Total Maintenance, Inc.(TMI) can replace your old inefficient systems with the best and latest technology offered today in the air conditioning industry. TMI is well equipped to make your home cool and comfortable during the midwestern summers. We install high efficiency, environmentally friendly air conditioning systems that are properly sized for your home in both Iowa and Illinois.
- Air conditioner sales & installation
- Central air conditioner for both duct and ductless installations
- Air conditioner repair, maintenance and service by experienced technicians
- Maintenance Plans to prevent costly repairs of your air conditioning systems
For homes without ductwork, we also offer ductless mini-splits, the latest technology to cool your home without a furnace or ductwork.
- Air Conditioning Basics
- Choose the Right Central Air Conditioner
- Make sure your central air is properly sized
- Air Conditioning System Types
- Air Conditioning Problems
- Air Conditioning Repair Services
- Maintaining Existing Air Conditioners
- Buying New Air Conditioners
- Installation and Location of Air Conditioners
- How to Save Money When Purchasing a New Air Conditioner?
- Choosing a Contractor
- Reasons to Choose TMI for all your Air Conditioning needs
- Geo Thermal
Understanding Air Conditioners
Many people buy or use air conditioners without understanding their designs, components, and operating principles. Proper sizing, selection, installation, maintenance, and correct use are keys to cost-effective operation and lower overall costs.
How Air Conditioners Work
Air conditioners employ the same operating principles and basic components as your home refrigerator. An air conditioner cools your home with a cold indoor coil called the evaporator. The condenser, a hot outdoor coil, releases the collected heat outside. The evaporator and condenser coils are serpentine tubing surrounded by aluminum fins. This tubing is usually made of copper. A pump, called the compressor, moves a heat transfer fluid (or refrigerant) between the evaporator and the condenser. The pump forces the refrigerant through the circuit of tubing and fins in the coils. The liquid refrigerant evaporates in the indoor evaporator coil, pulling heat out of indoor air and thereby cooling the home. The hot refrigerant gas is pumped outdoors into the condenser where it reverts back to a liquid giving up its heat to the air flowing over the condenser's metal tubing and fins.
Air conditioning can account for more than half of your home’s electricity usage. When the equipment is incorrectly sized or installed, this percentage can be much higher. An improperly sized air conditioner will not only cost you more in electrical usage, it will also fail to cool your home. Our air conditioner specialist is trained to measure the home’s heat gain per hour, check air delivery system and existing ductwork. Once these critical measurements are completed we can suggest the proper air conditioner for your home.
Having an air conditioner of the right size for your home is essential for achieving optimal efficiency and prolonging your AC's life span. Your new air conditioner should be properly sized based the insulation, number of windows, direction that each window faces, air leaks, ductwork size, and shading from the exterior of the home.
If an AC unit is oversized, it will draw more energy than necessary to cool your home. If a unit is undersized, it will not be able to cool your home effectively. In either situation, it is wasting energy, costing you money, and possibly damaging the internal parts of your AC system.
- Size - The cooling capacity of a central air conditioning system is measured by BTUH (British Thermal Units Per Hour). It is also measured by the term "tons" or "tonnage". One "ton" of cooling capacity is approximately 12,000 BTUH. Example a 2 "ton" central air conditioning is 24,000 BTUH or a 3 "ton" central air conditioning is 36,000 BTUH.
- Efficiency - This is the manner in which a central air is rated based on energy usage. The level of cooling delivered per watt of electricity used. A central air is rated using "SEER", for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating. Currently the lowest efficiency allowed is a 13 SEER. Midrange options are available at 14 SEER. And High efficiency units are 14.5 SEER and up.
The basic types of air conditioners are room air conditioners, split-system central air conditioners, and packaged central air conditioners.
- Split System central air conditioner, an outdoor metal cabinet contains the condenser and compressor, and an indoor cabinet contains the evaporator. In many split-system air conditioners, this indoor cabinet also contains a furnace or the indoor part of a heat pump. The air conditioner's evaporator coil is installed in the cabinet or main supply duct of this furnace or heat pump. If your home already has a furnace but no air conditioner, a split-system is the most economical central air conditioner to install.
- Heat pump is a variation of a split system with a unit that both heats and cools as needed.
- Ductless Air Conditioners are an option for homes that do not have forced air capability. These units can be installed per area. There is an outside condenser with single or multiple indoor wall mounted units. There are a multitude of options available for these as well.
