I’ve lived in Kansas for over twenty years now and while I love it here I will have to say that the summers can be quite brutal. I’ve seen multiple weeks in a row where we have constant one-hundred degree heat in July and August. It nearly makes you sick when you step outside.

While hanging out in the pool is a good way to escape the heat it is not a long term solution and in some cases the water gets so hot that it’s not even enjoyable anymore. Most of us Kansans stay indoors where the air conditioning keeps us comfortable at a nice seventy-four degrees. But, what do you do when you come home after a long day only to find that your central air conditioner is no longer providing cold air.

Unfortunately, when this does happen there could be a variety of reasons and causes behind it. Some of these problems can be fixed by yourself even if you have little knowledge on how air conditioners work. Other problems though will require a professional HVAC service technician to come out to your home and troubleshoot.

Do-It-Yourself

Let’s hope that the problem you are having you are able to fix. In this section we’re going to take a look at some of the simpler fixes. Sometimes it is just easy, but don’t get your hopes up. You may end up facing a large repair bill.

Let’s start with the easy fix first. Have you checked your thermostat? Yes, it really could be that simple. In some cases homeowners have come home and realized that their thermostat was accidentally set to heat. (My toddler has done that before without me knowing… so don’t feel bad!)

If the thermostat is set to cool then another thing to check on your thermostat is the fan setting. Not all thermostats have this setting, but you should check yours if it has a ‘Fan’ option. Typically the fan option will have ‘Auto’ or ‘On.’ If the fan is set to ‘On,’ then that means you have the blower running constantly even when the air conditioner hasn’t kicked on. While this would account for warm air coming through your vents it would not account for a very hot home. (If it was just the fan then your house will still be somewhat cool.) Just to be safe though, I would set the fan to ‘Auto.’ When set to ‘Auto’ the fan will only come on when the air conditioner is on.

Another possible cause for the warm air blowing through your vents is an obstruction or restriction to the airflow of your system. In other words, something is blocking air flow and in most cases it is your air filter. This is the filter that you’re supposed to replace every few months. You did replace yours recently, right? If you didn’t, then this may be the cause of the warm air. Purchase yourself a new filter either at the store or online. If you are unsure what kind of filter to get check out our central air conditioner filter best of guide by clicking here.

Along with swapping out the air filter inside your home you can also take a look at your outside system. How does it look? Is it covered in debris such as leaves, grass, and dirt? Are there shrubs or trees right up against it? In the case of the trees or shrubs I would either remove them or trim them back to give the air conditioner enough space. If the unit itself is looking quite dirty then you can take a garden hose on a LOW setting and gently spray the sides of the unit. When doing this ensure that you are only spraying the hose at the air conditioner’s condenser. (This is the side with the fins.) Do not spray on the top of the air conditioner. Also, be sure to turn your air conditioner off when spraying.

Service Call 

Well folks, we have exhausted what a homeowner can do to diagnose and fix their air conditioner that is blowing warm air. Now, we will take a look at what some of the other problems could be. While you may be tempted to try and correct some of these problems yourself I would recommend contacting a professional to ensure your safety and to also prevent you from further damaging your system.

A reason for blowing warm air that technicians come across a lot is that the outside unit isn’t receiving electricity. Remember, that you need both inside and outside units working together in order to achieve cold air and if your outside unit is no longer receiving electricity then that would explain your problem. You can check your circuit breaker to see if power is being routed to the outside unit. However, if you do notice that the circuit has been tripped or a fuse has blown then you should contact your service technician immediately. I repeat, do not try to fix yourself.

Another possible reason for your air conditioner not cooling is that the evaporator coils are dirty with dust and are having trouble absorbing heat. While it is not recommended you clean this yourself this could be causing your problem. If you schedule a yearly maintenance checkup on your air conditioner your service technician will clean these coils for you to ensure they are working in top condition. (You may have to ask for this service as not all techs will do this.) The good thing here is that if you are diligent on swapping your air filters every month or two then you will most likely not have dirty evaporator coils.

You could also be having problems with your duct work. It could be that some of your duct work has been broken or disconnected. Or, it could be that your ducts are actively leaking air. This isn’t as common of a problem, but it can happen. If not your duct work it could also be a faulty fan motor. Your fan motor is the motor that gives the power to the fan on your outdoors unit. This is the fan that expels the hot air from your home. (If you were to lean over your air conditioner while it’s on you’ll see the fan moving back and forth blowing the hot air away.)

While the above reasons can be causes as to why your air conditioner is not working they are not the most common problem that techs come across. No, the most common are the two problems listed below. The downside here is that these problems can be quite expensive to fix. Let’s take a look:

Low Refrigerant

If your system isn’t cooling your home or is blowing warm air then it is likely that it is low on refrigerant. Refrigerant is the ‘blood’ of your air conditioner. Without refrigerant your system cannot absorb the heat from your home. If you do have low refrigerant do NOT just add more refrigerant to your system. Refrigerant flows through your air conditioner in an endless cycle. In other words, you should never run out of refrigerant… unless you have a leak. If you, or your service tech, adds refrigerant to your system without fixing the leak then you are just throwing money out the door. You are going to have the same problem again when that new refrigerant leaks out.

Instead, your service tech needs to identify where the leak is coming from. Is it on the refrigerant lines going back and forth between the evaporator and the condenser? Is it in the outside unit? Or, in the inside? Once the leak has been determined the technician will patch it and then recharge your system. While the patch may not be too expensive the recharge of refrigerant can get quite pricey, especially if most of your refrigerant has already leaked out.

Also note that you may have more than one leak in your system. This can happen in the piping of older systems. Sometimes the old piping can get corroded and cause multiple micro fractures throughout the lines. In this case your service tech may need to replace the entire pipe.

Compressor Problems

The other most common problem with a central air conditioner is a bad compressor. If refrigerant is the ‘blood’ of your air conditioner then the compressor is the ‘heart.’ The compressor is what circulates the refrigerant throughout your system. If there is a problem with the compressor then it will most likely need to be replaced.

Unfortunately, a compressor replacement can be an expensive repair. It could be a couple hundred or it could be six or seven-hundred. It is hard to gauge this as there are other factors to consider. Such as what size is your air conditioner? Did the broken compressor cause other problems? Does the system need a recharge of refrigerant?

Yes, that’s right. In some cases you could have a faulty compressor and need a refrigerant recharge. If that is the case then I’m sorry to say that you’re going to have a hefty repair bill.

Conclusion

Here’s hoping that you do not have to face an expensive repair bill. But, if you do end up having to pay five-hundred or even a thousand dollar repair bill it may be time to ask yourself should I pay for the repairs or should I invest in an entirely new air conditioner?

The question to this answer depends on how old your AC is and how many problems you have had with it in the past. If the system is five or seven years old and has been moving right along without many issues then I would hold onto it and pay the repair.

However, if your system is ten or even fifteen years old and this is the third or fourth repair you’ve made in recent years then it may be time to consider scrapping it and purchasing a new system entirely. Yes, it is a lot of upfront cost but the upside here is that you’re throwing money down the drain every season when something else breaks on your current air conditioner. At least with a new system you get peace of mind and know that you aren’t going to have a problem for quite a while. You most likely will get a two or three year warranty as well with the purchase.

All that being said though, I have seen air conditioners last past twenty years. I was looking at a house the other day that had a split system that was twenty-two years old. It was still going strong too. The condenser looked terrible and was covered in rust… but it was still cooling. I don’t know how much money the owners had invested into that unit over the years so it’s hard to gauge.

It’s all a matter of perspective. Do you want to spend a bit of money each year and limp your air conditioner along, or do you want to purchase a new system and have peace of mind for the next five or so years. The choice is yours but I hope this article was helpful and pointed you in the right direction.

Thanks,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

The other day it was ninety four degrees outside. It was a typical Kansas City summer day. I was driving home from work with the air conditioner going. I pulled into the garage and walked into my house expecting to be greeted by nice cold air. Instead, the thermostat read high into the eighties.

I checked to make sure the air conditioner was on… and it was. Next I walked over to a nearby vent and put my hands in front of it. There was air blowing into the house, but it wasn’t cold. Instead it was slightly warm, some would say lukewarm. I tried shutting off the air conditioner and turning it back on, but the problem persisted. I inspected the outside unit and the inside unit but saw nothing out of the ordinary. It seemed that I was stumped.

If you’re reading this article then I can only assume that you are going through the same, if not similar, issue. When you run into warm air coming out of your vents it could be caused by a variety of issues. In order to figure out what is going wrong with your system you are going to have to do some troubleshooting. Some of this you should be able to do yourself and others you will need a professional technician.

Do-It-Yourself

First, let’s take a look at the things that you can check or even try to fix yourself. After all, it is always better to try and fix the problem yourself and save the expenditure of a service call and or repair.

Let’s start with the easy fix first. Have you checked your thermostat? Yes, it really could be that simple. In some cases homeowners have come home and realized that their thermostat was accidentally set to heat. (My toddler has done that before without me knowing… so don’t feel bad!)

If the thermostat is set to cool then another thing to check on your thermostat is the fan setting. Not all thermostats have this setting, but you should check yours if it has a ‘Fan’ option. Typically the fan option will have ‘Auto’ or ‘On.’ If the fan is set to ‘On,’ then that means you have the blower running constantly even when the air conditioner hasn’t kicked on. While this would account for warm air coming through your vents it would not account for a very hot home. (If it was just the fan then your house will still be somewhat cool.) Just to be safe though, I would set the fan to ‘Auto.’ When set to ‘Auto’ the fan will only come on when the air conditioner is on.

Another possible cause for the warm air blowing through your vents is an obstruction or restriction to the airflow of your system. In other words, something is blocking air flow and in most cases it is your air filter. This is the filter that you’re supposed to replace every few months. You did replace yours recently, right? If you didn’t, then this may be the cause of the warm air. Purchase yourself a new filter either at the store or online. If you are unsure what kind of filter to get check out our central air conditioner filter best of guide by clicking here.

Along with swapping out the air filter inside your home you can also take a look at your outside system. How does it look? Is it covered in debris such as leaves, grass, and dirt? Are there shrubs or trees right up against it? In the case of the trees or shrubs I would either remove them or trim them back to give the air conditioner enough space. If the unit itself is looking quite dirty then you can take a garden hose on a LOW setting and gently spray the sides of the unit. When doing this ensure that you are only spraying the hose at the air conditioner’s condenser. (This is the side with the fins.) Do not spray on the top of the air conditioner. Also, be sure to turn your air conditioner off when spraying.

Service Call Causes

Well folks, we have exhausted what a homeowner can do to diagnose and fix their air conditioner that is blowing warm air. Now, we will take a look at what some of the other problems could be. While you may be tempted to try and correct some of these problems yourself I would recommend contacting a professional to ensure your safety and to also prevent you from further damaging your system.

A reason for blowing warm air that technicians come across a lot is that the outside unit isn’t receiving electricity. Remember, that you need both inside and outside units working together in order to achieve cold air and if your outside unit is no longer receiving electricity then that would explain your problem. You can check your circuit breaker to see if power is being routed to the outside unit. However, if you do notice that the circuit has been tripped or a fuse has blown then you should contact your service technician immediately. I repeat, do not try to fix yourself.

Another possible reason for your air conditioner not cooling is that the evaporator coils are dirty with dust and are having trouble absorbing heat. While it is not recommended you clean this yourself this could be causing your problem. If you schedule a yearly maintenance checkup on your air conditioner your service technician will clean these coils for you to ensure they are working in top condition. (You may have to ask for this service as not all techs will do this.) The good thing here is that if you are diligent on swapping your air filters every month or two then you will most likely not have dirty evaporator coils.

You could also be having problems with your duct work. It could be that some of your duct work has been broken or disconnected. Or, it could be that your ducts are actively leaking air. This isn’t as common of a problem, but it can happen. If not your duct work it could also be a faulty fan motor. Your fan motor is the motor that gives the power to the fan on your outdoors unit. This is the fan that expels the hot air from your home. (If you were to lean over your air conditioner while it’s on you’ll see the fan moving back and forth blowing the hot air away.)

