Does a 2nd Floor Need a 2nd AC?

Cooling a 2 Story House: When to Install Another Air Conditioner

Graphic image of house showing the 2nd floor is too hot

Do You Live with a Hot Upstairs?

This is a common problem for a lot of large homes. The 2nd floor can never get properly cool in the summer. You may have to crank up the AC to get it to acceptable levels, meaning freezing out anyone on the first floor.

If you live in a 2-story house, you probably know this situation all too well. Here at Standard Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning, we have heard from many Manhattan homeowners who have been suffering with a hot upstairs.

There are a lot of old homes in Manhattan. Being the HVAC company that has serviced Manhattan homes for nearly a century, we have run across every type of heating and cooling problem. And fortunately, there are more solutions to achieve true home comfort in all rooms today than they were a hundred years ago. So even if we are dealing with a drafty old house, you do have options to make all floors on your home cool and comfortable this summer.

Potential Cooling Problems

  • Does your home have sufficient insulation? Many older ones do not. They can be so drafty that it’s virtually impossible to get consistent temperature control throughout the house.
  • Is your roof absorbing heat? Not only can a poorly insulated a roof cause a warmer upstairs, a roof made from materials that absorb heat could also play a role.
  • Did your home undergo an attic renovation? If so, that may be a part of the cooling problem. If proper adjustments were not made to your home’s heating & cooling system to accommodate this new living space, that could be affecting comfort levels in other parts of your home. A system that was originally designed for 1 floor will probably not give you comfortable temperature everywhere.

Understanding Why a 2nd Floor Gets So Hot

Hot air rises. Without utilizing any air conditioning system, your upstairs should always feel hotter because of this basic scientific fact. But even with central air or other HVAC system, some homes’ 2nd floors will still get hotter than the main level. After all, your single cooling system (with components usually located on the ground floor and basement) has to do more work to get that cool air all the way to your 2nd floor.

As you head into another hot Kansas summer, facing the dread of how uncomfortable it’s going to be on your 2nd floor, you may think you’re not left with a lot of options.

You may think your choices come down to either getting a larger, more energy-efficient air conditioner or just give up. You think there’s no real way to fix it, so you’ll just avoid spending time upstairs.

It’s your home. You deserve to be comfortable in all your rooms. There are solutions to having a hot upstairs!

When you have Standard help you finally solve your hot 2nd floor problem, the first thing we do is to determine the source of the problem.  Some of the issues we will look for include:

  • Could you have an issue with your duct work?
  • Do you need better insulation?
  • Is your AC unit the proper size to handle your home’s square footage?
  • Is your cooling system in proper working order?

When to Consider Getting 2 AC Units for a 2-Story House

Photo of 2 AC units installed outside homeWhile upgrading your air conditioner to a newer, bigger AC unit may be a solution, some homes will be better served with a 2nd AC. Instead of replacing what may be a perfectly working air conditioner with a larger one to accommodate your 2nd floor, you should get an AC unit installed to specifically address cooling the 2nd floor.

There are a few things to consider when trying to decide if you need a second air conditioning system installed:

 

AC INSTALLATION COST

An additional unit may cost less than what you think. After all, this AC is not going to cool the entire square footage of your home. A 2nd AC unit that works to only cool your 2nd floor would be much smaller than one that would be needed to cool your entire home.

Standard, or any professional HVAC company, will be careful to calculate exactly what size AC unit your rooms upstairs need. The square footage of your 2nd floor will determine the proper unit size. Give us a call at Standard Plumbing Heating & Air Conditioning at (785) 776-5012 and we will be able to determine exactly what air conditioner would be best for your home.

 

ENERGY WASTE & BILLS

New installation isn’t the other money matter. How much do you spend on your energy bill each month? It might sound surprising but by having 2 air conditioners to cool a 2-story home may save you money.

If you’ve been dealing with a single AC system that wasn’t built to handle all your space, you are putting a great demand on your system. It’s working to put out more cool air than it was designed to do. If you are making your downstairs cooler than comfortable to make it right upstairs, then you probably already have realized you are wasting energy (and money). An additional air conditioner focused on cooling just the upstairs will take the work away from the other unit.

 

PEACE OF MIND

Having 2 air conditioning units provides you with some unique assurance. You may feel more secure in knowing that your chance of a summer HVAC disaster is greatly reduced. If one of your air conditioners were to break down, you will have another unit still operating. While this lone unit won’t be sufficient to cool your entire home, you will at least have some level of cooling in your home until an AC repair technician come out and fix the broken air conditioner.

