FAQs about Replacing HVAC Systems

FAQs about replacing HVAC systems

How long should it take to decide which system or contractor I want?

If it’s an emergency you may decide still to think about it. Some people even go as far as nursing it with one of these mobile floor AC units. But when it’s 100 plus degrees outside and 92 inside, anything helps right? Absolutely!  Let’s review some FAQs about replacing HVAC systems and what you might consider.

Seriously though, you will need to pony up at some point for the sake of your health and comfort, and your family’s health and comfort. Contractors in California are required to give you a “3-day right to cancel.” It’s a little paragraph on the contract you sign acknowledging this right. Then the equipment can start to be installed on the fourth day after you sign the contract. You can waive that “Right to Cancel” if it’s an emergency and the system needs to be replaced right away for something like an elderly person or infant’s health. Whatever it is, the State says in order to waive the right to cancel, it has to be for an urgent reason. Can you imagine coming home from the hospital with your newborn and your compressor blew on your 20-year-old AC?

Do your research before replacing an HVAC system

If it’s not really an emergency you can take your time and really file through the right type of equipment for you and which contractor you want to hire. Systems come in all ranges. From the lower grade systems to the notable and trustworthy HVAC systems. Do your research and know what you really want in a system. You’re only going to have to make this purchase once or twice in your lifetime, so it’s not something most people really think about on an average day. HVAC contractors do think about this every day, but don’t believe everything you hear from these guys because it can be smoke and mirrors. You want to know the equipment model number and maybe do some research on the equipment. You can literally type in the model number in the search bar and find great information. Search about American Standard, Ruud, Rheem, Lennox, Carrier, Goodman, York, DayNight, Bryant, Payne, etc. Every brand out there is going to say they have the best home comfort system in the world, but can they prove it. Consumer Reports Magazine still puts out ratings for each brand every year. Consistently, American Standard is one of the brands at the top of the list.

HVAC system costs

Equipment alone can range anywhere from $6500 to $20,000. Depending on who you buy from and which SEER rating and technology you are looking for. We offer four different levels of systems. Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum. This translates to 14, 16, 18, and 20 SEER systems. Basically, for a little more money you’re getting a more efficient system. Think of it like MPG on a car. The more efficient they are on the gas mileage, the more desirable they are. The higher the SEER rating, the higher efficiency they have to operate it, translating to lower utility bills.

The technology is unbelievable right now. We are seeing equipment that can hold the temperature of your house within a ½ degree all day long no matter the temperature outside. With these high-end variable speed systems, with Wi-Fi technology for your cell phone accessibility and communicating thermostats with the furnace and AC is really just amazing right now!

Fox Family Heating and Air Systems

Most people see our four options for systems and pick something in the middle. They see 14, 16, 18, and 20 SEER systems and typically pick the 16 or 18 SEER systems. Very rarely, do I see people choosing the 14 SEER system.

If you have the opportunity and it’s not a major emergency, take your time with these kinds of purchases. Find the right contractor for you, with good warranties, good thermostats, and other safety features for the system. For instance, a condensate safety switch, a compressor start kit, and a compressor sound blanket. This is a value purchase you’re not going to want to skimp on. If you have any questions about your new HVAC system please feel free to call me, Greg Fox at Fox Family Heating and Air Conditioning. I promise to give you great value for your next HVAC project.

Why Your Sacramento HVAC System May Be Having Airflow Problems

AC Repair

Have you noticed that some sections of a room in your home are cold while others are warm? Your HVAC system may be having airflow issues. Read on and learn some of the common reasons why such airflow problems develop. Use this information to adjust the factors which you can handle and call a Sacramento HVAC professional for help on those issues which are beyond your capacity to address.

Obstructed Outdoor Unit

Heating and air conditioning professionals usually select the most appropriate locations in which to install the indoor and outdoor units of air conditioners. However, some Sacramento homeowners may unknowingly impede the performance of the AC by placing obstructions close to the outdoor units.

For example, a homeowner may place a disused appliance close to the outdoor unit. This can prevent that unit from performing its role of cooling the air which is coming from inside the home. Airflow problems will then result.

This problem is easy to solve. Simply check the outdoor unit and remove anything which is within the recommended clearance in the vicinity of that unit.

Blocked Registers and Vents

Many airflow problems result from a blockage in a register or a vent. For example, you may place a piece of furniture in front of an AC register. That furniture will impede the flow of air within the air conditioner components in that room of your home.

