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  • Overcharged AC Refrigerant Symptoms and Solutions

    Overcharged AC Refrigerant Symptoms and Solutions

    You depend on your air conditioner to keep you cool and comfortable during the hot summer months. When problems occur with your AC, you might be left in the unpleasant heat, wondering where to start. One cause of a malfunctioning unit is an overcharged air conditioner. An overcharged AC can have severe consequences for your system and your wallet.

    If you notice problems with your air conditioner and suspect it might be because it's overcharged, you'll need to know how to handle the issue so you can get your AC up and running as soon as possible. Check out this guide to learn more about overcharged AC symptoms, what causes them and how you can get your unit fixed so you can have a working, efficient system once again.

    What Does Air Conditioner Refrigerant Do?

    AC refrigerant is a chemical compound necessary for the cooling process in an artificial cooling system. The AC refrigerant absorbs heat from the air around the AC unit, converting low-pressure gas into high-pressure liquid as it travels through the AC system. This is a continuous cycle — the refrigerant flows through the AC system and remains at a constant level throughout this process.

    Refrigerant is essential to how your AC system works to cool your house. To cool the air drawn into the AC unit, the system needs something to remove the heat and create cold. This is where the refrigerant comes in. AC refrigerant carries heat to the outside unit, releasing the heat as condensation. After traveling outside, the now-cool refrigerant returns to the inside unit, absorbing the heat once more. Cool air is blown into the house through vents, helping control the temperature in your home.

    The refrigerant cycle is continuous, and this closed loop should always have constant refrigerant levels. If these levels change, it can mean a problem with the system or an overfilling of refrigerant. Either of these issues can lead to reduced efficiency and higher energy costs for your home. Your refrigerant is vital to the cooling process — there are several different kinds of refrigerants, each with slightly different compositions, but they all facilitate air cooling.

    What Does It Mean When an AC Is Overcharged?

    An overcharged AC simply means there's too much refrigerant in the system. It's a much less common issue than having an undercharged AC. An undercharged AC doesn't have enough refrigerant in your system. Leaks that allow the refrigerant to escape from the air conditioner often cause air conditioner issues, but AC problems can also be due to an overcharged system.

    When you get your unit installed, it will have the proper amount of refrigerant inside of it. The correct amount of refrigerant lets the AC system cool your air correctly and efficiently, maintaining the correct pressure levels and system functions. Too much refrigerant leads to an overcharged air conditioner, which can reduce your unit's efficiency and cause several other problems for your system. These issues can become costly if you ignore them or try to repair them without a professional technician.

    How Do AC Refrigerants Become Overcharged?

    The most common reason for an overcharged air conditioner is non-professionals putting too much refrigerant in the system. This generally occurs right after installation or as a result of AC problems. When a professional installs the AC system, they put the refrigerant inside the unit. An amateur technician or even the homeowner might put too much refrigerant in the unit during installation.

    Along with installation, excess refrigerant might happen when an amateur attempts repairs. It's easy to see signs of AC problems and attribute them to an undercharged AC. Many people think AC problems mean the refrigerant just needs to be topped up as if it were oil or gas, but this is a common misconception. Refrigerant shouldn't leave the AC system or evaporate over time if the system is working properly.

    If refrigerant levels are low, it's because the system has a leak somewhere. If an amateur examines the unit, they'll often overfill the refrigerant attempting to resolve the problem. Instead of correcting the problem, they'll put more refrigerant in the air conditioner, leading to an overcharged AC.

    What Happens When Your AC Has Too Much Refrigerant?

    But what's wrong with too much refrigerant? Why is that an issue for your air conditioner?

    Too much refrigerant can lead to several problems with your AC system. These issues might start as minor annoyances but can quickly lead to damages, poor AC efficiency and even significant repairs or replacements. The longer an overcharged AC goes unnoticed, the more extensive the damage will become, and the more expensive repairs will be.

    The primary problem with an overcharged air conditioner is interference with the refrigerant cycle itself. Excess refrigerant in the system means the refrigerant can't properly convert between its liquid and gaseous forms. More refrigerant will remain a liquid, affecting the home's cooling and the system's efficiency. Additionally, increased refrigerant remaining in its liquid state means excess pressure inside the AC system, causing the AC system to work harder.

    The harder the air conditioner has to work, the less efficient it will be and the more energy it will use to maintain the climate in your home. The more the AC works, the most expensive your energy bills will be. This strain on the system can lead to the compressor burning out if left unresolved.

