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The sweet spot for water temperature reduces the risk of scalding but delivers enough hot water for your household demand. Not too hot, and not too cold. Call it the Goldilocks setting! This guide gives step-by-step instruction for adjusting water heater temperature to the optimum setting.
Some manufacturers suggest setting water temperature to 140F. However, 140-degree water causes third-degree burns in three to five seconds. It also increases standby heat loss. Setting the thermostat as low as 100F could mean running out of hot water during peak demand. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the Department of Energy agree that 120F offers both safety and reduced energy consumption while providing sufficient hot water.
Steps to Adjusting Water Heater Temperature
Here’s an overview of how to adjust water heater temperature to 120F. Each step is explained fully below. First, you’ll want to find out the current water temperature using a thermometer. If the temperature isn’t where you want it, the next steps will be to locate the thermostat on the water heater and make the necessary change. After waiting for the water heater temperature to adjust, you’ll check it again. The last step is to mark the thermostat dial when the temp is right where you want it.
Step 1: Check the Current Water Temperature
If you have a tank-style water heater, don’t use hot water for 30 minutes before checking the temperature. You want the water completely heated before checking it. Run the tap farthest from the water heater long enough to be sure you’re getting the hottest water possible. Fill a mug, and place a food thermometer’s probe in the water. It might take up to 20 seconds to reach full temperature.
Step 2: Locate the Water Heater Thermostat
There are three common water heater types, and here’s where you’ll find the thermostat for each:
- Gas tank-style water heater: The thermostat is on the outside of the tank near the bottom of the unit. It’s marked with temperature indicators such as “Very Hot” and/or letters A, B, and C.
- Electric tank-style water heater: Most electric water heaters have two heating coils, top and bottom, and two thermostats. Each will be found behind a raised cover with one or more screws. Remove the cover and any fiberglass insulation covering the thermostats.
- Tankless water heater: Most tankless units have the thermostat dial or a digital temperature display on the outside front of the unit.
Step 3: Mark the Current Thermostat Setting
When adjusting the water temperature, you’ll want a reference point for where you started.
- On gas models, a raised arrow on the non-movable part of the thermostat shows the current setting. On electric models, a post with a slot in it replaces the dial. The settings, often actual temperatures such as “125F”, are printed on the fixed part of the thermostat.
- On either type, use a dry erase marker to mark the current setting. If you don’t have a dry erase marker, place a small piece of tape on the thermostat, and mark it with a pen or permanent marker.
- If the thermostat has a digital reading, jot down its current setting.
Step 4: Adjust and Mark the New Thermostat Setting
Many water heater thermostats have five marks on the dial: Hot = 120F, A = 130F, B = 140F, C = 150F and Very Hot = 160F
- On a gas tank-style water heater, simply turn the dial to your preferred setting or between printed settings.
- On an electric tank-style unit, insert a flathead screwdriver tip into the slot, and make the adjustment by turning the post.
- Use the Up/Down arrows on a digital thermostat to make your adjustment.
- Once you’ve changed the water temperature setting, mark the new point without removing the original mark.
Step 5: Recheck the Water Temperature
The water temperature in a tank-style water heater needs to adjust to the new setting. You can wait 12-24 hours for this to occur, or you can speed the process by running a significant amount of hot water and letting the water heater recover. Be energy-smart by running a dishwasher load or a couple loads of laundry rather than wasting the hot water.
- Repeat steps 3 through 5 until the water is right where Goldilocks would want it, not too hot and not too cold.
- Remove any tape you’ve applied, and use a permanent marker to mark your ideal temperature.
A Health Warning and an Energy Saving Tip
While water of 120F is ideal for most households, there’s a slight risk of legionellae bacteria in the warm-but-not-hot water. The DOE recommends a water heater temperature of 140F for those with “a suppressed immune system or chronic respiratory disease.” If you choose the 140F setting, beware the burn risk, especially to children, the elderly and pets. A word of caution to guests in your home will prevent accidental burns.
While this guide has been about adjusting your water heater’s temperature, we’ll throw in an energy-saving tip too. When you plan to be away from home for more than a day or two, turn your water heater to the lowest setting. If it’s an electric water heater, consider turning it off. Keep in mind you’ll have a short wait for hot water after you get home and turn the water heater on or up.
Adjusting the water heater temperature is definitely a DIY job using these easy steps. In a day or less, you’ll have water everyone can use safely that’s hot enough for laundry and bathing. Sharing this information with others is a great way to help them locate the Goldilocks setting that’s just right for all their household needs.
Images source: depositphotos.com
Thermostats have always been difficult to work with, as most people will, probably, tell you. They are usually hard to program, requiring the user to press an endless number of arrows for their preferred temperature selection. Once it was selected, for a specific period of time, absolutely no adjustments are possible without going through the entire process all over again and ruining the programming. However, all that changed when Nest labs introduced to the world their programmable thermostat. The Nest Thermostat quickly won everybody’s hearts as a tool that is simple to use and definitely an improvement when it’s considered vs. the old solutions.
The Nest Thermostat – How It All began
The first key selling point of this ultimate generation gadget is the fact that it’s not just a thermostat, but a device that was originally the brainchild of two Apple engineers, Tony Fadell and Matt Rogers. Therefore, when they got on board, in 2010, and decided that all the other thermostats on the market were inadequate, the outcome was bound to be good.
As expected, the gadget saw huge success and was later on, in 2014, purchased by Google, along with the entire Nest Company. In the same year, the Nest thermostat became available in Canada and European countries as well, such as Belgium, Ireland, France, the UK, and the Netherlands, making the device a world-wide trend.
Negative Commentaries and Parody towards Google
Not everybody was pleased, though, when Google decided to purchase Nest and continue manufacturing the Nest thermostat themselves. There were voices that actually accused the giant corporation of using the smart thermostat in its never ending campaign of personal data collection. There was a German activist group, called Peng Collective, which, in 2014, initiated a parody website called Google Nest, which they used as a satire against Google, “releasing” fake products that imitated the Google ones, such as Google Trust, Google Hug, Google Bee, and Google Bye. Needless to say, the very next day lawyers representing Google issued a cease-and-desist letter to Peng.
Nest Learning Thermostat’s Technical Features
Before you run out and buy the smart thermostat, there are certain features it has, regarding both hardware and software, which you must be aware of, seeing as it’s a smart device. Here they are.
- Hardware details – as far as compatibility goes, the Nest thermostat does have a wide wireless compatibility network, comprising most standard HVAC systems which use central heating or cooling pumps. With regards to the thermostat controlling them, it uses standard connections.
