Tag Archives: air conditioning

Can You OD on AC? How Hard to Work Your Air Conditioning This Summer

AC air conditioning
At a reasonable setting, your air conditioning should work normally, all day every day.

We live in an age where worry about overuse of any appliance is a concern. Excess isn’t celebrated the way that it might have been before environmental issues were mainstream. But one area where excess shouldn’t be a concern is your air conditioning. You can certainly overload your AC system, especially in a humid Massachusetts summer. But as long as it’s appropriate for the home, in good repair and you set it at a reasonable temperature, it shouldn’t suffer ill effects.

If your air conditioning seems to be struggling with the summer’s heat, something else might be afoot.

Would You Turn Your Refrigerator Down or Off?

Imagine that the weather report for Framingham says the hottest day of the year is on its way. Would you prepare for it by raising the refrigerator thermostat or shutting it off? Of course not. Neither should you worry unnecessarily about your air conditioning as long as it’s used sensibly.

AC systems operate the same way as your kitchen fridge. They achieve their chilly temperatures by removing heat from your home. The system’s primary components include a condenser, compressor, evaporator and a chemical that changes from gas to liquid to gas as needed.

These work in concert to draw excess heat out of your home, then cool the air that’s returned through the ducts. Just like your refrigerator, it’s meant to work when you need it as long as it’s in good repair.

AC air conditioning Replacement of an outdated thermostat might correct some problems.

What Causes Overloading Problems

Although it’s meant to serve you and your family all summer, there is such as thing as system overload. If the unit is operated at a setting that’s unreasonably cold, the system won’t keep up. It will work harder than it was intended to, which causes a breakdown of the mechanical components over time. It can even put your home at risk of a fire.

At its heart, overload means that the demand is too great for the air conditioning capabilities. And it’s caused by a few things, including a too-cold setting, dirty air filter, wrong-sized unit, poor ventilation, restricted airflow, and many other possibilities. What’s considered a too-cold setting is relative and doesn’t necessarily mean that the thermostat is set at 60 degrees on a 90-degree day. If the AC isn’t healthy or it’s the wrong size for your home, overload can happen at a reasonable setting of about 72.

A unit that’s too small can’t keep with high demand. But a system that’s too large has trouble, too. That’s because the cycles run too short to effectively cool your entire home. The unit must run through its cooling cycle much more frequently than it should, and still won’t operate efficiently. It can also leave your home clammy and damp, even if it’s hitting the right temperature because it can’t extract enough humidity on a shorter cycle.

Humidity Control is Critical

One of the most important functions of an air conditioning system is humidity extraction. You probably know how a humid day in Concord feels much hotter than one where humidity is lower. That’s because low humidity lets your body’s normal cooling feature – perspiration – evaporate from your skin. When it’s humid, your skin stays damp and you feel hotter. When humidity is low, perspiration evaporates and the temperature feels truer to what it really is.

An air conditioning system that removes enough humidity can make your home feel more comfortable at a higher temperature, which puts less strain on the system. Instead of turning the thermostat down and down again, you can easily leave it set at 72 or even higher and feel even better than a clammy home that’s 65 degrees.

That’s why the health and size of your air conditioning system are so important. They’re designed to cool your home plus extract humidity. If the system is too large, too small, is dirty, can’t breathe, or has any other issues that prevent it from operating as it was intended to, system overload occurs.

If your AC bogs down, runs short cycles, uses too much electricity or has any other issues, there’s obviously something wrong. You might, indeed, be putting too much strain on the unit. But unless you’re trying to turn your home into a giant refrigerator, the real culprit is probably the system.

Regular maintenance, including filter changes, is imperative to air conditioning health. That can’t be overstated. Your technician will clean the system, look for leaks in the refrigerant lines and in the ductwork, and generally ensure that it’s operating as it should. Maintenance can also tell you whether the system you’ve got is sized appropriately for your home.

At Rodenheiser, we’re experts at HVAC repair and maintenance. We’ve served homeowners in the Massachusetts Route 495 / 128 area for years, and we’re happy to help you turn your home into a real comfort zone. Set up an appointment online today if your AC system seems overloaded. We’ll find the problem and put you on the road to comfort again.

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6 Ways to Prep Your Home for Air Conditioning Season

Air conditioning
Start the season right and you’ll get more life from your air conditioning.

