Avoid a Broken AC Unit This Summer

picture of someone fixing air conditioner unitAs fellow residents of Texas, we know how scorching the summer months can be. There’s almost nothing worse than having your air conditioner break down in the middle of a Texas summer. Although you can’t control the heat or humidity in June through September, there are some steps you can take towards preventing a poorly functioning or broken air conditioning system this summer.

Air Conditioner Maintenance Tips

Schedule a Tune-Up

This is probably the best step you can take towards preventing your AC unit from breaking down in the dead of summer. An average air conditioning system runs 3000 hours per year; that’s a lot of wear and tear. An annual tune-up allows a technician to catch little problems before they turn into major complications and a broken system. Plus, tuning and cleaning your system yearly will maximize its efficiency and extend its life.

Schedule an HVAC system tune up with a professional every year, once a year.

Replace the Filter

Dirty or restrictive filters are the most common cause of poorly functioning AC systems. Clogged filters can result in a total system breakdown. Filters typically need to be replaced every two to three months, but usually every month during the summer. This means you need to keep a closer eye on your filters June through September. Besides preventing an HVAC disaster, keeping filters clean and using low density filters have an additional benefit: the Department of Energy estimates that changing AC filters when needed can lower your system’s energy consumption by 5 to 15%! But beware, the more expensive the filter the more restrictive, in many cases “high efficiency” filters create the same consequences as a dirty filter.

Clean the Condenser and Keep the Area Around It Clear

The condenser is the outdoor part of your air conditioner unit, and it plays a major role in ensuring the system is cooling properly. The condenser doesn’t have a filter so when its coil gets dirty your AC can’t cool effectively. If the coil becomes clogged it can cause the condenser to overheat and break down, so schedule a cooling tune up and make sure a thorough cleaning of the condenser is included. It can be done by the “do-it-yourselfer” but make sure the power is turned off. The coil must be cleaned from the inside out so the top of the condenser must be removed.

It is also important to trim any shrubs and plants growing near the condenser and clear away any debris or leaves. There should be a minimum of 2 feet of clearance around the unit so it can function properly.

If you find that your AC is running more than usual or it isn’t keeping the house cool enough, you may want to check the condenser.

Clear the Drain Line

An air conditioning system removes up to 9 gallons of water from your home every day as a byproduct of cooling a home. That water collects in the drain pan of the indoor coil and drains out through a pipe connected to it. Clogged drain lines are a top service issue. It is paramount that you take the maintenance of your drain line seriously.

Fortunately, most drain lines have an emergency overflow cut off switch that automatically turns your system off if the drain line plugs. Even though your system won’t operate, at least you won’t flood your home.

To prevent the drain line from clogging, schedule a cooling tune up and make sure blowing out the drain under pressure and flushing the drain with water and vinegar is included. It is important that the location of the termination point is located. Instead of blowing out the drain, many times a wet/dry vacuum needs to be connected at the end of the drain line instead to suck out any algae, dirt, or rust that has collected inside the piping.

As preventative maintenance, you can also pour a gallon of warm water with a ¼ cup of vinegar through the drain pipe two to three times a year to help wash away any obstruction.

The Bottom Line

A few simple guidelines can save you from coming home to a broken air conditioner this summer. For questions, repairs, and to schedule the most comprehensive tune up available, call Stan’s Heating and Air Conditioning for assistance today!

Save Money on Air Conditioning This Summer

Even if you are looking forward to the warm summer weather, you probably aren’t as excited about the thought of your air conditioning bills skyrocketing. Many people struggle with wanting to keep cool in the summer heat while still keeping energy costs down. However, the good news is that there are some simple steps you can take to save money and stay cool as summer heats up.

Tips for Lowering Your Air Conditioning Bill

Use a Programmable Thermostat

picture of a Stan's AC thermostatInstall a programmable thermostat in your home so that you can adjust temperatures according to your schedule. You don’t need your thermostat to be running at the same temperature while you’re at work as it does when you’re at home. You’ll end up spending a lot of money cooling an empty house. For instance, you can set the thermostat at 78 degrees when you’re home but move it to 85 if you’ll be gone all day. There are even Wi-Fi thermostats that allow you to adjust your thermostat from anywhere using a smartphone, tablet, or computer.

Make Sure Your A/C Unit is the Right Size

Air conditioning units are not “one size fits all.” If a system is too small, it will be unable to keep your home or building at an ideal temperature. If it’s too big, it will cost much more and will be working harder than necessary, leaving you at an uncomfortable temperature yet again. Finding an A/C system that is the proper size will give you the greatest efficiency and comfort. Call a professional if you’re unsure what size would work best for your needs.

