Air Conditioning FAQ’s

Air Conditioning Questions

 

How does an air conditioner work?

An air conditioner seems as if it cools your home’s air, but in reality an air conditioner makes your home less warm by removing heat from the indoor air and transferring that heat to the outdoor air. Heat is extracted from the home by passing indoor air across a refrigerant coil. Refrigerant lines then carry the heat to the outdoor unit, where it is released into the outside air. The cooling cycle continues until the indoor temperature reaches the thermostat setting.

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What does it mean when my AC freezes up?

Icing on the condenser coil on the indoor portion of your air conditioner, or ice on the refrigerant lines outside can be caused by several conditions. The most common culprit is reduced or restricted airflow from a dirty air filter or restricted air ducts. In some instances, a refrigerant (commonly called Freon) leak can cause a condition where ice accumulates on the indoor coil. This condition may damage your system, so report any ice buildup to Ultimate Comfort as soon as possible.

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What should my thermostat be set to at night during the cooling season?

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What size air conditioner do I need?

Every home is different, and there are many environmental variables that must be taken into account. There is not a set size that can be recommended without a Heating and Cooling Load calculation, otherwise known as a Manual J calculation. New higher efficiency A/C systems need proper airflow to meet their designed efficiency levels. A load calculation must be performed on the home to determine the proper system size that meets all the physical requirements. Ultimately the size determination should be made by a qualified air conditioning specialist.

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What do all those air conditioner and heat pump ratings mean?

Efficiency Ratings: SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) is a system for rating the efficiency of cooling equipment. The higher the SEER rating, the less your unit will cost to operate.

HSPF (Heating Seasonal Performance Factor) is a measurement similar to SEER, but it measures the efficiency of the heating portion of a heat pump.

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What is a heat pump?

Heat pumps are often misunderstood or not understood at all. Because of this, you may not realize that there may be a better heating and cooling option than a furnace or air conditioner.

A heat pump is an efficient method of cooling your home in the summer and warming it in the winter. Although heat pumps are new to many people, they have been around for decades. A heat pump looks like an air conditioner, but that’s only the outside appearance. It actually has two functions based on the same principles for both. In warm weather situations, the heat pump works as a normal air conditioner. It extracts heat from inside the home and transfers it to the outdoor air. In colder weather, however, the process reverses, collecting heat from the outdoor air and transferring it inside your home.

Even when the air outside feels extremely cold, the air still contains some heat. The heat pump pulls the heat from this cold outdoor air and sends it inside to warm your home. When there is not enough heat in the outside air to meet the demand of the thermostat setting, an electric heater supplements the outdoor air to warm the home.

While many people find the winter operation of a heat pump the most difficult to understand, it is during the heating cycle that the heat pump produces the most savings. Unlike a furnace that turns fossil fuel or electricity into heat, the heat pump collects heat that already exists in the outdoor air by means of its refrigeration cycle. Consequently, a heat pump will produce two to three times more heat than the energy it uses.

In addition, a heat pump can be an effective add-on option to use in conjunction with an existing gas or oil furnace. With a dual-fuel system, the two systems share the heating load but never function at the same time. Each system operates when it is most cost effective. The heat pump will be the primary heating and cooling system. However, when the temperature drops below the heat pump’s ability to operate as efficiently as the fossil fuel furnace, the gas furnace will take over until the temperature rises enough for the heat pump to operate more efficiently.

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Why does my air conditioner keep running?

An air conditioner works properly and efficiently at the temperature it was designed to achieve when it was installed. If there are hotter than normal days, the A/C will try to maintain the indoor design temperature. This does not necessarily mean the unit is undersized. It means the particularly hot day you are experiencing may be outside the normal range of the calculated design for the A/C unit. A proper load calculation from an air conditioning contractor can determine if the air conditioner is properly sized for your home.

If you’ve never experienced cooling issues in your home previously, it could also mean there is a service issue that needs to be addressed. You may be able to save yourself a service call if you check your air filter. If it’s dirty, the system cannot move the correct amount of air and can result in cooling issues or in extreme cases, the indoor coil may freeze and damage your air conditioner. If the air filter is clean, then it would be best to contact an air conditioning contractor to determine what measure need to be taken to correct your cooling issues.

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