Air Conditioning 101: What You Need to Know About Your Cooling System

Air Conditioning 101: What You Need to Know About Your Cooling System

  • Air Conditioning

Air conditioning is just blowing cold air into your home, right? Actually, no. Cooling the air in your home is accomplished through a relatively complicated process that involves refrigerant fluid that shuttles heat back and forth between an outside compressor as it transforms from a liquid to a gas and back again. It takes quite a bit of electricity to perform this modern magic show of moving heat from a cooler place and back to a warmer place.

Types of Air Conditioning Systems

There are several different technology options involved with the process of cooling your home: central air conditioners and heat pumps, evaporative coolers, room air conditioners and ductless mini-split air conditioners. 

  • Central air conditioners and heat pumps are the most common form of systems, and unlike some of the other options they are often used to heat entire homes. They generally consist of a large compressor that is external to the home and drives the process and indoor refrigerant coils that distribute cool air throughout the home via ducts. Heat pumps work similarly, except they are also able to distribute warm air in the cooler winter months. Ducts throughout the home are utilized for distribution of both warm and cool air in concert with a fan system. 
  • Room air conditioners are mounted either on the walls, ceiling or through a window. These systems work in a similar fashion to central air conditioners, but compressors are located outside the home and the systems are generally built to control the temperature in a single room. These units are less expensive to purchase, but are potentially less efficient and have a higher daily running cost overall. 
  • Evaporative coolers, also known as swamp coolers, can be a practical alternative in certain parts of the country but are much less common than central air or room air conditioners. These unique systems operate by pulling fresh air through an evaporative system that involves moist pads and a whole-house circulation mechanism. While swamp coolers are only efficient in the drier areas of the country, they are very efficient and cost-effective to run and can reduce the temperature of your home by up to 30 degrees. The cost of purchase and installation is also lower as these systems are relatively simplistic. Evaporative coolers work most effectively in dry climates because the system works by putting moisture back into the air — something that isn’t as efficient in a wet climate. 
  • Ductless mini-split air conditioners are more popular outside the U.S., but are gaining prominence with homeowners who are updating a portion of their home or reworking an older addition that doesn’t have ductwork in place. They are similar to room air conditioners in that they are a zoned system, but the functionality is more similar to a conventional central air conditioning unit. When you’re using a ductless system, you also avoid the energy loss that is associated with a traditional system with ducts. You can also maintain overall cleaner air due to the lack of cracks and crevices in the ducts for dust, mold and other contaminants to hide.
  • New technology options include the Night Breeze, which integrates a whole-house fan, indirect water heater and air conditioner in one unit as well as Thermal Energy Storage where energy is stored overnight in ice — ideal for climates where energy costs are high during peak usage times. 

Warning Signs

Other than the obvious (it’s getting hot in here!) signs, there are multiple ways to determine that your system either needs maintenance or replacement. However, if you’re not as experienced with home maintenance and air conditioners, you may wonder if the problem is in your head or if it truly exists. Since air conditioners are used most heavily during the summer months, it’s important to get a tune-up before the heat of summer really kicks in. Qualified and licensed professionals perform a full system inspection to catch some standard problems that can occur. A check up generally includes:

  • Performance test of the full system
  • Visual review of all air conditioner components
  • Tests to determine the state of the refrigerant charge and overall system control testing
  • The use of an approved leak detector to perform a leak test
  • If slow leaks are suspected, your professional may perform a dye detection test

How can you tell that your system is not functioning as it should? Here’s a few things to look out for:

  • Air is not flowing as easily as it should be. If you’re seeing poor air flow through your vents, it’s probably time to call a professional. 
  • Zone issues — where part of your home is comfortable and another part is too hot or cool — are a good sign that there may be something wrong with your thermostat.
  • Excess moisture where it doesn’t belong can also be an indicator that it’s time to call a professional. 
  • Foul odors coming from your air conditioning unit are never a good sign. Mold can grow in wet, dark spaces and an air conditioning unit certainly fits those parameters.
  • Squeaking or squealing sounds coming from your air conditioning unit may indicate that a belt has slipped. This generally requires professional assistance to resolve.
  • Of course, if you find that your home is heating up unexpectedly, or the air conditioner is cycling (turning on and off quickly), you should have your unit checked out. 

With careful use and a solid maintenance schedule, nearly all types of air conditioning units will last upwards of 15 to 20 years. Your system should receive maintenance at least once a year in the spring, before it’s heavily used in the summer heat. This ensures that you’re catching any small problems such as leaks quickly and before they have a large impact on the functioning of your system. The cost of not performing regular maintenance could be decreased system efficiency or even having a system that freezes up or sustains serious damage from broken items such as motor bearings.

Call MillTown today and schedule your service checkup to see if you need AC repair or replacement!

