Know the Signs of a Dying Air Conditioner

dying air conditionerReplacing your air conditioner is a major purchase for homeowners. Planning ahead and budgeting for when your system will need updates can help you to avoid stress when the time comes. How do you know when its time to consider replacement?

Know the age of your equipment. Central air conditioning units have an average lifespan of about 12-15 years. This lifespan can increase with lower usage and proper care. On the other hand, it can decrease with excessive use, extreme conditions, and neglected maintenance.

While the weather is up and down so far this year in Central Indiana, the frequent storms and high humidity likely caused you to run your air conditioning often.  If it was keeping you cool, you probably weren’t thinking there could be a problem with your unit. When hot weather rolls in to stay it will put additional stress on your equipment. Have you been using your air conditioner this frequently every year? These conditions can decrease the lifespan of your equipment.

Think back upon the life of your equipment. Have you been changing the filter regularly? Have you had a technician our for maintenance service, or have any components needed replacement before? The way you care for your system plays a role in its longevity.

When considering the age of your equipment and your household’s habits, here are some signs that may indicate the need for a replacement is nearing:

  1. Your utility bills have increased over the years. While differences in outdoor temperatures from one year to the next can factor in, it may be a sign your air conditioner is losing efficiency.
  2. Your home isn’t as comfortable as it used to be; the air conditioning isn’t keeping you as cool as it once was, or you notice more humidity in the home.
  3. You notice more noise coming from your equipment.
  4. Your air conditioner is running longer than it used to in order to keep your house cool.

Being able to recognize potential problems can prevent you from being surprised when its time to replace your air conditioning unit. It will also give you more time to consider benefits and features you’d like to have with your new unit, and research the best solution for your household.

Regular preventative maintenance can help prolong the life of your HVAC equipment. A certified HVAC technician who inspects your equipment on a seasonal basis can troubleshoot issues which can lead to an early death for your air conditioner if left uncorrected. If you suspect you have a dying air conditioner, or want to get on board with a Preventative Maintenance Agreement to protect your equipment, call T.A. Kaiser. Our technicians can diagnose the symptoms of your air conditioner and recommend a course of action.

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Keep Your Air Conditioning Working

keep your air conditioning workingWhen Summer heat and humidity build up, you can keep your air conditioning working by following these few tips.  It is easy to overlook these things, but if your air conditioning stops working on the hottest day of the year, you will wish you had paid more attention to it.  Keep your cool by keeping the AC in tip-top shape and enjoying the comfort it provides all year long.

Tip # 1 – Keep the filter clean

When the filter is loaded up with dirt, it restricts the air flow and causes the AC to work harder and run longer.  This costs you money in utilities, but also may lead to earlier replacement of parts and additional labor costs.  Get a good filter, not the cheapest type, and change it (or at least check it) once a month through the hot months.  There is a filter door on most systems which almost anyone can easily open to replace the filter.  Be sure to close the door and latch it so it is air tight.

Tip # 2 – Make sure vents are clear and clean

If the vents get dusty, the air coming through them will be dirty.  If the vents get plugged by furniture, drapes or anything else, the cool air won’t flow properly.   Take a look at the vents in each room to clean them, or to move anything that is blocking the air flow.  You need to do this for both supply vents (air blowing in) and return vents (air flowing out) to keep your air conditioning working properly.

Tip# 3 – Check your thermostat

Frequently, we get called to fix an AC system and find out the problem was in the thermostat, not the air conditioner.   If you have a battery in your thermostat, make sure that battery is fresh or recently re-charged.  If your thermostat is an older style, consider getting a new programmable model.  They have built-in features to help your air conditioner run more efficiently.

Tip #4 – Don’t ignore trouble signals

When an air conditioner is struggling to keep your home cool, you may be able to hear or smell a difference before it breaks down.  If you see ice on the unit, hear vibrations that aren’t normal, or smell a burning odor, those are warning signals.   Call a professional to look at the system to avoid a complete breakdown and a higher repair bill.

Tip # 5 – Set up a periodic inspection

There are parts of your system that need to be cleaned, lubricated and adjusted on a periodic basis.   These tasks require the use of tools, gauges and analyzers in the hands of professionals who know how to use them.  Find a trustworthy local HVAC company and join their preventative maintenance program.   They will keep your air conditioning working and reduce the possibility that you will have an unexpected breakdown.