While the above reasons can be causes as to why your air conditioner is not working they are not the most common problem that techs come across. No, the most common are the two problems listed below. The downside here is that these problems can be quite expensive to fix. Let’s take a look:

Low Refrigerant

If your system isn’t cooling your home or is blowing warm air then it is likely that it is low on refrigerant. Refrigerant is the ‘blood’ of your air conditioner. Without refrigerant your system cannot absorb the heat from your home. If you do have low refrigerant do NOT just add more refrigerant to your system. Refrigerant flows through your air conditioner in an endless cycle. In other words, you should never run out of refrigerant… unless you have a leak. If you, or your service tech, adds refrigerant to your system without fixing the leak then you are just throwing money out the door. You are going to have the same problem again when that new refrigerant leaks out.

Instead, your service tech needs to identify where the leak is coming from. Is it on the refrigerant lines going back and forth between the evaporator and the condenser? Is it in the outside unit? Or, in the inside? Once the leak has been determined the technician will patch it and then recharge your system. While the patch may not be too expensive the recharge of refrigerant can get quite pricey, especially if most of your refrigerant has already leaked out.

Also note that you may have more than one leak in your system. This can happen in the piping of older systems. Sometimes the old piping can get corroded and cause multiple micro fractures throughout the lines. In this case your service tech may need to replace the entire pipe.

Compressor Problems

The other most common problem with a central air conditioner is a bad compressor. If refrigerant is the ‘blood’ of your air conditioner then the compressor is the ‘heart.’ The compressor is what circulates the refrigerant throughout your system. If there is a problem with the compressor then it will most likely need to be replaced.

Unfortunately, a compressor replacement can be an expensive repair. It could be a couple hundred or it could be six or seven-hundred. It is hard to gauge this as there are other factors to consider. Such as what size is your air conditioner? Did the broken compressor cause other problems? Does the system need a recharge of refrigerant?

Yes, that’s right. In some cases you could have a faulty compressor and need a refrigerant recharge. If that is the case then I’m sorry to say that you’re going to have a hefty repair bill.

Conclusion

Hopefully this article was able to guide you in the right direction on how to fix your air conditioner. Going back to my story from above, I was able to get my air conditioner fixed. It ended up being a combination of things. The evaporator coils needed cleaning, I swapped out the filter, and I found that the blower motor wasn’t large enough for my home so the air being pushed through didn’t have much force behind it and it was having trouble absorbing heat. All of this together accounted for the warm air that I was feeling. I can safely say that today my home is back to seventy-two degrees where it should be!

If you find yourself in the position where you are facing a large repair you should always weigh the decision if you should make the repair or if you should purchase a whole new system. For example, let’s say you have been quoted twelve-hundred dollars for a compressor repair, refrigerant recharge, and some other minor repairs. Should you spend twelve-hundred dollars? Or, should you purchase a whole new air conditioner?

In this scenario I would weigh my decision on how old my air conditioner was. If it was only five years old or so then I would continue on with the status quo. However, if the air conditioner was ten or even fifteen years old then I would definitely consider purchasing a whole new system. While some air conditioners can last as long as twenty or more years you will start sinking money into it with each passing year.

Be sure to think this over before investing money into a failing machine. It is never a good feeling to invest a thousand dollars into your air conditioner only to have something else fail a few months down the road.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Update

Well folks, we are now halfway through the year and there are only six months left until the January 1st, 2020 deadline hits for R-22 refrigerant. Yes, in just six months we will no longer be able to import or produce R-22 refrigerant within the United States. When that date arrives the only way to obtain R-22 will be through reclaimed product or through a distributor who stockpiled the virgin refrigerant before the deadline came.

As the date came closer everyone thought that the prices would go up and up. In fact, as the 2019 year has progressed we have seen the opposite. It seems that with each passing month the price on R-22 is going down and down. In many circles I have seen the price for a thirty pound cylinder drop under three-hundred dollars. While there is no way to tell for certain why we are seeing such a drop in pricing there are a couple of factors that could be playing a part.

We already saw the massive price increase back in the summer of 2017. At one point prices were as high as seven-hundred dollars a cylinder. This increase was mostly speculation. Folks knew that the end was coming so they tried to make as much profit as they could. The problem was that with such a high price point customers began looking for alternatives to R-22. With prices as high as they were alternatives were a viable possibility and we saw dozens of R-22 alternatives come to the marketplace.

The surplus of alternatives and the end of the 2017 season caused the prices to slowly settle back down. Ever since the fall of 2017 we have seen R-22 prices slowly slide down. However, this year is the lowest I have seen it in years. I had thought earlier this year that if prices were to go up it would either be mid-summer or at the end of the year when the phase out went into effect. So far though, summer has seen pricing do down. I believe this is caused by the refrigerant distributors dumping their R-22 virgin product.

The phase out is coming and the machines that are using R-22 are getting older and older. At a minimum they are over nine years old. (Remember, no new R-22 machines allowed starting in 2010.) The demand for R-22 will shrink with each passing year. It is a war of attrition. What we may be seeing now is distributors just cutting ties with the refrigerant, or at least they are significantly lowering their product on hand before the phase out goes into effect. After all, if they hold on to it for too long they may end up seeing extremely diminished demand.

With prices this low reclaimed refrigerant and even alternatives to R-22 are not a viable possibility. Why even bother with purchasing reclaimed or alternatives if the virgin product is the same price… or even cheaper? For reclaimed refrigerants/alternatives to be useful we have to see the R-22 price hovering around five-hundred dollars. Right now, they are just not competitive at the current R-22 price of under three-hundred dollars.

At this point it is anyone’s guess as what the next six months have in store for us. We may end up seeing more distributors dumping product and causing the prices to go down even lower. Or, we could finally start to see the surplus of overstock R-22 start to diminish. If this occurs before the January 1st deadline then we could see a significant price increase. The problem is there just no way to tell how much virgin R-22 product is out there sitting in warehouses across the country. Who knows, there could be so much product on the shelf right now that the virgin product will outlast the R-22 machines today and the price we see today could be the new normal for the next few years.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

What Is It?

Most folks don’t think about their air conditioner/furnace filters very often. In some cases they change their filters every month, sometimes every two months. If they’re like me it might be every six months. No matter how often you change it you should know that your air conditioner filter is an important part of the comfort of your home.

Without an air conditioner filter you not only jeopardize your air conditioner and furnace but you also allow impure air to circulate throughout your home. Yes, even though you may not know it, your central AC/Furnace also work as an air purifier for your home. That is what the filter is for. By changing it regularly you can continue that flow of clean air.

But, how clean do you want that air in your home? This my friends is where the MERV rating comes into play. Filters are rated by quality under what’s known as the MERV scale. MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. The MERV scale is a measurement of the percentage of particles that can be filtered out of your home. This scale can go all the way down to point-three microns up to ten microns. In other words, the MERV rating indicates just how much stuff you want your filter to catch. The higher the MERV on your filter the more particles you can trap.

A filter rated as a MERV one, two, three, or four are only rated to trap particles that are ten microns or higher. These are your basic filters that can trap some mold and pollen spores. The next step up are MERV ratings five through eight. These filters are significantly better and can trap particles as low as three microns in size. This can include the pollen and mold that we mentioned earlier but also forms of bacteria.

Now, if you were an allergy or asthma s sufferer then you will want to pay attention to the next few MERV ratings. These are the filters that are going to help you breathe easier in your own home. First, let’s look at MERV ratings nine through twelve. These filters can trap particles as low as one micron in size. These could include human or pet hair, dust, pollen, mold, and even combustion particles from fire places or candles.

The next MERV rating is between thirteen through sixteen. These ones aren’t as popular and can be harder to find but they can trap particles as low as point three microns. This will catch everything we mentioned above as well as cooking smoke, paint pigments, fungal spores, and everything else you can think of.

There is another category of filters that are rated as high as MERV seventeen through twenty. The catch here though is that these filters are known as ‘HEPA’ filters and they are the best of the best. You typically find these in hospitals or laboratories. They can be very expensive and you will also have to install a custom air conditioner/furnace system that can handle a HEPA filter. If you try to use a HEPA filter with a standard system then you risk overloading and eventually breaking your air conditioner/furnace. This is due to the thickness of the filter which causes your system to work overtime to push air through it.

Conclusion

In most cases I would recommend the MERV nine through twelve categories. This gives you a high quality filter and will provide you with clean air throughout your home. If you have a family member, or if you yourself, struggle with asthma or other allergies then you may consider the MERV thirteen through sixteen filters. In extreme cases a HEPA filter and system may be needed, but this can get quite expensive as you will have to get a non-traditional residential air conditioning system to support the HEPA filter.

If you find that you are a little overwhelmed with all of the choices out there then you can check out our ‘Best Air Conditioner Filter’ guide by clicking here. This guide goes through our recommended air filters in an easy to read ‘Good, Better, and Best’ category.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

How does it work?

Suffering with asthma can be a horrible experience. Depending on the person’s triggers they may be outright excluded from certain things or from even going outside during certain times of year. My father, for example, cannot set foot in a home that has a cat in it… or that had a cat in it twenty years ago. It doesn’t seem to matter how long ago it was. His asthma will still get triggered by stray cat hair floating through the home. In many cases it will get so bad that an inhaler is needed. Then, even when the worst of the symptoms go away, he will be recovering for days to come.

Over the years his asthma has gotten worse. It is to the point now that even the dogs will aggravate his symptoms under the right conditions. My mother has to give him a warning that she’s going to be vacuuming. He then has to leave the house for hours on end until the dust settles down again.

If you or someone in your family has symptoms similar to this, or perhaps just suffer from a more mild form of allergies, there are options that you can do to better outfit your home so that your loved ones are as comfortable as they can be. I’m not going to get into every possible option in this article but instead focus on one of the easiest, and some would argue most impactful, change you can make to your home.

Most of you know that you need to change your air conditioner/furnace’s filter every two months or so. But, what a lot of you may not know is that the quality of the replacement filter you are purchasing can make a huge difference. In the past I used to run to the local hardware store and purchase the cheapest filter there in the size I needed. While this filter got the job done I was getting what I paid for, which was poor quality.

These filters that I was purchasing were mostly rated as a MERV one, two, three, or four. These are the lowest of the low when it comes to furnace filter ratings. Filters are rated by quality under what’s known as the MERV scale. MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. The MERV scale is a measurement of the percentage of particles that can be filtered out of your home. This scale can go all the way down to point-three microns up to ten microns.

A filter rated as a MERV one, two, three, or four are only rated to trap particles that are ten microns or higher. These are your basic filters that can trap some mold and pollen spores. The next step up are MERV ratings five through eight. These filters are significantly better and can trap particles as low as three microns in size. This can include the pollen and mold that we mentioned earlier but also forms of bacteria.

Now, if you were an allergy or asthma s sufferer then you will want to pay attention to the next few MERV ratings. These are the filters that are going to help you breathe easier in your own home. First, let’s look at MERV ratings nine through twelve. These filters can trap particles as low as one micron in size. These could include human or pet hair, dust, pollen, mold, and even combustion particles from fire places or candles.

The next MERV rating is between thirteen through sixteen. These ones aren’t as popular and can be harder to find but they can trap particles as low as point three microns. This will catch everything we mentioned above as well as cooking smoke, paint pigments, fungal spores, and everything else you can think of.

There is another category of filters that are rated as high as MERV seventeen through twenty. The catch here though is that these filters are known as ‘HEPA’ filters and they are the best of the best. You typically find these in hospitals or laboratories. They can be very expensive and you will also have to install a custom air conditioner/furnace system that can handle a HEPA filter. If you try to use a HEPA filter with a standard system then you risk overloading and eventually breaking your air conditioner/furnace. This is due to the thickness of the filter which causes your system to work overtime to push air through it.

Recommendations

In most cases I would recommend the MERV nine through twelve categories. This gives you a high quality filter and will provide you with clean air throughout your home. If you have a family member, or if you yourself, struggle with asthma or other allergies then you may consider the MERV thirteen through sixteen filters. In extreme cases a HEPA filter and system may be needed, but this can get quite expensive as you will have to get a non-traditional residential air conditioning system to support the HEPA filter.

