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  • Where Should The AC Condenser Be Placed?

    Where Should The AC Condenser Be Placed?

    Air conditioners make life easy and comfortable. They also improve air quality and work efficiency, protect furniture, prevent appliances from overheating and much more. The AC condenser plays a vital role in the air conditioning system. The condenser either collects or releases heat, depending on the temperature. Without it, heat cannot leave the room.

    The AC condenser’s placement boosts its overall performance. This article will discuss the best location for AC outdoor units. We’ll also discuss factors to consider when picking the location for your AC condenser, areas to avoid installing it and tips for blending the unit with your landscaping.

    Does It Matter Where You Put Your AC Condenser?

    The simple answer is “Yes.” The position of your AC condenser helps the system perform better. Knowing how the condenser works will help you understand this better.

    The AC condenser's job is to condense air. It receives high-pressure gas from the compressor and converts it into liquid. Air conditioning systems use the indoor-outdoor approach. The condenser requires a sufficient supply of air to cool the refrigerant. Again, the condenser needs enough airflow to function. Giving the condenser space to breathe prevents it from overheating.

    Apart from the operational aspect, the location of the air conditioner condenser increases its life span. The unit deteriorates faster when you place the condenser indoors or expose it to harsh weather conditions such as excessive heat. It’s like sending the condenser to war without a shield.

    Additionally, a good location for the condenser makes it accessible. This is important for many reasons. For example, it becomes easier to maintain when the condenser is easily reachable. You don’t have to jump hurdles to clean the unit. You can conduct regular preventative maintenance. Replacing the condenser becomes simple, too. Positioning your AC condenser correctly also makes it more energy efficient because it uses less energy to convert air.

    Place your condenser outside the home or business space, not in the basement, attic or garage.

    Choosing Your AC Condenser Location

    As we’ve learned, the home AC condenser’s location is essential. A good location assists the unit in functioning at its peak efficiency, saves energy, lasts longer and makes it easy to maintain and repair. This applies to business and other spaces.

    Consider the following tips when choosing the best location for the air conditioner condenser:

    1. Accessibility

    Imagine placing the condenser several feet above the ground, between two tight walls where the average adult cannot quickly enter, let alone work. That sounds challenging, right? Choose a location that will make it simple for you or your technician to maintain the HVAC unit, especially the condenser. When the location is appropriate, you can regularly check on the condenser. Plus, it makes it safer to work on. The space should not only make the condenser accessible but also be sufficient to fit the tools and equipment necessary for servicing.

    Regular preventive maintenance and repairs make air conditioners more efficient. Healthy air conditioners also save energy. It’s natural for the condenser coil to gather dirt with time. The dirt reduces airflow and insulates the coil. Maintaining the unit at least once a year helps it absorb heat.

    2. Flooding

    There has been an increase in flooding along the coasts of the United States in recent years. Reports indicate that the inland is susceptible to flooding, too. The change in weather conditions has invited the federal government to update its flood maps.

    A quality air conditioner condenser can withstand some amount of water. Little water scarcely affects the condenser’s performance. However, placing the air conditioner’s outside unit properly can keep it safer. When you protect the condenser against flood, you save it from:

    • Continuous exposure to moisture and oxygen, which facilitates corrosion.
    • Electrical component damage.
    • Debris carried by the flood as it travels.

    With these in mind, place the condenser above the drainage system, where the water flow is unrestricted.

    3. Noise

    One primary purpose of the air conditioner is to make life comfortable. Position the condenser where it’ll cause the least amount of nuisance. High-performing and modern condensers produce little noise, but it also depends on the aircon type and model.

    Keep the condenser away from areas where you’ll likely be distracted. For example, fix the condenser at a location away from the windows or working space. If you prefer placing the condenser in such areas, consider using noise-proof materials to block excess sound and distancing the unit from your neighbors.

    4. Vibration

    The AC condenser uses a high-speed motor that causes it to vibrate. To be clear, we’re not talking about unusual vibrations, which indicate the condenser needs a replacement. Whatever the case, install the condenser on a firm surface that can withstand any vibration. This reduces displacement and excess noise.

    You can place the AC condenser on the natural ground and use an air conditioner pad. AC unit pads have many benefits, including:

    • Protecting the condenser against water drainage.
    • Ensuring stability.
    • Preventing debris from entering the unit.
    • Discouraging pests.