We would like to be that company for you.   Our primary goal at T.A. Kaiser Inc. is to make you feel as comfortable as possible in your home or business so you can focus on what is important to you.  Being a family owned business since 1987, we know what it takes to provide you with the best service and product in heating and air conditioning.  Contact us TODAY and we’ll take care of you.

Additional general information about this topic can be found at energy.gov.

 

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What is a Split Air Conditioner?

Bryant split air conditioner systemA split air conditioner, also called a mini-split or a ductless split, is a highly efficient stand-alone cooling system.  The names come from their split design, with one unit (or multiple units) inside the home and one unit outside.  Indoor units can be wall or ceiling mounted, and each one controls one zone, usually one room or just a few rooms.

Split systems do not require ducting, so they are a perfect add-on for a room addition, a cabin, workshop, or other similar use where adding duct work could be a problem.   This factor makes them a cost effective choice when compared to expanding an existing central air conditioner.  Also, outside venting is not needed, and temperature control is much better since each of the indoor units on a multi-unit system can be set to a different desired set point.

Although split systems are typically more expensive at first than wall or window air conditioners, split air conditioners are more quiet and efficient.   The noisy part of the system is outside so the attractive inside section can remain whisper quiet.  Most split air conditioners also provide heating as well for year-round comfort, something a window air conditioner won’t do.   Another benefit is that most units come with a remote control as well as a wall mounted thermostat, so temperature control is easy and convenient.

Because there is no duct work, split air conditioners are easy to install; however, you do want a professional do that for you.   They can mount the system high on the wall, near the floor, or even on the ceiling, and they will make a small hole in the wall for refrigerant tubing to connect the indoor and outdoor units.  One outdoor unit can service several indoor units if you have more than one zone that needs conditioned air.

Split air conditioner systems have many advantages that you should consider when you’re thinking about added air conditioning.   Our HVAC professionals can explain the models we offer and recommend the best system for your needs.

Be Wiser — Call Kaiser!

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High Efficiency Air Conditioning

If your central air conditioning system is 10 or more years old, you should be thinking about replacing it with high efficiency air conditioning equipment.  The savings in energy use may be enough to pay for the upgrade, and all the extra comfort will just be a plus for you!

high efficiency air conditioningThe efficiency of the equipment is shown in the SEER (seasonal energy efficiency rating) number given to each system.  A higher number shows the unit is more efficient at converting the electricity you buy into the cold air that cools your home.    If your unit is between 10-15 years old and has a SEER of 6 or 8 (and if it is properly tuned and maintained) it might still be operating at close to full efficiency; however, due to wear and lack of complete maintenance, it also might be operating at only 3 or 4 SEER, and costing you much more than you need to be paying.

Bryant high efficiency air conditioning equipment offers efficiency ratings of up to 21 SEER, which could be a 5X improvement from your older system.  You will need the same amount of cool air from an old or new system to get to the desired temperature, but wouldn’t you prefer to pay a lot less for the electricity to get that cold air?

The new models have larger coils for more cooling surface, two compressors for two-stage operation, and run much quieter than earlier models.  Many homeowners say they can no longer hear it when the system is running, clearly another benefit of the upgrade.

Call us today to learn more about high efficiency air conditioning equipment.  We can tell you about factory incentives and any specials available to you now.

Since 1987, T.A. Kaiser Heating and Air has been a trusted business for both residential and commercial customers.   Contact us today and see why we have so many satisfied customers.

BE WISER – CALL KAISER!

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Cut the Cooling Load for your Air Conditioner

cooling loadWarm temperatures in the 80s are already here so the cooling load handled by your air conditioner is going up.   You want your air conditioner to run without excessive energy use, and one way to avoid runaway energy bills is to cut  your home’s cooling load.  What’s a cooling load?  It is the amount of energy (heat) needed to be removed to keep your home comfortable.

You should start by reducing the amount of heat coming into your home so your system doesn’t have to remove that heat.   Closing your blinds or curtains in East and West facing rooms prevents heat gain inside from the sun.  Scheduling your baking or oven-related cooking  for the cooler parts of the day will help, as well as cooking outside on the grill frequently.   Also, check for leaks in your duct work  to make sure the cool air is getting to the warmest rooms.  Finally, check around windows and doors where air leaks may be easier to spot to see if you feel warm air being drawn into the house through cracks.

A second level of cutting the cooling load can come from home improvement projects, especially concerning insulation.  Spaces without proper insulation, like an attic, can really get hot in the summertime.  When some of that heat transfers into your living area it increases the cooling load on your system and causes it to run longer.   Older windows can cause large energy losses, but newer windows are available with energy efficient features which reduce the amount of heat gain (or loss) in from the sun’s rays.   Replacement requires money upfront, but that cost can be recovered in a few years from the energy savings.  If you have dark shingles which soak up a lot of extra heat, consider installing lighter colored shingles when replacement is needed.

