air conditioning

3 Reasons Why Your AC is Overheating

air filterThere is nothing worse than arriving home from a hard day’s work, opening your door, and being smacked in the face with hot muggy air. When you are expecting cool comfort, but your air conditioner stops working because it overheats, the reality of sauna-like conditions in your home can be depressing.

This is a surprisingly common scenario, however. When summer temperatures climb, a poorly maintained air conditioner can overheat. When an AC unit overheats, it trips the circuit breaker to protect your home from a potential electrical fire. While you may be able to get the unit up and running quickly by just flipping the breaker, until the root of the problem is fixed, the unit will continue to trip the circuit breaker.

Why Your AC Overheats and Shuts Off

Usually, it is easy and inexpensive to fix an AC unit that overheats. Here are three common reasons an AC unit will overheat and steps you can take to fix the problem.

Reason #1: Air Filters

The air filters are your AC unit’s first line of defense against dirt and dust. When the air filters become caked in dirt and dust, your unit must work harder. Dirty air filters block airflow in your home’s ducts. This causes your air conditioner to run longer and use more energy to cool your home.

Because your AC unit must work harder, it can easily overheat, especially when outdoor temperatures are already high. When your air conditioner overheats, it will either trip the circuit breaker or completely break down.

Solution

To keep your air conditioner running smoothly and efficiently, simply change the air filters once a month. However, homes with pets may need to replace their filters more frequently, especially if their pets shed extensively.

Reason #2: Condenser Coils

Condenser coils are located on your air conditioner’s outside unit. The condenser coil has a vital role in cooling your home. It releases the heat from the inside of your home that is absorbed by the refrigerant and releases it outside.

When excess dirt covers the condenser coils, it acts as an insulator. Like wearing a sweater on a balmy day, the unit heats up as the heat is prevented from being released.

The result is warm air coming through your AC vents. This causes the air conditioner to run continuously since the indoor temperature never reaches the level set on your thermostat. As your AC runs steadily, it will overheat and trip the circuit breaker or worse.

Solution

Keeping the outside condenser coils clean and free from dirt will prevent the unit from overheating. There are special products designed specifically for cleaning your unit’s condenser coils. However, condenser coils are easily damaged, which results in expensive repairs.

Leaving the cleaning of your AC’s fragile parts is best left to the professionals. Your local HVAC technician will clean and inspect your AC condenser coils as part of any routine maintenance visit.

Reason #3: A Refrigerant Leak

If your AC is low on refrigerant, the heat inside your home can’t be absorbed and circulated to be released outside. This causes the unit to blow warm air. A unit running nonstop because indoor temperatures never reach the thermostat setting will eventually overheat.

If your AC is unable to cool your house on hot days, or if the outside unit is covered with ice, the unit is probably low on coolant. Since your air conditioner doesn’t use up refrigerant the way a car uses up gas, if your unit is low, that means there is a leak somewhere that needs to be repaired.

Solution

The first step to fixing an air conditioner that has a refrigerant leak is to call a professional HVAC technician. The refrigerant is a dangerous chemical and needs to be handled with extreme care.

A qualified technician will:

  1. Confirm there is a refrigerant leak.
  2. Locate the leak.
  3. Charge the unit with ample refrigerant.

If you find yourself dealing with an air conditioner that is constantly overheating, look for one of these three common causes. If you have any questions and concerns, be sure to contact your local HVAC repair company. It’s their job to help you keep cool.

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mist

How to Reduce AC Costs with a Misting Device

During the peak of summer, air conditioners run almost non-stop to keep people cool indoors. Your AC unit must work hard to keep inside temperatures bearable during midsummer heat waves. But hardworking air conditioners usually mean high utility bills, and no one wants to waste their hard-earned money if they don’t have to.

One strategy for taking some of the hard cooling workload off your AC unit is to install a misting device to your system. Some companies claim you will save up to 30 percent on your energy bills when you install one of these smart misting devices.

Saving Money with Evaporative Cooling

Misting gadgets such as Mistbox and Cool-n-Save use a principle called evaporative cooling to help lower cooling bill. By sending out a fine mist around your AC’s condenser, these misting devices help drop the air temperature in the immediate vicinity saving your unit some extra work.

What is Evaporative Cooling

Evaporative cooling is not a new concept. In fact, it’s been around for tens of thousands of years. It’s so basic that it is designed into our biology. It is the principle our body’s use to stay cool in hot temperatures.

