Historic Heat and Your Home Comfort

After the last blistering heat wave in 1995, you would have thought that homeowners across the Chicagoland area would have learned that keeping their home comfort in check should always be a top priority. Instead, thousands found themselves without a functional cooling system during some of the hottest days we have seen in years. Those that had the benefit of a functional cooling system weren’t without discomfort though. Many of these homeowners neglected other aspects of their home’s comfort security that made it excessively difficult for their air conditioners to keep up in this heat! Now that we are experiencing a little bit of relief, now is the time to get your home in shape before the next wave arrives!

Air Conditioner TLC

If your air conditioner is still in a state of disrepair, stop waiting to get it fixed! Many homeowners put off calling an HVAC technician because they are afraid that all they will do is try to sell them a new unit! Well, if you find a reputable and honest contractor this will not be the case. We are all becoming penny pinchers these days and many HVAC companies understand that many of us can barely afford repairs. If your air conditioner does need to be replaced though, get multiple estimates and look into financing the system. There are some great offers out there right now if you just take a moment to look! Continue reading

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Cooling problems hitting your pocket book

Hundreds of homeowners found out that they had attic ventilation problems during the heat wave last week. There are more of them out there, but they don’t know or haven’t figured out that their attic is adding to their cooling problems this summer. Pennies, nickels, dimes or even dollars are being lost to poor attic insulation every day. You may not notice that your cooling bills are larger than they should be, but you do notice when your air conditioner doesn’t keep up on an extremely hot day.  Flip a coin or venture a guess; is your air conditioner dirty and in need of servicing or has your attic developed an insulation or ventilation problem over the past few years?

A/C Can’t Keep Up!

The wake up call for a lot of Chicagoans is when their air conditioner doesn’t keep up on a particularly hot day. More often than not this problem can be fixed. With a phone call to a local HVAC or attic ventilation and insulation professional, you can get your home cooling well once more and save money on your electricity bills the rest of this summer, and winter, and the next summer and winter, and simply put, fixing an attic ventilation or insulation problem saves you money for years to come! Continue reading

Negotiate for the best price

Something to always remember, there are some purchases in life that can be negotiated. When you buy a house, a car, or pretty much any other major purchase, it is common to get the salesman.  With salesmen often comes the opportunity to barter. I would suggest that buying a furnace or air conditioner should be the same way. Most salesmen expect or are at least prepared for some push back no matter their response.  They are there to find a way to get you to buy in a way that helps their company as well as themselves.

To give your self the best shot at success, do your homework. In this case, the more you know about purchasing an HVAC system, the better you will be able to negotiate the bottom line. Continue reading

Running the Air Conditioner During the Winter

Now that the summer heat is a distant memory we need to make sure we are ready for what winter has in store for our homes. Part of getting ready for winter includes winterizing your air conditioner. Every year in the spring we repair and replace many units because they were turned on during the winter months by accident. Sometimes kids playing with the thermostat are to blame and sometimes we push the wrong button. Other times the cause is excessive heat trapped indoors that causes us to use the air conditioner for some relief.  No matter how it happens if your unit starts in the winter serious damage can occur.

Reduce Heat Gain

Running the air conditioner when it is less than 60 degrees outside can cause serious, irreversible damage to the system’s compressor. It must be 60 degrees for at least a few days before you can safely use the air conditioner without worry of blowing the compressor. If the home is gaining too much heat, turn down the temperature at the thermostat and consider closing drapes or blinds. The sun may be heating up the inside of your home and closing the blinds will help bring the temperature down. If the house is still too warm, shut down the furnace and crack of few windows on opposite sides of the home. Take advantage of the free cold air outside, but don’t waste energy by running the furnace at the same time. Continue reading

Repetitive Part Replacement: Condenser Fan

Some air conditioning systems are plagued by the same problem year after year. No matter how many times the homeowner replaces a part, they only get one or two years of function out of it. The air conditioner could be a lemon, but there may be another issue causing the same damage to the part every season. Get to the source of the problem and you could put the problem to bed for good. Although we may be entering the winter season, problems you are having during the summer may be caused by damage that is done during the winter. The condenser motor and condenser fan are costly parts to replace, but many homeowners are replacing them every other season without ever finding and correcting the source of damage.

