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Tips to Keep Your Home Cool During an Arizona Summer

During the summer months, it is not uncommon for the average temperature in Phoenix to exceed 99 degrees Fahrenheit! That means your home’s air conditioning system is working hard around the clock to keep your home comfortable. However, there are some steps you can take to keep your home cool during the sweltering months of summer that don’t involve cranking the thermostat down!

Create Shade Around Your Home

You can use landscaping to your advantage to reduce the amount of sun that reaches your home in the first place. Specifically, having larger shrubs or trees around your home’s east- and west-facing windows can create some much-needed shade that will keep your home a little cooler during the hottest times of the day.

If you don’t have any significant landscaping around your home’s perimeter, now is a good time to consider working with a landscaping professional to minimize sun exposure in your home and add some curb appeal in the process!

Use Ceiling Fans to Your Advantage

Ceiling fans can be a great (and energy-efficient) way to keep each room of your home a few degrees cooler without having to adjust your thermostat. Make sure you’re using any existing ceiling fans in your home to keep air circulating. If you don’t have ceiling fans in your home (or if they’re missing from your main living spaces), having one installed is relatively simple and inexpensive. In fact, any money you spend having ceiling fans installed can be offset by energy savings down the road!

Invest in Window Treatments

Just as you can use strategically placed landscaping to cut down on sunlight entering your home, you can use window treatments in a similar manner. Specifically, you’ll want to make sure that any east- and west-facing rooms in your home (which will naturally receive the most sunlight) have light-blocking window treatments. This can include blinds, drapes, curtains, or even full blackout panels.

During the brightest times of day in these rooms, be sure to draw these window treatments closed. This will reduce the amount of sunlight that enters the room and thus keep the temperature down in your home. And of course, the right window treatments can also add some beauty to your space!

Reduce Your Use of Heat-Generating Appliances

You might be surprised at just how much heat clothes dryers, ovens, and even dishwashers can put off as they operate. With this in mind, you may want to avoid using these appliances during the heat of the day whenever possible. If you have to run a load of dishes or dry a load of laundry, try to do so during the evening or nighttime hours instead.

You can also cut down on your use of these heat-generating appliances by making sure that your dishwasher is completely full before you run it. Likewise, avoid doing laundry until you have a full load of clothes to wash. This will not only keep your home more comfortable during the summer months, but will cut down on the wear and tear of these appliances as well.

Maintain Your Air Conditioner

The last thing you need in the middle of a sweltering Arizona summer is to run into mechanical problems with your air conditioning unit. This is why it’s so important to take care of all components of your AC system year-round! There are plenty of steps you can take to maintain your AC system, starting with swapping out the air filter as needed. Typically, filters should be changed about once every 90 days to ensure proper airflow and maximize the efficiency of your unit. When was the last time you changed yours?

You’ll also want to take measures to protect your outdoor AC compressor unit from the elements. This includes keeping any landscaping (shrubs, plants, weeds, etc.) trimmed back and away from the unit itself to allow for proper airflow.

In addition to all of this, scheduling an annual air conditioning tune-up and inspection with a trusted HVAC professional can also extend the life of your unit and help you avoid unwanted surprises this summer. An annual inspection can alert you to potential problems that you can repair before they turn into more costly issues. Meanwhile, a tune-up can keep your air conditioning running smoothly all summer long.

Schedule Your AC Service Today!

A little creativity can go a long way towards keeping your Arizona home cool this summer. By following these tips, you can give your air conditioner a much-needed break without sacrificing comfort in the process.

Looking for an HVAC company you can trust with your annual AC inspection and tune-up? One Stop Heating & Cooling has you covered! Contact us today at (623) 688-6556 to schedule your inspection or to find out more about our residential services.

4 Common Causes of HVAC Failure in Modern Homes

Heating and cooling solutions have been part and parcel of daily life since they were first introduced in the early 1900s. The air conditioner was brought forth by Willis Carrier in 1902 while the furnace as we know it was introduced in 1919. Since then, homes around the nation have been outfitted with modern and advanced HVAC systems.

