Freon: Why Your AC Needs It

Freon is the name of a class of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). It is a colorless gas commonly used as a refrigerant for air conditioners. Every air conditioning system uses a refrigerant to generate cool air, so proper maintenance is crucial.

How Does Freon Work?

Every air conditioner has a system of coils and compressors. The AC unit first compresses the Freon gas, heating it up. The hot gas travels through the coils, cools down and condenses into a liquid. The cool liquid Freon then absorbs warm air from the outside, which displaces the cold air that is delivered into the home or vehicle.

A common issue occurs when an AC unit stops blowing cold air. This can be due to a Freon leak, which can be toxic and cause harm to the earth’s ozone layer. In fact, the Montreal Protocol of 1987 set standards to reduce the U.S. consumption of CFCs including Freon to reduce its impact on the environment. Most modern air conditioners use a safer and more energy-efficient refrigerant, although units manufactured in 2003 and earlier may still use Freon. Today, the term Freon is often used to refer to any type of refrigerant.

Troubleshooting a Freon Leak

If the level of Freon in your AC unit depletes, you most likely have a leak. However, other issues can cause an AC unit to blow hot air. A clogged or damaged filter can limit airflow. A malfunctioning thermostat can trick your AC unit into pumping hot air or no air at all. Worn insulation can also inhibit your AC unit’s performance. Before you add or replace Freon, you should always diagnose the true cause of the problem.

While it is best to have a professional fix most AC issues, you can replace the insulation around the refrigerant lines by yourself. Start by inspecting the refrigerant lines, which typically run from the outdoor condenser to the indoor evaporator. If the insulation looks worn, it is likely compromising the performance of your unit and should be replaced. You should buy the same type of insulation that originally covered the refrigerant lines. Refer to the user handbook that came with your AC unit to learn how to properly remove the worn insulation and install the new insulation. Always shut off the condenser and evaporator before performing any maintenance or repairs on your AC unit.

Contact a Professional Air Conditioning Technician

Due to the necessity of Freon in the function of your AC unit, you should always contact a professional to fix a potential issue. Improper handling of AC components can compromise their performance and create a fire hazard. Having a professional inspect and maintain your AC system regularly can help prevent issues before they arise. It is especially vital to ensure your AC unit is in working order prior to the demanding summer months, during which old or faulty components are most likely to give out. Planning ahead will help ensure that you stay cool and comfortable.

For more helpful information on your HVAC system, or to schedule a service call, visit our website today. 

Why Ductwork Cleaning is So Important

It’s very important to maintain and protect the efficiency of the ductwork in your home. Your home’s ductwork plays a large role in the overall health and safety of your home’s interior environment. Whether it’s warm or cool, clean or contaminated air, all depends on the cleanliness and efficiency of your home’s duct system.

How Dirty Ductwork Can Contaminate Your Home

Generally speaking, regular duct cleaning helps to prevent many health problems. During the regular operation of your HVAC system, dust, pollen, pet dander and other pollutants blow through the duct system. Many of those particles accumulate along the walls of the duct system. When this accumulation is allowed to sit, all the remaining air in the home blows past it. Small particles may loosen from the sides of the walls and get blasted straight into the living areas of your home through the AC vents. So, while your family is enjoying the cool breeze of your air conditioning system, they are also being exposed to contaminants such as mold, mildew, ragweed, pollen, pet dander and more.

Health Benefits of Duct Cleaning

Those who suffer with allergy symptoms may have fewer symptoms — and less often — with regular duct cleaning. When ducts are cleaned, the buildup of dirt, dust and allergens that has accumulated along the walls of the duct system are removed. The result is clean, smooth walls that allow for fresh, clean air to flow safely through your home’s ductwork. When your family uses the AC, all they will get is cool, clean air, instead of the contaminated air from ductwork that hasn’t been cleaned.

Duct Cleaning Improves Efficiency

All that accumulated dirt and dust also severely hinders the efficiency of your home’s HVAC system. The proper and efficient running of your HVAC depends on a wide, open duct system, where air can flow through unhindered by the accumulation of dirt and debris. Maintaining proper airflow through your home’s HVAC system is critical to keeping energy bills in check and maximizing the life of your furnace and AC system. In addition, duct cleaning includes cleaning and/or replacement of all the filters in your HVAC system. These filters also play a crucial role in the smooth and efficient operation of your HVAC unit. When your HVAC professionals conduct a ductwork cleaning, you’ll notice the difference right away, both in the quality of air you breathe and the smooth running of your HVAC system.

Why Regular Duct Cleaning is So Important

It may be surprising to you to realize how quickly dirt, dust and other contaminants can build up in your home’s duct system. But if you think about how much dirt is brought into your home through shoes and regular day-to-day living, you can imagine that the same thing is happening inside your AC ductwork. That’s why it’s important to get routine cleaning of your ductwork.

