Upgrades That Can Make Your AC More Energy Efficient

July 25th, 2014

Many homeowners will do anything possible to lower their energy bills. But when you turn off your air conditioner or raise the temperature to save money, you give up your family’s comfort. Fortunately, there are other ways to save on cooling costs this summer without making your family feel the heat.

There are a few simple ways to make your AC more energy efficient, such as cleaning the air filters once a month and scheduling maintenance with an air conditioning technician. Dirty air filters can block airflow, causing your AC to run longer. An air conditioning maintenance technician can clean the components of your system for increased efficiency.

But another great way to increase the efficiency of your AC is by calling a technician to install money-saving upgrades for your system. A new programmable thermostat or zone control system may be the most enjoyable way for you to take advantage of the increased efficiency of your air conditioner this summer.

Thermostat Options

One upgrade you might consider is a digital, programmable thermostat. Manual thermostats are occasionally difficult to read which means your temperature reading is often inaccurate, raising your energy bills. If the temperature is even one or two degrees lower than you needed it to be, it can cause your bills to be significantly higher.

Digital, programmable thermostats have a clear display, so you’ll never set the temperature higher or lower than you want. Furthermore, you can program your digital thermostat to adjust the temperature throughout the day to save money when you are not home or during peak hours. For example, you can set the AC to switch on twenty minutes before you arrive home to avoid spending money on your AC bill when you’re not there.

Zone Control Systems

Another energy-saving upgrade is a zone control system. Zone control allows you the opportunity to choose the temperature in various areas of your home. If your family members rarely use every room at once, zone control is a great opportunity to save money by raising the temperature in unoccupied rooms while keeping others cool.

If you want air conditioning upgrades in Coeur d’Alene, call the professionals at ACI Northwest today!

Signs That Your Home Needs Electrical Repair

July 15th, 2014

Electricity is so essential to daily life, but it is also something we seldom think about because we are accustomed to receiving it with a flick of a switch or a touch of a power button. Your home may have electrical malfunctions that require repair, but unless you watch out for the signs you may not realize there are issues—until you suffer a major power loss or an electrical fire breaks out.

Should you notice any of the signs below, don’t ignore them and don’t attempt to fix the problem on your own. Call up professional electricians to handle the necessary electrical repairs. You can reach ACI Northwest any time of the day or night for emergency service from highly-trained professionals who will keep the electricity flowing safely through your home.

Watch for These Warning Signs of Electrical Repair

  • Flickering lights: If you spot lights in your home that occasionally flicker like candle flames, don’t dismiss the occurrences—especially if it occurs to a few lights at the same time. This indicates a power surge running through the electrical system, likely because a large appliance (the refrigerator, the air conditioner) has put excessive demand on the system. Small power surges like this will cause cumulative damage to appliances in your home, and could warn of bad circuits.
  • Warm or sparking outlets: Increased heat coming from outlets, or outlets that cause sparking whenever you plug an appliance into them, are suffering from bad wiring that can risk an electrical fire. Do not unscrew the outlet to look into it yourself; call for repairs.
  • Repeatedly tripped circuit breakers: The circuit breaker panel that has an occasionally tripped breaker is not usually a sign of a serious problem. But if you have tripped breakers occurring on a regular basis when appliances come on, then you may have repair issues within the panel itself (it may need a full upgrade) or trouble with the wiring. Call for an electrician to investigate the trouble and find a solution.

Remember, should you encounter any of these signs, turn off any of the affected appliances and unplug them. Do not attempt to use the suspect parts of the electrical system until after you have had an electrician examine and repair them.

Trust to Professional Electricians

Qualified electricians are a must for repairs: only trained electricians will know how to keep your home safe and up to local electrical code. Whatever your needs for electrical repair service in Coeur d’Alene, WA, you can put your trust in ACI Northwest. We provide comprehensive service for home electricity.

Common Problems with Air Conditioning Condenser Arrays

July 8th, 2014

Air conditioners for homes are known as “split systems,” or simply “splits,” because they consist of two sets of cabinets, one housed inside and the other outside.

