Tips & Tricks
Become an advocate for your HVAC equipement with these helpfuls tips and tricks from our professionals.
Tip 1. How often should you change the filters in your home?
We encourage our customers to check their air filters once a month. The air quality within your home is directly affected by such obvious items as smoking within the home as well as the number and type of pets you have. Even small items such as the type of flooring in your home, how many times a week you cook, and even how often you vacuum and sweep on a weekly basis. All these items affect your air quality and in turn, your air filter.
With a Black Jack Maintenance Agreement, you are assured of at least two filter changes throughout the year to ensure your unit is operating at its most efficient level. Black Jack even leaves filters for you in case a change is needed between service calls should you see your filters become excessively dirty.
Tip 2. How do you know if your cooling system can be repaired or if it is time to replace it?
Energystar.gov provides a basic checklist to help our customers determine if it is time to replace your existing heating/cooling system. The weather here in Florida makes HVAC a necessity, not a luxury. As a rule of thumb, we tell our customers to begin thinking of replacement after ten years of constant usage. It is not uncommon to use your HVAC system in some capacity 10 months of year here in southwest Florida.
The life of your unit can extend beyond a decade with an excellent maintenance program such as Black Jack’s that includes our 21 Point inspection!
Tip 3. What is the most important thing to consider when buying a new cooling system?
When it is truly time to replace your HVAC system, choosing the correct size (heating and/or cooling output) is critical to getting the best efficiency, comfort, lowest maintenance, and operating costs over the life of your system.
The most common sizing mistake is over sizing a unit for any given space. This not only makes the new system cost more to install, but also forces it to operate inefficiently, break down more often, and cost more to operate. Oversized air conditioners (and heat pumps) do not run long enough to dehumidify the air, which results in the “clammy” feeling and unhealthy mold growth in many air-conditioned houses.
It is Black Jack’s job as your HVAC professional to ensure you purchase the correct system for your home or building.
Tip 4. There’s water spilling out of my inside unit, what can I do about this?
If you do not see ice build-up on the larger copper tubing (covered with a black, sponge insulation) when you run your system, then you probably have a clogged drain line. A clogged drain line is usually caused by algae build-up inside the drain line. And yes, there is something you can do to prevent this condition. Algae is a living plant and will grow in your drain line until it clogs the line. The air handler provides a cool, damp environment for development of molds and mildew. Left untreated, these growths can spread into your ductwork.
Generally, if a light buildup is present, there are chemical disinfectants specifically designed for use in air handlers that will kill the existing mold and mildew and control new growth. These disinfectants are safe and highly effective and are applied by simply spraying into the filter intake and by placing “Algae Strips” directly in the drain pan. If the coil has mold or mildew present, then it also should be treated.
Tip 5. The System will not run at all, what do you think?
The most common reason a system will not run is because of a loss of power. In almost every situation an air conditioning system is protected electrically by a breaker or fuse which is located somewhere in the power supply lines upstream from both the air handler and condenser units. This breaker is designed to prevent electrical damage to your equipment. Find this breaker, turn it completely “off” even if it appears to be “off”, then turn it back on again. If the breaker “trips” again, leave it alone and call your electrician as there is most likely a short in the system or a bad breaker.
The second most common reason for a system not to respond when called for, is problems in the low voltage (24v) control circuit. This circuit is comprised of the controllers and relays that send signals to the components in your system.
The most common problems are found in the drain pan float switch, thermostat connections and with failure of your transformer.
Tip 6. How does the defrost mode on my heat pump work?
On a call for defrost, the reversing valve is energized, switching the system into the air conditioning mode. That is right – Air Conditioning. The outdoor evaporator becomes the condenser but at the same time the outdoor fan shuts off. This allows the high- pressure refrigerant circulating through the outdoor coil to get very warm, melting the ice.
If a heat pump is severely iced-up in the winter, it is possible that it is not defrosting but there are many other causes. Below is a list of possible causes. These items usually require a service call.
- Bad defrost control or timer,
- Bad defrost thermostat or sensor,
- Bad defrost relay,
- Sticking reversing valve,
- Bad reversing valve solenoid coil,
- Bad outdoor fan motor and,
- Low refrigerant charge
Outdoor coil blocked – possibly with leaves, dirt, debris, plants, or shrubs. The unit may have even sunk into the ground. As a result of the event, there is nowhere for ice to melt and drain off. If the unit has settled in the ground, it must be elevated. With the unit off, ice can be removed with a garden hose. If the unit ices-up again, it is time to schedule a service call.
Whatever you do, please, never pick the ice off with a sharp object. The refrigerant coils can be damaged very easily.
Remember – these are just rough guidelines and not all possible situations are covered. When in doubt, call a certified, qualified air conditioning service technician.
Tip 7. Steam coming from outdoor unit
We hear this complaint mostly from new heat pump owners at the beginning of each heating season. Sometimes they think it is smoke and that their outdoor fan motor burned-up because when this is happening the motor stops running. Do not worry, this is a good thing! This is your unit during the “Defrost Mode”. It happens regularly during the heating season. The outdoor coils tend to frost or ice-up during the winter. This causes the unit to lose efficiency. By regularly defrosting itself, the heat pump runs more efficiently.
When the unit goes into defrost, a couple of things happen. First, the outdoor fan motor stops running. This helps build-up more heat to melt the ice. Also, the reversing valve shifts from the heating mode to the air conditioning mode. That is right! You are running the air conditioner. By making the outdoor unit the condenser, the hot freon gas passing through the coils accomplishes the defrosting. Lastly, the supplemental heat is energized to offset the now, cold air blowing in the house.
Yes, it does sound a little bizarre to run the air conditioning and back-up heat at the same time during the winter. But it usually only happens for a few minutes at a time and only when needed.
Now, this should only happen periodically except for severe weather conditions (snow, rain, sleet). If your unit is constantly going into defrost, this indicates a problem.
Below is a list of possible causes which require a service call,
- Bad defrost control,
- Bad defrost sensors or thermostats,
- Bad outdoor fan motor, or
- Low charge or restriction.
DISCLAIMER: FOR RELIABLE INFORMATION OF ANY SORT, YOU MUST CONSULT AN OFFICAL QUALIFIED PROFESSIONAL IN YOUR AREA. WE ASSUME NO RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE VADILITY OF ANSWERS. YOU USE THIS INFORMATION AT YOUR OWN RISK.
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