ACI Northwest Blog : Archive for July, 2012

Air Conditioning Repair Question: What Are Limit Switches and How Do They Work?

Monday, July 30th, 2012

We use our thermostats and air conditioning systems all the time without wondering how they actually work.  But the time will come when you need a repair and might want to know about limit switches and how they work.  ACI Northwest has well-trained AC technicians that handle all sorts of air conditioner repairs, even with something as simple as a limit switch replacement.

Limit switches are found in a wide range of devices throughout industrial and home applications.  Limit switches are designed with two main functions: to activate or deactivate an electrical circuit.  They begin and stop specific electric currents, allowing certain functions to occur only under very specific circumstances, so that electronic appliances or device remain safe and are only in use when needed.  Limit switches are like the light that turns on only when you open the fridge door and then shuts off again when the door shuts.

In air conditioning systems, the limit switch is the link between the blower of the air handler and thermostat.  When the thermostat reaches the desired indoor temperature it stops, the AC from using energy to create more cold air, while also flipping a limit switch that shuts off the air handler as well.

It is amazing how one of the smallest pieces of an air conditioning system could have such a big impact on maintaining comfortable indoor temperatures, as well as how efficiently our AC system operates.

ACI Northwest provides quality air conditioning services in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho and Spokane, Washington.  Our certified technicians have years of field experience working with every aspect of air conditioning systems, including limit switches.  If your AC shuts off before your home reaches the desired temperature, or if it cycles on and off too often, call the professionals at ACI Northwest to schedule a routine air conditioner inspection. We can determine whether it is an easy limit switch repair, or some other problem with your system.

Continue Reading

Electrical Question: What Size Generator Do I Need?

Monday, July 23rd, 2012

Electricity has become so integrated with our day to day lives that it is easy to overlook the importance of a functioning electrical system. Like most other things, though, when your electricity isn’t working it becomes very clear very quickly just how much you rely on it. When your electricity goes out, whether from a storm, blackout or any other cause, a good generator can be a big comfort. Just as with a heating or cooling system, you should have a properly sized generator in order to get the best performance from it. Here are some tips to make sure you get the right generator for your Rathdrum home.

First of all, you must decide what exactly you’ll want to power when you lose electricity. What do you consider essential? This is important, so take your time and make a list. Any medical equipment is clearly a priority, but what about a full refrigerator? Your septic pump certainly needs to be powered, but does your climate demand heating and cooling power in your home? Once you have decided on the necessities you’re ready to get started.

It is important to remember that bigger is not necessarily better when it comes to a generator for your home. Larger generators are obviously more expensive, and if you’re never going to approach its capacity then you’re just paying for potential, not performance. Even the biggest generator will not provide enough power to service every electrical device in your home, so some restraint is necessary. Whole home generators do not require you to decide what appliances are necessities, but they will not power everything all at once. The best way to ensure that you’re covered in the event of an energy loss is to calculate the amount of energy that the appliances in your home use, and find a generator with the capacity to provide at least that much energy. Remember that some appliances have different starting energy requirements than running loads, and that some appliances are always running.

There are numerous energy calculators available online that can help you decide what size generator you need. To eliminate as much guess work as possible, though, we at ACI Northwest suggest having a Rathdrum electrician come to evaluate your home. We’ll help you decide exactly which generator best suits your needs, in addition to providing expert installation, maintenance and repairs for your device. Call today with any further questions you may have.

Continue Reading

Air Conditioning Question: Why Is AC Air Flow Important?

Monday, July 16th, 2012

Your Coeur d’Alene central air conditioning system is a pretty complicated piece of equipment; one that needs a lot of components working together seamless to efficiently cool your home. While keeping your compressor in good repair and your evaporator coil clean might seem obvious, many people don’t know how important air flow is for their air conditioning system to work effectively.

Air flow affects the speed of the air going over the evaporator coil. If the air speed is too fast, either because of blower that is too fast or incorrectly designed ducts, the air will not be cooled to the right temperature and it won’t be properly dehumidified. If the air flow is too slow, it can make their air too cold and might cause ice to form on the coil. Reduced air flow can be caused by a dirty air filter or by bent fins, both of which are relatively easy to fixes for an air conditioning contractor.

