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Air-Conditioning Q's and A's

Condensation | Costs | Installation | Ducts
Insulation | Problems
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CONDENSATION


Water on ground from air conditioner


I have central air conditioning in my house. The unit is outside on the side of my house.
My problem is that there is a lot of water coming out of the pipe attached to the unit. It is killing all the grass around it. It looks really bad. Do you have any suggestions on how to solve this problem?

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That water is condensation (I believe... and would be from the air in your house)
I am not sure why it is killing the grass.
Is there a place you can run the drain to so it is not on your grass? (extend the house..keep it level or sloped soil will keep draining and not back up) Also.. you could try buying a small length of drainage pipe.. bury that under 8 inches of the topsoil and run theater into that. I would imagine that just 4-6 ft of drain tile would work fine.



Air conditioner drainage


I'm doing a through the wall AC installation with an older Admiral unit. My question is regarding the condensate drainage. This has a heavy steel tray, and I've looked in vain for a drain hole. There was almost an inch of wet guck in the tray when I got it. Are some AC's set up to just let the condensation drip into and evaporate in the tray?

Yes, actually. It is more efficient, the water splashes on the condenser coils to aid in cooling them. The A/C unit I bought last year said that if the noise is bothersome (it isn't) I could drill a hole in the bottom to let the water drain out.


Air Conditioning Unit Leaking Condensation


My a/c unit is leaking condensation in my house. I fear that the catch pan is rusted through. Is there any way to repair it instead of replacing it?

This is central A/C unit, right? Can you get the pan off.. to take a look at it? It could be also that the drain line is plugged and backing up.


COST


Cost of Central A/C units


What is the average size of an Central A/C unit for a 1700 SQ. FT home?

A lot of things affect this, such as how well your home is insulated, how much sun it gets and most important where in the country you are. As a rule of thumb, you can figure on 1 ton per 500 sq. ft. 3-4 tons for your home. But ask locally for a number more exact for your area.


Installing AC in Old House

I am in the process of buying an old (1910) house with no AC. It has a basement, 2 floors, and an attic. It has a kitchen, BA, LR, and DR down and 4 BR and a BA up.
How much, approximately, should I expect to spend to install a central AC?

The price will depend on what tonnage you need, what working conditions are present, and what type of efficiency or energy efficient ratio you are looking for. But as an general rule of thumb, the approx. cost per ton will run around 2000-2400 per ton depending on electrical, access, permits, etc.



INSTALLATION

Window Air conditioner installation


I recently purchased an air conditioner (Sharp model FAR 709)to install in my apartment. I don't have the typical windows (up/down with sash)that the unit was designed to fit; my windows slide to the side and are rectangular in shape with the top/bottom dimension being longer than the width. Do you have any advice that would allow me to fit the air conditioner to my window that is also safe for my unit and for anyone who might walk underneath the mounted unit? A neighbor had a unit mounted in his apartment, but he has since moved; our windows are the same design.

They do sell models made for that type of window... yours isn't you say... to mount it without the window to
hold it, you can build a small shelf to hold it. The unit has to sit right side up of course. You can't turn it
sideways. Build the shelf from plywood. 1/2 inch should be fine. Use 2x4's on their sides underneath it to give it support and one to run diagonally down from the outer edge to the house. One problem you will have to come up with something for.. is to make something to close the window area above the AC unit... A board is ugly.. but.. maybe something painted bright??



Ducts


Insulating Ducts?

I am in the process of getting a home central air conditioning. How important is insulation of the intake and outtake ducts. They will be running in our attic. How do I know which model is the best?

I would say that both ducts should be insulated... the attic will be quite a bit warmer than either. The flexible duct often used today comes insulated. As for brand.. I can't help you there.
If you don't have one already, install an attic exhaust fan. This will GREATLY reduce the temperature in your attic when the weather is hot.



Air duct without filter


I bought a 6 year old home and found that they NEVER had filters in the return air ducts. We immediately went out and purchased some and have installed them. Do I need to hire someone to clean the ductwork (the previous, filthy owners had 5 pets in the house and never cleaned!)?
Could this have damaged the air conditioning unit or furnace?
If we need to have the ductwork cleaned how do we go about hiring someone who knows what they are doing?


Your local heating/AC contractors - the ones that would normally service your heating/AC system - will either
clean the duct work or recommend someone to do it. They will probably charge by the room and it won't be
cheap. I'm guessing that seven or eight rooms will cost around $1,000.




Insulation


Cooling Upstairs


I have a hard time cooling my upstairs with my central air conditioning. Any ideas? Also, is it better to shut the
bedroom doors or leave them open?

