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A Bigger AC Isn't Necessarily Better
Posted: May 16, 2022 by Andy
In most cases, you'd think that the bigger, more expensive option is the way to go if you want the best product. By that logic, it's understandable why people end up with air conditioning units too large for their homes.
How can you tell if your central AC system is oversized, and what are the consequences? Your friends at Hey Neighbor LLC | Ron the Furnace Man are here to provide helpful information about this common issue and recommend what to do to create an efficient and comfortable environment.
What do I really need?
An industry term that we use is "load calculation," which refers to the amount of air intake your home can handle matched to the AC unit that'll efficiently meet that need. If your air conditioner is oversized for your living space, it'll cycle on and off rapidly, causing parts to wear out and fail much sooner than expected. This issue is more commonly referred to as "short cycling," and it's definitely something to avoid.
How do I tell if my AC is too big?
There's more than one sign of an oversized HVAC, and all of them can be damaging to the unit and your wallet alike. Here are the ways to tell if it's time to consider downsizing to a smaller air conditioner.
Short cooling cycles. A healthy running cycle for an air conditioner is on for ten minutes, off for ten minutes. If your AC doesn't run for a full ten minutes or cycles more than three times in an hour, it's overworked.
Inconsistent temperatures. Since an oversized AC unit doesn't run long enough to maintain a stable temperature, you'll notice some areas are warmer or cooler than the rest of your home.
Noisy operation. A loud air conditioner is a clear sign that your system is pushing itself too hard to meet the thermostat's target temperature. While it's normal to hear your AC as it's running, it should never drown out things like conversation or your favorite TV show.
Why should I replace my oversized AC?
You've seen the signs and determined that your AC is definitely too big for your home. But why should you completely change it out? Numerous benefits come with having an appropriately sized air conditioner - and you'll be replacing that worked-to-death, oversized unit before long, anyway!
Energy bill savings. Turning on and off excessively throughout the day wastes a lot of energy, inflating your electric bill. By opting for an air conditioner that's an appropriate size, you'll be saving money - quite a bit of it over time.
Preventing mold. Since oversized AC units don't properly cool the structure, toxic mold may grow from the residual humidity. Mold poses a serious threat to your family's health, especially if it's near your bed.
Greater comfort. You'll be thankful your home's temperature is controlled correctly during extreme weather, especially here in Ohio, where the sweltering heat can make you miserable.
Ahh, the blissful tranquility. You won't miss the headache-inducing racket of your old, oversized AC while you're enjoying your morning cup of coffee on a bright, peaceful morning.
Where should I get a new AC unit?
So, who can you trust to accurately evaluate your home and recommend the most efficient AC that'll keep your energy bills low for years to come? Hey Neighbor LLC | Ron the Furnace Man is the best place in Northeast Ohio for quality HVAC service and installation! Call us today at 877-247-7661 to receive an estimate and information on our payment plans and promotions for even more savings.
Landscaping Best Practices Around Your AC Unit
Posted: May 9, 2022 by Andy
From Ashtabula to Ashland, spring is in full swing in Northeast Ohio! Like most homeowners, you've probably spent a lot of time tidying up your yard lately. But have you considered beautifying the area around your central air conditioning system's outside condenser unit?
Can you spot the air conditioner in the beautifully landscaped side yard above? Hint: look closely at the cleverly-placed lattice on the left side of the photo.
Landscaping around your AC unit is a great way to hide it from view without obstructing its airflow. If you're considering this option, know that there's a right way and a wrong way to do it.
Today's article will give you some tips on the ideal way to landscape around your condenser and enhance its efficiency. Before you start, though, it's essential to keep the unit accessible to technicians for seasonal check-ups and repairs.
Also, don't hesitate to call Hey Neighbor LLC | Ron the Furnace Man for all of your air conditioner repair needs. We're here for you, 24/7!
Generally speaking, the minimum planting distance is two to three feet away from your condenser, but planting further away is recommended. Remember, plants get larger over time. If you place plant life too close, the unit's airflow will be obstructed, which can cause:
• Decreased energy efficiency
• Shortened system life
• Increased repair frequency
All of these issues cost you more money. Choose your greenery wisely when considering the necessary distance. It's wise to avoid plants that shed branches and leaves or that will spread and grow too close to the condenser. Roots and debris make accessing your AC unit more difficult and obstruct its ventilation. Our technicians will thank you for keeping the area around your AC clear!
