Advantages of Variable Speed Air Conditioning Systems

Advantages of Variable Speed Air Conditioning Systems

The majority of all homeowners are familiar with that one room in the house – the one often avoided due to uncomfortable room temperature. Whether the room be freezing in the winter or a sauna in the summer, this temperature inconsistency is undeniably a household nuisance

These cold spots and hot spots are determined by various factors, depending on the home. One reason for the temperature inconsistency is that the home may be poorly insulated due to exposed ductwork in the basement or attic. Even if the ductwork is well-insulated, the house may not be, which will lead to drafts and uncomfortable room temperatures.

Variable Speed Air Conditioning System

Residents of the North Richland Hills area understand the annoyance that inconsistent temperatures cause, particularly throughout the scalding summer months. That is why upgrading too a variable speed air conditioning system is ideal to ensure comfortable indoor temperatures. Compared to the more traditional single-speed units, variable speed air conditioning boasts unparalleled advantages for maintaining the desired temperature throughout the house.

Single-Speed Unit versus Variable Speed System

Aside from consistent indoor temperatures, homeowners will experience better controlled humidity with this innovative air conditioning system – an important matter for those residing in the Fort Worth, Keller, and North Richland Hills area. Variable speed air conditioning systems operate efficiently in that they run for longer periods of time and at lower speeds. This is better than single-speed units that turn off once the desired temperature is reached. Since the single-speed systems are required to startup more frequently, they are worn down faster than a variable speed unit. Therefore, the variable speed air conditioning system boasts a longer life cycle because it starts at lower speeds, gradually working its way up to the desired speed.

Homeowners in the Fort Worth, Keller, and North Richland Hills area who are interested in learning more about the advantages of variable speed air conditioning systems may contact Top Gun Heating and Air. Top Gun Air is a full-service heating and cooling company in the Dallas – North Richland Hills metropolitan area, Texas. Top Gun offers air conditioning repair, air conditioning maintenance, heating repair, and HVAC installation. With a team of only experienced technicians, Top Gun ensures client satisfaction for all services offered in a timely and efficient manner.

Top Gun Heating and Air is available 24/7 and is eager to assist in any air conditioner repair or installation service required. Contact Top Gun Heating and Air to have your HVAC system running perfectly in no time.

The Case for HVAC Maintenance on Commercial Equipment.

The Case for HVAC Maintenance on Commercial Equipment.

As a business owner, one of your top priorities is controlling costs in order to increase profit margins. Increased profit margins lead to growth. While having a HVAC maintenance plan might seem counter productive to your goal of reducing overhead, its actually the opposite. A lack of maintenance can lead to large expenses from equipment breakdowns and repair costs. Not to mention loss of business from not maintaining a comfortable environment for your customers.

To overlook implementing an HVAC maintenance plan for your commercial equipment will be costly for you and your clients in the long run, heres why.

Regular preventative maintenance will result in greater efficiency for your equipmentIt will extend the life of your HVAC equipment if maintained at frequent intervals. ultimately prolonging the large capital expenses resulting from HVAC equipment replacement costs. It will help you forecast future major equipment replacement, and help you plan accordingly. Help Maintain a consistent, comfortable indoor environment. allowing your employees to be more productive and focused on the job. Maintaining proper indoor air quality will also reduce the number of employees calling in sick.

Be Proactive not Reactive With HVAC Maintenance

All it takes is a loose belt, or loose electrical connection to put a unit down for repairs. Time lost researching HVAC companies, or scheduling repairs during peak season can become a consuming task. Often times these situations can lead to more extensive damaged to units and more costly repairs.

Although business owners are astounded when a lack of maintenance results in a repair costing in excess of $5-6K, it ultimately could have been prevented. For example, replacing filters quarterly could save you the cost of replacing a failed compressor as a result of poor airflow across the coils of the system. The same could be said of a loose, or broken belt that had the same results. Maintenance costs a fraction of what most repairs amount to on commercial HVAC equipment.

What Does a Good HVAC Maintenance Plan Look Like?

Attention to details is everything. An experienced HVAC company will not only be able to reduce your operating and repair costs, but will customize a maintenance plan for you. The list that follows are some basic items you should expect to see on your HVAC maintenance plan

  1. Quarterly Filter changes

  2. Wash or replace economizer, and make-up air filters quarterly

  3. Check exhaust fans for proper belt tension and bearing wear.

  4. Adjust or replace belts bi- annually or as needed

  5. Lubricate bearings

  6. Inspection of blower wheels and sheaves

  7. Check blower motor rpm

  8. Check suction and discharge line pressure and temperatures

  9. Test all safeties for proper operation

  10. Check Crankcase heater operation

  11. Thermostat operation (this seems like a no-brainer)

  12. Inspect condensate pan, for proper drainage and cleanliness

  13. Check operation of condensate pumps.

  14. Inspect and tighten loose electrical connections at all terminals

  15. Check voltage and amperage on all motors

  16. Measure temperature split between supply and return air

This is just a short list that only addresses the cooling function of most commercial units. There is a equally long list for heating. As you can probably surmise, there is a lot of moving parts and things that can go wrong if not looked after and properly maintained.

