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!

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!

Check those Air Filters!

Sharp Air Conditioning & Heating, LLCSharp Air Conditioning & Heating recommends that you check your filter about once a month. It’s a very simple procedure and replacement filters are very reasonable. If you have any more questions please contact us and we’d be happy to send out one of our certified technicians to walk you through the process, as well as let you know about our Sharp Maintenance Program that provides you with a years supply of air filters as part of the program!

Clogged filters can result in the following:

  • Blower Motor Failure – If you have a clogged air filter, then your motor continues to work ever harder until it overheats or possibly fails. Your blower motor pushes your heated or cooled air through the ducts in your home. If the filter is clogged this becomes more challenging for your motor.
  • Compressor Failure – Clogged and dirty air filters greatly reduce airflow through your AC system. This reduction of airflow can cause ice to build up on your indoor coil and lead to compressor failure. Make sure you are changing your air filters to avoid one of the most costly repairs in the HVAC industry; compressor replacement.
  • Short-cycling – One very common problem related to a clogged air filter is called short-cycling. This basically means that your furnace/AC unit will turn off and on very frequently. When it can’t complete an entire heating or cooling cycle it causes your unit to work very inefficiently. Inefficient operation of course results in added costs and a shorter life span of your unit.

It’s a perfect time to check your air filters. Of course we think it’s important to check your filters regularly, but alas not everyone in the Phoenix area remembers to do so. Your filter stands between the dust and debris of the valley and the fragile components of your heating and air conditioning units. If your unit starts to get clogged up with dust you run the risk of poor heating, reduced efficiency and even premature failure. It’s not a particularly difficult task, but very important; take the time to change your filters.

What type of air filter should I buy?

Sharp Air Conditioning & Heating, LLCThe most important piece of maintenance that a homeowner can do for their air conditioning system is to regularly change your air filters. If you have been to your local hardware store, you have seen the large amount of very different air filters available for purchase. The question now becomes, which air filter is best for me?

The answer to that question is going to vary. Do you have a lot of pets in the home? Kids? Maybe you live in a construction area with lots of dust present in the air. There are many factors that go into choosing the right type of filter. We have a general guideline that we like to follow when choosing the right type of air filter.

  1. Do not use reusable/washable filters. These types of filters are sold as a more convenient option to buying throwaway filters because “all it takes is to wash them”. In theory, this may be the case. In reality, the washable filters can cause more harm then good. To wash these filters correctly, you need to buy solutions that may contain harmful chemicals. Along with that, these filters need to be completely dry before being put back in the system, and if not completely dry these filters collect bacteria and fungus that is then released into your home. These filters also make it harder for air to pass through the system, creating more work for your system.
  2. Do use a disposable air filter. These are the types that you can find at your local hardware store. You will want to look at the MERV rating for these filters and choose one that is between 8-11. Anything higher than this is more than likely overkill and not needed for residential use. If you have an older system, an air filter with a very high MERV rating can restrict the flow of air enough that it can overwork your older system. More importantly than the rating is to regularly replace these filters. If you decide to use a cheaper fiberglass filter, you should consider replacing the filter monthly if you have pets or children in the house.

We cannot state it enough, make sure you regularly change your air filters. Not only will this keep the air you breath cleaner and reduce allergens and dust in the air, it will keep dust and dirt from building up in your air conditioning system that can decrease efficiency and damage your system.

Looking for a way to save some money on air filters? Check out our Sharp Air Maintenance Program. Along with having regularly scheduled maintenance, we provide you with a full years supply of air filters. Give us a call to find out more!

Should I replace or repair my heating and air conditioning system?

This is one of those questions that we get asked all the time. Should I repair my older unit, or is it time to invest in a replacement? Well unfortunately there’s not really an easy answer. You might think that we would suggest you replace your unit because we are HVAC contractor. It’s not necessarily the case though. Often times it makes sense to repair your existing unit rather than going through the expense of a replacement. Here are some guidelines that may help you with your decision:

  1. If your existing unit was manufactured more than 15-20 years ago it may be time to consider an upgrade even if it’s working currently. The advancements in technology make a new unit considerably more efficient. Your savings in utility bills will go a long way towards paying for the new unit. Plus, the sad reality is that eventually your older unit will fail. There is an expected lifespan on these, and you’re getting very close to it.
  2. If you’re looking at replacing a compressor in your AC unit that’s a substantial repair. You can think of it as replacing the engine in your car. If you really love your car you might want to replace the engine, but it will be costly and rarely as reliable as a new car. A new unit will be more reliable than replacing the compressor and once again the efficiency in design is something you should consider.

