Air Mechanical, Inc Blog : Archive for the ‘Services’ Category

Andover Heat Pump Question: Why Won’t My Heat Pump Start?

Monday, September 10th, 2012

A heat pump that just doesn’t start one day is quite a common problem. The following are the most common problems that lead to an unresponsive heat pump.

  • A faulty thermostat
  • A faulty contactor
  • Some problem with the time-delay relay mechanism
  • A fault with the thermostat cable
  • The unit may be off due to a safety device being left open and exposed to high/low temperature, high/low pressure
  • A problem with the control module

There are instances in which the thermostat is not set correctly. This could lead to your heat pump not starting. If your emergency switch has been turned off, it could also lead to your pump being unresponsive. Apart from this, if your pump plug has been pulled out or the circuit breaker has tripper due to a surge, it could also lead to the same problem.

These may seem too obvious or simple but they are often the cause of an unresponsive heat pump. Other similar, simple problems may include a condensate pump switch being left open, the outdoor reset button may have been left off or the unit may have been locked out. In the last case, you can always turn the system off and turn it back on to get it to start working.

So before you go ahead and make that call to the service technician, make sure you check the following:

  • Ensure that no emergency switch is off
  • Make sure all breakers for the outdoor and indoor units are on
  • Check your fuses if possible
  • Check the safety switch on the condensate pump if you have one

If the problem persists even after trying all these steps, it is time to call the Andover heat pump technician. For any heat pump repairs that you need, give Air Mechanical Heating, Cooling & Plumbing a call!

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HVAC Guide: Green Building Trends for New Homes

Tuesday, September 4th, 2012

In a society with an increasing an eye on reducing waste and creating energy-efficient spaces, it might not be as surprising to know that the green building market has been steadily increasing over the past few years, and in years to come is expected to triple from what it is now.  The variety of green building trends for new homes in Ham Lake which are in place today are staggering and exciting, and will ultimately change the way we build homes and business facilities, permanently.  According to the Earth Advantage Institute, below are the latest green building trends for new homes to watch for in the near future.

  • Urban Density:  Homeowners are opting to build in the empty space between existing homes or buildings.  These lots are desired by those who want to be closer to city-centers and hotspots.
  • Green Multi-Family Homes:  An increased interest in energy-saving building options and an increase in the number of multi-family homes being built mean an increase in green multi-family homes.
  • Energy Upgrades Drive Home Remodels:  Consumer preference has switched to remodeling in order to save energy in their upgrades.  Thus contractors have begun to offer these types of services as a standard option in remodeling projects. This includes new, energy saving HVAC equipment.
  • Development and Testing of New Materials: National labs and research departments are working with construction firms in order to produce test facilities and sensor-filled buildings which track real-time energy performance of new materials and equipment.
  • Consumer-Friendly Home Energy Tracking Devices:  Sensor-based energy and water monitoring systems are being used by consumers to save money all throughout their homes and the number of companies creating these tracking devices is increasing, making them easier to come by.
  • Energy Education for Commercial Tenants:  Commercial building energy disclosure is pushing building owners to be more energy efficient, this in addition to educating tenants on ways for them to contribute to saving energy means that more commercial buildings are going green.
  • Transparency in Home Marketing:  Consumers who have instant access to information are more educated and can see through housing scams more easily. Real estate agents who are forthright and educate clients even further on the benefits of having energy efficient home features means more confidence in the green housing market.
  • More Accurate Appraisals:  With more educated consumers looking for Certified Residential Green Appraisers, the lending community is beginning to follow suit and pay attention even further to the added value and return on investment for green homes and green remodels.
  • Broader Adoption of Residential Energy Ratings for Homes:  Energy labeling systems are being put into place nationally, thus causing homeowners to be more educated regarding energy savings possibilities.  More extensive usage of residential energy ratings for homes means homeowners are undertaking more energy upgrade work.
  • Smart Grid-Compatible High-Performance Homes:  More new homes are utilizing “grid-aware” appliances which monitor and report their own usage with the ability to increase or decrease electric usage remotely, thus saving energy.