The Right HVAC Company Makes all the Difference

The devil is in the details. Although commercial units operate on the same basic principles of refrigeration as your HVAC system does at home, they are not the same. Commercial and Industrial equipment is on a much grander scale with more controls and electrical circuits than your average residential system. A company who is experienced in working with commercial equipment is a must.

Most larger companies will hire younger technicians who have the majority of experience in working on residential equipment. A seasoned tech will be able to diagnose problems faster and ultimately help prevent more issues from arising just by knowing what to look for first. A good company will communicate effectively with you and present pricing for maintenance or repair work upfront.

A good company will help tailor their maintenance package to fit your budget and equipments needs. Experienced techs often encounter similar issues on similar brands of equipment. In addition they usually know where the best places are to source OEM parts quickly to save you time and money.

If you’re looking to implement a new HVAC preventative maintenance plan for your commercial or industrial equipment, don’t hesitate to contact us today. Top Gun Heating and Air specializes in commercial maintenance plans that match your equipment and budget.

Important Factors for Choosing Central Heating and A/C Uncategorized

Important Factors for Choosing Central Heating and A/C

Important Factors for Choosing Central Heating and A/C

Efficiency, size, ease of maintaining, are all important factors for choosing central AC.

Efficiency

This is the amount of electricity that is used to cool your house. Efficiency ratings for air conditioning systems is known as the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating (SEER). The higher the SEER, the more cost efficient, approximately 5% less energy per SEER. So a 10 SEER upgraded to a 16 SEER system will use roughly around 30% less energy, which in return will lower your electricity bill. The minimum SEER in our region (DFW) is 14, therefore 14 and above SEER is what you need to be looking for.

Size

Size matters! The rule of thumb for sizing is approximately 1 ton per for every 500 square feet. A manual J Heat Load calculation is the standard for sizing residential systems. different areas have different design temperatures and system needs. For sizing guidance, use the calculator on the Energy Star website. An over-sized AC system will quickly over-cool the air in your home and shut off too soon (known as short cycling). As a consequence, over-sized systems run for too short a time far too often, which uses too much energy and leaving you in a house full of unwanted humidity. It also causes unnecessary wear and tear on your system. Think freeway miles versus city miles on your car.  Having an undersized system, will cause your system to run excessively, because it never reaches the temperature set point being called for at the thermostat.  As a result, it wastes too much energy and never effectively cools your home.

Maintenance

Maintenance will ensure the highest efficiency of your Heating, Ventilating, and Air-Conditioning (HVAC) system.

Your HVAC will consist of either a furnace and A/C or a heat pump, which both heats and cools. Both types will have an interior unit (evaporator and blower) and an exterior unit (condenser coil and compressor). Maintaining these components will not only save money on energy, but you’ll also extend its lifespan, saving money on costly early replacement!  A service plan that combines regular inspections with repairs and a labor warranty is worth negotiating into the overall price. Prices for such a service vary widely.

Programmable Thermostats

A programmable thermostat can be a huge cost savings if you and your family are away from home during set times of the day. Through proper use of pre-programmed settings, a programmable thermostat you can save you up to 20% or about $180 every year in energy costs. Smart thermostats are thermostats that can interface with a homes wifi network and other devices like your phone, tablet, and computer. Some of these thermostats like the Nest, Ecobee, and Honeywell 9000 Series have cost savings features and algorithms built into their software that can reduce your energy bills.

Why Is My Air Conditioner Freezing Up?

Why Is My A/C System Freezing Up?

You’ve probably already guessed this isn’t a normal part of the operation of your air conditioning system and you would be correct in that assumption. If you’ve never experienced this, the idea can seem far fetched. After all, not many people are used to seeing a block of ice surrounding their compressor on a 95-degree summer day. Air Conditioning and Refrigeration systems freeze for different reasons depending on what is impacting what part of the refrigeration cycle (see below) These reasons can be listed under 4 different categories; airflow loss, refrigerant loss, mechanical, and temperature.

The first reason for you’re a/c system freezing is probably the most common. The freon pressures in your system rely on the absorption of heat in the evaporator section. This is typically transferred from air that is pulled in from your house into the air handler unit and across the evaporator coil. With a loss of air flow comes a drop in temperature below freezing at the evaporator section causing the water molecules in the air to form frost on the indoor coil which eventually builds into a layer of ice. The most common cause for airflow loss are listed below.

