diagnosing ac problems

AC Tips: Diagnosing AC Problems and Finding Solutions

The home’s air conditioning system tends to fail when you need it the most. Yes, that time when there’s too much heat, and you need something to blow some cool air into your skin. Well, this is also the time when you’ll easily notice that your AC system has a problem.

So, what do you do when your AC system doesn’t work? Don’t call a technician yet because sometimes diagnosing AC problems require a DIY project. Of Course, this applies to those problems with easy fixes.

So what are some AC problems, and how do you solve them? Here are a few AC tips to help you repair common problems without spending a fortune.

1. Blow Circuit Breaker or Fuse

Sometimes your AC problems can be as simple as blown circuit breakers or fuse that only need very easy fixes. But you must know for sure if this is the problem with your AC before you start any diagnosis. If you have a tripped breaker, your AC will refuse to turn on.

You’ll need to head to your home’s main electrical panel and check if your circuit breakers aren’t ‘ON.’ If it’s labeled, check the label of ‘AC’ or ‘Air Conditioner.’ If the label shows that it’s tripped, push it firmly into the ON position and try running it again.

After doing this, your AC might go back to its normal working state, or the breaker can trip again once the AC starts running. If it trips again, then this means the problem is not so simple, and you need a professional to work on the system.

2. Wrong Thermostat Setting

When the thermostat is not set to cool, your AC will not blow the cool air that you desire so much. You need to check if the thermostat is in the correct setting, which is, set to cool for summer temperature. 

You should also ensure that the setting is at least three degrees below the ambient room temperature. If that’s not the case, you need to check if it’s set to ‘off’ or ‘heat.’ Set back your thermostat to AC mode and lower the setting of the temperature. 

3. Blocked Condenser

Sometimes your AC will be running as required, but you can’t get the cooling effect. The main reason for this problem might be because something is blocking your air. This could be as a result of a blocked condenser.

Your condenser may be blocked by dirt, debris, grass, or tall weeds. Check to see if it’s dirty or any dirt is blocking it. If that’s the case, start removing the blockage, which you can do using a hose or a gentle setting.

If the condenser is covered with a thick layer of dirt, which will not be easy for you to remove, call a professional to do some deep cleaning.

4. Diagnosing AC Problems in the Capacitor 

The run capacitor is the big compressor units outside the house, sometimes placed on the roof. This is the boost that starts the condenser and fun, and if it’s spoiled, your home’s cooling will be doomed. You need to make sure the problem is your capacitor and not the contactor to start this diagnosis.

One indication of a capacitor problem is a click followed by a buzz or hum. This means your fan motor is attempting to start, but the boost from the capacitor is not enough to do it. There’s no doubt that your capacitor would have failed.

An easier solution is to get the compressor fan to spin by pushing with a thin stick. This will only work for a circle before the capacitor fails again once you switch on the AC. One permanent solution to this is to replace the capacitor.

5. Problem in the Refrigeration System

When your AC is running as it should, but you notice that the air being blown is not cold, you might have a problem with your refrigeration system. The problem could be with low refrigerant levels. The low levels can be a result of leaks causing the problem over time.

You need to check on the lines and recharge your system. Call a professional to do the AC repair because problems with the refrigerant system could be quite complicated for an amateur. 

6. Disconnected Panel

Sometimes your air conditioner problems may be as a result of disconnected wires. If you suspect that this may be the case, you need to inspect the inside of the access panel. Make sure the power is off before starting the inspection. Carefully remove the access-panel retaining screws and then remove the panel.

Check if the parts inside have rodent nests or chewed wires. If you find chewed or broken wires, discharge the capacitor and start repairing the wires and cleaning the nests. If you’re not sure about what you’re doing, it’s best to call a professional.

7. Ice Blockage

Sometimes ice in the air handler can stop your AC system from working as intended. Reduced airflow or low refrigerant levels can cause the air conditioning unit to freeze. If it’s the refrigerant level, then call a pro to refill.

If the problem is reduced airflow to the system, check and see what’s blocking the air. Clean your filter and coils and see if the airflow improves. Also, make sure you run the unit with just the fun and melt off the ice.

Restoring Your AC System Is Simple

Diagnosing AC problems is very simple as long as you can figure out the cause of the problem. Some solutions are as simple as doing some cleanups, while some require a professional touch. 

Sometimes your unit might be too old that you should consider doing a replacement rather than constant repairs. Make sure you only check the most reliable models in the market when you finally consider upgrading your unit. This could save you from any future problems, such as consistent fixes.

Whether you need to repair, upgrade, or seek professional services to help with your AC problems, we will be here to help you out. Contact us through phone, text message, or email for all your AC questions and find reliable answers.

AC stops working

What to Do If Your AC Stops Working in the Middle of the Summer Heat

When your air conditioner stops working, doesn't it always seem like it happens on the hottest day of the year?

The average temperature in July throughout Texas is around 87-degrees F. Living in a house during this type of heat is not pleasant.

So, what do you do when your AC stops working when it's really hot outside?

If you're not sure what to do, here are some tips to help you know precisely what you should do when this happens.

Check the Thermostat

When you initially notice that your AC stopped working, you should check your thermostat. Your thermostat is the device that controls your AC's operations.

If someone changed a setting on the thermostat, your AC system might not be turned on. If it's not on, it can't work.

Therefore, your AC system might not have anything wrong with it. It might simply be turned off. If this is the case, you can turn it back on by switching the setting to "on" or "auto."

