three way manifold

three way manifold
Gauges used for testing refrigerant pressures.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Federal Energy Star Tax Credit a Thing of the Past

 The Tax Credit for everyday household appliances with an Energy Star certification is almost over.  On the 31st, it disappears for good.  The only credits available will be for the high priced items like solar water heaters and geothermal heat pumps.  Those last until 2016.

Replacing the tax credit for a short time will be the mail in rebate for Energy Star appliances and HVAC equipment worth up to $1000.  This rebate is on a first come, first served basis though, so you have to move  fast.  There was actually a time where you could have taken advantage of both incentives at the same time.  That was between December 20th and December 31st.  It's gone now though, so say bye bye to the big stuff before too long. 

I'll be sure to keep you informed of manufacturer's rebates that come up so you can get more help paying for a new unit and saving on utilities for the foreseeable future.  I've seen some manufacturer's rebates for up to $1300.  That's still nice to combine with the CPS credit and the mail in rebate while it's still available.

Have a great new year!!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

All of The Ads That Google Puts Around My Blog Entries.

Do you see all the ads around this page? There are ads for Sears, Rheem, Trane, various A/C companies and all kinds of things related to air conditioning units, services and installations.

Do me a huge favor, please? Don't click on them or use their services! My company is right here, and we can do all the same stuff for you any of these guys can do. We can probably do it cheaper than them.

If you feel it necessary to click anywhere, click on the link to my website.

You'll be able to learn a lot, and contact me or someone at my company to get the things done that you need done.

I just wanted to offer up that public service announcement.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Post Office in San Antonio, part 3

So . . . talking about the same post office I was talking about a few days ago. I thought I'd log back on the next day, but I had cool stuff like the Floresville Peanut Festival come up. I just HAD to go!

Anyways . . . we did all this work to find out what was wrong with that York unit, and learned that the other contractor was right about the compressors being bad. While I was there, I was able to talk the management company into letting me clean the other unit on the premises, and perform basic maintenance.

So the next day I spent about half the day pulling that other unit (it's a Trane by the way) apart and cleaning everything so it would function properly and not leak all over the place . . . pain in the butt, but it was a $600 (for me) pain in the butt. When I got done, I noticed that the liquid line was running cool . . . about the same temperature as the suction line. The liquid line actually carries liquified refrigerant, which is compressed from its gas state, so it's supposed to be warmer than the suction line which carries refrigerant in its gas state. You see, refrigerant cools down as it is sprayed from its liquid state through a metering device into the evaporator coil. Spraying it allows it to form back into its natural gas state, cooling it considerably. Just think of your bottle of Windex that you spray on the windows to clean them . . . or those misters used at football games to keep the players cool . . . or a fuel injector. All of those things vaporize a liquid by spraying it.

Needless to say, there needs to be a perfect balance of refrigerant so it will be liquid going into the home and vapor coming out of your home. If this balance is thrown off, it will damage your compressor or you will notice ice accumulating in your unit. That's why HVAC contractors are hired. We know what we're doing! We have to understand pneumatics, hydraulics, elctricity and plumbing to do what we do. It's not easy, and there are people out there who know more about each of the things we work on than we do. It's just amazing how scentific all this stuff is.

Back to the subject now. 15 ton Trane unit, post office, cold liquid line, suction line freezing up. There was a reason for the last two paragraphs. See if you can follow now. We checked the unit out by actually following the liquid line from where it came out of the wall outside backward to the unit, inside the unit to a filter/dryer that was attached.

Now, do you want to hear something cool? The the liquid line was about 20 degrees warmer going into the filter/dryer than it was coming out of the filter dryer! Based on everything I said in the previous paragraphs, that means something was happening to the refrigerant as it passed through the filter/dryer. It was entering as a liquid, but exiting as a vapor. How the hell could that happen? Well, this is a filter we're talking about here, so it gathers up particulates in the refrigerant as it passes through the filter/dryer. It just so happens that the filter was clogged so much that the refrigerant had to move through tiny holes in the filter to get to the other side. So as it passed through the filter, it was being sprayed through those tiny holes and turned into a vapor as it moved to the other side. That's why the liquid line was so cold when it is supposed to be the warmer line. Remember? When refrigerant becomes a vapor, its temperature drops considerably.