 

2nd AC LOCATION

Finding where to put a second AC system can be a challenge. This includes the inside unit (the evaporator) and the outside AC unit (the condenser). You may have limited space for installing a second air conditioner. In addition, a 2nd unit will need ductwork that is separate from existing ducts with your current unit. Our technicians can walk you through your options to make sure the best space is used for this installation.

 

DIY: Little Fixes for a Hot Second Floor

If you’re not ready to upgrade your homes system, or are still not sure that it is needed, you can try to remedy your problem with some smaller steps.

2 air conditioners installed at Manhattan, KS homeHere are some basic home maintenance tasks that can help solve some of the problem of overly hot spaces in a home:

  • Make sure your furnace filter is clean and is getting changed on a proper schedule
  • Make sure all of your vents are open and not being blocked by furniture or anything else
  • Close your window blinds and curtains in 2nd floor rooms to keep the sun from heating up the space

If these little steps do not provide enough relief to the heat in some of your space, give Standard a call at (785) 776-5012. We will be happy to come out and see what sort of cooling system work can be done to even out the temperature throughout your home.

Get Cool Relief Before Summer Strikes

Making a heating and air upgrade to your home is a big decision. Fortunately, it’s also an investment. This type of home improvement project can increase the value of your home.

Beyond a new AC or a 2nd AC, there are other great options to solving a second-floor temperature problem. A ductless mini split system could be installed to target the cooling in a room or particular space. Standard is Manhattan’s professional ductless mini-split systems installers. Our experienced team trained in ductless systems can help you determine if this is right for your home.

Call us at (785) 776-5012 and we will schedule an AC technician to come out and diagnose the cooling problems in your home. Or you can request a free estimate for service online. Let us help get you a cool and comfortable home on both floors before the summer comes!

Old AC and problem with discontinued R22 refrigerant

AC Won’t Turn On? DIY Repair Checklist

6 Steps to Fix an Air Conditioner That is Not Turning On

Are you waiting for cool air to come out of your vents, but your air conditioner doesn’t seem to be turning on? Your first reaction might be to call us or another Manhattan HVAC company to get it fixed ASAP. While you can definitely call us for a quick repair on a broken air conditioner, you might want to first see if it’s something you can fix yourself.

AC Won’t Turn On: When to Fix It Yourself

Photo of American Standard air conditioner unit in Manhattan, KSThere are several reasons why an air conditioner might not be turning on. While a trained HVAC technician will know how to handle whatever problem there is, many air conditioning issues are easy to spot and handle by almost anyone!

Sometimes our technicians are called out for problems that end up being simple enough for the homeowners to handle on their own.

While we’re always happy to come out and fix whatever AC problem you have, we want you to know about some of the smaller problems that don’t always require professional AC repair. After all, if it’s something you can fix on your own, you will save time and money!

When you realize your AC is not turning on, go through this 7-step checklist of potential problems. Some of these repairs are simple and can be done in a matter of minutes.

The 7 Step Checklist to Repairing a Broken AC

STEP 1: Check for a dirty air filter

Even if you think it’s not time to change your filter, pull it out and give it a good look (an air filter can get dirty faster than you probably realize). A dirty filter blocks proper airflow. It could even be clogged so much that it is stopping your AC from turning on.

If it is dirty, you may need to reevaluate how often you regularly change it. Each homeowner has different air filtration needs. Changing a filter only once every few months may not be enough for you, especially if you suffer from allergies or have pets.

STEP 2: Check your thermostat setting

Make sure your thermostat is set to COOL and is at least 5 degrees below the ambient temperature.

If your thermostat screen is blank, you may simply need to replace the batteries. For many thermostats, there is an area on the edge with the word PRESS. Just press that to remove the battery compartment. Some thermostats have a cover you will need to pull off to access the batteries.

If you are having problems with your thermostat or want to upgrade it, contact Standard for our thermostat options and services.

STEP 3: Check that your power is on

Infographic explaining basic steps to resetting a tripped circuit breakerSometimes the power can go off without it being immediately apparent, especially if it’s the middle of the day. If your power is off, a breaker may have gotten tripped.

Some people are hesitant to deal with any electrical problem. However, checking your breaker box and handling a flipped circuit is something that is good for homeowners to know how to do themselves.

