Wednesday, March 21, 2018

The Troubled Ten! Common A/C Problems by HELP!! Air Conditioning

All mechanical systems will require some type of repair from time to time, but most of these problems are preventable with proper maintenance.  In no particular order, we have created a short “top 10” list of the most common air conditioning problems we come across each spring and what you can do to help prevent them.  We call these “The Troubled 10."

1 | Tripped Breaker
One of the most common causes of “no-cool” calls is a tripped breaker or a blown fuse.  Breakers and fuses always fail for a reason.  You can try to reset the breaker or replace the fuse, but if you aren’t trained to do it safely, you should consider letting a qualified service technician look at everything for you.  If the breaker trips or the fuse blows more than once, there is some underlying problem causing it to do so. 

Hopefully, it will be something simple like a loose connection, bad breaker or a bad capacitor.  However, if the cause is not addressed, some of these simple causes can lead to major and expensive repairs.  Electrical systems are nothing to play around with and in some circumstances can cause serious injury or death, which is why a trained professional should always look at these items for you. 

Even though a tripped breaker or blown fuse doesn’t sound like much, it can lead to minor problems that could become major issues if not corrected quickly.  Many premature air conditioner deaths could be prevented by addressing issues like this the first time a problem arises. 



Bad A/C Compressor Start Kits
Common Problem 1: Bad Start Kits - This helps start your compressor easier.



2 | Dirty Filter
If you use a one-inch disposable filter, it should be replaced every month.  Filters are one of those “out of sight and out mind” type items, so it’s easy to forget to change them.  Still every year we go on service calls where the filter is the only cause of units not cooling. 

Dirty filters restrict airflow which can cause an air conditioner to “freeze up”.  Left unattended, it could cause even more problems like water leaks and internal damage to your compressor.  Changing your filter regularly can be a very inexpensive way to lengthen the life of your air conditioning and heating system. 

There are many choices when it comes to choosing a filter for the health of your air conditioning system as well as your family. However, not all filters are created equal and there are some you should never use. 

In most cases, a standard pleated filter is the only one you should use.  Why?  Most return air grills are undersized so when you use a filter that restricts airflow you are basically sending your air conditioner to an early grave. The filters that claim to be allergy filters are among the worst at restricting air flow.  

Talk to your technician and ask him what your best option is.  I personally like the five-inch filters that fit directly into your existing return grill and can last up to 6 months. 


Keep Air Filters Clean
Common Problem 2: Dirty Filters - Restrict air flow.

3 | Refrigerant Leaks
An air conditioning system is sealed and shouldn’t need to have Freon added to it.  The most common area Freon leaks occur is in the evaporator coil.  

Manufacturers make the copper or aluminum as thin as possible to get the most cooling they can from the coils.  Freon travels very fast through the tubing which eventually causes a leak.  All coils will leak at some point in time, some will leak sooner than others and there is no rhyme or reason for it. 

If you have a system using Freon 22 and a leak is discovered, you need to consider replacing the system with one that uses the current refrigerant 410a.  Freon 22 is no longer being manufactured and the cost will continue to rise making it too expensive to keep adding Freon each year like people used to do.

Running your system while it’s low on Freon can also cause lots of problems with the system.  For instance, not having enough Freon can cause a decline in efficiency, which increases the amount of electricity needed to run it.  It can also cause your evaporator coil to freeze and damage the compressor.  Find the leak and repair it or replace the part that’s leaking.

4 | Weak Capacitors
Capacitors are put into different areas of your air conditioning and heating system.  They allow the motors (condenser fan motor, compressor, and indoor blower motor) to run more efficiently thus making them last longer. 

A weak or bad capacitor can cause the motor to run hotter and less efficient, shortening the life of some of the most expensive components within your air conditioning and heating system.  This is one of the easiest fixes a technician can have yet can be the costliest for a homeowner. 

What do I mean? A capacitor doesn’t have to be completely out to cause other problems.  It can become weak with use and time and in its weakened state will cause whichever motor it’s connected to run hotter. When this happens, it’s wasting energy, causing you to pay higher bills than normal. 

This type of issue will also shorten the life of the motor it’s connected to.  This problem, in most cases, can be discovered during regular maintenance-- saving you the heartache of waiting in a hot house for a service technician to come see why your system broke down.

5 | Clogged Drain Line
Air conditioners remove moisture from the humid air in your home while lowering the temperature.  The moisture is typically drained out of your home through the plumbing system of your house.  However, algae can grow in these lines, causing them to eventually clog up.  This can lead to water damage on your floors or the ceiling sheetrock.  When a technician is called out, they should typically blow out the lines to help in reducing your chances of these drains clogging up. 

