Althoff Industries Inc. Blog: Posts Tagged ‘Residential Cooling’

Emergency HVAC Services: Why You Should Always Have a Pro on Call

Thursday, November 19th, 2020

Regardless of the climate where you live, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems are critical to your overall well-being. However, much like all major home systems and appliances, HVAC systems can sometimes break down at the most inconvenient times, which is why you should always have a 24-hour emergency HVAC service company at your beck and call.

If your HVAC system is malfunctioning and you require the assistance of a reliable heating and air conditioning repair company, then contact the professionals at Althoff Industries today. No matter the time of day, you can count on Althoff Industries to keep your equipment in working order.

Types of Emergencies That May Require the Help of HVAC Technicians

Having a problem with your cooling and heating systems is never a pleasant situation, especially if it happens in the middle of the night. However, understanding if a situation is severe enough to merit a call for an emergency HVAC service can be challenging. Here are a few suggestions to help you determine if your heating and cooling system needs immediate attention.

Air Conditioner Failure

There’s no worse time for an air conditioner to stop working than in the middle of a hot summer day or night. Breakdowns and issues with your air conditioner can be harmful to your family’s health and safety during a heatwave. Additionally, many homeowners have health problems that could potentially worsen in hot and humid conditions, making the need for emergency air conditioning services even more critical.

If your HVAC system stops cooling, internal temperatures can rise rapidly and can not only be harmful to your physical well-being but your mental health as well. If your AC system suddenly stops providing you with adequate air conditioning, calling an emergency HVAC service is more than warranted.

No Heat or Airflow

Just as your HVAC system is critical for cooling in the summer, it is equally as important for heating during the winter months. In Chicago, there are many days when the temperature falls below zero, and you need your HVAC system to provide you with adequate heating.

If your HVAC system stops working in the middle of winter, temperatures in your home can plummet quickly. Whether your boiler stops working or your furnace is malfunctioning, calling an emergency heating service to repair your HVAC system is critical.

Strange Smells

Furthermore, it doesn’t just have to be a heating or air conditioning malfunction that warrants a phone call to an emergency HVAC repair specialist. HVAC systems are not supposed to smell funny, and they certainly should not be pumping out potentially toxic air.

If your air conditioner or heater is filling your home with a strange or funny smell every time you use it, it could mean there’s an overflow of bacteria, contaminants, or mildew. Additionally, it could also indicate an electrical problem within the HVAC system itself that could cause it to become overheated.

If your HVAC system is filling your home with a strange smell, contact an emergency HVAC service to fix the problem immediately.

Safety Concerns

Last but certainly not least, if you have any questions regarding your HVAC system’s ability to provide you with adequate safety in your home, an emergency HVAC service may be able to help. When it comes to your HVAC system, it’s always better to be safe than sorry, especially if you live in an area with inclement weather.

If you are concerned about the health and safety of you and your loved ones and aren’t sure if your HVAC system is working properly, call an emergency HVAC service right away to have them take a look.

Contact Althoff Industries Today for Your 24/7 Emergency HVAC Service

Here at Althoff Industries, we’re committed to providing our customers with around the clock emergency HVAC services to make sure your home stays warm and cozy. No matter what the issue is, Althoff Industries is here to help. Our technicians will diagnose and quickly fix any signs of malfunction or failure within your HVAC system and work around the clock to keep you safe.

If there’s an issue with your HVAC system and it needs immediate attention, contact the professionals at Althoff Industries to provide you with reliable services 24 hours a day.

Continue Reading

5 Benefits of Central AC (Besides Just Keeping Your Home Cool)

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2020

We all know that central AC is a must-have to keep your home cool during these hot summer months but a quality system has a range of benefits outside of just keeping temperatures regulated. Let’s take a look at 5 additional benefits of a central air conditioner outside of just keeping your home cool.

1. Regulate Humidity Levels

During the summer, high humidity is a given in the Midwest. Not only do high humidity levels make you hot and uncomfortable, but they can make you feel tired and foggy because your body is working harder to cool itself off.

Pests and allergens also thrive in humid environments so it is important to keep the humidity in your home around 30%-50% to stay both comfortable and healthy all summer long.

A properly installed central AC system is a great way to help regulate humidity levels in your home and can be paired with a dehumidifier to help further regulate moisture levels in the air!

2. Filter Out Harmful Dust and Debris

Filters may seem like nothing more than large pieces of cardboard with fibers or pleated paper-like material but they are actually extremely important to the functionality of your central AC system and an old filter could affect the air quality in your home.

