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How Well Do You Know Your Air Conditioner?

Most homes located within our service footprint of Delaware, Southeastern Pennsylvania, South New Jersey, and Northeastern Maryland have air conditioning. For some, air conditioning may be a luxury, but for many including the elderly and those with breathing issues, it is a necessity.8 Things To Know About Your Air Conditioner

Given the expense of the HVAC equipment and the energy consumed to run it, Horizon Services wants our customers to be well informed about their home-based air conditioning systems. With that, our experts sift through years of technical training and experience to bring you the 8 most important things you should know about your home’s current air conditioning system.

How Does Your Home Air Conditioner Work?

The main job of your home air conditioner is to essentially to remove humidity and to move the heat from inside your home to the outside. This results in a more comfortable environment for you, your family, and your home. In order to do so, air conditioners blow cool air into your home by pulling the heat out of that air. The air is then cooled by blowing it over a set of cold pipes called an evaporator coil. The evaporator coil is filled with a special liquid called refrigerant, which changes from a liquid to a gas as it absorbs heat from the air.

The refrigerant is pumped outside the house through copper piping to another coil where it gives up its heat and changes back into a liquid. This outside coil is called the condenser because the refrigerant is condensing from a gas back to a liquid, (just like moisture on a cold window). A pump, called a compressor, is used to move the refrigerant between the two coils and to change the pressure of the refrigerant so that all the refrigerant evaporates or condenses in the appropriate coils.

What Does A “Ton Of Refrigeration” Mean?

A ton of refrigeration refers to the cooling capacity of an air conditioner or refrigerator equal to 12,000 BTU (British Thermal Units) per hour 200 BTU per minute and denotes the amount of heat required to melt one ton of ice in 24 hours. It’s more important, however, to keep in perspective that a window air conditioner is usually less than one ton. Most residential air conditioning units range in capacity from about 1 to 5 tons of refrigeration or 3.5 KW ~ 17.5 KW, or 12,000 BTU/hour ~ 60,000 BTU/hour. 

So, What Can Go Wrong?

Air conditioners are complex mechanical systems that depend on a wide variety of conditions in order to work correctly. Each individual air conditioning unit should be sized appropriately to meet a certain “load”(the amount of heat that is either lost or gained through the exterior walls, windows, roof, doors, people and appliances) on a house-by-house basis. With that, the specific air conditioner in your home should be specifically designed with a certain amount of refrigerant as well as air flow across the coils. When any of these things changes, the system will have problems.

  • If you produce more heat indoors either from having too many appliances turned on at once or because there are more people in the house, the air conditioning may not be able to keep up with the load. (More heat being added or lost than the design normally will allow for)
  • If the refrigerant charge on the system experiences a leak, it lowers the capacity of the system. This will lead to less cooling and system will not be able to keep up when the load gets high.
  • If airflow across the outdoor (condenser) coil is reduced, the ability to reject heat outdoors is reduced and the again the capacity of the system may go down, especially at higher outdoor temperatures.

Why Should You Change Your Filters?

Air conditioning equipment is designed to operate with a specific quantity of air passing over its indoor coil surface. When air filters are not replaced, they clog and become coated with dirt. Similarly, the indoor coils and blower wheel get coated with dirt. This dirt reduces the amount of air flowing in the unit below the design limit and as a result the unit struggles to keep up and can wear out sooner than its life expectancy. Cleaning or changing the furnace filter regularly will not only improve the air inside your home, but it will also help you save money.

There are many different kinds of air filters available. The key to choosing the right filter is to decide which best suits your needs and your particular system. Each type of furnace filter has a different efficiency rating, different strengths and weaknesses, and different features that make them desirable for certain customers.

Why Should You Perform Routine Maintenance?

There is a lot riding on your home’s HVAC system. From the operating and energy costs, to emergency repairs, it pays to keep your HVAC system operating at peak efficiency. In fact, a regular maintenance program can pay for itself, if not save you money.

At Horizon Services, our goal is to improve your comfort while reducing your energy costs. The benefits of a yearly maintenance plan include:

  • Lowers Energy Costs
  • Extends The Life Of Your System
  • System Will Run 25% More Efficiently
  • Restores Your System To Factory Condition
  • Priority Service For Plumbing, Heating And Air Conditioning Calls (routine or emergency)
  • A 15% discount On All Repairs

Do Ducts Really Matter?

Another reason why your HVAC system may appear not to be producing enough cold air is because of a duct leak. Duct leakage can sap from 20% to 40% of the energy out of even a well-operating air conditioner, especially if the ducts pass outside the cooled space such as garages, attics, and crawlspaces. For this reason, it is best if  the ducts outside surface were insulated.

In doing so, you might be able to get an extra half ton of air conditioner capacity for free, if you seal your leaky ducts. If the ducts are accessible, handy consumers can seal their own; however, we highly recommend contacting a professional to seal the ducts to ensure they are done correctly.