    Another serious issue that can occur is liquid refrigerant entering the AC compressor. When too much liquid refrigerant cycles through the AC system, excess refrigerant can enter the compressor, mixing with the oil. Refrigerant mixing with oil can cause the compressor to burn out and the entire unit to fail, requiring a complete replacement.

    Refrigerant in the compressor can also lead to slugging, which is when the refrigerant floods the piston cylinders inside the compressor. Slugging can lead to several issues inside the compressor, which can all cause severe damage. Some problems include broken connecting rods, broken pistons, compressor damage and an increase in crankcase pressure, leading to an over-pressurized AC system.

    Overcharging can cause serious problems for your AC system. You might even have to replace your air conditioner if you don't catch problems early enough, leaving you with expensive repair costs.

    Signs That Your Air Conditioning Is Overcharged

    If you suspect you have an overcharged AC, you should have a professional inspect it immediately. The earlier you can catch a problem, the less expensive it will be for your energy bills and repair costs. It's easy to notice the signs of an overcharged air conditioner once you know what you're looking for.

    Recognizing potential signs of an overcharged AC will help preserve your peace of mind and give you the tools you need to catch problems early. Common overcharged AC symptoms include the following:

    Uneven Pressure Levels

    You might have trouble telling if you have varying pressure levels on your own. However, unresolved pressure issues will strain your AC system and lead to lowered efficiency, increased costs and unit damage. Contact a professional to perform pressure readings, especially if you don't have the proper equipment for the job. Uneven pressure levels can come from the liquid refrigerant entering the compressor or traveling through the places where it should be gaseous.

    Frost Layers

    Frost is always a sign of a problem with your air conditioner, but it might be difficult to tell exactly what is causing the frost. Sometimes, frost layers indicate low refrigerant levels in the unit. Frost is also a potential sign of an overcharged AC system. Speak with a technician and request AC servicing — they can determine the exact cause of the frost layers.

    No Air Flow

    While it's normal if an AC sometimes doesn't start up immediately, a lack of air flow might be due to excess refrigerant. If you start the air conditioning and it doesn't blow any air at all after a few minutes, turn the system off immediately. Your system might be blown out or overcharged, and you'll need professional assistance to prevent further damage.

    Unusual Noises

    Any unusual or loud noises suddenly coming from your air conditioner are most likely a sign of system issues. If you start hearing squealing noises from your air conditioner unit, you could have an overcharged AC. Loud squealing often comes from excess pressure in the air conditioning lines, which can mean some of the refrigerant hasn't converted into gas. Forcing the liquid refrigerant through tiny hoses and nozzles creates the squealing noise you hear.

    Weak Cooling

    Another sign of an overcharged AC is weak cooling. If your air conditioner isn't reaching the target temperature  or the air coming out of the vents feels warmer, too much refrigerant might be the problem. Excess refrigerant stops the AC from working correctly and efficiently. This causes the system to fail to maintain cooler temperatures like it used to.

    Increased Bills

    An air conditioner running correctly will operate efficiently. You'll get the temperature you set consistently and within a reasonable amount of time. If you're looking at your energy bills and notice an unusual spike, it might be an overloaded air conditioner. First, ensure there aren't any gaps or openings in your home letting out the cold air. Next, check that the weather has been regular — unusual spikes in temperature can lead to increased energy costs.

    If you're certain everything else is normal, and your energy bills are still going up, it could be an overcharged AC. An over-pressurized AC system will work harder to maintain the climate, using more energy and increasing your bills.

    Shutting Down Completely

    If the liquid refrigerant enters the compressor and mixes with the oil or the pressure becomes too great and makes the unit work too hard, you may experience a complete shutdown. An AC shutting down entirely might be a sign of burnout. Once your system burns out, it could be beyond repair, and you might need to replace your entire air conditioner. Have a professional inspect burnt-out ACs so they can determine the extent of the damage.

    How to Fix an Overcharged AC

    While fixing your air conditioner on your own might be tempting, you should avoid trying to repair the system yourself. Without proper training, it's easy to make the problem worse or incorrectly fix it. If you're experiencing any overcharged refrigerant symptoms, the best way to diagnose and repair your system is to call a professional technician. Doing air conditioner fixes on your own can be a safety hazard and might leave you with a more expensive professional repair bill if you don't get it right.

