Why Is My Outside AC Fan Not Working?

The outside unit or condenser is the biggest part of the air conditioning system. In this equipment cabinet are the compressor, condenser coils, and condenser fan. What should you do if you find the AC outside fan not working? Novak Heating, Air, and Duct Cleaning shares common malfunctions that can cause your outdoor fan to fail, how to check it, and when to call for air conditioning repairs to fix it.

How to Tell If Your AC Fan Isn’t Working

You may suspect you have an outside AC fan that is not working if your cooling system isn’t keeping your home comfortable. To figure out whether this component is the issue or not, listen to your condenser unit as it runs and peer through the top grate of the outdoor unit to monitor the fan.

You may notice that the fan doesn’t run but the compressor does. Or, the fan and compressor both fail to start. The fan could be operational, yet slow to start. Each of these circumstances indicates a problem with your AC unit not working correctly.

Causes of Outdoor AC Fan Failure

If you find your outside AC fan not spinning as it should, these are the most likely reasons behind it.

1. Motor Malfunctions

The fan in your outdoor unit connects to a condenser fan motor which turns the blades. Because the motor has to endure a lot of vibrations and heat, bearings inside the AC fan motor wear down as time goes on, especially if the unit is not properly maintained. AC fan motors that are malfunctioning result in poor system performance and fans that either doesn’t run at all or work very slowly, often with a burning smell. You need to call your HVAC company to come to inspect the air conditioning unit and make repairs.

2. Belt Problems

If your condenser unit is older, it may very well have a fan belt that links the fan to the motor. Belts are designed to slip on and off of their pulleys with ease, which makes them susceptible to depreciation over time. A loose belt can easily slip out of position, which means the components are no longer connected which can make your AC unit fan stop spinning. This often happens due to wear and tear affecting the belt.

Belt issues are usually a DIY fix. Turn off power to the unit at the circuit breaker, remove the top grate and fan components to access the belt and pulleys, and slide the belt back around the pulleys. The mere presence of a belt drive in your condensing unit means the system is old, and it’s time to think about upgrading your air conditioner. Newer versions of air conditioner units do not use belts; instead, they use direct drive components to automatically connect the fan and motor.

3. Bad Contactor

The outdoor condensing unit holds the compressor and fan motor, which both receive power from the contactor. The contactor is an electrical switch and it can go bad with age. If the contactor fails, the fan motor won’t receive any electricity and you’ll notice the outside AC fan not spinning.

In the case of a faulty contactor, it will need to be replaced. Contact your HVAC technician to replace the contactor and this will restore power to the air conditioning unit and start the fan spinning again.

4. Faulty Capacitor

The capacitor’s job is to store power used to operate the fan motor in the condenser unit. Occasionally, these components fail which prevents the fan motor from receiving proper power as the system runs. Have your HVAC technician replace the capacitor and this fix should correct the outside AC fan not working.

Call Novak for AC Repairs in Cedar Rapids

If you notice your outside AC fan not working, it’s important to solve the issue right away or you may be stuck without cool air in your home. Call Novak Heating, Air, and Duct Cleaning to schedule air conditioner repairs in Cedar Rapids.

How Can You Improve Indoor Air Quality?

We spend around 90 percent of our time indoors, so it’s important to make sure the air quality in our homes is up to par. Unfortunately, many of us are unknowingly breathing in common air pollutants that can be harmful to our health and comfort. From volatile organic compounds (VOCs) to asbestos, there are a variety of dangers lurking in our indoor air. How can you improve indoor air quality? Novak Heating, Air, and Duct Cleaning share several tips to help you out.

Common Indoor Air Pollutants

You probably don’t think much about the quality of the air you’re breathing until you start to feel ill. Even then, it can be hard to identify the cause of your symptoms.

Believe it or not, the air inside your home can be up to five times more polluted than the air outside. There are many sources of indoor air pollution, but some of the most common are:

  • Pollen
  • Dust
  • Mold
  • Carbon monoxide
  • Lead
  • Nitrogen dioxide
  • Radon
  • Volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
  • Smoke

How Can You Improve Indoor Air Quality?

There are several changes you can make to start improving the poor air quality in your home. Here are some of our top suggestions to help you control indoor air pollution and better the air quality inside your home.