Why You Should Lighten The Load On Your A/C?

By reducing the overall size of the job that the air conditioner has to it will ultimately work better. You can do this by improving the home or reducing the internally generated loads that your air conditioner must deal with.

Improving the home includes things such increasing insulation levels or shading windows or reducing air leakage, as mentioned. Such improvements will reduce energy spent on heating and cooling, but may require substantial time or investment. Reducing internal loads can be easier. Shut off unneeded electrical appliances, lights and equipment. Shift appliance use such as washers and dryers to cooler times during the day.

Additionally, in the summer cool air collects near the floor, while hot air rises to the ceiling. The blades of a ceiling fan push air down, which forces the cool air near the floor to move outward and stir the air at the edges of the room. This circulation and movement of air can help a room feel up to four degrees cooler. You get a more comfortable temperature inside your home because a fan will help balance the cooling in each room where one is in use. If you have central air conditioning in your home, using a ceiling fan lets you set the thermostat several degrees higher without sacrificing comfort, meaning that you will save money on your energy bills while remaining comfortable.

Does Ventilation Matter?

The previous points have focused on cooling, but the original definition of air conditioning contains more than that; an ideal air conditioner system should heat, cool, clean, ventilate, humidify and dehumidify as needed to provide health and comfort. In fact the second most important objective of the original definition is to provide ventilation. Whether or not the piece of equipment we call an air conditioner provides it, ventilation is needed.

Without adequate ventilation, contaminants generated indoors can lead to significant health and comfort problems. Horizon Services recommends that there be at least enough ventilation to exchange the air inside house once every four hours, depending on house design.

Contact Horizon Services

While all HVAC equipment should be checked by a professional once a year, and an HVAC professional should always be called in to deal with major issues or repairs, you can extend the life of your HVAC system by taking just a few minutes each month to perform a few simple inspection and cleaning duties.

And, if you are ready to install or replace a heater or air conditioner our friendly and experienced team of Comfort Specialists know heating and air conditioning systems inside and out. They’ll take the time to study your home, understand your heating and cooling requirements, show you all of your options and assist you with finding the quality home comfort system that best meets your family’s needs and budget.

Related Information from Horizon Services…




(25) Comments

  1. Bob January 6th, 2015 at 8:45 am

    Very useful post. I found many new things about Air Conditioners functionality that I didn’t know. For example I didn’t know that AC’s filters should be changed. :D. Congratulations, you wrote an interesting article!

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    Feedback: 2 positive
  2. Daikin Air Conditioning January 21st, 2015 at 12:37 am

    Such a nice post. Very informative. Thanks for posting it here, I got some information regarding air conditioner. I have now a better understanding about air conditioner.

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  3. Susan Hirst March 17th, 2015 at 3:06 pm

    Thank you for this information. I’m living on my own for the first time. I have a lot that I need to learn, including heating and air conditioning maintenance. Your tip about insulating the ducts. It was most helpful.

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  4. Kristen Dockery March 20th, 2015 at 8:23 am

    What great information about air conditioners and how to take care of them so that they last a long time and run efficiently. I don’t know much about systems like these so I am glad that I came across this information. I recently noticed that my AC was acting up and so I think I need to get it looked at so hopefully I can get that done as soon as possible. Do you have any tips about taking care of your AC to keep it working for longer?

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  5. Ronald Swanson March 27th, 2015 at 1:04 pm

    I have always slacked off when it comes to getting my regular maintenance routine done on my HVAC system, because I didn’t want to spend the money. When you pointed out all of the ways I could save money by getting the check up done, I felt pretty silly about avoiding them. Lowering the energy cost alone could save me hundreds a year, by having an efficient system. Another point that you made was that it extends the life of my system. If it extends the life of my system, I won’t have to buy a replacement anytime soon, which is money in my pocket.

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  6. Jackson Tyler March 28th, 2015 at 11:44 am

    Performing routine maintenance is the best way to keep an a/c unit running for years and years. This post brings up a lot of great suggestions for maintenance, including the regular checking of the filters and ducts to make sure everything is a clean as it can be. By doing maintenance on your own, or hiring someone if you aren’t comfortable enough to do that is the best way to keep your unit going.

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  7. Walter Kowalski April 1st, 2015 at 2:57 pm

    I appreciate this information. I’m not what you’d call air conditioner savvy, so I wanted to learn more about how they work. This advice will really help me out if my air conditioner starts acting up.

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  8. Jenn Davies April 13th, 2015 at 3:59 pm

    People always seem to overlook that routine maintenance when it comes to the HVAC, but it’s actually super important. If you keep up on your maintenance, you’ll have far fewer repairs to keep track of. It can save a lot of money in the long run.

