Research Articles

  • Black Friday & Cyber Monday HVAC Deals 2022!

    Black Friday & Cyber Monday HVAC Deals 2022!

    Are you looking for the absolute best Black Friday and Cyber Monday HVAC deals on the Internet? Well, good job, because you found them.
  • Furnace Flue Pipes: Installation, Inspection, and Care

    Furnace Flue Pipes: Installation, Inspection, and Care

    A furnace flue pipe removes harmful gases from your home's air. Ensure your flue pipe is properly installed, regularly inspected and adequately cared for.
  • Is Zoned Heating and Cooling Right for You?

    Is Zoned Heating and Cooling Right for You?

    A zoned HVAC system can significantly increase your energy savings. Browse a wide selection of efficient HVAC systems from Ingrams Water & Air.
  • Replacing Your Gas Furnace With an Electric Heat Pump

    Replacing Your Gas Furnace With an Electric Heat Pump

    Are you looking to replace your gas furnace with an electric heat pump? We'll break down everything you'll need to consider. Contact MRCOOL to learn more!
  • Where Should The AC Condenser Be Placed?

    Where Should The AC Condenser Be Placed?

    Air conditioners make life easy and comfortable. They also improve air quality and work efficiency, protect furniture, prevent appliances from overheating and much more. The AC condenser plays a vital role in the air conditioning system. The condenser either collects or releases heat, depending on the temperature. Without it, heat cannot leave the room.

    The AC condenser’s placement boosts its overall performance. This article will discuss the best location for AC outdoor units. We’ll also discuss factors to consider when picking the location for your AC condenser, areas to avoid installing it and tips for blending the unit with your landscaping.

    Does It Matter Where You Put Your AC Condenser?

    The simple answer is “Yes.” The position of your AC condenser helps the system perform better. Knowing how the condenser works will help you understand this better.

    The AC condenser's job is to condense air. It receives high-pressure gas from the compressor and converts it into liquid. Air conditioning systems use the indoor-outdoor approach. The condenser requires a sufficient supply of air to cool the refrigerant. Again, the condenser needs enough airflow to function. Giving the condenser space to breathe prevents it from overheating.

    Apart from the operational aspect, the location of the air conditioner condenser increases its life span. The unit deteriorates faster when you place the condenser indoors or expose it to harsh weather conditions such as excessive heat. It’s like sending the condenser to war without a shield.

    Additionally, a good location for the condenser makes it accessible. This is important for many reasons. For example, it becomes easier to maintain when the condenser is easily reachable. You don’t have to jump hurdles to clean the unit. You can conduct regular preventative maintenance. Replacing the condenser becomes simple, too. Positioning your AC condenser correctly also makes it more energy efficient because it uses less energy to convert air.

    Place your condenser outside the home or business space, not in the basement, attic or garage.

    Choosing Your AC Condenser Location

    As we’ve learned, the home AC condenser’s location is essential. A good location assists the unit in functioning at its peak efficiency, saves energy, lasts longer and makes it easy to maintain and repair. This applies to business and other spaces.

    Consider the following tips when choosing the best location for the air conditioner condenser:

    1. Accessibility

    Imagine placing the condenser several feet above the ground, between two tight walls where the average adult cannot quickly enter, let alone work. That sounds challenging, right? Choose a location that will make it simple for you or your technician to maintain the HVAC unit, especially the condenser. When the location is appropriate, you can regularly check on the condenser. Plus, it makes it safer to work on. The space should not only make the condenser accessible but also be sufficient to fit the tools and equipment necessary for servicing.

    Regular preventive maintenance and repairs make air conditioners more efficient. Healthy air conditioners also save energy. It’s natural for the condenser coil to gather dirt with time. The dirt reduces airflow and insulates the coil. Maintaining the unit at least once a year helps it absorb heat.

    2. Flooding

    There has been an increase in flooding along the coasts of the United States in recent years. Reports indicate that the inland is susceptible to flooding, too. The change in weather conditions has invited the federal government to update its flood maps.

