AC air handler squealing or grinding noises. Though most air handlers have direct-drive motors, some older units may be belt-driven. Squealing sounds from a belt-drive air handler generally occur when the belt that connects the motor to the blower slips. In most cases, the belt is improperly aligned or worn and needs replacement. Follow the instructions above under Air Conditioner Not Blowing Air and refer to your owner’s manual.
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A contactor is a $25 mechanical relay that uses low-voltage power from the thermostat to switch 220-volt high-amperage current to the compressor and condenser fan. AC contactors can wear out and are at the top of the list of common air conditioning service failures. Even if your contactor is working, it pays to replace it every five years or so. Unscrew the old contactor before removing the wires. Then move the wires to the new unit (photo 6).
Additionally, new technology and government requirements are pushing manufacturers to build more energy efficient HVAC equipment. January 2006 we observed the end of 10 SEER units with 13 SEER air conditioning units mandated by the government. This only makes sense; however, with the higher efficiency, there comes complexity in the technology engineered into the equipment. A problem can be difficult to troubleshoot and diagnose and may require more time than the lower efficiency, less complex units.
If your unit needs more than two pounds or charged more than once a year it is recommended you have a refrigerant leak check done to your system. You most likely have a serious refrigerant leak and it needs to be repaired. Leaking units do not operate efficiently; take their toll on the environment, and can cause serious HVAC mechanical problems in the future. Lastly, a good HVAC service tech will attempt to find the refrigerant leak within the hour’s air conditioning service you are paying for in addition to the refrigerant charge.
An important component of natural ventilation is air change rate or air changes per hour: the hourly rate of ventilation divided by the volume of the space. For example, six air changes per hour means an amount of new air, equal to the volume of the space, is added every ten minutes. For human comfort, a minimum of four air changes per hour is typical, though warehouses might have only two. Too high of an air change rate may be uncomfortable, akin to a wind tunnel which have thousands of changes per hour. The highest air change rates are for crowded spaces, bars, night clubs, commercial kitchens at around 30 to 50 air changes per hour.
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When central air conditioning service fails during a heat spell, you may have to wait days for an HVAC repair technician or a ac contractor to show up, and you’ll probably pay at least several hundred for the repair. But if you’re comfortable working around electricity and are willing to spend about $50 on parts, you can probably repair your air conditioning service yourself in about two hours and save about $225 on parts markup and labor.