Schedule your air conditioning tune-up and prepare for summer
If you have lived in Arizona full-time for more than three years, then you know it’s not unheard of for our desert regions to hit 100-degree temperatures in April.
Don’t wait until a streak of 90 degrees comes along to get your air conditioning unit serviced. If you wait, you will be at the mercy of everyone else waiting in line.
Because of the pandemic it is taking longer for contractors to receive the necessary parts to repair units or even replace them.
Before the triple digits get out of control, you will want to make sure each room in your house is receiving proper airflow, otherwise, everyone may cram into the coolest room at the same time – and that generates more heat. Yuck!
Pay attention as the temperatures rise. If one room is warmer than the others in the spring and you don’t address it, come summer, it will be hot and uncomfortable. A scenario like this is when a whole-house energy audit is useful.
The technician may suggest replacing the registers so up-to-date dampers can be installed; which balance the cooling in various rooms. Sometimes ducts need resealing. If the home is newer and has flexible ducts, a sealant can be applied on the leaky area.
In older homes with rigid ducts, the leaks can also be sealed. In homes built prior to air conditioning, the ducts may have to be replaced because the previous system was designed to handle evaporative coolers and not today’s air conditioners.
Change the air filter
“One of the first things you need to do when switching from heat to air conditioning is to replace the air filter,” said Jeff Carmichael, general manager, REEIS.
“Warped or bent filters can cause greater pressure on the HVAC system resulting in mechanical failures. It also causes dust, pet hair, and particles to slip past the filter around the edges because of the high volume of air being forced through an opening that is too small.”
Clean fan blades and coils
Unless you are handy and comfortable getting on the roof (if that is where the unit is), leave this job to a professional.
Otherwise, Carmichael recommends this process. Remove the cover and mix a half cup of Simple Green Solution with one gallon of warm water. Using the spray bottle, spray the mixture on the coils and let sit for five minutes. Using a hose, completely wash free with clean water, moving across side to side, top to bottom, and inside to out. Run the water down the coils until it runs clear. The direction is important. Let it completely dry and replace the cover.
Check the furnace
If your furnace and AC unit are in the house and easily accessible – perhaps in a closet — inspect the cabinet for holes or leaks that a technician could fix. And don’t store anything in that closet.
Clean the ducts
Done correctly, duct cleaning should only happen once every eight to 10 years as long as you keep up with monthly filter changes. Rosie recommends the 1-inch paper pleated filter that sits snugly in the holder. If you have shedding pets or are hyperallergic, it may need more frequent cleanings.
What the hail?
Hail can occur at any time of year though we see more of it during the summer monsoons. Not only can hail damage your car and roof, but your HVAC unit too.
The condenser unit is vulnerable to hail damage. Though it is housed within protective metal walls and screens, it can still become damaged.
Sometimes hail will bounce up from the ground, slamming the side of the unit and smashing the thin, flexible vent slats that direct heat away from the air conditioner. When they become flattened or misshaped, the system works harder, thus performing less efficiently, using more energy, and costing you more money.
Large chunks of hail can damage the parts inside the coil, such as the aluminum or copper tubes. A fan blade may even bend or crack. If not repaired quickly, more damage and a shutdown of the system could occur.
If damage occurs, check your homeowner’s insurance policy to see if hail damage is covered.
Call a professional, ROC-licensed, and insured HVAC company to schedule an inspection. Just because you can’t see the damage doesn’t mean it’s not there. Caution: Do not hire “contractors” that come to your door claiming you have damage. There are scammers out there who use hailstorms to trick unsuspecting homeowners into handing over their money for “repairs.”
Protect your HVAC unit from hail
Installing a hail guard over the air conditioner will protect it year-round. There are different types. Some look like wood lattice and others are a screen-like filter made from a heavy-duty fiber that still allows airflow.
However, Carmichael cautions, “Anything covering the unit needs to be easily removable for service work, and at least three feet away from the unit itself. Constructing some type of cover can be done with a mesh or window screen material. The most important thing is allowing the system to breathe.”
When the unit is not being used and a severe thunderstorm is in the forecast, you may be tempted to place a tarp over the unit for protection. Carmichael does not recommend doing that. “Often, you will forget you covered it, and someone will turn the unit on with out knowing. The risk is far greater than the reward.”
Servicing your air conditioning unit in the spring will ensure that you will stay cool and comfortable in the summer – or even the fall, depending on how long the 100s last.
Not sure where to start, or unsure if you have an issue? Get started with a free home evaluation with a REEIS home performance analyst. REEIS is a home performance contracting company. They deliver guaranteed results by analyzing and improving more than just the A/C. As one of the top Home Performance contractors in the nation, REEIS has been the recipient of the Century Club award given by Energy Star and the Department of Energy.
Join Rosie on the House every Saturday morning 8 a.m.-11 a.m. on KTAR News 92.3 FM. If you’d like to send us questions or comments, email mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on Twitter and “Like” us on Facebook. For more do-it-yourself tips, go to rosieonthehouse.com. An Arizona home building and remodeling industry expert since 1988, Rosie Romero is the host of the syndicated Saturday morning Rosie on the House radio program. Call 888-767-4348 with questions and comments.
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