A/C - Blog Posts by Tag

How to Understand Air Conditioner Ratings

How to Understand Air Conditioner RatingsShopping for a new central air conditioner lacking a familiarity with air conditioner ratings is like going hiking barefoot. You’re not going to get very far. Ratings that show the cooling efficiency of an air conditioning system (in effect, how well the system converts electricity into cooling) will help you get the right A/C for your San Diego-area home.

The most common residential central cooling system in Southern California (and the U.S. as a whole) is the split-system A/C or heat pump. It has one component (the air handler/evaporator coil) inside the house and another (the condenser/compressor) outside. The main efficiency rating applied to split-systems is Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER). The number — running from 13 to 25 in the U.S. — is calculated by dividing cooling output by the electrical power that goes into the equipment. The higher the number, the more efficient the A/C or heat pump.

Manufacturers in California are prohibited from selling split-system A/Cs with SEER numbers below 14. Heat pump A/Cs must have at least SEER 15. In order to qualify for the federal government’s energy-efficiency credential, the Energy Star, a split system air conditioner and heat pump must boast SEER 15 or above.

The higher efficiency does cost money, however, with incremental increases in SEER amounting to hundreds of dollars. A homeowner shopping for a new central A/C should consider how much use they expect to get out of their new cooling system. A family that runs the A/C constantly and expects to live in the same home for the foreseeable future should consider investing in a high-SEER A/C or heat pump. Over time, the lower operating costs will pay for the extra upfront cost. However, someone who doesn’t plan to stay in the same home more than a few years, or is out of town a lot, is probably better off with a low-end SEER system. Consult with your trusted HVAC contractor before making a decision.

For help understanding air conditioner ratings, or to discuss upgrading your San Diego home’s cooling system, please contact us at Sherlock Heating & Air Conditioning.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the greater San Diego and San Marcos, California area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

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Common A/C Condensate Drain Problems

Common A/C Condensate Drain ProblemsDuring the normal cooling process, your A/C extracts water from the air and sends it outdoors through the built-in drainage system. Problems with the drain system can result in unpleasant odors, mold growth that degrades your indoor air quality, or even HVAC equipment and property damage. Here’s how to deal with three of the most common drainage system issues that develop, so you can avoid messy cleanups, prevent costly repairs, and maintain a healthier air supply.

Dry Drain Trap

Your condensate drain system most likely includes a trap that’s similar to the one on the kitchen sink. When the air conditioner is used regularly, water that’s retained in the trap forms a seal that keeps noxious sewer gas odors from entering your home. If you notice a foul smell whenever the A/C is running, the drain line may not be installed properly, so have it checked by your HVAC pro.

Dirty Evaporator Coil

When dust and dirt particles get inside the air handler and build up on the evaporator coil, they’ll get carried into the drainage system along with the condensate that drips off the coil. Eventually, all that debris can clog up the drain line. Changing your A/C air filter regularly can help prevent this, but it’s also vital to have the evaporator professionally cleaned during a yearly maintenance visit.

Mold or Algae Growth

Warmth, moisture and supply of organic particles make your condensate drain system an ideal environment where mold and algae can thrive. If either gain a foothold and start to flourish, an overgrowth can clog up the drain line and cause a condensate backup that leads to water damage in your home. If it’s not kept in check, mold can also circulate throughout your air supply via the ductwork, or even clog up the evaporator coil, restrict essential system airflow and cause equipment damage. To avert these problems, you or your HVAC technician should flush out the drain lines and clean the pan periodically.

For expert help solving A/C condensate drain problems in your San Diego-area home, contact the HVAC pros at Sherlock Heating & Air Conditioning.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the greater San Diego and San Marcos, California area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

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How to Get Your Air Conditioner Unit Ready for the Fall Season

How to Get Your Air Conditioner Unit Ready for the Fall SeasonEven though the weather in the San Diego area is known for being mild and sunny for most of the year, it’s still important to perform annual maintenance work on your air conditioner unit. Here are some tips on how to prepare your air conditioner unit for the fall season:

  • Remove portable A/C units from windows. They should be placed into storage away from windows or other sources of moisture.
  • Plant material, such as dead leaves or overgrown plants, can prevent outdoor air conditioners from working efficiently. The area around the coil should be checked for accumulated debris and cleaned as necessary.
  • After any debris has been removed, the condenser and evaporator coils should be checked. They can gather a heavy coating of dirt while they are being used, reducing airflow and efficiency. The coils should be checked at least once per year, so make sure to include this in your annual maintenance work.
  • Look at the condition of the air filters. They may need to be cleaned or changed as frequently as every other month.

Following these suggestions can help you to avoid unnecessary wear and tear on your air conditioner. For more information on how routine autumn maintenance visits can save you money, contact us at Sherlock Heating & Air. We have been keeping residents in the San Diego area cool since 2002 and look forward to helping you!

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the greater San Diego and San Marcos, California area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

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3 Things You Should Stop Doing to Your San Marcos A/C

3 Things You Should Stop Doing to Your San Marcos A/CAir conditioning is one of the best features of a modern home, especially in areas like ours that experience hot summers. It’s easy to take it for granted until it stops working. Here are things to stop doing to your A/C so that it stays in good working condition longer.

