home at a more consistent temperature.

How To Get a Ballpark Estimate

Now that you know what sizes your AC can come in and why the right fit is important, let’s go over how to get a rough estimate of what size is right for your home. The equation goes as follows:

((House square footage x 25, ÷ 12,000) – 0.5) = required tons.

Here’s an example on a 1,500 square foot home:

  1. 1,500 X 25 = 37,500
  2. 37,500 / 12,000 = 3.1
  3. 1 – 0.5 = 2.6

So, for a 1,500 square foot house you would need a 2.5 or a 3-ton sized central air conditioning unit.

Now you’ve got an explanation as to why it’s important to get the right size AC, how they are measured and how to calculate how many tonnes you will need. Of course, there are many other factors in your home that will affect the size of air conditioner that you need such as the height of your ceilings, the type/ thickness of insulation etc. It is still important to trust an HVAC professional when installing the right A/C unit, but now you will know what to ask for!

Your Furnace and A/C: Better Together

While it may seem surprising to have your heating and cooling systems working together, in reality the efficiency of one depends on the efficiency of the other. Both your central heating and cooling systems work in tandem to keep your home warm in the winter and cool in the summer, offering you and your family year-round comfort.

How it Works

When it is time to upgrade your air conditioner or furnace, it is often tempting to opt for the system that you need the most at the time and wait for the following season to upgrade the other. The most common central cooling systems, however, are split systems which use the same duct work as your heating system for distributing filtered and conditioned air throughout your home.

The way this works is simple. Most split central heating and cooling systems include a unit outside your house which contains a condenser coil and an indoor evaporator coil. These indoor evaporator coils are usually installed in conjunction with your furnace, linking your central cooling system to your heating system.

Why Together is Better

Protect your savings: Since your central heating and cooling systems are linked, the energy savings that you obtain when you install a more energy efficient air conditioner without updating your furnace can be lost if the adjoining system is still operating under a dated and inefficient framework.

Protect your technology: Mixing new and old technology can create system problems and decrease performance if you replace just one part of your overall system. If the components of one cooling or heating system don’t match the other, your new and updated system will not function to its fullest efficiency and potential.

Protect your comfort: Since your furnace and central air conditioning system share the same air handler (blower), having a matched system with an efficient handler will allow both systems to operate properly, giving you comfort all year round.

Upgrading both your furnace and air conditioning system is beneficial for your energy savings, for your technology and for your family. Protect your home and protect your comfort.