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Air Conditioning FAQs
How do I know what size of air conditioner I need?
HVAC contractors use Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute (ARI) Manual J to calculate the correct size of air conditioner for your home. This manual may be purchased and you can do the calculations manually by following the instructions, or they can be calculated by software that uses the formulas from Manual J.
For the best results, you need to take complete measurements of your home. (A blueprint is enough for new construction.) This includes both width and length of each room, as well as height. You need to know the cubic volume of your home, because this is the amount of space that must be cooled.
Why has my air conditioner stopped cooling?
The first thing you should check is to see if the air conditioning unit is dirty. It is very important to keep the outside coils clean so the heat pressure doesn't rise too high. This could cause the pipes holding the coolant to burst, compressor failure or electrical overload. Fortunately, just cleaning the coils is often enough. You'll need to be extra vigilant when contaminants like cottonwood are floating through the air. They can clog up an air conditioner's air intake very quickly.
The inside coils are also very important. When they become dirty, they tend to ice over. This stops air from flowing through the coils, reducing and eventually stopping cooling entirely. The best way to prevent problems with the inside coils is to change the air filters regularly, though eventually it will be necessary to vacuum the coils out. Don't use a high pressure blower as this can flatten the coil fins or break them off.
If addressing these issues doesn't resolve the problem, it’s time to call a professional.
Is there anything I can do to reduce the risk of my air conditioner breaking down?
Preventive maintenance is one of the smartest things you can do. It’s recommended that you keep both the outside coils and inside coils of your air conditioning system clean at all times.
It’s also recommended that you install your air conditioner in a shaded area. If it's too late for that, you should try to shade the unit in some way that won't restrict the airflow it. Direct sun on an air conditioner's outside condenser coil can cause it to overheat and create too much pressure. If this happens, the unit will shut off.
Another trick that can be used on extremely hot days is to place a mister over the back coil on the outside of the air conditioner. If your air conditioner has already cut out, let it rest for 20 minutes, then spray the coil with water before attempting to turn the air conditioner back on.
Who invented air conditioning?
Willis Carrier, a graduate of Cornell University's Masters of Engineering program, built the first air conditioning unit for a Brooklyn printing plant. The resulting even air temperature made it possible to print in four colors without misalignment of the inks. It wasn't until 1924 that Carrier's idea caught on for making movie theaters and department stores more comfortable in the summer months.
Is salt air harmful to air conditioners?
Yes, it shortens the life of the air conditioning system components. Applying a lubricant on a weekly basis during the summer months and covering it when it isn't in use is recommended.
Should I be worried about the amount of noise my air condition makes when it starts up?
Most air conditioners are noisier when the air conditioning condenser unit first starts. This is because the compressor needs to build up pressure to operate. If the noise lasts more than 10 seconds, call a technician. HVAC techs will check for low refrigerant levels, compressor oil levels and other issues that might be occurring.