Although Orange County does not have high temperatures, it is still essential for residents to have the perfect HVAC unit for their homes.
It is important to learn about the various types of air conditioning units available to make the right choice. Currently, they are four different types available. All come in different sizes and specifications to suit various home and business designs.
Most homeowners in Orange County face difficulty when deciding whether to repair or replace their AC unit. The last thing anybody wants is to make a wrong decision on this type of investment – several options need to be weighed before making this decision.
One of the most important is the lifespan of the conditioning unit. According to a US Environmental Protection Agency, an AC unit should last for an average of 15-20 years, a heat pump for 16 years, and a furnace for 18 years.
Use these guidelines to make your decision:
The most important thing to consider is safety. If the heating system presents a kind of hazard, then it should be replaced, especially if the repair is going to be temporary and very expensive.
If your furnace has a cracked heat exchanger, for example, it could result in carbon monoxide leaking into your home, and could potentially be fatal. Don’t take this risk. But things like faulty wiring and stuck valves may just require a simple repair.
The next thing to consider is the age of your cooling unit. In some cases, a licensed and trained technician will write down the date of installation on the unit. If not, check the chamber door for the identification plate containing the model and serial numbers. Use these numbers to ask the customer service for the manufacture date.
If your unit is older than 20 years, it doesn’t necessarily mean you must replace it. The average life expectancy dates are average, meaning the unit can still work.
If the cooling or heating system is faulty, it will not cool or heat your home effectively. A good sign to know if the system is flawed is when the unit is not cooling or heating the house at the temperatures you set. Older units will have this difficulty, you might notice if some rooms are colder or warmer than others.
If you are still unsure and realize your unit is under 15 years old, then it may just need a repair. It is no doubt that AC units will need some repairs once a while. But if your system regularly requires repairs, it can eventually cost you more than having a new unit installed. Other signs that indicate you need an AC repair in Orange County are:
If your air conditioner does not seem to be working as well as it should, your natural first reaction is to go out and look at the unit to see if there is anything you can do quickly to correct the problem. Of course, you cannot assess the situation unless you know what you are looking for. For instance, if you see ice forming on the condenser coil or anywhere else on the air conditioning system, you will know you found the likely source of the problem.
Ice can form in your air conditioner for a number of reasons. The most common one is that your refrigerant levels are low. The reason a lack of refrigerant can cause this ice buildup is due to what refrigerant itself is. Refrigerant in part transfers heat from the indoor coil and once warm moves to the outside coil where it dissipates heat into that coil. This cools yours home, when there is not enough refrigerant it begins to move more quickly through the system. This means that the heat transfer is not happening. Since this refrigerant is contained in a closed system, a deficiency in refrigerant means that there must be a leak somewhere in that system. Only a certified professional can refill your refrigerant and determine where the leaks are in the system to make the necessary repairs.
Another reason that ice can develop in your air conditioner is because the air is not flowing fast enough through the system and across the coils. This can happen because of a problem with the fan or because there is an actual physical impediment to the air flow. This lack of airflow is most commonly caused by a buildup of dirt between the fins of the coil. Regardless of the reason, the ice will form because without adequate air flow the condenser coils will get too cold.
These coils are typically kept just above freezing by the constant flow of air across them. When the air passes by them at this temperature, the moisture from the air condenses on the surface of the coil. But because the coil is not quite freezing, the water then runs down into a collection pan. When the coil is too cold, however, the moisture from the air will freeze on the coil before it can run off.
This ice actually manages to insulate the coil and keeps it from properly cooling the air or removing any additional moisture. If left unattended, the ice in your central air conditioning system can cause real damage to the unit. Plus, it is not allowing the air conditioner to do its job and cool your house down. So, if you notice any amount of ice at all beginning to form on any part of your air conditioner, be sure to call for professional service right away.
Tankless water heaters have become very popular lately for several good reasons. Tankless hot water heaters are more energy efficient than traditional units because they heat water as it is used, rather than heating and reheating water in a storage tank. They also take up significantly less physical space, as they do not have a bulky storage tank. But what kind is going to be right for your home and what should you know about them?
There are three types of tankless hot water heaters available:
Non-condensing: This is the first generation of tankless unit. These units use a heat exchanger to heat your water on-demand, and reach an Efficiency Factor (EF) of .82-.85. This technology has been in use in Europe and Japan for decades and is well-proven. The advantage of this type of unit is in reliability in that they are established products with few manufacturing issues. Some of the drawbacks of non-condensing units include hot exhaust, which means you have to install (expensive) stainless steel venting, and lower energy efficiency – in particular, the efficiency of these units drop when you use lots of hot water in short draws (i.e. washing your hands).
Condensing: Condensing units are the second generation of tankless water heaters. After a primary heat exchanger, these units use a second heat exchanger, which reuses the heat from your exhaust to further heat the water. This results in an increased efficiency of 92-94%. The benefit of cooler exhaust is that these units can be vented using (inexpensive) PVC, while the drawbacks included a higher unit cost and, similar to non-condensing units, a lower efficiency for short water draws.
Condensing hybrid: Condensing hybrid units are the third generation of tankless water heaters and were pioneered in the United States. These heaters incorporate a small – between 1 liter and 2-gallon – holding tank. This small holding tank keeps a reservoir of hot water, eliminating lower efficiency for short draws, meaning these water heaters achieve a true EF of .92-.96. A recent study by the Gas Technology Institute measured real life efficiency of condensing hybrid tankless water heaters and found the units consistently operated at 94% efficiency with little to no degradation due to short draws.
These units can also be vented in PVC which is less expensive. In some cases, the units also addressed “cold water sandwich” issues and pressure fluctuations that sometimes occurred with first and second generation models. There may also be slightly less lag in the time it takes to deliver hot water to the tap or appliance. One of the drawbacks (as of writing) of this technology is that because it’s newer, most models are manufactured by smaller companies. In some cases, there have been manufacturing-quality and warranty issues with these units. Product reliability is improving but it’s important to be careful about the brand you purchase.