Give it some shade
Your kids aren't the only ones trying to get out of the sun's heat in the summer. Adding plants that create shade over your AC unit will help it cool more efficiently.
That said, your AC only wants the shade. Avoid letting piles of leaves cover the system or allowing branches to hang low, restricting its airflow and potentially falling into the unit and causing damage. Debris in the condenser's fan area can prevent your AC system from turning on, which doesn't do your comfort any favors. A good rule is to allow at least five to six feet of clear space above your unit.
Rocks and pavers are your friends
Do you want less grass to mow and fewer weeds to pull? What homeowner doesn't, right? If you long for minimal landscape maintenance, consider adding a gravel garden around your AC unit. It only takes a day or two to set up, and you can find everything you'll need at your local garden center.
Rocks and paver stones prevent weeds and other unwanted plants from growing near the air conditioner. That ground ivy may look pretty, but it'll choke the life out of your condenser unit!
Protect it from the elements
We all know the weather here in Ohio can be unpredictable and often severe. Therefore, it's essential to protect your outdoor unit by using hedges and trees as natural shields while maintaining physical access to the air conditioner.
One way is to create a windbreak for protection from severe weather conditions with sturdy trees. You can do this with evergreen plants to block high winds. These hedges are ideal because they don't lose their leaves in the fall and are simple to maintain.
Another way is to install a lattice box or trellis. These decorative landscaping elements help redirect the air and prevent debris or tall grass from blocking the unit.
These options also help your air conditioner blend in better with the yard without the drudgery of tending to a flower bed.
What plants are best?
It's smart to consider the growth rate and maturity when selecting shrubs, flowers, and other plants to place around your air conditioner. Avoid flowering plants that attract bees and wasps. These pests will nest inside your air conditioning unit, potentially causing damage to it. Also, avoid plants with thorns or sharp leaves like roses and holly because they can make it difficult and uncomfortable for technicians.
Finally, plant large trees carefully. Trees that shed their leaves in the fall will provide shade in the hot summer months, then allow sunlight in winter to keep your house warm and reduce the workload of your furnace. Evergreen plants aren't as tall, but they're great for landscaping around your AC system because they're attractive and help insulate your home.
Can I enclose my AC unit?
The short answer is yes, but with careful planning. There are several ways you can enclose your AC unit without restricting access and airflow.
Consider a lattice box, trellis, or fence to hide the condenser from sight. These are all easy ways to conceal the unit but remember not to cover the top of the AC. It's also helpful to add a door, so your friendly Hey Neighbor LLC | Ron the Furnace Man technician can easily access the unit!
These open options can be laced with vines or other types of vegetation that make it hard to see if there's an AC unit there at all.
Beautify the AC area, but don't overdo it
Clever use of shade, mulch, and other options for landscaping around your AC increases your home's curb appeal while safely hiding your AC unit. When following these landscaping tips, remember that you can find space recommendations in your AC unit owner's manual.
Discovered an issue with your AC condenser while landscaping? Don't wait to call Hey Neighbor LLC | Ron the Furnace Man for repair, installation, or tune-up service at your Northeast Ohio home. For convenience, you can also schedule online!
How Old Is My Central AC System?
Posted: May 2, 2022 by Andy
With summer's heat lurking just around the corner, air conditioners in Northeast Ohio will soon be working hard to keep our homes cool.
For some homeowners, it can feel like it takes an eternity for their AC unit to cool their home on a hot day. If that's the case, it's wise to figure out how old the central AC system is, as age plays a critical role in the unit's operating efficiency.
Spring is the perfect time to leap into action and confirm the age of your air conditioner and plan for maintenance or even the installation of a new unit. Keep scrolling to learn how to determine the age of your HVAC unit.
Why does the age of my AC unit matter?
Your household budget. If your AC is running inefficiently or is nearing the end of its lifespan, it's time to start budgeting for a replacement.
Energy efficiency. Older models aren't nearly as efficient as new, highly-efficient ones. Also, your monthly energy bills will rise when your AC system is nearing the end of its working life.
Maintenance. As an AC unit ages, the costs of keeping it running steadily increase. So, if service calls are nickel-and-diming your budget to death for as long as you can remember, it's probably well past time to replace that old, barely-hanging-on air conditioner.
Where do I find my AC system's manufacturer info?
Every AC unit has an information tag, usually attached to the AC condenser unit outside your home. Once you've found it, check the upper right corner of the nameplate for the unit's manufacture date.
