Wagner is Albuquerque’s air conditioning services provider. From 24/7 emergency repair to new system installation, we’re the team to call. Our NATE-certified technicians are ready to help you with your cooling needs. We work with all makes and models of air conditioners, evaporative coolers, ductless systems, and heat pumps.

What causes an air conditioner to freeze up?

Picture this: it’s the hottest day of summer. The sun is beating down on your home. You feel the temperature inside start to rise, but you no longer hear the distinctive sound of your air conditioner at work. After fiddling with the thermostat, you walk outside to a strange sight: despite the hot weather, your air conditioner condenser is iced over. Appropriately, this is known as an air conditioner freezing up, and it’ll leave your home without cooling if not fixed.

So, what causes an air conditioner to ice up? In actuality, there are several different things that could be happening that might cause this issue. In this article, we’ll review the most likely scenarios and review your next steps for defrosting your AC and getting it running again.

Why do air conditioners ice up?

We get plenty of calls from homeowners in Albuquerque asking us the same thing: “Why is my air conditioner freezing up?” While there are some common issues that lead to this phenomenon, it’s not always possible to diagnose the issue over the phone. You’ll need to have one of our AC repair technicians out to take a closer look and help defrost the system.

Here are some potential reasons your air conditioner has iced up:

Common: Low Airflow

First, let’s start by reviewing how air conditioners work. At their most basic level, all AC units do is move heat energy from one place (inside your home) to another (outside your home). They use refrigerant to accomplish this.

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While less likely than blocked airflow, low refrigerant pressure could be the root cause of a frozen air conditioner.

Think of the indoor evaporator coil and outdoor condenser coil as separate train stations, with refrigerant serving as the train that runs between them. At the indoor station, the refrigerant absorbs heat energy. It then carries this energy to the outdoor station, where it is released into the air, cooling the refrigerant. This refrigerant is then cycled back inside to repeat the process, again and again, until your home’s indoor temperature cools.

However, there’s an important factor to this process: to properly absorb heat energy from inside and take it outside, the evaporator coil needs a consistent airflow. If the coil does not absorb enough heat energy indoors, it will start a runaway cooling process, with the refrigerant becoming more chilled as it cycles. Ultimately, the refrigerant becomes cold enough to “ice up” the outdoor condenser. If there’s enough humidity in the air, you’ll see this as actual frost or ice on the unit.

In a vast majority of cases, an AC unit keeps freezing because of insufficient airflow. This could be due to a clogged air filter, a malfunctioning blower unit, or a larger issue with your air ducts that is preventing indoor air from traveling from the air intake to the evaporator coil.

Less Common: Low Refrigerant

Pressure plays a key role in the refrigeration cycle. If the refrigerant line loses pressure, it is unable to absorb or transport heat energy as efficiently, which could lead to icing issues.

However, this is typically a less common reason why an air conditioner keeps freezing up. For one, the refrigerant used to transport heat energy is supposed to exist in a closed-loop system. Under ideal circumstances, it does not leave its pipe: unlike a car, your home’s air conditioner is capable of using the same refrigerant, year-after-year, and shouldn’t need periodic “recharging.” For a refrigerant line to lose pressure and refrigerant, something has gone wrong with the line. There is likely a leak.

Your next steps

If your AC has frozen over, you need to call your local HVAC experts at Wagner. Our technicians are specialists when it comes to diagnosing air conditioning issues. We’ll run through our checklist and work to determine the root cause of the issue. As detailed in this article, the answer to “what causes an air conditioner to freeze up” is typically something minor, such as insufficient airflow. However, we’ll also want to rule out more serious issues, such as refrigerant loss or a problematic blower.

Never try to defrost your own air conditioner. Attempting to chip away at ice can lead to damage to the system. Go to your thermostat and turn off the cooling setting: you don’t want your air conditioner to continue the cycle that is causing it to freeze up. Instead, just turn the fan on—maximizing airflow will help with the defrost process and reduce the amount of time it takes our technicians to get your air conditioner back to normal.

When you need us, we’re here for you with 24/7 plumbing repair

Over the past month, the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak has changed how many businesses operate and how people go about their daily lives. As more and more people start working from home and spending their free time inside, they also increasingly need and depend on their home’s plumbing. That’s why the team at Wagner is here to help. Our plumbers are standing by, 24/7, for all your home’s urgent plumbing needs. It’s just another reason that we’re your home’s best friend.