Filters remove harmful dust and debris that could irritate your respiratory system and create cleaner air for you to breathe. Old air filters and low-quality air filters will not do a great job of filtering out these irritants and potentially recirculate particles back into your home. It is important that you change filters regularly and buy high-quality filters.

Make sure you look at the MERV value of the air filters you purchase. The higher the MERV value is, the more efficient the filter will be in trapping airborne particles. Our experts at Althoff typically recommend the high-quality filter and cabinet from Aprilaire. Our typical installation is either MERV 11 or MERV 13. To learn more about the Aprilaire air filters, visit our indoor air quality page!

3. Prevent Mold Growth

If your home is hot and humid, it could become the perfect environment for mold growth. Central AC units help to prevent mold by removing moisture (see Regulate Humidity Levels above) from the air that would otherwise shack up in walls and ceilings. During the hot, humid summer months, it is important that you set your central air conditioner between 68 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit and maintain the proper humidity levels that we talked about earlier to prevent this unwanted mold.

4. Improve Sleep

The AC unit you have in your home can make a massive difference when it comes to the quality of sleep you are getting. Trying to sleep when you are too hot or cold is nearly impossible, and many have to suffer through sleepless nights, especially during summer because their AC system is inadequate. In addition, other options like window units or fans can be noisy and keep light sleepers up at night.

If your cooling system is keeping you up at night, we highly recommend contacting our HVAC experts to discuss installing a new system or upgrading your current one so you can finally get a good night’s rest, again.

5. Easier Installations & Maintenance

A huge benefit of having a professionally installed central AC system is that once it is there, you don’t have to worry about removing it and storing it in winter like bulky window units. Central AC systems can also be easily maintained and serviced. Instead of searching for what’s wrong with your AC, trying to fix it yourself, or buying a whole new unit, you can call the professionals at Althoff to come out and take a look.

If you are ready to invest in the comfort and air quality of your home, you can request a quote from our experts at Althoff Industries or give us a call at 815-455-7000 for more information.

Continue Reading

Central AC Costs and Considerations: What Will Work for Your Home and Budget

Thursday, June 25th, 2020

Central AC is a game changer when it comes to beating the summer heat. Walking into your home on a hot day and having cold air hit your face is an awesome feeling. Not only do these systems circulate that wonderful cool air throughout your entire home, they also can improve your indoor air quality with high-quality filters, are quiet, and are extremely easy to use.

Now, this all sounds great but what you really want to know is how much it costs to install central AC in your home. Below we have outlined some of the factors that affect how much a central AC will cost.

Before we begin, it is important to consult with a professional who can accurately determine what type of central AC system will work best for your budget and install the system correctly. Our team at Althoff has worked with many homeowners just like you and can guide you through the entire process to ensure you make the best choice for your home.

1. The Size of Your Home

Like many things in life, central AC systems are not one size fits all. The square footage of your home helps to determine which AC unit size will keep you comfortable all summer long.

Air conditioner sizes are based on how much heat they can extract from your home. The amount of heat that can be extracted by an AC system is measured by BTUs (British thermal units). Every AC on the market indicates how many BTUs the unit can handle.

As the amount of BTUs increases, the cost of the system will increase. You will see us reference this unit of measurement throughout the rest of this post as we discuss other things that can affect cost.

2. Your Home’s Exposure to Sunlight

Although the square footage of your home is a great starting point when looking at how much a central AC will cost, it is also important to also think about how heat enters your home.

Even if the square footage is the same, homes with rooms that have huge windows will get hotter than homes with smaller windows and may need a system that can handle more BTUs even if the square footage is the same.

In the same vein, homes that are in the shade for the majority of the day or have windows that are not facing the sun will require a different system than those that are exposed to direct sunlight throughout the day.

3. Ceiling Height

A room with a high ceiling has much more volume than a room with a standard ceiling height – even if the square footage is the same.

If air conditioner capacity is too low for the overall volume of the room, the unit will cycle off frequently and the room will not remain cool – if it ever cools off at all.

4. Replacing Ductwork

Many newer homes are ready for central AC, but older homes may require ductwork. Ductwork will increase the cost but you will be thankful for the update in the long run. Sometimes the existing ducts are too small, worn or not properly insulated. This could lead to loud noise from the AC and higher energy bills because the system is working harder than it should.

5. SEER Rating and Energy Efficient Systems

Units with a higher SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) rating will cost more than lower-rated models, but they save more money over time and they are more environmentally friendly. Click here to learn more about SEER ratings for residential air conditioners.

