Category Archives: HVAC upgrades

Can You OD on AC? How Hard to Work Your Air Conditioning This Summer

AC air conditioning
At a reasonable setting, your air conditioning should work normally, all day every day.

We live in an age where worry about overuse of any appliance is a concern. Excess isn’t celebrated the way that it might have been before environmental issues were mainstream. But one area where excess shouldn’t be a concern is your air conditioning. You can certainly overload your AC system, especially in a humid Massachusetts summer. But as long as it’s appropriate for the home, in good repair and you set it at a reasonable temperature, it shouldn’t suffer ill effects.

If your air conditioning seems to be struggling with the summer’s heat, something else might be afoot.

Would You Turn Your Refrigerator Down or Off?

Imagine that the weather report for Framingham says the hottest day of the year is on its way. Would you prepare for it by raising the refrigerator thermostat or shutting it off? Of course not. Neither should you worry unnecessarily about your air conditioning as long as it’s used sensibly.

AC systems operate the same way as your kitchen fridge. They achieve their chilly temperatures by removing heat from your home. The system’s primary components include a condenser, compressor, evaporator and a chemical that changes from gas to liquid to gas as needed.

These work in concert to draw excess heat out of your home, then cool the air that’s returned through the ducts. Just like your refrigerator, it’s meant to work when you need it as long as it’s in good repair.

AC air conditioning Replacement of an outdated thermostat might correct some problems.

What Causes Overloading Problems

Although it’s meant to serve you and your family all summer, there is such as thing as system overload. If the unit is operated at a setting that’s unreasonably cold, the system won’t keep up. It will work harder than it was intended to, which causes a breakdown of the mechanical components over time. It can even put your home at risk of a fire.

At its heart, overload means that the demand is too great for the air conditioning capabilities. And it’s caused by a few things, including a too-cold setting, dirty air filter, wrong-sized unit, poor ventilation, restricted airflow, and many other possibilities. What’s considered a too-cold setting is relative and doesn’t necessarily mean that the thermostat is set at 60 degrees on a 90-degree day. If the AC isn’t healthy or it’s the wrong size for your home, overload can happen at a reasonable setting of about 72.

A unit that’s too small can’t keep with high demand. But a system that’s too large has trouble, too. That’s because the cycles run too short to effectively cool your entire home. The unit must run through its cooling cycle much more frequently than it should, and still won’t operate efficiently. It can also leave your home clammy and damp, even if it’s hitting the right temperature because it can’t extract enough humidity on a shorter cycle.

Humidity Control is Critical

One of the most important functions of an air conditioning system is humidity extraction. You probably know how a humid day in Concord feels much hotter than one where humidity is lower. That’s because low humidity lets your body’s normal cooling feature – perspiration – evaporate from your skin. When it’s humid, your skin stays damp and you feel hotter. When humidity is low, perspiration evaporates and the temperature feels truer to what it really is.

An air conditioning system that removes enough humidity can make your home feel more comfortable at a higher temperature, which puts less strain on the system. Instead of turning the thermostat down and down again, you can easily leave it set at 72 or even higher and feel even better than a clammy home that’s 65 degrees.

That’s why the health and size of your air conditioning system are so important. They’re designed to cool your home plus extract humidity. If the system is too large, too small, is dirty, can’t breathe, or has any other issues that prevent it from operating as it was intended to, system overload occurs.

If your AC bogs down, runs short cycles, uses too much electricity or has any other issues, there’s obviously something wrong. You might, indeed, be putting too much strain on the unit. But unless you’re trying to turn your home into a giant refrigerator, the real culprit is probably the system.

Regular maintenance, including filter changes, is imperative to air conditioning health. That can’t be overstated. Your technician will clean the system, look for leaks in the refrigerant lines and in the ductwork, and generally ensure that it’s operating as it should. Maintenance can also tell you whether the system you’ve got is sized appropriately for your home.

