Condenser Coil – Keep it Clean!

Written by:

Mitch Apalategui

on
June 10, 2014

Sharp Air Conditioning & Heating, LLCBy now, you know all about changing your air filters in your house to keep dirt out of your indoor system and helping to keep it working efficiently, but what about that part of your system that sits outside? It important to keep your condenser coil clean as well, and there are a few steps you can follow to make this happen.

  1. The first step is to clear any visible debris from the outside of the condenser. This would be debris such as grass clippings, tree trimmings, loose trash, or anything that can get stuck on the side of your condenser. Free flowing air through this coil is a very important part of the process of keeping your home cool.
  2. At this point, you should be able to visually see your condenser coil. If it appears dirty beyond just debris on the outside cage of the condenser, your next step would be to purchase a biodegradable coil cleaner that can be purchased at your local hardware store. Spray this into the outdoor coil and wait 5-10 minutes before gently spraying the coil with water from your hose. That’s it!

If these steps still do not clean your condenser coil or you do not feel comfortable with the above steps, give us a call at Sharp Air Conditioning & Heating and we can take care of it for you.

Regular maintenance is always the best way to keep repair costs at a minimum. Part of our scheduled maintenance in the Sharp Air Maintenance Program is to make sure that your condenser coil is clean, and if not we clean it as part of the Maintenance Program. Give us a call to find out more about the benefits of the Sharp Air Maintenance Program!

10 Myths About Your HVAC System: BUSTED!

Homeowners, for one reason or another, seem to hold onto common myths about HVAC systems, maintenance, and energy efficiency. These myths could be affecting the lifespan of your home’s HVAC system – and your monthly energy bills as well.

Sharp Air Conditioning is here to bust those HVAC system myths and save you money and home heating and cooling frustration!

Myth #1: Shutting off the A/C during the day wastes energy

Busted: Shutting off your A/C might save money and energy, but it might also mean replacing your system sooner. Constantly shutting off the A/C could cause more wear and tear on the AC system while also making the home an uncomfortable temperature. One financially smart solution is to have your HVAC specialist install a programmable thermostat. These units will turn the A/C off and on according to your work schedule.

Myth #2: Keeping the temperature the same all day is more cost-effective

Busted: The closer your home is to the temperature outside, the less your air conditioner has to work to keep the house comfortable. People tend to make the difference between temperatures smaller when they’re sleeping, but not when they leave the house. Less energy is used when the difference between the inside and outdoor temperature is small, which leads to a reduced energy bill, so it is a good idea to set your home’s temperature as close to the outdoor temperature as possible when you’re not home. Again, a programmable thermostat can be an asset for this type of routine.

Myth #3: Filters only need to be changed once a year

Busted: Filters should be changed every few months to ensure an efficiently running system, and possibly more often depending on the quality of air filter you’re using. A filter that’s only changed once a year becomes extremely dirty and constricts air flow through the system, essentially choking it and forcing it to work overtime to cool your house. This could cause undue stress on the system, prompting a possible breakdown. No matter how you slice it, a clean filter changed often is far less costly than a unit repair.

Myth #4: My HVAC system doesn’t need routine maintenance

Busted: Just like a car requires a yearly inspection, an HVAC system should be treated to a routine check-up. This ensures that the system is functioning as well as it should. Routine maintenance cuts back on emergency issues as well, as HVAC technicians can spot problems early on before they become expensive emergencies. The HVAC system operates with a complicated grid of parts, and over time, the pieces will need lubricated or replaced to keep the system running efficiently.

Myth #5: The best HVAC system is a big one

Busted: The best HVAC system for any home is one that is specifically suited for the insulation level, square footage, and number of windows. A too-big HVAC system uses more energy and needs to cycle on and off more frequently due to the small space. A HVAC contractor can help you choose the right system for your home by analyzing the house and your family’s needs.

Myth #6: Thermostat location doesn’t influence heating or cooling

Busted: A thermostat located in direct sunlight or too near a vent will shut down early. Since the thermostat regulates the building temperature, an improperly located thermostat could influence the comfort of every occupant and cause your unit to turn on and off unnecessarily. If you are unsure if your thermostat is in an ideal location, contact your HVAC specialist for assistance and advice about relocating it to a more desirable location.

Myth #7: An energy-efficient unit saves money

Busted: An energy-efficient unit is a good place to start for saving money, but a number of other factors can make your bill continue to skyrocket. For example, without good insulation and good window seals, the energy bill will still be high. Choosing the right system size for the home influences the energy bill. Simply put, though energy-efficient units can reduce your bill, they can only do so if other additional factors are working to keep your home’s temperature comfortable.

