NYC Metro Area’s HVACR Blog

All, Preventive Maintenance Agreements, Residential HVAC

Air Conditioning Troubleshooting: 9 Common Problems & Solutions

air conditioning troubleshootingBefore you know it, those living in the residential building you manage will be cranking up their air conditioning systems. It goes without saying that you’ll want to start off the warmer weather months in a comfortable zone, which for you and the residents means as complaint-free as possible. A preemptive air conditioning troubleshooting mission and appropriate residential air conditioning maintenance can aid you in your goal of smoothly operating air conditioning systems and happy residents. Let’s take a look at the most common air conditioning problems.

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Preventive Maintenance Agreements, Residential HVAC

24 Clever Ways to Hide an AC Unit Indoors & Out

hide ac unit

Let’s face it, your air conditioner is an essential component of your luxury home, but it’s not something you want front and center. Most of us would rather hide the AC unit. It can be downright embarrassing to have ugly AC equipment cluttering up your patio or ruining your perfectly designed interior. So today we’re sharing 24 fun ways to hide air conditioning units. That includes both the outside condenser and wall-or ceiling mounted boxes indoors.

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Preventive Maintenance Agreements, Residential HVAC

Could You Have an Air Conditioner Allergy?

air conditioner allergyThe warm air hits. You turn on your air conditioning and you find yourself and those around you sneezing. You start to think, I can’t be allergic to the air conditioner, can I? After considering the air conditioner allergy theory, you move onto chalking it up to something more plausible: seasonal allergies. Though you might not be exactly correct with either one of your diagnoses, you could be on the right track.

Your air conditioning system and seasonal allergies may both be playing a role in what you perceive as an air conditioner allergy. It’s not that you are allergic to your air conditioner unit, it’s that you are allergic to the contaminants that are being circulated through it, which could include seasonal allergens and other nasty stuff. Let’s take a look at what is blowing your way and could be the source of your air conditioner allergy.

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Preventive Maintenance Agreements, Residential HVAC

AC Losing Its Cool? Try Air Conditioning Coil Cleaning

air conditioning coil cleaning

As the owner of a luxury home or someone who manages high-end properties, you might know firsthand that it is definitely not cool when your air conditioning system experiences a meltdown during a heat wave. There are things you can do to prevent such an unwelcome event that could cause you to lose your cool figuratively and literally.

One of the top reasons for your AC not cooling satisfactorily is your system may be in dire need of a good air conditioning coil cleaning. Let’s take a look at why your AC not cooling your home adequately could be because an air conditioning coil cleaning is overdue.

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Preventive Maintenance Agreements, Residential HVAC

Smelly Air Conditioner? Get Spring Cleaning for Your AC

smelly air conditioner

Maybe you have noticed that the air in your home no longer smells fresh as a daisy and is even verging on objectionable, but you haven’t been able to put your finger on the source of this uninvited change in your living space’s atmosphere. Could it be that your home is the victim of a smelly air conditioner system and is in dire need of some HVAC spring cleaning?

You are not alone. Tis the season for malodorous problems to crop up and a common time to eradicate those unwanted odors coming from a smelly air conditioner system by undertaking a little HVAC spring cleaning. As a luxury homeowner or one who manages luxury properties, surely you should not have to put up with subpar breathing conditions. Let’s take a look at some of the possible causes for the smelly air conditioner, which has diminished the indoor air quality in your home.

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Residential HVAC, Residential Installations

Luxury HVAC for Luxury Residences: Why You Need VRF Technology

vrf technology | luxury hvacRenovating a luxury residential property comes with a lot of tough decisions: about the design and layout of the space, and all the interior furnishings and finishes that make the home perfect for you. You probably didn’t expect to have to decide on an HVAC system. Yet when it comes to luxury homes, comfort is essential, and that means you need the right luxury HVAC system. That’s why so many high end homeowners (especially in New York City) are choosing VRF technology.

What is VRF technology? It’s an HVAC system that works differently than the traditional split system that has one big outdoor condenser and one large (noisy!) air handler inside. Those older-type systems run at only one speed- full blast. Instead, a VRF system has multiple smaller air handlers that run at the exact capacity needed for the current conditions. “VRF” stands for “Variable Refrigerant Flow,” meaning that the system precisely controls the amount of cooling refrigerant required to provide the perfect comfort conditions.

