The fall season brings cooler weather to the New Jersey area, which means winter and cold temperatures are right around the corner!
As the seasons change, so does the way you use your plumbing. Summer brings a unique set of plumbing problems that are essential to prepare for and combat. The Roman Electric team has assembled this list of common summer plumbing problems that homeowners should know about. Read on to find out more.
If you are noticing weak or little air flow through your AC vents, the unit’s compressor may be failing. In case certain areas or rooms in your home are getting cold air while others are not, then the trouble might be with your ductwork and it’s a sign that your AC system needs urgent repair.
The nights are beginning to cool and soon the winter heating season will be upon us. If you are looking to have central A/C installed in your home, now is the best time of the year for this type of project. Just as it is easier to find a good deal on a wood or pellet stove at the end of the heating season, fall is a good time to get a deal on an air conditioner. You can also find contractors who may be into the slow work season between summer and winter repair service.
Whole House Cooling
Central air conditioning is installed in many new homes that lie in areas that see intense heat and or humidity. Stepping into an air conditioned home from a muggy 90-degree day is indeed a relief. If you have an older home and have been using window units, a central A/C unit would be big improvement, for both convenience and efficiency. Central air conditioners are often more economical to run than many separate units installed in many rooms. The convenience comes with avoiding the seasonal installation and removal of these window units. If your home has a central forced air heating system, the installation of central air is a relatively easy task because the duct work and air handling fans that distribute the air are already in place. Adding a cooling coil into the existing air handling system saves the expense of a new or secondary air handler. Homes that have baseboard, radiant and other ductless systems will require a more involved A/C installation. If your home falls into this latter category, there are other options available that may prove less costly or intrusive to install.
Air Conditioning Basics
Conditioned air is air that has been “conditioned” this usually means that it has been cooled down. When air is cooled it also loses a lot of its humidity or moisture by the process of condensation. Lower levels of humidity in conditioned air allow our bodies natural cooling process of perspiration / evaporation to be more effective, and therefore make us feel cooler. Basic laws of physics and thermodynamics control how this whole process happens. Some people wrongly believe that air conditioners and refrigerators “make cold”, while in fact, they move heat from one place to another. In a refrigerator you can feel the heat that is removed from the inside by placing your hand near the outlet vent. In air conditioning, an evaporator coil removes the heat from the air that flows through it, this heat is then released somewhere else by a condensing coil. In split systems this condensing coil is usually located outside the home. Locating the condensing coil outside also minimizes the noise that accompanies the compressors and fans that these systems require.
New Ducts and Air Handlers
If your home is one that lacks a central forced air heating system, A/C can still be installed, it is just going to entail more work and expense. These costs will vary by the configuration of your home. Single story homes can be readily equipped from the attic, basement or crawlspace if present. Multi-story homes may need more complex ductwork to span the different levels or have redundant systems installed to be served from multiple areas. Obviously the more intrusive the work the greater the cost. The backs of closets often provide a “chase” that is used for running ductwork from a basement to a second floor. A large portion of the expense of these installations comes from new air-handling systems that are already present in existing forced air-heating systems.
Costs and Alternatives to Central Air
Retrofitting an older home can be complex. One alternative to a central system may be installing fixed wall units in just a few rooms. These work much like a window unit but do not need to be installed and removed each season. Cost for these systems run about $2500 per room, a central system can run $7000 to $8000 for a typical 3-bedroom home. Costs can vary by region so check with your local installers for your location. Designing your project based on costs, and impact to your home is something to do first. Ceiling fans by comparison are quite economical, with costs around $50 to $200. Home design can also play a role in heating and cooling, in the desert South West, adobe homes, which have been around for centuries, are naturally cool compared to other buildings. Super-insulated homes, earth sheltered and earth-bermed homes also have lower cooling requirements and may be completely passive in their cooling design. Evaporative coolers and whole house fans are other low cost options.
Should you retrofit this fall?
Ancient Romans ran cool water from aqueducts through the walls of some buildings to keep them cool. In more modern times people sat in front of fans and sipped iced lemonade to stay cool. When I was a kid growing up in the Midwest, we used to hide out in the basement in our home that lacked A/C to stay cool. In Colorado, at 8500 feet, it rarely gets so hot that AC is needed, so they get by with a few open windows and ceiling fans. The cooling choices you make should reflect your home, your budget, and your lifestyle. If you are thinking about installing a central air unit call your friends at “Green Apple Mechanical NJ” at 888-611-7191
As we adjust to the autumn weather in New Jersey, it’s easy to push the idea of installing a new central A/C to the bottom of your to-do list. After all, next summer is a long way off, and you have more pressing things to do with your time and money. But fall is actually the best time of year for having serious A/C work or installation done in your New Jersey area home. Keep the following things in mind as you plan your fall home maintenance projects, and consider moving installing a new central A/C system to the top of your list.