  1. Dirty filter at the return air duct on the system, or too restrictive of a filter (filters have a MERV rating, the higher the rating the smaller the particle it will filter)
  2. Burned out Indoor Blower Motor, or Motor that has too weak a capacitor to start the motor. Often times a humming noise can be heard at the air handler unit
  3. Bent, or Broken Blower Wheel unable to turn and provide airflow. A dirty blower wheel will often cause motors to fail prematurely and will not move enough airflow.
  4. A dirty evaporator coil, usually caused by the lack of a filter at the return, or too infrequent changing of the filter (very common) This requires the evaporator to be pulled and cleaned professionally
  5. Improperly sized duct work, crushed or collapsed duct, insulation blown loose in system blocking air flow. Improperly installed duct work
  6. Blocking of the return air grille either with furniture or other obstruction
  7. Too many Vents or Registers closed

The second category is refrigerant loss. This is another very common cause for a/c systems freezing over. Each system is charged with an exact amount of refrigerant or freon that is used to transfer heat from your home. Age of a system, improper installation, acidity of refrigerant, or manufacturing flaws can cause systems to leak refrigerant. The size and severity of the leak is situation dependent. Loss of pressure in the system cause the temperature of the refrigerant to drop below freezing temperatures and form ice on the evaporator coil and travel outside to the condenser via the copper lineset. In rare cases overcharging a system may result in no superheat and the air conditioning unit to freeze over.

Other causes of an air conditioning system freezing are mechanical related and are listed below.

  1. A clogged liquid line filter drier. Which is typically a result of a poor quality installation, and improper evacuation during installation of a central heating and air system.
  2. A kink in the liquid line, or restriction in the system at the TXV (thermostatic expansion valve) near the entrance to the evaporator coil.
  3. Liquid line valve not fully opened.
  4. A restriction in the metering device (see picture below) which can either be a fixed orifice, capillary tube system, or TXV with a faulty power head. This can also be related to poor installation practices and lack of filtering device installed in system.

 

The last cause for a air conditioning system freezing over is temperature. When we are referring to temperature in this circumstance we are typically talking about the outdoor ambient temperature. A low outdoor ambient temp can cause the pressures in the system to drop below normal and cause freezing of the air conditioner. This problem is typically resolved with a lockout device installed on the air conditioning unit by the manufacturer. Not all systems are equipped with this type of control though. Typically running you’re A/C system in outdoor ambient of below 60 degrees is not reccomended. Freezing can also occur when the indoor temperature at the thermostat is set too low. This puts unnecessary wear and tear on the system. On a residential system the indoor temperature should not be set below 68-70 degrees unless equipped with controls that prevent a freezing over situation.

When the air conditioning system freezes over it can cause the freon to return to the compressor in a liquid form and cause slugging of the motor. Modern scroll compressors are better equipped to handle this situation than older style units. However, it can still cause damage to the system and should be assesed by a professional if it ever occurs.

The friendly professionals at Top Gun Air can provid an honest assesment and leak detection service if needed. For scheduling of appointments check us out online. If you have questions regarding freezing of your system and would like to speak to one of our helpful, friendly staff, give us a call at (682) 214-0431. We hope you find this article informative and helpful.

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Why Is My Air Conditioner Blowing Warm Air?

In Fort Worth when your air conditioning system is blowing warm air, those words have probably crossed your lips or run through your mind as you fumble with the thermostat trying to revive that source of cool air. So what causes your A/C system to blow warm air? before you whip out your phone to google local air conditioning service providers, read the following.

There can be many causes of your air conditioning unit blowing warm air. We can’t cover all of them in this article, but we’ll address the most common ones.

1. Check your Thermostat. Is the display visible? if not, try changing the batteries, then check again. Are there loose wires or connections on the baseplate attached to the wall? Thermostat manufacturers include a wiring diagram if you get lost or are unsure of what goes where. Some thermostats have a time delay built in to them to prevent short cycling the compressor. Wait five minutes then check system again if you’ve recently raised or lowered the temperature

2. Check to see if your outdoor unit is running. Chances are, if this unit isn’t running you won’t be getting cool air. Your central heating and air conditioning unit is made up of different components. Residential a/c systems are usually called split systems. The outdoor unit houses your compressor and condenser fan motor. If the unit is dead, but you hear a humming sound coming from it. Check the breaker at main panel to ensure you have power going to the unit. Chances are most times, a capacitor has gone out on it. pull your service disconnect to kill power to condenser and inspect the condition of the capacitor (a silver cylindrical object in the control panel of condenser.) often times you can determine if its bad if it appears to be bulged out at the top. Other ways of testing involve a special meter designed to read capacitance, measured in mFd. When in doubt, change it out. Other causes of the outdoor unit not working are; a burned out condenser fan motor (intermittent, or non-functioning completely) a bad compressor, and a bad contactor.

air conditioning system, condenser, outdoor a/c unit, compressor

3. A dirty condenser coil can cause the compressor to go off on thermal overload. This condition is caused by lack of routine maintenance. be sure to have your A/C system serviced at least every year or two. Part of this maintenance should include washing the condenser coils on your air conditioning systems outdoor unit.

dirty condenser coil, ac system, air conditioning unit, central heating and air

4. Check Thermostat wire connections at outdoor unit. Dogs love to chew things. One of those things could be the low voltage control wires going to your outdoor unit. If you notice wires with bare copper showing or insulation peeling off them you may have suffered a short in the low voltage system. This can be a relatively inexpensive fix, but would require a professional’s assessment.