Cutting your cooling load will reduce the running time of your air conditioning system, allow indoor temperatures to remain comfortable without frequent starting-stopping of the system, and will reduce excessive energy usage.   Shorter running times can make a solid difference in the number of remaining years of life for your air conditioning equipment.

For more information about cutting your home’s cooling load, call us!  T.A. Kaiser can provide you with the best solutions to lower your home’s energy usage and prolonging the life of your HVAC equipment.

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Harness the Earth with Geothermal HVAC

A geothermal HVAC (heating, ventilating, and air conditioning) system is a green system because it takes advantage of sub-surface temperatures to provide heating in the winter and cooling in the summer.   Geothermal systems are environmentally friendly because they use the temperature of the earth, which is renewable and sustainable.

geothermal HVACThe word “Geothermal” is derived from the Greek language and means “Earth heat.”  Unlike the typical US heating and cooling system, geothermal systems do not burn fossil fuels to generate heat; they simply transfer heat.  Typically, electric power is only used to operate the fan, compressor, and pump.

Geothermal systems work because at about four to six feet below ground, temperatures remain relatively constant year-round.  The temperature at that level does not fluctuate much even during the coldest winters or the hottest summers.  The ground is able to maintain a higher rate of temperature consistency because it absorbs approximately 47% of the suns energy (heat) as it hits the Earth’s surface.    “With this technology, everybody could be sitting on top of their lifetime energy supply,” says This Old House plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey.

According to data supplied by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Geothermal Technologies, nearly 40% of all U.S. emissions of carbon dioxide are the result of energy use in the heating and cooling of buildings, and in heating and maintaining hot water.   Exact savings are hard to project because of different average climates, different thermostat set points, and variable electric rates, but a typical homeowner should expect to save 30-70 percent by going to a geothermal system.

Another benefit of geothermal systems is that they require very little maintenance.   The piping in the ground which circulates the fluid can last for 50 years or more.  The equipment itself (the fan, compressor, and pump) are all located inside the house so they are protected from the elements.  They should also last for multiple decades with only minor cleaning, periodic checks and filter changes.

If you are considering replacing your HVAC system, geothermal might be a good choice for you.   Give us a call and we can explain more details about the systems we offer, and show you how they could fit into the specific situation you have on your property.

Be Wiser — Call Kaiser!

 

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Scholarships in Memory of Moramay

scholarship moramayMoramay Smiles is a philanthropic organization focusing on providing college scholarships for Central Indiana young adults who have lost a parent to breast cancer, or have a parent who is a breast cancer survivor.    Moramay passed away in 2013 at the age of 51 after her second bout with breast cancer, leaving a loving husband and 3 beautiful children.  She was known by many for her kind disposition and her beautiful smile.

Moramay was passionate about the importance of education and volunteered as a Religious Education teacher at St. Susanna Catholic Church.   This scholarship program was setup to honor her memory by easing the financial burdens faced by families dealing with breast cancer.

The non-profit organization was established by Moramay’s family as led by Kimberly Decker, Office Manager at T.A. Kaiser Heating & Air.  Their first fundraiser was on April 11 at J&M Smokehouse with entertainment by Chad Brown who performed to a packed house.

Funds for Moramay Smiles are raised though special events, individual donations, corporate sponsorships and grants.   If you would like more information about scholarships, please go to this link and LIKE US:  https://www.facebook.com/MoramaySmiles/timeline.

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Zoning for Savings

zoning for savingsAre you happy with the amount of your monthly energy bill for heating and cooling your home or commercial building?  Are there times when some areas aren’t used by anyone?  If so, consider zoning for savings on your utility bills.  By creating 2 or more zones, such as a 1st floor zone and a 2nd floor zone, you can set a programmable thermostat in each zone to provide warm or cool air only when you need it, not all the time.

It works with a control mechanism inside the duct work that opens or closes based on the thermostat signal to it.   When no heat or cooling is needed in a zone, that duct will be closed with a damper, and all the heated or cooled air will be routed to the other zone, saving you energy.  When heat or cooling is needed in both zones, both ducts are opened and the conditioned air flows into both zones.

