Nothing tests the limits of your AC unit like a heatwave, and when a heatwave hits, it spares no one! That is when heating and cooling companies like Anthony Plumbing, Heating, Cooling & Electric are the busiest serving suffering homeowners.
The following tips are good to know, especially when you are waiting for your cooling technician to arrive and, they may help prevent your AC from breaking down altogether.
Technicians Cannot Fix a Frozen AC Unit! Let it Thaw Before they Arrive
We hear this a lot: “My AC unit is running but no cool air is coming out of the vents!” The most typical cause of AC troubles is a frozen coil, and the coil must thaw before your technician can repair it. If warm air is coming out of your vents, turn the AC off and turn the fan on. This will let the unit thaw out, hopefully before your technician arrives, so it can be repaired quickly.
There are many reasons why your AC unit may be freezing up. Air conditioners need proper airflow to keep the cold coil warm. Warm air from the home is needed for the coil to stay cold and keep the temperature above freezing. Without it, coils freeze before the condensed water can be drained away from the unit. Since dirty air filters and closed air registers can impede airflow, it’s a good idea to check the air filter and make sure the registers are both clear and open. A freeze-up can also be caused by low refrigerant and improper fan operation. Low refrigerant levels make the coils too cold, and a faulty fan prevents air from moving.
Faulty thermostats and drainage problems are often the cause of a freeze-up. In the cooling process, an AC unit condenses water vapor into a liquid that drains outside. If the coils are frozen, the ice will cause a blockage for the drain hole. The AC still runs but doesn’t properly cool the home and uses a lot more electricity. Keep in mind that running an air conditioner with frozen coils can lead to extensive damage to the compressor. This is the most expensive part of an AC unit, and it’s not a repair or replacement that you want to face.
AC Units Can Only Cool up to 20 Degrees Cooler than the Outside Air
If your AC is working, but you wish it was working better, it just might not be possible. Generally speaking, an air conditioning system is designed to accommodate up to a 20-degree difference between the outside air and inside air while still keeping your home at a comfortable 55% humidity level. This means that if it is 100 degrees outside, it will be nearly impossible to reach 70 degrees inside without the AC unit working completely overtime and causing problems such as excess humidity.
A good rule of thumb is during the hottest days when the dial reaches 100 degrees is to set your AC to somewhere between 75 and 80 degrees. You can also supplement that slight temperature difference with closed curtains on the sunny side of the building, running ceiling fans, and portable fans in rooms in which people are present.
Check Your Furnace and Furnace Filter
The fan in your furnace is what circulates the cool air from your central AC unit throughout your home. Check your furnace – if the fan isn’t running, make sure your furnace is turned on, or check your breaker to the furnace and ensure that it has not been tripped. If the fan is running, check your filter. You will have to turn the fan off to do this. For a step-by-step guide, watch our YouTube video.
At a minimum, you should be changing the filter once every 3 months, and as often as once a month if your system is running all the time. Neglect this chore, and a dirty filter can lead to poor air flow or freezing up of your unit’s evaporator coil.
Take Full Advantage of Fans and Blinds
Any type of fan, but especially ceiling fans, can help keep cool air circulating throughout your home. That removes some of the burden from your AC system. Just be sure your ceiling fans are turning counterclockwise during the summer, which promotes greater airflow.
Bright sunlight is your AC system’s nemesis. By closing blinds and sliding curtains to block the sun’s rays, especially in the south and west-facing windows, you’ll also shield your space from the sun’s heat.
Keep Doors Closed, Especially the Garage Door
Your garage door is the biggest door in your house, so if your garage is attached to your home, keep your garage door closed. Many attached garages are being cooled by your AC unit, and you don’t want that conditioned air to escape. Even non-cooled garages should be kept shut, so heated air cannot enter your home and cause your AC unit to have to work harder.
If you keep your car in your attached garage, limiting trips during a heatwave can help preserve the cool air in your home. Driving a car with a hot engine into your cooled garage puts an extra load on your AC unit.
Dehumidify to Help your AC Keep you Cooler
The more humidity that is present inside your home, the harder your air conditioning system will have to work, and the less effective it will be. Adding a whole home or a stand-along dehumidifier can go a long way to keeping you cooler and protecting your home from the damaging effects of too much humidity. Signs that your home may be too humid are:
- The air in your home feels moist.
- There is a damp or musty smell in parts of your home.
- Your windows are foggy.
For the summer months, a humidity level below 60% is recommended by most experts for indoor comfort. The most efficient and reliable way to manage the moisture in your home is to have an Anthony technician install a dehumidifier directly on your HVAC system. The dehumidifier will work with your AC system to pull excess water from the air before it is sent through the air ducts in your home. Alternatively, you can purchase a stand-alone dehumidifier and manage the humidity level using a manual humidity level indicator. But unless you place your unit directly over a drain, you will have to empty the reservoir every time it fills up and activates the shutoff switch.
Did you remember to turn your whole-home humidifier off for the summer? If you have a humidifier installed in the ductwork by your furnace, make sure it is in summer-mode, and that the humidifier knob is turned completely off.
Like a nice hot shower? Not during a heatwave, please. Any kind of shower adds moisture to your home, causing your AC to struggle more, so avoid them on the hottest days. If you must take a shower, use cool water and make it quick, and turn on your exhaust fan.
Have Your System Serviced Annually
Well duh, now you tell us! But really, rather than wait until a heatwave, please get your AC unit checked and serviced NOW. We are here night and day to schedule your AC tune-up. Call A-N-T-H-O-N-Y 268-4669 (913) or (816), or click here to schedule online.