    Professionals have the training and equipment needed to calculate the correct refrigerant levels of your AC system. Since excess refrigerant can cause significant damage to your air conditioner, technicians can make any necessary repairs and recommend solutions for you. They'll look at the whole system and find the root cause of the problem. If your AC can't be repaired and you need to replace it, they'll give you good options for a new air conditioner so you can have your cool air up and running once more.

    While technicians can help you after the fact, you should also plan to avoid this issue in the future. You can steer clear of overcharged ACs and expensive repairs by avoiding handling your refrigerant levels yourself. Refrigerant does not need regular top-ups or refilling — this will overcharge your air conditioner. Instead, if you suspect you have a leak or a problem with your refrigerant, schedule service immediately to ensure the health of your AC.

    Additionally, scheduling regular maintenance with a professional service can prevent overcharging and other AC problems. Regular air conditioner cleaning and maintenance can keep the system running smoothly. Ensure the air flow isn't blocked and that all the system components are working correctly. Get your air conditioner inspected at least once a year by a professional to ensure there are no potential issues.

    Let Us Help You at IWAE

    Do you have any ongoing AC issues and you're just ready to experience the comfort of a new system? Let us help you find an air conditioning system that's perfect for you today!

  • What Is the Best AC Temperature for the Summer?

    What Is the Best AC Temperature for the Summer?

    When it gets hotter during the summer, it can be challenging to keep your home cool without increasing your energy expenses. Staying cool inside often means leaving your AC on all of the time, driving up your cooling costs. Finding the best summer temperature for your AC will help you stay comfortable without costing you too much money.

    Along with finding the perfect summer AC temperature, using different tricks and tools to cool your house will save energy costs and maintain a cool indoor environment. Find the best temperature and strategies for staying cool all summer long below.

    Why 78 Degrees Is the Best Temperature in the Summer

    Your comfortable indoor temperature might change depending on clothing, outdoor temperature, activity or preferences. Everyone is different and will have a favorite coolness and warmth setting for their home. While every homeowner has their comfort temperature, Energy Star recommends setting thermostats to 78 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer when you're home.

    Many people think 72 degrees is a suitable temperature for summer air conditioning, but it's actually too low to help you save money. For your home, 78 degrees is the best temperature in the summer since it's cool enough that you aren't overheating but close enough to hotter outdoor temperatures that your AC doesn't have to work as hard to maintain it. The closer the indoor temperature is to outdoor conditions, the lower your energy bill.

    What Is the Best Temperature for Sleeping?

    For nighttime, you want the temperature to be lower. The National Sleep Foundation recommends setting your AC between 60 and 67 degrees to get the best sleep. Your body cools down as you fall asleep, so sleeping in a cool room helps you get to sleep better. Since the temperature cools down at night, you can lower your AC without increasing your energy bill too much — the system won't have to use as much energy to achieve the cooler temperature, and you'll sleep better when you aren't hot.

    If you can sleep with the AC set higher at night, leave the temperature above 70. Use fans, open windows, thin pajamas and light sheets to help you stay cool while you're sleeping. Summer nights are much cooler than days, so take advantage and let night air flow through your house with open windows for a natural alternative to using the AC.

    What Is the Best Temperature for Babies?

    Neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) standards keep newborn rooms between 72 and 78 degrees to regulate infant temperatures. Since babies aren't as good at regulating their body temperatures, you'll want to keep their rooms at a comfortably warm level.

    For babies and toddlers, 65 to 70 degrees is a good level to keep their rooms at. If you are unsure of exactly what temperature to set, aim for something slightly warmer and ensure it's a level you would be comfortable wearing a T-shirt in.

    What Is the Best Temperature for Older Adults?

    Older adults should set their homes to at least 70 degrees to keep their bodies regulated in summer. As we get older, we become more sensitive to cold and heat. Older adults need to stay at a comfortable temperature to prevent overheating or hypothermia. To save energy costs, close doors and vents in rooms you don't use so your AC focuses on rooms you'll be in. Stay hydrated and cover windows to keep the house cool.

    What Is the Best Temperature for Pets and Plants?

    We aren't the only living things in our homes — our pets and plants need to stay happy and healthy, too. Whether you have animals or greenery inside, set your house climate to something that suits them.

    For dogs and cats, temperatures from 68 to 75 degrees during the day work well. Animals with longer hair might not handle heat as well as short-haired pets, so lower the AC if you have especially furry friends. If you have spiders, snakes, lizards, birds, rodents or some other kind of pet, they might have more specific climate needs. Do some research and talk to pet store employees to find out the best temperature for your pet.