When we get hot, we sweat. As the sweat evaporates, our bodies are cooled. This is because it takes heat to turn water liquid into water vapor. The phase change that occurs as sweat evaporates off our skin carries heat away from our bodies.

When a mist of water is sprayed into the air, those tiny droplets evaporate into even tinier water vapor molecules. The process requires heat, but in this case, the heat comes from the surrounding air. Cooler air is the result.

How Evaporative Cooling Makes Your AC More Efficient

In very simple terms, your air conditioner works by taking heat from inside the house and sending it outside. Because physics dictates that air flows from hot to cold, the AC’s compressor must make the refrigerant that carries that heat even hotter to create the necessary airflow possible.

My misting water into the air before it gets pulled into the condensing unit, the surrounding temperature lowers as heat is used to evaporate the mist. As the temperature of the air decreases, your AC doesn’t have to work as hard.

In short, misting devices increase your AC’s cooling capacity and efficiency.

Misting Devices

Misting devices hook up to the side of your HVAC unit. The box also connects to your outdoor faucet with a supplied hose. The water travels from the faucet, through the hose, and into the box where it is turned into a fine mist. The mist is then sprayed on all four sides of the AC unit’s condenser. As the mist evaporates, the temperature drops and the air conditioner runs better.

Most misting devices do not require any extra energy to run. The Mistbox, for example, runs completely on solar energy.

Some of the more advanced misting devices come with smart technology. They can connect to wifi and, through an app you download onto your smartphone, can be adjusted remotely. Through smartphone controls, the settings can be changed according to the weather conditions and allow the consumer access to reports about individual energy savings.

How Much Does a Misting Device Cost?

These advanced gadgets are not cheap. Depending on the model and extra features, a misting device can run as high as $450. The good news is that some AC misting devices are eligible for a green technology 30 percent federal tax credit. This brings the initial investment for purchase and installation of the device down significantly.

However, the real savings come after installation. Depending on changing weather conditions, the overall climate of where you live, and other efficiency measures you have in place, some companies claim it is possible to recoup your investment over the first year of use. In other words, it is worth the expensive price tag upfront for the savings you’ll gain summer after summer.

Let the Experts Help

Contact your local HVAC expert if you are interested in learning more about how a misting device can help you save money on your summer cooling bill. They can help you choose a model and easily install it for you. Be sure to also ask for more tips on how to help your air conditioner run more smoothly and efficiently.

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6 Proven Ways to Reduce Your Summer Cooling Bill

As summer temperatures start to rise, so does the typical utility bill. The often expensive cost of cooling your home leaves a lot of people feeling burned. However, there are many proactive measures you can take to reduce your summer cooling bill. Here are 6 proven low-cost ways to slash your bill and keep your cool.

 

Tips for Lowering Your Summer A/C Costs

Turn on a Fan.

When indoor air is stagnant it can feel much warmer than it really is. The solution to this problem can be as simple as flipping on a switch. Turning on a ceiling fan or other circulating fan can make the temperature in any room feel as much as seven degrees cooler. Often referred to as  “The Wind Chill Effect,” turning on a fan works to make the air seem cooler in much the same way outdoor temperatures seem colder when winter winds are gusting. In the summer, we can make it work to our advantage by using a fan to get the indoor air moving.

It may seem like overkill to run a fan while your air conditioner is running, but it may actually save you money. When your air conditioner is running, a ceiling fan will help disperse the cooled air more efficiently. This means you can raise the thermostat several degrees without feeling uncomfortably warm. Over time, that can save you some cold hard cash on your utility bills.

Just remember to switch off the fan when the room is empty. Otherwise, You’re wasting electricity and just blowing cash out the window,

 

Use a Programmable Thermostat.

A lot of your summer utility bill probably goes toward cooling an empty house. Not many people remember to raise the temperature on their thermostat when they leave for work or school, so many hours of the day your A/C could be running just to keep your houseplants cool.

A programmable thermostat will help you solve this problem. By setting a higher temperature for times when your house is vacant, or when you may be sleeping, can bring you significant savings on your cooling bill. You can still program the thermostat to change to a cooler temperature before you usually arrive home so your house will be comfortable when you arrive. This will help keep your unit from running unnecessarily without compromising your personal comfort. Once you program it, you won’t have to remember to adjust the thermostat on your way out the door.

 

Turn Up the Thermostat.

Aside from using a programmable thermostat to automatically adjust the indoor temperature of your home, you should also bump that thermostat up a few degrees when you’re at home. Christina Kielich, spokesperson for the United States Department of Energy says, “Setting your A/C as high as is comfortably possible and using a programmable thermostat to increase the temperature when you’re out, or asleep, could easily decrease your summer cooling bill by ten percent.”

