Is a Bigger Air Conditioner Better?

Is Your Sacramento Valley Air Conditioner underperforming?

There are many reasons why your air conditioner may be underperforming.  Your system could be low on refrigerant, your evaporator coil could be clogged, the filter could be dirty, or the air ducts that lead to each room in your house could be damaged or crushed.  These problems can lead you to think your AC is undersized, and you should get a bigger air conditioner.  Today I want to tell you why getting a bigger AC may not be the best idea.

The Owner’s Hunch

Hi, I’m Greg Fox from Fox Family Heating, Air Conditioning, and Solar.  As the Sacramento area grows outward, new neighborhoods have sprouted up very quickly.  After the haste, many folks I’ve talked to have complained that their air conditioner seems to be undersized.  And sometimes they are right!  Sometimes the HVAC contractor that installed that system didn’t consider that the house has 10-foot ceilings instead of the usual 8-foot ceilings.

Doing the Math

That isn’t the only thing we look at either.  In both older and newer homes, the square footage of the house is important.  The type of windows and doors, the orientation of the house, as well as the impact of any trees that might be covering the house are all also important.  And the insulation levels in the house is also important.  All of these factors are used to figure out the proper size for a home’s AC unit.

Summer Heat

If your home’s air conditioner is undersized, you’ll know it because it will just run, and run, and run, even on 85- and 90-degree days.  That’s warm, but nothing compared to the average of 22 days per year of temperatures soaring to 100 degrees or more here in the Sacramento area.  Most air conditioners these days are designed to be efficient to 95 degrees or less.  Anything hotter than that, and EVERYONE’S air conditioner is going to run non-stop.

Going Bigger

This is typical for a lot of the homes around the Sacramento area.  But some people wonder if a bigger sized system is a good idea.  Here are some factors I would consider when considering the move to a bigger system:

Your air ducts are sized for the sized system you have now.  If you get a bigger system you can really affect the static pressure of the system.  Static pressure is like the blood pressure in your body.  If your heart was too big for your body, it could cause complications with your blood pressure, right?  Well it’s the same with the static pressure of your HVAC system.  The bigger air conditioner and its compressor won’t be able to operate under the same comfortable conditions as it would if it was properly sized.  This will lead to early system failures of your new HVAC system.

Comfort

A bigger system is also not going to feel as comfortable for your house.  Humidity isn’t as big a deal out here in California, but in other areas of the country it is.  Either way, the comfortability factor is compromised when you get a bigger system.

Imagine this.  When you turn on the AC in your car on a hot day, the air comes on full blast until you start to feel nice and cold in there.  Now, turn that AC back off, and its starts to feel muggy and strangely warm too quickly.  The car walls, seats, leather and other things in the car haven’t gotten cool yet.  That’s the same thing you’ll experience in a house with too big of a system.

The thermostat might satisfy at the temperature you’re asking for more quickly, but it kicks right back on quickly too.  This can really mess with the humidity levels in your home because the system hasn’t run long enough for it to do its job, which is to cool your house AND dehumidify the house at the same time.  Ideal humidity levels in our homes here are around 45-55%.  Anything more than that and it really starts to feel sticky in there.

Wear and Tear

Another reason to size it right is because now that your larger system is constantly turning on and off all day on these hotter days, the motors will wear out faster.  The most damaging time for a motor, especially your $2000 compressor, is when all that damaging heat and energy slam into that motor to get it running.  Yes, it levels off once its running but the starting and stopping is what really hurts those expensive motors.

The right sized system runs for longer times but cools your house more effectively by getting your walls, your furniture, the carpet and ceilings cool as well as the occupants in the house.  That’s why getting it right is so important.

Get it Right

If you’re an HVAC technician watching this video, don’t just go into the house and say, “Oh yeah you’ve got a 2.5-ton system in your house, so that’s what we’re going to go back with.”  You MIGHT BE going back with that same size system, but at least know for sure that’s what size your customer needs by doing a proper load calculation of the house and its surroundings.  An HVAC system is one of the most expensive things people buy for their homes.  It would be devastating to buy too small of a system or too large of a system.  You want to really get it just right!

Case in Point

I just went to a family’s house in the Natomas area.  Lots of newer homes have been built in this area.  This home had a 3.5-ton system on a house that I measured out at 2300 square feet.  This 3.5-ton system is too small for this house.  This was a house that had two thermostats, also known as a house with two zones, or a zoned house.  It uses one thermostat upstairs and one downstairs.

Zones

Zoned houses are designed to cool one floor at a time rather than the whole house.  Watch my video on “How to Cool a Two-Story House” for a better strategy on cooling this house, linked at the end of this blog post.  Basically though, I just set the schedule on their thermostat (which had never been set up before) to cool the downstairs living area during the day, and the upstairs sleeping areas starting around 7pm.

These folks were told by another company before mine to just set it to their desired temperature, which was 74 degrees, on both floors and press the HOLD button on the thermostat.  That’s why when I went into their home to give them an estimate for a new system, they were really focused on getting a bigger system; because that 3.5-ton system just could not keep up with that big house all day.  The temperature in the home was climbing throughout the hot days.

Each zone was only about 1300 square feet.  But they had 12-foot ceilings, 20-year-old vinyl, south facing windows, a south facing wall that is getting hammered by the sun all day, AND those walls are a part of the main living room downstairs and the master bedroom upstairs.  They can literally feel the heat radiating through their walls into those rooms. And they typically have some activity during the day upstairs, especially around the afternoon hours.

All this was taken into consideration as I advised them that the size of their system could be reduced by a half a ton, but considering everything about the house, the 3.5 ton would be just fine.

In Summary

Getting a larger AC than you need might sound appealing, but it’s torture on your new system.  It probably won’t last as long as it’s supposed to, and you’ll be buying a new system sooner than you should.

