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HVAC Tips from Sears Heating and Cooling

We’ve been in the HVAC business since 1950, and with that experience comes a lot of knowledge. Read our professional tips here.

Why Is My Air Conditioner Leaking Water?

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Is Your Air Conditioner Leaking Water Inside Your House? Believe it or not, this is actually a pretty common problem many people face with their air conditioners during the warmer months. Read on to find out what's going on! Help! Water Is Leaking On My Furnace! So the weather is hot outside, you happen to walk into your basement and see what seems to be water streaming onto your furnace from the top. What is going on? How can I stop it? Let's begin with stopping the problem first: Turn off your air conditioner at the thermostat immediately It's important to turn of your air conditioner as soon as possible to stop the flow of water onto your furnace. The interior of your furnace holds several electronic parts that can become damaged by the intrusion of water.  What Caused This To Happen? Did you know that your air conditioner is essentially one big dehumidifier? When your air conditioner runs, it actually pulls humidity (water) from the air. This humid air is pulled in via the return air vent and then blow over the evaporator coil to cool down the air. This process causes condensation (water beads) to form on the evaporator coil, which then is supposed fall into a drain pan and then exit your house via the condensate lines into a drain in the floor. However, it doesn't always happen this way as you are finding out now first hand! This points to the fact that there is obviously...
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Why Does My Air Conditioner Have Ice Build Up?

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Air Conditioner Ice Build Up Does your air conditioner have a build up of ice on the outside? Wondering what could be the cause or fix for this? Read on to find out! Restricted Air Flow The major cause of ice build up on an air conditioner is restricted air flow. Without the proper air flow being able to flow over the evaporator coil, the temperature will easily drop below freezing and ice will begin to accumulate both inside and outside. Most people only notice their outside unit being frozen but chances are if you our outside unit is a block of ice then so is the evaporator coil that sits on top of your furnace out of view. R-22 works to cool your home by making your indoor coil extremely cold as warm air blows over it. The best way to prevent ice build up on your air conditioner is by regularly changing your filter and keeping it clean. If your furnace filter is clean, there is a chance that your evaporator coil may be clogged with dirt, hair ect. If you have never had this cleaned in the past, it may be time. Other items that can cause your air conditioner to freeze: Blocked drain pipes Refrigerant leaks Low temperature outdoors Night time setting of your thermostat is too low Signs Your Evaporator Coil Is Frozen As previously stated above, if your outdoor unit is a bock of ice, chances are so is your evaporator coil. Signs that your...
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Air Conditioner Not Turning On

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My Air Conditioner Is Not Turning On? What Can I Do? The weather is finally hot, you go to turn on your air conditioner, and a whole lot of nothing happens. What is going on? What can I check for? Here are a few things to look at before calling for service! The weather outside finally breaks 80 degrees and you look forward to finally kicking that old air conditioner on for the first time of the year. It apparently has other ideas as a whole lot of nothing happens when you go to turn it on. Be sure to check these items before calling for service to possibly save yourself some time and money. Check Your Filter & Outdoor Coil Make sure to check you furnace filter to verify that it is clean enough for air to pass through it. Did you know that the number one cause of HVAC breakdowns is dirt and other buildup? Yep. Also, go outside and check your outdoor condensor unit for any build up of grass and other dirt on the coils of the unit. These fins and coils on your condensor need to be able to breathe in order for your AC to run properly. Is Your Thermostat Set To "Cool"? If your air conditioner isn't turning on, this is the most obvious place to start! Most programmable thermostats have 3 settings: Heat, Auto, and Cool. Make sure your thermostat is set to cooling mode to ensure your air conditioner turns on....
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The History of the AC Unit