The outside cabinet contains the condenser array, the components necessary for condensation to take place in the heat exchange cycle. These components are the compressor (which heats and places refrigerant under pressure), the condenser coil (where the heat of the refrigerant is released), and the fan (which forces cooler air across the condenser coil and then vents the heat outside).

The cabinet that protects the condenser array is sturdy, but no condenser is 100% damage-proof, and other types of repair needs can affect it as well. Here are a few of the more common troubles you can encounter with the condenser that will require you call ACI Northwest for skilled air conditioning repair in Coeur d’Alene, WA. Our NATE-certified technicians will get the job done right the first time.

Condenser Problems You May Encounter

  • Dirty condenser coil: Because the condenser is outside, it can pick up dust and dirt that will infiltrate the cabinet. (Make sure to have regular maintenance to prevent the system form becoming too dirty.) Dirt along the evaporator coil will make it harder for the coil to release heat, and the refrigerant will not cool down sufficiently for the second half of the heat exchange. You will need technicians to remove the coil and clean it if the grime is restricting proper operation.
  • Damaged or broken fan: The fan draws in the outdoor air across the hot coil to cause the condensation that releases heat. If the fan develops damages or it stops working because the motor fails or a fan belt breaks, the heat exchange cycle will become less efficient. Damage to the fan blades from debris can also cause the fan to start striking the casing and injure other components. Loud noises from the condenser cabinet are a reason to call for repairs.
  • Compressor issues: The last part of an air conditioner that you want to stop working is the compressor, which is the “engine” of the whole system and also the most expensive part to replace. (Often, you need to have the whole system replaced in the case of compressor failure.) If the compressor becomes dirty it will start overworking, and possibly overheat. Motor problems and capacitor failures will also affect the compressor’s performance. Any suspicion of malfunctions in the compressor requires immediate action from repair technicians.

When you need to move fast for condenser array repairs for your air conditioning system, call ACI Northwest. We are ready 24/7 to assist you with any AC troubles you have this summer.

Leading the Way with Independence Days!

July 3rd, 2014

The term “Fourth of July” is the popular name for the U.S. federal holiday officially known as Independence Day. It isn’t surprising that we would come up with a different name from the official one, since “Independence Day” is one of the most common holiday names across the globe. Most of the nations in existence today won their independence from another power, whether through wars, treaties, or long transitions.

What might surprise many people is how old U.S. Independence Day actually is compared to the similar holidays of other nations. Although the U.S. is still considered a young nation, it was one of the first to make a full break for its colonial master with a new constitution. Most countries that celebrate a national Independence Day are commemorating events that occurred in the second half of the 20th century, when many older empires at last relinquished control over their colonies.

How substantial is the difference in time for the U.S.A. and the rest of the world? U.S. Independence Day celebrates the signing of the Declaration of Independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1776, making our country unusual in that almost no existing nations celebrate an independence event from the eighteenth century.

In terms of age, there is only a tiny handful current countries that celebrate an independence day that occurred earlier than the United States. Switzerland celebrates its independence from the Holy Roman Empire of the Germans in 1291 with “Swiss National Day,” held every August 1—although this only gained status as a national holiday in 1994. Sweden Celebrates “National Day of Sweden” to commemorate events in 1523 and the election of King Gustav I during the War of Liberation against Christian II of Denmark and Norway. Romania comes almost a hundred years after U.S. Independence, with its 1877 freedom from Turkish rule.

The most recent Independence Days to come into existence are for Montenegro, which gained independence from Serbia in 2006 and celebrates the day on May 21, and South Sudan, which gained independence from Sudan in 2011 and celebrates the day only a day after the U.S., on July 5.

Does anyone else celebrate a literal “Fourth of July,” an Independence Day that also falls on the fourth day of the seventh month? Yes: Abkhazia, a small Central Asian country that declared its independence from the Republic of Georgia in 1999 (although not all countries recognize it). Coming a day (like South Sudan) on July 5 is the independence of the small Atlantic island nation of Cape Verde, which became free from Portugal through signed agreement in 1975.