If you find that you are a little overwhelmed with all of the choices out there then you can check out our ‘Best Air Conditioner Filter’ guide by clicking here. This guide goes through our recommended air filters in an easy to read ‘Good, Better, and Best’ category.

Also, in a continuing effort to help my father out we use the high quality filters and we also use air purifiers in our living room and his bedroom. (We use the GermGuardian AC5250PT.) Typically the combination of the AC/Furnace filters and the air purifiers keeps him in pretty good spirits.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Question

Your air conditioner as well as your furnace are one of the most expensive appliances in your home today. Purchasing a new one may set you back five or even ten-thousand dollars. It is obvious that with this kind of investment that you want to take the proper care of your system so that you can get the most bang for your buck and that your air conditioner and furnace will last as long as they can.

One the simplest and most effective ways to maintain your air conditioner and your furnace is by regularly replacing or cleaning your filter. It can be easy to forget to do this, but if you keep up on it every few months then you are not only guaranteeing cleaner air for you and your family but you are also creating a more efficient system. The more efficient the system the less it has to do work and the less chances there are of failures.

Now if you are like me, or like I used to be, then when it came time to replace your filter you would run down to either the local hardware store, or even a grocery store, and pick up any filter that met the size requirements you needed. While this way does get you a new filter in the size you need it does not factor in quality.

This is where you’ll need to make a decision. If you are worried about allergens, pet hair, or other particles flowing throughout your home then it may be worth your time to invest in a higher quality filter. This holds especially true if you have someone in your house that has breathing problems such as asthma or severe allergies. Investing in the right filter can improve things substantially for them.

Air Filter Quality

I want to take some time now and go over the various qualities of air conditioner/furnace filters that are out there. Once you understand how quality works you can then make an educated decision on what filter you want for your home.

To understand the varying qualities of air conditioner filters you first need to understand the ‘MERV’ scale. The MERV scale, also known as Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value, is based on the percentage of particles from 0.3 to 10 microns in size that are filtered out of your system. The higher the MERV number on your filter then the better your air quality will be. Along with the MERV rating there is another measurement known as MPR or Microparticle Performance Rating. This MPR scale measures very small particles between 0.3 and 1.0 microns. Just like with MERV, the higher the MPR number the smaller the items that are filtered.

There are a variety of MERV sized air filters. To give you an example of the range let’s take a look below:

  • MERV One Through Four Filters – These are your lower end models that you’ll find in most grocery stores. While they do provide you with a filter, it is only the bare minimum. They can trap pollen and mold spores, but not near as well as higher rated filters. They are rated to remove particles over ten microns in size.
  • MERV Five Through Eight Filters – This is the next step up and will allow you to see a noticeable difference from the previous rung. These filters will allow you to remove agitants up to three microns in size. This would cover your pollen and mold spores as well as certain types of bacteria.
  • MERV Nine Through Twelve Filters – Now we’re getting into the higher quality air filters. These filters are rated to remove particles as low as one micron in size.  This could include such things as human hair, dust, pollen, mold, and combustion particles from candles or indoor fireplaces.
  • MERV Thirteen Through Sixteen Filters – Ok, folks this is the highest of the high for residential air conditioning and heating. With this rating we can get as low as point three microns. This covers nearly everything that there is including cooking smoke, paint pigments, fungal spores, and so much more.
  • MERV Seventeen Through Twenty Filters – I mentioned that the above was the best it could get for home air conditioning. Well, that was correct. However, this MERV measurement of seventeen through twenty is the absolute best possible and is typically reserved for medical applications such as hospitals and doctor’s offices. These filters are known as HEPA filters and are rated to remove up to 99.97% of particles that are point three microns or larger. These cannot be used in a traditional home air conditioner though due to the increased strain the system would go through pushing air through the filter. In some cases HEPA filters can be used in the home but only after extensive modification to the HVAC system.

Now, after reading this you may wonder what the right filter is for you. In most cases I would recommend the MERV nine through twelve categories. This gives you a high quality filter and will provide you with clean air throughout your home. If you have a family member, or if you yourself, struggle with asthma or other allergies then you may consider the MERV thirteen through sixteen filters. In extreme cases a HEPA filter and system may be needed, but this can get quite expensive as you will have to get a non-traditional residential air conditioning system to support the HEPA filter.

If you find that you are a little overwhelmed with all of the choices out there then you can check out our ‘Best Air Conditioner Filter’ guide by clicking here. This guide goes through our recommended air filters in an easy to read ‘Good, Better, and Best’ category.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

How does it work?

It can be a little overwhelming when looking for a replacement air filter for your air conditioner/furnace. There are just so many choices out there. How do you know which to pick from? How do you know which one is right? What are the different qualities, and is there even a difference in the varying qualities? What type should you get? There are so many questions when it comes to filters that a lot of folks, myself included, just buy the first one in the right size that they see. I mean a filter is a filter, right?

Well, not necessarily. The different qualities of air fillers can make quite a difference in the air that you and your family breathe. Now, if you’re lucky enough then no one in your family has any severe breathing problems like asthma or even harsh allergies. But, if you do have someone in your family who struggles with breathing then you may seriously consider looking at a higher quality filter for your home. Let’s take a look at the varying quality of filters in our next section:

Quality of Your Air Filter

To understand the varying qualities of air conditioner filters you first need to understand the ‘MERV’ scale. The MERV scale, also known as Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value, is based on the percentage of particles from 0.3 to 10 microns in size that are filtered out of your system. The higher the MERV number on your filter then the better your air quality will be. Along with the MERV rating there is another measurement known as MPR or Microparticle Performance Rating. This MPR scale measures very small particles between 0.3 and 1.0 microns. Just like with MERV, the higher the MPR number the smaller the items that are filtered.

There are a variety of MERV sized air filters. To give you an example of the range let’s take a look below:

  • MERV One Through Four Filters – These are your lower end models that you’ll find in most grocery stores. While they do provide you with a filter, it is only the bare minimum. They can trap pollen and mold spores, but not near as well as higher rated filters. They are rated to remove particles over ten microns in size.
  • MERV Five Through Eight Filters – This is the next step up and will allow you to see a noticeable difference from the previous rung. These filters will allow you to remove agitants up to three microns in size. This would cover your pollen and mold spores as well as certain types of bacteria.
  • MERV Nine Through Twelve Filters – Now we’re getting into the higher quality air filters. These filters are rated to remove particles as low as one micron in size.  This could include such things as human hair, dust, pollen, mold, and combustion particles from candles or indoor fireplaces.
  • MERV Thirteen Through Sixteen Filters – Ok, folks this is the highest of the high for residential air conditioning and heating. With this rating we can get as low as point three microns. This covers nearly everything that there is including cooking smoke, paint pigments, fungal spores, and so much more.
  • MERV Seventeen Through Twenty Filters – I mentioned that the above was the best it could get for home air conditioning. Well, that was correct. However, this MERV measurement of seventeen through twenty is the absolute best possible and is typically reserved for medical applications such as hospitals and doctor’s offices. These filters are known as HEPA filters and are rated to remove up to 99.97% of particles that are point three microns or larger. These cannot be used in a traditional home air conditioner though due to the increased strain the system would go through pushing air through the filter. In some cases HEPA filters can be used in the home but only after extensive modification to the HVAC system.

Now, after reading this you may wonder what the right filter is for you. In most cases I would recommend the MERV nine through twelve categories. This gives you a high quality filter and will provide you with clean air throughout your home. If you have a family member, or if you yourself, struggle with asthma or other allergies then you may consider the MERV thirteen through sixteen filters. In extreme cases a HEPA filter and system may be needed, but this can get quite expensive as you will have to get a non-traditional residential air conditioning system to support the HEPA filter.

Conclusion

Remember folks, your air conditioner and your furnace are some of the most expensive appliances in your home. It only makes sense to take care of them and to ensure that they last as long as they can. In today’s world a new AC and furnace could cost anywhere between six to twelve-thousand dollars.

By ensuring that your air conditioner filter is taken care of every few months you not only protect your system and investment but it also provides you clean air throughout your home. If you aren’t already, please take the time to clean or replace air filters not only for your health but also for your wallet! If you’re looking for just the right filter click here to be taken to our ‘Best Air Conditioner Filter Guide.’

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Question

There is nothing more frustrating then waking up in the morning on a day that you KNOW is going to be a scorcher. Here in Kansas City there are days in July where I wake up at six in the morning and it is already eighty degrees outside. That is never a good sign and you just know that it’s only going to get hotter. It can be downright miserable. Now, take that same morning and add the factor of a broken air conditioner. The temperature of your home is already creeping upwards and you need to get your air conditioning working now!

Chances are folks, that unless you are an expert, there isn’t going to be much that you can do. An air conditioning system can be quite complex, especially if you don’t have much experience in dealing with them. The good news here though is that there is something that you can do. If your AC is no longer working, or it’s performance has lessened substantially, then one of the first things that you should do is check the air conditioning filter. How long as it been since you changed your filter? If it has been quite a while then a dirty filter may very well be the culprit. If you’re not sure on where to find your AC filter click here for a short explanation on where to find them.

With a dirty or clogged filter you could see diminished capacity of air coming through your vents due to poor air flow. Along with air flow issues you could also see dust accumulating on the evaporator coils which can lead to poor performance of the evaporator itself. (The evaporator absorbs the heat from your home.) In some extreme cases you could even see your air conditioner freeze over. (Ice all over the outside or inside unit and on the refrigerant lines.)

If you’re lucky then you may be able to solve the problem you are having by simply changing or cleaning your filter. You may also use a vacuum in the surrounding area once you have pulled the old filter out. The vacuum will aid in sucking up all of the errant dust and debris that the old filter may have left behind. Once you have the new filter inserted then turn off your air conditioner. Check to see if there is any ice either in your indoor unit, the outside unit, or on the refrigerant lines connecting the two. If there is not then go ahead and start the system up again. If there IS ice then you will need to let the system thaw the ice out before you can start it up again.

If after doing this you are still having trouble with your air conditioner then it’s time to call the professionals. There is most likely something else wrong.

Conclusion

As I stated earlier, your air conditioner and your furnace are some of the most expensive appliances in your home. It only makes sense to take care of them and to ensure that they last as long as they can. In today’s world a new AC and furnace could cost anywhere between six to twelve-thousand dollars.

By ensuring that your air conditioner filter is taken care of every few months you not only protect your system and investment but it also provides you clean air throughout your home. If you aren’t already, please take the time to clean or replace air filters not only for your health but also for your wallet! If you’re looking for just the right filter click here to be taken to our ‘Best Air Conditioner Filter Guide.’

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Question

Today was the first real hot today in Kansas City. The temperatures reached above ninety degrees and if you didn’t have an air conditioner for your home you could really feel the heat. Air conditioning saves us all a lot of hassle, but the actual air conditioner is rarely thought about during these hot months. In most cases homeowners may do a beginning of the year tune up, and in some cases not even that. For many the air conditioner is just a tool that works in the background and it just isn’t thought about… until something goes wrong. When something does go wrong the repair bill on an air conditioner can be quite high.

Having a clean or new filter in your air conditioning system will not only provide you with clean air and reduce allergens but it will also extend the life of your air conditioner and prevent problems from occurring down the road. Cleaning or replacing your filter is one of the easiest things you can do for your air conditioner and it is also one of the most impactful. With a dirty or clogged filter you could see diminished capacity of air coming through your vents due to poor air flow. Along with air flow issues you could also see dust accumulating on the evaporator coils which can lead to poor performance of the evaporator itself. (The evaporator absorbs the heat from your home.) In some extreme cases you could even see your air conditioner freeze over. (Ice all over the outside or inside unit and on the refrigerant lines.)

The recommended time to either clean or replace your filter is between one to two months. You will notice that some filter manufacturers state that their product lasts up to four months. Some state even longer then that. I’ve seen a few that say up to six months. It is up to you if you trust these claims, but personally I don’t. I am of the mindset of being safe then sorry. I check my filters every two months like clockwork. But, if you want to try some of the nicer filters out that claims to last four months go right ahead… just check them every month and see how they look. If they still look to be in good shape after two months, then by all means keep it in there and see if it does last the four months. Either way, you’re protecting yourself by still checking it every month.