6. Professional Installation

Some people try to install their AC system themselves but it is in your best interest to hire a professional. A lot of air conditioning systems are not installed correctly which can lead to issues like improper cooling and higher energy bills. Hiring a professional ensures that your unit will perform efficiently and keep your home cool.

Stay Cool This Summer With Althoff

Whether you are installing a new system or replacing your old one, the experts at Althoff can help. Contact us today to discuss your central AC needs. Give us a call at 815-455-7000 or complete an online form to schedule your appointment.

Continue Reading

How Central AC Works and How to Keep Cool All Season Long

Tuesday, May 26th, 2020

Summer is the perfect time for backyard barbecues, going for a swim at the pool, or taking a weekend getaway to the lake. When your air conditioner is running at 100 percent, summer is a breeze. If your AC isn’t performing its best, the summer heat can quickly turn into your worst enemy.

What’s the key to keeping your AC up and running? First, you need to know how the system works. With some basic AC know how, you can better understand what your AC needs to have a long, efficient life.

Once you understand how the system works, all the AC tips you’ve read online—and hopefully, here on our blog—make sense. Best of all, if you run into any trouble along the way, or suspect you need professional help, we can help.

How Your Central AC System Works

Most residential AC systems are pretty straightforward. They have a thermostat to control the temperature in your home, an air handler to circulate air throughout your home, and an air conditioning system to cool the air as it circulates through your home.

Thermostat

You’re probably familiar with your home’s thermostat. It actively measures the temperature within your home. In cooling mode, when the registered temperature is higher than the set temperature, the thermostat tells the system to turn on the AC and cool the home.

Circulating the air

Your central AC air handler is responsible for circulating cool air throughout your home. The air handler sucks in air through the return vents in your house. Next, the air passes through the air conditioning system and cools the air. Once cooled, the air handler blows the air through the vents in your home to lower air temperature in your house. Finally, when the thermostat measures that the temperature of the air in the house is cold enough, it tells the air handler to turn off.

Cooling the air

The air conditioning system is responsible for cooling the air as the air handler circulates it throughout your home. As a refrigeration system, the air conditioner actually removes the heat from the air in your home to make it feel colder. Air conditioners have three main components: a condenser, evaporator, and compressor.

As air passes through the air conditioning system, it passes through copper tubing that contains a refrigerant. This refrigerant removes heat from the air passing through the system. The compressor helps release the heat extracted by the refrigerant as the cooled air moves back through the air handler and into your house.

Simple Tips for Maintaining Your AC

AC repairs can be inconvenient, expensive, and as luck would have it, tend to happen on the hottest day of the year. Here are a few basic tips you can use to help keep your AC in tip-top, efficient shape for the long haul.

1. Be smart with your windows and doors. The hotter the air in your house, the harder your AC has to work. Open windows and doors leak hot air from the outside into your house. During hot summer days, limit how often you come in and out of your house. Also, identify and seal leaky windows in your house.

2. Inspect and change your air filter regularly. Your central AC system needs to circulate air freely throughout your house to operate efficiently. As the air handler sucks in air from your house, it also sucks in dirt, hair, dust, and other debris. Over time, these materials clog the air filter, which causes more wear on the system as it has to work harder to circulate air through the dirty filter.

3. Let the condenser breathe. Are there a lot of plants and leaves around your air conditioner’s outside unit? The condenser needs to expel air from the system freely. If plants are growing around the condenser or if it’s covered in leaves, clear them away so the unit can operate efficiently.

4.Allow air to flow freely through your home. For your air conditioner to operate at its optimal efficiency, the air handler needs to circulate through your home. You may think that closing vents and closing doors will help save money on your utility bills. In reality, it makes your air conditioner work harder as it tries to circulate air through closed vents and areas.

Don’t Forget to Schedule Regular AC System Maintenance

Need help maintaining your air conditioning system? The AC experts at Althoff Industries are just a phone call or click away. Give us a call at 815-455-7000 or fill out a contact form.

Continue Reading

What You Need to Know About AC Freon Leaks and What to Do

Wednesday, April 29th, 2020

A cool, comfortable home can feel magical on a hot summer day. With a few taps of the thermostat, you can go from sweating to sleeping comfortably. While it may seem like magic, what’s happening in that big metal AC box outside is science.

Air conditioners rely on a refrigerant, in many cases, freon, to help cool the air circulating through your house. More often than not, when your AC breaks down and stops blowing cold air, a refrigerant leak is to blame.

Do you know how to tell if you have a freon leak? Refrigerant leaks can not only be harmful to the environment, but dangerously harmful for your health too. If you live in a house with AC, it’s important for you to be able to identify a refrigerant leak and know what to do if your AC is leaking.

air conditioner not working

What Is Freon?