    A quality air conditioner condenser can withstand some amount of water. Little water scarcely affects the condenser’s performance. However, placing the air conditioner’s outside unit properly can keep it safer. When you protect the condenser against flood, you save it from:

    • Continuous exposure to moisture and oxygen, which facilitates corrosion.
    • Electrical component damage.
    • Debris carried by the flood as it travels.

    With these in mind, place the condenser above the drainage system, where the water flow is unrestricted.

    3. Noise

    One primary purpose of the air conditioner is to make life comfortable. Position the condenser where it’ll cause the least amount of nuisance. High-performing and modern condensers produce little noise, but it also depends on the aircon type and model.

    Keep the condenser away from areas where you’ll likely be distracted. For example, fix the condenser at a location away from the windows or working space. If you prefer placing the condenser in such areas, consider using noise-proof materials to block excess sound and distancing the unit from your neighbors.

    4. Vibration

    The AC condenser uses a high-speed motor that causes it to vibrate. To be clear, we’re not talking about unusual vibrations, which indicate the condenser needs a replacement. Whatever the case, install the condenser on a firm surface that can withstand any vibration. This reduces displacement and excess noise.

    You can place the AC condenser on the natural ground and use an air conditioner pad. AC unit pads have many benefits, including:

    • Protecting the condenser against water drainage.
    • Ensuring stability.
    • Preventing debris from entering the unit.
    • Discouraging pests.

    If you intend to raise the air conditioner off the ground, ensure it’s well secured on the wall to avoid unexpected falls or noise.

    5. Sun and Shade

    The earth needs the sun to survive — the planet needs the warmth that helps us to stay alive and healthy. That said, too much sun isn't good for your unit or wallet. Direct sun will not necessarily damage your AC condenser, but shading your AC condenser instead shields it from extreme heat and prevents overheating. The higher the temperature, the more energy it requires to work. Cooler areas let the condenser function more effectively.

    6. Air Circulation

    Install your HVAC condenser in a place with optimum airflow — consider enough air conditioner clearance. Obstructions block air circulation and stifle heat exchange. If the building has multiple condensers, ensure adequate space between them.

    When choosing a location for the condenser, check for obstacles such as trees and shrubs, fences and walls. If there are trees in the background, trim them regularly.

    7. Wind

    Moderate wind force is unlikely to bother the AC condenser unit. Install the unit in an area where extreme weather conditions will not be a concern, and have a plan for the rare but possible instance of severe wind. Place the unit strategically so strong winds do not carry debris and dirt into the condenser. When you install the condenser in a safe place, it also protects the fins.

    8. Aesthetics

    The core purpose of the air conditioning system is to regulate the temperature. Beyond that, the condenser could offer curb appeal to the property. You can merge the beautiful unit into the property’s overall architecture or position it conspicuously so it does not interfere with the overall architecture. In either case, don't neglect adequate airflow and stability.

    9. Safety

    While considering all the factors we’ve discussed, including airflow and aesthetics, make no compromise on safety. Install the HVAC condenser unit on a stable and firm surface to prevent falls, and keep the condenser out of the reach of children.

    Where Should You Install Your AC Condenser?

    The condenser is the outdoor system of the AC unit, so the first rule is to install it outside the home or building. This does not mean the unit should be exposed to harsh weather conditions and passersby, neighbors or children. The condenser's location has many implications. A good location makes the AC condenser more efficient, last longer and is easily accessible and aesthetically pleasing, among others.

    Install the condenser on a flat surface if there is adequate space. Ensure the floor or ground is level and free from dips and bumpy soil. There’re several reasons for this:

    1. An unleveled surface puts excess stress on the unit.
    2. The motor runs at high speed, so an unleveled floor may cause damage to the unit.
    3. The compressor oil moves smoothly through the unit when it's level.
    4. The refrigerant flows better when the condenser is level.

    You may also install the unit above ground level on a bracket and fix it to the side of the property. Using brackets has added benefits as well, such as:

    • Helping make the unit level.
    • Enhancing water flow from the condenser and preventing water pooling.
    • Keeping animals away from the unit.
    • Reducing the length of conduits, cables and cords required for connection. This makes installation quicker, simpler, and less costly.
    • Raising the unit to the building’s level, which assists the compressor in pumping refrigerant directly into the building, reducing unnecessary stress.
    • Making the condenser easily accessible. Accessibility makes it painless to maintain, repair and replace.