I hope this blog post has helped you understand the importance of not getting an oversized air conditioner for your home.  If you have any opinions on this topic, please feel free to comment below.  We really appreciate your input!

Thanks so much for stopping by, and we’ll see you on the next blog post!

Don’t miss our videos on this and a a related topic:

 

 

310.4 Electrical Connections and AC Disconnects

Installing According to Code is the Sign of a Real Professional

So many times when you’re out in the field you’ll encounter a technician, a supervisor or inspector who will cite building codes as their authority for proper installation of an HVAC system.  Installing a subpanel, wiring up a disconnect, or running PVC pipe in the attic correctly is just one of the many responsibilities of an HVAC technician.

Whether you pull permits or not on your job, a company’s worth is based on the quality of its workmanship.  And if that work fails in a few years, it most likely wasn’t installed according to code.

So often you will notice the code referring us back to the manufacturer and how they want it installed.  Referring to the installation guide and following along with the steps in the book will take any and all guesswork out of what you’re supposed to do next.  This is the sign of a real professional in their trade.
I’m not here to claim I know, or could even possibly interpret all the codes correctly, but what I would like to do is open up some conversation about the building codes and your opinion about what we are talking about this particular day.

Electrical Connections at the Condenser

Today I want to talk about installing a service disconnect at the condenser.  I will look at one of the first points made in the California Mechanical Code and it stands out from the International Mechanical Code which just advises following the NEC when it comes to this.  But as an installer, I’ve wondered whether or not to put a disconnect here.  Let’s take a look at what 310.4 says about Electrical Connections.

First, “equipment regulated by this code requiring electrical connections of more than 50 volts shall have a positive means of disconnect adjacent to and in sight from the equipment served.”  This just means a furnace would need a 120-volt pigtail as its positive means of disconnecting voltage from the furnace.  When you unplug the furnace, no voltage can reach the furnace.  A 30-amp or 60-amp service disconnect is installed on the 240-volt circuit to the AC outside as its positive means of disconnect.

Here’s a question for you.  Let’s say we’re installing the AC unit.  Usually, the disconnect is right next to the condenser so the service tech can access the unit safely.  Must we always have a disconnect next to the AC to remove power from the unit?  The answer is no.  If the main electrical panel is within sight of the condenser, that can serve as the means of positive disconnect for the unit.  The double pole breaker inside the main electrical panel is that means of disconnect.  This has come up a few times for us when teaching new technicians.

Dedicated Outlets

Next, “a 120 Volt receptacle should be located within 25 feet of the equipment for service and maintenance purposes.  The receptacle need not be located on the same level as the equipment.” 

So, because we service our equipment with pumps and motors that require electricity, an outlet needs to be within reach of a 25 ft. extension cord.
As specified later in the codebook, in the case of a package unit installed on a roof, a dedicated outlet at the unit must be installed in certain jurisdictions.  Here in Yolo County, right next to Sacramento County, we must install 120 weatherproof outlets at the package unit on the roof we’re servicing in order to meet that city’s more stringent adaption of the code.  This allows us to use our vacuum pumps and recovery machines up on the roof.

Exposed Thermostat Wiring

The third part of this code requires that “low voltage wiring of 50 volts or less… shall be installed in a manner to prevent physical damage.”   This is kind of a pet peeve of mine.  It bothers me to see thermostat wire running to the AC with its brown sheathing exposed to the sun’s UV rays.  Even the slightest bump of a dried out thermostat wire against the AC is enough to strip the wire and expose it to an electrical short.  One-half-inch conduit should be run with the thermostat wire to protect it from damage.  It really doesn’t take any extra time to install this flexible non-metal conduit right into the condenser.  Some techs just don’t think about it, because they weren’t taught that way.  It’s all good.  Once again, just starting a conversation about this.

Your Turn

What are your thoughts about this section of the code that talks about electrical connections?  Do you always put a disconnect next to the AC even though it’s in sight of the main electrical panel?  Please leave your thoughts below.

Thanks for weighing in, and stay tuned for next week’s blog topic!

Don’t miss our YouTube video on this topic:

How Much Will a New Central Air Conditioning System Cost in 2019?

In the spring of 2019, a lot of people will begin wondering, “how much does a new central air conditioning system cost?”

Every January a nice letter crosses my desk from the manufacturers of all the HVAC systems we use.  They let me know the cost of their equipment will be rising again in 2019.  The cost of systems has been rising by a few hundred dollars every year.  This is a reliable fact and there is no chance of those prices going down for obvious reasons.

When it comes to replacing your air conditioning system, people seem to be driven by one of three things:  low prices, good value, or top-of-the-line gear.  When it comes to the overall price range for a new air conditioning system you should factor in a few things.

It’s a lot like buying a new car.  Some people will get the most basic thing that will get them to work, or they’ll seek out the nicer but middle-of-the-road car they’re proud to own, and it’s very reliable.  Others will look for the latest and newest smart car on the market.  In much the same way, the price for a new central air conditioning system in 2019 will run anywhere from $7,000 to $25,000.  When you bought your new car, you probably got some upgrades.  The seat warmers and self-park feature were a must!  You can get a similar variety of upgrades when choosing your new air conditioning system too, and it doesn’t have to be anything overly lavish, either.

Efficiency Ratings

In 2019, your first consideration when purchasing a new HVAC system should be the efficiency rating.   Finding a company that will give you three or four options, not just one, for your new air conditioner, is important.  You’re limiting yourself if you don’t.

In 2019 you should be seeing options from 14 SEER all the way up to 25 SEER. This SEER rating is like miles per gallon on your car.  That’s a great way to think about it, actually.  The higher the SEER rating, the better and more efficient the equipment will be.  If you chose the 14 SEER or the 25 SEER, you can expect either system to last about 15-25 years.  “Anything after 20 years,” I tell people, “and you’re on borrowed time.”  And that’s fine too because 20 years from now, you’ll probably want that next generation of central air conditioning systems for your home.