As a type of refrigerant, freon removes heat from the air inside of your home as it moves through the AC unit and displaces it outside. The air conditioner then circulates the cool air through your house.

Without a refrigerant, your HVAC system would just continue circulating the same warm air through your house. For your home to stay cool throughout the summer, the level of refrigerant in your AC system needs to remain full.

The refrigeration system that houses freon in your AC is a closed system. With a closed system, none of the gas or fluid within the system has a chance of escaping, unless there’s a leak. A technician should never recommend “topping off” your system’s freon—they should recommend fixing the leak.

If your technician does recommend topping off freon, contact a different company immediately to come and take a look at your system.

5 Signs Your AC Is Leaking

You don’t have to be an HVAC expert to know if your air conditioner is leaking refrigerant. We’ve come up with five critical indicators your system needs an immediate repair.

  1. AC is blowing warm air. As we pointed out earlier, refrigerants like freon cool the air by removing heat and circulating cool air through your home. If there’s not enough freon in the system, it may feel like the blower is circulating warm air through your house.
  2. Low airflow. Understandably, if your system is running low on refrigerant, it won’t be pumping out as much cool air. This effect may feel like there’s a lower airflow coming through the ducts in your house.
  3. Ice builds up on outside lines. If you notice your house isn’t as cold as it should be, and you start poking around the outdoor unit, you may see icy buildup on the copper refrigerant lines. This sign is a surefire indicator that your system has a refrigerant leak.
  4. It won’t maintain a consistent temperature in the house. Are you noticing that your home can’t seem to keep cool during the middle of the day, but it cools down at night? If your house is struggling to stay cool, but you can still feel some cold air coming, it’s an indicator your AC may have recently sprung a leak.
  5. Your utility bill has skyrocketed. If your air conditioner is running low on refrigerant, it’s not operating at its optimal efficiency. Even when working at 100 percent, ACs demand a lot of electricity. If your AC is always running because it’s trying to keep the house cool, you’re going to see it reflected on your utility bill.

What Should You Do If You Expect Your AC Is Leaking Freon?

If you expect your AC is leaking refrigerant, the first thing you should do is turn off your thermostat. By running the AC with a leak, you’re at risk for causing more damage to the unit and releasing more freon into the environment.

While refrigerant leaks are easy to identify, it usually takes a skilled hand to locate the leak, complete the repair, and recharge the system with refrigerant. Althoff Industries can help. We offer expert 24/7/365 AC repair. To schedule an appointment, give us a call at 815-455-7000 or if you have an emergency dial our hotline at 800-225-2443.

Continue Reading

Spring Air Conditioner Maintenance Checklist and Tips for Homeowners

Friday, April 10th, 2020

When the weather starts to warm up, you want to be sure you can count on your air conditioner to do its job before it gets too hot. If you’re prepared, you can make sure you’re ready for the summer heat before the temps start climbing.

In this blog, we’ll outline the DIY air conditioner tasks that you can perform to get your system ready for summer. Of course, if you’d rather be enjoying the warm spring days instead of tinkering with your A/C unit give Althoff a call, and we can handle all your system’s annual A/C maintenance tasks for you.

Safety First

When working on home appliances, you must turn off the power before you get started. With air conditioners, you should turn off power at the thermostat and the breaker. Additionally, you’ll need a pair of safety glasses and possibly gloves. As you would expect, using a hose to spray debris out of the outside unit can get messy.

Air Conditioner Maintenance Checklist

When performing work on your air conditioning system, you’ll be working on the inside HVAC system and the outdoor unit.

1. Inspect your air filter

Your HVAC system needs to breathe to operate. If you’re getting ready to turn on your air conditioner for the first time, inspect the system’s air filter, first. Odds are that you’re probably due for a new filter.

Inspecting your air filter monthly and changing it as needed is one of the most simple and cost-effective ways to keep your system running.

Dirty air filters force your system to work harder, and over time, that extra workload can cause unnecessary wear and tear on the system. You don’t want your air conditioner to break down in the middle of a heatwave because of a clogged filter.

2. Inspect and clean out the evaporator drain

On the most basic level, your air conditioner keeps your house cool by removing heat from the air it’s circulating. Your air conditioner removes heat from the air using an evaporator coil, in which humidity condensates and collects. Eventually, water droplets from that drip from the coil to a drain pan, and finally, down the drainpipe.

Over time, this drainpipe can become clogged with mold or debris. If the drain can’t properly carry water away from the unit, then your system may shut off automatically to prevent damage, or it may leak water all over the floor.