For more tips on how to improve your Ham Lake home, or for any plumbing, heating, or air conditioning service you need, give Air Mechanical Heating, Cooling & Plumbing a call!

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Common Heat Pump Performance Problems

Monday, August 27th, 2012

The heat pump in your 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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Linwood AC Question: Will My Air Conditioning Work Better with Dehumidification?

Monday, July 30th, 2012

There are a number of common misconceptions about humidity and air conditioning and how one affects the other. In truth, humidity is a major part of the discomfort we feel when the mercury rises. It can be 78 degrees outside but feel miserable simply because the humidity is high. So, many people in Linwood wonder whether a dehumidifier is a good solution to moderate heat and how it will work in tandem with an air conditioner.

Humidity and Your Air Conditioner

First, remember that air conditioning naturally lowers humidity because it cycles air through its condenser and evaporator coil. Conditioned air is naturally lower in humidity, regardless of what’s going on outside. So, if it is hot outside and humid, an air conditioner alone is very effective. On the other hand, a dehumidifier is useful is when the temperature isn’t that high but the humidity is.

Dehumidification not only lowers the relative humidity in your home, it reduces the need for cooling because you will feel more comfortable. Not only that, but a dehumidifier costs significantly less to run. So, when the temperature outside isn’t that high, there is no need to use thousands of watts per day of electricity just to stay comfortable.

This also reduces the overall wear on your air conditioner. Since it doesn’t need to run 24 hours a day to reduce humidity, wear and tear on the device is reduced and you save a tremendous amount of money on repairs and eventual replacement costs.

When to Use a Dehumidifier Alone

Generally, the Department of Energy recommends setting your air conditioner to 78 degrees and using a combination of a dehumidifier and fans to stay cool while it is off. If the temperature rises above that level, the air conditioner will turn on and supplement your dehumidifier. Consider too that a dehumidifier will reduce the burden placed on your air conditioner to pull humidity from the air. Humid air takes more energy to cool than dry air. Despite the fact that dehumidifiers will often raise the air temperature by 1-2 degrees, they save energy and make you more comfortable.

So, if you’re looking for a way to reduce your energy bill and enhance the longevity of your Linwood air conditioner, look no further than a quality dehumidifier. Call Air Mechanical Heating, Cooling & Plumbing today if you have any questions about installing a dehumidifier in your home!

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Rogers Plumbing Q/A: Why Is There a Sewer Smell in Our House?

Monday, July 23rd, 2012

Detecting a sewer smell in your Rogers house is never pleasant on a number of levels. Of course, the main thing you are most likely concerned about is that the smell makes it hard to be in your house. But there are other reasons to be concerned when you smell something like this as well. For one thing,  it likely means that there is a problem somewhere in your sewer, drainage or venting system.

In most cases, you will need to call in a Rogers  plumbing professional to determine the exact cause of the sewer smell and eliminate it. This can sometimes be expensive if the problem is widespread or difficult to locate, but it does not have to be. Some causes of a sewer smell in your house are relatively easy to remedy, particularly for an experienced professional.

For instance, the smell may be the result of leaks in certain pipes and can be eliminated when those leaks are repaired. Or a low water level in your toilet could be the culprit. The constant presence of water in your toilet bowl is actually what keeps those sewer gasses from seeping up and into your house. So if the water level in the toilet bowl drops for some reason, the gasses can be allowed to escape into your house. This is especially likely if you have a toilet that does not get used often and where the water may have evaporated over time.

Another common reason that a sewer smell can develop in your house is that the vent pipe has become clogged. Since it is the job of this pipe to vent sewer gasses out of your home, it is not surprising that a blockage in this system could cause the odors to build up inside. What ever the cause, the Rogers plumbing professionals at Air Mechanical Heating, Cooling & Plumbing are ready to help 24 hours a day!