5. Look for ice build up on the line set running to the outside unit, or around the compressor. This can be a sign that your A/C system is running low on freon. The refrigerant you have in your system runs in a closed loop, and is a constant volume. Unless of course you have a leak in your system, or an excessively dirty air filter. This situation should be properly assessed by a local Fort Worth service professional. If its been a while since your last filter change, remove it from the system, and wait a couple hours before restarting the system. This is a very common condition found in many of the Fort Worth area homes. Often systems 10 years of age or older suffer from small leaks in the evaporator coils on your air conditioning unit. This causes the icing condition, which can restrict airflow coming from the vents.

Why Is My Air Conditioner Blowing Warm Air? Air Conditioning

There are many more causes of your A/C system blowing warm air that aren’t limited to restricted metering devices, bad printed circuit boards, improper thermostat programming,  and burned out compressor motors. All of the above will require a local service professionals diagnosis. If you are in the Dallas-Fort Worth area feel free to reach out to us by visiting www.topgunairtx.com or call us at (682) 214-0431. We are a local family owned and operated business that stakes our reputation on providing quality repairs. Long term customer retention is our highest priority. Given the opportunity to serve your family we guarantee not to disappoint. We take care of our people, by providing fast, reliable repair, at a fair price.

What Happens During a Air Conditioning Maintenance Visit? Uncategorized

What Happens During a Air Conditioning Maintenance Visit?

Air Conditioning Maintenance

 

All HVAC contractors would like their customers to sign up for long term maintenance contracts during which their company goes through a checklist of maintenance tasks. The problem is, is that most homeowners are unaware of the benefits of this maintenance, and what should be covered during these visits. Most homeowners would even assume that the company performing the maintenance should do everything that would prevent a breakdown during the heat of summer and are shocked to find out that is not often the case. In this post we hope to shed some light on the issues surrounding air conditioning maintenance and hopefully better equip you in knowing what to look for when choosing a local service company.

One of the most overlooked and critical aspect of maintenance for an air conditioning system is cleaning the outside condenser units coils. you wouldn’t tape cardboard to the front of your car radiator, blocking almost all airflow across it, and drive down the highway going a 100 miles per hours and expect efficient performance. Yet most Fort Worth homeowners are unaware that by not cleaning their outside units condenser coils will result in poor performance, high utility bills and sometimes catastrophic failure of your most expensive components. The condenser unit on all residential split systems is situated outside. It houses the compressor, condenser fan, and other control components. Its role is for rejecting the heat removed from the house through the median of the refrigerant that gets pumped through the system. As the compressor pumps the refrigerant through the  condenser coil, air is pulled across it by the condenser fan, cooling the high pressure refrigerant in a vapor state and condensing it into a liquid before it travels inside to the evaporator coil. If airflow is blocked by dirt, dust, pollen, animal air, or other debris, it can result in loss of efficiency and more importantly, less heat transfer to the air flowing across the coil. This results in your compressor having to work harder against higher temperatures and pressures in the system, which can then lead to complete failure or burnout of the windings. Typical repair bills for this catastrophic failure can range from $2,000 upwards of $5,000 dollars, YIKES!

What Happens During a Air Conditioning Maintenance Visit? Uncategorized

    The moral of the story is ask if this maintenance is needed for your system. Chances are if its been a while, or this is the first you’ve been made aware of this, its time to schedule a cleaning. This can often result in additional costs on your maintenance bill. Most basic maintenance packages only cover a short check list of electrical components and their operation at this time. The whole purpose of maintenance is preventative though and a good company should look out for the interest of the homeowner and make recommendations that provide solutions to things that could arise or become an issue in the future. These items may include things like, changing a motor run capacitor, replacing a contactor, tightening electrical connections, or shielding communication or power wires from potential damage. These types of repairs are typically preventative and although your unit may seem to be running fine, they could prevent you from going through the hassle of a costly breakdown in the summer. Typical repair costs in peak season surrounding smaller electrical components and controls can run you anywhere from $139-$600. Whereas during your maintenance visit, most contractors will discount the price since the work is completed during the time they’re already at your house.

Below is a sample checklist for preventative air conditioning maintenance. A similar list should be provided to you the homeowner so you know what has been completed and why. One of the best things to do is to ask questions and gain a better understanding about your air conditioning system and how it works.

