Central Air Maintenance Tips

Central air conditioners are a lot more difficult to maintain than smaller units. The difficulty comes with the fact that it is larger and has more parts to take care of. If you are tasked with maintaining one, then there are certain things that you need to know about it.


Central Air Conditioners

The main thing that you should know about central air conditioners is that they have two main components: the condenser and the evaporator. The condenser is normally placed on the outside of a house and on a concrete platform. The evaporator is placed in the inside of the structure, just above the surface.

In most cases a central air conditioner is connected to the forced air system of a structure. That means it also utilizes the same ducts used for distributing heat. A common problem is when the air conditioner is actually working but the distribution system is defective.

Professional Maintenance and Care

The evaporator and the condenser are normally closed and sealed, which means that there are no user serviceable parts in it. Most of the maintenance and care that should be done on a central air conditioner system should be done by professionals. There are some simple tasks though that you can do on your own without having to call in an expert to do it.

Cleaning of the Evaporator

One of the more simple tasks that you can perform is the cleaning of the evaporator. If it is easily accessible then it is something that you can completely do on your own. If not, then you better think twice about doing anything.

You can clean the underside of the evaporator with a brush. You can slide it out a little if you have difficulty in reaching the far end. You just have to be careful when you are sliding it out so that do not bend any pipes.

You should also clean the tray on the bottom of the evaporator. You have to make sure that moisture does not collect there. You can place some bleach on the pan to prevent the growth of fungus.

Cleaning of the Condenser

Since the condenser is normally placed outdoors, you need to see to it that it does not gather dust, leaves and other debris that might affect the performance of the unit if you do not clean it regularly. You should also cut down grass that might be growing around the evaporator.

You can get a commercial coil cleaner for the maintenance of the condenser. These commercial cleaners are available in supply stores. You have to make sure that you follow the instructions of the manufacturer when using these chemicals.

These are just some of the things that you ought to know when it comes to cleaning and maintaining central air conditioners. These ideas can help you save a great deal of money when it comes to making sure that your air conditioner is running properly.

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Determining The Best Central Air Conditioner

The best central air conditioners will usually be different from one structure to another. Although many different models of central air conditioners  are on the market, offering varying amenities, the crucial factor in determining the answer to “which is the best central air conditioner for you?” is the efficiency of the unit itself.


goodmanThe efficiency of an air conditioning unit depends first on its SEER  (seasonal energy efficiency ratio) rating of the unit itself. This value is  measured in terms of BTU/hour and represents the cooling power of the air  conditioning unit. The other factor in gauging whether an air conditioner is  indeed the one ideal for your structure is the appropriateness of its SEER  rating for that house.


To determine the power you will need for the best central air conditioning  unit you will have to calculate the BTU requirements of the room using the  dimensions of the room and the degree of insulation found in them as parameters  for the computation. Such BTU calculators can be found on the internet. They  will usually ask you to input the length, width and height of the room as well  as indicate the general level at which it has been insulated from hear. If you  calculate the value for all the rooms you intend to include in your best central  air conditioners’ scope and add them together, you have the total BTU’s that  that structure will require for maintaining a pleasant temperature in the  rooms.

Basic BTU calculators do not usually include the body heat emanating from  occupants of the room. However, you can get around this by adding 600 BTU’s for  each person you expect to be in each room.

Because cooling power is measured in BTU’s per hour, if the value you got  from the BTU calculator is indeed set for one hour, you will still need to  multiply that by the number of hours you think you are going to keep your best  central air conditioner on for a day, and then for the whole year.

For ordinary usage, the best air conditioning units should have an SEER  rating of 10. However certain structure may require a much bigger rating than  that during periods of normal use. There are, in fact systems that have a 23  SEER rating. Such ratings are good for extended use of the air conditioner.

The rule at the market place is that the higher the SEER rating of a unit,  the more expensive it is. This is precisely why without having calculated your  BTU requirements, it is impractical to go out and purchase the best central air  conditioners. You simply cannot be sure you have made the right choice without  calculations. You might end up with an air conditioner that is incapable or  over-capable of cooling the areas in the building that need cooling. In either  case, the integrity of you appliance will be compromised.

As soon as you know the precise SEER rating you need, you should look for  best central air conditioners that have the energy saving star on it. This will  make you eligible for benefits from the power companies and incentives from  other organizations that are concerned with preserving our environment. These  brands and models usually are 20 % more efficient that the best government  standards. So unless your system has the energy star you can’t really call it  “best.”


