“Help Me Help You!” Will you take Mike Holmes word on Air Conditioner tune-ups?
June 26, 2013
This week has been overly busy for Hogg Mechanical with the sudden and somewhat surprising heat wave. So, I am reaching out to you for a little assistance, as Jerry Maguire once said “Help Me, Help You!” As you can imagine over the weekend and Monday morning we received an onslaught of phone calls, emails, tweets and facebook messages regarding air conditioners being broken or not working up to their full potential. This leads too many of our appreciated customers and future customers tired and extremely uncomfortable. Our entire team has been working extended hours and responding as fast as we can to make everyone comfortable in their homes and businesses.
Our mission is to respond with service on the same day, so you can sleep comfortably at night. This is where Jerry Maguire’s “Help Me, Help You” comes into play; if we could have our valued current and potential customers air conditioners regularly maintained and tuned-up throughout these sudden heat waves, this would prevent you from being one of thousands in a (literally) sticky situation. Routine maintenance (which saves you energy & money) on your heating and cooling equipment will provide you with the peace of mind you need for all weather conditions.
And if you don’t believe us maybe you will believe Mike Holmes from “Holmes on Homes” Please see his article below.
Holmes: Air conditioners need a tune-up
It’s been really hot this summer, right across the continent. How are you doing? And how’s your air conditioning doing? If you’ve been doing the regular maintenance on your AC unit, as the manufacturer recommends, you are probably reading this in a comfortable room. But if you are one of those people — you know the ones I mean — who never thinks about his appliances until they are broken, you may have a different story.
An air conditioner needs regular maintenance — filter changes, as well as annual tune-ups, yet it seems to be the most forgotten appliance. That’s probably because it’s outside and is only used for part of the year in colder climates. So, apart from taking off the cover in spring and putting it back on in fall, people don’t give them much thought. They don’t think about it until that first hot day when it doesn’t work. Or when it breaks down in the middle of a heat wave and they have to wait for a service call because everyone else is in the same boat.
Let’s face it: Air conditioners aren’t pretty. They are big and they can be noisy, especially older models. Of course, you want to hide them. You don’t see television commercials showing off the shiny new AC unit in the middle of your garden, the way you see a new fridge or stove showcased in a designer kitchen. We hide them. Some people even plant shrubs or build wooden screens in front of them. I’ve even found one AC unit tucked under a raised deck that was built right over it. Not good.
I get it. I understand the motivation, but the unit must be free to breathe. The air conditioner has to bring in enough air to cool the house properly and to allow the condenser to work. You can’t restrict airflow around it or it will be less efficient and will break down — guaranteed.
Ideally, you should get your unit checked every spring. Odds are, you didn’t, if you are like most people. The technician will check coolant levels and the air filter, clean the evaporator, condenser coils and drains, and check for any small problems that might become big ones. If your coolant is low, it’s not because it got burned up the way your car burns gas. It means there’s a leak and that’s a problem because coolant is toxic, and because eventually, that leak will lead to compressor failure.
If you maintain your air conditioner regularly, you’ll save money on energy, as well as prolong the life of the unit. An annual tune-up can help your AC operate at almost 100% efficiency. But you will pay for every year you forget to have it serviced: You lose about 5% of its original efficiency and that costs you on your electricity bill.
Air conditioners use a lot of energy; you’ll notice your electricity bill climbing significantly in the summer months. It makes sense to do what you can to minimize that expense.
I recommend old-school ways to reduce energy use. This is common sense, costs you nothing, and is not difficult: You need to keep the hot air out.
I remember when I was a kid — before air conditioning was invented, by the way— that people used to close the windows and draw the drapes early in the morning before the temperature rose outside, thus keeping the relatively cooler air inside during the heat of the day. Then, after the sun went down and the air started to cool off, they’d open them again.
You can take advantage of the stack effect. In the evening, open windows in the lower part of the house and on the upper floors so the hot air will vent out. You will feel the air moving as it’s being drawn out. It’s even more noticeable if you have a well-placed skylight, say, at the top of the staircase.
If you can, plant deciduous trees to the south and west of your house. That will shade your home from the sun during the hottest part of the day. And that will cut down on the need to use your air conditioner. Exterior shutters or awnings are a great idea to keep the sun out.
Closing the blinds or drapes — especially on the south and west sides — will help reduce radiant heat absorption. But it’s more important to keep the source of that heat — the sun’s rays — on the outside of your house. Even the small amount that gets inside through the window to the gap behind the drapes or blinds will cause an increase in room temperature. But if the side of your home is kept in shade by trees or awnings, that will not happen.
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