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2 Common Cooling Problems With Quick Fixes

Some air conditioning problems are expensive and time-consuming to fix. Fortunately, not every air conditioner problem indicates your system is falling apart. Below are two common cooling problems that can be quickly corrected.

1. Blocked or Restricted Air Flow

One of the most common reasons for an air conditioner that refuses to cool is blocked or restricted air flow. Air conditioners depend on the free flow of air to perform as designed.

As air enters the air conditioner via the return air vent, the air is pulled into the system via the blower and passes over the evaporator coil. The evaporator coil is where heat is transferred from the indoor air to the refrigerant. If air can’t reach the coil, the heat content inside your home never leaves. Instead, warm air will be blown out of supply ducts into all parts of your home.

There are several possible reasons for air flow restriction, but dirty components are the major problems at work. For example, if you never change your air conditioning filter, you can expect it to accumulate a thick layer of dust, dander, fur, pollen and millions of other fine particles. This blanket will prevent much of the air from ever reaching the evaporator coil.

Another location where dirt causes airflow problems is the evaporator coil itself. Though regular filter changes will help keep debris out of the system, traces will still find their way through and eventually cover the evaporator coil. This ever-growing layer on top of the evaporator coil will have the same effect as a dirty filter by preventing heat from leaving the passing air.

The good news is the cure for restrictions or outright clogs is fairly simple in most cases. First, homeowners should be diligent to replace air conditioning filters on a regular basis. Depending on the type of the filter media, which is the material that captures the passing particles, you may need to replace your filters as little as every three months or as often as once per month.

In addition to a filter change, you will need to have the evaporator coil evaluated to determine if it needs cleaning. A professional can quickly access the evaporator coil and perform a cleaning without much fuss should the coil need washing. In most instances, evaporator coils should be cleaned at least once per year to keep them functioning at their optimum.

2. Motor Capacitor Failure

Another common cause for warm air production is motor capacitor failure. Air conditioners are fairly robust electrical devices, and they draw quite a bit of current as a result. Specifically, the heavy-duty motors that move the cooling fans and compressor need a lot of energy to get started.

To help give it a needed boost when starting, a capacitor, which is similar to a battery but charged with much more electricity, provides a sudden release of electrical current into the motors. This boost allows the motors to overcome friction and inertia and start the cooling process.

However, a motor capacitor can fail, especially in hot weather, due to the constant on/off cycles and heavy electrical loads. If the motor capacitor fails in your system, the cooling fan and compressor will be unable to perform their vital cooling functions. The interior blower will continue to operate as normal, however, and all will seem well inside except for the air’s uncomfortably warm temperature.

You can quickly tell if the motor capacitor has failed by listening to the outdoor unit. If you notice a buzzing or humming sound coming from the outdoor unit but it is otherwise non-operational, you can assume the motor capacitor has blown. A qualified heating and air conditioning technician will be able to confirm this is the problem by examining the capacitor.

Fortunately, a blown motor capacitor is not a major, costly repair event. In most cases, a technician can replace a capacitor quickly and restore air conditioning to your home within a few hours.

If your air conditioner isn’t cooling, be sure to contact Reid’s AC & Heat for help. We are ready to provide professional assistance and quickly restore your comfort.

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5 Strange Furnace Behaviors

Many homeowners don’t think of calling the HVAC company until they are left without heat. However, if you pay close attention to the way your furnace is acting, you can often pick up on strange behaviors that indicate an impending furnace failure before you are left shivering away in a cold house. Here’s a look at five strange furnace behaviors and what they might mean.

Making Grinding, Scraping Noises

The only heating noise you don’t need to worry about is pinging and mild clanging when the heat first kicks on. Usually, these noises are the metal ducts expanding and contracting. The more time there is between heating cycles, the more pronounced these noises will be.

When you should be alarmed is if your furnace starts making scraping or grinding sounds. Scraping might indicate that something is loose in the motor that propels your central air fan. Grinding may indicate a loose or missing ball bearing, which could lead to motor failure and a total loss of heat.

Tripping the Breaker

If your furnace trips the breaker once, just flip the breaker back in place. A surge or other one-time concurrence may have caused the breaker to trip. If the furnace keeps tripping the breaker, this repeated problem is cause for concern. The furnace could have a loose electrical connection within the furnace. This is easy for your HVAC contractor to fix but could present a fire hazard if left unaddressed.

Giving Off an Odd Chemical Odor

There are many possible explanations for a chemical odor in the home. Maybe a cleaning solution spilled in the basement, or perhaps your neighbor spilled something on the lawn. If you cannot find the source of the chemical odor, the smell might be coming from your vents — which is not a good sign.