Duct problems might also cause issues with the air flow out of your air vents. Even if the rest of your system is functioning perfectly, leaky or broken ducts can prevent the conditioned air from reaching the right parts of your home. A professional can examine your duct system to see if it is the cause of the problem, and determine if you need duct repair to fix the air flow.

Whatever your air flow problem, ACI Northwest is here to help. We are available 24 hour s a day for any AC repair in the Coeur d’Alene area!

Continue Reading

AC Tip: Troubleshooting Cooling Problems – Is it Your Thermostat?

Monday, July 9th, 2012

While we often overlook our thermostats, they are an essential part of any air conditioning system. If the thermostat in your home is having problems, it can cause your home to be too warm or even shut off your AC system completely. Here are some common problems that you can run into with your thermostat:

  • Thermostat Placement: If your home is frequently too hot or too cold, it can be a result of a badly placed thermostat. Your thermostat should be located far from drafts, direct sunlight, and any heat producing appliances (such as an oven or a TV). If it controls the cooling of a large space, it should be located toward the center and away from any doors. Proper placement will prevent your thermostat from sensing the wrong temperature.
  • Thermostat Mode: Most thermostats have separate modes for heating and for cooling. If your AC isn’t working at all, double check to make sure your thermostat is set to Cooling mode. If this part of your thermostat is malfunctioning, it can cause your AC to stop cooling completely, and you will need to call a Spokane AC professional to take a look.
  • Thermostat Calibration: Your thermostat needs to be calibrated on a regular basis to accurately detect the temperature in your home. If the calibration is off, your AC won’t be able to keep your home the desired temperature.
  • Wrong Type of Thermostat: There are many different types of thermostats, and some work better with different types of HVAC equipment. For instance, most heat pumps work better with a thermostat that has multi-stage functions. A professional can help you pick the right thermostat to work with your system.
  • Programmable Thermostat Problems: Programmable thermostats can be a great way to save energy, but they can also cause their own unique problems.  If they lose power and reset the time for any reason, your programmed changes in temperature will not happen during the right times of day. If it seems like your AC is cooling erratically, check to make sure your programmable thermostat has the correct time.

These are just a few common thermostat issues. If you are having any problems with your Spokane air conditioning system or your thermostat, give ACI Northwest a call!

Continue Reading

Hope Air Conditioning FAQs: How Do I Determine the Cooling Capacity of My Central AC or Heat Pump System?

Monday, July 2nd, 2012

For any type of air conditioning system in Hope, the cooling capacity is measured in BTU’s. This is important to know if the system doesn’t seem to be adequately cooking your home, and there are many different ways to check the cooling capacity of your AC system.

1. Air Conditioning System’s Age and Serial Numbers

An air conditioner’s age will usually give you a general idea for its cooling capacity, and if you aren’t sure, you can always check the serial number. Because serial number formats vary by the year the equipment was made, you can check to see how old an air conditioner is from looking at the serial number.

The first four digits of every serial number is the week and year the unit was manufactured.  For example, the serial# 1188E53294 on a compressor unit tells us that it was made between 1980 and 1990, and to be more exact, week 11 in 1988.

2. Air Conditioner’s Model Number

You should also look at the model number for your specific model because some manufacturers also vary how they assign each number in the serial number; however, they usually stand for tonnage or MBTUH. You can always call us if you aren’t sure how to read the serial number or model number.

3. AC Equipment’s RLA Numbers

RLA stands for “Rated Load Amps,” which means that it’s the manufacturer’s rate of the cooling capacity (also known as the draw) or load while it’s operating (minus the draw when you start the system). Most air conditioning compressor or condenser units will draw 5 to 6 RLA per ton of cooling capacity. You can check the data tag on the compressor for the RLA rating; however, this will need to be translated into BTUH for the total cooling capacity.

Feel free to call one of the Hope air conditioning experts at ACI Northwest if you have any questions how to calculate your AC system’s cooling capacity.

Continue Reading