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- AC Won't Turn On | The Complete Guide to Air Conditioning + How to Make Sure it Works Efficiently
It happens to everyone; the AC won't turn on, or the air conditioning system stops working on the hottest summer day. Fortunately, there are things you can do to prevent that from happening. Nonetheless, if you are reading this guide, it probably happened to you. If your HVAC system turns on but doesn't reach its set temperature. Check out this guide. This guide covers possible reasons why your air conditioning system isn't turning on or isn’t working properly and includes tips on how to fix and prevent these problems in the future. We also discuss signs to look out for to help catch and avoid future air conditioning failures. Jump to a section: Signs of a forthcoming air conditioning failure Deep dive into air conditioning problems Conclusion Signs of a forthcoming air conditioning failure Table of contents for this section: AC Safety switch (float) keeps filling with water The air conditioner makes a loud buzzing noise when starting Air from the HVAC grille (vent) exits at a high velocity and is noisy AC is blowing warm air The AC turns on and off frequently The AC won’t turn off and runs continuously The thermostat keeps turning off and on or isn’t working right AC Safety switch (float) keeps filling with water If the AC safety switch (float) keeps filling with water, it is a sign that the system isn’t draining properly. Air conditioning systems generate condensation as they operate. Sometimes this condensation happens in the wrong places or does not drain properly. Both can cause damage to the HVAC system or water damage in the home. Too much condensation or condensation in the wrong place can indicate refrigerant, drainage, ducting problems, or restricted indoor or outdoor coils. It can also be because of dirty filters. Any signs of excess water can also indicate that the indoor coil is freezing. If you recognize any signs of water or your AC won’t turn on or stops working, we recommend consulting with an HVAC professional to diagnose the issue properly. The air conditioner makes a loud buzzing noise when starting If your air conditioner won’t turn on or the AC unit makes a loud buzzing noise when starting, it is a sign of a faulty AC capacitor. In other cases, it can be a sign the AC unit is working hard, which causes strain on the motors. The strain on the motors will cause them to make noise and fail sooner. The two biggest motors of the HVAC system are the indoor blower motor which moves the air throughout the system, and the compressor motor, which compresses the refrigerant in the refrigeration process. When the outside ac unit makes a loud noise when starting, there is a good chance the compressor's capacitor is failing, and if the indoor AC unit is making a loud buzzing noise when starting, there is a good chance the blower wheel motor capacitor is failing. Although capacitors fail over time, other underlying issues can cause capacitor or motor failures. Dirty air filters, ducting problems, refrigerant problems, and indoor and outdoor coil restrictions can all cause strain on the HVAC system motors causing them to fail sooner. Air from the HVAC grille (vent) exits at a high velocity and is noisy Some HVAC systems have high-velocity HVAC ducting and grilles by design. However, in most residential and commercial applications, air flowing at a high velocity indicates high static pressure. Often times this also causes the system to be noisy. Both noise and high velocity can be irritating and cause discomfort. High static pressure results from too many air restrictions within the air conditioning system and can be caused by ducting problems, improper system sizing, a restricted indoor coil, dirty filters, or too many closed grilles (vents). AC is blowing warm air If the AC in the home is blowing warm air, it can indicate that the refrigeration cycle isn’t happening properly and can be a reason why your AC won’t turn on. It is important to understand the underlying to why an AC is blowing hot air. The most common reasons the refrigeration cycle won’t work properly are a thermostat or electronic failure, dirty air filters, refrigerant problems, indoor or outdoor coil restrictions, faulty AC capacitors, drainage problems, a faulty compressor motor, or ducting problems. The AC turns on and off frequently An AC system that turns on and off frequently is prone to fail sooner. The energy and strain on the motors are greater when the AC cycles on and off every few minutes rather than when it cycles correctly. There are several reasons why an air conditioner keeps kicking on and off. When the compressor turns on and off frequently, it can indicate a few common AC problems such as drainage, thermostat, or refrigerant problems, an improperly sized system, indoor or outdoor coil restrictions, or a restricted air filter. Each system is unique, and the nature of each problem can cause the air conditioner to keep kicking on and off in a unique way. For example, in some cases, the AC system will cycle on and off every 10 minutes, and in other cases, it can start and stop after a few seconds. You can read more about the various reasons in the links above. The AC won’t turn off and runs continuously Some AC systems can run continuously. For Example, a high-efficiency variable speed system is designed to run all the time with the ability to adjust its cooling capacity. This in-depth guide lets you learn more about the types of HVAC systems. However, in most cases, that is not the case, and if the AC won’t turn off, it is a sign that something is wrong with the AC system. Standard AC systems that run continuously can have other underlying problems that cause the thermostat not to reach its set temperature. If that is the case, it can mean the HVAC system is improperly sized, the thermostat is faulty, the indoor or outdoor coils have restrictions, or there are ducting or refrigerant problems. In some cases, just the AC blower fan won’t turn off, which can be a sign of any of the above issues. In other cases, when it is 100 degrees outside, and the system runs continuously, it can indicate an undersized HVAC system. As a rule of thumb, the higher the cooling capacity, the faster the AC system can cool a space. Although it is important to keep in mind that a system that is oversized is also not ideal because it will cycle frequently. You can learn more about this and HVAC system design here. The thermostat keeps turning off and on or isn’t working right A faulty thermostat can also be a reason the AC won’t turn on or isn’t working properly. The thermostat may be turning off and on, not turning off at the set temperature, keeps turning off, the display may not be working, and the screen goes blank, or it is not getting power at all. There are many reasons that may cause any of the above symptoms in a thermostat. In many cases, it is a simple fix, such as a disconnected wire or replacing the thermostat. And in other cases, it can indicate problems with the drainage of the AC system. Deep dive into air conditioning problems Table of contents for this section: Dirty or restricted air filters and air restrictions Frozen coils on AC (Refrigerant problems) There is no power to the thermostat Restricted or frozen indoor AC coils Restricted outdoor coils Showing symptoms of a bad expansion valve Faulty motors Signs and symptoms of a bad AC capacitor Electronic problems Drainage problems Air conditioner safety switches Ducting problems Oversized or Undersized AC System Dirty or restricted air filters and air restrictions Dirty filters block the airflow within the HVAC system and throughout the home, causing air restrictions within the air conditioning system. Restricted airflow can cause many problems with the air conditioning system due to high static pressure. An air restriction caused by a dirty filter can cause an indoor coil to freeze. The indoor air conditioning coil freezes because the air conditioning system needs airflow to work correctly. You can learn more about how an air conditioning system works, but in short, the refrigerant temperature in the coil gets below freezing temperatures. When the humidity in the air makes contact with the coils, it condensates and freezes. A dirty air filter restricts the warm ambient airflow, which helps prevent the coil from freezing. If the coil is restricted completely, this can prohibit any airflow through the coil. This prevents the liquid refrigerant from “evaporating” in the evaporator coil and, as a result, can cause liquid refrigerant to make its way back to the compressor and damage it. In addition to freezing the indoor AC coil, a dirty filter can cause the blower wheel fan motor to die. The restriction in the air filter results in more strain on the motor as it forces air through the HVAC system. Replacing an air filter is easy and should be done as part of your air conditioning maintenance. You can connect with an HVAC pro or do it yourself. You may wonder why your air filters get dirty quickly and how often you should replace them. As a rule of thumb, 1-inch filters should be replaced every 1-3 months, and 5-inch filters should be replaced about every 6-12 months. However, this greatly depends on how often the HVAC system works and the home conditions. Frozen coils on AC (Refrigerant problems) It is not uncommon that an AC unit will freeze in the summer. In fact, the summer is when the AC unit is on and will usually freeze. If the type of system you have is a heat pump, it is also possible for the system to freeze in the winter. What causes an AC to freeze is typically a refrigerant or airflow problem. There are two common refrigerant problems, too much refrigerant or too little refrigerant. Both are not good and can cause your air conditioning system not to work correctly. When an air conditioning system is too low on refrigerant, it can cause the AC coils to freeze or not cool the home at all. Frozen AC coils can also be referred to as a frozen AC lines. When the refrigerant pressure is low, it is also a sign that there may be a refrigerant leak in the system. When an air conditioning system has too much refrigerant, it can cause the system not to cool properly and even cause a refrigerant leak because of high pressures. You can learn more about how the refrigeration cycle in an air conditioning system works, but in short, refrigeration is about heat transfer and pressure changes. Think of an aerosol spray that gets cold as you use it. A fast pressure drop happens, and the substance (refrigerant) inside gets cold. The same concept applies to refrigeration in a closed system. If the pressure is high, the refrigerant won't be as cold, and it can cause a leak because the high pressure exceeds the system design. If the pressure is too low, it can cause the system to freeze because of the low temperatures and moisture build-up on the coils. If there is a significant leak, the refrigerant will escape entirely, and the system won't provide cooling at all. Always contact an HVAC pro in the event of refrigerant problems. Refrigeration is a science; many factors, such as airflow and outdoor temperatures, contribute to proper refrigeration within an HVAC system. And because refrigerants contribute to global warming and ozone depletion, they must be handled by an EPA-licensed professional. Click here to learn more about frozen AC coils. There is no power to the thermostat The thermostat is what we see and think about when it comes to HVAC. It is what tells the system to go on or off. Fortunately, nowadays, thermostats don't have many moving parts. However, there are some rare cases where an HVAC thermostat has no power or doesn’t work. For example, it may not have power, or it may be flashing or blinking when the heat or cooling mode is on. A thermostat may have faulty temperature sensors or incorrect wiring, or the thermostat may have gone out due to electrical shorting, surges, or other internal issues. And other times, the thermostat works; however, some of the settings may be confusing, which can lead one to believe that something is wrong with the thermostat. If you suspect the thermostat isn’t working or has power, ensure that it is wired securely, or try resetting it. Just be careful because the electrical lines are live 24 volts. If everything seems wired correctly, it could be a drainage problem causing the HVAC system to disconnect power to the system via the “safe-t-switch.” If that is the case, you should connect with an HVAC pro to diagnose the source of the problem. Restricted or frozen indoor AC coils The AC’s indoor (evaporator) coil can get restricted from dirt, dust, and debris, microbial growth, or the evaporator coil can freeze up. A restricted or frozen AC coil is not good for your HVAC system or indoor air quality. When the indoor AC coil is restricted, it limits air flowing through it. This airflow restriction raises the static pressure and negatively affects the system's performance. It can also cause the air conditioning system to not work by damaging the blower wheel or compressor motor. You can learn more about the negative effects of high static pressure on an HVAC system, but to give you an idea of the concept, imagine blowing into a straw with no restriction, now imagine blowing into the straw again; however, this time close of the end of it a bit. The second time your lungs will work much harder to force the air out of the straw. The same concept applies to the air conditioning system. That means when the static pressure is higher, the blower wheel fan motor needs to work harder, increasing strain and energy consumption. The airflow restriction can damage the compressor because it will not allow the refrigeration process to happen correctly. You can learn more about how the refrigeration cycle works within an air conditioning system. But in short, the warm ambient air flowing through the indoor (evaporator) coil evaporates the liquid refrigerant to a gas. An airflow restriction can prohibit the refrigerant from entirely evaporating into a gas. And because liquid cannot