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How Does Your Air Conditioner Work?

air conditioning banner image featuring coolant measuring device
Almost everyone has an air conditioning system these days. However, most people that own an AC system have no idea how it functions. Moreover, knowing a little bit about how air conditioners work can help you know when to call in the HVAC professionals for service, repair, or replacement work. So, how does your air conditioner work? Let’s explore just how your home air conditioning system keeps you cool all summer.

The Air Conditioning Process

The air conditioning process is relatively simple. Basically, air conditioners pull the heat out of the air to help cool a space. They do this in a two-cycle process. The two cycles of air conditioner functionality are:

  • Evaporation
  • Compression

The Evaporation Cycle in Modern Air Conditioning

The evaporation cycle in modern air conditioning systems is the cycle in which the actual cooling of the air takes place. To accomplish this, your air conditioner passes inside air through a coil filled with supercooled liquid refrigerant. The refrigerant pulls the heat from the air, and then fans distribute the air through your ductwork (or directly into your space if you have a ductless split air conditioning system). After cooling the air, your air conditioning system sends the now gaseous refrigerant to the compression side of the system.

The Compression Cycle in Modern Air Conditioning

The compression cycle is the second primary operation cycle in modern air conditioning systems. It works in almost the exact opposite way that the evaporation cycle does.

During this cycle, two things happen. The first thing that happens is that your system will pull outside air through what is known as the condensing coil. This coil contains the gaseous refrigerant from the evaporation cycle. When the outside air is pulled through the coil, the heat from the gaseous refrigerant is transferred to the air. This begins transforming the gaseous refrigerant back to its original liquid form.

However, the coil itself is not enough to fully compress the refrigerant. That is why modern air conditioning systems also use a device known as a compressor to finish the job of transforming the coolant back to a supercooled liquid. Then, once the compression cycle is complete, the refrigerant is transported back to the evaporator side of the machine to start the process all over again.

Is it Time to Kick Your AC to the Curb?

During a Colorado summer, we rely on a few essential things – sunscreen, a hat, and at home, our air conditioning unit.

An air conditioner can make life comfortable when temperatures climb… however, how do you know when you can no longer rely on your AC system, and it is time to “kick it to the curb”? Maybe you’ve noticed it doesn’t seem to cool or run as efficiently as it used to. Like all appliances, your air conditioner won’t last forever, although you will get a good life out of a well-maintained system. A regularly serviced air conditioner will last much longer than one that is not.

Even a well-maintained air conditioner of a certain age might run into problems. So we’ve prepared a list of the top 7 telltale signs that indicate you need to kick your air conditioner to the curb.

1. Unit is blowing hot or cold air which is inconsistent to temperature settings

One of the most common problems in an older air conditioning unit is that it just doesn’t cool or heat. It may still produce normal air levels, but the air isn’t coming out cold or hot as per its settings. From time to time during regular use, you may experience some warm air in a cool environment. However, if your unit stops producing cold air entirely, it’s time to investigate and vice versa for heating. It may mean low refrigerant levels. However, warm air production, when set for cooling, can indicate a severe problem such as a damaged compressor.

Inconsistent temperatures are a sign of trouble too. Your air conditioner is supposed to provide a consistent air temperature at the setting you’ve chosen. When individual rooms become cold zones, and others don’t seem to get any cold air at all, it could mean your air conditioning unit is on the way out. If your unit is producing hot (or inconsistent) air, inspect the filters, valves, condensation drains and coils for airflow obstructions. However, be prepared, a replacement unit may be on the cards.

2. Your unit has diminished airflow

During operation, there is little or no cold air coming out of the vents. A significant decrease in airflow could be another sign that your air conditioner’s compressor is on its last leg. If your thermostat is set to a reasonable temperature and your home is still too warm, then your air conditioning system is not working at its optimum level. Again, check filters first, but it might be time for a new unit.

3. It’s emitting strange noises or strange smells

A fully functioning air conditioning system should operate almost silently. If you know your unit well, you’ll be familiar with any little sounds it makes as it cycles. In fact, those noises will be a regular part of your life’s sound symphony. So, when you hear noises different from the norm, it’s time to act. Minor noise changes could indicate the need for some repairs. Perhaps the fan isn’t working correctly, or one of the parts inside the unit has become loose, or an internal mechanism has become clogged with dirt. However, if the noise is a little stranger – such as screeching, grinding, grating, rattling, buzzing, or ticking, this could indicate a serious problem that means unit replacement!

The same goes for unusual odors! If your unit is giving off a bad smell, it’s not just a nuisance; it indicates a problem you need to address right away. Foul odors can mean that your air conditioner’s insulation has become damaged or that the ductwork has become moldy. Dirt, mold, or mildew inside your unit can circulate contaminated air through your home and cause health issues for your family. So, don’t ignore those bad smells. Strange smells may be caused by a filter that needs replacing. So, check them first, but if your unit is still smelly, it could be time to replace it.

