Commercial Air Conditioning Maintenance
What’s the Point? What Does It Prevent? How Do We Do It? What’s Involved?
The point of air conditioning maintenance is simple, stop your troubles before they happen. To that regard a maintenance is not simply a check-up. There are two types of air conditioning companies. A company that sends out a man who inspects the air conditioner then tells you what he wants you to buy. That’s one type and that’s also most of them, but if you find a company that performs a real summer ac maintenance or what I call a “clean, tune and inspect”. Then and only then will it be worth it.
A true air conditioning preventative maintenance will involve more than a simple inspection, it will involve cleaning or acid washing of both indoor and outdoor coils. Now you don’t have to tear apart and acid wash every evaporator coil you come across. Evaporator coils need cleaned when they are dirty and depending on how often the filters were changed has a big impact on the frequency but, on average expect to acid wash an evaporator coil approximately every 5-10 years. Also, clean off all the wires as dirty wires will not insulate the voltage running through them as well as clean wires, it’s called tracking. Once the system is clean move on to the electrical. You’ll want to test the capacitor, be sure it’s within 6% of its design. Also test all motors and the compressor’s windings, starting amps and use a megohmmeter to test the insulation on the wires inside the motors and compressor as knowing that will give you insight into how much longer that part will last.
Early replacement of select parts is optional but, I do it. We see the small wear and tear parts like contractors or capacitors fail approximately every 7-10 years. But, when small parts fail you run the risk of damaging the more costly items. That’s why we recommend replacing these wear and tear parts during your 10 year maintenance or earlier when they look to be wearing. Another vital part of maintenance is to check and feel all the wires. Brittle, loose or burning wires should be replaced or tightened before they get worse or cause worse. If you do find brittle or burning wires you should look deeper for the root cause which may be but not limited to failing compressor or motor, bad capacitor or even just a simple loose connection so go through and tighten all the connections.
Once your sure of your electrical start the machine paying attention to the starting amps on the compressor, a failing compressor will start to pull higher amps on start which will damage the compressor slowly every time it starts. The only solution here is to either replace the compressor which is not practical or install a hard start kit to help the compressor start. A hard start kit is a great item that can help a failing compressor start and run an extra few years or it can help a new compressor from ever having that problem so a hard start kit is good for every system whether its starting easy or not. ( hard start kits are for single phase systems only, if you have a 3 phase system you rely on an extra wild leg to start instead).
Now its on to the fun stuff, your refrigerant charge. Put your gauges on your system and watch the pressures, adding or recovering refrigerant to obtain your desired superheat or sub cooling depending on whether the air conditioner has a tav or a fixed rate piston. If your system has a fixed rate piston then you’ll need to charge to your target superheat. To determine target superheat you’ll need to use this equation ( indoor return air wet bulb temperature x 3 – 80 – outdoor ambient divided by 2 = target superheat or just use your i-manifold and it will do all that math for you. On systems with a expansion valve you’ll want to charge by sup cooling to the manufacturer specks.
Last but not the least is drain lines, its highly vital that we blow out drain lines with a high pressure inert gas like nitrogen to be sure that are clear and draining properly. The last thing you want is clogged drain line and water overflowing the side of the drain pan running into the ducts or worse on your drywall inside. All these things will help your commercial or residential air conditioner run without breakdowns this summer and last as long as god will allow, and that is all we can hope for.
Las Vegas Air Conditioning Inc.
6220 Kimberly Ave #13
Las Vegas, NV 89122
Repair or Replace that is the question.
If you’ve ever found yourself wondering, should I replace my air conditioner? How long will my air conditioning last?
Those are questions everyone has pondered at some point. Now, I will answer all the important questions regarding air conditioning replacement vs. repairing the old unit.
There are a lot of good reasons to replace an air conditioner, but it should never be your only choice, as everything can be fixed. If old things couldn’t be retro-fitted or repaired there would be no antique cars on the road. And there are plenty of those, that being said it may not be a good idea to repair an old unit or there may be numerous other reasons that might make replacing the old ac system with a newer model. Newer model air conditioners have come a long way in technology, in ways of efficiency and comfort.
Good reasons to replace an air conditioner are:
1. Your unit is 12 or more years old – Technology has come a long way in 12 years we can make your home 10 times more comfortable with stable temperatures using new 2 stage technology. And energy efficiency has doubled in 12 years.
2. You have a bad compressor and your system is over 8 years old – Compressors are very expensive and are the hearts of air conditioners. If your compressor fails consider replacement as some compressors are 50% the cost of a whole new system and the new system would have 5 or 10 years warranty vs. a 1 year warranty on a replacement compressor. And after a replacement compressor, the new one usually doesn’t last as long as the original because any blockage or other failing parts are already worn starting on day one of your new compressors life.
