Tuckers Air Conditioning, Heating & Plumbing Blog: Posts Tagged ‘Clarksburg’

Are Air Conditioning Repairs Still Urgent During the Fall?

Wednesday, September 10th, 2014

When you have a problem with your air conditioning system, you may be tempted to wait for repairs. It’s already fall, and you don’t expect to have to use your air conditioner for much longer. Are air conditioning repairs really still urgent in the fall?

If you put off repairs until spring, you may run into serious problems with your system. Problems with your air conditioner often worsen over time, or a damaged component may eventually affect other components of your unit as well. Even if you only plan on running your air conditioner a few more times this fall, you’ll bring your system one step closer to a sudden breakdown. Let’s look at a couple of examples of problems that can’t wait until the next cooling season.

Low refrigerant is a common problem that often results from a leak. When your system was installed, refrigerant was measured out according to the cooling capacity of your unit. Refrigerant is meant to stay at this level throughout the life of the air conditioner, but corrosion or loose connections may cause it to leak from the system. If you have a refrigerant leak, you may notice reduced cooling power from your system. But low levels also keep other components from working properly. The compressor, for example, is sized to handle a certain load of refrigerant. If you wait for repairs, and you turn on your unit the first day of the cooling season, more refrigerant may have left your system. In this case, your compressor will struggle to turn on and may overheat.

Another problem that can’t wait for repairs is a frozen evaporator coil. This may happen if there is a faulty fan motor, low refrigerant, or even a dirty air filter. Every time you turn on your unit, ice continues to build on the coil, and every time you turn it off, water may leak into your home or damage your unit. It’s important to have a technician find the cause of the frozen coil and check for further damages as soon as possible.

If you have problems with your air conditioning system in Clarksburg, call Tuckers Air Conditioning, Heating & Plumbing right away. Our experts can get your unit back to normal so you can feel secure running your system on an unseasonably warm fall day. Call us today!

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Is Air Conditioning Repair Still My Best Option?

Wednesday, June 19th, 2013

Throughout the hot months, you probably run your air conditioning system a lot to stay cool. All that use can cause it to break down occasionally and require air conditioning repair—which is to be expected. However, there may eventually come a time when getting repair might not be the best option, and you may want to start thinking about replacing your AC entirely. Here at Tuckers Air Conditioning & Heating, we often get asked by our customers how to tell if they need to replace their AC. We wanted to share a quick explanation of what signs you should watch for that could mean you need to start thinking about replacement instead of repair.

Whether or not it is time to replace your AC depends on many different factors that need to be analyzed on a case-by-case basis. However, there are a few common things that you can look at:

  • Age of your air conditioner – If you have an older air conditioning system, even if it is running well, you may want to think about replacing it. There have been tremendous advances in cooling technology even over the last 5 or 10 years. You could see some pretty significant benefits including increased efficiency, decreased repairs, and more.
  • Frequent repair – Does your air conditioner require frequent repair? It might make more sense to invest in a new system rather than continuing to pay for repair after repair. This is especially true if your air conditioner is getting older and not cooling as effectively.
  • Inefficient operation – Every homeowner wants to stay cool with an AC system that works efficiently. If your air conditioner is working inefficiently it could be costing you more than it needs to. AC systems lose efficiency over time, and the new systems made today are typically use much less energy for the same amount of cooling.

For all your air conditioning repair and replacement in Rockville, MD, make sure that you call the friendly experts at Tuckers Air Conditioning & Heating.

 

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Geothermal Installation Steps

Monday, October 29th, 2012

Geothermal heating and air conditioning systems are starting to gain traction here in Gaithersburg. In addition to energy savings and environmental benefits, geothermal systems are also know for their durability.  But what are the actual steps to installing one of these systems? Conceptually, a geothermal system is not much different than a traditional central air conditioning system: it uses a pump to move refrigerant through a series of coils. But while most central AC systems use the outdoor air, a geothermal system uses the energy stored in the ground to provide both heating and cooling. Below we outline the installation steps that allow a geothermal system to do that.

Do you have the space?

With a geothermal system, a series of pipes need to be buried in the ground. When you contact your local geothermal specialist, this will most likely be their first order of business. The size of your house and your heating and cooling needs will determine how much piping will be necessary.

Vertical vs. Horizontal

You have the ground space required for a geothermal system, then you’ll need to start drilling and digging. The series of pipes can be laid out horizontally in the ground or they can be dug deeper into the ground and installed horizontally. The type of soil on your property and your space constrictions will determine which method your contractor uses.

The Heat Pump

At the heart of your geothermal system is a heat pump that will be extracting the heat from the refrigerant being pumped through the coils. The heat pump will blow air over a heat exchanger and then your ducts will carry the air through your home. Heat pumps are normally pretty compact and will most likely be placed in your basement or storage area. Your contractor will be able to recommend which brand or model of heat pump you should choose for your specific application.

