From the Blog

Why my filter gets so dirty?

As a homeowner, you probably already know that replacing your AC air filter is a recurring job.

The simple rule is to replace them as soon as they get dirty.

But how do you know when you’re replacing them too frequently (and wasting money on replacement filters)?

The answer really depends on the kind of filter you’re using.

How often you should replace your air filter

In general, the higher an air filter’s MERV rating, the more frequently you’ll need to replace it. So consider your filter’s rating if you think you’re replacing your filter too often.

Every filter has a MERV rating that refers to how many air contaminants it can catch. The higher the number (between 1 and 20), the fewer contaminants can pass through it.

Need a quick lesson on MERV ratings?

Now let’s take a look at the kinds of air filters available:

Fiberglass

These filters are typically 1” thick and made from spun fiberglass. Fiberglass filters typically need to be replaced about once a month.

Pleated

These filters are made from polyester or paper material. Pleated filters come in a variety of widths (typically from 1 to 6 inches thick).

In general, pleated filters should need to be replaced every 3 to 6 months.

Electrostatic

These filters technically never need to be replaced because they are washable. Air contaminants are trapped between positively and negatively charged materials.

You can expect to vacuum or wash your electrostatic filter at least once a month.

HEPA

HEPA filters are used in most home air purifying systems. They capture the most air contaminants and should be replaced every 12-18 months.

Why you’re replacing your filter more often

There are a number of reasons your filters get clogged and dirty more frequently than they should. Let’s take a look at some of them.

You’re leaving your thermostat fan set to ON

There are 2 options when it comes to your AC fan: AUTO and ON.

When you set your fan to ON, it runs 24/7. And when the air in your home circulates through your filter and AC system non-stop, it’s going to pick up dirt and air contaminants at a much faster rate.

What to do: Choose the fan setting that fits your situation and priorities.

If you have allergy and asthma sufferers in your home and you use a HEPA filter, use the ON setting while you’re home to remove more airborne contaminants and improve your air quality.

If air quality is less of a priority for you and your family, use the AUTO setting. This setting uses less energy, prevents indoor humidity and means you’ll need to change your filter less frequently.

You have many guests and/or pets

More people walking into your home increases the amount of dirt and contaminants in your home. Furry pets also introduce hair, dirt, and pet dander.

And the more contaminants floating around in your home, the faster your filter gets dirty.

What to do: Consider investing in a whole home air filtration system. These advanced filtration systems pick up the contaminants left behind by guests and pets but also have a long service life.

You have leaky air ducts

Leaks in your air ducts introduce dust and dirt from areas like your attic. The more dirt a leaky duct system brings into your home, the more dirt your air filter accumulates.

What to do: Have your ductwork inspected by a professional.

They’ll be able to either repair or replace your duct system to ensure your ducts are leak free, keeping your utility bills lower and preventing you from replacing your filter frequently.

Note: If you have leaky ducts, the unfortunate truth is that you are wasting money every month. According to ENERGYSTAR, the average home loses 20-30% of conditioned air through duct leaks.

3D Air Services proudly serves Birmingham, Hoover, Pelham, Alabaster, Helena, Calera and everywhere in between.

For more information you can reach us at 205-664-3501


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How You Are Killing Your Air Conditioner

How You Are Killing Your Air Conditioner

Every summer we get calls from Birmingham homeowners who have accidentally killed their air conditioners.  Yes, it is true on How You Are Killing Your Air Conditioner.

The cause of death? Suffocation.

Air conditioners, like people, can suffocate when you restrict the airflow in or out of them. So how do homeowners suffocate their air conditioners? Well, there are 3 common ways.

Covering your air conditioner’s outdoor unit

Decorative AC Cover

Photo Credit Menards.com

Why this is bad: The outside unit’s job is to dump heat from your home to the outside air. And to do this efficiently, it needs a lot of air. A decorative cover (like the one below) restricts airflow to the air conditioner and can kill your AC’s compressor.

The compressor is the heart of your air conditioning system. If it dies and isn’t covered by warranty, the repair will be very expensive. In many cases, you’ll be better off replacing the whole outdoor unit.

A decorative AC cover that will kill your compressor. Do NOT buy!

