Acceptance of this myth has resulted in design decisions that are counter to both good building practices, emerging green building codes, and increasingly stringent energy efficiency building codes. Richard Scott-AIA, NCARB, LEED AP is a building expert at LBFG and J. David Odom is a retired LBFG building expert. After it has been fully cleaned and left to dry, turn the unit back on and the musty smell should be gone. Note that the vent damper is open, and the path for ventilation (outdoor) air is past the outdoor (condenser) coil and through a washable filter. If you want to spend your summer days and night in comfort, you need an air conditioning system that works efficiently and is easy enough to repair as needed. Most common air conditioner problems won’t break the bank, and in many cases, you’ll know there’s a potential problem long before you flip the switch from HEAT to COOL. Notwithstanding the limitations and risks of using PTAC units, those that have traditionally relied on them will probably continue to do so. Poor air conditioner airflow, dirty air filters and coils, and a lack of refrigerant are all common causes of frozen evaporator coils. It sounds obvious, but it’s the first place to start! The inability of PTAC units to meet these additional expectations has been the cause of many moisture and mold problems over the past several decades. Example of a mold problem caused by PTAC-related issues in a relatively dry climate after vinyl wall covering was removed from a demising wall between guestrooms. in Reducing the Risk of a Mold and Moisture Lawsuit in Your Next Project.”. If the design relies on the equipment to meet the ventilation code, then the occupant or guest cannot be allowed to change fan speeds or turn the unit off. Hopefully, the above solutions will help to resolve any of these five common portable air conditioner issues. This does not happen. This does not happen. I have a PTAC unit in my Cabin. Reality:PTAC units cannot pressurize building spaces, because in order to do so, the following would have to occur: ● The ventilation air pulled through the vent door would have to exceed the toilet exhaust and room air leakage volumes. ur troubleshooting problem this month involves a packaged terminal air-conditioner (PTAC) heat pump. LBFG has provided mold and moisture diagnoses and solutions for buildings to owners, contractors, and developers worldwide. Rendering: Binyan Studios, Courtesy of FXCollaborative, “Shorter Than the Day,” by contemporary artist Sarah Sze, is one of four permanent art installations at the 850,000-sf LaGuardia Airport Terminal B Arrivals and Departures Hall. You don’t want to have to worry about hiring a costly repairman every time there is a small issue, so you need a system that you can fix yourself when needed. Reality: PTAC units cannot pressurize building spaces, because in order to do so, the following would have to occur: ●      The ventilation air pulled through the vent door would have to exceed the toilet exhaust and room air leakage volumes. If you’ve owned your portable air conditioner for a while and you find that there’s a lack of airflow, it may just need a good clean. The Most Common Air Conditioner Problems 1. Low initial cost and simplicity, two of the most appealing features of PTAC units, are the primary reasons they are the standard choice for many hotels and dormitory-type facilities. Take a minute and read our guide to the 10 most common problems homeowners encounter when they turn on their air conditioner. Download our free e-book on “The Single Most Important Factor Will your brand standards cause you... Moisture damage around the bathroom exhaust fan from reverse air flow through the exterior wall cap. One of the most common air conditioning problems is improper operation. This can result in increased room humidity. View of PTAC unit removed from wall sleeve-room side is to right. Here are some of the reasons and solutions for this: On particularly hot days, it makes sense that it would take your portable air conditioner a while to cool a room. If you spot it in the filters, the coils, or anywhere else within the unit, you need to give your wall air conditioner a thorough cleaning. Any excess water should be wiped off. The Five Most Common Air Conditioning Problems North America Homeowners Face January 30, 2015 Although there may be hundreds of factors why your North America home’s central air conditioner may need to be looked at by a certified contractor, there are a few reasons that are fairly common. Mr. Scott, a Senior Forensic Architect at LBFG with more than 35 years’ architectural experience and an expert in building envelopes, has conducted more than 500 forensic investigations and has helped solve some of the most complicated mold and moisture failures in the world. These problems are predictable and avoidable, but prevention means understanding what these units can and cannot do. Consumer Reports and air conditioner pros identify how to troubleshoot the eight most common air conditioner problems that crop up with window and … Instead, PTAC units are often oversized because of conservative load analyses and the industry belief that temperature control is more important than anything else for guest comfort. Figure 1: The water-based mastic stayed wet (tacky to the touch) for weeks because the covered ductwork did not allow the mastic to dry, resulting in mold growth. Even though there’s no definitive guideline for replacing PTAC units, your old units will begin to show three tell-tale signs as they near the end of their life cycle. Your portable air conditioner doesn’t start or completely stops working, 2. The alternatives to using PTAC units are more expensive and require more installation space, more equipment, and additional maintenance expense - but they work! One of the most common cooling systems that many people purchase to endure the heat is a portable air conditioning system. For example, a 10′ x 