Central Air Conditioners

Question

One of the most confusing parts of buying a new air conditioner is understanding the SEER. The SEER, or Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, is a measurement of your air conditioner’s energy efficiency. This measurement is calculated by the total cooling output of your system divided by the total electric energy input, or Watt-Hours, required. So, in other words cooling power divided by electric power. The SEER rating/ratio is calculated over the entire cooling season as an average. It factors in a constant indoor temperature and then weighs that temperature against outside temperatures ranging from sixty degrees up to one-hundred degrees. By doing this range of temperatures they are able to calculate a typical season.

When you see a SEER rating on an air conditioner that SEER rating is that system’s maximum efficiency. If you went outside and checked the SEER on your current air conditioner it may say SEER fourteen. But, that fourteen rating is the maximum efficiency ratio and if your system is not tuned up every year and taken care of properly then you are most likely not at that SEER level. You will also not reach your maximum SEER rating if you are constantly changing the temperature throughout the day or even week. It is best to have one set temperature and stick with it. This ensures your air conditioner has a set target to reach and stay there.

In 2006 the United States Department of Energy, or DOE, required that air conditioners have a minimum of thirteen SEER. Then in 2015 another change was made by the DOE. This time they changed the minimum SEER from thirteen to fourteen, but only for specific states. This change focused on those states in the south east and south west of the country. This would include your hottest states in the Union including Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, and Texas. If you live in the northern part of the country though then your minimum SEER rating is still at thirteen.

Is It Worth the Money?

That is the question folks. Is it really worth the money to purchase a higher SEER system? Normally, when you are receiving quotes from an HVAC contractor there is pressure from them to buy the higher SEER models. But, before your buy you need to understand if it’s really worth the money or not. Of course, they will tell you it is, but let’s really look at it and determine how much you’ll save and if the higher SEER is for you.

First let’s consider the extra expense when purchasing a higher SEER model. It really depends on how much more efficient you want to get. If you move from a fourteen SEER up to a sixteen SEER then you are going to see an increased cost of about six-hundred to eight-hundred dollars. However, if you go up to the top tier models like a twenty-one SEER then you could see prices go as high as two-thousand or even three-thousand dollars higher than a standard fourteen SEER system.

Remember like we mentioned earlier, the SEER rating is the maximum efficiency of your air conditioner. That means it will NOT always be running at that SEER value. Over the years your system will become less and less efficient. That is just how things work. This could be due to wear and tear of your system, dust and grime on your evaporator coils, micro refrigerant leaks in the lines, and so many other variables.  You can minimize this degradation by taking excellent care of your air conditioner and ensuring all yearly maintenance is completed.

High SEER systems cost a lot more to repair then a standard system. If you have your compressor go out on your fourteen SEER system you could be looking at a three to four-hundred dollar repair. However, if your compressor goes out on a twenty-one SEER system then that could be a one-thousand dollar repair. There’s another downside here folks… A higher end SEER air conditioner uses what’s called a two stage compressor. This compressor allows the air conditioner to act like a larger or smaller air conditioner as needed. So, the compressor will switch stages depending on the demand of the temperature outside. While this sounds great, the downside is that these two speed compressors actually have a higher failure rate than a standard compressor. So, you could be looking at an expensive compressor repair sooner than you’d like.

All of the above being said, you will save money per month using a higher SEER system. Typically, these savings can range between fifty to eighty dollars a month. The question you have to ask yourself though is how often will you be running your air conditioner throughout the year? Will it be all year? Six months? Or, just a few months out of the year?

Let’s say for example you are running it for six months out of the year. Six months times eighty dollars a month equals out to four-hundred and eighty dollars in savings a year. So, now the question is how much more is the SEER system then your standard? Is it another two-thousand dollars? If so, then you it’s going to take you about four or five years to make up for that… and that is assuming you do not have a large part failure during that time.

Conclusion

As you can see from above it all relates to how often you are going to be running your air conditioner. If you are running it year round then that eighty dollars a month in savings sounds pretty good. But, if you’re only running the air conditioner for three months in the summer then it is definitely not worth your money to purchase a higher end system. The other factor to be taken in to consideration is the possible repairs. Yes, it’s a wildcard and you never know when it’s going to come up but a repair on a high SEER system can be quite pricey.

You will find that most people end up going with the standard fourteen SEER system. It is tried and true method and will cool your home. If you are in an extremely hot climate though, say like Phoenix, then you may consider purchasing a higher SEER system. When I say higher SEER system it doesn’t have to be a twenty-five SEER. No, it could even ben an eighteen. Just something a bit higher to give you that extra efficiency.

Thanks for reading and I hope this article was able to answer your questions,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

How does it work?

I hate to say it, but it’s never a fun time purchasing a new central air conditioner. Chances are your old unit broke down during the hottest part of the summer. Heck, maybe it broke while you were at work and you came home to a house that was ninety plus degrees inside. You call a service company out only to find out that your air conditioner is on its last legs and the time has finally come to replace it with a new system.

The question now though is what do you replace it with? There are all different brands, makes, and models out there. It can be a little bit overwhelming, especially for those of you who aren’t as familiar with the ins and outs of air conditioning.

SEER Ratings

One of the most confusing parts of buying a new air conditioner is understanding the SEER. The SEER, or Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, is a measurement of your air conditioner’s energy efficiency. This measurement is calculated by the total cooling output of your system divided by the total electric energy input, or Watt-Hours, required. So, in other words cooling power divided by electric power. The SEER rating/ratio is calculated over the entire cooling season as an average. It factors in a constant indoor temperature and then weighs that temperature against outside temperatures ranging from sixty degrees up to one-hundred degrees. By doing this range of temperatures they are able to calculate a typical season.

When you see a SEER rating on an air conditioner that SEER rating is that system’s maximum efficiency. If you went outside and checked the SEER on your current air conditioner it may say SEER fourteen. But, that fourteen rating is the maximum efficiency ratio and if your system is not tuned up every year and taken care of properly then you are most likely not at that SEER level. You will also not reach your maximum SEER rating if you are constantly changing the temperature throughout the day or even week. It is best to have one set temperature and stick with it. This ensures your air conditioner has a set target to reach and stay there.

In 2006 the United States Department of Energy, or DOE, required that air conditioners have a minimum of thirteen SEER. Then in 2015 another change was made by the DOE. This time they changed the minimum SEER from thirteen to fourteen, but only for specific states. This change focused on those states in the south east and south west of the country. This would include your hottest states in the Union including Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, and Texas. If you live in the northern part of the country though then your minimum SEER rating is still at thirteen.

What is a Good SEER?

Alright folks, so now we understand what the SEER rating is, but now we need to know what SEER rating should you get for your next air conditioner?  Air conditioners today can be purchased with a thirteen SEER all the way up to a twenty-five SEER. However, if you were to purchase an average air conditioner today you would most likely receive a unit between fourteen and eighteen SEER. This is the range that most folks are used to today.

The reason that most air conditioners found today are at that fourteen level is due to the cost of a higher SEER system. If you go up just slightly to a SEER sixteen system you could be paying as much as six-hundred to eight-hundred dollars more just on the system and install. If you went up to a twenty-one or even higher SEER system then you could be looking at multiple thousands more, sometimes as high as four-thousand dollars more. It is these high prices tags that scare a lot of folks away from the higher SEER models.

