Air Mechanical, Inc Blog : Archive for August, 2012

Common Heat Pump Performance Problems: A Troubleshooting Guide from Maple Grove

Monday, August 27th, 2012

The heat pump in your Maple Grove home needs to work year round to provide heat and air conditioning. This is why you want to make sure it’s performing as efficiently as possible to save on energy costs and prevent break downs. You should schedule an annual maintenance check-up and inspection with a certified HVAC technician to test the efficiency levels.

However, there are a few common causes of performance issues to be aware of so that you can be sure your heat pump performs at optimal levels. Call Air Mechanical if you have questions about heat pump performance issues, or to make an appointment for an annual inspection and professional cleaning.

Airflow Issues

There should always be a certain amount of airflow (measured in cubic feet per minute) in your heat pump to maintain proper efficiency levels. If the airflow is less than 350 cfm per ton, it could increase your energy costs. You should make sure your Maple Grove HVAC contractor checks the airflow whenever your heat pump is inspected. Always keep the coils clean. Sometimes the ducts are not the right size, or the fan speed needs to be increased, but often cleaning the coils will help airflow, which is why it is important to clean and maintain the components of your heat pump. A certified technician will know what methods are best, so if you suspect an airflow problem with your heat pump, call a professional heating technician.

Air Leaks in the Duct System

Inefficient or poorly-designed duct systems may not distribute air properly throughout your home because of potential air leaks. There should always be a balance between the intake and return air in a forced air system, which helps maintain a neutral pressure within the house and increase efficiency. Some contractors argue over how tightly a house should be sealed for this reason, but if your heat pump is losing heat through leaks in the air ducts, this will greatly affect its efficiency.

Improper Refrigerant

Refrigerant leaks are another common cause of low performance levels in heat pumps. Most heat pumps already have refrigerant when they leave the factory and shouldn’t have any issues. Heat pumps that are charged with refrigerant when they are installed can sometimes have the wrong amount of refrigerant. Either too much or too little refrigerant will lower the heat pump’s efficiency and performance levels. Always check the recommended refrigerant amount or ask an HVAC technician before you add refrigerant yourself.

If the heat pump in your Maple Grove home isn’t working properly, it is also affecting your heating bills. Call Air Mechanical today to set up an appointment.

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Plumbing Guide: Garbage Disposals Are A Kitchen Necessity

Monday, August 20th, 2012

For most Andover homeowners, the garbage disposal is an essential kitchen convenience.  Food preparation and cooking become much easier when peelings and scraps can just be whisked into the sink and down the drain.  Most municipal water treatments plants now have the technology to extract the pulverized food debris from waste water and turn it into sludge that can be sterilized and disposed in a landfill or used for fertilizer.

 When to Replace a Garbage Disposal

Obviously, when your garbage disposal stops working it’s time to either fix or replace it. While it’s possible to service a garbage disposal, it would probably be cheaper to replace it. But if your disposal is still operating, how do you know when it’s time to for a new one?

Garbage disposals don’t last forever. No matter how well it’s made, any appliance exposed to thousands of gallons of running water, detergent, food scraps, bones, and the occasional spoon accidentally dropped into the drain is going to wear out. A disposal in good condition should be able to dispatch a few potato or apple peels in a matter of seconds. If your unit seems to take forever to accomplish a simple grinding task, it may be time for a new one.

A foul odor emanating from the disposal that won’t go away after a thorough rinsing may also be a sign that it’s time to replace it. As the components in the grinding chamber wear out, food can get trapped inside and rot. You may adapt to the smell, but guests will probably not appreciate it.

Even if your disposal is in good shape, you may want to look into replacing it. Garbage disposals are rated in horsepower. Basic models are usually rated in the 1/5 to 1/3 horsepower range, while top of the line models are in the 3/4 to 1 horsepower range. The difference may seem small, but it has a major impact on performance. If you have a smaller unit in the 1/5 to 1/3 range that is a few years old, and you like to cook, it may be worth your while to consider replacing it.