Also, when coming into a warm house, especially if you are feeling heated from outdoor physical activity, don’t be tempted to turn the thermostat down. Turning a thermostat down won’t cool rooms any faster. If your A/C is running, it is working to cool your house. When you turn down your thermostat you risk forgetting that you turned it down, which could result in an inflated electric bill.

 

Take Care of Your System.

It won’t matter if you install an energy efficient system and a programmable thermostat if you fail to properly maintain your A/C system. Keep your filters clean and make sure your floor registers aren’t blocked with dust or furniture. Dirty filters and ducts can restrict airflow and cause your unit to work harder to cool your home.

Your unit’s evaporator and condenser coils should also be kept clear debris and dirt. Before the summer heat hits your area, schedule an appointment for a check-up and regular maintenance with your local HVAC company. This could actually prevent costly midsummer repairs. Just like a tune-up on your car can help improve fuel efficiency, a tune-up on your A/C unit can help increase efficiency and reduce energy consumption.

Avoid the Heat of the Day.

Try not to generate extra heat when the outdoor temperature exceeds the indoor temperature of your home. Avoid running the oven, dishwasher, or dryer until after the sun has gone down and the outside temperature starts to drop. The heat of summer is a great time to fix dinner in the microwave or on the grill. Also, try hanging laundry on a clothesline to dry and wash the dinner dishes by hand. This will keep these appliances from contributing to heat build-up in your home as they run.

 

Draw the Blinds.

While it might be tempting to open up curtains to let in the bright summer sunshine, it’s only going to cost you once your utility bill comes in. When the sun shines through windows, it actually hits the interior of your home causing your A/C to work over time. However, if you draw your curtains and lower your blinds, you’ll prevent solar heat gain inside of your home.

When possible, try to use lighter colored curtains or reflective blinds to help deflect the sun’s rays. Also, hang blinds as close to your window panes as your windows will allow. This will help block the outdoor heat, preventing it from radiating inside and raising indoor temperatures.

 

When you follow these cool tips you’ll be well on your way to reducing your summer cooling bill. Not only will you feel more comfortable in your home, but you might even find you have some extra cash at the end of the season. Just make sure you do something cool with it.

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hurricane

Heavy Storm Preparedness Guide for Your AC Unit

Hurricane season officially kicked off on June 1st. Running through the summer and into the early fall, the threat of a heavy storm makes many homeowners nervous. Even a mild hurricane will wreak havoc as it skirts the coast, leaving costly property damage in its wake. And the costs of hurricane damage are only expected to increase over the next several decades.

While we hope that we won’t be visited by any destructive nor’easter this season, it is always best to be prepared. Since heavy storms are known for their unpredictability, residents need to prepare for the potential wind damage and heavy rains that could hit their homes and communities during the summer storm season.

If you live along the coastline, you are probably already familiar with how to prepare for an approaching hurricane. Most homeowners know to secure outdoor furniture and tape windows to prevent shattering glass. Many homeowners, however, aren’t aware of steps they can take to safeguard their HVAC unit from potential storm damage.

Protecting Your HVAC Unit During Hurricane Season

Your HVAC unit is one of your home’s most valuable appliances. Protecting such an important asset should be a high priority, especially when a dangerous storm is approaching your area. Here are some steps to take to give your HVAC unit a better chance of weathering the storm.

As the Storm Approaches

Once you know a major storm is heading toward your area, it’s time to start taking precautionary measures. If a storm becomes an imminent threat, it is time to shut down your air conditioning system. Turn off your home’s HVAC unit either at the master shut-off switch or the main circuit breaker. This may seem like a drastic measure, but it will protect your unit from power surges and shorting out during flooding.

Also, cover your unit in order to protect your HVAC unit from storm debris, falling tree limbs, and excessive rain. One option is to simply secure a heavy-duty tarp over the unit. This helps keep the inside of your unit dry and shields it from flying debris. Make sure that the tarp is securely fastened to the ground or to a solid stationary object. Remember that high winds usually accompany hurricanes and you don’t want your tarp to fly away in the wind. It will only protect your unit if it remains in place for the duration of the storm.

If you live right along the coast or in a particularly storm-prone area, consider building a permanent protective box around your air conditioner. Just make sure that it is well-ventilated so your unit can properly function. This permanent protection decreases the chance of your HVAC being damaged in a hurricane. It also makes your storm preparations simpler since you won’t have to put up protection before every approaching storm.