HOW TO RESET A CIRCUIT BREAKER:

    1. Look for a switch that’s in the center position.
    2. Flip that switch to off then back to on.
    3. Wait for the power to return. If it doesn’t, or if the switch does not stay on, call a professional electrician.

STEP 4: Check if the AC power was turned off

This is a different issue than checking your home’s entire power situation. Look for a switch on or near the furnace and make sure it is in the ON position. It looks exactly like a light switch. It can be turned off by mistake by someone who didn’t realize what that switch was for. When it’s off, the furnace blower is off, and this can cause the inside unit to freeze.

STEP 5: Check for ice on your outside unit

If you see that there is ice covering your air conditioner, turn the AC off at the thermostat and turn the FAN to on. Give it time to defrost. Don’t use any sort of blower or heating device to speed up thawing and do not try to scrape the ice off.

If a frozen AC was your problem and this step gets your air conditioning back up and running, you should call an AC repair technician to come inspect your unit. A frozen condenser unit may mean you have a refrigerant leak which can be a danger to you and your family.

Open AC dirty with dirt and leaves and needing to be cleaned

STEP 6: Check for a dirty AC unit

If you see that your air conditioner is covered in dirt, pollen or other debris then it’s time to clean it. This is particularly true for us here in Kansas. Every spring we face a problem with white clumps that fall from cottonwood trees. Those seeds can really clog up the coils on your AC unit.

Before cleaning your air conditioner, turn it off at the outside service disconnect panel. You will need to remove the top and any other outer caging and take out the fan. With a garden hose, spray from the inside out all around the inside of the unit. Then spray the exterior of the unit.

Standard provides professional air conditioner cleaning and maintenance service. Call us at (785) 776-5012 if you want to let us handle your AC maintenance needs.

STEP 7: Check the condensate drain line for a clog

This one may be seem complicated, but it is a task that many homeowners will find they can handle themselves. The condensate drain line takes the water that is created by condensation from the AC unit to drain outside the home. A clogged drain line might trip a safety switch that shuts down your cooling system. You can try unclogging this line by using a wet-dry vacuum to suction the blockage out.

When in Doubt, Call on Standard!

Standard Plumbing Heating & Air Conditioning has 24/7 emergency AC repair service in Manhattan, KS Standard Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning has worked on thousands of air conditioners and other cooling systems across the Manhattan, KS area. Our AC repair technicians have years of experience fixing broken cooling systems and have seen all types of AC problems. Schedule service with our HVAC repair team to fix whatever is causing your air conditioner to not turn on.

Call Standard Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning– available 24/7 – at (785) 776-5012.

Promotional ad for blog on the R22 refrigerant phase out

When Does My Furnace Not Stay Lit?

A Common Gas Furnace Problem: Dirty Flame Sensor

While there are a lot of parts working inside your heating system, one of the most common reasons for a furnace breaking down is because of one particular part – the flame sensor.

Standard Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning has been repairing furnaces in the Manhattan, KS area for nearly 100 years. So you can imagine that we have seen just about every different kind of heating problem there is.  Often a system may seem completely broken, but actually, it can be easily fixed.

Sometimes we respond to a call from a homeowner who tells us that, up until recently, their furnace was working fine. They could hear the burners come on, but pretty quickly the furnace shuts off. This can be very confusing for a homeowner, but it’s often a problem that we can easily solve. Not only that, but it may also be one you can solve yourself!

This common furnace problem is a dirty flame sensor.

Clean furnace flame sensor in hand

What is a Flame Sensor?

A furnace flame sensor is a stainless-steel rod with a ceramic or porcelain cover. You’ll find it behind the burners, most typically on the opposite side of the ignitor. Simply put, its job is to sense when there is a flame. When there is, the flame sensor signals for your furnace to keep sending gas to keep the heat going.

Does every furnace have a flame sensor?

No. If yours has a spark ignitor instead of a flame sensor rod, then the furnace ignitor is also doing the job of a sensor.

How does a flame sensor work?

Your furnace has a control board that sends electricity to the flame sensor, which then carries the flame to the burner face. The sensor lets the control board know that the current is flowing. That tells the control board to continue allowing gas to flow, too.

If the sensor doesn’t tell the control board that the current is going where it should, then the gas valve closes, and the heat stops coming through your vents.

Flame sensor near burners inside a furnace

DIY Steps for a Dirty Flame Sensor

It is natural for a flame sensor to become dirty over time. But if it gets too dirty, it could stop doing its job. The control board will not be able to sense the current is flowing if the sensor is covered in too much build up.

