Short-Cycling—A Common and Serious AC Malfunction

September 21st, 2020
Air-conditioner-repairman

You may never have heard the term ­short-cycling before, but it may be occurring in your house right now. It’s a problem that air conditioning systems as well as heat pumps often encounter. It’s not only a serious malfunction that creates threats to your comfort and wallet, it can indicate a range of underlying causes. To fix short cycling, you will probably need professional AC repair in West Chester, PA.

We’ll examine what short-cycling is, why it’s a problem, and what may cause it.

What Is It?

Short-cycling is when an AC or other refrigerant-based system fails to complete its full cooling cycle and shuts down early. It then turns back on a short time later, only to again shut off the cooling cycle prematurely. The cooling cycle for air conditioners is normally at least 15 minutes, often longer. Running less than 10 minutes is a sign the system is short-cycling.

Why Is It a Problem?

Air conditioners are designed to have longer cycles, and when they begin to start and stop repeatedly over short periods of time, it puts immense wear on their components that they weren’t built for. The start-up cycle for an air conditioner is when the system uses the most power as it overcomes resistance to start the compressor. When an AC is doing this repeatedly over a short time, it both drains huge amounts of power and increases the work strain put on the system. A short-cycling air conditioner is at a higher risk of a malfunction or full breakdown, and it will also lose years off its service life.

Short-cycling also affects comfort in a home. If an AC doesn’t stay on long enough, it won’t provide even cooling around the house, leaving hot spots in some rooms.

What Causes It?

Many different troubles in an air conditioning system may lead to short-cycling. It’s one of the most common warning signs of other repair issues in the AC, including:

  • Leaking refrigerant
  • A clogged air filter
  • Frozen evaporator coils
  • Dirty condenser coils
  • An oversized air conditioner
  • An air conditioner that’s too old

For most of these problems, you’ll need the assistance of an HVAC professional to repair the air conditioner. First check for the clogged filter and put in a new one. This may stop the short-cycling, but we still recommend calling technicians to inspect the system for possible damage from short-cycling.

In the case of an oversized air conditioner, this is a problem from the initial installation—a common mistake that amateur installers make. The only repair for this is to call on certified professionals to replace the air conditioner with one that is accurately sized for your home’s cooling requirements.

If you have an air conditioner that is more than 15 years old, short-cycling is a warning sign the compressor is coming to the end of its service life, as is the air conditioner. Since 15 years is usually the upper limit for estimated AC lifespans, we recommend replacing any system that’s older than this. And short-cycling means it is definitely time to call for a new installation.

Call the Signature Service You Can Trust! Signature HVAC offers service in hours, not days—we’re here for your AC repairs.

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5 Reasons to Consider a Ductless AC Installation

September 1st, 2020
ductless-ac-unit-blowing-cold-air

The options for an AC installation in West Chester, PA are not limited to the standard split system air conditioner. This is the type of air conditioner most people think of when considering ways to cool a home: an outdoor cabinet connected to an indoor unit that blows cooled air into a network of ducts. These central ACs are effective and efficient, but today a homeowner can also opt for a ductless mini split.

A ductless mini split is a type of heat pump (it both cools and heats) that uses a single outdoor unit connected to multiple smaller units attached to the walls in rooms. These miniature air handlers blow cooled air straight into the living spaces, so there is no need for ductwork.

Is a ductless mini split system a good choice for your home? There are some reasons you may wish to put one high on your comfort shopping list:

#1 – They’re excellent for older homes

If you live in a vintage house that was built before central air conditioning became standard, it probably has no ducts. You may have had to use window air conditioning units for cooling, and these are inconvenient, block windows, and lack power. But you can throw out those window units with the installation of a ductless system. You don’t need to add any ductwork to enjoy cooling in multiple rooms from powerful air handlers—and you have heating for the winter as well.

#2 – They offer zone control

Unlike standard ducted HVAC systems, ductless systems don’t need to cool down the whole house at once when they come on. Each room unit can operate separate from the other units, so only the one in occupied rooms need to turn on. This is helpful in cutting down energy expenses: there’s no need to send cooling (or heating) to every room when you only need it in one or two.

#3 – They have high energy efficiency

ACs and heaters with ducts lose energy through the duct walls. Heat gain during the summer and heat loss during the winter lowers the efficiency of the system. This is not a problem with ductless systems because there are no ducts where they can lose or gain heat. The small room units also have less powerful motors in them that consume less electricity than the big blower fans of central air conditioners and heaters.

#4 – They are flexible for new construction, remodeling, and add-on rooms

You don’t need to convert your entire house to ductless cooling and heating if you already have ductwork. Ductless mini splits can work as an addition to your current HVAC system. If you create an add-on room, remodel parts of the house, or convert a garage or attic to a living space, you can have a ductless system installed for the new areas rather than make expensive changes to extend the existing HVAC system.