Call us for 24/7 emergency repair

We are here for your home. If you’re experiencing a plumbing emergency, call your friends at Wagner right away. We offer 24/7 emergency service throughout the Albuquerque area.

A Wagner plumber repairs a tankless water heater in a local home here in Albuquerque.

Clogged Drains

A clogged shower drain, toilet, or sink can really bring life in your home to a screeching halt. If you have a stubborn clog, call us for fast, 24/7 service. We’ll send one of our experienced, friendly plumbers out to your home to clear the clog. Our plumbers have a variety of advanced drain cleaning tools at their disposal—including snake tools, hydrojets, and more—to completely clear out deep clogs.

Here are just a few of the reasons why you should hire a professional for drain cleaning and clog clearing.

Hidden Leaks

Left to its own devices, a hidden leak can lead to serious water damage in your home—and an expensive cleanup. Using advanced leak detection equipment, our plumbers can pinpoint the location of water leaks hidden behind walls, in ceilings, or under your foundation. Then, we can quickly access and repair the source of the leak, limiting the extent of the water damage and returning your home to normal.

Read more about our leak detection work.

Water Heaters

When your water heater stops working, call us right away. We repair and replace water heaters here in the Albuquerque area. During the current COVID-19 crisis, we’re also offering the convenience and safety of virtual estimates on new water heater systems. If you know your home’s aging water heater needs to be replaced, now’s a great time to call us and schedule your virtual estimate.

Sewer Line Issues

A sewer line leak or clog can spell major trouble for your home. If you’ve noticed that your front yard smells like sewage and has water pooling near the buried line, you need to have one of our plumbers out to take a closer look. Clogs are also a serious issue: in the event your home’s drains all clog at once, turn off the water and call us right away for 24/7 plumbing repair. A clogged sewer line can lead to a disastrous sewer backup into your home.

We’re also ready to help with your HVAC and electrical needs

At Wagner, we’re more than just your local plumbing team. We also provide 24/7 emergency air conditioning repair and electrical services. No matter what your home needs, you can count on the team at Wagner to get the job done right. After all, we’ve been Albuquerque’s trusted name in home services since 1928.

At Wagner, we’re taking steps to protect your home during the COVID-19 outbreak

The recent COVID-19 outbreak has already had a profound impact on our community. Throughout Albuquerque, homeowners and businesses are preparing for an uncertain future. At Wagner, we are taking several precautionary steps to protect your home, including offering virtual estimates. In this article, we’ll outline how we’re doing our part to slow the spread of COVID-19, why COVID-19 is such a threat, and how you can do your part to support local businesses here in Albuquerque through the tough times to come.

We’re taking steps to protect your home

At Wagner, our technicians, plumbers, and electricians are all taking steps to protect your home and prevent the spread of COVID-19. We are using the latest recommendations from our state and the U.S. Centers of Disease Control & Prevention to guide our preventative measures. If you have questions, please call us.

Our virtual estimates

As we announced in a recent blog post, our team is now offering virtual estimates on new air conditioners, heat pumps, and plumbing equipment. This process is easy, straightforward, and—most importantly—helps us reduce face-to-face contact. If you need a new HVAC system or a new water heater, call us here at Wagner to schedule your virtual estimate.

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19, also known as “novel coronavirus,” is a highly infectious virus that has spread throughout the world and the United States in recent weeks. There is no natural immunity to, or vaccine for, COVID-19. There are a number of factors that make coronavirus easy to spread. First, those infected are typically symptomless, yet contagious, for several days. Around 80% of all those with COVID-19 have mild-to-moderate symptoms, which—without social distancing guidelines—might still allow them to go out and spread the virus. Finally, experts advise there is a population of people who carry and can spread the virus, but have no symptoms at all.

While most will only experience mild-to-moderate COVID-19 symptoms, others will have more severe symptoms and may even need to be hospitalized. You’ve no doubt heard about “flattening the curve.” This refers to the act of social distancing and staying at home as a means of slowing the spread of the disease and reducing the number of COVID-19 patients our hospitals and health professionals have to deal with at once.

