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Tri-County Inspections

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Home Inspector

Air Conditioning and Energy Audits
July 2007

Happy Birthday America! July 4th is here and all I can think of is air conditioning. When I come out of those attic environments which can range up to 150 to 160 degrees, I am more than happy to go back down to the kitchen towards the end of the inspection and "chill out".

Those of you who have been with Tri-County over the years tend to learn about the homes that people are purchasing but at the same time, we wonder about our own homes in relation to energy efficiency. My subject today will discuss air conditioning and energy audits.

When testing your own air conditioner, the first thing you should do is feel the refrigerant line past the insulation. As I tell my clients, it should feel like "cold beer" usually "35 to 40 degrees". If you are outside your home and you put your one hand above the fan of your condensing unit, warm air should be expelled in this area, but at the same time use your other hand along the side of the condensing unit and you should feel cooler air in this location. To get the most accurate reading when checking your air conditioning; however, you can utilize a temperature probe and insert a small hole in your return duct as well as in your supply duct well away from the "A" coil. We look for a 13 to 20 degree difference in temperature between those two ducts. Anything less than 13 degrees, I would suggest that you recharge the refrigerant. Anything above 20 degrees, I would recommend that you change your filter. Filter changes should be done monthly unless you are using Filtreat filters, which can be cleaned every three months. Some homes have a larger Aprilaire filtration system that should be changed at the beginning of each season. Refrigerant charges generally run between $150 and $175. If you are one of the few homes that still uses "freon", an additional $50 charge will be incurred, as it has to be collected by the technician and disposed of properly. One final note when cooling your home, go to your thermostat and put your fan switch to the "on" position. Generally you can raise your thermostat approximately 4 to 5 degrees higher than you think you mentally prefer. This also balances your home and dehumidifies it at the same.

One of the things that you may not be aware of is that Tri-County has an energy audit/energy efficiency inspection service. The service begins with a brief client interview and is followed by a comprehensive building inspection to determine efficiency needs. Over 16 different items and building systems are evaluated. A blower door pressurization test will also be preformed to determine building envelope air leakage. A detailed Audit report will then be generated on site outlining concerns and recommendations.

Also provided are detailed efficient living recommendations and instructions on how to operate the building systems more effectively. More information on this service is at www.tchomeinspectors.com/energy.htm.

Jack H. Milne, Jr. President, Tri-County Inspection Co.