Should I Repair or Replace My Existing HVAC Unit?

Old furnace vs New furnace

Unfortunately, heating and air conditioning system breakdowns are a fact of life. It’s the second law of thermodynamics…that everything tends towards breaking down and disorder. 

This then inevitably brings up the question, should I pay to repair my heater or air conditioner, or should I just replace it?

There are a few factors required to answer this question. Things like the age of your system, your average annual repair costs for the system, etc. On one side, it’s just a simple math problem, one I will walk you through in a moment. On the other side it’s about your comfort and peace-of-mind, something that isn’t quite quantifiable. 

Doing the Math

There are three numbers we need to figure out to determine if you should repair or replace your system. 

  1. Energy costs
  2. Repair costs
  3. Replacement cost

Energy Bills

First, how much could you save on energy if you updated your system? We start with how much you spend on heating and cooling costs monthly. According to the national energy department Texan’s heating and cooling costs are about 65% of their energy bill (this varies based on whether you have a gas furnace, heat pump, or electric heater). So take your average monthly energy bill and multiply it by .65

For example, a $300/mo. energy bill would mean you spend $195/mo. for your heating and cooling. 

Next, we need to determine what you would save on your energy costs with a new system. You can find several calculators online that will let you know what your annual savings will be, but for the purposes of this post we will use the example of upgrading from a 10 SEER HVAC to a 14 SEER HVAC. The energy savings annually for this upgrade are 30% (of just your HVAC utility costs) 

That looks like this: $195 x .3 = $58.50

This means that upgrading your system to a newer 14 SEER HVAC system would save you $58.50/mo. on your energy bills. 

Repair Costs

Next, we need to figure out what you can expect to spend on repairs for your system over the next 5 years. To do this we ask you what you spent to repair it last year and the year prior. From there we project out the next five years with a 10% increase each year. We do this because as systems get older they require more frequent, and more costly, repairs. 

If your average annual repairs over the last 2-3 years were about $400 the numbers would look like this:

Annual Estimated Repairs: $400

Year 1 + 10%: $440
Year 2 + 10%: $484
Year 3 + 10%: $532.40
Year 4 + 10%: $585.64
Year 5 + 10%: $644.20

Total Repairs Over Next 5 Years: 2686.24

Then we divide by 60 to get your average monthly repair costs for the next 5 years. 

Divided by 60= (Monthly Repair Costs): $44.75

Adding It Up

Now we add your energy savings to your repairs costs and we can determine what you are paying every month to keep your existing heating and air conditioning system. 

Repairs + Utility Savings: $103.25

This means it is costing you $103.25/mo. to keep your existing system. 

What Would A New System Cost?

Next we determine the cost of a new system. For example, if you wanted to replace your existing HVAC system with a new 14 SEEr system and it costs $7,500. You finance it for 72 months (6 years) at 9.99%, then your monthly payment would be: $131.25

Compare this to the cost of keeping your existing system and we get this:

Cost to keep existing system: $103.25 (energy and repairs)

Cost to upgrade: $131.25 (monthly finance payment)

Monthly Net: -$28

In this example it would cost you an extra $28/mo. to replace your system. Sometimes, depending on energy costs and repair costs, you actually save money by upgrading, but in this example you don’t. 

This doesn’t necessarily mean you should just opt for the repairs though. Now we turn to the unquantifiable factors like comfort, and peace-of-mind.


How is your existing system doing when it comes to keeping you comfortable? How well does it run? What are your existing heating and cooling needs? Do you have rooms that won’t heat or cool well? Are you concerned about indoor air quality? 

All of these questions, and more, can point us to issues that may be resolved with an upgrade. Upgrading your system provides an opportunity to resolve many issues that may have slowly crept in with your existing system, Issues you may think are well worth the extra $28/mo. to solve. 


Does your system consistently breakdown in the peak of each season, when it’s hottest outside, or coldest outside? Have you come to expect these breakdowns? Are you constantly worried about the next breakdown? Do you have very young children, or elderly parents or grandparents living with you, who are adversely affected when your system breaks down?

Any new system we install comes with a 10-year manufacturers warranty on parts and a 1-year warranty on labor. A new system not only provides an opportunity to fix any issues to your comfort, but can also offer peace-of-mind, knowing that breakdowns are a thing of the past, and that warranties have you covered. 