A 14 SEER system is going to cost you anywhere between $5,000 and $16,000 in California, depending on where you live and which contractor you choose.  But a lot of that has to do with the type of installation you choose for your new central air conditioning system.  Some people are DIY’ers who thrive on the challenge of replacing their home appliances themselves.  Changing an HVAC system is hard work, but it can be done.

Upgrades

The most popular upgrades after choosing your efficiency are:

  • Dividing your home into two or more “zones”
  • Smart thermostats
  • Wireless thermostats
  • Contactor containment (SureSwitch contactors)
  • Compressor start assist kits
  • Condensate flood switches
  • Air quality products
  • Virtual assistants / smart speakers (Amazon’s Alexa)
  • Insulation blown into attics
  • Whole house fans
  • Surge protectors for furnaces or air conditioners
  • Thicker air filters
  • Ductless mini-splits
  • Compressor sound blankets
  • New higher insulated ductwork

If you ask most people why they get upgrades on their newly purchased vehicle, they’ll say it’s about getting what they want the first time, so they don’t have any regrets down the road.  There’s a lot to be said for that when the time comes to buy a new central air conditioning system.

I suggest finding a contractor that not only offers you the new air conditioning system but many of these upgrades as well.  It’s not uncommon for a company to actually throw in the upgrades in their price.

An upgrade like a compressor start kit will add years of life to your system without you even knowing it.  This device cuts down the start-up time of a compressor, which increases the lifespan of your AC system by years! Wouldn’t you rather just have that on your system from the start rather than having a technician sell you that part later on down the road?  Of course, some upgrades are too costly to be “thrown in for free,” but little things like that add a lot of value to the cost of a new air conditioning system.

DIY

Some people thrive on the chance to replace their own appliances.  There’s nothing wrong with that!  Installing HVAC is not rocket science, but there are some licenses and certifications required by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in order to safely handle the refrigerant that goes into a new HVAC system.  Some people will buy their system online for as low as $2,000 – $12,000.  Apparently, you can now buy systems and have them delivered to your door.  The purchaser installs the system according to the installation manual, and when it comes to the refrigerant lines, they’ll have a technician come in do the rest.   One word of warning:  manufacturers do not like to warranty their products when an unlicensed technician installs them.

Price-Only Shoppers – The Most Basic Systems

Some people who can’t or don’t want to install their own system will reach out to a contractor, or some guy on JohnsList where they’ll pay someone to install the system.  I know of HVAC contractors and other handymen in California who can get a basic 14 SEER system into your house for as low as $7,000, maybe even lower.  Have you ever heard that another company with more employees and a bigger shop will sell a similar system for $16,000?  In 2019 that can happen.

Value-Driven Customers Usually Pick in the Middle

When you have three or four options, the middle options will be where most buyers make their purchase.  They’re looking for something good for their home, but maybe not the absolute best on the market technology-wise.  These “middle options” were the top options years ago.  The technology has been perfected and mainstreamed into quality homes everywhere.  You will find these air conditioning systems in the price range of $10,000 to $20,000, depending on which contractor you choose.

Best of the Best

Elite customers are looking for the latest in technology and will tolerate the bumps in the road that can come with such technology.  They prefer systems that are whisper quiet and run at ultra-low amps, making their electric bills much lower!  The technology in 2019 that continues to make a splash is the inverter technology of compressors offered in new air conditioners.  Someday these will be mainstream, but for now, they come at the premium price of $15,000 to $25,000, depending on the contractor.

Depending on Your Contractor

Will they be there when it counts, down the road?  That’s a big question when it comes to the warranties on your new air conditioning system.  Those warranties won’t matter if they aren’t around to make it right for you.  These companies charge too little to keep a legitimate company going for long.

It’s a game we as contractors are always having to play to earn your business.  If we price too high you won’t take us seriously; if we price too low it only entices the price shoppers.  When you hear me say a 16 SEER system could be between $10,000 and $20,000, it’s best to find a contractor whose price lands in the middle of those two.  Your best value will land in this range.  That’s why it’s important to get different quotes when you get your new air conditioning system.  You’ll learn that the price for the same 16 SEER system will be somewhere between that 10 and 20-thousand-dollar mark.

Good luck with your upcoming purchase decision.  There are some really great products you can add to your system to enhance its value for many years.  Choose your contractor wisely; someone who is going to be there down the road; someone who has good reviews online.  It really is all about customer service.  HVAC companies should be trying to take care of you not only for the day of the install but after the install.  Maintenance and preventive cleanings are very important.

Thanks so much and we’ll see you on the next blog!

How Your Air Conditioner Works

[mk_page_section full_width=”true” top_shape_color=”#ffffff” top_shape_bg_color=”#ed4622″ bottom_shape_color=”#ffffff” sidebar=”sidebar-1″][vc_column][mk_padding_divider][mk_fancy_title size=”32″ font_family=”none” align=”center”]How Your Air Conditioner Works[/mk_fancy_title][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/6″][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”2/3″][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1532114692378{margin-bottom: 0px !important;}”]Some Sacramento homeowners may think that their AC works by removing hot air from the home and replacing that hot air with cool air. However, this is far from the truth. Read on and learn how experts from Fox Family Heating and Air, a Sacramento heating and air conditioning company, explain how your air conditioner works in order to cool your home during the hot months of the year.

Two Synchronized Movements

Two kinds of movement work together to deliver comfort to you in your home. The first movement involves the sucking of warm air into the vents in your home. Remember, warm air rises, so the warmest air in your home is the one that gets sucked into the vents for circulation through the AC system. This same air returns through the return air registers when it has cooled down. How it cools down is connected to the second kind of movement in the AC system.