3. Your coil is rusted – If your coils start rusting and leaking, fixing a leak is only a Band-Aid as rust means another leak will occur guaranteed.
4. If you are paying too much in power – Today a new air conditioner can lower a power bill by so much that in some cases, we can finance a new system for $80 a month and then we lower the power bill by $100 which is like saving $20 a month and getting a new system and warranty. If you are one of the ones paying too much in power than keeping your old system is a waste, it’s just math.
5. Your home has hot or cold rooms – If you have rooms that are always hotter or cooler than other rooms certain times a year, it may be caused by improper duct balancing or from an improperly sized air conditioner. Either way consider this when deciding whether to repair or replace?
6. If your air conditioner takes r-22 Freon you may want to consider replacement – The E.P.A. has deemed r-22 Freon deadly to the ozone. New systems are using r-410A which is ozone safe but also a new r-410A system will blow colder air for less electricity making it the green choice for many reasons. R-22 systems are coming more costly to repair due to the difficulty and price of obtaining r-22 after the government regulations.
I won’t make a list for why to keep your old unit because; if none of the reasons above apply to you then you should just fix or keep your old unit. But when faced with a decision to repair or replace you should simply know all the benefits of replacement and then decide if it makes sense to you at that time.
The benefits to a new air conditioner are:
• A new air conditioner can lower the energy consumption by as much as 60% depending on your situation.
• A variable speed system will circulate air through the entire home eliminating the need for fans and it will do it with only 80 watts of power.
• A Variable speed system even out temperatures from room to room – imagine never having a hot spot, room or flash.
• A new unit is quiet
• New systems come with 10 year warranties
There you have it, replacing an air conditioner can benefit you by providing a more stable temperature in the home and lowering a power bill by 60% but if your air conditioner is already installed right and all your rooms are same temperature and your power bills are already low then you’re in good shape. But don’t forget to get a routine maintenance check-up because if your machine is ok now, we want to keep it that way.
Las Vegas Air Conditioning Inc.
6220 Kimberly Ave Unit 13
Las Vegas, NV 89122
What do you need to do to get your home ready for fall? Stephen talks about the steps you should take to prepare your air conditioning and heating system prepared for the fall and winter on News 3 in Las Vegas.
Preparing your home for fall. Here are three things we check with every air conditioning and heating system maintenance:
- Carbon Monoxide leakage
- Burning wires
- Water drain lines
Give us a call today at 702-437-1888 to have Las Vegas Air Conditioning complete a heating and air conditioning system maintenance for your home.
To fully understand why some parts of most homes are either too hot or too cold. Or why one room is always hotter than the rest. You first need to understand what heat load is. Heat load is how much cooling or heating is needed to properly heat or cool a particular room, usually measured in BTU. Everything from square footage, how many square feet of windows are in the room and what side of the home they are located on play a factor, ceiling height, appliances and your zip code come into play. Most contractors are not properly sizing furnaces or air conditioners because they size based solely on square footage which does nothing for un even temperatures and they do not run the proper load calculation tests. Now, some areas of homes have a lot more heat load than others. Some examples are rooms with east or west facing windows, rooms with high ceilings or even rooms over the garage are always uncomfortable because it has heat coming up from below and usually 2-3 of its sides can be to the outside. Any of these conditions would cause that room or areas to warm up faster than other areas in the home with less heat intruding in or being generated.
Now that you understand how some areas warm up faster than others. Ask yourself is the problem that the unit runs or is it that the unit doesn’t run enough. Imagine if your motor stayed running longer always circulating air through the home. The rooms with more heat load would never get a chance to warm up since the entire homes air would always be mixing. The result would be an entire home with the exact same temperature. So, the short explanation is a single speed motor that turns on 100% and off then on 100% again is one reason and also the most overlooked problem in the US causing uneven temperatures in rooms. It’s the off cycle that allows the rooms to warm faster than the others.
Ductwork is also a major problem in the US as 93% of homes have major duct leakage. That number is taken directly from the US department of energy website and also energy star website.
In the first paragraph I explained how a heat load calculation determines how many btus are required to keep a room cool or warm. The ducts are sized to deliver that exact amount heating or cooling. But then 93% of ducts leak so wherever you leak air into the attic is less delivered into the home. Basically we size a duct to deliver enough air to cool a room but after leakage there may not be enough left to properly cool or heat a room.
A sure sign of leaky ducts is to open an inside door and look at the hinges if you see a black dust trail, you have leaky ducts.
