AC Repair

by jtanner jtanner No Comments

Cleaning Your Air Ducts: How Much Does it Cost?

How Much Does it Cost for Air Duct Cleaning?

There are a lot of factors that go into the overall cost of cleaning HVAC air ducts. Not only does the cost depend on how many vents and the type of ductwork you have, but also accessibility to the HVAC system and the number of floors in the home.

The most important factor to consider is if you even need air duct cleaning. This article will review the benefits, signs, and possible scams of having your air ducts professionally cleaned. We also offer a guide so you can clean the ducts yourself if you are so inclined.

Benefits of Air Duct Cleaning

Air Vent FiltersCleaning air ducts does have it’s benefits, especially for new homeowners. If you just moved into a home, for example, you don’t know the condition of the HVAC system. Having the ducts cleaned before moving in will help regulate the energy consumption of the unit.

There may also be an existing problem, such as rodents, that give you a reason to have the ducts cleaned. Having your air ducts cleaned should only go to help the HVAC system be more efficient. While it will help the air quality if there is an existing problem, there is no evidence that cleaning the ducts will improve your health issues or concerns.

Signs Your Air Ducts Need Cleaning

It isn’t often that there are any signs that you need to have your air ducts cleaned. While it is a service that is offered, many feel it is unnecessary. Here are some examples of when you should consider having your ductwork cleaned.

Unchanged/No Air Filter

If you have run the HVAC system without an air filter, or you have not changed the air filter in a considerable amount of time, it may be time to clean the ducts. The purpose of an air filter is to prevent contamination of pollutants and debris from entering the air system. Without a filter, the ducts can become overgrown with dirt, dust, and debris.

Visible Dust, Dirt, and Debris

If you see dust, dirt, and debris coming from your vents, it is a sign that your ducts need to be cleaned. However, this is also a sign of a bigger problem. If you use an air filter (see above), there shouldn’t be noticeable debris growth from the vents. If there is, you may need to check the air filter for a proper fit or inspect the system for damage.

Visible Mold Growth

Mold is a concern for many homes across the country, and the HVAC system can help eliminate excess humidity. However, if mold is allowed to grow inside the system, you will need to have your air ducts cleaned. You should also call a mold specialist to investigate why there is mold growth in the air ducts, as this can be a sign of a much larger problem.

Inconsistent Airflow

Another sign you need air duct cleaning is irregular airflow from the vents. Especially if you notice that one room isn’t getting the proper air circulation, it used to.

Unusual Noises

If you hear new noises coming from your vents, it may be signs that the air is having trouble flowing freely. It could be a sign of a bigger problem, but a cleaning might be in order to help determine the underlying cause.

Signs of Rodent or Insect Infestation

Rodents and insects like cool places and your air ducts, depending on build material, make a good home. If you have signs of an infestation, especially around your exhaust vents or air filter, you should consider cleaning and extermination.

Unexplained Spikes in Your Energy Bill

Are you suddenly paying more on your monthly energy bill than you expected? Improper airflow from dirty ductwork can cause the system to work harder to cool or heat the home. Having the ducts cleaned may improve the health of the HVAC system and return your energy bill to a more expected amount.

Smoking Indoors

If you or a family member smokes and does so indoors, the tar and nicotine build-up can accumulate in the ducts. Having an air filter rated to capture pollutants from cigarette and cigar smoke will help eliminate this need, but it is an option to have the air ducts cleaned.

Air Duct Cleaning Frequency

changing an AC filterHow often you should have your air ducts cleaned is a hot debate. Assuming everything is normal with your HVAC system, cleaning might not ever be needed.

However, if you have damage to the HVAC system, your home has been the victim of a flood or fire, or there are air quality issues, you may need to clean your air ducts.

This isn’t a regular job that needs doing in any case. At most, a yearly inspection with the expectation of cleaning every three to five years is plenty in most cases.

Bargain Duct Cleaning vs Expensive Cleaning Service

When you hire a professional to clean the ductwork, you are paying for more than just a scrubbing of your HVAC ducts. You are paying for their time, their expertise, and their warranty. Because you don’t need to be licensed or insured (or bonded) to clean air ducts, it opens the market to scams and operations that vanish after you pay them.

You should expect to pay an hourly rate for the labor plus other costs associated with the work. The job itself should also take a few hours or more. If you find a special offer, be warned. Low-cost duct cleaning is usually a sign of a scam.

A lot of times, as reported by Angie’s List, scammers will offer a low rate (under $100) to gain access to your home. They will then promptly tell you there is a severe and costly problem with your HVAC system.

If you require an air duct cleaning, you should expect to pay the industry average or more. You should also only stick to companies you know about and can trust. If the job is quoted as taking less than two hours, be wary. Get at least three quotes before you decide on the company that will handle the work.

Ductwork Cleaning Cost Estimate

There are quite a few factors that go into the cost of cleaning air ducts. The national average, as reported by Home Advisor, is about $366. However, this will be determined by several factors.

  • The number of hours it takes to complete the job. You should expect at least three hours for a complete job, at a rate of about $50 per hour.
  • The number of vents in the home. Each vent will need to be removed, and the ducts cleaned. Expect to add an additional $30 to $40 per vent.
  • How dirty is your ductwork? The dirtier the air ducts are, the more it will cost. Extra services can cost as much as $100 more for a deep clean.
  • Ease of access. If your HVAC system or furnace is challenging to get to, additional fees or higher labor costs may be included.
  • Existing damage. If your HVAC system has existing damage, it may be uncovered by the duct cleaning. This can be costly to repair, though it may be necessary.

You should expect to pay at least $500 for a professional service. Anything below the national average of $366 should be avoided due to possible scams.

Choosing a Duct Cleaning Service Provider

Air Duct Cleaning ServiceTo help avoid scams and other fly-by-night operations just taking your money, you should find a reputable service provider.

How can you be sure?

There are a few proven methods, such as finding a professional through Angie’s List or other vetting services.

However, you can do the work on your own by following the National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA) guidelines.

You can download the NADCA checklist to assist you in your vetting process.

This checklist will cover work details, estimates, as well as licensed and insured professionals.

DIY Duct Cleaning Guide

 

It is possible to clean the air ducts yourself and save some money in the process. If you are interested, here are the items you will need.

  • A heavy-duty vacuum with a long hose attachment.
  • Step stool or ladder to reach higher vents and accesses.
  • Stiff-bristled dusting brush.
  • Cleaning clots and cleaning solution.
  • Screwdriver with multiple tips.
  • A new air filter.

The cleaning process is quite simple. Turn the system off so that it won’t kick on while you have vents open and the air filter removed. Then go through each room one by one and remove the air exchange vent covers. Using the brush and vacuum, clean the entire length of the ductwork loosening and removing the debris inside.

Vacuum all vents before affixing back to the register. Remove the air filter and clean the air filter housing area as well as any intake registers or common duct areas around the home. Once that is complete, install the new air filter and move to the furnace or air conditioner itself. You may need to remove the ducting from the furnace to gain access: vacuum and clean the ductwork leading from the furnace as applicable.

Double-check that all vent covers and removed parts are securely in place and restore power to the HVAC system.

Professional vs DIY Cleaning Cost

You can save a few hundred dollars by cleaning the ductwork yourself. However, the benefits end there. A professional will have the proper equipment to get into the areas you cannot reach. Most professionals will also offer a warranty of some sort that you won’t be able to provide for yourself.

It is also essential to know what type of ducts you have. Fiberglass and metal ducting are typical in older homes. However, newer installations use simple insulation wrap instead of proper ductwork materials. Cleaning this type of duct can cause irreparable damage and cost you more to replace broken sections.

If you want to see a professional at work to see what a DIY project would entail, watch this short video.

Minimizing Air Duct Contamination

To minimize contamination as well as the need for costly duct cleaning, you should follow a few simple steps.

  • Have the entire system checked when you first move in.
  • Ensure you have the proper filters and that they are installed correctly.
  • Change your filters at or before the stated time frame for that particular filter.
  • Run an annual HVAC inspection (DIY or professional) to check for signs of debris or broken elements.
  • Don’t smoke indoors.
  • Don’t run the air conditioner or heater without a filter in place.

Frequently Asked Questions

Let’s answer some of the more common questions associated with air duct cleaning.

Can I rent air duct cleaning equipment?

In most areas, you can find a rental company that carries air duct cleaning equipment. You should try home improvement stores that do rentals such as Lowes or Home Depot.

How do I determine if the duct cleaner did a thorough job?

It can be difficult to tell if the completed job was thorough. If you use the NADCA checklist, you can walk around with the hired professional to make sure all the areas were cleaned. Otherwise, the only way to tell is by visual inspection, or if you had an issue prompting the cleaning, note if the problem is gone.

How do I get rid of molds in air ducts? How to prevent mold growth?

Mold removal should be handled by a licensed professional. If you suspect (or know) that you have mold in your HVAC system or air ducts, call a professional mold specialist for an evaluation and treatment. You can prevent mold growth by limiting the humidity level inside your home, repairing parts as soon as possible and changing your filter regularly.

Which HVAC cleaning company is the best in Houston?

While it is near impossible to state which company is the best in Houston, for locals to the area, it is advised that they check with Angie’s List to find a reputable company that has been reviewed and vetted.

Which air duct cleaning company is the best in New Jersey?

For those living in New Jersey, finding the best air duct cleaning company can be a chore. Angie’s List, Thumbtack, or Home Advisor will have a list of vendors and companies that have passed through the initial examination process.

Can I find a NADCA certified air duct cleaner in Denver?

You can search the NADCA database for local companies in the Denver area that specialize in air duct cleaning.

How do I locate NADCA certified air duct cleaning contractors in Las Vegas?

You can search the NADCA database for local companies in the Las Vegas area that specialize in air duct cleaning.

Conclusion

Cleaning air ducts isn’t something that needs to be continuously done. It doesn’t even need to be done annually. However, there are times when air duct cleaning is required, and deciding on hiring a professional or doing it yourself is a debate only you can end.

Hiring a professional is advised as there are many setbacks and downsides to a DIY project like air duct cleaning. As long as you use a well-known professional, you won’t fall victim to a scam. Play it safe and be prepared to pay a higher fee, but the result will be worth it.

by Joshm Joshm No Comments

AC Compressor Cost: Price Guide For Replacing a Home Air Conditioner

Your home AC compressor is a device inside the condenser unit that is responsible for extracting the heat from the refrigerant. It also raises the pressure of the vapor by compressing it, hence the name “compressor.” There are several different types of compressors, and they can all go bad at some point.

When an AC compressor goes bad, your system will not function properly, if at all. How do you know if the compressor is the problem? This article will help you determine if the AC compressor has gone bad and if you should repair it or replace it. We will also cover the estimated costs for replacing your home air conditioner compressor.

How AC Compressors Work

AC units in a rowThe compressor in your condensing unit or AC system has an important job. Primarily it is designed to increase the pressure of the refrigerant so it can flow to the evaporator through the coils.

Secondarily it also lowers the temperature of the refrigerant to allow the AC system to cool and remove the excess heat from the system and your home.

When the refrigerant leaves the evaporator unit, it has low pressure and is extremely hot. Regardless of the ambient temperature outside, the refrigerant going into the condenser unit is hotter. This causes a heat exchange as the heat is transferred from the coils to the air outside.

The compressor then takes the low-pressure vapor and compresses it, creating a high-pressure vapor. As the high-pressure vapor cools, it is then drawn through the system due to the physics of pressure change. This cycle is repeated as the compressor receives low-pressure refrigerant and cools and condenses it for a return trip through the system.

Types of AC Compressors

As we mentioned above, there are several different types of AC compressors. Let’s take a look at the common types found in your home AC systems.

Single-Stage vs Two-Stage

Single-stage compressors are the most frequently encountered in the US. They have a single operation: on. When they turn on (the inside temperature rises above the set temp on the thermostat), they run at full capacity until the internal temperature falls to the set range.

When the temperature is reached, the compressor shuts off and waits until the temp rises again. With a dual-stage compressor, they have two operation modes: low and high. They are a smarter system, and, based on the internal temperature will choose which mode to run in.

When it is needed, the compressor will run at full capacity like the single-stage unit. However, they will run at low speed to maintain the temperature longer. This means they will run longer but at a lower capacity, helping reduce humidity in the home better than a single-stage compressor.

Reciprocating

A reciprocating compressor works similar to a car engine. It has valves, cylinders, and pistons. When the compressor turns on, the pistons begin to reciprocate or move up and down inside the cylinders. The suction valve allows refrigerant to enter the cylinder chamber, and as the piston rises, it compresses the vapor causing the pressure to rise.

When the pressure exceeds the pressure of the discharge valve, the valve opens, and the high-pressure vapor runs through the system to the evaporator. The entire cycle repeats as long as needed to cool the home to the desired temperature.

Scroll

carrier air conditionerScroll compressors are among the most efficient and are continuously being added as a replacement when a compressor burns out.

Not only are scroll compressors more efficient, but they also allow for liquid to enter the chamber, which can cause any other type of compressor to fail.

Scroll compressors are comprised of two perfect conical spirals interlocked together.

The first spiral is permanently mounted inside the compression chamber while the other is floating.

When energized, the floating spiral vibrates and spins inside the other, creating a varying degree of chamber space between the walls of the two spirals.

As the vapor moves through the ever-tightening spirals towards the center, it is compressed, and the pressure is increased. By the time the vapor reaches the center of the spirals, it is a high-pressure vapor and escapes through the discharge port.

Screw

A screw compressor, also known as a rotary screw compressor, uses two counter-rotating screws to compress the vapor. As the screws turn, they act as a type of interlocking gears. The low-pressure vapor is introduced at the larger end and is compressed as it is screwed towards the smaller end.

The high-pressure vapor is then released through the discharge valve, and the cycle repeats. Screw compressors aren’t usually found in homes as they are designed for massive airflow (up to 20 tons). However, the efficient use and minimal vibration are making their way to larger homes where two compressors used to be needed.

Rotary

A rotary compressor works similarly to the reciprocating compressor. It has a cylinder with suction and discharge valves. However, a rotary compressor doesn’t have a piston that moves up and down. Instead, it has a roller that rotates inside the cylinder, blocking off either the suction or discharge valve as it progresses.

When the suction valve is not blocked, the refrigerant enters the chamber. As the roller rotates, it increases the pressure of the vapor, which is then released through the discharge valve as it is exposed. Since the roller rotates in the same direction, the refrigerant is continuously being pulled in, compressed, and pushed out. This cycle repeats as long as the compressor is active.

Centrifugal

Centrifugal compressors are highly efficient but are challenging to maintain in a residential setting. Because they must have an exact range of operation, you won’t find very many being used in homes.

These use a piston and cylinder to draw in the refrigerant. An impeller spins, causing the refrigerant to gain velocity, raising its pressure. As the pressure increases, the refrigerant is moved to the discharge valve where it is expelled into the system, and the low-pressure refrigerant is pulled in to start the process over again.

Choosing Replacement Compressors

When it comes time to repair or replace your compressor, there are several factors to consider. Let’s take a look at those factors now.

Identify Compressor Problems

rheem air conditionerThe problems resulting in compressor failure are near limitless. The cause can come from almost any other portion of your HVAC system; even a dirty air filter can cause the compressor to fail.

Before you replace the entire compressor or condensing unit, you should check all of the common fault areas first.

If you determine it is the compressor that needs to be replaced, you can move down this list. Compressor repairs aren’t common since most parts are sealed and internal.

If the external or non-sealed parts are found to be at fault, you can replace those parts only. However, in most cases, a complete compressor replacement will be in order.

Type of Compressor

The first thing you need to do is determine which type of compressor you have. In most cases, you will have a single-stage or reciprocating compressor. Once you know the kind of compressor you have, you can get the rest of the information needed (see below) to find the correct replacement.

Unit Size

Compressors come in different sizes for the various sized HVAC units. You will need to know the unit size of your compressor. This will ensure that the mounting brackets line correctly inside the condensing unit and that all of the copper tubing and connections are correct.