A chemical odor resembling that of preservatives might indicate your furnace heat exchanger has a crack. Carbon monoxide, a poisonous gas, can leak through that crack. Until you have your HVAC technician out to service your furnace, be vigilant about checking your carbon monoxide detector’s batteries. If the detector starts beeping, leave the house until the system has been inspected and repaired.

Giving Off the Odor of Rotten Eggs

The smell of rotten eggs coming from your heating vents is a sign of a gas leak. Breathing in natural gas is not at all healthy, and the gas that has accumulated in the home may explode or start a fire. If you notice this odor, make two phone calls: one to your fire department and one to your HVAC company.

The fire department can come turn the gas off and make sure the space is safe for your heating contractor to enter.

Turning on and off In Short Succession

Under normal circumstances, your furnace should only turn on and off a couple of times in an hour. When a furnace is repeatedly blowing air for a minute or two, turning off, and then blowing air for a short time again, this is known as short-cycling. Short-cycling can indicate a number of different furnace problems, including:

  • Faulty thermostat connection
  • Furnace that is too large for your home
  • Faulty electrical components within the furnace
  • Problems with the pressure switch in the fan motor

Some homeowners allow their furnaces to keep operating in a short-cycling pattern for a long time because the home still gets warm. However, this puts a lot of strain on the furnace and can cause more serious breakdowns in the future.

If your furnace is displaying any of these five strange behaviors, contact Reid’s AC & Heat. We offer service to the entire North Houston area and are happy to handle all of your HVAC needs.

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What You Need to Know About Storm Cleanup

Southeast Texas and the Greater Houston region, including Tomball, are still dealing with the effects from Hurricane Harvey, but eventually, the water will recede and it will be time to start cleaning up. Houston saw its share of heavy rain — over 50 inches in some cases — and flooded, impassable streets. The mayor of Houston also declared a local state of emergency.

Your first priority is to ensure everyone is safe and sheltered. Once the crisis eases up, though, your air conditioning system will need work because it is still summer in southeast Texas. Part of staying safe means also avoiding heat illness.

If your home sustained water damage or had water come up into the yard, it is possible that your air conditioning system might have been compromised. Remember, too, that the ground has been saturated, and that can also affect items like outdoor compressor units even if they weren’t surrounded by water.

If you’re unsure about the state of your home’s HVAC system, you’ll need to have it checked out.

The Outdoor Compressor Unit

The compressor units that are placed outside for central air conditioning systems are designed to withstand rain, but flooding is a different animal. Plus, if something fell on the compressor unit housing, like a tree branch, that could crack the housing and let water into the unit.

Humidity and flood water cause parts to corrode over time. Flooding and wind can also allow debris to settle inside the unit, creating a mess that prevents the unit from working properly.

Additionally, all the rain and all the water being soaked up from nearby floods and overflowing creeks and bayous is saturating the soil all over the region.

This saturation means that the soil can move more easily. It is possible that the platform on which your compressor unit is sitting could have shifted. It does call for more inspection to ensure nothing was damaged and for repairs to stabilize the platform.

Indoor Furnaces

Indoor furnaces need a professional inspection if water made it into your house. Many furnaces are on stands or small platforms, so you may have some breathing room if the water that got in was minimal. But if water was lapping at the bottom of the furnace itself, the furnace will also need inspection.

One thing to keep in mind is that, even if both the compressor and furnace check out as fine and remain completely usable, the extra moisture in the air could have long-term effects. Have your air and heating systems inspected a little more frequently in the next year or two to ensure corrosion hasn’t set in. There can often be a delay before corrosion becomes obvious.

Outdoor and Indoor Insulation

If your home was excessively exposed to the weather — a severe roof leak from the rains, flooding around the base of your home or severe flooding inside the house — the insulation associated with your air conditioning system will need to be replaced. That includes insulation around ducts and other parts of the system.

Indoor Components

Leaks and floods can create similar problems for interior AC parts as they do outdoors, but the damage can be more severe because indoor parts usually don’t have any moisture resistance.

The interior sections of the air conditioning system may need to be bleached. While this sounds simple, and you may hear of people doing it themselves, don’t try it yourself if you’ve never handled this situation before. You might miss spots or break additional components by mistake, and bleach fumes can be overpowering if your home is not well-ventilated.

Ductwork and Vents

The ducts in your home can harbor mold spores. While mold is a general problem in humid southeast Texas on a good day, it’s going to be more of a problem due to the wet conditions. Get the ducts cleaned out to ensure no mold spores are hiding in there.

Reid’s AC & Heat can help you with inspections and repairs. When you’re ready, set up an appointment to check things out.