    Where Should You Not Install Your AC Condenser?

    Place the condenser outside the home or business instead of on the interior, such as in the basement, attic, crawl space or garage. Choose a spacious, easily accessible area, and avoid narrow spots. The condenser requires enough air and airflow to work efficiently. Installing the condenser in a tight space makes airflow challenging. Moreover, placing the unit in a narrow area means the technician will need further maneuvering skills to parkour their way around the property to reach the unit when it's time for maintenance or replacement.

    The AC condenser’s location must also be away from your neighbors' property and must not block passageways or be within the reach of children or pets.

    Proper placement includes shielding the condenser from direct sunlight. If you want to install the condenser on your roof, create a shade that protects it from direct sunshine, rain and snowfall. Excessive sun rays make cooling more challenging and cause overheating. This reduces the overall performance and life span of your condenser. Covering the units against heavy rain also slows down corrosion and component damage.

    Finally, keep the condenser away from the windows or outdoor furniture to avoid noise interference.

    How to Blend Your AC Unit Into Your Landscaping

    You can blend the AC condenser unit into the property’s overall architecture and landscaping, or you could place it strategically to disguise or hide it. Apart from the primary purpose of regulating the temperature, the condenser could enhance curb appeal. Here are 10 ways to blend your outside AC unit into your landscaping:

    1. Create a Wooden Cover

    Wooden covers are one of the do-it-yourself options that require minimal materials and expertise to build. Wooden covers are unique ways to hide the condenser, and they blend with multiple architectural designs. The wooden structure is budget-friendly and easy to install and replace.

    2. Build an AC House

    AC houses are creative alternatives. Besides their attractiveness, they offer extra protection for the unit. AC houses shade your condenser against direct sunlight, rain and snow. You can use this stylish choice for several types of condensers.

    3. Create an Aluminum Slat

    Aluminum slats are formidable ways to protect your condenser. The slats secure the condenser against heavy materials. They last long and are easy to maintain. You can design the aluminum slats according to your preference. You can also match the design and color with your property.

    4. Create a Shed

    You can make way for your condenser if there’s an unused shed on the property. This lets you save money and space. All you need to do is renovate the shed and ensure it's spacious enough for the condenser — just remember to leave one wall open for airflow.

    5. Use a Windbreak

    Use windbreak made of pots and plants to hide the condenser on your property. Windbreaks also protect your property from harsh weather. Use big planters and place them around the unit. You can use pots to make the plants mobile. That way, visitors only see the beautiful green plants.

    6. Make a Cement Wall

    Cement walls are generally affordable and easy to build. The cement screens the air conditioner condenser against the wind. It's also a barrier if the AC is located at home and you have children around. However, make sure the cement wall is ventilated and spacious.

    7. Grow Vines Around the Unit

    Vines are stunning additions to landscaping. They offer a welcoming atmosphere for visitors. Build a wooden structure and grow trailing vines around them. As they grow, they hide the air conditioner condenser beautifully behind them. It’s that simple!

    8. Use Screen or Lattice Cover

    Trellis blends with most buildings. Choose a preference — wood or metal — and mask your outdoor air conditioner unit. You may also use a lattice screen for that purpose. Choose the design and color that matches the rest of your property.

    9. Hide It Behind the Bushes

    If you have a garden on your property, you may take advantage of that. Hide the HVAC unit behind the bushes. The tip works best when the plants are high enough to cover the condenser. Trim the plants regularly and clean the area. You can also build a wooden structure to block direct contact with the condenser. Select heat-resistant species and plant them several inches away from the unit.

    10. Build a Storage Space

    Building a storage space for your HVAC is an innovative way to secure extra space on your property. Build a well-ventilated storage space with wood, metal or blocks to host your condenser and other valuable. Make the storage space wide for accessibility.

    Find Your New System Today!

    We have a variety of different HVAC systems for your every comfort need at Ingrams Water and Air Equipment! Let us help give you comfort today!

