DIY Home AC Recharge

Want To Learn How To Charge Your Home AC System To Have It Blowing Ice Cold Like New Again?

Before we begin let me start off by saying your air conditioner should never be low on refrigerant.  Freon (R-22) and Puron (R-410a)  systems are sealed circuits so they should always have the same amount of refrigerant that they did when they were installed. The only reason you should ever find your AC low on refrigerant is if your air conditioner has developed a leak. Below we are going to simplify checking and charging your AC system all while leaving out  the AC mumbo jumbo you don’t care about.

3 Reasons Your AC Develops A Leak

Lack Of Maintenance Or Neglect

Manufacturer Defect

Age Of System

Signs Your AC Is Low On Freon Or Puron 

Not Blowing Cold Air

Long Run Time

Can Reach Set Temperature

AC Lines Freezing

Checking Freon Or Puron Simplified 

In order to check the refrigerant levels on your air conditioner you will need refrigerant gauges. If you do not own a pair or know someone that will lend you theirs I have a special link to contractor priced gauges here.

Once you have your gauges turn your air conditioner on cool mode and then attach the blue hose to the larger of the two copper pipes on the outdoor unit.

Read the label on your outdoor AC unit to determine what kind of refrigerant your system takes. Air conditioners installed 2009 and before are typically Freon (R-22) and those installed after are most likely Puron (R-410a).

If your air conditioner runs on R-22 the desired PSI is 75.

If your air conditioner runs on R-410a the desired PSI is 125.

If your system is more than 5 PSI below the desired number your AC desperately needs refrigerant. In order to handle refrigerant or purchase by law you are supposed to have an EPA license. For those  DIY home owners and handy folks R-22 and R-410a are available through Amazon. R-22 is being phased out by the EPA therefore the price of it is extremely high so I have provided a links for an  R-22 alternative 407c as well as the real stuff.

          

Charging Refrigerant 

With blue hose attached to the copper pipe attach the yellow hose to your refrigerant canister.

Open the valve on the refrigerant canister all the way. For R-22 and 407c do this right side up. For R-410a do this upside down as well as charge upside down.

turn the handle on your gauges  to allow refrigerant to charge in 10 second increments with a 1 minute pause in between to allow refrigerant to cycle through air conditioner.

For Ways To Prevent A Freon Leak 

Preventing A Freon Leak

3 Tips For Under $10 To Avoid A Breakdown

Summer is right around the corner and the last thing you want to have happen is an AC breakdown. So rather then a hefty repair bill go ahead and take care of a few key things to avoid a system failure.

Change Your Filter !

The run time on your AC system is going to increase dramatically in the upcoming months. Be sure to change your filter to ensure your AC’s air flow is not restricted.

Clean Your Drain Line !

With Summer just around the corner you can guarantee high humidity. Your AC system’s main purpose is to remove moisture aka humidity from the air. This moisture exits through the drain line make sure to put AC Drain Clean or Vinegar down your drain line

More Drain Line Tips

ac repair do it yourself

         

Clean Your Coils !

Cleaning your condensing coils is a very important  routine maintenance that is often forgotten. If you AC coils are impacted or clogged that can impede airflow and cause a breakdown or worse…..compressor failure.  Acid washing and removing debris is critical in assuring maximum efficiency and performance from your air conditioner

Coil Cleaning Tutorial

hvac repair     ac drain line repair

ac drain line repairHome HVAC Repair

Is Your AC Working Too Hard?

Ever wonder if your AC system is the cause of your high energy bill? The Power companies collectively say that your central AC system accounts for  50-60 percent of your entire power bill. The Compressor which is located inside the outdoor unit is the main consumer of power.

How Hard Is My Compressor Running 

Finding out how hard your compressor is running is very simple. First you must locate the information panel on your outdoor unit. Look for the compressor RLA.

           

The RLA is the max Run Load Amps  your compressor can take before if fails and causes a breakdown. According to the AC manufacturers the ideal amp draw for your AC system is 30-40 percent of your units RLA. The Carrier AC system pictured above has an RLA of 21.8 meaning  ideally  it should be running between 6.54 – 8.72 amps. In order to test your equipment’s amp draw you will need an amp meter if you do not own one I have provided a link to purchase a very affordable but reliable amp meter below.