There is also a chance that your thermostat might be on the correct setting but might not be working correctly. You probably won't be able to tell if your thermostat is faulty on your own, but you could find this out by hiring a contractor.

If you have a bad thermostat, there's a chance that your AC system is fine. In this event, a contractor could replace the thermostat to get your system running once again.

Examine Both Parts of the Unit

If you can't find a problem with your thermostat, you should check both parts of the central AC system. There are many reasons for an AC system to stop working, and one of the issues might involve a component of the system.

A central AC system has many components, but these systems have two main parts: the indoor part and the outdoor part. Examining both parts can help you find the problem.

As you check these parts, look for ice buildup. Ice buildup on an AC system is relatively common when a system stops working. When you see ice on either part of the system, it can indicate several issues.

The first issue it can indicate is low coolant in the system. The second issue is the restriction of airflow. An AC system needs enough coolant in it and proper airflow for it to run efficiently and accurately.

These are two common reasons that cause systems to stop working.

Remove and Check the Filter

One of the easiest fixes for an AC system that is not working is replacing the air filter. If you don't replace your air filter regularly, your system will not work correctly.

The air filter controls the quality and flow of the air the system receives. The system must receive enough airflow to process and cool the air, and it must receive clean air.

When is the last time you changed your filter? If you never changed it, you'll likely find a dirty, clogged filter in your device. After replacing it, you might notice that your system is running just fine.

If you are not sure if you need to replace the filter, remove it, and look at it. A new air filter is white. If your filter is black, it's an excellent indication to change it.

You can buy air filters from a local hardware store. You should check your filter's size before going to make sure you buy the right size.

Contact an AC Repair Company When Your AC Stops Working

By this point, you'll likely know if you can fix the problem or not. If you can't fix it yourself, the best thing you can do is contact a local AC repair contractor.

By calling soon, you'll receive services faster. AC contractors tend to have busy schedules during hot spells, so you might not receive same-day repairs, but you will receive repairs soon.

When calling an HVAC company, make sure you tell them the problems you have with your system.

For example, if the system is running but is blowing hot air instead of cold air, tell them. If your system doesn't even turn on, make sure you tell them that, too. Explain the issues you are experiencing, and tell them when you first noticed the problem.

Keep Up on the Repairs and Maintenance

While you're waiting for the repair technician to arrive, you might want to learn more about the proper maintenance of your system.

If you are not currently providing the right maintenance to your system, you will probably experience more problems.

Your AC system needs maintenance, and here are several things you should consider doing to keep up with this vital maintenance:

Replace the Filter Regularly

The first thing you should do is change your filter regularly. If you're not sure how often you should do this, ask the technician when he or she arrives. They might tell you to do this every other month or three to four times a year.

Schedule a Tune-Up in the Spring

Next, you should consider scheduling an AC tune-up every spring. A tune-up involves several steps, and the purpose is to keep your system running efficiently.

A tune-up includes cleaning your system and checking the coolant level. It also includes replacing any worn-out parts.

If you get a tune-up each year, you might be able to prevent outages in the future. You may also save money on utility expenses, as a well-maintained system operates more efficiently.

Stay Cool in the Meantime Through These Methods

When your AC stops working, it might be challenging to stay cool while waiting for the contractor to come and fix it. If you're having trouble staying cool, turn on your ceiling fans, and turn on additional fans around your house.

You can also stay cool by wearing fewer clothes and by avoiding the use of your oven.

If your AC is not working, give us a call right away. When you contact us at P&M Heating and Air Conditioning, we'll send a technician to your home to evaluate and repair your system. After getting the necessary repairs, you'll be cool in no time!

hvac in houston tx

Do You Need a Permit to Replace Your HVAC in Houston TX?

It's hard to underestimate the importance of good HVAC in Houston, TX. When it gets hot, you need something working to keep your home at a manageable temperature.

That said, HVAC systems work only has hard as the weather is hot. So, living in a hot climate means that your system is working hard most of the year, and you're going to see some wear and tear over the years.

It might be tempting to try and replace your HVAC system yourself and save some money. We're going to talk a little bit about how to move forward with getting a new HVAC installed in this article.

Replacing Your HVAC in Houston, TX

We hate to break it to you but installing an HVAC system without a permit is illegal in Houston. This may seem like kind of a hindrance to your home improvement, but it's the case for a couple of good reasons.

The first reason is that shoddy HVAC installation can lead to a number of health issues for you and your family. The air that you breathe is tantamount to your health. Issues like mold and other pollutants can really harm you.

Additionally, the people that live in your home after you will have the peace of mind that the air they're breathing isn't toxic. Further, this law makes it so that anyone you hire to do HVAC work for you will be certain to have the permit to do so.

That means you aren't paying for bad or dangerous work. It would be easy to miss the quality of a contractor's work when it comes to HVAC systems, too. So long as your home is kept cool, how would you know the difference?

This is why Houston also requires that a city inspector takes a look at your work after it's done.

City Inspection

So, the process is twofold. You or your contractor have to have a permit to do the work, and that work needs to be inspected when it's done.

The nice thing is that these inspections are relatively short, and you can simply schedule them to line up with the completion of your work. In fact, the city inspection takes around 30 minutes.

The part that might be a nuisance to you is applying for and paying for the permit. You have to contact the city of Houston in advance of any work that you do and make sure that you're approved before you start.