Everyone at ACI Northwest hopes you and your family enjoy a vibrant Independence Day/Fourth of July this year!

Air Conditioning Upgrades to Consider

June 27th, 2014

Your air conditioning works hard to keep you feeling cool and comfortable all summer long in Coeur d’Alene. But did you know that you can get even more out of your AC system? Our air conditioning experts are ready to give your AC some new upgrades this summer for increased comfort and accuracy with your system. You may even be able to reduce your monthly energy bills.

Technicians at ACI Northwest are ready to talk about any air conditioning upgrades that interest you. Here are a couple of options you should consider.

Digital Thermostat

Are you still relying on a manual thermostat to sense the temperature in your home? Manual thermostats can be unreliable and difficult to read. If you notice your home is constantly cooler or warmer than you want it to be, it may be due to an inaccurate thermostat reading. The thermostat essentially tells your AC system when to turn on and off. If you’re constantly readjusting your thermostat, you may be paying more in energy bills than is necessary.

A digital thermostat can help you avoid these readings with a reliable digital display and advanced settings. You can set your AC to turn on and off at certain hours of the day when cooling your home is not needed. This can save you money and ensure the temperature is always set to your preference.

Zone Control

Another option that can be added to your system is zone control. A technician will install dampers in the ductwork of your home, allowing you to choose the temperature in different areas of your home with separate thermostats that sense the temperature in each room or zone. There may also be a master thermostat to control multiple rooms in the home. This can keep your family members more comfortable by allowing individuals to set their room temperatures according to their own unique preferences. This can also lower your energy bills; you can decide to adjust the temperature in rooms that are unoccupied in order to avoid cooling an empty space unnecessarily.

ACI Northwest has the expertise and experience to assist you in selecting the best upgrade for your home air conditioning system. Call now for professional air conditioning service in Coeur d’Alene.

Electrician Tips: Repair Issues from Faulty Wiring

June 23rd, 2014

People often take for granted that the wiring in their home is sufficient for their power needs and has no major faults that could make it either ineffective or dangerous. Although it’s true that modern homes are built with durable electrical systems, faulty wiring is still something that can occur, and it needs repair work the moment it’s detected. Poor wiring can lead to needless energy drain, power loss, and fire hazards. It’s especially important to watch for wiring issues in older homes where full electrical upgrades may be necessary.

Here are some of the repair issues that faulty wiring can cause in a home. Make sure that you call for professional licensed electricians for any of your needs for electrical repair service in Coeur d’Alene. Contact the experts at ACI Northwest any time of the day or night for the quality work you need.

Some Problems Due To Faulty Wiring

  • Power surges: Power surges are one of the least understood of electrical problems. They don’t only come from catastrophic events like lightning strikes; they also occur because the wiring in a home is incapable of handling the demands placed on it by more powerful appliances. If you notice flickering lights in your house every time that the compressor in the refrigerator or air conditioner switches, then you may have bad wiring that is leading to a power surge. These surges will eventually cause serious damage to the system and anything plugged into it, and you need to have electricians track down and fix the problem.
  • Charred and failed outlets: Faulty wires inside outlets are a frequent issue that can afflict even newer homes. When bad wiring causes a spark or a fire, it will char or discolor the outlet. Should you notice this, it means you need to have electricians replace the outlet and find out what went wrong with the wiring behind it. Outlets that cease providing electrical current also call for repairs.
  • Constantly tripped circuit breakers: An occasional tripped breaker is usually nothing more serious than a momentary large demand from a malfunctioning appliance. However, if the problem persists, you may have a serious issue with a circuit somewhere, and it could become an electrical fire hazard if it is left unattended.

Schedule Service with Licensed Electricians Only!

Never attempt electrical repairs on your own: the risk of a high voltage shock is too great, and you might create further trouble from faulty wiring. You need to rely on electricians who are familiar with the local electrical code and who can handle the work fast and right.

