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!

Should I Buy a Programmable Thermostat?

Sharp Air Conditioning & Heating, LLCMost new homes and many older homes now have programmable thermostats installed for the HVAC system. If your home still has an older system thermostat or one that does not have a programmable feature, you are missing out on added convenience, energy savings and other benefits of setting a schedule for your HVAC system to run.

Many people have a schedule that they follow everyday. We work at certain times, or can count on being out of the house at certain times. Also, when the sun goes down we may not want the house to be as cool as during the day. Without a programmable thermostat, this means remembering to change the thermostat every time there is a change. If forgotten, you run the risk of cooling an empty house, putting unneeded wear and tear on your system, as well as wasting precious energy when it is not needed. A simple switch to a programmable thermostat can help alleviate these problems and better help manage your energy costs.

Recently, there have been some very high tech introductions to the programmable thermostat realm, most notably the Nest thermostat or Lyric thermostat by Honeywell. While these are great options, they come with a high price tag. Sometimes that price tag is a little too much for a homeowner to take at one time. Not to worry! There are many affordable options for programmable thermostats that will give you the basic functionality of being able to set your HVAC system on a schedule, unlocking your energy savings potential. Give the professionals at Sharp Air Conditioning & Heating a call today, and we can walk you through your options and what best fits your household needs!

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.

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.

Be nice to your unit! Easy Do-it-Yourself HVAC Maintenance Tips

We all do it, no matter how often we are reminded not to. For a myriad of reasons, from cost to lack of time, homeowners wait until after something breaks before they call a professional to their home to tackle a repair. While this approach may make sense for some major home appliances like your refrigerator, when it comes to your HVAC system, it is a grave misstep.

HVAC systems control heating, ventilation, and air conditioning in your home (thus the acronym HVAC), and it is a critical part of your home’s year-round comfort. We rely on these systems throughout the entire year, and when a component fails or breaks down, it can throw your whole home into upheaval. Not only does your schedule, comfort, and lifestyle become affected by a malfunctioning unit, but it can cost you financially as well.

Regular HVAC maintenance is not only good for your home and wallet, but it is also the smart way to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of your HVAC unit, and extending its life in the process.

There are several times each year that you should be maintaining your HVAC unit, and those are: immediately, monthly, seasonally, and annually. By breaking down your HVAC maintenance into several times throughout the year, you can be certain that your HVAC system is running perfectly so you can depend on it to work when you need it most.

Immediately

Immediate maintenance includes things like ensuring that you have a clean and properly sized and pleated air filter inside of your A/C unit and keeping your outdoor unit free of debris and leave build-up that can become lodged inside of the unit or interfere with the fan.

Monthly

Every month, perform a visual inspection of your refrigerant lines and look for signs of leaks or damage. If you see something out of the ordinary, contact an HVAC maintenance specialist to make any necessary repairs.

Seasonally

Air filters do an incredible job of keeping your HVAC unit clean and keeping unwanted particles, dust, pollens, and other unwanted debris from entering your air conditioning system, but they need to be changed at least every 90 days. For optimum air quality, it is recommended that air filters are changed monthly.

Annually

It is a good idea to inspect the area around your HVAC unit and ensure that the ground is level and that there are no indications of the ground sinking or sloping in any way. To prevent algae and debris build-up in the condensate drain line, pour a mix of 1 cup bleach to 3 cups of water down the tube.

Renewing your HVAC maintenance program is an essential part of ensuring your system is running perfectly all year long, so be sure to mark your calendars so you can stay on top of your maintenance program renewal. A regular maintenance inspection protects your HVAC unit by preventing small issues from becoming big (and expensive) headaches down the line.

When an air conditioning and heating specialist performs a routine maintenance check, they will tune up your unit, inspect and clean various, integral parts of the HVAC system to catch small problems, from leaks to wear to build-up, which, if not caught early, can lead to costly repairs and even system failure down the line.

Air Conditioning Salesman or Technician?