4. Your unit is leaking or producing excess moisture

Depending on the type of air conditioner you have, a small amount of condensation or water dripping on the outside of your unit (i.e., outside the house) is reasonable. However, for the most part, your air conditioning unit should stay dry whether or not it’s in use. If you notice moisture inside the house, a sudden increase in condensation or a leak, it may be time to replace your air conditioner. First of all, ask a Brothers air conditioning technician to inspect it right away for safety reasons (electrical components and water are not a good combination). Some units may spring refrigerant leaks; refrigerant should only ever be handled by a professional due to the health risks it poses. Your air conditioning specialist will locate the source of the leak and let you know if a new unit is the most cost-effective course of action.

5. Your unit is short cycling

It’s entirely reasonable for your air conditioner to cycle on and off to maintain a set temperature throughout your home. However, has your unit developed a tendency to switch itself off randomly? Alternatively, does it sometimes have difficulty getting started? If you notice that it is turning on and off more frequently than usual, your unit may be malfunctioning. Short cycling puts extra stress on your air conditioner and will cause it to fail if not handled quickly. Call a Brothers, and with any luck, it may just be a blown fuse. However, it may mean it’s time for a new unit.

6. Your energy bills have dramatically increased

Even if your unit appears to be functioning ‘normally,’ one of the most prominent telltale signs, there may be a significant problem that can be found on your energy bill. Has it spiked suddenly and you aren’t sure why? Undertake an ‘energy audit’ and consider other factors that may have caused your energy bill to increase. This will help you to work out whether your air conditioning is the culprit behind a surge in energy costs. If all roads lead to your unit being the source of the extra power, then you need to determine why it has become significantly less efficient. Perhaps your air conditioning system is overworking? Diminished cooling capacity will raise energy costs as your unit struggles to maintain the desired temperature ineffectively. Try cleaning the air vents, replacing the filters and then check for any lumps or knots in the condensing coil. Of course, it may be an energy drain only because it has become sluggish and is reaching the end of its working life.

7. Your unit requires frequent repairs (and is out of warranty)

Has your trusty air conditioning unit become more trouble (and expense) than its worth? In an ideal world, your unit should be serviced every year to keep it well maintained, clean, and in tip-top shape. Occasionally, you may need an extra service or repair. However, if your air conditioning system is always in need of mending and repairing multiple times per year, then you may have to Kick it to the curb. In those situations, replacing your air conditioner may be the more economical and efficient option. Usually, you can factor in one major repair or part replacement. However, if dangerous repairs occur later in the unit’s life, they serve as a warning of future issues. If your unit needs a complicated repair after the warranty expires, that’s a sure sign to start shopping around for a new unit instead of pouring money into an old one with a limited shelf life.

So, do you recognize any of these signs? Don’t wait.

If you detect any of these seven signs that your air conditioning is malfunctioning, it’s time to call Brothers. To stay comfortable during the summer months, it’s vital to carry out any necessary repairs, or if it proves to be more cost-effective, it may be time to part ways with your unit and invest in a brand spanking new one with a warranty. Acting now will let you get back to enjoying a trouble-free, noise-free, leak-free, energy-efficient Colorado summer.

Call 303.451.5057 or visit www.BrothersPlumbing.com to schedule today!

Back to School 2019

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The 2019 school year is about to begin! Lynn and Michelle (The Sisters at Brothers) understand just how crazy this time of year can be. Since back to school time is so busy and hectic, it’s understandable that home and plumbing repairs sometimes take a back seat. In light of that fact, we here at Brothers Plumbing Heating & Electric have created several baked-in processes and procedures to help you keep on top of your plumbing, air conditioning, heating, and electrical repairs this school year. Here are some of the things that we’re doing to help make back to school time easier for parents all around Colorado:

  • We’ve made it easy to make an appointment with us. Just call us at 303-451-5057 or contact us here by clicking on a “Schedule Service” button anywhere you find one on the site.
  • A friendly representative will answer your request promptly and find a time that works around your busy schedule.
  • We book appointments 7 days a week at no additional charge.
  • Our technicians understand that busy parents don’t have time to wait around all day for service. So, we commit to scheduling your appointment with a 2-hour arrival interval. We’ll also call you 30-45 minutes before our technician’s arrival so that you don’t miss us.
  • Your safety and peace of mind are important to us. Before anyone arrives at your home, we’ll first send you information and a picture of your technician.
  • Before we do any work, we’ll first submit an estimate and get your approval before beginning any work.
  • With Brothers, payments are always easy. We take checks, cash, credit cards, and even provide financing options for those big-ticket repairs and replacements.

Please call Brothers for any planned, or unexpected, repairs! Or if you are a planner and would like to take advantage of our discounted pre-season 33pt furnace checks call us today! 303-451-5057 or online at www.brothersplumbing.com.

$50 Off Coupon Code

Summer 2019 Hints & Tips

Summer is upon us! And with it comes warmer temperatures, an increased use in electricity and sprinkler systems. Because of the increased demand and use of these home systems, our team of professional plumbers, electricians and HVAC technicians want to give you a few tips, tricks and reminders to help you this summer!