compress, any liquid refrigerant that makes its way to the compressor will damage it. Microbial growth on an indoor coil will not only cause restriction in the system but will also taint indoor air quality. Although there is an air restriction, some air can still flow around the coils and into the home. That air can pick up microbial organisms and negatively impact indoor air quality. Most newer air conditioning systems have safety switches to prevent severe damage to the air conditioning system due to restricted coils. However, when the indoor coil gets restricted, it is a sign of other underlining issues such as restrictive filtration, expansion valve problems, ducting problems, or refrigerant issues. If your AC evaporator coil is freezing up or you suspect you have a restricted AC coil, an HVAC pro can diagnose and fix the problem. Restricted outdoor coils Restriction can occur in the outdoor (condenser) coil from dirt, dust, debris, or obstructions around the system. When the outdoor coil is restricted, it prohibits the refrigeration process from working correctly and can negatively affect the system's performance. You can learn more about the refrigeration cycle within an air conditioning system. But in short, the outdoor (condenser) coil condenses the refrigerant from a gas state to a liquid form. It does so with the help of coils and a fan. After the refrigerant exits the compressor into the outdoor (condenser) coil, it is a high-temperature gas. The ambient air from outside cools and condenses the gas refrigerant into a liquid refrigerant as it flows through the coil. If the outdoor coil is dirty or restricted, the outdoor air won't be able to flow freely through the coils, which prevents the refrigerant from being able to condensate properly in the refrigeration cycle. This can prevent the refrigerant from having a good pressure and temperature drop when it enters the evaporator coil. Resulting in warmer temperatures blowing from the AC. Additionally, the high pressures will cause the HVAC system to consume more energy. The fan motor will need to work harder to pull air through the coils, and the compressor motor will work harder because the refrigerant pressure will be higher, eventually damaging the compressor motor. Condenser coils are located outdoors and can easily get dirty. Consider cleaning your outdoor coil or cleaning it professionally to ensure your air conditioning system operates correctly. Showing symptoms of a bad expansion valve The expansion valve is a critical part of the refrigeration cycle. Below we talk about the types of expansion valves and the symptoms of a bad expansion valve. There are three common types of expansion valves; fixed, thermal, and electronic. In the refrigeration cycle, the expansion valve acts as a metering device that reduces refrigerant pressure as it enters the evaporator coil. The reduction in pressure brings the refrigerant to a near-freezing temperature in the evaporator coil (think of the aerosol spray mentioned in the refrigerant problems section). The refrigeration cycle won't happen correctly with a faulty expansion valve. It can either let in too much refrigerant or not enough. A few symptoms to look for when the expansion valve lets too much refrigerant into the evaporator coil is that the air coming out of the AC is warmer or not as cold as it should be. This can eventually cause damage to the compressor. A few symptoms that the expansion valve is not letting enough refrigerant in is that the evaporator coil can be colder than it should be, causing it to freeze. An expansion valve could be faulty or show signs that it has gone bad if it was installed incorrectly or the system is charged with too much refrigerant, or in some cases, it may come defective from the factory. Faulty motors A typical air conditioning system has three motors, the blower wheel fan motor, the compressor motor, and the outdoor fan motor. If these motors fail, the air conditioning system won't work correctly. The compressor motor is used to compress the refrigerant and is a vital part of the refrigeration process. Without a compressor motor, there will be no cold air from the system. The blower wheel fan motor is the motor that forces the air through the system. If the blower wheel fan motor does not work, air will not flow through the system. The outdoor fan motor helps the refrigeration process. The HVAC system may still work if the outdoor fan motor is not working. However, the refrigeration process won't work effectively, which can cause the air flowing through the system to feel warm, can damage the compressor and will cause the system to consume more energy. Most HVAC system motors operate with the help of a capacitor. It is not uncommon that the motors are working fine; however, the capacitors have gone bad. A faulty AC capacitor should be ruled out before diagnosing a faulty AC motor. Often a faulty motor is caused by other underlying issues, such as refrigerant or ducting problems, a restricted indoor or outdoor coil, or even a dirty air filter. Signs and symptoms of a bad AC capacitor An air conditioning system has an electrical component called a capacitor. A capacitor gives the motors within the air conditioning system an extra boost when powering on. Below are some bad AC capacitor symptoms to look for. A capacitor works by storing energy, similar to a battery. However, it can release that energy in a burst rather than over time, like a battery. A faulty capacitor will prevent any motor that relies on it from working correctly. Capacitors can go bad over time due to heat. However, other underlying issues, such as restricted outdoor (condenser) coils or refrigerant problems, can strain the motors causing the capacitor to go bad sooner. We go in-depth about AC capacitors in this guide. However, one of the telltale signs of a bad capacitor is a loud humming noise from the system while on or during start-up or if the system appears to be on, but no cold air is coming from the vents. Connect with an HVAC professional if you think you have a faulty air conditioner capacitor. Air conditioning capacitors require expertise. Every capacitor has a microfarad rating that must match the HVAC system's requirements. Plus, you should determine the underlying issue as to why the capacitor failed in the first place. **Air conditioning capacitors store HIGH VOLTAGE and should always be handled by a professional. Electronic problems Every air conditioning system works with electronics. Some types of air conditioning systems have more complex electronics, and some have fewer. The electronics connect and allow communication between three main components of the air conditioning system; the outdoor unit (condenser), the air handling unit (air handler or furnace), and the thermostat. An electronic problem can be bad wiring, control board failures, faulty transformers, faulty AC capacitors, or a faulty motor. If the problem is with the field wiring, an HVAC pro can most likely fix the problem on the spot. However, other times, wiring built into a component of the air conditioning with a wiring harness is faulty. In that case, the HVAC professional must order wiring that is specific to the HVAC system. In the event of a control board problem, it can take a few weeks to fix. AC systems can have a few different control boards specific to the type of system, which needs to be diagnosed and ordered by an HVAC pro. A transformer is an electronic component that ensures parts of the air conditioning system receive the correct voltage. Typically in air conditioning systems, transformers convert 120 volts to 24 volts. A faulty transformer must be diagnosed and replaced by an HVAC pro and is usually done on the same day. Connect with an HVAC pro if you suspect you have an electrical problem with your air conditioning system. Consider completing yearly HVAC maintenance on your system to help prevent electrical problems when you need your AC the most. **Air conditioning systems use high voltage. Always connect with an HVAC pro for electrical problems** Drainage problems As an air conditioning system works, it creates condensation. This moisture build-up is normal. The problem is when the moisture doesn't drain properly. Water that gets built up should make its way to the drain line and out of the home. The drain can often get clogged by dust, dirt, debris, or even insects or spiders that lay eggs or create nests. When that happens, water gets backed up and can eventually flood, causing the air conditioning system to leak visually. When a "Safe-T" switch is in place, a clogged AC drain line will trigger the switch, which depending on how it's wired, will shut off power to the AC system and thermostat to prevent further flooding and damage. Learn more about preventing and unclogging an AC drain line. Or connect with an HVAC pro to get it done for you. Air conditioner safety switches Many newer air conditioning systems have safety switches installed to prevent damage to the HVAC system's components. Additionally, many systems have a "Safe-T" switch that is field installed to avoid water damage in the home in the event of a clogged drain line. In many cases, the AC safety switch keeps filling with water which can indicate a clogged drain line. Each manufacturer designs the safety switches differently, but the purpose is to prevent damage to the HVAC system. The various HVAC safety switches typically monitor the refrigerant's pressure, temperature, or both to avoid liquid refrigerants entering and damaging the compressor. You should connect with an HVAC pro if your air conditioning system isn't working because of a safety switch. The HVAC safety switches will trigger because of refrigerant problems, expansion valve problems, drainage problems, ducting problems, or a restricted indoor or outdoor coil. Ducting problems It may be hard to believe, but ducting is the root cause of many problems in most HVAC systems. It is one of the few things that isn't mechanical but causes most air conditioning problems. That is because the ducting is unique for each home and is usually designed by the HVAC professional installing the system. Every air conditioning system has specifications that determine how much airflow is required for the system to work properly and how much restriction or static pressure the system can handle to operate correctly. If the ducting is undersized, it can cause airflow restriction problems and high static pressure. Which can cause the system to freeze, damage motors, cause refrigeration cycle issues, and causes the system to run less efficiently. If the ducting is oversized, it may feel like little to no air is coming out of the supply registers (vents), and air won't flow around the home correctly. In addition to improper duct sizing, ducts can get disconnected or damaged in the attic or within the walls. This can cause leaks in either the supply (conditioned air) or the system's return (unconditioned air) side. If the leak is on the supply side, then conditioned air will flow into the walls or attic. And if the leak is on the return side, then the air will not circulate properly throughout the home and will suck in filthy air from the attic or other unconditioned spaces. A static pressure test and visual inspection need to be done to determine if there are ducting issues. A static pressure test involves drilling a few holes and inserting pressure probes to measure the pressure along different points in the system. You can connect with an HVAC pro for a static pressure test or learn more about Air Design if you are looking to redo the ductwork of your air conditioning system. Oversized or Undersized AC System Every air conditioning system needs to be sized to match the heat load requirement for the home. The heat load is determined by the cubic area of the space and other factors, such as the number of windows and insulation. Below we will explain what happens if the AC unit is over or undersized if it is better to oversize or undersize the AC system, and how to help an undersized unit. When the system is undersized, it will run continuously, trying to cool the home to the set temperature on the thermostat. And when the system is oversized, then it will reach the set temperature too soon, causing the system to cycle on and off frequently. Additionally, oversized systems also fail to remove humidity effectively because they shut off too often. All in all, both are not ideal. When in doubt, it is better to oversize a system. That is because the system needs to be able to cool the home adequately. If you have an undersized system, you can help the system by reducing the heat load. This can be done by improving insulation, upgrading windows and doors, and reducing outdoor air leakage around the home. In the case of an oversized system, it is possible to add a ventilation system, which brings in unconditioned air from the outdoors. This will help improve indoor air quality and increase the system's heat load, allowing the HVAC system to cycle correctly. If you are considering replacing your HVAC system, check out the Air Guide. We provide in-depth insights about air conditioning systems and the top things to consider when buying a new HVAC system. Conclusion There are endless reasons why an air conditioning system won't work, and it can be frustrating when it happens to you. In this guide, we covered the many reasons the AC system won’t work properly or turn on. We went over the signs to look out for to prevent a forthcoming air conditioning failure, such as signs of water, a noisy system, draft winds, warm air flow, frequent system cycling, and thermostat issues. Then, we dove deep into the most common causes to air conditioning system failures. Now, you should feel confident in knowing what signs to look for in a faulty air conditioning system and be knowledgeable when connecting with an HVAC pro if you need one. To prevent your AC from not turning on or causing issues in the future. And to ensure your air conditioning system works efficiently, it is best to maintain your AC system regularly. In the meantime, you can contact us or comment below if you have any questions.