The weather is a little warmer every day, and that means air conditioning season is practically here. Before it gets in full swing, do yourself and your AC system a favor and get your home ready.

You don’t have to try anything mechanical, and it’s better off if you leave that to your HVAC technician. There are plenty of other ways to prepare your home for summer, and here are 6 of them.

#1: Check Your Insulation

You probably know how insulation helps contain your heat in winter, but it can also help preserve air conditioning in the summer months. A good layer of insulation helps keep heat from infiltrating your home.

In Massachusetts, we need a minimum of R-37 in attics, R-19 in floors and R-13 in walls. If your insulation levels fall at or below those standards, adding more can help keep summer’s heat outside. Think about insulation your ductwork, too. That keeps cooled air cooler as it travels from the air handler to the registers in your home. And that means less wasted energy.

#2: Find and Seal Air Leaks

Air leaks are the enemy of conditioned spaces. In winter, cold drafts filter in. And in summer, heat can do the same. Older houses can be worse than new, but any house is susceptible.

A little caulk can seal along baseboards, windows, and door trim, all of which are classic draft spots. For larger air leaks, such as openings around plumbing pipes, use a can of expanding spray foam insulation.

Air conditioning How could something so plain be so important to the health of your system?

#3: Change the AC Filter

It’s hard to imagine how something as inexpensive and easy as an air conditioning filter can make such a difference in the performance of your air conditioner. Check your filter every month and replace it when it’s dirty. You’ll probably only need to change it every 60 to 90 days. But better safe than sorry.

The filter is so important because it traps small particles and keeps them from entering you air conditioner. If it’s clean, air passes through just fine. If it’s dirty, your system starves for air the same as if it was suffocating. It’s the least expensive thing that you can do for your air conditioner and it has the most dramatic effect.

#4: Clean Around the AC Unit

Air conditioners typically have two units, one inside and one outside. The air handler is inside, and it’s often found in a utility closet. But because air is drawn into the system, the closet might also have dust, pet hair and all sort of debris inside. Vacuum around the air handler to help it breathe better.

The AC condenser unit is outdoors. Keep weeds trimmed or pulled and mow the grass to help the system get plenty of airflow. If there are leaves or other debris around the unit, remove them. Use caution around the fins on the condenser unit. They’re soft and flexible, which means they’re easy to dent. If yours are already dented, your HVAC technician can probably repair them with a special straightening comb tool.

#5: Call for Seasonal Maintenance

Maintenance is vital to a healthy air conditioning system. If you haven’t called for your appointment yet, you should do so as soon as possible. The most important function of regular maintenance is spotting problems before they have a chance to grow. Your technician will clean inside the units, check wiring connections, replace the air filter, and look for issues that need further attention.

Putting off maintenance is like waiting to visit the dentist until you have a toothache. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. And when it comes to your AC system, the difference could be an inexpensive checkup versus a full air conditioning system replacement because a problem was left unchecked.

#6: Block the Sun

The sun can undo the hard work of your air conditioning in no time. When heat from outdoors comes through the windows, the temperature inside goes up, the air conditioner switches on again, and the cycle repeats itself over and over. But there’s no reason for it when you can cover the window with UV-blocking drapes or blinds.

You don’t have to keep windows covered all day. Just block the glass when the sun shines straight through. And if you can’t bear to cover your windows, look into low-emissivity glass. It’s crystal clear, you’ll never know it’s there, but reflects UV rays away from the windows more effectively than the old fashioned high-mirror tint once did.

The key to anything is good preparation, and the key to a cool and comfortable summer is no different. The more you prepare your home for the coming months, the more you’ll support the health of your AC system.

If you haven’t called Rodenhiser for your seasonal maintenance yet, there’s no better time than now. Contact us today and we’ll ensure everything is in good working order so you can relax and enjoy the season.

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Why Now is the Perfect Time for an Air Conditioning Tune-Up

Air conditioning
A little maintenance now is good insurance against big problems later.

The best time to ensure the performance of your air conditioning is before you need it. Regular maintenance keeps this important home system operating at top performance. Every summer, it gets a real workout. And after resting through the winter months, it might need a little TLC. Now is the perfect time to protect your investment and secure a spot on your Rodenhiser HVAC technician’s schedule.

Identify Problems Before Cooling Becomes Mission Critical

Warmer air is breaking winter’s hold on Massachusetts, but there’s still a while before summer is really in full swing. If you wait for service until you need air conditioning, you might find yourself in a bind.

