Relocating Your Thermostat Might Make Your Home More Comfortable

Relocating Your Thermostat

3 Reasons Why Relocating Your Thermostat To A New Spot Might Be a Good Idea

I’ve been to people’s homes where relocating their thermostat would provide them better comfort.  A thermostat located in a second-floor hallway might cause such extreme temperature differences in the bedrooms upstairs that one room is hotter than another room.   In single-story homes, that thermostat could be located on the other side of the house or stashed away behind a door or bookcase somewhere in the house, creating uneven temperatures.

Other times, a thermostat is located on the inside of an exterior wall of the house.  This could allow the radiant summer heat from the outside to confuse the thermostat into thinking it’s met the temperature you want it to be, but you’re sure it hasn’t.  Other places you probably don’t want to have a thermostat is near the kitchen, the garage door, or near a window.  Temperatures near these areas of the home might be a little different from other parts of the home you’re trying to keep at a certain level.

If you live in a single-story home, the majority of the time, you’ll find the best place to mount your thermostat is in the main hallway located about halfway between the bedrooms and the living room. You’ll probably notice the return air intake is located in the hallway too.  The thermostat and the return air found there is done that way on purpose.  Conditioned air from the living areas and the house’s sleeping areas are brought together to that area in the hallway and mixes.  The temperature of the house’s air in that precise area is a great place to be measured.

In two-story homes, you’ll find most families in my area of the country have a thermostat in the master bedroom. It’s because the air temperature in the hallway upstairs can be different from the temperature of the air in the bedrooms, especially if the occupants close their bedroom doors at night to sleep.

Smart thermostats like the Nest, Ecobee, and Honeywell can figure out how long it takes to get your home to the temperature you desire.  But if your thermostat is in the wrong place, even those more expensive thermostats won’t read the house’s correct temperature.

Relocating your thermostat to the right spot can save you money and make everyone experience the same temperatures no matter where they are in the home.

See Also: Check out our blog post on how to avoid hot and cold spots in your home.

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

Don’t miss our videos related to this topic:

This is How to Successfully Troubleshoot an AC Unit

how to troubleshoot an AC unit

Breaking Down the Parts of a Air Conditioning System

Technicians just starting in the field have many questions about the process required to troubleshoot an AC unit.  In this series, I’ll break down the major parts of an AC system. But first, let’s go through a simple service call to figure out why the AC in question is not working.  Then we can get into more details in this series once we know what’s going on.

To successfully troubleshoot an AC unit, let’s start at the thermostat and go all the way to the outdoor unit turning on and the blower turning on, forcing air into the rooms of your house.

The Thermostat

When your house reaches a point where the AC needs to come on, a series of components work in a specific order to produce cold air.  So, go ahead and turn on the air conditioner.  Set the temperature down below what the temperature of the room is now.

Taking this step will make two switches inside the thermostat close:  the Y and the G terminal.  Y is for cooling – it turns on the outdoor unit, and G is for the air handler’s blower fan.

At this point, I always check the filter to make sure it’s clean.  Without a clean filter, your system can’t breathe in, so it won’t be able to breathe out, sending air into the house.

The Air Handler

Let’s go to the air handler first and see what’s going on there.

At the air handler or furnace, the control board is what’s calling the shots.  It receives the signal from the thermostat for Y and G to energize the terminal block.  If you put your meter leads on the C and Y terminals, you’ll get 24 volts.  Between C and G, you’ll get the same.

G is going to send the signal to the relay switch on that same board.  The closed switch tells the blower motor to come on.  It allows the 120 volts from the correct blower tap to start turning the blower wheel.  The blower motor on these units will have a capacitor on it. See my video below outlining the steps to test it.  On models made after 2019, blower motors became a little more advanced and energy-efficient.  Digitally commutated motors like this don’t use a capacitor.

The only other thing going on up at the air handler is the cold evaporator coil has refrigerant moving through it. There’s a metering device at the coil, but we’ll address that in another segment in this series.

Some furnace and coil combos have a condensate safety switch wired into the control board.  The air conditioner creates condensation that drains out to the side of the house. This switch provides a safety device that stops the air conditioner from producing any more condensation should the drain clog up.  See my video on this topic as well, below.

The Air Conditioner

Now let’s get out of this hot attic and head out to the air conditioner!  Technicians must be safety conscious at the AC.  Two hundred forty volts flowing through your body is no fun but regularly happens to people who aren’t qualified to work on it.

Let’s see what should be happening at the air conditioner when you take the panel off.  That Y signal from the air handler connects to the contactor, which pulls in, allowing the 240 volts from the house onto the compressor and condenser fan motor.  The compressor will pump the refrigerant to and from the outdoor coil and the indoor cold coil we talked about earlier.  The condenser fan motor keeps the outdoor unit cool by sending the heat from inside the house out of the AC unit’s top.

From here, the AC will provide about 18 to 22 degrees cooler air than is going into the return side of the system.  If it’s not and the air is reaching that temp split, you may need to check the refrigerant charge and start doing some more in-depth troubleshooting of the compressor and more, which is just what this series will explore.