You also need to take measures if your home is cooled with a window unit. Before the storm hits your area, unplug your window unit and simply bring it inside where it will be safest from potential storm damage.

After the Storm Has Passed

Once the storm has moved off, it is tempting to just flip the switch to turn on your AC as if nothing happened. Resist the temptation, because there still may be a risk of damaging your HVAC unit. There could be unseen water inside of your unit. Also, dirt and debris may be lodged in the fan or duct work. It is also possible that coolant or electrical lines could have been damaged in the storm.

Have an HVAC professional come out to inspect your unit before you turn it on. He or she can make sure that your unit is safe to operate.

If your HVAC unit does become damaged during a bad nor-easter, you should check with your homeowner’s insurance to see if the damage is covered. If you live in a particularly hot area, you can use a portable unit to keep your home cool and comfortable until your unit is replaced or repaired. Also, having a portable generator on hand will help run necessary appliances during extended power outages that often follow a storm.

 

If you have any questions, need help preparing your unit before a storm, or require repairs in the aftermath, be sure to call a professional HVAC technician. They are most qualified to keep one of your home’s most valuable assets running smoothly.

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Programmable Thermostats in the Lehigh Valley Area

trane programmable thermostatAnyone from the Lehigh Valley area knows that the weather can be difficult to predict at times. We have four distinct seasons including humid summers, cold winters and spring and falls that can go either way. So what can homeowners do to keep their homes comfortable and their heating and cooling bills reasonable? Use programmable thermostats— let’s take a look at some of the benefits.

Increase Home Efficiency

In climates where weather often changes quickly or without warning, programmable thermostats are a great way to keep a home energy efficient. By automatically adjusting based on the weather outside, you can avoid costly and unnecessary energy expenditure. You will also be doing your part to minimize your environmental impact and keep the planet healthy.

Save Money on Heating and Cooling Bills

A programmable thermostat will pay for itself over time by lowering your heating bill. Programmable thermostats allow you to create schedules of when you are home and away that will lower the heat or raise the AC accordingly. Additionally, they can adjust to your sleep schedule to help save you money even while you sleep. Some programmable thermostats even offer remote access so if you decide to stay out late or come home early, you can have your home ready and comfortable.

Ensure Consistently Comfortable Homes

Keeping your home at an ideal temperature is much easier with programmable thermostats. Traditionally, if you were hit with a cold snap or a heat wave you would have to manually turn up the heat or the AC and then remember to re-adjust after. And if a extreme weather showed up overnight, you would wake up freezing or soaked in sweet. Thankfully, programmable thermostats have solved this problem, and will adjust automatically to keep your home at your ideal temperature and save you the time and effort of manually adjusting your old thermostat every time the weather changed.

How to Chose the Right Programmable Thermostat

MBI and the BTU gurus are here to help you make the switch. We have a variety of Trane products that can meet any of your needs. Feel free to contact us with any questions you have or to schedule an appointment at: 610.821.9555

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Innovations: Air Conditioning The Outdoors?

Every field has its innovators, its sci-fi of today, realities of tomorrow kind of people. So what is it these people are working on in the heating and cooling industry. We don’t know about all of them. But we do know the man in the video below offers a plausible theory for solving one of air conditioning’s and the sporting industry’s biggest problems!

You know the feeling— you’re a die hard fan, and your eyes are glued to the field. Still, you can feel the sweat running down your back, making your shirt start to stick and itch. And it sure is getting humid. It’s too bad that rain never came through last week. Your head hurts just a little and you can’t tell if it’s your fear of the opposing team’s impending victory or the fact that you’ve only had one glass of water all day and the seats you purchased are a direct stairway to the beaming sun. Slightly frustrated, you think, “With all these high-tech scientific advancements and research these days you’d think somebody would finally figure out how to fix this situation. It’s a shame we can’t just air condition the outdoors.”

Well, as it turns out, we can. As a result of some of those brilliant scientific minds, it’s possible that air conditioning the outdoors and relieving sports patrons of the dreaded game attendance pitfall, is a reality that’s right around the corner.

How? Listen to Wolfgang Kessling’s (the man who Qatar, the 2022 host of the World Cup, has commissioned to help both athletes and spectators enjoy their time at the games despite the country’s 106 degree heat) TED talk on air conditioning outdoor spaces to learn more about the vast opportunities this concept could offer and exactly how it can be achieved.

 

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