Myth #8: I can cool my home faster by lowering the thermostat

Busted: Although this seems like common sense to crank the A/C all the way down when it’s hot, the truth is that the HVAC system pushes air through the house at the same rate no matter the temperature. Setting a lower temperature only means that the HVAC system will work longer than needed to adequately cool the space. A quick fix for feeling cooler is to turn on a few fans to move the air around until the home is at the desired temperature.

Myth #9: Closing vents in unused rooms is more efficient

Busted: When vents are closed, air pressure increases within the air ducts. A balanced air pressure helps to effectively move air throughout the house to regulate the temperature. Blocked off vents, however, throw the air pressure balance off, causing air to seep out of air duct seams and forcing the HVAC system to work harder. This means more energy use and potentially adding energy usage to your bill unnecessarily.

Myth #10: Duct tape best seals HVAC ducts

Busted: Despite the common denominator of “duct,” duct tape is not the best option for sealing ducts. In fact, duct tape negatively impacts the HVAC system because dust can build up. Duct tape also does not have a long enough life span for HVAC ducts. For proper duct insulation, it is best to contact an HVAC professional.

Spring is Here! Time to Spring Clean Your Home’s Air Quality

Springtime is here again, and that means that it is time for the great annual Spring Cleaning! We all want our homes to smell of fresh, clean spring air, especially at this time of year, and we can all do without the dust buildup that comes along with Phoenix-area living. Spring cleaning allows us to dig down deep and clean everything thoroughly, to get rid of the things we no longer need, and restore our homes to optimal health and happiness (at least once a year!)

With so many items on your list to tackle for spring cleaning, it can be difficult to figure out where to start the process of getting your home or office back to sparkling clean. While many online magazines, blogs, and tips sites will recommend a myriad of places to begin your spring cleaning home makeover, what they won’t tell you is that before you clean the surfaces of your home, you should turn your attention to the one item in your house that can make your home healthier, cleaner, and of course, cooler: your air conditioner.

Before you fold, store, scrub, dust, and vacuum your home to back to cleanliness, read up on why it is important to tackle the quality of your home’s air first.

Air quality affects us every day, whether we realize it or not. Without regular care and maintenance, your air conditioner can contribute to the poor air quality of your home. In turn, that contaminated air puts your family at unnecessary risk for environmentally-related breathing conditions and illnesses. Instead of making your home immaculate only to pollute it with unclean air, start your spring cleaning projects and to-do lists with a professional tune-up, maintenance inspection, and cleaning from your local air conditioning repair and maintenance service (we know a great one)!

There are ways that you yourself can take great care of your A/C unit, like sprucing it up before it becomes your most-relied upon item in your home this spring and summer. As a part of regular air quality maintenance, homeowners need to keep their air filters clean (by changing them no less than four times a year, but ideally monthly), wiping down air intake vent slats, and prevent dust, animal fur, and debris from getting into the air conditioning system with regular floor sweeping and mopping.

Beyond those small ways to keep your air conditioner from circulating unhealthy air throughout your home, the best thing that you do to keep your A/C in great condition is to schedule a maintenance and tune-up with an HVAC specialist.

Professional technicians will be able to perform a number of maintenance inspections and operations that will keep your air conditioner in premium shape through the long spring and summer months. Not only will your unit be inspected by a professional who is able to troubleshoot and diagnose small problems before they become larger issues that threaten your system and lead to your A/C failing when you need it most, but they safely clean your unit from the inside out.

By inspecting your unit’s wires, cables, plugs, and parts, cleaning evaporator coils, and tuning up the unit from top to bottom, you can rest assured that your home’s air is as clean, healthy, and cool as you want it to be before you transform your home into its spring best.

Keep Your Sunroom Comfortable All Year Long

If there is one thing that you can count on Arizona delivering plenty of, it’s bright and beautiful sunshine nearly every day of the year. With all that sunlight, it should be no surprise that so many Phoenix area residents add sunrooms to their homes to take in all that sunshine.

Sunrooms, sometimes called four-season rooms or solariums, are designed to let all that light in without having to bake outside in the heat. Many sunrooms have been converted to multi-use spaces and can include indoor spas, aviaries, green rooms, libraries, and bright, open eating areas where you can sip some lemonade in a cool room during spring and summer barbecues.

Access to sunlight is directly linked to human health and wellbeing. We get 90 to 95% of our necessary Vitamin D from sunlight, and that’s very important. Vitamin D helps keep bones healthy, aids in calcium absorption and prevents diseases like osteoporosis from occurring. Sunlight also boosts mood and reduces your risk of developing diseases like heart disease and even diabetes.