You can easily clean out the drainpipe with a wet/dry vacuum. Simply use the vacuum to suction the drainpipe for a few minutes to ensure it’s clear of obstructions.

3. Clear debris away from your outdoor unit

Over winter and early spring, sticks, leaves and other debris have likely fallen on or around your outdoor air conditioner. Be sure to clear away any yard waste that has collected near your unit. You’ll want to clear at least a 2-foot radius around the unit to ensure it can function properly throughout the summer.

4. Complete a visual inspection of your outdoor A/C unit

Once you’ve cleared away any debris, visually inspect the outside unit for any signs of damage. Check to see if any pieces seem broken or out of place. This damage could be caused by the weather or by animals making nests in your unit over the winter.

Also, make sure the insulation is still in place around the unit’s refrigeration lines. Make sure the insulation isn’t brittle to the touch and surrounds the lines completely.

5. Clean the outside unit

Cleaning the outdoor unit is simple and only requires a few household tools and a garden hose. First, remove the cover from the unit. Then, remove any debris inside.

Next, use a garden hose with a sprayer attachment to clean the unit’s fins. From the inside of the unit, point the nozzle toward the outside to dislodge any debris that’s stuck between the fins. Once cleared, you can use a butter knife to straighten out any fins that have become bent or misshapen.

Need Help? Contact Althoff Industries

We know that not everyone gets excited about annual air conditioner maintenance as we do. Sit back, relax, and let us get our hands dirty instead. Contact us today to schedule your yearly air conditioner tune-up. Give us a call at 844-202-7430 or complete an online form to schedule your appointment. If you are having trouble getting your air conditioner to work even after completing the maintenance steps above, we can help with that, too. You can use the link above to schedule an appointment or, if the situation needs to be taken care of right away, call our emergency service hotline.

Continue Reading

What Is a SEER Rating and Why Does It Matter?

Friday, March 6th, 2020

Are you in the market for a new HVAC system for your home? If you’re shopping for a new air conditioning system, you’ve probably had a bunch of numbers thrown at you: price, tons, voltage, or, what we will focus on today, SEER rating.

A SEER rating is used to measure the efficiency of your cooling system. Do you know what SEER rating system you need for your home? Do you know what to look for when shopping for air conditioners and reviewing SEER ratings? Do you know why SEER ratings matter?

In this article, we’ll help you understand SEER ratings and why they’re important when shopping for your new AC system.

modern ac unit

What Is a SEER Rating?

SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio.

What the SEER rating does, is measure the cooling efficiency of an air conditioner or heat pump. Manufacturers calculate the SEER rating by dividing the cooling output for a typical cooling season by the total electric energy consumed during the same period.

Think about the SEER rating this way. Automakers almost always disclose the miles per gallon a car will receive; the SEER rating is extremely similar. Instead of thinking about gas consumed over miles traveled, think electricity consumed over cold air generated.

Typically, the SEER ratings for new residential air conditioners range from 13 to over 20. Like mpg for vehicles, a higher SEER rating indicates greater efficiency.

While the SEER rating is important to consider when purchasing an air conditioner, the highest SEER rating may not be the most suitable or the most affordable option for everyone. You’ll need to consider factors including the age of your house, the size of your house, your preferred temperature setting, and where you live.

What Does the SEER Rating Matter?

Like any other seemingly arbitrary calculation, you may be wondering, “I know higher is better, but what does the SEER rating really mean to me?”

Minimum SEER ratings

The U.S Department of Energy has established minimum SEER rating requirements for air conditioners, this rating varies based on region. If you live in the northern U.S., you can purchase air conditioners with a 13 SEER rating minimum. New systems in Illinois have to have a rating of no less than 14. For more information, refer to this brochure from Energy.gov.

Lower environmental impact

When you purchase an air conditioner with a higher SEER rating, you’re committing yourself to a lower environmental impact. Units with higher SEER ratings produce more cool air using less energy.

More efficiency equals lower utility bills

Piggybacking off the lowered environmental impact, when you use less energy, you can lower your monthly utility bill. This will be especially noticeable if you’re replacing an older air conditioner with a new one.

Older units typically have lower SEER ratings and have lost their efficiency even further as the unit has worn down over time. In some cases, the savings from a newer, more efficient AC unit can offset the cost over time.

Greater indoor comfort

Being hot and sweaty inside of your own home during a heatwave can be unbearable. Maintaining a cool indoor environment is particularly essential if you have difficulty breathing or other medical conditions. Typically, air conditioners with higher SEER ratings have more efficient motors to help keep your home at a consistent, cool temperature all summer long.

