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Avoid These Health & Home Hazards of a Dirty Air Conditioner

dirty air conditioner

Depending on what type of air conditioning unit you have, part or all of your unit may be located outdoors.

Over time, the outdoor components can work up a good layer of dirt, dust, and debris.

Similarly, as some of that debris gets sucked inside along with fresh air, the indoor components of your air conditioner can be adversely affected as well. Some of this debris will naturally get stuck inside your indoor air duct system as well as in your air filter and interior components.

Over time, this can lead to inferior unit performance, increased energy bills and noticeable health issues for you and your family.

In this post, learn about the different components of the average air conditioning unit, how they can be affected by dirt and debris, and what type of cleaning and maintenance can help keep efficiency high, costs low, and you and your family healthy and cool.

Air Filter

Depending on the make and model of your A/C unit, you may have the kind of air filter that can be washed and re-used or the kind that needs to be replaced regularly. In either case, it is generally recommended that you clean or replace your air filter monthly during the warm season.

When you don’t, you run the risk of decreased operational efficiency along with increased energy costs. As well, any dirt or debris that gets caught in your air filter can get pushed back out into your home, creating contaminated air.

But worst and scariest of all, Canadian Firefighter reports that when your air filter gets really clogged, this can cause a home fire.

Air Ducts

The air ducts are the unseen components tasked with transporting temperature-controlled cool air to every room in your home.

Of course, you will have air ducts only if you have a ducted air conditioning unit (the new ductless air conditioners use a zone system instead of ducts to achieve the same effect).

When your air ducts begin to accumulate dust and debris, not to mention uninvited guests like bugs and rodents, their job transporting air begins to get harder. The air conditioning unit has to push harder to propel the air through the ducts, which means it draws more energy.

Even worse, a small portion of the built-up, trapped debris inside the ducts will get pushed out of the air registers into your home, where you will then breathe it in. Health symptoms can include itchy, watery eyes, runny nose, sore throat, congestion, asthma attacks, and worse.

The Condenser

The condenser is the largest and most important component in an air conditioner. The condenser is constantly working to repel incoming heat, create vapour, and then condense that vapour into liquid. This is a major process to ensure temperature controlled air output.

When the condenser housing or exterior coils begin to get dirty, a number of issues may arise. First, the moisture level may rise, attracting colonies of bacteria and fungi. As these colonies thrive in high-humidity conditions, they send out spores that enter your indoor air supply, causing a wide range of respiratory and health issues.

The condenser itself will also begin to function less efficiently, drawing more energy to do the same job and hiking up your cooling bills while providing less cool for the money.

The Evaporator

Your A/C unit has two sets of coils: the condenser coils and the evaporator coils. Where the condenser coils are responsible for releasing extra heat back to the outside, the evaporator coils are responsible for delivering the heat to the condenser coils.

As such, both sets of coils are equally at risk of becoming dirty and clogged with dust, debris, pollen, and other detritus. They are also both at risk of becoming too moist, and can begin to host colonies of bacteria, fungi, and mould that affect your family’s health.

But most importantly, every component in your air conditioner has an impact on all of the other components as well. For example, a dirty evaporator can impact how well the fan motor and the compressor can function. When these components overheat or break down, the opportunity for cleaning and repair has passed and you are now talking about an expensive replacement.

Sign Up for Regular HVAC Maintenance

It can be a real challenge to remember to clean your HVAC unit regularly. That is why Shipton’s has developed a series of protection plans to help you with this necessary chore.

When you sign up for one of these plans, you transfer to us the responsibility of remembering to perform routine HVAC cleaning and maintenance. You also reap plenty of valuable savings. We will even call you when it is time for your maintenance checkup!

Join Us for an Archeological Adventure!

Here at Shipton’s, we love to learn about history. For instance, let’s say we find an antique working air conditioning unit. We get very excited about this kind of discovery!

Sometimes the unit is so old and we get so excited we give the unit’s owner a FREE new air conditioner just so we can have the old one!

Starting this month, we are running a contest to find the oldest still-working A/C unit in our greater service area. To accomplish this, we will be recording the age of each unit we replace during July and August. When we find and replace the oldest unit of all, we will refund the owner the cost of their new A/C!

Who knows—if you choose to replace your air conditioner this month, the winner could be YOU! Click here to learn more about the contest and participate! Or give us a call at 905-549-4616.