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Air Conditioning Tip: Breakdowns – How to Handle an Overloaded AC

Monday, July 16th, 2012

The last thing you need on a hot summer day is for your Vadnais Heights air conditioner to suddenly cut out. Without the cooling power it provides, your house will get uncomfortable quickly. Fortunately, once you know why this happens, there are several things you can do about it.

Why Air Conditioners Cut Out

The most common reason for air conditioner failure is an overabundance of pressure in the unit. This happens because the coil gets too hot, causing the pressure to rise in the entire device. As the pressure rises past a certain point, an automatic safety shutoff system is engaged. If you can stop the coil from heating up to this point, you can keep your Vadnais Heights air conditioner running.

How to Keep Them Running

Of course, this is easier said than done. Since your condenser unit with the coil inside is located outside in the heat, it’s only natural for it to get hot during the day – especially an extra hot day when you’re using your air conditioner a lot. You also need to be careful not to put anything over or up against your outdoor condenser unit.

While this may block the sunlight, it will also keep heat in the system and prevent the air conditioner from removing exhaust naturally. So in order to keep your air conditioner as cool as possible, make sure there is nothing up against the vents or impeding air flow in any way. Once you’ve done this, try and find a way to provide shade for you air conditioner without placing objects near the device. Blocking out direct sunlight is the best way to keep your air conditioner cool as long as you can do it without interfering with the system’s natural air flow.

Getting it Back On

If your unit does cut out on you, don’t despair. The best thing to do is to wait about a half hour to give your unit a chance to cool off on its own. Then, spray the coil and other overheated areas with a fine mist of cool water. This should lower the temperature enough that the system can come back on without any further complications.

If the problem persists despite the work you’ve done to keep it cool, you may want to call in a Vadnais Heights air conditioning professional like Air Mechanical Heating, Cooling & Plumbing to take a look and make sure nothing is broken or worn inside to cause the overloads. Most of the time a little maintenance will take care of the problem, but if not, you’ll want to get repairs done quickly to avoid a full breakdown.

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Plumber’s Tip: Common Types of Building Supply & Drain Piping Materials

Monday, July 9th, 2012

Have you ever wondered what the various pipes in your home and other buildings are made of? How come some Bloomington plumbing systems use different materials than others? What are the differences between common types of pipe materials? This brief guide covers all those questions.

Plastic

The newest piping material is plastic. Usually made from acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) or polyvinyl chloride (PVC), plastic piping has been in use in some form or another for about 50 years. Although many purists tend to shy away from plastic piping, it is popular as a material for both water supply and drain piping because it is cheaper and easier to cut than copper, and doesn’t present the corrosion problems of other metal piping materials.

Sometimes, plastic piping can crack or break because it was installed improperly, especially when done by an installer who is not used to working with ABS or PVC materials. These pipes have to be installed differently than copper would be, so it is important to use a contractor with expertise.

Copper

Despite the relatively recent popularity of PVC and ABS, copper has been and remains the industry standard for most piping jobs, especially building water supply lines. Copper has advantages over other metals in that it is softer and easier to manipulate, doesn’t corrode easily and isn’t toxic to humans and animals.

There are three kinds of copper piping used in plumbing, which are assigned letter types depending on the thickness of the pipe walls. Type M is the thinnest and is used for above ground plumbing, while Type L and Type K copper piping have thicker walls. Occasionally, flexible copper tubing is used for plumbing, but because of the high cost, use is usually limited to spaces where the extra flexibility is essential.

 Steel

Galvanized steel piping is not commonly used for drain piping or building water supplies any more, with both copper and plastics being far more common choices for new construction. The zinc coating on galvanized pipes stalls rust, but doesn’t prevent it completely, which can shorten the life of the pipe and cause flaking on the interior pipe walls.

Cast Iron

Although not often used in new construction, cast iron can still be found in a lot of buildings because it has been used as a plumbing material for more than a hundred years.

For more information about installing new pipes in your Bloomington home, give Air Mechanical Heating, Cooling & Plumbing a call!

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