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By Milltown Plumbing

6 Benefits of Getting an AC Tune-Up in Massachusetts

6 Benefits of Getting an AC Tune-Up in Massachusetts

  • Air Conditioning
  • Maintenance
AC Tune-Up in Massachusetts by MillTown

There are still two full months of summer left! Your AC may be on, but is it ready to tackle the summer heat August and September bring?  The people at MillTown suggest that you get an AC tune-up in Massachusetts to make sure it runs well. Here are six reasons you should give it some maintenance now before it’s too late!

Benefits of an AC tune-up in Massachusetts

  1. Lower electricity bills. Summers are hot- there’s no way around it. It’s likely that you’ll want to be running your AC most days, but that can create a steep increase in electrical bills. A system with clogged filters and failing parts will need to work harder to do the same work. By tuning up your AC now, you’re increasing its efficiency and lowering your utility bills.
  2. More comfort. What would you call an AC that can’t keep you cool? A bad one. Summers can be tough even for modern systems. Because of this, if you want to keep it running at a constant cool, you’ll want our professionals at Milltown to make sure your AC is running at top performance.
  3. Fewer breakdowns. If you use your AC system this summer, are you certain that it won’t fail to start up? Do you know for sure that it’ll run smoothly all season? If you’re not sure, give us a call! Our tune-ups come with a complete inspection that can identify problems before they cause a breakdown.
  4. Cheaper repair bills. In the event that your AC winds up needing repairs, they’ll likely be cheaper if you’ve gotten maintenance beforehand. The reason for that is because our maintenance addresses the more costly problems (like air flow issues and broken parts) during our inspections.
  5. Extended AC lifespan. If you want your AC system to stay operational for a long time, you’ll want to give it regular maintenance. By routinely checking on your AC and preventing breakdowns, we can help extend your AC’s lifespan by years. Without regular maintenance, the average AC only lasts a few years.
  6. Better air quality. During the months where you never use your AC, various bits of dust and grime build up in it. When you turn it on, all that nasty junk is going to go into the air, which can hurt your air quality and aggravate those summer allergies. When you call Milltown to give your AC a tune-up, we’ll clean it out, ensuring that your home’s air stays fresh.

Why is MillTown the best choice for getting an AC tune-up in Massachusetts?

Since 1979, MillTown has provided for homeowners in Northeastern Massachusetts and Southern New Hampshire. We’re committed to providing our customers 100% satisfaction as we perform high-quality, same day service. Our certified experts and devotion to high-quality performance are the reasons we’re a trusted name in the areas we cover. Make sure you’ll be feeling cool this summer and call MillTown for an AC tune-up today!

By Milltown Plumbing

Signs You Need AC Maintenance

Signs You Need AC Maintenance

  • Air Conditioning
AC maintenance by Milltown

Summer isn’t over yet! With the hot temperatures outside, you have probably been using your AC to stay cool indoors. If your AC isn’t working as well as it did in the beginning of the summer, you should have a professional take a look so it can keep you cool for the rest of the summer. When your AC needs repairs, it shows some warning signs. If you are experiencing any of the following problems in your home, call MillTown!

Power Problems

The most obvious sign that you have a problem with your AC is start up issues. Your cooling system should turn on when you want it to. It should also be able to reach your desired temperature with ease. If temperatures are high outside, your safety could be affected by a broken air conditioner. If it doesn’t turn on at all or it switches often, you should start looking for a replacement.

Moisture

Does your cooling unit have any wet spots? Have you noticed extra condensation lately? Any excess water needs to be addressed ASAP, as it can quickly lead to mold or mildew. Not only does it grow and spread at a rapid rate, it can harm your air quality as well.

Inadequate Cooling

Your AC should be able to cool your home or a designated area within it. If you start to notice that some rooms or areas aren’t being cooled as well as others, it’s a sign that your system is no longer capable of cooling your whole home. A Milltown professional will be able to diagnose the problem with your system, but if your model is outdated or broken, it may be in your best interest to have it replaced.

Strange Sounds

There’s no reason for your AC to be making any loud noises. If you hear strange or obnoxious sounds, you should have a professional come to check it out. It could be that a loose piece has detached or that you have some debris built up somewhere along your duct system. On a more serious note, it can also be a sign of motor failure. Whatever the reason, you should schedule a professional tune-up.

Warm Air

Your air conditioner should only blow cool air that gets dispersed evenly throughout your home. If yours is blowing warm air, you could simply need a refrigeration refill. A leak, on the other had, can be much more difficult to fix. This needs to be addressed by a professional immediately, as it can cause other problems throughout your home. If you’ve already spent money on repairs in the past, it’s in your best interest to replace your AC.

If your AC is showing any of these warning signs, call Milltown Plumbing, Heating, Air Conditioning and Drain Cleaning today for emergency Air Conditioning repair!

By Milltown Plumbing