Fortunately, is it quite easy to clean a flame sensor. Most sensors are easily accessible and so a homeowner may want to clean it themself.

Scotch-Brite™ pad to be used to clean a dirty flame sensorHOW TO CLEAN A FLAME SENSOR

    1. Turn off the furnace power switch.
    2. Remove the sensor rod. It should be easy to remove with a screwdriver. Do not use a wrench, as that could cause the sensor’s cover to crack.
    3. Using a Scotch-Brite™ pad, rub the sensor rod to clean it of all dirt and gunk. Do not use anything harsh like sandpaper.

ADDITIONAL CLEANING NOTES

    • You can use a dollar bill to clean it. Just fold the bill over the rod and, while tightly gripping it, rub it back and forth until the rod becomes somewhat shiny.
    • Do not touch the flame sensor with your fingers. The oils on your hands can get on the sensor and make it more prone to get dirty later.

Furnace Shutdown

Having a dirty flame sensor causing your furnace to stop working can mean you are facing an additional issue. A dirty sensor that is causing the ignition to go out over and over again may eventually cause the furnace to stop working. This is likely just a temporary shutdown, but one that will need to be dealt with in order to get it up and running again soon.

This shut down happens with furnaces that have particular safety function. If a furnace control board senses ignition attempts have failed 5 times in a row, it may shut down the furnace automatically and stay off for a few hours.

There is a work-around to waiting several hours. If there is no safety risk (like a gas leak), a furnace can be reset to bypass this wait. To do this, turn off the furnace’s power switch and wait about 10 seconds before turning it back on.

When to Replace the Sensor

It is not likely a flame sensor needs to be replaced. You should be able to sufficiently clean a sensor no matter how dirty it is. But they are not expensive parts, and you can choose to replace it instead of cleaning it. There are different shapes of flame sensors so be sure you are purchasing the proper kind.

Baxter straight flame sensor rod Rheem curved flame sensor

What if Cleaning the Flame Sensor Doesn’t Fix the Problem?

If after cleaning the dirty sensor the furnace still won’t stay lit, you may find that the burner face is dirty.

To clean the burner face, remove the front plate of the burners with a screwdriver. You will want to be careful to not bump the ignitor. Ignitors are fragile and can be damaged from the oils on your hands.

Individual burners typically pop out easily. You’ll likely find the burner closest to the flame sensor is the dirtiest. If the burner’s base is dirty or corroded, clean it with sandpaper, steel wool or Scotch-Brite pad.

Potential Electronic Issues

Cleaning a flame sensor or burners will not get the furnace running again if the problem is an electronic one. A wire may simply be loose or broken, keeping the electric current from getting to the sensor. A trained and experienced HVAC technician will be able to detect whatever the problem is and fix it.

Standard provides emergency furnace repair serviceContact Standard Plumbing Heating & Air Conditioning to handle whatever furnace repair or service you need.

With a team full of qualified heating repair technicians, we can repair and service any heating system or unit. We provide service to homeowners and businesses in Manhattan, Junction City, Wamego and surrounding Kansas towns.

You can rely on our team of highly trained and experienced technicians to get the job done quickly, professionally, and safely. Call us at (785) 776-5012. We are available for emergency furnace repairs 24/7.

1 Task to Make Sure Your AC is Ready for Summer

A Spring Tip to Prevent an Air Conditioner Emergency

outside air conditioning condenser unit serviced by Standard in Manhattan, KSMuch of the summer work we do in homes all across Manhattan, Wamego, Junction City and surrounding towns comes down to one thing: fixing an air conditioner. Over the hottest days, we are flooded with phone calls from homeowners who suddenly find out their AC system isn’t working.

We usually can quickly solve their problem with simple maintenance or tune-ups. Sometimes more of a repair is needed for the air conditioning system. And then there are times when the system is too broken down (or simply too old) to be worth a large repair. In those times, our technicians work hard to get a new air conditioning system installed.

It is quite common for a breakdown or problem to happen without the homeowner having any clue there was a looming problem. It can be quite a surprise to wake up sweating because suddenly your AC has started blowing hot air instead of cold. It doesn’t take long during some of our hot Manhattan summers for a home’s inside temperature to shoot up when there’s not a cooling system doing its job properly.