If you are in doubt of the size, look for the model identification late, which will tell you the name, make, and model numbers of the compressor. From there, you can search online for the specific model to get the needed specifications.

Consider Brand of Original Compressor

It is typical for homeowners replacing a compressor to look for the best deal. However, the unit you are replacing was most likely matched with the HVAC system you have for a reason. It is generally advised to replace the old compressor with an OEM replacement, or at a minimum, a model from the same manufacturer.

Warranty Coverage

Before you start tearing out the old compressor, you should check the paperwork to see if a warranty covers the compressor. In most cases, if the warranty period is still active, you can save a lot of money by having a professional do the replacement by making a warranty claim.

You should note that labor warranties are often shorter than the warranty on parts. You may have to pay for the replacement labor out of pocket, but this will still save you time and potentially a lot of money by taking on the project yourself.

Age of AC Unit

Finally, it is worth considering the entire AC unit, its age, and its condition. With labor costs already established, it may be a wise move to replace the whole system. The blower motor, evaporator unit, and the condensing unit might cost you more to replace, but if they are going out within the next few years, it could be a wise investment to get it all done at once.

AC Compressor Warranty Guide

While the original warranty will vary by vendor, manufacturer, year of purchase, and even model number, we can give you a basic rundown of what to expect for a warranty length.

5 Years

If you find a compressor with a warranty of fewer than five years, you really should find another compressor. Five years is the industry minimum for compressors and most condensing units for split AC systems. A well-known brand will make slightly more affordable compressors by offering older model internal parts. The warranty is usually the first thing to get cut, along with the price tag.

Goodman is a prime example of this. If you buy a new Goodman compressor, you automatically get a 5-year limited warranty without having to do anything. However, if you register your compressor and meet specific predefined requirements (having a newer or more efficient HVAC system, for example), the warranty is extended from an additional five years to a lifetime warranty.

10 Years

Ten-year warranties are more accepted and are easily the average warranty period for an AC compressor in a stacked or split home AC system. Companies like Lennox, Goodman, Rheem, Trane, and many others offer a ten-year warranty on most of their compressor lines.

12 + Years

If you find a warranty that exceeds 12 years, you know you have something good. You will have to pay a little extra for these compressors, but the long-term benefits may be worth it. American Standard and Rheem both offer warranties greater than a dozen years for certain models, sizes, and types of compressors.

Usually, to get a warranty for over ten years, you will need to purchase other participating products, such as the entire condensing unit, or a fan motor, along with the compressor itself.

Lifetime Warranty

carrier air conditioner reviewsA limited lifetime warranty is offered for more compressor brands than you might think. Almost all of them come with the extra-fine print that you should read carefully.

While the large print will state a lifetime warranty, the smaller print will tell you it is only as long as you own the home.

Even smaller print might indicate that the warranty is only valid if certain criteria are met, such as installation by a certified and approved electrician.

When dealing with a lifetime warranty, make sure you read and understand all of the details and follow all instructions for registration and compliance. You should also keep a photocopy of the warranty, the purchase receipt and other documents in a safe and secure place.

Labor Warranties

In most cases, the compressor warranty will not cover labor. This means that while the cost of a new compressor, should yours burn out within the warranty period, is covered, removal and installation are not.

Rheem, Ruud, and Tempstar are known to cover labor as well as the compressor for a certain time frame. Make sure you read their requirements for qualification for your specific model before you pay, though.

You might have to pay a professional electrician to remove the old compressor and install the new one. However, this is a recommended practice anyway. When dealing with 220 volts and the chance of being fined up to $10,000 for releasing refrigerants into the atmosphere, a compressor replacement is something better left to the professionals.

AC Compressor Maintenance

When we speak of compressor maintenance, we mostly refer to the condensing unit you will find outside your home (if you have a split AC). Because the compressor is housed in the condensing unit, general maintenance need only apply. Here are things you can do to protect your compressor and prolong its functional life.

  • Replace your AC filter regularly.
  • Clean the louvers of the condenser, removing any debris, build-up, or contaminates.
  • When the ambient temperature drops below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, wrap the condenser to prevent freezing.
  • Keep the condenser unit free of obstruction, branches, bushes, etc. A minimum of two feet in the rear and four feet on the sides and front should be maintained. More if possible.
  • If your compressor has a high-pressure switch, engage the switch during the summer months.
  • Shield the compressor from direct sunlight to help maintain the temperature, when possible.

Signs of a Bad AC Compressor

How do you know if the AC Compressor is going bad? There are a few tell-tale signs that the compressor itself is on the way out.

Be warned that most of the following situations could also be another part of your HVAC unit (the air filter and thermostat are common problems that can simulate a bad compressor). Be sure to check everything before jumping to a compressor replacement.

AC Not As Cold/System Is Blowing Warm Air

If your AC kicks on as normal, but the air coming out of the vents is warm or not as cold as it should be, the compressor may be failing. This is also a sign of bad airflow. Before diagnosing the compressor, you should change the air filter and clean the condenser coils. It is also possible that you have too much or too little refrigerant in the system.

System Keeps Tripping Circuit Breaker

If the circuit breaker in your panel trips every time the compressor kicks on, this can be a sign of electrical overdraw, which means your compressor is on the way out. It is also possible this is due to an overheated unit, or one low on refrigerant (causing the compressor to overheat).

Strange/Loud Noises

If the compressor itself is making loud noises all of a sudden or you hear strange sounds coming from the condenser unit and you have verified it isn’t the condenser fan or fan motor, the compressor could be worn out internally.

Compressor Clutch Not Moving

If your automotive AC isn’t working, you may find that the clutch doesn’t engage. This can be a sign that the compressor is bad. It is also possible that the bearings in the clutch plate have worn, or there is an electrical connection problem.

The Outside Unit Shakes When It Starts Up

If your condensing unit vibrates or shakes when the system kicks on, the compressor could be to blame. Double-check the compressor mounting bolts to ensure the rubber feet are intact and that the bolts haven’t rusted out. If not, the compressor is most likely faulty.

Common Causes of AC Compressor Failure

An AC compressor, at some point, will fail. With constant temperature extremes, moving parts, electrical connections, and refrigerant contaminants, it is only a matter of time. The most common causes of AC failure are overheating, freezing, and improper refrigerant levels.

Poor maintenance can lead to an early demise of the compressor. Proper airflow is needed, and cleaning the coils and louvers of the condenser regularly, is required. If the fan motor goes out, this can also lead to overheating.

A small leak in the refrigerant fill valve cores can lead to compressor failure by slowly leaking refrigerant. Similar to having a clogged air filter, the system will work twice as hard when the levels are low, or the filter is dirty.

Age is another factor. If your compressor is over ten years old, you should maintain regular annual inspections of the entire system.

AC Compressor Replacement & Repair Costs

So how much does it cost to replace your AC compressor? The answer depends on a lot of factors. Let us break it down for you here.

Under Warranty

If your compressor is still under warranty, you should make a claim. However, you will also need to read the fine print of the warranty to find out exactly what is covered. As we mentioned before, labor costs generally aren’t covered by the warranty. Neither are extra replacement parts such as the filter dryer, copper tubing, or electrical wires.

Once you call in the claim on the warranty, the cost of the compressor itself should be covered in full or at least prorated. You will still need to cover the labor fees, which can range from $35 to $200 per hour. This also doesn’t include the extra parts. Be sure to get a few quotes from licensed repair companies before making your final decision.

No Longer Under Warranty

If your compressor is no longer under warranty, you are responsible for covering the cost of the entire project. This will include all the charges above, plus the cost of the new compressor. Once you have found your compressor, you can then get quotes on replacement costs.

It is also wise to ask the repair companies if they will supply the new compressor. Compare that added cost on their quote to the cost of buying the compressor yourself. Usually, there is a bit of a mark-up if the company provides the compressor. You can save a little bit of money by frugal shopping for your compressor online.

Size and Type of Compressor

goodman air conditionerAccording to Home Advisor, the cost to replace the home AC compressor will range from $1,350 to $2,300.

This wide range is due to the cost of the various types of compressors. You will need to find out what type, capacity, and size compressor you currently have and replace it with the same size, capacity, and type.

Unfortunately, a compressor isn’t a part of the HVAC system that you can upgrade to bigger or better.

Unless you replace the entire HVAC system, you will need to purchase a compressor that matches the currently installed one.

DIY vs Professional HVAC Technician

There are a lot of times when a DIY project will save you time, frustration, and money. However, repairing or replacing your home and automotive AC compressor isn’t generally one of them. Unless you know the HVAC system, high voltage, and refrigerant handling processes, you shouldn’t mess too much with the compressor or the condenser unit.

The refrigerant is under a lot of pressure, and even on the low-pressure line, there is enough to prevent you from sealing the valve core or replacing a line filter. It is also illegal to purchase refrigerant without a license, not to mention the specialized tools needed to check the refrigerant levels in the system itself.

A mechanic can use computers and machinery to diagnose your car’s AC system properly. Likewise, if your home AC or compressor is still under warranty, it is always better to make a warranty claim than to jump in and attempt repairs yourself. Home Advisor says that the average AC service (non-warranty) costs between $164 and $550 with an additional $35 to $200 per hour for labor.

No amount is worth risking your health, and improper knowledge of the HVAC system can lead to electrocution, cuts, injury, or worse. You can also be fined up to $10,000 for releasing refrigerant into the atmosphere. In general, it is always better to call a professional to handle your HVAC or automotive AC issues.

There are a few things you can do, though. Regular and routine maintenance, cleaning, and preventative measures can be taken. For example, replacing your AC filter is quick, inexpensive, and simple to do. For less than $30, you can prevent most AC issues. Keeping the condensing unit clean and free from debris, as we discussed above, is also something you can do every week to keep your system running efficiently and keep the repairman away.

How to Replace your AC Compressor

If you do decide to replace the AC compressor yourself, you will need some equipment and tools.

You will also need the new compressor, which should be the same size, capacity, and type as the one you are removing. Remember, compressors are specific to the HVAC system and aren’t a piece you can “upgrade” by changing to a bigger or different type. Copper line tubing, a tube bender, AC filter dryer, and electrical wire may also be needed.

The process is straightforward but can be difficult. Take your time and ensure each step is completed before moving on.

  • Shut the AC breakers off in the breaker panel.
  • Remove the power disconnect block on the outside of the home. If your block is fused, use a voltmeter to test the fuses.
  • Remove the access panel on the condensing unit and use a screwdriver to short the Herm and Common terminals as well as the Fan and Common terminals on the capacitor.
  • Remove the fan shroud and pull it out of the way.
  • Connect your AC manifold set to the high and low-pressure line connections as well as to the empty refrigerant tank.
  • Remove all of the refrigerant in the system.
  • Close the refrigerant lines off by closing the stop valves.
  • Disconnect the power plug from the compressor (usually a three-pronged rubber-coated, uni-directional plug on the top or side of the compressor).
  • Cut the refrigerant lines at the compressor with the saw.
  • Remove the mounting bolts at the base of the compressor and lift the compressor out of the condenser.
  • Remove the rubber mounts around the bolt holes in the condensing unit (your new compressor should come with replacement rubber).

Before you can install the new compressor, you need to prepare the system. At this time, you should use the sandpaper to clean the refrigerant lines thoroughly. Use the file to sand down any burs or sharp edges and ensure the lines do not kink, bend or flatten at all.

It is advised to use a water hose to clean out the condensing unit at this time to remove debris and build-up from the inside of the unit that you usually don’t have access to. You can then replace the rubber mounting pads and begin the installation.

  • Place the new compressor into the condensing unit in the same direction the old one was removed.
  • Secure the compressor with the mounting bolts and place the refrigerant lines inside the ports on the new compressor. Note, the compressor will have flared tips for the old lines to fit into. This should be a snug fit. Be sure to sand the ports before sliding in the lines; there should be only bare, shiny copper on both ends.
  • Wrap the compressor with wet rags where the ports meet the body. You should also wrap the refrigerant lines with wet cloths further down where they enter the condenser unit. This prevents heat transfer, which can ruin other parts of the system.
  • Using the torch and brazing rods, braze the refrigerant lines back into the compressor. Ensure a complete seal all the way around.
  • Locate the dryer filter on the high-pressure line and cut it off using the saw. Sand and clean the ends of the line and the ports of the new dryer.
  • Wrap the dryer in wet rags to protect the filter material from excessive heat and braze the new filter dryer in place.
  • Connect the electrical plug into the new compressor.
  • Open the stop valves on the refrigerant lines. It is advised to replace the valve cores on the fill valves at this time.
  • Connect the manifold gauge to the fill valves and the new refrigerant tank.
  • Fill the system with refrigerant.
  • Replace the fan shroud and secure it with the mounting screws.
  • Reconnect the disconnect block and restore the breakers in the panel.
  • Turn the AC on and test the lines for leaks. If a leak is found, you will need to start again to braze the lines until there are no leaks.
  • After the system has run for at least 10 minutes, check the refrigerant levels. Fill as needed to ensure the proper level of refrigerant is in the system.

How to Save Money on AC Compressor Repairs

Saving money on an AC compressor replacement is difficult to do. Because of the tools needed, the knowledge required, and the time it takes to complete the job properly, there aren’t a lot of short cuts you can take.

You will be able to save some money by shopping around for the parts. If you purchase everything needed yourself and only pay the repair companies the cost of the labor, you may be able to save a few hundred dollars. However, going this route demands that you know exactly which parts to buy.

You can do the repairs and replacement yourself to save on labor costs. Even this route, though, comes with a downside. You must have a license to purchase refrigerant, and replacing the compressor will require new coolant.

If you cannot make this purchase, you will need to call in a professional. It is almost impossible to think you can find a repair company willing to purchase the refrigerant for you and let you do the work without them.

Safety Maintenance Tips

bryant air conditioner reviewsDealing with the HVAC system means you are dealing with chemicals, electricity at high voltage, and numerous moving parts as well as sharp objects.

You should protect your eyes at all times. Safety goggles are a must. You should also protect your hands and forearms.

Refrigerant can instantly freeze your skin leading to frostbite. The acetylene torch can also burn your skin or worse.

When you remove the fan shroud, the top of the coils and the fan blades will be exposed and are very sharp. Caution needs to be taken when dealing with the cover and fan.

When brazing the copper lines, it is important to keep the cloths wet and the system around the area you are working on cool. It is also advised to have a spotter nearby with another bucket of water or a fire extinguisher to watch the space around you while you work.

Frequently Asked Questions

Let’s now answer some frequently asked questions about AC Compressors.

Where can I buy replacement AC compressors?

The best place to make a purchase is in-store. This way, you are ensured you are getting the correct model and type of compressor for your unit. Shopping online can also work, but it is better to go through the manufacturer’s website than through third-party sites like Amazon.

How long do AC compressors last?

HVAC systems are closed-systems, meaning they aren’t open to the elements and therefore last a bit longer. On average, though, a home AC compressor should last between 10 and 20 years in good repair. A car’s AC compressor can last anywhere from 5 to 20 years, depending on usage amount and maintenance.

Do home warranties cover AC compressor replacement and repairs?

Many home warranty companies do offer entire HVAC systems in their coverages. Others will have them as add-ons you can pay extra for. If the coverage for the HVAC system is there, it will include repair, replacement, and parts for the AC compressor.

Conclusion

The repair of a home air conditioner compressor is almost impossible. However, the replacement can be done by a repair technician or as a DIY project if you meet the requirements. You should expect to pay about $1,300, at least, for a replacement of the AC compressor.

This will include the labor and parts in most cases; however, you should get a minimum of three quotes from reputable repair companies before you pay anything. Make sure everything you need is included, so there aren’t any surprises. It is also wise to pay for an inspection before getting a quote for the replacements.

by jtanner jtanner No Comments

Best Air Conditioner Filters: All Sizes Reviewed & Compared

For Central ACs

Nordic Pure
Nordic Pure

Made in U.S.A

FilterBuy
FilterBuy

Air conditioner filters are a crucial part of your HVAC system. Not only will a filter help clean and purify the air moving around your home, but it will also prevent contamination of the HVAC system.