There are a couple of items I recommend to my customers to reduce the risk of getting clogged drain lines. I recommend installing a pan pad, which sits in the drain pan of your evaporator coil.  Additionally, a float switch can be installed in the primary drain line to help reduce the chance of water damage to your home.

These items can help reduce the buildup in the drain pans and the drain lines.  This does not guarantee you’ll never have a drain issue, but it does greatly reduce the chance of having one.  Customers who use these tools, along with performing regular maintenance, have fewer water leaks than any other customers. 

Here’s a picture of what the inside of your drain system could look like if it’s clogged.


Clogged Drain Lines
Common Problem 5: Clogged Drain -  Precautions such using as a pan pad and drain cleaners prevent clogs.


6 | Contactor
A contactor, located in the condenser, is an electromechanical device located that turns the air conditioner on and off.  Sometimes the contact points become corroded and pitted, which can cause a contactor to stick closed or cause higher-than-normal amperage, resulting in higher utility bills. 

Contactors send electricity to all the moving parts inside your condenser or electric heater through their contact points.  Because these points open and close many times throughout the cooling season, they can become pitted.  This causes the unit to run higher amperage, wasting electricity.  After the summer beating this particular part takes, a few things could go wrong. 

Of all the possibilities, you might hope that the unit just doesn’t turn the unit on because the contact points aren’t closing.  Alternatively, the points could actually weld themselves closed, causing the unit to never turn off.  If the unit never shuts off this could cause the indoor evaporator to become covered in ice and cause damage to the compressor. Or, as the ice melts not all of the water will go through the drain line which means you could have water leaking through the ceiling. 

Cleaning the contact points or replacing the contactor during normal maintenance can greatly reduce the risk of the air conditioning quitting on a hot afternoon.  Although this part doesn’t seem all that impressive, it is the part that tells the condenser (outdoor compressor) to turn on and cool your home.  

The contactor, like a capacitor, can appear to be fine but could actually be costing you more money to operate. 

This is a problem that is easily avoided with regular maintenance.  Can you tell me which contactor is good and which is bad?

Bad Contactor Points
Common Problem 6: Bad Contactors prevent your air conditioning unit from properly shutting off.

7 | Dirty Evaporator Coil
Dirty coils greatly reduce the system’s ability to transfer heat, which means uneven and unsatisfactory performance.  When an evaporator coil starts getting dirty it will start to create other problems. 

Dirty coils reduce airflow which will make the coils colder. Sounds like that would be a good thing doesn’t it?  It’s not.  The colder the air gets, the more likely your duct will have sweating problems, which will cause mold and mildew to grow.  This also puts a strain on the compressor, causing it to run higher amperage wasting more energy.

Coils may need to be brushed down and cleaned periodically.  Ensuring the evaporator stays clean is a very important function of maintaining your air conditioning system’s cooling ability.   This is also where changing your filter regularly (see above) can become vital in maintaining the overall health of your system.


Evaporator Coils
Common Problem 7: Dirty Evaporator Coils reduce air flow and must be cleaned regularly.

8 | Dirty Condenser Coil
A dirty or restricted coil will reduce your air conditioner’s efficiency and reduce the cooling capacity while increasing your energy consumption.  When you don’t have proper airflow over these coils it causes the outdoor unit to run hotter, drawing higher amperage and wasting more energy than anyone should. 

The two worst enemies of outdoor units are grass and animals. Grass is the biggest issue we come across because few people know to turn the unit off when cutting the grass around it. 

Another big problem is pets, and it’s not just because of their hair. Dogs are known to urinate on condensers, which rots away the aluminum fins on the condenser coils.


Pet urine can rot away aluminum fins on the condenser coils.


You might say, “Well, I’ll build something around and over the unit to protect it.”  Before you go out and buy supplies, you should consider that the outdoor unit should have at least 2 feet of clearance all the way around, plus your service man needs room to work on it. 

Dirty condensers make your condenser fan motor work harder as well it reduces the unit ability to cool your home properly.  However, taking steps such as turning your unit off while cutting the grass or regularly cleaning the condenser coil (at least once per year) are positive steps towards ensuring your condenser coils stay clean.


Dirty Condensers Restrict Air Flow
Common Problem 8: Dirty Condensers


9 | Duct Leaks
Your duct system delivers air to all the rooms in your house.  Air leaks will reduce the amount of air being delivered to these rooms. 
Some duct leaks can cause higher dust problems in the house as well.  A sealed duct system, accompanied by a high-efficiency filter system, can help reduce the amount of dust in your home. 

The most common duct leaks we find are in the return ducts or “chase ways” behind the return filter grill.  Building codes have changed and now require all chase ways to be sheetrocked, taped, and floated. But this doesn’t mean they’re sealed properly.  If yours does not have sheetrock, it will pull hot and unfiltered attic air into your air conditioning system because it’s not sealed where the wood meets in the corners. 