Don’t wait until your HVAC system stops working efficiently. Contact the professionals to schedule your ductwork cleaning today! Our service technicians can clean your ducts and get you on a regular maintenance schedule right away.

Tips for Your AC Unit During Remodeling

picture of hand holding hammer in front of a houseThe air conditioning system plays a crucial role in keeping your home comfortable throughout the year. Although home renovations can be exciting, they can also create a significant mess in your AC unit. The dust buildup and dirt that come out of the renovation activities can be very harmful to your system.

Home renovation can cause a lot of problems due to significant amounts of waste and dust that are released into the air. You may end up dealing with costly repairs if you don’t take precautionary measures. Here are some tips to help you protect your AC unit during home renovation and remodeling.

Consult Your AC Contractor Before the Start of Your Project

It’s always a good idea for your regular AC contractor to check your intended plans before starting your home remodeling project. Sometimes, the contractor may advise you to adjust some things to protect your unit. It can be exasperating to discover that the project could have been done differently after the home renovation project is complete and the harm has already been done to your unit.

Turn Off the AC Unit

Working your air conditioner during an ongoing remodeling project can result in a scenario in which more dust is swept into the system and through its vents leading to severe damage. So, it’s advisable that you turn off your air conditioning system while carrying out dusty projects. Turn off your equipment completely until the project is completed and the dust settles.

Close Off Registers and Vents

Make sure that you also close off the registers in the specific areas where renovation work is being done and also consider covering them to prevent the dust from being pulled back into your system. However, if your cooling unit is switched on, be careful to avoid closing off too many registers at the same time. If you’re unsure if you’re cutting down the airflow in your AC system, call an expert to come and inspect it.

Clean the Work Area Regularly During the Project

Always clean up the work area regularly while conducting the renovation or remodeling. This will help deter excessive dust buildup from occurring and spreading to your system. It’s also a good idea to seal off your AC unit before proceeding with your project. Consider placing tarpaulins in your working area to make the process of dust removal easier and quicker so that it doesn’t affect your AC unit. 

Change and/or Clean the Air Filters during and After the Renovation

You should also clean air filters during and after the project has been completed. Don’t be deceived even if your air filters look clean. There will always be tiny dust particles on the surface of the filters that will disrupt the airflow. Be sure to consult an expert if you’re unsure of what to do with the air filters after the completion of the project.

Inspect Your Equipment After the Remodeling/Renovation

Lastly, you need to conduct a proper and comprehensive inspection of your air conditioner after the completion of your home renovation process. Make sure that you inspect the indoor coil, blower and ductwork to ensure that no dust is collected inside it. You should also consider cleaning the air ducts.

Are you looking for experienced heating and cooling experts in The Woodlands and the surrounding areas? Contact Efficient Climate Control  today to schedule a service call, or visit our website for more information.

HVAC Maintenance and Allergies

man sneezingIn recent years, research has shown that indoor air allergen levels can be significantly more problematic than those occurring outdoors. The good news behind these findings is that, with a little care and forethought, you can safeguard your home against indoor allergens to reduce or even eliminate their harmful effects.

The Persistence of Household Allergens

Unless removed or filtered out, indoor allergens tend to remain indoors once they become trapped in your house. The specific household pollutants that commonly trigger allergies differ dramatically from region to region and home to home. However, some of the more prevalent forms of indoor allergens include:

  • Pollen
  • Mold
  • Pet dander, saliva and urine
  • Waste from insect invaders such as dust mites and cockroaches

All of the above particles can take to the air. Once they’re airborne, your family and household guests can easily inhale them and suffer an allergic reaction.

Prevent Allergy Problems with Regular HVAC Maintenance

As it circulates air throughout your home, your HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) system can both collect and spread allergens. By applying a few preventive measures, however, you can optimize your system to significantly improve overall inside air quality.

Proper HVAC maintenance, especially in springtime, removes harmful allergens that already occupy your home while helping to prevent new allergens from building up. Start breathing easier today by adhering to these simple household guidelines.

Use the right high-quality furnace filter and change it often

Your furnace filter is your best defense against the airborne allergens in your home. Just remember, however, that not every filter is created equal. Ensure that your filters have a MERV 8 rating or better in order to trap a greater number of microscopic particles. Also remember to check your filter on a monthly basis and replace it at least four times per year.

Get rid of debris around your indoor and outdoor HVAC units

Both indoor and outdoor HVAC units pull air from their surroundings. Therefore, any dust and debris in the vicinity of these units is likely to become drawn into the air and circulate throughout your house.

Clean registers and return vents regularly

Although most people dust their house around once per week, they often forget about their registers and return vents. Because they deliver or receive airflow from each room in your home, if these portals are dirty, your air will be dirty.

