_ Since air conditioning is such an important part of American life, it’s pretty understandable that there would be quite a few myths and misconceptions about…Read More
AC Install and Repair in the Silver Spring Area
Without a doubt, it’s nice to have air conditioning here in southern Maryland. With our hot and humid summers, air conditioning can turn a day from barely bearable to downright enjoyable. Is having air conditioning absolutely necessary? In most cases, probably not. Most of us could survive without air conditioning, but it wouldn’t be fun with so many buildings being airtight. If you’re like most people, you don’t want to go without it for long.
AC service is something that you want to leave up to professionals who have years of service in the industry, whether you need air conditioner repair or installation. It’s not just your own comfort you’re looking out for, but that of your employees or family members (including your pets). So when it’s time for AC service of any kind in the Silver Spring area (including Germantown, Laurel, Bethesda, Potomac, Rockville, and Beltsville), here’s some stuff you need to know.
Who Needs AC?
It might sound like a simple question, but it’s valid. What kind of buildings are having AC installed? Most residential customers don’t often think about any air conditioning other than their own. Here are a few types of places that call upon our HVAC company on a regular basis.
Retail – Whether it’s a small shop around the corner or a big box store, every space wants to be as inviting to customers as possible. When it’s sweltering outside, people want to be comfortable when they shop. And the nicer the store, the colder it usually is!
Venues – Movie theaters have long used air conditioning as a way of luring people in on a hot day. Long before home air conditioning was commonplace, many Maryland residents would head to the theater to get out of the heat. Today, nearly every entertainment venue is air conditioned to make their audience as comfortable as possible.
Offices – Office buildings in the Silver Spring area use quite a bit of air conditioning to keep employees comfortable on hot days. The trick, though, is to keep them comfortable. If it’s too hot, they’re distracted by the heat. If it’s too cold, they’re not only distracted but they’re also using their energy to keep warm instead of more important things…like thinking! Having a reliable heating and cooling systems turns out to be vital to employee productivity.
Public Buildings – There are some buildings that everyone is paying to cool, and those include city building and public schools. While not every school is air conditioned, keeping kids comfortable ensures that they’re not distracted by the excessive heat that we can get here in the Silver Spring area.
When Is AC Installation Needed?
When most people think of a heating and cooling company in the Silver Spring area, they think about HVAC repairs. After all, installations might be done every 20 years while repairs come about much more often.
But installations are a big part of our job, a very important one considering how it can affect the efficiency for the entire life of the cooling unit. Let’s take a look at the most common AC installation calls we get
New construction is certainly the most common time that we’ll be dealing with new installation of air conditioning units. This includes everything from single-family dwellings to apartment buildings, office space to retail. JC & JC Mechanical Contractors will be there to ensure that everything is properly installed and up to code. Proper ductwork design, which we’ll talk more about later, is also vitally important to ensure that the units work as efficiently as possible.
Remodeling is another time that it’s vital to find the right HVAC units to put in your building. Sometimes retail buildings are being gutted in order to accommodate a new business, while other times it’s an old home that’s never had AC before and replacing the entire HVAC system will bring it into the present.
Why Start With A Professional?
Many people don’t realize just how important it can be to consult a professional early on in the process when building or remodeling. Doing so can make sure you get the right unit for the size of the building, as well as ensuring that everything is up to code from beginning to end.
We’ll Help You Choose the Best AC Unit
While we certainly respect people who take the initiative and do some legwork online to find out which AC units might be right for their home or business, it’s always important to enlist the help of a professional AC installer to make sure that everything will come together properly.
There are many variables that can go into making the decision about which AC unit is right for your building. For instance, an old home that is being remodeled might be replacing ancient insulation with new, making the energy efficiency of the building requires a much different air conditioning unit that it needed before. Going with a small unit in this case could save money at the outset but also save money down the road, because HVAC units can waste money if they’re too large or too small.
Now that we’d discussed new air conditioner installations, let’s talk about another common time that customers need us: AC repair.
Why Is AC Repair Needed?
As rugged as AC units are, they will all eventually need repair. Even if you made an air conditioning unit out of the most rugged metals and highest-quality components on the planet, some part of it would fail eventually due to wear and entropy. Here’s why:
The bulk of HVAC equipment is inside. The furnace, blowers, and ductwork are all part of the interior the building. In fact, as long as the furnace is working, it keeps itself and the rest of the house at a comfortable temperature. The elements don’t really play much of a part in heating your home, beyond making it work harder on colder days.