If this date is not available or legible, you can always use the brand, model, and serial number to help you determine the age of the unit by researching this information online.
Or, you can hit the easy button and call our expert team here at Hey Neighbor LLC | Ron the Furnace Man! We're always happy to help you figure out your system's age.
Should I replace my AC system?
How old is too old for a central air conditioning system? The average system life for most ACs is around 10-15 years, so if your AC is over 15 years old, it should be replaced. If it falls between 10 and 15 years, you should consider other factors, such as:
• Has your AC been losing efficiency or costing more to run?
• How many repairs have been made lately, and how much did they cost?
• And most importantly - is it keeping your home cool?
What refrigerant does my AC use?
Of vital consideration is the type of refrigerant that your system uses. Again, you'll be able to find this information on the manufacturer tag.
If your AC uses R-22 refrigerant, then you should purchase a new air conditioner as soon as possible. Why? Because R-22 has been phased out and banned in the USA. A new AC will operate more efficiently and use a more environmentally-friendly refrigerant, such as R-410A.
Neighborly Tip: When shopping for a new central AC system, pay close attention to a unit's SEER rating. This measurement determines how efficient the AC unit is.
Need a central AC system upgrade?
Say goodbye to your old, inefficient AC unit and call our friendly team at Hey Neighbor LLC | Ron the Furnace Man for 5-star-rated HVAC installation across Northeast Ohio. Also, if you're not sure how old your unit is or what kind of refrigerant it uses, don't hesitate to reach out to us. We're always happy to help!
Call Hey Neighbor LLC | Ron the Furnace Man to schedule repairs or a system upgrade consultation today - 877-247-7661!
Whole-House Dehumidifiers Vs. Portable Units
Posted: April 25, 2022 by Andy
April showers mean the humidity level in your Northeast Ohio home is at its highest point of the year. How should you deal with it? Should you purchase a portable dehumidifier or invest in a whole-home unit? What are the pros and cons of each type?
These are all great questions! Keep reading to learn more about dehumidifiers from our pros at Hey Neighbor LLC | Ron the Furnace Man.
How does a whole-home dehumidifier work?
A whole-home dehumidifier works with your HVAC system and is typically installed in your basement or attic. This practical appliance extracts excess moisture from your home's indoor air as it passes through the HVAC's return ductwork.
Then, the dehumidifier condenses the extracted moisture into its liquid form and sends it down the drain. The drier air is then distributed throughout your home. Remember, a dehumidifier removes extra humidity from the air; a humidifier adds moisture.
Whole-home dehumidifier pros:
• Automatically controls the humidity in your home
• Can be up to four times more energy-efficient than portable models
• No need to empty full buckets or drip pans
• Better air filters than most portable models
• Quiet operation
Whole-home dehumidifier cons:
• Higher up-front cost
• Professional installation required
• Difficult to remove and take with you if you move
How does a portable dehumidifier work?
A portable dehumidifier must be in the room or area where you want drier air, but it's easy to relocate.
Portable dehumidifiers pull in humid air via a fan. This air passes over refrigerant-cooled coils, much like your AC system. As the coils cool the damp air, its humidity content condenses and drops out, and dry air is dispersed back into your living space.
The condensed humidity collects in a removable container or drip pan, which must be emptied by hand.
Portable dehumidifier pros:
• Controls humidity in one room or area
• Less expensive up-front cost
• Easy to use where you need it
• Quick setup
• Many models feature digital controls
Portable dehumidifier cons:
• Louder operation
• Always visible and potentially in the way
• Only controls humidity in one area
• Manual emptying of condensation
• Uses more energy during operation
Let's compare the pros and cons of both options.
Comfort and effectiveness
A whole-home dehumidifier reduces the humidity level in your house to a healthy level of 40-50% quietly and efficiently. As a result, you'll likely be able to save energy by setting the target temperature higher for your air conditioner in the summer while your home still stays and feels cool and comfortable.
A portable unit only reduces the relative indoor humidity in a small area. It also won't improve your hot-weather comfort as much and can drive up energy costs.
Location and aesthetics
Because a whole-home dehumidifier is discreetly tucked away as part of your HVAC system, you'll forget that it's there, especially since it doesn't make any extra noise.
On the other hand, a portable model takes up floor space and is in plain sight, which many homeowners find unappealing. They can also be pretty noisy. Even so, a standalone unit might be the best option if you only want to dehumidify a small area or you don't have central HVAC ductwork in your home.