Checking Amp Draw

In order to check your amp draw your system must be running. First remove the electrical panel door on your AC system. Next find the wire going from your compressor to your capacitor this wire is typically blue.

Turn your meter on and attach clamp to compressor wire only to test amp draw.

RLA- 21.8

Ideal Amps- 6.45 to 8.72

Lets See !

This Carrier system is running at 8.19 amps which means its running at manufacturer specifications.

What To Do If Your Amps Are High ?

Check Out My Tutorials Below To Help Lower Amp Draw And Increase Your AC System’s Efficiency !

Clean Outdoor Coils 

Add A Hard Start Assist Kit

Change Capacitor 

What Temperature Should Set My Thermostat To?

What temperature should I keep my thermostat set on ? This is a question I’ve been asked on a daily basis for numerous years. If your’re wondering as well your’re probably not going to be very happy with my answer.

Keep Your Thermostat Set At whatever You Want !

I’ve come across homeowners that keep their thermostat set anywhere between 68-82 degrees. The 2 biggest factors that should determine  what your temperature setting is include your comfort level and what your are willing to pay for your electric bill. The bottom line is the lower you set your temperature the higher your electric bill will be.

I myself keep my Nest Thermostat on a schedule to ensure maximum efficiency. You must have a programmable thermostat for the scheduling feature. A programmable schedule  allows you to have your AC system set at different temperatures at different times of the day.

My Thermostat Schedule

The reasoning behind having a schedule is to not cool or heat the house when it isn’t necessary. As you can see i set my temperature up during my working hours because my wife and I wont be home. It then gradually lowers the temperature throughout the evening when those desired temperatures are easier to achieve without a spike in the electric bill .

Programmable thermostats I Recommend 

For Beginners

Honeywell Pro6000

Easy installation guide included 

WiFi Capable

For Seasoned DIYers

Nest Learning Thermostat

*  I Personally Use This Thermostat

Video Installation Link Included

WiFi Capable  

 

AC Drain Line 101

Fix It Yourself AC

The most common service call i get throughout the year is a CLOGGED DRAIN LINE ! It does not matter if your air conditioner is old or new this can happen to you. If overlooked this can cause irreversible damage to your AC system and possibly to your beautiful home.  Last year i had 309 services calls related to the drain line an average of almost 1 per day. This Problem is by far the easiest to fix as well as prevent.

Why Does The Drain Line Clog?

  • Dirty Filters
  • Algae Build Up
  • Lack Of Maintenance
  • Outdoor PVC Blockage

What You Will Need 

For cleaning (1 of the 2 will suffice)

           

Then for prevention (1 of the 2 will suffice)

           

Don’t use bleach. Bleach will damage copper, plastic and PVC. It will also caused the joint to leak by eating the glue away. People say use it when the AC is on in the summer because the water is washing it right out. However that’s not the case when it’s clogged or when there is little humidity the bleach can sit in there.Why use something that will eat the pipes and glue. Use Drain line cleaner or vinegar. Both work  just as good and does not damage the pipes.

Cleaning The Drain

Estimated Job Time: 10-15 min.

Tools And Equipment Needed: Shop Vac or Mighty Pump

Difficulty: Very Easy

Find the drain line. most commonly the drain is located near the condenser or outdoor unit.

Example
Example

Then attach  Mighty Pump or wet/dry vacuum and proceed to clear drain completely.

Example
Example

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prevention

Estimated Job Time: 5 min.

Tools And Equipment Needed: Drain Cleaner or Vinegar

Difficulty: Very Easy 

Locate the air handler or indoor unit and remove the PVC cap from the drain line. Using a funnel or Pyrex, pour instructed amount NU Line or 1 cup of vinegar down the drain. Repeat this Process every time you change your air filter.

Want To Add 5 Years To The Life Of Your Compressor?

how to fix ac

Does your compressor make a hellacious noise upon start-up?

Do your lights dim every time your unit turns on ?

Adding a Hard Start Assist to your system can erase those problems and add at least 3-5 years to the lifespan of your compressor. That’s not even the best part, the best part is you can install it yourself for under $50.

What is a Hard Start Assist?

A Hard Start Assist stores energy inside it’s capacitor and when the unit turns on it uses that energy to aid the compressor upon start-up. After start-up the Hard Start Assist then uses the power from the unit to recharge itself so it’s ready to help again on the next heating or cooling cycle.