Source Control

The best way to reduce indoor air pollution is to find the sources of pollutants that exist in the home. Some common sources of indoor air pollution include combustion appliances, aerosols and solvents, building materials and furnishings, air fresheners, and chemical cleaning products.

By stopping the indoor air quality pollutants in your home at the source, you can limit the number of pollutants in your air supply, as well as their concentrations.

Some tips to help you with source control include:

  • Regularly servicing and adjusting your combustion appliances
  • Choosing products with fewer volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
  • Allowing products like new furniture to off-gas outside before bringing them into the home
  • Testing your home for harmful pollutants like lead and radon, and mitigate sources as needed
  • Using natural cleaners and air fresheners
  • Banning smoking inside your home

Improve Ventilation

Opening windows and doors when the weather allows is one of the simplest ways to remove indoor pollution. Natural ventilation will introduce fresh air and push out stale air. In the colder months, you can still improve air quality by running an exhaust fan in the bathroom when you’re showering and in the kitchen when you’re cooking. Exhaust fans help reduce moisture and heat buildup, which contribute to poor indoor air quality and discomfort. Whole-home ventilation systems are also very useful, but not every household has this equipment installed.

Change Air Filters

One of the easiest things you can do to improve your indoor air quality is to change your air filter on a regular basis. Air filters are meant to keep contaminants and debris out of the HVAC system, but they also benefit air quality. When air filters become clogged, they can no longer remove particle pollutants from the air. Not only is this bad for your HVAC system, but it’s also bad for your health.

It’s a good idea to check filters on a monthly basis and replace them whenever they are filled with matter. Keep clean air filters on hand so you always have one available when it’s time to replace the old one.

Install IAQ Equipment

Installing certain indoor air quality equipment is extremely helpful as you work towards filling your home with clean air. These appliances work with the home’s heating and cooling equipment to help control pollutants and factors that contribute to their existence at higher concentrations indoors.

  • Adding humidity to your home’s air can help offset the health problems that often come with dry air. Installing a whole-home humidifier is an easy way to add humidity and improve your indoor air quality.
  • An air purifier uses ultraviolet light energy to neutralize mold, bacteria, and other pathogens so they can no longer reproduce or cause health issues.
  • An air cleaner can also provide additional removal of particle pollutants for cleaner indoor air.

Talk to Novak to Improve Indoor Air Quality Today

Improving indoor air quality is important for your health and the health of your family. Novak Heating, Air and Duct Cleaning installs air purifiers, air cleaners, and whole-home humidifiers for homeowners in the Cedar Rapids area – call us today to learn more.

What is the Cost of Raising the Thermostat by 1 Degree?

As the cost of energy continues to rise, homeowners are always looking for ways to keep homes comfortable without drastically increasing their heating and cooling bills. There are many tips out there that claim to help you increase comfort with little added cost, but it’s hard to figure out which suggestions are good advice and which ones aren’t worth your time. One suggestion is to increase or decrease the home’s temperature 1 degree at a time, which will improve comfort without generating significant cost. Novak Heating and Cooling in Cedar Rapids, IA discusses the cost of raising the thermostat 1 degree and more tips to save energy.

How Much Does It Cost To Raise Your Thermostat Setting by One Degree?

Did you know that the average bill a U.S. household spends more than $2,000 each year on energy costs? In fact, heating and cooling systems account for about 55 percent of total energy consumption in the home. That’s a lot of money, so it’s important to take measures to conserve energy and keep those costs down.

One way to do that is to gradually lower the thermostat temperature in the winter and raise it over the summer. You might not think that adjusting the thermostat one degree in temperature is a significant change, but the associated costs can add up over time. These gradual increases ease your household into indoor climate changes so it’s easier to acclimate to new temperature settings – if you make large temperature jumps, the temperature difference is more noticeable, and the heating bill increase is larger. Moving the thermostat settings 1 degree at a time may show you that your home is at a comfortable temperature you didn’t expect.