Like almost everything else in life, you have a choice when it comes to the type and brand of your air conditioner filters. This article will examine the various types of filters and their specific abilities to help you decide which air conditioner filter you should purchase.

How Air Filters Work

Nordic Pure how filter worksAir filters have a seemingly simple job; filter the air passing through them. However, the tasks within the job are more involved. First, as the name and job imply, the filter does purify the passing air.

Various types of filters (discussed further below) will take on this job in a myriad of ways. The better the filter, the more particles it will collect.

The main focus though is to keep dirt, dust, and allergens out of the HVAC system. Not only will it help the cooler air being pushed around your home become cleaner, but it will also prevent build-up on the coils and inner workings of the system.

If dirt and dust are allowed to build-up on your evaporator coils or blower fans, air quality will dwindle.

You will also notice that a dirty system will produce foul odors, can clog the drainage pipes resulting in leaks, and can alter the perceived temperature making the system run more than it should.

3 Benefits of HVAC Air Filters

Why should you invest time and effort into selecting the proper air conditioner filter? Here are three reasons to consider.

  1. Purify the air, reducing air born particles and can lower the number of allergens in your home.
  2. Protection for your HVAC system to keep it running properly, longer.
  3. Filters are a reasonable monthly expense that can reduce overall maintenance costs for your entire system.

Air Conditioner Filter Buying Guide

Know exactly what to look for in your next air filter purchase by following the advice in this buying guide.

Filter Size

The size of the filter must be such that it fits snugly in the filter receptacle. Most residential filters will be 1-inch thick but can vary in length and width from eight inches up to 48 inches (or more) and every number in between. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all filter size (exceptions made for customized filter frames), so you will need to measure or refer to your HVAC owner’s manual for the proper size.

Filter Type

Before you make a purchase, you will need to know what type of filter you are going to buy. From the list above, you also have to choose between filter materials. These are things like fiberglass, pleated paper, HEPA, washable electrostatic materials, or even filters containing activated charcoal.

Once you know the type, your air conditioner requires you can narrow down your choices. From there, you will want to look at the filter rating and filtration properties (see below).

Filter Rating

The filter rating is a system that tries to show you a numerical (or colored) value based on how long the filter will last and how many particles it will capture. There are three filter rating systems available: MERV, MPR, and FPR.

The FPR system was developed by Home Depot and is only available on filters they sell in-store. The Micro-Particle Performance Rating (MPR) was developed by 3M to enhance the MERV scale and rates HEPA quality filters (Filtrete and 3M Brands only) that claim to capture in-home allergens down to 1 micron in size.

The Minimum Efficiency Rating Value (MERV) is the original rating system and rates a filter’s ability to capture particles and hold on to them. In all three rating systems, the higher the number, the better the filter material.

Filtration Properties

When you look at the filter’s abilities, the filtration properties are the things you want or need the filter to collect. This can be things like mold and mildew spores, or pet dander, smoke or even odors.

Once you know what particles the filter should prioritize, you can adjust your purchase options. For instance, if no one in the house smokes, there is no need to pay for a filter that will filter out cigarette smoke.

Price

Where budget is a concern, filtration of your air conditioner shouldn’t matter a whole lot. When you spend more, you get more. In most cases, the higher-rated, “better” filters will cost you significantly more than a thin, paper filter designed to fill a hole. However, the price will last you at least 90 days, spreading the cost out over three months instead of every four weeks.

8 Best AC Filters Reviewed

Here is our list of the best Air Conditioner filters reviewed so you can make a more informed purchasing decision.

1. Filtrete

Filtrete is a 3M brand that is known all over the country for their dependable filters and high-quality materials. As an inexpensive disposable filter, Filtrete is one of the best. With an MPR (Filtrete/3M only) rating of 1100, the allergen-reducing filter will help purify your air.

The filter material is not washable and will last up to 90 days. For those in climates or regions with more smoke or smog in the air, you may want to replace the filters every 60 days instead.

2. Nordic Pure

The pleated filters from Nordic Pure are the best option for disposable filters on the market. The MERV score of 12 means that the allergens in your home’s air will be captured, including pet dander, mold, mildew spores, and even pollen.

The cost-effective packs will allow you to have a year’s worth of filtration for the cost of 180 days worth from other brands. If you are looking for the best on a budget, Nordic Pure has you covered.

3. FilterBuy

AC filter made in the usaFor homes that don’t have to worry too much about pollutants such as smoke or smog, the MERV 8 disposable filters from FilterBuy are an exceptional deal. The air will be filtered to keep the return clean as well as prevent dust build-up in the evaporator unit.

These filters are designed to be used with central and split AC systems as well as furnaces. Homes in regions with high pollen counts, or require filtration of cigarette smoke will need a higher quality filter.

4. AIRx Allergy

Best Air Conditioner Filter for Allergen Reduction

If you or anyone in your home suffers allergies, has asthma, or other breathing conditions, your home HVAC filter should be a top priority. Currently, there is none better than the AIRx ALLERGY filter. The AIRx filters are pleated with more surface area than most other pleated brands.

They also have an MPR rating equivalent to Filtrete’s 1200. This will capture smoke, smog, pollen, pet dander and a host of other allergy-inducing pollutants.

5. Honeywell (FC100A1029)

For those that have a customized filter or are looking for replacement material for an existing filter, Honeywell is the go-to brand. Not only will the material filter the air for your home and HVAC system, but it is also designed to be replaced in minutes so you can get back to having the air running.

The material is also pleated for a high surface area coverage in a smaller space. When purchasing, ensure your filter area can be covered with the correct amount of material.

6. Trophy Air Electrostatic

If you are looking for a more permanent filter, Trophy Air is the way to go. The electrostatic filter is 100% washable and will dry quickly. You also don’t have to worry about airflow direction as this filter is bi-directional. Once you wash it and let it dry, you can put it back in place in any direction. The electrostatic filtration is completely porous so you won’t block airflow with a reverse installation.

Maintenance is simple, and Trophy Air has updated their sizing availability to ensure you get the perfect fit every time.

7. RV Air (AC 101G)

RV vs other filtersWhen you are on the go in your RV, you don’t need to worry about air quality. The best RV air filter is the RV Air replacement material. It literally takes seconds to replace and will fit most RV air intakes. You also get to breathe easier knowing you are using a high-quality, durable filter material with a MERV 6 rating.

This filter material is ideal for a small space, even if you bring your pets with you. Pollen, pet dander and other larger particles are no match for the RV Air filter material and will not clog your airflow ducting.

8. EPAuto (CP285)

Most people are unaware that there is a small filter responsible for the air conditioning in their car. Aside from the air and oil filters in your engine compartment, you should also replace your cabin air filter.

The EPAuto filter is ideal for most applications and will provide clog-free airflow while capturing pollutants both internal and external to the car cabin.

Types of Air Conditioner Filters

Filters are an ever-evolving material. There are four major types of filters for air conditioners on the market today. Let’s take a look at them now.

Disposable

Disposable filters are among the most common. They are inexpensive, easy to install or remove, and quick to change out. The disposable filters have varying amounts of filter material and can be effective for 30, 60, or 90 days, with some models even lasting up to six months.

Washable/Reusable

Washable filters have stronger filter material and are more expensive than disposable types. However, they will last longer per filter. The main issue found with washable filters is the drying time. Since you should never run your air conditioner without a filter, we recommend buying two. Waiting until your filter is completely dry can cause problems.

Customizable

Unfortunately, not all HVAC systems use the same size filter. Customizable filters fit the bill by allowing you to select the proper size with an adjustable frame. You then cut-to-fit the filter material, replacing as needed.

Deep Pleat

The more filter surface you can have, the longer the filter will last. It will also allow more airflow and clean more particles. Deep pleat filters maximize filter surface area without sacrificing thickness to allow you to double the filter size using the same space.

Filter Ratings Explained in Detail

The filter ratings will depend on the type and style of filter you purchase. All filters are required to use the MERV rating. However, 3M and Filtrete filters will also have the MPR rating, and Home Depot filters will be labeled with the FPR system.

As we mentioned, all systems use a numbering categorization where higher is better. The MERV system rates filters on a scale of 1 to 16. The higher the number, the more particles (and smaller the particle) the filter collects. Keep in mind that higher MERV numbers mean a denser filter material, which will become clogged with debris a lot faster. You will need to change out higher MERV rated filters more often than lower ones.

The scale doesn’t report on how well a filter performs but instead is the lowest number the filter receives in the worst-case scenario. What that means in laymen’s terms is that the number you see is the worst score possible for that filter, although in practice it will most likely perform better.

Furnace Filter vs. AC Filters: Are They the Same?

The short answer is yes, the furnace and air conditioner will use the same filter. They will at least use the same type of filter. In most cases, a residential system is set up as a central heating and air (HVAC) system.

In these cases, the air return duct is shared by a single unit, and there will be an individual filter. In split systems where the heating furnace is separated from the air conditioner, they will still use the same air inlet ducting, and thus the same filter.

The difference comes in when the systems are stand-alone. In this case, the furnace will use a different filter (two filters total) instead of a shared filter with the AC. However, the filters you purchase for the two units can be the same style and type, although they may not be the same size.

Washable vs. Disposable Filters

Should you go with a disposable, one-time-use filter or a washable one? This really is a personal preference, though your budget may have a say.

Washable filters are more expensive up front, but will generally last longer. While the initial investment could be quite high (depending on how many you need, the long term investment will save you a little bit of money.

The other factor to consider is the maintenance. With a disposable filter, you simply replace it with a new one. A washable filter will take time to clean, dry, and reuse. While it won’t take away your dinner plans, it is another chore that needs to be done.

One isn’t better than the other in terms of performance, only in personal preference. For those looking to lower their carbon footprint or reduce waste for the planet, a reusable filter is a good start. For convenience and affordability, disposable filters are the go-to option.

How to Change Your AC Air Filter

Once you locate the filter grate that houses the filter, changing it out is simple. Open the grating (usually a few push or pull tabs or even a set screw to remove) pull out the old filter and install the new one.

You should make sure the arrow on the filter frame points towards the HVAC system and not into the room. If you need more guidance on replacing your air conditioner filter, check out this short video.

Frequently Asked Questions

Have a question about air conditioner filters? We have the answers for you here.

What happens if the air filter is installed backwards?

Filters have a porous and non-porous side. You should take care to install so that the porous side faces the furnace or AC. Each filter will have a directional arrow for the airflow. Point the arrow toward the blower. If it is installed backward, the fan will have to work harder to create airflow which will, in turn, raise your energy costs and make the system more inefficient.

Where is the air filter in my AC unit located?

Air filter locations will vary from home to home. You should look for an air inlet grate in your walls or ceilings. In most cases, the grate will be near the furnace or AC itself. For a closet system, the grate is usually on the wall about knee-high. For attic installed systems the grate is generally in the ceiling in a hallway or bedroom.

Are there drawbacks to using AC filters with activated carbon?

The main drawbacks to activated carbon are replacement time and costs as well as the inability to filter some materials. Activated carbon filters don’t show signs of debris collection, so you have to keep track of installation date and replace based on the manufacturer’s suggestion. Carbon filters will not collect pollutants such as smoke, smog, pollen, or some other in-home air-borne allergens, which may be a concern for some homeowners.

installing filtrete filterHow often should I change my AC air filter?

The time frame to change your air filter is determined by the type and style of the filter itself. Most disposable filters will range from 30 to 90 days. Washable filters are generally in need of a clean after 30 days and should be replaced every six months to a year.

How much does it cost to get my AC serviced?

While we won’t be able to tell you exactly how much an AC service repair cost will be, the national average, as reported by Home Advisor, is about $356. The overall price is based on the type of service needed, the amount for labor, materials, and unexpected findings. You should get at least three quotes from licensed repair or service centers before making a decision.

How much does a replacement air filter normally cost?

Again, the exact cost will vary from location to location and will have a number of determining factors such as filter brand, type, replacement interval, and where you shop. For a disposable filter, the average cost is between $10 and $30 per filter for a standard 90-day, paper filter.

Where are some good places to get these filters?

You can get air filters at almost any store that has a home improvement section. This includes local hardware stores as well as shopping online, you can find great online deals on air filters through:

Conclusion

Whether you need to replace your home, RV, or automotive air filter, you have choices. The most cost-effective filter is a pleated, disposable filter such as the Filtrete model mentioned above. A high MERV/MPR/FPR rating is essential to capture pollutants and protect your HVAC system.

Spending a little more on the filter will save you money on energy costs and expensive repair bills later on down the road. Take the time now to make the right decision for your home air quality and pick the filter that will work best for your home, your personal needs, and your budget.

by jtanner jtanner No Comments

Buying Air Conditioner Parts: Central, Portable & Window AC

Air conditioning is one of the most taken for granted inventions of modern man. During the summer months when temperatures around the country often exceed 100 degrees, walking into a cool home is refreshing. What happens when you come home, and the air conditioner isn’t working? As humans, we go through a lot of emotions when something isn’t the way we expect it to be.

Once your emotions have settled and you have managed to cool yourself down a bit, it is time to think about calling a repairman or doing the work yourself. This article will cover the various types of air conditioners as well as how to troubleshoot the problem and buy air conditioner parts online.

How Air Conditioners Work

Air conditioners, for the most part, are simple machines. There are a lot of pieces that go into making them work, but the mechanics of it are simple. Power is supplied to the condenser which begins the air conditioning cycle. Inside the condenser, the refrigerant is condensed and pressurized, which causes it to become extremely cold and increases the pressure.

The high pressured refrigerant is sent through the copper tubing to the evaporator. The evaporator draws warm air into the system and blows it over the cold coils where the coolant is cycling through. This process causes the air to become chilled while heating and expanding the refrigerant.

Once the refrigerant has low pressure and a higher temperature, it is sent back to the compressor to start the cycle all over again. The result is air that is cooler than the ambient air of the home blown around to keep the rooms at a more comfortable temperature.

Types of Air Conditioning Units

While the process of cooling the air is the same for all air conditioning units, many brands have more (or less) parts added to the equation. Let’s examine the various types of air conditioning units.

Central AC Systems

A central AC is generally part of a heating, venting and air conditioning (HVAC) unit. However, some are cooling only, or heating and cooling. Likewise, there are also additional HVAC units, such as humidifiers, driers, and other components.

The central HVAC unit is a closet mounted unit with a large condenser and evaporator built into a cabinet or in the ceiling. The process of cooling the air mentioned above still applies. However, the cold air is then blown through ductwork hidden in the ceilings, floors, or walls and enters the various rooms of the home through vents.

These units will have a replaceable filter for the evaporator and a thermostat mounted on the wall to control the power, temperature and cooling modes.

Split AC systems & Ductless Mini-Split Systems

AC units in a rowA Split AC system is more commonly found in residential areas around the country. The main difference between a split system and a central AC system mentioned above is the location of the condenser.

A split system has the evaporator and blower mounted inside the home (in a closet or the attic, etc.) while the condenser sits outside the home.

The two are connected by the thermostat wires for power control, as well as high and low-pressure lines for the refrigerant to travel back and forth.

A Mini-Split system doesn’t use ductwork like the central and split AC systems. Instead, each room has a miniature evaporator and blower mounted that is usually controlled by a remote instead of a centralized thermostat. A mini-split system is more expensive to set up initially but can save a lot of money in the long run by only cooling rooms you need to be cooled.

Window/Room AC Systems

Another popular type of AC system is the window unit. This is a room air conditioner that sits in a window (there are also through-the-wall units). These units are smaller (obviously) to fit in a window and can produce enough cold air to keep a single room cool.

The units themselves are more affordable than any of the previous systems. However, you will need a window or room unit in each room of the home, which can add up in total costs. The units also require a lot of electricity, and your monthly energy bill can see a steep increase during the warmer months.