One of the benefits of adding a sunroom to your home is that you never have to worry about heading outdoors to soak up the sunshine. Sunrooms are created to be comfortable all year long, but that level of indoor comfort with outdoor sunshine requires some proper planning to ensure that the room can be kept at adequate temperatures.

Many homeowners choose to extend their home’s existing heating and cooling systems into a sunroom addition for temperature control. Extending your existing HVAC system into a sunroom requires adding additional ductwork. Of course, this would need to be done by a professional to ensure proper installation.

The primary drawback to this type of installation occurs when your home is using a single thermostat to control the temperatures in every room of the house. A sunroom will do what it is designed to do – deliver lots of light, and that means delivering lots of heat too. The temperatures that a sunroom can reach may be too high for single-zone thermostats, causing them to run continuously throughout the day, resulting in a serious spike in your electric bill.

The aforementioned problem can be solved by adding a zone control thermostat to your home at the same time you install new ductwork. A zone control system allows for a single thermostat to control multiple environments separately so that no one floor or room is heated or cooled unnecessarily.

Another sunroom heating and cooling option that is very popular are mini ductless split systems. Designed to give direct temperature control to individual rooms and spaces, mini ductless split systems work independently off of a primary unit and are an on-the-spot adjustable solution to providing your sunroom with adequate heat and air conditioning only when you choose to turn it on.

There are other options to heat and cool sunrooms, but they are not ideal. Opting for an in-wall, window-style air conditioning unit can help keep you cool in the summertime, but it will have to work hard to cool the room down well enough in the summer heat of Phoenix. These types of units also do not provide heat in the wintertime, making a portable space heater an option for some. Space heaters, though effective, can be very dangerous and should not be left unattended at any time.

If you are interested in exploring your heating and cooling options for a sunroom or other home addition, call the professionals at Sharp Air Conditioning and Heating for a consultation.

Why does my AC keep running?

During the hot Phoenix Arizona summers, most people are use to their AC running quite a bit, just to keep up with the 110+ temperatures that we experience here. While it is normal for your AC to be on more than usual when the temperature goes up outside, it shouldn’t be constantly running. Here are a few troubleshooting tips to try before giving Sharp Air Conditioning & Heating a call that can save you some time and money.

  1. Sharp Air Conditioning & Heating, LLCCheck your thermostat – One of the most avoidable issues is to check your thermostat settings. With the more basic thermostats, it can be as simple as forgetting to switch your system from “ON” to “AUTOMATIC”. Having it in the “ON” position will tell your AC system to continue running, even when it satisfies the temperature you have set on your thermostat. With the more complex thermostat options that are on the market now, yours may need a little bit more programming to be set correctly. Check with your owners’ manual, or give us a call and we can try to walk you through some troubleshooting on your thermostat.
  2. Change your filters! – Air flow restrictions caused by dirty filters can greatly affect your AC systems performance. If you AC system does not get enough air flow, it can not blow out cold air and will continue to run since it is not able to satisfy the thermostat setting. Change those filters!
  3. Dirty coils – Check to make sure there is no debris built up on your condenser outside. This is the same as a restriction for your indoor components. Restrictions can cause the system to not cooling correctly, therefore not being able to satisfy the thermostat settings leading to a constantly running AC system.

If you go through the above steps and nothing seems to work, give Sharp Air Conditioning & Heating a call and we can send a certified technician out to assess what may be wrong. Another cause of a constantly running system can be age. Your AC system may just be worn out from years of use. If this is the case, we can work with you to best determine the next steps to take in replacement.

What’s That Smell?

Written by:
Mitch Apalategui

Sometimes you can’t blame that smell on the other person in the room, it’s the AC! While musty air conditioners are much more common in more humid climates, at times it can happen even here in the dry Phoenix heat.

So why does my AC smell? That musty smell comes from mold and bacteria that can be formed when you condensate drain line gets clogged and water sits in the drain pan of your AC for an extended period of time. First thing to do is check to see if water is in fact collecting in your drain pan. If this is the case, we have a great tip that we posted in the blog about a trick that you can do yourself to clear your condensate drains. If you don’t feel comfortable with this method, give us a call and we will send one of our highly trained service techs to take care of the issue for you.

If there is no water sitting in the drain pan causing the smell, it is also possible that strong odors such as garbage, pesticides, or tobacco smoke has permeated your evaporator coil, and that smell sticks around when you turn the AC on blowing it all over your home. If you suspect this is the case, give us a call and we can assess whether or not the smell can be cleaned out of the system.

Why is my Air Conditioner Frozen? Its 120 degrees outside!!

