DIY: Prevent Air Conditioning Repair (Houston Heights)

Overview  - Efficiency and Beauty Collide

You many not think about your HVAC system until it is time for an ac repair houston.  Chalk it up there with retirement savings, aloe vera, or an umbrella.  All things people don't think about until they really need them most.  Lets not be too hard on ourselves here.  

With much of life, a little effort in short consistent burst goes a lot further than fewer moments of longer more extended effort.  Think, fitness... relationships... the yard...

We will talk at length about this in other posts but here are the principles we will apply to minor work like this: (the three P's)

Prevention - Preparedness - Prudence

Attached is a picture of an air conditioning system located just out side of the Houston Heights area in Oak Forest.  Take a look.

trane xb12 air conditioner in houston's oak forest

trane xb12 air conditioner in houston's oak forest

Tell me, does this picture look familiar? Not yours... of course not. Your unit is the most high efficient most beautiful condenser to grace the side of any house.  Ok, well then I bet you've seen this on a friends house, right?

So tell me, what should be different?  Take another look.  Sure the system is a bit older but for its era it was pretty good.  A Trane XB12.  The twelve stands for the efficiency.  12 SEER(Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating) has been phased out and the EPA has regulated a new minimum of 13 SEER. Still there is something else I'd like you to pay attention to.

How about now?

Armaflex - Ugly ac repair houston

Armaflex - Ugly ac repair houston

No that is not Swamp Thing's walking cane.  It is Armaflex Insulation. At least it was armaflex that was covering a copper line set to an air conditioning system.  Since installation it has turned into this funky moldy mess.  

If you look closely only one of the copper lines is insulated.  No the armoflex did not completely melt off of that smaller copper line.  It is by design. The larger copper line (suction line) should be fully covered and insulated according to mechanical code.  The other line(liquid line) does not have armaflex so that it can transfer/release heat as the refrigerant heads into the home.  No, freon is not just cold all the time.  It goes through cycles of different pressure and states resulting in cooler and warmer temperatures.  With this in mind the condenser must deliver cooler refrigerant into the home through the smaller (liquid line).  The insulation helps keep the temperature down and consistent resulting in both better performance and higher efficiency.  Yes the mechanical code is not just being arbitrary.  It is there for a reason.  

Houston air conditioning repair - full length armaflex

Houston air conditioning repair - full length armaflex

1 inch armaflex insulation for houston ac repair

1 inch armaflex insulation for houston ac repair

This is what 1 inch armaflex insulation aught to look like.  You too can easily make your system both BETTER LOOKING AND MORE EFFICIENT by applying insulation to the suction line yourself.  If you haven't been convinced yet we should revisit our principles.

Prevention - inspect your armaflex and ensure it has a consistent seal and depth. If there is water forming on it from condensation this could be a sign that you need to change it out.

Preparedness - Keep several rolls available in the house.  OK, so maybe you won't do that.  Well at least when the time comes go to Home Depot and spend the $10 dollars to this yourself.  Prepare yourself when the time comes. Don't just stand idly by.

Prudence - Small tasks like these will improve your system's performance and save you money from both utilities and preventing breakdown.

Guidelines for Installing Yourself:

1) Measure the total length before running to the store.  Ensure you have enough.

2) Don't buy cheap foam thinking it will do the same thing.  Get 1 inch armaflex or similar.

3) Cut evenly before application.  Swirles are sloppy (if you want this done without any seams you'll need a technician to help. 

4) Use weather proof(black) UV resistant tape.  444 Line set Tape works great.

5) To Beautify purchase a metal/aluminum cover for the whole line.  After installation  you can then paint the cover to match the house. 

A finished product will look like this.  

New armaflex installed as part of an ac repair in houston, tx

New armaflex installed as part of an ac repair in houston, tx

One step further is to cover the line set like this.

 

As for those other things, avoid aloe vera by wearing sunscrean(prevention), perminently keep an umbrella in your car(preparedness), and set your bank account to auto draft into an investment account(prudence).

Line Set cover for an air conditioning system

Line Set cover for an air conditioning system