Putting It All Together

After doing the math regarding your current heating and cooling system, and a potential upgrade, along with asking yourself the questions about comfort and peace-of-mind, you can then decide if it is worth it to upgrade, or just repair your existing HVAC unit. 

If you’d like help with this process, or just have more questions give us a call and we would be happy to serve. 

If you want to better understand your home’s HVAC split system you can watch this video.

If you want to learn what you as a homeowner can do to maintain your system check out our blog post here.

Prestige Air proudly serves Northeast Tarrant County and the Fort Worth, Texas area including Hurst, Euless, Bedford, Colleyville, Grapevine, Southlake, Keller, Watauga, Haltom City, and North Richland Hills.

We look forward to serving you and your household!

Prestige Air Coronavirus/Covid-19 Protocol

With the current surge in positive coronavirus cases we felt it necessary to provide an update on the steps we are taking at Prestige Air to keep our team members and customers safe.

Ultimately, we want you to know we are here for our team and customers, and thank you for choosing us as your home’s heating and cooling partner. We hope you and your family stay safe and healthy during these unprecedented circumstances.

Currently we are scheduling HVAC maintenance appointments and want you to know we are available for repairs, service, and installations for heating, and cooling in the Fort Worth area. Servicing your equipment now will help prevent any equipment failure issues that may occur during hot/cold weather conditions.

When we are in your home or business, we want to make sure our team members, and you as the customer, are as safe as possible and we are following these recommended safety practices…

When You Call to Schedule an Appointment With Prestige Air: 

  • We will ask our customers if everyone is healthy in the home or business.
  • Inform you of our safety protocols and ask if you have any special requests or concerns

Safety Protocol: Service Technicians in Your Home or Business Will Do the Following:

  • Wash hands before and after appointments
  • Wear protective masks
  • Wear shoe covers
  • Wear and change gloves
  • Socially distance – including no handshakes
  • Wipe down surfaces as needed
  • Also, extreme care is taken touching material or equipment such as filters, faucets, and ductwork. We bag any materials that needs to be discarded, such as a filters, as we are working.
  • If needed, we can also do a “no contact” diagnostic on your system. Just give us access to your heating and air conditioning unit and we can do our diagnostic and call you on the phone to discuss what we found.

Safety Protocol: Prestige Air Employees

  • We require that anyone who is not feeling well (or has a family member who lives with them not feeling well) does not come to work for 10-14 days unless they get permission from a medical professional to return to work.
  • Our office is closed to walk-in traffic.
  • We are providing contactless temperature checks to all employees as needed.

Indoor Air Quality 

Prestige Air is proud to offer our customers the REME Halo full spectrum Indoor Air Quality system, which has been shown through 3rd party independent studies to kill 99.9% of coronavirus in the air, the only device currently shown to do so at the time of this writing. These units are installed in the supply air plenum of your system to clean and disinfect all the air that travels through your ducts while sanitizing your ductwork as well. We also offer UV lights that can be installed inside your evaporator coil to kill more bacteria and virus’ as well. If you are interested in having the indoor air quality of your home evaluated please let us know. 

Reme Halo

It is our goal to serve you and your household while making sure that your household and our employees remain as safe as possible, and that you are comfortable with the efforts we have taken to do so.

Why We Use Flat-rate Pricing

Two Types of Pricing

In the HVAC industry there are two main ways to set prices for the services we offer. 

  1. Time and materials 
  2. Flat-rate pricing 

Time and materials is where we charge based on a slightly marked up price for the materials needed for the job, along with an hourly rate for the time it takes to do the work on your heater or air conditioner. 

Flat-rate pricing is where we charge a flat rate for each service, predetermined before we ever show up at your home, based on all the costs associated with running an HVAC business, which includes the materials needed for the job along with the time needed to make the HVAC repairs.

Pros and Cons of Each

Time and materials has a few cons associated with it. First, you as the customer do not know what the cost of the repair will be until it is completed. This is because we don’t know how long it will take to do the repair. What if we run into unknown snags with your air conditioner? What if your furnace is particularly difficult to work inside? There is no way to know how long the repair will take. It also means that if you get a newer, less efficient tech that you pay more, since he isn’t as proficient as a more seasoned tech and has to analyze more and inevitably takes longer. You might have the same repair as your neighbor and you both pay different amounts because you had different technicians doing the work, one faster than the other. 