- The Essential Guide to HVAC Capacitors - Everything you should know
If the air conditioner isn’t working (or the heat pump), it may be because the capacitor is defective. If you're wondering do all air conditioners have capacitors, the answer is yes. An air conditioner or heat pump capacitor is an essential part of an HVAC system that often goes bad over time. Our best guess is that if you are reading this guide, something has gone wrong with your air conditioning systems capacitor. This guide covers everything you need to know about an air conditioning capacitor, including what it is and how it works, how to identify the signs of a faulty AC capacitor, what happens if a capacitor fails, how much it costs to replace one, determining what capacitor to buy, how long they last, what causes them to fail, and how they are checked. We explain all of this in an easy-to-understand way, answering all your questions about air conditioner (AC) capacitors. Jump to Section What is an AC capacitor? What does an AC capacitor do Signs of a bad AC capacitor What happens when an AC capacitor fails Cost to replace AC capacitor Who makes the best AC capacitors How long does an AC capacitor last What causes an AC capacitor to fail How to check if an AC capacitor is bad Conclusion What is an AC capacitor? An AC capacitor is an electrical component within an air conditioning unit. It gives any motors an extra electricity boost to start and operate correctly. Depending on the HVAC motors, it may have a few capacitors. Most HVAC systems will have one on the inducer motor, another on the blower fan motor, and one combined capacitor or two separate ones for the compressor motor and condenser fan motor. Higher-end HVAC systems with variable speed motors usually have capacitors built into the control board and cannot be replaced. In these cases, the control board will need to be replaced. What does an AC capacitor do To describe how an AC unit capacitor works and what it does, we will compare it to a battery. A capacitor and a battery both store electricity. A capacitor can release all the electricity in seconds, whereas a battery will release its energy over time. This fast release of energy helps the motors meet the energy demand it needs when starting up. In HVAC and AC units, the AC capacitor's purpose is to help power the motors that require that extra electricity when starting up. A capacitor gives that extra electricity and then recharges and is ready to provide that boost of electricity when it is needed again. Depending on the type of HVAC system, they may have an AC start capacitor, AC run capacitor, or AC dual capacitor. This guide covers capacitors as a whole. Because of how a capacitor works and what it is designed to do, they often become defective and must be replaced. Below we will cover some of the signs of a faulty capacitor. Signs of a bad Air Conditioner Capacitor There are various signs to look for that may indicate a faulty capacitor. These signs include noise indications, visual indications, and sensory indications. The first is a sensory indication. If when turning on the air conditioner, it blows warm ambient air. It can indicate that the compressor's AC capacitor is not working. The compressor is a critical component of the refrigeration cycle. If the compressor isn’t working because the air conditioner's capacitor is defective, the air conditioning system will not be able to cool the air. Another sensory indication to look out for is when the HVAC system is turned on, and no air is flowing through the registers (vents), indicating that the blower wheel capacitor is defective. When the blower wheel capacitor is defective, the blower motor will not be able to start correctly, preventing air from flowing through the system and into the home. One visual indication is that the outdoor condenser fan is not working when the AC is turned on. When the outdoor condenser fan isn’t working when the AC is on, there is a good chance the capacitor is defective. However, in higher-end HVAC systems that can operate at variable capacities, the outdoor fan motor may not work by design due to how they function. Another way to visually identify a bad capacitor is because of an oily-like fluid built into the capacitor (similar to a battery). Often, if the oily-like fluid leaks, it allows dust and debris to stick and build up on or around the capacitor and electrical housing of the HVAC system. However, it may be hard to see this as it often requires opening up the electrical housing of the system. Do not attempt to open the electrical housing yourself. HVAC systems use high-voltage electricity. In some cases, the capacitor may still work but is on the edge of failing. This can be identified if, when turning on the HVAC system, there is a brief, loud winding up or humming noise when the HVAC system starts. We always recommend connecting with an HVAC pro before jumping to conclusions. Often, underlying conditions can cause the AC capacitor to go bad sooner than it should. And in other cases, you may have a functioning capacitor, but your HVAC system may not work for different reasons. An HVAC professional will test the electrical capacitance of the capacitor and determine whether it is still good. If you are concerned that the HVAC system will stop working because of a faulty capacitor, the best way to ensure the HVAC system operates all year round is to have yearly maintenance on your heating and cooling systems. What happens when an AC capacitor fails When an HVAC capacitor is failing, a few things can happen to the HVAC system. If the outdoor unit (condensor) capacitor fails, either the compressor won’t start at all, or the compressor will start but the outdoor fan will not work. In both cases the capacitor should be replaced. Although the air conditioning system will provide cool air when the outdoor fan is not working, the refrigeration cycle will not happen properly or efficiently which can cause more damage to the HVAC system and compressor over time. If the indoor blower fan motors capacitor fails, the blower motor will not turn on, preventing air from flowing through the HVAC system and throughout the home. How much does it cost to replace AC capacitor? Now, the most pressing question. How much does it cost to repair an AC capacitor? An AC capacitor itself is not too expensive. Which is why they are replaced rather than repaired. The more costly part of replacing a capacitor is the labor cost due to the knowledge and danger involved in replacing one. The time to diagnose and replace an air conditioning system capacitor can be 15-30 minutes of work. The cost for the AC capacitor can be between $6 to $30+ online or in-store, and the labor cost to replace an AC capacitor can be anywhere from $150 and upwards of $350. The replacement cost of an AC capacitor is between $150 and $380, labor and materials included. Replacing a capacitor the wrong way can damage the new capacitor and the motors and, in worse cases, cause injury or death. We recommend connecting with an HVAC pro to replace an AC capacitor. An HVAC pro knows how to diagnose a faulty capacitor and has the experience and knowledge to replace one. If you purchase an ac capacitor online or in-store, buy the correct microfarad rating required for the HVAC system's motors. Who makes the best ac capacitors and where to buy one? Like any product, there are more expensive and less expensive variations. The same applies to AC capacitors. A less expensive option may work but will probably fail faster, whereas a more expensive one is better engineered and uses higher quality materials that help them last longer. The choice is yours whether you want to invest in a better quality AC capacitor. However, it is essential that the capacitor meets the requirements of the motor. A capacitor is measured by its microfarad rating, which measures how much energy it can store. The higher the rating, the more energy the capacitor can store. Each motor is unique, and the capacitor needs to meet the energy requirements of the motor. In most cases, it is possible to match the microfarad rating of the new capacitor with the old one. However, oftentimes, we are unable to be sure that the old capacitor is the correct one, either because the previous owners or an inexperienced HVAC technician may have replaced it with the wrong one. The motor and specifications need to be checked to properly match the capacitor. We always recommend connecting with an HVAC pro in case of a faulty AC capacitor. When it comes to choosing where to buy an AC capacitor. You can choose from a big box retails store, online, or directly from an HVAC pro. We recommend buying one from an HVAC pro. They will be able to match the correct one with your system. And then safely and properly install it. How long does an ac capacitor last Under ideal conditions, an air conditioning system capacitor should last upwards of 10-15 years. However, how long an AC capacitor lasts on an AC is depends on the operating conditions of the HVAC system. It is rare that an HVAC system operates in ideal conditions. Below we will discuss the various reasons an AC capacitor will fail sooner. What causes an AC capacitor to fail An AC capacitor will fail sooner the more strain it has on it. And since HVAC systems are designed to work under ideal conditions any variation from these ideal conditions can cause the capacitor to fail sooner. For an HVAC system to work in ideal conditions, it needs to be properly designed and installed. When an HVAC system isn’t designed properly, it can cause the system to work under high pressure, which will put more strain on the capacitor while running and during start-up. High pressures can result from improper refrigeration levels, but more often than not is a result of high static pressure either from poor HVAC system design or dirty air filters. In addition to high pressures putting strain on the capacitor, poor insulation and high infiltration rates will cause the system to cycle on and off more frequently, causing it to wear and break down sooner. How to test if an ac capacitor is bad An AC capacitor is checked with the help of a multimeter and the terminals that the wires connect to. A multimeter is a device that is able to read electrical ratings. AC capacitors are measured in microfarads. There are a few ways to test if the AC capacitor is still good. One method is when the system is on, and the other is when the system is off, and the capacitor is isolated from the system. Which method is better is a topic of debate between HVAC pros. Either way, a capacitor should be checked by a professional because even when they are isolated, they contain a high level of electrical charge. In an AC capacitor test for an isolated capacitor, the multimeter should be set to the microfarad reading. Next, the capacitor should be checked between the C (common) terminal and the other terminals. Depending on the capacitor, it may have a few terminals. The reading between the C (common) terminal and the other terminal is the microfarad rating. When checking a capacitor if the system is running, there is a formula that involves testing the amperage going to the motor, multiplying that by 2,652, and dividing it by the voltage reading of the C (common) and the other terminal that is being checked. The formula is (AMPS / 2,652) x Voltage = Microfarad rating Each capacitor has the microfarad rating stated on the side of it that indicates a properly functioning capacitor. Most capacitors can operate within 5-10%+- of the indicated microfarad rating. If the AC capacitor is checked and tested and falls outside of that 5-10% range, it should be replaced. Conclusion An AC capacitor is a critical component of an HVAC system. It provides the additional electricity needed to start and run the motors of an HVAC system. Now that you know what an ac capacitor is, what it does, the signs to look for to identify a bad ac capacitor, what happens if an AC capacitor is bad, what kind and how much it costs to replace one, what causes them to fail, and how long they last. You can confidently approach HVAC pros if you think you have a faulty capacitor. If your air conditioner isn’t working, there could be other problems asides from a faulty capacitor. We recommend connecting with an HVAC pro to diagnose and fix a faulty AC capacitor. If you are considering upgrading your existing or purchasing a new HVAC system, check out Air Guide or Air Design to learn about the various types of HVAC systems and the importance of a well designed one. Then we can connect you with a vetted Air Pro to complete your HVAC project.