The cost of a thermostat adjustment of one degree is about three percent of your total energy bill. This means that for every degree you raise the thermostat, you can expect to see corresponding savings on your energy bill of about 3 percent. For example, a winter energy bill that is typically $75 per month would be lowered to $72.75 due to the cost of raising the heater one degree warmer. In the summer, setting your thermostat to a lower temperature is akin to “raising” it. This makes your air conditioner use more energy as this increases the temperature difference between the temperature inside and the temperature outside.

Raising the thermostat 1 degree isn’t always exactly 3 percent. The actual price you’ll pay for the extra heating and cooling can be impacted by many variables, including your HVAC system’s energy efficiency and outdoor temperature extremes.

Ways to Stay Comfortable and Save Money

Programmable thermostats help homeowners save on annual heating and cooling costs by programming automatic temperature adjustments during times when you’re not home or when you’re sleeping. You do have to take advantage of the thermostat’s setting capabilities to reap the benefits. The bottom line: using a programmable thermostat can result in energy savings that will be reflected on your energy bills, but only if you use it correctly.

One easy way to save on your energy bill using a programmable thermostat is to set your temperature back 7 to 10 degrees for periods of 8 hours or more. Overnight is a good time to do so because the temperature difference won’t be as noticeable while everyone sleeps. You can program similar setbacks to cover the school or workday during non occupied hours to generate additional savings.

Save Money with Novak Heating and Cooling

The cost of raising the thermostat 1 degree at a time is minuscule, and making such small, incremental adjustments will help you realize that you can find a good temperature for your home without making large temperature jumps and setbacks. For more ways to save money on heating and cooling costs or to have a programmable thermostat installed in your home in Cedar Rapids, Robins, Marion, North Liberty, or Hiawatha, Iowa, call Novak Heating and Cooling today!

What Do MERV Ratings Mean?

Furnace filters play an important role in the function of your heating and cooling system as well as the home’s indoor air quality. Not only do they keep your home’s air clean and circulating properly, but they also protect the HVAC system from dust and dirt. As with any other appliance or product, it’s important to shop for the right furnace filter for your needs. MERV filter ratings are one element you’ll need to pay attention to as you choose the right filters for your home and HVAC system. Novak Heating and Cooling breaks down the meaning of MERV and explains how furnace filters function.

What Are MERV Filter Ratings?

If you’re shopping for a furnace filter, you’ll likely see a MERV rating on the package. Do you know what those numbers mean?

MERV stands for minimum efficiency reporting value, and it’s the standard measure of how effectively a filter can remove particulate matter from air passing through it. The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) developed a method to test filter efficacy, and MERV filter ratings were derived from these tests in 1987.

HVAC air filters receive a MERV rating that corresponds with their efficiency for removing certain particle size ranges from the air supply. MERV ratings begin at 1 and extend to 16 – the higher the MERV rating, the better the filter can remove particulate matter from the air. Particle size ranges represented by a MERV rating are 3.0 to 10.0 microns, 1.0 to 3.0 microns, and 0.3 to 1.0 microns.

Determining the Right MERV Filter Ratings to Use with Your HVAC System

An air filter with an extremely high MERV rating is not always a good thing. Many homeowners assume using an air filter with ratings at the higher end of the MERV scale will offer the cleanest air quality, but that doesn’t mean this is the right air filter for your home.

These highly efficient filters generally aren’t meant for use with residential HVAC systems. To achieve high-efficiency filtration, these filters contain denser media to remove finer particles in greater volumes. An HVAC system needs a powerful fan to properly circulate air through this filter and keep the heating and cooling system running properly.

Residential HVAC systems typically aren’t powerful enough to accommodate an air filter with a MERV rating in the highest range. If you use an air filter that is rated too high for your home’s HVAC system, the dense filter media will actively restrict airflow through the heating and cooling system and the filter effectively acts much the same as a typical filter that has become clogged with debris. Using filters with the highest MERV rating in residential heating and cooling equipment increases energy consumption, causing more stress and wear to the HVAC system.

It’s important to optimize filtration by choosing high MERV air filter ratings that are compatible for use with your residential HVAC unit and your indoor air quality needs. A filter with a MERV of 8 to 13 filters are generally recommended, depending on your specific needs. Pet dander, smoking, carpeting, family members with allergies, and other factors can impact air quality and filtration needs, so be sure to take all of these into account when making your purchase.