Room Air Conditioners cool rooms rather than the entire home. If they provide cooling only where they're needed, room air conditioners are less expensive to operate than central units, even though their efficiency is generally lower than that of central air conditioners.
Smaller room air conditioners (i.e., those drawing less than 7.5 amps of electricity) can be plugged into any 15- or 20-amp, 115-volt household circuit that is not shared with any other major appliances. Larger room air conditioners (i.e., those drawing more than 7.5 amps) need their own dedicated 115-volt circuit. The largest models require a dedicated 230-volt circuit.
- Central Air Conditioners Central air conditioners circulate cool air through a system of supply and return ducts. Supply ducts and registers (i.e., openings in the walls, floors, or ceilings covered by grills) carry cooled air from the air conditioner to the home. This cooled air becomes warmer as it circulates through the home; then it flows back to the central air conditioner through return ducts and registers. A central air conditioner is either a split-system unit or a packaged unit.
- Packaged Central Air Conditioner, the evaporator, condenser, and compressor are all located in one cabinet, which usually is placed on a roof or on a concrete slab next to the house's foundation. This type of air conditioner also is used in small commercial buildings. Air supply and return ducts come from indoors through the home's exterior wall or roof to connect with the packaged air conditioner, which is usually located outdoors. Packaged air conditioners often include electric heating coils or a natural gas furnace. This combination of air conditioner and central heater eliminates the need for a separate furnace indoors.
One of the most common air conditioning problems is improper operation. If your air conditioner is on, be sure to close your home's windows and outside doors.
Other common problems with existing air conditioners result from faulty installation, poor service procedures, and inadequate maintenance. Improper installation of your air conditioner can result in leaky ducts and low air flow. Many times, the refrigerant charge (the amount of refrigerant in the system) does not match the manufacturer's specifications. If proper refrigerant charging is not performed during installation, the performance and efficiency of the unit is impaired. Service technicians often fail to find refrigerant charging problems or even worsen existing problems by adding refrigerant to a system that is already full. Air conditioner manufacturers generally make rugged, high quality products. If your air conditioner fails, it is usually for one of the common reasons listed below:
- refrigerant leaks. If your air conditioner is low on refrigerant, either it was undercharged at installation, or it leaks. If it leaks, simply adding refrigerant is not a solution. A trained technician should fix any leak, test the repair, and then charge the system with the correct amount of refrigerant. Remember that the performance and efficiency of your air conditioner is greatest when the refrigerant charge exactly matches the manufacturer's specification, and is neither undercharged nor overcharged.
- inadequate maintenance. If you allow filters and air conditioning coils to become dirty, the air conditioner will not work properly, and the compressor or fans are likely to fail prematurely.
- electric control failure. The compressor and fan controls can wear out, especially when the air conditioner turns on and off frequently, as is common when a system is oversized. Because corrosion of wire and terminals is also a problem in many systems, electrical connections and contacts should be checked during a professional service call.
An air conditioning failure can quickly lead to discomfort for you and your family. TMI's experience in residential air conditioning can assure you that the repair to your air conditioner is done quickly and professionally to restore comfort to your home or small business in both Iowa and Illinois.
Our expert air conditioning technicians will arrive on time, and will quickly diagnose your air conditioning problem and prepare an estimate for the needed repairs. After discussing the estimate with you, answering all your questions, and getting your approval, we'll make the repairs quickly and efficiently. Our customers' confidence in us is justified by our long experience in this field and our outstanding service record.
Every TMI technician is trained to handle repairs on all major brands of air conditioners and heat pumps. We treat all our customers as VIPs, and work with your schedule and needs to restore proper cooling for your home or small business in a professional and courteous manner.
Whether we installed your air conditioning equipment or not, we can handle your repair job. We know and repair all major brands, have most needed parts on hand, and always have the right test equipment and tools to diagnose and repair your system as quickly as possible.
Older air conditioners may still be able to offer years of relatively efficient use. However, making your older air conditioner last requires you to perform proper operation and maintenance. Find out more about our affordable Maintenance Plans.
An air conditioner's filters, coils, and fins require regular maintenance for the unit to function effectively and efficiently throughout its years of service. Neglecting necessary maintenance ensures a steady decline in air conditioning performance while energy use steadily increases.