Check for mold

Examine your ducts, evaporator coils and the air handler every month to look for signs of mold. If you smell a musty odor coming from your vents, contact a HVAC professional as soon as possible.

Schedule a Routine HVAC Maintenance Appointment

Although most people love springtime, others know it only as “allergy season.” Whether you suffer from allergies or not, spring is a great time to schedule a routine HVAC maintenance appointment. A qualified HVAC professional can not only ensure that your HVAC system is healthy but help keep you and your family healthy by keeping your indoor allergen levels to an absolute minimum.

If you have questions about the connection between allergies and your HVAC system, contact the team at Efficient Climate Control today.

Fluctuating Weather Patterns and Smart Thermostats

The state of Texas is so uniquely located that its climate can vary dramatically and change very quickly — from week to week, and even from day to day. Much of our weather can be the result of climatic interactions in other parts of the country or from surrounding waterways. Tropical west winds that blow in from the Pacific Ocean, hurricanes and tropical cyclones that begin in the Gulf of Mexico, arctic air that drops down from Canada, and high-pressure systems that originate in the Atlantic Ocean will all cause fluctuating weather patterns in Texas.

Fluctuating Weather’s Effect on Your AC or Heating Unit

Humidity, rain and changing extremes of hot and cold temperatures can negatively affect your air conditioning and heating units. Humidity especially, which is caused by warm air that is saturated with moisture, will put a burden on your AC unit. You may notice the moist, clammy air, fogged windows or a musty or damp odor in your home due to prolonged or high levels of humidity. Your AC system will have to work a lot harder to cope with humidity while attempting to provide sufficient cooling.

Residential heating units are also stressed during severe weather conditions, as Texas does get below-freezing weather days. And the wind coming off the Gulf in January through spring can make an average winter day that much chillier — about 10 to 15 degrees colder. Heat pumps and furnaces have to work that much harder to accommodate fluctuating temperatures caused by windy conditions.

Using Smart Thermostats to Ease the Burden on HVAC Systems

The result of constant variations in weather conditions is not only a burden on you HVAC system, but it also tends to increase your utility bills. Just one of the main benefits of smart thermostats is the ability to reduce unnecessary HVAC usage when you are not at home, while still keeping your home at a minimum temperature level until you return. Here are some other key features of switching to smart thermostats:

  • Save money by using less energy because smart thermostats allow a more energy-efficient management of your home’s temperatures. This can save you over $100 annually, which will pay for the thermostat investment.
  • Some smart thermostats can learn your preferred patterns for home comfort and will lower and raise the temperatures automatically, keeping your home warmer first thing in the morning and cooler overnight.
  • Even when you’re not at home, you can remotely access your thermostat via WiFi connection. Even when on vacation, you don’t have to worry if you neglected to adjust the thermostat.
  • You can monitor your home’s energy consumption to make smart decisions on how to program your thermostat to use even less energy. Some models even have maintenance reminders to change HVAC filters or have a system tuneup.

A smart thermostat will allow you to not only simply control, but to automate, your home’s temperature to avoid the wide temperature fluctuations caused by changing weather conditions. Your smart thermostat will continuously make small adjustments to keep your home comfortable and your HVAC units running smoothly.

Save Energy and Save Money

People are always looking to save money and cutting back on the cost of your monthly energy bill is a great way to do it. The Department of Energy is a great place to find lots of energy saving tips and information, like the infographic below that shows you eight things all homeowners should do to cost effectively lower their energy bills. In preparation for the upcoming Spring and Summer weather check out our How to Save Energy in the Summer Heat blog. 

American Standard Recognized by the Asthma & Allergy Foundation of America

Efficient Climate Control is proud to be an authorized American Standard Customer Care Dealer. American Standard Heating & Air Conditioning is the industry leader in HVAC systems, known for reliability, sustainability, air quality and customer care. They take great pride in providing top-notch customer service, and handpick Customer Care Dealers that have a proven commitment to excellence.

American Standard air conditioners may be one of the lesser known brands out there, but they also rate in the best of the best category. American Standard air conditioning offers superior quality components with industry leading warranties at a highly competitive price. 

American Standard was also recognized by the Asthma & Allergy Foundation of America’s asthma & allergy friendly® Certification Program

“The American Standard AccuClean uses a patented technology called Intense Field
Dialectics to remove common allergens from the home, like pet dander, pollen, dust
particulate, viruses, mold spores, tobacco smoke, dust mites and more.

Additional testing around efficiency recovery, accelerated loading, cleaning intervals, and life
cycle cost were validated. These are important factors when consumers choose the best
whole home filter for their needs.

To receive the certification, the American Standard AccuClean was independently tested
and required to meet benchmark standards as prescribed by ASL and AAFA based on
industry leading medical and scientific research in health issues and indoor air pollution.” (Read More.)

At Efficient Climate Control we offer nothing but the best for our customers. Visit our website for more helpful industry related information or to schedule a service call today. 