The device has two main pieces of hardware: the display, which holds the circuit board and the rotating ring and the base, which contains the connection terminals, the bubble level, and the holes that one uses to anchor it to the wall. Neither one of these hardware pieces can function without the other, so it’s a good idea not to disassemble the device. Also, the Nest thermostat is coupled with a “Heat Link” piece that holds all the circuits needed to control the main voltage heating system. For people living in Europe, Nest sells a special edition of the thermostat there, which can control heating systems between 120 and 240 V.
- Software details – The Nest thermostat is equipped with a piece of software that is mainly controlled by spinning and clicking the control wheel. This motion brings up option menus that allow you to switch from heating to cooling, to access the settings, their history, and the scheduling made. You can also control it with a touch screen. Apart from that, given that the gadget is linked to the Internet, the producers can use this path to introduce updates or additional features and fix bugs remotely. But, for that, the thermostat needs to be connected to your Wi-Fi network permanently and its battery has to have at least 3.7 V. This is the minimum power required so that the thermostat can download and install the necessary updates or any app it might require. And it has had quite a few so far. For the tech aficionados who really want to go in depth with their thermostat, you should know that it’s based on the Linux 2.6 37 version, which means it’s open to free updates.
As far as software goes, although not technical facts, but still good to know about, are the following features:
- the thermostat’s amazing ability to learn. Users have delightedly reported that the appliance actually remembers your settings after you’ve done them a couple of times. So, let’s say that you wake up in the morning and go to the thermostat to crank up the heat, so that you warm up the house. After a few days of doing it, the Nest will remember your choice and do it for you.
- the possibility of controlling it using your phone. Another great feature as far as software goes, you can actually change the temperature from your phone, as long as you’re in the house. It doesn’t even matter if it’s Android or iOS.
- adding a PIN to the device so that you can lock down a certain temperature, in order for others not to be able to change it. This is great for making sure children don’t get around to toying with the device.
Nest Thermostat Installation
Before you will actually receive your own unit and start installing it, the people at Nest will advise you to use a compatibility widget you can find on their website. It’s actually a series of multiple questions you have to answer, in order to make sure your current heating system won’t experience any problems while you install the Nest.
After you’ve completed this step, as far as the actual manual installation goes, you can either install it yourself or call a professional for help, which the website will gladly assist you with as well. It will immediately locate those nearest to you and provide their contact details. But, if you want to install it on your own, you have to shut off power to the furnace and strip four wires (in average, because your mileage could vary), insert them in the holes in the base and then screw the base very tightly to the wall. Use the base’s level, which is built in, to make sure you got it on straight.
A great thing when it comes to installation is that, if you don’t have any tools around the house, you needn’t worry, as the Nest thermostat comes with a small, but very reliable screwdriver, which is worth its money.
The next steps are to plug it in and power it up, as far as hardware goes. For the software part, you need to setup your Nest account, which means entering your WiFi info and some details about your home, which your device will provide, if you don’t know them. After that, simply wait for it to learn your house’s particularities, which it will do in a matter of days.
Nest Thermostat Reviews
Being such a widespread device nowadays, as well as a real pioneer in its niche, the Nest has received many reviews in the past couple of years. You can find them in magazines or on dedicated websites, if you’re looking for a specialized opinion. If you’re more interested in actual user’s opinions, you can find commentaries and home-made reviews mostly on the sites that sell the gadget, such as Ebay, Home Depot, Lowes, Amazon, or the Nest site itself. Also, this is the place where you can buy the thermostat and work on your savings as well. As far as buying is concerned, the resellers have it up all year round, they provide discounts, allow you to use coupons, put them on sale in certain periods, and organize Black Friday.
If you were wondering how much money you need to spend, the price differs from store to store and it depends on the generation you want to buy. The Nest thermostat has had three generations so far, all with a different cost range: the 1st generation appeared in 2011, it’s smaller and has a thicker profile, the 2nd generation was launched in 2012, and the 3rd generation in 2015. 2nd and the 3rd are superior to the first, as far as both hardware and software go.
According to most reviews online, here are the pros and cons of the Nest thermostat:
- it has a very industrial and modern design, which everybody loves;
- it’s intuitive in usage and setup;
- it’s user friendly, even to those who are not best friends with technology;
- it has a very fast learning trajectory;
- it comes with excellent software support.
- it requires constant power connection, as well as powerful batteries;
- it needs to be connected to WiFi at all times;
- it has less granular control than its main competitor, Honeywell Evohome;
- it cannot control hot water.
All in all, the Nest thermostat is a much loved and widely used device around the world. It literally changed the game and improved the way in which we set up the temperature in our homes, making it a lot easier to control and allowing us to save money on heating.
Deep in the middle of the winter season, we often find that our pipes need insulation, in order to keep them from freezing. The reason is obvious – if they freeze over, that means the water in them will freeze as well, and you’re all of a sudden cut off from your water supply. The easiest solution to fix that is by fitting some heating tape or heating cable on them, so that you ensure a continuous water flow for your residence all through the freezing season.
An easy definition or explanation of the device is that it’s simply a piece of tape or cable with some encased electrical wires which, when you plug it in, will regulate the temperature of your PVC, plastic or metal pipes, so that they don’t freeze over.
Heating tape versus heating cable
Many people often confuse heating tape and heating cable, believing they are one and the same thing, but they are mistaken. Normally, if you’re thinking about installing this device around your piping, you should know the difference between the two, so that you can make an informed and correct decision about which solution suits you best. There’s actually even a third type, the heating cord, but that one is less used than the first two.
Differences between heating tape, heating cable and cord
- Heating cable is somewhat stiff, more like a garden hose than a cable per se, but it’s very good if you wish to wrap it around your pipes and it does not shrink; Heating tape if extremely flexible, therefore it’s better for tight contours and oddly shaped pipes; The heating chord is just as flexible as the tape, only that it allows you to be imprecise when wrapping.
- As far as length goes, heating cable can be cut to length and you can also add terminations to it; the tape comes in fixed lengths, somewhere between 2 and 20 feet, based on its style and you should know that it cannot be cut or trimmed if you don’t have the right length; the heating chord has the main advantage of being built to order, but it can also be sold in fixed lengths, anywhere between 3 and 24 feet.
- Unlike the other two types, heating cable is thusly built so that it won’t rise above a particular temperature. This is an advantage, because it means it will not overheat. Then again, bear in mind that you will still need a controller to regulate the temperature, like the simplest thermostat you can find.
- For the other two you will need controllers as well, but the main difference is the fact that they do overheat, because, unlike the cable, they do not come encased in anything.
- Another main difference is about the way they must be wrapped around pipes. Of all the three types, the one you need to be most careful about is the tape. It needs to be wrapped perfectly and tight around each pipe. The reason is that if there is even a small segment of tape with both sides exposed to the air, that particular segment will not transfer heat beyond that point and the tape will overheat and break down. The chord and cable are a lot more forgiving when it comes to wrapping.