How to fix it: Remove anything blocking airflow to your outdoor air conditioner unit, including bushes, overhanging tree branches or decorative covers.

Not changing the air filter

dirty_air_filters

Photo Credit unitedfilter.com

Why this is bad: When your air filter gets too dirty, the dirt blocks airflow into the air conditioner. This makes your air conditioner work harder to distribute air. And that can cause problems like:

  • Overheated indoor fan motor overheating
  • Frozen air conditioner (literally)
  • Dead compressor
  • How to fix it: Change your air filter regularly. We recommend checking it every month and changing it whenever it looks dirty.

Notice how the filter on the right is looking dirty? Replace it now.

Closing air vents

Why this is bad: Closing vents in your home is bad for the same reason that a dirty filter is bad: it makes your air conditioner work much harder than it should. And it leads to the same problems:

  • Overheated indoor fan motor overheating
  • Frozen air conditioner (literally)
  • Dead compressor
  • Find out more about Why You Shouldn’t Close Your Air Conditioning Vents to Save Energy

How to fix it: Keep your air vents open. And make sure none of them are blocked by furniture or drapes.

Prevent summer AC deaths with a tune-up

So that’s how you can prevent accidentally killing your air conditioner. But there’s more you can do to prevent a breakdown. Have a professional take a look at your air conditioner and get it ready for summer. Schedule an AC tune-up with 3D Air Services.

3D Air Services proudly serves Birmingham, Hoover, Pelham, Alabaster, Helena, Calera and everywhere in between. Give us a call to schedule your appointment 664-3501

Unbalanced room temperatures?

With the heat fast approaching here in Birmingham,  it maybe time to start dealing with the unbalanced room temperatures again.  Here are some things to look at to help you’re air conditioner not over work.

If you’ve got a room or two that’s colder or hotter than others in your home, then you have one (or both) of these two problems:

  • Air balancing/airflow issues
  • Losing/gaining too much heat in that room

Air balancing is the process of adjusting the amount of cooled and heated air being delivered to each room in your home. Due to improper installation, your system may be unbalanced. Or you may have accidentally done something that’s impeding airflow to certain rooms in your home.

Heat gain/loss is inevitable for every room in your home. But some rooms gain/lose too much heat due to a variety of issues.

In this article, we’ll explain problems that fall into one of these two categories, and then explain how to fix them.

 

Problems you can solve

Dirty filter
A dirty filter blocks return airflow into your heating and cooling system, preventing enough air from being delivered to other rooms. Change the filter if it looks like this one on the right:


Clean filter (left) next to a dirty filter (right)

 

Closed/blocked supply air vents 
You know all those metal grates with levers? Those are supply air vents. Find them and ensure that they’re open. Also, make sure they’re not being blocked by dust, drapes or furniture.


A supply vent that’s open—as it should be.

 

Windows are open or cracked open
Open windows allow your conditioned air to leave and unconditioned air to get inside. Make sure the window is fully shut.

Leaving shades open 
While open shades gives you a nice view and plenty of sunlight, it also allows heat to come and go as it pleases in your home. This causes the room where the window is located to be hotter or cooler than others. By shutting the shades, you’ll keep out more heat in the summer and keep more of it inside during the winter.

Problems an HVAC professional needs to fix

Air duct leaks 
The room may be too hot or cold because too much air is being lost through the duct system due to air leaks.

This problem is pretty common. According to ENERGY STAR, the typical house loses 20-30% of the air that’s moving through the duct system due to leaks, holes, and poorly connected ducts. The result? Higher utility bills and difficulty keeping the house comfortable, no matter how the thermostat is set.


Leaks in the supply ducts.

 

Kinks in flexduct
Flexduct is soft ductwork that can bend. If that ductwork gets smushed or kinked, it’ll struggle to deliver air to whatever room it’s connected to. Think of moving air through kinked flexduct like trying to breath through a straw where someone has pinched the straw in the middle.


Some flex duct in a ceiling.

 

Duct damper issues
Duct dampers are valves that control where air can and cannot go in your home. Issues with these dampers can cause your home to be unbalanced, causing some rooms to be hotter or colder than others.

Old, leaky single-pane windows
Single-pane windows (those with only a single layer of glass) often leave your rooms feeling chilly and dry in cold weather and overheated in warm weather. See a window professional about replacing them with energy efficient double-pane glass windows, which have two layers of glass.

