Your HVAC System Could Be Making You Sick

When you or members of your household start experiencing respiratory symptoms, it’s easy to blame the weather, seasonal allergies, or even other people’s germs. However, it’s always a good idea to inspect your HVAC unit. We routinely take this system for granted so long as it’s heating and cooling our homes optimally, but HVAC systems can impact our health in various ways. Here, we’ll explore how aspects of HVAC systems can detract from our health as well as what to do about it. 

HVAC Leaks

HVAC system leaks can be extremely detrimental to health. If you have a gas or oil furnace for heating your home, you should install a reliable carbon monoxide detector. A carbon monoxide leak can be deadly. As your furnace burns fuel, carbon monoxide is a naturally occurring byproduct of the heating process. When your heating unit is operating properly, that carbon monoxide is contained within the heat exchanger and then vented safely outdoors through the flue and vent. Sometimes, though, the heat exchanger can develop a crack that allows this dangerous gas to leak out. A problem with the venting system can also lead to this dangerous type of leaking as well. 

Unfortunately, many people don’t suspect that carbon monoxide is leaking because it’s odorless. The most symptoms that people may experience are flu-like symptoms such as nausea and headache. However, if you’re asleep, you may not feel any symptoms. This is why it’s so important to have a carbon monoxide detector. People can easily dismiss flu symptoms in winter, thinking they are coming down with the virus. Another helpful way to prevent this problem is to have your furnace inspected each year before the cold season. 

Also, if you suspect that your furnace is not functioning properly and is at risk for a carbon monoxide leak, open the windows of your home and call for emergency HVAC service. While the flu symptoms might quickly disappear, you may still wish to contact your healthcare provider, especially if you feel faint or severely unwell.

Headaches

Headaches are a common health complaint that can have many causes, including seasonal allergies, stress, insomnia, and illnesses like the cold or flu. If you come down with a headache and can’t quite attribute it to these issues, it could be caused by your air conditioning system. In fact, headaches and disease are associated with a problem known as ‘sick building syndrome.’ Central air conditioning systems, especially when set to a low temperature, can disrupt the building or home’s moisture levels. Typically, you can combat this problem by turning your thermostat up. It’s also a good idea to take breaks from your indoor setting and step outside periodically for fresh air.

Respiratory Complaints

Dirty vents and HVAC systems can trigger breathing difficulties. Once bacteria, allergens, and fungi multiply in your vents, they can be difficult to remove without professional HVAC maintenance. Dirty vents can substantially reduce the air quality of your home’s interior. If anyone in your household suffers from conditions like allergies or asthma, they may experience more frequent attacks. 

With periodic HVAC inspections and maintenance solutions like filter changing and air duct cleaning, you can eliminate this problem, ensuring that everyone in your home breathes easier. If you’re experiencing these health symptoms now, you can also get an indoor air quality inspection that can determine precisely where the triggers are coming from.

Itchy, Watery Eyes

Itchy, watery eyes are a common symptom of allergies. However, if you experience them at a time of year when you typically don’t, it could be a sign that your HVAC system ducts are dirty or have developed a leak that is allowing the offending particulates into your breathable air. On the other hand, your system could be removing too much moisture from the air. This may also trigger itchy, watery eyes. Invite your HVAC contractor over to perform an inspection. You may need some aspect of your unit adjusted to achieve better moisture balance. You might also need to introduce a good-quality humidifier to your home. 

Skin Irritation

Skin irritations, especially dry, itchy skin, can be caused by your HVAC system if it pulls out too much moisture. Rather than lathering up with lotions, it’s a good idea to use a humidifier. In fact, this issue can show up in the winter when your heating system is in full force or in summer when your air conditioning system is working overtime to beat the heat. In fact, the more time we spend indoors in our temperature-controlled climates, the more commonplace these skin irritations can be. If you have a chronic skin condition such as eczema or psoriasis, it can also become exacerbated when your interior air is too dry. 