Fix such problems by checking the rooms where airflow problems exist. Remove everything that may be in the way of a vent or a register.

Clogged Air Filters

Another common cause of airflow issues is a clogged filter. Air will be unable to flow freely through the filter and into the room if that filter is dirty. Regular replacement of filters (in accordance with the recommended change intervals provided by the manufacturer) can ensure that a clogged filter will not affect the flow of air within the HVAC system.

Leaky or Blocked Air Ducts

The ductwork may also have a defect which is compromising the airflow within your air conditioning system. For instance, dirt may have bypassed a clogged filter and accumulated within the ducts. Such dirt can constrict the ducts and affect the flow of air. Damaged ducts can also leak conditioned air and limit the flow of air to the places where it is needed.

It is advisable for you to ask an experienced Sacramento air conditioning technician to inspect the ductwork and conduct the necessary repairs or cleaning to fix the airflow problem.

Defective Fan Blower

Blower fans push air through the ducts and channel it to the different rooms in your home. Those fans can become sluggish once the motor powering them grows old or weakens. Such a defect can only be remedied by a technical person who will decide whether the fan simply needs to be cleaned or the motor needs to be changed.

Improperly Sized HVAC Units

Some airflow issues in homes can be traced to an improperly sized air conditioning unit. An oversized AC will cycle on and off too frequently. Those short run times deny the system an opportunity to extract all the moisture from the air circulating inside the home. Consequently, the air will feel clammy and you will no longer be comfortable in the home.

Contact an HVAC expert in Sacramento and let that person advise you on the appropriateness of the AC for the size of your home. This analysis is particularly important in case the system is older and may have been installed at a time when the preference for bigger units was prevalent.

Low Refrigerant Charge

A refrigerant leak can also cause airflow problems. The loss of refrigerant causes the HVAC system to be unable to work properly. Don’t try to fix refrigerant leaks on your own. Ask a professional to use the appropriate tools to identify the leaks and fix them before recharging the system with the right refrigerant.

Many of the airflow problems in the discussion above can be detected and corrected early before they cause bigger repair challenges if you have a habit of inviting a Sacramento heating and air conditioning professional to inspect and service your HVAC system. Address all issues quickly so that your comfort isn’t compromised.

Contact Fox Family Heating and Air if you feel like you are experiencing air flow issues in your home. If you HVAC system is showing signs that it is not performing properly, now is the best time to have it checked out to avoid an unnecessary breakdown as Sacramento summer heat approaches.

5 Factors Affecting the Cost of Buying and Installing a Sacramento HVAC Unit

professionalism in the workplace

Many people who face replacing an HVAC unit in Sacramento want to know just how much that project will cost them before they commit to that system’s replacement. Often times air conditioner replacement is not planned, it’s more of a sudden purchase in the heat of summer. So, even if you don’t plan on replacing anytime soon, this blog is still a great read. This article discusses some of the factors of the cost of buying and installing a Sacramento HVAC unit.

The Size of Your Home

An AC unit should be selected based on its suitability. Bigger homes will require bigger AC units because those bigger homes will have more air that needs to be conditioned. The bigger air conditioning units usually cost more to buy and install. You should, therefore, expect to spend more on purchasing an AC unit if you have moved to a bigger home. If your home’s Air conditioner is more than a decade old, the current AC may be undersized for your home. Often times with replacement you need to have your contractor look at the overall design of the ductwork (as detailed below) and the size and location of the unit for maximum efficiency.

The HVAC Equipment Brand Preferred

The purchase price of your new air conditioning unit will also be affected by the brand you opt for. Think about this price in relation to what would happen if you were to buy a car. A Porsche is likely to be more expensive than a Toyota even though they’re both cars.

Some brands of air conditioning units are reputed to be more reliable than others are. Such dependable brands may be more expensive than the little-known brands. It may be wiser for you to talk to a (Sacramento) heating and air technician for advice about the best brands to consider so that you widen your options and find something within your budget.

Your Home’s Complexity

The complexity of your home will also impact the cost of installing that new air conditioning system. For example, a home in which spray-on insulation was used makes it tougher on the installers since they will have to cut through the insulations. Similarly, historical homes take more time since the home is fragile.

The Sacramento HVAC installer will visit your home and survey it before estimating how much the installation project is likely to cost.

The Extra Features Selected

The specific features that you want your new HVAC system to have can affect the total cost of the system. For instance, individuals who wish to have multiple zones will have to pay for more hardware (zone dampers and thermostats, for example) than another homeowner who doesn’t want to have air conditioning zones in the home.

