How Cottonwood Damages AC Units

treeThe cottonwood trees are starting to release their fluffy cotton-like seeds, which can wreak havoc on not only allergy sufferers, but air conditioning units as well. As they begin to float and drift everywhere, they can become lodged in the outdoor AC unit, often creating a problem.

When too many of these fluffy seeds get sucked into the air conditioner, it can become clogged and begin to malfunction. The airflow needed to sufficiently cool the house is drastically reduced, making the system work harder. This uses more energy and wears down the air conditioner, damaging the equipment inside.

Eventually the system can even shut down from overheating, leaving homeowners with no AC, and the air conditioning unit likely damaged and in need of repairs. The condenser is usually the piece of equipment that gets damaged in this case, and might need to be replaced.

To prevent this, the outdoor AC unit will need to be professionally cleaned if there are cottonwood trees nearby. Even if there is minimal cottonwood fuzz that can be seen on the outside, it could have been sucked inside, already beginning to clog and damage the system.

If homeowners notice cottonwood flying around the yard and getting stuck on the AC unit, call Diamond Heating and Cooling as soon as possible. They can assess the situation and get the seeds cleaned out so no more damage is done. Also remember to clear away grass clippings and other debris from the outdoor air conditioning unit. Bushes and other foliage need to be at least three feet away to give the air conditioner sufficient room to work properly.

If the AC unit has already sustained damage from cottonwood seeds or other debris, Diamond Heating and Cooling will get the parts repaired or replaced to get everything back in working order so everyone stays cool in the summer heat.

Preventing Air Conditioner Fires

If an air conditioner is not regularly maintained and used properly, it can become a serious fire hazard. To avoid having the air conditioner start a fire, learn about the most common causes of air conditioning fires:

  1. Failure to Clean

The elements in an air conditioning unit need to be clean to work properly. If dust, dirt, and other debris accumulates in the vents, on coils, and on filters, it can obstruct the air flow. Diminished air flow can cause the unit to overheat and catch fire. Cleanliness is something Diamond Heating and Cooling looks at during their annual AC service.

  1. Faulty Parts

If the air conditioner is not clean, then it may not have been inspected in quite some time. This allows faulty parts and equipment to go unnoticed. Faulty parts can cause air conditioning fires when left until they stop working. Having Diamond Heating and Cooling come out once a year to check the air conditioner before the temperatures heat up can prevent this problem.

  1. Flammable Materials

Keeping items that are flammable near the air conditioner can put it at risk of catching fire. Keep leaves from accumulating near the air conditioner. Avoid storing gasoline and papers near the air conditioning unit too. A clear space of 3 feet around the unit is recommended.

The best way to prevent an air conditioner fire is to have Diamond Heating and Cooling inspect and service the air conditioning unit annually. We will check for faulty parts, make sure the unit is clean, in good repair and we can repair any issues that may be present.

To save on HVAC maintenance year-round, ask about becoming a Silver Club Member. For $13.50/month, Diamond Heating and Cooling comes out twice a year to perform maintenance. Silver Club Members also enjoy perks like 20% off repairs, guaranteed appointments with 24 hours, and much more.

Learning About MERV Ratings

To get the most out of your HVAC system, everyone says to look at MERV ratings. What exactly is MERV and why does it matter? Here’s the rundown:

MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. It’s essentially measuring the effectiveness of the air filter in question. A filter can have a MERV rating ranging from 1 to 16. The higher the rating, the fewer dust particles and other contaminants can pass through it.

When filters are tested for a MERV rating, they use common particles like pollen, dust mites, carpet fibers, mold spores, pet dander, and more. Most residential systems can remove airborne contaminants like those listed above with a filter that has a MERV rating of 7-12. Filters with a rating of 13-16 are generally used in hospital-type settings.

The higher the MERV rating, the less particles that can get through the filter. This means the most efficient filter must have the highest rating, right? Not exactly. Filters with higher MERV ratings have smaller pores, which lets less air through. It can create resistance in airflow that the HVAC system can’t handle. The system will then have to work harder to pump air through the filter, lowering the efficiency and increasing the energy bill.

Every HVAC system is different. Find out what MERV rating the system can handle and still allow for maximum airflow. This will help homeowners get the most out of the HVAC system and get the cleanest air possible.

It’s also worth noting that filters with higher MERV ratings need to be changed more frequently than those with lower ratings. Because these filters are catching more contaminants, they are more likely to get clogged and restrict the airflow. Be sure to check the filters frequently and change them often for the best results.

Not sure which filter is best? Talk to the technicians at Diamond Heating and Cooling when they come out for an annual HVAC check-up. They’re happy to help and educate their customers.

Hazardous and Non-Hazardous AC Smells

As the weather slowly gets warmer in Boise, homeowners are getting ready to turn off the furnace and preparing the AC for the months ahead. When the air conditioner is first turned on homeowners might notice some smells emanating from the system. Some of these smells aren’t cause for alarm, while some could be hazardous. Learn the difference below.

Non-Hazardous Smells

  • Musty

Homeowners commonly notice a musty odor, especially when turning on the AC for the first time in the spring. Lingering moisture or dust in the system might produce this musty smell. If the smell persists, you will want to have your duct work checked for evidence of mold

  • Something Rotten

It’s entirely possible a small animal has become stuck in the air ducts over the winter and is now deceased, causing the horrible smell. It’s not necessarily dangerous but something that homeowners will want to take care of right away.

  • Cigarette Smoke

If someone in the house smokes or did smoke, the smell might get stuck in the condenser coil. It will then blow the cigarette smoke smell throughout the house. Cleaning the coil is an easy way to fix this smell.