Supplemental Equipment

A geothermal system works because of the temperature difference between the air in your home and the temperature of the ground. While the temperature in the ground remains relatively constant (around 55° F all year long) the temperature in your home can vary. If you live in an area with extreme cold or hot temperatures, your geothermal system might need some help to heat or cool your home. If this is the case for you, your contractor may recommend the installation of additional heating or cooling equipment to supplement the work of the geothermal loop.

If you’re curious about geothermal systems and would like more information about our geothermal services in Gaithersburg, then contact Tuckers Air Conditioning Geothermal heating and air conditioning systems are starting to gain traction here in Gaithersburg. In addition to energy savings and environmental benefits, geothermal systems are also know for their durability.& Heating today!

 

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Geothermal Question: Will Switching to Geothermal Save Me Money?

Monday, September 10th, 2012

You will come across a wide variety of home heating and cooling equipment on the market today. Most honestly, each one of these systems is more or less appropriate depending on your particular situation. Of course, there are always some options that are way cheaper and smarter than the others. Though this is not all you should look for when comparing various heating and cooling equipment for your home, it certainly is a major determinant.

Geothermal systems are certainly much cheaper to operate when compared to other heating solutions in Gaithersburg. However, this is not all you need to think about when installing a geothermal system for your home. Before you can go for one, you must understand the basic functioning of these systems.

Geothermal systems do not create heat by themselves; they absorb it from the surrounding ground and deliver it to the air inside your home. This is why they use so little energy when operating.

Another noteworthy point about geothermal systems is that they are far more efficient than conventional heat pumps when it comes to absorbing heat from the ground in freezing conditions. These systems are capable of keeping you warm even under the most extreme temperature conditions for a sustained period.

While conventional heat pumps also do not cost much to operate, you may need the assistance of a furnace if the air temperatures drop too low. However, with geothermal systems, there is no such requirement. So if you live in a region with more extreme temperatures, a geothermal system is the thing for you. Though you have the option of a furnace in these conditions, you will be spending more in keeping it running. So, geothermal systems do work out to be the cheaper and smarter option in a variety of circumstances.

The best way to get a clear picture of whether to switch to a geothermal system or not is to take a look at your current bills. Now, you must factor in the installation costs if making the switch to geothermal systems. Though this is something of an investment, it is a long lasting and efficient solution to all your home heating and cooling requirements.  For more information about installing a geothermal system in Gaithersburg, give Tuckers Air Conditioning & Heating a call today at 301-670-0034!

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Air Conditioning Repair Tip: The Danger of Refrigerant Leaks

Monday, April 16th, 2012

Your air conditioner is filled with a chemical compound called refrigerant. This substance is what allows your air conditioner to remove heat from and dehumidify your home. It is a necessity, but it is also a dangerous chemical that, if released, can cause damage to the environment and pose health risks to your family.

 Why Refrigerant Is Dangerous

There are many types of refrigerant but most air conditioners use either R-22 or Freon coolant – depending on their age. Newer air conditioners may use R410-A refrigerant, an environmentally safer alternative.

All of these refrigerant types are chlorofluorocarbons or CFCs. These chemicals are controlled substances by the Environmental Protection Agency, meaning they must be properly removed and disposed of. Because your air conditioner does not consume any of coolant in operation, it should never need to be refilled unless there is a leak. Such a leak should be stopped immediately due to the immense damage CFCs can do to the environment.

If you suspect a leak, you should call a Bethesda air conditioning professional immediately to inspect your air conditioner.

 Damage to Your Air Conditioner

Beyond the environmental and health issues posed by a refrigerant leak, the biggest problem you will face is damage such leaks can cause to your air conditioner. Low refrigerant levels put undue stress on your compressor and can lead to damage in almost every part of the device.

Not only that but the air conditioner won’t work as efficiently. A 10% loss in refrigerant volume can result in up to a 20% increase in electricity cost to run your air conditioner.

 What to Do in the Event of a Refrigerant Leak

If you suspect a refrigerant leak in your air conditioner, take action immediately. Call a certified Bethesda HVAC technician who can recapture the escaped gasses and seal the leak fast. It is important not just for your safety but for the wellbeing of the environment.

For any repairs to your air conditioning system, give Tuckers Air Conditioning & Heating a call a 301-670-0034!

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Air Conditioning Question: Why Are Clean Filters So Important for Efficiency?

Monday, April 9th, 2012

Your air conditioner cost money to operate – even more when they don’t work at 100% efficiency. So, it is important to perform the various regular maintenance tasks that ensure the system uses as little electricity as possible. The first thing on your list (and the easiest) is cleaning those filters.

