Have you been limping along with your older R22 air conditioner? Hoping to avoid replacing it during the high season? Especially if you know your unit has a refrigerant leak, you may be trying to decide how long you can get by before you’ll have to invest in a new system. An important factor in making that decision is answering the question: when is R22 no longer available?
When is R22 phased out in the US: the definitive date
Since you’re reading this article, you probably know that the former industry-standard R22 refrigerant (also known as Freon) has been phased out worldwide due to its harmful effects on the ozone layer.
As per the US Environmental Protection Agency, manufacturing or importing R22 refrigerant will become illegal in the United States on January 1, 2020.
What does the R22 phase out timeline mean for you?
After R22 becomes illegal to manufacture or import on January 1, 2020, it will become much more difficult (and expensive) to get R22. As a result, repairing older R22 systems will become very expensive when the repair requires adding refrigerant to the system. Except for some simple electrical issues, many types of emergency repairs do require recharging refrigerant.
If you’ve been getting by with an air conditioner that’s leaking refrigerant by periodically adding more R22 refrigerant (which we DO NOT recommend by the way), that will become cost-prohibitive and now is the time to figure out your plan for replacing the system.
The options for R22 system owners
Here at Hawley Air, we believe in being proactive and being transparent. That’s why we have been talking to our customers about this issue for some time now, so they understand the situation and can plan accordingly.
In general, owners of R22 air conditioners will have 3 choices:
Some options won’t work for everyone
However, you should know that all these options are not realistic (or smart) for everyone.
For example, retrofitting is not technically feasible for every system; you’ll need an inspection of your equipment by an expert to determine if it might work for you. And when you have a system with refrigerant leaks to begin with, a trustworthy expert probably would not recommend spending the money to retrofit.
Also, if you are experiencing problems with your system, doing nothing is not really an option, either, since your comfort conditions are probably unacceptable to you.
For the time being, you can still get reclaimed R22 and fix a broken system, but the skyrocketing cost of the refrigerant as availability decreases will mean a very expensive repair. And will only get more expensive as the remaining supply of R22 dwindles. Is it worthwhile to pour so much into a system in poor condition that must be replaced soon? That’s the choice you’ll need to make.
Get more guidelines for making a repair or replace decision from this helpful resource: Repair or Replace? A guide to making an informed choice when your HVAC system is down.
System replacement is a big deal
The last option, and probably what you are hoping to put off, is a system replacement.
Especially for a large commercial customer, it’s a huge expense (not to mention business inconvenience) to replace an extensive system or many multiple units.
However, there is a way to reduce that cost if you replace your AC this year. Did you know there is a new tax rule that lets you deduct the ENTIRE COST of HVAC equipment AND installation? That can save you a bundle. Watch this video to learn more:
The cost of system replacement is bad enough when you know it’s coming, but having to do so with no warning is much worse. Even homeowners do not want an issue like this to take them by surprise and end up having to be without air conditioning at the wrong time.
The point is, you don’t want to be replacing your system on an emergency basis. Keep reading to learn why it’s better to be proactive if you can.
Why avoid an emergency air conditioner replacement?
YOU MAY HAVE TO GO QUITE A WHILE WITHOUT AIR CONDITIONING IF YOU WAIT TOO LONG TO REPLACE YOUR SYSTEM.
You probably already know that replacing an AC system in the summer will take longer than doing it during the off-season, simply because demand is greater and all available resources are busy on other jobs. Now that R22 is phased out, the demand for R22 system replacements is going to skyrocket. If your system finally breaks down this summer (or later), your business or your family might face a considerable wait for a new air conditioning system.
IF YOUR BUSINESS HAS MULTIPLE SYSTEMS TO REPLACE, YOU CAN COME UP WITH A PLAN TO REPLACE THEM OVER TIME AND SPREAD OUT THE EXPENSE.
Your HVAC company should be able to help you prioritize which systems to replace first, and help you develop a strategy that works for your budget.
Consider yourself fortunate that you know what’s coming and have time to plan. Many people will be taken by surprise!
At Hawley Air, we understand that the R22 refrigerant phase out is going to cause a lot of headaches and unexpected expense for system owners, especially businesses. Feel free to reach out to us any any time for advice. We’re here to help.