Disambiguation of terms
You should also know that there is heat reflective tape on the market, which is not to be confused with heating tape. The heat reflective type comes in silver or gold and is mainly used by race car drivers to fix their heat soaking problem.
People also confuse it with duct tape and often wonder about what the duct tape’s resistance to heat is. While some types of duct tape and even the double one can take more or less heat, they won’t protect your pipes against frost. Heating tape is electrical and heats itself.
Types of heating tape
There are several types of heating tape sold in hardware stores, depending on their application:
- Silicone rubber heat tapes – mostly used for applications up to 450°F, they resist to chemicals and to moisture. However, it’s important to note that this doesn’t mean they are completely chemical and water-proof. They cannot be exposed to flowing water or be submersed. If you want, you can purchase this particular type of tape with an adjustable thermostat, so that you can keep the temperature under control. You can also buy a grounded version of it for applications up to 305°F.
- Fiberglass-insulated heat tapes – this particular type doesn’t come with a built in thermostat, like the first one, but it does have a controller. You can purchase the grounded version of it, which you can use for applications to 482°F, the version which is meant solely for electrically non-conductive surfaces and the one that can be used for conductive surfaces. The last two can both be used for temperatures up to 900°F.
- Heat tapes made of Samox – this is a woven type of fabric, resistant to very high temperatures up to 1400°F and it can be purchased in two versions: for electrical and non-electrical conductive surfaces.
- Frostex heat tape – which also has a 3 watt per foot electric heat trace cable and which is best for mobile homes, because their water lines connect under the house, where the air is very cold and damp.
- Heat sink thermal tape – especially made for attaching heat sinks to ICs, through the 3M thermal tape. It’s self-adhesive and it will bond better than glue or paste.
The first thing you have to do is to remove the old one. This might sound like an obvious step, but it’s important, because most people try to salvage the old heat tape or parts of it, which is not advisable. This is the type of equipment that should be thrown out when it’s broken, as it cannot be fixed and it’s dangerous to try to reuse it. A heating tape’s life span is between 3 and 5 years. The second step is to fasten it to the water line. The best thing here is to simply follow the instructions that came with it.
Make sure not to fasten it too tight. Also, the heat tape should never turn any sharp corners because a sharp bend is almost always going to make it fail in its purpose of heating the pipes. The solution is to just give it some room, when you reach the corner of the pipe, so that it doesn’t have to take a sharp turn. Don’t pull it on the pipe too tight, because you might pinch it.
Tips for using your heat tape
- As far as safety and good functioning of your heat tape goes, never plug it in if there is no water in the water pipes;
- After you have finished replacing it, make sure you do not leave the water line sitting directly on the ground;
- If the heat tape doesn’t come with certain insulation of its own or if the instructions don’t specify that you can add some, then don’t, as it might cause it to overheat and break down;
- If it so happens that your water pipe is going through a culvert, run the tape on it as far as you can, wrap it on the pipe and then shove some insulation around the culvert’s top, as a shield against the cold winter air, frost or rain;
- You can test the heat tape, if you so desire. Simply stretch it all out and plug it in. See if it heats up evenly all the way. If you are testing it in the summer when it’s hot and you have a thermostat, place that particular end in the freezer;
- Know that a heat tape for pipes which has an inbuilt thermostat usually takes between 5 and 20 minutes to heat up. Also, those that come with a thermostat are usually labeled “automatic”.
- If you really need to use an extension cord so that you can plug in the heat tape, always remember it needs to be an outdoor one and especially one that can resist very low temperatures;
- Keep in mind that you must never plug in a heating tape if it is still coiled;
- Do not install it on pipes that run through walls, floors and ceilings, but you can install it on the roof or in gutters;
- Only buy the particular brand of heat tape that will suit your water pipe. For this you can do some research online or, if you are still unsure which one to buy, ask at the store, they should be able to help you;
- It’s a good idea to both read very carefully and hold on to the instructions that come with it;
- You can use it for a number of appliances, not just your outdoor pipes, like: plumbing, reptile cages, on your exhaust, to make your motor run better or in your gutters;
- Use heat resistant one sided masking tape with it, if you need to cover something up;
- You can also use solar power to activate it and use it for regulating the pipe temperature. You will still need for the installation to be thermostatically managed, though.
- Some good and trustworthy brands to buy it from are Reptile Basics, which also sell the FlexWatt heat tape and the Teflon kind, Lowes, Menards and Raychem, where you can also buy it on sale.
Here is all you need to know about how to install, use and maintain a pipe heat tape. It is a very good solution to making sure your pipes don’t freeze over and, thusly, you never run out of water, but you need to remember to be careful with it, as it’s a piece of electrical equipment, designed for the outdoors and to be used near water and moisture.
Building proprietors, managers and home owners alike find the need for high indoor air quality rocketing to the top of their priority list as times goes by and requirements become higher and higher. Here is a guide explaining what make up air units are, when can they be used and if it’s the right choice for you, in order to help you decide if you should get one or not.
By definition, they are units meant to supply conditioned air, whose temperature and humidity is completely controlled, into a building, in order to replace the air that has been removed by the exhaust systems or by combustion. Their main quality is that they bring fresh outside air through their ventilation heating or cooling equipment, rather than recycling or recirculating the already existent one.
Does it make sense for you to use a makeup air unit?
Usually these mechanical air providers are used by big buildings, like office spaces or apartment blocks, which need to be zoned. For buildings with such purposes, make up air units are very attractive because zoned energy use is very efficient and will give everybody the chance to control their environment, temperature and humidity.
This basically means that every apartment owner or every member of the staff with his own private office will get the chance to use energy, heating and air supplies as they see fit. It’s also very attractive cost-wise. For example, building owners who rent out their lodgings use it to hook and reel in their tenants, by presenting them with this option, instead of having their temperature and air regulated for the whole building. It’s also extremely efficient cost-wise, because a tenant can always turn it down or turn it off altogether if they feel the need and reduce costs significantly.
Makeup air units are also used by buildings such as hospitals, meaning construction structures that cannot reuse the air inside a room. Hospitals have the greatest need for fresh air, probably, of all buildings and this is why they normally go for makeup air units. Nothing should contaminate their air and make people sick. But there are other types of buildings which use it as well, such as paint shops and factories or restaurant kitchens, which, again, cannot afford to recycle the air inside.
Therefore, if you find yourself in one of these situations or have such a project in mind, then a makeup air system is definitely for you. However, if you’re keen on it, you can also use it inside your personal home. If, for example, you cook a lot and you have a big kitchen and it needs kitchen ventilation or if have toddlers around the house and need to refresh the air as often as possible.
However, it was not designed for use in your car. You can use it if you have a spray booth, you can also purchase the small or mini version of it, which can be designed as portable, like the Soleus model. They are not very loud, they come with special installing kits and plans and they can also be used in residential areas, as they have kitchen ventilator options. Make sure to follow the regulations.