You may qualify for a rebate

If you’re replacing an older air conditioning unit, you may be able to qualify for a tax rebate, depending on where you live and what you have installed. Energystar.gov has a rebate finder that you can use to find out if you are eligible.

Improved air quality

Air conditioners with higher SEER ratings can also help maintain air quality.

There isn’t a lot of fresh air making its way into your home. Using a central AC unit allows you to continuously circulate the air through the home and filter out particles like dust and allergens. It is important to note that you need to regularly check and change your AC filters to ensure the best air quality.

Need Help Finding the Perfect Air Conditioner for Your Home?

The air conditioning experts at Althoff industries can help you determine the perfect air conditioner with the best SEER rating for your home and budget. Contact the experts at Althoff Industries today for more information or give us a call at 815-455-7000.

Continue Reading

Do Energy-Efficient Appliances Save Money?

Friday, December 20th, 2019

We’re always looking for new ways to save money without giving up the small luxuries we love. By switching to energy-efficient appliances, you could save hundreds of dollars per year.

Better yet, you’ll be keeping more money in your pocket, instead of paying it to the utility companies. That means more vacations and less painful bills and this switch will have minimal impact on your life.

Not only are energy-efficient appliances good for your wallet, they’re also beneficial for the environment as well. You’ll sleep easier knowing you’re making smart environmental and financial decisions.

Energy Star Appliances and SEER Ratings

If you’ve purchased an appliance in the past 25 years, you’re probably familiar with the Energy Star label. Energy Star is a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency voluntary program that helps businesses and individuals save money and protect our climate through superior energy efficiency.

According to the Energy Star website, “Since 1992, Energy Star and its partners helped save American families and businesses nearly 4 trillion kilowatt-hours of electricity and achieve over 3 billion metric tons of greenhouse gas reductions, equivalent to the annual emissions of over 600 million cars. In 2017 alone, Energy Star and its partners helped Americans avoid $30 billion in energy costs.”

SEER stands for “Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio,” and is the efficiency rating of an HVAC system, which measures the efficiency of specific appliances in your home. The SEER rating of an appliance—your AC unit, refrigerator, or your heating system—is based on a number of factors.

It is also important to note that the higher the SEER rating, the more energy-efficient the appliance will be.

Energy-Efficient Appliances Use Less Energy and Save You Money

Customers often wonder how they can save money by dropping money on new energy-efficient appliances when their older models seem to be functioning just fine.

Energy-efficient appliances can help you save money by using less energy and resources such as electricity, gas, and water.

Remember that your gas, water, and electricity bills aren’t set in stone. Utility companies charge based on the amount you consume every month.

Energy-efficient appliances use fewer resources than older appliances to complete the same task, which lowers your monthly utility costs.

Dryers

Dryers generally consume the most energy of any appliance. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), a typical household dryer consumes as much energy per year as an energy-efficient refrigerator, washing machine, and dishwasher combined. If you have an older model, that number could be even higher.

Energy Star certified dryers use 20% less electricity than a conventional model, which will save you a significant amount of money on your energy bills over time.

Washing Machines

Pair that energy-efficient dryer with an energy-efficient washing machine, you’ll enjoy even bigger savings on your monthly bills.

An Energy Star certified washing machine uses about 25% less energy and 33% less water than regular washers, according to Energy Star.

Energy Star also estimated that there are 74 million top-loading washers and 24 million front-loading washers—26 million of which are at least 10 years old—still in use across the country and these inefficient washers cost consumers about $4.7 billion each year in energy and water.

Energy-efficient front-loading clothes washers also require less laundry detergent than top-loading washers, so you save more money from week to week!

Refrigerators

There have been significant advances in the technology used in refrigerators over the last decade or so, which means that outdated refrigerators are using a ton of extra energy in many homes to this day.

The Energy Star certified refrigerators available today are around 10% more energy-efficient than models that meet the federal minimum energy standards.

If you have an older refrigerator, you can save even more on your energy bills by upgrading to a more efficient option. Energy Star certified refrigerators use up to 40% less energy than the conventional models sold in 2001.

Energy-Efficient HVAC Systems

By upgrading the HVAC system in your home, you will likely see a significant return on your investment over time.

Now, it may seem like a lot of cash upfront, but if you keep your new system well-maintained you will definitely see the savings in the long term.

According to the DOE, the most efficient central AC systems today use 30% to 50% less energy than those built in the mid-1970s. Even when a 10-year-old unit is replaced, the new air conditioner can cut cooling costs by anywhere from 20% to 40%.