    If you have houseplants, you'll need to keep them in the best growing conditions. Many houseplants, while highly adaptable, are tropical. Many plants can tolerate 58- to 86-degree environments, but keeping them in rooms 70 to 80 degrees is best for their health. At night, you can lower the temperature to 65-70 degrees. Use pebble trays with water for a cost-effective humidity-producer for your plants.

    What Is the Best Temperature for Your Belongings?

    While our first thought when cooling our house is our family members, our belongings can become damaged if they get too hot. If you have significant family photographs, documents and prints, the National Archives recommends storing them in cool places below 75 degrees. This helps protect them from chemical decay and fading.

    For your electronics, try to prevent them from overheating. Components can suffer if exposed to more extreme temperatures, so keep them in moderate conditions. Laptops are built to function between 50 and 95 degrees, but room temperature — around 68-74 degrees — is best for keeping them in working order.

    Most belongings can handle the same indoor temperatures you can, so don't worry too much about your belongings during the summer. If you think it's getting too hot in your house for your belongings, move them to a cool, dark space for protection.

    Tips for Staying Cool During the Summer

    While 78 degrees is the best temperature for your AC in summer, it can be on the warmer side for many people. If your house feels too hot, you could end up adjusting the AC again, driving up your energy bill. To help keep your home comfortable, try some of these helpful tips.

    Use Fans

    Fans and ventilation are an excellent way to keep cool during hot periods. Use small electric fans to blow air onto you and stay refreshed in summer. For an extra cooling breeze, place a bowl of ice in front of the fan. As the ice melts, the cool water vapor blows onto you with the help of the fan.

    Remember that fans cool people and not rooms — small fans are great for keeping the heat off you but won't cool down an entire space. Always turn fans off when you aren't in the room — this can help save you money on your electric bill.

    To help with humidity, use bathroom fans. Too much moisture can make a room feel even hotter than it is, so turn off any humidifiers while inside. While you shower, put the bathroom fans on to remove that excess humidity. Consider buying dehumidifiers if your home's humidity is too high. Dehumidifiers help remove the moisture from a space, making it feel cooler, so you don't need to lower your temperature.

    Change the Ceiling Fan Direction

    Along with the smaller box, desk or oscillating fans, ceiling fans are perfect for getting a gentle breeze. They work great and send out lots of air so you don't feel the summer heat. In summer, always make sure fans are spinning counterclockwise. This direction pushes the cool air down, blowing it onto you instead of pulling it up. Ceiling fans will help you feel cooler without using the AC unit.

    Increase the Temperature While You're Away

    Set your thermostat higher when you're not home for higher energy savings. Setting the thermostat 7-10 degrees higher than its usual setting for eight hours a day can save you up to 10% on your yearly cooling bill. By not having your house constantly cooling when you aren't there, your AC system will use less energy, work less hard and last longer.

    If you can't set your thermostat that high for eight hours every day, any time spent with the system set higher will still help save you money. A few hours every day at a higher setting will reduce the work your AC system is doing and lower the amount you'll have to spend on cooling costs. Try turning the AC off at night when it's cooler if possible and use fans or open windows to keep you from overheating.

    Close Shades and Weatherstrip Doors

    Closing shades or using good curtains to cover the windows during the day keeps the heat out and the cool in. Sunlight and warmth come through uncovered windows during the day, heating your home and causing your AC to kick on more frequently. Blocking the sunlight with closed shades or thick curtains will prevent most of the heat from sneaking indoors during the day.

    Weatherstripping doors and windows is a great way to insulate your house against heat and cold. Small gaps and cracks between door and window frames allow air to travel in and out of your house. Larger holes and leaks will let the cool air inside escape, making your AC work harder and heating up your home. Put quality weatherstripping on your doors and windows to create an insulated barrier, trapping the cool air indoors and keeping your house cool.

    Avoid Using Heat-Generating Appliances

    Appliances like ovens, stoves and dryers can raise indoor temperatures. Try to use them after 8 p.m. to avoid heating the house. If you have to use them during the day, try to run them only once to reduce the heat entering your home. While these appliances don't always raise temperatures a lot, any excess heat sitting in your home will cause the AC to work harder, increasing energy costs.