The second movement has to do with the refrigerant in the AC. This refrigerant is cold before it gains heat from the air moving around it. The refrigerant then heats up and goes through a system that cools it before returning it to absorb more heat. The same refrigerant keeps undergoing these transformations without needing to be recharged. You should, therefore, contact air conditioning repair experts in Sacramento in case you see any signs of a refrigerant leak. The process of heating then cooling the refrigerant will become clearer once you understand the workings of the two key parts of the air conditioning system as discussed below.

The Indoor Unit

The indoor unit of an air conditioner is normally installed in the basement or the attic in most homes. The main component of this indoor unit is the evaporator. The evaporator has coils within which a refrigerant circulates. The refrigerant is initially cold.

The hot air which has been sucked by the vents in the different rooms of your home passes over these coils containing the cold refrigerant. The refrigerant absorbs the heat from this warm air and that heat causes the refrigerant to turn into a gas (that is why the unit is called the evaporator). The air is now cool and is returned to the different rooms in order to make you feel more comfortable.

Meanwhile, the heated refrigerant (which is now a gas) travels towards the outdoor unit in order to be cooled so that it can absorb more heat from the next batch of heated air coming from the rooms in your home.

The Outdoor Unit

The main components of the outdoor unit of your air conditioner are the compressor and the condenser. The heated air from the indoor unit travels out and finds the compressor. This compressor pressurizes the heated air and pushes it towards the condenser.

The condenser has fins similar to those in the radiator of your vehicle. These fins provide a large area into which the compressed refrigerant is released. The large surface area allows the pressurized gas to spread out.

Meanwhile, fans blow air across the surface of the fins into which heated air has been released. That ambient air absorbs the heat from the refrigerant and the refrigerant cools. The refrigerant converts into a liquid as it loses heat to the air around the condenser fins. That is why this section of the outdoor unit is called the condenser (it facilitates the condensation of the hot refrigerant gas into a cold liquid). This cold liquid flows towards the indoor unit where it will absorb heat from the warm air coming from the vents in your home. You may need to consider air conditioner replacement (Sacramento) in case a major component, such as the compressor, fails and the outdoor unit can no longer do its work.

The process described above is repeated until the thermostat detects that the temperature inside the home has dropped to the desired level. A signal is then sent to the control unit of the AC to shut off the system. Another signal will be sent later to restart the system once the thermostat detects that the temperature has risen beyond the set level. Your AC keeps cycling on and off throughout the day in order to keep the home at the desired temperature.

The discussion above only covers the basics of how your air conditioner works. Other activities, such as the removal of contaminants (by the filter) and the removal of excess humidity (by the dehumidifier) take place while the heated air is moving from the rooms to be cooled and then returned once more.

Any defect at any point of this well-coordinated process will affect the degree of comfort that you experience in your home. That is why it is important to call AC maintenance and repair and repair professionals from trusted companies, such as Fox Family Heating and Air so that an inspection can be conducted to locate and fix the defect.[/vc_column_text][mk_padding_divider][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/6″][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][/vc_column][/mk_page_section][mk_page_section bg_color=”#ed4622″ full_width=”true” has_top_shape_divider=”true” top_shape_color=”#ffffff” top_shape_bg_color=”#ed4622″ bottom_shape_color=”#ffffff” sidebar=”sidebar-1″][vc_column width=”2/3″][mk_padding_divider][mk_fancy_title tag_name=”h3″ color=”#ed4622″ size=”36″ force_font_size=”true” size_tablet=”20″ size_phone=”15″ line_height=”90″ font_weight=”bold” txt_transform=”capitalize” margin_bottom=”0″ font_family=”Lato” font_type=”google” align=”right” drop_shadow=”true”]Need Service? Call Now: 916-877-1577[/mk_fancy_title][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][mk_padding_divider][mk_button dimension=”flat” size=”large” align=”center” margin_right=”0″ bg_color=”#0066cc” btn_hover_txt_color=”#ed4622″]BOOK NOW[/mk_button][/vc_column][/mk_page_section]

How Long Should My Air Conditioner Last?

[mk_page_section full_width=”true” top_shape_color=”#ffffff” top_shape_bg_color=”#ed4622″ bottom_shape_color=”#ffffff” sidebar=”sidebar-1″][vc_column][mk_padding_divider][mk_fancy_title size=”32″ font_family=”none” align=”center”]How Long Should My Air Conditioner Last?[/mk_fancy_title][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/6″][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”2/3″][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1531609092741{margin-bottom: 0px !important;}”]How Long Should My Air Conditioner Last? Many Sacramento homeowners are interested in knowing how long their air conditioning units will last upon installation. While there is no exact answer to that question, Fox Family Heating, Air Conditioning and Solar technicians point to several factors which may affect the longevity of the AC unit. This article discusses some of those factors.

The Quality of the AC Unit

On average, air conditioning units last for about 15-years. However, this expected lifespan can vary widely based on the quality of the components which were used to manufacture a given AC unit. It is therefore important for you to select a product from a manufacturer who has a reputation for making durable equipment. Work with air conditioner replacement experts in Sacramento to identify and invest in the best brand if you want long life from the AC installed.

Proper Sizing

AC unit durability is also affected by the appropriateness of the unit for the home or other building. Oversized units wear out sooner than correctly sized units because the oversized unit will have shorter cycle times (intervals between running and turning itself off once the desired temperature is attained).

Short cycle times strain the different components of the system, such as the compressor, in several ways. First, the energy surge during startup strains the electronics of the AC. Secondly, friction is higher during the startup period since the lubricant will have settled at the bottom of the components. Consequently, the AC will age faster if it turns on and off at shorter intervals. Undersized units also wear out quickly since they work harder to combat the heavy loads which have been imposed on them. Such threats to your investment can be avoided by hiring a heating and air conditioning company in your area to size the unit correctly before you purchase it.