Ensure Your Home Is Ready for Winter in Texas

Here in Texas, you generally don’t have to prepare your home for the ice, snow and extreme cold of winter like Northerners do. Nonetheless, even mild Texas winters can bring problems to your home, such as excess moisture, freezing, wasted electricity and home damage. Have a more comfortable and cost-effective winter with fewer home problems by carrying out these preparation tips in advance of seasonal weather.   

Block Winter Elements from Entering

Before the winter hits, go through your home to check for areas that are not properly secured or sealed. You’ll want to make sure that the winter weather won’t come in but also that your heat won’t escape. By keeping the wet, cold weather out, you’ll also cut down on mold and mildew that can accumulate in a Texas home.

This step means checking for drafts that are coming through windows and doors, finding animal entry holes into the attic and searching for gaps and holes in the attic. Fix the problems yourself or hire someone to caulk areas, seal holes, add weatherstripping and perform other measures that keep the home closed to the elements. 

Check Your HVAC System

You might need to turn on the heat for some of those chilly nights while you may still need the air conditioning for the hottest times of day. To be ready for every temperature a Texas winter can bring, make sure your HVAC system is in proper working order before the winter starts.

This is the right time to take care of any HVAC work you’ve been putting off or to get an inspection to make sure your system will continue to work efficiently throughout the season. Also, it’s smart to take care of regular cleaning and maintenance, such as cleaning the furnace and changing your air filter, before the beginning of winter weather. 

Prepare Your Exterior

Since we all know a Texas winter can get wet, make sure you clean your rain gutters to prepare for the possibility of excessive rain. Cleaning them can keep too much water from running down the house and getting inside. Plus, you can help keep the gutters from freezing and creating damage.

Also, it’s a good idea to remove dead or broken tree branches near the house before the winter hits. This step can prevent branches from hitting the house and creating damage if they get blown during a storm.

Create an Extra Layer of Protection

A major protective step you can take is to prepare the home for colder weather. Ways you can do this include adding insulation to the walls and attic if there is not enough, wrapping the water pipes with heat tape or insulation, and insulating the hot water heater. In addition to keeping your home and water warmer and preventing problems from low temperatures, these steps can save you money on your utility bills. 

For more helpful information on your HVAC system, or to schedule a service call, visit our website today. 

Preparing Your A/C for Flooding and Storms

Even when you’re not in the direct path of a hurricane or large tropical storm, it can still bring flooding to your area. Water and electrical appliances, including your A/C unit, don’t mix. While most outdoor A/C units are designed to handle inclement weather, they aren’t designed to be immersed in water. Also, the metal components might inherently resist water, but the electrical components do not. Flood water can also carry small particles into previously sealed motor bearings and/or clog coils, which may not cause an immediate problem, but could cause total system failure in the near future. High winds and heavy rain can spell disaster for your air conditioner or HVAC unit, so take these steps to protect it before a storm or flood to avoid costly replacement.

Before the Storm Hits

Pay attention to the weather so you have plenty of warning before a major storm hits. Anytime flooding is imminent or excessive wind speeds are predicted, make vital preparations to ensure your A/C unit receives the least amount of damage.

Step 1: Turn off the electricity to your unit.

This is the most critical step to protecting your A/C unit. Leaving your unit on during a storm can cause serious damage from power surges, lightning strikes or constant power interruptions. You could also burn out the motor should it become clogged with debris. Unplug the unit, if applicable, and shut off the breaker. Never turn the unit back on during the storm, even if your home is becoming unbearably hot, it could damage your unit and endanger your family.

Step 2: Remove debris and other items that could cause damage.

Wind can be just as damaging as water. Clear the area around your A/C unit to eliminate anything that could blow into or fall on top of your unit and damage it. Trim trees with large branches that could fall on the unit. Put away objects like bicycles, outdoor furniture, gardening tools, planters or anything that could be caught by the wind and crash into your unit. High-speed winds can cause debris that normally wouldn’t harm your unit to crash into it with enough force to cause damage.

Step 3: Anchor and cover your unit for further protection.

Storms with extremely strong winds can actually blow your outside unit over or move it out of place. Properly anchor your system to the ground for extra stability. Secure your unit with condenser straps or bolt the system to a concrete pad. Cover your unit with a heavy-duty tarp or plywood to keep out as much rain as possible and further protect it from flying debris. You can also opt to install a metal cage around the unit or build a small shed out of 2x4s to further protect it from damage during a storm.

If you live in an area prone to flooding, even lighter rain showers could cause flooding. Watch for rising storm water and consider elevating your unit, instead of leaving it on ground level. Flooding not only exposes your A/C unit to water, but also debris that gets washed inside the unit. Either could cause problems when you turn the unit back on. A thorough inspection and cleaning is necessary, especially if your unit was under water.