However, you should not shy away from getting some of the extra features. If those features will increase the comfort level and result in lower long-term maintenance costs it is worth it. The higher upfront cost will be justified by the lower ongoing costs that you incur if you have the latest additional features on the market.

The Condition of the Ductwork

It would be wasteful to acquire an efficient AC unit and then link it to defective ductwork. In fact, many jurisdictions have mandatory inspections in case a new AC unit is being installed.

Any leaks and worn ductwork components will increase the installation cost. Since those issues will have to be attended to before the new air conditioning unit is commissioned for use in your home.

An air conditioning unit should be selected based on the location and home where that unit will be installed. Never undertake such a task on your own. Hire an air conditioning replacement professional like Fox Family Heating and Air and let us recommend the best unit for your needs.

How Long Should My AC Last?

how long should my AC last?

Getting the Most Out of Your AC System in the Sacramento Valley

You may be wondering, “How long should my AC last?”  To answer that question, have you ever heard of “programmed obsolescence” or “designed obsolescence?”  If you haven’t, it really plays a big factor in the way this question is answered.

How Long Should my AC Last?

This is one of my favorite questions to answer. And it usually gets all the HVAC technicians and owners out there all stirred up.  The reason is that companies that are highly motivated by sales are going to tell you that your central air conditioner will not last as long as I’m going to tell you it will.

Air Conditioners Then and Now

I will tell you, they don’t make ‘em like they used to!  The original home air conditioning systems were built with quality parts and were extremely durable for up to 30 years.  But the industry quickly realized, just like car companies did back in the 1920s, that sales were stagnating.  It was like they were building them too well for those companies to sustain growth, and more importantly to them, become rich. Companies began making their products just a little bit less durable and instilling in the buyer the desire to own something “a little newer, a little better, a little more efficient,” and just a little sooner than necessary.

So, how long should your air conditioner last?  As with anything, the answer to that question depends heavily on how well your system has been maintained.  Rental properties are notorious for having tenants that just plain old refuse to change their air filters. So, of course, that system is a crapshoot.  Who knows, right?  It might last 10 years, it might last 20 years.

Periodic Repair and Maintenance

But if you have the system cleaned and maintained every now and then, there is no reason your system can’t last you 20 years.  True, parts will fail now and then, and everyone expects they’ll have to make certain repairs to their aging system, but if the parts are available, there’s no reason to have someone convince you to buy a new air conditioning system.

That’s just another example of planned obsolescence!  Someone putting in your head that you need a new system at 12 years is almost like being a bully.  They know more than you do about that air conditioning system, and it would be pretty easy for any “technician” in a white button-up shirt with an American flag on it to deceive you about your air conditioner.  The big companies around town are banking on it.

I live in a 21-year-old neighborhood built by, let’s call them a fictitious name like BK Homes.  The HVAC contractor who won the job to install all those units did so because it was the lowest bidder who could install them the fastest.  Those contractors aren’t putting in top-of-the-line systems either.  They call them contractor-grade HVAC systems.

It’s Your Decision

My system is 21 years old this year, and I’m going to try and make it last one more year.  A lot of us say that!  But when that system was 11 years old my compressor failed.  Well, for most people, that’s about a $2,000-$3,000 job to make that repair and refill the refrigerant.  So yes, major failures like this do happen.  Is it planned obsolescence?  Maybe. But it’s also a machine, and machines break sometimes.  I happened to know a guy (me) who could get a good deal on a compressor.  So I fixed it.  And the system has run great ever since.

The point I’m trying to get across is, it’s your decision how long you want to keep your system around.  If the parts are available, your system can be repaired.  Old systems blow cold air out of your registers at the same temperature as the newer systems, but here’s where those words “planned obsolescence” come back around when the pushy sales guys start telling you you need a new air conditioner.  They’re just trying to persuade you that you need something a little newer, a little better, a little more “efficient,” and just a little sooner than necessary.

Why I would be interested in changing my air conditioner

I changed my compressor when it was 11 years old.  That was almost 10 years ago!  That air conditioner is a lot noisier now than it ever has been.  I’m kind of over it… every time it comes on and I’m out on my patio, it comes on loud and turns off loud.

If I had to complete additional major repairs like the compressor was, I would have gotten to the point that I was tired of putting money into the old system and would instead want to invest my money in a new system.

If I was leaking refrigerant every year and we could find the leak, I would want to change my system.  Not only because of the high cost of the refrigerant, but it’s just very bad for the ozone layer to be exposed to all that chlorine, and future generations will suffer because of it.