When you do replace your air conditioning filter you may also take a vacuum with you as well. This is an extra step, but it ensures you have a nice clean system before the next filter is inserted. Once you pull out the old filter get the hose attachment for your vacuum and suck up any stray dust or particles that the old filter left behind. In most cases you can insert the hose right where the filter was. This will allow you to get all of the remaining dust out of there.

Conclusion

Your air conditioner and your furnace are some of the most expensive appliances in your home. It only makes sense to take care of them and to ensure that they last as long as they can. In today’s world a new AC and furnace could cost anywhere between six to twelve-thousand dollars.

By ensuring that your air conditioner filter is taken care of every few months you not only protect your system and investment but it also provides you clean air throughout your home. If you aren’t already, please take the time to clean or replace air filters not only for your health but also for your wallet! If you’re looking for just the right filter click here to be taken to our ‘Best Air Conditioner Filter Guide.’

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

 

How does it work?

To understand the varying qualities of air conditioner filters you first need to understand the ‘MERV’ scale. The MERV scale, also known as Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value, is based on the percentage of particles from 0.3 to 10 microns in size that are filtered out of your system. The higher the MERV number on your filter then the better your air quality will be. Along with the MERV rating there is another measurement known as MPR or Microparticle Performance Rating. This MPR scale measures very small particles between 0.3 and 1.0 microns. Just like with MERV, the higher the MPR number the smaller the items that are filtered.

There are a variety of MERV sized air filters. To give you an example of the range let’s take a look below:

  • MERV One Through Four Filters – These are your lower end models that you’ll find in most grocery stores. While they do provide you with a filter, it is only the bare minimum. They can trap pollen and mold spores, but not near as well as higher rated filters. They are rated to remove particles over ten microns in size.
  • MERV Five Through Eight Filters – This is the next step up and will allow you to see a noticeable difference from the previous rung. These filters will allow you to remove agitants up to three microns in size. This would cover your pollen and mold spores as well as certain types of bacteria.
  • MERV Nine Through Twelve Filters – Now we’re getting into the higher quality air filters. These filters are rated to remove particles as low as one micron in size.  This could include such things as human hair, dust, pollen, mold, and combustion particles from candles or indoor fireplaces.
  • MERV Thirteen Through Sixteen Filters – Ok, folks this is the highest of the high for residential air conditioning and heating. With this rating we can get as low as point three microns. This covers nearly everything that there is including cooking smoke, paint pigments, fungal spores, and so much more.
  • MERV Seventeen Through Twenty Filters – I mentioned that the above was the best it could get for home air conditioning. Well, that was correct. However, this MERV measurement of seventeen through twenty is the absolute best possible and is typically reserved for medical applications such as hospitals and doctor’s offices. These filters are known as HEPA filters and are rated to remove up to 99.97% of particles that are point three microns or larger. These cannot be used in a traditional home air conditioner though due to the increased strain the system would go through pushing air through the filter. In some cases HEPA filters can be used in the home but only after extensive modification to the HVAC system.

Now, after reading this you may wonder what the right filter is for you. In most cases I would recommend the MERV nine through twelve categories. This gives you a high quality filter and will provide you with clean air throughout your home. If you have a family member, or if you yourself, struggle with asthma or other allergies then you may consider the MERV thirteen through sixteen filters. In extreme cases a HEPA filter and system may be needed, but this can get quite expensive as you will have to get a non-traditional residential air conditioning system to support the HEPA filter.

Conclusion

Your air conditioner and your furnace are some of the most expensive appliances in your home. It only makes sense to take care of them and to ensure that they last as long as they can. In today’s world a new AC and furnace could cost anywhere between six to twelve-thousand dollars.

By ensuring that your air conditioner filter is taken care of every few months you not only protect your system and investment but it also provides you clean air throughout your home. If you aren’t already, please take the time to clean or replace air filters not only for your health but also for your wallet! If you’re looking for just the right filter click here to be taken to our ‘Best Air Conditioner Filter Guide.’

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

What Is It?

An air conditioner filter is just that, a filter for your air conditioner and sometimes your furnace as well. The goal of this filter is to provide your home with clean high quality air. Along with that, the filter also serves a purpose by keeping your air conditioner and your furnace clean. The filter traps the dust, pollen, and any other debris that would otherwise be circulated through your system and your home.

Not only do they keep dust out of your home but they also keep dust off of the evaporator coils. The evaporator coils is where your cold air comes from. (In most cases the evaporator coil sits directly above your furnace inside your home.) If the coils are covered in dust and grime then the performance of your system is going to go down. You may also inadvertently damage the evaporator if you operate without a filter or with a very old filter. The more dust and grime that gets on your evaporator the less capable it is at removing heat. Some folks have their evaporator coils checked and cleaned each year as well as changing their filters regularly.

Not changing the filter can have effects on the performance of your air conditioner as well as longevity of your system. In some cases a dirty air filter can take away ten to fifteen percent system efficiency. This will end up costing you more money on your energy bills and could also end up costing you a whole lot if something fails in your air conditioner due to a clogged filter. A dirty filter can also affect the air quality within your home and could lead to problems for those in your family who suffer from asthma or other allergies. My father for example has severe asthma and they have religiously changed their filter every thirty days to prevent flare ups. He is especially sensitive to pet hair and by changing the filter religiously as well as buying a higher quality filter we are able to minimize any symptoms.

Conclusion

Your air conditioner and your furnace are some of the most expensive appliances in your home. It only makes sense to take care of them and to ensure that they last as long as they can. In today’s world a new AC and furnace could cost anywhere between six to twelve-thousand dollars.

By ensuring that your air conditioner filter is taken care of every few months you not only protect your system and investment but it also provides you clean air throughout your home. If you aren’t already, please take the time to clean or replace air filters not only for your health but also for your wallet! If you’re looking for just the right filter click here to be taken to our ‘Best Air Conditioner Filter Guide.’

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

How To

Funny enough, in some cases finding the filter can prove difficult. In each home that I’ve lived in it’s been an easy find. It was always just past the furnace and could be easily seen when looking straight the furnace. As we all know though, not every house is the same and not every environment is the same.

Filter locations are typically found somewhere around the return duct or blower compartment before the returned air can reach the air handler. Having it setup this way allows the filter to clean the air in your house before it enters into your HVAC system. The filter serves as a guard before the air is recirculated throughout your home.

Typically, filters can be found near the furnace, in the air conditioner itself, or in nearby walls and ceilings. When looking for the filter you should check to the sides, above, and even below your system. In some extreme cases there is a filter installed at each intake vent throughout the home. I haven’t seen these before, and while they would be a hassle to change every few months you can be assured that the ducts would be extremely clean since there would not be a chance for dust to be pulled in.

Conclusion

Your air conditioner and your furnace are some of the most expensive appliances in your home. It only makes sense to take care of them and to ensure that they last as long as they can. In today’s world a new AC and furnace could cost anywhere between six to twelve-thousand dollars.

By ensuring that your air conditioner filter is taken care of every few months you not only protect your system and investment but it also provides you clean air throughout your home. If you aren’t already, please take the time to clean or replace air filters not only for your health but also for your wallet! If you’re looking for just the right filter click here to be taken to our ‘Best Air Conditioner Filter Guide.’

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

How To

It is imperative to change or clean your air conditioner’s filter. The recommended guideline is either every one or two months during peak seasons. If it’s fall or spring and you’re not running your system constantly you could get away with three to four month intervals.  There are two types of air conditioner filters. You have your disposable filters and your permanent filters.

Cleaning or replacing your air conditioner won’t take long at all. In the example of a disposable filter the process may only take a minute or two and all that involves is pulling out the old filter, tossing it in the trash, unwrapping the new one, and then inserting it into your system. It is a very easy change. (Make sure your insert it the right way with the arrows pointing inwards.)

In the case of a permanent filter it may take a bit more time but the overall washing process should only take about five minutes. All you need to is either a broom or vacuum and a hose with a sprayer. The vacuum/broom is used to clean out the surrounding area once you have extracted the filter. This allows you to gather up any remaining dust or debris left in the system. It is recommended to use the vacuum/broom approach regardless if you’re dealing with a disposable or a permanent filter.

To clean your permanent filter all you need to do is take it out back and spray it with the hose until the dust and other materials have been removed. Then, let it dry and when it has sufficiently dried insert it back into your system.

While all of this is fairly easy, I will be the first to admit that I forget to change my filter. It is just one of those things you do not think about. I have been getting better at it but I still find myself going three or four months in between changes.

The only things I can say here is do NOT be the guy who leaves their filter in for a year… or more. I’ve seen horror stories where an HVAC technician pulls out a filter that has been in the system for years. If they can even get the filter out it is a horrifying sight. Inches and inches of caked dust, hair, debris, and everything else you can think of. Once they replace the filter and vacuum out the insides of the system the homeowner notices right away that “It’s working again!” Don’t be this guy. Even if it’s every six months you should take the time to change the filter.

Conclusion

Your air conditioner and your furnace are some of the most expensive appliances in your home. It only makes sense to take care of them and to ensure that they last as long as they can. In today’s world a new AC and furnace could cost anywhere between six to twelve-thousand dollars.

By ensuring that your air conditioner filter is taken care of every few months you not only protect your system and investment but it also provides you clean air throughout your home. If you aren’t already, please take the time to clean or replace air filters not only for your health but also for your wallet! If you’re looking for just the right filter click here to be taken to our ‘Best Air Conditioner Filter Guide.’

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Best

An air conditioner filter is just that, a filter for your air conditioner and sometimes your furnace as well. The goal of this filter is to provide your home with clean high quality air. Along with that, the filter also serves a purpose by keeping your air conditioner and your furnace clean. The filter traps the dust, pollen, and any other debris that would otherwise be circulated through your system and your home.

Not only do they keep dust out of your home but they also keep dust off of the evaporator coils. The evaporator coils is where your cold air comes from. (In most cases the evaporator coil sits directly above your furnace inside your home.) If the coils are covered in dust and grime then the performance of your system is going to go down. You may also inadvertently damage the evaporator if you operate without a filter or with a very old filter. The more dust and grime that gets on your evaporator the less capable it is at removing heat. Some folks have their evaporator coils checked and cleaned each year as well as changing their filters regularly.

Not changing the filter can have effects on the performance of your air conditioner as well as longevity of your system. In some cases a dirty air filter can take away ten to fifteen percent system efficiency. This will end up costing you more money on your energy bills and could also end up costing you a whole lot if something fails in your air conditioner due to a clogged filter. A dirty filter can also affect the air quality within your home and could lead to problems for those in your family who suffer from asthma or other allergies. My father for example has severe asthma and they have religiously changed their filter every thirty days to prevent flare ups. He is especially sensitive to pet hair and by changing the filter religiously as well as buying a higher quality filter we are able to minimize any symptoms.

Quality of Your Air Filter

To understand the varying qualities of air conditioner filters you first need to understand the ‘MERV’ scale. The MERV scale, also known as Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value, is based on the percentage of particles from 0.3 to 10 microns in size that are filtered out of your system. The higher the MERV number on your filter then the better your air quality will be. Along with the MERV rating there is another measurement known as MPR or Microparticle Performance Rating. This MPR scale measures very small particles between 0.3 and 1.0 microns. Just like with MERV, the higher the MPR number the smaller the items that are filtered.

