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Follow the AC Unit Checklist

Mechanical systems take care and maintenance. You may not often think of it, but lack of maintenance for your HVAC Airsmiths Heating and Airsystem can lead to expensive repairs. When expensive parts fail they can damage other expensive parts. The price of fixing all this damage can really affect your pocketbook. However, there are simple ways to avoid problems.

During the summer, as your Sacramento AC unit is operating at its capacity, you should have this AC unit checklist handy so you can ensure your AC is going to continue to work well for you. These actions are additional to getting regular maintenance done on your HVAC system.

Regular maintenance by a professional is a necessity as you can’t do everything yourself. But the below actions will be a good routine to follow and can be done by you in a few short minutes. In addition to keeping the grass cut giving two feet of clearance around your unit, do this checklist once a month during the summer months.

1. Clean the coils and evaporator units

You will find the condenser coil inside of the cabinet of the AC unit outside your home. This coil contains the refrigerant lines. The evaporator is part of the indoor unit and has a coil as well. Cleaning out the dirt in these will help increase your unit’s efficiency.

2. Ensure drains are not obstructed

The drain pans need to be cleared of any obstruction, as well as cleaned out of any moisture. This includes the condensate drains.

3. Make sure the refrigerant is at the correct level

Most systems use Freon, and your air conditioner needs to have the proper amount in there. Otherwise it strains the system and reduces efficiency.

4. Clean air filters or replace when needed

5. Make sure all electrical components are sound

You want to ensure there is no damage to any of the wiring or controls or connections.

6. Lubricate moving parts on older AC units

You won’t have to bother with this step if you have a new model AC with sealed parts. Check your owner’s manual and lubricate per directions.

7. Inspect the drive belt and fan motor and blades

You may need to do some adjustment to the drive belt if your unit has one. It may also need replacing. The fan motor and blades should all be in good shape.

Some items may be checked by a technician who has the knowledge and ability to determine if anything needs to be done. This can be done in the spring when you call a qualified service company out for your regular maintenance. He will:

* Check the ductwork for dirt, leaks or any other problems
* Run a system test on your HVAC system

When you give your AC unit some tender loving care, it will last and perform well for you for a long time.

What is HOME Performance?

Home Performance or Building Performance is a comprehensive whole-house approach to identifying and fixing comfort and energy efficiency problems in a home.

An energy audit is performed by an energy auditor, also known as a building analyst or consultant which, in the United States, are usually certified by the Building performance Institute (BPI) or the Residential Energy Services Network.  In the beginning stages of a design, building performance can also be optimized with software solutions for architects.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Energy started a national program called “Home Performance with Energy Star” to offer a comprehensive, whole-house approach to improving energy efficiency and comfort at home, while helping to protect the environment. The Home Performance with ENERGY STAR program has 40 programs, to date, across the country which are administered by various utilities and state energy offices.

Home performance applies building science and testing to address the following issues:

  • Efficient Energy Use
  • Durability
  • Indoor Air Quality
  • Thermal Comfort
  • Indoor Moisture Sources and Solutions

Diagnostic equipment includes:

  • Duct Blaster
  • Blower Door
  • Thermographic Camera
  • Combustion Analyzer

A home performance energy audit results in home energy retrofit recommendations to improve the comfort and efficiency of the home, the most common of which include:

  • Sealing air holes and gaps in the building envelope and subsequently adding insulation.
  • Sealing leaky ducts.
  • Upgrading Sacramento heating and cooling systems, appliances and lighting by replacing them with energy efficient equipment such as Energy Star appliances or devices, compact fluorescent lamps, or LED lamps.
  • Adding heat recovery ventilation or other means to control and upgrade fresh air ventilation.
  • Controlling moisture.

Contact us for your Home Performance evaluation!

Inefficient Heating and A/C?

Let me start by saying:

WHETHER YOUR HOME IS NEW OR OLD….YOUR HEATING AND AIR SYSTEM IS VERY INEFFICIENT.

I have yet to find 1 home out of hundreds that I have tested over the years to actually meet its rated efficiency!!

The above is a 100% provable statement – Pick a home (any home) and I’ll show you that its Heating and A/C system(s) are underperforming by at least 40%. The majority of them this number will be much worst.

You might ask WHY?…

It has to do with 3 main factors that have to be done properly that I have yet to see get done right.

These are:

1) System Sizing ( AKA : “Load Calculation” ).

2) Distribution (“duct”) System.

3) Refrigerant System.

The reason these things are not done or not done right is due to alot of “rules of thumb” type practices as well as a lack of testing & understanding of whole house system performance.

THE KEY IS:

ALWAYS TEST – NEVER GUESS!!

Want Energy Independence?

REMEMBER–HOMES AND BUILDINGS ARE INDIVIDUALLY DIFFERENT AND SHOULD BE ASSESSED FROM A HOLISTIC VIEWPOINT TO DETERMINE THE MOST COST EFFECTIVE SOLUTION TO MEET YOUR NEEDS.

SEE OUR VIDEO TO SEE THIS FOR YOURSELF.

We must always look for what RESULT the person (property owner) is after. (refer to the “How we work” section on home page)

We must ask questions to find this out.

When we ask questions we might find out that the person wants:

  • Lowered bills
  • No utility bill at all (“get off the grid”)
  • Wants to do his or her part to help
  • Wants a little of all the above
  • etc…

No matter the reason; we need to find this out and then determine:

Is Solar really the answer or not?