Makeup air conditioner units are often associated with rooftop units and that’s why people tend to believe that they should be placed on the roof, but that’s not true. It only happens because they are quite large, having also compressors, controllers, a pump, a gas lantern, vents and an exhaust tank. You can also place it in a mechanical room, if you so see fit. Actually, in most hospitals, they are placed in such special designed rooms, where they can be accessed a lot more easily and quicker than on the roof. In case of emergency, a specialist or a mechanic enters the room and fixes the unit instead of climbing to the roof. It’s also easier when it comes to cleaning it, as it is done with a brush.
Budgets and prices
First thing you have to understand about makeup units is that the price is based on the design and model. Therefore, before deciding to buy a machine, you must take into consideration what goes in each of them. Normally, the usual design cost is based on the ‘per square foot of space’ system. Historically, the grounds for that were represented by standard unitary equipment and very little or no outside air at all. Therefore, when your ventilation requirements ask for a dedicated unit, that’s when the cost per square foot will increase, at least on paper. Deals can, of course, be made.
What this basically means is that you need to do some research and be very well informed about the design, so that you can plan your budget accordingly. But, indeed, tradeoffs can be made and you can also analyze some competing system types so that you can see which one better suits your needs and/or your budget.
Also, take into consideration the first costs as well as the operating costs, when thinking about prices and budgets and plan accordingly. A good idea is making your purchase from specialized sellers, such as Modine, Aaon, Cannon Fabrication, Inc., which produce rooftop accessories, or Mobile Air and have specialized officers to come mount them.
Why is air replacement necessary?
Some might think that simply ventilating a space is enough, but that is not always the case. Depending on the activity performed inside, its size and its requirements, a makeup up air unit which replaces air might be necessary for the following reasons:
- So that exhaust hoods must always operate properly. An exhaust hood, also known as extractor hood or basket or, more commonly as a cooking canopy is a type of device that has a mechanical fan built in, which is plug based. It usually hangs above your stove in the kitchen and it’s used to capture and remove airborne grease, hot dry air, fumes, gases, smoke, water vapors, odors, steam and heat caused by cooking on the kitchen stove. Some are designed as easy fresheners, so that they bring in fresh air from the outside, others recycle the air while in traffic, filtering it for grease and bad smells at the same time, before reintroducing it into the room. However, kitchens are not the only place you can find them. They are also components of the makeup air unit and work pretty much in the same way. And it’s very important that they work properly. If there isn’t enough makeup air and there is too much negative air pressure, that can lead to static pressure, which the fans will need to overcompensate. What this does is cause a diminishing of the “cubic feet per minute” air coming from the exhaust fans. This will cause a lot of unwanted negative air flow pressure.
- To eliminate all cross drafts which run at high speeds in the rooms between doors and windows, no matter the time of year – this process is linked to the one above, meaning that cross-drafts depend very much on the quantity of negative pressure created. If there is a lot of it, then the drafts can be substantial. In turn, drafts interfere with the proper functioning of the exhaust hoods. But, the main negative thing that can happen is the fact that, if you don’t solve your cross drafts problem, they might carry contaminated air from one space to another. This makes for a very serious thing if, for example, we are talking about a hospital, where you cannot have infected air dispersing randomly between sections or, if you are running a restaurant and the smell of cooking food invaded the actual dining rooms. It’s the same thing with paint factories, where fumes from drying paint can cause serious damage or with construction sites where the dust and tiny debris particles can float back into clean rooms.
- To make sure natural draft stacks operate fluently. The stack effect basically means air movement inside and outside of buildings, due to air buoyancy, which happens because of the different densities inside and outside air have. If the stack effect grows in intensity, so will the buoyancy. It’s very important because it is known to be the cause of several fires of great force, like the King’s Cross Fire. This is the main reason why an air replacing unit is so necessary. It removes combustion products such as carbon monoxide, it keeps the pilot light in burners alive, or it announces via its horn that it’s out, it’s a temperature controller and it regulates corrosion damage in stacks.
- It’s also necessary in order to reduce cold drafts intake, which can cause serious discomfort to people and kids. By means of consequence, when the cold downdrafts are reduced or eliminated altogether, the temperature rises and money are saved as far as heating and energy are concerned.
- To eliminate the different pressures related to doors. One of the reasons doors are usually very difficult to shut or open has to do with high pressure differentials. This can cause injuries and can also be a safety hazard for workers.
Here are the things you need to know about air makeup conditioning units. Remember to consider your budget first as well as your needs and all the safety reasons they involve. All these things will help you decide if this is the best solution for your space.
Also known by the name of air handling unit, this device was designed to circulate and control air through air conditioning, heating or ventilation systems. The metal box of an air handler unit usually comprises cooling and heating elements, a blower, dampers and filter racks. Most of the times, air handlers are linked to the ductwork ventilation system, which is in charge of distributing the air in the entire house before taking it back to the air handling unit. Air handlers are usually installed in well ventilated areas where the device is kept away from humidity and condensation. If you were planning to place your air handler in attic, you might want to reconsider your choice. In the event of the air handler leaking water, you could find your entire house flooded and a hole in the roof of your bedroom.
What is an air handler?
A structured framing system, an air handler can be used locally, comprising only a blower, an air filter and a coil. These types of air handlers are known as terminal units. Larger air handlers do not condition recirculated air, but only outdoors air. These are also called makeup air units. An important part of the air conditioning system, the air handler is in charge with circulating conditioned air throughout your home.
Types of air handling units
Since homeowners and building owners have different needs regarding the rooms to be cooled down in the summer or heated up in the winter, there are a few types of air handling units on the market to choose from.
- Insulated air handlers target silent heating or cooling operations.
- Hydronic air handlers were especially created to work with boilers.
- Single speed air handlers have a self-explanatory name. The fan motor behind them works at a single fixed speed.
- Five speed air handlers are preferred to single speed air handlers because they provide an increased operation precision. As a rule, if an air handling unit comprises several speeds, it will be more effective in circulating the air through the rooms of your house or building, and the process will be more silent and efficient.
- Air handlers with variable speeds boast several essential functionalities. The built-in blower motor sports variable speeds, which guarantee precision in meeting all the requirements of the homeowner. The settings involve several adjustments for humidity levels, consistent temperatures or air quality.
Differences and similarities between a furnace and an air handler
Furnaces generate heat for a house or a building by burning fuel. They distribute the resulted heat throughout the rooms via ducts. In comparison, an air handler will blow either cool or hot air in the building via ducts. The two devices look the same, which makes many people mistake one for another. But their uses, specifications and applications are different. The biggest difference consists in the heating system they use. Generally, furnaces will work on heating oil, liquid propane or gas. On the other hand, air handlers are commonly paired with an electric heat pump.