Keeping Filters Clean

Did you know that you can lower your air conditioner’s energy use by up to 15 percent by just keeping your filters clean? While that might seem surprising, it actually makes a lot of sense when you consider how the filter works.

The filter on your AC captures dust and debris that is circulated through your system. If you didn’t have a filter at all, the dust and dirt would not only cause problems with some of the mechanical parts of your AC but also reduce your indoor air quality. However, when a filter is clogged, your HVAC system has to work harder to draw air in. Your motor will need more electricity for the same amount of cooling.

It takes very little to clog the filter of an AC unit, especially if it is running 24 hours a day for two or three months out of the year. So, it’s best to check your filters once every 30 days regardless of what type of filter you are using.

Which Filters to Check

The main filter on your AC unit should be checked along with any air handler filters and any air cleaner filters you have installed in your system. Another thing to consider is the condition of your home and the area around your outdoor condenser. If you have pets, lots of plants or your condenser is located in a dusty area, you may need to check and change those filters even more often.

Most filters are located along the return length of the ductwork – sometimes in ceiling ducts and walls, though they may also be located in your furnace’s air handler or inside the air conditioning unit. If you have window units or mini splits, the filters are frequently in the unit.

Clean air filters are important for your health, your wallet and the longevity of your AC system. Stay on top of them and you will save money in more ways than you might expect. If you have any questions about how to best maintain your air conditioner this summer, give Tuckers Air Conditioning & Heating a call today!

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Heating System Ventilation 101: Basic Guidelines from

Monday, January 2nd, 2012

Maintaining Proper Ventilation for Combustion Systems

Anytime you maintain, retrofit, or replace a gas heating system in your Poolesville home you also need to be concerned with air quality. Combustion air is needed by all oil and gas heating systems to support the combustion process. This air is provided in some homes by unintentional air leaks, or by air ducts that connect to the outdoors. The combustion process creates several byproducts that are potentially hazardous to human health and can cause deterioration in your home. You can protect yourself from these hazards, as well as maintain energy efficiency, by ensuring that your chimney system functions properly and that your gas heating system is properly ventilated. In some cases, installing a sealed-combustion furnace or boiler can also help.

Chimneys

Properly functioning chimney systems will carry combustion byproducts out of the home. Therefore, chimney problems put you at risk of having these byproducts, such as carbon monoxide, spill into your home.

Most older gas furnaces and boilers have naturally drafting chimneys. The combustion gases exit the home through the chimney using only their buoyancy combined with the chimney’s height. Naturally drafting chimneys often have problems exhausting the combustion gases because of chimney blockage, wind or pressures inside the home that overcome the buoyancy of the gases.

Atmospheric, open-combustion furnaces and boilers, as well as fan-assisted furnaces and boilers, should be vented into masonry chimneys, metal double-wall chimneys, or another type of manufactured chimney. Masonry chimneys should have a fireclay, masonry liner or a retrofitted metal flue liner.

Many older chimneys have deteriorated liners or no liners at all and must be relined during furnace or boiler replacement. A chimney should be relined when any of the following changes are made to the combustion heating system:

When you replace an older furnace or boiler with a newer one that has an AFUE of 80% or more. These mid-efficiency appliances have a greater risk of depositing acidic condensation droplets in chimneys, and the chimneys must be prepared to handle this corrosive threat. The new chimney liner should be sized to accommodate both the new heating appliance and the combustion water heater by the installer.

When you replace an older furnace or boiler with a new 90+ AFUE appliance or a heat pump. In this case, the heating appliance will no longer vent into the old chimney, and the combustion water heater will now vent through an oversized chimney. This oversized chimney can lead to condensation and inadequate draft. The new chimney liner should be sized for the water heater alone, or the water heater in some cases can be vented directly through the wall.

Other Ventilation Concerns

Some fan-assisted, non-condensing furnaces and boilers, installed between 1987 and 1993, may be vented horizontally through high-temperature plastic vent pipe (not PVC pipe, which is safely used in condensing furnaces). This type of venting has been recalled and should be replaced by stainless steel vent pipe. If horizontal venting was used, an additional draft-inducing fan may be needed near the vent outlet to create adequate draft. Floor furnaces may have special venting problems because their vent connector exits the furnace close to the floor and may travel 10 to 30 feet before reaching a chimney. Check to see if this type of venting or the floor furnace itself needs replacement. If you smell gases, you have a venting problem that could affect your health. Contact your local utility or Poolesville heating contractor to have this venting problem repaired immediately.

Chimneys can be expensive to repair, and may help justify installing new heating equipment that won’t use the existing chimney.

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What Size Heat Pump Is Right for My Home?

Monday, December 26th, 2011

One of the most important questions to answer when purchasing and installing any new heating or cooling system, no matter what type, is what size is best for your North Bethesda home. You need something that has enough capacity to heat or cool your whole home comfortably; otherwise your house will consistently be at an undesirable temperature.

