Correctly Charging AC Units

Many people may wonder why HVAC companies will not maintain or recharge your AC unit on a cold day. It is simply not an effective way to test freon levels.

Cold Temperature Charges

You can work on these units in the cold and some technicians use “insulated blankets” to wrap the outside condensing units with to create a head pressure rise. This simulates a hot day, they can then add or remove refrigerant based on that reading. The problem with this technique is the head pressure rise is more of an estimate. With this estimate of head pressure you are not getting an accurate reading therefore it would be easy to overcharge or undercharge the unit.

This results in you as the customer being inconvenienced by your unit still having issues and possibly having to pay for the same service to be done on a hot day. When charging your unit on a hot day you will get a accurate reading therefore resulting in a cheaper repair and peace of mind that your unit will be operating correctly. This is the preferred method to work on AC units because we know we are getting a correct reading and will not have to worry about an unhappy customer or wasted time. The correct temperature for recharges is 70-75° F.

 

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R22 Refigerant Phase Out – Environmental Impact

What does the R-22 Refrigerant Phase out mean for your Hvac system?

The current phase of of R-22 Refrigerant in residential and commercial properties leaves home and business owners with unanswered questions. As R-22 is gradually phased out, alternative refrigerants are being introduced. One of these substitutes is R-410A, a blend of hydro-fluorocarbons (HFCs) that does not contribute to depletion of the ozone layer.

HCFC Phase out

Service to current HVAC systems

Production of new air conditioning units charged with R-22 ended in 2010, and by 2020, the servicing of R-22 based systems will rely solely on recycled or reclaimed refrigerants.

If your air conditioner was manufactured before 2010, it probably utilizes R-22. The good news is existing units using R-22 can continue to be serviced with R-22 as there is no EPA requirement for change or conversion of these units.

More than likely, your heating and cooling units will have sufficient R-22, unless a leak occurs. Since production is limited, costs to charge existing units leaking R-22 refrigerant have gone up and are expected to rise. We urge our customers to take the necessary steps to protect yourself from the rising cost of refrigerant. The best thing you can do properly maintain your unit to prevent leaks. You can do so by participating in routine tune-ups in the spring and fall. Remember, routine maintenance is far less expensive than emergency repairs.

Retrofits and Converting units

Retrofit units, converted R-22 units utilize a substitute refrigerant, are allowed if the alternative has been found acceptable for that type of use. Substitute refrigerant can work well in R-22 units with a few changes to system components. For example, simply replacing R-22 refrigerant with R-410A in a preexisting R-22 unit is not recommended due to its higher worker pressure. However, a certified professional can replace R-22 condensers with R-410A condensers, as long as the system coil is also updated. This provides consistency in the refrigerant  cycle, as one coil cannot be replaced without the other, and allows the retrofit to get you by for several more years.

The EPA wanrs of potential safety hazards related to the use of unapproved refrigerants in home air conditioning systems as they are not designed to handle flammable refrigerants.

Impact on the environment

Properly installed home comfort systems rarely develop major refrigerant leaks, and with proper servicing, a system using R-22, R-410A, or another refrigerant will reduce its impact on the environment. Remember to always select a reputable dealer to handle refrigerants.

Refrigerant R-22 is used in a number of refrigeration and air conditioning systems. R-22 is the halocarbon compound named monochlorodifluoromethane with chemical formula CHCIF2 and it is the hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC). R-22 is one of the most popular refrigerant used in cooling system, but unfortunately, the halocarbons (chlorine and fluorine) present in these compounds have the potential to cause depletion of the ozone layer in the atmosphere leading to greenhouse effect. The ozone layer destroying potential of R-22, which is HCFC is much lesser than the other chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), still in the long-term they do have detrimental effects on the atmosphere.

The depletion of ozone layer from the upper layers of atmosphere results in ultraviolet rays of the sun to reach the surface of the earth. This leads to high temperature on the earth and the ultraviolet ray themselves are very harmful to the skin of humans. To avoid the long-term dangers of the R-22 and other CFCs, it has been decided to phase out the use and production of R-22 completely along with other CFC refrigerants.