Yet for all the comfort and convenience that our modern HVAC systems provide, they also experience some common causes of failure. There are many reasons that an HVAC system can fail and the majority of them should be diagnosed by the professionals at One Stop Heating and Cooling.

Before you pick up the phone to call on your team of HVAC professionals, let’s take some time to outline four of the most common causes of HVAC failure in homes and businesses, today.

Dirty Filters Due to Neglect

Did you know that one of the most effective ways to maintain a high level of air quality is by changing out your air filters on a routine basis? It’s true and yet so many people neglect to even find out where the filters for their HVAC units are.

Dirty air filters are one of the most common causes of struggling HVAC systems in the world. Thankfully, this is a relatively simple fix. Merely find the dirty filters within your HVAC system before replacing them entirely. There are washable filter options available for people that want to shop for more sustainable heating and cooling solutions.

Changing out your dirty filters should become a priority and the first line of defense against a failing HVAC unit. The team at One Stop Heating and Cooling suggests changing air filters at least once every three months, depending on use.

Malfunctioning Thermostat / Broken Thermostat

Without the thermostat centrally controlling your HVAC system, things can stop working as they should. Broken thermostats are far more often the cause of issues within HVAC systems than many might expect. Thankfully, this is a relatively simple and inexpensive repair. With that being said, use this time to consider upgrading to a better style of a thermostat, particularly if you live in an older home with an older and out of date HVAC system.

Broken thermostats can be quickly fixed by an HVAC repair technician. The big hurdle that must be overcome with this problem is that a broken thermostat may be hard to pin down at first due to the evolving nature of HVAC systems. As always, a careful inspection with the assistance of an HVAC tech can clarify this issue further.

Frozen Evaporator Coil

When we don’t regularly clean our air filtration devices, we can end up with a big issue in the form of a frozen evaporator coil. Frozen coils are caused by air filtration problems that cause a build-up of frost on or near the actual coil. This issue can get identified rather quickly by inspecting the coil itself. This is an issue that would benefit from a professional set of hands, so consider a technician when it comes time to fix and solve this problem for the future.

Frozen evaporator coils can also happen when an air conditioning system is operated too long and too intensely. Make sure to pay attention to your AC needs and to quickly identify potential frozen coil problems. A small issue today can grow into a large issue tomorrow.

HVAC Without Power Might Signify a Tripped Breaker

Have you ever come home to a cold or otherwise non-temperature controlled home? While our first thoughts may run to the thermostat, another likely cause for this issue is a tripped breaker. When an HVAC system refuses to function at all it potentially signifies an issue between the power system and the furnace, likely fixable through simply resetting the break.

The first time that a homeowner finds a non-function HVAC system, check the breaker box. If resetting the breakers doesn’t bring power back to your heating and cooling systems, make sure to pick up the phone and call on the team at One Stop Heating and Cooling for a free estimate.

Maximize Your Winter Energy Efficiency by Watching For This!

If you’re feeling defeated by high heating bills this winter, it may be time to re-evaluate the energy-efficiency of your home’s heating system. Whether you have a gas or electric furnace, there are a number of issues that can waste energy and cost you money. And of course, a furnace with poor energy-efficiency has to work harder to keep your home comfortable—which results in premature wear and tear.

There are many potential sources of skyrocketing energy bills during the winter months, but one you won’t want to overlook is that of leaky air ducts. By understanding what causes air duct leaks and what you can do about them, you can optimize the efficiency of your home’s heating system and possibly cut down on those energy bills as a result.

Are Duct Leaks Costing You Money?

Your home’s furnace is connected to a series of ductwork that runs throughout your home. Because ductwork tends to be hidden in ceilings and behind drywall, you probably don’t think much about it. Over time, however, individual sections of ductwork can loosen (especially as your house naturally settles). This creates gaps that allow air to escape.

Why is this a problem? Because after your furnace works to generate warm air, that air can be lost through leaks in your ductwork. As a result, your furnace needs to work even harder to create more heat. As you can imagine, this is detrimental to your home’s energy efficiency and may lead to higher energy bills.

Ideally, sections of ductwork in your home should be completely airtight. Unfortunately, even small leaks in your home’s ductwork can lead to a loss of up to 40% of efficiency. Meanwhile, these small leaks in your home’s ductwork can also invite dust and other debris to make their way into your ducts and vents. This can result in poor indoor air quality in addition to higher energy bills. What a drag!