If the system was installed wrong in the first place, it’s tough to fix that without taking everything out and putting it back together in the proper way.  This could be another reason to start all over with a new system.  As an installer myself, I know how people can suffer from a system that never worked right or was too small in the first place.  The most important day of a system’s life is the day it was installed.

Reasons companies that are motivated purely by sales will advise you to get a new system

Extremely salesy companies will tell you (and you see it written in blogs all over the internet too), that if your system is over 12 years old, you need a new system.  They’ll tell you it’s not worth repairing, or the parts aren’t available, literally lying straight to your face.

They say if you’ve had the system for over a decade, it’s time to replace your system. This also doesn’t compute for me.  Why?

Some of my customers have told me another company told them R-22 freon wasn’t available anymore.  This couldn’t be further from the truth.  Yes, it’s on its way out, and super salesy technicians will say big words like “Montreal Protocol” which states we have to phase out of producing R-22 by 2020, but there are also alternative refrigerants we can use for a long time, at half the price!

R407c can be used to replace the R-22 in your system.  Your experienced technician will remove the existing R-22, and without getting all technical, replace it with the new R407c refrigerant.  There are plenty of other alternative and safe refrigerants to use out there.  Just don’t let them add the alternative stuff on top of your existing R-22.  That would not be acceptable as the refrigerant needs to be either-or.

Even after they stop making R-22 freon, there will still be recycled R-22 available for years.  It might be more expensive then than it is now, but it’s still an option that you get to decide on, and not a misleading technician.

So How Long Should My AC Last?  The Bottom Line

You should know the real truth about how long your central air conditioning system should last.  You can get about 20 good years out of your system as long as it was installed correctly.  And that assumes your installer followed several detailed instructions from the manufacturer.

Anyone can put a few boxes together up in your attic for a really cheap price and call it good.  And you’ll believe them too.  It’s sad because these types of companies continue to give HVAC a bad name, while companies like Fox Family are trying to lift the HVAC industry by following instructions closely so your system will last a good 20 years.  Of course, that’s with proper maintenance.

Thank you so much for stopping by, and we’ll see you at my next blog.

Preparing Your Furnace for Fall

preparing your furnace for fall

Preparing Your Furnace for Fall

The onset of fall or winter triggers an avalanche of calls to Fox Family Heating & Air to address furnace issues. While furnace problems are at times inevitable, many of those issues can be prevented. Read on and discover some of the ways through which furnace maintenance can avert many of the potential problems during the heating season (fall and winter).

Replacing Dirty Filters

Dirty furnace filters can cause airflow issues around the home. This will become apparent once the entire home or parts of it aren’t getting enough heat even if the furnace is working. You can prevent such furnace problems by checking and replacing the filter once you find that it clogged. The filter can be located in the air inlet or within the furnace itself. Refer to the user manual and perform this crucial preventive maintenance activity. HVAC filter replacement is a routine task conducted by Sacramento heating and air conditioning companies during scheduled HVAC maintenance visits.

Fixing Unusual Pilot Light Functioning

The pilot light or furnace ignition can flicker or change color to yellow. This may be an indication that exhaust gases, such as carbon monoxide, have accumulated within your furnace. Could there be a blockage in the exhaust vent? Check whether the fan is working as it should. Ask for professional help in case you cannot immediately identify why the pilot light is flickering or appears yellow.

Stop Frequent Cycling

You can also prevent the furnace from cycling on and off at short intervals by prepping your furnace for fall. Confirm that the settings of the thermostat are correct. Incorrect settings (settings close to the ambient temperature, for example) may cause this frequent cycling. Airflow problems or clogged filters could also trigger frequent cycling. Call an expert from Fox Family Heating & Air if the frequent cycling doesn’t end once you implement the DIY fixes suggested.

Prevent Blower Belt Malfunctions

The blower belt can become frayed or it could slip. This can trigger an unusual sound in the furnace. Heated air may also fail to move around the home since the blower won’t be able to do its work of passing air over the heat exchanger. Get the blower belt checked as summer is coming to an end so that the furnace will be ready for the demands of fall and winter. Contact a Sacramento heating and air conditioning repair company for help if the blower develops a defect suddenly after the onset of fall.