Think of it this way – in the warm months, warm air rises to the 2nd floor, so you probably need air conditioning to cool that part of the house.  However, without zoning that cold are would continue going to the lower floor which would get too cold and uncomfortable for some people.   The reverse is true in the cold months, with the lower floor needing more heated air than the upper floor.   Dividing the building into zones can save a significant amount of energy in the right situations.

Give us a call today and let us look at your situation.  We’ll recommend the most energy efficient arrangement available and provide you with a few options to consider.

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Central Air Conditioning Buyers Guide

air conditioning buyers guide

Bryant High Efficiency Equipment

Homeowners need an air conditioning buyers guide when they  install a new central air conditioning system or upgrade the one they have.  Although most new homes come equipped with central heating and air, those systems may be a minimal basic system that won’t keep up with a growing family.  Many older homes used window air conditioning units, and those that still have their original central air system are probably at end of life. So, for those of you who are considering a new or replacement purchase, here are the top 2 considerations before you buy.

 

The first consideration in an air conditioning buyers guide is proper sizing of the unit for the amount of space you need conditioned, the usual level of warmth of your local climate, and the number of people and type of activities you do in the home.   Replacing an older unit with the same size new unit would be an easy decision to make, but if the old unit was incorrectly sized, or if you have changed the home over time, the old size might not be the right size for today.  A responsible air conditioning contractor will know how to calculate the cooling load of your home using an industry recognized method.   If a contractor tells you that determining the correct size isn’t important, beware of that contractor.

Sizing involves right-sizing the cooling equipment, the ducts that deliver the air to the rooms, and accurately locating the correct number of supply registers.  If you already have duct work for your existing heating system, the installation cost for adding a central system can be less; however, the ducts used for heating might not be the right size or in the right location for optimal cooling and your contractor should discuss that with you.  Also, if you have older duct work it might be leaky or not properly insulated, so that should be checked by pressure testing.

If your home doesn’t have existing ducts, adding them can be expensive, though if you plan to cool your entire home, central air is typically the best choice.  If you are not planning to cool the entire home, you might want to consider a split-ductless system. Unlike central systems, split-ductless systems need no ductwork so they are easier to add to some homes.

The second consideration for our Air Conditioner Buyers Guide is efficiency.  The industry uses a rating system for called SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio.)  The SEER of each device is calculated by the dividing the cooling output by the electric energy input.  The result is a single number, and higher numbers indicate higher efficiency.  Older air conditioning systems have SEER ratings up to 10, but we now have SEER ratings in the mid-20’s.   Buying a higher efficiency unit will cost a little more up front but the utility savings over the life of the equipment will pay back that extra initial cost.  Also be sure to look for the Energy Star label on all the equipment you consider.  Remember, you need to have to get Consideration 1 (sizing) correct before you can get Consideration 2 (efficiency) to give you the most comfort and the most savings.

SEER ratings tell you the potential efficiency of the system if it is operating under optimal conditions.   However, most of the efficiency depends on having a correctly sized unit for your home that was properly installed with properly sealed ducts, so the third consideration is a great installation.   The best AC equipment in the world will not give you results unless it is installed per the manufacturer’s directions.  As a wise buyer, you should be sure to use an experienced and trusted contractor who will ensure all 3 considerations are covered.

If you are considering making a purchase and would like expert advice and pricing, please contact us.   Since 1987 we have helped thousands of satisfied customers with this same decision, and we’d be glad to use our skills and experience to help you.

BE WISER — CALL KAISER!

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Air Conditioner Maintenance

Air Conditioner Maintenance Can Add Years of Life

 

If you have an older air conditioner, you may still be able to get years of relatively efficient use from it instead of replacing it.   However, making that older equipment last requires you to operate it properly and to perform periodic maintenance checks and adjustments.   This article explains what to do, but if you don’t feel qualified to do it, we can do it for you.

Air Conditioning Problems

Some common air conditioning problems come from improper operation.  When your air conditioner is on, all of your home’s windows and outside doors should be closed.  If they are open, it adds more load on the equipment, causing it to run longer than necessary. Another tip is to set the thermostat just low enough to remove oppressive heat and humidity, but not so low that you feel chilled.  If you have to put on a sweater or other clothing, then it is set too low.  Try running it in the 74-75 degree range and see if that is comfortable enough for your family.   Running fans, both floor fans and ceiling fans, when people are in a room will help them to feel cooler and are a great supplement to the air conditioner fan.

Other common problems with existing air conditioners are a result of faulty installation, poor service procedures, and/or inadequate maintenance.  Indicators of this include leaky ducts and low airflow in some rooms.

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