Is your attic well insulated? That will DEFINITELY help if it is not.. or poorly insulated.
Another thing is attic ventilation. By installing a gable end vent fan which cycles on temperature, you can lower the attic temperature drastically which is adding a heat load to your upstairs rooms.
Other ideas.. yes closing the doors will probably help if there is a return in each room. How many thermostats/zones are there. If there is only one, and the downstairs is cool and the upstairs hot, you can closedown a little on the downstairs vents to get more air upstairs, and it will allow the thermostat to see a more representative sample. Further, leaving the upstairs doors closed will prevent the cold air from up there from falling to the downstairs cooling it off further causing the ac to cycle off prematurely.




Problems

Air Conditioning - Coils/A-frames


I had an A/C repairman look at my furnace/blower because the air flow would stop after the thermostat would kick on the A/C. After I turn the A/C for a long time, the air would flow again, but then stop.

I suspected the A-frame in the coil was freezing up on me, and that I probably only needed some refrigerant.When the A/C guy looked at it though, he said I needed a whole new coil for (a price of $900!!!). He said there was a leak in the coil and showed me some slightly rusted areas and some water on the coil base...but isn't this normal when the A/C is running to have some condensation?

He put some more refrigerant in the compressor and now it works fine without the air stoppage. Should I call the guy back to fix the coil or not? Any input would be greatly appreciated.

Well, I would say, that if it is working fine now... leave it. If the problem returns, well then he is right and you will need to call him back to replace the coil. It is true that there will be condensation, but also, I imagine that he knows what he is looking for.






Central Air Conditioner Unit Problems


I live in a trailer home with a central air unit, the compressor was just replaced one month ago. It was working fine until yesterday when I got home it was 85 degrees inside and I keep the it set on 75. I noticed that there is very little air coming up through the vents when it usually comes out strong, its cool air coming out but just a trickle.Please Help what could cause it to quit blowing?

It could be problems relating to the blower motor, but, another possibility would be that it is low on refrigerant, causing the unit to freeze-up, thereby reducing the flow of air across the evaporator coil. During replacement of the compressor, the tech may have soldered a bad joint causing the leak. Should be under warranty if this is the case.

If it is a split system, look for ice on the large insulated pipe connecting the condensing unit to the evaporator. If it is a package unit (self contained), you will have to take off a panel exposing the evaporator to check. Or you may turn the unit off,allowing up to several hours to thaw, then turn back on and see if air flow has increased to previous levels



Stuck Fan


My central AC unit outside, (whatever that's called) was covered with pollen and such on those out coils. Also the fan inside was not turning, I cleaned off the outer coils and when turned it back on found that I could "encourage"the blades to turn by lightly tapping on the top of the unit. I figured the motor locked up, but possibly not all the way. Is there any thing I can do to free up the fan, because the hitting never really seemed to free it up good, and I got tired of tapping...

You can try oiling the fan with a light weight oil (such as 3 in 1 oil) if it has oil ports. Look for plastic or aluminum caps on the sides of the top and bottom of the motor. Put a few drops of oil in each. DO NOT use WD-40.
Sometimes, a defective run capacitor will cause the problem you are describing. At a usual cost of approx. $5.00-10.00, it is considerably cheaper than a new motor.



AC compressor turning on and off


I have a Friedrich 17,800 BTUs ac unit. The problem is the compressor is going on and off in 3-5 minute intervals. Its very cold air when compressor kicks in. However, the desired temperature is never achieved because the compressor shuts down to fast. First thought is the thermostat, however I have been told that it could be a problem with the gas circulating through the coils. The unit is 9 years old Do I bring a tech for just the cost of troubleshooting or does it sound like the unit has seen better days, in which I save the cost of the technician and put it towards that expensive replacement?

The first thing to try is to carefully pull the capillary from the front of the coil (behind filter) and bend it carefully as far away from the coil as possible. Turn unit on and check the operation.

If you are somewhat handy, an easy test to check the thermostat would be to UNPLUG the unit, remove access to control panel, locate the wires to thermostat. If there are only two wires, connect them together (I usually use one of those double-blade solderless connectors so I don't have to cut the wires), tape, close it up, and turn it on. The unit should run non-stop. If it does, and I suspect that it will, let it run for approx. 30 minutes and note that it doesn't freeze up or anything. If it does OK, replace the thermostat with one obtained from local appliance parts house.

The above should be able to be accomplished without removing the unit from the window. Sometimes I slide the unit 1/3 - 1/2 of the way out of the chassis to gain easier access.

Wish I could be more model specific, but it's been around 15 years since I serviced window units. At that time I used to work on quite a few 15-20 year old Friedrich units that were still running strong. Today, I would guess that the average life span would be 10 - 12 years for a window unit, with average maintenance.



Home AC gas charge

Does anyone know how much gas a Home AC central unit should have. I must have a leak because my Unit keeps freezing up. What should the gauges read? Is there a specific site I can obtain this type of info?