Frequency of Use

Air conditioning units that are used for more months of the year wear out faster than AC units used for a shorter time each year. AC components are designed to work reliably for a given number of usage hours. Using your unit for more hours each day depletes the useful life of the unit quickly. It may, therefore, be helpful for you to restrict your use of the AC to the periods when you need it. You should also adjust the thermostat settings to a level that doesn’t strain the unit excessively. For example, don’t set the AC to cool your home to the same temperature as what you would find in a walk-in cooling unit at a mall.

The Installation Location

How the AC is installed can also affect its longevity. For instance, outdoor units which are exposed to direct sunlight will age faster than those in a shaded area. Similarly, places with contaminants, such as homes near farms where pesticides and other chemicals are used routinely, lead to faster aging of ACs. Coastal areas also pose corrosion risks to air conditioning units due to the saltwater to which the units are exposed. Always let the AC technician that you have hired in Sacramento to select the most appropriate installation location so that any environmental threats present there are minimized or avoided.

System Maintenance

Maintenance is important to air conditioner longevity. Poor maintenance, such as ignoring to provide adequate component lubrication, will result in accelerated wear of the AC. A high-quality unit will, therefore, fail prematurely if it isn’t well maintained. Conversely, a unit of lower quality may last longer if it is given the necessary preventive maintenance and it is repaired promptly before a defect affects other components. Work with Fox Family Heating and Air conditioning so that a customized maintenance schedule can be designed for the AC in your Sacramento home to avoid premature system failure.

Having a durable air conditioning unit starts by identifying the best heating and air conditioning company to size, install and maintain that air conditioning system. Talk to several air conditioner replacement professionals in Sacramento and select the best company, Fox Family Heating, Air Conditioning and Solar, to trust with your investment.[/vc_column_text][mk_padding_divider][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/6″][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][/vc_column][/mk_page_section][mk_page_section bg_color=”#ed4622″ full_width=”true” has_top_shape_divider=”true” top_shape_color=”#ffffff” top_shape_bg_color=”#ed4622″ bottom_shape_color=”#ffffff” sidebar=”sidebar-1″][vc_column width=”2/3″][mk_padding_divider][mk_fancy_title tag_name=”h3″ color=”#ed4622″ size=”36″ force_font_size=”true” size_tablet=”20″ size_phone=”15″ line_height=”90″ font_weight=”bold” txt_transform=”capitalize” margin_bottom=”0″ font_family=”Lato” font_type=”google” align=”right” drop_shadow=”true”]Need Service? Call Now: 916-877-1577[/mk_fancy_title][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][mk_padding_divider][mk_button dimension=”flat” size=”large” align=”center” margin_right=”0″ bg_color=”#0066cc” btn_hover_txt_color=”#ed4622″]BOOK NOW[/mk_button][/vc_column][/mk_page_section]

5 Factors Affecting the Cost of Buying and Installing a Sacramento HVAC Unit

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Many people who face replacing their HVAC units in Sacramento want to know just how much that project will cost them before they commit to that system’s replacement. Often times air conditioner replacement is not planned, it’s more of a sudden purchase in the heat of summer. So, even if you don’t plan on replacing anytime soon, this blog is still a great read. This article discusses some of the factors of the cost of buying and installing a Sacramento HVAC unit.

The Size of Your Home

An AC unit should be selected based on its suitability. Bigger homes will require bigger AC units because those bigger homes will have more air that needs to be conditioned. The bigger air conditioning units usually cost more to buy and install. You should, therefore, expect to spend more on purchasing an AC unit if you have moved to a bigger home. If your home’s Air conditioner is more than a decade old, the current AC may be undersized for your home. Often times with replacement you need to have your contractor look at the overall design of the duct work (as detailed below) and the size and location of the unit for maximum efficiency.

The HVAC Equipment Brand Preferred

The purchase price of your new air conditioning unit will also be affected by the brand you opt for. Think about this price in relation to what would happen if you were to buy a car. A Porsche is likely to be more expensive than a Toyota even though they’re both cars.

Some brands of air conditioning units are reputed to be more reliable than others are. Such dependable brands may be more expensive than the little-known brands. It may be wiser for you to talk to a (Sacramento) heating and air technician for advice about the best brands to consider so that you widen your options and find something within your budget.

Your Home’s Complexity

The complexity of your home will also impact the cost of installing that new air conditioning system. For example, a home in which spray-on insulation was used makes it tougher on the installers since they will have to cut through the insulations. Similarly, historical homes take more time since the home is fragile.

The Sacramento HVAC installer will visit your home and survey it before estimating how much the installation project is likely to cost.

The Extra Features Selected

The specific features that you want your new HVAC system to have can affect the total cost the system. For instance, individuals who wish to have multiple zones will have to pay for more hardware (zone dampers and thermostats, for example) than another homeowner who doesn’t want to have air conditioning zones in the home.

However, you should not shy away from getting some of the extra features. If those features will increase the comfort level and result in lower long-term maintenance costs it is worth it. The higher upfront cost will be justified by the lower ongoing costs that you incur if you have the latest additional features on the market.

The Condition of the Ductwork

It would be wasteful to acquire an efficient AC unit and then link it to defective ductwork. In fact, many jurisdictions have mandatory inspections in case a new AC unit is being installed.

Any leaks and worn ductwork components will increase the installation cost. Since those issues will have to be attended to before the new air conditioning unit is commissioned for use in your home.