We also frequently find air leaks in the attic where the return plenum connects to the chase way.  The easiest way to seal all these is and using cans of expanding foam.  These air leaks can cause dust problems in your home. 

One of the other big problems associated with this is supply air leaks.  For years everyone just used plastic straps to connect the duct ends to the plenums and register boxes, but we learned that you can leak a lot of air if those aren’t sealed properly. 

In some cases, you can use a good quality duct tape while other times you must use mastic.  The benefit of using mastic is that it can be painted on and will dry hard, sealing the duct almost permanently.

A quick, but not entirely scientific test to see if you have return air leaks is to stand by front or back door while the system is running.  Once the door is open feel to see if air is rushing out of the house; if it is then you are pressuring the house and have return leaks.  If air rushes into the house then you have supply air leaks and will be cooling your attic more than needed.

Now, this isn’t the true way to test your duct system, but it’s a low-tech way you can check it yourself.  The true way to know is to have your duct system tested with specialized equipment.  Duct leakage should be less than 6% of system airflow.

10 | Wire Connections
Loose wire connections (both high and low voltage) can cause higher than normal amperage draw.  This high amperage draw can make wires overheat, melt, or burn completely off.

All electrical connections should be checked for loose or frayed connections as they can cause a wide array of problems and shorten the life of your air conditioning system.  Wires that should be checked regularly include compressor connections, indoor and outdoor fan motors, contactors, capacitors and the disconnect box next to the condenser. 

Even though service technicians deal with the electrical surrounding your air conditioning and heating system, you should have a qualified electrician check the main panel feeding electricity to the entire house.  Not only are they very important to the performance of your air conditioning and heating system, we’ve seen loose connections there cause house fires.

It's Best To Get Some Help!!
Many of these problems can be avoided by simply having a trained technician perform a yearly tune-up on your complete air conditioning and heating system but that doesn’t guarantee you’ll never have a problem.

There are 3000 hours of cooling and heating hours here in New Orleans and, as you might have guessed, our cooling hours take up most of that time-- approximately 2400 hours of it.  Treat your cooling system well and have it cleaned yearly.  You wouldn’t drive your car and never change the oil, would you?

Written By,
Korey P. Knobloch
HELP!! Air Conditioning


Korey has been in the air conditioning industry since he was 16 years old and helping with the family business for over 34 years.  Like most others in the industry, he learned the ropes as a helper before working as an installation tech, and finally service technician. Now, as a business owner, he’s happy to have more time to enjoy his passion for educating customers on the many misunderstanding of the industry he grew up in.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

WiFi Thermostats in NOLA - Oh Yeah!

WiFi Thermostats are pretty standard in new homes. But what if you have an older home? We can hook you up for sure.
WiFi Thermostats in NOLA

Why get a WiFi Thermostat?

 Don't love that car commercial where the couple is on a beach and she asks the man if he locked the car, and he hits an app on his phone and the car is locked from the beach he is on. Well with a Wifi Thermostat, you can monitor and change the temperature of your house from anywhere, even while sipping drinks on a beach. Why would you want to do that?
Well suppose you and your wife leave your kids alone for an extended weekend with your mom, whilst you two of you celebrate your 15th wedding anniversary(congratulations by the way) on a beach like the one in the Tweet above. You know your mom and the kids are not thinking about it, but you check and the heat is cranked up and no one is home. From the beach you can lower it down and save your self a little bit of dinero.

Additionally, a WiFi thermostat which is a smart thermostat, are programmable, so you  would be able to set it to adjust during the day when the kids are at school.

What if you don't have kids?

Wells say you two are coming back from an island vacation? The weather at home in NOLA is quite chilly compared to the 90 degree island weather you have been enjoying and you don't want to arrive at a chilly abode.
Solution: Since you have a WiFi thermostat, an hour or so before you get home, hit the app on your phone to be sure your house is toasty warm upon your entry.

Can You See Yourself in either of these Scenarios

If you don't have a WiFi thermostat and you are in the greater NOLA area, and you definitely see yourself in one of these situations, give us a call and we will help you out.

Friday, December 16, 2016

New Orleans Christmas Twitter Compilation

Christmast is the best time of year, and in spite of New Orleans not having snow, we still have a great time, and I truly think Santa loves it when he stops in NOLA.
Another beauteous NOLA Christmas picture from David Mora
 

Christmas Fest In NOLA


NolaChristmas lets us now about the Christmas fest in NOLA.
Christmas Fest looks like it will be a blast..head on over to the convention center and go tubing!

More NOLA Christmas PICs

David Mora shares one of his favorite things about Christmas.


