Archive for May, 2014

3 Factors Involved in Sizing a New Air Conditioner

Friday, May 30th, 2014

How large an air conditioning system should you have for your home? The right answer isn’t, “As large as will fit and that you can afford.” An AC that is too large for the house it is supposed to cool down will encounter as much trouble as one that is undersized. The undersized system will struggle to reach the right temperature and run wastefully, while an oversized system will constantly turn on and off before completing its cooling cycle (short-cycling), draining energy and quickly wearing down.

The process of finding the right size air conditioner for a home is called sizing. Although you can attempt to size an AC on your own, you shouldn’t: the amount of factors involved in determining how much heat a home traps and how much cooling is necessary to overcome it is detailed and intricate, and you should leave this job to HVAC professionals.

For your new air conditioning installation in Beaverton, OR, make sure you have the team at Clean Air Act helping you. We will make sure you have the best installation possible.

3 important factors in AC sizing

There are many factors in sizing, but here are three of the key ones.

  1. Insulation: The insulation in a home prevents outside heat from moving inside. The better insulated a house is, especially the attic (which serves as a massive heat sink that can climb to 120°F during the summer), the less an AC will need to work to cool down a house. Older homes with less insulation often need larger ACs.
  2. Windows: Radiant heat finds a way into your house through the sunlight coming through windows. When assessing windows for the purpose of sizing an air conditioner, installers take into account not only the number of windows, but also their shading and the directions they face. East- and west-facing windows will permit in large amounts of heat, while north and south windows will experience much less.
  3. Appliances and lights: Basically, anything in your home that creates heat. (We won’t lump people in with appliances, but the number of bodies in a house will enter the calculation later.) Installers evaluate how much heat on average comes from your light fixtures, refrigerator, laundry machine, electronic devices, etc. and balance that against the amount of cooling power necessary from an air conditioner.

Once the installers have finished this process, which is known as a heat load calculation, they will have a strong idea of how large an air conditioner you need to keep you comfortable without causing trouble with short-cycling and energy drain.

It’s easy to get started: you only have to call Clean Air Act and talk to our specialists in air conditioning in Beaverton, OR. We strive to the highest levels of customer services and will dedicate ourselves to providing you quality comfort.

How Your Thermostat Affects Your Air Conditioning

Friday, May 23rd, 2014

Your air conditioner is a big system, but it is all triggered by one small component: your thermostat. Today’s thermostats have gotten very tech-savvy, but unless your thermostat tells the system to turn on, it won’t – which is why, when your thermostat has problems, it affects the whole system. That is also why as soon as you notice issues with your thermostat you should contact the thermostat experts at Clean Air Act Inc.

Thermostats aren’t the most complicated piece of your air conditioner, but they can cause discomfort and problems when they aren’t working the way they should. Eliminating the possibility that your thermostat could be causing you problems with your air conditioning in Portland can help your Clean Air Act technician pinpoint problems more succinctly. Here is a list of issues we’ve come across in our 14 years of working on air conditioners:

  • Air conditioner not starting
  • Air conditioner not stopping
  • Short cycling
  • Program resets on its own (for programmable thermostats)
  • Room temperature does not match setting on thermostat (could be warmer or colder)
  • Generalized problems with display (no back light, no screen appearing, etc.)

Effects of a Malfunctioning Thermostat

When your thermostat malfunctions, it can have a few effects, depending on what is malfunctioning. Obviously if your air conditioner won’t start or stop, it’s pretty clear what the problems are. But what happens when the thermostat creates some of the other problems listed above?

  • Short cycling – not only can it become uncomfortable in your home: short cycling can cause premature wear-and-tear, potential breakdown and a jump in your utility bill.
  • Program resetting – the programmable feature on your thermostat helps control how when your system runs. If the program keeps resetting, you can lose the benefit of energy efficiency that comes with programming your air conditioner. This may cause a jump up in your energy bill.
  • Varying room temperatures – uneven cooling can be uncomfortable, and if your thermostat is in a part of your home that is warmer, it can trigger the thermostat to keep the system running more than it should.
  • Display problems – not seeing your thermostat settings  is irritating and potentially costly. After all, if you can’t see what temperature is set, you can’t set your thermostat to be effective.

Get It Fixed

Most problems with thermostats are relatively minor and do not require tremendous work – but letting them go may cause bigger problems down the road. Since your air conditioner uses electricity to run, we strongly recommend having your Clean Air Act specialist take a look at any problems you may experience with your thermostat.

Have questions about the thermostat for your Portland air conditioning? Schedule an appointment with the experts at Clean Air Act today!