Ensure Sufficient Clearance

Another way to prepare your furnace for fall is to inspect the area around it and remove any objects preventing airflow around the unit. This step is important in case you store belongings within the same location as the furnace during the months when the furnace isn’t needed. Remove everything that is within the clearance radius recommended by the manufacturer of that unit. This simple undertaking will avert those problems which originate from a congested space around the furnace.

Troubleshoot Electrical Component Issues

The limit switch can fail. Worn wiring can also cause the furnace breaker to trip. It is advisable to ask a professional to inspect the furnace before fall so that any defective electrical components can be repaired before they affect the performance of the furnace during the colder months of the year.

As you can see, you can perform some of the activities needed to make the furnace ready for fall. However, it is best to ask an expert from Fox Family Heating and Air to service the furnace so that it performs reliably and efficiently throughout fall and winter.

310.4 Electrical Connections and AC Disconnects

Installing According to Code is the Sign of a Real Professional

So many times when you’re out in the field you’ll encounter a technician, a supervisor or inspector who will cite building codes as their authority for proper installation of an HVAC system.  Installing a subpanel, wiring up a disconnect, or running PVC pipe in the attic correctly is just one of the many responsibilities of an HVAC technician.

Whether you pull permits or not on your job, a company’s worth is based on the quality of its workmanship.  And if that work fails in a few years, it most likely wasn’t installed according to code.

So often you will notice the code referring us back to the manufacturer and how they want it installed.  Referring to the installation guide and following along with the steps in the book will take any and all guesswork out of what you’re supposed to do next.  This is the sign of a real professional in their trade.
I’m not here to claim I know, or could even possibly interpret all the codes correctly, but what I would like to do is open up some conversation about the building codes and your opinion about what we are talking about this particular day.

Electrical Connections at the Condenser

Today I want to talk about installing a service disconnect at the condenser.  I will look at one of the first points made in the California Mechanical Code and it stands out from the International Mechanical Code which just advises following the NEC when it comes to this.  But as an installer, I’ve wondered whether or not to put a disconnect here.  Let’s take a look at what 310.4 says about Electrical Connections.

First, “equipment regulated by this code requiring electrical connections of more than 50 volts shall have a positive means of disconnect adjacent to and in sight from the equipment served.”  This just means a furnace would need a 120-volt pigtail as its positive means of disconnecting voltage from the furnace.  When you unplug the furnace, no voltage can reach the furnace.  A 30-amp or 60-amp service disconnect is installed on the 240-volt circuit to the AC outside as its positive means of disconnect.

Here’s a question for you.  Let’s say we’re installing the AC unit.  Usually, the disconnect is right next to the condenser so the service tech can access the unit safely.  Must we always have a disconnect next to the AC to remove power from the unit?  The answer is no.  If the main electrical panel is within sight of the condenser, that can serve as the means of positive disconnect for the unit.  The double pole breaker inside the main electrical panel is that means of disconnect.  This has come up a few times for us when teaching new technicians.

Dedicated Outlets

Next, “a 120 Volt receptacle should be located within 25 feet of the equipment for service and maintenance purposes.  The receptacle need not be located on the same level as the equipment.” 

So, because we service our equipment with pumps and motors that require electricity, an outlet needs to be within reach of a 25 ft. extension cord.
As specified later in the codebook, in the case of a package unit installed on a roof, a dedicated outlet at the unit must be installed in certain jurisdictions.  Here in Yolo County, right next to Sacramento County, we must install 120 weatherproof outlets at the package unit on the roof we’re servicing in order to meet that city’s more stringent adaption of the code.  This allows us to use our vacuum pumps and recovery machines up on the roof.

Exposed Thermostat Wiring

The third part of this code requires that “low voltage wiring of 50 volts or less… shall be installed in a manner to prevent physical damage.”   This is kind of a pet peeve of mine.  It bothers me to see thermostat wire running to the AC with its brown sheathing exposed to the sun’s UV rays.  Even the slightest bump of a dried out thermostat wire against the AC is enough to strip the wire and expose it to an electrical short.  One-half-inch conduit should be run with the thermostat wire to protect it from damage.  It really doesn’t take any extra time to install this flexible non-metal conduit right into the condenser.  Some techs just don’t think about it, because they weren’t taught that way.  It’s all good.  Once again, just starting a conversation about this.

Your Turn

What are your thoughts about this section of the code that talks about electrical connections?  Do you always put a disconnect next to the AC even though it’s in sight of the main electrical panel?  Please leave your thoughts below.

Thanks for weighing in, and stay tuned for next week’s blog topic!

Don’t miss our YouTube video on this topic:

What Kind of Warranty Should I get with my HVAC Repair?