You're right, if the unit keeps freezing up on the first pass of evaporator coils, there must be a leak. (A lower than normal charge will cause the remaining refrigerant to boil off at a lower temperature, below freezing, it shows up as frost on the coil.) Read the spec plate on the unit, it will tell you how many OZ's it takes. Do I detect that you plan to charge the unit yourself? Does the unit have a charging port? There is a thing called the pressure-temperature relationship - nothing to talk about on the Jerry Springer Show - Look at your gauges, notice the bottom red reading? That's the temperature the refrigerant reaches at the corresponding pressure. Using F22 freon, I run and charge my unit slowly until the pressure is about 70 pounds, that corresponds to 40 degrees temperature. Just right to cool the coil but not freeze it. Trick of the Trade- I check the suction line coming out of the coil back to the compressor, when it gets cool I know I have charged the unit correctly. I am careful not to overcharge!

REMEMBER THAT CHARGING A SYSTEM CAN BE DANGEROUS FREON CAN BLIND YOU FOR LIFE, "CAUTION IS THE BETTER PART OF VALOR"


Wall AC w/mildew

I live in a climate where I use my 220 air conditioner daily. It doesn't have a drain hose but I unplug the rubber stopper to let it drain at least daily. It is very humid here in Hawaii. I have one other AC but it is a standard 120v.

Anyway, I've noticed that the 220 AC air smells like mildew. I clean the filter often but now wonder if I should pour a little bleach in the back of the unit when there is some water inside to kill any mildew that is growing. How do I kill the mildew but not hurt the air conditioner.

The bleach won't hurt the air conditioner, and that is a good idea. Try it. Interestingly, some AC units use the water to aid it the cooling of the freon. Sort of a splash cooling.


Wall AC unit cord heating up

I've got a relatively new (2 years old) 180 BTU window mounted AC unit. I've noticed the power cord gets noticeably warm on hot days. Is this normal? I've noticed it getting this way whether it's plugged directly into a 3 prong outlet or to an industrial strength 3 prong extension cord. Should I have a certified electrician replace the power cord with a heavier duty one?

Did you really mean only 180 BTU's? That is quite a small unit. You shouldn't really use an extension cord, but tell me, does that cord get warm or hot too? Look at the cord coming out of the A/C unit. What size is it?? (It should be printed on there in small type.) It should be about 18/3 or smaller. (The 10000 BTU unit blowing on me right now has a 16/3, has been on all day and is not hot) Your cord may get warm, but shouldn't get very warm or hot to the touch. If it is, it would be worth it to replace it.
More
Sounds like the chord is undersized or damaged, have it replaced before it burns, your AC will work better with a heavier chord as there will be less voltage drop at the compressor. If you have to use an extension chord, keep it short and heavy duty.



Air conditioner problems.

I have a window air conditioner that runs on a 220V line. The compressor works fine but a couple of minutes after turning it on the fan goes out, but the compressor continues to work. It just stops blowing out the air.
Any idea what might be wrong?

You may have a faulty fan motor winding or a faulty fan switch that is heating up after a few minutes use and opening the circuit. If you have a DMM you can check for voltage at the motor winding connection after it has stopped. If the voltage is good the motor is probably bad and can be replaced. Be careful around the 220VAC as it can blow fingers off real easy. If you are not experienced around electricity you should have a qualified tech check it out.


Air conditioning Cycling

2-3 times a day our condenser turns off, while the blower stays on. The only way to start the condenser is to flip the A/C breaker off and then on again. The breaker is not tripped in the first place. This is only a temporary fix, eventually the condenser stops again. A repairman came out and said the coolant levels were good and replaced the manual disconnect. That didn't solve the problem.
Any other suggestion of what could be wrong?

Chances are that there is a manual reset safety in the unit that is causing the unit to cut out. When you kill power to the unit, the safety is reset and then starts again and runs for a brief period of time.
The 2 usual safeties are:
1. High head pressure - Generally caused by lack of airflow through the condenser (the outside part).
2. Low suction pressure - Generally caused by trying to maintain too low an indoor temperature, OR lack of airflow through the inside coil. Inside coils cam get clogged with dirt, and sometime they will actually frost-up, which would cause this problem.

I recommend that you get another contractor to come and look at your A/C. Chances are that one of these two things could be the problem. These are rather easily solved.

It could also be the thermal overload in the compressor. That would be from bad windings in the motor - not good. You might as well get a new unit then.

A/C Unit Freezing up

My house has two central air conditioning units. One of them has been freezing up and when it does it quits blowing cool air. After turning it off for an hour or two it seems to thaw out and be ok for a number of days before doing so again.

This could be one of 2 problems

1) Your aframe may be restricted not allowing the proper airflow though causing freeze up (Requires Cleaning by Qualified Personal )
2) The unit may be low on freon which may mean the system has a leak either in the condenser unit or in Aframe ( Requires Qualified Personal to locate leak & repair )

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