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Old 07-23-2011, 09:09 AM  
Baconeater Baconeater is offline
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Simple AC tips to help keep your cool this summer

Hey CP peeps, I'm willing to bet some of you have noticed it's freaking hot outside. And since I've spent the last year going to school for HVAC, I thought I'd share some things I've learned about air conditioning systems. If you don't think yours is operating properly, here are some simple things you can check out on your own.

First off, check your outside unit. On it you will find two copper tubes coming from the house and into the unit. Touch them both.

The larger one (low side), should be insulated and cold to the touch, similar to a can of beer coming out of the fridge. If it's warm, or frosted, it likely means that your refrigerant level is off. Call a professional.

The smaller one (high side) should be warm, but not uncomfortable to the touch. If it's hot enough that you can't leave your fingers on it, it very likely means that your condensing coil is dirty, and it can't properly release the heat that the system is trying to remove from your home, and it's not going to run efficiently ($$$$). It can also make the compressor run hotter than normal, thereby shortening its life (more $$$$).

If your coil is as dirty as the one pictured here



you can make a significant improvement in performance simply by shutting the system down and thoroughly hosing it off, but the most effective way to clean one is from the inside with a high-pressure spray tip since dirt, cotton from cottonwood trees and even lawn clippings can get embedded into the coil. This is also something that can be done yourself, but if you're not comfortable opening up the unit, call a pro to have it cleaned. Again, let me emphasize that the system needs to be SHUT OFF while doing this. The condenser should be cleaned at least once a year, and maybe more depending on the conditions.

Lastly, a few things on airflow, which is key to keeping your home cool.

Check the furnace filter. Does it look more like a throw rug than the filter you stuck in there six months ago? Time to change it out. In the summertime, I recommend the cheap, flimsy ones. While that super duper pleated hypo-allergenic $25 one that Paul Harvey recommended may do a better job of cleaning your air, it's only because it's letting less air through it. There are better ways to clean your air other than choking off your airflow.

Is your humidifier bypass (if equipped with one) closed? Check for a 6" round duct going into your humidifier. There should be a handle somewhere on it, or on the humidifier itself, and it should be marked "summer/winter" or "high/low". Turn it to the summer/low position, or if it's not marked, the handle should be perpendicular to the airflow. Having this open when the AC is running can kill your efficiency by as much as 25% on its own.

You also want to keep all your supply/return vents clear, and open. Your system is designed to move a certain amount of air, and closing off a bunch of vents isn't necessarily going to help keep the other rooms any cooler. If you notice significant differences in temperatures from room to room, try turning the thermostat to "Fan On". On that setting, the AC will still cycle normally as needed to maintain the desired temperature, but the fan will run continuously which may help keep all rooms a more consistent temperature.

Hopefully these suggestions help some of you, I know they've made a difference in my house.
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Old 08-01-2011, 10:26 PM   #136
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bo's Pelini View Post
I have no idea what that is I just know the fan aint moving
Does the outside unit feel hot? Check the smaller of the two copper tubes coming out of it, if it's really hot then the compressor is still running and it's just the fan that went out.
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Old 08-01-2011, 10:30 PM   #137
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bugeater View Post
Does the outside unit feel hot? Check the smaller of the two copper tubes coming out of it, if it's really hot then the compressor is still running and it's just the fan that went out.
Turn the system off first right?


Is there anyway I can fix it myself before dying of ****ing heat stroke?
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Old 08-01-2011, 10:31 PM   #138
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Originally Posted by CaliforniaChief View Post
Similar-sized rooms with the same amount of ducts? Not really. The room of interest was added on, changing the 3-car garage into 2. It's also the room that's farthest from the forced air unit in the attic. So it could be a combination of poor duct access, 2 windows, distance from the unit, and inadequate insulation. Although I don't even feel air coming from the duct when I'm on the other side of the room.
Ack, I have the same thing going on in a room that was added on to the end of my house. They used that plastic flex duct bullcrap and made about a dozen turns with it and the vents don't blow worth a shit. Luckily the room completely opens up to the main part of the house so it still stays fairly decent. Might try a booster fan if the ductwork to that room is accessible.
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Old 08-01-2011, 10:31 PM   #139
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It's hot as shit. Supposed to be 108 here in KC tomorrow. If it were me, I'd crash with family, or spring the 60 bucks or whatever for Motel 6 until it's fixed.
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Old 08-01-2011, 10:33 PM   #140
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bo's Pelini View Post
Turn the system off first right?