The trail is caused by uneven pressures because the return is sucking out say 2000 cfms of air from your home then you pay to heat, cool and filter that air that then gets blown into the leaky duct system. So if 10% of the air leaks into the attic your only delivering 1800 cfms back into the home so its now in a negative pressure causing air to be pulled in through anywhere it can find it. Air will always take the least path of resistance.
Leaky duct are major causes of poor indoor air quality, drafts and uneven temperatures, allergy symptoms and even shorter equipment life it could also more then double the HVAC portion of the energy bill.
Some tricks for home owners to fix some of these situations are:
Install a Variable speed motor $500.00 for the part plus 2-3 hrs labor. This motor will save them approximately 50% of what they’re current motor uses it will also run quieter and stay running longer circulating air through the entire home always blending the home air and keeping temperatures even. Most local power companies are urging homeowners to get variable speed motors installed and most are even offering rebates that could pay 100% of the cost of motor.
There are many ways to fix the duct balancing problems. A contractor can install dampers to push more air to the areas that need more air this can be done in less than an hour. Something a homeowner could do is to remove the vents of rooms that are getting too much air and restrict the vent or duct pushing more air to the other areas of the home that are not restricted. A homeowner could also crawl through their own attic and paint all the duct connections with duct sealant ( can be bought at any home depot or lowes for around $40 a bucket I suggest 3-4 buckets to seal an entire system. Just simply cover every connection and when it dries the entire duct system will be sealed and we will no longer be drawing in that hot dirty un-filtered attic air.
Sealing duct work is hard and dirty but if a homeowner is willing it can be done by them or any educated contractor could do it for around $800.00 But this will lower the energy bill around 5%-30% depending on the size and number of leaks in they’re system.
If a homeowner was to get a variable speed blower motor and completely seal all they’re ductwork, they would have a home with even temperatures, clean air, and energy costs could go down by as much as 25%
Other ways to save energy is to:
• Try and keep all doors closed and keep window coverings closed as much as possible especially those east and west facing windows.
• Installing a smart thermostat can save money by turning the unit off when its not being used. Always remember every time we can shut off the compressor is money saved. A programmable smart thermostat can shut your system down when you forget.
• Get your system checked by a professional at least once a year
• Spray the outside condenser coil with a garden hose once a year (will lower power bill)
F.Y.I. we have variable speed systems with variable speed cooling and heating capable of keeping the entire home to 1/10th of a degree to where they set the thermostat and that’s year around it does this by never shutting off instead it will just rev down to 25% and keep the air moving there’
s no way to have a higher level of comfort and energy efficiency as when reved down to 25% the motor is using 85 watts of power less than a 100 watt light bulb.
We have many more tricks and energy saving solutions. I’d love to share them with you anytime.
Our company and family has been servicing air conditioners, heaters, refrigeration since 1969 we are licensed, insured and many of our technicians actually teach air conditioning at the college on there spare time.
I also wrote a how to book for ac repair. It will be published soon on an app and online. The repair matrix is a follow your own ending format basically it can take any homeowner or service professional from start to finish, how to diagnose an air conditioner and repair the problem. After 20+ years repairing air conditioners I realized I had a procedure, an order if you will so I put it on paper as an if this then you do this format. The repair matrix will revolutionize this industry and no longer will a contractor be able to lie to homeowners because with this app the homeowner will be able to easily and within 7 steps or less fix or at least diagnose there own ac.
Stephen Gamst “ author of the repair matrix “
Las Vegas Air Conditioning Inc.
In today’s drowning economy paired with higher energy costs than ever recorded, saving has become one of today’s consumer’s highest concerns.
For Good Reason………..
My name is Stephen Gamst and I’m an HVAC contractor in the Las Vegas valley, my job is to drive around working on homes and listening to people’s stories. And, there’s one thing in common with everyone’s story, “we’re not doing as well as we used to” they say. That’s understandable nationwide homes are being foreclosed on, people are not receiving raises or overtime like they used to. And. to make matters worse, energy companies have started charging more and more by the day. I’ve personally heard about a power company rate hike approximately every 12-18 months in my part of the nation.
Wait, so people make less money but we have to pay more? Yup, doesn’t seem fair does it? But, here we are in 2014. So I have put together all the knowledge of 3 generations of home service from my company and a team of my peers, competition and friends have collaborated to give you the home owner every tip, advice or possibility to lowering your monthly overhead. We will talk electricity savings, natural gas savings and general home tips to lowering that pesky power bill.