There are benefits though to a higher end system such as a SEER twenty-one. With this high end system you can save an estimated fifty to eighty dollars per month on your energy bill. This could be about five-hundred dollars a year if you’re running your air conditioner for about half the year. So, even if your higher end SEER model costs you two-thousand dollars more you could potentially earn that money back after four years of use. Along with that you also get a more stable and consistent temperature throughout your home.

I say potentially in the above paragraph as there are a lot of variables that you need to consider. It is not as simple as an even savings of eighty dollars a month. No, there is more to it than that. First, you need to remember that SEER is the maximum efficiency. Just like we mentioned in our previous section, your SEER rating will go down over the years. So, a SEER twenty-one system will lose efficiency as the years pass. The second point is that repairs on high end SEER systems can be quite expensive. Most contractors state that parts are two or three times as expensive when compared to a standard fourteen SEER system. A three-hundred dollar repair could turn into a nine-hundred dollar repair.

Conclusion

So, to answer your question here it depends on what you are looking for. There is no ‘Good SEER’ but it’s a matter of preference. Do you want to save some money in the beginning and get a fourteen SEER system? Or, do you want to spend more upfront and have that savings pass to you each month?

If it was me buying for my home I would opt for the fourteen SEER system. If you are really concerned about efficiency then maybe you go up to the sixteen. But, I wouldn’t worry about the very high SEER systems unless you are in an area where you are constantly running your air conditioner throughout the year. So, if you live in Phoenix or El Paso then you may consider a high end model. Otherwise folks, I’d stick with the standard fourteen SEER.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

What Is It?

SEER, or Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, is a measurement of efficiency for your air conditioner and heat pump. This number is calculated by the total cooling output of your system divided by the total electric energy input, or Watt-Hours, required. So, in other words cooling power divided by electric power. The SEER rating/ratio is calculated over the entire cooling season as an average. It factors in a constant indoor temperature and then weighs that temperature against outside temperatures ranging from sixty degrees up to one-hundred degrees. By doing this range of temperatures they are able to calculate a typical season.

When you see a SEER rating on an air conditioner that SEER rating is that system’s maximum efficiency. If you went outside and checked the SEER on your current air conditioner it may say SEER fourteen. But, that fourteen rating is the maximum efficiency ratio and if your system is not tuned up every year and taken care of properly then you are most likely not at that SEER level. You will also not reach your maximum SEER rating if you are constantly changing the temperature throughout the day or even week. It is best to have one set temperature and stick with it. This ensures your air conditioner has a set target to reach and stay there.

In 2006 the United States Department of Energy, or DOE, required that air conditioners have a minimum of thirteen SEER. Then in 2015 another change was made by the DOE. This time they changed the minimum SEER from thirteen to fourteen, but only for specific states. This change focused on those states in the south east and south west of the country. This would include your hottest states in the Union including Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, and Texas. If you live in the northern part of the country though then your minimum SEER rating is still at thirteen.

Air conditioners today can be purchased with a thirteen SEER all the way up to a twenty-five SEER. However, if you were to purchase an average air conditioner today you would most likely receive a unit between fourteen and eighteen SEER. This is the range that most folks are used to today.

Pros & Cons of Higher SEER Systems

The higher the SEER rating the more efficient your air conditioner is and the less you have to pay in monthly cooling bills. That being said, it is difficult to determine just how much you will save with a higher SEER system then a lower end one. There are still many factors to consider when looking at your energy bills. How insulated is your home and attic? Is warm air getting in through your windows and other areas? How much do you pay per kilowatts for your power? All of these factors can add or subtract the amount of savings that you’ll see with a higher SEER system.

Along with a more energy efficient system you also get a more stable and comfortable temperature with higher SEER systems. A lower end air conditioner are typically single stage systems and can only run at a single speed. With a single stage system your compressor will turn off and on during moderate temperatures. This results in extra energy costs and also in hot and cold spots throughout your home.

Whereas, a higher end SEER system will have a two stage or variable speed compressor that is automatically adjusted as needed. This allows the system to function like a five ton air conditioner on demanding days and a two ton system during light days. You also get a variable speed blower motor. This ensures that you are getting the maximum efficiency but also that your home will be comfortable during those hot summer months. If you live in a very hot climate such as Arizona then you might consider getting a higher SEER system just for the extra comfort.

The other thing to consider here is that while a higher SEER rating means a more efficient system it also means a much higher upfront expense. Yes, a higher rated SEER system such as one in the twenties is going to cost you a lot more upfront then a standard rated system of fifteen or sixteen. This is where you will need to decide on what you want. Do you want that large upfront expense and cheaper monthly energy bills? Or, do you want a cheaper system but higher month to month bills?

For some folks who can’t decide this there is always the compromise of a middle of the road system. Say for example that I’m looking for a new air conditioner and I don’t want the bare minimum fourteen SEER, but I don’t want to go crazy either and get a twenty-five SEER. In this case, I would look at the sixteen to twenty ranged SEERS. This gives me a fairly efficient system for not near as much cost as a twenty-five SEER. Just keep in mind that a higher SEER system can cost thousands more.

Is It Worth the Money?

That is the question folks. Is it really worth the money to purchase a higher SEER system? Well, to be honest with you, in most cases it’s not. Let’s take a look at why:

A higher SEER model can sometimes cost TWICE as much as a standard thirteen or fourteen SEER model. Some contractors will try to say that a higher SEER model will pay for itself after only a few years, but will it really?

Remember like we mentioned earlier, the SEER rating is the maximum efficiency of your air conditioner. That means it will NOT always be running at that SEER value. Over the years your system will become less and less efficient. That is just how things work. This could be due to wear and tear of your system, dust and grime on your evaporator coils, micro refrigerant leaks in the lines, and so many other variables.

High SEER systems cost a lot more to repair then a standard system. If you have your compressor go out on your fourteen SEER system you could be looking at a three to four-hundred dollar repair. However, if your compressor goes out on a twenty-one SEER system then that could be a one-thousand dollar repair. There’s another downside here folks… remember that two speed compressor we talked about earlier on higher SEER systems? Well, the two speed compressors actually have a higher failure rate than a standard compressor. So, you could be looking at an expensive compressor repair sooner than you’d like.

All of the above being said, you will save money per month using a twenty-one or higher SEER system. Typically, these savings can range between fifty to eighty dollars a month. The question you have to ask yourself though is how often will you be running your air conditioner throughout the year? Will it be all year? Six months? Or, just a few months out of the year?

Let’s say for example you are running it for six months out of the year. Six months times eighty dollars a month equals out to four-hundred and eighty dollars in savings a year. So, now the question is how much more is the SEER system then your standard? Is it another two-thousand dollars? If so, then you it’s going to take you about four or five years to make up for that… and that is assuming you do not have a large part failure during that time.

Conclusion

As I mentioned earlier folks you are going to find that most people throughout the country are using between a fourteen to sixteen SEER system. This is just your normal range. The sixteen SEER gives folks a bit of an efficiency upgrade without costing an arm and a leg. In most cases a sixteen SEER system will only be another eight-hundred dollars or so when compared to a fourteen.