As we know, another hot Kansas summer will be here before we know it. Before it comes, we want homeowners to know the best thing they can do to avoid any sort of air conditioner emergency.

There is one simple thing you need to do.

The 1 Best Way to Avoid an AC Emergency

You need to turn your air conditioner on. Yes, that’s pretty much it. But there is a catch. It’s when you turn your AC that make this simple step be effective.

You need to test your AC unit in the spring. When it’s blustery and chilly outside, it may seem odd to be thinking about needing your AC. But that is precisely when you need to turn it on for a test run. This time of year Kansans are not relying on their AC, and also probably not needing their furnace as much as they did. At Standard and other HVAC companies across Manhattan, this our slow time. While we often schedule heating and cooling installation and maintenance checks during this time, we are not getting a lot of calls for repairs. We are more readily available to come to your home right away, often the same day.

Finding out your AC isn’t putting out cold air in March or April means we’ll definitely get to fixing the problem before you need your home’s cooling system. However, if you wait until the first 80-degree day to find out your AC is broken, you’ll likely have to wait. You won’t just have to wait for work from us at Standard Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning, but any reliable, professional HVAC technician will also be swamped with AC repairs at that time. You and your family will unfortunately be left sweating it out until a technician is available. Some will resort to using a less reputable repair person for the job.

A Homeowner’s Spring Air Conditioner Test

To test if your AC is working, set your thermostat several degrees below current temperature. Also make sure that it is set to the COOL setting.

Do you hear your outside AC unit kick on? If you do, you’re not out of the woods yet. A running air conditioner doesn’t mean everything is in working order.

Check to see if you feel cold (not just cool) air coming from your vents. Your cooling system likely already has cool air inside it that you may immediately feel, but that is not air that’s actually been cooled by the system. Wait to ensure that the air you are feeling is cold, air-conditioned air. You may need to turn your thermostat down a few more degrees to help you make sure it is cold air created by your air conditioning system.

Beyond the Spring AC Test

Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that an air conditioner you test in March or April will work just as well in June or July. A lot can happen over a couple months. Dirt and pollen could clog up your outside unit and cause problems. A rodent could take to nibbling on exposed wires to your AC unit. There are a variety of other issues that could happen that a homeowner may easily miss.

How can you be sure your AC is ready for the next Kansas summer? Contact us. Our team of experienced heating and air technicians can not only repair broken air conditioners, we can maintain and tune-up working systems to ensure they continue working throughout the next season and beyond.

With a Spring AC Check & Tune-Up, one of our experienced HVAC technicians will come out and do all necessary testing of your home’s air conditioning system. We will make sure that your AC is working properly and efficiently. An inefficient system can waste energy and possibly leave you with a larger than expected energy bill.

Standard’s Spring AC Check & Tune-Up Includes:

• Install new 1” filter (or clean re-usable one)
• Check Freon levels
• Clean condenser
• Check condensate drain and clean if necessary
• Check evaporator coil, electrical connections and compressor
• Clean and check thermostat
• Check and record all electrical readings
• Check, adjust and align belts

Because a tune-up of your cooling system is the best way to ensure your home is ready for a hot Manhattan summer, we are offering a special deal. Contact Standard today to take advantage of our Spring AC Check and Tune-Up Special available until May 31, 2021.

It is our commitment to provide the heating and air service you need as quickly as possible. If you allow us to service your air conditioning system before the summer sets in, you can have peace of mind that your system was checked and maintained by experienced AC professionals.

Spring AC Check and Tune Up Special from Standard Plumbing Heating Air Conditioning

Annual Heating & Cooling Maintenance

While this special can have you set for summer, Standard does provide a maintenance service all year round. With our VIP Maintenance program, you can receive maintenance checks, tune-ups, discounts on repairs and a variety of other great benefits all year long. There are great reasons to become a VIP member.  Call us at (785) 776-5012 to see how Standard can take the worry and work of home maintenance off your hands.

Graphic image of Standard’s VIP Maintenance program

R22 Refrigerant Phased Out: What Do You Need to Do About It?

Updated March 9, 2021

Air conditioning technology is always advancing, but some changes aren’t about making our equipment more efficient or more powerful. For decades now, there has been work done to reduce the environmental impact our air conditioners have. This is an effort going on all around the world, not just in Kansas or the United States. A major part of this push has been striving to eliminate chemicals that hurt the ozone layer.

A new regulatory step in that effort came into play in the United States on the first day of 2020. For some American homeowners, this meant a major change.

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