Written by:
Mitch Apalategui
on
September 3, 2014

Sharp Air Conditioning & Heating, LLCWe get this question quite a bit here at Sharp Air Conditioning & Heating. It’s the middle of summer, the Arizona heat is beating down, and all of the sudden your air conditioning system starts pumping out warm air. After a little bit of inspection, you see ice forming on your air conditioner outside. You would think that would mean your air conditioning is working GREAT, considering its main function is to blow ICE COLD air into your home. What gives? Not to fear, Sharp Air Conditioning & Heating is hear to solve this mystery.

There are a few common issues that can cause an air conditioner to freeze up even during the hottest parts of the summer.

  • Problems with HVAC systems refrigeration. If your HVAC system has developed a refrigerant leak, this will cause pressures to drop in the evaporator coils, which allows moisture to freeze and accumulate on the coil.
  • Temperature outside. If you live in Arizona’s high country or even in Phoenix just when the temperatures start to change, night time temperatures can drop below 60 degrees. Most outdoor condensing units, especially in the valley, do not function very well below 60 degrees. If it gets too cold over night, freeze-ups can occur.
  • Insufficient Air Flow. The most preventable reason for a freeze-up is restricted air flow. Humidity will build up on the coil, causing ice to build up and shut the system down. Dirty filters are the main culprit of this, but this can also come from any other obstructions such as disconnected or undersized duct work. Other components being broken can also lead to frozen coils.

Now that we have pinpointed the issue, what can you do to fix it? Once you have found ice build up on your HVAC system, the first thing you should do is turn off the system and allow it to defrost. Once its defrosted, check to see if there are any air flow restrictions. Replace any dirty filters or clean any visible dirt or debris. Many times, this will fix the issue with no other problems. Other serious airflow problems or refrigeration leaks will require a trained technician to address the issue. Give the pros at Sharp Air Conditioning & Heating a call, and we can free your system from a block of ice and get that ice cold air back to blowing into your home!

Ductwork – The Forgotten Air Conditioning System Component

Written by:
Mitch Apalategui

on
June 2, 2014

Sharp Air Conditioning & Heating, LLC
Ductwork – The Forgotten Air Conditioning System Component

Of all of the appliances in your home it’s a safe bet that when it’s working properly, your air conditioning system does not get too much attention. Besides the outdoor portion of your system, a big reason for this is because the air conditioning system is mostly hidden in your attic, walls, etc. A major component and often-overlooked portion of your air conditioning system is the ductwork that shuttles air around your home keeping you comfortable.

It is important to make sure your ductwork is in good condition. If your ductwork has started to deteriorate or crack and develop leaks, it can lead to efficiency issues. Some rooms of your home may get proper air flow while others do not, and your air conditioning system will work overtime to try to get areas cool when all it is doing is cooling down your attic and wasting your hard earned money. Leaky ductwork can also pull particles from the attic, creating excess dust in your home.

Getting up in your attic and inspecting the ductwork on your own, especially during the summer months, is not for everyone. As part of our Sharp Air Maintenance Program, we will inspect your ductwork during our two scheduled maintenance visits to ensure that your system is operating at its peak efficiency. So stay out of the attic, and let the professionals at Sharp Air Conditioning & Heating take care of your air conditioning needs today!

How to Pet-Proof Your HVAC System

We love their wet noses and sloppy kisses, relish their human-like behavior and scratch those furry butts just to see their tails wag. Our pets fill our hearts and homes with so much love, but unfortunately, they also fill our HVAC systems with some very unwanted debris.

There are some very common issues that occur when it comes to balancing your home’s air quality and your pets natural (and of course forgivable) messiness. Don’t worry – you will never have to choose between keeping your HVAC clean and keeping your furry friends around. There are plenty of easy ways to ensure that the air you’re breathing is safe and clean, no matter the type of pet you have in your home.

Keep Your Wires Safe

Most home air conditioning units in Arizona have an outdoor unit. Typically installed in the backyard or at the side of the house, these outdoor condenser units are just another item in your dog’s backyard kingdom. That is until your pooch notices those interesting exposed wires that run from the condenser unit into your home.

Prevent Erosion of Your Condenser

A dog, even a really smart dog, cannot tell the difference between a tree stump and your condenser when they are looking for something to urinate on. Many people opt to use condenser covers to protect against the natural elements, but those covers won’t do much to protect your unit from urine.

Over time, and with consistent urination, your outdoor condenser may begin to show signs of wear like eroding fins, which may, in turn, lead to larger condenser issues like refrigerant leaks which can be very expensive to repair. To prevent this, you can do one of two things. One, train your dog to avoid the area where the condenser is all together, or two, put up a small fence or another reasonable barrier to prevent your dog from accessing the area at all.