Upgrade to an Energy Efficient Unit

All A/C units have two ratings: a SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating) and an EER (Energy Efficiency Rating). The higher the rating, the less energy consumed. The legal minimum SEER is 13 and then ratings go up to 20. If you desire more energy efficiency in your A/C system, look into options with higher SEER and EER ratings to see how you can optimize your home or building.

Check for Duct Leaks

If you’re blasting your air conditioning system and still feeling warm, this could indicate that some of the cool air is leaking out. The first places many people look for A/C leaks are windows and doors, but more often the culprit is a hole or gap in the air ducts. A professional can inspect your building’s system for leakage points and can even help seal them for you. Do not simply seal the holes with duct tape.

Clean Your A/C System

When dirt and debris build up in your vents and ducts, they work much harder than they need to and don’t deliver the same benefits. Have your air conditioning system cleaned at least once a year to keep it running smoothly and efficiently. Regular maintenance will also prevent damage to the system and save you money in repairs.

Take Note of Bright and Sunny Spots

Don’t underestimate the effect that natural or fluorescent light can have on your home or building’s temperature. Closing the drapes in sunny rooms will prevent temperatures from raising and affecting your thermostat’s accuracy. Furthermore, install your thermostat away from direct sunlight and turn the lights off in that room when it’s not in use. Both the sun and the room lights can heat up the thermostat and make it perceive the temperature as much warmer than it truly is.

Air conditioning can account for over half of your summer electric bill, but it doesn’t have to drain your wallet year after year. By making a few simple changes, you can cut costs without sacrificing comfort.

Preventative Maintenance

Chris Strand and Roland Arrisola discuss with us the importance of keeping your heater system well maintained and show us a few of the steps their technicians go through in order to make sure your home is safe and secure.






AC Replacement vs. Repair

If your system is over 10 years old, it breaks and needs a major repair costing over $500 consider replacing the whole HVAC system.

Average life of a system before multiple repairs start occurring is 10 – 15 years.

A new HVAC system costs up to 50% less to operate.

Many electric utilities have cash incentives to replace systems with high efficiency models.

The IRS has tax credit up to $500 to replace systems with high efficiency models that expire at the end of this year.

Most new systems come with a 10 year part warranty.

Factoring in the incentives available, the cost of the repair, the lower operating cost of a new system, the cost of further repairs and the depreciation of the existing system the payback for replacement can be as low as 2-3 years.

Why Should You Avoid Replacing Your AC Unit in the Summer

Hi, this is Chris Strand owner of Stan’s Heating and Air Conditioning in Austin, Texas.

In this part of the country because of our intense heat, HVAC systems only last 12 – 15 years. If your system is over 12 years old, being proactive and replacing your system before it fails should be considered.

The worst time to replace a system is in the summer. Demand is high and supply is low so wait times can be long and prices high.

What are the advantages of replacing your system in the late winter and early spring?

Lower Prices

We will almost give systems away in the off season just to keep our crews busy so we don’t lose them and have them available for the busy season.

Better Workmanship

Most of the indoor sections of our equipment are in attics. During the summer those attics are 130 degrees and higher.  The crews want to get in and out of those attics as quickly as possible.  Replacing the outdoor unit in 100 degrees isn’t much easier. Not only that they often have another system to replace that day as well.  It’s just a fact of life. Quality will suffer.

Manufacture’s Rebates

Most manufactures rebates start March 1 and end May 31. They are in the same boat we are. Selling systems in the summer is not a problem.  Selling systems in the off season is a hurdle.

Proactive

The hotter it is the more likely your unit will fail. During heat waves good companies have a backlog.  What’s your option? Either wait or take your chances with a second rate company.

More Comprehensive

In the summer sales people just want to sell a system and go on to the next customer.  What if your system is not sized properly?  The duct work is falling apart?  Some rooms are too hot or cold?  They don’t have the time or the inclination to look at the whole system and the crews don’t have time to rectify these issues. Replacing HVAC systems requires much less time and earns far more money than dealing with comfort and ductwork issues.

Lower Utility Bills

If you replace your system before summer starts your cooling bills will be lower all summer and from that point forward.  New systems can use up to 50% less energy than older systems.

Government Incentives

If you’d like to save even more money, until the end of 2013 there is a IRS tax credit up to $500 to install high efficiency systems until the end of this year.

As you can see there are many perks to replacing your AC unit before the summer begins. Call Stan’s today at 512-929-9393, if you would like to be proactive in getting your air conditioner serviced or replaced before the Texas heat arrives!