Air units may need upgraded to meet new standards

By SHELLEY HANSON

Times Leader Staff Writer

BARNESVILLE — Now is the best time for people to start thinking about upgrading their whole house air conditioning units, according to one local company.

Kellie Loudin, co-owner of Rumer Loudin Inc. that has offices in Barnesville and St. Clairsville, said by 2020 older AC units will become outdated because of a mandate, known as the Montreal Protocol, regarding the type of refrigerant that must be used.

She said by 2020, according to a government mandate, 99.5 percent of units that use R22 refrigerant must be phased out to make way for new units that use a new refrigerant, R410A. The new refrigerant is supposed to be better for the environment and is expected to cause less damage to the ozone layer. The old R22 refrigerate cannot be used in units that require R410A.

“Now is the time to put in a new one. … The new equipment is much more efficient,” Loudin said.

She added to keep one’s air conditioning unit running well this summer, one should make sure they do some simple maintenance on their unit.

“People should make sure the environment around the air conditioner is free of grass and nests made by pests, and that dogs aren’t urinating on it. When pets urinate on it, it eats away the coils. … People need to make sure their coils are clean and change their filters regularly. If people ignore their filters the system can’t breathe,” Loudin said.

She said air filters are like the lungs of a house and if they become dirty, it is like the home has asthma.

“It affects efficiency and energy,” Loudin said.

In addition to giving the AC unit space to breathe, one should also make sure there is enough room for a technician to work on it, if necessary. For example, some people try to squeeze their unit under a porch deck, but that usually does not provide enough room for a worker to reach it.

Loudin also does not recommend that people tape bags over their units during off months.

“Condensation can form under there and the moisture will work on the metal of the unit,” she added.

Loudin’s other tips to help one’s AC unit perform well for season:

“Be sure your breaker is on to your outdoor unit. Many times the breaker was shut off for some reason or tripped over the winter and we get a service request and all that was wrong is the breaker needed reset.”

“Be sure your registers are unblocked and open. Sometimes a room gets too warm and the damper in the register is closed but needs opened in the air conditioning season or furniture has been rearranged and the registers are covered. Also, some ducts have dampers in them, accessible in the basement and they need opened for air conditioning season.”

“Check the drain for your air conditioner to be sure it is free flowing and won’t back up to fill up the evaporator coil pan and allow water to run into your furnace. It is a damp environment so it promotes growth of icky stuff that can clog your drain.”

“Many people turn off their air conditioner while they are at work and then turn it back on when they get home thinking it will save them money. It does not. An air conditioner dehumidifies the home by removing humidity not only from the air but carpet, furniture, curtains, etc. When turning the system off for hours and then back on, it has to start the dehumidification process all over again. You are better off to turn the thermostat up than to turn the system off. Let’s say you typically set your thermostat at 72 degrees, turn it up to 78 or 80 instead of shutting it off altogether.”

“It is important to get an air conditioning system sized properly. If a system is oversized, it will cool down too quickly before removing all the humidity. That is why you can be in a cool indoor environment but still feel sticky and uncomfortable. If it is undersized, it will run and run and run and never do the job. An air conditioning system is designed to cool to 20 degrees below the outdoor temperature. So, when we experience those unusual above 90 degree days, most air conditioners will run without shutting of until evening.”

“Some customers get confused about the thermostat when switching from heating to cooling. Remember, you always turn a thermostat up to be warmer and down to be cooler no matter which mode it is set to operate.”

Rumer Loudin also is known for its geothermal heat pumps, which uses the earth’s natural heat in an underground loop system. The geothermal system can also be used to cool one’s home.

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