Fan speed too slow
A professional may need to speed up your blower’s rpm to match the demand of your home.

3D Air Services proudly serves Birmingham, Hoover, Pelham, Alabaster, Calera and everywhere in between.

For all other questions you can call us at 664-3501 or email us at service@3dairserve.com

Struggling air conditioner?

It’s fixing to be hot here in Birmingham, real hot!

And if you’re finding out that your air conditioner can’t keep up, we’ve got you covered. Here are 2 steps to helping improve your AC’s cooling abilities.

Step 1: Keep the heat out

Your air conditioner removes heat from your home. So any time you let heat back in, you’re making it work harder than it needs to. Here are some tips to keep the hot air outside.

Keep windows and doors shut. When you’re leaving, quickly walk through the door and shut it behind you. And it should go without saying that your windows should be closed, also.
Block out the sun. A lot of heat makes its way into your home through your windows. Keep it out by using solar screens and heavy-duty curtains.
Seal air leaks. The areas in your home that are air conditioned should be as air-tight as possible. Take a look in your crawlspace, basement or attic for major air holes like these in the building envelope.
Try some no-cook meals. Your stove and oven create a lot of heat in your home. Try some no-cook meals and use your microwave instead of your oven.

Step 2: Make your air conditioner’s life easier

Next, you need to make sure your air conditioner is operating as efficiently as it can so that it can get you as much cool air as possible. That means:

Change the air filter. Too many homeowners leave their air filter in their AC way too long. This blocks air flow and basically suffocates your air conditioner.
Fix leaky and disconnected ducts. It’s possible that your ducts lose 30% of the air traveling through them because of leaks and other problems. So instead of cooling your home, that air is cooling your attic or other unconditioned space.
Clear the space around your outside unit. Tall weeds, shrubs, bushes and debris around your outside air conditioning unit decreases airflow, making it difficult for the unit to ‘dump’ the heat from your home.
Get the AC professionally cleaned. If the coils in your air conditioner get dirty, they can make it more difficult for your air conditioner to cool your home. It’s one of the reasons most manufacturers recommend an annual AC tune-up.
Open up ALL the vents. Don’t close vents in unused rooms. Closing vents to lower energy bills is dated advice that should be ignored.

3D Air Services proudly serves Birmingham, Hoover, Pelham, Alabaster, Calera and everywhere on between. For questions call is at (205)664-3501 or email us at service@3dairserve.com

Air conditioner blowing hot?

Trying to stay cool in an Birmingham home, There’s nothing worse than sitting in your home and realizing that your air conditioner is blowing hot air–especially during the sickeningly hot summer months.

Even though It’s not summer yet, you don’t want to look for answers for why your air conditioner isn’t working when you’re burning up inside your home. It’s best to know the reasons ahead of time so you’ll know how to avoid them or when to call a professional.

So what causes this annoying phenomena? Here are 4 common reasons:

1) Thermostat turned to heat mode

Ok, this might be a huge “duh” but if you’re getting hot air, you might have accidentally flipped your thermostat to “heat” mode. It happens to all of us. If that’s the case, switch it back to “cool” and you’re good to go.

2) Dirty evaporator coil caused by a dirty air filter

Chances are, your thermostat is set to cool, and you’re still getting hot air. Now what?

The cause could be a dirty evaporator coil caused by a dirty air filter. This keeps your air conditioner from properly cooling your home. You can change the filter, but you’ll need a professional to clean the evaporator coil.

3) Outside AC unit not properly maintained

Walk outside and look at your air conditioner’s outside condenser unit. What do you see?

Is there anything blocking the condenser coils air flow? Are they blocked with dirt and debris?

If so, this seriously impacts your air conditioner’s cooling ability.

Cleaning the condenser coils needs to be a regular activity during the summertime.

4) Low on refrigerant/Freon

This is the usual culprit. Your air conditioner needs a proper refrigerant (usually Freon) charge to cool your home.

So a Freon leak can leave you feeling the heat since you’ll have a complete loss of cold air.

You can tell if your air conditioner doesn’t have enough Freon if ice forms on the inside and outside units.

Getting a Freon charge is best left to a professional.

