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Preparing for a summertime power outage caused by a storm or from excessive demand for electricity will help you protect your home and health. Staying cool, keeping hydrated, assuring personal safety and food safety, and protecting home appliances and electronics need to be addressed before the outage occurs.

  1. Staying cool - An increased reliance on air conditioning means that you're likely to become uncomfortable quickly during an outage. Small, battery-operated fans will help cool you, are inexpensive and quiet. Each family member should have such a fan, especially if the outage lasts into the night, when sleeping in warm temperatures can be uncomfortable.
  2. Keeping hydrated - In the event municipal water delivery is interrupted or becomes contaminated, it's a good idea to have at least one gallon of drinking water on hand for each family member. When your home warms, each family member needs to drink more water to avoid heat stress.
  3. Assuring personal safety - Have fresh batteries on hand for your flashlights and learn how to open the automatic garage door manually.
  4. Maintaining food safety - It's always good to have an extra cooler that you can fill with fresh or frozen food in the event the power outage lasts more than a few hours. Any frozen or refrigerated food that rises to 40 degrees F or higher should be discarded.
  5. Appliance safety - Identify the breakers in the breaker box so that any responsible family member knows which to turn off. When power is restored, it's common for it to surge through the lines coming into your home. These surges can burn out low-voltage components inside appliances and electronics, including cooling systems, rendering them inoperable. Show family members where and how to unplug the surge protectors for electronics. If you're away from home a good deal, consider having a whole-house surge protector installed or individual units for those appliances that are costly to repair or replace.

For more information about protecting your home in the event of a power outage, contact Gilman Heating and Cooling. We've provided trusted HVAC services for the Richmond, Ashland, Henrico, Chesterfield, Hanover and Glen Allen areas since 1917.

Contractors are often asked: why does an air conditioner leak water? Air conditioner water leakage is one of the most common reasons for service calls. Small leaks may not seem significant, especially if your A/C stands outside. However, you should promptly investigate any unusual leaks. Check with a professional contractor if you consistently notice too much water drainage from your A/C.

Some Water is OK

All air conditioners produce water because they dehumidify the air. In the most humid weather, your A/C can produce as much as 48 ounces of water every hour. If the water doesn’t drain properly, serious damage to the A/C and your home could result if leaks go unchecked. If you notice more water than normal, check for some common problems: A blocked condensate drain line is most often the cause of A/C leaks. When this happens, water backs up into the drain pan. Use a shop vacuum to clear out the drain line and prevent future leaks. Newer A/Cs have an automatic shutoff which protects the A/C and your home from backed-up water. Sometimes the drain pan may be worn or broken. A professional contractor can replace it. Dirty filters are the next most common cause of a leaky air conditioner. They make the A/C starved for air and produce ice crystals on the coils. When the ice melts, there’s more water than normal. Always keep clean A/C filters handy. Faulty condensate pumps also can be a contributing factor to why does an air conditioner leak water. The pumps have a float switch that activates the pump when water rises in the drain pan. If it’s connected, test it by adding water to the condensate drain pan. It should automatically turn on. Why does an air conditioner leak water with improper A/C installations? Air conditioners that are not correctly leveled won’t allow water drainage to flow where it should. A/Cs that are not properly pressurized aren’t as efficient and collect more water than they drain. The certified technicians at Gilman Heating and Cooling will help you stay cool in Greater Richmond. Call us for courteous and professional service.

The R-22 refrigerant phaseout could have an impact on your budget if your cooling system uses this refrigerant. Its use and production have both been scaled back per the conditions of the Montreal Protocol, which the U.S. signed. Scientists found that R-22 contributes to the depletion of the ozone layer and increases global warming. The protocol is global and participating countries must reduce the manufacture of this chemical, phasing it out altogether by 2020. Systems using R-22 are no longer manufactured after 2009, but pre-2010 systems still use R-22 for replenishment. Because the supply is restricted, the price has and will continue to climb, making this an expensive refill. Homeowners do have options, however, to deal with the R-22 refrigerant phaseout. The first is to keep the system components as clean as possible and the second is to replace older equipment that uses R-22 refrigerant. Any cooling system that's 10 years or older likely uses R-22.