Issues of all sorts can plague air conditioners, especially after a season of sitting idle. If yours has a lurking mechanical or electrical problem, the cooling season in your home might be delayed by days or even weeks while waiting for a repair part to arrive. Do yourself a favor, and call for maintenance before summer settles in. If you need repair, you won’t have to wither away in a hot home while waiting for delivery of a part to put your system back in order.

Air conditioning
Regular maintenance calls save you money on energy consumption and future repairs.

Save Money and Enjoy Better Efficiency

Maybe your air conditioner runs, but it’s not in peak condition. If you switch on the appliance when the weather gets warm, you might get cool air and higher electric utility bills. Maintenance ensures your air conditioner operates as efficiently as it can. Without it, you could spend a lot more and waste a lot of energy.

The longer you wait for regular maintenance with an inefficient air conditioner, the more energy and hard-earned cash you’ll waste. And you might not even realize that there’s a problem until the first bill arrives. Schedule a tune-up today, and you’ll be ready to shift into the new season.

Get an Appointment on Your Technician’s Schedule

There are two times of year when HVAC technicians rarely have a moment to sit and relax. The coldest part of winter and the dog days of summer find service people with calendars so full they can barely see any light at the end of the tunnel. Why are they so busy? Because once temperature extremes hit, homeowners with defective appliances have real emergencies.

Early spring is ideal for air conditioner maintenance because few people have a genuine heating or cooling emergency when the weather is moderate. Your HVAC technician is much more likely to have a spot available for you in his schedule, and you’re less likely to wait several weeks for an appointment.

Seasonal HVAC maintenance is what keeps your cooling and heating systems in good working order, and it helps preserve the life of your investment. Small problems creep up, and they can turn into major ones if left undetected. Even minor issues with efficiency can cost you money because your energy consumption grows.

Now is the perfect time for air conditioning maintenance. Your Rodenheiser professional will clean the system, check it for obvious and not-so-obvious problems, and make any repairs necessary before temperatures climb.
Set up an appointment online today, and beat the summertime air conditioner maintenance rush.

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5 Helpful Tips for Your Window Air Conditioning Unit

A window air conditioning unit is a good choice for keeping part of your home comfortable during the hot Massachusetts summer. However, like other kinds of mechanical equipment, it needs routine maintenance and care to perform efficiently. What window air conditioning unit tips can you use to keep your system running smoothly?

window air conditioning unit
Source: iStock.com/stask

Tips to Keep Things Smooth and Cool

Try these tips to keep your window air conditioning unit performing in top condition:

  • Isolate the area being cooled by the window unit. Window units are not made to cool an entire home. It is usually meant to cool only one or two rooms. For efficient operations, it is good practice to isolate those spaces from the rest of the house. Closing doors and sealing window leaks will usually do the trick.
  • Make sure your window unit is properly sized. Don’t make the mistake of trying to use an undersized unit to cool too large a space. The unit will never shut off, driving your energy consumption through the roof. Plus, the space will never reach a comfortable temperature. The right-sized unit will do the job efficiently.
  • Do not run heat-generating equipment when the A/C is running. If you run a stove, dryer, or other heat-generating appliance, the A/C is going to have to fight that heat to keep the space cool. Avoid using them when the A/C is on. Otherwise, you may find your electric bill going sky high.
  • Use window treatments to keep windows shaded. If any of the windows in the space you are trying to cool gets direct sunlight, you need to block it to prevent heat gain. Blinds, curtains, or shutters will do the trick.
  • Have routine maintenance performed once a year. This is true for any kind of air conditioning equipment. It will keep the system running efficiently, reduce repair needs, and extend the life of the equipment.

If you follow these window air conditioning unit tips, your space will stay cool without driving your electric bills too high. For more information on air conditioning solutions, contact us here at Rodenhiser Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning.

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Helpful Air Conditioning Tips for Spring in Massachusetts

Warmer weather has arrived here in Massachusetts. Summer weather is just around the corner. You need to take advantage of the mild spring weather to get your air conditioning ready for the hot weather ahead. Use these air conditioning tips for spring in Massachusetts.