A quick look at the structure of a furnace easily sets it apart from air handling units. Furnaces comprise four essential parts: the combustion chamber (also known as the burner) where the furnace burns the fuel; the vent, which discards carbon monoxide outdoors; the heat exchanger, which transfers the heat produced by the burner to the air supply of the building; the blower, which pushes the hot air in the house via ducts. If the furnace uses heated water within steam pipes instead of hot air through ducts, they are generally called boilers.
Working with a heat pump, air handlers use refrigerants to transfer heat energy from point A to point B. The blower of the handler will push air in the entire house, with the refrigerant lines running in the air stream. In the summer, the refrigerant will do the exact opposite: it will extract heat from the air, transferring it outdoors. This way, the air handler will cool down the building by blowing cool air inside. In the winter, the same refrigerant will pull heat energy from the outdoors air, transferring it indoors and heating the rooms with warm air. However, the air handler doesn’t cool down nor does it heat up the air, but it simply pushes it through the refrigerant lines that are in charge of switching between temperatures. This constitutes the major difference between a furnace and an air handling unit.
A thing that furnaces and air handler have in common are filters. When using either one of these devices, the quality of the air is maintained by employing filters to trap impurities and dust from the air. As long as filters are changed on a regular basis, the devices will work flawlessly. Furnaces and air handler units are both constantly incorporating outside air into the flow of air passing through the building. Another similarity between the two devices is that they are controlled by a thermostat.
In-depth look at air handler components
- Filters – essential for keeping germs, allergens and dust at bay, filters come in a wide range of designs to choose from. Pleated or electrostatic? Factor in the environment and your budget. Filters are the first barrier used in air handler units because they are the best allies for keeping the vital components clean and dust-free. Sometimes, a single row of filters is not enough, so you’ll need to double or even triple the filter barrier. The first row usually comprises panel filters, which are inexpensive and extremely easy to maintain or replace. It’s not complicated to assess the state of a filter using a pressure gauge. Changing filters shouldn’t be neglected, since it could lead to further damage to other essential components of the air handler unit, allowing dust to reach the ductwork.
- Humidifier – cooling down or heating up a room is bound to suck out all the moisture in the air. This can give rise to a slew of disadvantages, with complicated side effects for children and elders who have a weaker immune system or for people struggling with asthma. The uncomfortable quality of the air can cause dry eyes, sore throats, dry patches on the skin and allergies. There are several types of humidifiers that can be implemented in an air handler unit. Spray mist humidifiers diffuse water through a nozzle, allowing the air to carry the droplets. Vaporizers will take vapors or steam from a boiler and push it into the air stream. Evaporative humidifiers blow dry air on reservoirs, which results in evaporated water. Ultrasonic humidifiers employ a water tray that is transformed into fog with an ultrasonic device.
- Fan or blower – comprising a squirrel cage blower, this is in charge with moving air with the help of the air conditioning unit. The blower or the fan will work at a single speed or it will provide various speed settings. Most of the times, flow rates will be controlled through dampers or vanes. It is not uncommon for large commercial buildings to use multiple blowers situated at the end of the air handler units. When additional power is needed, the blowers can be supplemented by installing fans within the return air duct. These are in charge of pushing the air back into the air handling unit.
- Balancing – one of the biggest problems encountered by unbalanced fans are wobbling and vibrating. It’s easy to see why this could be a nuisance for homeowners, not only from the point of view of noise levels. Efficiency is affected, while air flow can be severely restricted at the vents. The integrity of the whole system is also endangered, with tear and wear threatening to compromise the unit. Special balancers will take care of all the above mentioned issues, keeping the fan in place and ensuring a smooth spin.
- Heat recovery device – used to cut back on energy costs as well as increase capacity, heat recovery devices include different types. The recuperator comprises several metal or plastic plates, which are linked with air paths. Spaced six millimeters apart, the plates transfer heat via the airstreams from one to the other. The rotary heat exchanger, also known as the thermal wheel, comprises a rotating matrix that works in both airstreams. For the heating mode, the matrix absorbs the heat in the first half rotation, only to release it in the second half. For the cooling process, the same steps apply, with the only difference that heat is released.
- Controls – the control buttons provide adjustments for every single feature of the air handling unit. The supply and mixed air temperature, the humidity levels, the quality of the air, as well as the air’s flow rate are a press of a button away.
- Vibration or sound isolators – air handler blowers are anything but silent. The vibration and the noise could easily be transmitted in the entire building through the ductwork. To keep noise at bay, manufacturers implement vibration and noise isolators, separating the fan compartment from the rest of the components of the air handling unit. Made out of a rubberized material that resembles a canvas, the isolator doesn’t allow the sound and vibration to pass further into the ducts.
Refrigerants are fluids that are used in refrigeration cycles and heat pumps. Most of the time, a refrigerant will undergo a transition from liquid form to gas back and forth. The main criteria that a refrigerant has to meet is safe usage, flammable-free and toxic-free properties. Most refrigerants nowadays are especially designed to avoid causing climate changes or ozone depletion, created to have the best thermodynamic abilities possible.
Understanding what R134a refrigerant is
Known as the best automotive refrigerant for replacing R12, R134a is a cheaper, more reliable alternative that has been almost unanimously accepted as a replacement for the previous automotive refrigerant. Also known under the name of Tetrafluoroethane (CF3CH2F), R134a is part of a family of refrigerants that don’t damage the ozone layer, like the previous CFC products did. Non-corrosive, non-flammable and non-toxic, R134a is now being used in reciprocating compressors and centrifuges. Widely used within the air conditioning systems of new cars, it is also employed by pharmaceutical companies as a propellant and by manufacturers in producing plastic foam.
There are plenty of choices for automotive refrigerants on the market, ranging from drop-in replacements, to expensive alternatives or very cheap products. Most of the times, a cheap price tag is a clear indicator of the automotive refrigerant’s performance. You might be thinking you’re stretching a buck acquiring a cheap refrigerant, but you might find out you need special equipment for evacuating the gas and disposing of it properly.
Most common applications for R134a
R134a is not only used for air conditioning systems on cars. Their most common uses include:
- Commercial refrigeration – in charge of covering various equipment, from food coolers, vending machines, large refrigerators for supermarkets or display cabinets. The R134a refrigerant is safely used in all these appliances since it is effective and reliable, while also meeting all the environmentally-friendly criteria.
- Industrial refrigeration – caters for a vast range of applications, with R134a being used in high temperature and medium temperature chilling processes for medical freezers.
- Domestic refrigeration – R134a is extensively used in the domestic sector since it meets the consumer demands and it is highly efficient.
- Transport refrigeration – covering trucks and vans that carry refrigerated containers, R134a Freon gas is suitable for usage on trucks, trains and ships whenever food that is particularly sensitive to temperature is transported from one location to another.