This topic is huge so we have broken it up into 3 parts
- The first part is about education, I will educate you on where you’re wasting and why, that way when I give you the solution later on you will understand how it will help you.
- The second part is general home advice and options for lowering heat gain.
- The third part of this article is about your HVAC equipment itself and where and how you can save there.
1. Where our homes are lacking and wasting.
Homes are never perfectly sealed, they all let out a little heat in the winter and they absorb heat in the summer. This is called heat gain or heat loss. In the summer we have heat gain, every part of your home gains heat at different speeds. Now where your wall doesn’t let that much heat through, windows on the other hand let in a lot of heat. Try touching your windows about 3 o’clock in the afternoon in the middle of summer, there hot right. That heat gain is warming your home and causing the air conditioner to run longer to cool the home. Translation: Windows let heat in and raise the power bill.
Another factor is the hot attic; your attic can reach temperatures of 140 degrees in the middle of summer. That hot dirty, dusty air space and you hopefully clean and cool air space inside is only separated by a layer of drywall and??? Inches of insulation. The thicker the insulation the less heat will migrate inside. But most homes do not have enough insulation in the attic to keep the heat out. Remember heat is attracted to cool so your dusty attic air naturally wants inside. Translation: your attic is full of 140 degree very dirty air that can travel indoors bringing with it a lot of unwanted dust, debris, allergens and this hot air is heat gain and keeps the air conditioning running longer so that equals high energy costs.
Your ducks are quracking… No really your air ducts have cracks and these cracks are actually sucking in dirty, un-healthy hot air in, and then distributing it throughout your home. Code in Nevada and many other states for installing ductwork in the attic is to assemble it with duct tape. The problem here is duct tape does not make a perfect seal when it’s new, and after a couple years in the attic getting hot then cold then hot again causes it to stop sticking and lose what little seal it did have. Now the duct tape no longer sticks so you have an air leak at every single joint, connection and seal. All these leaks can all add up to an equivalent of a 16” hole blowing right into your attic. Translation: everyone has air leaks in the attic, this can more than double the hvac portion of the energy bill and bring with it a lot of un-wanted dust and allergens into the home. Also causes you to dust more often and causes you to sneeze more often or many other allergies.
What is your air conditioners IQ…? Can it think, or does it just blast off? Many homes still rely on non-programmable thermostats that just maintain one temperature all day. That is ok if your home but, what about when your asleep or at work. A programmable thermostat can help there. Then your air conditioner or furnace that simply turn on full blast then off on then on full blast then off. Well this would be fine if it was always 110 degrees out. But what about when its 88 degrees out do you still need that air conditioner on full blast? No, would be the answer, so old school technology that cannot slow down on a cooler day is a waste of energy. Old technology of single stage systems has been outdated and replaced by a newer better technology and it’s called modulating variable speed systems.
You can ever do a test yourself to see how efficiently your home is running and how much energy you may be wasting and its very easy. Try it out here https://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?fuseaction=HOME_ENERGY_YARDSTICK.showGetStarted&s=mega
2. General Home option to reduce heat gain and loss…
We will start on the windows….. They let in a lot of heat in the summer and they allow heat to leave in the winter. So how can I make my windows more energy efficient you ask? You can replace all your windows with a Low-E type double or even triple pain windows. This is a sometimes pricey option but it will certainly pay for itself by saving you energy month after month. And, when they are all paid off in a couple years they will continue to save you money and that is savings right into your pocket. Another thing you can do to windows is making sure you have sun screens on the outside and blinds or shades on the inside. This will drastically lower your power bill by allowing in less heat; therefore your air conditioner can cool the home faster and shut off or slow down. The last thing I will mention about windows is patios or shades on the outside. Anytime you can shade the windows or the walls you are in fact keeping the suns penetrating rays off your home and you will benefit by seeing lower power bills and more comfort.
Insulation is king…. Your attic is remember; up to 140 degrees in the summer, don’t you agree that we need a large layer of insulation between us and that killer heat in the attic? I’m sure you do and I’m here to tell you it is very easy to add insulation to your attic. We simply buy insulation from home depot and rent a blower, we then use a long 5 inch hose to crawl around your attic and blow insulation into all the cracks and crevices in your attic. You can add as much or as little insulation as you want and the price is not tat bad. Insulation in the attic can lower your energy costs by as much as 50% I have personally seen a power bill go from $415.00 a month to $275 a month by simply adding insulation.