Tips for Getting Your A/C Ready

air conditioning unit
Source: iStock.com/Maudib

Here are five tips for getting your A/C ready for summer:

  1. Clear trash, debris, and weeds from around your outside condensing unit. It needs clear airflow to work efficiently. Over the autumn and winter, leaf debris can accumulate around its base. As spring starts to blossom, weeds have a tendency to sprout up everywhere. Remove it all.
  2. Wash the exterior condensing unit off with a hose. If there is caked grime, a mild solution of water and dish detergent should remove it. Do not use a pressure washer on the outside unit as the pressurized water can damage the fins and other components.
  3. Change your air filters. This is actually something you should do every month. To cool your house efficiently, the A/C blower needs a steady supply of air. A clogged filter restricts air flow. Plus, it allows dust and debris to get into the A/C equipment and blow throughout your house, lowering your indoor air quality significantly.
  4. Clean your vents and registers. Even with regular air filter changes, some dust is going to make its way into the air ducts. It will often settle on the fins of vents and registers. Spring is the perfect time to clean those fins.
  5. Schedule an annual maintenance visit. Before you turn the A/C on for the season, make sure it is in good shape. An annual service call from a trained A/C technician will do the trick. This will keep the A/C running efficiently, minimize repair needs, and extend the life of the equipment.

These air conditioning tips for spring will keep you comfortable in the coming months of summer. If you need to schedule an annual maintenance visit for your A/C, contact us here at Rodenhiser Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning. We serve the Route 495/128 are of Massachusetts.

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Keep Your Heat Pump Working Year-Round With Routine Maintenance

In both winter and summer, your heat pump works hard to keep your home comfortable. To keep it in the best shape possible, you need to have routine heat pump maintenance performed. This will keep it running efficiently, lower repair costs, and prolong the heat pump’s life.

Read More Keep Your Heat Pump Working Year-Round With Routine Maintenance >>

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When It Comes to Replacing the A/C, Consider the System’s Initial and Lifetime Costs

Are you about to make an expensive mistake with your A/C replacement? If you’re not considering both the initial and the lifetime costs of a new cooling system, it could end up costing you a lot of money in the next decade or more.

Read More When It Comes to Replacing the A/C, Consider the System’s Initial and Lifetime Costs >>

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Hearing Noises From the Air Conditioner? What They’re Trying to Communicate

air conditioner noisesNo one wants their A/C to shut down in the middle of a heat wave in Massachusetts. If it does, you’ll probably find the temperatures unbearable. Making sure your A/C is running efficiently will prevent the problem and save you money in the long run. But what if you suddenly start hearing A/C noises? Read More Hearing Noises From the Air Conditioner? What They’re Trying to Communicate >>

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Looking for Summer Energy Savings? Don’t Fall for These Myths

summer energy savingsCooling a home in summer can get expensive quickly. Finding summer energy savings is important to keep costs down while maintaining your desired level of comfort. Some tips don’t actually save money though, so make sure you don’t fall for these myths. Here are the real facts on summer energy savings. Read More Looking for Summer Energy Savings? Don’t Fall for These Myths >>

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How SEER, EER and COP Can Guide You to a More Efficient A/C

seer, eer and copIt’s important to invest in an efficient A/C system, but a layperson may have trouble understanding how to tell which systems are efficient and which aren’t. Fortunately there are guidelines out there to help you know. One of the most obvious of these is the Energy Star program, which highlights the most efficient systems. The measurements of SEER, EER and COP also help inform you of air conditioner efficiency.

Coefficient of Performance, or COP

The COP measures the power output of the system divided by the power input. When it comes to more complex processes, more factors go into deducing the power input, but regardless, the output will be in the form of a single number, such as 1 or 3.3. The higher the number, the more efficient the mechanism.

Energy Efficient Ratio, or EER

EER is the output cooling energy (in BTUs) divided by electrical input energy (in Watt-hours). EER it typically measured over the course of an hour. It tells you how efficient the A/C unit is at doing a constant amount of work over a given period of time. Remember, this is energy, not power. Again, the higher the number returned by EER, the better.

Seasonal Energy Efficient Ratio, or SEER

SEER is similar to EER, but it’s designed to take into account the variations in conditions that can occur over long periods of time, hence the use of the term “seasonal.” The calculations get pretty complex, but what you need to know is that the larger the number, the better the system’s efficiency.

For more information on SEER, EER and COP, or for other home comfort needs, contact Rodenhiser Plumbing, Heating, and Air Conditioning today. We’ve been proudly serving the Route 495/128 area of Massachusetts since 1928.

Image via Shutterstock.com

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