Why Fall Makes Sense for A/C Installation
Saving money is the best reason for upgrading to a new air conditioner in the fall. Manufacturers cut prices on this year’s equipment models to clear their inventory in time to gear up for meeting the demand for furnaces, boilers and related equipment as winter weather approaches. Your local HVAC contractor can get great deals from suppliers trying to clean out their warehouses, and can pass those savings along to you.
By early fall, your HVAC contractor is winding down from the summer cooling crunch and has crews and equipment available for installing a new central A/C system or performing other cooling and heating work around your house. The contractor’s calendar is no longer dominated by emergency A/C repair calls due to the heat of summer, so you don’t have to wait as long to schedule your air conditioning project.
Autumn weather is ideal for A/C installation work or other renovation projects that require having your HVAC systems shut down for a few days. Your family can stay comfortable with the window open and enjoy the fresh fall breezes moving through your home while the installation work is going on in your basement, utility room or attic.
Combine A/C Installation With Other Home Energy Upgrades
Work with your HVAC professionals to consolidate several energy projects around your home so that you can save money on labor costs and minimize the number of days your family has to deal with construction noise and other disruptions. You are probably making a significant investment in installing a new central A/C system that is more energy efficient than your existing cooling equipment. Get the most out of your money by improving the energy efficiency of the rest of your home at the same time.
If you reduce your home’s cooling and heating demand by tightening up your house, you will save money not only in installing a more efficient air conditioner, but also by having to run it less than you would otherwise. In addition, those energy improvements will reduce your winter heating costs.
Here are some ideas to discuss with your HVAC contractor for improving your home’s energy efficiency at the same time you’re installing a new central A/C system. You may want to do some of this work yourself, but much of it can be done more cost-effectively by your HVAC technicians while they’re already at your house installing your air conditioner:
- Seal air leaks. Reducing the amount of air moving into or out of your house can reduce your energy bills significantly. Caulk around door and window frames and anywhere utilities penetrate your home’s exterior walls. Replace weatherstripping to ensure tight seals when doors and windows are closed.
- Be sure you have adequate insulation. If your attic insulation is insufficient for our climate, upgrading it can reduce your cooling and heating loads significantly. Have your HVAC contractor inspect your ductwork, anywhere ducts run through unconditioned spaces and add insulation to those sections if they’re not insulated. You will recover the money you spend on insulation quickly via reduced energy bills.
- Inspect your furnace and perform seasonal maintenance on it. During your A/C installation, have your technician clean your furnace burner, inspect the heat exchanger and lubricate the air handling equipment. Have your ducts inspected and cleaned, if needed, and have any leaking seams and joints sealed. Change your air filter so your system is ready to go when the first cold front arrives.
Contact us at “Green Apple Mechanical NJ” for installation, repairs and maintenance of your cooling and heating equipment. We serve customers throughout the New Jersey area. Call us toll free at 888-611-7191
To Cover or Not to Cover?
Covering your outdoor unit during the winter has been a “heated debate” in the HVAC field for years now. There are pros and cons to both sides and each contractor will recommend something different. Here we will explain both sides and then we will give you our final recommendation.
Pros to covering your air conditioner:
* Keeps your air conditioner coils a little cleaner so it may run a little more efficiently when you use it again.
* Prevents heavy debris like sticks, branches and other yard waste from blowing into your AC unit.
* Helps prevent water from directly resting on your coils and freezing, which could be damaging.
Cons to covering your air conditioner:
* Covering an entire unit may actually trap moisture by creating a high humidity environment as the sun beats down on the cover. Inside this moist environment is your electrical windings, wiring connections, and in some cases circuit boards. None of these items do well in the moisture.
* During the winter months the temperatures cause small animals to find a warm place to nest away from the elements. Covers provide a very tempting spot for these animals to call home. Small animals can be detrimental to your unit by chewing the wiring harness for their bedding. This can lead to a very expensive fix for you in the spring.
* Most AC manufacturers don’t specifically recommend covering the outside unit.
Our recommendation is that covering the unit is not necessary. If you do still want to cover your unit to keep out debris we have found that a simple piece of plywood across the top is a perfect fit. It is inexpensive, will keep out most debris, and leaves the sides open to keep moisture and animals out. If you do insist on covering the unit there are short covers available which will work similarly to the plywood but will cost you a little bit more.
Although the first hint of cool fall weather may have you more focused on your furnace, this is the perfect time to install a new central air conditioning system. By getting the job done now, you’ll save money compared to the summertime costs and you’ll be ready to go with a reliable, energy-efficient cooling system next year.
Find Great Deals on New A/C Systems
A new central cooling system is an investment. Even though upgrading to a more efficient air conditioner will lower your cooling bills, it’s still worth it to save as much as you can on upfront purchase costs.