What seemed like a simple AC repair call turned complicated…

Has it ever happened to you? You paid an HVAC repairman to replace a capacitor for your blower motor. Then he told you the problem was fixed. You only paid $125 bucks for it! Now, two years later the capacitor has already failed, and your furnace is not blowing warm air again. No air is coming out! You call the repairman only to find out he won’t answer his phone or reply with any sense of urgency to your call for service.

HVAC Warranty

In the field of HVAC, the brand of parts used for the repair means so much these days. GE used to make a capacitor in the 70’s that still meets manufacturer specs to this day. Goodman has been a system that had been known to have capacitors that fail early. I mean, I’m okay with parts lasting ten to fifteen years, but come on, these capacitors that are failing within the first five years are just a lousy brand of parts and equipment to get. Trying to find the contractor to uphold some warranty on these replacement parts would help your pocketbook, right?

Company Warranties

Some companies will offer no warranty or one or two-year warranties on the parts they replace. That’s great, but even the worst capacitors are not failing within the first two years. The companies that are making these inferior parts are savings pennies. Fox Family Heating and Air Conditioning technicians use a trusted brand of capacitors from MARS. There are some other capacitor brands we will use, but if at all possible we are using the MARS brand of capacitors. Why? Because we offer a lifetime warranty on all of our replacement parts. For as long as you own the house, our part might fail on you, because things do happen, but we are going to replace it because we think we are giving you the best part on the market. I think if we are going to sell you a part, we should back it up.

This is the same for all parts we replace your system except for a few. Refrigerant, compressors, heat exchangers, and evaporator and condenser coils are not covered by the lifetime warranty. These are significant components of your system.

Fox Family Heating and Air Warranties 

The next time your system fails and you pay an HVAC company to come out and fix your system, ask them if they will stand behind their product like Fox Family Heating and Air does. Why they are skimping on the money to buy cheap capacitors for your house is hard to understand for me. It’s no way to earn an excellent reputation in Sacramento. When someone tells me they are going to repair my HVAC system, the part they use is just automatically going to be a durable, time-tested part that is going to last 5 to ten years at least! Fox Family is interested in creating long-lasting relationships with our clients. That is why we are offering a lifetime warranty on our parts. We think these are the best parts on the market, so we stand behind the products we install in your system because it means a lot to us when you call us for your HVAC needs.

HVAC Zoning: What You Should Know Before Retrofitting Your Home

 

Are you dissatisfied with the level of comfort provided by the HVAC system in your Sacramento home or business premises? Let’s review some helpful information to determine if HVAC zoning will fix your problem.

What Is HVAC Zoning?

HVAC zoning refers to the creation of different sections/zones within a building so that the settings of the HVAC system can be customized for each of those zones. For example, you can divide your home into three zones. You can use different heating or cooling settings in different zones even if one HVAC system serves the entire building.

Think about zoning as the installation of different light switches for each room in the home. You don’t have to switch on the lights in the entire house because you want to read late at night. Similarly, you don’t have to lower the temperature of the entire house just because your bedroom is too hot for your liking.

What Are the Required Zoning Components?

The zone control panel.

This is the “brain” of the entire zoned HVAC system. This control panel receives the requests made by the different thermostats and triggers the execution of those requests.

For example, the thermostat in the kitchen may call for extra cooling while someone is cooking. The zone control panel receives that request and widens the damper to the kitchen so more conditioned air is directed to the area. The zone control panel is like a choir director who ensures that everything is working seamlessly.

Thermostats.

You will need as many thermostats as there are zones in the building. The thermostat in a given space allows the occupants of that space to select their desired temperature settings.

Zone Dampers.

Think of zone dampers as “valves” which regulate the flow of conditioned air and heating into a zone/room. The damper executes the instructions sent by the zone control panel after getting information from the thermostat in a given zone/room. For example, the damper will close and reduce the flow of conditioned air if the room/zone has reached the desired temperature.

The dampers can be placed inside the ducts (in-line dampers) or they can be placed on the air registers. In-line dampers are usually preferred in case a new HVAC system is being installed. The dampers are usually placed on the air registers during retrofit applications in which access to the ductwork is difficult or expensive.

Bypass damper.

A bypass damper is a special kind of damper that releases excess pressure in the HVAC system. This happens when most zones have signaled (through the thermostat) that no heating or cooling is currently needed. The conditioned air of the HVAC system would overstrain the remaining zones which still require heating or cooling. The bypass damper deals with that excess pressure/conditioned air by channeling it to the return air register or directing it to a common section of the building, such as a hallway.