An air conditioning unit should be selected based on the location and home where that unit will be installed. Never undertake such a task on your own. Hire an air conditioning replacement professional like Fox Family Heating and Air and let that expert recommend the best unit for your needs[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][mk_page_section bg_color=”#ed4622″ full_width=”true” has_top_shape_divider=”true” top_shape_color=”#ffffff” top_shape_bg_color=”#ed4622″ bottom_shape_color=”#ffffff” sidebar=”sidebar-1″][vc_column width=”2/3″][mk_padding_divider][mk_fancy_title tag_name=”h3″ color=”#ed4622″ size=”36″ force_font_size=”true” size_tablet=”20″ size_phone=”15″ line_height=”90″ font_weight=”bold” txt_transform=”capitalize” margin_bottom=”0″ font_family=”Lato” font_type=”google” align=”right” drop_shadow=”true”]Need Service? Call Now: 916-877-1577[/mk_fancy_title][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][mk_padding_divider][mk_button dimension=”flat” size=”large” align=”center” margin_right=”0″ bg_color=”#0066cc” btn_hover_txt_color=”#ed4622″]BOOK NOW[/mk_button][/vc_column][/mk_page_section]

When It Is Better to Replace Instead of Repair Your HVAC System

Some homeowners in Sacramento may not know when they should pull the plug on an HVAC unit and replace it. This article discusses some of the considerations you should have a mind as you decide between repairing the unit and replacing it. So when is it better to replace instead of repair your HVAC system?

Level of the Defect

The level of malfunction from your HVAC unit is a good starting point when thinking about repairing or replacing that unit. Some defects, such as shorted electrical wires, are a no-brainer since they cost very little to fix. However, it may be wiser for you to replace the unit in case a Sacramento heating and air expert tells you that a major component, such as the compressor, has failed.

The decision to replace the air conditioning unit becomes more obvious in case the system is no longer covered by the manufacturer’s warranty. Install a new unit so that you reduce your anxiety about more costly repairs.

The Type of Refrigerant

The type of refrigerant in your HVAC system can also help you to decide whether you should replace the unit. Many AC defects, such as refrigerant leaks, require the system to be charged with additional refrigerant after repairs have been completed.

Older refrigerants, such as R-22, are more costly to use because their supply is limited. Such refrigerants are being phased out due to environmental concerns. Switching to a new system can save the cost of recharging the system each time a defect develops.

Changes to Your Home

Has an HVAC defect come at a time when you recently made major changes to your home? It may make more sense to replace an HVAC unit instead of repairing it at such a time.

Why is that recommended? Major home modifications can affect the sizing of the HVAC unit. For example, extensions increase the load which the AC unit must deal with on a daily basis. The AC may now be overworked because it was selected to address a different set of conditions.

Replacing that AC is, therefore, a good move because you will be able to pick a unit which is ideal for the new conditions in your modified home.

Older Units

The different components of your AC are designed to last approximately the same number of years. Does it make sense to keep repairing one component after another as they start breaking down due to age?

It may be more cost-effective to replace an older unit instead of spending money on various repairs.

Reliability Issues

How often do you find yourself having to call a Sacramento HVAC professional each year? Frequent repairs mean the HVAC unit may be approaching the end of its life.

Think of the cost of repairing that unit when compared to replacing it. For example, multiply the repair estimate by the age of that AC unit. Any result which exceeds $5000 (the average cost of a new unit) should bias you towards buying a new unit. Talk to an air conditioner replacement expert in Sacramento in case you are unsure about the correct calculations while determining whether repairing or replacing the AC unit will address the reliability issues which you have been experiencing.

So is it bettert to replace instead of repair your HVAC system? It may not always be easy to decide whether it is worthwhile to keep repairing an existing system or replace it with a new HVAC system. Consult with heating and air conditioning professionals in Sacramento to avoid replacing an HVAC system that has many years left. Whether you decide to replace or repair your HVAC system, Fox Family Heating and Air is here to help.

When You Should Consider Upgrading Your Sacramento Home HVAC System

Many Sacramento homeowners often find it hard to decide whether they should keep repairing their existing HVAC system or replace it with a new one. This article discusses some of the things which can alert such homeowners that it may be time for some HVAC upgrades.

Frequent Sneezing or Coughing

The HVAC system plays an important role in ensuring that the members of your household breathe high-quality air. Frequent coughing or sneezing is an indicator that the system is failing in this role.

Upgrading to a better HVAC system may improve the indoor air quality in many ways. For example, a properly sized system is able to extract most of the particulates from indoor air.

Spiraling Energy Bills

Have you noticed that your energy bills are higher than they used to be? The HVAC system may be responsible for that increased energy consumption. This is particularly possible in case the system is aging and its components can no longer work as well as they once could.

Upgrading such an HVAC system will result in a reduction of your energy bills since the energy consumption of the new system will be lower. Energy Star or SEER rated systems are particularly energy-efficient.

Noisy HVAC Operation

You should also think about upgrading your HVAC system in case it has become unusually loud as it is working. Some systems may remain noisy even repairs have been conducted to fix any components which were defective.

The only way to restore calm and quiet conditions is by replacing the noisy HVAC system with a newer one which operates more quietly.

Extended Run Times

Be observant and find out whether your heating and air conditioning system in Sacramento cycles on and runs for a longer duration than it used to. Those extended run times should concern you because they indicate that your system is finding it harder to keep your home within the desired temperature range.

That extended operation increases the amount of energy that the HVAC system uses. The rate of wear also increases since the components will be working harder to condition the air in your home. Upgrade the system before it fails completely.

High Repair Costs

It may be time to upgrade your HVAC system if the frequency of having repairs done is increasing. High repair costs point to a system which is breaking down, one component at a time.

It is never a good idea to hang onto a system that needs HVAC upgrades because it will become there’s no guarantee that nothing else will fail and require more money. Upgrade to a better/newer system so that you avoid those high repair costs.