For any wiring faults in your home that need electrical repair, the Coeur d’Alene specialists can take care of you. We have staff ready 24/7 to keep your home safely wired.

How Dust and Dirt Contribute to Air Conditioning Problems

June 20th, 2014

Dust and dirt are a common problem in households, so it is no surprise they can cause problems with your air conditioner, too. Our beautiful Spokane alpine woods have enough dirt to keep us vacuuming for months.

Air conditioning manufacturers know that dirt and dust are common problems with air conditioners, so your air conditioner comes with a built-in air filter that helps to strain out much of the dirt and dust that get into your system – but it can’t get all of it. And, if left to build up, dirt and dust can create some potentially serious problems with your air conditioning.

Dirt and Dust: Not Your Air Conditioner’s Friends

ACI Northwest has been servicing customers in Spokane and the surrounding area for over 20 years, and in that time, we’ve seen what dirt and dust can do to a system when left to accumulate:

  • Dirty vents – the main job of your system’s built-in filter is to collect as much dirt and dust as possible, but it simply isn’t possible to get all of it – especially if your filter isn’t changed regularly. Dirty vents can obstruct air flow, increase air loss, and greatly decrease air quality in your home, something that could be bad for any allergy sufferers.
  • Clogged air filters – your AC’s air filters need to be changed regularly in order to avoid becoming clogged. When the air filters become clogged, a number of things can happen, including decreased air flow, decreased air quality and greater stress on the system.
  • Accumulation on coils – dirt and dust love to cling to your AC’s coils. Unfortunately, when left to accumulate, a layer of insulation can form, inhibiting the coils from doing their job of releasing heat. The heating and cooling process in your air conditioner’s coils is a delicate one, and once the balance is tipped, the entire cooling process can become irregular and possibly malfunction.

Get Rid of Dust and Dirt with Regular Maintenance

During a routine maintenance appointment with ACI Northwest, your entire air conditioning system is inspected, cleaned and adjusted as needed. This means that vents are visually inspected for build-up and/or problems, air filters are changed and coils are cleaned.

Are you seeing dust and dirt build-up somewhere in your system? Then call ACI Northwest and schedule air conditioning maintenance in Spokane – your air conditioning system will thank you!

Signs You Need Repairs for Your Outlets

June 16th, 2014

The outlets in your home are your conduit into the electrical system and are therefore one of the most important parts of your daily life. If an outlet stops working, you need to have it looked into and repaired as soon as possible.

However, an outlet failing to work is an obvious sign that something is wrong. There are other warnings your outlets can send to you that they require professional repairs or replacements that are not so obvious. We have a list of a few to look out for.

We need to emphasize professional repairs: do not tamper with any part of your electrical system on your own. You risk dangerous high voltage shocks, as well as causing further damage to the electrical system. Only allow licensed electricians to work on outlet repairs. Call ACI Northwest for any repairs or electrical installation in Coeur d’Alene that you need. Our experienced Electricians Are on Call 24 Hours a Day.

Warning Signs of Outlet Repair Needs:

  • Charring and discoloration: If you notice marks of charring on the front of an outlet, or if the outlet has developed a yellow or brown discoloration, it means an electrical fire has broken out inside the outlet due to bad wiring. This needs immediate repairs; the potential for the outlet to become a significant fire hazard is high.
  • Frequently tripped circuit breakers: If you notice that plugging an appliance into a particular outlet causes a circuit breaker to trip, the problem is either the appliance or the outlet itself. If different appliances of varying voltage demands are triggering the problem, then the outlet is probably in need of replacement. (Do not, however, start plugging in different appliances as a way to “test” if the outlet or the appliance is the problem. Call for an electrician.)
  • Sparking outlet: If the outlet sparks every time you put a plug into it, the outlet is wearing down and perhaps coming loose. This is often due to years of plugging and unplugging. In this case, the outlet will probably need to be replaced entirely and upgraded. Call an electrician right away.