There are a variety of MERV sized air filters. To give you an example of the range let’s take a look below:

  • MERV One Through Four Filters – These are your lower end models that you’ll find in most grocery stores. While they do provide you with a filter, it is only the bare minimum. They can trap pollen and mold spores, but not near as well as higher rated filters. They are rated to remove particles over ten microns in size.
  • MERV Five Through Eight Filters – This is the next step up and will allow you to see a noticeable difference from the previous rung. These filters will allow you to remove agitants up to three microns in size. This would cover your pollen and mold spores as well as certain types of bacteria.
  • MERV Nine Through Twelve Filters – Now we’re getting into the higher quality air filters. These filters are rated to remove particles as low as one micron in size.  This could include such things as human hair, dust, pollen, mold, and combustion particles from candles or indoor fireplaces.
  • MERV Thirteen Through Sixteen Filters – Ok, folks this is the highest of the high for residential air conditioning and heating. With this rating we can get as low as point three microns. This covers nearly everything that there is including cooking smoke, paint pigments, fungal spores, and so much more.
  • MERV Seventeen Through Twenty Filters – I mentioned that the above was the best it could get for home air conditioning. Well, that was correct. However, this MERV measurement of seventeen through twenty is the absolute best possible and is typically reserved for medical applications such as hospitals and doctor’s offices. These filters are known as HEPA filters and are rated to remove up to 99.97% of particles that are point three microns or larger. These cannot be used in a traditional home air conditioner though due to the increased strain the system would go through pushing air through the filter. In some cases HEPA filters can be used in the home but only after extensive modification to the HVAC system.

Now, after reading this you may wonder what the right filter is for you. In most cases I would recommend the MERV nine through twelve categories. This gives you a high quality filter and will provide you with clean air throughout your home. If you have a family member, or if you yourself, struggle with asthma or other allergies then you may consider the MERV thirteen through sixteen filters. In extreme cases a HEPA filter and system may be needed, but this can get quite expensive as you will have to get a non-traditional residential air conditioning system to support the HEPA filter.

Good, Better, & Best

I can remember over twelve years ago when I started my career. One of the first things I learned from my former boss was what’s known as the ‘Good, Better, Best,’ approach. It is a sales approach that has always stuck with me as it just makes a lot of sense. In today’s world when you are searching for a product, it doesn’t matter what, you will find that there are dozens if not hundreds of choices and varieties.

The sheer amount of choices can overwhelm us. If there are one-hundred similar products and they are reviewed fairly high then what one do you choose? How do you distinguish between them? This is where the ‘Good, Better, Best,’ approach comes in handy. Instead of overwhelming the customer we provide only three choices for them.

The ‘Good’ choice is just that. It is a good product and will do what it’s designed to do. It does not have extra features or benefits. It is a basic product that will do what you want it to. The ‘Good’ choice is for your price based customers who are concerned about spending too much.

The ‘Better’ approach is the middle of the road choice. You get some extra benefits from the previous ‘Good’ option but it is not a top of the line product. There is still some price point consideration here.

Finally, the ‘Best’ approach is just that. It is the best choice out there. I like to think of this as the premium product. Yes, you will be paying quite a bit more than the ‘Good’ option but you are also getting a lot more quality for your money.

So, with the three choices mentioned above I am now going to ask you, what kind of customer are you? Are you price concerned, middle of the road, or a premium guy? Keep this in mind as we go through our air conditioner filter selections below.

The Good

Filtrete Air Filter MER 5
GOOD: Filtrete Air Filter MERV 5

Our nomination in the ‘Good’ category are the filters from Filtrete. These products have a MPR rating of three-hundred, or like we discussed in our quality section above, a MERV rating of five. A five MERV rating puts you towards the bottom end of quality but still allows you to remove pollen, mold spores, and other allergens from your home.

The chances are high that this filter will fit your system as when viewing the product on Amazon you can see that it comes in a wide variety of sizes ranging from 10X20 all the way to 25X25. Rest assured, you’ll be able to find the size you need. This product also comes in a six pack so if you’re changing filters every few months then you will be covered for a year.

Along with what I mentioned above the filter is highly rated on Amazon with over eight-hundred reviews and an average rating of four and a half stars out of five. You can’t go wrong with this filter especially if you’re looking for just a basic filter and you aren’t too worried about contaminant particles.

If you’d like to purchase this product click here to be taken to our Amazon partner. If, however, you’d like to read on to see what our nominations are for ‘Better’ and ‘Best’ then read on my friend, read on.

The Better

Ok, so in our ‘Better’ category we find a balance between a premium product and a lower end product. The point with this category is to give the price conscious consumer a middle of the road choice. Maybe they want something a bit nicer then the standard air filter but they don’t want to spend the money for a premium product. Whatever the reason may be, here is our recommendation for our ‘Better’ category.

True Blue Allergen Filters
True Blue Allergen Filters

We chose the True Blue Allergen air filters. These filters are the next step up and come with a minimum MERV rating of eleven. We are now double where we were when it comes to particle collection if you compare this product to the previously mentioned Filtrete. This filter will not only help you with allergens and pollen but it will also trap human hair, dust, and many other agitants that the lower rated MERV filters would miss.

The True Blue product on Amazon has nearly three-hundred reviews with an average rating of four stars. It also comes in a variety of sizes ranging from ten inch by twenty all the way to twenty-five to twenty-five inches. Also, when purchasing you’ll see that it comes in a four pack. Most HVAC technicians recommend changing filters every one to two months but this product states that the filter has a lifespan of one-hundred and twenty days. I am a bit skeptical of this and would still probably change after a few months… but even with changing every two months you still get eight months of usage out of your four pack.

If you’d like to purchase this product from our Amazon partner please click here. If you’re still looking for more then continue reading onto our ‘Best’ category.

The Best

Onwards and upwards to our ‘Best’ category. This filter will be the absolute best you can buy and will remove all particles above 0.3 microns. This could include everything we have mentioned above as well as cooking smoke, paint pigments, fungal spores, and so much more. You should be wary though that this product will be more expensive then what you are used to paying for air filters. This is the product that I would choose if I, or a family member, was having trouble with allergies or asthma while inside the home.

Nordic Pure Air Filters
Nordic Pure Air Filters

Our pick for the ‘Best’ category is the brand known as ‘Nordic Pure.‘ This brand and company are dedicated to providing the highest quality air filters to it’s customers. The products that we are going to link you to below ALL have a MERV rating of fourteen. That is one of the highest MERV ratings that you are going to find for a residential air conditioner. (There are HEPA filters as well, but we’ll get into that in our next section.)

These top quality products do not sell as well as the other two products we mentioned earlier. This is because of the cost involved, but do not get sticker shock when you check the prices on Amazon. You have to realize while yes the cost may be high these products are coming in large pack quantities. In some cases you are getting twelve to a pack. If you do the math per filter you’re really not paying that much more then you would for a standard filter. (That’s the benefit of buying in bulk!)

One downside when looking for these products on Amazon is that they are not neatly grouped together like our previous products. I imagine that this is due to the number of sales. If you are interested in purchasing this filter please click here, just note that you will need to find the right sized filter for you. (They are all Noridic Pure brands, just different sizes.) Rest assured, that if you do purchase you will be receiving a quality product.

HEPA Filters Honorable Mention

Many of you may have heard the term ‘HEPA Filters’ before. Usually when you think of this you think of an air purifier like the one found here. While there are many HEPA air purifiers on the marketplace there are also HEPA air/furnace filters. They work the same as the other products that we mentioned above except they come with MERV ratings starting at seventeen and can go as high as twenty. These types of filters are normally used in laboratories, medical facilities, and hospitals. These furnaces can catch viruses and bacteria and can help stop the spreading of diseases within the facility.

The downside of a HEPA air filter is that it can put a lot of extra strain on the air conditioner/furnace itself. The machine will have to push the air through that much harder. This can result in a overload and a burn out of a standard residential system. If for, whatever reason, you need a HEPA filter for your home air conditioner then you will need to do some retrofitting before you can use the filter. Otherwise, you risk damaging your entire system and being out quite a bit of money.

Conclusion

Your air conditioner and your furnace are some of the most expensive appliances in your home. It only makes sense to take care of them and to ensure that they last as long as they can. In today’s world a new AC and furnace could cost anywhere between six to twelve-thousand dollars. By ensuring that your air conditioner filter is taken care of every few months you not only protect your system and investment but it also provides you clean air throughout your home. If you aren’t already, please take the time to clean or replace air filters not only for your health but also for your wallet!

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

 

A few more dominoes fell this week in the HFC phase down across the United States. I had reported a few weeks ago that Washington State’s HFC phase down had passed the legislature and just needed the signature from the governor. Well, Governor Jay Inslee signed bill HB 1112 this week. This adds yet another state to the ever growing list that has begun phasing down HFC refrigerants. We now have California, New York, Maryland, Connecticut, and now Washington State phasing down HFC refrigerants. There are other states as well considering their own legislation.

So far all of these state planned phase downs have been modeled after the original Environmental Protection Agency’s SNAP Rule 20 and 21 from 2015. The same holds true for another state that announced their intentions to phase down HFC refrigerants: Vermont. Yes, Vermont has announced that they are intending to phase down HFC refrigerants as well through their new bill ‘S. 30.’ The bill passed the legislature last week and is expected a signature from the governor soon.

With an effective date of July 1st, 2019 Vermont is wasting no time. Just like with the other states Vermont begins their phase down by targeting R-404A applications and larger cold storage warehouses. 404A is always the first target as it has an extremely high Global Warming Potential. It’s the low hanging fruit of the HFC refrigerants. As the years progress Vermont will target other applications and HFC refrigerants through a staggered approach. The end goal of Vermont’s HFC phasedown is to see a forty percent usage reduction based on 2013 levels by the year 2030.

Vermont, along with twenty-three other states, is part of what’s known as the United States Climate Alliance.’ This alliance was formed when the Trump Administration pulled the United States out of the Paris Climate Accord. The goal of the alliance is to create a coalition of states that work together to fight Climate Change and Global Warming. Their thinking is if the Federal Government isn’t going to do anything then the states will have to.

The other states in the Climate Alliance are all expected to follow suit in the coming years. This all started with California and then we began to see the snowball effect take hold as New York and other New England states announced they were planning HFC phasedowns. Nearly half the states in The Union are part of this Climate Alliance and it’s only a matter of time before more HFC phase down announcements are made. What state will be next?

Conclusion

The Federal Government’s positions on HFC phase down has been a mystery for the past few years. The EPA’s SNAP Rule was thrown out by the courts. The Kigali Amendment went into effect at the beginning of this year but the United States never ratified the treaty. The EPA may announce something soon, but it is unclear what this announcement will be.

I’ve said this before in other HFC phase down articles but as more states are added to the list eventually manufacturing companies are going to be forced to move away from HFCs… even if there isn’t a Federal mandate. If enough states phase out HFCs then manufacturers will either have to produce two different models (One for HFC states and one for non-HFC states), or the manufacturers will have to do a complete switch over to lower GWP refrigerants. If I was in their shoes, I know what I would choose.

Regardless of what happens, we can all be assured that over the next ten years the usage of HFCs will be going down and we will seem them being replaced with either natural refrigerants, hydrocarbons, or HFOs. The industry is getting more diversified and that means more specialized training to deal with these varying refrigerants.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Sources

How does it work?

There is nothing more frustrating then finding that your air conditioner isn’t working during a hot summer’s day. As I write this article it’s a few days before Memorial Day and it’s already starting to get hot here in Kansas City. For those of you who don’t know, it can get damn hot here in Kansas during the summer. I’m talking one-hundred plus degrees. If and when your air conditioner stops working it can be even more perplexing when you go out to check on your air conditioner only to find ice all over the machine.

To a lot of folks this just makes things more confusing. The air conditioner is obviously working… as there is ice all over the machine, but why isn’t that cold air moving to your home and why is the machine iced over? That folks is what we are going to tackle in this article. A frozen air conditioner is actually one of the most common questions that HVAC technicians receive and in most cases it can be resolved rather quickly and painlessly.

Ice Ice Baby

Frozen Air Conditioner
Frozen Air Conditioner

Yes, yes… I know. It’s a horrible song and it also shows my age. First thing is first, when it comes to ice on your air conditioner it doesn’t matter if it your traditional split system air conditioner, a ductless system, or even a window air conditioner. All of these different types of air conditioners work in the same way and they all be corrected in the same fashion. When your air conditioner does freeze you will notice frost, and maybe even chunks of ice, on the copper lines leading to your outdoor unit. You may also see that frost and ice transition over to your outside system as well. That being said, please also note that some slight frosting on the copper tubing that carries the refrigerant from the inside to the outside system is common and usual. It is when you notice heavy frosting or even ice accumulation that you need to start figuring out what is going wrong.