Air Conditioner Fan Function

As the refrigerant or Freon inside your air conditioner pulls heat from the air, the condenser fan and motor work to cool the refrigerant down so that it can continue to absorb more heat. If the refrigerant is not cooled down, the air conditioner will overheat and cease to work properly. Continue reading

Severe Storms Can Severely Damage Air Conditioners

With the severe storms that recently came through the Chicagoland area, it is once again worth mentioning that you need to check on your air conditioner occasionally to ensure debris-free operation. Heavy winds blow down tree branches among other things and sometimes they end up stuck in our air conditioners. Turning a unit “On” in this condition could cause damage to your unit.

Clear the Way for Proper Operation

To avoid any possible damage you to your unit you simply need to take a moment and check the unit before turning it on! If you do find debris lodged in the unit simply turn the unit off and remove anything that may obstruct proper operation. After the debris is removed, take a moment to pull the weeds or plants surrounding the system that may impede proper air flow. Once everything is cleared out of the way, test your air conditioner. Everything should be working properly, and these few moments of your time could have saved you hundreds in air conditioner repairs.

Closing Up the Air Conditioner for Winter

It sure doesn’t seem like fall is close but we are just a couple days away from September. As we get closer to the end of the air conditioning season we need to make sure we protect our air conditioners from the winter elements. Many units get damaged during winter months simply due to not being protected. Tree debris, ice and snow all can damage your unit during the fall and winter months.

Finding the Right Fit for Your AC Cover

Most manufacturers recommend protecting your unit with a proper fitting cover. Covers that are two big can allow debris into the unit and covers that are plastic or a poor fit will cause moisture to remain in the unit causing them to rust. A cover designed specifically for your unit gives you maximum protection at a minimum cost. So protect your air conditioner and contact your HVAC dealer to get a cover that fits and protects without causing damage.

Duct-Less Air Conditioning and Heating

Recently, a friend asked me to help him find a way to air condition his new TV room in the attic of his home. He has an old Chicago house with a walk up attic, and he and his wife thought that the attic was the best place for the kids to watch TV and be out of their hair all in one shot. Unfortunately, their attic was never a conditioned space, and therefore did not have any duct work attaching it to the existing heating and cooling systems. We checked out all of the possibilities, and even considered snaking flexible duct work up to the attic. Despite our best efforts, we could not come up with any way that wouldn’t involve ripping out a wall or two. Continue reading

Programmable Thermostat Location and Use

There has been a lot of talk about how much money programmable thermostats can supposedly save the average homeowner, but can a programmable really save you as much money as they say it can? Energy Star states that the average homeowner can save about $180 a year when properly using a programmable thermostat, but the problem is that most of us invest in these pricier thermostats but never use them correctly. You have to find a program that works best with your schedule and actually set the thermostat to run that program! If your schedule changes you have to adjust the program. This is the only way you will see these kinds of savings on your energy bills. Continue reading

Blower Motor Breakdown

The blower motor is one of the most important parts within your HVAC system. It works all year round with both the furnace and the air conditioner, and when there is something wrong with your blower it will either make a lot of noise or no noise at all. Without a functional blower motor, you will never feel the heating or cooling being produced by the furnace or air conditioner because the blower motor’s job is to circulate air across the heat exchange or the cooling coils and then deliver it to the home. When the blower motor is broken, homeowners will usually call with one of these two complaints:

  • It Sounds like there is a Helicopter Landing in My House: The blower motor is encased in a cage and unless the motor is properly balanced within the cage, it will make a lot of extra noise. The noise made by an unbalanced blower is caused by the blades knocking into the sides of the housing, and when this happens, the entire motor, blower, and housing will probably have to be replaced. Continue reading