The fee of the permit will depend on the nature of the work and the price that you charge the customer. If you're working on your own, those fees might be different depending on your particular project.

In light of the hoops that you have to jump through, it might be simpler to skip the work on your own and hire an HVAC professional.

Need Some HVAC Help?

Working on your HVAC in Houston, TX might require a little more paperwork than you're interested in doing. Instead, hiring a professional to do the work can take your mind off of permits and inspections.

We’re to help you through all of that red tape and get you set up with a system that’s safe for you and your loved ones. Contact us for more insight into what's possible for your new HVAC system.

improving indoor air quality

7 Tips on Improving Indoor Air Quality for New Homeowners

On average, most Americans spend about 90% of their time indoors. Now, more people are spending the majority of their time at home, rather than in the office, at the gym, or out on the town. 

We all know that there are a lot of environmental hazards that pose a large health risk. Did you know that the EPA considers poor indoor air quality to be one of the top five environmental hazards?

If you want to ensure a cleaner, healthier future, it is imperative that you focus on improving indoor air quality.

Let's take a look at 7 ways that you can address the air pollution sources in your own home.

Clean to Reduce Air Pollution

The first three tips on our list involve developing a basic cleaning routine. There are three major problem areas in every home that homeowners should never overlook. Let's take a look at what those problem areas are and how you can address them.

1. Carpeting 

A lot of the pollutants you should worry about aren't constantly circulating through your air. Dust mites, pollen, and other irritants settle into your carpeting and get kicked up over and over due to foot traffic and other disturbances.

Vacuum all carpeting in your home at least once or twice a week. If your carpeting appears to have water damage or dry rot, replace it entirely. If you're looking for a more permanent solution, consider removing your carpeting in favor of exposed hardwood or tile flooring.

2. Damp Areas

Mold spores contribute a great deal to indoor air pollution, and damp areas are breeding grounds for mold. Monitor your bathroom, crawl space, and piping for signs of leaking or prolonged dampness. You may want to install dehumidifiers in areas that never seem to dry out.

If mold is currently growing in your home, you can tackle it with bleach-based cleaners. A green alternative is diluted white vinegar, although you may have more success using bleach if the mold has settled in.

3. Dusty Spaces

If you find that your asthma, allergies, or other respiratory ailments are getting worse, you may have a dust problem. Avoid using feather dusters, as they only trap about 50% of dust and send the rest back into the air. Instead, use a damp cloth or paper towel to remove dust from surfaces around your home.

Establish Your Own IAQ Program

At P&M, we believe that the only way to tackle indoor air quality is to establish an indoor air quality program. Our IAQ program involves four proactive measures that directly reduce the number of pollutants in your home, from dust and grime to toxic chemicals. Let's take a look at what we can accomplish together to improve your indoor air quality. 

4. Mechanical Ventilation

One of the best ways to dilute pollutant-riddled air is to constantly introduce fresh air into your home. However, opening your windows isn't always an option, especially when you have the HVAC running. Plus, most energy-saving HVAC systems require a tight seal against outdoor air, eliminating any dilution you may have been getting from cracks around your windows and doors. 

Mechanical ventilation systems exhaust contaminated air while pumping in fresh air. You can ensure that your air is well-circulated without messing up your energy savings.

5. Humidifiers

While some trouble areas in your home may be too damp, the majority of your home is probably too dry. Dry air accumulates irritants at a faster rate which are then spread all over your home through your HVAC system. Pairing your HVAC with a humidifier is the best way to maintain proper levels of moisture in your indoor air to avoid this outcome.

As an added bonus, humidifiers can help to alleviate any skin or hair dryness you may experience, especially in the winter months. 

6. Purifiers

As always, make sure that you are changing the filters on your HVAC every two to three months. This ensures that they can continue to catch irritants such as dust, pollen, and dander before your heated or cooled air is sent into your home.

If you're concerned about your indoor air quality, air purifiers make a great companion to the filters your HVAC system already utilizes. In addition to introducing humidity into your HVAC, we will also install a state of the art air purification system. We offer air purifiers that can capture particles as small as .03 microns. 

7. UV Lighting

Ultraviolet light has the ability to kill off living biological organisms. When DNA is exposed to UV lighting, it becomes damaged. As long as this exposure is prolonged, that damage is irreparable and the organism will die.

While there are ways to keep your bathroom, crawl space, and other damp indoor areas clear of mold, some spots are too tough to reach. In fact, the evaporator coil in your central air conditioner is at risk of developing mold and fungi. Rather than allowing those organisms to thrive and grow, we install UV lighting in your HVAC system that will take care of the problem before it even starts. 

Improving Indoor Air Quality Can Improve Your Quality of Life

Improving your indoor air quality is a necessary way to protect your family and maintain good health. Remember that in addition to the measures we've addressed above, you should also receive regular HVAC maintenance to ensure that your airflow is clean and efficient.

P&M HVAC is here to help you every step of the way. Contact us to set up an IAQ program appointment and your HVAC inspection. 

central air conditioner maintenance

Getting Ready for Summer: 7 Central Air Conditioner Maintenance Tips

The dog days of summer will be upon us before we know it. It feels good to have sunshine and warmth in the air. It also feels good to go inside and cool off in your nice air-conditioned house.

So, there's nothing quite so frustrating as turning on the air on the first hot day only to find it won't turn on. Or it won't blow cold air.

Of course, then you're in line with others who want service right away to get their air working. Avoid the hassles by getting your central air conditioner maintenance taken care of before it's a problem.