How to Diagnose an Air Duct Leak

Determining whether air duct leaks are a problem in your home can be difficult, especially when you consider that much of your home’s ductwork is hidden behind walls. Still, there are several “red flags” you can watch out for that may indicate the presence of air duct leaks in your home, such as:

  • a sudden or gradual increase in energy bills
  • inconsistent heating/cooling (some rooms are colder/warmer than others)
  • noticeable increase in dust throughout your home

If there are visible areas of ductwork (such as in your basement or attic), there are also some things you can do to check for leaks. Start with a visual inspection to look for obvious tears or other damage. Pay careful attention to duct joints, which are areas where two sections of ductwork are joined together.

You’ll also want to be on the lookout for signs of patched ductwork from previous homeowners. For example, if you notice that there is duct tape wrapped around a section of ductwork, this is probably a sign that the duct had an air leak in the past and was not properly repaired.

What to Do About an Air Duct Leak

If you believe your home has air duct leaks, you’ll want to repair them as soon as possible. Otherwise, you’ll continue to throw money out the window each month with high heating bills.

Generally, it’s best to leave air duct leak repairs to an HVAC professional. Not only will an experienced HVAC specialist be able to pinpoint the exact locations of leaks throughout your home, but he or she will also be able to repair them properly. Using specialized metallic tapes and sealants, it is possible to repair most air duct leaks in a way that will last.

Likewise, if it is discovered that any of your home’s air ducts have fallen out of alignment, this is something that an HVAC professional will be able to assist with. Once everything is sealed back up and aligned properly, you can rest assured that both cool and warm air will be carried efficiently throughout your home with minimal temperature loss and proper air pressure. This, in turn, should lead to lower energy bills, a more comfortable living space, and improved overall indoor air quality for everybody in your household!

Schedule an Appointment With One Stop Heating & Cooling

Ready to have an HVAC specialist check your home’s air ducts for leaks? Need air duct leaks patched or repaired? Our team at One Stop Heating & Cooling is here to help. We proudly serve Phoenix and the surrounding areas with a wide range of HVAC services that include air duct repair. Our goal is to help you maximize energy efficiency in your home by detecting and sealing off leaks. We can also assist with correcting air pressure imbalances within your system.

Reach out to our friendly team at (623) 688-6556 to schedule your appointment or to find out more about what we can do for you!

Heater Maintenance Tips to Get You Through the Winter

Proper heater maintenance will ensure that you and your family stay warm and cozy throughout the winter months. There’s nothing worse than a heating system that’s not working right on a cold winter night. Here’s a list of things that you should check on to keep your heating system in good condition for the chillier months. With the proper maintenance, your heating system will everyone warm, run more efficiently and last a lot longer. Just like a car needs to be maintained, so does your home’s heating system.

Check the Furnace Filter

A clean filter will keep your heating system operating well and with efficiency. The filter should be replaced about every 30 to 90 days, depending on how often you use the heat. Dirty filters just make the heating system have to work harder and longer. Be sure to stock up on furnace filters for the winter, so you’re prepared for those cold nights.  You can also ask your HVAC technician if you’re using the proper filter on a maintenance visit.

Flush Out the Hot Water Tank

Flushing out the hot water tank will remove sediment that could impede the operation of your HVAC system. Over time, debris builds up in your heating system and it has to be flushed out. You can also check the pressure relief valve to ensure it’s in good working order.

Clean the Humidifier

The home humidifier is a critical part of the heating system. Maintaining the right amount of humidity inside your house keeps the air quality good and your heating system operating well. Be sure to change the evaporator pad, too.

Bleed Radiator Valves

If your home has a hot water radiator, it’s important to bleed the valves. This helps remove trapped air. When you bleed the valves, it helps your heating system operate better. Just open the valves a little bit and close them when the water starts to leak.

Keep the Furnace Area Clean

Proper airflow is essential for your heating system to work properly. Remove items block any vents or air duct registers. Remove stored items that are close to your heating system and move them away from the unit. With proper airflow, your heating system doesn’t have to work as hard to provide heat for your home.