Is HVAC Zoning Recommended for All Sacramento Buildings?

HVAC zone control isn’t a requirement for all buildings even if every building can attain benefits from this upgrade. The situations below represent examples of those who would reap the greatest benefits from HVAC zoning.

Buildings with extensions.

HVAC zoning can be helpful if an extension, such as an additional bedroom or finished basement, was added and has unique heating, cooling, and air conditioning requirements. For example, a room added above the garage may be hotter than other bedrooms in a home. Zoning addresses the unique needs of such an extra room.

Multiple levels.

Buildings with multiple levels need HVAC zoning since each of those levels is unlikely to have the same HVAC needs. For instance, the ground floor may be cooler than the upper floor during the summer.

Different occupancy levels.

Buildings with sections that are rarely used can benefit from HVAC zoning. This is because the areas which aren’t used a lot can have their air conditioning turned off. Rooms with lots of occupants can also have their HVAC settings adjusted.  This will address the needs of that larger number of people who may feel hotter than those who are in a room with fewer occupants.

Single-level homes may not require zoning unless a Sacramento HVAC professional inspects the building and recommends that zoning is necessary.

How Is HVAC Zoning Done?

The way in which HVAC zoning is done in Sacramento depends on two key factors. First, what zoning system have you selected? Secondly, when is the zoning being done?

HVAC zoning can be done by installing different HVAC systems for the different “zones” created in the building. Zoning can also be done by redesigning an existing system so that different rooms/zones can be controlled independently from other zones. Ductless air conditioning systems can also be used to zone a building.

Project Timing

The timing of the project also impacts on how it can be done. For example, a new building can have the zones designed prior to the selection of an HVAC system. In such a case, the ductwork will be installed with the zones in mind. However, retrofit situations may dictate that the least intrusive method. Such as installing dampers on air registers instead of inside ducts. Your heating and air conditioning professional in Sacramento can assess your specific situation and advise on how zoning should be done.

HVAC zoning can deliver numerous benefits, such as increased equipment life and lower energy bills, to homeowners in Sacramento. Discuss your needs with an HVAC replacement technician so that the best approach can be designed to zone the system in your home.

What Causes a Leaking Air Conditioner?

Sacramento HVAC - Why is my air Conditioner leaking

What Causes a Leaking Air Conditioner? It is necessary for homeowners to understand why their air conditioning systems may leak water either within or outside the home. Read on and discover some of the common reasons given by a Sacramento heating and air conditioning company to explain why ACs may leak water.

Clogged Air Filters

Professionals at Fox Family Heating and Air explain that a clogged or dirty air filter is one of the most prevalent causes of water leaks in air conditioning systems. The clog/dirt affects the flow of air through the AC system. Consequently, the evaporator coil will freeze up and start leaking water as the ice melts slowly. Replace the air filter regularly in order to avoid these water leaks from causing serious damage to your AC.

Insufficient Refrigerant

Low refrigerant levels can also trigger water leaks in the air conditioner. Air conditioning repair (Sacramento) is needed when you notice that the home is no longer as cool as you would want it. Leaking refrigerant reduces airflow within the system. The net result is that the evaporator coil will freeze as discussed earlier. Don’t attempt to fix a refrigerant leak on your own because you may cause worse problems, such as failing to identify all leaks prior to recharging the system.

Damaged Drain Pans

Condensate is usually directed to the drain pan before being discharged outside the home. However, the drain pan may start leaking and allow water to drip onto the floor or ceiling. The best remedy to this problem is to install a new drain pan. Temporary fixes, such as using epoxy compound, may allow the corrosion/damage to worsen and result in worse leaks.

Clogged Drain Line

The drain pan has a drain line through which water flows out of the house. Over time, dirt and debris may accumulate and cause a blockage in that drain line. The condensate will then back up and leak into the home. You can use a shop vacuum to suck the clog out of that line. Alternatively, hire a professional from Fox Family Heating, Air Conditioning and Solar so that the lines can be cleared and flushed.

Malfunctioning Condensate Pump

Sacramento homes whose AC units are installed in the basement require a condensate pump to force the condensate up the gradient to the exterior of the home. A defect in this pump can trigger water leaks from the AC since the water will be unable to leave the condensate pan. Fix or replace that pump in order to put an end to this type of leak.