Outdoor lighting and entertainment systems are great ways to add value and beauty to your home while enhancing your outdoor living areas. There are a wide range of lighting solutions as well as options for theatres, sound systems, fireplaces, water features, grills, and charging stations for your phones and Bluetooth devices.
Outdoor electrical products need outdoor-rated electrical power delivery systems. The expert electricians at Anthony PHCE can advise you on the best outdoor outlets, wiring, and electrical distribution boxes needed to achieve your present and future outdoor electrical goals, and install them for you, too.
Outdoor Entrance Lighting adds Beauty, Safety, and Security
Increasing the outdoor lighting of your front entrance is a great way to add beauty, safety, and security to your home. To keep electricity costs down, consider LED options that use as little as one-third of the energy and last much longer. When choosing your outdoor lighting, consider connecting the network to a Wi-Fi timer or installing motion sensors so lights turn on only when needed.
Outdoor light fixtures should carry an Underwriters Laboratories (UL) rating that indicates where they can be used. Dry-rated fixtures cannot be subjected to excessive moisture and should not be installed outdoors. Tolerances vary for fixtures that are damp- and wet-rated:
- Damp-rated: Suitable for sheltered porch areas that are protected from water during storms, and from excessive moisture.
- Wet-rated: Necessary for fixtures fully open to the elements, where rain and snow can come into direct contact with the fixture.
Outdoor Deck and Patio Lighting Enhances Décor and Increases Visibility
Deck and patio outdoor lighting is beautiful, but also very important to increase visibility for safety and convenience after dark. Lighting can be added to stairs, rails, rail posts, ceilings, floors, and landscaping. Lighting schemes can be designed to match any aesthetic effect and visibility enhancement a homeowner wishes to achieve and can include the following:
- Post Cap Lights – placed on the top of the rail post, these add perimeter lighting to the deck rails.
- Post Mount / Side Mount Lights – placed on the sides of rail posts or any vertical surface, these lights point down and add illumination across the deck or patio floor.
- Under-Rail and Under-Tread Stair Lighting – these lights are typically LED strip lights that are placed pointing downward underneath stair tread overhangs or under rails. You cannot see the lights themselves, only the illumination they create.
- Ceiling Lighting – For covered decks, ceiling lighting is a great choice for overall visibility. Hanging chandeliers provide added decoration while bringing the light lower to increase visibility. Ceiling fans with lights provide air movement. Recessed can lights in the ceiling provide light with a modern, uncluttered look. Spotlights, lanterns, and string lights are other ceiling lighting options.
- Floor Lighting – In-floor lighting can be installed in your deck floor for a modern, soft look. These recessed, low voltage can-lights placed near steps and deck corners can add safety while offering a cozy glow.
Outdoor Water and Fire Features offer Relaxation and Warmth
Outdoor experiences are even more enjoyable when trickling water or dancing flames are added for ambiance. Outdoor fire pits and electric fireplaces are a popular way to add lighting, warmth, and decoration to your deck or patio. Water features such as tabletop fountains, freestanding waterfalls, and in-ground ponds add beauty as well as relaxing white noise, which can help drown out sounds from nearby streets and the surrounding neighborhood.
Outdoor Theatres and Audio Systems Bring the Party Outside
Watching movies outside is a great way to enjoy nice weather. Outdoor televisions and outdoor projection systems come in a variety of options. But neither is enjoyable without a proper outdoor audio system. Whether you opt for a full surround sound configuration with in-ground subwoofers or more decorative speakers that blend in with existing landscaping, a high-quality outdoor audio system can add a great deal of enjoyment to your outdoor experiences.
Outdoor Cooking with Electricity Makes Life Easier
Outdoor electrical stovetops, grills, and smokers offer several benefits over traditional gas and charcoal options. Cooking temperatures can be achieved more quickly, so items can be cooked individually whenever needed. Electrical cooking eliminates the risk of running out of propane or charcoal. In addition, electrical cooking is cleaner, both in reduced fumes and in the number of non-stick options available.
Outdoor Delivery Systems and Charging Stations Power Outdoor Living
Whether you choose an outdoor electrical system that is hardwired or plugged into outlets, you will need a safe and reliable outdoor power delivery system that conforms to city codes. Outdoor outlets can become crowded quickly, so installing additional outdoor outlets are always a great option, but make sure they are GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter). More complex outdoor electrical systems may require underground wiring and independent power supplies to avoid running multiple extension cords. If a hot tub is in your plans, an additional or upgraded electrical panel and breaker box may be required.
Do you receive your outdoor entertainment from battery-operated Bluetooth devices run by your phone? Then an outdoor charging station may be best for you. Charging stations can be installed that offer both regular and USB outlet ports to keep your Bluetooth speakers, computers, and phones charged and running strong. These can be free-standing pedestals on your deck or next to your patio.
When making plans to expand your outdoor electrical delivery, remember to consider your holiday decorating desires to ensure you have the necessary outdoor electrical delivery to support your electrical decorations.
Call Our Outdoor Electrical Experts Today
The expert electricians at Anthony PHCE can advise you on the best way to meet your outdoor electrical needs, and install outdoor electrical lighting and entertainment systems that will add value to your home and enjoyment for years to come. Contact us today at A-N-T-H-O-N-Y 268-4669 (913) or (816) or via our Schedule Now or Chat features at AnthonyPHCE.com.