40′ room would equal 450 sq. ●      Be able to control guest temperature expectations while still accomplishing the first two requirements. The problem: The unit is leaking. Dust off the vents and clean the filter thoroughly to remove any dirt and clogs (make sure you follow the proper cleaning instructions listed in your manual). For decades, the hotel industry has used PTAC or packaged terminal heat pump (PTHP) units (collectively referred to here as PTAC units). Factors to Consider in Your Search for a PTAC While in general, packaged terminal air conditioners all offer fairly similar features and benefits, you have a few main factors to keep in mind in your search for the best PTAC for your room. Check if your unit is plugged in and switched on. In response to concerns by designers and hotel operators, PTAC manufacturers have added additional outdoor air fans and coils to try to improve the outdoor air supply concerns. Since there’s an absence of specific PTAC performance data (despite large numbers of hotels with PTAC units that should be provided with the required information), designers, contractors, developers, and owners usually rely on unproven statements in the manufacturer’s literature. Carry out simple checks to find out what's wrong with the appliance and if it is something small and fixable. If good temperature control and low initial costs were the only expectations for PTAC units, they would be the perfect option for many facilities. Furnace Packaged Unit/RTU Heat Pump Central Air Conditioner Air Conditioner. Often, the problem is with a dirty air filter, as this can cause flow problems. The dimensions of the room need to be considered before you decide on the portable air conditioner model to purchase. If PTAC units actually performed all the functions that were claimed (or implied), they would be one of the least expensive and least complicated HVAC solution ever invented. PTAC units cannot effectively pressurize hotel guest rooms. In either case, you’ll need to … Even though there is strong evidence that PTAC units cannot consistently provide these stated (or implied) features, the astonishing truth is that the entire hotel industry (including owners, operators, developers, contractors, and designers) seems to believe that they can. To deal with any frost, remove the filter of your air conditioner and leave it out to defrost. Typically, designers or contractors install these simple systems and then let the occupants or building owners decide the room temperature. While the problems are typically more severe in warm, humid climates, we’ve also seen them occur in temperate climates (Figure 1). Reality: PTAC units do not provide good dehumidification. PTAC units cannot effectively ventilate interior spaces. Some AC problems can be easily diagnosed and fixed if you’re even somewhat mechanically inclined. If everything seems correct, the problem might be a miscalibration that’s causing your thermostat to read the temperature incorrectly or an electrical problem that’s stopping the thermostat from communicating with the heat pump. PTAC Units - Common Problems. In our experience, the impact of these adaptations has not been fully understood or vetted. Not all PTAC hotels have moisture and mold problems, but many that do experience significant and even catastrophic problems. The ambient temperature of the room you’re trying to cool may be too high. If you own an LG air conditioner, you may occasionally experience issues that prevent the unit from effectively cooling your home. If you hear any of these noises, turn off the A/C and call a professional. You can spot a PTAC building from … Central air conditioning can be a fairly expensive investment, so most people go for alternative options to keep them cool. ●      Be able to condition the intended outside ventilation air through the vent door during occupied modes. There may not be a mechanical problem with your AC unit at all. ●      The guest controls the PTAC fan and can choose any speed available, including OFF, which eliminates any possibility of fan-assisted ventilation air. When a guest or hotel operator turns off the PTAC unit, then no dehumidification occurs. You need to ensure that hot air isn’t coming in to the room through other ways. If the coils are dirty, it will interfere with the transfer of heat and make your unit worker harder and add to the wear and tear on your system. Still, Need Help With your Air Conditioner Problems? Inconsistent failure patterns have helped perpetuate the unfounded belief that PTAC units can effectively achieve what the manufacturer’s literature implies. Sometimes those newer, “smart” thermostats can be a little tricky to program. 2. The photographs in Figure 2 were taken during the investigation of moisture problems in a location where only the summer months are humid (northern West Virginia), and where the PTAC unit design was intended to provide code-required ventilation to the guest room. © Copyright Building Design & Construction. Mr. Odom was a Senior Building Forensics Consultant with Liberty Building Forensics Group. Over the past 30 years, building experts at Liberty Building Forensics Group (LBFG) have investigated hundreds of hotel moisture problems (involving thousands of guest rooms) and in the process, have observed three repetitive assumptions that appear to be completely ignored by the hospitality industry: 1. Reality: PTAC units do not provide code-required ventilation (even though this myth is an almost universal belief within the hotel design and construction industries) for the following reasons: ●      The pressure drop through the vent door/air filter is higher than the pressure drop through the evaporator coil/filter, especially as the vent door filter becomes dirty. Check the interior of the unit thoroughly for any signs of mold or mildew. Sign up for our Free September 13 webinar on “3 Myths of PTAC Units”. 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