Inspect for Leaks

Take a good look around the air ducts. Do a thorough inspection.  Are there any loose joints, leaks or holes? If so, do some ductwork repair or call a professional to do it for you. This will prevent warm air from escaping and keep your heating system operating at its top performance.

Check the Thermostat

Don’t just assume that the thermostat is working properly. Test it out. Turn the thermostat up a few degrees. You should hear the heater turn and then feel some warm air coming out. Be sure to check the thermostat before winter rolls in. If it’s time for a new thermostat, go ahead and invest in one.

Clean the Outside Unit

Your heating system is not just operating inside your house. It draws air from the exterior, warms it up and then distributes the warm air inside your home. Remove debris from the outside unit from all of the elements, including leaves.  It will only block and stall the air intake. And if it snows, shovel it away from the unit, so the unit can breathe. The outdoor unit should always be clean and free of debris.

Clean and Unblock Vents

Heat won’t come from the ducts if the vents are blocked. And the built-up heat can cause damage to your hearing system. Be sure t dust and unblock all vents from things like pet hair and other types of blockages. This way, the warm air can flow freely into the rooms.

Fix Crack and Holes

It’s important that your heating system doesn’t have to overwork in the wintertime. The warm air that constantly escapes from drafty windows and cracks in the walls will force your heating system to have to work harder. So, plug up any cracks or holes. You can plug holes with caulk and cover drafty windows with plastic. This will help the home retain heat and lessen the load on your heating system.

Get a Winter Tune-Up

Getting a winter tune is well worth the investment. During a tune-up, all ductwork and airflow are checked, gas pressure and gas leaks are tested, electrical controls are inspected, the thermostat is tested and air temperature tests at vents are done. A winter tune-up for your heating system is the ideal way to maintain your heating unit. Plus, it’s best to know if any repairs are needed before things breakdown on a cold night.

If you don’t properly maintain your heating system, it just might not make it through the winter. Follow this list of maintenance steps to take and stay warm this winter.

My A/C Isn’t Cooling My Home, What’s Wrong?

Troubleshooting HVAC Cooling Issues

You might not think much about your air conditioning until something goes wrong with it. When this unsung hero of your home suddenly experiences a total failure, you know you need to get an A/C technician to come fix it immediately. Sometimes, however, an HVAC system can seem to function as it always does without producing anywhere near its normal cooling effects. What’s going on, and what can you do about it? Let’s look at some common symptoms, problems, and solutions.

Temperature Settings Make Your System Work Too Hard

When everyday temperatures get out of control, so can your electric bill. It only makes sense, then, to raise your thermostat a bit above comfortable levels when no one is at home, as a means of saving energy — right? Unfortunately, this practice may not be worth whatever money you might think you’re saving.

While you might come out ahead on this strategy when temperatures are warm but still manageable, hotter days and high thermostat settings can make your home feel like an oven by the time you get home. You then have to run the system extra-hard to get the ambient temperature back to a livable level. That extra work can cause premature wear and tear that reduces your system’s ability to do its job.

If you choose to raise your thermostat level while you’re out, turn it up only a couple of degrees higher than you’d find comfortable. You’ll still save some energy without also pushing your HVAC system to restore that comfort zone later.

Refrigerant Issues Keep Your Air From Cooling

Your air conditioner relies on refrigerant to keep your home cool. This substance can change pressure rapidly, going from extremely hot to extremely cold as it goes through your system’s condenser and evaporator coils. Air moving over the chilled coils becomes cool and sheds moisture through condensation.

If your system is running low on refrigerant, it can’t perform this important cooling process satisfactorily, no matter how long it cycles. Modern refrigerants don’t wear out or “go bad,” but they leak through any holes or gaps that permit it to do so. If you can’t get cold air out of a hard-working air conditioner, ask your HVAC technician to check the refrigerant.

Dirty Coils Interfere With Essential Functions

Even with normal amounts of refrigerant running through them, your HVAC system’s condenser and evaporator coils won’t operate at full efficiency if they’ve gotten dirty. These components depend on efficient heat transfer between their surfaces and the outside air. Dirt acts as a barrier that interferes with this heat transfer, resulting in incomplete cooling. Evaporator coils may even freeze up, making normal function impossible and allowing moisture to hang in your ambient air.