- The Pros and Cons of Air Scrubbers vs. Air Purifiers: An in-depth comparison
In HVAC, there are various IAQ (indoor air quality) solutions. This can make it hard to understand the differences. You may have heard of an air scrubber and thought, what is it, what does it do, and how is it different from an air purifier? This guide covers everything you need to know about air scrubbers. Such as, what is the difference between an air scrubber and an air purifier? How does an air scrubber work? What are the benefits of an air scrubber? Where to buy an air scrubber? And what brands make air scrubbers? By the end of this guide, you should have a clear understanding of the differences. And you can use this information to make an informed decision when buying a system. Or educate the people around you about these two indoor air quality systems. Jump to Section How does an air scrubber work? Air scrubber benefits Ozone vs ozone free Air scrubber Air scrubber vs. air purifier Can you have both an air scrubber and air purification? Where to buy an air scrubber? Who makes the air scrubber? Conclusion How does an air scrubber work? An air scrubber for an AC unit uses technology developed for space. Initially designed to improve the air quality of spacecraft's living spaces. Engineered to destroy harmful viruses, bacteria, VOCs, and other pathogens. In HVAC, an air scrubber is placed within an HVAC system's ductwork. This allows air to flow through it, which is essential for it to work. An air scrubber consists of a honeycomb-looking matrix. The matrix is coated with a catalyst, usually titanium dioxide, that the air flows through. It also has a UV light. As the air (and water molecules) flow through the matrix, it reacts with the UV light. And a process called photocatalytic oxidation happens. It is a reaction that creates hydroxy radicals and super-oxide ions. These radicals and ions attach themselves to harmful bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens. When they attach, it breaks their cellular structure and destroys them. In effect, air scrubbers create an army of killer molecules and release them into the air. These molecules flow through the home with the help of the blower fan and the law of gases. And destroy harmful pathogens they come in contact with. An air scrubber can destroy both airborne and surface pathogens. And it is important to note that an air scrubber kills and destroys pathogens. But, it does not remove the particles from the air. To remove the particles from the air, they need to be filtered. We will expand on this later in the air scrubber vs. air purification section. Air scrubber benefits An air scrubber has benefits that improve the indoor air quality in your home. An air scrubber works by distributing pathogen-fighting molecules throughout the home. Most HVAC systems can move upwards of 800 to 1600 CFM (cubic feet per minute) of air. The air scrubber is located in the ductwork, and these molecules move with the air in the system. Because of this, the molecules can distribute throughout the home effectively. It is important to note that the HVAC system fan must be "ON" for the air scrubber to work. Below there are links to research studies conducted by independent and educational institutions. They show how effective air scrubbers are. Specifically in reducing allergens, various viruses, and bacteria, as well as VOCs. Air scrubber effectiveness in the removal of surface contamination Air scrubber effectiveness in the removal of airborne contamination Air scrubber effectiveness in the reduction of cases of staph Ozone vs. ozone free Air scrubber Ozone is a known lung irritant. Many indoor air quality products produce ozone as a byproduct of the solution. An air scrubber has two different models, one of them that produces ozone and the other that does not. The sale of ozone-producing products is regulated differently in every state. Some states allow manufacturers to market and sell products as "no-ozone" products. As long as the ozone generated doesn't cross a threshold. We recommend consulting with an HVAC pro. They will help you discuss options before buying and installing an air scrubber. Air scrubber vs. air purification Air scrubbers and air purification are often compared. However, it is important to note that they are different and can work hand in hand. For example, Lennox Pure Air uses air scrubber technology (PCO - photocatalytic oxidation). Along with efficient filtration for purification. An air scrubber works by actively creating molecules that attack pathogens. And the primary methods for air purification are filtration and UV light purification. This is different from how an air scrubber works. Filtration is pretty straightforward. When the HVAC fan is on, air passes through the filter and removes particles from the air. Learn more about filtration and the various filter types and efficiency ratings. It is the most common method for improving IAQ. UV light purification work differently. It kills bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens with exposure to UV rays. UV purification helps prevent microbial growth on the HVAC coils. Microbial growth on the HVAC coils is bad for IAQ and can cause dirty sock syndrome. So how are air scrubbers different than air purification systems, and which is better? Air scrubbers and air purification are different. Air scrubbers kill pathogens throughout the home by releasing molecules into the air. And UV light purification destroys molecules as they come in contact with the UV rays. And filters the particles out of the air. UV light purification can help prevent microbial growth on the indoor (evaporator) coil. And an air scrubber destroys pathogens throughout the home. A UV light can prevent dirty sock syndrome and high static pressure. This can cause various problems with the HVAC system, such as a faulty capacitor. And an air scrubber can reduce viruses and bacteria throughout the house. Filtration is essential for every home and HVAC system. It helps keep the HVAC system clean and running efficiently. And helps improve the air quality in the house. Can you have both an air scrubber and air purification? Yes, you can have an air scrubber and an air purification system. They can work individually or hand in hand. Because of how each system is designed, they complement each other. An air scrubber is better at removing poor IAQ in the home. And an air purifier is better at keeping your AC system clean. And an effective air filter will remove airborne particles from the airflow. It is possible to start with one or the other and upgrade you as you see fit. Another option would be to opt for an all-in-one solution, such as a Lennox Pure Air system. An Air Pro can help you determine what is best for you. Where to buy an air scrubber? Air scrubbers are sold through authorized dealers. And must be installed by an HVAC professional. You can buy an air scrubber online. But we recommend purchasing one directly from an HVAC pro. Air scrubbers use patented technology. Various manufacturers use the technology. so the quality and longevity can vary between air scrubber manufacturers. Purchasing an air scrubber with an HVAC pro gives peace of mind. And someone to contact if the system stops working. Most HVAC pros will provide a warranty or guarantee to back up their work. Who makes the air scrubber? The best HVAC air scrubber is Active Pure. The pioneer of air scrubber technology. They produce and sell various products using the technology. Many products claim to be air scrubbers. But in residential HVAC, the official air scrubber is made by Aerus. Other brands make products using the same PCO technology, such as a Lennox Pure Air system. The Lennox Pure Air system uses the air scrubber PCO technology. Combined with high-efficiency filtration. The result is an efficient, effective indoor air quality solution. Conclusion The difference between an air scrubber and an air purifier can be confusing. And with various indoor air quality on the market, it is easy to get lost. In this guide, we covered what an air scrubber is. How it works? How an air scrubber differs from an air purifier? What are the main benefits of each? And what to consider when buying one. If you are considering buying an air scrubber, you can buy one online or through an HVAC pro. We recommend talking to an HVAC professional. An HVAC pro can guide you when purchasing an air scrubber. Answer your questions. And will install it professionally. Contact us or comment below if you have any questions.