Get AC maintenance done during the spring

Keeping an eye on these problems will not only will this keep your air conditioner from blowing hot air, it will also prevent a costly breakdown. And the last thing you want is a breakdown during summer.

So it only makes sense to get preventative maintenance done during the spring before it gets too hot.

3D Air Services proudly serves Birmingham, Hoover, Pelham, Alabaster, Calera and everywhere in between.

Closing Vents

There’s some old, bad advice out there that says you should close off your air conditioning vents in unused rooms. This, they say, will help you lower your energy bills by only cooling the rooms in your home that you actually use.

While this sounds good in theory, it can actually have the opposite effect—and worse.

Closing vents, at best, increases energy consumption and, at worst, leads to premature breakdown of your AC.

Let’s look at 3 reasons why this happens.

Reason #1: Closing vents restricts airflow

When your air conditioner was installed (assuming it was installed correctly) its airflow was “balanced”. That means the installers made sure your air conditioner has enough air flowing in and out of it to properly cool your home.

Closing vents disrupts this balance and creates pressure in your system, which causes your air conditioner to work harder. This can increase your energy bills and even lead to premature breakdown of your AC if you close too many vents.

Reason #2: Your air ducts make it worse

In addition, this increased pressure places strain on your air ducts. And since many homes’ air ducts are already leaking (according to Energystar.gov), the increased pressure causes the ducts to leak even more.

So the air you thought you were saving is actually going into your attic or crawlspace.

Reason #3: Your interior walls aren’t insulated

Another reason to consider not closing your vents is that your interior walls aren’t insulated.

Here’s why that’s a big deal.

Let’s say you close off the vents in 2 rooms. They’ll get warmer since there’s now no AC running to them. That heat will transfer into the nearby rooms through the un-insulated walls and under the door. So now your air conditioner has to run longer and harder to keep the other parts of your home cool.

3D Air Services serves Birmingham, Hoover, Pelham, Alabaster, Calera and everywhere in between.

 

Indoor air quality & asthma.

Does anyone in your family suffer from asthma? If so, you probably know that symptoms of the disease can vary depending on a person’s surroundings. There are certain triggers that bring on asthma symptoms, and the key to making the condition more manageable is limiting a person’s exposure to those triggers, especially at home. Today we’re going to talk about how cleaning your home’s air can eliminate asthma triggers and help improve the symptoms for anyone in your home who suffers from asthma!

Asthma triggers that are commonly found at home

People are exposed to asthma triggers via contaminants in the air that they breathe. Often times, those contaminants are present in higher quantities indoors than they are outdoors. That’s because homes and buildings tend to be tightly sealed, which traps contaminants inside with nowhere to go.

Some of the most common asthma triggers that are found in the air in homes include:

Dust mites
Pet dander
High humidity
Chemicals from cleaners and other household products
How to clean your home’s air and reduce asthma triggers

By removing the asthma triggers listed above from your home’s air, people in your home who suffer from asthma will breathe much easier and asthma attacks can be much less frequent. Some of the best strategies for cleaning your homes air and removing asthma triggers include:

Installing an air cleaner. A standard air filter’s primary job is to protect your furnace and air conditioner from dirt buildup. As a side effect of that job, it can remove small quantities of asthma triggers from your home’s air. However, a standard filter is not nearly as effective at removing contaminants from your home’s air as an air cleaner, which is designed with the health of your family in mind. An air cleaner can remove up to 99 percent of the asthma triggers in your home’s air, including tiny contaminants that would flow right past a standard air filter. Installing an air cleaner is the number one way to relieve asthma symptoms at home.
Changing your air filter regularly. If you do have a standard filter installed in your home, it’s important to change it on a regular basis. If your filter is dirty, it will not effectively remove asthma triggers like dust and pet dander from your home’s air. Check your filter once per month and change it as needed.
Keeping your home clean. Another good way to keep your home’s air clean is to remove contaminants at their source. About once per week, perform routine cleaning tasks like vacuuming, wiping dusty surfaces (with a wet rag rather than a duster) and washing your bedding. This will limit the amount of asthma triggers that can get carried away into your home’s airflow.
Taking good care of your cooling system. High humidity is a known asthma trigger, and one of the best ways to keep your home’s humidity levels under control is to take good care of your air conditioner. That’s because common problems like dirty cooling coils and a clogged condensate drain will impair your system’s ability to remove moisture from your home’s air. Make sure to get your air conditioner tuned-up once per year and give 3D Air Services a call as soon as you expect any problems with your  system.