Read on to learn about some things you can do or have done by a professional to make sure your air conditioner is ready for summer.

1. Air Conditioner Filters

One of the simplest tasks you can do, and you can do this yourself, is to clean or replace the air conditioner filters.

These filters are found inside the house. They can be found in the furnace or air handler cabinet of your furnace. Sometimes you will find them near the air inlet part of the furnace.

The purpose of these filters, like any filter, is to trap dirt and air particles. Yet, when these get too full of dust and dirt particles, the air can't move through them.

As a result, you don't get good airflow and your house doesn't cool down the way you want it to.

2. Check the Condenser Coils

Just the name condenser coils sound remarkably complicated. This isn't though.

First, you need to make sure, and this is important, that you have turned off the power to your air conditioner unit.

Then go to the outdoor metal box that is part of your air conditioning system. You will see the fan blades at the top of the unit.

These fan blades move air around the interior condenser coils when your unit is running. During the winter, debris can get inside the unit and clog up the condenser coils.

Remove the lid of your unit and the sides. This often can be done by loosening a few screws.

Then you can use a soft hand brush or vacuum brush to clean the coils. These coils look like fins and are surprisingly fragile. You want to be careful not to bend them while cleaning.

Removing the dirt and debris allows better airflow and a more efficient air conditioner hunt.

3. Debris Around the Condenser

Once you are finished cleaning the coils, you want to remove any debris found inside the condenser. Often leaves and dirt from winter gather inside there.

Use your hand or a vacuum to scoop out the debris. If there is a drain (many units have one) you want to clear out the drain at the bottom of the condenser.

Then you can use a rag to wipe down the fan blades. Check the bolts that hold the fan blades. You want to be sure nothing is loose that would throw off how the fan operates.

4. Remove Outdoor Obstructions

While many people want to do outdoor plantings around the outdoor part of their air conditioner, really this is not a good idea. You want there to be open space and good airflow around the outdoor part of your air conditioning unit.

You want to remove any leaves or weeds that might prevent good airflow around the exterior of the unit.

It's smart to keep anything growing several feet from your air conditioning unit.

5. Check the Coolant Lines

The coolant lines run from your outdoor part of the unit into your house. They run from the air handler inside to the condenser outside.

These coolant lines are typically wrapped in foam insulation. This prevents the coolant lines from losing unnecessary energy.

Sometimes outdoor critters will chew on the foam insulation and it gets frayed away. You want those lines protected for maximum efficiency.

You can replace this with new foam insulation by wrapping the coolant lines and taping them with the insulation tape. These are supplies you can pick up at your local home improvement store.

6. Check for Air Flow Leaks

If it appears your air conditioner is running fine and yet your house isn't cooling the right way, you might have a leak. Leaks in ductwork mean the cool air escapes before it arrives at the rooms in your house.

Check your visible ductwork for loose spots. You can even turn on your system and feel your ducts to see if you feel airflow.

A professional HVAC specialist can also do an inspection of your ductwork to check this.

7. Thermostat

This is a great time to upgrade your thermostat to a programmable thermostat. If your thermostat isn't working, it won't tell your air conditioner to turn on or turn off.

This can be a real drain on your energy bills.

Imagine how nice it will be to come home from work and have your smart thermostat working to have your house cooled off and ready for you.  Some programmable thermostats even allow users to control them from an app on their phone.

Get Your Central Air Conditioner Maintenance Done Today

There's nothing worse than that first hot day, to click on your air conditioner only to find it not working well. Avoid the hassles by taking care of your central air conditioner maintenance today.

Want help making sure your unit is ready for those hot Texas summer days? Give us a call and we can come out and make sure your unit is ready to go for those first hot days of summer.

ac maintenance

Is Spring a Good Time of the Year to Perform AC Maintenance?

Did you know that the HVAC systems market was priced at $130.5 billion in 2019? Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning are vital when we are in our house for all hours of the day.

We are all stuck inside together, and the temperature of our homes is essential, this spring add ac maintenance to your list of cleaning and reorganizing. Keep reading, and we will guide you through why spring is the season to check in on your air conditioning.

Spring Routine

This spring, we may not be able to leave our homes often, which is why it's more important to make sure your home is clean, comfy, and at the right temperature for you and your family. Spring cleaning is an activity you can involve the whole family during this time indoors.

You want to make sure that you're preparing for warmer months with your air conditioner. We are here to help with our air conditioning check-in services.

Not only is this important for the quality of air and temperature, but having an air conditioner service come in the spring can prevent any summer meltdowns and unexpected expenses.

Why You Should Get AC Maintenance

Every spring, you should get your air conditioner looked at to make sure everything is working. The spring is a time for routine cleaning and getting everything on track before the summer. Your AC maintenance should be on your to-do list along with other spring cleaning chores.

However, this spring, it's even more essential because we are all spending a lot of time in the house, in some cases crammed with our families, roommates, pets, or significant others.

We are going to walk through the benefits of getting your air conditioner checked out this spring:

1. Decrease Monthly Cost

If there are parts of your air conditioner that are dirty or broken, it won't run as efficiently. If your air conditioner is working harder to cool your house, this will result in higher energy bills and monthly costs.

For example, if your AC has dirty coils, it will not be able to get rid of heat easily or quickly, making it work harder to get to the set temperature.

Right now, energy bills are up from having your lights on all day, to using your computer when you work at home or cooking more because everyone is in their house most of the hours of the day. If you can reduce your bill in any way moving forward, it's essential to take preventative action now.