While certain people—especially the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions—are most vulnerable, there have been cases of all types of people getting seriously ill or even dying due to COVID-19. We can all do our part to avoid these tragedies by:

  • Following social distancing guidelines: If you’re sick, stay home. Even if you’re healthy, stay in your home as much as possible and only go out into public for essentials, like work (if you’re an essential worker) or groceries. When you do go out, stay at least six feet away from others and wear a face mask.
  • Wash your hands (and your phone!): When you return home from a public place, wash your hands thoroughly in warm, soapy water. Take the time to disinfect all surfaces you may have touched, including car door handles and your phone.
  • Take precautions: Just like we’re doing here at Wagner, take precautions like using hand sanitizer, wearing gloves, and wearing face masks while interacting with others or while you’re in public.

Thank you for your support of local businesses

This is an incredibly difficult time for many local businesses here in Albuquerque. Health experts remain uncertain how long this crisis will continue and how long social distancing measures will need to remain in place. If you are able, please consider supporting local and small businesses here in our community. You can do this by:

  • Supporting restaurants by ordering takeout and delivery. This helps these establishments stay open and keep their staff working. If you’re not comfortable with delivered food, call and ask about gift cards. By purchasing a gift certificate, you provide the business with a needed lifeline now and you can use the gift card when the outbreak is over.
  • Shopping local. Whether you’re buying essentials or you’re getting something fun to do at home with your family, please consider buying from a local business here in town. Without foot traffic, our stores here in Albuquerque need online sales to keep the lights on.
  • Being compassionate to others. Your kindness, patience, and gratitude is just as contagious as this virus. Just a simple and sincere “thank you” to those working in grocery stores, hospitals, and restaurants can help keep people’s spirits up. Collectively, it’s what makes us #AlbuquerqueStrong.

The entire team here at Wagner would like to thank our community’s first responders, medical professionals, and everyone else working on the front lines of this viral outbreak. Our community appreciates you and everything you’re doing.

Finally, thank you for your continued business and support. From our family here at Wagner to yours, stay safe and stay healthy. If you need 24/7 emergency HVAC or plumbing services here in Albuquerque, call us right away.

On vs Auto: Which is the better thermostat setting?

Thermostats have a wide range of features and controls that most homeowners never end up looking into or using. This goes double for smart thermostats. By adjusting your thermostat settings to better fit your home’s comfort needs, you can save money every single year. In this article, we’ll review the on versus auto settings, and discuss how smart thermostats have changed the ballgame when it comes to automating your indoor comfort.

Need thermostat services here in Albuquerque? You’re in the right place. Wagner offers thermostat repair and installation services. Contact us today to schedule service.

Setting your thermostat for optimal comfort and energy savings

Here’s what you need to know about the on and auto thermostat settings and how they impact your home’s comfort year-round.

What is the on thermostat setting?

Setting the thermostat settings to ‘On’ keeps the fan running at all times. When the fan is kept running, the air is pulled through the in-built filtration system that keeps it clean. In addition, keeping the fan running will result in fewer starts and stops of the fan thereby reducing the risk of a malfunction.

The major disadvantage of keeping the fan running is that it jacks up the heating bills. Unless variable speed motor is installed, it will cost you as much as $50 per month to keep the fun running 24/7. Another con of keeping the fan running constantly is that the air filter will tend to clog up quickly due to which you will have to change the filter frequently.

Also, when the fan is running, you will feel cold air coming from the vents. While the temperature of the air will be similar to that of the space heater, it will feel cold when compared to your body temperature.

What is the auto thermostat setting?

The ‘Auto’ thermostat function will make the fan run according to your specified settings. The fan can be controlled through a timer circuit inside the unit. Generally, the auto setting will start the furnace fan about half a minute after the burner is lit. The fan is turned off about a minute after the desired temperature is reached.

With a programmable thermostat, you can automate your thermostat setting for optimal comfort and efficiency.

With a programmable thermostat, you can automate your thermostat setting for optimal comfort and efficiency.

The main benefit of setting the thermostat to ‘Auto’ is that it will result in more energy efficient usage. This is because the fan will run only when it’s required. Also, the air filter will need to be changed or cleaned less frequently when the thermostat setting is set to ‘Auto’.

However, more starts and stops will mean that the fan will wear out more quickly. In addition, it will result in the less efficient distribution of heat inside the room.

Conclusion

The above discussion will make it clear to you whether ‘On’ or ‘Auto’ thermostat setting is right for you. If you want to keep the energy bills low, you should set the thermostat to ‘Auto’. However, if you prefer more even distribution of heat inside the house, it’s better that you set the thermostat setting to ‘On’.