Benefits Associated with High MERV Ratings

As long as you choose options with MERV air filter ratings that are appropriate for use with your type of heating and cooling system, using filters with higher MERV ratings can offer many bonuses for homeowners.

For people with allergies or asthma, using filters with higher MERV ratings can offer better air filtration for the home. More allergen particles are trapped by the filter and removed from living areas, decreasing exposure to particles that cause allergy and asthma symptoms.
Greater efficacy also keeps particles out of the HVAC unit, which prevents stress and wear and tear damage.
Filters with higher MERV ratings can help with odor control in the home by removing fine particles that cause odors to linger in living spaces.

Find the Right Filters with Novak Heating and Cooling

A clear understanding of MERV filter ratings allows you to choose the right options for your home. If you have questions about HVAC filters or improving indoor air quality at home, call Novak Heating and Cooling.

How Long Do Mini Splits Last?

If you’re in the market for a new heating and cooling system, you may want to consider ductless mini splits as an option for your home in the Cedar Rapids area. For those homeowners who aren’t familiar with these types of ductless systems, might have many questions about ductless HVAC systems. In this post, Novak Heating and Cooling answers all the common questions about ductless mini splits, including how long do mini splits last.

What Is a Mini Split HVAC System?

A mini split is a type of HVAC system that can provide cooling and heating to different areas of your home without the need for ductwork. A ductless mini split system consists of two main components: an outdoor ductless heat pump equipment or air conditioner and one or more indoor air handlers. The outdoor unit is typically installed on the side of your house or in the backyard, while the indoor air handlers are installed directly into the living spaces, such as the bedroom, office, or kitchen. Indoor and outdoor units are connected by refrigerant lines that run through exterior walls.

The air handlers supply conditioned air directly to the designated area, which eliminates the need for a central HVAC system and the associated ductwork. All air handlers in the system can be operated independently from one another, which produces a zoned system setup for highly efficient heating and cooling.

You Might Want a Mini Split If…

Mini splits are becoming increasingly popular. Many homeowners look to retrofit existing spaces, like an attic or garage, to create new living areas but want a heating and cooling system for comfort. The expense and hassle of extending ductwork into these new rooms and upgrading their current units to serve the additional area can make the project cost-prohibitive. The same situation applies when new additions are built on existing homes.

Instead of altering the existing central HVAC system, a ductless mini split can be installed to work alongside the central HVAC system while providing climate control to the designated space. Homeowners can continue to use the central HVAC units they are used to while using the mini split to control comfort levels inside the new living space without impacting the rest of the home.

Additionally, mini splits are perfect for homes or households that do not have the capacity to support the installation of a traditional HVAC system. This might be because the home is historical or older and originally built without consideration for ducts. In homes that have blocked or damaged ductwork, it may be necessary to install a new duct system when planning HVAC system upgrades. This can add thousands of dollars in expenses to the project, which may make the whole thing out of budget.

How Long Do Mini Splits Last?

New HVAC systems are expensive to purchase and install, so homeowners look for HVAC equipment that offers a long service life so they can make the most of their investment. But if you’re considering a mini split system, you may wonder about the ductless HVAC longevity so you can make the most out of your investment.

On average, ductless mini splits last around 20 years. That’s significantly longer than other traditional HVAC systems like heat pumps and air conditioners, and on the higher end of the service life range for furnaces.

To get the most out of your system and extend the ductless mini split lifespan, it’s important to follow a regular maintenance routine. A reputable HVAC contractor can provide the proper maintenance for your system to keep your ductless system’s energy efficiency at its best. As a homeowner, you can do some basic things yourself, like changing the air filters and cleaning the unit. There are also factors that affect the lifespan of your system to help it last as long as possible. Turn it off or set it back when rooms aren’t occupied to avoid unnecessary wear and tear that occurs during regular system use. Doing these things will help prolong the life of your ductless mini split system.

Mini Split Installation from Novak Heating & Cooling

The lifespan of ductless mini split systems are impressive, especially compared to other common household HVAC system types. To learn more about ductless mini split systems and to receive a quote for mini split installation in your Cedar Rapids area from an experienced HVAC installer, call the team at Novak Heating and Cooling today.