OUTDOOR UNIT CHECKLIST

What Happens During a Air Conditioning Maintenance Visit? Uncategorized

meyer a/c preventive maintenance checklist Inspect unit for proper refrigerant level and adjust if necessary
meyer air conditioner annual maintenance Clean dirt, leaves and debris from inside cabinet
meyer air checklist Inspect base pan for restricted drain openings—remove obstructions as necessary
meyer air checklist Inspect coil and cabinet—clean as needed
meyer a/c preventive maintenance checklist Inspect fan motor and fan blades for wear and damage
meyer air conditioner annual maintenanceInspect control box, associated controls/accessories, wiring and connections. Controls may include contactors, relays, circuit boards, capacitors, crankcase heat and other accessories. All control box and electrical parts should be checked for wear or damage.
meyer air checklistInspect compressor and associated tubing for damage

INDOOR UNIT CHECKLIST

What Happens During a Air Conditioning Maintenance Visit? Uncategorized

meyer air conditioner annual maintenanceInspect and clean blower assembly (includes blower housing, blower wheel and motor)
meyer air checklistCheck blower housing for lint and debris and clean as necessary
meyer air checklistInspect evaporator coil, drain pan and condensate drain lines. Clean as needed
meyer air conditioner annual maintenanceInspect ignition system and safety controls—clean and adjust as needed
meyer a/c preventive maintenance checklistInspect control box, associated controls, wiring and connections
meyer air checklistClean or replace air filters
meyer air checklistInspect conditioned airflow system (ductwork)—check for leaks

     Although the above list will usually be covered in the basic maintenance agreement offered by most companies which can range from $50-$150 dollars depending on whats offered with it. There are still services that will incur an additional charge like cleaning the evaporator coils, outside condenser coils, or replacing components of the electrical control system. Consult with your local Fort Worth service provider about the condition of your system and what issues may need to be addressed.

If you are in the Dallas-Fort Worth area feel free to reach out to us by visiting www.topgunairtx.com or call us at (682) 214-0431. We are a local family owned and operated business that stakes our reputation on providing quality repair, installation, and service. 100% customer satisfaction is our highest priority. Given the opportunity to serve your family we guarantee not to disappoint. We take care of our people, by providing fast, reliable repair, at a fair price.

How Much Do Furnace Repairs Cost?

How Much Do Furnace Repairs Cost?

Top Gun Heating and Air is one of the best in the business when it comes to heating repair in the Fort Worth area. That being said, we guarantee that you will receive the absolute best service possible. We also won’t gouge you on the price. Now that the cold weather is coming, it is good to have a general idea of what it takes to repair a furnace. Service fees will typically run from $50 to $100 and could be more in the event of an emergency. The average cost for a furnace repair according to HVAC.com is around $300. This is for your typical maintenance and if a furnace is not routinely maintained could result in a lot higher repair costs.

Top Gun Air is completely transparent when it comes to pricing. We like to give our customers the best furnace repair pricing in the Fort Worth area.

Approximate Costs of Common Furnace Repairs

Companies may vary between HVAC companies. The average costs for a furnace repair is as follows according to HVAC.com.

  • Faulty ignitors: $300 – $400
  • Replacing the thermostat: $20 – $200+, depending on the new model you select
  • Flame sensors: $80 – $250
  • Furnace motor: $400 – $1,500, however could be more depending on the severity of the problem

Signs Your Furnace Requires Repair

Top Gun Air suggests that your furnace is routinely maintained so you can avoid the costly repairs. We can provide you with routine service at a cheap price. Think of this as getting our oil changed on your car. It needs to be done to avoid costly repairs. We don’t want it to be too late before you need to call us for an emergency repair.  If your heating system is not producing heat or is making weird noises then it may be time to call us. In the meantime, here are some things to pay attention to:

  • New or sudden noises such as grinding, screeching, hissing, rattling, or clanking
  • Bad smells such as rotten eggs or anything of that sort
  • Any smell of anything burning
  • The lack of heat produced by your heating system
  • Increased cost of your energy bill

To Repair or Replace a Furnace?

In the event that you experience a high repair cost of your furnace, it may be worth it into looking into replacing your heating system. If your heating system problems comes to this consider the following:

  • Age of your furnace: If your furnace is nearing 15 years old, it may be time to replace it with a new, more energy efficient system. Tax credits may be received when upgrading depending on the situation.
  • Cost of repairs: If the cost is near half of a new furnace, it may be time to replace your heating system. Typically new systems come with warranties that will help protect you with unforeseen costs
  • Frequency of repairs: If your heating system requires constant repair, it may be time to buy a more reliable system.

For any of these needs, Top Gun Air can help you. We will give you the best service for you Fort Worth heating repair. All you need to do is call us or request a quote. Click the link here to get started.

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What to Look For When Hiring a HVAC Professional

Working with Air Conditioning Contractors

When dealing with a breakdown of you central heating and air equipment, you don’t want to struggle finding honest, reliable help when you’re pressed to find relief from the sweltering heat or bitter cold. Right off the bat you should know you’re getting help from a qualified and skilled professional able to handle any repair or situation that is put before them. You might wonder who you can trust, and what you can expect them to do for you, or if its worth it to call a local service provider? These questions can be easily answered and give you the desired results for any service need you have. 

When Should You Call a Local Service Provider?

Some homeowners may attempt to fix their air conditioning system on their own without having a good understanding of how to deal with bigger issues. If you are attempting to work on your own furnace, air conditioning system or heat pump, look for these noticeable signs that may indicate a bigger problem that would be best handled by a professional.