What about smart thermostats?

Also known as “programmable thermostats,” smart thermostats are the 21st century answer to the traditional “dial” thermostats most homes used to feature. Smart thermostats come in a variety of sizes, shapes, makes, and models, but—regardless of which one you buy—they all have one feature in common: automated temperature settings. With this thermostat, you can program the temperature of your home ahead of time on your smartphone, and then the thermostat will automatically adjust the cooling or heating system when you’re away, at home, or sleeping.

This helps homeowners save money because it removes the human element—that is to say, you personally having to turn the dial before leaving for work—from the equation. All-in-all, upgrading to a smart thermostat can cut your cooling and heating costs by up to 10% annually. This makes it one of the best ways to make your home more energy-efficient. Other tips include:

Have thermostat questions? Call us!

If you want more information about thermostats, as well as installation tips from certified and professional technicians in Albuquerque and Santa Fe, New Mexico, contact us at Wagner.

Here’s how to make your home more energy-efficient this year

As we get into the coldest days of winter, most Albuquerque homeowners are running their heating systems full-time to keep their homes comfortable. As a result, utility bills are on the rise. One long-term strategy for curbing consistently high heating costs is making your home more energy-efficient. In this article, we’ll review the best ways to improve your home’s energy-efficiency this year, from installing a new thermostat to sealing your ducts and adding insulation.

Install a new smart thermostat

Programmable thermostats are incredibly popular at the moment, and for good reason: not only can they help your home become more comfortable, but they can also save you money on your monthly utility bills. Smart thermostats accomplish this by automating temperature changes throughout the course of the day. If you’re out of the house and at work from 9-5 every day, the smart thermostat will automatically recalibrate the temperature to adjust for your absence. By doing this, these thermostats can greatly reduce heating waste during the winter, saving you money.

Depending on where you live, some utility companies offer rebates or special programs for homeowners who upgrade to a smart thermostat. Be sure to talk to your utility provider about such programs—they can extend your savings even further!

Repair and seal your home’s ducts

A good portion of the heating and cooling produced in your home never even reaches you. That’s because it’s lost in transit in the air ducts between the heating and cooling system and the living spaces of your home. Leaky or loose ducts can lead to 20-30% of all your heating and cooling being lost. The solution? By having a professional seal your home’s air ducts and repair any disconnected ducts, you can restore your home’s energy efficiency and keep more of that heating inside where it belongs.

To learn more about air duct sealing and repair here in Albuquerque, call our team today.

Add more attic insulation

As we all know, hot air rises. Without sufficient attic insulation, the hot air generated by your furnace or heat pump for your home will rise right through the roof. By adding more attic insulation, you can create an insulated blanket that traps more heating (and, in the summer, cooling) inside of your home. Here’s a guide from Energy Star on how to start thinking about and planning for additional attic insulation. While some homes may already have sufficient insulation, most do not, and homeowners can put themselves in a great position to save money for years to come by adding more of it.

Seal around your doors and windows

If you have significant air leaks around your doors and windows, you’re losing on two fronts: first, that cold, winter air is getting in and creating drafty conditions in your home. Second, the hot air generated by your heat pump or furnace is escaping through these gaps. Luckily, this is an easy problem to fix. Using caulking and weatherstripping, seal these gaps around your doors and windows to block the transfer of air. You should notice your energy bills decrease after doing this.

When in doubt, talk with an expert

At Wagner, we’re your energy-efficiency experts here in Albuquerque and Santa Fe, New Mexico. If you’re looking to make your home more energy-smart, a great place to start is by scheduling a heating checkup with us this winter. We’ll assess the efficiency of your current furnace or heat pump and ensure that it’s running at its best. During this maintenance visit, we can also answer any questions you have about your thermostat, insulation, or general home energy-efficiency.

Here’s how you can lower your summer electric bills in Albuquerque

What do you associate with summer? For many, summers in Albuquerque mean sunshine, hiking, golf, baseball, and outdoor adventures with the family. For far too many, however, there’s a reason to dread summer: high summer electric bills. If you’re one of these homeowners who is not looking forward to opening your utility bill this month, keep reading: in this article, we’re going to discuss some of the causes of high electric bills and some straightforward ways you can reduce your home’s energy use and save money.

Changing your thermostat by 1-2 degrees can help lower your summer electric bills here in Albuquerque.

