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Archive for Heating and Air Conditioning Repairs

R-22 Phase-Out: What It Means for You?

Posted by Empire Blog at 10:19 am on November 2, 2016

United States EPA
Final Rule Phase Out of R-22R-22 Phase Out Graphic

In recent years, the EPA has been phasing out R-22. R-22 is a refrigerant used in older HVAC units to help keep indoor temperatures cooler. As the temperatures get warmer during these hot and long summers, your AC gets used more and more. This places a huge burden on your system resulting in potentially costly repairs and maintenance.

In the past, a simple solution was to pump more R-22 into an HVAC system. Chances are that if your AC unit is 5 or more years old, it may use R-22. However with the phase-out of R-22, supplies of the refrigerant are getting restricted and homeowners need to think twice before applying this simple recharge fix.

Reasons for Restrictions

R-22 is a refrigerant that is a CFC or chlorofluorocarbon. It is well known that CFCs can react with chemicals and cause damage to the ozone layer. By enacting a phase-out, the EPA hopes to reduce reliance on R-22 and encourage use of more eco-friendly chemicals.

One reason the EPA created restrictions on R-22 was to make the price go up. This makes consumers think long and hard about alternatives instead of performing a simple recharge with R-22. Some alternatives include purchasing more efficient systems that use eco-friendly chemicals.

Another reason is to encourage homeowners to have their HVAC professional fix leaks instead of pumping more R-22. Fewer leaks reduces R-22 consumption and could potentially save money especially when the price of R-22 is so high.

New Systems

The EPA started placing supply restrictions on R-22 back in 2010 by setting limits on production and imports. Since then, the prices of the refrigerant have doubled and tripled forcing consumers to consider new systems.

Though the new systems may be more expensive, they have distinct advantages over the older units.

One advantage of newer systems is efficiency. New systems use less energy as a result of internal components that maximize heat exchange. Since less energy is used, consumers may realize cost savings that exceed the cost of maintaining and operating the old systems.

Another advantage is the use of eco-friendly chemicals. Instead of R-22, newer systems use R-410A. It is a HCFC or hydrochlorofluorocarbon which does not contribute to ozone depletion.

Since the new systems use a different refrigerant, you may wondering if it could be used on the old systems. Unfortunately, the older systems have different components and pressure settings that will not be able to handle the R-410A. It is also not possible to use a newer condenser with an existing air handler since both must use the same refrigerant.

Conclusion

Getting your HVAC unit through the summer may not be as simple as an R-22 recharge fix. The EPA, in an effort to curb ozone depleting chemicals, has restricted supplies of R-22. Consequently, a simple, cheap fix in the past is now more expensive than ever. Instead, replacement with newer systems may save you money in the long run.

 

Need help deciding? Get in touch with our HVAC professionals today to help you decide what’s best for you and your family!

What is Your Emergency Plan When the Power Goes Out?

Posted by Empire Blog at 5:07 pm on January 11, 2016

After several weeks of warmer-than-usual weather, a cold front has finally arrived here in Atlanta. With the temperature below freezing, the only thing we’re missing is a little bit of precipitation before it’s time to start thinking about the chances that an ice storm might strike your area.  Our city does have an effective early warning system and regional utility companies usually do a great job of preparing for the worst. In spite of these local preparation measures, there are many things that individual homeowners can do to prepare for the chances of a power outage. Now is a good time to reconsider your emergency plan for staying safe, warm and comfortable when the lights go out.

The Benefits of Installing A Backup Generator

One of the best courses of action is to install a backup generator on your home. These high-energy devices will automatically keep the power running when a home’s usual power source goes out. These generators are usually installed in late autumn, in preparation of cold weather, but it is never too late to recognize the risk that cold weather could pose. Product guides also recommend that homeowners schedule service checks at least once a year to ensure that the machine is properly functioning. While a backup generator is certainly not a device that you use on a daily basis, it is well worth the investment when your home’s heating system stops working in the middle of January!

The Risks of Other Heating Methods

Contrary to safety standards, many homeowners use a portable generator with extension cords running throughout the house to power the refrigerator, television, and other electronic units.  Some homeowners even use a portable generator to power their heating furnace. While this might seem like a short-term fix, there are many homeowner risks that apply:

  • You have to make sure that there is no back feed to the generator when the power comes on.
  • Cords must be secure so you don’t trip over them, which can pull televisions from the shelf or break metal plugs inside the socket.
  • Extension cords must be the proper gauge and thickness (as measured by AWG). If not, they may not provide sufficient power to the appliances or can cause electrical damage.
  • Generators can never come inside! Carbon monoxide is dangerous so keep them outside and well away from doors and windows. Having a low-level carbon monoxide detector is a good idea whenever using a generator.

Fireplaces are also a good idea for many homeowners, as long as you have a steady supply of firewood to stoke the flames. Huddling around the fireplace can be a great family experience – just remember to follow good safety practices and to keep an eye on the fireplace whenever there are hot coals.

Using a gas oven for supplemental heating can also be risky. Gas ovens are designed to perform only when they are exposed to proper ventilation. Combustible materials near a gas oven can result in indoor fires – a risk that every homeowner should try to avoid. These gas ovens can also release harmful airborne chemicals like carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, and even formaldehyde. Fire departments across the country have issued homeowner advisories against using a gas oven for heat (which often leads to carbon monoxide injuries).

When the ice finally hits, your family needs an emergency heating plan and the safest, most effective method is backup generator installation. Let the professionals handle the warmth and comfort of your family. Call Empire HVAC today for a product estimate and to learn more about our backup generators!

Empire’s Technicians are NATE Certified

Posted by Empire Blog at 8:00 am on February 1, 2013

Atlanta NATE Certified Technicians

Empire Heating & Air Conditioning’s goal is to provide customers with outstanding service for all of their HVAC needs in the metro Atlanta area. By employing NATE-certified technicians, we know that our customers are in the hands of skilled professionals who have the expertise to get the job done right.

NATE (North American Technician Excellence) certifies the finest in the HVAC industry. NATE is the nation’s largest industry-endorsed, non-profit certification organization for HVAC/R technicians.

To achieve NATE certification, Empire’s technicians must pass stringent exams that test their knowledge of installation, maintenance, and service of heating and cooling equipment. Completing this rigorous certification process demonstrates that our technicians are able to ensure satisfaction with your home comfort system.

What are the benefits to you as a homeowner when you hire NATE certified Empire Heating & Air Conditioning technician? Well, you can expect:

  • Your job will be done right.
  • Increased energy-efficiency, resulting in lower utility bills.
  • Peace of mind from knowing that your family’s comfort and safety are protected.
  • You’ll get the most out of your investment, with equipment that runs at peak performance and efficiency levels, year after year.
  • Fast, efficient, quality service you can count on.

To schedule an Empire technician for your home, please call us at 404-294-0900 today.