That's exactly what was happening in this situation. We're not sure how long this went on, but that puts back pressure on the compressor, shortening its life, so we needed to get the filter/dryers changed out as soon as possible.

I'm getting tired of typing now, so I'll continue later.

Adding Financing as an Option For a Business.

Recently, I was able to start offering financing for my HVAC company, All Seasons Comfort in San Antonio, TX.

I always though there would be a lot of hoops to jump through in order to get this done, but was amazed at how simple the process was for me. You see, I've tried with a few different businesses to get something like this going, but have been turned away for various reasons in the past, usually because the business I was managing wasn't old enough. That doesn't make a lot of sense to me, because I always thought that the financial institution had to deal with the customer, not me and my business.
It's a ridiculous thing if you think about it.

Anyways, my worries are over on that front. Let's see how this new deal will pan out for me.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Post Office in San Antonio, part 2

Anyways, we went back to the post office the next day to check the unit out indepth, and learned a lot about how it was built, and why things were where they were.

It turns out that those York units have these sensors on each compressor called "motor protectors". These motor protectors monitor the temperature of the compressors. When a compressor reaches a certain high temperature, the motor protector sends a signal to a relay, which in turn deactivates the 24 volts running to the contactor, in effect killing the power to that particular compressor for 30 minutes, which is long enough for the temperature to drop. The other compressor is able to run this whole time supplying refrigerant to the indoor unit as usual.

It took 5 billable hours to figure all this out! These motor protectors are great, but they pretty much keep a compressor from burning up because they will never let it get to a temperature that WILL burn it up. It can't burn the circuit out and open it up, so it just lets the compressor run for a shorter and shorter period of time until it just runs long enough to heat up (maybe two minutes) and the sensors kill it. It won't blow up, and it will be forever until it actually opens up the circuit.

So, we figured all this out, and learned that the unit hadn't been cleaned in sometime, and that the ductwork had been pinched almost in half so some other crazy HVAC contractor could install an in-duct furnace that was too small for the necessary airflow.

I'll keep going tomorrow about this.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Post Office A/C Problems

So I live in San Antonio, TX, and I'm an air conditioning contractor. I get calls from all kinds of people, but one I got this past week probably stands out quite a bit.

Anyways, the first thing that stands out about this call was that it was from a post office rental management company. That's a real estate company that manages the properties post offices use. This particular company manages about 5 properties within a 30 mile radius of San Antonio, and over 600 properties nationwide.

So this guy named Sean calls me from New York or someplace like that. He says he wants a 2nd opinion about what needs to be done with an air conditioning unit that another contractor says needs to be changed out. He told me the other guy advised him it's time to change it out. So I agreed to go check it out.

This post office is off of West Avenue in San Antonio, which is just about a mile and a half from my house. So, I drove on over there to check it out, took my tools out of the truck, hooked up the gauges, took the service panel off the unit, looked up and saw the other contractor walking up to where I was. He seemed just as surprised as me as to why the other guy was there.

Well, we introduced ourselves and started talking about the unit and what's been going on with it. He was a pretty friendly fella, so it wasn't hard to strike up a conversation with him. He told me that he had installed that unit a few years prior, and had another unit on site that he was ready to install since this one had gone down. He said he remembered that the last compressor was on the way downhill, but he couldn't remember exactly what he had diagnosed.

You see, this is an old, 15 ton York unit that has two compressors that work in stages. What that means, is that one compressor is used as a primary, and the other is an auxiliary compressor. The primary runs all the time, and the auxiliary only kicks in at times where the load is too substantial for the primary, or even if the primary compressor overheats. In other words, the auxiliary compressor doesn't work as hard or as much as the primary. Now, I don't know everything about this particular brand unit, so anyone wanting to teach me something can chime in. Well, the primary compressor was supposed to have already gone out on this unit, so it was disconnected, and the unit had been working off the auxiliary unit only for the past few years. Since the unit is already a dinosaur, it would be no surprise if it stopped working at all.