Changing your thermostat by even just 1-2 degrees can help lower your summer electric bills here in Albuquerque.

Keep your AC in good, working order

If your electric bills have been on the rise, your HVAC systems are probably to blame. For most homes, cooling and heating makes up the largest portion of residential energy use—sometimes, even more than 50% of all the electricity used in the home is spent making it cool or warm. This means that the best way to lower your summer energy bills is by making your air conditioner and home more energy-efficient.

What causes inefficiency?

As air conditioners get older, they often don’t work as well as they once did. This problem typically manifests itself on two fronts: first, the AC unit is more likely to break down and need repairs, especially after heavy use during the summer. Second—and of consequence for your energy bills—older air conditioners just aren’t as energy-efficient as they used to be.

When you compare them to a new model, they’re not only old—all the wear-and-tear of multiple hot summers adds up—but they’re also obsolete, in that new systems on the market today are more efficient than ever.

Improve your cooling efficiency

What can you do about this? You’ll probably want to start by scheduling a checkup with our team on an annual basis. Maintenance is one of the best ways to get the most of any air conditioner, new or old, and can give your system’s efficiency a much-needed lift.

However, if you’re getting hit with the combo of high electric bills and frequent breakdowns this summer, you should also explore replacing your older air conditioner with a new system. Wagner installs new, energy-efficient air conditioners and heat pumps here in Albuquerque. If you really want to put a serious dent in your home’s energy waste and trim those bills, a new air conditioner will do the trick.

Add insulation

On the hottest days of summer here in Albuquerque, your air conditioner works hard to cool your home. It’s actually fighting an uphill battle: not only does it need to cool down your hot home, but it also has to replace the cooled air that is being lost through your ductwork, into your attic, and through the roof. This same process is even worse for your energy-efficiency in the winter since heat naturally rises. Without anything to stop it, heat energy will rise right out of your home.

There are two ways to cut down on this energy waste: adding insulation or have a professional seal your home’s air ducts. Let’s start with insulation. Most homes here in Albuquerque have some degree of insulation, but could use more. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, northern New Mexico is located in Zone 5, which means homes here need to add R38-R49 rated insulation to an existing layer of insulation, and R49-R60 insulation to an uninsulated attic.

Additional insulation helps trap both cold (summer) and hot (winter) air in the living spaces of your home, keeping it from escaping through your roof. That, in turn, means that your HVAC systems don’t have to work as hard or as long, which both cuts down on wear-and-tear and helps lower your summer electric bills. That’s a win-win in our book.

Have your ducts sealed

Traditional HVAC systems send cooled aor heated air through the air ducts of your home and through vents to your living spaces. However, air is actually a pretty poor conduit for energy. This means that much of this cooled or heated air is being lost before it even gets to the vents. This is especially true in homes with leaky ductwork. Cooled or heated air quickly finds places to escape in tiny pinholes, cracks, or other gaps in the ducts. All-in-all, these leaks can mean that up to 20% of the output of your air conditioner is being wasted. That adds up to higher energy bills.

One of the reasons our team offers duct sealing services here in Albuquerque is because we know how much money this can save homeowners for years to come. We use specialized equipment to find leaks in your ductwork and then permanently patch them, so that the air leak is no more. No matter how new or old your home is, duct sealing can make a big difference in how much energy your home uses on a monthly basis, especially in the summer.

Make other improvements to lower your bills

Beyond making improvements to your air conditioner, insulation, and ducts, there’s many other things that homeowners can do to cut their energy bills:

  • Turn it up: Just increasing your home’s temperature by 1-2 degrees at the thermostat can yield major savings. Consider upgrading to a programmable thermostat that allows you to schedule these temperature changes.
  • Use your fans: Using ceiling and floor fans won’t actually cool down the temperature of the room, but it will make you feel a lot colder. This allows you to keep the thermostat higher and avoid paying to cool parts of your home that you’re not in at the moment.
  • Salad for dinner: Avoid using heat-generating appliances such as the oven or stove during the hottest parts of the day. Prepare more meals for the family using a crock-pot, or make cold dinners, such as salads and sandwiches.

Talk to our energy-saving experts here in Albuquerque

At Wagner, we love helping local homeowners find ways to save energy and get more out of their home’s air conditioner—including comfort. Contact us today to see how we can help you with your air conditioning, insulation, and duct seal needs.