Why we hire Air Conditioning Technicians, and not just Salesmen.

Written by: Mitch Apalategui
Published by:Sharp Air Conditioning and Heating

on
4/30/2014

If you are having a problem with your AC system, which of these two people would you rather have show up at your door, a highly trained HVAC technician or a highly trained sales person?

Sharp Air Conditioning & Heating, LLC
Sharp Air Conditioning & Heating, LLC

At Sharp Air Conditioning & Heating, our highly trained technicians are not paid on commissions, so you will never be talked into a repair that you don’t need. We will fix the issue you are having honestly and fairly, with no high-pressure sales.

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!

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.

Five Signs Your Home’s Air Needs Cleaning

For those of us in Arizona, central air is an extremely common (and very necessary) home addition that keeps us cool and comfortable all year long, no matter how hot it gets outside. Central air runs through your home through a series of ducts that are tucked away inside walls and through ceilings, and they circulate air throughout every square inch of your house.

Obviously, you want the air that your family breathes to be the highest quality available, but that’s not always the kind of air that is blowing through your home. Breathing clean, fresh air may be something that you don’t consider all too often, but when the air quality of your home turns from pristine to downright dirty, it can be a lot more dangerous than you think.

While reduced air quality may not be at the forefront of your mind, if you have children in your home or a member of your family suffers from allergies or asthma, the quality of your home’s air can play a vital role in the development of preventable illnesses and breathing issues.

If you think your home’s air quality can stand to be improved, it may be time to consider that your ducts or your air conditioning unit might be the problem.

Be on the lookout for these five common signs and symptoms if you suspect that ducts or your AC may be causing your home’s poor air quality, and breathe easy knowing that you can do something to change the condition of the air your home’s HVAC unit provides.

  1. Dust and Debris BuildupYes, living in the Arizona desert means dealing with some blowing dust and debris inside your home, but if you have noticed an unprecedented buildup of dust in your home, your AC unit may be trapping and circulating too much dust.When you turn on your air conditioning unit, do you notice a puff of dust from your vents? If so, it may be time for a cleaning.
  2. Uneven Airflow from Room to RoomIf you have noticed that some rooms in your home are no longer receiving the same level of air output that they originally had, you may have a blockage. If every vent is fully open, but the vents continue to blow a reduced amount of air, there could be a clogged duct in need of a professional cleaning.
  3. Buildup on Your InletsYour air intake inlets pull in fresh air, push it through your air filter, and that air circulates through your home. Inspect your inlets for a dust and pet hair, and if you see an uncommon amount of buildup on your intakes or a blockage inside the air conditioning unit, a full cleaning of the unit and/or ducts can restore your vents to tip-top shape.
  4. Everyone is Suddenly SufferingIf you have noticed that members of your family have suddenly developed increased asthma symptoms, runny noses, congestion, and out of season allergies, there is a chance that your air quality is to blame. Molds, fungi, and dust are all responsible for decreased air quality, and breathing those dangerous microbes can lead to much more severe illnesses like sinus problems and respiratory infections.An air conditioning unit inspection can help you discover the source of your family’s health issues, so do not hesitate to have your heating and cooling system checked for signs of mold.
  5. Noises Appear
    When your air conditioner kicks on and air begins to blow, do you hear any whistling, screeching, or banging noises along with the normal operating hum of your motor? If so, you may have a blockage in your duct or a larger issue in your air conditioning unit.When insulation falls inside your ducts, it can act as both a barrier for airflow and a sponge upon which dust, dirt, and debris attaches. While some duct blockages can be seen from inlets and vents, others may be hiding in your walls or ceilings.If your air conditioning unit is making noises, a professional technician can diagnose the problem and repair it to make sure that a small clanging sound doesn’t result in complete system shut down.If you are still unsure if it is your duct or your air conditioning unit, give us a call today. Our team of expert technicians will be there to help pinpoint the problem with your system and get you breathing fresh, clean air again quickly.