Many homeowners upgrade or install a new central A/C in early summer when they decide not to spend another hot summer without reliable air conditioning. Others are forced to replace their systems in the middle of summer when their existing cooling system breaks down. This keeps A/C system prices high all summer.
Come fall, demand for air conditioners drops off. HVAC equipment sellers who still have plenty of stock left over from summer often discount it to move it out of their inventory before winter. It’s a little like garden furniture going on sale at the end of summer.
In the Fall, Technicians Are Available and Affordable
Fall is one of the slowest periods for heating and cooling technicians. Thanks to the mild weather, the start of school and the upcoming holidays, many homeowners forget all about their air conditioners.
That means not only do many HVAC specialists have open spots in their work schedules, but they also offer favorable pricing to encourage customers to call in and fill those spots. Prices for HVAC services are lower in fall than at any other time of year.
Install a new central A/C in fall and not only can you get a good deal on installation work, but you also have a better chance of getting scheduled in with the kind of highly trained, experienced technician you want.
Putting in an air conditioner requires outdoor work, including digging. You might find air conditioners on sale in December, but getting the system installed in New Jersey’s cold, snowy winter weather may not always be possible. Even when it is, heating and cooling technicians usually have their schedules full with furnace installation and repair work.
Ditch Those Window Units
The window A/C units used in many homes have several drawbacks. Inconvenience is one. They’re usually put in place at the beginning of summer, then removed and put into storage come fall. In addition, window units can be uncomfortably loud, older models aren’t energy efficient, and any unsealed gaps around the units cause air leaks that let in hot, humid outdoor air.
Install a new central A/C this fall and it will be the last time you’ll ever have to pull out those window units and haul them to storage. Next summer, you’ll enjoy cool air in every room without any irritating noise. There’s a good chance your cooling bills will be lower, too.
Keep in mind if your home uses radiators, baseboard heaters or another ductless heating method, you’ll need to have ducts installed along with the new air conditioner. Duct sizing and installation adds time to the system installation job, so start early before the cold weather arrives.
Know When to Replace the A/C
If you already have a central air conditioner, but you’ve been considering upgrading, there are a few clear signs that tell you this fall is the time to do it.
- The system is old – An air conditioner that’s more than 10 years old runs less efficiently than modern systems and is at high risk for component failure no matter how well it seems to be running.
- The A/C has frequent breakdowns – Have you had to call a repair technician this year, last year and the year before that? Take time this fall to buy and install a new central A/C and next summer you’ll spend less time and money on A/C repairs, as well as enjoy lower energy bills and improved cooling performance.
- Cooling bills are rising – If every summer brings cooling bills that are much higher than the last, chances are it’s due to the steady drop in energy efficiency your system experiences as it ages.
Your HVAC unit—also called an outdoor or central air conditioner—keeps your home dry and cool during hot, humid months. As the warm summer days fade to chilly fall weather, it’s time to winterize the HVAC unit to safeguard against snow and ice. Winterizing your central air conditioner also prevents rust damage and keeps critters from nesting inside mechanical parts.
Winterization of your HVAC unit is a straightforward do-it-yourself home improvement project. It takes just a few minutes of your time to complete. By following these simple steps, you can help keep your central air conditioning unit clean and in top working condition for summers to come.
The best time to prep your HVAC unit is early fall, just before you close the windows and turn on the heat. Watch the weather and pick a sunny day when your outdoor air conditioner can air dry completely. If today is the day to prep your AC, put on your work gloves and let’s get to it…
Here’s a list of what’s needed to winterize your HVAC unit: a garden hose, a clean rag, tubular foam or rubber pipe insulation, tees and elbows, and an outdoor air conditioning unit cover.
- Remove leaves, twigs and grass clippings. Use a garden hose to rinse the outdoor air conditioner, removing droppings, bugs, dirt and dust. Allow the HVAC unit to dry completely.
- Locate the electrical circuit. It usually has a plastic or metal lid. Remove the lid and flip the switch to cut power supply. This prevents the unit from turning on during a warm winter day, which keep water out of the unit that could freeze overnight and damage your HVAC unit.
- Install tubular foam or rubber pipe insulation with tees and elbows around pipes to protect against freezing. Cut the foam to fit by length and diameter of the pipe. Place tees and elbows first. Frost King foam pipe insulation is self-adhesive, making it easy to install.
- Cover the HVAC unit with a waterproof air conditioner cover. Our covers are made to fit outdoor air conditioners, but some DIY homeowners prefer to use bungee cords, vinyl tie-downs and even plywood+a brick to further secure the cover and protect the unit.
- Throughout winter, be sure to remove snow, ice and debris from the top of your HVAC unit. Adjust the cover to keep in place. Plus do what you can to remove dead leaves, small branches and any hibernating animals from underneath your outdoor air conditioning unit.