3 Issues with Your Air Conditioner Fan Speed

Friday, May 16th, 2014

There are 2 fans in your air conditioning system: one in the condenser unit and another in the air handler. Both fans have an equal part in cooling your home. If you begin to notice a change in your fan’s speed – it seems too fast or slow – there are 3 key areas to have your Portland air conditioning technician from Clean Air Act inspect on your AC system:

Motor Issues

Each fan has its own motor. Like any other motor, the fan motor has its own wiring, etc., that powers it. If something in the motor has broken down, such as an electrical connection, has bad wiring or some other operating issue, the fan won’t turn.

Fan Belts

Fan belts can become stretched, cracked and break during normal wear-and-tear. This can result in a slow-turning fan or one that isn’t turning at all. The belt itself cannot be fixed, but it can be easily replaced by your Clean Air Act technician.

Malfunctioning Run Capacitor

Run capacitors create the rotating magnetic field in your system’s condenser fan. A capacitor that is malfunctioning or failing can cause the fan’s motor to slow down and/or overheat. In most cases like this, the run capacitor needs to be replaced.

Ways to Help Maintain Your Air Conditioner’s Fans

Every part of your air conditioner is going to experience wear-and-tear, but there are things that can be done to extend the life of the fans in your system.

First, putting your fan on the correct setting on your thermostat is important. Most fans come with 3 settings: on, off and auto. When running your air conditioning system, it can be confusing to know which setting is better, the on or auto switch. The auto switch sets the fans to run in accordance with your thermostat; they’ll go on when your system automatically turns on. The on switch means that the fans will run continuously, and not according to the thermostat. By leaving your fan switch to on, you may run the risk of premature wearing.

Second, fans in your air conditioner will get dirty. With regular bi-annual maintenance, they will get cleaned and inspected, helping to ensure that they are running optimally.

If you think you may have an issue with the fans in your air conditioner, call Clean Air Act and schedule an appointment to have one of our technicians take a look at your system. You can count on us to help you enjoy quality air conditioning in Portland.

How Leaking Refrigerant Affects Your Air Conditioner

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014

An air conditioner cools down your house by removing heat from the inside through the evaporator coil. That heat then moves to the outside cabinet where it is released. But what is actually carrying this heat from one place to another? It’s the vital part of an air conditioner that often goes under the trademarked name “Freon,” but which is generally known as refrigerant. Without this blend of chemical moving through the coils and lines of an air conditioner, there can be no cooling power.

The secret of refrigerant is that it shifts easily between liquid and gas state: during the evaporation stage, it absorbs heat; during the condensation stage it releases heat. But it never dissipates during this process, so its “charge”—its level—never drops from the optimal amount inside an air conditioner.

Unless there’s a leak in the system and that leads to trouble that requires professionals to fix the problem.

For the necessary repairs you need to keep your air conditioning system working, call on Clean Air Act and our 24-hour emergency air conditioning service in Oregon City, OR.

What Goes Wrong When Refrigerant Leaks

Because an air conditioning system is designed for a specific refrigerant charge, when the charge drops the AC will start to work ineffectively. Less refrigerant means an impaired heat exchange cycle: the refrigerant can no longer absorb as much heat from the outside, and you will start to notice warmer air coming from the vents.

The decay will start to speed up, not matter how slowly the refrigerant leaks out of the system. Once the evaporator coil encounters trouble absorbing heat, it will not cool down the remaining refrigerant enough, and the moisture along the coil will start to freeze. As more moisture freezes, it further blocks heat absorption along the coil. Ice will continue to develop across the coil until a full block of ice completely halts all heat exchange.

Before that point, however, the compressor might fail. Without a sufficient amount of refrigerant to cool it down, the compressor will start to overheat. If the compressor burns out, it will have to be replaced, and this is one of the most expensive repairs an air conditioner can incur. In many cases, it is more cost-effective to replace the whole air conditioning system instead of just the compressor.

Watch For the Warning Signs

Fortunately, leaking refrigerant does provide a few warnings to tell you what is happening. The first is an odd hissing noise from the cabinet as the high-pressure refrigerant escapes. The second is a drop in cooling that doesn’t seem to come from a mechanical error inside the AC. The third is the first indication of frost across the indoor coil. If you notice any of these symptoms, call for repairs. Technicians will locate and seal the leak, and then recharge the refrigerant.

Call Clean Air Act whenever you need fast and effective repairs for your air conditioning system in Oregon City, OR. We maintain the highest standards of quality for the benefit and comfort of our customers.