                        

1-3 Ton Kit                                         3.5-5 Ton Kit

Installation

Estimated Job Time : 20-25 min.

Tools And Equipment Needed: Drill or Nut Driver, Hard Start Kit, Hardware

Difficulty: Easy

  1. Turn Off The Power- At the main breaker and disconnect box.
  2. Open Electrical Panel- On the outdoor unit remove the screws to the electrical panel.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 
  3. Attach Both Wires To Capacitor- Attach both wires to the capacitor. One wire to the HERM and one to the C (common). It does not matter which wire goes to which.

    Example
  4. Mount Hardware- Attach the Hard Start kit with the screw and zip ties included in kit and put the panel back on.

    Example
  5. Restore Power- Turn power back on at the breaker panel and disconnect box.

Installing A Capacitor And A Hard Start Kit

How Much Should I Pay For A New AC Unit?

ac repair tips

Purchasing a new heating and cooling system for you home can drive you crazy. What Brand? What SEER rating? Heat pump or Straight cool? First things first don’t loose sleep over deciding on your new machine. Buy from someone you like and who works for a company with a good reputation.

What you should look for when selecting your company.

  • Google Reviews, Customer Testimonials, BBB rating. In that order just because a company is A+ on BBB doesn’t mean they’re the right company
  • A technician that knows their stuff and loves the company he or she works for
  • Warranties and Guaranties offered that go above and beyond the manufacturers warranty
  • 24 hour service
  • Offers financing and/or rebates

What To Know When Deciding On SEER rating 

SEER rating stands for seasonal energy efficiency rating. So basically the higher the SEER rating the lower your electric bill will be. Right now the minimum SEER rating is 14. In order to Qualify for most government rebates you will need to install 15 SEER. Anything you purchase that is 16 SEER and up i highly recommend changing your ducts as well. The reason i say that is because often times 16 SEER equipment requires much larger ducts to achieve the efficiency.

What Brand

Brand of equipment isn’t nearly as important as you might think. 90% of your unit’s lifespan is going to depend on Installation and maintenance. If you are really interested in which brands i think are the best please refer to my previous post AC Unit Power Rankings.

How Much

There is no right answer to this question. My company charges between 6 and 10k for an installation price all depends on size, SEER rating, and the company. Whatever you do don’t let friends or family dictate your purchase. When purchasing a heating and cooling system you want it to be your decision don’t let anyone force your hand you will know if you got a good deal or not once the whole experience is over with.

The Purchase 

After you have gathered your estimates, hopefully no more than 2 or 3  PULL THE TRIGGER! Just do it your life is way too important to waste time getting 10 estimates or researching model and serial numbers.

*TIP 

When calling the company you choose tell  the Technician or Manager you are willing to proceed with the work if they can do it for $500 cheaper.

 

 

FREON?

Has Your AC guy ever told you that you need to add Freon to your machine? Did you really need it? Today I will be sharing some info on what you need to know about Freon.

KINDS OF FREON

R-22: The old stuff. If your heating and cooling system was installed before 2009 there is a good chance this is the refrigerant your machine runs on. This
refrigerant is currently being phased out by the EPA due to the fact that when it leaks the gas depletes the ozone. R-22 is  expected to be gone by 2019.

R-410a: The new stuff also known as PURON. All new AC systems since 2010 are manufactured to run on PURON. R-410a does not contain bromine or chlorine which causes ozone depletion This refrigerant also allows for a higher SEER rating on your air conditioning and heating system.

HOW OFTEN SHOULD I ADD FREON

The answer to this question is simple…..NEVER. Your heating and cooling system is a sealed circuit. The condensing unit outside pumps the Freon as a liquid to Your air handler where the evaporator coils change it from liquid to gas. The gas then proceeds back to the condensing unit where the condensing coils change the FREON back to liquid. If your AC guy tells you that you need to add FREON ask him why. There are two reasons you will be low either someone let it out or most likely you have a LEAK. Don’t let your AC company charge you for FREON every year without finding out if or why you actually need it!

Target PSI

*Pressures may vary up to 5 psi higher or lower due to outside temperature

R-22:           200 over 75

R-410a:     300 over 125