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Old 07-23-2011, 09:09 AM  
Bacon Cheeseburger Bacon Cheeseburger 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 07-24-2011, 04:47 PM   #76
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Originally Posted by phillip View Post
Are registers and vents synonymous?

I have 4 filters (2 for each a/c unit) in the ceiling in the hallway upstairs. Are these the only filters, or are there more in the ducting or near the units? The only ones I've ever changed are those ones in the ceiling.

I opened all of the vents today. It seems so counterintuitive to cool more of the house.
Yes registers and vents are the same thing.
The filters depend on the installer but no there shouldn't be another filter at the air handler.

What have you noticed so far about the change that you have done?
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Old 07-24-2011, 04:48 PM   #77
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Originally Posted by Groves View Post
Those "large tree" transplants always fascinate me.

Feel free to share some stories. Is there a size that hits the sweet spot in terms of money and "worth it"-ness?
Gotta kind of laugh that a guys name on here is talking about trees.
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Old 07-24-2011, 08:08 PM   #78
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So here's a question for you HVAC gurus:

My house has a main floor, an upper floor, and a finished basement. The furnace and everything is located in the basement. As is probably a pretty common problem, it's a giant pain in the ass to cool the upper floor; the main floor is fine; and the basement turns into a walk-in freezer if I leave the vents open.

The big issue aside from the whole "heat rises" thing is that the amount of air coming out of the vents in the basement is MUCH higher in the basement than the main floor and much higher on the main floor than the upper floor.

So I guess my question is just whether there are "best practices" to make the most of this. My guess is that the underlying issue isn't an easy fix. But I've been shutting the vents all the way off in the basement since it stays cool on its own. Is that a bad thing based on what you guys have been saying?
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Old 07-24-2011, 08:11 PM   #79
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaFace View Post
So here's a question for you HVAC gurus:

My house has a main floor, an upper floor, and a finished basement. The furnace and everything is located in the basement. As is probably a pretty common problem, it's a giant pain in the ass to cool the upper floor; the main floor is fine; and the basement turns into a walk-in freezer if I leave the vents open.

The big issue aside from the whole "heat rises" thing is that the amount of air coming out of the vents in the basement is MUCH higher in the basement than the main floor and much higher on the main floor than the upper floor.

So I guess my question is just whether there are "best practices" to make the most of this. My guess is that the underlying issue isn't an easy fix. But I've been shutting the vents all the way off in the basement since it stays cool on its own. Is that a bad thing based on what you guys have been saying?
That's the same issue as differences from room-to-room which I touched on in the last paragraph. Open the vents, and leave the thermostat on the "Fan On" setting for a couple days and see if it makes a difference.
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Old 07-24-2011, 08:16 PM   #80
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Tried all of this, my bill is still going to be 450 this month. 2000 square foot house. 75% insulated windows. What the f***
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Old 07-24-2011, 08:19 PM   #81
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Tried all of this, my bill is still going to be 450 this month. 2000 square foot house. 75% insulated windows. What the f***
How old is your system?
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Old 07-24-2011, 08:19 PM   #82
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Originally Posted by Groves View Post
Those "large tree" transplants always fascinate me.

Feel free to share some stories. Is there a size that hits the sweet spot in terms of money and "worth it"-ness?
Frankly, the really big moves tend towards historically significant trees. They are very expensive and the equipment is rare.

My cousin runs a spade quite a bit and makes a shitload from 4-6 diameter trees. The nurseries can't keep up with the demand of that size Acer freemanii 'Jeffersred' (Autumn Blaze Maple). I've never really asked what size is his max profit margin. He's got a trailer that will haul three small transplants and I think that's probably a good chunk of change.





Here's the basic method for preparing the rootball.

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Old 07-24-2011, 08:37 PM   #83
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That's intense. How much does it cost to move a big tree like the one in the second photo?
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Old 07-24-2011, 08:42 PM   #84
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That's intense. How much does it cost to move a big tree like the one in the second photo?
I've no idea. That's not really my branch of Arboriculture. HAHA TREE PUN!!
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Old 07-24-2011, 08:43 PM   #85
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That's intense. How much does it cost to move a big tree like the one in the second photo?
I'm going to go out on a limb and say it's expensive.
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Old 07-24-2011, 08:45 PM   #86
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That's intense. How much does it cost to move a big tree like the one in the second photo?
I wouldn't know the cost, but judging from the graphic it takes a year and a half to get the thing ready!
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Old 07-24-2011, 08:45 PM   #87
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I've no idea. That's not really my branch of Arboriculture. HAHA TREE PUN!!
You've got to REALLY love a tree to put that kind of money and effort down.
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Old 07-24-2011, 08:46 PM   #88
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I wouldn't know the cost, but judging from the graphic it takes a year and a half to get the thing ready!
That graphic leaves nothing to the imagination!
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Old 07-24-2011, 08:48 PM   #89
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You've got to REALLY love a tree to put that kind of money and effort down.
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Old 07-24-2011, 08:52 PM   #90
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This thread has teh truck.
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