    If you intend to raise the air conditioner off the ground, ensure it’s well secured on the wall to avoid unexpected falls or noise.

    5. Sun and Shade

    The earth needs the sun to survive — the planet needs the warmth that helps us to stay alive and healthy. That said, too much sun isn't good for your unit or wallet. Direct sun will not necessarily damage your AC condenser, but shading your AC condenser instead shields it from extreme heat and prevents overheating. The higher the temperature, the more energy it requires to work. Cooler areas let the condenser function more effectively.

    6. Air Circulation

    Install your HVAC condenser in a place with optimum airflow — consider enough air conditioner clearance. Obstructions block air circulation and stifle heat exchange. If the building has multiple condensers, ensure adequate space between them.

    When choosing a location for the condenser, check for obstacles such as trees and shrubs, fences and walls. If there are trees in the background, trim them regularly.

    7. Wind

    Moderate wind force is unlikely to bother the AC condenser unit. Install the unit in an area where extreme weather conditions will not be a concern, and have a plan for the rare but possible instance of severe wind. Place the unit strategically so strong winds do not carry debris and dirt into the condenser. When you install the condenser in a safe place, it also protects the fins.

    8. Aesthetics

    The core purpose of the air conditioning system is to regulate the temperature. Beyond that, the condenser could offer curb appeal to the property. You can merge the beautiful unit into the property’s overall architecture or position it conspicuously so it does not interfere with the overall architecture. In either case, don't neglect adequate airflow and stability.

    9. Safety

    While considering all the factors we’ve discussed, including airflow and aesthetics, make no compromise on safety. Install the HVAC condenser unit on a stable and firm surface to prevent falls, and keep the condenser out of the reach of children.

    Where Should You Install Your AC Condenser?

    The condenser is the outdoor system of the AC unit, so the first rule is to install it outside the home or building. This does not mean the unit should be exposed to harsh weather conditions and passersby, neighbors or children. The condenser's location has many implications. A good location makes the AC condenser more efficient, last longer and is easily accessible and aesthetically pleasing, among others.

    Install the condenser on a flat surface if there is adequate space. Ensure the floor or ground is level and free from dips and bumpy soil. There’re several reasons for this:

    1. An unleveled surface puts excess stress on the unit.
    2. The motor runs at high speed, so an unleveled floor may cause damage to the unit.
    3. The compressor oil moves smoothly through the unit when it's level.
    4. The refrigerant flows better when the condenser is level.

    You may also install the unit above ground level on a bracket and fix it to the side of the property. Using brackets has added benefits as well, such as:

    • Helping make the unit level.
    • Enhancing water flow from the condenser and preventing water pooling.
    • Keeping animals away from the unit.
    • Reducing the length of conduits, cables and cords required for connection. This makes installation quicker, simpler, and less costly.
    • Raising the unit to the building’s level, which assists the compressor in pumping refrigerant directly into the building, reducing unnecessary stress.
    • Making the condenser easily accessible. Accessibility makes it painless to maintain, repair and replace.

    Where Should You Not Install Your AC Condenser?

    Place the condenser outside the home or business instead of on the interior, such as in the basement, attic, crawl space or garage. Choose a spacious, easily accessible area, and avoid narrow spots. The condenser requires enough air and airflow to work efficiently. Installing the condenser in a tight space makes airflow challenging. Moreover, placing the unit in a narrow area means the technician will need further maneuvering skills to parkour their way around the property to reach the unit when it's time for maintenance or replacement.

    The AC condenser’s location must also be away from your neighbors' property and must not block passageways or be within the reach of children or pets.

    Proper placement includes shielding the condenser from direct sunlight. If you want to install the condenser on your roof, create a shade that protects it from direct sunshine, rain and snowfall. Excessive sun rays make cooling more challenging and cause overheating. This reduces the overall performance and life span of your condenser. Covering the units against heavy rain also slows down corrosion and component damage.

    Finally, keep the condenser away from the windows or outdoor furniture to avoid noise interference.

    How to Blend Your AC Unit Into Your Landscaping

    You can blend the AC condenser unit into the property’s overall architecture and landscaping, or you could place it strategically to disguise or hide it. Apart from the primary purpose of regulating the temperature, the condenser could enhance curb appeal. Here are 10 ways to blend your outside AC unit into your landscaping:

    1. Create a Wooden Cover

    Wooden covers are one of the do-it-yourself options that require minimal materials and expertise to build. Wooden covers are unique ways to hide the condenser, and they blend with multiple architectural designs. The wooden structure is budget-friendly and easy to install and replace.