Hawley Air has been closely monitoring the global impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic since it first originated in China. Our heartfelt condolences are with all those who have been sickened and died from this terrible illness. Please click here for a helpful pamphlet on Preventing the Spread of Respiratory Diseases from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Parts Supply Continuity
Due to the expected closings of factories during the January Chinese New Year, our Purchasing team had procured safety stock for the select brands for which we source directly. At this time, highest demand parts remain in stock. However, the team is in daily contact with manufacturers to identify any supply disruptions so we can then communicate with our customers.
Hawley Air has no immediate plan to close and will continue to follow standard preventative guidelines to address the current situation. If we can be of any assistance, please let us know:
A carbon monoxide leak can mean disaster for your business
You already know that carbon monoxide is deadly—you’ve certainly heard the horror stories that result from people unknowingly breathing in the colorless, odorless gas. So as a responsible business owner or manager, you don’t take those kind of risks lightly. That’s why you have carbon monoxide detectors installed throughout your space, right?
Here’s what you may not realize: while carbon monoxide detectors may alert you about a leak and prevent injuries and deaths, they can’t completely protect your business from the outcomes of high carbon monoxide levels. Even if no one is hurt because you got the warning quickly, there are still expensive consequences.
To avoid these, you need to prevent the carbon monoxide leak in the first place. And to do that, you need these HVAC safety tips.
HVAC, your furnace & carbon monoxide
Let’s clear up one common misconception about what produces carbon monoxide and what causes carbon monoxide leaks. Air conditioners cannot cause carbon monoxide poisoning, because they do not burn fuel or produce carbon monoxide. It’s your heating equipment that you need to be concerned about. We’ll get to those HVAC safety tips in a minute.
But first, let’s examine the risks from carbon monoxide, and what to do if your detectors go off.
What happens when you have a carbon monoxide scare?
Even if you have carbon monoxide detectors installed, you can still suffer from the effects of a carbon monoxide scare.
YOU’RE IN DANGER EVEN WHEN DETECTORS DON’T GO OFF
For one thing, low levels of the poisonous gas don’t always cause a CO sensor to go off, especially the kind that are installed in the ceiling and hard-wired to your electrical system. They are often programmed only to go off if carbon monoxide levels are dangerous enough to cause death. However, according to the US Center for Disease Control (CDC), prolonged exposure to low levels of carbon monoxide can still cause people to experience symptoms of headaches, fatigue and nausea. People with heart conditions can also experience chest pain.
If you become aware of a number of people complaining about these symptoms, you need to take action right away. Since the sources of carbon monoxide leaks are almost always fuel-burning appliances or heating systems, call in an HVAC company to inspect your heating system. Even better, if you own a restaurant, get a company that also services your kitchen equipment to inspect gas-burning cooking appliances.
Read more information from the CDC about carbon monoxide.
WHAT TO DO WHEN DETECTORS DO GO OFF
Have you stopped to think about what would happen to your business if your carbon monoxide detectors do go off while you’re conducting business and serving customers? Here’s the recommended protocol to follow if your detectors sound an alarm:
Having those detectors in place can be a lifesaver, but as a business owner you need HVAC safety tips to make sure you never have a carbon monoxide leak that can damage your business and your reputation.
Read on for HVAC safety tips that can help.
HVAC safety tips to prevent carbon monoxide leaks
Since so many carbon monoxide leaks come from heating systems and ventilation problems, your HVAC service company can help prevent carbon monoxide leaks from happening. These are the HVAC safety tips you need to stay safe.
SCHEDULE REGULAR FURNACE MAINTENANCE
At least one per year, ideally before the start of the heating season, have your furnace, as well as vents, chimneys, fireplaces, and any fuel-burning appliances regularly inspected by a qualified professional. If there are any problems they can be addressed before carbon monoxide becomes a problem. Ideally, you should establish a relationship with an HVAC service company with a preventative maintenance contract. That way, the technicians are familiar with your equipment, your business and space.
BONUS: PREVENTATIVE MAINTENANCE ALSO PREVENTS BREAKDOWNS AND REDUCES ENERGY BILLS!