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When Was The Air Conditioner Invented? Summers before the air conditioner was invented could be down right miserable for some people! When the summer heat sets in, those who live in areas affected by the temperature understand the importance of air conditioning. It helps make the summer months bearable and even enjoyable for us. It was not always that way. Prior to the invention of the air conditioner, residents in warmer areas of the country had to face the summer heat with just the help of fans and the local swimming hole. The development of the modern air conditioner, however, was an adventure itself. The First Air Conditioner The building blocks for the first air conditioner began back in 1902, thanks to an engineer working for a printing company. Willis Carrier had sought to find a way to prevent heat and humidity from expanding and contracting the paper, thus disrupting the company's work. Carrier developed a way to circulate cold water through heating coils. He was thus able to drop the air temperature down to the appropriate degree within the printing factory. The idea quickly caught the attention of people everywhere. Willis Carrier, 1915In 1914, an air conditioner was first used inside a residence. The Charles Gates mansion in Minneapolis, Minnesota, was the first for this honor. Within the next decade, department stores began to take advantage of the idea, with J.L. Hudson's in Detroit, Michigan, being the first. The following year, movie theaters began to take advantage of the...
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Common HVAC Myths

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Common HVAC Myths Debunked Here are some common HVAC myths that simply aren't true! Myth: The Bigger The System, The Better It Is This one seems like it would make sense at first thought, but unfortunately, it just isn't true. If you end up having a system installed that is too big for your home, it will likely just cycle on and off repeatedly and cause you higher monthly bills. Not to mention, a unit short cycling will drastically reduce it's lifespan. Make sure your system is properly sized for your home and installed by a licensed HVAC professional. Myth: Close Vents In Rooms Not Used To Increase Efficiency:  Unfortunately, air flow does not work like this. By closing off vents in your home, you are increasing the air pressure within the duct work which can cause leaks at vent seams. It's always best to keep your vents open and clear from any debris to maximize efficiency. Myth: The Location Of My Thermostat Doesn't Matter False. The location of your thermostat matters a lot actually. If you put it too close to air vents or sunlight, you run the risk of your thermostat giving you false temperature readings and not properly cooling or heating your home. The best place for your thermostat is on an interior wall away from windows and air vents. Myth: Routine Maintenance Is Not Necessary False. Routine maintenance is necessary for you HVAC system just like it is for your car. If you fail have annual...
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What Does An AC Contactor Do?

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What Does My Air Conditioner's Contactor Do? The capacitor and contactor work hand in hand to keep you air conditioner running all summer long. AC Power Center Along with the capacitor, the air conditioner's contactor works all summer long to keep power flowing to your air conditioner's most important parts. The contactor is essentially a type of switch that receives a low voltage signal (24V) from your furnace to power on. By creating a magnetic field, it pulls down a piece of metal that will connect both of the higher voltage sides. This closing of the circuit allows electricity to power the air conditioner's fan and compressor motors. Contactors come in generally two different types: single pole and double pole. A single pole contains one magnetic coil that will connect one circuit. A double pole is essentially the same thing but it has two coils and connects two circuits.  How To Know If A Contactor Is Bad One of the most classic signs a contactor has gone bad is a loud "chattering" type of noise coming from your outside condenser unit. Without a chattering noise, the best way to diagnose a bad air conditioner capacitor is to use a multi-meter device that measures the flow of electricity. Also, you may notice that some of the contacts on the contactor itself may have become pitted and worn down which happens naturally over time as the contactor ages. The average lifespan of a good contactor can be anywhere from 5-10 years assuming...
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What Is a Good SEER Rating?

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What SEER Air Conditioner Should I Get? What is a SEER rating and what does it mean to me? Let's find out! When it comes to air conditioner, a good SEER rating is a term that you may hear thrown around quite frequently. The SEER rating of an air conditioner measures the overall energy efficiency of the unit. SEER is a measured ratio of the cooling output of your air conditioner over the season, divided by the energy consumed in watt-hours. Different SEER Ratings Air conditioners today have a SEER rating ranging from 14 to 21. The minimum value is being updated on a constant basis however by the government. As time goes on, expect the minimum efficiency rating to keep going up (which is a good thing!).  It's important to note however that just because you buy a 14 SEER AC instead of a 21, that doesn't mean you are buying the "bottom of the barrel" equipment. Assuming you are replacing an old air conditioner, that new 14 SEER AC will be drastically more efficient than your old one.  Also, SEER rating is always rated as a maximum rating, meaning that just because your shiny new air conditioner is rated as a 21 SEER, this means that it is capable of achieving that level of efficiency, it's not operating at a constant 21 SEER.  A great way to think of a good SEER rating is comparing it to the MPG rating on a car. If you floor the accelerator...
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How Does R-22 Work?