In general, we advise that you have outlet replacement and rewiring done if your home still has old non-grounded (two-prong) outlets. You should also consider updating three-prong outlets to GCFI outlets to increase safety. At ACI Northwest, we offer fast and excellent electrical installation in Coeur d’Alene, WA for new outlets, as well as any necessary repair work.

3 Air Conditioning Fan Components That Can Suffer Damage

June 5th, 2014

The air conditioning system in your home that keeps you cool during the summer operates using two fans. Inside your home in the evaporator cabinet is the blower fan, which draws in air from the rooms through the return vents and blows it across the evaporator coil (cooling it) and then into the ventilation shafts leading back into your house. Outside your home in the condenser cabinet is a fan that pulls in warm outside air across the condenser coil, releasing heat that then vents out the top of the cabinet.

This pair of fans is crucial for AV performance. If either malfunctions, it can mean a drop in cooling and airflow, resulting in inferior comfort. Here are 3 components of AC fans, each of which can sustain damage that will threaten your home’s cooling.

When you need air conditioning repairs in Spokane, WA, call on the 24-hour emergency services of ACI Northwest. We are committed to quality and your comfort.

1. The blades

The fan blades of the outdoor fan are susceptible to damage from any debris that enters the cabinet, such as rocks, sticks, gravel, even tree branches (yes, this can happen). If the blades of the fan become bent, they will start to strike the edges of the fan casing, leading to an alarming clanging noise. Turn off the system immediately when you hear this sort of noise and call for repairs; the fan will cause more internal damage to the system if it is allowed to continue running.

2. The motor

Older air conditioners used fan belts to connect the fan motor to the fan, and the fan belts could break. More recent fans use direct motors. Motors can wear down from overuse, layers of dirt, or loss of lubrication in their moving parts, and this extra stress will eventually cause the motor to overheat and fuse its wiring together. A motor that burns out will need to have a professional replace it in order to get the fan operating once more.

3. The thermostat wire

Technically, this isn’t inside the fan, but it’s essential to its operation and damage to it will cause the fan to either 1) run continuously, or 2) refuse to run at all. Five different wires originate from a thermostat: one operates the compressor, and the other four turn the two fans on and off. Should one of these wires break or sustain damage, it will affect the connected fan. It’s difficult to determine that a problem with the fan originates with the thermostat, so have technicians look into it. If it is a thermostat problem, it is thankfully an easy fix.

Whenever you hear noises from the fans or notice that one of them has stopped moving, it’s time to call on the professionals at ACI Northwest for professional air conditioning repair service in Spokane, WA. Our NATE-certified technicians are ready around the clock to serve you.

Electrical Considerations for a New Security System

May 30th, 2014

Homeowners have a natural desire to keep their family and possessions safe. A reliable security system is an excellent way of doing so. Here in Spokane, electrical services can help you plan for and install a new security system. Because so many security systems rely on electricity to work, you should consult with an expert before deciding which system is right for you. Here are some electrical considerations for a new security system that you should keep in mind.

Security systems typically rely on sensors to work. Contacts on your doors and windows will alert you if someone tries to break in, while motion detectors in key areas of the homes (usually centralized rooms and “choke points” such as stairways or halls). Depending upon your home, you may want to have motion-activated security lights installed as well, to activate in the event of movement in your yard.

All of these things require wiring to function as they should. That means you need to chart a path from their location to the central security box and/or the circuit breaker box in your home. The electrician will need to run wiring to all those locations, which may involve moving around plumbing, other electrical wires and even load-bearing woodwork depending on the specifics of your home. (Alternately, you could just run the wiring along the outside of the walls, but that can ruin the aesthetics of your home as well as leaving the wires vulnerable to damage.) The electrician also needs to calculate the load for each component and ensure that the new wiring can handle it without triggering the circuit breakers. It’s not usually a problem – security systems don’t require much electricity to work – but professional evaluation can ensure that no issues arise.

Any electrical considerations for a new security system need to take your safety in mind. The system needs to work at all times, or else it may as well not be working at all.

If you live in Spokane, electrical services like those at ACI Northwest can make that process a lot easier. Give us a call today and we’ll help you set your system up right!