 Size Matters

Most manufacturers offer a range of models with increasing power ratings. If you do a lot of cooking and use your disposal a lot, the few extra dollars investment in a 3/4 or 1 horsepower disposal is worth the money. Not only do more powerful units dispatch food scraps more easily, but they can handle tougher jobs like bones and meat scraps that might jam a smaller disposal. More powerful disposals are less noisy and they tend to break down less. The only drawback of larger disposals is that they tend to be larger and take up more space. It’s best to consult a Andover plumbing contractor like Air Mechanical Heating, Cooling & Plumbing before buying a new disposal to make sure it will fit under your sink.

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Plumbing Tip: Plumbing Noises – Where They Come From and Why They Occur

Monday, August 13th, 2012

Under ideal conditions, you would hear nothing from your Rogers plumbing system except the sound of running water when you turn on the tap. Unfortunately, that is not always what actually happens. In fact, your plumbing can make all types of funny and sometimes alarming noises for no reason that you can easily discern.

For instance, one common plumbing noise sounds like a hard knock or hammer blow. This usually occurs when you turn off a tap and can be rather alarming. Sometimes you can even feel the reverberation of the impact that caused the sound. But why is this happening? Usually, this “water hammer” noise is the result of the dramatic shift in pressure in the system when you suddenly stop the flow of water from a faucet.

This sudden stop creates a kind of shock wave, which then travels back through the pipes and causes the loud knocking sound that you hear. This is easily fixed with a device that is known as a water hammer arrester. These devices help to dissipate the force of the pressure shift and can keep the noise from occurring at all.

There are also all kinds of whistling, squealing and squeaking noises that your plumbing can make under certain circumstances. These types of sounds are often caused by a worn out washer somewhere along the line that is having trouble regulating the flow of water. It can be a little difficult to pin down the source of these noises sometimes, especially if they occur no matter which faucet is turned on. But with a little hunting and trial and error you can usually track down the source.

Rattling sounds are also common and generally occur when your water pipes are not well secured to a rigid surface. If this is the case, the force of the water running through the pipes can cause the pipe to vibrate, creating the sound you hear as it bangs against whatever solid surface is nearby. For problems like this, simply securing the pipes in place better can put an end to all of your rattling issues. If you have any plumbing problems in Rogers, call Air Mechanical Heating, Cooling & Plumbing today!

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AC Problems You Need A Mounds View Air Conditioning Professional to Fix

Monday, August 6th, 2012

Doing the Basics

For small or big central air conditioning systems in Mounds View, regular cleanings and a filter change should be a part of every season. It’s not hard to remove the cover and replace the panel of webbing that catches lint and other particles out of your conditioned air.

Make sure the drain is clear, always cover the unit when more naturally cool temperatures take over and you’ve got conditioned air and relative peace of mind in the years ahead.

Big Problems

Without the regular service, however, an air conditioner begins to work much harder to produce the same amount (or less) of cool air and parts begin to break down.  With total neglect, the unit itself may need replacement much sooner than was promised when you paid for it. These are repairs that could be avoided and require a Mounds View air conditioning professional to make.

The key ingredient to cooling is a chemical called a refrigerant that is capable of transforming rapidly from gas to liquid and back again at low temperatures. This runs through two intricate tubes, a compressor, and a critical expansion valve that controls the process.  It is a delicate and complicated process that calls for expertise and the right tools, especially since the refrigerant is considered hazardous and requires special handling.

When the air gets stuffy, it could be that the fan is the problem.  Belts could be worn, loose or broken.  The motor may be low on oil and is stained to the breaking point.

If mysterious signs of water or mold are showing up on the inside of the house near the unit, there could be a problem with the condensate that is released with the heat when air is cooled.  This could be a simple or complicated fix, but should be checked out by a Mounds View AC contractor.

For any AC repairs in the Mounds View area, give Air Mechanical Heating, Cooling & Plumbing a call!

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