Uneven Temperatures

It can be inconveniencing to have some rooms of your Sacramento home warmer or colder than others are. A functional Sacramento ventilation, heating and air conditioning system should maintain uniform conditions across all the rooms of a home. Any difference detected could be a sign that the system can no longer meet your requirements. Upgrade to a better system so that you can enjoy uniform conditions in all parts of the house.

Age

Age is an important factor to consider when contemplating whether or not your HVAC system should be upgraded. Each system comes with a manual which stipulates its expected service life, such as 15-years.

HVAC Upgrades

However, the way in which that system was maintained over its life can shorten or increase this useful life. It is generally advisable to upgrade the HVAC system if it is nearing the end of its expected useful life. This is because that end-of-life period tends to be characterized by the failure of the major system components, such as the compressor. Upgrading saves you from incurring those high repair costs for a system approaching the end of its life.

Each of the signs above may not on its own justify the decision to replace your HVAC system. However, a combination of those signs is a sure sign that you may be better off upgrading the system instead of sinking money into a system which is showing multiple signs of failure. Contact a Sacramento air conditioner replacement expert so that you can get help in selecting the best replacement system.

When Should a Technician Recommend a Leak Search on my HVAC System?

how does an hvac unit work

Every spring and early summer we get what’s called the “first wave” of worried homeowners and rental tenants who realize there is something wrong with their AC system. Sometimes it’s a mechanical part like a capacitor or a motor, but other times it’s a refrigerant issue. This week we’re going to talk about refrigerant leaks, what the laws are and moral obligations you and your technician may have when it comes to refilling your HVAC system with refrigerant year after year.

As a technician who goes to hundreds of homes every summer in the hot Sacramento valley, I go out on these calls all time. Sometimes customers will call into the office and tell us another company told them they have to get a new system because they’re not allowed to fix older systems anymore. Other excuses I hear is, they don’t make R-22 anymore so there is no refrigerant to add back into their system. Unsuspecting homeowners will believe these technicians and fall for their unethical tactics. Other homeowners will call Fox Family Heating, Air Conditioning and Solar where we will offer a free second opinion to come out and verify a leak that supposedly exists and give them proper solutions to remedy the leaky system.
Let’s talk about the obligations we as decent human beings have to this great planet we live on. The government regulates and monitors our usage and consumption of refrigerant in this country. In other parts of the world, not so much! It’s crazy to think of the irresponsibility technicians in other parts of the world have when it comes to just pouring pounds and pounds of damaging refrigerant to earth’s ozone layer. You see, the refrigerant in our older systems now is R-22, a mix of chemicals that contains chlorine which degrades the ozone layer quickly if it were to get out into the open. The systems in our homes hold anywhere from 3 to 20 lbs. of refrigerant. Just two lbs. of refrigerant leaking into the atmosphere causes as much environmental damage as a van driving 10,000 miles down the road. The damaging result is global warming and accelerated environmental weather extremes.

You know the stories. You’ve seen it on TV. Al Gore told you this crazy weather is because of an accumulation of damaging practices we have as humans to this giant world. Refrigerant loss from our home HVAC systems don’t even have a definite requirement yet as to when we HAVE to perform a repair on the leak. The government right now, just says if the system holds over 50 lbs of refrigerant, then we have to fix the leak. Not only do we have to fix the leak on those systems but we have to come back and verify that leak is taken care of bi-annually until the EPA requirements for follow-up are satisfied. We as technicians are now responsible for logging any refrigerant coming in and out of any given system, not just commercial and industrial machines, but residential too.

how does an hvac unit work
When I get out on these calls with low refrigerant suspected, I will attach my gauges to the air conditioner outside and fire it up. The system will start but doesn’t sound normal. A light clanking noise quickly repeating itself in its own rhythm. After a few minutes of running, the gauges show me there is indeed very little refrigerant left in the system.

What does this mean? The HVAC system is separated into three lines for your refrigerant to stay in. The evaporator coil at your furnace, the condenser coil on the outside unit, and the copper line set that runs between the two coils. When the system was installed, these three sections were brazed together by the technician out at your house.

During the call, and at the very least, a technician should volunteer to visually go around and check all the brazed points in your lines. There are at least two points at the evaporator coil and two at the outdoor condenser coil that the installing technicians brazed together to complete your HVAC system’s refrigerant lines. The technician should be looking for oil around these connections. Why? Because the refrigerant in the system carries oil with it to lubricate the components inside the system, like the compressor. This means if the furnace and evaporator coil are up in the attic, the technician needs to get their ladder out and go up there to do this visual check. While they are up there, they should check the P-trap for oil in the condensate lines. A good technician knows that the majority of leaks happen at the evaporator coil or the condenser coil and very rarely at the line set that runs in between the two. If the evaporator coil is leaking badly enough, oil will drop down into the evaporator coil drain pan that the water usually goes down into. It then starts its way down the condensate drain line until the oil fills up in the P-trap. These are very easy checks the technician should include on the original diagnosis charge.

If they don’t see anything there and are sure they have checked all the easier points of access to the refrigerant lines at the evaporator coil, the tech should check the outdoor coil looking inside the top off the unit and all around it looking for darker stains of oil. Also, are the schrader cores where the gauges attach too loose or not sitting correctly within the service valve? If the tech is satisfied the leaks are not there, then he/she should start an investigation of sorts.

“Is there a history of leaking with this system?” is a question the technician should ask. The homeowner has some obligation to tell the truth here. If the owner deceives the tech, then we’re really not getting anywhere are we? I can say there have been very few owners that I didn’t believe when they told me, “No, never any leaks before,” or “Well we just moved in here two months ago.” At this point RIGHT HERE a technician should offer a strategy to the homeowner to help determine if it’s a leak and if so what will we do to try to find the hole and repair the system so it doesn’t leak anymore.
Our technicians at Fox Family ask if there is a history of leaking for this HVAC system because it helps us establish a base point for the rate in which this system is leaking. We want to know if there has been refrigerant added to this system before, and if so, when?