If you invest in getting ac maintenance now, you will save money in the long run, and your monthly costs won't be affected. Spring is so essential because it's before the warmer months of summer, so you're taking preventative action against any issues.

2. Schedule Around You

We are at our busiest during the summer and winter months, with last-minute appointments that come up if a heater breaks in the dead of winter or an air conditioner goes out on a 90 degree summer day. Everyone is using their HVAC systems every day during these seasons.

We have more availability in the spring and can work around your schedule to find a day and time that fits into your day.

Right now, with everyone home, we want to make sure we don't disrupt anyone's workday or come during important meetings.

The future is unknown, and we want to make sure you secure a spot that works in your schedule your appointment today for this spring because we will e able to provide more flexible options.

3. Reduce Risks

If you schedule AC maintenance for the spring, you reduce the risk that your air conditioner will shut down or have issues in the summer. The summer is primetime for AC breakdowns.

The common AC maintenance checklist includes checking for clogs, lubricating all moving parts to make sure nothing is stuck, looking for loose electrical and tightening those, double-check the blower, and other routine checks.

We look to make sure every piece of the puzzle fits so that you're able to be in your home comfortably during the summer months.

4. Air Quality

When your AC has been running for an entire summer, dust and debris builds up and is released the next time you use your system. The allergens can create poor air quality with the excess dust and debris circulating through your house. The dust can cause allergies and a general uncomfortable feeling in your home.

We will check to make sure that nothing is clogged and that there isn't dust and debris in the blower. Removing these allergens will help increase your indoor air quality and reduce the allergy issues making your family comfortable.

5. Lifespan of Air Conditioner

The regular maintenance on your air conditioner can help upkeep the AC and will make it last longer. We can also typically estimate how much more life your older air conditioner has, so it's less of an unexpected expense when the time comes for you to get a new one, and you can prepare for it.

General maintenance and upkeep on your air conditioner is something you should make routine every spring. This spring is almost more important because we all want to be comfortable in our homes and not have to worry about an AC breakdown when summer starts.

Schedule Your Appointment Today

We are here for your AC maintenance needs. You can contact us online or call to set up an appointment for a routine check-up this spring, and we will work around your schedule.

You can also text us through the website for any general questions you may have before scheduling an appointment. If there's a specific issue you want us to look at when we come for a checkup or you have a question about our maintenance checkup procedure, we are here to answer your questions.

Our team is here to resolve any issues before the summer starts and make sure everything is up and running correctly.

Schedule your AC maintenance appointment today or keep reading about the many services we offer here!

houston heating maintenance

7 Warning Signs That Your HVAC System Is Failing

Summer will be here before you know it, and, in Texas, the heat is no joke! With average summer highs running between 86 and 98 degrees, we really rely on our HVAC system to keep us cool. If your system fails, you'll be uncomfortable at best and could face health risks in the worst-case scenario.

This is one of the many reasons why Houston heating maintenance is so important. Keeping up with your HVAC system’s needs and knowing the warning signs that your system is failing will help you avoid finding yourself sweltering in the summer. Here are seven of the most concerning issues you need to watch out for.

1. Indoor Humidity

Part of the way your HVAC system keeps your home comfortable is by removing humidity from the air. This is collected by the system and expelled as water.

Whether it’s the middle of summer or early winter, if your home feels sticky or stuffy, then this is a good sign that you need to have your system looked at.

2. Strange Smells

A strange smell, particularly if it’s lingering, is a sign that you could have an issue with your HVAC system. This could take the form of a burning smell or it may smell moldy, musty, or rotten. If you can track this smell back to your AC vents or your outdoor compressor then it’s definitely something you’ll want to take care of right away.

There are an array of possible causes, so it's a good idea to call in a pro to check it out.  It’s also important to be careful of any chemical smells coming from your system. This could indicate that you have a leak that may be toxic.

3. Inaccurate Thermostat

If the temperature on your thermostat clearly doesn’t match the actual temperature in the home, you’ll want to start by troubleshooting the thermostat itself. Some of the newer smart thermostats are complicated, and there’s a chance you just don’t have it programmed right.

Start by turning the thermostat all the way down and see if the HVAC unit comes on. If not, then you likely have a problem with the system rather than with the thermostat.

4. Strange Noises

If you hear strange noises coming from your HVAC unit, you could have a problem with the belt, a loose part, or other issues. Some of the sounds you’ll need to look out for include hissing, rattling, grinding, squealing, or clunking.

Generally, these issues should be handled by a professional tech as tying to handle these types of problems yourself could create a danger.

Scheduling heating maintenance services right away can help you catch a small problem before it turns into a major issue, so don’t make the mistake of ignoring any unusual sound.

5. Inconsistent Temperatures

Unless you have a multi-zone HVAC system, the temperature in your home should be consistent from room to room. If you find that one room is very warm while another is freezing, then you likely have a serious problem with your HVAC system.

If you have a multi-story home or commercial building, you may also notice that there’s a temperature variation between floors.

Likewise, if the airflow has slowed down for no obvious reason, this is an indication of a problem. Your HVAC system is designed for uniform flow at all times.

6. Drastic Increases in Your Power Bill

Has your power bill suddenly skyrocketed? While there are many possible issues causing this, you’ll want to check your HVAC system. This is especially true if you’ve noticed any of the other warning signs as well.