All that being said though, if you are in a hotter climate and you are running your air conditioners almost year round then a higher SEER system may make sense for you. You get that extra savings per month and the constant comfortable temperature.

Ultimately, the final decision is going to be up to you. Do you want that higher upfront cost and potential savings down the road, or do you want to go with the traditional fourteen SEER systems?

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Question

Summers in Kansas can be quite rough. In just about a month from now it’ll be mid-July and we’ll have temperatures consistently above ninety-five degrees. In many cases we may see a week stretch of one-hundred plus degree highs. Besides the local swimming pool the only way we can escape these high temperatures is by retreating to our homes and relying on our central air conditioners to keep us cool.

But, what do we do on these crazy hot days when we realize our air conditioner just isn’t keeping up? We have it set to seventy-four but the thermostat reads eighty-two and the air conditioner hasn’t shut off for hours. In this article we are going to take a look at this exact scenario and figure out the cause behind it as well as taking a look at solutions to help your air conditioner do its job.

There are a variety of reasons that could cause your air conditioner not to be keeping up with your demand. I’m going to break this article up into three sections and take a look at each possible reason. Let’s dive in.

Record Heat

Every once and a while we get one of those insane heat waves where it seems it will just never end. It is day after day of one-hundred plus degree days. It’s miserable. It may be hard to keep these days in perspective as you are living through them, but you have to realize that these extra hot days are the exception. In most cases your air conditioner isn’t designed to withstand such hot temperatures. If you find that it’s one-hundred and six degrees outside and your air conditioner isn’t keeping up… don’t get mad at it! It is most likely working fine; it just wasn’t designed for the punishment of one-hundred degree temperatures.

The air conditioner for your home was made with a specific designed temperature in mind. As an example, let’s say you live in an area where it very rarely gets over ninety-five degrees. Maybe this only occurs a few days a year. It would make sense then to have an air conditioner that is designed to handle ninety-five degree temperatures.

So, if you have a heat wave of constant one-hundred degree days in the middle of August then your air conditioner is not going to keep up. Remember, it is not designed to handle those kinds of temperatures. You will find that most every other air conditioner in your area is having the same problem.

You see HVAC Contractors install air conditioners based off of the climate they are in. So, you would get a different air conditioner if you live in Phoenix compared to Boston. These are two distinct climates and require two distinct air conditioners.

Sure, you could get a ‘Phoenix’ air conditioner for your New England home but it’s going to cost you a lot and it may not even be worth it. I mean, why pay extra for that little bit of extra comfort for a few days out of the year? Soon enough the heat wave will dissipate and your air conditioner will return to normal functionality.

Air Conditioner Problems

If you are experiencing a record heatwave then I wouldn’t say that your air conditioner has a problem but more so that it’s just overloaded. This is the scenario that we discussed in our first section, ‘Record Heat.’ However, if you find that your air conditioner isn’t keeping up and it’s not that hot outside. (Under ninety degrees) Then you may in fact have a problem with your air conditioner.

There is a whole host of reasons of what could be causing your air conditioner to lag behind your demands on a moderate day. I won’t get into every possible reason here but instead direct to you an article that I wrote a few days ago titled, Why Isn’t My Air Conditioner Cooling My Home?

Along with the reasons mentioned in our linked article above there is another possible reason why your air conditioner isn’t keeping up with your thermostat. It could be as simple as your air conditioner is too small for your home. You may have a three ton system installed and in actually need a five ton. If this was the case then it would result in your air conditioner running constantly and never fully catching up to your home’s cooling needs.

If you suspect this is the case for your air conditioner I would recommend calling a service technician to inspect your air conditioner and see if it is in fact too small for your home. The downside here is that if this is the case then you’ll either have to stick with the air conditioner you have, supplement your cooling with portable/window air conditioners, or purchase a whole new larger central air system.

Heat Proofing Your Home

During these heatwaves your air conditioner is going to need your help. There are some things that you can do to keep your home cool and take some stress off of your air conditioner.

We’ll start with the basic ones and then work our ways up towards the more complex. First, you should ensure that you have all of your celling fans on and running. Along with the ceiling fans it would help to have standalone fans as well. We have one room in our house that just doesn’t seem to get cool no matter what we do. The other day we added a fan and kept it on at medium all day. The temperature difference has drastically improved. Sometimes it can be as simple as just adding a fan.

There are all kinds of ways for heat to get into your home. The most impactful though can be your windows, especially your south and west facing windows. In the days of extreme heat these windows can act almost like a greenhouse and actually amplify the heat it’s sending into your home. In order to prevent this most folks close their shades and curtains throughout the day. I have blackout curtains installed in my master just to ensure none of that heat gets in there.

However, if you find that you don’t like living in a cave with no natural light coming in you can invest in what’s called a Solar Shade Screen. These screens actually block a large portion of the sun’s rays. (Up to seventy-five percent.) You order them in a spool and they can then be cut as needed to fit across your screen. You can find an example product on Amazon.com by clicking here. Many users see a reduced temperature in their rooms after installing and they don’t have to have the curtains or blinds drawn all day.

The next big step in reducing heat into your home is going through and identifying all of the air leaks. Air leaks can be everywhere throughout your home. Starting off, it would make sense to check every one of your windows and caulk them if necessary. Along with the windows you should also check your dryer vent. In a lot of cases warm air can sneak in through this.

Besides windows and the dryer vent you should be checking two other prime areas: Your basement/crawl space and your attic. Typically the basement/crawl space isn’t as big of a deal during the summer as heat rises, but it is still good to check and it’s one less thing you have to do when winter comes.

The attic though is the big one. That is where most of heat is getting into your home from. The first thing I would do is check the door to your attic. How warm does it feel? Does it feel like heat is coming through? If so, then you have already identified some of the problem. Check the seams around the door and caulk what you can. Then, go up into the attic and check the insulation levels.

When you close the attic door take a good look around the attic. Are you able to see light from your main floor peeking through? If so, then this isn’t a good thing! That means you’ve got air flowing through. If possible caulk these holes up the best you can. This may mean working around obstructions like vents or ductwork found in the attic. Please be sure to exercise caution while in the attic as you don’t want to make a wrong step. You could sending yourself through the celling by mistake.

Once you have sealed all of the holes that you have found it is time to take a look at the insulation. How much is there? Are you able to see any bare spots? If so, then you will need to add additional layers.

When the insulation has been laid, the holes sealed, and the other steps we mentioned above you should see an improvement in the temperature inside your home. Obviously, this depends from home to home. I’ve seen some reports of a couple degrees difference and others of only a slight improvement. It all depends how your house is to start. If you’ve got leaking air everywhere then yes, of course, you’re going to see an improvement.

Conclusion

A lot of folks get concerned when they see that their air conditioner isn’t keeping up with what temperature they have set on their thermostat. Right away they get nervous and then call their air conditioner technician to come take a look. I am hoping though, that after reading this article you feel a bit more confident on why your air conditioner isn’t keeping up and that in many cases it isn’t the end of the world.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

How To

The summers in Kansas can be brutal. In the July and August months we can see one-hundred plus degree temperatures for weeks at a time. If you couple that with the high humidity it can be an outright miserable experience. Most folks get away from this heat by retreating to the confines of their home where their central air conditioner keeps them nice and cool.