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How Does R-22 Work Exactly? How does R-22 work exactly and how does it end up cooling the air in your home? Let's find out! The Low Down On R-22 How does R-22 work exactly? Some people think that R-22 is the stuff that is blown into your home to cool it down. Unfortunately, (and fortunately due to health reasons!) this is not how it works. Your heating and cooling system is actually a "closed loop system" in that the R-22 in your system should never leak out or need refilled. If you are low on R-22, this means that you have a leak somewhere in your air conditioner and unless it is found and fixed, any new R-22 that you put into it will just leak right back out again.  With this being said, let's get into how R-22 actually works with your air conditioner to cool your home. The R-22 Cycle R-22 is a gas that is actually converted into a liquid when cooled or compressed. Your air conditioner compressor's job is to compress the R-22, making it hot. As the R-22 moves through your air conditioner's coils, it eventually cools down into a liquid form.  Once converted into a liquid, the R-22 absorbs the heat from the warm air at your evaporator coil, and then pushes the cold air out via your blower motor in your furnace and your duct work. Your air conditioner actually also works as a big dehumidifier by removing humidity (water) from your air as...
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My AC Keeps Turning On and Off

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Air Conditioner Keeps Turning On and Off. What's Going On? The weather is hot and your air conditioner can't make it's mind up of whether to run or not. What could be going on? AC Short Cycling The proper term for you air conditioner turning on and then off on a frequent basis is called "short-cycling". This frequent behavior can end up causing you higher than normal electric bills and it's also not good for your air conditioner.  With this being said, let's dive into some reasons for your air conditioner turning on and off so quickly. Low Refrigerant If your air conditioner is low on refrigerant, it could cause short cycling to occur. Having low levels of refrigerant can cause your indoor and outdoor coil to freeze over and then turn off abruptly. If you are low on refrigerant, you have a leak somewhere in your system as your air conditioner is a closed loop system. Refrigerant is not like gas in a car. Unless your leak is fixed, any refrigerant you put in will just leak right back out again. Most leaks can be fixed temporarily, but it is never a permanent fix. Also, the substance used to fix a leak can be hard on your compressor.  Dirty Filters A dirty filter is one of the most common causes for both air conditioner and furnace breakdowns. If you have a standard 1 inch filter, these should be changed every 30 days or sooner if you have a lot of...
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How Does An AC Compressor Work?

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How Does An Air Conditioner Compressor Work? The compressor is one of the most important parts of your air conditioner. What is a compressor? Along with the evaporator coil and condenser that sits outside your home, your air conditioner compressor is one of the most important parts of your air conditioner. The compressors job is to convert low-pressure refrigerant in a gas state into a high-pressure, higher temperature gas prior to entering your condenser. Think of your compressor as the middleman between your condenser and evaporator coil. Without your compressor, your air conditioner would cease to function at all.  How Does The AC Compressor Work? When the R-22 or R410a leaves your evaporator coil inside, it is in a low-pressure state. In order for the refrigerant to be able to release the heat it absorbed from inside your home, it needs to be a higher temp than the outside air. This is where the compressors job comes in. The refrigerant enters your compressor via a suction line and is compressed very tightly together. By compressing the refrigerant, the temperature and pressure of it is raised. This compressed refrigerant leaves the compressor and flows out into the lines that wrap around the condenser. Because heat naturally goes from warm areas to cooler ones, the heat is transferred to the colder outside air. This cools the refrigerant back down and it heads back to your evaporator coil to repeat this process again. Compressor Repairs Compressor repairs and replacements are one of the...
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