Why I say this is that:

1) Most people do not know how a building really performs from a holistic viewpoint.

2) Most people don’t have the knowledge and/or tools for determining a building’s performance and its potentials for improvement.

3) Many salespeople, utilities, manufacturers etc.perpetuate a 1 dimensional solution or “silver bullet” (see “The Secret of Energy Efficiency”) as the thing to do without any regard for cost effectiveness or guaranteed result.

4) Without actual testing and analysis there can be no other way to make a truly educated decision on something other than to make a guess.

In short…

Just like people, every home and building is different from every other one and needs to belooked at holistically as its own individual system and this “look” needs to be with actual tools, testing and analysis to determine what the best solution is TO GET THE DESIRED RESULT.

SEE OUR VIDEO TO SEE THIS FOR YOURSELF. Contact us today

What is Poor Insulation?

SEE OUR VIDEO TO SEE THIS FOR YOURSELF.

When it comes to insulation…How can you really tell if its doing its job or not?

Most people think that ” if the insulation is present then it must be performing to its rated capacity…RIGHT?!

NO!

In fact; most insulation in buildings today under-performs by at least 40% and UP!!

There is 1 reason…

POOR INSTALLATION TECHNIQUES

This Infrared photo taken from a home in a subdivision of Folsom, Ca.

The photo shows a vaulted ceiling that has “R-38 insulation” installed in the ceiling.

As you can see the insulation is present however it is not performing even close to its rated R-value.

Look at the circle that shows a more that 10 degree difference in temperature!

Also see the top left temperature… This show a section of insulation that is performing properly.

As a result of this problem the home owners are uncomfortable. They then set their thermostat to a much higher temperature in the winter to get comfortable as well as their system turns on and off more often.

NET EFFECT? High Utility Bills, Uncomfortable People, Reduced Building Durability.

Now; please understand that this is not a condemnation of the whole insulation industry.

This is primarily a result of the person who is out at the jobsite doing the installation does not understand how insulation needs to be installed so it can perform to its rated capacity.

Another reason is that Infrared Cameras have only been commercially available to the public for a short time. Only since that time have we been able to truly look at how insulation REALLY PERFORMS and how to install it in such a way as to maximize insulation performance values.

Unfortunately these poor installation techniques are still going on at a rampant level resulting in billions being lost in building inefficiency.

SEE OUR VIDEO TO SEE THIS FOR YOURSELF. Contact us today.

What is the Secret of Energy Efficiency?

We always look for the silver bullet when it comes to energy efficiency. Today we hear a lot about: geothermal heat pumps, solar, straw bale construction, radiant barriers, insulated concrete forms, structural insulated panels, steel framing or other single items that are marketed as the solution for an energy efficient home.

It would be easy if we only had to do one thing to make our homes perfectly efficient. But life isn’t that simple. The “silver bullet” approach would have us installing a very expensive geothermal heat pump; but then connecting it to a duct system that is only 50% efficient, in a home that has insulation that performs at 60% of its rating, and with air infiltration three times what it should be – it’s still impossible to have an energy efficient home.

>The secret of true energy efficiency is that there are “a thousand silver BBs”. We need to do a good job on all of the energy features. Perfection is not necessarily the objective; just responsible work quality – but we need to do that on every item that impacts the energy efficiency of the home – which are hundreds of items. Every piece of building insulation, every duct connection, every supply grille, every exhaust fan, every detail – needs to be designed properly, sized properly, and installed properly – so that every feature provides good whole house performance.

Every component and energy feature in the house needs to work well together as one unified system. This concept is called “House as a System”.

When we construct a house using the “House as a System” concept a wonderful synergy occurs between many energy features. We start with a good shell or thermal envelope. By doing building insulation that performs well, installing the correct windows, and sealing air leaks we are able to reduce the size of the heating and cooling equipment. With smaller (and less expensive) heating and cooling equipment we can reduce the size (and cost) of the duct system. With a smaller duct system there is less heat loss from the ducts so we can reduce the size of the heating and cooling equipment even more… and so on.

History

Starting in the mid ’80’s building performance test equipment started to become available and affordable. As contractors started to use this equipment to test the true installed performance of the energy features in homes they found that there was a large opportunity for improvement in every feature examined – even though the work was done in accordance with building and energy codes. This trend continues today. We are able to find opportunities that can reduce heating/cooling costs as much as 80% in new homes constructed today.

Why

The construction industry operates under the low bid system. So insulation and mechanical contractors (the sub-contractors that install most of the energy features) are asked for two things to work in this industry; to be low bidder, and to pass the building departments inspection. They are never asked to provide a cost effective balance between; initial cost (the bid), operating costs (heating/cooling costs), a comfortable home, low noise levels, good air quality, low maintenance costs, a durable structure, durable mechanical systems, etc. – which is what consumers should be asking for (or would like to get). If insulation and heating contractors were asked to provide this cost effective balance they wouldn’t know how, since they have never been asked to do this. To make things worse these sub-contractors are typically trained by the manufacturers that sell them materials – big corporations whose only goal is to make a profit this quarter – not make homes efficient. For example, you typically don’t hear a sales person from an air conditioner manufacturer telling a contractor, “…if you will seal duct leaks and double insulate the duct system you only need to buy an air conditioner that is half the size.”

More Information and Education

Airsmiths has many consumer resources available for more information and education. Contact us with any questions:

Phone: 916-988-3014

www.AIRSMITHS.net

email: michael@airsmiths.net