    2. Build an AC House

    AC houses are creative alternatives. Besides their attractiveness, they offer extra protection for the unit. AC houses shade your condenser against direct sunlight, rain and snow. You can use this stylish choice for several types of condensers.

    3. Create an Aluminum Slat

    Aluminum slats are formidable ways to protect your condenser. The slats secure the condenser against heavy materials. They last long and are easy to maintain. You can design the aluminum slats according to your preference. You can also match the design and color with your property.

    4. Create a Shed

    You can make way for your condenser if there’s an unused shed on the property. This lets you save money and space. All you need to do is renovate the shed and ensure it's spacious enough for the condenser — just remember to leave one wall open for airflow.

    5. Use a Windbreak

    Use windbreak made of pots and plants to hide the condenser on your property. Windbreaks also protect your property from harsh weather. Use big planters and place them around the unit. You can use pots to make the plants mobile. That way, visitors only see the beautiful green plants.

    6. Make a Cement Wall

    Cement walls are generally affordable and easy to build. The cement screens the air conditioner condenser against the wind. It's also a barrier if the AC is located at home and you have children around. However, make sure the cement wall is ventilated and spacious.

    7. Grow Vines Around the Unit

    Vines are stunning additions to landscaping. They offer a welcoming atmosphere for visitors. Build a wooden structure and grow trailing vines around them. As they grow, they hide the air conditioner condenser beautifully behind them. It’s that simple!

    8. Use Screen or Lattice Cover

    Trellis blends with most buildings. Choose a preference — wood or metal — and mask your outdoor air conditioner unit. You may also use a lattice screen for that purpose. Choose the design and color that matches the rest of your property.

    9. Hide It Behind the Bushes

    If you have a garden on your property, you may take advantage of that. Hide the HVAC unit behind the bushes. The tip works best when the plants are high enough to cover the condenser. Trim the plants regularly and clean the area. You can also build a wooden structure to block direct contact with the condenser. Select heat-resistant species and plant them several inches away from the unit.

    10. Build a Storage Space

    Building a storage space for your HVAC is an innovative way to secure extra space on your property. Build a well-ventilated storage space with wood, metal or blocks to host your condenser and other valuable. Make the storage space wide for accessibility.

    Find Your New System Today!

    We have a variety of different HVAC systems for your every comfort need at Ingrams Water and Air Equipment! Let us help give you comfort today!

  • Water Heater Not Working? Common Problems and How to Fix Them

    Water Heater Not Working? Common Problems and How to Fix Them

    Many water heaters contain durable materials and feature extended warranties for homeowners to use them without any issues for years to come. But the combination of heat, water and smaller components that help water heaters operate can also contribute to various problems. The key to effective repair is knowing how to diagnose water heater problems. If you find your water heater not working, learn more about common water heater issues and their fixes here!

    What Are the Components of a Water Heater?

    water heater consists of multiple parts that work together to warm water. The main components of gas and electric water heater include:

    • Tank: Most water heaters feature large insulated tanks to store the hot water.
    • Dip tube: Cold water from the main power line enters your hot water tank through the dip tube.
    • Heating element or gas burner: These elements sit at the bottom of the tank and heat the water.
    • Anode rod: An anode rod prevents the tank from rusting, and this steel rod will often rust instead of the interior of your tank.
    • Thermostat: All water heaters have an external thermostat so you can measure and adjust the temperature of your water.
    • Heat-out pipe: The heat-out pipe draws hot water out of the tank to the service line, which distributes your hot water.
    • Drain valve: The drain valve helps drain all sediment buildup inside your tank.
    • Shut-off valve: The shut-off valve is outside the water heater and turns off the water flow.
    • Pressure relief valve: A pressure relief valve prevents pressure from building to a dangerous level inside your tank.

    How Does a Water Heater Work?

    Your hot water begins its journey in the main water line connected to your home. Before your water enters your water heater, the line will split into two pathways that create the water intake system in your home.

    A tank water heater stores your water in a perpetually warm tank. After turning on the tap, cold water will flow through the shut-off valve and dip tube before entering your water heater tank. The heating mechanism at the bottom of your hot water tank will heat the water based on your temperature setting. The tank's water is then displaced — so warmer water rises to the top through the heat-out pipe to flow through your tap.