Air Conditioner Filters The most important maintenance task that will ensure the efficiency of your air conditioner is to routinely replace or clean its filters. Clogged, dirty filters block normal air flow and reduce a system's efficiency significantly. With normal air flow obstructed, air that bypasses the filter may carry dirt directly into the evaporator coil and impair the coil's heat-absorbing capacity. Filters are located somewhere along the return duct's length. Common filter locations are in walls, ceilings, furnaces, or in the air conditioner itself.
Some types of filters are reusable; others must be replaced. They are available in a variety of types and efficiencies. Clean or replace your air conditioning system's filter or filters every month or two during the cooling season. Filters may need more frequent attention if the air conditioner is in constant use, is subjected to dusty conditions, or you have fur-bearing pets in the house.
Air Conditioner Coils The air conditioner's evaporator coil and condenser coil collect dirt over their months and years of service. A clean filter prevents the evaporator coil from soiling quickly. In time, however, the evaporator coil will still collect dirt. This dirt reduces air flow and insulates the coil which reduces its ability to absorb heat. Therefore, your evaporator coil should be checked every year and cleaned as necessary.
Outdoor condenser coils can also become very dirty if the outdoor environment is dusty or if there is foliage nearby. You can easily see the condenser coil and notice if dirt is collecting on its fins. You should minimize dirt and debris near the condenser unit.
Your dryer vents, falling leaves, and lawn mower are all potential sources of dirt and debris. Cleaning the area around the coil, removing any debris, and trimming foliage back at least 2 feet (0.6 meters) allow for adequate air flow around the condenser.
- Coil Fins The aluminum fins on evaporator and condenser coils are easily bent and can block air flow through the coil. Air conditioning wholesalers sell a tool called a "fin comb" that will comb these fins back into nearly original condition.
Sealing and Insulating Air Ducts An enormous waste of energy occurs when cooled air escapes from supply ducts or when hot attic air leaks into return ducts. Recent studies indicate that 10% to 30% of the conditioned air in an average central air conditioning system escapes from the ducts.
For central air conditioning to be efficient, ducts must be airtight. Hiring a competent professional service technician to detect and correct duct leaks is a good investment, since leaky ducts may be difficult to find without experience and test equipment. Ducts must be sealed with duct "mastic." The old standby of duct tape is ineffective for sealing ducts.
Obstructions can impair the efficiency of a duct system almost as much as leaks. You should be careful not to obstruct the flow of air from supply or return registers with furniture, drapes, or tightly fitted interior doors. Dirty filters and clogged evaporator coils can also be major obstructions to air flow.
The large temperature difference between attics and ducts makes heat conduction through ducts almost as big a problem as air leakage and obstructions. Ducts in attics should be insulated heavily in addition to being made airtight.
Today's best air conditioners use 30% to 50% less energy to produce the same amount of cooling as air conditioners made in the mid 1970s. Even if your air conditioner is only 10 years old, you may save 20% to 40% of your cooling energy costs by replacing it with a newer, more efficient model.
Sizing Air Conditioners
Air conditioners are rated by the number of British Thermal Units (Btu) of heat they can remove per hour. Another common rating term for air conditioning size is the "ton," which is 12,000 Btu per hour.
How big should your air conditioner be? The size of an air conditioner depends on:
- how large your home is and how many windows it has;
- how much shade is on your home's windows, walls, and roof;
- how much insulation is in your home's ceiling and walls;
- how much air leaks into your home from the outside; and
- how much heat the occupants and appliances in your home generate.
An air conditioner's efficiency, performance, durability, and initial cost depend on matching its size to the above factors. Make sure you buy the correct size of air conditioner. Two groups—the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) and the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE)—publish calculation procedures for sizing central air conditioners. Reputable air conditioning contractors will use one of these procedures, often performed with the aid of a computer, to size your new central air conditioner.
Be aware that a large air conditioner will not provide the best cooling. Buying an oversized air conditioner penalizes you in the following ways.
- It costs more to buy a larger air conditioner than you need.
- The larger-than-necessary air conditioner cycles on and off more frequently, reducing its efficiency. Frequent cycling makes indoor temperatures fluctuate more and results in a less comfortable environment. Frequent cycling also inhibits moisture removal. In humid climates, removing moisture is essential for acceptable comfort. In addition, this cycling wears out the compressor and electrical parts more rapidly.
- larger air conditioner uses more electricity and creates added demands on electrical generation and delivery systems.
