What Causes Short Cycling?

When the furnace starts and stops frequently, it is call short cycling. This decreases the furnace’s efficiency and could be a sign of a serious furnace issue. However, the most common source of short cycling is a clogged air filter. Check the filter first, replacing it if necessary. If that doesn’t stop the short cycling, it could be one of the following problems causing it:

  1. Thermostat Location

If the thermostat has been poorly located, it can cause short cycling to occur. It should be placed away from drafts, effects of windows and air vents. To see if this is the issue, place something in front of the thermostat like a piece of cardboard. If the short cycling stops, it needs to be moved to a new location.

  1. Overheating

Many modern furnaces have a safety device that switches the burner off if the heat exchanger starts to overheat. This can also cause short cycling. If the heat exchanger is overheating, there’s a possibility of it being cracked, which should be repaired right away.

  1. Improper Furnace Size

Furnaces that are the wrong size for the home will short cycle trying to keep up with the desired temperature. To correct this issue, it will require a new system to be put in place that is the correct size. While expensive, it will save homeowners money on energy bills and keep the home at a more comfortable temperature.

Don’t live with a short cycling furnace. It could be increasing energy bills and not achieving the desired temperature. Continuing to let it short cycle could lead to lasting HVAC damage as well. Call Diamond Heating and Cooling if the furnace starts short cycling this fall and winter.

Also, be sure to schedule annual furnace maintenance. Check out Diamond’s Silver Club Membership and learn how to save on all things HVAC.

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Use a Heat Pump This Winter

Heat Pumps

Heat pumps can be an energy-efficient alternative to furnaces during cold Idaho winters. They work by extracting outside heat and transferring it inside. Even air that seems too cold, like during winter, has heat energy present for the system to use.

Because heat pumps move heat instead of generating it, their biggest advantage is energy efficiency. They can provide the same comfort level as a conventional heat source for as little as one quarter of the conventional source’s operating cost.

While there are three types of heat pumps, the most commonly used is the air-source heat pump. This transfers heat between the home and outside air using electricity. It can reduce electricity use for heating by about 50 percent when compared to electric resistance heating.

Before, heat pumps were only sufficient in moderate climates where the temperature didn’t drop too low. With recent technology developments, they can now provide sufficient heating in colder climates too. Often, a heat pump is paired with a furnace for supplemental heating if needed in subfreezing temperatures.

In homes without ducts, a mini-split heat pump, which is a type of ductless air-source heat pump, is a viable option. These can operate in climates as low as -13 degrees Fahrenheit to keep the home warm all winter long.

Heat pumps aren’t just for heating in the winter, however. They can also be used to keep the home cool in the warmer months by reversing the process, extracting the warm air from inside the home and putting it outside. It pulls double duty year-round to keep the house comfortable while using less energy, helping homeowners to save money.

Diamond Heating and Cooling can install a heat pump or mini split heat pump for homes that want to save on heating costs or when a current heating option is unavailable. Call us to learn more about these heating options.

 

Covering the Air Conditioner

AC-Covers

With fall on its way in a few weeks, it’s time to start preparing to turn off the air conditioner for the year. After turning it off, many homeowners wonder if they should cover it when the weather turns cold. The air conditioner is built to withstand many elements of the weather, but there are some instances when covering it is a good idea.

During fall, the air conditioner should be covered to protect it from leaves, seeds, and nuts. These are things that can get inside the AC unit, allowing moisture to collect and sit. This can cause corrosion and rust.

Other than this, a cover isn’t needed for much else. Here is what the air conditioner doesn’t need to be protected from:

  • Dirt

While operating during the summer, the air conditioner can suck in quite a bit of dirt. This is expected and is removed with the filters. However, once the unit is turned off, dirt is no longer and issue.

  • Snow and Ice

Outside units are built to withstand just about anything winter can throw at it. The snow and ice shouldn’t cause any issues.

  • Rodents

Animals might burrow into the outside unit to escape the cold weather especially when there is a cover on the unit. It’s best to keep the cover off when worried about rodents.

When choosing a cover for the outside air conditioning unit, avoid getting one that covers it completely. The cover should allow some breathing room on the sides. If the unit is completely covered, moisture can get trapped inside, creating a humid environment perfect for rust, corrosion, and mold.

Not sure whether to cover the AC unit or not, or what type of cover to get? The folks at Diamond Heating and Cooling can assist homeowners in finding the right type of cover for their system and discussing when it is best to use it.

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.