A humidifier can be a great help in these situations. If you’re especially plagued by itchy, dry skin, consider using a portable humidifier in your bedroom as you sleep each night to help clear up this condition. Your HVAC provider should have whole-home humidifier solutions they can recommend. 

Stress

Is your HVAC unit stressing you out? Chronic stress is no joke, and if your unit is beginning to experience frequent breakdowns, especially during the middle of winter or summer when you need them to function optimally the most, you may feel troubled about the ongoing expense as well as the even greater expense that comes with a unit replacement. Alleviate your stress by consulting with a trusted HVAC professional. That way, you can get a clear idea about the condition of your unit and get help making a decision about whether to continue to repair an older unit or replace it. You may even be able to rely on financing options if you need to install a new unit. 

 

Don’t let your HVAC unit sabotage your health or peace of mind. Contact Briggs HVAC to have your system thoroughly inspected. Irritants like mold and allergens will only continue to plague your health if they aren’t addressed. And, a carbon monoxide leak is a life-threatening problem emergency that should be dealt with by your HVAC contractor immediately. Contact us to learn about our comprehensive HVAC maintenance, repair, and replacement services. 

 

8 Warning Signs You Need Air Conditioning Repair Services

As the weather gets warmer, there are endless opportunities for enjoying the beautiful weather. But after a long day out in the sun, you need to cool off ASAP. Your home should be in a comfortable climate at all times to stave off dehydration, heat exhaustion, and other problems. Keeping your home properly air-conditioned can also help improve the air quality of your living space and even keep mold and mildew at bay.

If your AC system hasn’t been functioning at its best recently, it may be time to call for professional air conditioning repair. The sooner you have Briggs HVAC perform repairs on your AC unit, the sooner you can return to a safe and comfortable living environment. Here are 8 major warning signs that you need air conditioning repair in Northern Virginia.

1. Insufficient Airflow

Airflow says a lot about the quality of your HVAC system. The air coming out of your AC unit should be powerful enough to cool your entire home. If it isn’t, you will likely feel a difference in the climate of your home.

There are multiple causes of insufficient airflow. Some of the most common culprits include a blocked air filter, a broken motor, leaks in the ductwork and a malfunctioning AC blower. Be sure to call a professional immediately to have the problem diagnosed correctly.

2. High Humidity

When you come back inside from the hot, sticky weather, you want to feel cool and refreshed. If you find that your home is just as humid as your backyard, this usually means something is wrong with your AC system. Your air conditioning unit should automatically regulate the humidity levels in your home when it’s working properly.

High humidity can trigger mold growth, allergic reactions, and other issues. It’s crucial to call for air conditioning repair as soon as possible to keep your home environment safe and comfortable for everyone.

3. Warm Air

If warm air is blowing out of your AC unit, this is a sure sign that your system is in need of repair. This could mean that your compressor isn’t cooling the air correctly or that your air conditioner is running out of refrigerant. No matter what the issue is, be sure to have a skilled Briggs HVAC technician look at your unit to get to the root of the problem.

4. High Utility Bills

If air conditioning problems persist for long enough, you might have to pay the price. High utility bills are a common consequence of faulty HVAC infrastructure. While it’s normal to experience higher costs in the summer months, it’s important to note any spikes in your utility bills that seemingly have no reason behind them. This could be a warning sign that it’s time to call for air conditioning repair right away.

5. Age of Your Air Conditioner

The age of your air conditioning system can also impact its effectiveness. You can expect a well-maintained unit to last 12-17 years on average. Once your air conditioner surpasses its seventeenth birthday, it’s likely that you’ll start experiencing problems.

Minor problems can usually be fixed with professional air conditioning repair. However, if you find that your HVAC system is constantly running into issues, you may be better off replacing the entire unit. This can help you significantly cut down on costs in the long run.