What do you do though when you come home only to find that your central air conditioner isn’t working anymore? Perhaps you come home and notice the home is much hotter than it should be. You go and check the vents and feel air being pushed through… but its lukewarm air. Or, perhaps you go and check the outside unit and see that it’s covered in frost and ice. Whatever you encounter the end result is the same: Your home is not being cooled.

So, how do you fix this? How can you get your air conditioner working again? Well, in most cases folks you will have to call a service company to come out and troubleshoot your air conditioner to determine what the problem is. That being said, before you make that call there are a few things that you can check yourself to ensure that you aren’t looking at a simple fix. After all, it’s much better to fix it yourself then have to pay for a service call.

Do-It-Yourself Checks

Before you end up calling a local service company to take a look at your system there are a few things that you can do to troubleshoot your system. First things first though, if your system is covered in ice or frost then turn off your air conditioner and wait for the ice/frost to melt. Once the ice has dissipated we can began troubleshooting. (If there is no ice then turn your system off and start troubleshooting right away.)

Ok, now that we’ve got our system turned off there are a variety of things that you can check and do before we call that tech out. The very first thing I check every time when something goes wrong with my system is the filter. Ideally, your filter should be changed every few months to ensure that clean air is circulating through your home and that dust does not get trapped within your air conditioner/furnace.

If you have not changed your air filter for quite a while then this could be the problem that you are having. 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 out twenty or thirty dollars. If you are unsure on what kind of air filter to purchase check out our ‘Best Air Conditioner Filter’ guide by clicking here. Also, when you are changing your air filter take your vacuum with you with a hose attachment. Then, when you take the old filter out insert that hose attachment in there and suck up any remaining dust that remains. This will ensure you get a nice clean air before you insert the new filter. (Some people use brooms for this as well to sweep out any remaining dust.)

The next logical place that I am going to check is the thermostat. This may sound like a stupid question, but is it set to cool? If it’s not, don’t feel ashamed. I’ve had it happen to me as well. My toddler thought it’d be a fun idea to play with the thermostat before we left for the day. When I came home I was greeted with a surprise. If the thermostat is set to cool then what is the fan setting at? Not all thermostats have this setting but if you do have a fan setting make sure that it is set to ‘Auto’ and not set to ‘On.’ If you do have it set to ‘On’ then you will have the blower motor blowing air constantly… even if the air conditioner isn’t on. So, you’ll get warm air blowing through your home. Lastly, it could be that the thermostat itself is bad and isn’t reading temperatures correctly. If this is the case then this would fall more in line with a service call.

Another area to check is your drainage line. The drainage line comes off your inside unit and should be a smaller plastic tube. The end of the tube should be routed to a drain in your floor. This drainage tube attaches to your condenser. Remember, that your condenser removes heat AND humidity from your home. When removing humidity condensation can occur and water can form. This is what your drainage line is for. Occasionally, your drainage line can get clogged with dirt and debris. If enough is in there it will prevent water from flowing outwards. The water will get stuck and will either find a way out to spill on your floor or it will back up towards the condenser and freeze. The freezing water will crawl back up the tube and may even freeze your condenser. All you need to do to correct this is wait for the ice to thaw and then clean out your tube so that water can flow freely to the drain.

There is one more check we can do before we move outside. 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.

The last check that you can do before you need to call a service technician is inspecting your condenser on your outside unit. The condenser is located on the side of your outside air conditioner. When looking at it you will notice hundreds of fins all around it. How dirty do they look? Are there leaves, dirt, and other debris wedged in there? If so, get a garden hose with a controllable nozzle. Set the nozzle to a low setting and gently spray the side of your AC unit (The condenser) with the water. Be sure not to use high pressure water as you could risk damaging the fins of the condenser. This can be an expensive repair, so be careful. Also take care not to spray water directly on top of your air conditioner.

Service Call Worthy

Ok folks, so we now have gone through every possible thing we can do before calling an HVAC company. There are some things though that we just aren’t able to fix. If none of the solutions we offered above have helped then you are most likely looking at one of these scenarios that will require a trained professional.

Low Refrigerant

The first and most common issue in HVAC troubleshooting is that you are low on 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.

Faulty Compressor

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.

Duct Work

Depending on how comfortable you are, this could be something you could do yourself. I would still recommend contacting a professional though. You could be lacking air flow due to faulty ducts. This problem doesn’t usually just ‘happen’ randomly though. This is something you would encounter when moving into a new home. For example, my old house had a big old gash in the duct work in the basement. When I walked by I could feel the cold air coming through the hole. I did my redneck fix and duct taped the hell out of it. It fixed the problem.

Depending on your house your duct work is going to run through your basement and your ceiling. Inspect all of these ducts and look for any visible signs of damage or even open areas. Please take extra caution when working in your attic as a wrong step can not only send you through the ceiling but can also lead to injury. The same caution should be exercised if you are working in a crawl space. (Many folks like to put poison in their crawl spaces to deter animals and pests… sometimes this can affect humans as well.)

If the duct work only needs a few patches here and there then you could take the duct tape approach. But, if you are finding some glaring issues then it would be best to call an HVAC tech for repairs.

Faulty Blower Motor or Fan Motor

These are two different distinct parts but they accomplish similar goals. The blower motor is located inside your home and has the goal of blowing the air across the cold evaporator coils. The then chilled air flows throughout your home. If you have a low quality blower motor then you will struggle to have that cold air pushed through your room. This can be solved by replacing your old blower motor with a new model. Also, in some cases the blower motor that comes with your home can be improperly sized. The motor itself could be working perfectly but it’s just not large enough to push the air through your home. A larger blower motor would solve this issue.

The fan motor is located on the outside part of your air conditioner. This is the motor that gives the power to the fan that is located at the top of your outside air conditioner. The goal here is to expel the heat. If the fan, or motor, is not working correctly then you will have trouble removing the heat from your home.

Other Misc Parts Within Air Conditioner

While we have covered all of the most common air conditioner failures there are always one off occurrences that can happen. As an example, in my old house our air conditioner stopped working entirely. We called a tech out to service the machine and found that a capacitor had blown. So, while it wasn’t the blower motor or the fan motor that went out… it was the capacitor that kept those motors running that broke.

Air conditioners are complex machines and you will always have a risk of those smaller ancillary parts and components giving out as well. If you’re not sure it is always best to call a technician out to service the equipment.

Conclusion

Well folks, after reading this you should have a pretty good idea of what you can and can’t do when it comes to servicing your air conditioner. While some of you may want to go above the do-it-yourself section we should inform you that the handling of refrigerant is strictly regulated.

You are not legally allowed to handle HFC or HCFC refrigerants unless you are Section 608 Clean Air Act certified with the Environmental Protection Agency. If you do not have this certification then you cannot legally handle or charge air conditioning equipment.

Thanks for reading and I hope that I was able to answer your questions,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Question

As I write this article it is in the middle of June and it is hot outside. Yesterday the temperatures reached over ninety-five degrees. It is only going to get hotter. As we get into this hot weather there is nothing I like more than coming into a nice cool home after working out in the yard for a few hours.