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    Feedback: 1 positive
  9. sean April 17th, 2015 at 1:38 pm

    I really like your suggestion to lighten the load on your A/C unit. Doing things like shading windows, adding insulation, etc. not only allow you to reduce your heating and air conditioning costs. They also offer the opportunity to make some visual updates to your home.

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  10. Dave Thompson April 21st, 2015 at 5:42 pm

    I’ve always wanted to know how my A/C unit worked. Thank you for explaining that, as well as why it is important to regularly do maintenance on your system. I’ll need to replace the filter on my unit. Don’t think it has be changed out in a few years, so it is probably very dirty. Thanks again for the great information.

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  11. Sergio Freddson April 23rd, 2015 at 5:42 pm

    I never knew that a ton of refrigeration meant something specific! It’s interesting to know that there are systems that can melt an entire ton of ice in 24 hours. That’s some serious power! Thanks for sharing these tips with us!

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  12. Shawns Chafer April 24th, 2015 at 2:21 am

    Thanks for sharing wonderful blog post

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  13. Nancy Jorden April 24th, 2015 at 12:16 pm

    The air conditioning in my home has been having a lot of problems. I think it would be a good idea to have someone come in and check to see what the problem is. I hope that the person will be able to fix the problem soon. There are a lot of great things to look into. I cannot wait to have my air conditioning fixed soon.

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  14. Holly April 29th, 2015 at 5:11 pm

    I need to get someone down to my place to look at my a/c. We started it up last week and its been making weird noises. My husband doesn’t understand the system well enough to even diagnose it. We hope it isn’t a really expensive fix but we won’t know until we bring someone down.

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  15. sean May 18th, 2015 at 12:23 pm

    I think that it is interesting that the air conditioner’s job is to remove humidity from your home, and move heat from the inside of your home to the outside. I always thought that the air conditioner just blew clod air into your home. I did not realize that it’s primary function was actually to get hot air out. I suppose that means that I could get to know my air conditioner a little better.

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  16. Julie Myers May 22nd, 2015 at 3:38 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing more about air conditioners! I have been noticing recently that our central air isn’t working very well anymore, so I think that it would be a really good idea to learn more about it to see if I can figure out what is going on. I will start to figure out what kind of air conditioning it is, and then I can probably find out how often I should replace my air filters and get maintenance. If I get both of these things done it will probably help the air conditioning work much better. Thank you for the great post!

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  17. Gary Birtles May 27th, 2015 at 12:49 pm

    Filters are very important to keep maintained. They play a large role in how efficiently the air conditioner operates. If you don’t change your filters often, it will end up costing you in the long run. It is a good idea to replace them every month or so.

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  18. Rodney Winerson June 4th, 2015 at 3:55 pm

    Always good to know a little bit more about your home AC unit. In case it breaks you will know basically how to fix it. If the break is minor then instead of calling a service to fix it you can possibly do it yourself, and save a few dollars. Thanks for the great post.

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  19. Jenn June 17th, 2015 at 10:52 am

    I’ve been trying to figure out why it’s taking my home so long to cool down, and after reading this I’m wondering if it’s a duct leak. The air conditioner seems to be running normally, but it takes hours to change the house even a few degrees. I’ll check out the ductwork before I look at the air conditioner again.

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  20. marcus morgan June 29th, 2015 at 5:43 pm

    I think that it is really important to have your air conditioner serviced regularly. You want to make sure that your air conditioner lasts a long time and that it works all the way through the summer. The best way to do that is by hiring someone to come and take a look at it and service it to make sure that it is in great condition.

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  21. Dady Supyandi February 15th, 2016 at 1:16 am

    I agree with your opinion , and enough to give more insight for me who did not know about the matter of air conditioner.

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    Feedback: 2 positive
  22. dave smith May 4th, 2016 at 1:29 am

    The summers are getting hotter and cruel, so it is very important that you know how to deal with small issues of AC’s yourself. I really like the way you explained the process of repairing an AC. I will follow these tips to keep my AC in good working condition in this summer

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  23. Mark David August 14th, 2016 at 12:43 am

    Knowing Air Conditioning is very important, because maintenance cost is very much for AC. In summer may a time gas pressure become less in AC, so have to call maintenance person for this.The Articles which you have posted is very nice and it is beneficial in summer.

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  24. Mason Noah September 30th, 2016 at 7:21 am

    Thank you so much for publishing this blog, it is very beneficial for me, recently I purchased an air conditional from alwayscool.co.au. They give a booklet contains all features and information regarding my air conditional system.

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  25. Dan K. October 19th, 2016 at 7:06 pm

    Thanks for sharing, I just want to emphasize something: Duct or Ductless HVAC system actually do matter. A ductless unit will help you keep away from allergies and will save you money in maintenance. Thanks for sharing

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