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Central Air Conditioners; What Determines Cost?

american_air_conditionerThere are quite a number of cost factors you need to consider if you are planning on buying a central air conditioner. Among them are the central air conditioner’s cooling capacity (which has a very large influence on the price of the central air conditioning unit), the installation cost, and the cost of energy usage. And the only way to get a good picture of how much buying, installing, and operating a central air conditioning system will cost you is to discuss all those factors with qualified air-conditioning contractors.

Let’s take a look those three factors in more detail.


Whether or not you can readily install a central air conditioning system in your house should be on top of your considerations.

Can your house readily accept a central air conditioning system? Does it have a usable ductwork in place? If not, does it have a forced-air heating system that the air conditioner can piggyback on? If you answered no to all of these questions then be prepared to pay for high installation costs.

Retrofitting is not at all cheap. Actually, it is too expensive in most cases. The thing about retrofitting is that it involves a tremendous amount of work which includes gutting out your house. So, on top of the standard cost of installation, you also need to pay for extra working hours and extra materials for tearing down your walls, ceilings, and floors and putting your house back together. And no, unfortunately buying and installing a central air conditioner is not a do-it-yourself project.

Cooling Capacity

Before you actually go and shop around for central air conditioning units, you need to first take careful measurements (the square footage) of your house. The size or area of your house dictates to a large extent the cooling capacity of the air conditioner you need to buy.

Additionally, you should also take note of how much insulation you have installed, how many and how large the windows are in your house, how high is the ceiling and window shading, how your house is oriented in relation to the cardinal points (e.g., which room is facing which direction), the number and type of lighting fixture you have, the presence of heat emitting home appliances, the location of your house, and the local climate. Each of these factors can also have an influence on how much cooling capacity you are going to need.

Talk with the air conditioning contractor about all these and other things that can influence or contribute to the change in temperature inside your house. These things will allow the contractor to provide you with an air conditioning system that will perfectly suit your needs and situation which, in turn, will let you save on electric bills and maintenance costs over time.

Energy Consumption

Central air conditioners are generally more energy efficient than either portable or window air conditioners. But still can push your electricity bill through the roof, especially in hot climates.

There are actually two main things to look at here. One is the cooling capacity, which we have already talked about earlier. And the other is energy efficiency.

You can ask your contractor how much it will cost you if you will have your air conditioner running for an hour. From that you will be able to compute for its possible impact on your electricity bill.


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How Central Air Units Work

central_air_unitWe will be explaining how central air conditioner works from a split-central air units perspective.

Central air conditions work basic on the second law of thermodynamics. Which state, “heat always flows from a material at a high temperature to a material at a low temperature.”

There are two heat exchanges in central air units: the condenser and evaporator. The evaporator coil is located indoors and the condenser coil is located outdoor.

This is how these two components works:

The evaporator coils add heat to the air conditioning system. You could look at in another way. AC evaporator absorbs heats from area that needs to be cool and add the heat into the air conditioning units. For our decision the area that needs to be cool is indoor air.

As you remember, energy can’t be created or destroyed. AC units don’t create heat or cool it uses air conditioning condenser to rejecting heat. Yes, that right! If you look outside your home, you’ll see a square metal box outside. That is the condenser units! This is where it rejects the heat.

These two components don’t require electricity. However, the condenser fan and the evaporator blowers need electricity to works. The bottoms line is: air conditioner units absorb energy in one area and reject it in different area

There are five basic components to make air conditioner unit works.

1.Air conditioning compressors- it’s the only mechanical parts that require masses electricity to run. The compressor makes the refrigerant flows.

2.Air conditioner condenser – it’s located outdoor with the compressor. The condenser is a heat exchange, it rejects heat.

3.Expansion device – its location within the air handler units. It acts as a restriction for the refrigerant.

4.Air conditioning evaporator – it’s located with the air handler units (indoor). The evaporator adds heat to the central air units.

5.Refrigerant copper tubing – it connects the four components together. Once, the refrigerant copper tubing connects these components. It’s now known as refrigeration cycle. Refrigeration cycle is a process that removes heat from unwanted area and transfers that heat to different place. This cycle tells us what is happening to the refrigerant within each of the four components.

Central air conditioning is process that removes heat from indoor evaporator to outdoor condenser units.

All air conditioner units will always have the basic components: air conditioner compressors, air conditioner condenser, evaporator coils the expansion device, and the refrigerant copper tubing.

If you know how central air conditioning works, you understand how any air condition works. Since, the operating principle of air conditioner unit will always be the same.