3. How is your air conditioner wasting energy? How can I lower my AC unit’s energy bill?
Air Conditioning technology has come a long way in terms of comfort and efficiency, A 10 year old unit is probably running at about an 8 Seer; Todays units are as high as 20 Seer. What is a Seer rating? A seer rating is an us government rating for measuring energy consumption vs. cooling output. Basically it’s like MPG for electricity. So if you had an 8 seer air conditioner and you replaced it with a 16 seer air conditioner you would save 50% on the energy bill. Just as if you bought a new car that got twice the millage per gallon then the old one you would spend half the money on gas. Upgrading your air conditioner to a newer high efficiency air conditioner is one sure way to save in the long run. If your old power bill is $400 a month and you install a new high efficiency 16 seer unit for instance you could save as much as $150 a month on electricity alone. At that rate the new air conditioner will pay for itself in less than 4 years as long as you didn’t over pay for the system. Tip: a 16 seer unit American Standard unit which is number 1 on consumer reports, done right should cost around $7,000.00 depending on size. And at $150 a month savings it will take 3.88 years to pay itself off, then you get to make $150 a month in savings. If you’re wondering if you should replace your current system try this neat tool from energy star to answer your question at this energy star checklist.
Don’t cool your attic please…I guarantee your ductwork leaks unless you paid to have it sealed by a pro. Like I said earlier code for installing ductwork is to use duct tape and that doesn’t last more than a couple years in a 140 degree attic. So a huge yes huge hole in your homes energy bill is the duct work. Leaks allow hot air into the home and they blow cold air into the attic. This has to stop for so many reasons, it wastes energy up to 50% and it also brings in a lot of dust and allergens into the home. What can I do to stop my ducts from leaking? You can have them inspected by a professional to determine whether they need replaced with new properly sealed (with silicone), or maybe they are still in good shape but are just leaky in this case I suggest having them hand sealed. Sealing your ductwork can be as easy as crawling through the attic with a bucket of silicone and painting your entire duct system at every seam. This silicone will dry and be a perfect seal that will never leak again. Having your ducts sealed is in my opinion mandatory for anyone who cares about their health and their pocket book. Don’t let hot dirty attic air invade your home anymore sealing is a dirty job but there are pros willing to do it for under $1000 and it will save you that much in health problems alone and talk money, yes it will save you a ton of that too.
Replace your thermostat with a programmable one. Non-programmable thermostats do their job ok but they don’t help with energy savings. If you install a new programmable thermostat you can program it to raise the temperature of the home when you’re at work or anytime someone is not home. Do not shut the air conditioner off when going to work, because if you do your home will get so hot that when you do get home from work and turn it on your system will run for many hours straight trying to cool off your 90+ degree home. That also wastes energy the best thing to do when leaving for work is turn it to 82 degrees, 82 is warm enough to not stress the system very hard but also not so hot that it takes hours to cool back off. Want even more, a Wi-Fi thermostat like the nest or a nexia system thermostat is not much more $$ but they also can be controlled from your smart phone so you can shut the system off or turn it on from work in case you forget. They also have the capability to auto program, meaning if you leave the house and forget to turn off the thermostat the Wi-Fi___33 stat can sense this from the lack of movement, light or sound and it will turn itself up saving you energy.
Here are some more new tips on energy savings at energy star Click for more tips.
There are a lot of energy saving ways and options and depending on your budget at the time you will have to decide which is best for your home. But they all save money so in time they will all pay themselves off in the form of energy savings. If you were to do all of the things I have listed above your homes air conditioner would turn on, pull air from your home and into the furnace. There it would get cleaned through the filter and cooled from the evaporator coil and then blown back through a perfectly sealed duct system and into your home, with none wasted or put into the attic. Nor would you be pulling in any un-wanted dust or hot air from the attic. This would achieve what we call as the perfect circle you pull out 2000 units of air cool it, filter it and put back in exactly 2000 units of cool clean air. This puts the home in an equal pressure to the outside so you don’t even have dirty hot air coming in from the outside because there is no pressure difference. Then your high efficiency low-E windows won’t let out as much cooling so your air conditioner doesn’t have to work as hard and it can run on as low as a 30% speed. This will stretch out the savings even more and you my friend will have a power bill lower than you ever imagined. $400.00 a month can drop to as low as $105 a month if all the above steps are taken properly.
And that is energy savings 101 by Las Vegas Air Conditioning Inc.
For more tips and free advice or to learn how to fix your own air conditioner visit our website at www.lasvegasair.net or email us with any questions are article subject requests. I give you my word if you ask for it, I will write about it.
By Stephen Gamst a family man with a beautiful wife and 1 lovely daughter.
“Air Conditioning it’s what we do it’s not a job…. It’s our life”.
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6220 Kimberly Ave #13
Las Vegas, NV 89122
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