Air Conditioner Efficiency
Each air conditioner has an energy-efficiency rating that lists how many Btu per hour are removed for each watt of power it draws. For room air conditioners, this efficiency rating is the Energy Efficiency Ratio, or EER. For central air conditioners, it is the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, or SEER. These ratings are posted on an Energy Guide Label, which must be conspicuously attached to all new air conditioners. Many air conditioner manufacturers are participants in the voluntary EnergyStar® labeling program (see Source List in this publication). EnergyStar-labeled appliances mean that they have high EER and SEER ratings.
In general, new air conditioners with higher EERs or SEERs sport higher price tags. However, the higher initial cost of an energy-efficient model will be repaid to you several times during its life span. Your utility company may encourage the purchase of a more efficient air conditioner by rebating some or all of the price difference. Buy the most efficient air conditioner you can afford, especially if you use (or think you will use) an air conditioner frequently and/or if your electricity rates are high.
Room Air Conditioners—EER
Room air conditioners generally range from 5,500 Btu per hour to 14,000 Btu per hour. National appliance standards require room air conditioners built after January 1, 1990, to have an EER of 8.0 or greater. Select a room air conditioner with an EER of at least 9.0 if you live in a mild climate. If you live in a hot climate, select one with an EER over 10.
The Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers reports that the average EER of room air conditioners rose 47% from 1972 to 1991. If you own a 1970s-vintage room air conditioner with an EER of 5 and you replace it with a new one with an EER of 10, you will cut your air conditioning energy costs in half.
Central Air Conditioners—SEER
National minimum standards for central air conditioners require a SEER of 13.0, for single-package and split-systems, respectively. But you do not need to settle for the minimum standard—there is a wide selection of units with SEERs reaching nearly 19.
Before 1979, the SEERs of central air conditioners ranged from 4.5 to 8.0. Replacing a 1970s-era central air conditioner with a SEER of 6 with a new unit having a SEER of 13 will cut your air conditioning costs in half or better. Hiring Professional Service When your air conditioner needs more than the regular maintenance described previously, hire a professional service technician. A well-trained technician will find and fix problems in your air conditioning system. However, not all service technicians are competent. Incompetent service technicians forsake proper diagnosis and perform only minimal stop-gap measures. Insist that the technician:
- check for correct amount of refrigerant;
- test for refrigerant leaks using a leak detector;
- capture any refrigerant that must be evacuated from the system, instead of illegally releasing it to the atmosphere;
- check for and seal duct leakage in central systems;
- measure air flow through the evaporator coil;
- verify the correct electric control sequence and make sure that the heating system and cooling system cannot operate simultaneously;
- inspect electric terminals, clean and tighten connections, and apply a non-conductive coating if necessary;
- oil motors and check belts for tightness and wear; and
- check the accuracy of the thermostat.
If your air conditioner is installed correctly, or if major installation problems are found and fixed, it will perform efficiently for years with only minor routine maintenance. However, many air conditioners are not installed correctly. As an unfortunate result, modern energy-efficient air conditioners can perform almost as poorly as older inefficient models.
Be sure that your contractor performs the following procedures when installing a new central air conditioning system:
- allows adequate indoor space for the installation, maintenance, and repair of the new system, and installs an access door in the furnace or duct to provide a way to clean the evaporator coil.
- uses a duct-sizing methodology such as the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) Manual D.
- ensures there are enough supply registers to deliver cool air and enough return air registers to carry warm house air back to the air conditioner.
- installs duct work within the conditioned space, not in the attic, wherever possible.
- seals all ducts with duct mastic and heavily insulates attic ducts.
- locates the condensing unit where its noise will not keep you or your neighbors awake at night, if possible.
- places the condensing unit in a shady spot, if possible, which can reduce your air conditioning costs by 1% to 2%.
- verifies that the newly installed air conditioner has the exact refrigerant charge and air flow rate specified by the manufacturer.
- locates the thermostat away from heat sources, such as windows, or supply registers.
If you are replacing an older or failed split system, be sure that the evaporator coil is replaced with a new one that exactly matches the condenser coil in the new condensing unit. (The air conditioner's efficiency will likely not improve if the existing evaporator coil is left in place; in fact, the old coil could cause the new compressor to fail prematurely.)
If you install a new room air conditioner, try to:
- locate the air conditioner in a window or wall area near the center of the room and on the shadiest side of the house.
- minimize air leakage by fitting the room air conditioner snugly into its opening and sealing gaps with a foam weather stripping material.