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Tips For Buying A Central Air Conditioner

best_air_conditionerCosting around $3,000 to $6,000 (including installation), central air conditioners are not something you’d just pull off the store shelf and take home with you. Before actually going out to shop for a central air conditioner you must first equip yourself with the right information that will enable you to pick a system that will suit your needs and keep the costs down as low as possible. Just so that you know, central air conditioner prices are largely dictated by the size and cooling capacity of the unit.

Now, before you decide on what system to buy, here are some of the things that you would want to consider.

Hiring A Professional

First of all, buying and installing a central air conditioning system is not a do-it-yourself project. Like I mentioned earlier, it is not something that you can just pull of the store shelf and bring home with you. This is something best left in the hands of professionals. There is no better person than a qualified HVAC technician who can evaluate your home’s air conditioning needs and structural challenges.

In case you don’t know yet, there are many factors that need to be considered just for determining what sized unit you should have installed in your home. Among those factors are:

•the size (square footage) and layout of your home

•the amount of insulation in your home

•the number, size, and type of windows your home has, and the type of window shading you use

•the height of the ceilings

•the presence of heat-emitting appliances inside your home (including lighting fixtures)

•Geographic location of your home and the local climate •The things that surround your home such as trees, other buildings, etc.

All that and other things that can influence the temperature inside your house. Then there’s also the thing about whether or not your home is ready to be installed with a central air system… does it already have ductworks in place? If not, does it have a forced-air heating system that the air conditioner can piggyback on? Does your home have other provisions for a central air system?

Unless you are also trained to do all those, you’d be better off to let a qualified HVAC technician to work it all out for you. If there is anything you can do, that is to make sure that the person you are talking to or dealing with is really qualified to do the job.

So, how do you choose a technician? Well, for one thing, you can inquire first about how long he has been in the business. Naturally, the longer he’s been in the business, the more reliable and dependable he is. A rule of thumb here is to always opt for an HVAC technician who has been in business for more than a year. But you should not stop there. You can also ask recommendations from friends and/or relatives who has had a central air conditioning system installed.

Also, whenever you talk to a technician, make it a point to first ask him about the certifications that he has received, his previous work experiences, and his educational background.

Lastly, try to get estimates or price quotes from at least three technicians. This should allow you to get the best value for your money.


Getting the Perfect System for Your Home

Okay, we have mentioned a little about this earlier. Choosing and buying a proper-sized air conditioner for you home is very crucial. Yes, you may save some money buying a smaller system, but it may not be able to sufficiently cool your home. Also, since the unit will be running at full power most of the time, your electricity bill could shoot through the roof.

If you buy a unit that’s to large for your needs, your air conditioner will be cycling (turning on and off) very quickly. Just so that you know, frequent cycling wastes energy and wears out the equipment. So, not only will you be wasting your money on unneeded power, but you could also end up spending extra on repairs and maintenance that you otherwise would not have to if you bought the right system.

And, again, there’s no better person to determine the right-sized unit/system for your home other than a duly qualified HVAC technician.


Efficiency Makes for a Tremendous Amount of Savings

According to the EPA and U.S. Department of Energy, about one-seventh of all the electricity generated in the United States is used to air condition buildings, and by the time you scale that percentage to home usage, any means of energy savings is a major plus. And your air contractor knows this, too. A qualified air conditioner contractor/technician can help you choose a unit/system that will allow you to have the most savings in the long run. But just so that you know, the efficiency of a system comes down to the system’s seasonal energy efficiency rating (SEER). The SEER tells you how many BTUs (British Thermal Unit) an air conditioner removes for every watt of electricity it uses. The higher the SEER is the cheaper the air conditioning unit is to operate. Additionally, a zoned control system can provide for more savings. A zoned control system lets you cool only the places or areas of your home that are actually in use.


Quoting from the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA): “A Quality Installation Begins With A Professional HVAC Design.”

As mentioned earlier, purchasing and installing a central air conditioning system is best left in the hands of professionals. That is for the simple that there are so many things to consider in installing one. Not only that, it involves a lot of actual work, too.

Can your house readily accept a central air conditioning system? Does it have a usable ductwork in place? If not, does it have a forced-air heating system that the air conditioner can piggyback on? If you answered no to all of these, then you have to have retrofitting done. And retrofitting is not at all cheap. On top of the standard cost of installation, you also need to pay for extra working hours and extra materials for tearing down your walls, ceilings, and floors and putting your house back together.

In addition to that, the various components of the system must be installed in the right places. And that involves a lot of planning.

As you can see, buying an air conditioning system is not a walk in the park. It really pays a lot to be very stringent. Not only should you choose based on the best central air conditioner prices, you should also choose based on your actual needs/situation.

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