Troubleshoot an AC Unit: Improving Your Skill Set

As a new technician, you don’t have to be intimidated by all kinds of moving parts and thermodynamics.  Yes, when you get down to the details about it, you’ll need to have a greater skill set, which means more training – and hopefully, this series will provide that for you.

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

Don’t miss our videos related to this topic:

What’s the Best Way to Cool My Two-Story House?

cool your house with Fox Family HVAC

Making the Most of Your Air Conditioner This Summer in Sacramento

As an HVAC technician, I have the comfort in my two-story home dialed in.  The upstairs is just as big as the downstairs for the most part.  But in the summer, the heat rises so dramatically to the second floor it seems I’ll never get the second floor to cool down by the time we go to bed.  Knowing how to control the summertime temperatures in your Sacramento area home can be a bit of a mystery for some.  That’s what we’re going to talk about today on Fox Family Heating Air and Solar!

Intro

As the typical 100° day begins, you have a nice cool attic and rooms throughout the house are at the nicest temperature they’ll be at all day.  If we could just keep our homes at this summer morning temperature, we’d literally be in paradise.

But by 9 am you can feel the warmth already pouring in through the sliding glass door.  If you don’t turn your AC on soon, it’s going to start warming up in the house.

Do you have one thermostat in your home or more than one?

If you only have one thermostat but your home has two levels, an upstairs and downstairs, then your AC system is intended to cool the whole house at one time.  It’s a “single-zone” air conditioning system.  If you have two thermostats, whoever installed your home’s HVAC system set it up to have “two zones”, upstairs… and downstairs.

If you have one thermostat that turns on the air conditioning system, you may notice the upstairs is still warmer than the downstairs, or vice versa, even when the system is supposed to be cooling.  Downstairs where the thermostat is it says 75 degrees and it feels like 75 degrees.  But upstairs you know it’s 80 degrees because the meat thermometer you got from your kitchen accurately reads 79 to 80 degrees upstairs.

Yes, change your filters, yes check the batteries in your thermostat, but we know that’s not the issue here.  The issue here is that downstairs gets more air than upstairs.  So how are we going to fix that?

A Weekend Project

Getting a thick blanket of insulation in the attic is critical to keeping your cool air in your home.  So, if your insulation levels are low, this is a low-cost weekend DIY project for that certain handyman in your home, or you can hire a contractor like us to come out and do it for you.

Whole House Fans

A whole house fan is a great idea for mornings and late evenings, but any time after 10 am, you’ll just be bringing in the hot outside air, so most people are going to resort to their AC system.  If you want to know what a whole house fan is and what it can do for you check out my video on installing a Quiet Cool whole house fan.

Any time after 10 am, most homes in Sacramento are starting to run their AC’s and will continue cycling that AC on and off throughout the day until about 11 pm or later.  If you only have one thermostat, chances are that one floor cools better than the other.  The reality is just that.  The people who installed the system ran all the pipes and ducts where they were supposed to go.  But they just didn’t quite finish the project when they walked away with unbalanced airflow issues in the house.  This is really common in new homes where teams of install crews are literally just slamming these systems in so they can do the next one tomorrow and move on.

Installing a Manual Damper

What we try to do in these cases is find the part of the house that is blowing more air upstairs or downstairs.  Then we’ll cut into the ductwork and install a manual damper.  A manual damper is round like the ducts in your house.  It runs in line with the duct and has a paddle on it that opens and closes allowing more or less air through it and on to the rest of your house.  If we can adjust this manual damper or in a few cases, a series of manual dampers, we can adjust the airflow accordingly in your home.  This is the way we can balance the airflow in your two-story home if you only have one thermostat.

You might ask “why don’t we just shut off the registers around the house until we achieve that?” You can… but it’s not recommended as a practice by HVAC professionals because the registers can start whizzing and making noises.  The pressure of the air trying to enter the room can cause the registers to start vibrating and rattling, which causes other issues.

A Fine Balance

The air conditioning system has a sort of blood pressure to it.  When we start shutting down registers around the house it affects the system’s static pressure.  If the air can’t get out of the system, expensive compressors start failing, motors start seizing up, and your HVAC system gets to a point where it doesn’t want to cool the home anymore.  There is a fine balance point we are trying to achieve here with this static pressure, so letting an AC tech balance your ductwork is recommended for the longevity of your system.

If you have two thermostats, you have a zoned system which will let you decide whether you want the downstairs AC on or the upstairs AC on.  Does this sound enticing to you?  If you don’t have this setup currently, it can be done on any AC system in the Sacramento region.  It usually takes a good amount of labor for people to take a system that only has one zone and make it have two zones, but it can be done.