Is there anyway I can fix it myself before dying of ****ing heat stroke?
No, you don't need to turn it off just to feel the refrigerant lines.

But you probably lost either the motor for the fan or the cap that starts it, and either way it isn't something you're going to be able to fix on your own at 11:30 at night unless you keep spare parts laying around.
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Old 08-01-2011, 10:35 PM   #141
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What would happen if I push the fan with a stick?
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Old 08-01-2011, 10:41 PM   #142
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bo's Pelini View Post
What would happen if I push the fan with a stick?
If it's just the cap that is bad, it may be possible to get the motor going. But once the unit cycles off, you'll have to start it again.

Although with as hot as it is, it may not cycle off for a while. If you do get it going, I'd set your t-stat at 65 degrees and let it go all night.
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Old 08-01-2011, 10:42 PM   #143
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**** it i'm trying it.

My family will let me come over but nobody will allow my cats to come poor guys.
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Old 08-01-2011, 10:45 PM   #144
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Old 08-01-2011, 10:47 PM   #145
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Go for it. I'm just not sure you'll be able to give it much of a boost, those things are usually caged off pretty well. I've done it before though.
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Old 08-01-2011, 10:48 PM   #146
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bugeater View Post
Ack, I have the same thing going on in a room that was added on to the end of my house. They used that plastic flex duct bullcrap and made about a dozen turns with it and the vents don't blow worth a shit. Luckily the room completely opens up to the main part of the house so it still stays fairly decent. Might try a booster fan if the ductwork to that room is accessible.
The booster fan is an interesting idea. I'm also thinking about wiring/installing a ceiling fan to help. I would think about putting a window unit in but it's in the front of our house and I think that looks ghetto. Either way, I'm about to invest some money in a nice TV and plan to spend a lot more time in there and need to get on top of this.

Thanks so much, Bug!
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Old 08-01-2011, 10:50 PM   #147
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Yea I pushed it and got nothing I turned it down to 65 is that going to prevent me from dying?
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Old 08-01-2011, 11:01 PM   #148
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Originally Posted by CaliforniaChief View Post
The booster fan is an interesting idea. I'm also thinking about wiring/installing a ceiling fan to help. I would think about putting a window unit in but it's in the front of our house and I think that looks ghetto. Either way, I'm about to invest some money in a nice TV and plan to spend a lot more time in there and need to get on top of this.

Thanks so much, Bug!
Menard's has the booster fans, they're easily installed in any 6" duct. I just put a cord and a plug on mine and let it run 24/7 when it's hot out. It's not like it uses that much electricity and if I burn it up, well I'm only out $20.

Or if you're crafty enough you can wire it up so it only runs when your furnace blower runs.
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Old 08-01-2011, 11:04 PM   #149
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Originally Posted by Bo's Pelini View Post
Yea I pushed it and got nothing I turned it down to 65 is that going to prevent me from dying?
Probably not. Without that fan going, your condenser is going to have trouble dissipating heat. And your compressor is likely going to overheat and go into overload at some point.

It's hard to say exactly what the problem is without doing some troubleshooting with a voltmeter. It sucks that I don't live in KC, I could be cleaning up with service calls right about now.
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Old 08-01-2011, 11:17 PM   #150
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Ok one last dumb question. Am I better off for the night running the Tstat at 65 with that mild air blowing or opening up all the windows and have the ceiling fan going?
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