With time and materials you, the homeowner, take all the risk. 

With the flat-rate pricing model we take all the risk. Since we have predetermined the price of your HVAC repair before we ever showed up at your home we can give you the repair quote before we start servicing your heater or air conditioner. Regardless of how long it takes you know that you and your neighbor now both paid the same price for the same repair. You don’t have to wonder about how much it will cost or how long it will take. You can make an informed decision before you sign-off on the repairs. 

If the air conditioner or heater repair takes too long we absorb the extra cost, so the efficiency of the technician is no longer your concern. Just to be clear, all of our techs are trained and certified and do great work, but it is a fact that the longer you do something the faster you get at it. Time on the job is what I mean when I say efficiency, not the quality of the repair. We warranty all repairs because we believe in our techs and the level of their training. You never need to worry about this. 

In Summary

With time and materials…

  • You don’t know the cost of your heater or air conditioner repair until it is completed
  • You pay more if you get a less efficient technician
  • You and your neighbor may pay different amounts for the same heater or air conditioner repair
  • You take all the risk

With flat-rate pricing…

  • You know the cost before you sign-off
  • You pay the same price regardless of how long it takes 
  • You and your neighbor pay the same price for the same heater or air conditioner repair
  • We take all the risk

For these reasons, to keep your best interest at heart, and to maintain total clarity on the cost of our HVAC repair services, we have chosen to use flat-rate pricing for our heater and air conditioner repairs. 

For more information on how you can do some maintenance on your unit yourself check out our article here. And for more info on changing your filter (part of your job as a homeowner to maintain your unit) click here.

What is AUX Heat on my Heat Pump?

AUX Heat or EM Heat on the thermostat
Nest thermostat in AUX Heat mode

How Your Heat Pump Works

Heat pumps are incredible feats of engineering, but like most appliances have their limits. Heat pumps provide very energy efficient heating when compared to traditional electric central heating air handlers, but due to the science behind their design can only go so far.

We spoke in detail about how your heat pump works on an earlier blog, which you can read here. But I will go ahead and give you a quick summary.

In cooling mode your HVAC system uses the evaporator coil inside your home to absorb the heat in the air (into the refrigerant) and then sends the heat to the condenser/outdoor unit and rejects the heat (from the refrigerant) and then starts the process back over. Pretty simple.

With a heat pump, when you switch to heat mode your HVAC system reverses the flow of refrigerant. Now your condenser/outdoor unit is absorbing heat from outside (into the refrigerant) and sends the heat indoors to the evaporator coil and rejects the heat (from the refrigerant) into your home.

Heat Pump Limitations

The limitation of the heat pump is based on the science of refrigerant. The temperature of the refrigerant in your condenser, when in heat mode, is between 35-42 degrees. Heat transfers from the warmer object to the colder one, which means that if it is below that 35-42 degree temperature your condenser is giving off heat, not absorbing it. When this happens there is no heat in the refrigerant to reject inside your home and your heat pump blows cold air.

The Purpose of AUX Heat

This is where AUX heat, or EM heat (emergency heat) comes into play. Inside the air handler (indoor unit) of every heat pump are electric heat strips. These work just like an electric stove. When energized the resistance of the heat strips causes the strip to get hot and glow bright red. As your blower motor moves air across these strips the air gets warm and circulates through your home.

The purpose of AUX heat/ EM heat is to supplement your heat pump on days when the temperature gets below 35-42 degrees. Some thermostats can be programmed to make the switch automatically based on an outdoor ambient heat sensor, others need to be switched over manually. If you notice that your heat pump is blowing cold air from the vents when in heat mode, check the outdoor temperature. If it is below the 35-42 degree window switch your thermostat over to AUX heat or EM heat.

AUX Heat As A Backup

AUX heat or EM heat also operates as a back up in case anything goes wrong with your heat pump. If the refrigerant leaks out, or the condenser has a failure you can simply switch to AUX heat and remain warm until repairs can take place.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding your heat pump or HVAC system in general and live in the Fort Worth area give us a call, we’d love the opportunity to serve.

If you want to learn a bit more about your evaporator coil check out one of our videos here.

