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Old 07-23-2011, 09:09 AM  
Bugeater Bugeater 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, 05:17 PM   #121
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Hey Bug, I have a room that doesn't cool like the others. Cool air is flowing from the duct, but it just doesn't cool the room. Thoughts? TIA.
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Old 08-01-2011, 05:25 PM   #122
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Hey Bug, I have a room that doesn't cool like the others. Cool air is flowing from the duct, but it just doesn't cool the room. Thoughts? TIA.
Do you have another similarly sized room with the same number of ducts that cools well?

If so, does the one that doesn't cool well have more windows? Does it see more sun? It's possible that the room simply isn't insulated as well as the others.
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Old 08-01-2011, 06:46 PM   #123
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Bug,

I have a heat pump system (brand new two years ago) and the top floor of my house is hot, in every room. I had solar fans installed to come on at a certain temperature to help let some of the heat out and it doesn't seem any different. It's literally 10 degrees warmer. Any ideas on what to do? Thanks.
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Old 08-01-2011, 07:03 PM   #124
Chocolate Hog Chocolate Hog is offline
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I currently don't have AC. How ****ed am I?
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Old 08-01-2011, 07:09 PM   #125
Bugeater Bugeater is offline
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Originally Posted by BigChiefFan View Post
Bug,

I have a heat pump system (brand new two years ago) and the top floor of my house is hot, in every room. I had solar fans installed to come on at a certain temperature to help let some of the heat out and it doesn't seem any different. It's literally 10 degrees warmer. Any ideas on what to do? Thanks.
Solar fans? Where do they let the heat "out" to?
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Old 08-01-2011, 07:09 PM   #126
Bugeater Bugeater is offline
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I currently don't have AC. How ****ed am I?
****ed beyond ****ing belief.
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Old 08-01-2011, 09:20 PM   #127
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Solar fans? Where do they let the heat "out" to?
They are on my roof and they vent the heat out of my attic. BTW, thanks for reading my post and responding.
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Old 08-01-2011, 09:35 PM   #128
Chocolate Hog Chocolate Hog is offline
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****ed beyond ****ing belief.
I can here it turning on inside but I go out and the fan isn't moving? It's making some noise too. I'm getting airflow from the vents inside it's not really cold but it's not very warm either.

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Old 08-01-2011, 10:10 PM   #129
Bugeater Bugeater is offline
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They are on my roof and they vent the heat out of my attic. BTW, thanks for reading my post and responding.
Ah, gotcha. You're talking about attic fans.

The problem you're having is one that's been touched on a couple times before in this thread and is common to any two story home...you simply can't maintain the same temperature on both levels with a single system. Heat rises, cool air settles, end of story. You may be able to get them a little more closer by letting the fan run constantly, but when it's as hot as it's been lately I'd imagine your AC is running almost nonstop anyway.
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Old 08-01-2011, 10:12 PM   #130
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****ed beyond ****ing belief.
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Old 08-01-2011, 10:17 PM   #131
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I can here it turning on inside but I go out and the fan isn't moving? It's making some noise too. I'm getting airflow from the vents inside it's not really cold but it's not very warm either.
Yikes. Do you suppose the noise you're hearing outside could be the compressor running?
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Old 08-01-2011, 10:20 PM   #132
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Yikes. Do you suppose the noise you're hearing outside could be the compressor running?
I have no idea what that is I just know the fan aint moving
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Old 08-01-2011, 10:23 PM   #133
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Ours isn't working. We just had it fixed a month ago too. Its running, but its not blowing cool air. I feel like it stopped working the day my roommate who doesn't normally mow.. mowed.
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Old 08-01-2011, 10:24 PM   #134
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Yikes. Do you suppose the noise you're hearing outside could be the compressor running?
I just looked it up. Yes the noise is coming from that same side.
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Old 08-01-2011, 10:25 PM   #135
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Originally Posted by Bugeater View Post
Do you have another similarly sized room with the same number of ducts that cools well?

If so, does the one that doesn't cool well have more windows? Does it see more sun? It's possible that the room simply isn't insulated as well as the others.
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.
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