    Open Windows at Night

    Opening your windows at night is a great, cost-effective way to cool your house down. Cooler night air and breezes can flow through the house, lowering the temperature and saving your AC unit from having to do all the work. Turn your AC off at night and let the nighttime air blow inside, relieving you from the day's heat. Just make sure your unit can handle frequent turning on and off — repeatedly switching a unit on may wear it out, so consider getting a variable-speed unit to avoid this issue.

    While opening windows in the evening and at night is an excellent way to stay cool, keep your windows closed during the day. Open windows will let the heat and warmth of summer travel inside while the cool AC air gets sucked out. Even if there's a gentle daytime breeze, it won't be enough to keep the house cool without making your AC system work harder. Keep windows closed and covered during the day and open them at night for the best, least expensive cooling.

    Get Seasonal AC Maintenance

    You rely on your AC system to keep you cool during hot summers, and the last thing you want is an unexpected issue or outage. Forgetting seasonal AC maintenance is a common air conditioning mistake that can cost you a lot.

    Your AC constantly runs during the summer, so it needs routine maintenance to work correctly. A damaged or unmaintained unit can run less efficiently, working harder to cool the home and costing you more money on your cooling bills. The more you put off maintenance, the more likely you will need a more extensive, more expensive repair down the road.

    AC maintenance will check for issues, perform tune-ups and catch concerns before they turn into problems. Get your AC system checked at least once a year before the summer starts to keep your unit running efficiently for the whole summer.

    Seasonal maintenance will help prevent problems that cause your AC to go out, which would leave you stuck without a cool house in the middle of summer. Look into local companies' maintenance programs — they're often low-cost and easy to get. Some AC systems will even have seasonal check-ups included in their warranties for easy servicing.

    Get a Programmable Thermostat

    Programmable thermostats are a convenient way to help reduce energy costs. Installing a programmable thermostat allows you to set a schedule, setting different temperatures at different times. With a programmable unit, you don't have to remember to change the thermostat when you leave or come back home. The system will do it automatically based on the schedule you've set for each day.

    Setting a schedule and letting the house stay warmer will help cut energy costs at the push of a button. You can set different schedules for specific days, allowing you to keep the house cool all weekend when you're home and letting the house warm up during the day while you're at work. Look at installing energy-efficient thermostats or AC systems and potentially receiving energy rebates, saving even more.

    Stay Cool and Save on Your Energy Bill

    Using intelligent strategies when cooling your home will help you increase your energy efficiency and save you money during the summer. Energy-conscious systems might let you qualify for energy rebates, saving you even more on your energy bills, and programmable thermostats allow easy control over your AC system for lower cooling costs. Maximize your home's temperature system affordably with quality air conditioning products.

    With over 30 years of experience, Ingram's Water & Air offers expert resources and high-quality HVAC products to ensure your home is as comfortable and cost-efficient as possible. Explore our heating and air conditioning options to find the best system for your home today.

  • Ventilation in Apartments: Improving Air Circulation

    Ventilation in Apartments: Improving Air Circulation

    On hot summer days, when going outside feels like walking into an oven or a sauna, we often flock to indoor spaces to find an escape from the heat. While air conditioning is necessary for such situations, proper air ventilation is equally important. However, many people are unaware of how apartment ventilation works!

    Air conditioning is a type of mechanical ventilation. The main difference between AC and ventilation systems is that air conditioning recycles and cools the air. On the other hand, ventilation systems draw fresh outdoor air in and push stale indoor air out. To achieve optimal air quality and circulation, you need air conditioning and ventilation working together.

    Continue reading to learn more about the importance of good air circulation!

    Why Do Apartments Need Good Air Circulation?

    The EPA estimates that Americans spend approximately 90% of their time indoors, where air pollutants are sometimes two to five times more concentrated than they are in outdoor air. Because of this, the concentration will likely be higher if there's poor ventilation in an apartment. Some common apartment air pollutants include:

    • Carbon monoxide
    • Lead
    • Molds
    • Ozone
    • Pesticides
    • Pet dander
    • Radon
    • Tobacco smoke

    With the potential for those pollutants, it's essential to know how to circulate air in an apartment to safeguard your health and indoor air quality.