Troubleshooting/Correcting

The first step in trying to troubleshoot your frozen air conditioner is turning the system off. If your air conditioner is still running while frozen then the ice and frost are only going to build up. If the ice is really bad you may even turn your thermostat to heat in an effort to speed up the thawing process. Some folks even take a battery powered hair dryer to thaw the ice. It is very important to note here that the ice should not be forcibly chipped off the copper lines and the air conditioner itself. Using tools could harm the lines and the air conditioner itself and end up costing you a whole lot more money then you need to. In some cases you can use water to slowly pour over the copper lines to help speed up melting. Do NOT pour water on the air conditioning unit itself as you could run into water damage and do not dump boiling hot water on the frozen lines. It is best to be patient and wait for the ice to melt.

While you are waiting for the ice to melt it is best to find the condensation drainage pipe and make sure that it isn’t blocked this is one of the main reasons why air conditioners freeze over. If the drainage pipe is blocked then you could have quite a bit of water with nowhere to go. This has happened to me in the past where my basement got slightly flooded due to the condensation line being clogged. Once I cleaned the pipe the water problem went away. When dealing with a window air conditioner it is best to tilt the unit slightly backwards so that the melting ice can drain safely out and away from the unit. Also, if you feel that water/ice had formed inside the ducts near your air conditioner you may consider opening these up and suctioning out water with a shop vacuum. (You would only need to review the central most ducts near your indoor air conditioner.)

Once the ice has melted and the water problem is gone you can try turning on your air conditioner again. In most cases you will find that the air conditioner will fire back on and began running without issues. In other instances, there could be a legitimate problem with your air conditioner and you may end up with iced lines again.

The Why

While your air conditioner may be running again after you cleared the ice there is most likely an underlying problem that will need to be addressed. There can be multiple causes as to why your air conditioner froze. I will try to cover them all here but if I missed something please do not hesitate to reach out to me. Let’s take a look at the most common reasons:

  • Air Filters – Hopefully this was the cause of your frozen air conditioner as this is the easiest and cheapest one to fix. I’ll admit that I am completely guilty of forgetting to change my air conditioner filter. There was a time I went nearly six months. Not changing this filter regularly will result in poor airflow due to all of the dirt and grime that gets stuck to the filter. This poor air flow will restrict the amount of hot air that your evaporator coils receive. Without the needed hot air your evaporator can freeze. By either cleaning or replacing your filter with a new one you may be able to prevent this from happening again and only be twenty or thirty dollars. Lately, I’ve taken to ordering my air filters online through Amazon as it’s much easier and I can even set on a reoccurring purchase that occurs every few months. When the new filter comes in the mail I know it’s time to swap them out.
  • Low Refrigerant – Each air conditioner has as specific amount of refrigerant that it is optimized for. If the system has a lower then needed amount of refrigerant the evaporator can end up running too cold. Please note that correcting this isn’t just as simple as adding new refrigerant. The air conditioning system is an endless closed cycle. In a perfect system refrigerant should not escape. If you are low on refrigerant that means that you have a leak somewhere in your system. This leak will need to be repaired before you put more refrigerant in. If not, then you are just throwing money down the drain and you will run into the same problem down the road. Depending on the type of air conditioner you have this could be a somewhat expensive repair to an extremely expensive one. The newer air conditioners (Since 2010) use a refrigerant known as R-410A. This isn’t too expensive, but it will still cost you to refill your entire system. Now, if your air conditioner is from before 2010 then chances are it is using a refrigerant known as HCFC R-22. This refrigerant is currently phased out and can be extremely expensive to refill your system.
  • Closed Vents – A lot of homeowners like to close vents in rooms they are not using. This is seen as a way to save money. This is all true, but if you close too many vents in your home then that cold air has nowhere to go and could end up freezing some of your lines or your air conditioner itself. Try opening up all of your vents when you turn on your air conditioner again. Watch to see if the problem occurs again. If it doesn’t, then try closing one or two vents, then watch your system again. Rinse and repeat until you determine what the ‘perfect’ number of closed vents is for your home.
  • Thermostat – There could also be a problem with your thermostat. If it is not reading the temperature in your home correctly then this could result in your air conditioner running all day and night. Not only is this going to cost you quite a bit on your power bill but it could also result in your air conditioner freezing. An overworked air conditioner could result in a freezing system.
  • Drainage – Your air conditioner’s primary job is to remove heat. It doesn’t necessarily create cold air but instead just removes the heat from the home. During the hot summer days the heat is removed as well as the humidity. When humidity is removed from the air water is formed. This is called condensation. I’m sure you’ve seen this before as this is where the water comes from that drains into the vent in your basement. If the drainage line is blocked then the water will either flood your basement or it will end up freezing as it’s stuck in the air conditioner. This frozen water will freeze in the drainage pipe and then work it’s way all the way back up to your evaporator coil. If you don’t see any water coming from your drainage pipe, especially in the hottest parts of the summer, then that very well may be your problem. This problem occurs in more humid climates like the south or like in Kansas where I live at.
  • Blower Motor / Fan Speed – For those of you who do not know, the cold air from your air conditioner comes from the fan or blower motor blowing air against the cold evaporator coils. (The evaporator coil is the inside part of your air conditioner that sits above your furnace.) The blowing air then becomes quite cold, but if the fan is not strong enough some of the coldness on the evaporator coils remains and could result in a frozen system. This can be solved by either increasing the speed of your blower motor or by installing a new more powerful blower motor. A new motor can get expensive, so I would try the other solutions here before you get to this step.
  • Ductwork – While this isn’t as common as the other possible reasons we mentioned above it is a possibility. If you have gone through your home and opened all of your closed vents and are still having an issue with freezing then it may be worth looking at the interior of your ducts. Do they look overtly dirty? Is there accumulation? It may make sense to have your ducts professionally cleaned. Along with looking at dirty ducts you may also inspect all of the routing of your ducts to ensure they are in working order. Ensure that they do not have any punctures, holes, or gaps. In most homes you can inspect vents via the attic. If you do end up going into the attic please take care and ensure that you are walking correctly through your attic. There is nothing worse then causing a whole other problem when trying to fix an existing one!
  • Window Unit Tilting – When you install a window air conditioner you need to ensure that the unit is slightly tilted. The tilt should be that indoor portion is slightly higher then the outdoor section. This will allow the water from condensation to drip out. If it is not tilted then you can end up with the same problem that we discussed earlier. The water will freeze and clog your drainage line. The good news is that troubleshooting a window air conditioner is much easier then a traditional split system air conditioner.

Conclusion

If after going through all of these possible reasons you are still having problems with an air conditioner that is accumulating frost or ice then it may be time to contact a professional. Remember, that a continuing freezing air conditioner can permanently damage your air conditioner. If the problem persists then it is worth contacting a local HVAC contractor to look over your system. Hopefully, the problem is not severe and your technician can resolve the issue, but in more extreme cases you may end up needing an entirely new air conditioner.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Sources

When I write articles I pull information from my gained experience but I also consult with various other websites to ensure that the information I am giving you is accurate and factual. That being said, here are the sources that I used to write this article. These are all great websites and I would especially like to point out my first source, ASM-Air.com. This site has a whole host of information, pictures, and videos on anything and everything air conditioning.

RefrigerantHQ's Pressure Charts

R-134a is the most common refrigerant found in automobiles today. It has been in use since the early 1990’s and now, in 2019, we are beginning to see it’s popularity wane with the rise of the new HFO refrigerant known as R-1234yf. That being said, there are still millions of cars on the road that use R-134a and there will be continue to be for at least another decade or more.

When something does go wrong with your car’s air conditioner  a lot of folks are not sure what to do or where to even start. One of the very first steps is to check the pressure of your system. Understanding the pressure that your system is at as well as knowing what the saturation point is of R-134a will allow you to properly diagnose what is wrong with your system. Remember, that air conditioning is basically changing the pressure on the refrigerant until a state change is reached. If your pressure is off then that could point you in the right direction.

With the facts behind you can then begin to determine if your compressor is at fault, perhaps your condenser, or it could be something as simple as your blower motor needing replaced. Without knowing the pressure in your system and the corresponding saturation point then you are in essence going in blind when you attempt to troubleshoot your air conditioning system. I can assure you that when you take your vehicle into a dealership that the pressure and temperature are one of the first things they check when troubleshooting.

For more information on R-134a click here to be taken to our official ‘R-134a Refrigerant Fact and Information Sheet.’ This fact sheet goes into anything and everything you’d ever want to know about R-134a. There’s quite a bit to read, but if it is definitely worth your while if you’re interesting learning more about this HFC refrigerant.

Our R-134a pressure chart can be found below:

°F°CPSIKPA
-49-4518.4126.9
-48-44.418124.1
-47-43.917.6121.3
-46-43.317.3119.3
-45-42.816.9116.5
-44-42.216.5113.8
-43-41.716.1111
-42-41.115.7108.2
-41-40.615.2104.8
-40-4014.8102
-39-39.414.499.3
-38-38.913.995.8
-37-38.313.492.4
-36-37.81389.6
-35-37.212.586.2
-34-36.71282.7
-33-36.111.478.6
-32-35.610.975.2
-31-3510.471.7
-30-34.49.867.6
-29-33.99.364.1
-28-33.38.760
-27-32.88.155.8
-26-32.27.551.7
-25-31.76.947.6
-24-31.16.343.4
-23-30.65.739.3
-22-30534.5
-21-29.44.329.6
-20-28.93.725.5
-19-28.3320.7
-18-27.82.315.9
-17-27.21.510.3
-16-26.70.85.5
-15-26.10.10.7
-14-25.60.42.8
-13-250.74.8
-12-24.41.17.6
-11-23.91.510.3
-10-23.31.913.1
-9-22.82.416.5
-8-22.22.819.3
-7-21.73.222.1
-6-21.13.624.8
-5-20.64.128.3
-4-204.631.7
-3-19.4534.5
-2-18.95.537.9
-1-18.3641.4
0-17.86.544.8
1-17.2748.3
2-16.77.551.7
3-16.1855.2
4-15.68.558.6
5-159.162.7
6-14.49.666.2
7-13.910.270.3
8-13.310.874.5
9-12.811.377.9
10-12.211.982
11-11.712.586.2
12-11.113.190.3
13-10.613.895.1
14-1014.499.3
15-9.415103.4
16-8.915.7108.2
17-8.316.4113.1
18-7.817117.2
19-7.217.7122
20-6.718.4126.9
21-6.119.1131.7
22-5.619.9137.2
23-520.6142
24-4.421.3146.9
25-3.922.1152.4
26-3.322.9157.9
27-2.823.7163.4
28-2.224.5168.9
29-1.725.3174.4
30-1.126.1180
31-0.626.9185.5
32027.8191.7
330.628.6197.2
341.129.5203.4
351.730.4209.6
362.231.3215.8
372.832.2222
383.333.1228.2
393.934.1235.1
404.435241.3
41536248.2
425.637255.1
436.138262
446.739268.9
457.240.1276.5
467.841.1283.4
478.342.2291
488.943.2297.9
499.444.3305.4
501045.4313
5110.646.6321.3
5211.147.7328.9
5311.748.9337.2
5412.250344.7
5512.851.2353
5613.352.4361.3
5713.953.6369.6
5814.454.9378.5
591556.1386.8
6015.657.4395.8
6116.158.7404.7
6216.760413.7
6317.261.3422.6
6417.862.7432.3
6518.364441.3
6618.965.4450.9
6719.466.8460.6
682068.2470.2
6920.669.7480.6
7021.171.1490.2
7121.772.6500.6
7222.274.1510.9
7322.875.6521.2
7423.377.1531.6
7523.978.7542.6
7624.480.2553
772581.8564
7825.683.4575
7926.185586.1
8026.786.7597.8
8127.288.4609.5
8227.890620.5
8328.391.8632.9
8428.993.5644.7
8529.495.2656.4
863097668.8
8730.698.8681.2
8831.1100.6693.6
8931.7102.5706.7
9032.2104.3719.1
9132.8106.2732.2
9233.3108.1745.3
9333.9110758.4
9434.4112772.2
9535114786
9635.6115.9799.1
9736.1118813.6
9836.7120827.4
9937.2122.1841.9
10037.8124.2856.3
10138.3126.3870.8
10238.9128.4885.3
10339.4130.6900.5
10440132.8915.6
10540.6135930.8
10641.1137.2946
10741.7139.5961.8
10842.2141.7977
10942.8144992.8
11043.3146.41009.4
11143.9148.71025.3
11244.4151.11041.8
11345153.51058.3
11445.61561075.6
11546.1158.41092.1
11646.7160.91109.4
11747.2163.51127.3
11847.81661144.5
11948.3168.61162.5
12048.9171.21180.4
12149.4173.81198.3
12250176.51216.9
12350.6179.11234.9
12451.1181.81253.5
12551.7184.61272.8
12652.2187.41292.1
12752.8190.21311.4
12853.31931330.7
12953.9195.81350
13054.4198.71370
13155201.61390
13255.6204.61410.7
13356.1207.61431.4
13456.7210.61452
13557.2213.61472.7
13657.8216.71494.1
13758.3219.81515.5
13858.9222.91536.8
13959.42261558.2
14060229.21580.3
14160.6232.51603
14261.1235.71625.1
14361.72391647.8
14462.2242.31670.6
14562.8245.71694
14663.3249.11717.5
14763.9252.51740.9
14864.4255.91764.4
14965259.41788.5
15065.6262.91812.6