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A/C Outages: How to Avoid the Midsummer Nightmare

air conditioning breakdown

It is no secret that seasonal weather is getting more unpredictable year after year. Part of this effect is commonly attributed to global warming and consequent shifts in weather patterns.

As summer gets hotter year by year, this can mean more wear and tear on your air conditioner than the manufacturer originally anticipated (this is especially true if you are using an older HVAC unit).

In this article, we highlight timely tips to avoid that one midsummer nightmare each of us hopes to never experience—an air conditioner outage.

The Importance of Insulation

In extreme heat as well as in extreme temperature swings, the importance of insulation simply cannot be emphasized enough.

In other words, your A/C unit on its own can accomplish only so much to keep your space cool. But with the addition of appropriate and sufficient insulation, it can work cooling miracles.

You can insulate the attic and crawlspaces to keep the hot air out and the cool air in. Adding extra insulation inside your walls can reduce the impact of direct hot sunlight on your house.

You can also insulate your windows with heat-reducing window film, which can be a cheaper way to retrofit windows without having to do a full transition to low-E windowpanes.

And you can insulate your home in general by repairing any leaks or cracks around windows and doors, replacing worn weatherstripping, insulating your air ducts, and adding awnings or draperies to block out the heat of the day.

Match Your A/C Unit to the Size of Your Space

Some years back, there was a trend toward upsizing home HVAC units. The thinking here was, “if sufficient is good, more powerful will be even better.”

We now know this is not the case; in fact, it can be detrimental to your efforts to keep your home cool on a constant basis. It’s like putting a high-performance sports car engine inside the body of an economy sedan: you are more likely to burn out the engine than to enjoy a faster ride.

However, if your A/C unit is not powerful enough to keep your space cool, there is a benefit to upsizing. But having to upsize just to stay cool can be a real bummer if your present air conditioner is still in good working condition!

Here, we often recommend a two-phase approach: 1) do what you can in terms of insulation and 2) consider adding ductless air conditioners in rooms that are consistently underserved by your existing central A/C unit.

Ductless air conditioners are a brilliant invention. They are affordable to install and economical to run. They are small and compact. They keep rooms wonderfully cool. They can also be tag-teamed using a zoning system to provide temperature control in add-on spaces.

Best of all, a ductless A/C unit can do everything your central A/C unit can do and can beat the performance of the traditional window unit with one arm tied behind its back.

It can adjust temperature and humidity. It can provide ventilation and air filtration even if you are not running it as an air conditioner or as a heater. And it can run well for years with only annual maintenance and safety checks.

Annual HVAC Maintenance and Safety Checks

Speaking of which, one thing that all HVAC units need to reach their efficiency and economical peak performance is at least a once-annual maintenance and safety check.

You can skimp on this or even skip it entirely, but in time your energy bill and indoor air quality will begin to speak for itself about the neglect.

During an annual maintenance and safety check, your technician will do the small things that need doing now to prevent big outages from occurring later on.

For instance, your technician will lubricate, clean, and (if need be and upon your approval) repair or replace worn or broken parts.

Your technician will examine power sources and connections leading to and from your HVAC unit to ensure they are clean and secure for your family’s safety.

Your technician will do a thermostat test to verify that the air output from your A/C unit is a match for the temperature you set on your thermostat.

Finally, if you desire, your technician can offer tips to improve your system’s efficiency and help lower your energy bills.

For your convenience, we offer a number of protection plans that include reminders to have this important annual maintenance and safety check service performed. Our clients love these plans because they include extra guarantees like a cap on the expense of a major unexpected repair and no overtime charges.

24/7 Emergency Repair Service

If you decide to wait until fall to have your annual HVAC service done, don’t forget that we offer emergency repair service 24/7, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, nights, weekends, and holidays!

We also service all makes and models of HVAC units.

Give Us a Call

Midsummer is a great time of year to schedule your HVAC unit’s annual maintenance and safety check.

Your A/C unit is working hard to keep you cool, and this little bit of extra TLC can ensure it keeps performing well for you for the remainder of the hot season.

Give us a call at 905-549-4616 to schedule your consultation.

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5 Summer Thermostat Tips to Keep Cool on a Budget

keep cool on a budget thermostat

No one wants to perspire inside their own home. After all, that is what air conditioning was invented to avoid!