INSPECT HEAT EXCHANGERS
Did you know what many furnace maintenance visits don’t include inspection of the heat exchanger? Be sure to verify that this important step is not skipped, since the most common cause of carbon monoxide leaks is a failed or leaking heat exchanger in your gas or oil furnace.
What is a heat exchanger? Its job is to vent the poisonous gases resulting from heat combustion away from your heating ducts and out of the building. Over time, the heat exchanger can develop corrosion, cracks or holes, and you will never know it because the furnace still works. Yet carbon monoxide could be making its way through your building’s ventilation system.
CLEAN VENTS AND FLUES
Blocked vents or chimney flues is another common cause of carbon monoxide leaks. Your ventilation system is designed to move the deadly gases out of your building, but can get clogged by years-worth of dust and debris. Sometimes blockages can be caused by insect, bird or rodents nests. Regular inspection and cleaning of vents and flues is one of the most helpful HVAC safety tips that can prevent a business disaster.
When you bring in a certified HVAC service company, a trained professional will make sure your equipment is safe, clean and in good working order. And if it turns out that repairs are needed to make it safe, you can do them at your convenience instead of on an emergency basis.
Carbon monoxide is only one of the dangers your business faces due to poor HVAC maintenance. If you’d like to learn more about the costs and risks associated with neglected heating and air conditioning equipment, take a look at our free guide to Calculating the Hidden Costs of Poor HVAC Maintenance.
How much heating and cooling do you really need? HVAC load calculations are designed to answer that question. They provide HVAC contractors with a scientific way to measure heat loss and heat gain in a particular building. By factoring in all the elements that can influence your comfort, they ensure your HVAC installation always meets your needs. They can save you a bundle of money too. Your systems will perform better, last longer and need fewer repairs when a skilled professional performs a pre-installation HVAC load calculations.
The Goldilocks Rule for HVAC Installations
Like in the children’s story about Goldilocks, life is better when everything is sized “just right.” That principle applies to the equipment you rely on for comfort. HVAC systems are sized by the amount of energy they generate. Oversized HVAC systems tend to short cycle, resulting in uncomfortable swings in temperature. Undersized systems simply don’t have enough power to maintain comfortable temperatures throughout your home or business.
HVAC Load Calculation Parameters
Under the blazing sun of summer in North Carolina, anything that allows heat to infiltrate your building impacts your AC system. Load calculations help ensure that equipment is ready to beat the heat. The same strategy is used to ensure your heater can handle the chill of winter. Multiple factors are considered during a load calculation, including:
Professional HVAC Services
A reputable HVAC contractor never relies on guesswork to establish the ideal size for your heating or cooling system. At Hawley Air, our experts follow the industry’s highest standards for HVAC load calculations. We’ll ensure that you enjoy a right-sized system that keeps you comfortable and saves you money for years to come. To learn more about our quality installations, visit our website to explore our full range of HVAC services or call us today at 336-231-1982
You may have never heard the term “Dirty Sock Syndrome,” but you’ll know the phenomenon when you smell it. For us here in the Piedmont Triad, Dirty Sock Syndrome is when your air conditioner unit gives off a moldy, foul, or mold-like scent when turned on, which makes the entire house smell like — you guessed it — dirty gym socks.
What’s That Smell?
Dirty Sock Syndrome can smell different to different people, but it all boils down to the scent of decaying organic material. Living in a house that suffers from this syndrome can mean becoming used to the scent, just as a person becomes used to their own body odor. You may only notice an odd smell after leaving the house for a few hours and coming back to a waft of dirty socks.
What Causes Dirty Sock Syndrome?
Dirty Sock Syndrome is the result of mold and bacteria building up on your air conditioner unit’s evaporator coil. When moisture builds up after continued use, mold and mildew thrive. The phenomenon is also fueled by dust particles collecting in your air conditioner as a result of inadequate filtration.