6. Excess Moisture

Not all air conditioning problems are visible. However, excess moisture around your unit is one of the most evident signs that something is wrong. This may point to a condensate leak, which is typically the result of a blocked or broken drain line. A more serious type of leak is a refrigerant leak, which can be hazardous to humans. It’s crucial to call for help immediately to prevent your HVAC unit from harming you or your loved ones.

7. Unusual Noises

It’s normal for air conditioners to make a little bit of noise as they turn on and shut off. However, loud, strange noises are often a cause for concern. If you hear buzzing and rattling, this usually means that a part of your AC system has come loose. Whistling and grinding, on the other hand, are telltale signs that there’s inadequate airflow or a problem with the compressor.

Don’t try to ignore these noises if they appear. Many unusual sounds are an indication of a bigger problem, and the best way to handle the issue is to seek out professional attention.

8. Unpleasant Odors

Unpleasant odors are another common sign that it’s time to schedule air conditioning repair. There are many different smells that can come from your air conditioners, such as chemical smells, burning or electrical odors, and musty smells. Burning or electrical smells often point to a problem with the electrical wiring or the insulation around your AC unit. Alternatively, musty odors are usually an indication of mold hiding in your system. This can become dangerous if the unit starts to spread mold spores throughout your home.

It’s important to address this issue as soon as it appears. A highly trained professional at Briggs HVAC can identify the specific problem at hand and issue the right kind of treatment for your needs.

Keep Your AC in Top Condition With Air Conditioning Repair

There’s no telling when something will go wrong with your air conditioning system. If you notice that anything has gone awry, be sure to trust your instincts and call for help as soon as you can. A skilled professional can handle these issues and others in a quick and efficient manner. The next time you’re in need of air conditioning repair in Northern Virginia, don’t hesitate to give Briggs HVAC a call to get your system up and running again.

Your Complete Pre-Winter HVAC Checklist

Before winter sets in and your days get colder, make sure your HVAC unit functions properly. After all, you wouldn’t want to be trapped with a failed furnace when winters get chillier and temperature plummets.

A detailed HVAC checklist will keep you safe and warm. It involves a few things that you can check yourself and others for which you’ll need a skilled professional. If you aren’t sure what to add to this list, here are the top things to do:

Check and Clean the Filters

Your HVAC needs thorough dusting before you resume its use in winters. It involves cleaning the filters before reactivating the unit. During the fall, the filters and ducts collect a lot of dust and grime when they are not in use.

You may clean the filters with a damp cloth and replace them every 3-6 months to prevent contaminated air from entering your home. When cleaning the filters, look deeply for any leakages too. If you find any, call your HVAC contractor immediately to fix the issue.

Start the Thermostat and Check the Heater

Even before you start carving the pumpkins for upcoming holidays, remember to switch your thermostat from cooling to heating. It will set the temperature a bit higher than the current room temperature. When you turn the thermostat on, listen closely for the sound of heat kicking in.

If it doesn’t make any noise and connections look secure, check the power source to see if the unit is turned on. And call a professional if it still doesn’t work because there may be an issue with the blower, heat pump, or furnace fan that’s better handled by a certified technician.

Check the Furnace

Add furnace checkups and tune-up to your HVAC checklist to keep your unit working efficiently. Clear the clutter around the furnace and make sure it has a few feet of open space on all sides.

When checking the furnace, use a flashlight to see if any critters or rodents have made their home inside it. If so, clean up the area or call a professional to do the chore.

Check the Humidifier

When you run the furnace, it may dry out the air. Hence, keeping the furnace humid is essential in the winters. That’s what a humidifier does. If you have a humidifier in your unit, clean its water panel and check that it has no mold growth or debris inside it.

Also, replace the carbon monoxide detector batteries to protect your unit from any unexpected furnace mishaps. Change the batteries every year and test the unit for its proper functioning after the battery change.

Winterize the AC Unit

In your HVAC checklist, make it a point to winterize your AC unit against winter elements. It will save you hundreds of dollars spent on AC repairs when summer gets back.