Some people might think that the quickest solution to this problem is to just buy a system that they are sure has a capacity larger than the size of their home. You may even be tempted to get the biggest model out there, under the logic that the biggest is the best and it will be sure to be able to cover your whole house.

While this line of thinking might make sense to you, it’s actually not a good idea. The problem with this “solution” is that you can wind up with a heat pump that is considerably too large for your needs, which means your home will consistently be either too cool or too hot, and your energy bills will be unnecessarily high.

The best way to choose a new heat pump is to have a professional do a load calculation in your home. This can be a highly technical process, so it is best to leave it to the pros. However, here are some quick tips and other things to consider on the subject:

  • There are a lot of variable to consider in doing a calculation like this. A contractor doing a load calculation will consider the type of construction, what kind of insulation you have installed, what kind of windows you have, whether there is an attic, how many people live there and many more factors.
  • It never hurts to shop around. Get a few estimates from different area contractors, rather than just going with the first opinion.
  • Also, since heat pumps are used for both heating and cooling, different contractors may opt to do the calculation in different ways. Some will estimate capacity based on heating, while others will base it on cooling. Ask to see which is the case for each estimate you receive.
  • If you are getting a new heat pump as a replacement for an existing one, or even a different heating/cooling system, check the capacity of the unit you are replacing. That can be a good place to start. You will at least be in the right ballpark.

All of this means doing some extra leg work up front, but getting the proper sized heat pump is well worth the effort.

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How Your Home’s Indoor Air Quality Controls Can Help People with Asthma

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

There is evidence to suggest that higher quality air can help keep asthma symptoms in check. While you can’t control air quality everywhere you go, you can be in charge of the quality of the air in your Clarksburg home. Take a look at how controlling indoor air quality can help ease the suffering of asthma symptoms.

One study at Johns Hopkins found that indoor air pollution plays a large role in increasing asthma symptoms, especially among children. Without getting too technical, essentially the study explains that there are particles in the air we breathe, including indoors. Aside from the standard mixture of oxygen, carbon dioxide and other gases, air contains these solid and liquid particles, which are essentially pollutants. Common household tasks like dusting and cooking can generate more of these particles.

When these particles get into the respiratory system, they can irritate the lungs, which triggers asthma symptoms. Since children spend about 80% of their time indoors, this is a very big deal.

To help this problem, there are ways to control and improve the quality of air in your home. One simple way to do this is to have filters with high minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV) ratings in your heating and cooling system. MERV ratings describe how well filters catch particles of certain sizes and keeping them out of the air—and your lungs.

The particles identified in the Hopkins study were as small as 2.5 microns, which would require a filter with a MERV rating of about 12 to catch. Higher MERV ratings mean more efficient filtration, but they need to be replaced more often. If you or child has asthma, it’s worth it.

For severe asthma or allergies, consider even higher-rated filters, like HEPA filters, which sport a MERV of 17 or higher. These will catch nearly all allergens, irritants and other particles that can make you sick.

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What is a Downflow vs. an Upflow Furnace?

Monday, November 7th, 2011

When you go looking to buy a furnace, you may well be surprised by how many different elements go into making a good purchasing decision. There are simply so many different kinds of furnaces available now and they each are more appropriate for certain situations. That means that finding the one that’s right for you is less about finding the one best unit than it is about finding the one that is the best match for your particular circumstances.

This applies to the type of fuel the furnace uses, its energy efficiency, and whether it’s an upflow furnace or a downflow furnace. Energy efficiency and fuel types are probably things that you’re more or less familiar with. But what are we talking about when we classify a furnace as an upflow or downflow model?

Well, it’s pretty much what it sounds like. These terms refer to the direction the air flows as it is taken in and heated by the furnace. So in an upflow furnace, the cool air is taken in at the bottom, warmed, and then expelled at the top. A downflow furnace, on the other hand, takes in cool air at the top and expels heated air at the bottom.

While this is all very exciting, it may still not be obvious what impact this will have on your decision about what type of furnace to buy. The main thing you’ll have to think about when you’re deciding between an upflow and a downflow furnace is where the furnace will be placed in your house.

An upflow furnace is generally installed in the basement so that the heated air is directed towards the parts of the house you want cooled and so that the furnace can be appropriately vented outside of the house. On the other hand, a downflow furnace would be installed in your attic for the same reasons.

So where you want to have the furnace installed is probably the biggest thing to take into account as you’re comparing these two types of equipment. Of course, whether you pick an upflow or a downflow furnace, you’ll still have to select the appropriate AFUE, size and fuel source to best meet your needs. But making the choice between upflow and downflow can at least make it easier to narrow down your options. To make the right decision for your home, contact your heating contractor.

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