How to Spot Dirty Sock Syndrome
While Dirty Sock Syndrome definitely has its own scent, other issues can cause the AC unit to smell bad, so you’ll want to rule out other potential problems first. Once you’ve identified that unmistakable smell, you’ll want to make sure your drainage pans are empty and free of rust and damage. If the pans are full, empty them and clear any visible blockages, as this is only harboring mold and mildew growth. Wet filters and blocked drainage lines also indicate there’s a problem.
Is Dirty Sock Syndrome Dangerous?
While Dirty Sock Syndrome is a nuisance, it’s not typically dangerous. Most of the mildew and bacteria that accumulates is not detrimental to your health unless you have a compromised immune system, asthma, or allergies.
That’s the good news. The bad news, however, is that mold can be introduced to the HVAC system itself and grow exponentially, distributing into the home along with conditioned air. This scenario can cause respiratory symptoms and eye irritations, and should be addressed immediately. Since the smell stems from decomposition, the odor can gradually make people in the home feel sick, even if there’s nothing physically wrong, making the need to resolve the issue even more urgent.
Preventing and Treating Dirty Sock Syndrome
The best way to deal with Dirty Sock Syndrome is to avoid it altogether. Make sure you always use a high-quality air conditioning filter and change it every one to three months. You also need to prevent bacteria and mold from compromising your evaporator coil, which requires a UV air purifier. UV lights have been used for decades to kill mold spores and bacteria, making them a great addition to any home. Most UV purifiers can also be used on your drain line and drain pan, giving your home extra protection.
When your home has already developed Dirty Sock Syndrome, don’t despair — there are a number of ways you can treat the issue. Start by cleaning your evaporator coil. While you can do this yourself using a homemade solution, it’s always best to hire a professional HVAC technician trained in HVAC cleaning.
While cleaning the system regularly is best left to a technician, you can replace any clogged or wet filters to ensure your system is getting the proper filtration it needs for maximum airflow. You may also be able to clear any blocked drainage lines with a shop vac, although this can be hard to do if you’re not familiar with the unit’s setup. Excessive moisture, in general, is best handled by HVAC professionals, so don’t be afraid to schedule a service just to be on the safe side.
Dirty Sock Syndrome may not be dangerous, but it’s embarrassing and downright annoying, making your surroundings feel more like a locker room than a home. If you suspect Dirty Sock Syndrome, contact Hawley Air Heating and Cooling at 336-231-1982 to discuss our HVAC maintenance and indoor air quality services.
How Cleaning the Ducts Improves Performance and Efficiency
When there is a build-up of dust and debris in the ductwork, the air filters are much more likely to clog up quickly and increase the airflow resistance in the ducts. The home’s HVAC system will need to work harder to keep the house cool or warm and to distribute the cooled and warmed air. More energy will be required, and the end result will be higher utility bills.
Dirty air ducts also put the HVAC system at risk for lower efficiency levels and may compromise the systems internal components. The debris in the ductwork travels to the sensitive parts of the system and can cause a premature breakdown. By cleaning the ducts, you’ll be improving heater efficiency, performance and system longevity.
Cleaning the ducts doesn’t typically need to be done often. Most industry professionals will recommend cleaning the ducts once every three to five years. Factors, such as construction and pets, are some of the reasons why air ducts may need to be cleaned closer to the three-year mark.
How Professionals Clean Air Ducts
Professional duct cleaners use a variety of equipment to clean ductwork.
HVAC Services and Products from Hawley Air Heating and Cooling
At Hawley Air, we offer duct cleaning services done by trained and experienced technicians in accordance with the high standards outlined by the National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA). Our technicians have the skills, knowledge and state-of-the-art equipment to get the job done properly and safely. Please call our team for additional information.
Determining that your air ducts are dirty is a relatively easy task: you can open your vent covers to see if there is any dirt, debris, or dust, and also examine your air filter to see if it is clogged with dust. If either or both are dirty, you know you need duct cleaning!
But what if it’s only been a few months since you last had your home’s or business’s air ducts cleaned and you want to check to see if they are still clean?
Hawley Air is here to guide you on how to know if your air ducts are clean. If you are interested in duct cleaning for your Triad home or business , contact us today!
For starters, you can, once again, check your air filter and vent covers. They should be clear and have little to no dust build-up.