I explained to the other contractor why I was there, and that I had to do my due diligence with the unit, and check it all out. He understood, and kind of went along with me as I checked it out. Well, the first thing I did was to see if I could test the primary compressor for an open circuit. Since it's a three phase unit, I couldn't just ohm it out. The problem was that I wasn't able to test it as open. It came up as a good circuit every time and way I tested it. Well that didn't make any sense to me, so I reconnected it. I then flipped the breaker, and low and behold, it worked!

The other contractor seemed just as amazed as me. He swore that it wasn't working the last time he was there, otherwise he wouldn't have unhooked it. All I knew was that it was working now. So, I left it working, and called the management company again to let them know what I had found. Even though I figured it was one of those things where the other contractor may not have been wrong, I think he felt like someone wanted to blame him, so he quickly disappeared.

As it turns out, the other guy wasn't necessarily wrong. I think he just may have found it very hard to diagnose the problem because of the safety mechanisms York puts on their units. All signs pointed to the compressors being out, but it was almost impossible to verify this with traditional tests. I'll probably give the guy a call and tell him what we ultimately learned so if he ever runs into one of these units again, he'll be ready.

The ultimate problem will have to wait for later though. My carpal tunnel is acting up. I'll finish this later.

Sunday, September 19, 2010


Has your air conditioning unit ever died on a rainy day? Even though the temperature is lower on rainy days, it's still miserable, right? We know that the temperature isn't what's causing this misery. It must be something else this time. Is there something else your air conditioner does other than cool the air? Well, the answer is yes. Keep reading and learn something about your A/C system that shows it actually pulls a double duty in your home.

Have you ever noticed a cold glass of iced tea sitting on the table? Have you also noticed that it builds up water on the outside of the glass while it sits there? Did you realize that water is condensation? It's the same thing as the dew on the grass in the mornings. Condensation is caused when cold air mixes with warm air. It's how rain is caused. It's how the dew on the grass is caused. It's also caused when warm air in your home flows through a cool evaporator coil.

An evaporator coil is the main cooling component of your air conditioning unit inside the home. You see, refrigerant is constantly cycled through the air conditioning unit from outside to inside, and then back outside. The refrigerant enters the evaporator coil inside the home as a very cold vapor. This cold vapor flows through the tubing of your evaporator coil, cooling the aluminum fins which are exposed to the warmer air which is forced through the fins by a fan inside this air handling unit.

As the warm air is forced through the cold coil, condensation begins to form on the coil. For this reason, air conditioning units have drains for the condensation build up. As this condensation is accumulated on the evaporator coil, the humidity level in your home starts to drop. You may have noticed that higher humidity makes air uncomfortable.

When it rains, the humidity level is high. This high humidity level comes into the house whenever a door or window is opened. This increases the humidity inside your home just like running a hot shower, or boiling water on the stove will. If your air conditioning unit stops working at a time like this, you will definitely be miserable.

Please keep your AC unit maintained because you don't want it to break down on a rainy day.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Email to a Customer About Air Purification

Of course, I'm not going to put this guy's real name here.  This IS an actual email I sent to a gentleman in San Antonio though .  If you click on the listed links, you are in for a serious education in the art of air purification.

Dear Customer -

I've attached a few options for you to check out to clean the air in your house.  The first one below is the Trane Clean Effects filtration system.

Next is the Frigidaire Indoor Air Quality filtration systems.  Click on the links at the bottom of the page to see what other options Fridgidaire has available.

Now I'm going to show you the UVC light I was talking about at Northeast Baptist Hospital.  There's some interesting reading on this website.  Following this Steril Aire link, I've attached a link to show you a media filter box similar to the one I can install for you that only has to be changed once every six months. 