Furnace

  • If your furnace is older, 15 years or more, it may need to be replaced. normally the first 4 digits of the serial number will give you the year and week of manufacturing. 
  • If it is making strange, abnormal noises. 
  • If cold air is coming out. 
  • If a carbon monoxide detector alarm is going off in your house. It is recommended that homeowners with natural gas appliances have several of these in bedrooms and other locations around the house. 

Air Conditioning System

  • If your air conditioning system is 15 years or older, it may be more cost effective to replaced it versus repair
  • If your system uses R22. The EPA has mandated that all manufacturing of R22 be stopped, driving up the cost and price per pound in your area. 
  • Continued breakdowns year after year may indicate a bigger problem that a contractor is better equipped to handle. 

Heat Pump

  • If either unit, indoor, or outdoor is not performing well
  • If temperatures are staying even throughout the house. 

Finding a Qualified Contractor

In this internet driven age, most homeowners will pull out their smart phone and research local contractors in their area. Many search engines like Google will provide all the information in a concise format, providing reviews, website info,  and contact information. Yelp is also a great resource for homeowners to peruse reviews and read feedback provided by the owner, or management of the company. Even companies with several bad reviews help homeowners see how the company handles conflict resolution, and helps you know what to expect. The number of reviews is not always the best representation of that companies customer service. Look at the quality of each review that describes the experience of the consumer. 

A quick search at https://www.tdlr.texas.gov will also provide you with information about a potential contractor. This is the governing and licensing agency for all contractors in Texas. All advertising material and websites should list the contractor’s license number. The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation will provide information about the licensee and their current status. The following guidelines below will also help you find a qualified, trustworthy contractor. 

Knowing Who to Trust

Most Homeowners want to find someone trustworthy, who is reliable and who they’re able to call in the future should the need arise. Here are a few tips to ensure you get quality workmanship from a contractor. Make sure they are qualified! A contractor that is licensed and insured will have no problems producing proof of such to a prospective customer. Don’t be afraid to ask if they are licensed and insured. Insurance is required by the state to protect both the contractor and the consumer. Knowing this information prior works out for both parties involved. If you can’t find this information readily available on their website (usually in the footer or bottom of the homepage near their contact info) don’t hesitate to ask. 

If a air conditioning contractor has additional certifications, that information will usually be present on their website. NATE technicians are the industry’s gold standard in technical proficiency. NATE stands for North American Technician Excellence. Testing and certification for NATE is rigorous and comprehensive, ensuring you’re dealing with someone who is able to proficient in troubleshooting and air conditioning system knowledge. 

The price of the contractor is important!

One of the greatest determinants for most homeowners when it comes to repairs, or replacement options for central heating and air conditioning is price. Neither the highest price or the lowest is an indication of quality, or value. Most contractors work very hard to minimize the cost or find a cost effective solutions that works for their customers needs. Smaller companies or family owned and operated outfits will typically provide high quality work, and be more competitive than larger companies that rely on a certain sales volume to cover the cost of their high overhead. 

Equally as important as price though is the warranty. You want the assurance of knowing your air conditioning repair is backed by the company that performed the work. This also shows that the contractor has faith in their own work as well.  A good contractor will also have a contingency built into most repair estimates, or may choose to offer you good, better, best options for repairs or replacement. Not every customer wants the same thing, or level of service on every call. A good contractor also will not typically discuss pricing over the phone until they have had a chance to survey the situation, or diagnose the issue

Size is Important

If system replacement is what you are looking for a contractor should provide a size assessment of your home. Ensuring your home’s air conditioning system is sized correctly is important for your comfort when it comes to single stage systems and base line models of air conditioning systems. Higher SEER rated equipment or multistage or variable speed equipment will provide superior comfort than most of the base line models, and also result in savings on your utility bill. A good contractor will provide several options and be able to explain the difference and benefits of each system. Ask about what methods the contractor used to determine the size requirement of the air conditioning system for your home. Manual J software, blower door tests, HERs raters(for new construction, required in certain areas)  and other technologies are used by quality contractors to determine this.

What Does a Contractor Do?

After you have found a contractor you can work with you may wonder what to expect next while they are working at your house. A contractor will typically carry out these tasks during installation, repairs or maintenance. 

  • Equipment should always be installed according  to the manufacturer’s specifications, using the industry best practices.
  • Connecting systems to different fuel and water lines.
  • Connecting air conditioning ducts and sealing to prevent air loss.
  • Installing electrical controls and wiring according to code
  • Performing tests on the equipment, and controls during and after startup

  • Inspect and asses any type of HVAC system.
  • Test individual parts of the system to isolate and diagnose what needs fixing.
  • Replace or repair whatever is broken or defective.
  • Performing routine maintenance to ensure the HVAC system is running efficiently throughout the year.
  • Replacement of filters and clearing of drain lines to maintain the efficiency of your system.
  • Cleaning of condenser coils yearly or quarterly
  • Cleaning of evaporator coils periodically or as needed. 
  • tightening electrical connections or lugs, or periodically replacing components that are worn and may cause greater issues down the road for components connected to the electrical supply. 