  • Water Heater Not Working? Common Problems and How to Fix Them

    Water Heater Not Working? Common Problems and How to Fix Them

    Many water heaters contain durable materials and feature extended warranties for homeowners to use them without any issues for years to come. But the combination of heat, water and smaller components that help water heaters operate can also contribute to various problems. The key to effective repair is knowing how to diagnose water heater problems. If you find your water heater not working, learn more about common water heater issues and their fixes here!

    What Are the Components of a Water Heater?

    water heater consists of multiple parts that work together to warm water. The main components of gas and electric water heater include:

    • Tank: Most water heaters feature large insulated tanks to store the hot water.
    • Dip tube: Cold water from the main power line enters your hot water tank through the dip tube.
    • Heating element or gas burner: These elements sit at the bottom of the tank and heat the water.
    • Anode rod: An anode rod prevents the tank from rusting, and this steel rod will often rust instead of the interior of your tank.
    • Thermostat: All water heaters have an external thermostat so you can measure and adjust the temperature of your water.
    • Heat-out pipe: The heat-out pipe draws hot water out of the tank to the service line, which distributes your hot water.
    • Drain valve: The drain valve helps drain all sediment buildup inside your tank.
    • Shut-off valve: The shut-off valve is outside the water heater and turns off the water flow.
    • Pressure relief valve: A pressure relief valve prevents pressure from building to a dangerous level inside your tank.

    How Does a Water Heater Work?

    Your hot water begins its journey in the main water line connected to your home. Before your water enters your water heater, the line will split into two pathways that create the water intake system in your home.

    A tank water heater stores your water in a perpetually warm tank. After turning on the tap, cold water will flow through the shut-off valve and dip tube before entering your water heater tank. The heating mechanism at the bottom of your hot water tank will heat the water based on your temperature setting. The tank's water is then displaced — so warmer water rises to the top through the heat-out pipe to flow through your tap.

    Another water heater option is a tankless water heater, which only heats water when needed. After turning on the hot water tap, a sensor activates inside the unit to warm your water. A tankless water heater bypasses the process of storing a tank of hot water and reduces the amount of energy needed to maintain a high temperature continually.

    Water Heater Not Working? Start by Checking the Warranty

    Before troubleshooting your hot water heater problems, check your appliance's warranty. Every hot water tank features a rating plate with the model and serial number. These numbers will detail the manufacturing year of your heater and whether your tank has a prorated warranty. Call the manufacturers with these two numbers on hand to see if you're eligible for a new tank or replacement parts free of charge or at a discount.

    Troubleshooting Your Water Heater

    You can run into a few issues with your water heater. Look for the problem you're having below to help troubleshoot.

    Water Is Too Hot

    Extremely hot water is often a thermostat issue in which the temperature is set too high. To check the settings of your thermostat:

    1. Access your service panel and turn off the power to the water heater.
    2. Remove elements like the access panel, insulation and plastic safety guards from the heating elements on the water heater. As you remove these parts, do not touch the wires or electrical terminals.
    3. Test the wires with a non-contact voltage tester to confirm the power is completely off.
    4. Check the heat settings on the two thermostats to ensure they are at the same temperature.
    5. Adjust the temperature on either thermostat to the desired setting using a flathead screwdriver.
    6. Ensure both thermostats are at the same setting before replacing their safety guards, insulation and access panels.
    7. Turn on the circuit breaker.

    If the water temperature is too high, you may need to replace your thermostat or contact a professional to correct a wiring issue.

    Water Is Too Cold

    Water that is too cold is commonly the result of thermostat issues. However, exploring other possible causes is essential. Your water heater may not be getting enough power. Or, there could be a tripped limit switch or a failure of one or more heating elements. Your tank may also not be large enough for your needs, resulting in other appliances or people using all the hot water before the tank can recharge.

    If your water heater could produce enough hot water previously and suddenly stopped, this may result from a malfunctioning heating element. Before troubleshooting your water heater, ensure you do not need to reset your circuit breaker.