Conclusion

There you have it folks. I hope this article was helpful and if you find that something is inaccurate here in my chart please do not hesitate to reach out to me. I have sourced this the best I could but there is always going to be conflicting data.  I’ve seen it multiple times on various refrigerants. I’ll search for a refrigerant’s pressure chart and get various results all showing different pounds per square inch temperatures.

The aim with this article is to give you accurate information so again, if you see anything incorrect please let me know by contacting me here. On top of this post we are also working on a comprehensive refrigerant pressure/temperature listing. The goal is to have every refrigerant out there listed with a pressure/temperature chart that is easily available. 

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Owner

A Look

I am a big fan of history and can never get enough of reading historical books or watching documentaries. If you don’t understand the past then how can you understand the present or even the future? While refrigerant history might not be as interesting as other historical topics it is still good to understand it. R-744 can be traced back all the way back to the nineteenth century. In fact it was one of the very first refrigerants to ever be developed and used across the world. Experiments in refrigeration began in the late seventeen-hundreds and began to pick up speed in the eighteen-hundreds. It was in 1850 that Carbon Dioxide was first proposed as a refrigerant by Alexander Twinning. In 1869 one of the very first ice machines invented used Carbon Dioxide. Then in 1897 the first Carbon Dioxide refrigerator was introduced. More and more inventions and innovations followed.

In the late 1800’s and the early 1900’s there were a few mainstream refrigerants that we saw. These were your natural and hydrocarbon refrigerants such as Ammonia, Propane, Isobutane, and Carbon Dioxide. At this time Carbon Dioxide was found in all kinds of applications ranging from display cabinets, cold storage areas, market places, home/commercial kitchens, movie theaters, hospitals, trains, and even on cargo transport ships. The other natural refrigerants weren’t used as widely as Carbon Dioxide due to their safety concerns.

It seemed that R-744 was going to reign supreme as the main refrigerant in the world. This held true until the 1930’s. It was then that a partnership was formed between General Motors and DuPont. This partnership was made with one goal in mind: To create a cheap, safety, and reliable refrigerant. While Carbon Dioxide was safe it had it’s own problems. Just like we mentioned in our Pros and Cons section R-744 systems had numerous failures due to the extreme pressure that they operated under. The technology just wasn’t there to prevent these failures either so these air conditioners and refrigerators would bey very expensive to maintain.

After some time the General Motors & DuPont partnership came out with a new artificial class of refrigerants known as CFCs and HCFCs. Some of the refrigerants in this new classification were R-12 and R-22. These new refrigerants checked all of the boxes. They were safe. They were cheap. They were reliable. There was no more constant failure due to high operating pressures. At first, the adoption of these refrigerants was slow but that was only because of the manufacturing speed of the product. It was in the 1950’s that an innovation was done that greatly increased the speed of manufacturing CFC and HCFC refrigerants.

Once the supply could be met the demand skyrocketed. It wasn’t long until CFC and HCFC refrigerants were found all over the world in various applications. They could be your home air conditioner, your automobile, your refrigerator, or your local grocery store. They were everywhere. In the 1960’s there were a few more CFC/HCFC refrigerants invented, including R-502, that led to even more explosive growth.

With the growth and dominance of these new refrigerants it seemed that R-744 had taken a backseat. It was cast aside when the newer refrigerants came to market due to the high pressure that it operated at. There was no reason to use this expensive refrigerant anymore due to the mass production and reliability of R-12, R-22, and R-502. At least for a while, R-744 had reached it’s peak. It was in the 1980’s that things began to change.

The Ozone

It was in the 1980’s that a problem was discovered. Two American scientists, Mario Molina and Shepwood Rowland, from a California university were the first to notice Chlorine’s effect on the atmosphere. (Remember now folks, all of these CFCs and HCFCs contain Chlorine.)

These two scientists found that when a CFC refrigerant was exposed to ultra-violet irradiation that the Chlorine atom would detach itself from the CFC molecules. The remaining residue is oxidized resulting in the creation of a Chlorine oxidized molecule and a new residue. The Chlorine atom and Chlorine oxidized molecule move their way up to the stratosphere. Within the stratosphere there is a layer called the Ozone layer. This Ozone layer protects the Earth from ultra-violet rays and irradiation. What these scientists found out is that all of this Chlorine from CFC and HCFC refrigerants was working it’s way to the stratosphere. When it reached the stratosphere the Chlorine began to attack and weaken the Ozone layer.

Over decades of using CFCs and HCFC refrierants Chlorine began to accumulate in the stratosphere and overtime a hole began to form in the Ozone layer. Now, I say hole but this wasn’t a hole per-say. Instead, there was a weakening of strength in the layer. So, while there was not a hole the thickness of the Ozone was decreasing and decreasing rapidly thanks to the CFC and HCFC refrigerants.

The Ozone prevents harmful UVB wavelengths of ultra-violet light from passing through the Earth’s atmosphere. Without it, or with a weakened version of it, a variety of bad things could happen. Some of these include a much higher increased chance of Skin Cancer, more severe sunburns, more chances of cataracts, and a whole host of other problems.

After discovering the weakening of the Ozone layer nations banded together in what is seen as one of the greatest and most effective treaty’s every made. In 1986-1987 the Montreal Protocol was created and signed by over one-hundred nations across the world. This Protocol was an international treaty designed to protect the Ozone layer and to completely phase out the chemicals responsible for the weakening of the Ozone. The treaty went into effect in 1989.

Soon after that date marked the beginning of the end for CFC and HCFC refrigerants across the globe. The industrialized countries, like America, began to phase out the refrigerants first. R-12 was phased out in the early 1990’s along with all of the rest of the CFC refrigerants. The HCFC refrigerants such as R-22 or even R-502 were given a bit more time. Heck, R-22’s true phase out didn’t even begin until 2010.

Out with the old and in with the new, so they say. The refrigerants that were proposed to replace CFCs and HCFCs were known as HFCs, or Hydroflurocarbons. These refrigerants contained no Chlorine so there was no chance of them hurting the Ozone layer. Some of these refrigerants include popular refrigerants today known as R-134a, R-404A, and R-410A. But, now these refrigerants are under fire for their increase to Global Warming.

R-744 Present & Future

As I mentioned above HFCs were seen as the world’s savior from the Ozone depleting refrigerants. But, HFCs had their own problem. Instead of the Ozone this time it was Global Warming. These HFC refrigerants such as R-134a, R-404A, R-410A are known as ‘Super Pollutants,’ or ‘Greenhouse Gases.’ In order to measure their impact on the environment each of these refrigerants were given a Global Warming Potential number. The higher the number the more damage the refrigerant causes to the world. As a zero based scale for this measurement our old friend R-744 was used. Carbon Dioxide has a GWP of one. In comparison, R-404A has a GWP of three-thousand nine-hundred and twenty-two. Obviously, there is a large difference here.

I’m writing this article in 2019 and over the past ten years or so there has been a worldwide push to phase down and in some cases phase out HFC refrigerants completely. In order to phase out HFC refrigerants we have to have a replacement refrigerant. In some cases companies and countries have turned to a new classification of refrigerants known as HFOs. These HFO refrigerants are again synthetic products created by Honeywell & Chemours (Formerly DuPont). The problem with HFOs though is that they still have Global Warming Potential. Yes, not as high as HFCs… but the numbers are still there. Along with the GWP risk they also have a slight flammability risk. To me, I do not see HFOs being sustainable. I imagine the world will decide to phase them out in another ten or twenty years.

So, what is the solution you may ask? It’s R-744! Well, R-744 and other natural refrigerants. Technology has changed significantly since the last time R-744 was used widely. It’s been almost one-hundred years since we saw the mainstream use of Carbon Dioxide and now with nearly a century behind us the technology has significantly reduced the chance of component failures due to high operating pressures. We are now able to create efficient and stable R-744 systems without a large risk of failure.

While the cost of implementing R-744 systems is still quite higher then a traditional HFC system the costs have been coming down. This holds especially true in recent years as the push to innovate R-744 systems increases substantially with the phasing down of HFCs. While we are not there yet the costs are quickly shrinking the gap between HFCs and R-744.

There are many companies pushing forward with R-744 systems. Most of these are on smaller systems such as vending machines, but we all need to take baby steps. One company in particular, Coca-Cola, has installed hundreds of CO2 vending machines across the country. Along with Coca-Cola there are other grocery store chains out there using cascade R-744 systems mixed with other refrigerants such as Ammonia or lower GWP HFCs. We are even beginning to see R-744 uses in automobiles with the innovations that Daimler has made. As we completely phase down HFCs over the next ten years we will see more and more usage of R-744. It’s time has come again!

Conclusion

Sometimes history can be funny. If you have ever heard the saying, ‘Learn history or else you’ll be doomed to repeat it.’ It looks like we will be repeating history again. When refrigeration started Carbon Dioxide was one of the first refrigerants used and now again in the 21st century we are seeing R-744 come to prominence again. We’ve come full circle. For more information on R-744 please check out our R-744 Refrigerant Fact & Info Sheet by clicking here.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

A Look

As we all know, there is no perfect refrigerant. Each one has its own individual upsides and downsides. It could have a great efficiency but also end up being very flammable. Or, it could be non-flammable and non-toxic but have very high Global Warming Potential. The point I’m making here is that there isn’t a perfect one out there and there may never be. In this section we’re going to take a brief look at the various Pros and Cons of using R-744 as a refrigerant. I pulled this information from all over the web, but one site in particular stuck out to me. This article from Emerson has an entire page dedicated to R-744 Pros and Cons. It can be found by clicking here and then scrolling to page twelve.

Let’s take a look at the Pros and Cons of R-744:

Pros

  • R-744 is seen as the ‘perfect’ natural refrigerant as it is climate neutral and there is not a flammability or toxicity risk.  It is rated as an A1 from ASHRAE. While it is non-toxic there is still risk if a leak occurs in an enclosed area as R-744 will displace the oxygen in the room and could cause asphyxiation. It is always best to have a leak detector with you so that you can detect the problem early before anything major occurs.
  • Overall, R-744 is more energy efficient and has better heat exchange then a standard HFC based system. While it may not be as efficient as Ammonia this gap between the two refrigerants is shrunk as the evaporator temperature drops. Carbon Dioxide also has a low compression pressure ratio which can improve volumetric efficiency. In some cases CO2’s volumetric efficiency is four to twelve times better then Ammonia. (Source – under Pressure & Temperature.)
  • I mentioned this earlier, but the biggest selling point of R-744 is that it is climate neutral. It has no Ozone Depletion Potential and it’s Global Warming Potential is one. In fact, R-744 is the zero basis for the whole GWP scale. This is a huge Pro as if there is one thing that business owners are looking for it is stability and consistency. R-744 is never going away due to it being so climate friendly.
  • One Pro to R-744 operating at such a high pressure and being such a dense gas is that the overall size of the parts and components is smaller and the overall charge required for a refrigerant cycle is lessened. In some cases the compressor can be up to ten times smaller than an ammonia compressor. As far as refrigerant charges, one example I read from manufacturing.net stated that to cool a two-hundred thousand square foot warehouse you would need forty-thousand pounds of Ammonia but with CO2 you would need less than seven-thousand pounds.
  • Carbon Dioxide is readily available and the price for this refrigerant is much less then HFC refrigerants that we see today. This is a welcome relief from the instability of prices on HFCs and HCFC refrigerants that we all know about.