Keep Fur Under Control

You see it every time you sweep, dust, or vacuum your home – pet hair gets everywhere. And it’s not just the pet hair that gets everywhere either. Though you may not see it, pet dander is not only a household nuisance, but it is also a common contributor to allergies and asthma flare-ups.

No matter how on top of your home cleaning routine you may be, tiny little pet hairs and flecks of near-invisible dander can easily become airborne, making their way into HVAC’s intake.

Once inside your system, pet hair and dander should be caught by the air filter, but not all air filters are clean enough or tough enough to handle the onslaught. If you’re not careful about keeping your filters and your vents clean from dander and fur, you may end up with fur-wrapped coils and fur clogs that can seriously damage your system.

There are a few things that you can do to keep the pet hair and dander from wrecking your system. First, change your filters regularly. Second, keep your home as clean as possible, and inspect your air intakes for buildup and hair which you can clean off. Third, wash and brush your furry children often to keep the fur under control and out of your air system. Fourth and finally, invest in a regular HVAC maintenance plan that can keep your system fur-free and always running perfectly.

4 Tips to Get Your AC Ready to Tackle the Summer Heat

When it’s still chilly outside, it’s hard to think about the summertime heat as being just around the corner. But, as Arizonans know all too well, summer will be here before we know it.

On the first hot day of the year, you expect to turn your thermostat down and have your AC unit fill your home with cooling air. Before that can happen, however, your unit needs to be in prime working condition to reliably deliver the clean, cold air whenever you need it. Don’t wait until the summer hits to get your system in working order.

With just a little bit of time and attention, you can ensure that your air conditioning unit is ready to operate at peak performance throughout the summer months and that it won’t quit on you when it matters most.

These four important tips can help make you a home AC maintenance pro, saving you time, money, and headaches this summer.

  1. Keep it Clean
    The dirtier your filter is, the harder your AC will have to work to generate cool temperatures for your home. More importantly, your air conditioner’s filter is what catches all the dust and debris, preventing it from going into your system and your lungs. Without regular maintenance, that dust and debris build until the filter is incapable of holding anymore, leading to the unclean air blowing through your ducts and into your home.Changing or cleaning your air conditioner’s filter on a monthly basis is the simplest and most efficient way to care for your system. Whether you have a model that uses disposable filters, or a reusable one which can be cleaned with water and elbow grease, it is vital that you clean or replace your air conditioner’s filter regularly to maintain a healthy home and a working unit.
  2. Check Your Ducts
    Though we seldom need to think about our ducts, they need some seasonal TLC too to keep your summertime cooling system is working properly. While it is important to have the interior ductwork cleaned and inspected by a professional, there are some parts of your ducts that you can maintain all on your own.Duct registers should be removed, inspected, and cleaned every season, but it is particularly vital to do this type of maintenance before summer hits. When you dust your registers, be on the lookout for signs of water damage. Ductwork can be a breeding ground for mold and fungi, so if you see any signs of condensation accumulation in or around your AC registers, call a professional to inspect your unit and correct the problem in the months before you need your air conditioner.
  3. Clear the Outdoor Unit
    Just before the winter weather hits, Arizonans can count on monsoon season to kick outdoor weed growth into high gear. Though we do a great job of maintaining our yards and other outdoor areas, one item that often goes overlooked for weed maintenance is your outdoor air conditioning unit.Weeds and other debris can build up around your outdoor condenser and clog your unit, causing damage in the process. Unfortunately, it can be too easy to forget about your outdoor unit when winter is in full swing, but now is this time of year is the best time tackle the job.

    With your thermostat switched off, head outside and clear away any plants and debris. After clearing away debris, use a clean cloth to gently clean the coil and the fins, careful not to bend or damage them. Keeping your outdoor unit clean will help your air conditioner’s overall efficiency and can prevent summertime damage.

  4. Get a Professional Tune-Up
    A professional tune-up and inspection of your system will provide you with peace of mind knowing that your unit is in tip-top shape and will perform flawlessly in the summertime. There are a lot of moving parts and pieces in your AC unit, and a professional technician has the tools and know-how to maintain your system and fix any malfunctions on the spot.Having a professional technician perform a tune-up also means that their years of experience can spot problems before they arise, as so often happens during the summer months when your unit is working its hardest to cool off your home.

    Catching a problem early on can save you a lot of money in the long run, so it is smart to invest in maintaining your unit and instead of paying thousands of dollars to replace it.