    Benefits of Good Air Circulation

    Besides limiting air pollutants, here are some benefits of an apartment with good air circulation:

    • Better indoor air quality: As air pollutants subside, air quality improves. Robust air circulation systems reduce humidity levels and remove unhealthy substances from the air. They replace polluted air with fresh and clean outside air as they do so. On days when outdoor air quality poses a risk, you can still breathe in the fresh air.
    • Increased energy savings: While ventilation alone may not be able to cool an apartment sufficiently alone, it can reduce AC dependency. As AC systems use large amounts of energy, minimizing AC use while maintaining a comfortable temperature can help save on energy costs.
    • Improved comfort: Improved air quality also results in a more comfortable living space. Indoor air pollutants can cause asthma or allergy flare-ups, sore throats, rashes, eye irritation and other health concerns. Since bacteria and viruses thrive in warm, tepid air, good air circulation can help prevent illness and infection. Good air circulation will also rid an apartment of stale smells and foul odors. Better health and fresher air will optimize anyone's apartment living experience.

    Consequences of Bad Air Circulation

    The benefits of good air circulation make it easy to guess the consequences of bad air circulation. Insufficient air circulation often causes poor indoor air quality, increased energy costs and uncomfortable living conditions. Other consequences of bad air circulation include:

    • Bad odors.
    • Potential health issues.
    • Increased pollutants and unhealthy substances in the air.
    • Less efficient cooling and increased dependence on AC systems.

    What Types of Ventilation Are in Apartment Buildings?

    Knowing the different types of ventilation that apartment buildings use is helpful in understanding how apartment ventilation works and how to create airflow in an apartment.

    Mechanical Ventilation

    HVAC systems include a mechanical ventilation framework, which uses fans and ducts to control airflow into and out of buildings. They pull in warm, moist outside air and replace it with cool, dehumidified air.

    Mechanical ventilation systems also regulate climate-controlled air within the home. They improve indoor air quality by controlling indoor humidity levels and outside airflow.

    Some downsides of mechanical ventilation include increased energy costs and potential air moisture issues. However, they effectively cool your house down and provide solid air circulation.

    Natural Ventilation

    Natural ventilation refers to ventilation that doesn't use fans or ducts to pull air in from the outside. The simplest example of natural ventilation is opening the apartment windows to let fresh air move through the unit. Natural ventilation offers a cost-free way to get fresh air into your home.

    While you can save on energy costs by using natural ventilation as much as possible, it's essential to understand the many situations where it isn't a workable solution. While natural ventilation reduces reliance upon mechanical ventilation systems, it has no way to control indoor humidity levels. It also doesn't keep climate-controlled air inside the apartment building and if the outside air is stale, odorous or polluted, natural ventilation can decrease indoor comfort.

    Hybrid Ventilation

    Hybrid ventilation systems attempt to capture the benefits of both natural and mechanical ventilation while minimizing their downsides. These systems involve fresh air inlets that allow outside air into the building and an air duct routing system that directs the air to a supply fan. The supply fan increases air pressure and disperses the air throughout the apartment building. Then the ceiling exhaust fans expel stale indoor air outside the building.

    How Can You Improve Air Circulation in an Apartment?

    You have several ways to improve air circulation in an apartment! Depending on your ventilation system, some options for circulating air conditioning more efficiently include:

    • Opening windows and vents: Apartments usually have fewer windows and air vents than houses, making it more challenging to keep the air fresh. With fewer entry points, it's even more important to make the most of what you have by keeping apartment vents windows open whenever possible.
    • Strategic fan positioning: Placing fans in front of open windows can propel fresh air inside and circulate air conditioning in an apartment.
    • Changing air filters: Clogged air ducts commonly cause poor air circulation in apartments. Make sure to change your air filters frequently or ensure your property manager changes them regularly.
    • Using air purifiers: Air purifiers remove odors and contaminants from indoor air. Since apartments have fewer windows and air vents, air purifiers are an excellent investment for apartment dwellers who want to neutralize stale air.
    • Assigning smoke-free zones: If possible, make your apartment a smoke-free zone or designate areas where tenants or visitors can smoke, such as a balcony or near open windows.
    • Sealing your ducts: Poor ductwork leads to various ventilation issues, such as odors seeping from vents, poor airflow, hot and cold spots, rattling sounds and increased energy costs. Sealing your ducts can solve many ventilation issues.
    • Cross ventilation: Cross ventilation combines strategic fan positioning with open windows and vents to create cool environments. An open window lets in outside air to freshen and cool the indoor space. Strategically placed fans increase the air pressure and direct it to an outlet window where the air escapes. Placing a fan in front of the inlet window propels the air through your space, while a second fan changes its direction toward the outlet window.

    Want to Improve Your Air Circulation Today?