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New units

A important thing a homeowner can do for the environment is to purchase a highly energy efficient system. Today’s air conditioners use much less energy, provide cost savings in maintenance an electric costs, and offer a green alternative to R-22 units. Rebates and tax credits also help to offset the cost of new systems.

The best time to switch is before your hit by the high costs of repairing a refrigerant system. Take into account the age of your current unit (as a general rule, systems should be older than 10 years) look for the energy star label to save up to 40 percent on utility bills and consider the minimum seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) specification.

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Water Stop Replacement

Importance of Replacing Stops Upon Fixture Installation

When you get a new Faucet or Toilet, replacing the water shut off is often overlooked. The reason why this is so important is the Neoprene rings inside the valve get very brittle over years of sitting. Then your valve is open and closed when your fixture is replaced. The neoprene ring will often times break down or get dislodged, when these begin to fall apart they will get stuck in supply lines or cartridges of your new fixture and could make it so your brand new faucet is going to need worked on or often times even replaced. This is something that often goes overlooked by plumbing companies and they are left with unhappy customers.

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New Style Quarter Turn Stops

These new style stops have way less issues over time and often times will not need to be replaced unless they are broken physically or the ball gets dislodged from the handle, causing it to not turn off properly. The reason is they do not have these Neoprene gaskets on a stem, they instead have a turn style ball connected to the valve handle. These have less parts to fail and are better in the long run.

 

Dual Stops

Dual stops have the same styles of valves, therefore you will run into the same issues upon replacement of fixtures. These stops are commonly used for your kitchen faucet and dishwasher or your kitchen faucet and fridge supply. These do not take much longer to install in comparison and can be worth the time so you do not damage your  appliances or faucet.

Lead Valves

The new regulation for lead free valves in potable water systems is very recent. The federal law in effect since January 2014, dictates much lower lead content for certain systems and components than in the past. Potable water systems being involved in this standard. Water stops touch all your drinking water. Its very important to be aware that your old stop does contain lead. The new stops can give you peace of mind that your family is not being effected by this lead.

Lead Poisoning

Lead Poisoning can be very hard to notice and often times will go undetected for years before a proper analysis will be made. Signs and symptoms usually don’t appear until dangerous amounts have accumulated.

Symptoms of lead poisoning in Children

Developmental delay, learning difficulties, irritability, loss of appetite, weight loss, sluggishness, fatigue, abdominal pain, vomiting, constipation, hearing loss and seizures.

Lead Poisoning symptoms in newborns

Premature birth, lower birth weight, slowed growth and loss of appetite

Lead Poisoning in adults

High blood pressure, joint and muscle pain, difficulties with memory or concentration, headache, abdominal pain, mood disorders, reduced sperm count and abnormal sperm, miscarriage, stillbirth or premature birth in pregnant women.

Living an older homes puts you at risk for lead exposure. Lead based paints were banned since 1970, older homes and buildings often retain remnants of this paint. People renovating an older home are at even higher risk.

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Importance of Outside Sewer Cleanouts and Maintenance Explained

Knowing your sewer system on your home is extremely important. What kind of pipe you have running to the street (underground), other potential problems your sewer line has had in the past, different access points (where we will be able to clean your sewer from). If you have outside cleanouts (outside access to your sewer) this will make cleaning your sewer much less of a hassle for many reasons.

Without these outside cleanouts technicians are having go inside your home with the sewer machine, which is not only big and bulky but can be very dirty. In order for us to clean the sewer we may have to pull a toilet and reset it. There may also be an inside cleanout to access the sewer. Either way when we are running our machine from inside your home, we are only able to use 3″ blades the majority of the time. This is problematic because your sewer running to the street is 4″ in size, with 3″ blades it is not cleaning the sewer to its best potential.

This means that you will have more frequent clogs and end up spending more money to maintain your line. Cost of labor is constantly increasing therefore putting off big repairs may cost more money in the future.

Having outside Two Way Cleanouts can be a very worthy investment in your home. If you are already spending money to maintain your sewer annually, this could extend your time between maintenance’s and pay for itself in a matter of time.

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With newer plumbing code, cleanouts are required every 100 feet on your sewer line.