Next, examine your heater. Look at its heat exchanger surface—it should be visibly clean. Your blower blades should also be free of oil and debris, and the blower compartment should not have any dust or debris.
Now onto your air conditioner. Check the air conditioning coil for signs of dust. You should be able to shine a flashlight through the cooling coil and see the light come through the other side. The coil fins should be evenly spaced and straight. Finally, the coil drain pan should be draining properly if it is completely clean.
If your HVAC system has forced air, you will need to check your plenums as well. They should have properly fitted filters. Check the supply air plenum for signs of moisture stains or contaminants. The return air plenum should be free of visible debris and dust.
How to Care for Your Air Ducts
To keep your air ducts in good condition between cleanings, you should do the following:
Residential Air Duct Cleaning in the Triad
Air duct cleaning is the best way to keep your family or employees breathing easy. It is often an often-neglected service that is a necessary process to minimize allergens in your home or business; so schedule your duct cleaning today! Hawley Air Heating and Cooling recommends having a professional technician come to your home or business annually—at minimum—to clean out the build-up in your ventilation system.
For additional questions about air duct cleaning contact us today @ 336-231-1982
Hawley Air Heating and Cooling
#1 Change your air filter regularly.
You would be surprised how many no cooling calls we run every summer to homes only
to find the only problem is that the air filter hasn’t been changed in months. “Sometimes Years”.
This imposes stress on your blower motor especially on newer units with variable speed motors.
This slows your airflow and will drastically decrease energy efficiency. It will also cause stress
on your outdoor compressor causing liquid refrigerant to wash lubricating oil from your
compressor thus reducing the life of your compressor. A compressor is like a car engine in the
way it has oil internally that lubricates moving parts and just like a car engine without that oil
neither will last long. The most common seen problem with a clogged-up air filter is the indoor
coil will freeze up which will not only completely stop air from coming out of our vents, but it
can make a huge mess when system is thawed out.
#2 Don’t blow grass clippings at your outdoor unit
Another common but preventable problem we run across is a clogged up outdoor coil.
The coil around the outdoor unit will need to be cleaned annually due to pollen dust and fall
leaves but you can rest assure that if you blow your grass when mowing at your outdoor unit
your going to have problems. With the hot summer days we have here in North Carolina a
clogged outdoor coil can cause your unit to run at two or three higher pressures than normal.
This can overheat the compressor, causing non repairable internal problems, trip high pressure
switches and at the very least raise your power bill. So when your mowing aim the other way!
#3 Clean your condensate pump
Not all cooling systems have a condensate pump but most of the time if your air handler
or furnace is located in a garage or basement there will be a small rectangular pump that pumps
the condensate your air conditioner creates to the exterior of your home. This pump never pumps
100% of the water out of it so it is a perfect place for algae to thrive. You can disconnect power
to the pump and take it apart to clean. You tube has many videos on this if you want a step by
step on how to do it. It’s not that hard and could be an easy DIY to impress your spouse. You
can also purchase algae tabs from your local hardware store and install them in your pump this
will help prevent and kill the algae to help keep your pump operating smoothly all year long. If
you purchase algae tabs, I recommend crushing the tabs up first or dissolving them in a bottle of
water before installing in your pump. I have had a whole tab in the past get stuck in the suction
hole and damage the pump, so I always crush or dissolve before installing.
#4 Clean your condensate pipe
All air condition systems create water. If your system was not equipped with a float
switch then this can create a very expensive mess especially if your air handler or coil is located
in an attic. Your air handler or coil will typically have a white PVC pipe that carries the
condensate either to the outside of your house or to a condensate pump. Just like the pump
described in #3 your pipe is a prime place for algae to build up. If you look around the outside of
your house most of the time the white pipe will be sticking out of the foundation wall close to the
ground somewhere around the exterior of the home. If you own a shop vac it’s a good idea to
suck this pipe out a couple times a year this will usually keep from causing any problems all
#5 Invest in an Energy Savings Agreement
The other four tips have been DIY and the internet is full of them to help you take care of
your HVAC system yourself. Although you can do several things on your own to help prevent
break downs and keep your system operating properly there is no replacement for a Hawley Air
Heating and Cooling trained technician with a fully stocked van who has the proper cleaning and
measuring tools to preform a precision tune up. Your HVAC system is probably the third most
expensive thing you own, it keeps you family comfortable year-round and is probably the
number one power consuming appliance at your house. You wouldn’t drive your car for long
periods of time without changing the oil so don’t expect your HVAC system to operate for long
periods of time without maintenance. A properly tuned up system can offer you years of comfort
and save you thousands of dollars over its life span.