- AC Coils 101: Everything You Need to Know
This article was created in part with AI. Upon the initial draft, a human reviewed, edited, and revised the content to ensure accuracy. Air conditioning coils are a crucial component of any HVAC system. These coils regulate the temperature and humidity in a home. By absorbing heat from the air inside and releasing it outside. AC coils are made up of thin tubes containing refrigerant. Which is a special fluid that can easily change between a gas and a liquid. The refrigerant absorbs heat from the air inside your home. And then releases it outside, helping to keep the air inside your home cool and comfortable. AC coils can be found in an HVAC system's indoor and outdoor units. And play a vital role in maintaining a comfortable environment year-round. This article will explore the different types of AC coils. Their materials. The signs to look for in a dirty AC coil and how to maintain and clean them properly. Jump to Section: The Different Types of AC Coils Materials used in AC Coils The Importance of Regular AC Coil Cleaning and Maintenance How to Spot a Dirty or Malfunctioning AC Coil The Step-by-Step Process to Cleaning Your AC Coils Frequently asked questions Conclusion The Different Types of AC Coils The evaporator coil is found in the indoor unit of an HVAC system. It is a series of thin tubes containing a refrigerant. The refrigerant inside the evaporator coil is under low pressure. As the refrigerant absorbs heat from the air passing over the coil, it becomes a gas. The compressor in the outdoor unit of the HVAC system then compresses the gas. This releases the heat from the air and turns the refrigerant into a liquid. The liquid is then returned to the evaporator coil to repeat the process. The condenser coil is found in an HVAC system's outdoor unit. It is also made up of a series of thin tubes containing refrigerant. The condenser coil is responsible for releasing the heat absorbed by the refrigerant in the evaporator coil. And dissipating it into the outside air. The refrigerant inside the condenser coil is under high pressure when it enters the coil. As the refrigerant passes through the coil, it releases the heat absorbed from the indoor air and cools down. Turning it back into a liquid. The coils in a heat pump work similarly to those in a regular AC system, with the addition of a reversing valve. The reversing valve in a heat pump allows the refrigerant flow to be reversed. So that the heat pump can be used for heating and cooling. When the heat pump is used for heating, the reversing valve directs refrigerant flow through the evaporator coil in the indoor unit. Causing it to absorb heat from the outside air and release it inside the building. This means that the evaporator coil becomes the condenser coil. As it releases heat rather than absorbs it. When the heat pump is being used for cooling, the reversing valve directs refrigerant flow through the condenser coil in the outdoor unit. Causing it to dissipate heat absorbed by the refrigerant into the outside air. This means that the condenser coil becomes the evaporator coil. Absorbing heat rather than releasing it. In a packaged unit, the evaporator and the condenser coils are housed within the same unit. A packaged unit can either have gas heating with an AC system for cooling. Or be a heat pump that uses refrigerant for both heating and cooling. Learn more about the types of HVAC systems. Materials Used in AC Coils Copper has been used in HVAC systems for many years, dating back to the early days of air conditioning. Copper is a highly conductive metal that can transfer heat efficiently. Making it an ideal material for use in AC coils. Copper is also durable and resistant to corrosion. Which makes it long-lasting and reliable. All of which made it a good choice for HVAC systems. In the 1970s, aluminum began to be used as an alternative to copper in HVAC coils. Aluminum is a lightweight and corrosion-resistant metal that is less conductive than copper. But can still transfer heat effectively. Aluminum coils are also less expensive and easier to manufacture than copper coils. Making them a more cost-effective option for HVAC systems. As aluminum coils became more popular in the HVAC industry, manufacturers began to develop aluminum alloy coils. These coils were even more effective at transferring heat. These aluminum alloy coils were made by combining aluminum with other materials. Such as copper, to create a more conductive and durable material. Aluminum alloy coils are now widely used in HVAC systems. This is due to their high heat transfer capabilities and low cost. Today, copper and aluminum alloy coils are commonly used in HVAC systems. With the choice of material depends on the system's specific needs. Copper coils are generally more expensive but offer higher conductivity and durability. While aluminum alloy coils are a more cost-effective option. But still with good heat transfer capabilities. Most residential HVAC equipment manufacturers use an aluminum alloy. And when you are looking to buy a system. And are concerned about energy efficiency. It is the energy efficiency rating that matters. The Importance of Regular AC Coil Cleaning and Maintenance Regular AC coil cleaning and maintenance cannot be overstated. AC coils play a vital role in the operation of an HVAC system. And keeping them clean is essential. For the efficient and effective operation of the system. Two of the main reasons to clean and maintain AC coils are to improve the energy efficiency of the HVAC system. And to improve the IAQ (indoor air quality) in the home. When the coils are dirty or clogged with debris, they are less able to transfer heat. Which can cause the system to work harder and use more energy. And dust or mildew build-up on the indoor coil can transfer into the home. Regular cleaning and maintenance can help keep the coils and IAQ clean. And improve the system's overall efficiency. Inspecting the coil for signs of leaks is an important aspect of AC coil maintenance. Leaks can occur in the coils due to damage, corrosion, or other factors. And it is important to identify and repair any leaks as soon as possible. One sign of a leak is a bluish-green stain on the copper refrigerant lines. Which is caused by the copper reacting with the refrigerant. There are a few key tips to follow when maintaining AC coils. One is to wash the outdoor coils with water regularly. As this can help remove the accumulated dirt and debris on the coils. And another tip is to keep up with air filter changes. Dirty filters can contribute to dust and debris build-up on the indoor coil. By following these tips, you can help to keep your AC coils clean and well-maintained. Which will improve the efficiency and effectiveness of your HVAC system. Learn more about cleaning the AC coils below. How to Spot a Dirty or Malfunctioning AC Coil Several signs may indicate a dirty or malfunctioning AC coil. Below, we talk about some of the most common signs of a dirty or malfunctioning AC coil. If the static pressure in the HVAC system is higher than normal, it could be a sign that the AC coils are dirty or clogged. This can cause the system to work harder and use more energy as it forces air through the system. If the blower motor makes unusual noises on the indoor unit, it could be a sign that the AC coils are clogged or dirty. The motor may be struggling to move air through the dirty coils, which can cause it to make unusual noises. A noisy compressor motor on the outdoor unit can signal that the evaporator coil is dirty. The compressor is an important component of an HVAC system. It compresses and circulates the refrigerant through the system. When the compressor is functioning properly, it should run smoothly and quietly. If the evaporator coil is dirty, it can cause the compressor to work harder. This increased workload can cause the compressor to make unusual noises. Such as humming, buzzing, or knocking. Learn more about the refrigeration cycle here. Dirty AC coils can cause a refrigerant leak in an HVAC system. When the coils are dirty or clogged, they are less able to transfer heat. And cause the refrigerants to work at higher pressures. This increased workload can put extra stress on the refrigerant lines and connections. If a connection becomes too weak, it can cause a leak in the system. If visually accessible, a sign of a leak is a bluish-green stain on the copper lines or oil spots on the coils. Higher temperatures from the air vents can signify a dirty outdoor condenser coil. The condenser coil is responsible for releasing heat to the outside air. And is located outside. When the condenser coil is dirty or clogged, it can reduce the ability of the system to release heat. Not allowing the refrigerant to supercool properly. When the refrigerant doesn't supercool enough, it can cause the air coming out of the vents to be warmer than normal. You can spot a dirty air conditioning coil by paying attention to these signs. And take steps to clean or repair it as needed. This will help to maintain the efficiency and effectiveness of the HVAC system. The Step-by-Step Process to Cleaning Your AC Coils The process of cleaning the outdoor condenser coil in an HVAC system involves the following steps: Turn off the power to the unit: Before cleaning the condenser coil, it is important to disconnect the power to the HVAC unit. This will help to prevent any accidental electrical shocks or injuries. Remove any debris: Before cleaning the condenser coil, remove any debris on or around the coil. This may include leaves, twigs, or other debris accumulated on or around the unit. Remove the condenser fan: To access the condenser coil, you may need to remove the fan. This is done by loosening the screws or bolts that hold the fan in place and carefully lifting it off. Be careful when handling the fan, as it may be heavy and cause injury if dropped. Remove the protective panels: Before you start cleaning the coil, you will need to remove the protective panels. These panels are secured with screws or bolts. And can be removed by loosening them and lifting the panels off. Clean the fins: The condenser coil is made up of thin metal fins that are designed to help transfer heat. You can use a soft brush or a can of compressed air to clean the fins. Be gentle when cleaning the fins, as they are delicate and can be damaged. Rinse the coil: Once you have cleaned the fins, you can rinse the coil with water. You should not use a strong stream of water, as this could damage the fins. Instead, use a gentle stream of water and wash the coils from the inside out. Rinse the coil thoroughly to remove any dirt or debris that may be stuck to the surface. Clean the surrounding area: After cleaning the condenser coil, it is important to clean the surrounding area. This may include removing any weeds or grass that has grown up around the unit. And cleaning any debris or dirt that may have accumulated on the ground. It is important to note that you should not use cleaning detergents, chemicals, or abrasive materials. Only use materials approved by the equipment manufacturer. The wrong substances can damage the fins and reduce the unit's efficiency. The process of cleaning an indoor evaporator coil in an HVAC system typically involves the following steps: Turn off the power to the unit: Before you start cleaning the evaporator coil, it is important to turn off the power. This will help to prevent any accidental electrical shocks or injuries. Access the evaporator coil: The evaporator coil is typically located in a hard-to-reach place. Such as inside the air handler or furnace, which can be located in an attic, basement, closet, or crawlspace. To access the coil, you may need to remove a panel or other covering to get to it. Remove the evaporator coil housing: Once you have located the coil, you will need to remove the housing that covers it. This housing is secured with screws or bolts. And can be removed by loosening them and carefully lifting them off. Be careful when handling the housing, as it may be heavy and cause injury if dropped. (Side note: to thoroughly clean the evaporator coil, it may need to be removed from the system. Doing so involves removing the refrigerant from the system. Disconnecting the coil from the copper line set. Cleaning. Reconfiguring the coil and recharging the system with refrigerant.) Clean the fins: The evaporator coil is made up of thin metal fins that are designed to help transfer heat. You can use a soft brush or a can of compressed air to clean the fins. Be gentle when cleaning the fins, as they are delicate and can be easily damaged. Rinse the coil: Once you have cleaned the fins, you can rinse the coil with water. You should not use a strong stream of water, as this could damage the fins. Instead, use a gentle stream of water and wash the coils from the inside out. Rinse the coil thoroughly to remove any dirt or debris stuck to the surface. Let the water drain out of the drain pan and through the AC condensate line. After rinsing the evaporator coil, you will need to let the water drain out of the drain pan. This is important to prevent water from accumulating in the pan. And causing problems with the HVAC system. Be careful not to let water leak into other system components, as this can cause damage. In up-flow systems, this is particularly important. As water can leak down to the heat exchanger, blower wheel motor, and electronics in a gas furnace. Or a blower wheel motor and electronics on an air handler. Clean the surrounding area. After you have cleaned the evaporator coil, it is important to clean the surrounding area. This may include removing any dust or debris accumulated in the air handler or furnace. As well as cleaning any other components that may have been exposed during the cleaning process. Cleaning the condenser and evaporator coils are essential in maintaining your HVAC system. By following the steps outlined above and cleaning the coil properly. You can ensure that your system works at its best. And maintains a comfortable indoor environment. It is important to note. Cleaning an indoor evaporator coil can be complex and time-consuming. And it is often recommended to have an HVAC professional handle the task. A professional HVAC technician has the knowledge and experience to clean the coil. And ensure it is operating correctly. Frequently asked questions Conclusion In conclusion, AC coils play a crucial role in the functioning of an HVAC system. They are responsible for transferring heat. And cooling the air circulating throughout the home. There are different types of coils in an AC system. Including the evaporator and condenser coils. To ensure the system runs efficiently, clean and maintain the AC coils regularly. Look for signs of a dirty or malfunctioning coil. Such as high static pressure, a frozen coil, or a noisy compressor motor. And if you suspect that your AC coils may be dirty, it is important to follow the proper steps to clean them. If you are not comfortable or familiar with cleaning the AC coils, it is recommended to hire a professional HVAC technician to do it. Properly maintaining your AC coils can help extend your HVAC system's life. And ensure that it works best to keep your home comfortable. If you are ready to take the next step. Consider scheduling a professional AC coil cleaning. By having a trained and experienced HVAC technician clean the coils. You can be sure that your AC coils are cleaned properly and that your system is running at its best. Connect with an HVAC pro. And get started on ensuring that your system is running efficiently and effectively.