If your HVAC doesn’t have a heat pump, cover the condenser, so falling icicles won’t damage it. Cover the fan with a board instead of wrapping it in a plastic tarp that keeps the moisture inside.

Don’t Forget Draught Proofing

Though it may seem inconsequential, draught-proofing your home is essential for the proper functioning of your HVAC system. Any cracks or spaces in the walls, windows, and doorways can let the air escape and impede heat circulation inside the home. As a result, your unit might end up overworking itself.

Check and Clean the Heat Exchanger

Your HVAC checklist isn’t complete unless you add regular brushing and vacuuming the heat exchanger. However, this task should be entrusted to a skilled professional who can look for any cracks or leakages.

Check and Clean the Ducts

If the heating ducts gather dust or get damaged, your system will be overworked, increasing the utility bills and harming the air quality. Hence, inspect the ducts before winter starts and look for dents, mold, mildew, punctures, or broken wires. Though you can examine it yourself, call a professional for repairing or replacing the ducts properly.

Install a Programmable Thermostat

You can customize the temperature settings in your house with a programmable thermostat. It will allow setting the temperature back by 7-10 degrees F when you are asleep or not at home.

Experts also suggest keeping your house warm at 68 degrees during the day or whenever you’re at home. So, if you don’t have a programmable or Wi-Fi-enabled thermostat yet, it’s time to call your HVAC contractor to install one.

Change the Direction of Ceiling Fans

Mostly, the ceiling fans have a switch that allows you to change your blades’ direction to rotate clockwise. This way, the fans will push warm air down in the room and circulate the heat from the furnace throughout your house.

Check the Chimneys

The chimney’s flue is another item to inspect in your HVAC checklist. Make sure that it is properly closed to prevent drafty air. Sometimes, the chimney may harbor carbon buildup that needs to be cleaned well. Call a certified professional for chimney tune-ups and cleaning before you build the blaze in your fireplace.

Check the Igniter Switch

If the igniter in your HVAC system isn’t working, push the reset button. However, if it still doesn’t switch on, check the breaker or call a technician to examine the igniter switch and circuit breaker in your house.

Schedule a Professional Tune-Up

You can’t overlook the importance of a professional tune-up and inspection in your HVAC checklist. You may fix and check the smaller issues, but system faults, boiler issues, replacements, and draught-proofing are some specialized tasks best managed by certified professionals. Schedule a pre-winter inspection with your HVAC contractor to ensure that your unit is ready for the season.

Winters bring a lot of change to your outside temperature, your home, and your lifestyle. Cleaning your spaces to improve air quality is essential alongside this HVAC checklist to stay warm and protected inside your home.

With a professional examination, you can find and fix minor issues before they compound into a serious problem down the road.

Air Balancing: 7 Ways to Avoid Hot and Cold Spots in Your Home

Did you know that the average American spends 87% of their lives indoors? This means that indoor comfort is of the utmost importance when you’re in your home.

This is typically achieved through your air conditioning and heating system. However, things can go wrong, which can really decrease your comfort.

To help you out, here are 7 ways to do air balancing in your home. That way, you can avoid hot and cold spots.

1. Check Your Air Filters

All HVAC systems have air filters. These are there to eliminate impurities in the air so you breathe in good quality oxygen.

However, over time, they can become clogged. This process can be accelerated if there’s been something detrimental in the environment, such as a forest fire nearby.

It’s important to either clean and/or replace your air filters regularly. This is one of the most important things to do when it comes to HVAC air balancing. Not only will this provide you with better quality air more frequently, but it’ll also help prolong the lifespan of your HVAC system.

And most importantly, it’ll get rid of hot and cold spots, plus keep your utility bills down. In fact, it can reduce your energy consumption by up to 15%!

2. Check Your Registers

The registers are what block or allow air to flow from your HVAC vents. One key piece of advice is to never completely close all vents, as this can cause other issues to occur.

In general, if you’re experiencing hot weather, you should completely open the registers on the 2nd floor. For the 1st floor, you should close them partway. Because hot air rises, during hot weather, you want to push as much cold air into the top floor to make up for that extra hotness. 