    Let us help you find the right air filter or a great air purifier today. For all your comfort and ventilation needs, choose Ingrams Water and Air Equipment.

  • What Temperature Should You Set?

    What Temperature Should You Set?

    Finding the right temperature setting can save you money, increase comfort, and overall make you a happy homeowner! Learn the best temp for you here!
  • Converting From Baseboard Heating to Forced Air

    Converting From Baseboard Heating to Forced Air

    Baseboard heating and forced air are some of the most popular ways to keep a home warm, but what's the difference between them, and which one is better?
  • What Types of Thermostats Are There?

    What Types of Thermostats Are There?

    Heating and cooling your home contributes to a majority of your energy expenses. Upgrading your thermostat is a great way to cut down on those costs and fine-tune your at-home comfort. Adjusting the temperature throughout the day, such as while you're away or while you sleep, can save you up to 10 percent annually and even ensure a good night's rest. But since there isn't one thermostat to rule them all, you'll want to make sure you upgrade to a thermostat model that is compatible with your home's system and wiring.

    So how do you find out what kind of thermostat you need? To answer that, let's take a look at what types of thermostats are available, how they work with your HVAC system and what you should be looking for in a replacement.

    What types of thermostats are there?

    Thermostats fall into two general categories — manual and programmable. Between these two models there are three styles — electronic, electromechanical and smart. This variety allows for a few different combinations, so let's take a look at each option to better understand what they offer and how they work.

    Manual thermostats

    Sometimes referred to as analog thermostats, manual thermostats require homeowners to manually adjust their system to manage their home's temperature. They tend to cost less up front and they can last longer, but they aren't always reliable when it comes to temperature accuracy. They can also make it harder to cut energy expenses, since you have to remember to change the temperature every time you leave, come home or go to sleep. As home technologies advance, people are beginning to shift away from manual thermostat models in favor of their programmable counterparts.

    Programmable thermostats

    Programmable thermostat models are ideal for customization and energy savings. As their name suggests, homeowners can program these thermostats to adjust the temperature during different parts of the day. This cuts down on the cost of heating or cooling the house while residents are away. Different settings can be chosen for certain days of the week, such as keeping things warmer or cooler on weekends when individuals and families are spending more time at home. Programmable models allow you to keep the house at your preferred temperatures while you're there and modify it while you're away, ensuring reliable comfort without hiking your utility bills.

    While these models tend to have a higher price tag up front, programmable thermostats can save you money in the long run. Just don't try to treat a programmable model like its an analog thermostat! Allowing the automatic controls to do the work, as opposed to turning the temperature up and down, is your best bet for using a programmable thermostat to its full potential!

    Styles of thermostats

    All thermostats regulate a home's heating and cooling system, but how they do that and what systems they're compatible with are what determine the style. The three styles, their function and capabilities are as follows:

    • Electronic thermostats use digital sensors to detect temperature and adjust the heating and cooling system accordingly. They're all programmable and can be used to customize settings and control air accordingly.
    • Electromechanical thermostats are commonplace in older homes and use older technology. Using a combination of electricity and internal mechanics, this style of thermostat often relies on internal coils and a small vile of mercury to manage temperatures. Their programming functions are extremely limited, but they typically work with most gas, oil and electric systems.
    • Smart thermostats are the latest advancement in home technology. They are internet-enabled, which means they can be adjusted remotely through your smartphone, tablet or computer. Smart thermostats offer the most room-to-room customization, maximum efficiency and advanced automation. These are the most sophisticated thermostats on the market, but be aware that they are not universally compatible with all HVAC systems.

    Between these three styles, there are lots of options to consider when deciding which one is right for you, but one of the quickest ways to narrow down the list is choosing a compatible thermostat for your HVAC system.

    Are all thermostats compatible with all HVAC systems?

    Unfortunately, not all thermostats are compatible with every HVAC system. In the same way that not all thermostats are created equal, neither are heating and cooling systems. The ability for systems to communicate with a thermostat and vice versa depends on things like voltage, wiring, and zoning, among other things. Understanding your home's heating and cooling capabilities can determine which thermostat will work best for you.

    How do I check my HVAC system's compatibility?

    There are several things that determine your HVAC's compatibility. While you may be able to determine some of these components on your own, having a professional to come look at your system is the best way to get an accurate idea of what you'll need in a new thermostat. Let's break down the four things a professional is going to look at in your system — wiring, voltage, zoning and stages.