Those two situations are typically going to result in a recommendation to replace. However, there are times when the decision isn’t so easy to make.

One rule of thumb to consider is the cost of your repair and the age of your unit. Replacement should be a consideration if your unit is beyond ¾ of its life expectance and repairs will cost more than a 1/3 of a replacement. For example if your unit is 16 years old and the repair is $700-800 you might want to consider a replacement. Always keep in mind that this might be the chance to reduce your monthly utility bills with a more efficient unit.

The best option is to have one of our certified technicians come out to your home or business and assess the situation. Some 20+ year old units work fine because they’ve been maintained well. On the other hand some 10 year old units need to be replaced due to neglect. A professional knows what to look for when evaluating your equipment. Each situation is different, but Sharp Air can help you with your difficult decision.

5 ways to extend the usefulness of your HVAC system

There are many ways that you can help your air conditioner run more efficiently and last a few summers longer than expected. While the typical life of an HVAC system is about 14 years, below are a few tips to help you bump that number a little higher, and get some bonus years out of your system.

  1. Sharp Air Conditioning & Heating, LLCRegularly change your filters! This might be the most basic maintenance points for homeowners. It doesn’t take too much time or effort, and can save you costly repairs down the line. When a filter gets clogged up, air flow is restricted to your system which can cause a host of issues. At Sharp Air Conditioning & Heating, we recommend use throw away filters that can be found at your local hardware store, and changing them sometimes as often as once a month. We can even help you with one of these steps by providing you with a year’s supply of air filters through our Sharp Air Maintenance Program. Give us a call to find out more!
  2. Take an AC time out – Like with anything mechanical, your HVAC system will wear out more quickly if it is on at all times, day and night. Try to turn your air conditioner off if you plan to leave the house for an extended period of time. Dialing up the temperature just 5 degrees will allow your air conditioner to get a much needed break during hot parts of the day, without letting the temperature climb into the 90’s inside during the hot Arizona months.
  3. Give your outdoor unit some TLC – If you live in the Valley of the Sun, you are probably familiar with what seems like a new phenomenon… the dreaded Arizona “Haboobs”. If you are not familiar with these yet, it is basically a wall of dirt that covers everything in a fine layer of dust once the storm leaves. This includes the outdoor component of your HVAC system. While one of these storms usually wont deposit enough dirt to have an effect, the build up of a few storms and normal debris outside can build up on the condenser coil and cause problems. Every now and then, try to clear any debris that you can see, i.e. leaves, dirt, etc., even just hose down the outdoor unit. This will continue to allow airflow through the coils and keep you cooling efficiently.
  4. Check for Leaks – When we say check for leaks, we aren’t really saying to check for air leaks in the duct system. While this might be a good idea normally, checking for air leaks is something best handled for a technician that can get into the attic to check your duct work. The type of “checking for leaks” that you as a home owner can preform, is making sure there isn’t any evidence of leaking Freon at your outdoor unit. If you can see an oily substance on any of the surfaces, turn off your system and call Sharp Air Conditioning & Heating. If you system is leaking Freon, it can be a costly fix if not caught early on, and a system running without Freon can cause other damages to the system as well.
  5. Is your HVAC system draining? – Through normal operation, your HVAC system can build up condensation from cold surfaces exposed to the Arizona heat. All good operating and well maintained HVAC systems will have good drainage as well to allow this condensation to run off to the ground, or anywhere else besides in your home or back into the unit. Annual maintenance through our Sharp Air Conditioning & Heating Program can make sure your HVAC system is draining properly, saving you from costly water damages that can occur when these drains are clogged, blocked, or install improperly.