Portable AC Systems

Like a window AC, a portable air conditioning system is designed to keep a small area or room cool. These all-in-one units still need to be near a window for the exhaust vent. However, they are all-inclusive, and most units are mounted on wheels for easy portability. You can move them from one room to the next, plug into an existing outlet and begin cooling a room right away.

The downside to these units is that they require a lot of power to cool a room larger than about 65 square feet. If you have a place without a window to vent out of, you shouldn’t use a portable AC system. The exhaust fumes will not only make the room stuffy, muggy, and difficult to breathe in but will counteract the cooling by releasing hot air back into the room.

RV AC Systems

If you own an RV chances are you have an air conditioning system already installed. There will be a thermostat on the wall and room temperature sensors throughout the rig. The main unit, though, is mounted on the top of the RV to save space inside.

Under the shell, you will find a unit similar to a window AC. The compressor, condenser, and evaporator are all included within the shell space. The system works in the same way as well. Once the air is cooled, it is pushed through the ventilation system to blow cold air into the RV.

Car AC Systems

A car or truck AC system is slightly different. Each part is separated and connected through high and low-pressure lines, much like a split AC system. However, all of the components are spread around the engine compartment or under the firewall.

The system uses the compressor to condense and liquidize the refrigerant where it is sent through copper tubing to be cooled. As the cold refrigerant chills the coils in the evaporator, the air is drawn through the coils by the cabin blower and pushed out the vents into the cabin area of the car.

Learn about portable Car and Truck AC units here.

Signs That Your AC Needs Repair

Besides walking into a warm home, there are other signs your air conditioner may be going out. Let’s take a look at the most common tell-tale signs.

Warm Air

When the AC kicks on, you should be able to feel cool air coming from the vents. If the air coming out isn’t cold, there may be something wrong with your air unit. This can be a simple fix such as replacing the filter or something more complicated like a burnt-out capacitor on the condenser unit.

Insufficient Airflow

If the airflow coming from the vents or the AC unit (for portable or window systems) is low but cool, you could have a clog somewhere. The most likely culprit is the filter, but don’t neglect to check the ductwork or the evaporator blower motor.

Frequent Cycles

Another big sign is that the AC system appears to be working right, and the air is cool. However, the system itself comes on and off more frequently than it used to. In most cases, a faulty thermostat is to blame. However, it can also be a problem with the blower motor or the wiring to the evaporator unit.

High Humidity

High humidity levels are an indication that there is something wrong with the evaporator. Generally, the evaporator easily removes excess moisture from the air and coils. However, if the system is overworked, the temperature can drop below the dew point, causing excess condensation. This excess then gets moved around the home, creating a humid atmosphere.

The first thing to check for is open doors or windows. If you run the AC with the house opened up, the temperature will never reach the setpoint, and the system will continue to run, falling below the dew point. Other causes can be a clogged drain, dirty air filter or inefficient blower motor.

Water Leaks

A split system will have leaks from the evaporator unit and are mostly noticed when the system shuts off. If the drain is clogged the water build-up in the drip tray will be lifted by the blower motor. When the system shuts off, gravity brings the water down, and it escapes from access panels and other areas.

If you notice the condenser area is wet, this is generally a sign of freezing pipes and is the result of the condenser not working properly, or there isn’t enough refrigerant in the system.

Bad Odors

In most cases, you will notice a moldy or musty odor when the system isn’t running, or just after it kicks on. If this happens, the culprit is generally a mixture of dirty ducting, a clogged filter and excess moisture build-up. Combined, the ducting, filter and blower motor can begin to attract and grow mold spores.

When the system shuts off, the warmer air in the ducts will begin to permeate the odor. If the symptoms are more internal, you will notice the smell as soon as the air kicks on, and the airflow travels through the vents until the temperature of the air drops enough to cover the odor.

AC Replacement Parts Explained

portable ac repairThere are a lot of cases where the homeowner can test and replace AC parts themselves. However, it should be noted that most residential and commercial air systems run on a direct-connect 220v electrical supply. Care should be taken to disable power before removing or testing parts.

You should also note that removing or adding refrigerant to an air conditioner system takes special tools and knowledge and must be done by a trained professional.

In most states, it is illegal to purchase refrigerant without a license or expel any refrigerant at all. This can lead to a fine of up to $10,000. If you suspect the problem lies in the refrigerant, it is best to call a professional for service or diagnosis.

Evaporator

The evaporator brings in the high-pressure liquid refrigerant and pushes it through the cooling coils where the air that passes through is chilled. The process of this heat exchange causes the refrigerant to heat up quickly and expand into a vapor. The pressure of the liquid is reduced, and the evaporator sends the low-pressure vapor back to the compressor to repeat the cycle.

Blower

Inside the evaporator unit, you will find the blower. This is generally a cage or hamster wheel style fan. The primary job of the blower is to pull warm air in and through the coils and then push, or blow, the cold air through the ductwork and out of the vents.

Expansion Valve

The expansion valve is part of the condenser unit, and it where the flow control of the refrigerant takes place. The valve regulates the flow from the condenser to the evaporator to keep the pressure of the refrigerant at a constant level.

Thermostat

cool imageThe thermostat is usually mounted on the wall in a centralized location. In residential areas, this is a hallway or a main room of the house.

The thermostat is where you set the preferred temperature, and when the ambient temperature of the home is higher than the set temp, the AC will kick on. When the house is cooled to the set temp, the AC will kick-off.

There are analog and digital thermostats with varying degrees of control options and features. In cars, there isn’t a thermostat. Instead, you turn the AC on or off manually, though you can select the blower speed.

Filters

Filters are essential for keeping the AC clean from debris and dust build-up. A clogged filter can lead to an overheated or overworked AC system as well as being the first step to a host of known AC issues.

Window and portable units use a filter screen that can be washed and replaced. Residential and commercial systems use a replaceable fiber filter that should be replaced every 30 to 90 days. For automotive systems, there is a cabin filter that should be replaced once a year (or more in hotter climates).

Belts

Belts are less common in window, portable, and residential units. However, they are a crucial part of automotive ACs. The belt drives the AC fan, compressor, and clutch and without the belt, the AC system won’t run at all.

If your car AC is acting up or not pushing any air, the first thing you should check is the belt. In modern cars, there is a single belt that is responsible for more than just the AC. If this belt breaks, your entire vehicle will have problems running, not only the AC.

Fan

All AC units will have a fan of some sort to remove the hot air from the compressor. In split units, this is a large fan affixed to the top of the housing on the outdoor unit. In window and portable units, the fan is a hamster-wheel style fan that circulates the air towards the rear of the machines.

If the fan motor goes out, the compressor can overheat, causing the system to shut down (most have a cut-off switch to prevent damage).

Refrigerant Gas/Freon

All air conditioning systems need a refrigerant to cool the air. Before 2003 Freon was used (labeled as R22 or R12 for home and automotive applications). The release of Freon, a CFC, is known to promote the depletion of the ozone layer and is being phased out. R22 and R12 are no longer being manufactured, and the supply already made is being sold at very high prices.

Newer systems use R-410a (for homes) and R-134a (for automotive applications.). These refrigerants are non-Freon and do not contain CFCs. They are considered safer for the environment and are now the primary refrigerants used in all systems.

The job of the refrigerant is to be pressurized and heated to allow the heat transfer of the air being blown over the coils. A small amount of lubrication oil is mixed in with all refrigerants which act to keep the internal parts lubricated and functioning properly.

Capacitor

The capacitor is mounted in the access panel of your condensing unit (the large box outside your home). This small cylinder is connected to the thermostat and from there to the compressor, fan, and even the evaporator and blower motor inside. When the thermostat tells the system, it is time to turn on (or off) the capacitor acts like a jumper cable, sending an electrical current to start the system.

Condenser & Condenser Coil

The condenser and condenser coil take the compressed refrigerant and cool it down before it can move to the evaporator. The process is quick since the vapor is at a high agitation state from being compressed. This is where you will find the expansion valve, too. Mixed within the cooling coils before the line goes to the evaporator.

Learn about condensers here.

Air Compressor

hot and cold imageThe air compressor is the heart of the entire unit. Its job is to take in the low-pressure vapor refrigerant and compress it into a high-pressure vapor.

The compressor then pumps the hot vapor through the coils, which cause it to become cold. It is then sent on as a cold liquid to an expansion valve.

All air conditioning systems have a compressor of some type, regardless of application. Servicing a compressor should be done by a professional because it deals with the transfer of refrigerant.

Read more about compressors in this article.

Remote Control & Controller System

On window and portable AC units (and some smart home digital thermostats), you control the system with a remote control. These remote controls allow you to set the temperature, turn the unit on or off and adjust airflow, speed, and power settings.

Fan Motor

For most systems int eh home there are two fan motors. The first is the motor for the fan on the condenser unit outside. The second is the motor that controls the blower fans in the evaporator unit.

As with all electrical components, the motors will eventually burn out and need to be replaced. This is something that most homeowners can do with simple tools. As long as care is taken to disable power to the motors and other components before removal, the job shouldn’t take longer than an hour (depending on the rust or wear on the mounting bolts.).

Adjustable Louvers

Car AC units, as well as window and portable ACs, will have adjustable louvers. These are the small blades on the vents that allow you to control airflow direction. Over time, with repeated adjustments, the louvers can break or come off. This is the easiest part of a system to replace, although finding the correct replacement louvers can take a bit of research.

Why Are Car AC Parts Different?

An automotive air conditioning system is slightly different in the functionality of the parts. While both home and car ACs are designed to serve the same purpose, they do go about it in different ways.

A car AC is smaller, and the parts are spread further apart in most cases. The main difference is that a thermostat doesn’t control a car AC. Instead, it is either on (clutch engaged) or off (clutch disengaged). However, even with the compressor clutch disengaged, the system is still running.

The system runs when the car is on because it is belt driven and the belts spin when the engine is running. The compressor clutch is the key element that turns the system on to blow cold air through the cabin or lets the refrigerant cycle around until it is needed. Home and commercial ACs don’t have a clutch, nor are they belt-driven. Everything on these systems is electrical.

Common Brands of AC Units

Let’s take a look at some of the most popular brands of the different air conditioning systems we have covered in this article. We will also point out what to watch for when purchasing a specific brand or style.

Central & Split SystemComment
ColemanColeman is a name more associated with camping gear. However, they produce a line of central and split system units. They also have an unrivaled warranty. This includes a lifetime warranty on the compressor. The main issue here is finding parts, which can be challenging to obtain and costly to replace.
LGLG makes a lot of electronics and home accessories, including split system ACs. Known for reliability and accessibility, the LG systems are efficient, quiet, and cost-effective. Their downside is in the warranty, which is limited and difficult to claim against. If the unit does break down, prepare to be on your own.
HisenseHisense is relatively new to the American market and is known for making more-than-affordable appliances. Their systems will be cheaper to purchase and install, but their dependability leaves a bit to be desired.
LennoxLennox is a name that has been around for years and conjures images of an older man in overalls. Reliable, warrantied, and dependable central and split AC units have been the backbone of this company for decades. One main issue is cost-effectiveness. Relying on brand recognition, they aren’t about to lower prices to be more competitive.
CarrierCarrier has long been used for commercial applications and in business that requires large, dependable units. For the residential side, the initial installation costs may be more than you want to pay, but you won’t have to worry about the unit breaking down for at least 20 years.
RheemRheem entered the commercial market long before they ventured into the residential market, and their prices reflect that. While their home units are dependable and long-lasting, you will pay less with almost every other name brand unit. Not many will last longer though, but the trade-off isn’t worth it to some.
RuudRudd is about as middle of the road as you can get. They aren’t fancy, but they aren’t bottom of the barrel, either. Their cost, warranties, and dependability all fall in the “about-average” section of the market.
GoodmanGoodman is a name you can trust when it comes to split ACs. These units are cost-effective and trusted by many multi-home complexes around the country. They offer unrivaled attention to detail and parts are available through virtually any online retailer, making them accessible as well as affordable. Just don’t expect too much from the limited warranties on the parts. You will be talked out of a claim if you allow it.
AmanaAmana is better at small appliance cooling than home cooling, but that doesn’t stop them from trying. While they make a better refrigerator than AC, their split systems and central systems are cost-effective and will save you money on your energy bill – while they are running, at least.
TraneNothing runs like a Trane is the catchphrase that has entered our homes for decades, and we know the company to be reliable and durable. Parts for these units must be exact, though, and anything other than the Trane name going in the units will void the warranty.
American StandardAmerican Standard is one of the most cost-effective, name brands available today. American Standard is readily available at most home improvement stores, and their parts are affordable. However, with cheaper parts, you will be doing more replacements for worn pieces than you will with other, more expensive units.
DaikinThe Japanese maker, Daikin, has an affordable answer to your home’s cooling systems. Their main drawback is in locating replacement parts. It seems they have gone out of their way to be different enough to be almost exclusive. Finding parts is better done online than in person, just make sure you have the right model numbers to ensure a proper fit.
Window ACComment
LGWhen it comes to a window or through-the-wall units, LG is king. The features and prices make the units efficient, energy-saving, and affordable. You won’t find a selection that offers more anywhere else. Expect to pay for that selection, though.
HaierHaier is eye-catching because of its low price tag. While the units are energy-efficient, the catch is they are only cost-effective on low settings, which won’t’ cool off a walk-in closet. If you want long-term savings, Haier isn’t the right choice. However, if you need a temporary fix or are just looking to cool off a single room for a short time, their price is unmatched.
Arctic KingArctic King was once a powerhouse in the window unit market. Balancing reliability and cost, the company once ruled the market as their moniker suggests. In the last 10 years, though, they have sacrificed production by using cheaper parts. While they will cool your home, you will need service more often.
GEGE has a thumb in every pie, and the window air conditioning market is one such pie. GE is as reliable as they are well known, and the AC industry side of the company gives you exactly what they say. The warranty could be better, though, and many find that having to go through Sears to make a claim can be a problem at times.
FrigidaireFrigidaire, like Amana, uses their technology to enter new markets. When they began producing window units, the product was sub-par. Nowadays, they are more reliable and energy-efficient, but for the price, you can do better with less long-term worry.
Portable ACComment
LGUnlike the window units, the LG portable units are not as reliable. The machines are loud and require more maintenance during setup than should be allowed. However, once set up, connected and the exhaust and drain tubes are correctly affixed, the units will cool an entire room quickly.
GEGE portable units aren’t as reliable as the rest of the GE line. You will go through a few warranty claims (as reported by many owners), and GE customer service isn’t up to par. However, with the bad out of the way, for a temporary unit that you want to use sparingly or only for a couple of seasons, the price point is low, and the units will cool a room efficiently.
DometicKnown primarily for their RV air conditioners, the Dometic portable units are surprisingly good. They come with feature sets typically only found in window units and are durable. On top of that, customer service is quick to respond and overly helpful.
FriedrichFriedrich is not quite a household name, but it should be. The portable AC units are durable, reliable, and cost-effective. They will zap more energy than other models on this list, but they withstand a lot more, too. One major issue is the reservoir shutoff, which kills the nit if the drip tray becomes full. This happens more than it should for a unit designed to evaporate the tray regularly.
DeLonghiDeLonghi also owns the Braun and Kenwood, if you aren’t familiar with the Italian name. The units do cool efficiently. However, they are loud and cumbersome. If you plan to sleep with the unit in the bedroom, plan on a restless night. If you have hardwood flooring, the wheels can cause groves or wear marks because of the weight the wheels have to bear.
RV AC BrandsComment
Coleman & Coleman RVColeman and specifically the Coleman RV branch makes a reliable and cost-effective AC unit for your motor home. The sensors are a bit confusing and can be triggered by the smallest drafts. However, with proper placement and planning, this can be avoided.
DometicDometic RV air conditioners are the benchmark of the market. There is little bad to say about these machines except that a new install can be costly. However, once installed, they are virtually worry-free and easy to maintain.

