Parts of an AC Unit and What They Do

Air conditioner (AC) units monitor and regulate air temperature inside your home, but have you ever wondered how? Although an AC is a comprehensive system of components, it’s not too complex. We’ll break down the major components for you.

Evaporator Coils

Evaporator coils are used to deliver cool air into your home during hot summer months. The process by which air is cooled by the evaporator coils is as follows:

  • Air from inside your home is forced over the evaporator coils
  • Since heat flows naturally from hot to cold, the heat from the air inside your home is absorbed by the refrigerant inside the coils
  • The refrigerant changes state from liquid to vapor or gas
  • Cooler air is forced back into your home

The efficiency of the evaporator coil relies on how much refrigerant is available. Too little refrigerant results in operation failure. When too much refrigerant is available, it results in a parched evaporator and causes more liquid to transfer into the compressor.

Compressors

In order for heat to transfer back to the outdoors, the temperature of the refrigerant must be higher than the outdoor temperature. The main purpose of the compressor is to pressurize the refrigerant gas or vapor, thereby bringing it back to its liquid form. In order to disperse heat from the system, the air outside your home then cools the refrigerant.

The compressor runs on a motor and is therefore susceptible to mechanical problems if not properly maintained. It can stutter, overheat, and eventually burn out. If there are unusual sounds coming from the compressor, or if the AC isn’t keeping your home as cool as you’re used to, it could be because of a failed compressor.

Condenser Coils

A condenser coil is the opposite of an evaporator coil, as it contains hot liquid for heat transfer. Located outside of your home, it receives the high pressure, high temperature refrigerant from the compressor.

The refrigerant inside the condenser coil releases heat energy with the aid of the condenser fan, which blows air over the coils. As the heat energy leaves the refrigerant, the cooler liquid then flows to the expansion valve.

Since the condenser coil is located outside of your home, it’s important to keep it clear of falling leaves, branches or other debris. Ignoring regular maintenance could result in poor AC performance or electrical failure.

Expansion Valves

Located between the condenser coil and evaporator coil, the expansion valve removes the pressure from the condensed liquid refrigerant. As the pressure is removed, the temperature is decreased and the refrigerant changes from a liquid to a vapor form.

Keeping your expansion valve in good working order will ensure that your system stays efficient. A faulty expansion valve can result in your AC blowing warm air or frost, or it may keep your compressor working too hard.

Refrigerant

Refrigerant is a special fluid that changes states from liquid to vapor at convenient temperatures for the AC cycle. As it moves through the AC’s cooling tubes and copper coils, it absorbs heat from the inside of your home and transfers the heat energy outside.

One of the most common problems that can happen in the AC system is leaking refrigerant. Signs that refrigerant is leaking include:

  • Water puddles form around the compressor, evaporator coils, or condenser coils
  • Lower than usual airflow from the vents
  • The air inside your home feels warmer
  • It takes longer to cool down the house

If you notice any of these signs, it’s important to call a certified AC technician. At Briggs HVAC, we can fix small problems caused by leaking refrigerant in order to save your AC system from much bigger problems down the road.

Putting it All Together

The return vents inside your home force hot air into the AC system. As the hot air flows over the evaporator coils, the cold refrigerant absorbs the heat energy from the air.

After moving through the evaporator coil, the refrigerant discharges to the compressor. By pressurizing the refrigerant, the vapor inside the compressor is heated up even further. The hot vapor then flows through the condenser coils to facilitate heat transfer to the outdoors.

The refrigerant then cycles back over the expansion valve, depressurizing and cooling down. The AC system then performs the same heat absorption process over and over again.

Briggs HVAC: The Heating and Cooling Company

For professional residential HVAC sales and repair, contact us today. We service, maintain and install heating and cooling systems to keep your home comfortable all year long.

Prepare for Winter with a Fall Maintenance Check

When the warm days of summer give way to the crisper weather of fall, it’s a sign you should be getting ready for winter. Winter proofing your home keeps things running smoothly reduces energy waste and keeps your family toasty warm even on the coldest days. Here are our helpful tips to help prepare for winter with a fall maintenance check.

Air Leak Check 

Over the years, your home starts to show its age. This often means it can develop many sneaky ways for warm air to escape. Some of the most common places for air leaks are your windows and doors, as well as your attic. With the first signs of fall, perform an air leak check to look for spots that might interfere with your home’s heating:

  • Look at each of your windows for potential air leaks particularly around the frames and sill. These areas can be caulked inside and out with the proper seal for interior and exterior use.
  • Open and close your windows and see if they look like they could use some new weather stripping to help improve the seal. You will notice issues in any areas that pull away from the frame when the window opens and closes. A good test is to slide a dollar bill or piece of paper into the window and shut it. If you can pull it out, time for new weather stripping.
  • Do the same tests and inspection for any exterior doors. You can caulk gaps and add weather stripping to improve the seal.
  • If you have vines on your home overlapping siding, look for gaps. Pull the vines away and seal the gaps to prevent moisture and cold air from entering the walls.
  • Check your attic for signs of gaps along the roofline as well as dampness. Seal any obvious gaps using the appropriate caulking.