Prestige Air proudly serves Northeast Tarrant County and the Fort Worth, Texas area including Hurst, Euless, Bedford, Colleyville, Grapevine, Southlake, Keller, Watauga, Haltom City, and North Richland Hills.

We look forward to serving you and your household!

How to Change a Thermostat

Nest vs. EcoBee

Here’s a way to save energy and money on your heating and cooling bills, replace your old thermostat with a new, programmable one, every degree you cut back over an eight hour period will save you one percent, which of course can add up to hundreds of dollars. A programmable thermostat lets you set up pre-programmed temperature settings for different times of the day for each day of the week, simply program in the day, the start and end times, and the desired temperature for each period and your thermostat does the rest. Always look for the “Energy Star” label to make sure it meets the energy efficiency guidelines established by the government.  

Your thermostat should be located on an inside wall about five feet up from the floor. In order to get an accurate reading it should be away from any conditions that could adversely affect the temperature like direct sunlight or drafts, if those conditions do exist you’ll want to give us a call to discuss moving the location of your thermostat. 

Before you start, turn off the power to your furnace and air conditioner at the service panel. This prevents you from accidentally shorting the low voltage wiring and blowing a fuse. Now remove the cover from your old thermostat, some units have locking screens while others snap on and off, so consult the instructions if you need to. Now you can remove the thermostat from the wall by simply unscrewing the mounting hardware. Once you’ve removed the cover, place a piece of tape to the wires with the letter of the terminal that you’re connecting it to. Because there’s no standard color code each letter might not necessarily match the color of your wire, that’s why it’s important to match the wire with the corresponding terminal code before you disconnect it. You can also take a quick pic with your smartphone as well. You just need to make sure that you can remember which wire goes into which port. Just below is a pic I took when changing a recent thermostat for a customer. Once everything is marked, simply disconnect the wires from the terminals with a screwdriver. 

You’ll notice the wire color doesn’t necessarily match the label

Separate the front of your new thermostat from the base, in some cases there’s a hatch on the bottom that, when pressed, removes the top of the thermostat from the bottom. Position the base on the wall with the wires protruding through the center opening. Use a small level to line it up properly and mark the screw holes with a pencil. Remove the base and drill three sixteenth holes in the marked screw locations, tap a plastic anchor into each of the holes until its flush with the wall. Feed the wires through the opening on the base of the thermostat and attach it to the wall. 

Ok, now it’s time to get everything wired up, this is where it really comes in handy to have the wires properly marked and you may have noticed earlier that there might have been extra wires that you weren’t using, that’s ok just disregard those it’ll be fine. With a screwdriver connect each marked wire to the appropriate terminal on the new thermostat, if your connections don’t match consult the manual for the correct wiring setup. Install new batteries into the main control unit, make sure the size and polarity is correct, then press the reset button to clear the program memory. Now attach the control unit to the base by hooking the top and swinging down the body to snap it into place. Turn the power back on and test your thermostat to make sure both the furnace and the air conditioner are cycling properly. Of course your heating and cooling needs will change with the seasons so you’ll probably need to adjust the program periodically to meet your lifestyle. If you have more than one heating and cooling system then an adjustable thermostat on each one means more efficiency. 

When picking a thermostat there are a few things you need to know. First, what type of system do you have? Gas furnace with a single stage of heat, or a heat pump with 2 stages of heat? An air conditioner with one or two stages of cooling? Normally, a gas furnace is single stage heat and single stage cooling. A heat pump is normally 2 stages of heat and a single stage of cooling. If you get the wrong one you may find that the second stage doesn’t engage. If you have any questions give us a call and we can help you figure it out. Second, how smart do you want your thermostat to be? Do you want wifi ability? Smart temperature control? Some thermostats have a sensor that knows when you’re home and when you’re not and can automatically adjust the settings for you. Some people love this feature, others find it problematic. It’s just a matter of what you prefer. 

Here are my recommendations. For a standard digital, programmable thermostat I recommend the Honeywell T-4 and T-6 pro. For a wifi enabled thermostat I recommend the EcoBee 4. This one also comes with room sensors to help fine tune the comfort in each room. Another fan favorite is the Nest thermostat by Google. It is also wifi enabled and also has smart sensor technology so it can tell when you get home and adjust automatically. 

If you have any questions about which thermostat is right for you, how to change it, etc. give us a call. We’d be glad to help.  

For information on how to change your air filter check out our video here.