Cleaning Your AC

Regular maintenance of your AC unit is paramount if you want it to run efficiently and cool the home in a timely manner. There are a few things you can do to keep the unit working correctly.

Change the filter out promptly. Each filter will have a life span printed on the packaging. Usually, these filters will last between 30 and 90 days. You should change the filter before this time is up and not run the air conditioner without a filter.

Cleaning the coils yearly will help prevent build-up, promote airflow, and keep the drains clean. The evaporator coils will get caked with dirt and dust from use. This is normal. Opening the access panel will allow you to get to the coils. A coil cleaning solution and coil brush should be used. The fins on the coils and evaporator should remain straight. Any bends will block airflow.

On the condenser unit, you can clean off the vents with a pressure washer or garden hose. If the debris has accumulated and begun to cling to the vents and coils, you can use a propane torch to burn them clean. Care should be taken not to burn the wiring or apply direct heat to any portion of the unit except the vents and coils.

DIY Air Conditioning Repair

There are two portions of the air conditioner that can cause problems, refrigerant leaks, and electrical components. For refrigerant leaks, the culprit usually responsible will be the fill valve cores (Schrader valve). Over time the rubber o-rings on the cores will go bad, allowing small amounts of refrigerant to escape.

However, it takes a specialized tool and knowledge of the system to replace a valve core without leaking refrigerant (which is illegal). While you can purchase the core replacement tool, when the refrigerant system is involved, it is best to call in a licensed professional.

For the electrical system, the most common failed components are the capacitor, contactor, and fan motors. The homeowner can replace each of these parts without the need to contact a professional. However, you need to first shut off the power supply to the condenser unit and short the terminals on the capacitor (it stores a small amount of power).

Because the capacitor and contactor are explicitly wired, it is essential to label the wires before removing them and reattach them in the correct spots. The fan motors (condenser unit or blower motor) can be removed from the units and replaced on a workbench or in a garage. Make sure the motors are the correct size, power, and rotational direction before purchasing a new one.

Buying Online Vs. a Store Near Me

Depending on the part and what you need, it may be more beneficial to shop at a local store. Other times it can be quicker to shop online. How can you tell which to do? In short, both methods will eventually get you what you need. However, there are certain instances when online shopping will be more beneficial.

If you know the part number, you can quickly get quotes from various online vendors. Of our favorites, Amazon.com and Sylvane are among the most reliable. Both will offer competitive prices on older models and specific parts for your systems.

You may want to shop locally though, and there are a couple of reasons that make this the smarter choice. First is timing. If you come home and your AC is broken, you will need the fix as soon as possible. You may not have the time to wait on shipping and will spend whatever it costs to get the part right now. In this case, a local HVAC supplier will be your best bet.

The second reason for shopping local is when you can’t identify the part number. Perhaps age has removed the number, or your OEM part doesn’t have a part number stamped on it. When this happens, you can take the piece to a local shop and compare it to those on the shelf. Making sure the connections, mounting holes, and sizes are all a perfect match.

Frequently Asked Questions

Now we will answer some of the more common questions about air conditioning units.

Which gas is used in ACs?

For most residential and commercial air conditioners, the refrigerant used is either R22 or R410a. For automotive ACs the refrigerant is either R12, R134a or the newer R1234yf types. You should note that both R12 and R22 are CFC refrigerants (commonly called Freon) and are being outlawed.

What is the difference between R-22 and R-410a refrigerants?

R22, also called Freon, is a CFC based refrigerant that is known to promote ozone depletion. R134a, known as Puron, does not contain CFCs and is safer for the environment. Both liquids become gases under pressure and will heat up under pressure. This is what makes the system cool the air as the heat transfer of the gases causes a rapid temperature decline during a state change.

Where can I find the model and serial numbers of my AC unit?

For split AC systems commonly found in homes, the model and serial numbers will be found in the owner’s manual or on a sticker located on the condenser unit. This sticker is usually found on the access panel to the capacitor and contactor area.

How do I know the part number of an AC replacement part?

Most AC components will have a model number stamped into the framework of the unit. For example, the fan motors will have a plate where the information is stamped. The compressors will have a stamp located on the pump housing or sometimes as a plastic tag attached to the mounting bolt holes. If you are in doubt, the manufacturer will have OEM part numbers for your specific unit listed on their websites or in the owner’s manual.

Are air conditioner parts covered with a warranty?

The exact parts covered in a warranty will vary by manufacturer. In general, larger parts such as the blower, compressor, lines, housings, and electrical components are included. Replaceable parts such as the capacitors or contactors will not, usually, be covered.

How often should AC coils be cleaned?

It is advised to clean the AC coils once per season before putting the AC to use, or every six months. If you find that the filter has been perforated an extra cleaning may be needed during the season.

How many parts does an AC have?

The number of parts will change with each manufacturer. However, the primary components won’t change. The AC system will have at least five elements: compressor, evaporator, fan, coils, and electrical parts (contactor, capacitor, etc.). Depending on how the items are grouped, the size of the unit and if it has any other purposes (such as heating), the number of parts will increase.

Conclusion

As you can see, having an air conditioning system is almost a necessity. In the late spring and summer months, central air or split system air is crucial. Depending on where you live, you may get away with a single room or window air conditioner or even a portable AC.

With ownership comes responsibility, though. To help keep the energy costs down, cool your home or room efficiently, and keep the unit working correctly, you will need to do some maintenance. When the time comes, knowing what parts to replace and when it is better to call a professional will save you a lot of headaches.

Shopping online may be the best option and is undoubtedly the fastest. You can get multiple quotes for your parts in a short amount of time, without having to travel all over town. When time is an issue because your home isn’t being cooled, every minute helps.

by Joshm Joshm No Comments

AC Coil Cleaner: Best Methods For Cleaning An Air Conditioner

Best Foaming AC Coil Cleaner

Frost King ACF19
Frost King

Best Alkaline Based AC Coil Cleaner

Nu-Calgon 4291-08
Nu-Brite

Best No Rinse AC Coil Cleaner

Nu-Calgon 4171-75 Evap
Nu-Calgon Evaporator Cleaner

Air conditioner coils are an integral part of your HVAC system. Without the coils, you wouldn’t get the cold air from the air conditioner or the reduction in humidity from the system. Your central AC and Split AC will have two sets of coils, the evaporator coils, and the condenser coils.

This article will explain what the coils do, how they function, and the best methods to keep them clean, in good repair, and the top 6 coil cleaning products for you to use.

Problems Caused by Dirty Coils

Dirt, dust, and debris are all negative things and enemies of the AC coils. On the condenser side of things, yard waste, leaves, and even dirt will get caught in the coils and begin to build up. Once this starts happening, the refrigerant cannot cool off enough. This causes the system to slow down and work harder to keep the home at the set temperature.

Given enough build-up, the airflow will dwindle to nothing, and this can cause the condenser components to overheat. In extreme cases, the compressor, fan motor, and the capacitor can fail, resulting in costly repairs.

On the inside at the evaporator, dirty coils can spell disaster. Imagine walking into your hallway or your bathroom and stepping in a wet spot, only to look up and see water droplets on your evaporator access panel.

A dirty coil can clog the airflow, making heat transfer challenging. It can also cause the refrigerant to freeze the coils (see below for more details) and leak everywhere when it finally melts. Another thing dirty coils in the AC evaporator will do is deposit the dirt into the drain pain, eventually clogging the drain pipe.

This will not only overflow and cause a mess on your floors or counters, but also prevent the HVAC system from being able to remove the humidity in your home. Dirty coils, either inside or outside, will always cause the system to work harder than it should. This means your house won’t stay as cool as it needs to, and the system will take longer to reach temp resulting in a higher energy bill.

Checking A/C Coils

Regular inspection of your AC coils will help you know when to clean them and spot any potential problems before they become an issue. The condenser coils are the easiest to inspect. All you have to do is walk around the condenser unit and look through the air louvers to the coils.

You will be looking for dirt, leaves, sticks, yard waste, and trash. Grass clippings and blown candy wrappers are a common problem found blocking airflow and clogging up the coils.

The evaporator is a little more tricky to inspect. Depending on where your evaporator unit is located, getting to the coils can be a challenge. A-frame coils found in closet-style units will have an access panel bolted on. Once you remove the panel cover, you can use a flashlight to inspect the coils and drain pan for dirt, dust, and debris build-up.

If you have a split AC, the evaporator might be located in an attic, crawl space, or overhead hidden in the ceiling. Most installs will have the evaporator unit installed near a drain, such as a kitchen or a bathroom.

Once you open the access panel, you will see the coils. The main problem with these systems is accessing the drain pan. In most cases, you won’t be able to get a visual inspection unless you use a camera or video recorder (your phone works well, too).

If you don’t have a camera, you can reach up and place your fingers into the pan. The water level should be low, and the tray bottom shouldn’t be covered in gunk. See the section further below for cleaning methods and how-to best practices.

A/C Coil Cleaning Methods

There are several approaches to cleaning your air conditioner coils, and each one can be effective. Both the evaporator and condenser coils will have the same methodology of cleaning, just a slightly different approach.

Cleaning Condenser Coils

When cleaning the condenser coils, the first step is a visual inspection. You will want to check for vegetation growth around the pad, remove any weeds or growth that can impede the coils. On the condenser itself, you will want to remove any debris from the fins and louvers such as leaves, grass clippings, etc.

If the unit is running, you will want to turn it off to help remove the debris, as the suction created by the fan will pull things into the coils. Using a brush or broom, you can sweep and knock off the larger debris. You don’t want to brush too hard or use any force inwards towards the coils, though, as this can bend the fins.

After the larger debris items are gone, use a fin comb to straighten any bent fins and to scrape any dirt or wet debris from between the coils. Next, you will need to access the interior of the condenser. Pull the power block disconnect to remove power from the unit (some have a switch instead of a pull tab). Remove the fan shroud and lift out of the way, being careful not to pull too hard on the connected wiring.

Using a hose with a high-pressure nozzle attachment, spray the coils from the inside outward. You never want to spray into the coils from the outside as this will only push the debris into the coils deeper or cover the compressor, which can then overheat.

The coils will be clean when you can see the water coming through the fins without being distributed. Remove any debris from the floor inside the condenser unit and restore the fan shroud in place. Restore power to the unit by placing the power disconnect block back in place.

Cleaning ac coils

Cleaning Evaporator Coils

Cleaning your coils in the evaporator is a similar process. The first thing to do is to remove power to the evaporator. You can set the thermostat to the off position, but it is also advised to turn off the breakers that control the AC in your home’s breaker panel. Locate and open the evaporator access panel.

Once you gain access, the difficult part will be working over your head (in most cases). The coils can be found on the backside of the unit and most often will be in the most difficult place to reach as possible. Care should be taken when standing on a ladder to prevent injury to yourself.

You can use a gloved hand to remove the bulk of the debris build-up, which will be wet and, most likely, the texture of mud. Using a fin comb, scrape the coils from the top down, being careful not to get snagged, and rip the fins. This will also help straighten any fins that may have become bent.

You will need to use a chemical coil cleaner. Most will foam and set in to remove dirt and build-up gunk. Follow the instructions for application and set time. It is advised to wear eye protection when spraying the coil cleaner.

While the cleaner works, take the time to clean out the drip tray where the condensation collects. You can use a scraper to dig up the muddy debris from the bottom of the pan. Before you begin to scrape, though, you need to locate the drain line.

The drain line will be a PVC elbow that comes out at the bottom or side of the low end of the drain pan. You will want to scrape away from this area. If you scrape towards it, you run the risk of pushing debris into the drain line, causing a clog.

Rinsing the Evaporator Coils is Crucial

Once the drip tray is cleaned, use water to rinse off the coils. You do not want to use a high-pressure spray because you will be spraying into the coils. Like the condenser coils mentioned above, using force to spray from outside in can cause deeper clogs.

Rinse the coils cleaner and debris it has collected into the drip tray and down the drain line. Flush the drain line by running hot water through the drip tray for about 10 minutes.

If your evaporator is located above your bathtub, the drain will connect to the tub drain system. Before flushing, you should remove the drain stopper mount and weight. This will cause the drain line to empty into the tub. You will be able to see when the drain is clean because the rinse water will be free of debris.

Replace all of the items you removed in the tub drain and the evaporator access panel and restore power to the AC. Check that there are no leaks, strange noises and that the air blows hard and cold from the vents.

Heavy Duty Coil Cleaning

If you notice the coil cleaner or fin combs are not penetrating the build-up, you may need to call in a professional HVAC specialist. They will have the tools, means, and ability to perform a deep clean on your coils.

This may also be a benefit to you if you have a difficult to access the evaporator unit or for any other reason cannot do the job yourself. The best place to find a reputable HVAC cleaning specialist is through Angie’s List or Thumbtack.

According to Home Advisor, you should expect to pay between $100 and $400 for professional cleaning of both condenser and evaporator coils.

DIY vs Professional Cleaning Costs

If you are looking to save money, the DIY option is always available. While personal safety is paramount, the job can be done for just the cost of the cleaners and tools. If you already have most of the tools, you can save even more.

A professional will need to come to inspect the coils before offering a quote, which can take time. You should receive at least three quotes before picking a professional. If you are short on time, the DIY option is better for you.

As a DIY project, the coil cleaners, fin combs, brushes, screwdrivers, and other materials you need will cost you between $40 and $150 total. Of course, this doesn’t account for your time and effort, as well as clean up.

Based on the cost of the products alone, it may be beneficial to you to have a professional come in and clean the coils for you. You may spend more than $150, but with the time you free up and the effort you save, it might be worth it to you.

Features of Great A/C Coil Cleaners

When looking for coils cleaners, there are a few things you need to be on the lookout for that make a great AC coil cleaner. There are hundreds of brands (most you have never heard of) and off-market products that claim to clean your coils thoroughly.

However, due to the nature of the job, you will want a cleaner that is proven and has the right ingredients to get the job done right the first time. Let’s take a look at what to look for in your coil cleaner.

Alkaline-Based

Alkaline-based cleaners have a low odor, which is excellent for people with odor sensitivities. They are also known for their overall cleaning abilities and are found in most cleaning products. Alkaline-based coil cleaners are adept at loosening grease, smoke residue, and other sticky messes. This makes them ideal for coils, which can become caked in all of these items.

Usability

You will want a coil cleaner that is easy to use. Some spray cans require you to be a certain distance that may not be possible with your HVAC set up. If you get too close, the spray could be too powerful and go through the coils instead of creating the foam on the coils.

Other cleaners will require diluted mixtures, brush applications, or other steps that you may not want to deal with. Finding the right coil cleaner will involve the least amount of steps as possible.

USDA Authorized

Because the chemicals involved can be corrosive to metal, skin, hair, and the mucous membranes, it is crucial that you only get cleaners that are USDA Authorized when possible. If the Federal Government hasn’t inspected it, you can’t be sure what is actually inside.

Versatility

Multiple cleaning applications from the same product is always a good idea. Some coil cleaners are designed to clean more than just coils, making the purchase a smarter option because you can do more than put the can in under the sink waiting until next year. Versatile cleaners will have many applications and uses.

No Harmful Additives

If you have allergies, sensitivities, pets, or other concerns, you should seek out cleaners that don’t use harsh chemicals or include harmful additives. Some consumers felt if the cleaner can’t be applied directly to the skin, it shouldn’t be used in the home.

There is a range of coil cleaners that fit this category and do a decent job at removing gunk from the AC coils.

6 Best Coil Cleaners Reviewed

We have reviewed the six best coil cleaners for you and present them to you here. Find your next coil cleaner below.

1. Nu-Brite – Best Alkaline Based AC Coil Cleaner

Nu-Calgon 4291-08 offers you Nu-Brite, a 1-gallon jug of coil cleaning power. This formula is non-acidic and alkaline-based. Designed for condenser coils, you should not use this solution for evaporator coils. For interior application, see the Nu-Calgon evaporator cleaner below.