On the other hand, if you’re experiencing cold weather, you should close the registers partway on the 2nd floor. And on the 1st floor, you should open the registers all the way.

3. Get Good Clearance on Your Vents

It can be hard arranging your furniture and items within your house. But you just might have to rearrange once again.

Go through all your rooms and check that nothing is covering any registers. For example, you might have some furniture that’s blocking the vents. As a result, this can cause your HVAC system to work a lot harder than it needs to.

In general, you should allow for at least 18 inches of space for your vents. If this isn’t possible, you should consider purchasing a magnetic air deflector. These items have the power to redirect airflow so you get the best air circulation possible.

4. Check All Seals

One of the main things that can create cold spots in your home is leaky seals. This can definitely be the culprit if you live in an older home and haven’t performed maintenance in a while.

Go around to all your windows and doors and see if you can detect any drafts. Bring a lit candle with you to better visualize any leaks, as the flame will flicker or even go out if there are any.

Once you’ve found the leaks, seal everything up properly. This should fix the cold spots in your house.

5. Install Window Coverings

This HVAC tip is for addressing hot spots in your home.

During the summer, your windows can be a huge source of heat, since they can create a greenhouse effect. If you don’t have any drapes, shades, or blinds, this means you’re constantly receiving sunlight through these pieces of glass. In turn, your home will quickly heat up, especially the direct areas the sunlight’s hitting.

A simple way to fix this is to install window coverings. Not only will these block the heat better, but they’ll also add to the aesthetics of any room. Plus, you can shut them to get some privacy if you have lots of foot traffic outside.

6. Move Electronics Placed Nearby Thermostats

As you may already know, electronics generate lots of heat whenever they’re in operation. If they’re anywhere near your thermostats, this can give them false readings. As a result, your air conditioning might be on for longer than necessary.

Not only should you move your electronics if they’re near thermostats, but you should also adjust your vents. This will allow the hot air from your electronic equipment to be removed from the room more efficiently.

7. Try a 2-Degree Offset

This is one of the HVAC tips that will only work if you have a separate thermostat for the upstairs and downstairs.

As the name suggests, you’ll have a difference of 2 degrees between the floors. The difference will depend on whether you’re experiencing hot or cold weather, because again, hot air rises.

If you’re having hot weather, set the thermostat on the upper floor 2 degrees lower than the bottom flower. And in cold weather, you’ll want to set the thermostat on the bottom floor 2 degrees lower.

Both methods account for the hot air rising, which will help to make temperatures more even throughout your home. This works similarly to how opening and closing the registers works as well.

Try These Air Balancing Tips

If you’re getting hot and cold spots in your house, then you should give our above air balancing tips a try. However, these may not always work.

In that case, you should give Briggs HVAC a call. We can come out to your property to service your HVAC system. They can do professional air balance testing, which involves adjusting both the intake and output accordingly. As a result, that’ll have it up and running smoothly to keep you comfortable in your home.

Would you like assistance with your HVAC system? Then schedule an appointment with us now. We also have emergency services available.

Our Top 5 Fall HVAC Maintenance Tips

The average lifespan of a typical HVAC system ranges between 12 – 15 years. But experts agree that you can easily extend the life expectancy of your unit by properly caring for it. 

One of the main ways to extend the life of your heating and cooling system is to perform regular maintenance tasks. A good rule of thumb is to check your system before you switch between heating and cooling — so at least once in the spring and once in the fall. 

Keep reading to discover the top HVAC maintenance tips to keep in mind as fall occurs. 

1. Replace Your HVAC Filter

Replacing your HVAC filter is one of the easiest maintenance tasks you can do, but it’s also one of the most commonly forgotten tasks. 

It’s recommended that you should replace your air filter at least once every three months. If you have pets in the home or someone suffers from respiratory issues, you probably should be changing the filter at least once a month. 

If you’ve never changed your air filter, the process is pretty simple. 

