HVAC technician working on an air conditioning unit to provide AC unit maintenance tips.

Air Conditioner Maintenance Tips

As your air conditioner gets up there in life, you should probably start preparing for the inevitable. Home and business owners that get 10-15, or even 20 years or more from their HVAC system should consider themselves extremely lucky, especially when many are only rated or warrantied for 8-12 years. Of course, as Ernest Hemingway said, “you make your own luck” and in the A/C world that comes from regular system maintenance. An air-conditioner is far from a ‘plug and play’ unit that can be turned on in the spring and put away in the fall.

Your best bet to extend the life of you’re A/C is to perform regular maintenance on the unit; these maintenance tips must be followed semi-regularly.

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Geothermal Energy vs. Solar Panels: Which Has Better Value?

“Going Green” is no longer just for progressive thinking homeowners or those looking to live in a commune and proverbially go off the grid. Instead, having energy efficient property is now an integral part of being a responsible homeowner, not only to lower utility bills, but also as a crucial way of limiting a carbon footprint against an increasingly unpredictable environment.

The best way we can lower our impact on the environment (and save some money in the process) is by harnessing the Earth’s resources to heat and cool our homes and businesses. The two main ways to use the Earth’s free energy for your own good are with solar panels and geothermal pumps. Solar panels capture the sun’s rays and convert it into heat and electricity, which is used to heat and cool your home, while geothermal solutions use the constant core temperature of the Earth to warm and cool a property.

Geothermal vs Solar

The big question remains then: which method offers more return on investment between solar panels and underground geothermal pipes? The answer is provided from a combination of your climate, your existing setup, and how much you’re prepared to invest.

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A traditional heat pump next to a house showing comparison to geothermal heat pump.

Geothermal Heat Pumps vs. Traditional Heat Pumps

The main concept of geothermal energy is one that’s relatively easy to grasp. For example, the Earth has a constant core of 50°-60°F at all times no matter the temperatures above ground. It makes sense then that we can harness that energy and use it to heat or cool our homes, but here’s where the process gets a little murky – not so much a matter of why, but how?

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A geothermal heating and air conditioning checkilist showing the benefits of geothermal heating system.

Geothermal Energy Pros and Cons

Instead of using natural gas or oil and as an alternative to incurring high electricity bills, geothermal energy works to draw off the Earth’s constant core temperature to both heat and cool the home. At first glance, incorporating geothermal energy into a house or business would seem like a no-brainer and while there are definite cost and economic savings involved with the process, all that glitters isn’t gold. Here are the definitive geothermal energy pros and cons:

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A melting ice cube on a blue surface representing why air conditioning units freeze.

Why Do Air Conditioners Freeze?

An air conditioner unit has the potential to freeze. It’s a strange sight, especially in the middle of a hot summer day, but that’s when it’s most likely to happen. A frozen air conditioner is a common problem and can sometimes be fixed easily. Other times, however, you’ll need an air conditioner repair technician to take a look at it.

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A man holding HVAC gauges demonstrating how to recharge a home AC unit.

Recharging a Home AC – What You Need to Know

Central air conditioners have one primary job: to keep you comfortable. If your AC doesn’t do this and it is appropriately sized for your home, something is wrong. You have heard the advice to change your filters, keep it cleaned, and to have a smart thermostat, but did you know that air conditioners may also need to recharge? If your system has malfunctioned or has been damaged, your refrigerant may need to be recharged. Here’s what you need to know about recharging a home AC.

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Air Conditioner and Heat Pump Compressor Unit in Backyard that has common problems.

Common AC Problems

Throughout the years, we’ve seen and repaired a lot of AC problems. The more complex the system, the higher the potential for problems. Knowing the symptoms and what the problems are can potentially add a few years to the life of your system as you may be saving other parts in the process. Here is a list of the most common AC problems and their symptoms.

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A standard dehumidifier representing how a dehumidifier functions.

Do Air Conditioners Dehumidify?

dehumidifierIn the summertime, the heat brings humidity to many homes around the US. Humidity is a result of moisture in your home, which can come from a variety of sources. During summer, however, the weather brings moisture with it and combines with moisture you create in your home passively. Moisture can lead to health problems, such as allergic reactions to mold and mildew. Mold and other fungi are fond of wet areas, making your basement the ideal place to grow. Your AC does some dehumidification, but that’s not its primary function.

Air conditioners work by pulling air out of your home via return ducts, cooling the air, and then recirculating it throughout your home. But sometimes all your home needs is dehumidification. Along much of the East Coast, including Pennsylvania, Maryland, DC, Delaware, and New Jersey, a lot of our heat is unbearable because of the humidity levels in the air. The sticky, thick 90º weather is awful, but when the humidity finds its way inside our homes, sometimes all you need is the movement of air. Ceiling fans are a common choice in homes with temperatures around the upper 70ºs. A ceiling fan can reduce the temperature you feel in the room by up to 10º in some cases. But do air conditioners dehumidify your home or just cool it?

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A green grassy landscape and green leaves emerging from the top representing the green effects of geothermal heating and the maintenance it requires.

Geothermal Maintenance

One of the main benefits of a geothermal heating system, besides economic friendliness, is a relative lack of maintenance. A majority of the geothermal components are buried underground so much like a radiant underfloor heating system: What you can’t see you can’t maintain (because the parts shouldn’t go wrong). The lack of maintenance perception is a common misnomer because all heating systems need regular upkeep, especially ones that feature a conventional duct work and air handler as the geothermal pumps do. The required maintenance shouldn’t be a deal breaker in purchasing a system though, because the savings still produce roughly $5 of heat for every $1 of cost. Here’s just an idea of what you should do and expect to maintain those high savings ratios:

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A large pile of US dollars with blues skies in the background representing geothermal heat pump savings in Pennsylvania.

Geothermal Savings in PA (Tax Incentives, Grants, and More)

In recent years, geothermal heat pumps have gained popularity. However, the cost of installation for geothermal heating is still more expensive than other forms of heating and cooling. Don’t let this initial cost scare you, though, as the cost to run the systems over time will result in savings that pay for the system in full. Most families see savings of equivalent or greater value to the cost of the installation within 5-7 years.

The savings aren’t the only assistance available out there. The government is pushing for renewable energy sources in residential and commercial establishments. For many families, the only way they could install the system is with financial assistance. Fortunately, there are a lot of tax incentives for you to take advantage of out there, including federal and state tax incentives. Read More