The solution should be applied via a spray bottle for precise application and little waste. It will foam up when it contacts contaminates, so you will see it working. After spraying, it should be left alone for ten to 15 minutes before being rinsed off. The Nu-Brite formula is also USDA authorized, so it is safe for use in all areas.

2. Frost King – Best Foaming AC Coil Cleaner

Frost King ACF19 is a foaming spray from a can designed to clean condenser coils, evaporator coils, fins, and drain pans. It uses an odor neutralizer to block foul odors and leaves behind a lemon scent. The foaming action loosens build-up and brings embedded debris to the surface for rinsing away.

The chemicals are non-corrosive and won’t hurt the fins, coils, or drain trays. You shouldn’t spray directly on painted surfaces, though, as it can eat through some paints and clear coats. They can also come with a fin brush cap, which you can use to scrub stubborn areas before rinsing.

When the cleaner has done its job, rinse thoroughly so as not to leave any cleaner behind.

3. Nu-Calgon Evaporator Cleaner – Best No Rinse AC Coil Cleaner Spray

Nu-Calgon is arguably the most thorough coil cleaner on the market. It can be used for condenser coils but is designed for evaporator coils and indoor uses. The foam spray will loosen and lift grease, grime, dirt, and other materials and doesn’t need to be rinsed clean.

Over time, the cleaner will dissipate and run down the coils into the drip tray, taking the dirt and debris with it. If you plan to use this on the evaporator, it is advised you thoroughly clean the drain tray, pan, and line prior to spraying. This will prevent clogs from the removed debris.

The non-toxic spray is safe for all metals, plastics, and painted surfaces. Overspray should be wiped up quickly, though, as it can stain.

4. Web – Best Condenser Coil Cleaner

Web makes a condenser coil cleaner that is safer for the environment and your pets. The biodegradable formula is designed to be sprayed on and rinsed away. You won’t have to scrub the coils unless there is a major gunk build-up, and you can rinse away from the outside of the condenser without having to access the interior of your condenser.

When rinsing, you should use nominal pressure from a garden hose and not a spray nozzle; otherwise, this will push the solution and debris back into the coils. It is also ill-advised to use indoors on your evaporator coils as there isn’t a degreasing solution involved. Surface contamination of the evaporator coils would be cleaned, but the grime and grease will remain.

5. Midwest Hearth – Best Coil Cleaning Whisk Brush

The whisk brush from Midwest Hearth is a durable and easy to handle brush. It is designed to help clean off the condenser and evaporator coils, find and air louvers. You can also use the brush to clean your AC vents, air intake vent louvers, and other hard to clean areas.

It is not advised to use on evaporator coils that haven’t been washed previously as the grease will cause the dirt to stick to the bristles. If this happens, you need to rinse and soak the brush on hot water with a mild detergent and hand wash the bristles to get them clean.

On the condenser coils, the brush can be used at any time and will get between the fins to remove debris stuck deep in the coils.

6. Ivation – Best Evaporator And Condenser Coil Washer

The portable sprayer has a built-in water tank and rolls easily on castor wheels. You can take this sprayer anywhere as it is run on batteries instead of electricity. This makes it ideal for spraying out condenser coils since you don’t need to worry about running an extension cord around the house.

The 130 pounds per square inch of spray pressure won’t harm fins or coils and make cleaning your AC coils quick and simple. You can also use a mild detergent or a homemade coil cleaning solution with vinegar to have a more powerful cleaning solution besides just water.

Types of A/C Coils

Unless you are using a window AC, you will have two sets of coils. Evaporator coils will be found inside, with the evaporator unit, while the condensing coils are found outside around the large condenser unit. Let’s take a look at how they function.

Evaporator Coils

The evaporator coils conduct the heat transfer to turn the warm air inside your home into cool air blown from your vents. These coils have the cold, high-pressure refrigerant running through them at cold temperatures.

The blower motor brings air in through the induction vent and pulls it through the coils. As the air passes over cold coils, the heat from the air is transferred to the refrigerant inside, making the air cold and the refrigerant hot. The cold air is then blown through exhaust vents around your home while the heated refrigerant is pushed outside to the condenser.

Condensing Coils

By the time the vapor has reached the condenser, it has low pressure and high temperature. The condensing unit sucks the refrigerant through the coils where the condensing fan pulls air from the outside through the coils. The opposite heat transfer happens outside. The colder air absorbs the heat from the low-pressure gas, which cools it off.

Once it has cooled off, the hot air is blown out the top of the condenser by the condenser fan, and the refrigerant is passed into the compressor. It returns to high pressure, low-temperature liquid, and is sent back to the evaporator where the process repeats.

Frozen Air Conditioner Coils

Frozen air conditioner coils are a common issue and can be caused by a few different culprits. Let’s take a look at the various causes of frozen coils.

Clogged Air Filter

Blocked airflow is the leading cause of frozen coils. This can be due to dirty coils as described above, but it can also be as simple as an air filter past the change date.

A dirty air filter prevents air from freely flowing through the system and can also allow contaminants in which start clogging the evaporator coils. If you notice the system running longer, working harder, or your set temperature not being reached, the first step is to change your air filter.

Refrigerant Leak

The second most common problem leading to frozen coils is low refrigerant levels. Since the refrigerant flow system is a closed-loop, you should never have to refill or top-off your refrigerant. If you have an inspection on the system done and there is a low level of refrigerant, you have a leak somewhere.

Usually, the leak will happen at the weakest spot of your system. The refrigerant fill valves have a valve core, similar to the valve core in your car tires. The rubber gaskets on these cores can wear out, allowing little amounts of refrigerant to escape every time the system comes on. Over the course of a few weeks, you will have low enough refrigerant levels to cause ice to form.

When this happens, the first place you will find ice is on the copper tubing leading to the condenser unit. The ice will eventually cover the compressor and then move to the condenser coils when it gets bad. Spotting ice early is key, which is where your regular inspections will come into play.

Clogged Interior Coils

Your system will also freeze if the refrigerant cannot get through due to clogged coils on the inside. Most of the time, this is only caused by physical damage to the coils, but if there is also a leak, contaminants can enter the coils and get caught in the bends.

If you notice ice build-up and the above two situations do not apply, you will need to have a pressure test performed. This is the only way to find out if the problem is clogged interior coils.

Importance of Regular A/C Maintenance

Regular AC maintenance is a crucial part of your home’s efficiency. A well-running, clean air conditioner will help lower your monthly energy bill as well as provide cool air when you need it.

Cleaning the condenser coils should be done on an as-needed basis. During the spring and summer months, debris can easily clog the coil fins. Grass clippings, leaves, trash, and debris will all blow around and be caught by the condenser unit.

Weekly visual inspections will tell you when it is time to clean the coils off. At a minimum, cleaning should be performed at the start of the AC season before you turn the air conditioner on for the first time. From there, every six to eight weeks is a preferred interval.

The Evaporator coils should be cleaned at the start of every season. As long as you replace the air filter regularly, dust and dirt build-up shouldn’t be an issue while the machine is running. Build up will occur during the offseason when you are running the heater or nothing at all. Beyond this annual cleaning, there shouldn’t be a need for any other cleaning times.

Frequently Asked Questions

Let’s answer some of the frequently asked questions about the air conditioner coils and keeping them cleaned.

Can I clean A/C coils with vinegar?

Yes, a diluted mix of half white vinegar and half water in a spray bottle will help to clean the AC coils. The mixture will remove dust and light debris build-up but will not penetrate through layers of gunk often found in the evaporator coils. As a regular, monthly cleaning solution, though, it works reasonably well.

How can I make a homemade coil cleaner solution?

There are several homemade solutions that you can make that have some limited effect on cleaning air conditioner coils. Aside from the vinegar mix mentioned above, you can add in a tablespoon of baking soda to the vinegar and water for a more foaming cleaner. You also have the option to use a light detergent, such as your dishwashing liquid. This is designed to cut through grease and grime. Mixing a small amount to a spray bottle of water will create a grease-fighting solution you can use directly on your coils.

When should I replace evaporator coils?

The idea of changing the evaporator coils is a tricky situation. In most cases, it is advised that you do not replace the coils, but instead replace the entire evaporator. By the time the evaporator coils become so degraded they need to be changed, the rest of the air conditioner will also be at an age where replacement is recommended. Putting new coils in an old system is ill-advised and can end up costing you more money in the long run.

Where is the best place to buy ac coil cleaners?

If you decide to go with a commercial product, you can pick them up at any home improvement store. However, for the best deals and possible discounts, finding your coil cleaner on Amazon is a better idea. Amazon will have the cleaner in stock and save the hassle of ensuring you are paying a fair price.

How much does ac coil replacement & repair cost from a professional?

According to Home Advisor, the average replacement and repair costs for an air conditioner coil is between $650 and $1,200. This will depend on the hourly labor rate of the installer, ease of access, and any other factors that come up with the removal and installation process.

Conclusion

Keeping your air conditioner coils clean is an important step in maintaining your AC efficiency. Dirty coils can prevent proper airflow, overheat the system, and cause the air conditioner to fail. Condenser coils can be cleaned with a garden hose and some elbow grease. Evaporator coils need AC coil cleaners and some tools.

Access is important, too, as well as your personal safety. Always remove power to the condenser and evaporator before beginning work. Cleaning the AC coils can be a simple DIY job or may require a professional. Either way, you go, you will prolong the life of your air conditioner and keep your monthly energy bill low.

by Joshm Joshm No Comments

AC Condenser Guide: Costs For Replacing In a Home Air Conditioner

Your air conditioning system has three major components. The first two, the evaporator and compressor, work to get the cool air into your home. The third, the condenser, is considered to be the central portion of the entire system. Without the condenser, your house wouldn’t heat or cool at all.

How much does a condenser cost to replace? How can you tell if it is going bad? This article will answer those questions as well as identifying the parts, system expectations, and if a replacement should be a DIY or professional project.

How the Condensing Unit Works

The condensing unit is generally outside unless you have an enclosed unit. With most residential and commercial applications, though, a split AC will have the evaporator unit inside and the condenser unit outside.

The refrigerant is brought into the condenser through the low-pressure line as a hot liquid. It travels through the coils where the air is passed over to begin cooling it down. The coolant then passes through the coils and to the compressor, which is found inside the condenser unit, below the fan.

The compressor turns the low-pressure liquid into a high-pressure vapor and passes it through the rest of the condenser coils to finish the cooling process. From there, it is sent off to the evaporator unit, and the cycle repeats.

Types of AC Condenser Units

There are three types of condenser units available, water-cooled, air-cooled, and evaporative. Let’s take a look at the three to find the best option for your home.

Water-Cooled

Water-cooled condensers use tubing to pass water through the system. The water removes the heat from the refrigerant and passes it to the ambient air outside. There are three types of tubing, known as shell and tube, shell and coil, and dual-tubed.

Each similarly manages the process, warm water goes out, and cool water returns. The cool water absorbs the heat from the refrigerant during a heat-exchange inside the condenser. The water-cooled condensers are the most efficient, although they also cost the most to install.

Air-Cooled

Air-cooled condensers are primarily used in residential and small commercial areas. If you have a split AC, you most likely have an air-cooled condenser. The main difference here is that air is drawn in from the ambient space around the condenser over the coils. The hot refrigerant inside is cooled down, and the heated air is pushed out (generally through the top).

Air-cooled units are considerably cheaper to install but come at the cost of a higher monthly energy bill. They are not as efficient at cooling as a water-cooled unit, so they have to run longer to produce the same amount of cooling inside the home.

Evaporative

For what it matters, an evaporative condenser is a hybrid of a water and air-cooled unit. They are cheaper to install than water units, more efficient than air units, and last longer than both other types combined.

However, because they are such a large capacity condenser, you will only ever really find them in industrial and large commercial usage. While they can work with any AC system, placing these types of units in a residential setting isn’t feasible.

AC diagram outside unit

Replaceable Parts of AC Condensers

Condensers are made up of several different parts, each with a specific job to do. Let’s take a look at these parts and find out what they do.

Condenser Coils

Condenser coils are responsible for taking the heat out of the compressed refrigerant vapor. As the vapor travels through the coils, the air blowing over them causes a heat transfer that rapidly cools the refrigerant, resulting in the vapor turning into a liquid.

Condensate Pump

As the heat exchange takes place, condensation will form and be pulled to the bottom of the system. A condensate pump is triggered when the water level gets too high and pumps the water out. An impeller on the bottom of the pump removes the water and flushes it from the system.

Condenser Fan Motor

The fan motor is mounted to the top lid of the condenser unit and turns on whenever the system has power. The motor is responsible for spinning the fan blades, which work to remove the hot air from inside the condenser. They pull colder air in from the sides of the unit to cool the refrigerant running through the coils.

Condensate Drain Line

The condensate drain line is simply what it sounds like. As the condensation is pumped out from the condensation pump, it travels through the condensate drain line to exit the system.

Condenser Pad

The condenser pad is a concrete or composite square that acts as the base for the condenser. It works to give the condenser a solid, flat surface to mount to as well as lifting the unit off the ground to keep it from collecting debris from the yard.

Condenser Relay Switch/ Run Start Capacitor

A relay switch is more often referred to as a contactor. It is responsible for providing the current for switching the high voltage components on and off. The contactor is connected to the run capacitor, which gives it the jolt needed to engage the electromagnetic switches.

Without a run capacitor, the system wouldn’t get enough voltage to kick on, the compressor wouldn’t operate, and the blower and condenser fans wouldn’t spin. Without a contactor or condenser relay switch, the system wouldn’t stay running.

Common AC Condenser Problems

The condenser is generally a well-running piece of the HVAC system. However, because of the high voltage required to run it, the moving parts and heat exchange, things will go wrong. Let’s look at the more common failure points of the AC condenser.

Dirty Components

When dirt and debris enter the system or its components, it has to work harder to produce the same cold air you are used to. You should inspect your condenser regularly and keep the coils, fan, and air louvers clean and clear of dirt, debris, or build up.

Leaks

If the unit is leaking, you will need to replace the part that is leaking. The two primary leaking spots are refrigerant escaping from the fill valves and from a bad compressor. If you notice the level of your refrigerant is dropping, check the valve cores. They can be replaced with a valve core tool designed for air conditioners.

If the compressor is rusted or has otherwise gone bad, it can leak from the bottom or the copper tube connections. The tubing can be brazed to patch a small hole, but a large hole or bad compressor will need to be replaced entirely.

Blockages

If debris is allowed to enter the system, it can block off the coils. This is a sign of a faulty line dryer filter. You may also notice the coils aren’t being cooled or that the system never shuts off. This is generally an indication that the air louvers on the outside of the condenser are packed with debris, leaves or yard waste.

You can have your system flushed and a new filter dryer put in place to unclog the coils. If the flush doesn’t work, you will need to replace them. For blocked louvers, a garden hose will keep them clean.

Damaged Coil

Just like an internal blockage from debris, the coils can be pressed inward on themselves. Touching the coils can cause this, as well as flying debris during a storm. If the coils are damaged, it is generally best to have the system inspected before jumping to a coil replacement.

Bad Run Capacitor

The run capacitor is usually the first part to fail. You will notice a bad capacitor because it will be swollen. Capacitors also have a tale-tell color ring. If you look at the top of the capacitor and see a yellow circle that looks like a tiny coffee mug stain, this usually indicates the fluid inside is leaking. A swollen or leaking capacitor needs to be replaced immediately.

Bad Condenser Relay Switch

Second, to the capacitor, the relay switch also burns out over time. You will notice a faint burns metal odor coming from your condenser. When you open the access panel, you will see the copper coils on the electromagnet of the contactor have been burned. When this happens, it is time to replace the relay switch.

Faulty Control Board

Some newer model air conditioners use a computer control board to send the voltage and control the operation of the unit. With the exception of the capacitor, everything is done through the solid-state control board. Control boards can burn out or have issues, as well. Usually, when this happens, you will get an error code on the AC display.