That cool house though is something that I, and a lot of others, take advantage of. It’s not something that you think about it just happens. Typically, you don’t think about it until something goes wrong with your air conditioner. And, of course, it always go wrong on the hottest day of the year.

In this article we are going to discuss when and if you should replace your older central air conditioner.

When to Replace

First, let’s understand just how long a normal central air conditioner should last. If you look around online or even talk with a few seasoned pros they will all say the same thing. A typical air conditioner will last between ten to fifteen years. Yes, there are always exceptions, but it is over and past that ten year mark when you begin seeing component failures occur.

Now that you know the approximate failure age of air conditioners we can now begin to see when to replace your central system. Before doing anything with their air conditioner most people wait for a failure. Let’s say it’s a hot summer’s day and it’s one-hundred degrees outside. The air conditioner is working overtime trying to reach that seventy-two degrees temperature that you set. Then, at some time during the day, something on the air conditioner fails. It could be a compressor. It could be a capacitor. It could be a number of things. Whatever it is, it needs a repair.

This is where a decision needs to be made. If your system is five years old then the best option is to pay for the repair and move on. (In most cases.) However, if your air conditioner is over ten years old then it is worth seeing how much the repair is going to be.

Is the repair going to cost a few hundred, or close to a thousand? What are the chances that you are going to need another repair in the future? A lot of times once a failure occurs it is only a matter of time before another one happens. When you get that first repair bill you will need to determine if you want to patch the leaky boat or purchase a whole new boat.

If you do decide to purchase a new system there are a few benefits that you will receive. The first is that new systems come with warranties. While most companies may offer a few years warranty I have seen some offer all the way up to ten years. This warranty protects you from unexpected repairs cost down the road.

Another benefit that you’ll see is that older air conditioners lose efficiency with each passing year. So, the energy cost involved in running the same air conditioner new versus when it’s fifteen years old will be quite different. When installing a new system you will see a savings in your energy bill. (This holds especially true if you are replacing an older R-22 refrigerant system to a newer R-410A refrigerant system.)

Conclusion

Alright folks, so now you have a good gauge on when you should replace your central system. Just know that there is no perfect time to do it. In a lot of cases it is a guessing game. If you make this repair now will your air conditioner make it through the rest of the season without any issues? Or, will you experience another failure just a few weeks later?

No one knows for sure what will happen. It is up to you to make that determination.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Question

Your central air conditioner is by far one of the most expensive appliances in your home. In some cases a new central air system can cost you a few thousand dollars all the way up to five-thousand dollars. I don’t care who you are, that is a lot of money to face all at once. The worst thing you can do is end up purchasing a new central air conditioner too early. What if your current system still has some years in it?

That is exactly what we’re going to take a look at in this article. Just how long can a central air conditioner last? What is the average life span? When should we repair and when should we replace? Let’s take a look:

Air Conditioner Life Span

In most cases the average central air conditioner will last between ten to fifteen years. When your system reaches this age you should begin thinking about purchasing a new one, especially if you have an expensive repair come up.

Typically, if you have one repair come up on an older unit it is only a matter of time before the next one arrives. After that there are only stop-gap measures until the next repair. The cycle repeats so on and so on until you finally break down and purchase a new system.

While ten to fifteen years is a guideline you may see your air conditioner die before this if the conditioner was too small for your home. If you have a three ton system but needed a five ton for your home then your air conditioner will be working overtime to try and reach your desired temperature. This extra strain could cause premature failure of the system. The same can be said for oversized air conditioners. Instead of always running though the system will ‘short cycle.’ In other words it will turn on and off rapidly which causes excessive wear and tear and you will see premature failure like we just mentioned above.

On the other hand though, if you are studious with the maintenance and of taking the proper care of your air conditioner then you could see the system last all the way to twenty years. In some cases I have heard of systems last all the way to twenty-five years. In fact, I was looking at a house the other day that had a central system that was twenty-two years old. It was a beast and the condenser was rusted to hell, but it was still running and providing cool air. If you ensure proper maintenance is taken care of then you can extend the life of your air conditioner.

When to Replace

Now that you know the approximate failure age of air conditioners we can now begin to see when to replace your central system. Before doing anything with their air conditioner most people wait for a failure. Let’s say it’s a hot summer’s day and it’s one-hundred degrees outside. The air conditioner is working overtime trying to reach that seventy-two degrees temperature that you set. Then, at some time during the day, something on the air conditioner fails. It could be a compressor. It could be a capacitor. It could be a number of things. Whatever it is, it needs a repair.

This is where a decision needs to be made. If your system is five years old then the best option is to pay for the repair and move on. (In most cases.) However, if your air conditioner is over ten years old then it is worth seeing how much the repair is going to be.

Is the repair going to cost a few hundred, or close to a thousand? What are the chances that you are going to need another repair in the future? A lot of times once a failure occurs it is only a matter of time before another one happens. When you get that first repair bill you will need to determine if you want to patch the leaky boat or purchase a whole new boat.

If you do decide to purchase a new system there are a few benefits that you will receive. The first is that new systems come with warranties. While most companies may offer a few years warranty I have seen some offer all the way up to ten years. This warranty protects you from unexpected repairs cost down the road.

Another benefit that you’ll see is that older air conditioners lose efficiency with each passing year. So, the energy cost involved in running the same air conditioner new versus when it’s fifteen years old will be quite different. When installing a new system you will see a savings in your energy bill. (This holds especially true if you are replacing an older R-22 refrigerant system to a newer R-410A refrigerant system.)

Conclusion

In the end folks it is a guessing game. There is no perfect time to replace your air conditioner. The only thing that you can do is use the information that is given to you and make an educated guess. Just try not to get caught in the trap of making constant repairs to a dying unit. If you find that you are having multiple repairs a year then it may be time to scrap and replace.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

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

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.

There is no better indicator or barometer within the industry then the Carrier Corporation. After all, they are one of the biggest and most stable air conditioning manufacturers out there. They are one the ‘trend setters’ within the industry. When a business decision is made everyone watches, observes, and they may even imitate. The same can be said when they choose a new refrigerant.

That is exactly what happened. The Carrier Corporation along with Chemours announced today that Carrier would be transitioning their ducted residential and commercial air conditioning products away from R-410A and over to R-454B. This new refrigerant R-454B, also known as XL41, is an HFO refrigerant from Chemours under their Opteon brand name. The transition for Carrier is scheduled to begin by the year 2023. This is a big deal folks. This could very well be the beginning of the end for R-410A. Especially if other companies began to follow suit.

As most of you know there has been a battle going on for the past few years as to what refrigerant will be the golden choice to replace R-410A. It seems like Puron has only been around for a few years but now there are already companies and countries pushing it out and wanting a better more climate friendly alternative. As I write this article today there is still not one clear and defined winner. None of this isn’t for lack of trying though. There are all sorts of 410A alternatives out there, the problem is none of them were gaining significant traction. This news from the Carrier corporation adds fuel to the fire for R-454B. Along with Carrier some other prominent companies have announced their support for XL41 including Johnson Controls and York. With Carrier coming on board I wouldn’t be surprised if we begin to see more companies announce their support in the not too distant future.