    Another water heater option is a tankless water heater, which only heats water when needed. After turning on the hot water tap, a sensor activates inside the unit to warm your water. A tankless water heater bypasses the process of storing a tank of hot water and reduces the amount of energy needed to maintain a high temperature continually.

    Water Heater Not Working? Start by Checking the Warranty

    Before troubleshooting your hot water heater problems, check your appliance's warranty. Every hot water tank features a rating plate with the model and serial number. These numbers will detail the manufacturing year of your heater and whether your tank has a prorated warranty. Call the manufacturers with these two numbers on hand to see if you're eligible for a new tank or replacement parts free of charge or at a discount.

    Troubleshooting Your Water Heater

    You can run into a few issues with your water heater. Look for the problem you're having below to help troubleshoot.

    Water Is Too Hot

    Extremely hot water is often a thermostat issue in which the temperature is set too high. To check the settings of your thermostat:

    1. Access your service panel and turn off the power to the water heater.
    2. Remove elements like the access panel, insulation and plastic safety guards from the heating elements on the water heater. As you remove these parts, do not touch the wires or electrical terminals.
    3. Test the wires with a non-contact voltage tester to confirm the power is completely off.
    4. Check the heat settings on the two thermostats to ensure they are at the same temperature.
    5. Adjust the temperature on either thermostat to the desired setting using a flathead screwdriver.
    6. Ensure both thermostats are at the same setting before replacing their safety guards, insulation and access panels.
    7. Turn on the circuit breaker.

    If the water temperature is too high, you may need to replace your thermostat or contact a professional to correct a wiring issue.

    Water Is Too Cold

    Water that is too cold is commonly the result of thermostat issues. However, exploring other possible causes is essential. Your water heater may not be getting enough power. Or, there could be a tripped limit switch or a failure of one or more heating elements. Your tank may also not be large enough for your needs, resulting in other appliances or people using all the hot water before the tank can recharge.

    If your water heater could produce enough hot water previously and suddenly stopped, this may result from a malfunctioning heating element. Before troubleshooting your water heater, ensure you do not need to reset your circuit breaker.

    If you reset the breaker and are still experiencing issues, correct the temperature of your water heater by:

    1. Turn off the breaker by accessing the water heater's circuit in the service panel.
    2. Remove the access panel for the upper heating element.
    3. Withdraw the insulation, plastic and safety guard. As you remove these elements, ensure you do not touch any wires or electrical terminals.
    4. Locate the red high-temperature cutoff reset button above the upper thermostat.
    5. Replace the safety guard, access panel and insulation.
    6. Turn on the circuit breaker.

    Once you complete those steps, if your water heater is still not working, test each heating element and replace them as necessary, or get a professional to do the job for you.

    Water Heats Slowly

    One of the downsides of an electric water heater is that it takes longer to reheat an entire water supply compared to a gas model. The exact amount of time can vary between models. But if it's taking longer than usual to reheat your water or your hot water runs out too quickly, there may be an issue with the heating elements on the thermostat, and you may need to contact a professional to replace a few parts.

    If your household uses more hot water than when you first installed your water heater, consider investing in a model with a larger tank. To correctly size a water heater, you will need to determine flow rate and temperature rise. If your water need exceeds the capacity of your heater, you can also try to limit the length of your showers, install low-flow shower heads or wash dishes and laundry at different times of the day instead of doing both tasks at once.

    Leaks

    Water leaks typically result from a loose valve or connection but can also relate to plumbing issues. If you notice leaking water, fixing your leak as soon as possible is essential to prevent damage to your home.

    Your water tank can also experience a leak at the top or bottom of the tank. A leak near the top of your water heater could result from a loose pipe or valve. Leaking at the bottom of your water tank can be due to normal condensation or a leaking gasket. When the temperature and pressure relief (T&P) valve opens to release excess pressure in the water tank, it also expels a small amount of water, which can cause a leak.

    To correct water leaks, turn off the breaker and inspect your tank for any loose elements and if needed, tighten them with an element wrench. If you see corrosion on your tank, contact a professional to replace your tank. To stop your tank from leaking until you can schedule a replacement, turn off the power and water supply to your tank and then completely drain the tank.