Your first option should always be to call the company or retailer where you purchased your unit to make sure the error codes point to the control board and that your unit is not in warranty. If it is not in warranty, you can replace your control board as a DIY project.

Burned-Out Motor

Motors will wear out eventually, and this can cause more significant problems if left untreated. Your first stop should always be the contactor and capacitor as they provide the power to the condenser fan. If these are in working order, then the fan motor is generally to blame.

When purchasing a new fan motor, you will need to ensure you get the same voltage, rotation direction, and input capacity of your existing motor. All of the required information can be found on the paper label glued to the motor itself.

Symptoms of a Failing AC Condenser

Because there are many different parts of the condenser unit, it is hard to tell if the condenser has failed. It could be another portion of the condensing and compression stage of the cooling process. Here are the notable symptoms of a failing AC condenser.

Significantly Reduced Cooling

When you set the temperature on your thermostat, you expect your house to get to that temperature in a reasonable amount of time. If the cooling takes a lot longer to reach temperature, it could be the condenser’s fault.

Usually, when the air isn’t cold enough, the first thing you want to check is the common failure points. The air filter and thermostat are the most likely culprits. However, if these check out, it is time to inspect your condenser unit. Most often, the problem is debris build up in the air louvers. A good rinse with a hose will clear the issue.

If the problem persists, you will need to hire a professional to run flush tests and inspect the coils with testing equipment.

Noticeable Leaks

If you notice a lot of water around your condenser unit, it isn’t leaking. Refrigerant is the only thing running through the system, and it won’t puddle. The exception is if you have a water-cooled unit, and the leaking water is generally too hot to pool. Instead, it will burn off and evaporate.

The vapor will whistle as is escapes and will empty into the atmosphere. If you suspect your condenser is leaking, you should look for the vapor clouds and listen for the whistle when the AC is on.

If you see a puddle, this is generally the result of melting ice. Ice will build-up on the copper lines and can even encase the compressor. This is a sure sign of a leak in refrigerant and a loss of pressure. In this instance, you will need to refill your refrigerant level and locate the leak. A blown fill valve core is the most likely place to look.

Defective AC Condenser Fan Motor

Another sign of a bad condenser is when the motor for the condenser fan doesn’t operate as expected. The Fan motor can seize, run intermittently, or run continuously. If the motor doesn’t run at all, it will cause your condenser and compressor to overheat.

Any other unexpected fan motor operation is a sign of a lousy contactor or capacitor. An inspection of these two items, or replacement, is recommended.

Factors to Consider When to Repair or Replace Condenser Coils

When something goes wrong, you have the option to repair the issue or replace the part. How should you base your decision? Let’s take a look at some examples to find out.

Systems Age

Age plays a key role in the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of your HVAC system. Most residential systems will be reliable for about 20 years. If your condenser is only a few years old, it isn’t economical to replace the entire unit. You can repair a condenser for a lower cost if the part is still in warranty.

However, if your unit is getting up there in age, it may be more beneficial in the long run to replace the entire unit with a new one.

Efficiency Upgrade

Newer systems require less maintenance and are designed to last longer. You may be interested in upgrading your system to integrate with your smart home, for example. Since older systems don’t have the capabilities required for smart home integration, you may decide to purchase an upgraded unit.

Older R22 Systems

R-22 refrigerant is no longer being produced. What is available for purchase will be gone soon. In the meantime, prices for R-22 are skyrocketing. Even though you won’t be able to buy the refrigerant yourself (you must have a certification license), the additional costs will be added to your maintenance bill.

Moving to a newer system that uses an approved refrigerant like R-410a, is not only better for the environment, but will also keep more bills in your wallet in the long run.

AC Condenser Replacement & Repair Costs

How much is it going to cost to repair or replace your AC condenser? This section will cover various parts, brands, and options to give you a better idea of what your costs will be.

Keep in mind that each region, area, and situation will have various nuances that will affect the final cost. Be sure you always get at least three quotes before settling on a final purchase option.

Home AC Condenser Parts Replacement & Repair Costs

The condenser unit is a simple system with a lot of intricate parts. The diagnosis of the component causing the problem is the first hurdle. The most significant causes of condenser unit failure are the coils, fan motor, circuit control board, contactor or capacitor, and blockages or leaks.

When hiring a professional, the costs will increase at last double. Most professional repair companies will charge an hourly labor fee, which can range between $50 and $150 per hour.

Home Advisor breaks down the common failure points based on size (coils and condenser unit ton-capacity). This information is expressed in the chart below.

SizeUnit PriceTotal With Labor
1.5 – 2 Ton$500-$800$900-$1,500
2.5 Ton$600-$1,000$1,000-$2,200
3 Ton$700-$1,100$1,100-$2,300
3.5 Ton$750-$1,200$1,150-$2,400
4 Ton$800-$1,300$1,200-$2,500
5 Ton$1,000-$1,600$1,400-$2,800

Chart information retrieved from Home Advisor

Unless you have a blockage or a leak, repairs can be done by the replacement of worn parts. Instead of replacing the entire condenser unit, you can expect to pay the following costs for the various common failure parts. Note, the chart below does not include labor.

PartCost
Motor$350-$600
Control Circuit Board$150-$400
Contactor or Capacitor$150-$300

For a blockage or a leak, it is highly recommended that you replace the entire condenser unit. Costs for those based on brand, size, and application are below.

Residential HVAC Condenser Unit Replacement Price by Brand

If you are going to replace the entire condenser unit, there are a few factors you must decide on before making your purchase. First and foremost is the type of refrigerant being used by the system. If you currently use R-22 and want to go with a system that uses R-410a, you will need to also replace the high-pressure line and flush the entire system before installation.

The size of the condenser unit is also required. If you put a condensers that is too big for your system you won’t run efficiently and the costs on your energy bill will increase. Likewise, if you opt for a condenser that is too small, the system will have to work overtime to cool your home, resulting in a shortened life span and a higher monthly energy bill.

Most residential homes average a 1.5 – 2-ton unit. The ton measurement comes from how much heat it takes to melt one ton of ice. This was adapted into the BTU measurement we use today, but condensers are still rated by tons. Below are costs for condenser units, by brand, for an average residential installation.

Condenser Brand1.5 ton/ R-401aCost
Goodman1.5 ton/ R-401a$$
Trane3 ton/R-410a$$$
Carrier1.5 ton/R-410a$
Lennox2 ton/R-410a$$
Rheem2 ton/R-410a$$

DIY Vs Professional HVAC Technician

Before you jump in and start fixing things yourself, you need to understand the dangers involved. First, you are dealing with an energized electrical component that deals with temperature extremes.

3rd-degree burns, as well as frostbite, are all possible with improper handling. You are also going to be messing with parts that generally have over 200 volts of electricity running through them. Always double-check power supplies are shut off, safety gear is worn, and that you know exactly what you are doing.

While the dangers are serious, most repairs and replacements aren’t that complicated. You will have to handle refrigerant, though, which does require a license. If you do not have a license, you can attend a class to get certified. Check the EPA guidelines for details.

Hiring a professional will save you a lot of time and headaches. However, labor costs can get high. For routine maintenance, you should do it yourself (see further below). Replacing the relay switches, capacitors, and even the blower motors can be done as a DIY project. Beyond that, though, it is beneficial to hire a professional.

You can check Angie’s List for reputable professionals in your area.

How to Replace AC Condenser Units

Before you set out to replace your condenser unit, you will need to have an understanding of the HVAC system, how it operates, and the refrigerant it uses. You will also be required by law to have a license to handle the refrigerant.

  • Before you remove the power to the condenser, you will need to recover the refrigerant that is in the system. This will require a recovery machine, refrigerant gauges and manifold set, recovery tank, and protective equipment.
  • Remove the disconnect block form the outside power breaker and short the capacitor to drain any residual charge.
  • Close the refrigerant valves to prevent any leaking from leftover vapor in the compressor.
  • Cut the copper refrigerant lines at the condenser, leaving enough behind to braze the new condenser unit into.
  • Disconnect the thermostat wires, power wires, and junction box wires from the condenser.
  • Remove the top shell and pull out the fan and fan motor.
  • Assuming your new condenser unit comes with a compressor, you won’t need to remove the old one. If you are using the old compressor, you will need to remove it as well.
  • Unbolt the condenser unit from the pad by removing the bolts from inside the unit.
  • Carefully remove the condenser unit from the pad and recycle where applicable.
  • Installation of the new condenser unit is the reverse of removal.

How To Clean Condenser Units

Cleaning your AC condenser unit should be an annual routine. You can also maintain the unit seasonally to help the overall upkeep. Maintenance should take you about an hour, though you will get faster with knowledge and practice.

The idea behind the maintenance is to keep the unit working efficiently. You will be checking for damage, removing debris and clearing the area of possible airflow blockades. You will need a screwdriver with a Phillips, flat, and ¼ drive ends. Most 4-in-1 screwdrivers will fit all of the screws on your condenser.

You will also need a garden hose with a nozzle attachment, eye protection, gloves, and either a shop vacuum or air compressor.

Important Note: Any time you are working in, on, or around the condenser unit, you must shut off the power. You can pull the power disconnect block (or toggle the on/off switch to off). However, you should be cautious as many components inside retain the electricity they store. Even with the power off, sudden jolts of component movement are still possible.

  • The first thing you need to do is clear the area around the condenser and pad. Use yard tools to cut down grass, weeds, and any other lawn debris that can grow up, in or over the condenser.
  • Blow or vacuum the fins and air louvers on the outside of the unit. Pay special attention to the corners and bottom of the condenser shell.
  • Inspect the fins and ensure they are straight and parallel. You can use a small knife to straighten the fins if needed.
  • Remove the top of the condenser shell with the fan and fan motor attached. Go slow, as there won’t be a lot of room because of the electrical wires. Place the top securely out of your way to give you access to the inside.
  • Spray the inside of the unit with the garden hose and nozzle. Moderate pressure should be used. From inside, direct your spray to the outside of the machine, cleaning out the coils and fins from top to bottom.
  • Vacuum out the inside bottom area around the compressor and the pad underneath.
  • Reinstall the fan and shell top using all of the mounting screws you removed and ensuring the electrical wires do not become pinched, cut, or dislodged.
  • Go around the unit again, clearing off the debris expelled from spraying in the previous steps. Do not spray back into the machine. If stubborn debris is present, use the vacuum to remove.
  • Replace the air filter inside your home and set the thermostat for the AC to come on.
  • Restore power to the condenser and ensure everything is in working order.

Frequently Asked Questions

Let’s go over a few of the more common questions about the AC condenser and its various pieces.

How long do AC coils last?

With proper maintenance and care, the coils in an AC condenser should last several decades. Because the coils are a closed system, unless there is physical damage from an outside source, the coils should last at least as long as the rest of your HVAC system.

How long should I expect my AC condenser to last?

The average life expectancy for a home AC condenser is about 20 years. This can be extended with proper and routine maintenance. For automotive compressors, life expectancy is about five years, depending on usage.

Do home warranties cover AC coil replacement and repairs?

Most home warranty companies will cover the HVAC system, which will include the AC coils. However, we can’t know every home warranty option available as well as each company’s practices. You should double-check with your home warranty company as to what is covered and to what degree before any work is done.

Is it more economical to buy a whole new system vs. repairing and replacing my AC condenser unit?

This will depend mostly on the age of your AC system as well as which parts are being replaced. It is also a consideration if you are doing the repairs or replacement yourself, or hiring a professional. Unless you are EPA certified, a professional will be required for legal reasons in most cases.

How much does an AC condenser unit typically cost?

The cost will vary significantly from brand to brand. You will need to factor in the size and capacity of the condenser unit, brand, refrigerant type, installation location, etc. For just the parts, though, most residential AC compressors will range between $500 and $2,000.

Conclusion

While budget is a major factor when deciding to repair or replace your condenser unit, it is also a factor in whether the job will be done as a DIY project or by a professional. It is always advised to hire out the work when dealing with major AC components such as the condenser.

Because of the dangers involved and the EPA license requirements, most homeowners aren’t legally allowed to work on their own systems. This doesn’t mean you can’t maintain the system and replace smaller parts that go bad yourself, but it should be considered.

The overall costs of hiring a professional versus doing the job yourself are mostly minimal. When you factor in your time and the warranties, the labor costs can be considered a wash.

by Joshm Joshm No Comments

AC Capacitor Cost: Price Guide For Replacing In a Home Air Conditioner

Your AC capacitor is a small but essential part. Several other AC components require the kick start a capacitor offers, such as the compressor, the fan motor, and the blower. If your capacitor goes bad or begins to wear out, your air conditioner won’t function properly or will cycle on and off many times in a continuous manner.

This article will look at the various types of AC capacitors and help you diagnose the problem, show you the different capacitor types, and help you replace your capacitor, including the cost to do so.

AC repairman

How AC Capacitors Work

A capacitor is a piece of electrical equipment that stores energy. It is connected to the condensing unit power supply (220V) and collects energy until it is needed. When the air conditioner needs to come on, the capacitor sends a high-voltage jolt (upwards of 400 to 600 volts) to the compressor, fan motor, and blower motor. They operate in a similar way to a car’s alternator.

Once the capacitor has started the components, your AC will come alive and begin blowing cold air. During the run cycle, the capacitor stores a new supply of energy while maintaining a constant flow to keep the other parts moving.

Most AC systems will have two capacitors. The primary capacitor in the condensing unit will power the compressor and the condenser fan motor. The secondary capacitor is generally smaller and will operate the blower motor in the evaporator unit.

Smaller AC units can run on a single capacitor while newer, larger systems will require three. Your system’s manual will tell you how many and which type of capacitors it requires.

Types of AC Capacitors

Generally speaking, there are two types of capacitors, start and run. Both types also have sub-types. Let’s take a look at the various types of AC capacitors.

Start Capacitor

A start capacitor produces the electricity needed to start an electromagnetic motor. A blower motor, for example, will require the jolt from a start capacitor to produce enough energy to begin rotation.

Start capacitors only engage long enough to get the motor running and then disengage; waiting until the next time they are needed. Each start capacitor has a capacitance measured in microfarads (µF), which we will cover further below. Microfarads are also labeled as MFD. This is important to note when looking for a new capacitor. MFD and µF are the same in this situation.

A Super Boost Capacitor/Turbo Capacitor isn’t technically a capacitor. They are also known as a hard start capacitor. The kit is designed to offer an even larger boost to get a motor running and will connect directly to the ports on the start capacitor. These are usually needed in rare situations when the compressor won’t start, or there is an electrical problem.

They are not designed to be installed and forgotten. Instead, they are made to help the AC system work to diagnose other problems or to get a new install up and going.

Run Capacitor

wiring diagram AC capacitorIn your home AC, you will find a run capacitor is used more than a start capacitor.

A run capacitor operates whenever the system is on to help create the magnetic field that keeps coil motors moving.

There are two main sub-types of run capacitors.

A single-stage run capacitor will start and power a single motor or device. In our situation, this will be used to run the blower motor or the fan motor.

However, it is more likely that your condensing unit uses a dual-stage run capacitor.

You can tell because single-stage capacitors have two terminals on the top while a dual-stage capacitor has three.

Signs of a Bad AC Capacitor

The downside to an AC that isn’t functioning correctly is that several parts could be the underlying problem. For example, an AC not blowing cold air but otherwise operating fine could be the result of a bad compressor, a bad capacitor, or even a dirty air filter. Therefore the diagnosis is needed to determine the root cause of the issue. Here are some signs your capacitor is going bad or has failed.

AC Not Blowing Cold Air

As we mentioned above, this could be caused by another part of the system. An air conditioner not blowing cold air will only increase your energy bill. The run capacitor could be the culprit here, and if the air from your AC vents isn’t cold, check to see if the compressor is running.

If the compressor or the fan in the condensing unit is not running, they could be the problem. However, if both are not operating, it is most likely the run capacitor that is faulty.