To start, turn your HVAC unit off and remove the current filter. If you’re unsure about what size filter you need, look at your current filter before purchasing a new one for the correct dimensions. Most filters will have instructions on them to show the correct way to place the filter into your unit. 

Once the new filter is in your unit, check to see if there are any gaps around the filter. If it doesn’t appear to be a perfect fit, you either have the wrong size of the filter or the filter you purchased is damaged. 

Then, replace any seals or levers that secure the filter in place and then turn your HVAC system back on. Make sure the filter stays in place when it begins to run. 

Make sure you mark on your calendar the date of your next filter replacement.

2. Clean Up Around the Outside Unit

The next maintenance task you’ll want to perform is cleaning up around the outside unit. 

Start by clearing away any debris that’s built up around the exterior of the unit. This includes any leaves, vines, weeds, or tree branches. Anything surrounding the outside of the unit will impede the airflow, meaning your HVAC unit will have to work harder to regulate your home’s temperature.  

You can also take your cleaning a step further by turning the vacuum off and using a hose to spray any debris or dirt that’s built up on the unit. You can purchase a coil cleaner to spray on the unit after your initial rinse. Let the cleaner sit for about 10 minutes before rinsing it off with the hose again. 

Be extremely careful around the condenser fins of your exterior unit. If you do accidentally bend or damage these fins, contact your HVAC professional immediately. 

3. Prevent Clogs in the Condensate Drain Line

When preparing your unit for fall, you’ll also want to prevent clogs from forming in the condensate drain line. If this line does become clogged, this can lead to mold growth or water damage in your home. 

First, make sure your HVAC unit is completely turned off again. Then, locate the access point to the drain line, which is near your indoor air handler. Use the suction hose of a wet vac in an attempt to collect any build-up that may be in the line. 

You can also break up any mold or debris in the line by pouring a cup of white vinegar or a combination of hot water and dish soap. Let this sit in the line for about a half an hour before flushing the line with clean water. 

4. Clean Your Ducts and Registers

The next task on our list of fall HVAC tips is to clean both your ducts and registers. 

Throughout the year, it’s natural for dust and debris to build up in your ducts and registers. If you want to achieve proper airflow and keep your unit working as efficiently as possible, it’s best to clean out this build-up. Having clean ducts also ensures that your home is circulating clean air, which can help eliminate respiratory issues

Let the fan run for a few minutes to help loosen up any dirt before turning the system completely off. Use a brush or vacuum attachment to clear out any dust inside your registers. It’s ideal to use a vacuum with a long hose attachment to clear out as much dust as possible.

Then, wipe down your register cover with a gentle cleaning solution. 

5. Schedule a Maintenance Appointment 

To keep your HVAC system in the best possible shape, you’ll want to have professional preventative maintenance.

With Briggs’ HVAC Maintenance Agreement Plan, you’ll extend the life of your equipment while ensuring it works to its full potential. In addition, you’ll save money in the long run when it comes to repairs and catch small issues before your HVAC system stops operating. 

During your annual tune-up, our team will do everything from checking your system’s evaporator coil to evaluating safety controls. We can even clean or change your air filter for you as well as adjust your thermostat calibration. When you schedule a maintenance appointment, you can rest assured that your HVAC system is ready to keep you warm throughout the winter. 

Contact Briggs for More HVAC Maintenance Tips 

These are just the main HVAC maintenance tips to keep in mind this fall. Make sure you perform these simple tasks before you make the switch from air conditioning to heating. You don’t want to find out that you have a serious HVAC issue on your hands when the temperatures start to drop.

If you hear any abnormal sounds from your system or notice that your system isn’t properly warming your home, the team at Briggs HVAC is here to help. Our experienced HVAC service technicians have spent the last decade serving Woodbridge and the surrounding area. Whether you need emergency service in the middle of the night or an annual maintenance check-up, we have the expertise to get the job done right. 

Call Briggs at (703) 730-8444 or click here to schedule your next HVAC appointment.