Quality Contractors will typically employ sophisticated tools that are essential to your systems function, performance, and reliability. They will also typically discuss best industry practices they employ to ensure the reliability of your system. Vacuum pumps, recovery machines, acetylene torches and combustion analyzers are tools typically employed by good contractors. 

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Central Heating and Air System Operation

A central heating and air system is complex and if you haven’t been trained to work on them, its likely you’ll have questions about their operation in your home. Most residential systems are split systems where the individual components are segregated to the indoor units and outdoor units.

How Does a Furnace Work?

Obviously you know the furnace in your home is responsible for burning a source of fuel to heat your home or business. HVAC questions are more centered around how it does this exactly. Most furnaces are what we call air to air furnaces, where they heats the air it circulates around your home and indoor spaces. Furnaces typically burn natural gas, oil, or propane to accomplish this. Air Handler units are part of a heat pump system which we’ll discuss later. These units use electric strip heat to heat the air it is circulating around your house to warm it. 

When you turn your thermostat to heat mode and set it to the desired temperature, a sequence of operations take place at the furnace. First the draft inducer motor is energized to create a draft in the heat exchanger that draws the combustion gases out and up a flue pipe venting outside the house. Second, a systems intermittent pilot light or electronic ignition is energized to ignite the burner. Once a flame is proven by the flame sensor, a temperature probe signals the blower motor to come on. As air is pulled from the return air ducts in your house across the heat exchanger, it is warmed and distributed throughout your home by ducts to supply registers. The system will remain on until the temperature set point at the thermostat is satisfied. The sequence of operations for the furnace is controlled by the main printed circuit board housed in the blower sections. Its also worth mentioning that the blower used for the heating cycle is the same used in cooling mode too.  Furnace control boards typically have a LED light that will flash error codes that can lead to the source of a problem. Sometimes these can be misleading though, and the best course of action at this point is to call your local HVAC service professional to diagnose the problem. 

Electric Air Handlers can either be stand alone or used in conjunction with a heat pump system. Like furnaces, this is where the blower for air distribution in your home or business is housed. Instead of a fossil fuel being burned though, the air handler uses electric heating elements controlled by the thermostat. In heat pump systems these electric resistance coils are used to “boost” the temperature and output of the heat pump system. When temperatures outside drop below 30 degrees or colder, heat pumps tend to operate less efficiently and so the heat strips will then be activated by the heat pump. Such operations are usually done automatically. Houses that use heat strips solely for a source of heat often have higher electric bills. 

How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

Many homeowners have questions about the air conditioning process and how their A/C unit works. There are typically four basic components that make up the air conditioning system. these are as follows: the compressor, condenser coil, evaporator coil, and metering device. The compressor and condenser coil are housed in a single outdoor unit technicians often refer to as the “condenser.” The evaporator coil and metering device are house inside, attached to the furnace and duct system. The compressor pumps the freon in vapor form to the condenser coil, where it is condensed to liquid form before traveling inside to the evaporator section. At the evaporator section the metering devices only allows a certain amount of refrigerant into the evaporator. Thereby changing the freon from liquid form to vapor/liquid and greatly reducing the pressure. This also causes the temperature of the freon to drop substantially. So when air is pulled across the evaporator coil, the heat from it is transferred to the freon causing it to “boil” back off to a vapor. The vapor moves back to the condenser unit outside where the process starts all over again. This process of air conditioning is the removal of heat from the inside of your house to the outdoors via the medium of the refrigerant. This is a constant loop and the process is repeated until the desired temperature is reached inside the home or business. 

How Does a Heat Pump Work?

 Finally, we get to talk about heat pumps and how they work. A Heat pump is a different kind of air conditioning condenser that has additional components and controls that create questions on how they operate. Using the compressor heat pumps offer both heating and cooling by moving heat from one ares to another. During the heating season, heat pumps extract heat from the outside (if we get real sciency with the definition of heat, then yes, technically there is still heat outside) and condense it using the medium of freon. Heat pumps are equipped with a reversing valve that pumps the high pressure, high temperature freon inside first to the evaporator coil. As air from the blower moves across it, it heats the air going into your home. Essentially in heating mode, your evaporator becomes your condenser, and your condenser becomes your evaporator, and the flow of freon is “reversed.” Simple right? In cooling mode, the flow of refrigerant is identical to the air conditioning process described in the previous paragraph. 

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The Phaseout of R22 and How it Affects You

The Phaseout of R22 and How it Affects You

Most homeowners have probably heard of R22 or its common name Freon. If you have an air conditioning system installed before 2010 and would like to know more, keep reading. Many air conditioning systems 10-15 years or older use a refrigerant called R22. Its commonly referred to by the EPA as HCFC-22. For the sake of simplicity we’ll call it R22 when we refer to it in this article.

The Montreal Protocol

R22 was first introduced to the industry in 1950s and became the leading air conditioning refrigerant for use in the HVAC industry. Decades later the United States realized that R22 refrigerant was aiding in the depletion of the ozone layer. So, the EPA in cooperation with other agencies groups around the world, initiated a phaseout of R22 and other ozone depleting agents. An international agreement known as the Montreal Protocol took place in 1987. Considered on of the worst offenders R22 was slated to be phased out along with others.