Choosing between R12 and R134a
Since R134a was especially created to replace R12, it’s safe to assume the former is a better choice. Although the production was stopped, buyers can still find R12 in shops within a limited stock. As a result, the price is bigger per pound in comparison with the R134a. If you’re currently using R12 and for some reason you’re still reluctant to jump ship and start using R134a refrigerant, you can continue using the old product as long as you can still acquire it. However, bear in mind that R12 to R134a conversion is inevitable and, at some point, you will have to switch to the new version of automotive refrigerant.
There has been some doubts regarding the efficiency of R134a, with some claiming the previous version, R12, was more efficient. But they couldn’t be more wrong. Despite the fact that it needs more efficient condensing, R134a is undoubtedly more efficient than its predecessor. However, the performance of the R134a automotive refrigerant will also depend on the air conditioning unit that is using it and the amount of refrigerant that is being used.
In order to compare R134a with R12 as far as efficiency is concerned, two identical cars were equipped with equal amounts of different automotive refrigerants. It has been found that the vehicle which received R134a was able to remove more heat than the other identical car, which was using R12.
The performance of R134a factors in different things, with the most important ones being the condenser, the expansion valve with the superheat setting and the amount of automotive refrigerant. Provided a condenser was created to release large amounts of heat, this will help remove the heat expelled by the R134a refrigerant from the car. Matching the ideal amount of R134a that needs to be used in a car, you can balance out the heat that is sucked out by the evaporator and discharged by the condenser.
Before judging an automotive refrigerant’s efficiency, you should also factor in the efficiency of you air conditioning system. A faulty unit that has a dirty or clogged condenser, an expansion valve that is malfunctioning and infiltrated water within the system will hinder the R134a automotive refrigerant to work at its full potential.
What to keep an eye out for when converting to R134a from R12
It’s not uncommon for car owners to take on the task of switching from R12 to R134a on their own. While this is not impossible, it can be a little tricky, especially for a novice. Most people head out and buy a cheap kit from a nearby auto parts store. What do you get in these retro-fit kits? They usually come with some R134a cans, a few O-rings, a high side pressure gauge and some generic charge port adapters for the R134a. What essentials are missing? The package should also include a recovery system for the refrigerant, a vacuum pump, as well as a set of gauges comprising high and low side gauges.
Converting to R134a
The process of converting to R134a is not complicated, but it can be challenging. Bear in mind that charging and evacuation should be done by a professional air conditioning system technician that has experience with R134a and is familiar with your car. If the system is empty, the first step in starting the conversion process would be unplugging the clutch wire and loosening the belt of the air conditioning. Take out the compressor and discard the old oil by holding it upside down. If it’s possible, pour the old refrigerant in a container and check to see if there are any metal particles or gelled oil bits. These indicate the need of performing a liquid flush for the evaporator, the lines and the condensers.
The following step involves recharging the compressor with around 5 to 6 ounces of ester oil. The amount of oil you have to use depends on the vehicle. Some cars might require lower amounts, while older models that are less efficient will need more air conditioning ester oil. After you have successfully completed these steps, you can put the compressor back in its place. You will want to reattach all the hose lines with adequate O-rings that are compatible with R134a. You’ll also want to take the time to lubricate them with some compressor oil. Next on, reattach the air conditioning belt and plug in the clutch wire. After you attach the port adaptors, you will also need to replace the old drier. Install a new one that contains an R134a compatible desiccant, also using brand new O-rings. If your vehicle lacks a high pressure switch in the air conditioning unit, it is highly recommended you install one.
Other things to consider
- While the job of converting from R12 to R134a might seem a piece of cake, it’s harder than it looks. It’s not impossible to get the job done, provided you have all the needed tools, but the chances are against you. If you need help with your refrigerant, don’t hesitate to ask for a technician’s help. This way, you’ll avoid damaging other vital parts or appliances and keep unnecessary costs at bay.
- Removing or replacing various system components (hoses, driers and condensers) calls for adding more air conditioning refrigerant to the system. The recommended dosage is 5-6 ounces for the compressor. Some manufacturers might advise adding around 4 ounces of oil, according to the R134a pressure chart, but it’s always better to take into account system losses. The 5-6 ounces we recommend will cover the compressor, the evaporator and the drier. There is no need to split the oil between all the before mentioned components. Simply adding it to the compressor is enough, since the oil will move through the entire system once it is turned on.
- Do you have a compressor that needs to be completely replaced? Or maybe you have to change the O-rings and the seals that are causing leakage? The best solution is to get your hands on a compressor comprising seals and O-rings compatible with R134a refrigerant. Take note that a mere conversion does not call for a full replacement of seals or O-rings, but tear and wear asks for regular replacements.
- When you’re adding or changing the refrigerant, you don’t need to go over each O-ring in the system and replace them. However, if you adjust a connection, it’s wise to replace the O-ring with a model that is compatible with R134a and also lubricate it before attaching it.
- Generally, the expansion valve doesn’t need to be replaced, since it works well with R134a refrigerant. However, if it’s performing poorly, choose an expansion valve that was specifically designed for R134a.
When it comes to maintaining the perfect indoor comfort, we usually only think about heating and cooling units. Having a furnace in the winter is as essential as having air conditioning in the summer. But there’s something else we need all year round to tick all the important aspects of a healthy indoor environment: a whole house humidifier. Adding moisture to the air that you and your family breathe is as essential as keeping warm in the winter months. Most of the time, humidity is associated with hot days and all the discomfort that arises from that. But whole house humidifiers offer sundry benefits within a home. Dry air can make you wake up with a scratchy throat, dry mouth, itchy eyes and dry patches on your skin. You won’t even know all the benefits of a whole house steam humidifier until you’ve tried one yourself.
Low humidity issues
If you’re using a humidifier, your whole house and family members will benefit from it. These are only some of the problems that an insufficiently humid indoor environment will cause to your house and your health:
- Dry air and low humidity will enable viruses and bacteria to thrive and cause colds. If you have elder family members with a weak immune system, or if you have children, they are even more exposed to developing irritations. Recent studies showed that low humidity leaves people more prone to infection. Those who suffer from asthma or allergies and don’t use whole house humidifiers will find their conditions get worse with each winter.
- Low humidity is not only damaging for your eyes and throat. It will also cause your walls or hardwood floors to crack. Electronic gadgets are not spared the damage either. Static electric charges can your electronics to break down, making you bear the costs.
- Dry air can make your energy bills spike. Low levels of humidity will actually make the air feel colder, making people more inclined to turn up the heat.
Dry air health problems
Whole house humidifier reviews sing its praises and emphasize how much it can help on health related issues. Most of us are in the dark about the disadvantages and the problems low humidity can create.