Look for Mold

Mold is a very dangerous, unhealthy intruder in your home. Because your home tends to remain closed up for the winter months, you really want to avoid sealing yourself in with mold. Look for mold in common areas where moisture occurs such as your bathrooms, sinks and windows. Use a strong mold spray to remove it and prevent further mold from growing.

Roof and Gutters

Make sure your gutters are debris free to ensure melting snow and ice have somewhere to go. Clogged gutters can lead to serious issues including giant icicles that can cause harm to your home not to mention put your family at risk for falling ice. As well, ice that builds up in the gutters can cause ice dams, which are very risky for causing roof damage and ultimately leaks. You’ll also be better prepared for thaws that occur in the spring to avoid water damage.  

It’s always a good idea to have a roof inspection. If you are comfortable on a ladder and with heights, you can do a once over of your roof to look for issues such as damaged or missing shingles. Otherwise, you can call in a roofing expert to look for areas in need of repair.

Furnace Maintenance Call 

The last thing you need is a furnace breakdown in the frigid winter. Set up a maintenance call with your HVAC specialist so they can do a complete check to make sure it is in top shape. You can do some preliminary checks by turning on your furnace to make sure it works, and that the thermostat allows you to turn the heat up and down. You can also do a quick clean up around your heater like vacuuming up dust. This is also a good time to change your filters to allow your furnace to run more efficiently. Your HVAC pro will handle the rest making sure all parts are in working order and letting you know if repairs or a replacement are required. Remember, if you want to reduce your energy bills, you need to make sure your heater is humming!

Inspect Duct Work

Your ductwork can also experience leaks that can lead to energy challenges. Wherever you have exposed ducts look for signs of issues such as loose screws, missing or loose duct tape and ducts that appear to be disconnected. Check your duct returns and supply ducts for debris and give them a quick vacuum to keep them free of obstructions.

Water Heater Check

If you want to improve energy efficiency, you can also add a water heater blanket and foam pipe insulator to help you save on water heating.

These fall maintenance tips will get your home winter ready so you and your family will avoid issues when winter makes its first appearance.

If you would like more information on fall maintenance for your HVAC system, contact our team of experts today. 

5 Tips for Buying an AC Unit

With spring here and summer approaching, you can expect a marked rise in temperature. While spring temperatures can often be comfortable and feel “just right,” once summer gets into full swing, the temperature indoors can get hot and uncomfortable.

For your comfort and the safety of pets, children, the elderly, and even electronics in your home, it’s important to maintain cooler temperature indoors, and air conditioning is the best solution. If you’re buying an AC unit for the first time, or you haven’t been in the market for a while, what should you be looking for? How do you make sure that the AC unit you’re considering is the best one for your needs? We’ve got five great tips to help you out!

  1. Decide on Coverage

From the start, you’ll need to make a big decision. Do you want full coverage of your entire building or partial coverage for select rooms? For example, if you want an entire home to be cooled, then you’ll likely need a centralized air conditioning solution. So, buying an AC unit that connects directly to an existing furnace and ventilation system will allow you to make use of the vents that already go into every room.

On the other hand, if you’ve just finished an attic, and you want to keep it cool but don’t want to add expensive new vents to that room, you can try a different option. A mini-split solution or even a window AC unit is a better fit to cool smaller or particular spaces.

  1. Size Matters

Buying an AC unit is also about making sure that you get a model that suits the square footage of the space. Get a unit that’s too powerful, and you’re paying for electricity that you don’t need to be using every time the unit turns on. Get a unit that doesn’t put out enough power for the building, and it will work longer than it needs to, which results in higher electric bills as well.

To avoid missteps, get an experienced AC technician to evaluate the space you want air conditioning for. They will measure the square footage and then make a recommendation. You want the right unit for the right amount of space in order to treat the air effectively and manage your spending.

  1. Think About Your Length of Stay

If you are upgrading your HVAC system because you’re getting ready to sell your property, you’ll want to buy an AC unit that makes your home attractive but doesn’t eat into potential profits. However, if you’ve just moved into a home for the long term, and you’re buying an AC unit, your priorities are different. You’ll want to consider efficiency, coverage, different types of models and technological advancements, trends, and of course, cost. The length of time you plan to stay in a home plays a role in how you decide to invest in your new AC unit.