The big distinction here and the reason companies are switching to XL41 is that it has a significantly lessened Global Warming Potential then the other alternatives out there. R-454B has a GWP of only four-hundred and sixty-seven. That is nearly eighty percent less GWP then R-410A and even thirty percent less then the proposed R-32 alternative. This very low GWP gives companies and manufacturers peace of mind knowing that they will meet future climate targets today if they make the switch. I would be apt to purchase one of these machines if I knew it was going to stand the test of time and not have to go through a phase down/phase out period.

The downside though with this newer HFO refrigerant is that ASHRAE has it rated as an A2L. The 2L is what may worry some of you, as that means that the refrigerant has lower flammability rating and a lower burning velocity. While some of you may already have experience working with lower or even mildly flammable refrigerants others may not. In reality though folks, flammable refrigerants are perfectly safe as long as you follow all of the proper precautions and safety procedures.

Conclusion

For more information on R-454B please click this link to be taken to our official fact and information sheet on the refrigerant. This sheet attempts to provide any and all information you would ever need on 454B. Rather it’s the GWP, the chemistry, what’s in the blend, the temperature glide, or anything else we aim to have it in our fact sheet. If while reading you find something that isn’t accurate or if you found that we missed something please do not hesitate to reach out to me and let me know. I want RefrigerantHQ to be a great resource for those of us in the industry and I can’t do that if I have mistakes up!

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Sources

Some of us absolutely love summer, because it means more pool time and tanning by the beach. However, when we’re back home, it’s our HVAC system that’s the real hero. Keeping your home’s temperature comfortable is what it does best, but this might also mean increasing energy bills. And yes, these bills can burn quite a hole in your wallet if it goes unchecked.

The primary objective of maintaining an HVAC system properly is to ensure that it’s functioning at its peak of efficiency. This also increases its lifespan. When you get your system checked, you’re bound to find a few faults that need fixing. However, there are some simple steps you can also take to keep your unit in good condition.

Let’s look at some of these:

AC
AC
  1. Cleaning the dehumidifier

The dehumidifier is quite an essential component of your HVAC system. Especially during hotter seasons, it tends to work overtime. So, to clean it, you can remove the outer casing and allow it to air dry for a few hours. Once it’s dry, you can use a dry cloth, a brush cleaner or even a handheld vacuum cleaner to remove the dirt and dust that has settled in it. When the dehumidifier goes unchecked and uncleaned, it can cause clogging over a prolonged period of time.

  1. Check the drainage hole

Did you know about the ring drainage hole in your HVAC system? It’s located right below the fins used for evaporation. It’s quite easy for dust to clog up in this small space, and can inevitably affect the efficiency of your unit. Keeping that in mind, you can locate the drainage hole and use a small object to clean it out. Ideally, a cotton bud or hairpin should do the trick. However, you must be careful not to puncture or crack anything in this hole, since it’s one of the more delicate parts of the unit.

  1. Filter replacement

Find out if your filter is a permanent or a temporary one. Ideally, a temporary filter needs to be replaced every once in two months. You can either do this manually or seek the help of a professional. For a permanent filter, replacement is necessary only once in 6 months, but regular cleaning is an absolute must. If you read the user’s guide carefully, there will be steps on how to carefully remove the filters and clean it. The main aim here, again, is to avoid any clogging of debris in the filter. Clean filters can really contribute to reducing your energy bill as well.

  1. Clear surroundings

Most HVAC systems have their exhaust units outside your home. This means that there’s direct exposure to sunlight, vegetation, rain/snowfall, and other such external factors. Of course, all of this can and will affect the efficiency of your system, which is why you need to be doubly cautious about protecting it. Firstly, it’s necessary to keep it at least a few feet above the ground. Secondly, ensure that there are no objects damaging the unit in any way. Finally, do a regular clean up to remove any debris that might be stuck in or on it. If necessary, you can also protect the unit with an outer covering.

  1. Opt for smart solutions

A lot of things available today are “smart,” so to speak, and it’s a good idea to make the most of that. There are smart thermostats available that indicate the optimal functioning temperature for your HVAC system. This temperature is set based on the current season and also the environment within your home. There are also settings which change the temperature when you’re at home and when you’re not, which helps with reducing the load on the unit and saves energy as well.

  1. Say yes to expert help

As many tips as you might follow by yourself, seeking the assistance of professionals is always a must. They always have the best advice on maintaining your HVAC unit properly and can address whatever air conditioning and service needs you might have. The best option is to schedule periodic service check-ups with your consulting HVAC company, and stay in touch with them for immediate assistance whenever required. In fact, spending on regular services costs a lot lesser than not maintaining your unit the right way, which can lead to heavier expenses in the future.

Final Thoughts

Summertime maintenance of your HVAC system cannot be more crucial than you think. Even your service provider will suggest taking better care of your unit when the climate gets hot. So, with these useful tips in mind, your next power bill won’t be giving your sleepless nights, and your HVAC system should work and feel as good as new!

How Much Does It Cost?

Purchasing a new air conditioner is a big decision for a lot of folks, but so many people who look to buy an air conditioner do not know what to look for. They do not know what price to expect. Instead, they receive a quote or two from various companies and end up going with the most competitive. While this is fine, I believe it is best to understand what you are getting into, exactly what you are buying, and what considerations that need to be measured. After all, if you are going to end up spending two, three, or even five-thousand dollars you want to make sure that you are not only getting your money’s worth but also that you understand what you are spending your money on.

Now before we get into the meat and potatoes of this article I want to first warn you that this will be an in-depth guide aimed at providing you everything you would ever need to know about central air conditioners, what kind to buy, how much you can expect on the cost, and how much you can expect on the installation. If you are in a hurry then you can scroll down to the bottom of this article to our ‘Cost,’ section and read the break down there. That being said, I do highly encourage you to read through this guide to ensure that you have the proper information and knowledge before you make that all important decision.

Repair or Replace?

Each of you may be reading this article in a completely different situation. That’s the wonder of writing, I’m reaching people from all over the country and the globe from all walks of life. It could be August in the dead of summer and your air conditioner has finally fell off its last leg. You received a quote to fix it from a few different contractors and each one that came in was over one-thousand dollars. Here you now debating rather or not to you should invest the money into repairing your system or if you should bite the bullet and purchase a new air conditioning system.