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HVAC: Homeowner Maintenance

It’s a common saying in our industry that if you don’t make time for maintenance, your system will make it for you with breakdowns. Maintenance is the single most important thing you can do to get the best return on your investment in your HVAC system. Whether it’s a gas furnace, electric heater, heat pump, or straight air conditioner, you need to have it maintained twice a year, once in the Spring to prepare for Summer, and once in the Fall to prepare for Winter. 

The main things that a homeowner needs to look at when maintaining their system is make sure you keep adequate airflow to the system. 

For the outdoor unit this means keep it nice and clear around the condenser. For more info on how your condenser works you can read our article here. Air flow is the absolute key for maintaining efficiency of the system so make sure you trim your bushes back and make sure when you’re mowing your grass you don’t blow it towards the coil. One of the biggest things you can do to help yourself during the cooling season is make sure your coil stays clean, so if you can, come out with a garden hose and spray off the coil if you see an accumulation of dirt, some cottonwood, or grass clippings. That’s the greatest thing you can do for your outdoor unit. 

For your indoor unit you need to make sure you change your filter regularly. If you have a 1” filter we recommend changing it monthly. If it’s a 2” filter we recommend changing that every two months. If it’s a 4” filter we recommend changing that every 4-6 months. Some filters are labeled as 1 year filters, but in Texas we run our systems 3000+ hours, which is more than the national average, which is why we recommend changing the filter every 6 months at the latest. 

After that there’s really not much more that a homeowner can do to maintain their system so it’s highly recommended that every year you have a licensed technician come out and inspect and clean and check your system.

Some of the things that they’re going to do is they’ll pull the shell apart, they’ll take the top off the unit, they’ll normally chemically clean the coil to make sure that any built up dirt and grime is pulled out of the system, they’ll take a look at the fan motor to make sure the blade is good, they’ll check the bearings on the motor, they’ll check the rotation and make sure everything is good to go there. The heart of the system like the engine of your car is the compressor, now there’s nothing you can do as a homeowner to service that, these highly skilled technicians will come out and they’ll measure the amperage that they’re pulling, make sure that they’re running at their peak efficiency, they’ll check the bearings, they’ll check the refrigerant charge, and they’ll check how well the system is performing as for factory specifications. These are all things that you can’t do as a homeowner but a technician will know how to do. By having them come out once a year you’ll ensure the reliability of your system, that it’s not going to break on you, and that it’s going to last for the longest amount of time and you’ll get the best return on your investment. Once again if you have any questions give us a call, we can help you out with your maintenance needs. 

If you want to learn more about your residential split HVAC system check out our video here.

How A Heat Pump Works

All air-conditioning systems, including heat pumps, rely on the refrigerant’s pressure temperature relationship. When a refrigerant evaporates or boils it absorbs heat at a very high rate, as is the case with all liquified gasses. Since refrigerant has a lower boiling point than most liquids we can easily manipulate it so that the only heat source needed is room temperature air. We can control this boiling point by altering the pressure placed upon the liquid. Now let’s take a look at the operation of a common split system air source heat pump. In the summer the compressor, the heart of the heat pump, receives cool, low pressure refrigerant vapor. It then pumps this vapor into the high pressure side of the system. This hot, high pressure gas now travels through a routing valve, known as the reversing valve, to the outside coil which functions as the condenser. In the condenser the heat is removed from the refrigerant by the outdoor fan, causing the refrigerant to condense into a liquid. The liquid refrigerant now bypasses the first expansion valve by means of a one direction valve, known as a check valve, the refrigerant, now cooler but still under high pressure, travels along the liquid line to the indoor unit where it is forced through the second expansion valve, this valve partially restricts the flow of refrigerant, creating the needed decrease in pressure which allows the refrigerant to start evaporating. As the refrigerant evaporates it absorbs heat from the passing air, in addition the cold evaporator collects moisture which provides dehumidification for the home. The refrigerant then travels back to the compressor where the process is repeated over and over again. 

During the winter mode the reversing valve reroutes the refrigerant path, thereby making the outside coil function as the evaporator and the indoor coil as the condenser. The heat is absorbed from the outside air by the evaporator then brought inside and released by the condenser to heat the home’s air. Also notice the outdoor expansion valve is now active as the indoor expansion valve is bypassed. This is a very efficient and cost effective method for heating the home. There is one inherent problem however, in order for the evaporator, now outside, to absorb heat it must operate at temperatures lower than the outside air. This very low operating temperature allows ice or frost to accumulate on the outside of the evaporator. 