In addition to that, heating your home actually costs you the most money, making up about 42% of your utility bill according to energy.gov. An outdated system with a low SEER rating is likely costing you a lot more monthly than you would like.

We have come really far when it comes to the technology available in modern HVAC systems in the last 20+ years. Talk to an expert and find out which HVAC system is right for your home so you can start saving.

Other examples of energy-efficient appliances available to consumers include:

  • Cooking appliances
  • Dishwashers
  • Toilets
  • Water heaters

Are You Considering Making Energy-Efficient Improvements to Your Home?

Maybe you are ready to take a step towards a more energy-efficient home and cost savings or you’re already there and your energy-efficient HVAC system needs maintenance. No matter what your case is, the experts at Althoff Industries can help with your energy-efficient appliance needs.

We’ve been serving the Chicago area for over 60 years, so we’ve done our fair share of energy-efficient home improvements. Contact us at 815-455-7000 and schedule your appointment today!

Continue Reading

Why Does My A/C Have Ice on It in the Summer?

Thursday, September 5th, 2019

There’s nothing that’ll get you more steamed than coming home to a hot house in the summer. Imagine your surprise when you go to inspect your air conditioner, and it’s covered in ice! Each summer, this is one of the most common calls we get at Althoff Industries.

Luckily, an icy air conditioner is easy to diagnose and repair. While it may seem like you’ll have an expensive repair bill coming your way, oftentimes you simply need to make a few simple changes to prevent your air conditioner from icing over. In this article, we’ll identify the causes of most frozen air conditioners, the repair process and how to prevent your air conditioner from freezing in the future.

Warning: If you notice ice building up on your air conditioner, turn off the unit immediately. To prevent additional damage from occurring, do not turn on the air conditioner until the ice has melted and you have located the cause. If you’re unsure of the issue causing your air conditioner to freeze, contact us to schedule an appointment.

Reduced Air Flow

One of the common culprits we discover when investigating frozen air conditioners is reduced air flow. Usually, this is one of the first issues we look for, since it’s one of the easiest to correct and cheaper for homeowners to repair. Reduced air flow could be caused by any of the following:

  • Dirty air filter. It’s important to inspect and replace your system’s air filter regularly. It’s a relatively inexpensive home ownership task, but you can end up with a hefty repair bill if you don’t keep up with the maintenance. When you have a dirty air filter, your system has to work extra hard to move the air through your home. This causes your air conditioner to work overtime, which may lead to ice buildup on the compressor, among other issues.
  • Too many closed air registers. You might think you’re doing yourself a favor by closing air registers and saving yourself a few dollars on your summer cooling bill. Unfortunately, when you close too many registers, you reduce the amount of airflow below the amount required to optimally run your home’s cooling system, which can cause the condenser to freeze. Make sure at least 75% of your air registers are open at all times.
  • Damaged air ducts. Depending on where they’re located, in a wall, basement or even closet, your system air ducts can take a beating when you’re moving heavy equipment or doing home repairs. If you end up damaging a duct, you can decrease the airflow.
  • Decreased fan speed. Over time, your system can get worn down, and your fan speed can decrease. On the other hand, your system’s fan speed may not have been set fast enough to begin with. If you’ve tried all other air flow repair methods without any luck, a technician can help you determine if the fan speed is freezing your air conditioner.

Faulty Thermostat

If your system is having trouble regulating the temperature, you waste money, energy, and odds are, your air conditioner is freezing over. When your system can’t properly regulate temperature, it’s running constantly, even when it’s cold out at night. As your condenser works overtime, the coils can build up condensation and eventually freeze over. If you notice your system is running even when it’s cool outside, your thermostat could be the culprit. A professional can help you test your thermostat and pinpoint the issue.

Drainage Problems

In addition to keeping your house cool, your air conditioner extracts humidity from the air to make your home’s air more comfortable. This excess moisture needs somewhere to go if it’s not in the air. Your air conditioning system should have a drainage pipe attached that carries moisture away from the unit. If this pipe becomes blocked, the water can get stuck in the unit and freeze. Ensure your system drain is clear and removing moisture efficiently.

Similar drainage problems can occur if you have a window unit that’s freezing up. To drain properly, window unit air conditioners must be tilted at a slight angle out of the window to allow water to drain. If your window unit is freezing up, ensure the air conditioner is tilted according to the manufacturer’s installation instructions, and check that no debris are blocking the drainage hole. 