If the higher energy use is tracked back to your HVAC system, that means that your unit is working overtime to keep up. Not only is this wasting energy, but it’s also stressing your system. This extra wear and tear could cause your system to fail prematurely, which is an expensive problem that a maintenance call could help you avoid.

7. Power Fluctuations

Does your HVAC system turn on and off randomly throughout the day? This is also known as “short-cycling” and is potentially a dangerous situation.

One possible issue is that the machine isn’t getting enough power supply to keep running as it should. Left unrepaired, this could damage your breakers or even your entire home’s power supply.

Another possible issue is that your system is overheating. Once it cools down, the power supply will go back to normal. This will continue to happen in cycles, and, eventually, it could create a major fire hazard. For this reason, short cycling is an issue that you should never ignore.

Ignore HVAC Problems at Your Own Risk

The first step to troubleshooting HVAC problems is knowing what to look for. If you’ve noticed any of these red flags, you’ll want to check it out right away. In almost all cases, a small problem that’s been left untreated will turn into a much larger issue.

If you’re not confident with your ability to do a DIY repair, call in a professional to take a look. In this case, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Schedule Your Houston Heating Maintenance Today!

If you’ve noticed any of these warning signs, it’s time to schedule your Houston heating maintenance appointment now. Make sure you can keep your cool all summer long! Contact us today to schedule your appointment.

troubleshooting HVAC problems

Great Tricks From The Experts For Troubleshooting HVAC Problems

You may be surprised to know that about three-quarters of homes in the United States have air conditioning. This figure makes sense because very few people are willing to sweat the summer away.

Calling HVACs lifesavers is an understatement. Thanks to these beauties, folks can enjoy cool summers and keep the draught away during winter. Also, we can use air conditioners to improve air quality because ACs filter excess dust and bacteria from the air to only circulate clean air.

In as much as air conditioners are lifesavers, troubleshooting HVAC problems can become a real headache. Fortunately, you don’t have to be a technological expert to troubleshoot the most common problems with HVACs.

This piece will highlight some incredible tips from leading HVAC experts on how to troubleshoot the most common issues with HVACs. That way, you’ll at least have an idea on how to go about it the next time your HVAC makes those weird noises.

The Working Principle of an HVAC

Before getting to the troubleshooting part, it might be helpful to know the underlying working mechanism of a typical air conditioning system. Don’t get your Physics course books yet; we’ll try to keep this explanation as concise and simple as possible.

Your HVAC system applies the same principle as your refrigerator in its operation. Now your HVAC probably has two units, one inside and the other outside the house. Although we typically have many types of HVAC systems.

The outside parts are as follows:

Vents- You’ll mostly find the vents near the ceiling. They distribute cooled or heated air to various rooms across the home. This air comes from the duct system, and these vents generally face downward and should never block.

Refrigerant lines- These are small duct lines that carry the refrigerant in gaseous form. This gas transforms into liquid then moves back to the evaporator coil to become gas again. Heat is lost and gained in this process.

The parts inside your home consist of the following:-

Thermostat- The thermostat is responsible for temperature regulation. It is the part you’ll interact with most as an HVAC owner.

Condensing unit- It is the unit that houses the refrigerant gas. This refrigerant is cooled to liquid then moved to the evaporating coil, where it transforms to gas again.

Evaporator coil- This unit cools down air when you set the thermostat to a lower temperature.

Furnace- The furnace is what brings the whole HVAC system together. The furnace heats the air, which the ducts then distribute to various rooms in your home.

The basic operation of an HVAC involves these processes.

First, air comes from the outside through the vents and ducts. Depending on the thermostat settings, the device will either cool or heat the air to a particular temperature.

This air is then distributed through the duct system to the various rooms. When air pushes into the coils for heating, air displaces from the room to the outside, then back to the system, and the cycle continues.

Troubleshooting HVAC Problems Like the Experts Do

It can be very frustrating when your HVAC doesn’t work as it should. No one likes a stuffy and uncomfortable room. It can be an especially embarrassing situation when you have guests over.

Fortunately, you don’t need to be an HVAC expert to troubleshoot some of the most common problems with your HVAC. All you need is the right tips form the seasoned experts, and you’re good to go.

Here are a couple of resourceful tips for troubleshooting HVAC problems you could try out next time your HVAC is giving you problems.

1. Uneven Cooling

Uneven cooling is a problem most homes face with their HVAC units. You may find that your HVAC cools parts of your home very well but doesn’t do a good job in some parts.

Sometimes it’s not an issue with the unit itself but your home’s sealing. Some regions may not have proper sealing, which allows for cold air to escape. 

Turn your AC ON and find a room that remains stuffy even with the AC working. Try sealing the room off to create even more efficient airflow.

2. Filters are Dirty

Dirty filters could affect how your HVAC system works quite significantly. Clean filters allow for better air circulation, which makes for quicker cooling.

To prevent dirty filters, you need to exercise proper HVAC maintenance practices consistently. That way, you’ll never have to worry about your filters getting dirty.

3. Coil Issues

Issues with the coils are pretty common among many HVAC units. Now depending on the severity of these coil issues, you may need to call in the experts.

Hissing noises from the outdoor unit could indicate a leak with the coil. You may also realize an unpleasant smell whenever you turn on the system. If your system also takes a while to kick in, it could also indicate an issue with the evaporating coil.

4. Ignition Problems

There are many causes of ignition problems. The most common is a dirty pilot flame or burners that can cause a pilot outage.