- Bloody noses – on of the most common causes for bloody noses is dry air, with most of them occurring during the winter, in dry climates. Heated air doesn’t help either. It dries out the air even more, which, in turn, dries out the nasal membranes. This leaves us more vulnerable to bleeding and infections. Adding moisture into the room where your children sleep could prevent bloody noses and make it more difficult for viruses to create irritations.
- Itchy eyes – another common symptom during winter months, dry eyes are a nuisance and can affect anyone. Heating our houses makes the dry air compensate for the low humidity by absorbing moisture from everywhere. When this happens, you can wake up with red, puffy eyelids and even blurry vision. Luckily, a whole house humidifier installation can fix the issue and prevent painful, itchy eyes.
- Dry mouth – it’s not unusual to get thirsty during the night, but if you feel your mouth is uncommonly dry, this could indicate a low humidity level in the room where you are sleeping. A dry mouth is not only uncomfortable, it also leaves you more vulnerable to viruses and infections, making you more susceptible to catching colds.
- Sore throat – waking up with a sore throat and raspy voice might make you believe you are catching a cold, but it might actually indicate there is not enough humidity in your house. This is not only unpleasant, it can also lead to other conditions and enable viruses and colds to settle in easier. Preventing a chronic dry throat only requires a whole-house humidifier that will keep humidity levels under control at all times.
- Dried out skin – low humidity can promote fine lines, wrinkles and make you wake up with chapped lips. Taking care of your skin and sticking to a rigorous skin care routine will be sabotaged by the dry air in the room you sleep in. Installing a whole home humidifier will help your face look plumper in the morning and prevent fine lines prematurely become wrinkles.
Whole home humidifier or portable humidifier?
There are various whole house humidifier types out there to choose from. Portable models are smaller, easier to install and stand for a cheaper alternative. With the ideal humidity levels standing over 30 percent, anything below this level will trigger irritations, cause itchy skin and eyes and create a pleasant environment for viruses and bacteria. The Honeywell whole house humidifier is among the most popular models. This keeps the ideal humidity level between 30 and 50 percent. Whole home humidifier reviews seem to favor them over portable designs.
Whole house humidifier pros:
- Don’t require maintenance;
- The initial setup is enough to control the humidity levels in the entire house;
- No need for refills, since it uses water directly from the plumbing system;
- Noise levels are kept to a minimum;
- Cost less than portable humidifiers.
Whole house humidifier cons:
- They need to be installed by someone with experience;
- Are prone to gather mineral deposits;
- Must be cleaned with vinegar when the heating season ends.
As a comparison, portable humidifiers must be plugged in and require their own water supply. Small portable systems can humidify a maximum of two rooms.
Portable humidifier pros:
- Highly convenient due to portability;
- Very convenient, since it can be moved from room to room;
- Ideal for renters who can’t make major changes to a place they don’t own;
- Easy to install and control.
Portable humidifier cons:
- More expensive than the best whole house humidifier;
- They are heavy and might be difficult to move, despite the wheels;
- As noisy as an air conditioning;
- Constant refilling of the reservoir;
- The water tank could help bacteria develop, and the humidifier would in turn spray germs within your house.
Opting for a whole-home humidifier
With a one-time installation and set-up, you’ll forget all about your whole house humidifier once it’s attached to your central heating. Unlike its portable countertype, whole-house humidifiers will keep the optimum humidity levels throughout the entire house, not only in one or two rooms. Adjusting the humidity settings can be a hassle, without a whole house unit system. This will make sure there’s not too much humidity in the air and automatically adjust the humidity levels to strike the perfect balance of moisture in the whole house. There are various types of whole house humidifiers to choose from. According to consumer ratings, the best whole home humidifiers are made by Aprilaire. What sets them apart is their innovative feature which allows users to choose between an evaporative or steam humidifier. The water vapors of the Aprilaire whole house humidifier protects the lungs and adjusts the humidification levels to suit the indoor environment.
Other benefits of a whole house humidifier
Most humidifiers nowadays come with a humidistat. This is a user friendly tool which will enable you to control the humidity levels in your entire house from a single control panel. It monitors the humidity in the air and shuts down the system when the desired humidity level is reached. Since too much humidity can produce condensation on walls and windows and can even help mold and bacteria develop in your house, a humidistat is highly important. Not only will it keep an eye on the humidity levels, it will also enable you to program and preset your favorite settings. Whole house humidifiers are great for your health and comfort, keeping dry eyes and cracked skin at bay. What is more, humidified air will help you be more energy efficient. While it won’t make you feel warmer, it will encourage you to turn down the temperature on your thermostat and save up as much as 4% on your heating bill.
What to look for in a humidifier
There is a difference between a unit that can cover 4,000 square feet and one that will only handle 2,000 square fit. Keep this in mind when you go shopping for a whole house humidifier and choose the one that will perfectly suit your needs. Likewise, mind the evaporation rate and choose the system with a higher number. This will ensure the air is moisturized quicker and more efficiently. Incorporated automatic humidistats are a plus. Look for a whole house humidifier that will monitor the humidity levels in your house and adjust them automatically. Remember to take into account the installation process. If you want to install the unit yourself, make sure you don’t need a technician to help out with the process. Inquire about the unit’s warranty and maintenance requirements beforehand. You should know what is expected of your in terms of care and replacing any faulty parts.
You don’t need the latest heating or cooling system in your home in order to install a whole house humidifier. This system can easily be attached to any existing heat unit and once it’s in place you can forget about refills, moving it around and dealing with bacteria. Just reap the benefits of a silent system that will keep infections and viruses at bay.
Coined by André Marie Ampère, a French physicist, solenoids refer to coils that have a helical shape. Nowadays, solenoids are used as the electromagnetic parts of valves, comprising the coil, core, core tube and the enclosure. Solenoid valves are controlled by electric currents which is why they are often employed in fluidics. Highly dependable and with a long life, solenoid valves are supposed to close off and dose fluids as well as distribute and mix them. Their design varies. They can have more than two ports, which dictates if the fluid can float between them.
As the lead in the industry of valve system technology, ASCO designs items that dictate the flow of air, water, gas and steam. Their expertise in the field is backed up by 125 years of product development. They began creating elevator and generator controls back in 1888 and soon became the first firm to create and sell a device that was electrically controlled. The firm started expanding in the 50s and nowadays they produce and sell their products in more than forty two countries all over the globe. In the 70s they introduced new items, like valves that were air operated, devices that had a manual reset and switches for pressure and temperature that could meet the standards of the request.
By 1983, the company was expanding even more. They acquired Angar Scientific which produced and sold micro miniature solenoid valves. Two years later, ASCO was bought by Emerson Electric, an American multinational from Missouri. With a reputation that preceded them, Emerson Co, a Fortune 100 corporation, also bought Joucomatic in 1988, merging the newly acquire European company with ASCO. In 2008, it was announced that two of the leading names in the pneumatic valve industry, both held by Emerson Industrial, merged and formed ASCO Numatics.