- The complete guide to why your thermostat doesn't reach its set temperature
When the thermostat is set to 75 degrees and the HVAC system has been running for hours without reaching its set temperature, it wastes energy and money. People often assume that the problem is with the thermostat. While in many cases, it is the thermostat that is the cause of the issue, most of the time, other underlying problems cause the thermostat not to reach its set temperature. It can get frustrating, and there are many reasons why a thermostat won’t reach its set temperature. This guide covers the top reasons why a thermostat won’t reach its set temperature from A to Z. By the end of this guide, you can confidently know how to approach fixing a thermostat that doesn’t reach its set temperature, whether you solve the problem yourself or connect with an HVAC pro. Jump to Section The thermostat is faulty The thermostat is in a bad location Heating or cooling system problems HVAC system airflow problems An over or undersized HVAC system Extreme outdoor temperatures Conclusion The thermostat is faulty A thermostat can become faulty because of defective internal components or wiring problems. An inner part can go bad over time because of improper wiring. Improper wiring will cause a thermostat to stop working. A thermostat has terminals for wiring. These wires typically connect to the furnace or air handling unit, which gives the thermostat power and allows for the systems to communicate with each other. When wired incorrectly, it can cause the internal components and electronics to short immediately or fail over time. In most cases, if the thermostat has a problem with internal components, the thermostat will need to be replaced. Rarely do HVAC pros, and thermostat manufacturers repair thermostats with faulty internal components. Most thermostats have a warranty when purchased new, and if purchased and installed with an HVAC pro, it is typically extended. In other cases, power surges can cause the internal components of a thermostat to short; here, too, the thermostat will need to be replaced. The thermostat is in a bad location When the thermostat is located poorly, it can not reach the set temperature. The thermostat reads the temperature from its set location. If the thermostat is located next to a window, exterior wall, or kitchen, it can cause the thermostat to show false readings relative to the rest of the home. If the thermostat is located where a register (vent) is blowing out the air, it can cause the thermostat to have false readings. The ideal location for the thermostat is near the return grille (vent). Near the return grille, air flows throughout the home and into the HVAC system, where it is heated or cooled before circulating throughout the home again. The air temperature by the return grille is the best location for a thermostat because as air circulates throughout the home, the temperatures balance to give a good average temperature reading before going back into the HVAC system for another cycle. Moving the thermostat can be expensive because most thermostats are hard-wired to the HVAC system. Therefore moving it will require running wiring through the walls. One solution is to add a temperature sensor. Most smart thermostats allow you to connect a temperature sensor to the thermostat wirelessly, which can be placed in a specific room and moved accordingly or in a set location. When properly connected, the temperature is read from the sensor instead of the thermostat. Heating or cooling problems Heating or cooling problems can also be why the thermostat doesn’t reach the set temperature. Often, the thermostat shows that the system is working and the HVAC system is blowing air; however, it is not heating or cooling the home. There are many reasons why an air conditioning, heat pump system, or gas furnace isn’t working correctly. Sometimes it's an easy fix, such as replacing the AC capacitor or unclogging an AC drain line. And other times, it is a more complex problem. You can learn more about common heating and cooling problems. Or you can connect with an HVAC pro to diagnose the problem. One honest mistake often made is confusing the fan being on with the heating or cooling system working. So always be sure that the heating or cooling mode is on before concluding that the HVAC system isn’t working. HVAC system airflow problems Airflow problems are one of the most common reasons an HVAC system isn’t working correctly. Airflow problems can cause issues with an HVAC system's heating and cooling operation. When an HVAC system doesn’t have proper airflow, it won’t be able to properly facilitate heat exchange from the evaporator coil or heat exchanger to the ambient air flowing through the HVAC system. Airflow problems can cause the air conditioner to freeze, damage the compressor on air conditioners and heat pumps, and trigger a safety switch on gas furnaces—all of which will prevent the thermostat from reaching the set temperature. A static pressure test is done to check for proper airflow through an HVAC system which should be performed and analyzed by an HVAC pro. Learn more about static pressure. An over or undersized HVAC system HVAC systems that are improperly sized can prevent a thermostat from reaching the set temperature. When a system is oversized, it can cause the system to cycle on and off too frequently. Which causes drastic temperature changes between on and off cycles and can cause discomfort in the home as the thermostat struggles to maintain a temperature range. An undersized HVAC system will not have the heating or cooling capacity to cool or heat the whole home properly. And as a result, it will work harder and longer to try and achieve the desired temperature. Both over and undersized systems will cause wear and tear and can cost you money in increased energy bills. Either because it turns on and off too frequently or is always on. Therefore, it is essential to size an HVAC system correctly. In the event of undersized systems, it is possible to lower the home's heat load by improving insulation and infiltration rates. And in the event of an oversized system, it is possible to increase the heat load by adding ventilation systems. To find out what size of an HVAC system you need, it is best to consult with an HVAC pro. Extreme outdoor temperatures Extreme outdoor temperatures can prevent the thermostat from reaching its set temperature. A properly designed HVAC system has an ideal range of operating temperatures, and each home has a unique heat load given its build quality and design. The heat load of a home determines the cooling and heating capacity needed. The greater the capacity, the faster it can cool or heat a space. And if the capacity is too small, it won't be able to reach the temperature at all. In areas susceptible to extreme outdoor temperatures, the best practice is to ensure the home is adequately sealed and insulated to reduce the cooling or heating load during extreme temperatures. Not only will this reduce the heat load and help maintain comfortable living conditions, but it will also reduce energy consumption throughout the year. Troubleshooting or replacing a thermostat If you suspect the thermostat is not working because it is not reaching the set temperature, you can troubleshoot it or replace it. You can explore online resources for common thermostats such as the Google Nest or Ecobee. However, we recommend consulting with an HVAC pro. An HVAC pro will be able to properly diagnose the source of the problem and advise on how to fix it. If you need to replace the thermostat, we recommend choosing a smart thermostat. Smart thermostats can save you a lot on energy costs because of built-in energy-saving features, plus some of them allow you to set schedules and monitor indoor air quality. They are usually also paired with a mobile app to enable you to control the thermostat from your phone conveniently. Conclusion We often assume that if the thermostat doesn’t reach its set temperature, there is a problem with the thermostat itself. As we discovered, a faulty thermostat is just one of the reasons why a thermostat doesn’t reach its set temperature. Most of the time, other problems cause a thermostat not to reach its set temperatures, such as thermostat location, heating, cooling, and airflow problems, HVAC system sizing, and extreme outdoor temperatures. By now, you should have a good idea of why a thermostat doesn’t reach its set temperature, and you can follow some troubleshooting steps from the thermostat manufacturer. Or you may opt for replacing the thermostat and possibly adding a compatible temperature sensor. Because there are so many reasons why a thermostat won’t reach its set temperature and the complexity of HVAC, we always recommend connecting with a pro to help diagnose and repair any problems.