    If you reset the breaker and are still experiencing issues, correct the temperature of your water heater by:

    1. Turn off the breaker by accessing the water heater's circuit in the service panel.
    2. Remove the access panel for the upper heating element.
    3. Withdraw the insulation, plastic and safety guard. As you remove these elements, ensure you do not touch any wires or electrical terminals.
    4. Locate the red high-temperature cutoff reset button above the upper thermostat.
    5. Replace the safety guard, access panel and insulation.
    6. Turn on the circuit breaker.

    Once you complete those steps, if your water heater is still not working, test each heating element and replace them as necessary, or get a professional to do the job for you.

    Water Heats Slowly

    One of the downsides of an electric water heater is that it takes longer to reheat an entire water supply compared to a gas model. The exact amount of time can vary between models. But if it's taking longer than usual to reheat your water or your hot water runs out too quickly, there may be an issue with the heating elements on the thermostat, and you may need to contact a professional to replace a few parts.

    If your household uses more hot water than when you first installed your water heater, consider investing in a model with a larger tank. To correctly size a water heater, you will need to determine flow rate and temperature rise. If your water need exceeds the capacity of your heater, you can also try to limit the length of your showers, install low-flow shower heads or wash dishes and laundry at different times of the day instead of doing both tasks at once.

    Leaks

    Water leaks typically result from a loose valve or connection but can also relate to plumbing issues. If you notice leaking water, fixing your leak as soon as possible is essential to prevent damage to your home.

    Your water tank can also experience a leak at the top or bottom of the tank. A leak near the top of your water heater could result from a loose pipe or valve. Leaking at the bottom of your water tank can be due to normal condensation or a leaking gasket. When the temperature and pressure relief (T&P) valve opens to release excess pressure in the water tank, it also expels a small amount of water, which can cause a leak.

    To correct water leaks, turn off the breaker and inspect your tank for any loose elements and if needed, tighten them with an element wrench. If you see corrosion on your tank, contact a professional to replace your tank. To stop your tank from leaking until you can schedule a replacement, turn off the power and water supply to your tank and then completely drain the tank.

    Discoloration

    Rust-colored water indicates corrosion of the anode rod or your hot water tank. If you do not treat discoloration as soon as possible, you'll have to replace your entire tank, as the corrosion may cause your tank to develop a leak. One solution is to flush your water heater to clean the internal components and remove rust or the buildup of minerals. To flush your water heater:

    1. Turn off the power for your electric heater or turn your gas heater to pilot mode.
    2. Switch the water inlet valve off.
    3. Attach a hose to the drain at the bottom of your heater and then position the hose so it drains outside.
    4. Move your drain valve and some hot water faucets in your home to the open position to drain the water from the tank.
    5. Unlock the cold water inlet to drain the tank as you run cold water through your tank.
    6. Close your drain valve and make sure your hot water faucets remain open to allow the system to purge the air.
    7. Shut the hot water taps once they stop making a hissing and popping noise, and open the drain valve again at the bottom of the tank until the water turns clear.

    If the water is still discolored, repeat those steps until the water is clear.

    Noises

    Noises like popping, knocking and hissing are commonly due to scale building up on your heating elements or an excess of sediment on the bottom of your tank. Other causes of strange noises include a leak in your tank, excess pressure in the tank or your pipes expanding or contracting. If your tank makes noise, it's generally harmless. However, it is worth looking into the source if these noises become louder or more frequent.

    A quick solution for preventing noise is to use a descaling product to break down any sediment buildup. Another option for removing sediment is to have a plumber flush and drain the tank. You can also try to drain your hot water tank with the following steps:

    1. If your tank is powered by electricity, shut off the breaker. For a gas-powered tank, switch the tank to the pilot setting.
    2. Shut off the cold water with the valve on one of the thin pipes at the tank's top.
    3. Attach a hose to the drain valve and turn on the hot water faucet at a sink near the tank to prevent air gaps.
    4. Turn the handle to open your tank's drain valve and let the tank drain until the water runs clear.
    5. Close the valve and attach your hose cap to the valve.
    6. Turn on the tank's cold water to begin the refill process. As you refill, check the hot water tap. When you feel hot water coming from the tap, turn it off and turn on the gas control.
    7. Use your water pressure gauge to check the air pressure in your tank. Check the pressure when the tank is quiet and after it runs for a few minutes. After ensuring the pressure is below 70 PSI, lower the thermostat and install the pressure gauge onto the open drain valve for the indicator to read the pressure level.
    8. Turn the thermostat to your average temperature so the heater starts running again.
    9. If the pressure gauge still indicates high pressure, open and close the T&P valve to see if your tank will stop making noise without further assistance. If your tank continues to make noise, you need a professional to replace this valve.