The remedy? The defrost cycle. As the defrost cycle is initiated the reversing valve switches the refrigerant path back to that of the summer mode. This allows indoor heat to be transferred from the inside air stream to the outside coil thereby melting the accumulated frost. To speed this process up, outdoor fan operation is terminated throughout the defrost cycle, also notice that the indoor air stream now being robbed of its heat becomes very cold which is not a desirable condition during winter, to compensate for this condition the auxiliary heat is activated for the duration of the defrost cycle. After a few minutes the outdoor coil is frost free and the defrost cycle is terminated and that’s how a heat pump works. 

Auxiliary heat, or Emergency heat mode, is the back up heat mode within every heat pump, which exists to heat your home when the outdoor temperature is below the temp of the refrigerant, usually 40 degrees or so. Aux heat is usually electric heat strips. They are much more expensive to operate than the heat pump which is why they are just the back up, and only get used when the outdoor temp is too low, or when the heat pump is in defrost cycle. 

For a comparison, the heat pump uses the outdoor compressor to heat your home, which operates on between 8-12 amps of power. The heat strips use 21 amps per strip to heat your home and your home could have anywhere from two to four heat strips. This means you could be using up to 84 amps to heat your home with heat strips. This is why heat pumps are so efficient when compared to heat strips. 

If you would like to have your heat pump serviced or repaired give us a call or check us out online here. Our team are top brand technicians licensed and certified to work on heat pumps in Texas.

Or check out our video on HVAC split systems to learn more.

Prestige Air proudly serves Northeast Tarrant County and the Fort Worth, Texas area including Hurst, Euless, Bedford, Colleyville, Grapevine, Southlake, Keller, Watauga, Haltom City, and North Richland Hills.

We look forward to serving you and your household!

VIDEO: Basics of Evaporator Coil Leak Detection

In this video we review the basic steps to find a leak in an evaporator coil. We discuss isolation, electronic sniffers, bubbles, and dye. For more info check out our site

The evaporator coil we use in this video was removed from a customer’s system due to a leak. Fortunately we were able to find the leak quickly, unfortunately it was at the base of the elbow in the rust, which made it unfixable.

What we show you in this video is how we find leaks by isolating the coil, pressurizing with some refrigerant and nitrogen. The purpose of the refrigerant is to make sure our sniffer can detect the leak, and the nitrogen creates the pressure to duplicate the leak as if the system was running.

Once we have identified the general are of the leak with our electronic leak detector (sniffer) we then spray bubbles in the area to find the exact location of the leak.

Once we identify the exact location of the leak in the evaporator coil we then determine if the leak can be fixed, and if so, what it will require. Will we need to pull the coil from the system to repair it, or will we be able to repair it in place?

Watch the video to see all this in action. Or you can watch the video directly on youtube here.

The Anatomy of Your Evaporator Coil

In this video we go over the basic anatomy of an evaporator coil. We review the liquid line, the metering device, distributor lines, piping, coil fins, drain pan, and suction line. This video is designed to be helpful to the homeowner so you know what we mean when we discuss leaks in your evaporator coil, maintenance, changing the metering device, etc.

Wanna see where the evaporator coil lives in your heating and air conditioner then watch our video on residential split systems here.

You can also watch this video directly on youtube if you want by clicking here.

We look forward to serving you and your household!

Why Did My Capacitor Fail?

A capacitor is a very common electrical component within your home’s air conditioning and heating system. Capacitors enable certain types of motors to run. These types of capacitors are called run capacitors. Before we discuss why they fail, let’s talk about why they are necessary. 

Most homes are on what’s called “single phase” electricity. Very simply put, this means all the electricity in your home is current that runs the same direction. The motors used in your HVAC system have two windings and they need one of those windings to be “out of phase” in order to turn. This is where your capacitor comes in. The electricity going to one of the windings in the motor goes through the capacitor first, is taken out of phase, and then proceeds to the motor, enabling the motor to turn. Without a capacitor this type of motor won’t turn, it will just sit and hum (which isn’t good for the motor).