- HVAC Static Pressure - How It Affects Efficiency and Performance
In HVAC, static pressure is one of the most critical measurements. Static pressure affects the performance of a system. And if it is too high or too low, it signals that something is wrong with the system. You may have heard the term static pressure if you recently had maintenance or a check-up on your HVAC systems. Your HVAC pro might have told you that your HVAC system has static pressure that is too high or too low. HVAC or air conditioning (AC) static pressure that is too low or too high can cause problems with an HVAC system. And one of the main reasons for common air conditioner problems. And can also cause problems with the heating systems. Static pressure can be challenging to understand and may sound confusing. That is because we often relate the term static to static electricity shocks. Nonetheless, our goal is to ensure you understand what static pressure is. How to test the AC static pressure. How it can affect your HVAC systems. And how to fix high or low static pressure problems within an HVAC system. Jump to a Section What is static pressure How to do a static pressure test Effects of high or low static pressure What causes high or low static pressure How to improve static pressure Static pressure vs. Dynamic pressure (What's the difference?) Conclusion What is static pressure? The definition of static pressure in HVAC is a measurement of airflow in an HVAC system. That includes the ducting and air handling components. It measures the static (air that does not move) pressure force. The pressure is created from resistance in airflow when air is forced through the system. When a system has more restrictions, the pressure will be higher. And when there are fewer restrictions, the pressure will be lower. The scientific definition of static pressure in HVAC is that it is a force or pressure that is exerted in all directions evenly. Below is a diagram of how static pressure in air conditioning looks within a duct system to help visualize the concept. The circle is a cut-out of an air duct, so you can imagine you are looking into the air duct. The outer ring is the perimeter of the duct. And everything inside the blue perimeter ring is for visual representation. But it is hollow in reality. In the diagram, the solid blue circle represents the “static pressure,” which is just air. The arrows represent the pressure exerted in all directions. And the dotted lines represent the flow zone (dynamic pressure), which is the area where the air can flow through the ducting. When static pressure is high, the area of the static pressure increases. Which means less air can flow throughout the system. And when static pressure is lower, more air can flow throughout the system. Static pressure can be affected by the conditions of the HVAC system. Such as internal components of the HVAC systems. Like the heat exchanger and evaporator coil. Or other factors include the air filters, the size and the number of HVAC air ducts, or the type and position of registers (vents). When static pressure is high, less air flows through the system, but the air flows at a high velocity (speed). And when it is lower, the velocity decreases. Keep in mind that high velocity does not mean high air volume. What is good static pressure? That depends on the system. Each system has a maximum rated external static pressure. The ideal static pressure is good if the HVAC system doesn't exceed that rating and stays within an ideal range. Nonetheless, if it is too low, it can indicate other problems. How to do a static pressure test Every HVAC system has a maximum rated static pressure to work within manufacturer specifications. The maximum static pressure is usually stated on HVAC equipment—usually the furnace or air handling unit. Static pressure is measured in inches of water column. The testing should be done by an HVAC professional. That is because the HVAC system must work in the correct testing conditions. And requires expertise to know how to check it correctly. The furnace or air handler static pressure is checked along specific points within the heating and cooling systems with a tool called a manometer. Doing so can help identify the root of a pressure problem. When doing static pressure testing, the reading is taken at four points. Before the air filter. After the air filter but before the blower fan motor, wheel, and heat exchanger. After the blower motor, wheel, and heat exchanger, but before the evaporator coil. And after the evaporator coil. The first two points checked are before the blower fan motor and wheel. Here the reading is under negative pressure because there is a lack of air (imagine a vacuum). And after it passes the blower motor and wheel. The reading is in positive pressure (imaging blowing into a balloon). Each section of the heating and cooling systems has an ideal percentage of the total static pressure. Measuring static pressure at different points lets the HVAC technician determine the cause of the problem. And helps the HVAC pro to determine the static pressure measurement. Common reasons for high or low static pressure include poorly sized ducts. Low-quality or dirty air filters. Closed registers (vents). Disconnected ducts. Or a dirty evaporator coil. The effects of high or low static pressure When static pressure is too low or too high, it negatively affects the HVAC system and home comfort. Static pressure too high will cause the blower fan motor to work harder. As it forces the air through the system, it can cause it to wear faster and consume more energy. In some cases, the strain on the motors can lead to a faulty air conditioner capacitor. Furthermore, less air flows through the system when the static pressure is high. And the air flows out at a faster velocity. Think of it like a water hose. If you close off the end with your thumb, the water will flow faster. And with more velocity but less water volume flowing through it. This is precisely the case with high static pressure and HVAC air ducts. Think of the air duct as the hose and the air as the water when static pressure is high. There is less air volume flowing through the system. And at the same time, it is coming out of the supply (air going into the home) vents at a high velocity. This can lead to an uncomfortable environment in the home. And cause problems with the HVAC system. Noticeable symptoms of high static pressure include air coming out of the vents at a high velocity. The system fan is excessively noisy, and noisy rattling air vents. Because high static pressure means less airflow through the system, it can affect both the heating and cooling systems. The HVAC system uses refrigerant to cool (and heat for heat pumps) the home. Along with an indoor and outdoor coil and a compressor in a refrigeration cycle. Lack of airflow will prevent the refrigerant in the indoor coil from evaporating or condensing (heat pumps) into a gas or liquid (heat pump). When air passes through the indoor coil, it facilitates heat transfer and changes the state of the refrigerant. In the cooling (and heating for heat pumps) stages. When the refrigeration cycle doesn’t happen correctly, it can cause the air conditioner to freeze. And damage the air conditioner compressor. In the heating stages, it can cause the system to trigger safety switches. And cause the heat exchanger to crack over time. Although rare, static pressure that is too low can also limit the performance of a heating and cooling system. The main reason for it being low is leaking HVAC air ducts, disconnected HVAC air ducts, or HVAC air ducts that are too big. A leaking or disconnected air duct on the return side can cause the internal components of the HVAC system to get dirty. And negatively affect the home's indoor air quality. A leaking or disconnected air duct on the supply side (air going into the home) wastes energy. Because the conditioned air is not making its way into the home, and if the air duct system is too large, the low pressure will cause the velocity of the air flowing out of the registers (vents) to be very low, which will limit the conditioned air from flowing in and around the home. What causes high or low static pressure? There can be many reasons why static pressure is high or low. Ducting can be bad because it is installed incorrectly, sized incorrectly, or is old. One of the most common mistakes and reasons for high static pressure is installing a new HVAC system and not replacing the ducting. Older homes with older systems have HVAC ducting that is unsuitable for the new system pressure ratings. And because each system is unique and designed to work under different design specifications. Old ducting is usually insufficient for newer heating and cooling systems. And can cause the air handler or furnace to have static pressure that is too high. When ducting is not appropriately sized, the HVAC system lacks the airflow needed. Or can cause the system to work inefficiently. New air ducts are better insulated, which prevents heat loss when the conditioned air travels through the ducts. And when properly sized, the blower fan motor won’t need to work as hard, consuming less energy. Great care and calculation are needed when sizing and installing ducts. The ducting design in an HVAC system needs to meet the system requirements. When designing a system, the HVAC pro should account for the system's ducting length, diameter, material, bends, and registers (vents). This ensures the HVAC system won’t exceed the maximum rated static pressure. And when installing the ducts, the HVAC pro should follow the design specifications. And ensure there are no sharp bends. Or any objects such as wood in an attic will deform the duct's shape, prohibiting the airflow. Another reason for high static pressure is a dirty indoor (evaporator coil). A clogged air filter or closed-off registers (vents). Or dirty HVAC air ducts. Again, the same concept applies. When there are restrictions within the HVAC system's ducting and air handling components, static pressure will be higher. If you suspect your system is dirty, consider cleaning the evaporator coil. Or get an HVAC air duct cleaning. Your system will operate more efficiently, and you will breathe cleaner air. Low static pressure in an HVAC system can be caused by HVAC air ducts that are too large or are disconnected. How to improve static pressure? When trying to lower or increase the static pressure of the HVAC system. You first need to understand the root cause of why is too high or low. Therefore we always recommend getting the static pressure tested before. Wondering how to decrease static pressure? Reducing static pressure can be done by increasing the size or number of ducts. Upgrading filters. Cleaning the indoor (evaporator) coil. Ensuring all registers (vents) are open. And zoning*. However, a static pressure test is essential. To determine the location of the restrictions within the air handling and ducting systems. If the solution is to increase the number or size of ducts, a test will determine if it should be on the supply (air going into the home). Or the return side (air going into the system). Wondering how to increase static pressure? Increasing static pressure can be done by ensuring all ducts are appropriately connected. Decreasing the size (diameter) or the number of ducts, upgrading filters, and zoning*. It is important to note that HVAC systems often have high static pressure rather than low. *Zoning may be considered an option to increase or decrease static pressure. However, it may not always be possible because of system limitations. Static pressure vs. Dynamic pressure (What's the difference?) To give you an idea, imagine you are standing outside, and the wind is blowing on your face. You can feel the wind pushing against your face with a certain amount of force. This force is what we call "pressure." In HVAC, there are two types of pressure that we need to consider: static pressure and dynamic pressure. Static pressure is the pressure of air that is not moving. For example, if you put your hand in front of a vent and feel air blowing on your hand, you feel static pressure. This pressure is important because it tells us how much resistance the air encounters as it flows through ductwork or HVAC equipment. On the other hand, dynamic pressure is the pressure of air in motion. When air moves, it has energy that we call "velocity." This energy can be harnessed to do work, such as moving a turbine or propelling an airplane. In air conditioning, we use dynamic pressure to measure air velocity as it flows through ductwork or HVAC equipment. A heating and cooling system with a dynamic pressure that is too low may not be able to move the air around the home properly—causing hot and cold spots. So, in summary, static pressure is the pressure of air that is not moving, while dynamic pressure is the pressure of air that is in motion. Both types of pressure are important in HVAC because they help us understand how air flows through a system and how much energy it has. Conclusion Static pressure is one of the most critical measurements when looking at the performance of an HVAC system. When it is too low or too high, it can cause problems with the HVAC systems. Or decrease the HVAC systems efficiency. It is important to ensure your system has good static pressure to operate efficiently and help reduce hot and cold spots in the home. Now that you know what static pressure is. What causes it to be high or low? How to decrease or increase it. And how an HVAC pro will test static pressure. You can confidently approach any HVAC-related static pressure problems. If a dirty indoor (evaporator) coil is the cause of high static pressure, you can learn more about HVAC system cleanings. Plus, you can benefit from breathing cleaner air. And if you suspect it is poor ducting, you can learn about Air Design or contact an Air Pro. Do not confuse static and dynamic pressures. Although one affects the other, they are not the same. Contact us or comment below if you have questions.
- AC Compressors (Everything You Need to Know)
Intro An AC compressor is the heart of your air conditioning system. It compresses the refrigerant, facilitating your home’s cooling (and heating if you have a heat pump). Unfortunately, your AC compressor can get damaged if your system is old or if your HVAC system is not maintained correctly. This guide will talk about what is an AC compressor, why an ac compressor may fail, the different types of AC compressors, how they work, and what it costs to replace one. Jump to Section What is an AC compressor? Why an AC compressor goes bad? Different types of AC compressors Cost to replace an AC compressor Conclusion What is an AC compressor? The AC compressor is located on the outdoor unit, otherwise known as your unit’s condenser. The compressor does what it’s named to do, “compress” the refrigerant in your HVAC system. Your HVAC system utilizes a few basic concepts to cool or heat (if you have a heat pump) your home. In short, it utilizes refrigeration and pressure changes to heat or cool your home. You can learn more about how your HVAC system works here. Why an AC compressor goes bad? The main reason your AC compressor goes bad is that liquid refrigerant makes its way into the compressor. It can be one of the reasons your AC system isn’t working. If liquid makes its way into your compressor, it can be for the following reasons: You have too much refrigerant in your refrigerant lines You do not have enough airflow in your system Too much refrigerant will prevent the evaporator coil from doing its job correctly, which is to evaporate all the refrigerant into a gas. This leads us to the second point. The goal of the evaporator coil is to convert the refrigerant from a liquid to a gas. It does this through a heat transfer process. If there is not enough airflow through your evaporator coil, then the “hot” airflow won’t be able to evaporate all of the liquid refrigerants into a gas. There are a few reasons why your AC system will not have proper airflow. One of the most common is dirty air filters, restricting airflow. That is why checking and replacing your air filters regularly is essential. Lack of airflow may also lead to your evaporator coil freezing. If your evaporator coil freezes, it will prevent the warmer air from evaporating your refrigerant. Eventually, the liquid refrigerant will make its way into your compressor, damaging it. This can happen slowly over time, due to increased strain on the motor. Or in a matter of a few days. The increased strain on the motor can also damage the AC capacitor. Another common reason for the lack of airflow is high static pressure. High Static pressure is caused by ducting that is not properly sized or dirty air filters. What are the different types of AC Compressors? There are many various types of AC compressors. The most common two in residential HVAC are reciprocating and scroll compressors. A reciprocating compressor is more common and has been an industry standard for many years. A reciprocating compressor works similarly to the pistons of a vehicle. As the pistons move up and down, they compress the refrigerant. Scroll compressors are newer, more efficient alternatives that are becoming a standard in new systems. The way a scroll compressor works is a little more challenging to grasp. It consists of two interconnected scrolls. One scroll is stationary, and the other rotates on an axis. It compresses and pushes the compressed refrigerant further down the scroll as the scroll rotates. Once it reaches the center of the scroll exits the compressor as a compressed gas into the refrigerant line. How Much Does it Cost to Replace an AC Compressor? There are a few costs involved in replacing an AC compressor. You need to account for the compressor, the labor, and the refrigerant. A typical compressor replacement can cost anywhere between $800 to $2,800. There are a few factors that contribute to the price, such as the type of compressor and the service location. If you are in a more urban area where the cost of living is higher, then similarly, the cost of labor will be higher as well. When contacting an HVAC pro, always be sure that the price they charge covers everything. You don't want any surprises. It should include the cost of the compressor, the labor, and the refrigerant recharge. Conclusion Your AC compressor is a vital component in the operation of your HVAC system. There are many reasons why your AC compressor may fail. To replace an AC compressor, you will need the help of an HVAC professional. They must have proper licenses and certifications when working with refrigerants. Furthermore, you want to ensure your HVAC professional replace the compressor correctly. This involves evacuating the lines, creating a vacuum in the lines, and charging them with the proper amount of refrigerant. Be sure to choose a reliable HVAC company when replacing your AC compressor. The best way to ensure your compressor doesn’t fail often is by having yearly HVAC maintenance and replacing filters regularly. This will ensure your HVAC system is working correctly. If your AC compressor goes bad for any reason, it can cost you anywhere from $800 to $2,800 to replace. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions. We are always happy to help.
