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residential hvac maintenance

5 Common HVAC Terms Simplified

residential hvac maintenance

5 Common HVAC Terms Simplified

Tell me if this has ever happened to you; You’ve hired an ac service company to do a service call to tell you what is going on with your ac unit and as the service technician is using their “trade terms” you slowly start to go into hypnosis. I know this happens to me at the auto mechanic, and don’t feel bad if it happens to you, because air conditioning is something most people on think about when it isn’t working. Below are some simplified explanations for common AC terms that get people stumped.

1) SEER – Think of SEER in air conditioning just like you think of miles per gallon(MPG) on a car. It is an acronym for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio and it all boils down to you air conditioning efficiency. The higher the SEER, the lower your energy use will be. And unlike cars, the higher the SEER, the higher the price.

2) Tonnage(Ton) – If SEER equals gas mileage, then Tonnage equals the size of your car. Capacity is what we are talking about here. Tons can also be broken down into BTUs and there are 12,000 BTUs in each ton. Air conditioners are measured in tonnages of 1-5, with ½ sizes usually available as well. A properly sized air conditioning system is important for your comfort, and bigger isn’t always better. You don’t need an 18-Wheeler to deliver a pizza.

3) R-22 vs R-410 Refrigerant – R-22 has been the most commonly used refrigerant in residential air conditioning for a very long time. The EPA has started to limit the amount of R-22 refrigerant that is produced in the United States each year until it is completely phased out. The reason for this phase out is that R-22 contains CFCs and is damaging to the atmosphere when released into the air. Consequently, R-22 prices have sky rocketed, and replacement parts configured for R-22 are becoming harder to come by as well. All of this is driving prices up and moving people towards the new and greener replacement refrigerant, R-410a. R-410a is a great product, but it has many different properties that make it incompatible with existing R-22 air conditioners. If you want R-410a, you will at least have to replace your outdoor air conditioner and most likely your indoor unit as well. New air conditioning systems can be configured for several environmentally friendly refrigerants, but R-410 is the industry standard today.

4) Heatpump – Think of your typical outdoor air conditioning unit: it only runs when the AC is on. A heatpump looks and behaves just the same, but can reverse the process and will heat your house by running in the winter time. You still need a backup heat source in the indoor section of your central air system, but the heatpump can carry a lot of the load at relatively low energy level. A gas furnace has shown to be the most cost effective way to heat your house for many years, but if you don’t have gas available at your house, a heatpump is another option to consider. 

5) CFM – This term refers the amount or volume of air that the indoor section of your air conditioning system can move in a minute or Cubic Feet per Minute. CFM can also be measured at individual outlets or grilles. CFM is important because if not done correctly, too much or too little CFM can make you uncomfortable. Ever been sitting beneath a vent when the air conditioning comes on and it blows your hair back? That would be too much CFM for that grille. A situation with too little CFM could be if you had a room that never cools in summer or heats in winter.

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4 Signs That Your Air Conditioner Wants to Quit

If you haven’t experienced an air conditioning breakdown, then consider yourself a member of a privileged and exclusive club. For the rest of us, when the air conditioner went down there were probably a few hints and warning signs before the dreaded day arrived. Here are few of signs to keep an eye out for on you air conditioner so that you can address the problem before it becomes a complete shutdown.

  • The AC runs nonstop: Is the air conditioner running all day and night? On an exceptionally hot day this may not be something to be concerned about, but If it happens on a regular basis, something is not right. Your air conditioner was designed to remove the heat and humidity from your house in an efficient cycle that allows the system to recover before coming on again. This ensures that you are comfortable and your electric bills aren’t the size of your mortgage. The culprit could be a small part failure, major malfunction, need for general maintenance, or an inefficient system being overworked.
  • The air doesn’t feel “comfortable”: Is the air coming out of the AC vent not feel as cold as it usually does? Or does the air feel humid, creating a swampy feeling? This could be a symptom of low refrigerant levels. Refrigerant leaks in your air conditioner are just like a leak in the tire on your car. They generally start by leaking slowly, get larger as time goes on, and continue to leak even when the AC system is not in use. With proper service, a refrigerant leak can be identified and a repair can be done before the AC unit completely quits.
  • Water is leaking from the AC unit: If you’ve experienced this, hopefully it has been in the secondary pan (directly beneath the unit) or out of a pipe on the exterior of your house… not coming through your ceiling. Sometimes larger issues loom behind a water leak in the air conditioning unit, but this is usually caused by a drain blockage and can be cleared by a AC professional who can check for other possible causes.
  • Loud or strange noises: Although air conditioners do make some noise, they are designed to be quiet as possible. Call an AC professional if you notice any unusually loud noises coming from your air conditioner. A repetitive thumping or squeaking could be caused by a loose or worn part. A loud noise from outside may be a motor that is weak or a compressor that is going out.

 

If you notice any of these early warning signs, give Gentry Air Conditioning a call at 817-488-6733 to set up your Air Conditioning service appointment.

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