There could also be an issue with the gas supply. Whatever the problem is, it is typically challenging to repair ignition problems by yourself. You’re better off calling an expert to help you fix the issue.

5. Tripped Breakers

Tripped breakers go hand in hand with blown fuses. Your HVAC is an electrical machine with electronic components. Your fuse will most likely trip if the blower overworks.

It is up to you to figure out why the blower is overworking. The most common reason could be dirty air filters. Also remember, the more your blower overworks the more you pay for your power.

It’s best to get to the root of the problem soonest so you can save on your power bills.

Call the Experts When Needed

Undoubtedly you’re now a pro at troubleshooting HVAC problems. Remember to carry out the best maintenance practices and you won’t need to troubleshoot any of these problems.

Not everyone is an HVAC expert, so though you can troubleshoot the problem, you can’t always fix them. Don’t be afraid to call the experts whenever needed. That way, you can get everything fixed up the professional way.

If you need professional HVAC installation, maintenance and repair, contact us today for quick and expedient service.

R-22 refrigerant

No More HCFC-22: What to Know About the R-22 Refrigerant Phase Out

Did you know that since the 1970s, a huge ozone hole above Antarctica has been opening every spring? What's more, some areas of this hole showed a depletion of the ozone levels by as much as 65%!

Researchers also found that the hole grew to a size as big as North America. That’s about 25 million square kilometers!

The main culprits, according to scientists, are chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), particularly hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs). These include the R-22 refrigerant used by most air conditioners back then.

Because of this, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has ordered the R-22 phase-out. As of January 01, 2020, it's illegal to produce or import most HCFCs, including the R-22 Freon.

The question is, what does this ban have to do with you as a regular HVAC user? What is Freon anyway?

We'll answer all these questions (and more), so go ahead and read until the end!

What Is R-22 Refrigerant?

R-22 is the most common form of the HCFC-22 chemical, a type of Class II ozone-depleting substance. You likely know R-22 through the brand name "Freon".

As a refrigerant, HCFC-22 is the chemical that heats or cools the air that HVAC systems produce. When this fluid passes through the parts of the HVAC unit, it changes into either liquid or gas.

These transformations then make the refrigerant hot or cold. These changes make the chemical quick to absorb or radiate heat from the passing air. This is how your HVAC system cools or heats your home.

R-22 was the most common type of refrigerant used in HVAC equipment up until January 01, 2010. At this point, the EPA banned its production, import, and use except for existing equipment.

Meaning, if you have an HVAC system manufactured before January 01, 2010, then it likely uses R-22.

Determining What Type of Refrigerant Your HVAC System Uses

If you're unsure of your HVAC unit's manufacturing date, check the label on the compressor. This is the part usually installed outside of the home. The label will clearly tell you if it uses R-22 (HCFC-22) or R-410A (the refrigerant used in newer units).

What’s in Store for Homeowners With R-22 Air Conditioners

The January 2010 ban still allowed the production and use of HCFC-22 for existing units. This exception lasted up until December 31, 2019. This is how owners of HVAC systems that made use of R-22 were still able to get their units recharged.

However, as of January 01, 2020, the EPA has completely banned the production and use of HCFC-22. HVAC systems that still use R-22 would have to rely on "recycled" or "stockpiled" R-22 supply.

If you still have an R-22 AC unit, then you can expect higher refrigerant “recharge” costs. After all, the EPA ban means that the R-22 will become even scarcer than it already is. This scarcity will then drive up the cost of HVAC refrigerant "recharges".

In most cases, air conditioners need a refrigerant charge due to leaks. One solid sign that you have a leaking refrigerant is if your AC unit freezes up. An HVAC technician needs to seal this leak and then top up the refrigerant to make your AC work again.

However, now that the R-22 ban is in place, expect this HVAC repair job to be more expensive.

What You Can Do Now

Having an R-22 HVAC unit doesn’t automatically mean you need a new system right away. Again, the law still allows the use of such equipment. If you can't replace your current HVAC system at the moment, then make sure you at least do the following.

Regular HVAC Maintenance

You can prevent refrigerant leaks in the first place through proper HVAC maintenance. Many leaks occur due to corrosion, which can result from dirt and debris accumulation. Cleaning evaporator and condenser coils regularly can help keep corrosion at bay.

Prompt Repairs for Potential Refrigerant Leaks

Not enough cool air, frozen coils, and weird sounds are symptoms of refrigerant leaks. If you notice these signs of HVAC trouble, have a licensed HVAC technician inspect your unit ASAP. It's possible that there's only a tiny leak that the technician can still seal and repair.

Prompt repairs can prevent more of the pricey R-22 refrigerant from leaking out. This can then help extend the life of your R-22 air conditioning unit.

The Best Way to Address the R-22 Phase-Out

Granted, air conditioners can last between 15 to 20 years. This is also one of the reasons that the HCFC-22 ban still allows for the use of "recycled" R-22.

While you can still use your R-22 AC despite the ban, it doesn't mean that you should. Especially not if your current air conditioner is more than a decade old. Aside from likely being an R-22 user, such old units are more prone to breakdowns.

Over time, the repairs for these HVAC problems will add up to a considerable amount. The repair costs could be so high that it makes more sense to just get a new HVAC unit.

Besides, older HVAC models aren't as energy-efficient as the more modern units. By replacing your R-22 HVAC unit with an energy-efficient model, you can save 20% to 40% on cooling costs. These huge savings should be enough to make you consider getting a new HVAC system.