Hazardous Smells

  • Rotten Eggs

This is an indication of a natural gas leak. While the gas itself doesn’t smell, most companies put a rotten egg-like scent into it so that leaks can be detected. Get out of the house immediately and seek contact Diamond Heating and Cooling to check the air conditioning system.

  • Burning

If it smells like something is burning, there could be a mechanical problem. Call Diamond Heating and Cooling right away to get the problem repaired and avoid a potential fire.

  • Sewage

This isn’t a common smell coming from the AC. If a sewer-like smell comes through the vents, it could mean there is a backed up sewer line near the ductwork. A small amount of methane can produce this sewage smell.

Many of the issues associated with these smells can be prevented with annual AC maintenance from Diamond Heating and Cooling. If any of these smells are present when turning the AC on for the first time this spring call Diamond Heating and Cooling and right away. We are available 24/7 for all your heating and air conditioning needs.

Leave HVAC Repairs to the Pros

There are a lot of things homeowners can fix by themselves around the house, but repairing the HVAC system should not be one of them. Repairing HVAC systems can be dangerous for those who have not gone through proper training, and if something goes wrong it could have an expensive consequence.

Here are five reasons homeowners should Call Diamond Heating and Cooling for HVAC repairs:

  1. High Voltage Electricity

HVAC systems use high voltage electricity, which can be very dangerous and even fatal. Technicians go through training to learn how to deal with electricity to avoid injuries. Any amount of money a homeowner might save on a DIY repair is not worth the potential risks.

  1. Chemicals

Mishandled refrigerant chemicals can affect everyone in the home, not just the person doing the repair. By law, HVAC technicians need an EPA 608 certification to work on air conditioning systems. During this training they learn how to handle refrigerant and how to properly dispose of it.

  1. Wrong Tools

Technicians have special tools related to HVAC problems such as a refrigerant leak. For a homeowner to buy all of the necessary HVAC tools, it would cost much more than a service call for an HVAC professional.

  1. Complex Interworking

Each brand of HVAC system is unique. Homeowners who watch a video on repairing a system might not realize that their system is completely different than the one in the video. Diamond Heating and Cooling’s technicians are familiar with many different HVAC brands and their complex parts.

  1. Expensive Mistakes

If the system or any of its fragile parts become damage in a DIY repair attempt, it will cost the homeowner even more to get the problem fixed after calling in a professional. Save money by calling Diamond Heating and Cooling the first time.

If something goes wrong with the HVAC system, Diamond Heating and Cooling is just a call away. Save time, money and stay safe by letting our technicians take care of the problem.

Protecting the HVAC Unit from the Elements

With the Treasure Valley finally experiencing snow, it’s time to talk about protecting the outdoor HVAC unit from the elements. These units are built to withstand snow and ice, but they do have a limit. The outdoor unit requires air flow to work properly. If that is compromised by snow or ice, it could have a huge impact on its efficiency.

When snow accumulates on the HVAC system, it could melt and refreeze, leaving it a solid block of ice. Most furnaces have a built-in safety mechanism that shuts the furnace off when the vents are blocked. This prevents carbon monoxide from leaking into the house.

When the temperature outside is below freezing for a few days in a row, it’s a good idea to inspect the furnace vent pipe outside of the house. If there is frost on the pipe, scrape it off. If there’s a larger buildup of frost that isn’t easily scrapable, try using a hairdryer to melt it off.

Snow can accumulate quickly. During heavy snowfalls clear snow away from the vent’s opening. When clearing snow away do not use a shovel because it could damage the vent pipe.

Another HVAC item that can be damage by frost, ice or snow is the electric meter. If it is covered in snow, ice or frost, it could start to malfunction. This could cause the furnace to run less efficiently or shut down.

This winter, keep an eye on the frost, as well as snow and ice buildup around the outside HVAC unit. It could prevent the system from shutting off, carbon monoxide poisoning, and corrosion or rusting of the unit.

If the furnace does shut off unexpectedly, call the experts at Diamond Heating and Cooling. They are available 24/7 for heating emergencies to keep everyone in Boise and throughout the Treasure Valley warm this winter.

5 HVAC Sounds That Mean Trouble

When the HVAC system is working correctly, it’s generally pretty quiet. If homeowners are hearing sounds that aren’t normal, or the HVAC system is sounding louder than usual, it could be signaling a problem that needs to be fixed. Keep an ear open for these sounds:

  1. Squealing

If the blower motor is producing a squealing or screeching noise, it could be the result of a bad belt or motor bearing issues. The blower won’t turn if the belt is broken, so belts should be checked and replaced as needed.

  1. Clanking

Loud, banging noises generally point to an issue with the blower assembly or motor. A loose component in the system will create a rattling noise. If this happens, call Diamond Heating and Cooling to fix the loose or broken component.

  1. Thumping

If there’s a noise similar to a playing card hitting the spokes on a bicycle, something is impacting the blower blades. It could either be stuck or contacting something when the blower turns. This can cause the motor to wear out faster and need replaced sooner.

  1. Clicking

While clicking is usually a normal sound when the system turns on and off, if it is repetitive, there could be an issue. Repetitive clicking from the control panel or outside compressor could mean a relay is defective.

  1.  Rattling

If there’s a rattling sound when the fan turns on, there could be loose hardware or a failing motor. The seriousness of the issue can generally be measured by how loud the sound is. If the noise is more like a scream, the compressor could be failing.

Homeowners who hear any of the above sounds should contact Diamond Heating and Cooling. They will inspect the HVAC system and fix the problem. To prevent issues like this in the future, have the experts at Diamond Heating and Cooling regularly service the HVAC system. Regular service can help cut down on repair and energy costs.