- AC Condensate: How to avoid clogged drain lines
A clogged AC (air conditioner) condensate drain line can cause water damage in the home. Or trigger a safety switch, which will cause the AC system not to work. We recommend having an HVAC technician clean the AC drain lines during HVAC maintenance. Or during HVAC service. Cleaning the AC condensate drain line removes clogs in the pipes. And helps avoid problems with the air conditioning system. In this guide, we talk about why an AC drain line gets clogged. And the signs to look for that may indicate a clogged condensate drain line. Then we will walk you through three step-by-step processes. Explaining how to clean and unclog the AC drain lines. Jump to Section What is an AC drain line Signs the AC Drain Line is Clogged (And What Happens When it Gets Clogged) Why the AC Drain Line Gets Clogged How to Clean and Unclog the AC Drain Line Unclogging the AC Drain Line with a Wet-Dry Vacuum Cleaning the AC Drain Line (w/cutting PVC Pipe) Cleaning AC Drain line (Using a cleaning brush) Thorough Cleaning With a Nitrogen Shot Conclusion What is an AC Drain Line An air conditioner drain line is a PVC drain pipe attached to the condensate pan of the HVAC unit. When properly connected, it has a slight downward slope. The slope allows gravity to take the water down the drain and make its way out of the home. The PVC drain pipe has a drain trap, also known as a P-trap. The P-trap is like those under a sink or toilet. One purpose of the P-trap is to separate the PVC drain line from the external environment. It does this by trapping water in the drain pipe, which creates the barrier. The barrier prevents spiders or insects from entering the AC system. And helps control odors. When the drain line is dry, spiders and insects can enter through the drain line. The air conditioner generates condensation while it's on. The purpose of the AC drain lines is to allow the condensation to drain out of the system. Signs the AC Drain Line is Clogged (And What Happens When it Gets Clogged) If you have a clogged AC condensate drain line, you must fix it as soon as possible. Not fixing a clogged condensate drain line can cause water damage. And can also prevent the HVAC system from working. You can know if an AC drain line is clogged by looking for two common signs of a clog. The first is if the AC system isn't working. The other is clear signs of water around the furnace, air handler, or ceiling. If the air conditioner isn't working because of a clogged AC condensate line. It can be because the system has a "safe-t-switch." When water doesn't drain from the system, it can trigger the safe-t-switch. This disconnects power to the air conditioning unit and, in some cases, the thermostat. Not all systems have a "Safe-T" switch, but we recommend installing one to prevent water damage in the home. And a triggered safe-t-switch can sometimes have similar symptoms to a faulty AC capacitor. Be sure to not confuse the two. When there are signs of water around the HVAC unit or on the ceiling, it is a sign the condensate drain line is clogged. And the drain pan is overflowing. This causes water to leak from the HVAC unit and water damage in more severe cases. Why the AC Drain Line Gets Clogged The AC condensate drain line can clog for a few reasons. The most common reasons are dust and debris or spiders and insects. Bad filtration or dirty filters can cause dust to build up on the evaporator coil. When the air conditioner runs, the evaporator coil generates condensation. The condensation washes away dust and debris from the evaporator coil into the AC drain line. And clogging it. Also, debris from around the furnace or indoor air handler can make its way to the drain pan and the drain line. Causing it to clog. Aside from dust and debris, the AC condensate drain line can clog from spiders and insects. During the off-season, the P-trap in the condensate line dries up when the air conditioner is not in use. Spiders and insects often find their way into the pipe and build webs or lay eggs that clog the drain line. So, clean and unclog the condensate line at least once a year before the cooling season. You can learn how to do it yourself below. Or connect with an HVAC pro about doing it as part of a preventative maintenance service. How to Clean and Unclog the AC Drain Line There are three common ways to clean the AC condensate line. One is with a wet-dry vacuum. And the other two ways involve cutting the PVC piping for a more thorough cleaning. Unclogging the AC Drain Line with a Wet-Dry Vacuum Cleaning your AC drain line with a wet-rated vacuum is easy. But you need a wet-dry vacuum. And you need to locate the end of the AC condensate drain line. There are some companies that make AC drain line cleaner vacuums. However, a regular wet-dry vacuum will work as well. Finding the end of the drain line can take time and effort. In most cases, it is located outside the house. Draining into a rain gutter. And in other cases, it won't be accessible if it drains into a drain pipe within the home's walls. To clean the AC drain line with a vacuum, follow these steps: Turn off the air conditioning unit Connect the wet-rated vacuum to the end of the AC drain line piping Ensure a tight seal between the wet-dry vacuum and the PVC piping. (You can wrap the PVC piping with a paper towel to ensure this). Run the wet vacuum for about 1-2 minutes or until there is no more water draining from the line Cleaning the AC Drain Line (w/cutting PVC Pipe) The following two methods of cleaning the AC drain line involve cutting. And are more technical. Nonetheless, you should be fine if you are a handy DIY person. Cleaning AC Drain line with a brush Cleaning the AC drain line with a cleaning brush is effective if done right. You want to follow the steps. And be sure you are flushing out the debris in the correct direction (not back into the HVAC system). What you will need: PVC pipe cutter Bucket One gallon of water Two hose clamps Rubber tubing (usually one inch and a quarter, depending on the size of the PVC piping) Pipe cleaning brush The steps to unclog the AC drain line are straightforward. Place the bucket under where you are going to cut the PVC piping Cut the PVC piping after the drain trap (farther away from the HVAC system) Let the water drain into the bucket Push the pipe cleaning brush into the PVC piping. This is to clear any blockage (the blockage occurs in the drain trap). Be careful not to push the debris into the system (The debris should end up in the bucket). Attach the rubber tubing and reconnect the cut PVC piping Use the hose clamps to attach the rubber tubing or glue the PVC pipes back together Pour the gallon of water into the drain to flush out any excess debris and ensure it flows freely. If you attempt to do this yourself, follow the instructions. Plan out your steps before you proceed. And if you are unsure about something, contact an HVAC technician. Thorough Cleaning With a Nitrogen Shot It is possible to clean the AC drain line with a high-pressure nitrogen shot. In fact, most HVAC technicians use this method. A nitrogen shot is small and effective. Making it easy for HVAC professionals to carry them in their cars. Using a nitrogen shot to clean and unclog the AC drain line is similar to using a pipe-cleaning brush. But there are a few minor changes. First is when you cut the AC drain line. You must cut it before the drain trap (closer to the HVAC unit). That way, when you shoot the nitrogen down the line, it clears the whole line, including the drain trap. Ensure to shoot the nitrogen away from the system, not towards it. You will also need a nitrogen gun to release the high-pressure gas at a high velocity into the drain line. The nitrogen gun allows you to load a nitrogen or CO2 cartridge. And a trigger helps release spurts of high-pressure gas in a controlled way—that way, the nitrogen cylinder can be used many times. After the pipe is cut, insert the nozzle of the nitrogen gun into the PVC pipe. Ensure a tight fit seal. And shoot the AC drain line with the nitrogen. This process can be repeated until the pipe is clear. Once the drain is clear, connect the PVC piping again with a coupling. The PVC can be glued to avoid leakage. The AC drain line is a low-pressure line, so leakage is rare (However, in most locations, local city code requires the PVC pipe to be glued). If you decide not to glue the pipe, it will allow for easy access in the future. Ensure there is no leakage and that the AC drain line is clean by pouring about a gallon of water into the drain pan. And ensure everything is flowing. Conclusion A clogged drain line is no fun. And it can be why the air conditioner isn't working on a hot summer day. This guide went over the signs of clogged AC drain lines. So you can catch them early. We talked about why an AC condensate drain line gets clogged and dirty. And we discussed three methods to clean and unclog the AC drain line. If you are a DIY person, you can try any of the methods mentioned. We advise that you proceed cautiously to avoid damage to the HVAC system or home. And ensure you leave the system in compliance with local city codes. If you are stuck or need help, you can always call or contact an HVAC professional. You can help prevent a dirty or clogged AC drain line by replacing the HVAC filters regularly. And scheduling regular HVAC maintenance. This is the best way to ensure the HVAC system runs all year round.