What does it mean when your capacitor is out of spec?

One of the things you should have done annually or bi-annually is have your capacitors inside your HVAC (Air Conditioning) unit checked.  If they are out of spec/range/tolerance, they should be replaced.  This is most often the reason your air conditioner unit won’t come on when it should.  The two things that capacitors do is help start a motor and second, allow it to run within tolerance.  If the capacitor is out of range then it causes the motor that it serves to run hot and can typically cause premature motor failure (even a greater cost to have replaced).

Air conditioning can often be one of the most expensive ticket items a home owner will have to replace in their home and depending on location of the unit, the most intrusive work needed.  If you want your unit to run as long as it can, be sure to have it under a maintenance plan for both the spring and fall months to make sure it is ready and running within spec for both the heating and cooling season.

ASAP Heating & Air is a mechanical contractor that can perform maintenance on most residential and commercial products.  If failure does occur, we also have the expertise to replace most residential and commercial HVAC units.  You can call us day or night at 803-260-HEAT.

“It’s Not Easy Being Green” – Kermit the Frog

This article discusses energy efficiency with common sense. Staying on a budget while being a good steward of your environment.

We culturally have this strange expectation when a company chooses to call themselves “green”. It’s as if everyone in the company’s office eats tofu, goes to the loo in a composting toilet, only charges their phones and laptops with solar panels, and uses phrases like, “as it were.”

The flip side is you have companies that jump on the band wagon of green and start talking solar, geo-thermal, high-efficiency this and that.  You then find that they don’t know Manual D Duct Systems and little important things like static pressure and pump or fan affinity laws, never heard of the Montreal Protocol, and wouldn’t know an Ashrae standard if it hit them in the face.  Then hard working folks buy-in without having a clue what the actual payback is of what they just purchased, and by the way, the home they are heating and cooling still has an R-value of 5 (that isn’t very good).  Why not look at the whole picture?  Why not spend $800 in lieu of $8,000 to get the same energy bill savings?

My goal with our little company is to break that mold, to educate people on how to use what they have, more efficiently, and to be better stewards of their local environment.  ASAP Heating & Air is set-up to provide engineered solutions that fit our customer’s budgets.  Sometimes that budget is a 15 SEER unit with appropriately sized duct work based on the static capabilities of the selected unit.  Sometimes it is ductless splits or geothermal.  Sometimes it’s an air-cooled chiller that runs off solar and has the ability to cool and provide hot water via the rejection of the heat exchanger.  Then sometimes it’s changing a filter, cleaning a coil, and installing a thermostat that you can program to setback during unoccupied times. ASAP Heating and Air can do it all, but it has some sense in understanding order of magnitude.

Because we live in South Carolina, and our dollars per kW are so low, you can get to a point to where installing several thousands of dollars of equipment can only save you $20 per month. Can you imagine running the life cycle cost of some of the systems and having to tell the client that the payback is 20 years and by the way, the stuff breaks in 10 years 74% of the time?

We are proud to refuse to be in the mold of everyone else. We are green with common sense.

ASAP Heating & Air is a residential and commercial Mechanical Contractor focusing on HVAC systems.  We are licensed to perform services in the state of South Carolina.  Call us at 803-260-HEAT if you should ever need our services.

A Tale of Two Stories – Why to install two HVAC units on a two story home.

If you want to see me hit the roof, sell me something I don’t need.  Couple that with me being a firm believer in treating others as you would want to be treated.  A young family asked that I come take a look at the home they had just purchased.  You could tell as you pulled up that it had “good bones.”  Solid construction, one of those timeless looks to it, a modern colonial style.

When inspecting the HVAC, you could tell that the previous contractor didn’t really know what they were doing.  They put in a 3.5 ton packaged unit with gas heat (a gas-pack for short) that served both the downstairs and upstairs.  The duct work wasn’t hung properly, collapsing in several places, and the insulation wasn’t wrapped appropriately.

The solution they received from a second contractor, that performed the inspection at the closing of the home, was to install a damper that would serve the upstairs and open/close via a signal from a second thermostat.  This is what we call in the business, “a horrible idea.”  The unit is a few years older and single-stage compression. Basically it is either on or off (imagine your gas pedal in your vehicle, and you have only two options, foot off, and foot all the way down on the pedal).  You can’t just add a damper, because you have to completely resize the duct work to take all the air in one direction or the other depending on how the damper(s) are installed.  If a damper is closed and the unit is still running, you have to send all that air through a small piece of duct (imagine fitting a baseball through a straw, doesn’t work so well).

If you will allow me to back up, the reason the one unit serving two floors was not a good idea is because in Columbia, South Carolina, there is a reason we are known as being “famously hot.”  So if a thermostat is downstairs, and we know hot air rises, when the thermostat says it is 72 degrees downstairs, is that the case upstairs?  No.  I have seen it range from 4 degrees up to 12 degrees, depending on the building envelop and the associated R-value of the home (how well it holds in cold/heat).