  1. Look at the Rest of Your Home

If you’re buying an AC unit that’s new, you’re likely to get a big boost in your cooling efficiency. But you can get an even bigger boost if your home itself is also more energy efficient. Evaluate your windows, have your roof looked at, and see whether your walls or your roof would benefit from new insulation to prevent that cool air from leaking out.

You’d be surprised at how much more you can save if you get the rest of your home in shape for the summer and winter months.

  1. Pick the Right Installer

The most important decision you can make after selecting and buying an AC unit is to install it professionally. Buying an AC unit with high efficiency will only benefit you if the installation is done correctly. If you hire the cheapest installer available and ignore a poor reputation or bad reviews, you may end up paying for that choice in the long run with higher energy bills than you should be paying.

Always make sure that the installer you hire is reputable, experienced, and willing to come your home and evaluate it personally so that you get a custom solution. Contact us today, and we’ll be happy to provide you with a consultation and estimate so that you can decide how you want to cool your home this summer and enjoy both comfort and cost efficiency.

How to Pick the Best HVAC Company in North Virginia

The HVAC company you select must be qualified to complete the work in your home. Only by taking on the research process and reviewing the local marketplace can you find the right company for your home’s requirements. Our team at Briggs HVAC has decades of experience in the HVAC marketplace, and in this latest post, we’re explaining our tips for choosing the best HVAC company.

Read Customer Reviews Online

When you’re going through the research phase to find the best HVAC company to help you, make sure you read customer reviews online. Customer reviews can tell you more about how the company’s team completed their work inside the home. The review will likely point out if the company’s staff was late to the property and when issues occurred during their work. Or, reviews can confirm that the company is reputable and performs high-quality work. Ensure you read a number of reviews from different sources.

Ensure the Technicians Are Licensed and Insured

Make sure that the technicians the company employs have full insurance and have completed the licensing for HVAC work in the area. If the technician and their employer do not have full insurance, you may find you’re responsible for any damage that occurs to your property or any injuries they sustain during their work.
When a technician is licensed, it’s proof that they have the expertise to handle complex HVAC work, helping give you confidence in their competency.

Discuss the Pricing Before Coming to an Agreement

The pricing for your HVAC work should be discussed with the HVAC company before moving forward. Ensure that you know exactly how much you will be charged for the work to be completed.
Also, ask about the potential for any additional charges resulting from the work on your home. For example, will the company’s technicians ask you before completing further work outside the current scope? Once you have a final agreement regarding the quoted price, you can then move forward to discuss the project in greater detail.

Try to Avoid Choosing Solely Based on Price

A common mistake many homeowners make when selecting an HVAC firm is choosing simply based on price. That can lead to a number of issues with the quality of the workmanship. Price can be a key factor in your decision-making process, but it shouldn’t be your sole basis for choosing a company. It should be one of many factors that go into hiring the best HVAC company for work in your home.

Find Out How You Can Help Their Team

In some cases, the homeowner may be able to help the HVAC company complete their work effectively. For example, you may be asked to ensure the work area is clear of obstacles before the technicians arrive. You might also be asked to ensure that pets and small children are kept away from the area for the duration of the project. Taking these small steps can often make a significant difference in the quality of the completed work.

Discuss the Project in Detail Before They Begin

Make sure you have an idea about the type of work the company will be completing in your home before they begin. Often, homeowners simply let the HVAC team enter the property and complete their work without fully knowing the type of repair or installation work the company is completing within the home. That can mean companies get away with poor workmanship or mistakes during the working process. Try to find out as much as possible before the work begins, and make sure you ask questions if you’re unsure about any aspect of the process.

Discuss the Warranty

When you choose an HVAC contractor, the contractor should provide you with some form of warranty that states they will fix any errors that occur during their work. The warranty is designed to give you peace of mind when working with the contractor. It also protects you in case the contractor doesn’t follow-up with you after you find a problem with their workmanship. Ask for a copy of the company’s warranty before the work begins, and ensure you’re comfortable with the wording in the document.

Turn to Our Team at Briggs HVAC for Quality Repair and Installation Work

Looking for the best HVAC company for home repairs? Look no further. Our trusted team at Briggs HVAC has a comprehensive understanding of HVAC systems, including installation and repair requirements. We work with clients throughout McLean, Fairfax, and Great Falls to deliver exceptional HVAC services. If you have an issue with the HVAC systems in your home, you can turn to our team for a quick response! Call us today for a consultation.