Time for a Change

As you can see, the R-22 refrigerant ban brings with it a host of changes that could affect your life as an HVAC owner. Despite its financial implications, however, this ban is actually great for the environment. That's why as early as now, you should consider swapping your old R-22-powered HVAC unit.

Ready to invest in an eco-friendlier, more energy-efficient HVAC system? Then let our team here at P & M Air Conditioning and Heating help! Connect with us now so we can discuss your new heating and cooling options.

heater stopped working

5 Common Reasons the Heater Stopped Working (And What to Do Next)

Each year between 2012 and 2016, local fire departments in the U.S. responded to an average of 52,050 fires that involved heating equipment. To this day, heating equipment is still one of the leading causes of household fires, accounting for hundreds of civilian deaths every year.

While modern commercial and residential heating systems are often highly sophisticated and reliable, they are bound to develop problems at some point. When these issues persist, they can threaten not only the comfort of your loved ones but their safety as well.

But what if your heater stopped working altogether in the middle of the winter, leaving your family in the cold? It’s one of the most frustrating experiences you can go through.

The great news is that there are ways to minimize the chances of your heater not kicking on. And if the unexpected does happen, there’s always something you can do to address the problem. In this article, we look at five of the top reasons a heater can stop working, as well as how you can address the situation.

Read on to learn more.

1. Poor Maintenance Could Be the Reason Your Heater Stopped Working

Perhaps the top reason homeowners call HVAC technicians during the winter is lack of furnace maintenance. If your furnace won’t turn on, it’s almost always because you’ve not had it tuned for a long time. Often, the issue is that the heating system is simply dirty.

If your furnace has a dirty blower, the blower could cause equipment failure. The system’s heat exchanger cannot work unless there’s sufficient air moving across it to stop it from overheating. In short, a dirty blower can cause the heat exchanger to fail.

Dirty air filters could also be the reason your heater stopped working. Such filters restrict the airflow and could even worsen existing issues with wrong duct sizing. That’s why it’s paramount to replace filters every three months or so.

Lack of regular tuning could also result in a dirty flame sensor. That makes it hardly possible to light burners. A sensor covered in a layer of gunk cuts off the moment it turns on because it can’t sense the flame.

Sometimes, it’s the burners themselves that are dirty after a lengthy period of neglect. Such burners do not work well, if at all.

To avoid all these issues, you need to call a seasoned HVAC technician to tune your furnace on a yearly basis. In the long run, regular furnace maintenance is a worthy investment since it protects you from the inconvenience of a broken furnace. And even when the furnace does fail prematurely, you won’t need to worry about replacing costly parts.

2. Issues with the Thermostat

Another common complaint among homeowners is the thermostat not turning on heat. Usually, the root cause of the problem is that the thermostat is malfunctioning or improperly set.

The function of your HVAC’s thermostat is to regulate the amount of heat that’s generated by your furnace as well as when that heat is generated.  Most thermostats in the market today are quite reliable and will typically give you years of hassle-free service. However, every thermostat will eventually develop problems and require repair or replacement.

Once you discover that your current thermostat has a problem, consider replacing it with a programmable option. A programmable thermostat lets you choose different temperatures for various times of the day, night, and week. These thermostats are thus much more energy efficient compared to their non-programmable options.

Sometimes, the problem is that you wrongly programmed the thermostat. It could also be that you inadvertently reprogrammed it at a certain point. Check whether you've set the thermostat correctly before calling your local HVAC technician.

3. The Blower Capacitor Is Dead

If you’ve never seen the blower capacitor of your HVAC, it’s the part of your furnace that has the appearance of a big battery. The capacitor starts the furnace once the setting on your thermostat instructs it to start.

Every capacitor has a tolerance level. In case the tolerance level is lower than a specific level, the blower may not achieve the appropriate RPM.

Sometimes, the capacitor is dying or dead and won't start the blower. The simple solution is to replace it.

4. The Refrigerant Levels Are Too Low

If you heat your home using a heat pump, the refrigerant level of the pump can get too low. As a result, the heat strips keep coming on too often, leading to hefty utility bills.

When the refrigerant levels remain too low for a long time, the compressor could overheat and breakdown. That’s why you need to increase the refrigerant charge once you notice that the heat strips are coming on too frequently. It costs much less to recharge your refrigerant or fix leaks than it does to replace the compressor.

5. Faulty Ductwork Installation or Design

In some cases, the reason your heater isn’t working is not that the heater has a problem. The problem is with the ductwork.

Ensuring that the ductwork is properly designed and installed is a huge undertaking. Many installers, unfortunately, opt to cut corners when sizing ducts or installing them. You might get lucky and end up with ductwork that has been more or less appropriately sized and installed.

But when HVAC installers do a really poor job, you’re always going to have issues with airflow throughout your home. The heating system will most likely short cycle frequently. With time, it will overheat and break down completely

So how do you address this situation?

Your best option is to have a competent HVAC technician repair the parts of the furnace that have already failed. Next, the technician needs to redesign the ductwork, so the problem doesn't recur.

Don’t Let Heater Problems Linger

Heating systems can have a variety of problems, but a furnace that won’t work is arguably the worst. A furnace without power means that your family won’t have heat, which can result in discomfort and illness during the cold season. Once you know the reason your heater stopped working, it becomes easier to know how to address the problem.

If your furnace has been giving you problems, our seasoned technicians can help. Contact us today for a free quote.