Phase Out Timeline: Where Are We Now?

Phaseout of R22 began in 2003, and carried on till 2010 when production and importation of R22 became prohibited. Existing equipment can still be serviced as long as supplies of R22 are available. However, by 2020 all production and importation of HCFCs and R22 will decrease by 99.5%. The only remaining sources for obtaining R22 refrigerant will be reclaimed and recycled ones. 

How Does This Affect Homeowners?

If you’re familiar with the concept of supply and demand, you’ve probably deduced that this means paying more out of pocket for A/C repairs. Older units often develop leaks and need repairs. Air conditioning systems older than 2010 often use R22 which means theres a high demand for it with a restricted supply. It doesn’t take a mathematician to figure out that price will increase due to scarcity of supply.

Part of the Montreal Protocol was to put in place stern regulations and a certification process for the recovery and recycling of R22. It also means that the general public no longer has access to purchase the refrigerant. Obtaining R22 requires certification by the EPA. In addition, requirements for importing, labeling, record keeping, reporting, destruction and reclaiming of R22 from existing systems increased costs.

Because of these regulations and the diminishing supply, the cost of R22 skyrocketed. This means that when your air conditioning systems develops a leak its usually game over due to the increased cost of sustaining the system. This is the main reasons most companies advocate for the replacement of these older systems. The longer you wait the more money may be wasted on trying to sustain an obsolete system.

How Do I Know if My Air Conditioner Uses R22?

If your system was installed before 2010 chances are it uses R22 as its refrigerant. However, if it was installed after January 1st, 2010 your system may not use R22. You can check the data plate on the outdoor system to help you identify whether or not your system uses R22. Most manufacturers labels identify which refrigerant is used in your system. Alternatively, you can check the user manual your system came with if you have access to it. Otherwise you can call your friendly services experts at Top Gun Heating and Air for an evaluation of your HVAC system, and we’ll be happy to help provide this info.

What Replaces R22?

The latest refrigerant technology that has replaced R22 is called R410a or Puron. These names can be used interchangeably, but for the sake of the article we’ll stick with R410a. The key benefits to switching from R22 to R410a are higher efficiency, and higher safety ratings. R410a has an ozone depletion rating of zero and performs slightly better in energy efficiency tests than R22.

Alternatives during the R22 Phaseout

There are a lot of HVAC contractors out there advocating drop in replacements for R22 refrigerant with alternative ozone safe drop-ins. Enter at your own risk when it comes to these seemingly easy solutions. Most homeowners anxious about fronting the cost of replacing their air conditioning system may seek out alternatives like these. It will typically cost you more in the long run that it would if you simply decided to replace the whole system. These drop-in refrigerants are never meant to be mixed with the existing R22 in the system. This can cause poor system performance and damage to internal components of compressors. They are only meant to be used if the entire charge of the system is recovered and replaced with the drop in. This may even include additives that aid in oil return to compressor.

More often than not many HVAC contractors don’t follow the manufacturers guidelines when it comes to R22 drop in replacements. The end result is usually more damage to an already older system, or terrible performance. Neither of these outcomes are acceptable for homeowners or quality contractors alike. This should be considered no more than a temporary band aid or short term solution. Ultimately, if your air conditioning unit requires the addition of refrigerant there are much bigger issues on the table.

What Do I Do if my A/C uses R22?

At Top Gun Heating and Air we make financing available to all our customers and always discuss different pricing and options that can make replacement affordable. Also, we notify our customers when manufacturer or utility rebates are in effect that could help save you money on your purchase. Its always smart to consider preemptive replacement versus emergency replacement in the summer during peak demand. Often times installing and air conditioning system during this time will take longer and cost more.

Only air conditioners made for the refrigerant R410a are being manufactured today. If you are seeking parts for use in an R22 system you may be disappointed to find that they are not manufactured anymore. Depending on what part of the system you’re trying to replace it may cost more than replacing the entire unit. Because of this, we recommend replacement as the best long term value. Investing in a new HVAC system will also carry with it the value of a 10 year manufacturers warranty.

The EPA only regulates the production and use of R22, not your current air conditioning system. Be wary of HVAC companies that advise you to replace solely based on the fact that it uses R22. This alone is not a good reason for replacement, especially if the repair is related more to an electrical, or controls problem and not the components of the refrigeration process.

Let Us Help

While making the transition to an approved A/C refrigerant may be stressful, you’re joining with thousands of homeowners all over Texas that are helping protect the ozone layer above earths atmosphere. All the while reducing the strain on the electrical grid by upgrading to a more efficient HVAC system. If you’re unsure as to the condition of your current heating and cooling system, reach out to the experts at Top Gun Heating and Air.

We can help you make an informed decision, and educate you on the different options available for your home. Superior home comfort and efficiency is just around the corner.