3D Air Services recommends a indoor air quality or IAQ package of the Aprilaire Air Cleaner matches with the Guardian Air Purifier. The Aprilaire greatly reduces dust and the Guardian kills mold, bacteria, & viruses in the air.

 

For any other questions call us at    664-3501 or email us at service@3dairserve.com

We serve Birmingham, Hoover, Pelham, Alabaster, Helena, Calera and everywhere in between.

 

Air conditioner length of life?

A new air conditioner is a big investment for your home, so you likely want to get the longest life possible out of the system that you install. There are many factors that determine how many years your air conditioner will end up lasting, and they span from the day your system is installed to its final day of operating. Today we’re going to help you control those factors by talking about how to increase your air conditioner’s life expectancy!

What is an air conditioner’s typical life expectancy?

Generally speaking, an air conditioner’s life expectancy is about 15 years. If you follow all of the advice below, your air conditioner will almost certainly last that long, if not a bit longer. If you do not follow one or more of the tips below, your air conditioner will have a much less likely chance of reaching 15 years. The more of the factors below that you neglect, the less amount of time your system will last.

How to increase your air conditioner’s life expectancy

Choose a high-quality system. There are many different makes and models of air conditioners, and some are much better than others. A high-quality air conditioner from a trusted manufacturer will last longer than a cheaper and low-quality system. 3D Air Services installs an elite brand of air conditioners called Carrier, which are proven to be durable, reliable and high-performance systems. In addition to the brand and model you choose, adding advanced features like two-stage cooling and a variable speed air handler will help increase your air conditioner’s life expectancy because they will minimize the amount of stress your system undergoes throughout its lifetime.
Choose a high-quality contractor. Even if you choose one of the best air conditioners on the market, your system will not last as long as you expect if it’s installed by a low-quality contractor. Factors like the size of your air conditioner, the quality of work performed by your installers and where your condenser unit is placed all contribute to whether or not your system is installed properly. An air conditioner that’s installed by a low-quality contractor will not last nearly as long as the same system that’s installed by a certified, trusted and high-quality contractor like 3D Air Services.
Keep your system well-maintained. One of the leading factors that determine an air conditioner’s life expectancy is how well the system is maintained throughout its lifetime. You wouldn’t go years without changing your car’s oil or rotating its tires, and the same logic should extend to your home’s cooling system. The two most important maintenance tasks that you are responsible for as the owner of an air conditioner are to change your air filter regularly and schedule annual tune-ups every single year. By keeping a clean filter installed and having professional maintenance performed annually, you can increase your system’s life expectancy by a matter of years.
Avoid mismatching parts. Although it’s possible to replace your a/c without replacing your furnace at the same time, it’s not recommended. That’s because your furnace and air conditioner share some of the same internal parts, and running a new air conditioner with some older components will decrease its lifespan. This is easy to avoid if you always replace your furnace and air conditioner at the same time.
Minimize your system’s workload. The less work your air conditioner has to perform throughout its lifetime, the less wear-and-tear it will go through and the longer it will last. You can minimize your air conditioner’s workload by following our summer energy-saving tips and by using a programmable thermostat to ease to the stress on your system on a daily basis.

For any other questions call us at    664-3501 or email us at service@3dairserve.com

We serve Birmingham, Hoover, Pelham, Alabaster, Helena, Calera and everywhere in between.

 

 

Air Conditioner placement

One of the reasons why it’s so important to work with a high-quality contractor for all of your air conditioner installations is because there are many decisions that need to be made that can affect the overall performance of your new system. One such decision is where to place your air conditioner’s condenser unit. Today we’re going to talk about why the placement of your condenser unit is so important and the things we consider when choosing where to put your unit!

Why is condenser unit placement important?

While the indoor portion of your air conditioner is responsible for removing heat from your home’s air, its job would be useless without the outdoor condenser unit. That’s because the condenser unit takes the heat that was removed from your home and actually expels it to the air outside. Without the condenser unit, the heat from your home would have nowhere to go!