    Wiring

    Wiring is the biggest determinant of which type of thermostat is right for you. The system you have will determine what wires are available for connection. A more complex thermostat may require wiring that is not available in your equipment, which may eliminate some contenders. Another wiring consideration is where your original thermostat is placed in your home. To avoid some technical rewiring work, you'll want to ensure that a new thermostat is able to replace the old one where it currently rests on the wall. Each HVAC system is equipped with a circuit schematic, but it's best to leave deciphering these up to the professionals! A misstep with wiring can lead to all sorts of damage, including malfunctions, expensive repairs and higher utility bills.

    Voltage requirements

    Your thermostat needs to be compatible with your HVAC's voltage requirements. All systems have one of these three voltage levels:

    • Low voltage or 24V power
    • Millivolt
    • High voltage, 110V or 240V power

    Most thermostats are designed for low voltage systems, which is the most popular level in homes today. However, if you have wall or floor heaters, the voltage will be millivolt, and if you have an electric baseboard system, the voltage will be high. Be sure to look for this classification when shopping for your new thermostat. Once again, a professional is your best bet in understanding the voltage compatibility you'll need.

    Zoning

    The temperature in a house can vary room to room and floor to floor. Whether the sun beats down on the upstairs during the afternoon or a section of your house was poorly insulated, there are many causes for these discrepancies. That's where zoning comes in! System zoning refers to a network of thermostats that control various parts of your house and are connected to a primary control center. Using dampers in the ductwork, the separate thermostats work independently to maintain each zone's programmed temperatures.

    By controlling the flow of air to an unused section of the house you can save money, or you could customize bedroom temperatures to suit individual preferences. Though systems with zoning capabilities require an initial upfront investment, the U.S. Department of Energy estimates that proper zoning controls can save homeowners up to 40 percent on their energy costs!

    Single-stage, two-stage or variable speed

    Heating and cooling systems can be classified into three output stages: single-stage, two-stage and variable speed. A single-stage system can only operate on one output setting, which is full power. It's either on or it's off. Two-stage systems offer more flexibility. These systems have the option to run at a slower speed, usually around 65 percent. This is a great option for milder climates since it can heat or cool the house gradually. Two-stage systems can also run at full capacity, which can be used during more extreme weather. Variable speed systems offer a range of speeds that allows your system to nuance its output for different temperature conditions. The best way to determine whether you'll need a single-stage thermostat, two-stage thermostat or variable speed thermostat also involves wiring, which is yet another reason why calling a professional is a smart move!

    What should you look for in a replacement thermostat?

    Now that you understand your system's compatibility requirements, you may still have a handful of thermostats to choose from. There are some additional variables to consider when upgrading your thermostat, including price, features and precision.

    Price

    When considering price, there is a thermostat for every budget. Some manual thermostats can cost as low as $20, while advanced thermostats sell for well over $500. While a low-cost option may be a tempting place to save money, spending a little extra up front may actually be the best way to save over time. Choosing a compatible thermostat that offers energy-efficient technology can save you in your heating and cooling bills, an expense that adds up in a hurry. Just be sure you don't spend extra for features you don't intend to use. Know your system and your lifestyle needs and spend accordingly!

    Features

    Thermostats offer a variety of unique features for your system. Programmability is an obvious feature, allowing you to automate the temperature in your home for different times of day or even days of the week. Just set the controls and walk away! Some thermostats offer additional inputs and can collect information on humidity levels and outdoor conditions, as well as options like occupancy sensors.

    Internet-enabled smart thermostats allow you to control your home's system from your mobile device. This can allow you to lower the temperature while you're away and turn it back up before you get home. This is convenient when going on vacation or for people with unpredictable schedules. They can also send notifications to your device to help you keep track of your energy use for cutting costs.

    For homeowners with a variety of air-quality control units, such as humidifiers, dehumidifiers or air purifiers, there are thermostats that can manage all of your equipment. Coordinating your home's systems through one thermostat is a very convenient and attractive feature!

    Precision

    Choosing a thermostat that offers temperature precision can make all the difference. Today's technology can help decrease the discrepancies between what your thermostat says and what your system is actually doing. By being able to detect the ambient temperature more efficiently, your HVAC system won't have work as hard. Not only can this help with energy-efficiency, it can keep you comfier and from fiddling with your system's settings.

    Looking For a New Thermostat?

    Your search ends here! Let us help you find the perfect thermostat to suit all your needs at Ingrams Water and Air Equipment.

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