A whole-home dehumidifier costs more up-front and must be installed by a professional as it is integrated into your home's heating and cooling system. On the plus side, its integration means it's cheaper to operate.
Portable units are less expensive initially and don't need to be installed. You can set one up in minutes, but it can inflate your electricity bill.
Which type is better?
Deciding which option is better for your family depends on the size of your home, your existing HVAC system, and the humidity level in your home. A whole-home dehumidifier is ideal for medium to large houses that need humidity control throughout the entire home.
Portable dehumidifiers are much more affordable and are the most practical and cost-effective solution for ductless systems or smaller spaces, such as mobile homes.
Improve your comfort and health
If you have humidity problems in your Northeast Ohio home, rely on the friendly experts here at Hey Neighbor LLC | Ron the Furnace Man for a whole-home dehumidifier solution. We can also offer advice on ways to improve the overall air quality in your home.
Protect your family's health and enhance your home's overall comfort. Call Hey Neighbor LLC | Ron the Furnace Man for a free consultation today - 877-247-7661!
Air Scrubbers And Why You Need Them
Posted: April 18, 2022 by Andy
You clean your home to remove dirt and germs, but how often do you think about cleaning your air? Air scrubbers are a new development in heating and cooling, but they've quickly built a reputation as effective workhorses of air purification.
Considering the air inside your Northeast Ohio home may be up to five times more contaminated than the air outside, improving your indoor air quality is a priority. Poor air quality can cause Sick Building Syndrome (SBS), a medical condition where you have flu-like symptoms in a particular building, only for the discomfort to pass when you leave that location. Air scrubbers can stop SBS and other potentially dangerous but unnecessary illnesses.
How a home air scrubber works
In simplest terms, an air scrubber is an HVAC appliance that rids the air of contaminants. These devices' germ-killing abilities are impressive. They can kill particulates like pollen and dander, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), remove odors like mildew and smoke, and destroy organisms like mold and viruses.
Air purifiers vs. air scrubbers
The cleaning scope of an air scrubber goes beyond the capabilities of similar devices. While air purifiers only remove airborne particles, many whole-home air scrubbers also kill germs on surfaces like countertops or doorknobs. Air scrubbers release active particles that travel throughout your home, pull the germs from surfaces and send them back through the HVAC system to be removed from your home's indoor air.
Whole-house vs. portable
With a whole-house model, the purification process starts when air gets pulled through your HVAC system. Next, the impure air passes through the air scrubber, where titanium rods and UV light kill the airborne contaminants. Finally, the cleaned air is distributed back into your home via ductwork.
In a portable model, dirty air goes into the standalone air scrubber itself and through a series of filters. First, the pre-filter captures large particles like lint or animal dander. Next, a HEPA filter removes smaller airborne pathogens like mold spores. Finally, most models also feature a carbon filter to trap ultrafine particles and odors like smoke and mildew.
Air quality monitors
To ensure that your air scrubber is doing its job and effectively cleaning your home's air, we recommend adding an air quality monitor to accompany the scrubber. This device measures your indoor air quality and reports back to you. Monitors cost around $100 but are essential for keeping you in the know while your air scrubber is hard at work.
How loud is an air scrubber?
Many homeowners pay attention to their HVAC system's noise level, and for a good reason. Nobody wants to be kept up at night. Thankfully, both varieties of air scrubbers are relatively quiet. Most whole-house models measure under 20 dB, which is about the level of a whisper. In contrast, some portable models can get up to 60 dB when running at the highest setting, which is about the volume of a normal conversation.
Filter best practices
Since portable air scrubbers' filters vary widely, each unit requires specific care. Check the model's user manual or contact the manufacturer for accurate handling information on when to clean or replace its filters and keep your device running at its best.
If you have a whole-house air scrubber, the filter is an ultraviolet (UV) germicidal light. To ensure the UV light is working optimally, you should replace the bulb annually. These specialized lights typically cost around $15.
Is an air scrubber right for my family?
Poor indoor air quality threatens your family's health and comfort. Thankfully, air scrubbers clean your home's air space, so you breathe, sleep, and live better. Whether you're looking for a whole-house air scrubber or a convenient portable model, these indoor air-purification devices are an inexpensive-but-invaluable investment that will keep you and your loved ones comfy and healthy at home.
Still confused about air scrubbers?
Call Hey Neighbor LLC | Ron the Furnace Man - we're air scrubber experts! We'll help you determine which type of air scrubber is best for your home and your family. That's how neighbors should treat neighbors!™
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