A Typical Sacramento Household

The typical home we work on is one where someone is home most of the day, like a parent staying home with a child or for retirees typically home most of the day.  I tell people in these homes to focus on running the AC downstairs where they typically are throughout the day.  If you like it 75 degrees in your normal living areas, set it to 82 upstairs, in the area you’re not using.  Run the AC primarily throughout the day downstairs at whatever temperature you’d like, until about 6 or 7 pm.  Then, shut the thermostat off for downstairs and have the upstairs start cooling off so that by the time you get to bed, it’s cool enough upstairs to sleep for the whole family.

It’s already 75 degrees downstairs when it shuts off, so it’s not likely to warm up super-fast and make it uncomfortable for you.  Nobody needs the AC downstairs during this time so set the downstairs to be 82 degrees.  It won’t get there overnight, but at least the system doesn’t come on downstairs, so the AC can focus its efforts on cooling your two-story home down as quickly as possible.

Master of Your Castle

You can set it up however you want on your thermostat’s schedule.  If you need help with that, call Fox Family or text us and we’ll get out to you and set it up.  Having two thermostats makes sense when the home’s system isn’t big enough to cool the whole house at once.  Your home’s AC system with two thermostats is designed a little smaller.  This is because it’s designed to cool just one floor or one zone at a time.  For many people in the Sacramento region, they can save money and maximize efficiency by using smaller systems.  The smaller the system, the less you’ll pay for the electricity it takes to run the AC.  We can also save money and energy when we don’t try to cool the entire house at one time.

Use Your Thermostat Effectively

If you have a one-thermostat, two-story home that is 1500 sq ft or more, you might have uneven temperatures.  If upstairs and downstairs are at different temperatures, balancing the ductwork will correct the issue.  This means upstairs and down receive the appropriate amount of air to cool the house more evenly.  If your house has two thermostats and still have uneven temperatures, learn how to use your thermostats more effectively.  Learn to control the temperatures in your home.  Have the AC on downstairs during the day, while upstairs stays off or is set higher, such as 82 degrees.

Summary

I hope this has given you some good information on how to cool your two-story home more effectively.  If you need any advice or help with this, let me know in the comments down below.  I’d love to start a conversation about homes with two zones.  How do those homeowners strategize their airflow throughout the day?

Thanks so much for watching and we’ll see you on the next video.

Don’t Miss Our Videos on This and Related Topics: 

  

Smart Thermostat Installation Guide

How to install a smart thermostat

Thermostat technology has advanced so much that programmable thermostats are now looking like obsolete technology after smart thermostats were introduced on the market. Are you still undecided about the appropriateness of this device for your home? Read the smart thermostat installation guide below and decide whether it is time for you to call Fox Family Heating and Air for a discussion of the available options of smart thermostats.

Best Smart Thermostat Options

If your thermostat looks like this, it might be time to upgrade
If your thermostat looks like this, it might be time to upgrade!

Smart thermostats do what any other thermostat can do and a lot more. They not only regulate the heating and cooling of your home, but their functionality also extends to the indoor air quality as well. Smart thermostats can be linked by Sacramento air conditioning repair professionals to your home automation system. Smart thermostats are internet-enabled and you can access them using a mobile device like your smartphone.

Popular brands you may be familiar with are the Nest, Honeywell, and Ecobee4. It’s really up to you to determine which one is the best fit for your home but by now most brands are on their 3rd or fourth version so they are pretty well tried and tested. Our technicians always keep a few new smart thermostats on their trucks in case you haven’t had time to head to the store and pick one out.

Smart Thermostat Advantages and Capabilities

Smart programming.  These new Smart thermostats can learn your preferences and adjust the air conditioning settings automatically to address your needs. For example, the smart thermostat will “notice” that you tend to increase the temperature settings as you leave your home each morning. The smart thermostat will begin making those adjustments on its own when the time you leave approaches so that you no longer have to do it or program it into the memory of the smart thermostat. The smart thermostat can also adjust the furnace and AC settings depending on how many people are in the home at a given time. This goes beyond what you see in programmable thermostats that work based on the settings that have been pre-programmed.

You Will Love The Remote Connectivity This Winter

Smart thermostats enable you to adjust them even when you are not in your Sacramento home.  Any internet-enabled device such as your smartphone or computer will work. You will, therefore, be in a position to conserve energy even when you aren’t at home.

Energy reporting. Smart thermostats have the capability to collect data about the energy usage patterns of your home. You can monitor this data for energy use.  You’ll see when most energy is used in your home and when it is minimal. You can also ask a Sacramento heating and air conditioning repair technician to help you to make sense of that data in case you aren’t comfortable analyzing such information. You can take corrective measures based on this data.

How the Smart Thermostat Can Be Installed

Manufacturers of smart thermostats usually have a user manual that has step-by-step installation instructions. You can follow that installation guide to install the smart thermostat on your own. However, it is not advisable to attempt a DIY installation if you lack appropriate training and experience. This is because the process requires electrical knowledge as well as technical knowledge to put together the different components.

We recommend you seek an installation by an experienced technician, like Fox Family Heating and Air. The cost of a professional installation is well worth it to avoid problems with a DIY installation.

Either way, you will enjoy a warmer home with convenient temperature controls in your home this winter!