HVAC and Indoor Air Quality

Many people believe that their HVAC system only delivers warm air in the winter and cool air in the summer and provides some ventilation. But the fact is your HVAC system has a great impact on the quality of air in your home all throughout the year. Our HVAC professionals at [company_name] know that a well-maintained system can improve your home’s air quality, while a badly maintained one can worsen it.

Good HVAC, Good Air

Among the things a well-maintained HVAC system does for your indoor air quality are:

  • Remove pollutants and odors
  • Discourage pests
  • Keep humidity low
  • Keep home well ventilated

Our customers are often surprised to learn that the air inside their home can be many times more polluted than the air outdoors. But your HVAC system filters the outside air as it comes in, and that filter traps pollutants such as pollen, dust, mold spores, viruses and bacteria. The cleaner air that results lowers the risks of you or members of your household suffering from allergies, asthma or other respiratory problems.

One of the best things your air conditioning does is lower the humidity in your home, as cold air does not hold moisture as well as warm air. High humidity can make you comfortable even if the temperature is not very high. It can also encourage the growth of pathogenic mold and mildew. On the other hand, the cold air of winter is extremely dry, and the warmed air of a heating unit carries enough humidity to keep the household comfortable.

One problem with new homes is that they are well sealed to help them be more energy efficient. But a drawback of this is the interruption of a healthy airflow. Stale air holds on to pollutants and uncomfortable levels of humidity. Fortunately, the ventilation part of HVAC is the simplest to employ. Ceiling fans, the fans found in HVAC units and open doors and windows help the flow of fresh air throughout your home.

Bad HVAC, Bad Air

An HVAC system that is in disrepair not only fails to deliver cooling, heating and ventilation adequately but can actually be dangerous to your health. Simply, all of the problems that are prevented by a functioning HVAC system are present in one that is either badly maintained or that has been badly installed or designed. This means it allows bad smells and pollutants, including bacteria, mold and dust into the indoor air and blows warm or cool air at such speeds that you’re always uncomfortable. A bad HVAC system also does not regulate humidity, which leads to discomfort and can promote the growth of mold.

Leaking ductwork not only reduces the efficiency of your HVAC, but many critters, including possums, mice and rats find them the perfect places to build a nest. The ductwork blows their droppings and other waste into your indoor air. Worse, it’s not uncommon for animals to die in your ductwork, and the smell of that lingers even if your HVAC system is working.

But pollutants and procreating or dead animals aren’t even the worst things that can happen with leaky ductwork. Backdrafting can happen when gas from your boiler, furnace or hot water heater re-enters your home instead of being vented to the outside. This can cause carbon monoxide, an odorless, tasteless, colorless and deadly gas to infiltrate your rooms.

Bad smells from the ductwork are one sign of poor air quality caused by your HVAC. Other signs may be more subtle. The inside of your home may still be uncomfortably humid even with the AC on. One room may be much cooler or warmer than the other even though you don’t have a zoned system. The system may be blowing air at too high a speed, which also causes discomfort.

Call Us to Learn More

Working HVAC systems are a must in Cedarburg, WI. They not only keep homes cool in the summers but protect you against our brutal winters. Because these systems have to work as hard as they do, they are subject to problems that make them less efficient. When they are less efficient, they can cause the quality of our customer’s indoor air to deteriorate, sometimes to the point where health is affected.

Don’t hesitate to call our HVAC professionals at [company_name] to troubleshoot your system and make sure it and your indoor air quality are always in top condition.

How Long Can My Air Conditioner Run Continuously?

The humid Wisconsin summers mean that your air conditioner often has to work overtime to keep your home cool. As a result, we often get questions from customers asking if it’s okay for their air conditioning to run constantly. The answer is yes, it is fine if you leave your air conditioning constantly switched on. However, the condenser unit shouldn’t run constantly as this will quickly cause the motor to burn out. Moreover, if the condenser unit is running continuously, this indicates that your AC system isn’t working properly and needs to be repaired. To understand why, let’s take a look at cooling cycles to see how long the condenser unit should run under normal conditions.

Understanding Cooling Cycles

The condenser unit is the part of the air conditioning system that sits outside the home, and it serves two primary purposes. The first is to supply cold refrigerant liquid to the evaporator coil inside the indoor air handler unit, and the second is to release heat outside the home and compress the refrigerant back into a liquid.

As hot air passes over the evaporator coil, the refrigerant absorbs much of the heat from the air. This causes the refrigerant to heat up and turn from a liquid to a gas. The hot refrigerant then travels back out to the condenser where it flows through another series of coils to allow the heat to be released into the air outside. Finally, the condenser forces the cooled refrigerant through a compressor, which turns the refrigerant back into a liquid.

Your thermostat signals the condenser to turn on and start this cycle when the house gets warmer than the temperature the thermostat is set to. Once the condenser unit is on, it should run for approximately 15 to 20 minutes before switching off again. Typically, the condenser will perform two full cycles every hour or possibly three cycles in hotter or more humid conditions.