Low Refrigerant

You might have never have guessed, but having low refrigerant can actually make your evaporator coil freeze. Seems weird, right? If you don’t have the proper amount of refrigerant in your A/C system, it has to work harder to cool your home. When your unit is working too hard, icing is likely to occur. Typically, low refrigerant is a sign of a leak in the system. You can usually identify a leak by listening for a hissing or gurgling sound coming from the condenser. If you suspect a leak, it’s time to call a professional to help repair the leak and recharge the system with refrigerant.

Is Your Air Conditioner Putting a Freeze on Your Summer Fun?

The experts at Althoff Industries can help you identify why your air conditioner is freezing and repair the issue. Don’t let a frozen air conditioner prevent you from staying cool during the summer, give us a call at 815-900-5002, and schedule your appointment today!

Continue Reading

My A/C Is Running but Not Blowing Cold Air

Monday, July 1st, 2019

Summer is in full swing and, on really hot days, all you want to do when you get home from a long day is to enjoy some cool air conditioning. Nothing kills this excitement more in the warm summer months than entering your home only to realize that your A/C is not blowing cold air. Unfortunately, an A/C is not fail-proof and they can quit blowing cool air for a variety of reasons. We have listed some of these reasons below so you can have an idea of why your A/C quit working and how you can resolve the issue.

Reasons Why Your A/C is Running but Not Blowing Cold Air

1. Your Thermostat Is Set Incorrectly

Sometimes an A/C doesn’t blow cold air simply because your thermostat settings need to be adjusted. Luckily, this is a pretty easy issue to resolve on your own. Some people think that leaving their A/C running all day is the best way to keep their home cool, but it is actually best to set your fan to AUTO, this will ensure that your air conditioner is running only when it is actually cooling the air. Changing this setting will help save money on energy bills, ensure that you don’t wear out your A/C too quickly, and keep your home cool.

2. Your Air Filter Is Dirty

Having a dirty air filter can inhibit airflow which could definitely be a reason that your A/C isn’t blowing cool air. Take out your air filter and see if there is any debris. If you do notice that the air filter is dirty, swap it out for a new one and get in the habit of changing it out every month.

A great way to ensure that your air filter is clean and your A/C works all summer long, we suggest having professional regularly scheduled maintenance.

3. Your Outside Unit Is Dirty

In the same vein as point number two, having an outside unit that is covered in dirt, dust, and other debris could also be inhibiting cool air from making its way into your home.

Air conditioners work when the inside unit (called an evaporator) absorbs heat from the air and then transfers that heat to the outside unit (called the condenser). The condenser can’t properly dissipate heat if it’s dirty or crowded with debris.

You can resolve this issue by spraying the outside unit with a garden hose on a gentle setting and removing weeds and overgrowth around the unit.

4. Refrigerant Leak

Refrigerant is the liquid that absorbs the heat from the air. When you don’t have enough refrigerant, your A/C can’t absorb enough heat to cool the air. Refrigerant leaks are fairly common and can definitely be the reason why your A/C isn’t blowing cold air.

Signs you have a refrigerant leak include:

  1. Ice buildup on the outside unit and line
  2. Bubbling or hissing noises
  3. Your A/C doesn’t cool the home on hot days but works fine on cool days and at night

If you see these signs, turn off your A/C immediately and call a professional. Refrigerant chemicals are very dangerous and need to be handled by the experts.

5. Air Duct Leaks

Over time, the air ducts that move air conditioning through your home may become loose or their seal may be compromised. This means that air is escaping erratically which makes it hard to keep your home at the temperature you want. You will need to have a professional come out and evaluate your air ducts to ensure that they are not leaking cool air and make repairs as needed.

6. A Bad Compressor

The compressor is one of the most important parts of the A/C system and pushes the refrigerant through the unit. If your compressor isn’t working properly, your A/C cannot work. Compressors need to be evaluated by a professional and replaced if they appear worn out or defective. Unfortunately, compressors are expensive unless you have a warranty. Chances are if your compressor is bad, you’ll probably need to replace an entire outside unit.

7. Dirty Evaporator Coils

An evaporator coil is the part of the A/C system where the refrigerant absorbs heat. Over time, the evaporator coils get dirty and affect the performance of your A/C and make it harder to remove warm air.

Dirty evaporator coils can lead to your A/C overheating and potentially shutting off completely. Evaporator coils should be evaluated and cleaned by a professional to ensure that they are in good condition.

Schedule an Appointment and Stay Cool All Summer Long

If your A/C is not blowing cold air, contact our licensed Chicago HVAC technicians. They can help troubleshoot the problem so you can cool down and relax again. Contact us at 815-455-7000 to schedule.

Continue Reading