Why is that better for your luxury residence? Read on to find out.

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Preventive Maintenance Agreements, Residential HVAC, Residential Installations

Buying a High End Air Conditioner? Get White Glove Installation

high end air conditioner
Whether you prefer old world charm or a modern twist, it took your painstaking decisions to furnish your home in a way that reflects your distinctive taste. Now you need a company that will make the same effort to protect your investment with a premier climate control system.

As a luxury homeowner or a property manager, why would you trust the installation of a high end air conditioner system or maintenance of that system to any company that does not have impeccable credentials and the capability and personnel to provide you with white glove customer service? Rest assured, there are companies nearby that can offer you with white glove customer service when installing a high end air conditioner system.

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Commercial Air Conditioning, Commercial HVAC, Preventive Maintenance Agreements, Residential HVAC

HVAC Service Contracts: Controlling Time, Quality & Cost

HVAC service contracts and the project management triangle

hvac service contracts
If you’re having difficulty comparing widely differing options when evaluating HVAC service contracts, it may be helpful to use the project management triangle as a guide.

Are you familiar with the project management triangle? It’s a model that describes the relationship between three opposing constraints that impact work: time, quality and cost. It means that your choices in one area impact what you get in terms of the others. For example, if you decide you need the lowest price for a commercial HVAC service contract, that choice impacts what you get in terms of quality and/or timeframe.

hvac service contracts: choosing time, quality & cost

The rule of thumb you’ll often hear with regard to time, quality and cost is that you can choose any two, but the contractor controls the third one. When it comes to HVAC service contracts, we find that this rule breaks down: getting the best quality for the lowest cost is not a realistic option, no matter how much time you throw into the equation. However, understanding the relationship between these three constraints for HVAC service contracts is a useful exercise for focusing your priorities and clarifying what you’re getting for your money.

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Commercial Air Conditioning, Commercial HVAC, Commercial Installations, Residential HVAC, Residential Installations

Modern Air Conditioning Options for Older Homes & Buildings

When you’re renovating an older building for modern living (especially one in an urban setting like NYC), adding modern conveniences can be a challenge. Air conditioning is a prime example.

Older buildings often don’t have the space to install the ductwork needed for traditional systems. Also, electrical systems may be sufficient to handle the load of today’s AC equipment. While upgrading the electric can be expensive, finding the space for air conditioning equipment is more of a problem. Doing it wrong can often mean damaging original plaster, floors and woodwork. Even in the best case, installing traditional equipment usually means giving up closet space or lowering ceilings to make room for equipment.

That’s why it’s smart to consider alternative air conditioning systems for older homes, as well as small businesses renovating older buildings. In New York City, historic brownstone townhouses are frequently renovated for both uses. Here we will discuss the problems with older solutions, and introduce 3 more modern air conditioning options for older homes that you may not know about.

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Commercial Air Conditioning, Commercial HVAC, Commercial Installations, Residential HVAC, Residential Installations

HVAC Retrofit: Dos & Don’ts for Historic Buildings Conservation

New York is a historic city, settled by the Dutch in the 1600’s. There are actually quite a few structures dating back to the mid-17th century. As a result, we have many unique and beautiful historic buildings mixed in with the glass and concrete high-rises throughout the city. Many of those older buildings are protected by law and must be renovated according to strict rules for historic buildings conservation. That impacts an HVAC retrofit or replacement that’s typically needed to restore a historic space to a condition that works for a business or even a luxury residence.

Here at Arista, we have been working on historic building renovations for decades (no, not since the 1600’s but we’ve been at this for a long time!). So we’ve learned a thing or two about the unique requirements of historic spaces for HVAC.

Last week, we shared the first article in a two-part series about some of the issues you need to address with an HVAC retrofit or replacement for historic buildings. In part 1, we began with a list of 9 DOs when installing HVAC solutions in a historic space.

In case you missed it: HVAC Solutions: DOs and DON’Ts for Historic Building Preservation

Today, we’ll reveal the all-important HVAC DON’Ts for historic buildings conservation in part 2.