Maintenance

Keeping the air filter clean inside the air handler reduces the likelihood of dust covering the evaporator coil inside. Dust and dirt contribute to small leaks in the coil, which can also contribute to leaking refrigerant. Hosing off the coils in the outdoor condenser will also prevent leaks from forming.

Replacement

Most new cooling systems use R410-A as the refrigerant—a more efficient, less costly and safer product. The minimum energy efficiency of new air conditioners and heat pumps stands with a seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) of 13, and if you're replacing one that has a 10 SEER or lower, your energy bills will drop substantially. New technologies for cooling systems provide more comfort and convenience, with better humidity removal and quieter operation. To learn more about the R-22 refrigerant phaseout and your existing HVAC equipment, contact Gilman Heating and Cooling. We provide top-notch HVAC services for the Richmond, Ashland, Henrico, Chesterfield, Hanover and Glen Allen areas.  

Your home cooling effort comes crashing to a halt if you suffer the unfortunate dilemma of a frozen A/C. There are a number of common causes for a freeze-up. If you can identify the problem and thaw everything out, your air conditioner will be back to cooling your home efficiently in no time. Here are some possible causes for a frozen A/C that you can use to try to diagnose the problem. If you need assistance finding the blame or if the problem has wreaked havoc on your air conditioning, don’t be afraid to give us a call so we can come help out.

  • Lack of airflow. The coil needs to stay above freezing, so without enough airflow the coil will freeze itself up. Instead of condensing warm air into colder air, it will turn the already condensed water into ice. Improving airflow fixes the problem and helps your A/C run colder.
  • Slow fan. If your A/C fan is not running quickly enough you can end up with a frozen A/C. There might be a blockage or damage to the fan, but it might simply have a faster setting that it can be set to in order to fix the issue.
  • Low refrigerant level. You might be surprised to learn that low refrigerant can lead to a frozen A/C, but the fact is that the coil will get too cold if there isn’t enough. You might need us to fix a leak and replenish your refrigerant levels.
  • Running hard on cool nights. If you leave your A/C running strong and then we experience an overnight drop in temperature, the A/C can freeze. The blame may lie with the thermostat.
  • Drainage. If moisture is not draining properly, the liquid will build up and turn to ice while the A/C is running.

For help diagnosing and fixing a freeze-up or other air conditioning problem, go ahead and contact us at Gilman Heating and Cooling. We’ve been proudly serving the Richmond area since 1917.

Air conditioning is the single biggest energy consumer in your Virginia home this summer. If you’re shopping for a new A/C, you want to invest in one that will provide top features for comfort and energy efficiency. One of these features is a thermal expansion valve. Unlike fix orifices or capillary tubes, a thermal expansion valve changes its size to adjust the refrigerant flow rate based on current conditions. This precise method of cooling your home comes with several benefits:

  • Cooling just the way you need it: Your air conditioner has a specific cooling capacity, which should meet your home’s cooling requirements as closely as possible to increase efficiency. However, cooling requirements change all the time because of outdoor temperature changes, use of heat-generating appliances, sunlight and more. A thermal expansion valve helps the A/C respond better to these changes for the greatest efficiency possible.
  • Lower utility bills: When just the right amount of refrigerant flows through the system, a precise amount of cooling output is produced. Tests show that air conditioners featuring a thermal expansion valve outperform those without it, even when the thermal expansion valve-equipped A/C is charged improperly at installation.
  • Protection for the compressor: Sometimes, a fix orifice or capillary tube starves the evaporator coil of refrigerant when cooling needs are high, or it floods the coil in low cooling conditions. In this latter situation, the refrigerant can continue past the evaporator coil and reach the compressor, damaging this expensive component.

In addition to a thermal expansion valve, your new air conditioner should also have the following features for the greatest efficiency possible:

  • Variable-speed air handler for the right amount of airflow
  • Fan-only switch for nighttime ventilation
  • Filter check light to remind you when it’s time to change the filter
  • Automatic-delay fan switch to run the fan longer than the compressor and circulate cooled air as efficiently as possible

For more tips on choosing a new air conditioner with a thermal expansion valve, please contact Gilman Heating and Cooling. We offer expert heating and cooling services to residents in Chesterfield, Hanover, Glen Allen and the surrounding areas.  

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