    Discoloration

    Rust-colored water indicates corrosion of the anode rod or your hot water tank. If you do not treat discoloration as soon as possible, you'll have to replace your entire tank, as the corrosion may cause your tank to develop a leak. One solution is to flush your water heater to clean the internal components and remove rust or the buildup of minerals. To flush your water heater:

    1. Turn off the power for your electric heater or turn your gas heater to pilot mode.
    2. Switch the water inlet valve off.
    3. Attach a hose to the drain at the bottom of your heater and then position the hose so it drains outside.
    4. Move your drain valve and some hot water faucets in your home to the open position to drain the water from the tank.
    5. Unlock the cold water inlet to drain the tank as you run cold water through your tank.
    6. Close your drain valve and make sure your hot water faucets remain open to allow the system to purge the air.
    7. Shut the hot water taps once they stop making a hissing and popping noise, and open the drain valve again at the bottom of the tank until the water turns clear.

    If the water is still discolored, repeat those steps until the water is clear.

    Noises

    Noises like popping, knocking and hissing are commonly due to scale building up on your heating elements or an excess of sediment on the bottom of your tank. Other causes of strange noises include a leak in your tank, excess pressure in the tank or your pipes expanding or contracting. If your tank makes noise, it's generally harmless. However, it is worth looking into the source if these noises become louder or more frequent.

    A quick solution for preventing noise is to use a descaling product to break down any sediment buildup. Another option for removing sediment is to have a plumber flush and drain the tank. You can also try to drain your hot water tank with the following steps:

    1. If your tank is powered by electricity, shut off the breaker. For a gas-powered tank, switch the tank to the pilot setting.
    2. Shut off the cold water with the valve on one of the thin pipes at the tank's top.
    3. Attach a hose to the drain valve and turn on the hot water faucet at a sink near the tank to prevent air gaps.
    4. Turn the handle to open your tank's drain valve and let the tank drain until the water runs clear.
    5. Close the valve and attach your hose cap to the valve.
    6. Turn on the tank's cold water to begin the refill process. As you refill, check the hot water tap. When you feel hot water coming from the tap, turn it off and turn on the gas control.
    7. Use your water pressure gauge to check the air pressure in your tank. Check the pressure when the tank is quiet and after it runs for a few minutes. After ensuring the pressure is below 70 PSI, lower the thermostat and install the pressure gauge onto the open drain valve for the indicator to read the pressure level.
    8. Turn the thermostat to your average temperature so the heater starts running again.
    9. If the pressure gauge still indicates high pressure, open and close the T&P valve to see if your tank will stop making noise without further assistance. If your tank continues to make noise, you need a professional to replace this valve.

    Low Water Pressure

    Low water pressure is standard in older homes due to smaller pipes. If you live in an older home and are experiencing low water pressure, your hot water heater problems may not be with your boiler but with your pipes.

    The best solution to correct low water pressure is to install modern piping. This permits more water to enter and flow through your pipes to increase pressure. If your water heater and home are relatively new and you're still experiencing pressure issues, you can have a plumber flush and remove any sediment buildup inside your tank.

    Water Smells

    Foul-smelling water is the result of bacteria in your heater. It's common to experience bad-smelling water with tanks that draw water from wells. Flushing your tank can eliminate the problem, or you can increase the temperature to 140 degrees Fahrenheit to kill the bacteria.

    Rotten-egg-smelling water can also result from a failing anode rod that requires a professional to replace. A plumber may also flush and disinfect your tank to remove the bacteria that's creating the rotten egg smell. Using well water may also contribute to a smell due to a high amount of sulfate-reducing bacteria (SRB). Your plumber may suggest a shock chlorination treatment to kill the SRB and reduce any smells present.

    Contact Ingrams Water & Air for Help With Your Water Heater

    When correcting issues with your water heater, the best thing to do is identify the problem early and take the necessary steps to fix it. If you ignore the problem, you may make it worse, leading to more expensive repairs later.

    Luckily, Ingrams Water & Air offers free technical support for the lifetime of your product. Our live tech support for owners and technicians is available five days a week from our Kentucky call center. We look forward to helping you correct problems you may be experiencing with your water heater.

    If you think it's time for a new water heater, we can help with that, too! Find the best water heater for your needs today at Ingrams Water & Air.

  • Why Do I have a Frozen AC Unit in the Summer?

    Why Do I have a Frozen AC Unit in the Summer?

    If you have a frozen AC unit, you can use a few tricks to stop it from happening. Learn how we can help you keep your AC unit running!

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