Emerson managed to combine two key ingredients that led to the creation of superior, high quality products that are unique on the market. Blending fluid control items with power products has resulted in a wide palette of items. The merger did not only produce top notch products, but it also lowered product costs and improved asset availability. With more than 50,000 solenoid valves, ASCO Numatics delivers items that are optimal for power generation, air ride suspension, power generation and HVAC (heating, ventilating, and air conditioning).
ASCO’s items include pressure sensor and angle body piston valves, while Numatics Inc’s offer includes custom made products and app elements that have helped the pneumatic technology make a significant development. ASCO Numatics quickly became a lead in the fluid automation field by delivering custom developed products to keep up with the challenging and ever changing environment. The company guarantees not only to offer the highest quality products, but also to deliver them in a timely manner. By offering the world’s most dependable automation solutions, the company also provides instant onsite tech help.
ASCO solenoid valves
With customers praising the company for their fast delivery and easy to install products that meet all their needs and perform flawlessly, there aren’t many things to complain about when it comes to ASCO solenoid valves. However, the company doesn’t lack competitors. The Parker solenoid valve is created by a company that has over a century’s experience. Parker’s products include miniature valves, fluid control valves and pneumatic solenoid valves. While their products are high quality, ASCO remains the lead in the industry, with a wide range of products that guarantee superiority. ASCO manufactures and sells various types of valves:
- Two way solenoid valves have only one inlet and one outlet and can close off fluids. This type of valve can perform two kinds of operations: NC (which stands for Normally Closed) and NO (meaning Normally Open). This category includes general services valves, potable water valves and hot water valves
- Three way solenoid valves are designed for food services and potable water. When one of the two orifices is open, the second one closes off. This type of valve is often used to put pressure in succession.
- Four way solenoid valves comprise four or five pipes that are also known as ports. These kind of valves can be single or dual solenoid and single air operator. They are often used for intrinsically safe field wiring and gas applications with long life in dry air.
- Dust collector solenoid valves are regular three way and four way valves which have had their mounting configurations and connections substituted by NAMUR configurations.
- Medical and analytical miniature solenoid valves are best suited for general services and isolation since they cater for all fluid control requirements. This type of valves are extremely precise and reliable, which is why they are used in medical appliances and industrial equipment.
- Manual reset solenoid valves include two way, three way and four way valves. All of them use manual resets for substituting the solenoid.
- Group mounted solenoid valves were manufactured for gang mounting. This category includes two way, three way and four way valves which allow any association of normally closed and normally open valves.
- Direct mount solenoid valves include standard three way and four way valves that now have NAMUR mounting configuration. These types of devices enable every valve to be directly attached to an actuator, without requiring hard piping or tubing be installed.
Where in your HVAC unit is the noise coming from?
The first step to solving a problem, any problem, is to identify its root cause – and this simple principle of life definitely applies when dealing with air conditioner noise, too. For this reason, we’ve listed the most commonly encountered sources of the annoying and potentially concerning sounds you’re dealing with.
- The ductwork. Ductwork noises are at once one of the most common type of A/C unit noises, but they’re also some of the most difficult to pinpoint, track down, and ultimately fix. Some airc conditioning noises can originate from a source that has absolutely nothing to do with your equipment, but is simply being relayed to your home via the ducts themselves. In case you think the sounds are coming in from the ducts themselves, you can look into having vibration dampeners installed onto your HVAC unit.
- Blower noises. Some so called ‘blower’ noises originate in what HVAC technicians usually refer to as the indoor air handler. That means that your indoor blower, i.e. cooling system.
- Split system wall–mounted AC units. Fujitsu, one of the world’s best renowned HVAC system manufacturers has some recommendations for handling noises that come from inside split A/C systems mounted on one of the walls of your home. Their main point is that some such noises are absolutely normal and should cause any concern.
For instance, it’s absolutely normal to hear water flowing into the pipes of A/C unit, both while it’s on, as well as immediately after you shut it down. Also, since the front cover of the unit slightly expands and contracts while the unit is on, you may occasionally hear a minute squeak. The same goes for a muted sizzle, which is produced by the unit’s automatic defrosting system. Other sounds, such as bubbling or clicking may indicate actual faults in the system, such as AC refrigerant leaks, or problems with your thermostat. It’s important to have a trained HVAC professional diagnose these problems: self-diagnosis and ‘treatment’ is not recommended when it comes to AC systems, be they split system and wall-mounted or not.
- Outdoor AC unit noises. These are tricky, because such air conditioner noise is usually indicative of a serious problem, which, in turn, will require a costly repair. Safety first: you are best advised not to open the unit’s front or side panels yourself. If you choose to do so, then at least disconnect the unit from the power supply, since the fans inside these units have been known to chop off unsuspecting homeowner’s fingers.
These are the most frequent causes of air conditioner noise and most HVAC technicians will go on endlessly hairsplitting them into various categories, such as clicks, whirrs, bubbling noises, and so on. While we advise you to always contact a pro when dealing with worrisome sounds which you cannot immediately identify, we will list some of the most usual noises that originate in the air handler section and the ductwork of your AC unit. Take the list below as non-exhaustive and binding in any way, but do use it as guideline for an initial diagnostic of your problem.
Ductwork air leaks
- Your duct connections are causing air to leak out of the system and need to be replaced;
- You may want to purchase vibration dampeners, in order to soundproof your ductwork (this is also applicable for furnace ducts, too). These devices need to be installed by professional HVAC technicians.
Bangs or clanks
If you’re keen on home improvement and are also reasonably sure that the banging noise coming from inside your AC unit does not point to a serious issue, you can choose to encase it in paneling or simply deflect the noise, by fencing one of its sides. Experiment with this and find out which variant is best at reducing the noise – or simply choose to purchase a newer AC unit, since such problems are usually caused by older, outdated, low efficiency A/C units. The alternative is that the banging and/or clanking is noise coming from your compressor condenser – a problem that needs to be addressed by a certified professional.
Buzzing and/or crackling
This is usually a problem caused by electric wiring and elements, such as relay switches and other electrical connectors. It’s best not to leave such problems unattended, since arcing at circuit breakers are major fire hazards down the line.
Clicking (or rumbling, rattling, clunking) noises
If this type of air conditioner noise is heard at startup, it usually means that some piece of the hardware has become loose. Check your fan to see if it has come loose or bent and is now hitting against some obstruction.
They can come in under the form of hisses, whistles, roars, clunks, or clanks from the ductwork, as it expands and contracts. It may be the case that some internal noises, such as those caused by a fan, are being relayed by the ducts or that the noises are originating in a completely different location, which has nothing to do with your AC unit. Finally, check to see if there are no small animals trapped inside your ductwork because this, too, can cause annoying noises.