Benefits of Outside Cleanouts

  • All the nasty sewer machines and equipment stay outside – no mess inside your home!
  • No risk of damage done to your toilet upon removal and re-install
  • No risk of damage done to your walls, floor, etc. – Machines are Big, Smelly, Heavy and Awkward
  • Your sewer will no longer back up on your floor, the mess stays outside!
  • Properly Clean your sewer with the correct size blades. (most indoor access points are 3″ when your sewer outside is 4″)
  • Easier access for Camera Inspections
  • Easier to Locate potential problems and come up with solutions
  • Cheaper to Maintain – Do not have to remove toilet and drag machine in and out of house.
  • The ability to high pressure water jet your line. Being able to water jet can be crucial if you have a long line with roots and flat spots. This will clean out all the residue and roots much quicker and more efficiently than your normal snake. Being able to clear out flat spots in your sewer line can make the difference between being able to maintain your line and having to replace it.

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“Flushable Wipes or Feminine Products”

When the manufacturer of these products label them as “Flushable” in reality that means they will make it down the toilet. But they will cause problems in your sewer line. If you have already have problems with your sewer they will cause even more serious issues. What they don’t tell you is that this wipes are clogging the city sewer systems aswell, costing millions of tax dollars a year to get rid of them. The problem with these wipes is they do not break down, toilet paper will disintegrate when it sits in water. Wipes, paper towels, and feminine products do not break down. Most of these products are made up of plastic fibers therefore they are do not disintegrate. Wipes have the same effect as plastic waste when they make their way to the ocean. These get ingested by sea creatures, such as sea turtles who mistake them as jelly fish and then eventually die. The same thing that happens with plastic bags. One sewer clog can cost you upward of $100 per hour! Occasionally this end result will mean you need to repair your sewer line, which is extremely expensive. So be sure to put your wipes in the trash to eliminate this possibility!

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One Way Cleanouts vs Two way Cleanouts

Cleanouts are great thing to have at your home, they cut down the cost of labor and take the mess outside of your house! One way cleanouts only allow you to clean out toward the street. Therefore if your clog is under your home your still going to have to have a technician come inside your house with the messy machine. Now this is going to take much more time and cost more money.

one-way-cleanout

Two way cleanouts run both directions, into your house and away from it. Therefore in that same scenario if your clog is underneath your home, the technician may be able to reach it from outside. There are still scenarios that you may not be able to reach the clog from outside. But most commonly these cleanouts will simplify the drain cleaning process.

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Line Settling ” Bellies”

Sewer line settling can happen because of ground shifting or because a line was not “bedded” correctly. This means they did not compact the dirt around the pipe as adequate as they should have and the pipe settled in place creating a low spot or “belly”. Depending on the length of pipe that has settled this can create a vast amount of issues. Toilet tissue,waste, wipes, grease and food from your disposal will catch in this belly and begin to “sludge” up and cause a clog. These clogs can be extremely difficult to clean with a normal sewer machine and even more so without outside cleanouts. Unclogging a “belly” can be very difficult depending on the length of the low spot. The sludge in these low spots continues to thicken up more and more to the consistency of mud. Picture a normal sewer snake cleaning these sludge spots being comparable to stirring a bucket of mud with a stick. It will take a long time to thin it out and move it down the line. If you have outside cleanouts you are able to use a high pressure water jetter. This will clean out the sewer line much better and more efficiently therefore costing less money to maintain the line. Without these cleanouts some people would recommend sewer line replacement. If you do have cleanouts it may be cheaper for you to maintenance this line. The more your pipe has settled the more chance you have of your sewer breaking, this is always something to be aware of when taking consideration of replacing your line.

pipebelly

progression-of-pipe-belly

If wipes or feminine products are put down the toilet upstairs and it clogs on its way down, the technician will have no choice but to remove the toilet and clean from there to reach the plug. Being conscience of how you dispose of these flushable wipes can save you lots of money in the end!

If you are having to maintain your sewer frequently and are wanting to explore the option of outside cleanouts in the Northern Colorado area or any drain cleaning needs,  give us a call at Ace Hi Plumbing Heating and Air 970-667-0300. We also do high pressure water jetting!

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