AC units, on the other hand, are outside. They have to be able to hold up to the freezing temperatures of winter and the blazing heat of the sun in summer. They must endure snow, rain, and hail. The metal parts tend to hold up pretty well, and even if they sustain hail damage they’re still going to work. But the wire connections and hoses will eventually succumb to the elements, meaning that a repair is inevitable.
They Have Moving Parts
Give any mechanical system enough time and it will break down. Parts grind against each other, shaving off molecules of metal every time the unit starts up. Do that thousands of times and eventually something is going to give out.
Of course, it’s not just the moving parts that are in trouble. Sometimes it’s the parts that are put under electric stress (i.e. sudden heat) that can cause something to give out over time. Turn something on and off enough times and it will eventually fail. (That’s why AC units tend to fail so much on the hottest days, because they’re being taxed so much.)
What Are The Most Common Reasons People Need AC Repair?
Everything breaks down eventually. Whether it’s the moving parts of the AC you can see or something electrical deep within the unit has failed, every AC will eventually need repair. Here are some are the most common problems that occur with air conditioners.
The Refrigerant Can Leak
When you’re interested in cooling the air, you won’t be surprised to know that it’s important that your refrigerant is at the right level. The most common problem that occurs with refrigerant is that it is leaking. Sometimes you’ll be able to see the problem, other times not. But when the refrigerant leaks and gets too low, your house will warm up even though the fan is running. At that point it’s time to call for AC service so that the tech can fix the leak and refill the refrigerant.
Another problem that can occur with refrigerant is if something went wrong during your last repair or maintenance. If previous HVAC service made a mistake and didn’t get the right amount in, too little refrigerant can reduce the efficiency of your system.
The compressor is a vital part of your air conditioner, and if it’s not working then you’re not going to get any cool air. The compressor’s job is to compress the refrigerant into a gas, which moves it through heat-exchanger coils. The cool air blown across these coils is then pumped through your house…unless, of course, the compressor has something wrong with it.
Minor problems like a starter can be replaced without much cost or trouble, but bigger problems can occur with a compressor. Either one can be handled by an experienced HVAC technician.
Speaking of the compressor and the coils, the fact that the air conditioning unit is outdoors means that it’s going to be exposed to more dust than any other appliance you own. Not only is it being pelted with dust that blows by, but the fan itself is creating currents of air that stir up nearby dust and give it more chances to get on your coils.
Why are dirty coils such a problem? Dirty coils cause the compressor to do more work to achieve the same result, which means it’s working harder and therefore putting more pressure on the system. While dirty coils won’t directly cause your AC to fail, they could lead to a problem down the line. This is an important part of AC maintenance that we’ll talk more about later.
The most noticeable part of the air conditioning unit is the fan. After all, when the fan is running, you know the air conditioner is on. You can hear it from many parts of the house and feel the warm air it’s blowing when you walk past the external unit.
The fan’s main goal is to take the warm air from the house and move it outdoors. If the fan isn’t working, the air conditioner has to work exponentially harder to cool the air in your home, which could put undue stress on the rest of the system. Make sure to call an AC service if your home is unusually warm and if you notice that the fan isn’t working.
Like most everything these days, products that used to just be electric have become electrical. There are more circuits and microchips in air conditioning units that are talking to each other and making decisions. While that makes them more convenient and efficient, it also means that there’s more that can go wrong.
Whether it’s because they’ve worn out or an electric surge damaged them, the electronics are crucial to your AC unit running properly. Failure in these systems can lead to units that don’t turn on, won’t turn off, or don’t keep the unit on for the proper amount of time for cooling to occur.
Wiring and Hoses
As we keep mentioning, the air conditioner unit is quite the household trooper, holding up to extreme cold, extreme heat, and every type of weather the Maryland climate can throw at it. But with those weather changes come problems with the wiring and hoses. The freeze/thaw cycle expands and contracts their molecules, causing them to wear out sooner than something that might be inside your house. Electrical spikes can further damage the wiring, as can any water that gets in where it shouldn’t due to inadequate shielding. We’re more than ready to jump in and replace that wiring and any protection so that it doesn’t happen again.