The solution we provided was to install a 1.5-ton heat pump upstairs and a 2-ton gas pack downstairs.  The reason why is simple.  What is the most efficient machine in the world?  Answer: the one that is turned off.  In this particular home, the only thing upstairs were bedrooms.  Do they need to be cold in the day?  Nope.  Does the downstairs need to be holding 72 degrees at night time?  Nope.  Then the last question, if your downstairs unit goes out and your HVAC service provider can’t get there until tomorrow, can you just hang out upstairs until they show up?  Yes.  Same scenario, but now the upstairs unit, can you just make a pallet downstairs to muscle through the night? Yes.

So you’ve got efficiency, redundancy, and two different types of heat source if something goes awry in the dead of winter (gas heat and electric heat via the reversing valve and heat strips in the heat pump unit).  Lastly, we put Wi-Fi programmable thermostats in their home so that they can set-up schedules and see their power consumption.  As is customary, I follow up with them from time-to-time, and they love the system’s comfort and efficiency.  FYI, their power bill dropped by hundreds of dollars per month during the summer.  Later I will discuss units with the capability to unload and will discuss the ductless split options.

ASAP Heating & Air is a residential and commercial Mechanical Contractor focusing on HVAC systems.  We are licensed to perform services in the state of South Carolina.  Call us at 803-260-HEAT if you should ever need our services.

High Waters is Not Just a Term for Pants

With the flood in Columbia, South Carolina back in October of 2015, HVAC mechanical contractors along with general contractors had to get creative in building high-end homes that would meet a lot of the new guidelines from insurance companies so that premiums would not be astronomical.  With a high-end home you can’t just put one of the most expensive household items, your air conditioner, on cinder blocks and call it a day.  There needs to be some architectural thought behind it so that it not only serves a purpose but is also aesthetically appealing.

Working with a local contractor, The Wilson Company, ASAP Heating & Air developed a latticed solution that was not only pleasing to the eye, but also engineered to be efficient.  In this case we changed the airflow configuration from discharging horizontally to vertically.  We also opted to install internally-lined ductwork that could withstand the conditions.  Then the most important thing is that it is at the appropriate height to keep the insurance company happy so that the homeowner premiums are at reasonable levels.

An added bonus, the underneath portion can act as a small storage shed for lawn tools and whatnot’s.  This turned out to be a fun project that we have since replicated at other homes.

ASAP Heating & Air is a residential and commercial Mechanical Contractor focusing on HVAC systems.  We are licensed to perform services in the state of South Carolina.  Call us at 803-260-HEAT if you should ever need our services.

Thinking of new Duct Work for your Heating and Air System?

You sealed the deal.  Months of searching for the right home.  Getting it down to your top choices, while working on “the number” that actually fits your budget.  Maybe a little back and forth to shave off a few grand to get the price actually into your comfort zone. You sit across the table from the previous owners, realtors, and the lawyer that will draw up the papers and then everyone signs.  Then you run out of the law office with high fives, hugs, and a few sweet kisses.

Now it’s time to kick out all remnants of the previous folks that reside still in the walls.  Get rid of scuff marks from post soccer games on late Thursday nights or little Cindy’s height from ages two through fourteen on the door jam.  Claw marks buffed out of the hardwoods from when Buck, their golden retriever, ran after the kids in the house when they teased him.  Though they grabbed their stuff, they left a lot of them for you.  So you paint, you rip off the 1983 wallpaper, you buff up the hardwoods, scrape the popcorn ceiling.  You get all the things that are “you” into the home and you relax. But wait.  What is that smell?  “I smell it every time I come in this room” or “Why am I reminded of Sasquatches under arms right now?”  You can’t quite figure it out or maybe you feel stuffy at times or sneeze more and feel congested.  Why?

Stop here, grab your smart phone, open up that metal grill where you change your filters, reach in there with the phone and snap a picture or two.  Go ahead, I’ll wait.  Gross, right?  What do you think all that is that is caked on the walls of your ducts?  You know… your ducts, that sheet metal square or circular pipe that is carrying every ounce of air that you breathe into your lungs.  Yes, you guessed it:  dust, dead skin cells of every person that has been in this house from the day the air conditioner was turned on (average person sheds 30,000 to 40,000 skin cells per a day).  Also, don’t forget the pet dander, dust mites, fungi, and bacteria.

So what do you do?  There is a lot of mixed reviews on what exactly to do in the industry.  If the ducts are 15 years old, you may consider replacing them which we often do for customers who are extremely happy with the results.  If they are mostly hard duct, you can look at having them cleaned. If you do replace or clean, there is a product out there called Aeroseal that I have seen work and do some amazing things.  We don’t currently offer this service but should in the near future.   When you do take action with your duct system, watch your immune system smile back at you in the mirror when you get out of bed in the mornings.  You know why it’s smiling?  Because its happy that it no longer has to battle as hard.

***Picture is of a piece of duct we removed from a client’s home that wanted a complete duct replacement.  In future blogs I will explain why this was necessary.

ASAP Heating & Air is a residential and commercial Mechanical Contractor focusing on HVAC systems.  We are licensed to perform services in the state of South Carolina.  Call us at 803-260-HEAT if you should ever need our services.