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you replaced the AC,
is it larger than the old unit?
if this unit is cycling then my guess it is larger, even tho it may be more efficient, it may still be using more electricity,
but even if the new AC is more efficient, it may still take more power to operate,
Example, say the old unit was a one "Unit of cooling", saying it took 1000 watts to operate, now the new unit may be 1 1/2 "units of cooling" , and more efficient say 900 watts "unit unit of cooling" but 1 1/2 units are 1350 watts of power to operate.
thus costing more to operate, but in the trade your getting more cooling.
how many refrigerators do you have, freezers,
I felt my electrical bill was high and could not figure how I could use so much,
I got a KWH meter and started to check the various appliance, and let them run for a month connected to it and got an idea of the usage it took,
I was surprised, how much the older refrigeration units took,
Yes, this new unit is much larger! We went from a 10 seer 2.5 ton to a 14 seer, 3.5 ton.
Unfortunately, there are dozens of things that could be causing your problems. The good news is that the odds say your problem is unlikely to be anything too subtle.
In your initial post you seemed to be focused on the AC power consumption, which seems like a good place to start since AC is a large power user. Since you just changed your AC, a couple of things come to mind. First, and most obvious, is your usage pattern. Since you went up from 2.5 ton to 3.5 ton, I assume that you felt that the old 2.5 ton was inadequate? So you could be keeping your home at a more comfortable temp (i.e., cooler). This could very easily offset the improvement in SEER (which is a measure of the unit's efficiency). You're probably aware that any reputable AC installer will NOT recommend installing too large of a unit, even though they encounter this request from many homeowners. If you insist that they do this, and they agree (shame on them) then you will have relatively larger energy bills and the unit will probably not last very long.
The next thing I would look at is the health of the AC system itself. Have an AC place come out and check the refrigerant charge, and both the evaporator and condenser for obstructions, the current draw of the compressor, proper function of the condenser fan, etc. AC is not that complicated and any competant shop should be able to check out your unit for a reasonable price (at least relative to your monthly elec bill!).
Another thing to determine is whether the system ductwork, especially the return, is sized properly for the larger unit. Many times the unit is changed but the rest of the system isn't.... this is a problem, by the way, with going with the "low bidder". This can really screw things up and will show in your electric bill. Not saying you did that of course but it's a possibility. You might want to call a local AC shop with a solid reputation to come out and give you a duct cleaning and inspection, and tell them over the phone that you want someone to evaluate your duct system sizing (and insulation, too).
As for the issue of old wiring causing problems... hmmm... yeah, one can envision all sorts of scenarios where this might be the case but honestly none of them are too likely. In my experience, 95% of the time problems like yours aren't due to some esoteric problem... they're due to some simple issue like a faulty AC unit, some crud clogging up an evaporator or condenser, bad or undersized ducting installation, a massive air leak somehwere, a three-year-old ... or on and on... you get the idea. Think "simple" first, then after all of that is eliminated you can go on to the exotic leakage theories. Odds are you will not have to get too the exotic stuff.
Please keep that little one away from electrical stuff. Period. Just do it. Besides, breakers are not designed as switches and working the handles can shorten their life. It's not a good thing when a breaker fails.
By the way, and this is in the category of "exotic" and thus NOT something to look at early-on in your troubleshooting.... make sure your attic space is properly vented. If you add insulation and the attic space isn't vented well, you can make life harder for your AC instead of easier.
Moving on to flickering lights... for this you DEFINITELY need an electrician and I strongly recommend you do it sooner rather than later. If you notice dimming or flickering, it could be nothing. AC motors (as in the vacuum cleaner) draw 2-3 times their normal current for a few seconds during startup. Or you might well have some high resistance connections somewhere and that is NOT GOOD... as in "potential fire risk". Flickering lights or dimming in particular CAN (but not necessarily) be a sympton of the classic aluminum wiring problem, or of improper "pigtailing" repair of aluminum house wiring. Not to worry about the details if you're unfamiliar with this... please just get a competent professional to check it out. Not wanting to be too dramatic, but your home's power and water systems should never be ignored or taken for granted... too dangerous!
We went from a 10 seer 2.5 ton to a 14 seer, 3.5 ton.
Did the electrical get upgraded (or at least evaluated and re-sized) too?
Your cable and breaker might be undersize now or maxed out on amperage.
A 200A breaker takes a bit of force to open/close, plus they are usually mounted
at the top of the panel (they all are AFAIK), so if the panel is mounted per code
and the breaker is not faulty (normal trip pressure required to open) then it seems
unlikely a 3 YO could on a whim open the breaker. If there is something that is
located in front of or near enough that a 3YO could reach the main breaker that
is against code AFAIK. I believe that the space around the panel is to be kept clear
for 36", but I may be wrong on that for residential. In an industrial setting it is a
Curious if this ever got resolved?? Easiest "sanity check" would be get last 3 years worth of bills and TREND the Kilowatt hours used each month, and add information alongside timeline for major changes, like mancave added with questionable electricity ran by husband, A/C installed, etc. For sure, need to get accurate information and not include other charges like sewer & water.
The SCREAMING QUESTION for me was what in world was breaker box doing over the washer?? It's very risky having anything to do with water even being close to main breaker panel. I'm pretty certain it's code violation to have ANY obstruction in front of main breaker panel, or the main meter for that matter.
Further, why would you ever let 3 year old wander free in area that has both water and access to electrical panel?? That whole room needs LOCKED until all these electrical problems resolved.
Finally, why is the wife asking these questions if it's the husband who messed with electrical wiring and apparently tried his luck at wiring a secondary building.
My guess is Severe Leakage and shorting that is ready to start a fire or kill someone soon (someone out watering the yard where that electrical leak is occurring could get fried) . . the ever increasing useage was probably why the electric utility company added the new meter so it couldn't be said by homeowner that utility company wasn't entitled to be paid the electric useage that occurred at the residence. Until an experienced licensed electrician gave that house a clean bill of health, I'd Get OUT of that house if it were me.