Electrical Hints to Stay Cool

Here are some electrical hints and tips that will help you stay cool this summer:

  • Attic Fans – Attic fans help to vent the heat from your attic. This, in turn, helps to keep the rest of your house cool. Remember, heat rises.
  • Whole-House Fans – Whole house fans, especially when used in concert with attic fans, can help maintain a cool temperature in your house this summer.
  • Ceiling Fans – Make sure your ceiling fans are all set in the right direction this summer (Counterclockwise to push air down)

Summer Electrical Safety Tips

Here are some tips and tricks to help keep you safe around electricity this summer:

  • Stay at least 10 feet away from overhead power lines
  • Use outlet covers on your outdooor receptacles
  • Use GFCI protection for all power in and around swimming pools, hot tubs, etc.
  • Electricity and water don’t mix, keep your cords and devicces away from water sources
  • Make sure all swimming pool electronics and outlets are grounded
  • Never handle elctrical devices when wet
  • Do not swim during a thunderstorm
  • Don’t let your kids climb trees near power lines
  • Only allow children to fly kytes or play with airborn toys in wide-open spaces, far away from any power lines

Summer HVAC Tips and Hints

  • Invest in a programmable thermostat – Programmable thermostats allow you to control your HVAC units even when you’re not there. Match your thermostat to your schedule, use a timer for when you leave for work and when you come home, set it for particular rooms, and even set specific temperatures.
  • Don’t forget about your air filters – Air filters should be replaced monthly to promote a more efficient system performance. Clogged or dirty air filters can cause a disrupt in the airflow and even lead to health concerns.
  • Protect your HVAC from sun and debris – An awning or tree can provide shade to your unit and cut energy consumption while helping your unit operate more smoothly. However, note that shrubbery or branches that can get into the system and can hinder the performance of the system and may lead to permanent damage.
  • Make sure that your vents are clean and open – It may be obvious but it is truly remarkable what you may not notice about your own home. Vents can be accidentally shut for cleaning purposes and never reopened. If you notice an unusually warm room or area in your home, don’t forget to check the vent.
  • Think gravity – Heat rises. During those hot summer months, the heat in your home will rise to the ceiling or the second floor of your home. To help that hot air on its way out of your home, fans can be a great tool.

Plumbing Summer Hints and tips

These are some useful plumbing hints and tips:

  • If you’re vacationing away from your home for several days, turn down your water heater to save energy. It’s also important to know that the average life of a water heater is anywhere from 8-11 years old. If you don’t know the age of your system, check the last four digits of the serial number on the tank. This will show you the month and year it was manufactured.
  • Water your lawn at the right time! It’s suggested that the best time to water lawns and landscapes is in the early morning and evening, after the sun goes down. If you decide to tend to your lawn in the middle of the day, that water can be lost due to evaporation from the heat throughout the day.
  • Do you have trees planted in your front lawn? Any kind of tree growth can cause roots to make their way to your sewer line in search of water. If you suspect any damage (ie: sewage backups in your lowest level), give us a call to check your lines.

Call Brothers Plumbing, Heating and Electric

Giving us a call to come out and make sure that your cooling and/or air conditioning system is up to snuff can help you beat the heat this summer. Our affordable technicians are always just a quick phone call away. Give us a call at 303.468.2294 to schedule service today!

The Pros and Cons of Hydro-Jetting

Hydro-jetting (high pressure water jetting) services are fast, affordable, and do a wonderful job of clearing drain and sewer lines of clogs and obstructions. However, just like with any other type of plumbing service, hydro-jetting is not without its pros and cons. Let’s talk about what hydro-jetting is, and what the pros and cons of the service are in a little more detail.

What is Hydro-Jetting?

Hydro-jetting (high pressure water jetting) is a method of cleaning out drain and sewer lines from clogs and obstructions using pressurized water. Plumbers often perform hydro-jetting procedures during drain cleaning jobs and before they do any kind of sewer repair or replacement.

To more easily understand hydro-jetting, we can compare it to pressure washing. Both tools use water under high pressure to clean messes and clear debris. However, hydro-jetting machines utilize water that is under much, much greater pressures than the pressure washers that you can rent/purchase at your local hardware store.

The Pros of Hydro-Jetting (High Pressure Water Jetting)

The pros of hydro-jetting services include:

  • Hydro-jetting clears stubborn clogs with just water
  • Hydro-jetting can be done to both commercial and residential drain lines
  • It can also cut through tree roots that have invaded your sewer line
  • Hydro-jetting is environmentally safe and green
  • High pressure water jetting services will clear the entire drain line rather than just a small section of it (rooter services will only clear an opening as large as the diameter of the rooter augur)

The Cons of Hydro-Jetting

The cons of hydro-jetting services include:

  • Hydro-jetting can be less effective at removing extra serious drain obstructions than rooter or auger drain cleaning services
  • Hydro-jetting can be too much for older and weaker pipelines to handle
  • It can’t help clear drain lines that have been obstructed by serious damage like a bellied line

Contact Us for Hydro-Jetting Services Today!

If you think that hydro-jetting services will solve your drainage or sewer problems, then you’ve come to the right place! Here at Brothers Plumbing, Heating & Electric, we pride ourselves on being the go-to company for hydro-jetting services in the area! So, what are you waiting for? Contact us to schedule high pressure water jetting services today!