But it is never fun to get that “surprise” summer energy bill, either. After watching every penny, it can be a real bummer to have to spend it all on just staying cool.

Luckily, you can stay cool and comfortable inside your home without having to blow your budget to pay for it.

In this article, we review five timely summer thermostat tips to help you maximize your cool while minimizing your cooling costs.

1. Map out your family’s at-home summer schedule

One of the most costly aspects of cooling your home comes when your air conditioner is running full blast but nobody’s home.

Unfortunately, summer tends to produce particularly unpredictable schedules with kids out of school and involved in summer activities, and with vacations, longer daylight hours, and other variations.

Here, the best approach is to attempt to map out your family’s at-home summer schedule. If this sounds impossible, just start with the basics:

  • Block out the times when you know everyone will be at home and sleeping.

  • Note your regular work hours (or your partner’s, or both).

  • If your teens have summer jobs, note their work hours also.

  • Jot down everyone’s recurring summer activities and those hours.

  • If you have a family vacation scheduled, write down those dates.

Now, you can take a look at your calendar from a bigger perspective and do your best to estimate the hours every day when no one will be home. You can set your thermostat temperature to be higher during those hours.

2. Set your baseline daytime at-home thermostat temperature to 26°C (78°F)

According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), 26°C (78°F) is the optimal daytime temperature for when your home is occupied.

During the hours no one is home, you can set your thermostat higher. The DOE states that you will save up to 10 percent off your cooling bill by choosing a setting that is 7 to 10 degrees higher than the setting you use when everyone's home.

Of course, if you or another family member does happen to be home one day during a time you thought the house would be unoccupied, they can always manually adjust the thermostat setting to reflect their cooling needs.

3. Take steps to regulate indoor humidity

Humidity is one of the reasons summer feels so hot. If you’ve ever been to a region where the humidity is naturally low, you probably noticed you felt less hot even when the temperature was higher than you prefer. You probably also perspired much less.

In summer, it isn’t uncommon to see humidity levels climb to 60 percent or higher. This can make even average temperatures feel really hot and uncomfortable!

One of the best ways to regulate the humidity levels indoors is to use a hygrometer to figure out how much humidity you have inside your home. Keep in mind here that the humidity levels can vary from room to room, with the bathrooms, laundry room, and kitchen being the most consistently humid.

If your humidity levels stay within 30 to 50 percent, you don’t have to adjust them downward unless you still feel uncomfortable.

But if you notice your home’s indoor humidity levels at 50 percent or climbing higher than that, it is time to get to work.

Here are some ideas for how to lower your in-home humidity levels:

  • Use room-sized dehumidifiers or exhaust vents. These portable devices can help take humidity out of the air if only certain rooms are too humid.

  • Add a heat recovery ventilator. This nifty appliance works together with your HVAC unit to naturally control humidity levels as well as lower your energy bill by using the air’s heat to regulate temperature.

  • Install a whole-home dehumidifier system. If you have a problem with humidity throughout your home, a central dehumidifier unit will help you get the situation under control.

  • Be sure not to leave windows or doors open, and check your weather stripping and seals. The more humid outside air comes into your home, the hotter you will feel and the more tempted you will be to lower your thermostat more.

4. Consider the addition of other cooling helps

There are other things you can do besides running the air conditioner to keep your indoor spaces cool.

Here are a few of the most affordable options the DOE recommends:

  • Lower blinds and draperies in the morning to keep in the cool.

  • Use ceiling and floor fans to keep the air moving.

  • Landscape strategically to block the incoming sunlight.

  • Install light-blocking shades and awnings to block direct sunlight.

  • Turn off lighting so you don’t inadvertently “heat” your home with hot light bulbs!

  • Do heat-producing chores (like cooking) during cooler hours.

5. Have your air conditioner serviced regularly

Some of the high energy costs summer generates may not be entirely due to the outside temperature or even the humidity.

A dirty, clogged, or poorly maintained HVAC unit can also force your air conditioner to pull more power than it is designed to use to keep your home cool.

Give Us a Call

Shipton’s Heating & Cooling brings nearly a century of expertise right to your doorstep! We will keep your HVAC unit running smoothly and affordably all year long.

Just give us a call at 905-549-4616.

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