    Low Water Pressure

    Low water pressure is standard in older homes due to smaller pipes. If you live in an older home and are experiencing low water pressure, your hot water heater problems may not be with your boiler but with your pipes.

    The best solution to correct low water pressure is to install modern piping. This permits more water to enter and flow through your pipes to increase pressure. If your water heater and home are relatively new and you're still experiencing pressure issues, you can have a plumber flush and remove any sediment buildup inside your tank.

    Water Smells

    Foul-smelling water is the result of bacteria in your heater. It's common to experience bad-smelling water with tanks that draw water from wells. Flushing your tank can eliminate the problem, or you can increase the temperature to 140 degrees Fahrenheit to kill the bacteria.

    Rotten-egg-smelling water can also result from a failing anode rod that requires a professional to replace. A plumber may also flush and disinfect your tank to remove the bacteria that's creating the rotten egg smell. Using well water may also contribute to a smell due to a high amount of sulfate-reducing bacteria (SRB). Your plumber may suggest a shock chlorination treatment to kill the SRB and reduce any smells present.

    Contact Ingrams Water & Air for Help With Your Water Heater

    When correcting issues with your water heater, the best thing to do is identify the problem early and take the necessary steps to fix it. If you ignore the problem, you may make it worse, leading to more expensive repairs later.

    Luckily, Ingrams Water & Air offers free technical support for the lifetime of your product. Our live tech support for owners and technicians is available five days a week from our Kentucky call center. We look forward to helping you correct problems you may be experiencing with your water heater.

    If you think it's time for a new water heater, we can help with that, too! Find the best water heater for your needs today at Ingrams Water & Air.

  • Why Do I have a Frozen AC Unit in the Summer?

    Why Do I have a Frozen AC Unit in the Summer?

    If you have a frozen AC unit, you can use a few tricks to stop it from happening. Learn how we can help you keep your AC unit running!
  • What Is the Best AC Temperature for Sleeping?

    What Is the Best AC Temperature for Sleeping?

    Sleeping at the right temperature can have many health benefits. Ingram's Water & Air can help you find an HVAC unit to achieve your ideal AC temperature!
  • 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.

  • How Does an Air Handler Work?

    How Does an Air Handler Work?

    An air handler is one of the most important parts of your home comfort system, but how exactly does it work? Learn about it by clicking here!
  • How Do Evaporator Coils Work?

    How Do Evaporator Coils Work?

    If you've ever wondered how evaporator coils help make your home comfortable, click here to learn about one of the most important HVAC units!
  • How Does a 95% AFUE Gas Furnace Work?

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    It's well known that a 95% AFUE gas furnace is highly efficient, but how does one work? If you've been considering buying one, click here to learn more.
  • What's Inside Packaged HVAC Units?

    What's Inside Packaged HVAC Units?

    A packaged HVAC unit is a great way to provide comfort to those in your home. But what's inside a packaged HVAC unit? Learn this and more here!
  • Can I Use a Smart Thermostat?

    Can I Use a Smart Thermostat?

    Using a smart thermostat can be one of the greatest ways to ensure total comfort and increased savings. Find out why and how to install one here!
  • How Long is an Average Furnace Life?

    How Long is an Average Furnace Life?

    Knowing the signs of an aging furnace will help you understand when it needs to be repaired, or when it needs to be replaced.
  • Should I Turn My AC On and Off?

    Should I Turn My AC On and Off?

    You might want to shut your AC off to save money every day: you're not there to feel it! Unfortunately, doing this can actually produce the opposite result.

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