At Rodenheiser, we’re experts at HVAC repair and maintenance. We’ve served homeowners in the Massachusetts Route 495 / 128 area for years, and we’re happy to help you turn your home into a real comfort zone. Set up an appointment online today if your AC system seems overloaded. We’ll find the problem and put you on the road to comfort again.

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Avoid These 4 Money-Wasting HVAC Mistakes

HVAC mistakes
Eliminate common HVAC mistakes so you and your piggy bank can stay a lot more comfortable.

In any home, the HVAC system is one of the most expensive, plus it uses the most energy. It’s got a big job to do, too. Most units operate – to some degree – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. So saving energy is a worthy goal that many homeowners aim for.

Unfortunately, great ideas aren’t always great in reality. Sometimes the tips and tricks that homeowners try can lead to increased operating costs, damage to the system, and a home that’s not as comfortable as it could be.

Here are 4 avoidable mistakes that could cost you money.

#1: Setting the Thermostat Too High or Too Low

It’s such a prevalent myth, you can probably find plenty of people to argue both sides of it even today. That’s the temperature control fallacy, and it’s one that costs homeowners dear in wasted energy and higher utility bills.

Legend has it, setting the thermostat and leaving it alone is the quickest route to energy savings. Too bad it’s not true. Class 5 Energy explains that strategically raising and lowering the thermostat at certain times of day conserves natural resources and your financial ones, too. Try out one of the smart thermostats that adjusts based on how you live, or buy a basic programmable one that lets you decide the best temperature for different times of the day.

#2: Buying a Too-Large Appliance

Is bigger always better? You might think so, but that’s not how HVAC systems work. It’s a logical mistake. If one appliance is good at heating and cooling your home, step up to the next level should be better. But it’s not, and here’s why.

An HVAC system that’s too large for the home works much harder to heat and cool. When the unit cycles on, a blast of hot or cold air fills the space. That triggers the thermostat shut off too soon, which makes your home grow too cold or warm again, which causes it to cycle back on. This is short cycling. In summer, a too-large system doesn’t stay on long enough in one cycle to eliminate humidity, so you’ll feel sticky indoors even when cool.

HVAC mistakes
Always use the filter recommended for your unit, as some high efficiency ones impair air circulation.

#3: Neglecting to Change the Air Filter

How easy is it to swap out a dirty air filter for a clean one? It takes about a minute, maybe two. And filters are super cheap, especially when compared with HVAC repairs or replacement. The problem isn’t that a dirty filter means dirty air, although that can be true. The real problem is the strain that a dirty filter puts on the system.

Filters are designed to let air pass through. That’s how your HVAC system breathes. When the filter is clogged up with dust and household debris, the system can’t breathe like it should. That makes it less efficient, and it also makes the unit strain to perform. Check the filter about once every 30 days and change it if it’s dirty.

#4: DIY Zoned Heating and Cooling

True zoned heating and cooling can be a lifesaver for homeowners who want to conserve energy. Instead of heating and cooling the whole house, you can condition the air in only the rooms that you use most. Zoning also lets you reduce heating and cooling airflow in rooms where you have hot or cold spots. It can help you get a more even temperature.

Enter the DIY zoning method. Closing off registers and shutting doors might seem like a simple way to control which parts of your home that you heat and cool. But in reality, closed vents prevent your system from breathing like it’s designed to and it also stops air circulation. Instead of closing doors and blocking vents, ask your HVAC technician about dampers in your ductwork. They do the job that DIY zoning tries to do, but they do it the right way.

Have you grown afraid of your mailbox because of high energy bills? Is your home less comfortable than you want it to be? Has your HVAC system started racking up repair bills? Any of these problems could be a sign that you’ve made a mistake along the way.

At Rodenhiser Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning, we know the signs of good intentions gone wrong. Set up an appointment online today and we’ll investigate the situation to find out where the real problem lies.

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Which HVAC System Size Fit My Home?

Is your current HVAC system too small or too large? Up to 50 percent of heating and cooling systems installed in the U.S. are not sized properly. Knowing how to choose the right size HVAC system will cut your energy costs.

