5 TIPS TO MINIMIZE STRAIN OF YOUR HAVC UNIT IN SUMMER

5 TIPS TO MINIMIZE THE STRAIN ON YOUR HAVC SYSTEM DURING THE SUMMER

Customers ask us all the time if there is anything, they can do to give their AC unit the best chance to survive the long hot summers here in Arizona. Especially if the AC unit is over 10 years old and showing signs of deterioration. Today I am going to be going over the 5 tips we recommend helping reduce the chance of breakdowns.

Tips

1.Maintenance

Maintenance is the key in helping extend the life of your system and help reduce breakdowns during the summer. Whether the unit is only a couple of years old or pushing 20 Years old, maintenance is always the first step in preventative care. Maintenance is only as good as the company that is performing it. What I mean by this is that you should always use a certified contractor that you trust. Lax maintenance procedures can miss some things as small as a loose connection which may burn up and create major electrical issues down the road even though is a simple repair and would take only seconds to fix. This will still cause you to lose trust in that contractor. Here at AIR4U we do a detailed inspection and have maintenance plans that include free condenser coil cleanings.

 

Cleaning the condenser yearly will help improve the efficiency by removing the previous year’s dirt and grime. In many cases I find a lot of dog hair on the outdoor coils. Best to keep your furry friends away from the outdoor unit whenever possible.  Any blockage of air through the condenser coil (the outside unit) will cause higher pressure within the unit and a decrease its efficiency. When pressure builds up within the refrigerant system, this can cause leaks in the refrigerant system. And of course leaks never appear when the weather is nice out, right?!

 

So, to recap being on a maintenance plan with your favorite AC contractor can help provide peace of mind during the summer. Also forgot to mention that most maintenance plans from HVAC contractors grant you priority service based on your plan. This in my opinion the most important part of any maintenance plan. Like I mentioned earlier these systems never fail when you are not using them. During the summer, most of the companies can be booked up to two weeks in advance! 2 days without cooling during 100 + degree weather can be miserable let alone 2 weeks. When choosing a maintenance plan make sure you look out for the response time that you get with each plan. This can make the world of a difference in your trust and comfort with your HVAC contractor and system.  

2.Proper Filter Care

As a homeowner there really is not much you can do personally to maintain your system especially if your system is in the attic. But changing your filter should be on the top of your list. Improper filter care can cause more problems than you think. Here in Arizona the general rule of thumb is replacing your air filter once a month during the summer and once every three months during the fall. However, everyone uses their system differently. I recommend the moment your filter gets a hint of Grey to swap it out and start keeping track of your filter habits and change them according to your usage. Regularly dirty or plugged filters will drastically reduce your unit’s efficiency and reliability. One thing that happens when the filter is plugged and letting little to no airflow through, is that the unit’s blower motor will have to work harder to operate! This will soon cause the blower motor to burn up and fail. When this happens, you have no cooling or heating. Another side effect of a plugged filter would be the icing up of the indoor coil. When the indoor coil freezes up it becomes a solid block of ice. The bad thing about this is that a lot of the systems do not have pressure switches and the compressor will not know that there is no airflow, so it keeps operating and forcing refrigerant to the coil. Without the airflow the refrigerant process is unable to complete which means that the refrigerant is not boiling off and is likely returning to the compressor in a liquid form causing the compressor to fail. As you can see something as small as neglected filter care can set off a chain reaction to major problems down the road.

3. Proactive Repairs

A lot of the time I get asked by the homeowner in how many years they have left on the system. Unfortunately, with anything mechanical in nature, at any age the system can fail at any time. However, when your technician inspects your system, they should be able to identify trends in some issues that may come up soon. An example of this is a technician can come out and inspect system and find that your condenser fan motor is running hot over its recommended specs however, the weather is nice out and its 73 degrees outside. What I would identify is that this motor is already running hotter than it should especially for the mild weather we are experiencing. This is a sign that the windings are wearing out which is creating excess heat. Eventually the heat will melt the windings and cause a burned-out motor. This countdown for the motor to fail has begun. Do you want to wait until the 100-degree summer weather adds additional heat to the already wearing out motor? Therefore, failures in the summer are 10 times for likely then any other part of the year. At this point I would recommend proactive replacement of this motor to eliminate a likely break down in the summer. Now this is a simple example, but major problems can be detected and prevented during this inspection. Depending on the severity of repairs then talking about proactive replacement is worth doing.  Knowing the condition your system before each summer is extremely important so you can have plans set in place rather than being stranded in your hot home for an extended amount of time. Also keep in mind most air conditioners are ONLY designed for 95-degree summers and have specs to drop the house temperature 30 degrees from ambient (fancy word for outside air temperature). This does not mean your system will not go below 80 when we have those 110 days. It just means that anything below that threshold the unit is now working harder than it was designed for which decreases the unit’s life over time. Therefore, the average life of an HVAC system is 10-15 years and the hotter your summers the less life expectancy your system has.

4. Set times and pre-cooling house

It is important to be aware of your setpoints during the summer. This can help save money and reduce wear and tear on the system. As mentioned in the tip above, air conditioners will struggle during the summer whether they are brand new or 20 years old. Practicing good set times for your system will help squeeze those last couple years out of your old system. Whatever your set point is, realize the air conditioner will run for most of the day and the lower the set point, the harder your system will work. Precooling, keeping windows covered, and all exterior doors closed when possible will help with your comfort and the longevity of the system. I recommend getting the house as cold as you would like during the night. Maybe a little cooler if you are expecting guests at your home. This allows your system to reach those lower set points and lock more easily in the lower temperature into your home to get you through the day, vs. constantly fight to retain that lower temperature while its 100 degrees outside during the middle of the day. This will cut down on breakdowns of the systems and will allow you to maintain your usual temperature easier and with less stress on the system.

5. Understanding the design of your home

A lot of the times I get dispatched to a home where they are complaining of hot and cold spots in their home or that it seems to not get as low as they would like. In most cases there is no issue with the system. A lot of factors can affect the temperatures throughout the house. But the most common is an added-on room, tall, vaulted ceilings, out of date windows, and damaged or poorly designed ductwork. First thing, are the rooms that you are having issues with contain updated windows? Windows account for most of the heat gain within a home. These I recommend relacing first or at least covering up the best you can to see if that helps with the heat beating down through the windows. Second how tall are your ceilings? Obviously the taller the ceiling the hotter air it can contain which will make it extremely difficult to cool. Third is the ductwork designed properly for your home and air conditioner? And last is your air conditioner working properly? In this order is what I recommend looking at comfort situation before you condemn the system you have or call a technician thinking your system is under performing. Also keep in mind the orientation of your house to the sun and how many exterior walls effect a room. The Air conditioner should be able to maintain your home and rooms with in 5 degrees of each other.
Hope this information could be of use to you and I hope you have a great day. If you have any questions or need someone to evaluate your home comfort, do not hesitate to give us a call here at AIR4U at 888-702-4748!
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