Cons

While R-744 is the ‘perfect’ natural refrigerant in theory there are a lot of downsides.

  • The biggest one is for Carbon Dioxide to be used as a refrigerant it has to run under extremely high pressure. As an example, R-744 operates at ten times higher pressure then R-134a. Because of this extremely high pressure everything has to be custom built for an R-744 system so that it can withstand the high operating pressure. This includes the pipes, components, and everything else that goes along with the machine. If lesser components are used then you pose risk of constant failure due to the pressure.
  • If you wish to use R-744 as a stand alone refrigerant not in a cascade system then you will have to be running it as what’s known as a transcritical system. This is because R-744’s critical temperature point is only eighty-eight degrees Fahrenheit. There are many cases where the ambient temperature could be between eighty to one-hundred degrees. If your critical point for R-744 is only at eighty-eight degrees then how can you expect to remove the heat? (You can read more on the topic of transcritical refrigeration by clicking here.)
  • Suffice to say, a transcritical system and a high operating pressure system means two things.
    • The first is that there is increased expense for these systems. Not only do you have to pay for high pressure rated materials and parts but you also have to pay for a transcritical system. This setup is different then your standard subcritical system. The good news here is that with each year that passes technology improves and the cost of these higher pressure parts goes down.
    • The second is the increased complexity. The higher the complexity means less available qualified technicians. It may be a struggle to find qualified R-744 technicians, at least here in the United States. Each year though this is getting better as more and more businesses are adopting R-744 systems.
  • I mentioned efficiency in our Pros section earlier. The reason I mention it again is that the efficiency of R-744 is highly dependent on the type of system it’s being used in and the surrounding climate. I mean, think about it for a moment. We could have a subcritical cascade system for a supermarket in Miami. Or, we could have a transcritical ice rink in British Columbia. In each example we’re using R-744 but we now have two entirely different systems as well as two entirely different climates. Because of these variety of systems and applications it is difficult to measure one single efficiency measurement.

Conclusion

As you can see from the above synopsis, there is no perfect refrigerant. It all depends on what you are looking for in your refrigerant, what application you will be using it for, and even what part of the world you are in. For more information on R-744 please check out our R-744 Refrigerant Fact & Info Sheet by clicking here.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

A Look

R-744, or Carbon Dioxide, is quickly becoming one of the most popular refrigerants in the world. As the usage of this refrigerant grows I can’t help but laugh as we have now come full circle. You see, if you go back one-hundred years Carbon Dioxide was one of the main refrigerants used but its usage declined in the 1930’s with the invention of synthetic refrigerants such as CFCs and HCFCs.

These new synthetic refrigerants were safe, cheap, and reliable. Because of this they took over the marketplace. It wasn’t until it was found that CFC/HCFC refrigerants actively harm the environment that we began to see more R-744 applications appears. In this article we’re going to take a look the various R-744 applications that can be found in the world today:

R-744 Applications

Let me first start out by saying that R-744 is a very unique refrigerant, more so then others.  R-744 is a natural refrigerant. But, unlike other natural refrigerants, there is not a safety concern. With hydrocarbons you have the flammability risk, with Ammonia you have the toxicity risk, but with CO2 the safety risk is minimal. Along with it being a safe natural refrigerant it also is very versatile. It is mainly used in a transcritical refrigeration system but it can also be used in subcritical systems when done through a cascade. On top of that R-744 can be used as a secondary fluid refrigeration system. (For more information on transcritical systems please click here to be taken to a recently written article on the topic.)

Between these different types of refrigeration there are a wide a range of applications such as vending machines, supermarket refrigerators/freezers, industrial refrigeration, refrigerated transport, automotive air conditioning, heat pumps, and even in sports arenas for ice rinks. In this section we are going to take a look at each of these applications:

Vending Machines

One of the first targets in the global HFC phase down was R-404A. As you know, 404A was used in a variety of applications including vending machines. In the early 2010’s there was a push from a variety of companies, including Coca-Cola, to switch their vending machines away from 404A and over to R-744 Carbon Dioxide. Now, as I write this article CO2 vending machines are found all over the United States. One of the initial struggles of these systems was finding qualified technicians as these vending machines operate as a transcritical system rather then subcritical. The good news is that as the years go by and the amount of these transcritical machines grow then the technicians will become more seasoned and experienced with working on these kinds of systems.

Supermarket Refrigerators/Freezers

The grocery store refrigerators and freezer market didn’t switch over as fast as vending machines but there is significant progress being made. While R-744 isn’t necessarily the preferred refrigerant to use in these applications there are some companies moving forward. Depending on the application supermarkets will either use a stand alone plug-in unit that is very similar to a vending machine or they will use one system that connects to all of the various refrigerators and freezers.

When it comes to using R-744 the type of application will determine if the unit will be a subcritical cascade or a transcritical system. If we look at a stand alone refrigerator/freezer then we would be dealing with a standard transcritical system. This would operate very similar to how vending machines do. On the other hand, if we look at some of the larger systems that are all connected then we would be looking at a cascade system. A cascade system uses two or more refrigerants. In the example of R-744 we would find R-744 on the low temperature side of the cycle. By having R-744 isolated to the low end of the system we can prevent the refrigerant from going past the critical point and keep it subcritical. The other refrigerant used for the high side of the system can vary. It could be Ammonia, Propane/Isobutane, or even an HFC or HFO refrigerant.

Industrial Refrigeration

The term industrial refrigeration can be quite vague and can encompass a variety of applications from chillers, to chilled warehouses, to heat extraction, and so much more. In the past, before R-22 was phased out it was one of the top refrigerants used in these larger scale operations. When R-22 was phased out some companies switched over to the HFC R-404A/R-134a only to find that these refrigerants were going to be phased out soon as well.

In Europe, in Canada, and in other countries R-717 or Ammonia is one of the top picks when it comes to industrial refrigeration such as meat packing plants. Ammonia is chosen as it is highly regarded as the most energy efficient refrigerant out there. The downside, of course, is that Ammonia is toxic and can also be slightly flammable. Whenever you see a story in the new stating that a plant had to be evacuated due to a refrigerant leak the chances are that it is Ammonia is quite high. There are many instances of this occurring here in the United States and in most cases everyone is fine. We just have to ensure that the proper precautions are followed.

While R-744 may not be as efficient as Ammonia it has another thing going for it. It’s not toxic. That being said though it appears that the use of R-744 plants and chillers is still quite rare. I spent some time looking around online trying to find stories on R-744 plant usage but wasn’t able to find anything. It seems that Ammonia still has a strong hold on the industry but as technologies change and as HFCs become completely phased out we may begin to see more active R-744 industrial applications. If you know of some active R-744 plant applications please reach out to me and let me know.

Refrigerated Transport

When I hear the words refrigerated transport I instantly think of trucking. That’s most likely because I came from the trucking industry. I remember going through pallets of R-404A for our carrier refrigerated trucks. In the case of R-744 though the refrigerated transport we are discussing is naval transport or refrigerated shipping containers. It’s not just produce or meat being refrigerated on cargo ships though. No, in some cases cruise liners have installed CO2 systems to cool their larger refrigerators and freezers. Again, I looked around for any mention of R-744 being used in refrigerated cargo transport on trucks but saw no mention of it. This may still be down the road.

Automotive Air Conditioning

This one is definitely unique. If we rewind about ten years ago there were two refrigerants to choose from for automotive air conditioning. The first was the ever popular HFC R-134a. I am sure most of you are familiar with this refrigerant. You can buy cans of it at your local O’Reillys. At this time though a new refrigerant was introduced to the automotive sector. This refrigerant known as R-1234yf, was an HFO refrigerant invented between a partnership of DuPont and Honeywell. YF was to be the refrigerant of the future. It would replace R-134a and it would be used in every car from now on.

Most of the world was on board except for Germany. The German automakers had tested with YF and found that it was flammable. In one instance during a simulated collision the lines ruptured and spilled the refrigerant onto the hot engine block. The refrigerant ignited and caused a fire. This one test scared the German automakers, especially Daimler, away from using YF. While the rest of the world pushed forward with YF Daimler set off on their own to create the first automotive R-744 application.

Years later they achieved their goals and we now have German made cars using CO2 as their refrigerant. There is now no risk of flammability with their cars and they are still being environmentally friendly. I love hearing this story again and again as it’s a prime example of forging your own way and still coming out on top.

Heat Pumps

Japan has put forth a lot of focus on R-744 heat pumps. CO2 heat pumps can produce a much higher temperature output then a traditional HFC heat pump system. This is thanks in part due to the transcritical process. These heat pumps can heat water all the way up to one-hundred and ninety-four degrees Fahrenheit. (Source) The adaption of CO2 based heat pumps is moving forward, but it has been slowed due to the extremely high operating pressures and the breakage of components. (The same story we have seen in other CO2 applications.) In the future we will most likely begin to see CO2 heat pumps in mini-split air conditioner systems. Perhaps, down the road, we may even see them in traditional split air conditioning systems.

Ice Rinks

From my experience a typical ice rink uses either Ammonia, R-22, or an HFC such as R-134a or R-404A. What refrigerant is used seems to depend on what country you are in. Outside of America the standard refrigerant has been Ammonia. As we discussed earlier in this article Ammonia is widely seen as the most efficient refrigerant. When dealing with such a large application like an ice rink efficiency is a must. The downside of course, is the toxicity. The toxicity is especially important when it comes to a public area like ice rinks. It’s not just technicians or employees who are at risk but you also have the general public.

Here in America we are always hesitant to use the more ‘dangerous’ refrigerants such as Ammonia or Hydrocarbons. Because of this hesitation we instead went the route of R-22 for our ice rinks and hockey arenas. Now though, with R-22’s phase out coming to a close in 2020 ice rink owners are looking for alternative refrigerants. Sure, there are HFC and now even HFO alternatives that can be used in these applications but each of these alternatives still have a higher then neutral Global Warming Potential (GWP). The problem with these refrigerants is that they will not stand the test of time when it comes to climate impact and phase outs.

If I was an arena owner or manager I would only seriously be considering two options. The first is Ammonia like I discussed earlier. This comes with it’s own risks but you get the low cost and energy savings. The alternative is R-744 Carbon Dioxide. R-744 has it’s own Pros and Cons which I’ll get into in our next section, but the big selling point is that you get a climate neutral refrigerant that is safe to the public in case a leak occurs. While R-744 systems aren’t widely found in the world today, they are growing. An article I was reading from 2016 had this quote, ”

“Today the number of CO2 ice rinks is growing rapidly. There are now 25-30 CO2 ice rinks in the world,” he says. 20-25 of these CO2 ice rinks are in North America, 20 of which are in Canada (mostly in Quebec) and three in Alaska, according to EKA.” – Source

Conclusion

As you can see Carbon Dioxide refrigerant is quickly being adapted across various applications here in the United States and across the world. While R-744 does have it’s downsides such as high pressure and more complex systems we have now become to overcome these challenges with new technology and adaptions. Out of all of the refrigerants that are available today I specifically advocate for R-744. This is for two reasons. The first is that it will never be phased out as it is what I like to call ‘Climate Neutral.’ Secondly, Carbon Dioxide is safe. It is non-toxic and non-flammable. These two factors alone make for a great refrigerant.

For more information on R-744 please check out our R-744 Refrigerant Fact & Info Sheet by clicking here.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