HVAC system
Source: iStock.com/Maudib

Undersized HVAC Equipment

One obvious sign of an undersized HVAC system is an uncomfortable home on the hottest and coldest days of the year. The unit is running continuously, but the house never gets comfortable. On moderate days, the system runs much more than it should. That translates into higher energy bills.

There are also hidden costs. Because the system is running so much, it sustains excessive wear and tear. That leads to more frequent repairs and shortens the life of the equipment.

Oversized HVAC Equipment

Oversized HVAC systems cycle on and off frequently. During the summer, the A/C does not have enough time to remove the excess humidity in the house. That can lead to mold growth. The frequent cycling also causes excessive wear and tear, leading to more repairs and a shorter life.

You are going to also pay more upfront installing an oversized unit.

Getting Properly Sized HVAC Equipment

If you need to replace your current HVAC equipment, keep these things in mind:

  • Don’t let the contractor do a one-for-one swap based on the current size of the unit. If your current unit is over or under-sized, you do not want to replace it with the same size unit.
  • Don’t let your HVAC contractor use a rule of thumb (like one ton of capacity for every 500 square feet) for guessing the size of the new equipment.
  • Make sure your HVAC contractor in Holliston uses Manual J from the Air Conditioning Contractors of America to calculate the size of your new HVAC equipment. This is a comprehensive method for figuring out the exact load that your home needs based on its size, dimensions, orientation, and features.

Save money by knowing how to choose the right size HVAC system. If you need to replace your HVAC equipment, call here at Rodenhiser Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning.

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Make Sure Your Home’s HVAC System Is Properly Maintained This Spring

Spring’s warmer weather has finally arrived here in Massachusetts. As the spring flowers bloom, it’s time to do some home maintenance. One of your spring to-do items should be HVAC system maintenance, which will keep your cooling system running smoothly in the coming months.

Spring HVAC Maintenance Tasks

air filter
Source: iStock.com/Serenethos

Here are routine HVAC maintenance tasks you can tackle this spring:

  • Change the air filter regularly. A forced-air HVAC system needs free flowing clean air to run properly. If you have a clogged filter, that air isn’t flowing freely and it’s full of dust and minute particulates. Once a month, check the filter and change it as needed.
  • Clear the outside unit of debris. If you have central A/C or a heat pump, then you have a condenser unit outside. Just like the inside, these outdoor units need airflow to run efficiently. Take a look around the outdoor component and see if there are any leaves or debris; clear it  all away to avoid restricting airflow.
  • Install a programmable thermostat. When no one’s home, there’s no reason for your HVAC system to run at full capacity. A programmable thermostat allows you to coordinate your cooling and heating with your family’s schedule.
  • Schedule annual system maintenance. Once a year, you need to have an HVAC technician come out and do routine maintenance. The technician will inspect, clean, lubricate and test the system from top to bottom. Simple preventive maintenance can lower your repair needs, prolong the system’s life, and keep your energy costs down.
  • Consider an HVAC upgrade. The period between the heat of summer and the cold of winter is the perfect time to have HVAC upgrades done. If your system is over 10 years old or if it’s having significant ongoing repair issues, consider replacing your old system with a newer, more efficient one.

Don’t let summer’s heat arrive without performing these spring HVAC system maintenance tasks. Contact the experienced pros at Rodenhiser Plumbing, Heating & Air to schedule your annual maintenance.

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What Steps Should You Take to Weatherproof Your Home?

Is your home protected from the elements? Whether you’re trying to keep the cold out during winter or keep cool air in during summer, use these tips to weatherproof your home for enhanced comfort and efficiency.

Read More What Steps Should You Take to Weatherproof Your Home? >>

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Adding a Zoning System to Your HVAC System

zoning systemsAre you concerned about the efficiency of your HVAC system? Heating and cooling costs make up a substantial amount of your household budget, so it’s understandable that you want to keep these costs under control. Adding a zoning system to your HVAC system can reduce heating and cooling bills while maintaining comfort throughout your home. Read More Adding a Zoning System to Your HVAC System >>

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