A capacitor is made up of an electrical conductor and a dielectric (non-conductive) material rolled up together like a fruit roll-up still in the plastic. The amount of conductor inside the shell determines the amount of “capacitance” that the capacitor has. This is measured in microfarads. See the image below.

There are many ways that a capacitor can fail, but the two main failures are from heat, and from the deterioration of the dielectric. 

When a capacitor gets overheated it begins to swell which can pull the contact points (where the wiring connects to the capacitor) out of the conductive material inside. This means the wiring is no longer connected to the material inside, and the capacitor has failed, it is no longer providing capacitance to the motor. 

Capacitors can overheat for several reasons. A failing motor can increase the amperage needed to run, which increases the amperage being pulled through the capacitor, overheating the capacitor, and can cause it to fail. This also works in reverse, a failing capacitor can cause a motor to require more amperage to run, overheating the motor, and can cause the motor to fail. Capacitors can also overheat from outdoor ambient temperatures. It is very common to have capacitors fail during a short heat wave. The first time it hits 90 degrees we see a lot of cap failures. The ones that make it through this heat may then fail when it hits 100 degrees, and so on. This type of failure is usually immediate. The moment it overheats and pulls the contacts out the motor ceases to operate. 

The next most common reason we see capacitors fail is due to the deterioration of the dielectric material inside. As this material degrades the electricity inside shorts out, reducing the capacitance, or microfarads. This type of failure is slow. As the dielectric slowly degrades the capacitance slowly goes down, bit by bit. This type of failure can also cause the motor to fail. As the capacitance goes down the motor no longer operates as designed and begins to operate with unnecessary strain which can cause the windings to break down, the motor to overheat, etc. This is why it is so important to have your system maintained on a regular basis. We can test and determine when a capacitor is slowly failing and by catching it early we can preserve the integrity of the motors it is connected to, saving you hundreds of dollars in the long run. 

Capacitors, and why they fail, is a very complex subject. This is a very simplified explanation to help you understand why this happens and why we, as professional HVAC technicians, do what we do when we work on your system. 

For more information on having your system maintained click here and we can schedule an appt with you. 

Prestige Air proudly serves Northeast Tarrant County and the Fort Worth, Texas area including Hurst, Euless, Bedford, Colleyville, Grapevine, Southlake, Keller, Watauga, Haltom City, and North Richland Hills.

We look forward to serving you and your household!

How Does My Condenser Work?

On a residential split air conditioning system the condenser is the outdoor unit. It’s main job is to take the refrigerant as it comes outside from your home, as a gas, and condense it back into a liquid before sending it back inside. The liquid refrigerant then enters your evaporator coil to cool the air. The refrigerant inside your evaporator is a liquid, it absorbs the heat from the air in your home and boils off into a gas and is sent back outside to the condenser to be condensed back into a liquid again. This is your basic refrigeration cycle. 

On your basic system the condenser uses five main components to condense the refrigerant back into a liquid. These are the compressor, the condenser fan and condenser fan motor, the condenser coil, the contactor, and the run capacitor. 

  1. The compressor is the main component in the operation of the condenser. The compressor circulates the refrigerant through the entire system. It operates just like your heart, circulating blood throughout your body. It pulls the refrigerant outside from the evaporator coil and then forces it to move through the condenser coil to turn it back into a liquid. 
  1. The condenser coil (copper or aluminum tubing) is the next major component. The condenser coil is the tubing that runs all the way around your condensing unit. If you connected all the condenser coil piping end-to-end you would have anywhere from 150-300 feet of tubing. This is where the refrigerant as a gas has the heat removed so that it can be condensed back into a liquid. As air is pulled over the condenser coil the heat is pulled out of the refrigerant which cools it down back to a point where it turns back into a liquid. But what causes air to cross over the coils and remove heat…
  1. The condenser fan and condenser fan motor work to draw air across the condenser coil and remove the heat from the refrigerant cooling it down. If you ever hold your hand over the top of your condenser while it is running you’ll notice the air blowing out the top is much warmer than the ambient outside air. This is because the fan is drawing outside air across the coils, pulling the heat from the refrigerant, and then blowing the heated air out the top. This is one of the easiest ways to determine if your condenser is working, if the air blowing out the top is much warmer than the outside air. 
  1. The contactor is inside the control panel for the condenser. This is essentially the “on” switch for the condenser. When your thermostat tells your system that it needs air conditioning to turn on it sends 24-volts outside to energize the contactor which then switches on the high voltage to the compressor and the condenser fan motor. When the compressor and condenser fan motor turn on, the air conditioner begins to run full steam ahead. 
  1. The run capacitor is a small but very important component within the condenser. The run capacitor is what makes the motor in the compressor and the condenser fan motor operate. Without getting too technical your condenser motors run on two windings of single phase electricity, in order for the motors to run they need to have one of those windings “out of phase”. This is what the capacitor does. The high voltage power going to one of the windings passes through the capacitor first and has it’s phase shifted so it is out of phase with the other winding. This causes the magnetic motor to turn. Most condensers use a single capacitor for both the fan and the compressor, this is referred to as a dual run capacitor, this is because it is used for both motors. Sometimes you’ll have two capacitors, one for each motor, the compressor and the condenser fan motor, separately. 