The main reason why I wrote this blog. If this is the first time the system has been “topped-off” to get you cooling again, then we should get you cooling and use this as a starting point to determine if this system is leaking and if so, how much and how often?

If the refrigerant was admittedly, “topped-off” last year, then I think it is a good time to introduce the idea of looking for the leak. This is mentioned whole heartedly in the best interest of the planet and its survival. We want to avoid being unethical here now that we know the system is being topped off every so often to maintain it’s cool air. R-22 has chlorine and R410 still has massive global warming potential. We need to stop that from getting out to the ozone! If we can find the leak then we can get the system back to factory specs.

When I want to introduce the leak search, I tell my customer, let’s get you back cooling today so your family is comfortable. The we should go ahead and start the leak search process which includes us going to the different parts of the AC system with our electronic sniffer looking for the leak. The majority of the time I can find the leak with this method. That cost $X amount and is good for the first hour of searching for the leak. If we can’t find the leak after the first hour, we bump it up a level to $X amount. This level of leak search includes us adding a fluorescent dye to the system so we can let it circulate in the system for a couple of weeks (while you are still staying cool). Then we come back out and look for the dye. If there is indeed a hole somewhere in that copper or aluminum line, the oil and the dye inside the lines will spew out of the hole and splash onto anything around it like the aluminum fins on the coil or the condensate drain pan and into the P-trap. We’ll take the dye kit which comes with some yellow glasses and a UV flashlight. When we shine the light onto the dye which has come out of the leak and we have our yellow glasses on we can plainly see the leak is coming from there. We shouldn’t stop looking though! Just because there is one leak doesn’t mean there aren’t two or more holes.

If the leak is in the fins of the evaporator or condenser coil, we can’t get in there to fix the leak without compromising the standards of the manufacturer. It’s possible yes but, the possibility of the repair causing a restriction or other repair if the brazing compound didn’t settle properly on the under side of the repair spot. Also, the copper or aluminum is a lot thinner on the coils than the copper line set that runs in between. This means when the leak is in the evaporator or condenser coil, and it’s not on a u-bend or other easily accessible spot, we’ll recommend you getting another coil from the manufacturer. We’ll get it ordered and replaced for you in no time.

No matter where the leak is, the money you have paid for the leak search will go toward the cost of repair. Some of these repairs can be upwards of $2000 to replace parts, so it’s nice to know we can find the leak, and then put that money towards the cost of repair.

Our clients always appreciate knowing exactly what to expect during the leak search process. Simply explaining the repair in common terms that aren’t too “techie” for the customer are also appreciated. A leak search is not always needed just because you went out to a house for the first time and it has a leak. There is proper way of establishing knowledge and data about this particular unit. Starting at that first time out there and getting the customer cool is the most important thing. Next year if we have to add refrigerant again, then we should establish a plan for finding the leak. It’s our moral obligation as techs and as homeowners to find the leak and repair it. If there is a history of leaking refrigerant from your system, it’s on you as homeowners to let us know. I realize it’s going to cost some money to make the repair, but once it’s fixed, you won’t have to keep paying for refrigerant that just keeps getting more and more expensive every year.

Thanks for checking out this blog on leak search recommendations. If you are a homeowner and are concerned that what the other technician said doesn’t match I’m saying here, you might want to call a trusted HVAC company that will set you straight and actually give you options other than “You need to replace your system!”

How long can I wait to have my HVAC System Repaired?

broken air conditioner

[mk_page_section full_width=”true” top_shape_color=”#ffffff” top_shape_bg_color=”#ed4622″ bottom_shape_color=”#ffffff” sidebar=”sidebar-1″][vc_column][mk_padding_divider][mk_fancy_title size=”32″ font_family=”none” align=”center”]How long can I wait to have my HVAC System repaired?[/mk_fancy_title][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/6″][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”2/3″][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1523302896334{margin-bottom: 0px !important;}”]Today on the VLOG (Video Blog) I talk about what happens when you quick fix or band-aid repairs on your HVAC system? If your system is operational but you know it needs a repair but you just don’t want to spend the cash, what can you do?

something else to consider, if your furnace or home air conditioner is more than 8-10 years old, and you are not having regular maintenance performed on it once or twice a year, you could be in for multiple repairs in the years to come. I share the details of what is under warranty and what is not.

We appreciate you tuning in and welcome your LIKES, COMMENTs or SHARES![/vc_column_text][mk_padding_divider][vc_video link=”https://youtu.be/2ekJXQDKvTs” autoplay=”true”][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/6″][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][mk_padding_divider][/vc_column][/mk_page_section][mk_page_section bg_color=”#ed4622″ full_width=”true” has_top_shape_divider=”true” top_shape_color=”#ffffff” top_shape_bg_color=”#ed4622″ bottom_shape_color=”#ffffff” sidebar=”sidebar-1″][vc_column width=”2/3″][mk_padding_divider][mk_fancy_title tag_name=”h3″ color=”#ed4622″ size=”36″ force_font_size=”true” size_tablet=”20″ size_phone=”15″ line_height=”90″ font_weight=”bold” txt_transform=”capitalize” margin_bottom=”0″ font_family=”Lato” font_type=”google” align=”right” drop_shadow=”true”]Need Service? Call Now: 916-877-1577[/mk_fancy_title][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][mk_padding_divider][mk_button dimension=”flat” size=”large” align=”center” margin_right=”0″ bg_color=”#0066cc” btn_hover_txt_color=”#ed4622″]BOOK NOW[/mk_button][/vc_column][/mk_page_section]