High and Rising Energy Bills

When the HVAC system seems to be running fine, but you have noticed your energy bill increasing each month, your capacitor could be at fault. A capacitor doesn’t work one cycle and then fail the next. Instead, they get worse and worse as time goes on until they can no longer store enough power to start the system.

While they are still functional but going bad, the AC will run for shorter periods, causing it to cycle on more often. This increase in running times will cause your energy bill to spike.

Humming Noise

A common sign of imminent failure is a light humming noise coming from your condensing unit, even when it isn’t running. You can remove the access panel to the compartment that houses the capacitor. If the humming gets louder, it is most likely the capacitor beginning to short out.

Old HVAC System

Age is another concern. A run capacitor has a life expectancy of about 15 to 20 years. However, areas that are warmer longer, like the southwest, will have a shorter life span for their capacitors because they are used and cycled more frequently. If your HVAC system has at least ten years of operation, the capacitor could be starting to fail.

AC Turns Off or On Its Own

We set our thermostats to a desired temperature for our comfort. The expectation is that when the temperature rises above this point, the air conditioner will come on. Once the set temperature is reached, the AC will shut off.

If your capacitor is bad or faulty, it can leak the stored electrons into the motors and cause them to turn on, even if the thermostat hasn’t opened the circuit yet. They can also cause the motors to shut off before the desired temperature is met.

AC Doesn’t Turn On Immediately

We also expect our systems to work. When the thermostat opens the circuit, the compressor and condenser fan should start up immediately. The blower motor in the evaporator unit may take some time to come on, though, so be aware.

Most blower motors are connected to a time delay switch that won’t allow the power to the motor for up to five minutes. However, if the AC is turned on, and the compressor takes more than 30 seconds to start, your capacitor could be to blame.

AC Won’t Turn On

If the above situation isn’t remedied, eventually, the capacitor will get to the point where it can’t power the system at all. When this happens, the AC won’t turn on at all. While this could be due to other factors, such as a worn-out compressor or a faulty thermostat, the most likely candidate is the capacitor.

Common Causes of AC Capacitor Failure

Just as there are many different signs that your capacitor is bad, there are also many different causes. The most common cause is age. As I mentioned earlier, the life expectancy of a run capacitor is about 20 years. The more an AC is used, the lower the age range becomes. However, if your capacitor is over ten years old and the system starts to act funny, the capacitor is the most common culprit.

Another cause of failure is heat. While it may sound counter-intuitive, a hot summer day can cause your capacitor to overheat. It is advised to keep your condensing unit in the shade during the hottest parts of the day.

As long as there is room around the unit for proper airflow, shade trees and shrubs can go a long way to prolonging the life of the electrical components inside the condenser, including the capacitor.

Finally, the voltage going to and from the capacitor must be within range. Each capacitor has a voltage rating, and if this is exceeded (or to some extent undervalued by a great deal), the capacitor can fail.

AC Capacitor Replacement & Repair Costs

Replacing your AC capacitor doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. As a DIY project (details further below), you will only pay for the capacitor itself. The price range will vary depending on a few factors, such as the brand, capacitance, and size of the capacitor you need. However, you should expect to pay between $5 and $30 for the part.

If you don’t want to take on the job yourself, you can hire a professional. According to Home Advisor, the average cost for a home visit, inspection of the system, and replacement of the capacitor will range from $90 to $400. This will include labor and parts. The entire job should take less than 30 minutes.

If you do hire out a professional, be sure to get a minimum of three quotes before you hire someone to do the job. You can check Angie’s List for recommendations of reliable professionals if you don’t have an electrician or HVAC repair specialist you know and trust.

Call the number on our page to discuss a quote with a local HVAC company.

Choosing Replacement Capacitors

When you have diagnosed the system and found the capacitor to blame, it is time to replace it. There are not parts of a capacitor that can be repaired, so once it fails or begins to fail, the only option is a replacement. Here are things to look for in a replacement capacitor.

Original Capacitor Voltage

Voltage is critical to the capacitor and the system. You must find one that has a voltage range capacity that matches your system. Each capacitor will have the voltage ratings printed on the side of the canister, as well as the packaging. If your capacitor is too old and the writing has worn off, your HVAC owner’s manual will tell you the proper voltage for your capacitors.

Original Capacitance Value

The capacitance value is measured in microfarads (µF). Run capacitors can range from 1.5 to 100 µF. A start capacitor will range from 70 up to 200 µF, and even higher for some commercial situations.

You must ensure that the microfarad rating is a match for your system. If it is not, the system may start by the motors will not have the proper magnetic shielding and will burn out or not run fast enough.

Frequency of Operation

Knowing how often you run your HVAC system on average will also help you determine which capacitor to purchase.

Overall Shape & Size of Capacitor

There are several sizes and shapes of capacitors, and getting the right one for your system is crucial. Primarily, a home AC will use a round or oval-shaped capacitor. These vary in length, but two to four inches is standard.

Before you purchase a new capacitor, you should look at the current one that is installed. It will be mounted to the inside of the access area of the condensing unit with a metal strap and a screw. There isn’t a lot of wiggle room inside this panel for larger capacitors. You can switch between oval and round, as long as you have the space for it.

You may need to replace the metal mounting strap for a longer piece if you switch to an oval-shaped capacitor, or to tighten the existing strap if going to the smaller cylindrical type.

Terminal Type

Another factor to consider is the terminal type. A majority of homeowners won’t have to worry too much about this, as run capacitors use a male-end plug that slips into a female connector.

Some older models are the opposite, though, with the capacitor having the female leads and the wires using the male terminators. You will have to look at your capacitor to determine which style your unit has.

AC Capacitor Replacement Products

To get you started with your replacement research, I have compiled several brands, sizes, and types of capacitors for you to choose from. Remember that your capacitor must fit your system in size, voltage, and range.

Special note: While some run capacitors are rated and branded for a specific use, you do not have to stick to a particular brand. Just because a capacitor is a direct replacement for a Trane, for example, doesn’t mean it won’t work in a Goodman unit. As long as the voltage and MFD ratings are the same, the capacitor will work just fine.

To read the ratings, there are two numbers to be on the lookout for. All capacitors will have the MFD rating range. This will appear as two numbers split by a forward slash or sometimes a positive and negative symbol. For example, the Carrier capacitor, first on the list below, has an MFD of 45/5. This means it produces 45 µF with a variance of +5.

The second number after the slash is the variable in change. It shows how much discrepancy there is between the lowest and highest output. In this case, the 45 µF can be as low as 40 or as high as 50. If your capacitor rating is between 40 and 50, this capacitor will work for you.

Run Capacitors

1. Carrier 45/5 Dual Run Capacitor – Round

This model is a direct replacement for most Carrier models. Before you purchase, you should double-check the voltage and output ratings of your AC and ensure they match the capacitor.

2. HVACPartsUSA – 80/7.5 Dual Run Capacitor – Oval

The 80/7.5 capacitor sold by HVACPartsUSA is an oval capacitor that will fit most Lennox units. If you want or need an oval capacitor, this one will work in most systems. As always, be sure to double-check the voltage and capacitance ratings prior to purchase.

3. Universal 10/5 Dual Run Capacitor – Round

If you aren’t concerned with a name brand match, this universal capacitor will fit a wide variety of models. The 10/5 MFD will replace most 12 SEER and older models.

4. ClimaTek 45/5 Dual Run Capacitor – Round

The Climatek capacitor is made for Trane parts replacement. However, with a 45/5 MFD and 440volt capacitance, it will also fit most modern AC systems up to 14 SEER.

Start Capacitors

1. Electrolytic Start Capacitor 108/130 Start Capacitor – Round

A lot of start capacitors can be replaced with this 108-130 MFD range round capacitor. Double-check your ratings and ensure you need a capacitor with a voltage output of 125.

2. Trane CPT00091 Start Capacitor – Round

Trane motors need a specific amount of voltage. This 330v capacitor fits the bill for a lot of Trane models. It also has an MFD rating of 135 to 162. A list of compatible Trane units is listed in the description.

DIY vs Professional HVAC Technician

It is never a bad idea to call a professional if you are ever in doubt or uncomfortable working on your own air conditioner. There are a lot of dangers that must be prepared for and expected when dealing with moving electrical parts and high-voltage.

With that being said, you can save yourself hundreds of dollars by replacing the capacitor yourself. You only need a few tools and about 15 minutes of your time to get your AC system back in proper working order.

If you are interested in a DIY project, see below for more details on how to replace a capacitor. For those that cannot be bothered or are too wary of attempting the job, you should look for a professional to get the job done. Angie’s List is a great place to find a licensed professional with a good reputation and acceptable labor charges.

When hiring a professional, make sure you get at least three quotes and know exactly what process they will take when caring for your HVAC system.

How to Replace AC Capacitors

If you have decided to take on the capacitor replacement yourself, there are a few tools you will need:

  • A multi-tipped, electrician’s screwdriver. As long as the grip is rubberized to prevent shocks, you will be fine. It should include a Phillips and flathead. If you do not have a ¼ inch driver bit for the screwdriver, a small socket set will suffice as well.
  • Needle nose pliers, also with rubberized handles.
  • Eye protection. Safety glasses or goggles are a must.

The procedure is a simple one, as well. Remember, though; you are dealing with over 220 volts of electricity. Double-check all breakers and switches are off before opening the access panel.

  • Shut the Ac off at the thermostat, then switch the breaker for the AC. Note: Some breaker boxes have up to four breakers for the AC, often the condensing unit is on its own breaker.
  • Outside, pull the power disconnect block from the breaker panel.
  • Open the access panel. Usually, there are two to four screws that hold the panel in place. Remove the screws and lift up from the bottom then pull out and down to remove.
  • Locate the capacitor. Using a rubber-handle screwdriver short the terminals. Place the tip of the screwdriver on a bare terminal and touch a bare terminal of another post with the shaft of the screwdriver. Repeat for all combinations and terminals.
  • Remove the screw from the metal mounting strip to release the capacitor.
  • Gently pull the capacitor away from the mounting location. Take a photo of the terminals, noting which color wire is connected to the terminal posts. The posts are marked Fan (or just F), Common (or simply C), and Herm (H).
  • Using pliers remove the wire terminals from the capacitor port.
  • Dispose of the old capacitor properly.
  • Push the wire terminals on to the new capacitor ports using the photo from earlier as a guide.

In case you lost the photo or forgot, the general rule is color-coded wires. BE WARNED, not every installation uses the proper color code. This is why it is important to take a photo or draw a diagram before removing the wires. Use the below information only as a guide and not a rule. Every system can be different.

Purple and or red will connect to the common-C post. Bown will link to the fan-F post. Yellow wires will connect to the Herm-H post. Green wires will be a ground wire and not connected to the capacitor. White wires typically don’t appear in AC systems at the condenser; if they do, it is usually a ground wire, especially if a green ground wire is absent. Orange wires will connect to the common-C post.

Also note a start capacitor will be labeled R for Run, S for Start, and C for Common. Red wires will connect to run. Blue wires connect from the contactor to the R or S posts. Brown with white striped wires connect to the Common-C post.

Once the wires are back in place, continue with the installation.

  • Position the capacitor against the mounting area of the access panel.
  • Wrap the metal strap around and secure it to the wall with the mounting screw.
  • Ensure there are no loose wires, or wires laying across contacts or terminals.
  • Restore power to the AC unit and turn on to test.
  • If everything works correctly, attach the access panel cover back in place. For comfort and safety, you should remove the power disconnect block. However, there isn’t a need to also shut off the breakers inside if you are only attaching the panel cover.

If you want to see a video of how easy it can be to replace the capacitor, you can watch this short video:

Frequently Asked Questions

Here I will answer some of the most commonly asked questions about AC capacitors.

Where can I buy replacement AC capacitors?

AC capacitors are found virtually anywhere AC parts are sold. Many local hardware and home improvement stores will have them in stock or available online. Places such as Home Depot, Lowes, and Ace Hardware are hit and miss resources. You can always find a specific capacitor through Amazon, as they tend to stock the largest range of brands.

Can start capacitors be interchanged with run capacitors?

Technically, you can, as each does, primarily the same job. However, it isn’t advised and can short out your system. A run capacitor is a long term item that runs as long as there is power to the HVAC system. A start capacitor works much like the starter on your car, only engaging when it is needed. Swapping them or using one instead of the other can cause your HVAC system to malfunction or short out, causing further parts to be replaced.

How long do AC capacitors last?

The average expected life span of a capacitor is about 20 years. This will depend on the overall age of the system, ambient temperature, and amount of usage.

How long does it take to discharge an AC capacitor?

If you discharge with an insulated screwdriver, as mentioned in the article, the discharge takes only a second or two. You can also discharge by using a voltmeter, but depending on the size and capacity of the capacitor, this can take some time.

Do home warranties cover AC capacitor replacement and repairs?

This will be up to your specific contract with your home warranty. HVAC systems are tricky when it comes to home warranties, and many cover some parts, but not all. Other companies will cover every bolt and screw in your home. You will need to contact your home warranty company to find out for sure if you are covered when it comes to the AC capacitor or not.

How much does an AC capacitor typically cost?

The actual cost will vary based on brand, size, shape, capacitance, and other factors. You will also receive a mark-up if you hire a professional, and they supply the part. However, in most cases, a dual-run capacitor form your local hardware store should run you between $5 and $30.

Conclusion

A capacitor going bad or burning out can cause your entire HVAC system to be unresponsive. However, a capacitor is an inexpensive part and quickly replaced by most homeowners. Of course, if you don’t want to be bothered with the project or are uncomfortable working around high-voltage, you can always hire an HVAC specialist to replace it for you.

The overall cost is low, and you won’t be without your cold air for very long. A capacitor will range between $5 and $400, which varies for a DIY project and a hired project. The entire process should take less than 30 minutes before cold air is restored.

by jtanner jtanner No Comments

How to Find the Best Air Conditioner Repair Service

hot-sun-need-airconditioner

Summer can turn out to be one of the most difficult seasons sometimes because of the scorching heat that it brings. During these moments, your air conditioner becomes literally your best friend. Your unit breaking down, therefore, is something that you should take care of immediately. However, this doesn’t mean that you have to ask for help from the first technician that you see. Choosing the best air conditioner service or furnace repair is very important since there is a huge chance of your system being damaged if it is handled by someone incompetent. If you don’t have any idea on how to find a good air conditioner repair service, read on below to get some simple tricks and tips.

 

1. Ask around

The best advice and recommendations can come from the people you know and trust. While researching on your own is good, there is always a good chance that you are only seeing part of the truth than with the reviews you see. If you ask someone you already know, however, then you can get unbiased opinion since they don’t have any reason to promote the service at all. Ask them questions like how prompt the service was and how open and friendly the contractor was in terms of listening to concerns.

 

2. Check the Internet

If you don’t happen to know anyone who can give you recommendations, the internet is your next best option. When you do go online, however, do not search for repair providers. Instead, go straight to searching for repair and ac reviews from people. If you happen to see an interesting review on a contractor, search for more reviews on that contractor. Reading at least 10 feedbacks is necessary because it lessens the possibility of you only seeing a limited view of the company. Come up with a shortlist of the top repair service providers you found.

 

3. Check your shortlist’s credentials

You already have the list. The next thing you have to do is to research about them. Check out their websites and familiarize yourself with the services that they offer. If you liked what you see, call them and ask for their qualifications. Repair services need a license to operate so check on that too. Of course, you should never forget about their certification. Do not be afraid to ask questions like how long they have been in the industry and the options that they offer to their clients. A good air conditioning repair company, for example, should provide you with a couple of choices in terms of energy saving.

 

4. Dig Deeper

How well your potential provider answers your questions indicates how good they are at what they do. Ask things like the brands they are familiar with. If they mentioned the brand of your unit in their answer, ask them the approximate number of times they have repaired a unit like yours and the problems that they’ve fixed. Ask also about the type of equipment that they will be using. Repair services that are only familiar with local products and equipment are not really good to make business with because it usually means their knowledge and skills on the area are quite limited.

 

 

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