To sum it up, when your thermostat calls for AC it energizes the contactor in your condenser. The contactor then sends high voltage to the compressor and the condenser fan motor. The high voltage for one of the windings in each motor passes through your run capacitor which enables both motors to begin to turn. Once the compressor is running it begins to move the refrigerant as a gas through the condenser coils where the condenser fan then draws outside air over the coils removing the heat and condensing the refrigerant back into a liquid. 

The compressor then sends the liquid back inside to the evaporator coil where it absorbs the heat from inside your home and starts the process all over again. 

That is, in a nutshell, what your condenser does, and how it works. For more information on the residential split system you have in your home click here, or watch the video on youtube here.

Prestige Air proudly serves Northeast Tarrant County and the Fort Worth, Texas area including Hurst, Euless, Bedford, Colleyville, Grapevine, Southlake, Keller, Watauga, Haltom City, and North Richland Hills.

We look forward to serving you and your household!

How to Choose the Right Heating and Air Conditioning System for Your Home

When choosing a new comfort system for your family most people focus on price. But price isn’t the only thing you need to consider. You’ll also want to consider which brand is best? What size system your home needs? And what level of efficiency do you want? 

There are many brands on the market today all claiming that their unit is the best. My advice is to stick with the major brands that only manufacture heating and air conditioning equipment, some brands are appliance companies that also make HVAC equipment. You’re looking for one of the major brands such as; Armstrong, Rheem, Carrier, Trane, or Lennox, these are companies that only focus on heating and air conditioning. 

As far as technology there aren’t a lot of big secrets in the industry and everyone of the above companies makes good quality equipment. However most established heating and air conditioning service companies choose to align themselves with one major brand, this doesn’t mean that they can’t sell other brands if the application warrants it, they can supply just about any other brand but most major brands have such an extensive product line its rare that a match can’t be found. It’s in your best interest when a company sticks with one brand. If you’re buying one brand they can leverage the strength of a strong long standing relationship to help get lower prices and better resolutions if any problems were to occur. For example, at Prestige Air we have partnered with Armstrong and Rheem. We have been trained and certified to install, repair, and complete warranty service work by these manufacturers. 

When it comes to system selection your home will pick the size of the unit. By that I mean the tonnage or size of the system that’s right for your house is determined by the square footage, infiltration rate, exterior exposure, duct system design, and other factors that you have no control over. The right size system is critical. A system that’s oversized will cause overly high utility bills, uneven temperatures and high humidity issues. An undersized unit will run all the time and still not be able to keep you comfortable. 

You’ll also hear terms such as; S.E.E.R, H.S.P.F and A.F.U.E. These are all terms that describe how efficiently the equipment operates, kind of like miles per gallon for your car. The higher the efficiency the lower the energy cost, which means the more money you pay upfront for efficiency the better it will perform for you and the lower your energy bills will be. Bottom line is, superior systems are quieter, last longer, and save you money in the long run. 

So if you need to change out your HVAC system these are a few of the options you should consider before making your final decision. 

For more info, or if you’d like us to help, give us a call or look around on our site, or check out this video on residential splits systems on youtube,

Prestige Air proudly serves Northeast Tarrant County and the Fort Worth, Texas area including Hurst, Euless, Bedford, Colleyville, Grapevine, Southlake, Keller, Watauga, Haltom City, and North Richland Hills.

We look forward to serving you and your household!