#5 – They can improve air quality

Ductwork collects dust, lint, and dander that circulates through the house each time the blower fan comes on. Ductless mini splits don’t have a reservoir of air pollutants they spread around the house, and this makes them a good choice for households with people who have asthma and allergies.

Signature HVAC serves Chester County and the Surrounding Areas. Call us for service in hours, not days!

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Understanding What Refrigerant Does in Your Air Conditioner

August 18th, 2020
air-conditioner-evaporator-coil

There are several misunderstandings about air conditioning systems that have spread since the earliest days of residential AC, and which have only spread faster because of the internet. For example, people often think it’s okay to see ice on an air conditioner. (It’s not!) Or they believe turning the thermostat down lower provides more cooling faster. (It only makes the AC run longer.) One of the biggest misconceptions that can cause plenty of trouble for an AC is about refrigerant: what it does and how to deal with it.

This is your Refrigerant 101 class, where we cut through the fog and give you straight answers that can help you with your air conditioning service in West Chester, PA.

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What’s That Noise From the AC Mean?

August 4th, 2020

One day, we will have advanced air conditioners with complex AI technology that allows them to rapidly diagnose any malfunction (or even predict it) and notify homeowners they need to call for technicians. They’ll probably be able to automatically contact the technicians themselves. Since we’re not at that level of air conditioning technology (yet), we need to rely on interpreting other warning signs that an AC is on the fritz. One of the most common warnings are strange noises.

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Troubleshooting an AC That Won’t Work

July 21st, 2020
ac-fan-grill

If you have an air conditioning system that won’t cool down your house or won’t turn on at all, it’s important that you leave any repair work to licensed professionals. If you feel tempted to grab some tools and open up either cabinet of the air conditioner, please resist! You’ll likely make the situation worse, and you’ll probably void the warranty. Don’t let any fast-talking amateur who makes big promises for super-cheap prices convince you to let them do the work either. Let our West Chester, PA air conditioning repair experts see that the job gets done right the first time.

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Do I Need an Air Purifier as Well as Air Filters?

July 6th, 2020
pleated-air-filter

If you have air filters installed into your home’s HVAC system, or you are currently considering it, then it means you have concerns about your household’s indoor air quality. You’re probably right to be concerned; poor indoor air quality is a problem across the country, and right now everyone is worried about indoor contaminants.

But are those air filters enough? Do you need to have an electronic air purification system installed as well?

The best way to find out is to work with our indoor air quality professionals. We can provide you with some helpful information while you’re waiting for us to arrive.

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Ductless Systems: What They’re Good For

June 23rd, 2020
ductless-mini-split-on-the-wall

What do you know about ductless HVAC systems? You may have seen them a few times before in buildings and not quite known what they were (something that looks like a window AC unit, except it’s high on the wall and doesn’t extend through the back of it). Maybe you’ve read a bit about how they’re growing in popularity in the US after spreading rapidly around Europe and Japan. If you’ve thought that perhaps a ductless system may be a good idea for your home comfort, this is the post you’re looking for. Our team handles services for ductless systems (a.k.a. ductless mini split heat pumps), including installation, and we can give you a rundown on why they’re good for many homes.

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Are Spring AC Tune-Ups Necessary Every Year?

June 9th, 2020
Air-conditioner-maintenance-tools

When we first started writing a regular blog to provide valuable information to our customers about their HVAC equipment and our services, we opened with an urge to schedule spring tune-ups for air conditioners. This wasn’t a random topic selection: routine AC maintenance is one of the most important services anyone can have done for their home cooling system, and spring is the ideal time to arrange for it.

But we know that people are often hesitant about signing up for an annual service. “Is it that important to have this done each year? Can I maybe skip a year and not have to worry?” Well, you can make your own choices about this—but we strongly recommend you reconsider delaying service and never miss out on annual AC tune-ups.

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Defeat Humidity This Summer With Our Help!

May 26th, 2020
woman-before-fan

It’s something everyone knows from when they’re young: when a summer day is more humid, the heat feels worse. This isn’t because high humidity makes the day hotter. When it’s 85°F outside, it remains 85°F no matter if the relative humidity is a bone-dry 10% or a sopping wet 90%. What changes is how that 85°F feels. With more moisture in the air, it becomes more difficult for the human body to release heat through the skin. Perspiration slows down because there is too much water in the air. The result is more heat is trapped inside the body, making it feel hotter. It’s as if you decided to put on a coat on a hot day!

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Signs You May Need AC Repairs

May 11th, 2020
wrenches

You want to trust that your home’s air conditioning system will get through the summer without running into any troubles. Who wants to have an interruption to their household cooling on blistering hot days? Although there is no way you can completely guarantee the AC won’t break down during the summer, there are two ways to help prevent it. The first we addressed last month: schedule a spring maintenance tune-up and inspection for the AC.

In this post, we’re going to talk about the other way you can stop an emergency shutdown for your AC, and that’s paying close attention to the early signs of a malfunction. Air conditioners rarely break without warning, and if you know what to look out for, you can alert our technicians and we can be out to fix the problem… before it’s a problem.

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