No Energy Audit

Poor insulation and air leaks make your home hotter and add to your air conditioner’s workload. This not only reduces comfort but can also decrease the life span of your A/C.

Have an HVAC contractor perform an energy audit to determine any changes you should make to your home. Your contractor can also determine whether your current A/C unit is the right size for your home’s cooling needs. Undersized systems struggle to keep a home cool, and oversized systems suffer because they cycle on and off too frequently.

Forgetting to Change the Filter

The air filter keeps debris off system components and keeps your indoor air cleaner. Clogged air filters lead to dirty air conditioners, reducing airflow vital for normal system function.

Remember to change the air filter every month. Ask your contractor which filter type is best for your system and for your lifestyle needs. If you own pets or have someone in the home who has allergies, you need a filter that can efficiently trap dander and other allergens without decreasing airflow to your A/C.

No Regular Maintenance

Neglecting maintenance for your air conditioner can lead to small, easily fixed issues turning into bigger problems. Your air conditioner works hard and needs professional maintenance at least once a year before each operating season. During the maintenance visit, the service technician will clean the coils and other parts that can cause the system to malfunction if left dirty. He or she will also check refrigerant and make sure all components are operating correctly.

For more information about things to stop doing to your A/C, contact the home comfort pros at Sherlock Heating & Air Conditioning.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the greater San Diego and San Marcos, California area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

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5 Ways to Protect Your A/C Unit From Theft

5 Ways to Protect Your A/C Unit From TheftAir conditioning systems are a popular target for thieves because the condenser coils and refrigerant lines contain copper that’s worth a few hundred dollars when scrapped. Air conditioners are often placed out of public view for aesthetic reasons, so it is easy to quickly strip the system and carry the valuable portions away. By protecting your A/C unit from theft with the following suggestions, you can avoid the high repair bills associated with the crime.

  • Have your HVAC contractor secure your A/C unit to a thick concrete base during installation. Not only does this help eliminate theft, but the base also helps keep your system level for proper operation and separates it from nearby plant growth that could interfere with the system’s airflow.
  • Have your HVAC contractor install an A/C alarm on your system. An A/C alarm attaches to either the power supply or the refrigerant lines and notifies you or your security company if it detects a loss of power or a refrigerant leak, both of which may indicate an attempted theft.
  • Prevent easy access to the A/C unit. If it is located in your back yard, consider fencing in the yard and using a locking gate. If fencing your yard is not an option, consider fencing in the A/C unit itself, making sure the fenced area is large enough to maintain proper airflow to the system.
  • Install bright, motion-activated lights to discourage nighttime thefts, and consider adding an inexpensive security camera to prevent thefts during daylight hours. Make sure the camera is not easily accessible to prevent thieves from damaging it.
  • Install a cage around your A/C unit. Heavy steel cages are available from many suppliers or can be easily fabricated and are one of the best ways to protect your A/C unit from theft or damage. They surround the entire A/C unit and can easily be opened for system maintenance.

For more tips about protecting your A/C unit from theft, talk to the HVAC professionals at Sherlock Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc. We serve the entire San Diego area, as well as the southern Riverside County.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the greater San Diego and San Marcos, California area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

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A/C Overwhelmed by Humidity? Here’s What to Do

A/C Overwhelmed by Humidity? Here's What to DoIt can be a real struggle to keep comfortable in California when the humidity spikes. Humidity makes air feel warmer without changing the actual temperature, which is what leads to those sticky days that make you argue with the thermostat. In addition to discomfort, excess humidity can also cause damage to your home and its surfaces over time, so it’s best to keep the humidity level indoors somewhere between 30% to 50%. An air conditioner automatically takes some humidity out of the air as it operates, so here are on tips on how you can get the most out of an A/C overwhelmed by humidity.

  • Make sure the fan is set to automatic. If the fan keeps blowing while the compressor is off, it can blow moisture back into the room from the wet compressor coils, giving the A/C even more humidity to overcome when it turns back on.
  • Use the exhaust fans in your bathroom and kitchen to make sure any excess moisture from cooking or showering is vented outside and not into your home.
  • Make sure your dryer is properly vented to the outdoors, so its heat and moisture is not accumulating in your home.
  • If it’s time to replace the A/C, think about getting one that has a two-stage compressor to allow greater humidity control.
  • Shut the house up tight and make sure you don’t have air leaks in your home that are allowing humid air back in. This usually happens around windows and doors and can be fixed with weatherstripping, or caulk.
  • Start the A/C early in the morning, so it has more time to take moisture out of the air before the hotter parts of the day put more strain on its cooling capabilities.
  • If you’ve tried all of the above, and it’s still not helping, consider getting a separate whole-house dehumidifier. It is specifically designed to take care of humidity, but will need to be used in tandem with a cooling solution.

For more information on how to help an A/C overwhelmed by humidity, contact Sherlock Heating and Air Conditioning, a locally owned business.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the greater San Diego and San Marcos, California area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

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