Something Could Be Wrong Inside
So your AC isn’t working. Most people will immediately think that there’s something wrong with the outdoor unit, but that’s certainly not always the case. The part of the air conditioner that’s outside is only part of what cools your home. It could be that something is wrong with other parts of your HVAC system.
It’s also possible that there’s something wrong with the wall thermostat. It could be that the thermostat has reached the end of its life, or maybe it simply got bumped without you knowing it. We’ll be sure to investigate the thermostat if it appears that everything is fine with the rest of the system.
Now that we’ve discussed two of the most common aspects of the work we do — AC installation and AC repair — there’s one more very important part of our job that can’t be ignored: AC preventive maintenance.
What About Preventive Maintenance?
Every complex system requires some level of preventive maintenance. Just as it’s crucial to change the oil, brakes, and shocks in a car, it’s also imperative that you have your air conditioner checked annually to ensure that it has everything it needs to keep your home or business cool.
While most people know about the importance of keeping the heating portion of an HVAC unit up-to-spec — people are rightfully wary about the dangers of natural gas — they often let their air conditioning units go for too long without a checkup. Here are a few very good reasons why you shouldn’t put off getting that AC maintenance taken care of.
It Can Lower Your Energy Bills
If your home gets to 70 degrees when you set it at 70 degrees, you might think that everything is working perfectly. But just because a unit can get it to the temperature you want doesn’t mean that it isn’t working harder than it needs to get there.
Preventive maintenance on an air conditioning unit ensures that it’s working at peak efficiency. Efficiency means that it’s making the most of the energy that’s going into it. Instead of wasting that energy fighting dirty coils, that energy is directly used to cool your home.
It Can Prevent Larger Repairs
Your HVAC system is just that: a system. All of the parts are working together in order to change your temperature to your liking. So when something tiny goes wrong, it can make others stop working. This might occur all at once, or it could cause other parts to work harder and give out prematurely within weeks, days, or even hours.
Preventing small things from going wrong, such as replacing less expensive parts during preventive maintenance, can ensure that the larger and more expensive parts aren’t as likely to fail.
It Can Extend the Life of the HVAC System
Okay, raise your hand if you want to pay for a new air conditioning system. Yeah, we didn’t think so. No one wants to pay the thousands of dollars it takes to pay for new AC installation. And while you don’t have to replace many furnaces and air conditioners over the course of your life, extending the life of your current one could mean that you’re paying for only three during your life instead of four. And when you go to sell the house, wouldn’t it be nice to have your HVAC in good working order instead of on its last leg?
It Prevents Inconvenience
When you call an HVAC service for preventive maintenance, you get to decide when we show up. We’ll schedule a time to stop by for your AC maintenance, and you can plan to be off work that morning to let us in and answer any questions you might have. If we notice that a piece of equipment is at the end of its usability and are sure it won’t last the season, we can replace it then and there.
But what if you skip the air conditioner preventive maintenance and the piece ends up breaking, you’re suddenly put in a bad spot. You’ll have to take unexpected time off work and wait in a hot house until we arrive. And the hotter the house gets, the more energy it’s going to take to get it back down to a comfortable temperature. And, as we mentioned above, smaller repairs can prevent the need for larger repairs.
Now let’s take a look at it from a business’ point of view. While you might not have to take off from work to wait for a heating and cooling company to stop by, you do have to deal with the ramifications of a hot building. If you have an office environment, employees are going to be incredibly hot, especially if you have a building in which the windows don’t open. Those employees are going to be uncomfortable, and that leads to short tempers and a lot of distraction. If you own a retail shop, customers who walk in to get out of the heat are going to spend a lot less time in your store if they find the AC isn’t working.
It Can Be A Safety Concern
Compared to gas furnaces, air conditioners are relatively safe. But short circuits in any part of an HVAC system can cause a fire, and basic preventive maintenance can catch those crossed wires before they pose any danger to your home and family. The best option to address all of these problems is to get yearly maintenance performed on both your heating and cooling system.
Now that you know why it’s so important to keep your HVAC unit in good repair, it’s probably time to give JC & JC HVAC Mechanical Contractors a call. Click on that banner above to set up an appointment with us today, no matter where you are in the Silver Spring area!