Making this decision can be tough and a lot thought needs to be taken into consideration before you make the choice. Let’s look at a couple of them here:

  • How Old Is Your Current System?
    • Most central systems will last between twelve to fifteen years. Some of you may get lucky and have yours last for nearly twenty years. When you are looking at a possible repair bill, especially an expensive one, it is best to consider how old your air conditioner is. Is it five years and is this the first problem you’ve had? If so then it would make sense to repair. However, if your unit is ten years or older, or if you have had a whole host of repairs over the years, then it makes sense to replace your system. One of the worst feelings is spending a thousand dollars on a needed repair only to have something else go wrong just a few months later. As AC systems age the chance of breakage and part failure increases. There comes a time where the decision needs to be made to replace.
  • R-22 Freon or R-410A Puron?
    • Some of you may be scratching your heads at this comment, but let me explain. R-22 and R-410A are both different types of refrigerant. R-22 is an older refrigerant that is no longer used in newer air conditioner models. It was phased out from new machines in 2010, and because of this phase out the price on R-22 refrigerant has gone up and up. If your air conditioner is from before 2010 chances are that it is using R-22 Freon. If that is the case and you need a refrigerant recharge on a repair then you are going to be shocked at the bill. On the other side, R-410A is about one-third/one-fourth the cost of R-22.
    • The point I’m trying to make here folks is that if you have an older R-22 unit then it may be time to replace with a newer R-410A system. The 410A refrigerant is far cheaper and it is more efficient then R-22. So, you can expect to see some savings on your monthly energy bill. If you stick with your older R-22 system then repairs are going to occur more frequently and those expensive refrigerant recharge bills will begin to accumulate. There will come a time where the cost of R-22 refrigerant will end up being about the same as a new 410A system.
  • Does Your Furnace Need Replaced To?
    • Another thing to consider before making the decision to repair or replace is how old your furnace is. Your furnace and air conditioner work together with each other and most of the time contractors will offer you a significant price break if you purchase both a furnace and an air conditioner. My family and I did this a few years back with our tax refund money. The total bill with install and everything ended up just shy of five-thousand dollars for both a furnace, air conditioner, and a new blower motor. If we had purchase these individually we would have spent quite a bit more.
  • Expense
    • For a lot of people the expense of purchasing a new air conditioner can be intimidating. Not a lot of people have a few thousand dollars in savings and for those who don’t the only other option they have is their credit card. While I agree you have to be careful here and make the best financial decision for your family, please do not keep reinvesting money into a failing system. If you are having repair after repair then your air conditioner is turning into a money pit and the best decision is to purchase a new system. Depending on the time of year that you are purchasing some contractors will offer low interest financing. If you get lucky you may even find a few offering zero percent interest.

What Size Do I Need?

Bigger isn’t always better, no really! Understanding what size of air conditioner that you need for home can be a very important aspect on your purchasing decision. In my previous home we had an air conditioner that was only a few years old but no matter what we did there were certain rooms that would just never get cool. After being consulted by a contractor we found that we had a much smaller air conditioner then what our home needed. That meant that the air conditioner just couldn’t keep up with the demand of our home. With that in mind, let’s take a look now at air conditioner sizing and how they are measured so you can avoid the mistake I had with my home.

Air conditioner’s size are measured in two ways. The first are what’s known as BTUs or British Thermal Units. BTUs are the traditional measurement of heat. The more BTUs an air conditioner has the more power it has to remove heat from your home. Don’t fall for the misconception though that more power is always better. If you go out and purchase a gigantic system for your home then you are going to run into a few things. The first is that your system will be using much more energy then is needed for your home and you will end up paying extra per month to cool your home. The second is that if you have a dehumidifier that is too large for your home you will end up running into hot and cold spots throughout the home. On the other side of the coin if you purchase a system that is much too small for your home, like my home had, then your system will be running constantly costing you money and your house will never be fully cooled.

The typical rule of thumb that most people use when determining how many BTUs their home needs is thirty BTUs per square foot of space. So, let’s say we have a twelve-hundred square foot home. In this case we will need a thirty-six thousand BTU system to cool the home. (1,200 square feet * 30 BTUs = 36,000 BTUs) Does that make sense? Good, now we can begin to get into the next set of measurements for an air conditioner.

As we get into larger air condition systems the BTU rating begins to go away and is replaced instead by Tons. No, these are not tons like you are used to with two-thousand pounds. These tons actually represent about twelve-thousand BTUs. So, one ton equals twelve-thousand BTUs. When dealing with central air conditioners most everything is done in tons. The general rule that most contractors follow is one ton per five-hundred square feet of the home. So, as an example my home is right about thirteen-hundred square feet. I could get away with a two ton system or a three ton system. (Two ton if my home is shaded for most of the day and with a straight layout with no vaulted ceilings.) Knowing this size estimate you can now begin to see what size unit you will need for your home.

While the above are guidelines and general rules it is best practice to have a contractor come out and determine exactly what size unit that you need. A professional contractor will not only look at square footage but also the layout of your home, if you have vaulted ceilings, if the basement is unfinished, if the house faces the sun throughout most of the day, and many other factors that need to be considered. Remember, you are paying these guys for their expertise, don’t be afraid to use it and to ask them questions.

Efficiency Measurements

Another great thing to ask your contractor before purchasing is the efficiency measurement of the unit that you are being quoted. Obviously, the more efficient your air conditioner is the less you will end up paying per month. I mentioned earlier the two differing refrigerants R-22 and R-410A. If you are going from an R-22 machine over to a new 410A unit then you will notice a monthly energy savings as 410A is more efficient.

Air conditioner efficiency are measured by two numbers known as the Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER) and the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER). These two numbers help to determine just how efficient your unit is and what you can expect from it. What number you should use depends on where you are in the country. If you are in a zone where there is not much volatility throughout the year then you will want to use the EER number. An example area of this would be the south such as Florida or Arizona. However, if you are in an area with an ever changing climate then you will want to review the SEER number. Over here in Kansas our seasons change faster then I can enjoy them so we would use the SEER number.

Now by Federal law all new central air systems have to have a minimum of thirteen SEER. This is to ensure that we are not needlessly wasting energy. Thirteen is the minimum, but how about the maximum? What are some of the better units out there rated at?

Depending on how crazy you want to get some models go all the way up to twenty-five SEER. Be wary though folks, that buying a model with a very high SEER can add A LOT to the price of your new system. Yes, you will save money per month and year of having the unit, but is that money saved going to cancel out the upfront cost you spent? Over on KobieComplete.com I found a SEER calculator. This calculator allows you to see just how much money you would save per year by upgrading to a higher efficient model. It is up to you if you want to go with the bare bones minimum SEER or if you want to do the top of the line model.

Cost Factors

Alright folks we are now on to the part you’ve all been waiting for, the cost! Now before I just throw a number out at you I want you to realize that there are four main factors that can affect your cost. We are going to take a look at each of them and then give you an estimated cost for a small, medium, and large sized home.