The pic below is of a media filter in its cabinet.  A media filter is an in-duct filter application.  I have a source that can get extra long life filters for us.  Somehow, the filter manufacturer is able to have more surface area of each filter, which causes it to last longer before slowing the airflow.

You're looking at a 6" wide filter with ultra high filtration area allowing the filter to last over 6 months with a MERV 11 rating.

Use this last link to understand what the MERV rating is for filtration systems.  More interesting information.

I'll give you a call sometime in October to discuss where you want to go with this.  Meanwhile, if you have questions, feel free to contact me anytime.

Best regards,

Ron Carter

All Seasons Comfort
(210)373-2976 Ph.
(925)892-5236 Fax

Super High Effciency Central Air Systems

This past week, I was visiting a couple's house to talk about a new air conditioning unit.  They are interested in having the best unit on the market installed in their home.  We discussed what I feel is the best unit in the market.  Of course, there are probably some Carrier fans who will argue that the Carrier Infinity Series is the best.  But the Infinity Series is still limited to a 21 SEER unit the way I understand it.

The unit I discussed with these people is built by Nordyne and is sold under a few different names including Frigidaire, Westinghouse, Tappan and Maytag.  Each of these brands have the identical units with different name tags on them.  To learn more about these units and how they work, follow the link below.

My company, All Seasons Comfort is a Frigidaire dealer and can install one or more of these units in your home in less than a day (if they are in stock at the dealer warehouse). 

Please visit our website at:  We'll show up quickly, solve your problems, and not charge you too much money to do it.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Ultra High Efficiency Central Air Systems

There's been a lot of interest as of late in the rather new, super high efficiency AC and heat systems manufactured by manufacturers including, Carrier, Goodman, Trane, Nordyne and Lennox. While each of these companies provides what they call, ultra high efficiency units, only two of them actually break the 20 SEER level; Carrier and Nordyne.

SEER, or Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating is a measurement of the economical efficiency of an air conditioning system, or how little energy it uses to keep your home or office at a designated temperature setting. The higher the SEER level, the lower the utility bills should be. The ultra high efficiency units by Nordyne and Carrier are able to almost cut your electric bill in half (depending on other ways you use electricity).

What most people are going to care about when they want to install a unit like this is, "How much does it cost?", and, "Can the cost be offset by the lower utility bill inside a few years?". When you think about one of these systems, you are easily looking at $10,000 for a 3 ton system. Of course the price depends of the amount of work that needs to be done to install it, and on how much of a margin the company installing it wants to make off of a unit like that. Some companies in San Antonio will easily charge upward of $15,000 for Carrier's Infinity Series or Nordyne's IQ Drive, which can be found under brand names such as Frigidaire, Westinghouse, Tappan and Maytag.

Now, which unit will probably cost you more money, and which is more economical? Well, since you actually are paying for a name, the Carrier Infinity Series will be the most expensive system you can find. Of course, like I said, that depends on the contractor doing the install as well. The Nordyne unit boasts up to a 24.5 SEER unit, while the Carrier unit attains a 21 SEER maximum. While neither unit is anything to sneeze at, you may ultimately want to compare the warranties between the two systems. I haven't been able to prove that the Nordyne system actually has more than 21 SEER, but they say they do! Your best bet is to ask your local HVAC contractor if they can get either unit for you, and then compare them.

Make sure when you DO compare the units, you are comparing price, economy and warranty. You must compare all three to understand the full scope of what you are having installed in your house.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Condensate Drainage and Hot Spots