How to Tell If Your Air Conditioner Needs a Check-Up

Have you ever had your air conditioner give out, on what seems like the hottest day of the year? It’s all too common and results in a frustratingly hot wait while the repairs are being completed. However, you can avoid major breaks in your system by catching smaller issues early and keeping up with air conditioner check-ups. 

In general, your air conditioner needs a check-up once a year, just before you turn it on. However, there are some warning signs that your air conditioner needs a check-up sooner, to prevent a more serious problem from cropping up. Here are the signs to look out for.

Unusual Noises   

Unusual noises are never good from anything mechanical and your air conditioner is no exception. Sometimes we miss the noises our air conditioner makes, because it’s the outdoor unit with the problem, and we tend not to spend much time near that. It might be wise to stand near your outdoor unit while your air conditioner is running and see if it’s making any sounds. Although, the air conditioner can make noises on the inside too.  

  • Rattling: Any sound that you think might have been made by parts knocking off each other is probably just that. Loose fan components, even the case on the outdoor unit, may be improperly secured and creating the noise. This will become a more serious problem over time as the two parts knocking against each other may break each other.
  • Squeaking: Squeaking can also be the sound of a part moving in a way that it shouldn’t.
  • Clicking: Clocking is commonly a cycling problem, where the air conditioner is turning itself off early, or turning itself on frequently. Either is a waste of energy
  • Gurgling/hissing: These sounds often indicate a problem with the refrigerant, potentially a leak. Refrigerant leaks are safety hazards and they will slowly render your air conditioner useless.

Performance Issues 

Of course, if your air conditioner just plain won’t turn on, then you know it needs some work. What are some more subtle performance issues that signal that your air conditioner is headed towards a break if it doesn’t get some professional attention? Here are a few things to check: 

  • Air no longer feels as cool: Your air conditioner doesn’t change how cold the air is that it outputs. It just stops running when your home doesn’t need any more cool air. So, if the air actually feels less cool than it used it, this is usually a performance or refrigerant problem.
  • Air no longer reaches as far: Does it seem like the cool air from your air conditioner doesn’t get to the other side of the house anymore? It’s possible your fan isn’t running properly anymore, or that your filter needs to be cleaned or replaced.
  • Utility bills rising: When your air conditioner has a problem, it functions less efficiently and costs you more in utility bills, even if there are no other obvious signs of an issue. Unfortunately, few people will catch this sign, as utility bills tend to creep up slowly over time. It’s best to compare your bill to the same month last year, or the year before, rather than compare month to month.

Moisture and Air Quality Issues 

Your air conditioner may also develop moisture or air quality issues that not only indicate something is wrong with it, but that may also undermine your comfort in your home. 

  • Leaks: Any puddles or droplets near the air conditioner may have been caused by it. The air conditioner condenser uses moisture as a way to move heat out of your home, so leaks and humidity are a potential problem. This excess moisture may damage the air conditioner, your drywall, and contribute to high humidity in your home. Usually, this is a condenser issue that needs to be resolved by a professional.
  • Air quality: With that high humidity may come smells, mold, fungus, and other air quality issues. Or, your air conditioner may develop these problems due to a dirty filter. Either way, a professional can refresh your air conditioner and make the air it blows out much more comfortable.

Best Practices for Air Conditioner Maintenance   

You should check on your air conditioner periodically, but not just early in the season. Just before summer hits its peak, you should check in on it, as your air conditioner will start to work significantly harder in the high heat. This is when it is most likely to suffer complete failure. So, if you and your HVAC professional can catch errors before this, you’ll save yourself the trouble of having to arrange for emergency repairs.

5 DIY Tips to Maintain Your Home Air Conditioner

Maintaining your air conditioning unit can not only extend the life of your unit, but it can also improve the health of your family & pets, and help you avoid costly repairs down the line that could’ve easily been avoided. We’ll walk through 5 tips that can help you maintain your air units.

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.