  1. Brand
    • Brand can be a huge part of the price when purchasing a new system. You will also find that depending on the contractor you are working with that they may only have access to certain brands. A lot of these brand names you may recognize already such as Lennox, Trane, or Carrier. These are all great products but I also want to point out a few lesser known brands such as Goodman, York, Amana. I’m not going to get too in-depth here as I could write a whole article on just brands, just for now be sure to do your research on the brands and realize that the price between brands can vary wildly. You could pay fifteen-hundred for one brand and three-thousand for a different of the same size and efficiency.
  2. Size
    • We touched on this earlier in our previous section of ‘What Size Do I Need?’ The cost on your new unit can be greatly affected by how large or small your home is. The larger the home the larger the system you will need. In some cases larger homes may even need two separate central air systems. As an example, in a thirty-five hundred square foot home you may have a two ton system for the upstairs and a five tons system for the main floor and basement.
  3. Efficiency
    • Again, we touched on this briefly already but I want to bring it up again. If you get a standard efficiency system or something just above the thirteen SEER requirement you won’t see much impact on your cost. However, if you want a super efficient system then you need to be prepared to pay for it.
  4. Installation
    • Installation can be as easy as pie or it can be a complicated mess. It all depends on who you have installing and what your home’s setup is like. Before making a quote most contractors will walk through your home to understand what is needed, what the install will be like, and any other information that they need.
      • If you already have an existing central air system then your contractor will need to remove the old unit. In order for them to do this they need to vacuum out the old refrigerant and store it in a recovery cylinder. They will typically haul away your old unit for you. This is the standard replace and install that most contractors are used too.
      • How is the duct work on your home? Will any work need to be done before the new system can be installed? Are there rooms that need ducts routed? Or, are the ducts damaged in areas and need to be replaced? All of these possibilities can raise the install cost.
      • If you are purchasing a completely new system with no existing air conditioner then this may end up rising the install cost. You may also need to purchase a blower motor, deal with duct work or refrigerant copper tube routing, and a host of other things whereas with an replacing an existing system a lot of this setup has already been completed.
      • One good thing is that if you need to replace your furnace most contractors will give you a hefty discount for buying both a furnace and an air conditioner at the same time. This is how my wife and I were able to get both a new furnace and an air conditioner for under five-thousand dollars. If you are considering a new furnace it may pay to ask your contractor if they offer deals for a joint purchase.

Cost

Alright folks, so we are now on to the cost estimate. Now, please keep in mind that this is an estimate and there are countless factors like I mentioned above that can change these numbers. For the estimates below we are going to assume that you want a standard efficiency system, an average priced brand, and will have a regular replacement installation.

  • Small Homes – 1,000 Square Feet
    • In this example we’re going to use a two ton system for the one-thousand square foot home. Are rough estimate puts the price tag between three-thousand dollars upwards to three-thousand five-hundred dollars.
  • Medium Home – 2,000 Square Feet
    • In this example we’ll be going with a three ton central air system for the two-thousand square foot home. This size is what most homeowners will end up purchasing. RefrigerantHQ’s rough estimate is between four-thousand dollars upwards to four-thousand five-hundred dollars.
  • Large Home – 3,500 Square Feet
    • Ok folks, now we are on to the big homes that are three-thousand square feet or more. These ones can be a bit trickier as there are a lot of options that could be done. It all depends on the layout of your home. For this article we’re going to go with a five ton central system. Some could make the argument of having two systems installed one for upstairs and one for downstairs, but in this example we’re going to go with one five ton system. Our estimated cost for this unit is between four-thousand dollars upwards to six-thousand dollars.

Now, if you are looking for just an overall average across the country on what it will cost to replace a central air conditioner then I would say four-thousand dollars is a pretty solid number that encompasses the pricier units and the cheaper. Please note though folks that these numbers are estimates and the actual estimate that you receive from a contractor can be different. These numbers are meant as a guideline to give you knowledge before you purchase.

I hope this article was helpful and thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

How Much Does It Cost?

Depending on where you live in the United States air conditioners may be a nice to have feature for your home or they may be a lifesaver. I’m originally from Michigan and the further north you go up in that State the less likely you are find air conditioners and if you do find them they are usually an older window unit that is rarely used. Most of the time it just doesn’t get cold enough up there. On the other side of the coin, if you’re in Miami then an air conditioner has to be a necessity to escape the constant heat and humidity.

The question on how much air conditioners cost can be a tricky one as there are a lot of factors that can go into it. It’s not as easy to say that all air conditioners are two-thousand dollars. No, there are many questions that we need to ask you first before we can give you an educated estimate on what to expect.

What Kind of Air Conditioner Are You Looking For?

The biggest question is what kind of air conditioner are you looking for? There are four main kinds of air conditioners and each one has it’s own set of Pros and Cons. Let’s take a look at each one now and you can then determine what you are looking for.

Window Air Conditioners

  • Window air conditioners are right up there with central systems as one of the most common air conditioners on the market. These are the units you see hanging from high rise apartment buildings and from older farmhouses. Window units provide a great alternative air conditioner for those that cannot afford a large central system. Most of the time these window units are a tenth the cost of a central system and they are also much easier to install. Nearly anyone can install one of these whereas with a central system you will need a trained professional.
  • The downside with these are the visual appeal and also the power. Most of the time a window unit just doesn’t look the best hanging out of a home. You also end up losing access to one of your windows.
  • Along with that, window units are not meant to cool entire homes. Instead, they are more focused for specific rooms or living areas. While some the larger models can cool up to one-thousand square feet you will find that most models cool between one-hundred to five-hundred square feet.

Portable Air Conditioners

  • Portable air conditioners are very similar to window units. They both have a very easy install process. With window units all you have to do is mount the unit, secure it, and there you go. Portables are only slightly different. Instead of mounting the unit all you have to do is route an exhaust pipe through one of your windows. The pipe comes with sealers as well so that you can block the entire window to prevent hot/cold air from getting in/escaping.
  • Portables again are again about the a tenth the cost of traditional central air systems. They can be a bit more expensive then window units, but not by much.
  • These units are great if you want to cool your home room by room, or if you want to cool your living room during the day and your bedroom at night. The portability makes it easy to changes rooms.

Ductless Mini Split Air Conditioners

  • I am a big fan of ductless air conditioners. They offer a great alternative for those of you who want the power of a central system but not the expense. Along with that, they give you that extra step up from a window or portable air conditioner.
  • Ductless Mini Splits are quite a bit more expensive then a window or portable unit. They are about a third or half the price of a central system.
  • Please note that when buying these systems you will most likely need professional installation before you can operate. This will result in additional install expenses. I would not recommend installing one of these yourself unless you know what you are doing.
  • Ductless systems have much more power than a window or portable unit and they also look much better. A window system is hanging out your window and it looks unattractive. A portable unit takes up floor space and has to have the exhaust routed across your floor and out your window. Ductless systems actually mount to your wall and only need a two to three inch hole through the wall for the refrigerant tubing. Most people barely even notice it’s in the room.
  • A lot of ductless systems also come with a built in heat-pump and electric heating coils. That means along with an air conditioner you also get heating. This is a great feature and works amazingly well for detached recreational rooms. We have a garage I’m thinking about finishing the loft in. A ductless system would be a great solution for climate control.

Central Air Conditioners

  • These are the most common air conditioners and the ones that you are most likely familiar with already. These are the large central systems that you see on the outside of homes. They intake the warm air in your home through various intake vents throughout your home and then disperse the cold air back through your home through the output vents.
  • While these are the most common air conditioners they are also the most expensive. Be prepared when quoting these systems out and be ready to pay quite a bit.
  • Also note that with central systems you are going to need a professional HVAC technician to install. While the actual unit can be quite expensive you also have to pay for the install which can add up quite a bit to the total cost of the system.
  • The good news is that central systems can last a long time. Most units end up lasting around fifteen years, some even up to twenty years.

Conclusion

You may have noticed that there was a link above on each type of air conditioner. Those links will take you to the cost break down for each type of air conditioner. So, instead of writing one gigantic large article for you to read through you can make the decision on what kind of system you need, click the link, and get the answer you need.

I hope this article was able to give you the answers you need and if you have any further questions on the matter please do not hesitate to contact us.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