If your condenser unit is not placed properly, it will not be able to do its job effectively. That means that your air conditioner will not be able to adequately cool down your home’s air, which will make your home uncomfortable, raise your energy bills and increase the likelihood of your system breaking down.

What should be considered when deciding where to place your condenser unit

Should the unit be placed outside or in an attic or garage? This should not even be a consideration unless you are working with a low-quality contractor. Such a contractor might suggest putting your condenser unit in an attic or garage in order to shield it from the elements outside, hide it from view or “save energy.” A condenser unit should always be placed outside where it has unlimited access to outdoor air. Placing a condenser unit indoors in an attic or garage will reduce your system’s air supply, which will limit the amount of heat that it’s able to remove from your home. In addition, placing a condenser unit indoors will cause the space around it to heat up, and that heat can radiate into your home’s living spaces.
Will the unit have adequate airflow? Your condenser unit should be placed in a space that allows it to breathe freely. This means there should not be any large obstructions within at least 3-4 feet of your unit. If your home has multiple condenser units, they should be placed far enough away from each other that they do not hinder one another’s airflow. If your condenser unit is placed near plants or bushes, the vegetation should be trimmed back to allow for enough airflow. In addition, you should avoid building a fence or deck around your condenser unit. If you do choose to do that, there should be enough openings in the surrounding structure to allow air to flow in and out.
Will the unit be shielded from the sun? This isn’t as important as the previous two considerations, but it is still something to consider. The more shade you can provide for your condenser unit, the less of a chance it will have of overheating. Placing the condenser unit on the east or north side of your house will help limit its exposure to the sun. If your unit has to be put somewhere where it will not receive a lot of shade, you can consider building an awning over it or planting a shade tree nearby.

For any questions call 664-3501 or email us at service@3dairserve.com

3D Air Services serves Birmingham, Hoover, Pelham, Alabaster, Helena, Calera and everywhere in between.

 

How many degrees a air conditioner will cool down?

There’s nothing quite like walking inside on a hot and muggy day and feeling that cool relief of an air conditioned home. By maintaining a much lower temperature in our home  than the temperature outside, our air conditioners are what make the hot summers in the Birmingham area manageable. But how much of a temperature difference can your air conditioner actually achieve between indoor and outdoor air? Today we’re going to talk about the maximum temperature drop that your air conditioner can handle between indoor and outdoor air what implications that has on your home’s thermostat settings!

How much can an air conditioner drop the temperature in your home?

Have you ever looked at your thermostat on an extremely hot day and noticed that it’s a few degrees warmer in your home than where your thermostat is set? You might think your air conditioner is just catching up, so you wait a few minutes while your system is running and check your thermostat again. To your surprise, it’s still warmer in your home than it’s supposed to be! Does this mean that your air conditioner isn’t working properly? Not so fast!

When air blows over your air conditioner’s cooling coils, the temperature of the air drops about 20 degrees. If your system were to cool down the temperature of your air any lower, the air coming out of your vents would be frigid and uncomfortable. What this means is that your air conditioner supports a maximum temperature drop of about 20 degrees between supply and return air.

On most days, a 20 degree temperature drop is perfectly fine and your home will stay right around the temperature at which you set your thermostat. On extremely hot days, however, your air conditioner might not be able to cool down your home to its normal temperature. If it’s 100 degrees outside, for example, your air conditioner might only be capable of cooling your home down to 80 degrees (although likely a bit lower since your indoor return air is usually cooler than the air outside).

Take an air conditioner’s maximum temperature drop in consideration when setting your thermostat

Now that you know about your air conditioner’s maximum temperature drop, you can use that information to choose the right thermostat setting when it’s extremely hot outside. If you know it’s going to be a very hot day, consider raising your thermostat setting a few degrees to ease the load on your air conditioner. This will help prevent your system from overheating and breaking down on a day when it’s already working overtime.

The worst thing you can do on an extremely hot day is to set your thermostat temperature even lower than usual in an attempt to make your home cooler. All this will do is force your air conditioner to work non-stop and will greatly increase the likelihood of something going wrong.

For any other questions call us at 664-3501 or email us at service@3dairserve.com

3D Air Services serves Birmingham, Hoover, Pelham, Alabaster, Calera and everywhere inbetween.