Homeowners in the Triad may wonder exactly what is indoor air quality and why does it matter? The air you breathe inside your home will always have some level of pollution. Indoor air quality or IAG is the measure of the level of common indoor air pollutants and its relationship to the comfort and health of occupants. Your family is exposed to unavoidable environmental air quality issues such as excessive humidity, vehicle traffic, and manufacturer products off-gassing when your HVAC filters or air ducts are clogged and dirty.
There are steps you can take to test indoor air quality and decrease the number of pollutants that circulate through the home’s HVAC system. According to The American Lung Association, the air in your home can be 5 to 70 times more polluted than the air you breathe outside. This is due to the accumulations of contaminants such as dust mites, animal dander, and pet hair – along with biological contaminants such as mold spores, pollen, viruses, and bacteria.
Testing for Mold
The best way to test your indoor air for mold is to seek the help of a professional mold tester that also specializes in air quality issues. One way to detect mold is by smell and any obvious health symptoms. If you notice a persistent musty odor in the home or observe signs of mold growth on window frames or in the basement, then you can purchase a mold test kit. These kits contain a prepared petri dish that is left on a flat surface within the home. Afterward, the sample is incubated for a few days and observed for signs of mold or it is sent to a lab for testing.
Testing for RadonRadon gases within the home are the result of decaying radioactive materials that leach into the home through cracks in walls, floors, the foundation, basement walls, or attached to dust that enters the home from outside. A short-term radon test (between 2-90 days) that meets EPA requirements can be completed with a number of radon test kit options, such as a charcoal canister kit. The sample you collect is then sent to a lab for analysis. If you have high levels of this toxic gas within the home, then a radon remediation service is the best way to find the source and have it safely removed.
Testing for Other Indoor Air Pollutants
VOCs are the gases emitted from certain materials and liquids. There are actually thousands of household and consumer products that emit VOCs, and the long-term health effects of these pollutants include headaches, dizziness, fatigue, and much more. An indoor air quality monitor can pick up a wide range of harmful air pollutants such as smoke, carbon monoxide, dust, and the VOC fumes emitted from inks, paint, glue, perfume, household cleaning products, and alcohol-based liquids.
Contact Hawley Air Heating and Cooling at 336-231-1982 for air duct cleaning to reduce the number of air pollutants that are entering your home. We can also discuss your concerns with residential indoor air quality!
A few candles can change the entire atmosphere of a room. Unfortunately, they can change the indoor air quality for the worse as well.
Candle Health Risk Studies
In an EPA report from 2001, the agency cited studies which suggest that some candles, especially ones with added scents, can produce chemical reactions which release formaldehyde, acrolein, nitrogen dioxide, and acetaldehyde in concentration levels which exceed the EPA’s indoor air threshold levels for safety.
A study at the South Carolina State University found that paraffin candles may emit toluene and benzene which are toxic. These chemicals can cause a wide range of health issues including asthma, respiratory ailments, and help to contribute to certain forms of cancer.
Why Candles can be Harmful
Burning candles not only releases harmful invisible chemicals but may cause the formation of soot, that black smoke which may stain your walls, ceiling, and fabrics. Soot is formed when candles do not completely burn. While soot may occur with all types of candles, cheaper candles and those with scents tend to produce the greatest amount. A study from the Technical University of Denmark found soot from burning candles is the leading causes of indoor ultrafine particles (UFPs). These particles are so small that they can enter into your lung tissue and cause health problems.
How Can You Protect Yourself From the Dangers of Burning Candles?
Do all the health risks associated with burning candles indoors mean that you should never again light a one inside your home? While that may be the best option, it is probably unrealistic. Here are some steps you can take to lessen the biggest health concerns.