Ali Coates of  Now New Orleans shares a picture of a Christmas Gator. And be sure to check out her blog post where she shares many awesome NOLA Christmas Lights

Merry Christmas


Well that's our short little NOLA Christmas Twitter compilation post. From the HELP!!! Air Conditioning & Heating Family to yours- MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving New Orleans!

Can you believe Thanksgiving is a week away? If you live in or are visiting New Orleans during Thanksgiving, here are some ideas for you to spend the holiday.

GoNola has the perfect NOLA Thanksgiving for you.

The NolaEater has a good resource for your dinner on Thanksgiving if you are not wanting to cook.

Here is another list of places in New Orleans from VisitNewOrleans and TheDailyMeal

If you are one of the many who love to make a feast, here is a list from TheDailyMeal of the 12 most common side dishes at Thanksgiving. I am not sure how brussel sprouts made the list.


NOLA THANKSGIVING PINS

Check out our Thanksgiving pins!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Well that's a short post for Thanksgiving 2016. From our family to yours, have a great and safe Thanksgiving.
We will keep on keeping New Orleans Comfortable.


Monday, October 17, 2016

The Connected Home

This is the new rage in home ownership. Being able to turn lights on and off, lock your doors, view your house with cameras inside and out and the best option is to control your air conditioning and heating  system.

Cox Communications, ATT&T, Google, Amazon and the list goes on and on of people and companies vying for you to use their products and options. You can find a myriad list of products at Home Depot, Lowes, Amazon Prime, Best Buy and almost any retailer you walk into. You no longer have to do full on home automation when you have all these Wi-Fi capable products that you can use with virtually no monthly fees.

Now the big question comes to mind.  How do you decide what and who’s options and products you want use?  First you need to start with a list of what is your highest priority to get done first.  Start by making a list of what’s most important and what benefits you get from each item.  Also don’t forget to list the true benefits of each.  Below is something I started to put together while looking at automating my own house.

Item I wantReasonBenefits
Lighting Kids leave all the lights onSave on my electrical bill/safety
CamerasCar was broken into in drivewaySafety
ThermostatI forget to raise temp when I leaveCan changed temp when I forget
Home AssistantBecause it’s coolNo benefits, I just like it
Door locksDon’t have to use keys when drunkKids can’t lose their keys
Wireless AudioDon’t have to get up to change musicAnother cool item to have


The one thing I would note here is for the Wi-Fi thermostat.  I would pay the extra and get this from your air conditioning and heating company.  They will be responsible for the warranty if anything ever happens to it.  Otherwise you have to send it back and wait for another one, not much fun in August.  Make your list, do your homework and enjoy thinking of the many things you can do with each item.  You’ll also be the envy of all your friends.

Looking for MoreWifi Thermostat Info

You can visit the Wifi Thermostat page or the Visually Impaired Thermostat page on our site

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Shotgun Houses of NOLA on Twitter

I was skimming through our New Orleans Twitter List and I was reminded of the term "Shotgun House", which refers to a type of home that is common in the South. According to Wikipedia a "Shotgun House" is "
 a narrow rectangular domestic residence, usually no more than 12 feet (3.5 m) wide, with rooms arranged one behind the other and doors at each end of the house. It was the most popular style of house in the Southern United States from the end of the American Civil War (1861–65), through the 1920s.

A Shotgun House Video 

Shotgun House Tweets 








And for you architectural enthusiasts, here is one so you can brush up on your "Shotgun house" carpentry terminology..


Shotgun Homes on Houzz

4123 S Saratoga St. NOLA

This Houzz post has some good historical info about the reason for the building of so many shotgun homes in NOLA.
studiobfg.com

New Orleans has some of the best architecture in the country if we do say so ourselves. Regardless if your home is 150 year old shotgun house or brand new mansion, if you need any of our HVAC services in the greater NOLA area, please don't hesitate to give us a call 24hrs a day @ (504) 733-5888.


Thursday, August 18, 2016

Supporting Victims of the 2016 Louisiana Flood

Our hearts go out to all the people that are affected by this years flood in Louisiana. We have many friends that have been affected by it, and will be servicing the homes of many of the flood victims as well.

#LouisianaFlood on Twitter

Looking at the HelpServiceCo twitter, the current hashtag #LouisianaFlood is trending. So many people are sharing heart warming stories of people selflessly helping others out during the flood. Like the tweet shared by Michaela Pereira
Or Plaquemines Home Land Security Tweet

The Heroes of the Cajun Navy

We also learned about the Cajun Navy,  @OutwardOn which is a loosely connected band of volunteers who sprang into action during Katrina. These volunteers patrol the flood zone in boats rescuing stranded people and pets.


Need to File and Insurance Claim?

If you're home has been affected by the flood, and need to file an insurance claim, check out this post from Senator David Vitter for assistance.