     Today, I got a call from a person who wants a new unit.  This man advised me that he's had some work done on his AC in the past, and that up until recently, his home was on the market.  He actually had a buyer turn down the home because of the AC system in it.  So I headed to Pleasanton, TX to check out this man's unit, and see what we could do to make his unit more user friendly.      
     When I showed up, we took a look at his old unit and I immediately noticed two return air grills, but only one air filter.  That is asking for problems if you know anything about the necessity of air filtration for an air conditioning unit.  You see, all air that is being pulled back into the air conditioning unit needs to be filtered.  The reason for this is simple.  Air has all kinds of particles floating around in it, and you don't want those particles moving into your AC system and attaching themselves to your evaporator coil, which is always wet from condensation.  This causes what amounts to mud on your unit.  This mud will accumulate until  your evaporator coil is coated and air can't flow through it to be cooled anymore.  When a unit gets this bad, you need to have it cleaned thoroughly.  A thorough cleaning can amount to over $500 once mold starts growing in your unit and must be cleaned also.  So the gentleman and I discussed some better ways to install filters for the unit.
     His current unit is in a centrally located closet.  We were able to discuss options for where to put the unit also.  He mentioned that he would be happier if we could just put it in the attic.  After we took a look at the attic, I decided that was an option as well.  While I was in the attic though, I think I saw what his problem was with the hot spots in his house.  The duct work in his attic was below par.  It wasn't up to standard to cool the home efficiently.  So we talked about it, and he was up to having it redone in a far more efficient manner than what currently exists.
     When making duct work for a home, an HVAC tech or contractor needs to have substantial knowledge of airflow, air pressure and back pressure . . . general pneumatics in other words.  There are certain ways to build duct work so that it actually disperses air exactly where you need it to go without losing too much of the original cubic feet per minute of air (or cfm's) coming from the unit.  Ducts need to be of a certain size to carry a certain amount of air at a certain speed to different parts of a home.  There can't be too many bends or turns in the duct work either, as each bend or turn decreases the cfm's in that particular duct run.
     Another problem he mentioned was that his condensation drain wasn't working properly.  He claimed that he had leaks on a few occasions prior to me coming.  The former owner of the home had poured a slab in the backyard so they could have a house length back porch.  That's all great, but they covered up the original air conditioning condensation drains which came out the back of the house and drained on the ground.   This left the air conditioner with nowhere to drain condensation.  So, an alternate condensation drain had to be set up with a condensate pump which pumped the water up to the attic from a closet where the unit was, then to an outside drain.  This method is inefficient and unnecessary, when a perfectly viable option could be to run a drain through the wall behind the unit and out the front wall of the house.  With the system in the attic though, we are able to run the condensate drains anywhere we want.  They can come out on the front porch, or on the side of the house, or anywhere we want to put them.  We can even tie one into the household plumbing if we want to.
     Anyways, I have the install coming up, and I wanted to share some of the things we talked about while he made his decision.  If you need a new unit, or something is wrong with your central air system, please call All Seasons Comfort in San Antonio, TX.  We'll go almost anywhere in Texas for an installation, but we're happy to give advice if you feel you aren't being treated well by your local HVAC company.  Our contact information is on our website at

Friday, September 10, 2010

Airflow, Ultraviolet Lights and Air Filtration Systems

     So, I had this customer who works all day long.  The only time he could meet with me was at 8pm.  So I scheduled a meeting with him and showed up at his house right at 8 to talk about airflow and a couple hot spots and cold spots he was having in his home.  The discussion ended up leading another direction all together.  Here's a quick recap . . .
     First off, it was amazing that I walked in at 8:00 in the evening, and the kids were asleep already.  That was cool to me!  I haven't seen anyone do that in a long time.  Kudos to those parents!
     Me and the gentleman walked upstairs to look around the attic.  He wanted me to show him some problems I had advised him about a couple weeks earlier when we changed his compressor out.  You see, his little boy's room was too hot and the kid had been complaining about it.  The complaint got them to walk around the whole house and identify certain areas that were warmer or colder than others.  What's ironic is that the hot spots were all on the West side of the home, and the cold spots were on the shaded, Easternmost side.
     He and I talked about how an HVAC load calculation is performed and what is supposed to go into it.  We also talked about the generic load calculations done for cookie cutter homes, and how some air conditioning companies try to take the load from a house that has the same design but is situated in a different location and facing a different direction, and use it without changing anything.  Please keep this in mind.  The West side of a home is the side that gets the highest concentration of heat from the sun.  It's pounded for the majority of the day at the hottest time of the day.  So if you build the same home for another person, but face it another direction, you are asking for trouble.
     As we wrapped up the discussion on ductwork, he mentioned that he has four filters to change out every  six weeks or so.  He also talked about everyone in the house having allergies, so he had bought some high MERV rated filters (MERV rating refers to the size of particulates that can be filtered from the air, the higher the rating, the smaller the particles that can be filtered).  This is when I mentioned the possibility of installing a 6 inch media filter for him on each unit, and maybe adding an ultra violet light to the insides of his units to kill living airborne particulates.
  Anyways, I showed him where I could install the new filters that attached directly to the return air side of his units, and advised him that he only had to change the filters every six months or so.  This got him excited!  I also told him a story about when I went to visit a friend who had installed some UV lights at Northeast Baptist Hospital in San Antonio.