HVAC retrofit or replacement: DON’Ts for historic buildings conservation

1. DON’T install a new system unless you need to
Even when you’re making structural fixes or cosmetic changes to meet the needs of a new commercial tenant, it’s possible that the existing HVAC system, or components of it, can be salvaged for the sake of historic buildings preservation. That’s especially true of the heating system. For example, you may be able to keep the old radiators and replace the old boiler with a new one. Or, consider an HVAC retrofit to add AC to parts of the building not cooled by an existing system.

There are some situations where a repair or an HVAC retrofit may be a viable option for historic buildings conservation. There’s one caveat to be aware of, though: think carefully about keeping AC systems that use the old R-22 refrigerant. That refrigerant is currently being phased out due to the environmental impacts, and getting R-22 is becoming more difficult and expensive every day. That means you may need to consider a replacement system that uses one of the newer refrigerants.

 

2. DON’T forget to consider modern HVAC options for historic buildings conservation
If an HVAC retrofit will not meet your needs, don’t assume you have to replace an older system with the same type of older system! There are newer HVAC technologies that have significant benefits for historic buildings.

A variable refrigerant flow (or VRF) system is one such option. For one thing, these system don’t typically require ductwork, which can be a boon when you’re trying not to damage existing walls, ceilings and building structures. Also, the system consists of multiple air handlers which are smaller and take up less space.

What’s more, these new systems are extremely quiet, energy efficient and customizable for zoned operation.

Learn more:
7 Reasons to Choose VRF Technology for Your New Air Conditioning
The Ultimate Guide to Air Conditioning for NYC Luxury Residential Spaces
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3. DON’T cut through exterior walls
In many buildings, it’s standard practice to cut holes through exterior walls to install what’s called “through the wall” HVAC units. This is usually forbidden by building regulations for historic buildings conservation. That means an HVAC retrofit to add a small unit onto an existing system might not be an option.

In some cases, you’ll have to get creative using existing penetrations through exterior walls, and consider ductless systems.

Related article: Ducted vs. Ductless Air Conditioning? How to Choose

4. DON’T alter historic architecture
Just like you have to be creative to avoid cutting through the exterior, it takes some expertise to find solutions that avoid altering architecture in a historic buildings conservation project.

Here are some of the things you should avoid doing whenever possible: avoid dropping ceilings, covering window openings, masking historic features or altering spaces to make room for HVAC equipment. If you are creative, there is usually a way to do it without destroying original architecture.

We could tell you so many stories to illustrate that point! Take a look at this previous blog to see what we mean: Residential HVAC Services: Innovation Improves Cooling in NYC Luxury Homes.
5. DON’T make condensing units or vents an eyesore
Aesthetics is a primary concern for historic buildings conservation. That includes both the interior and exterior of the space. Whether you are completely replacing the HVAC systems or only doing an HVAC retrofit, placement of equipment is extremely important.

That means, don’t put condensing (outdoor) AC units on a visible part of the roof. Don’t add vent pipes that ruin the asthetics of the roof line. If you must put a condenser in a visible area outside, at least use some creativity to hide the unit.

Read this related article for some great ideas: 15 Creative Ways to Hide Your Outside Air Conditioner

6. DON’T introduce moisture that can damage older structures
An HVAC retrofit or replacement, done as part of a historic buildings conservation project, requires the expertise of trained HVAC professionals. Be sure you choose a company that is experienced with older buildings, because if you’re not careful with the installation you could end up with condensation damaging the historic building structure.
Water leaks can stain walls and ceilings, and uncontrolled humidity can damage woodwork and expensive finishes.

Learn more: AC Leaking Water: Air Conditioner Problems & Troubleshooting Tips

7. DON’T skip regular preventative maintenance!
As we stressed in our part 1 article, investing in HVAC preventative maintenance is a smart move for any business, but it’s a must for those located in historic buildings. Not only are the consequences higher when something breaks (see the previously cited article about water leaks!) but the costs for repairs can be higher because it’s harder to access equipment and ventilation systems without harming building finishes.

Imagine the repair costs and building damage that you could face if a blocked drain causes a slow water leak that spreads mold through the walls before anyone notices?

That’s just one reason that our last DON’T may be the most important of all.

Learn more: Air Conditioning Maintenance Doesn’t Cost. It Pays.