Paying attention to your air conditioning system saves you money and reduces environmental pollution. Notice whether your existing system is running properly, and maintain it regularly. Or, if you need to purchase a new air conditioner, be sure it is sized and installed correctly and has a good EER or SEER rating.
- Check with your local energy company to see if rebates are available and how much they are. This can vary greatly depending on the efficiency, generally the higher the efficiency the more money you will receive. Too, most energy companies will offer a savings calculator to see what you can save on energy based on the SEER rating.
- Ask your contractor what savings they offer as well as the manufacturer that they install. Sometimes there are savings you may not know about until you ask.
- Check for tax credits and government programs that you may qualify for. Again the higher the efficiency the more money you may receive
Choosing a contractor may be the most important and difficult task in buying a new central air conditioning system. Ask prospective contractors for recent references. If you are replacing your central air conditioner, tell your contractor what you liked and did not like about the old system. If the system failed, ask the contractor to find out why. The best time to fix existing problems is when a new system is being installed.
When designing your new air conditioning system, the contractor you choose should:
- use a computer program or written calculation procedure to size the air conditioner;
- provide a written contract listing the main points of your installation that includes the results of the cooling load calculation;
- give you a written warranty on equipment and workmanship; and
- allow you to hold the final payment until you are satisfied with the new system.
Avoid making your decision solely on the basis of price. The quality of the installation should be your highest priority, because quality will determine energy cost, comfort, and durability.
How Geothermal Works
Basically, geothermal heating/cooling systems operate via sub-surface conductive heat transfer, using the naturally renewable temperature of the earth's crust as a heat source in the winter, and as a heat sink in the summer.
Cooling Mode Operation
In the cooling mode, the hot refrigerant compressor is sent directly into the approximate 50 to 60 degree F range deep earth, which now absorbs and takes the heat away. The cooled refrigerant fluid is then circulated through the air handler where it absorbs and removes unwanted heat from the interior air. The heated refrigerant travels to the system's compressor unit where the process is repeated. Thus, in the cooling mode, the ground removes your heat for free.
Heating Mode Operation
In the heating mode, approximate 50 to 60 degree F range naturally occurring heat from deep within the earth travels to, and is absorbed by, a much colder refrigerant fluid that is circulated within the copper tubing inside a deep well/borehole. Such naturally occurring heat is transported by the refrigerant fluid to the system's compressor where the fluid is compressed, thereby raising its pressure and temperature, transforming the 55 degree F temperature into a temperature well over 100 degrees F. The hot refrigerant is then circulated through the finned tubing within an air handler, where the cold return interior air absorbs the heat. The heated air is supplied, via a fan, to the interior air space. With the heat now removed from the refrigerant fluid, it becomes very cold and is re-circulated into the ground to absorb more naturally occurring and renewable heat. Thus, the ground supplies your heat for free.
- Promptness and efficiency.
- No surprises on our pricing - you know before we do the work.
- We treat your schedule as a top priority.
- We are experts on all major air conditioner and heat pump brands.
- Ask about our convenient and affordable Maintenance Plans.
TMI - Residential Air Conditioning Service Areas in Iowa and Illinois
TMI - Total Maintenance, Inc. serves Iowa and Illinois residential customers for plumbing, heating and air conditioning in the following cities.
*Note: Not all communities we serve may be found below. If your community is not found on the list but is near one of the cities listed please contact us to see if service is available.
TMI Residential Service Area in Illinois includes the following cities: Albany, Aledo, Alpha, Andalusia, Andover, Barstow, Carbon Cliff, Cambridge, Coal Valley, Colona, Cordova, East Moline, Erie, Fenton, Geneseo, Hampton, Illinois City, Joy, Lynn Center, Matherville, Milan, Moline, New Windsor, Ophiem, Orion, Ophiem, Osco, Rapids City, Reynolds, Rock Island, Sherrard, Silvis, Port Byron, Preemption, Taylor Ridge, Hillsdale, Viola, and the quad cities.
TMI Residential Service Area in Iowa includes the following cities: Bettendorf, Blue Grass, Buffalo, Camanche, Calamus, Clinton, Davenport, De Witt, Dixon, Donahue, Durant, Eldridge, Grand Mound, Pleasant Valley, Princeton, Le Claire, Long Grove, Low Moor, Mc Causland, Montpelier, New Liberty, Stockton, Teeds Grove, Walcott, Welton, Wilton, and the quad cities.