This friend showed me the UV lights, and the evaporator coils they were shining on.  The coils were almost immaculate!  I didn't believe my friend when he told me that they didn't clean the coils, but let the UV light do it for them.  But then my friend asked me to run my hand slowly past the UV light.  I did what he asked, but I didn't feel anything.  Then he told me to smell my hand!  My hand smelled like burning tissue!  So my friend explained to me that the UV light actually kills airborne germs as they float past the evaporator coil.

     My customer was amazed by this revelation.  This got him excited, and he is making plans to have UV lights placed in both units.  He feels pretty sure that if a hospital is using these things when they filter the air for operating rooms, he will see a benefit as well from decreased allergens in his home.  I agree with him wholeheartedly!
     If you, or people in your home are suffering from allergies, a UV light may be the solution.  These things aren't all created equally though, so make sure you do your research before allowing a contractor to charge you an exhorbetant amount of money for something that doesn't work.  If you don't have a regular air conditioning guy, please call my company, All Seasons Comfort, here in San Antonio.  We'll be happy to guide you through the ins and outs of the HVAC system in your home or business.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Why I Started This Blog

     I've worked in the HVAC industry for a number of years now.  I've seen companies come and companies go.  If I remember correctly, there are approximately 1,200 HVAC contractors in the San Antonio, TX area at any given time.  That's a lot of competition!  Very few of these people are terribly successful.  The ones who are successful know how to not only repair air conditioning and heating equipment, but also run a business.
     Too many people feel that if they can just pass their test and get their license, they can get rich running their own business.  What they don't understand is that they will have to get their work from somewhere, and they'll have to have a pricing structure to go with which will keep them from losing money.
     I'm not on here to give lessons to people who want to be my competitors though.  I'm here to help the Average Joe get what's best for him when HE calls an AC repairman!
     As I mentioned already, there are many, many HVAC contractors out there, and they aren't all created equally . . . well maybe they were CREATED equally, but they've made certain decisions that have brought them down the current roads they are on.
     "What's the difference?", you may ask.  "If a guy took the HVAC Contractor's Test approved by the TDLR, and received his license, then why shouldn't I just use anyone?"  The simple answer is as easy as comparing the service at a 4-star restaurant to that of your local 7-11 store.
     At the 4-star restaurant, you are attended to by a person who knows that his or her pay depends on how you feel about the service provided.  At the 7-11, you will most likely have a person who doesn't care if you are in there or not, and it shows in every move the person makes as well as in every word he or she says.   
     When you hire someone to repair your air conditioner or heater, you will notice the technician's demeanor, level of friendliness and professionalism.  All of these things matter as much as the price to most people.  Many times professionalism matters more than the price to potential customers.  What matters to you most?  Is it the level of service provided, or is it the low, low price?  Obviously, a nice combination of both will satisfy you.  Of course, there's a limit to how high a price can be regardless of the level of service, and a limit to how crappy the service can be regardless of the price.
     Be wary of who you hire to work on your central air system.  Check the company out on the internet.  Find out how long they've been in business.  Ask questions, and make sure you get satisfactory answers before letting someone start working on your air conditioner.