If the condenser runs more frequently than this, it usually indicates that the system is short-cycling. This essentially means that the condenser unit is shutting off before completing a full cycle. When this happens, the unit will typically attempt to start a new cycle immediately, which means the system will run almost constantly. Short cycling leads to increased energy use as well as greater wear and tear on the condenser. If not taken care of, the problem will usually cause the condenser to burn out and need to be replaced.

Common Causes of Short-Cycling

Numerous issues can cause a condenser to short-cycle. One of the most common causes is a clogged air filter, and this issue can be overcome simply by replacing the air filter. To prevent this, all you need to do is make sure to replace your filter at least once every one to three months.

Short-cycling can also occur if the condenser is either oversized or undersized. If the unit is too small, it will need to run almost constantly since it isn’t powerful enough to properly cool the home. If the unit is too big, the thermostat will typically signal it to turn off before completing a full cycle. In both cases, the problem will lead to higher energy bills and decreased home comfort. In these situations, your only real option is to replace the unit with one that is the appropriate size for your home.

Short cycling can also indicate that there is a leak in one of the refrigerant lines. If the system doesn’t have enough refrigerant, it won’t be able to properly absorb heat from inside the home and thus will need to run almost constantly. This issue can also cause either the evaporator coil in the air handler or the condenser coil in the condenser unit to freeze up. If you attempt to run your air conditioning while it is frozen, it will quickly cause the condenser motor to overheat and burn out. To prevent this, it is important that you not turn the AC on until you have a technician repair the leak and add more refrigerant into the system.

Professional AC Repairs and Maintenance

If your condenser is short-cycling or you’re experiencing any other issues with your air conditioning system, the experts at Hometown Heating & Air are here to help. We are available 24/7 for emergency repairs, and our NATE-certified technicians can repair and maintain all AC makes and models. We also specialize in air conditioner installation and replacements as well as a full range of heating and electrical services. With two locations in Cedarburg and Brookfield, we serve customers throughout the greater Milwaukee area. For more information or to schedule service, give the team at Hometown Heating & Air a call today.

How to Test the Efficiency of Your AC

Your house has air conditioning, which is great, but you’re not sure how efficient it is. Many homeowners never question the status of their AC until it stops working. If your AC efficiency is questionable, you may be spending a lot more money than you need to. Regular checks of your air conditioner’s components, and a simple test will tell you if it is functioning properly.

Here are four things that can affect the efficiency of your air conditioner. Check these first to make sure that you get accurate test results. Any one of these can cause your air conditioner to struggle to maintain even room temperature.

1. Dirty Air Filter

The first thing to do is check your air conditioner’s air filter. Is it clogged with dust? A dirty filter can make it harder for the unit to pull in the fresh air. Air filters should be checked monthly and replaced when dirty.

2. Clogged Condenser

Can you hear the unit running? It should have a faint humming sound when turned on. The outdoor condenser unit can get clogged with dirt and debris from your yard. Give it a thorough cleaning with a garden hose and make sure it is free of leaves and grass clippings.

3. Closed or Blocked Vents

Do you feel cold air coming out of the vents in each room? The vents should be clear of dust and open to allow air to flow out.

4. Drafty Doors and Windows

Doors and windows can let in drafts that can affect your indoor temperatures. When you have the air conditioner on, close the blinds or cover windows to prevent heat transfer through the glass. The heat that comes in through the windows can make it hotter inside and increase humidity.

After checking the components of your AC system, perform the following test to see how well your system performs. This test will determine if you need to call a repair service or not.

Testing The AC

This simple test works perfectly on older systems since newer units are programmed for maximum efficiency. If you have a system that is between 5 and 10 years old, and it struggles to keep your home cool enough, then give this test a shot.

The only thing you need for this test is a thermometer. Allow your air conditioner to run for at least 20 minutes before performing the test. You can determine the efficiency of your AC by comparing the temperature of the air blowing out of the vent, to the temperature of the air being drawn into the system.

Hold a digital thermometer up facing the air coming out of the vent. Wait until the thermometer has a steady read. Now, repeat these steps for the return vent. You can also use a kitchen thermometer if that is all you have. Just set it inside where the air can blow on it.

Compare the temperatures from both readings. On a properly running air conditioning system, the air coming out should be 20 degrees cooler than the air going in. If the reading is less than 20 degrees difference, it could mean that the unit needs refrigerant or minor repair. It would be hard to properly diagnose the system without an inspection, but this is a common reason for an air conditioner not to be cooling efficiently.

Depending on the results of your test, you should consider contacting a heating and air conditioning company to inspect and repair the system before the problem gets worse. Fixing the issue now would be less costly than waiting until it stops working altogether.

Additional Signs of AC problems:

  • More humidity indoors
  • Increased utility bills
  • Frequent repair visits
  • AC cycles frequently

Call Us for Assistance

At Hometown Heating & Air of Cedarburg, WI, we proudly serve our community by ensuring the comfort of our customers. We have an A+rating from the BBB and received the Super Service Award from Angie’s List in 2020, as well as the Best of Home Advisor Award. We pride ourselves on service and our team of NATE-certified technicians can fix just about any problem you have with your air conditioner.

We provide heating and cooling repair, indoor air quality checks, and system maintenance for the residents of Cedarburg and the surrounding area.

If your air conditioner is not as efficient as it could be, contact us today to schedule a repair service.