Improper Installation

Some air conditioners develop water leaks simply because the person who installed the unit didn’t position the condensate trap correctly. This is particularly possible for installations that don’t require a condensate pump. The incorrect position will prevent gravity from pushing the water down the drain tubes. Ask a professional from a Sacramento heating and air conditioning company to come and check the condensate system so that the poor installation can be corrected.

Low Ambient Temperatures

It is also possible for your air conditioner to leak water when it doesn’t have any defects. This can happen towards the end of the cooling season as the temperature outside drops. The coils will freeze and leak water when you still want the AC to cool the home while it is very cool outside. Turn your AC off in such a case or adjust the thermostat settings so that you prevent the coils from sustaining irreparable damage.

A leaking air conditioner can cause serious damage not just to the AC but to your home as well. Contact Fox Family Heating and Air in Sacramento for a thorough inspection so that a final solution to the leak can be found.

How Your Air Conditioner Works

HVAC system repair

Some Sacramento homeowners may think that their AC works by removing hot air from the home and replacing that hot air with cool air. However, this is far from the truth. Read on and learn how experts from Fox Family Heating & Air, a Sacramento heating and air conditioning company, explain how your air conditioner works in order to cool your home during the hot months of the year.

Two Synchronized Movements

Two kinds of movement work together to deliver comfort to you in your home. The first movement involves the sucking of warm air into the vents in your home. Remember, warm air rises, so the warmest air in your home is the one that gets sucked into the vents for circulation through the AC system. This same air returns through the return air registers when it has cooled down. How it cools down is connected to the second kind of movement in the AC system.

The second movement has to do with the refrigerant in the AC. This refrigerant is cold before it gains heat from the air moving around it. The refrigerant then heats up and goes through a system that cools it before returning it to absorb more heat. The same refrigerant keeps undergoing these transformations without needing to be recharged. You should, therefore, contact air conditioning repair experts in Sacramento in case you see any signs of a refrigerant leak. The process of heating then cooling the refrigerant will become clearer once you understand the workings of the two key parts of the air conditioning system as discussed below.

The Indoor Unit

The indoor unit of an air conditioner is normally installed in the basement or the attic in most homes. The main component of this indoor unit is the evaporator. The evaporator has coils within which a refrigerant circulates. The refrigerant is initially cold.

The hot air which has been sucked by the vents in the different rooms of your home passes over these coils containing the cold refrigerant. The refrigerant absorbs the heat from this warm air and that heat causes the refrigerant to turn into a gas (that is why the unit is called the evaporator). The air is now cool and is returned to the different rooms in order to make you feel more comfortable.

Meanwhile, the heated refrigerant (which is now a gas) travels towards the outdoor unit in order to be cooled so that it can absorb more heat from the next batch of heated air coming from the rooms in your home.

The Outdoor Unit

The main components of the outdoor unit of your air conditioner are the compressor and the condenser. The heated air from the indoor unit travels out and finds the compressor. This compressor pressurizes the heated air and pushes it towards the condenser.

The condenser has fins similar to those in the radiator of your vehicle. These fins provide a large area into which the compressed refrigerant is released. The large surface area allows the pressurized gas to spread out.

Meanwhile, fans blow air across the surface of the fins into which heated air has been released. That ambient air absorbs the heat from the refrigerant and the refrigerant cools. The refrigerant converts into a liquid as it loses heat to the air around the condenser fins. That is why this section of the outdoor unit is called the condenser (it facilitates the condensation of the hot refrigerant gas into a cold liquid). This cold liquid flows towards the indoor unit where it will absorb heat from the warm air coming from the vents in your home. You may need to consider air conditioner replacement (Sacramento) in case a major component, such as the compressor, fails and the outdoor unit can no longer do its work.

The process described above is repeated until the thermostat detects that the temperature inside the home has dropped to the desired level. A signal is then sent to the control unit of the AC to shut off the system. Another signal will be sent later to restart the system once the thermostat detects that the temperature has risen beyond the set level. Your AC keeps cycling on and off throughout the day in order to keep the home at the desired temperature.

The discussion above only covers the basics of how your air conditioner works. Other activities, such as the removal of contaminants (by the filter) and the removal of excess humidity (by the dehumidifier) take place while the heated air is moving from the rooms to be cooled and then returned once more.

Any defect at any point of this well-coordinated process will affect the degree of comfort that you experience in your home. That is why it is important to call AC maintenance and repair and repair professionals from trusted companies, such as Fox Family Heating and Air so that an inspection can be conducted to locate and fix the defect.