A Glitchy Thermostat Can’t Control Your Climate

Do the numbers on your thermostat tell the truth — and is your thermostat issuing the proper instructions to the rest of your HVAC system? Wiring problems, dust in the works, corrosion, loose terminals, screws, and other common problems can cause your thermostat to malfunction, which in turn may cause the HVAC system to short cycle (turning off too quickly after engaging to have much effect on temperature and humidity levels). Fortunately, your technician can replace faulty thermostat components relatively easily.

Air Leaks Deprive You of Your Air Conditioning

If all the components of your air conditioning system appear to be running normally, why does your home never seem to cool down? The answer may lie in unseen gaps or holes in your ductwork. If this closed system isn’t quite so closed as it was designed to be, all that cool air produced by your HVAC system may be flowing into your walls instead of your rooms. Have your ducts checked for any disconnection or damage that needs patching. Don’t forget to examine your home for any air leaks caused by defective weatherstripping or other gaps.

The Wrong A/C Size Can Doom You to Discomfort

Have you never felt satisfied with your air conditioner’s ability to cool your home? Maybe you have the wrong size of A/C unit installed. An overly-small air conditioner will never be able to cool your square footage adequately. An overly-large air conditioner will short cycle constantly, failing to live up to its capabilities. Ask your HVAC technician for recommendations on whether you need to right-size your HVAC system to suit your residence.

If you need expert help for your HVAC cooling problem, contact One Stop Heating and Cooling. We can discover the reason for your discomfort and make the necessary fixes to give you the powerful, efficient air conditioning you need!

 

The Importance of Refrigerant

If you’ve ever experienced a problem with your air conditioning, there’s a good chance you’ve looked at the system and wondered what could be wrong. Have any fans stopped turning? Is something wrong with the vents? Maybe the thermostat just isn’t connected right or there is an electrical issue.

Ironically, the last thing on your mind happens to be the most important. The refrigerant is an often un-talked about component of your A/C system, but it contributes directly to its functionality. The refrigerant lines are what’s used to chill and condition the air in your home, and when there is a problem with them, you don’t get the cool air you want. 

If you suspect there may currently be an issue with your refrigerant or your A/C unit in general, it’s important to get professional help as soon as possible so the problem does not get any worse. In the meantime, read on to learn more about refrigerant and the important role it plays in keep your home cool and comfortable. 

What Exactly is Refrigerant? 

While most people don’t associate cool air with liquid, that’s exactly what refrigerant is. At least for a good part of the time. It’s really a chemical compound that exists either in a liquid or gaseous state inside the copper coils of your A/C system. There are different types of refrigerants used today, but they all generally work the same way. The refrigerant moves between the indoor and outdoor units of your A/C and transitions between its liquid and gas states. This allows it to absorb heat from the surrounding indoor air and carry it out, returning with freshly cold air in its place. In compression systems, a pressurizer and condenser are used to cause the vapor to liquefy as needed. But even though it is going through a constant state of evaporating into a low-pressure gas and then liquefying repeatedly as it conditions the air around it, refrigerant stays contained inside the A/C system the entire time. 

So, if refrigerant is blocked or leaking anywhere, this can prevent it from doing its job (which of course is cooling the air in your home). It is important to get these problems fixed quickly, or you may soon find yourself looking at an entire system replacement. 

Does Refrigerant Run Out or Need to Be Refilled

It’s possible that you may have some friends or family members tell you that you simply need to “top off” or “refill” your refrigerant if you are experiencing leaks or other problems. Sadly, this is largely because some so-called HVAC “professionals” have cut corner by adding more refrigerant to their customer’s leaking systems and calling it a day. However, this is wrong, and it can even cause further problems. 

The truth is that your A/C system’s refrigerant should never leak or “run low.” All A/C units are designed to use the refrigerant they come with for the duration of their time in service. Refilling it either delays an existing problem that is bound to get worse over time, or it could even cause more serious issues right away. Furthermore, there are different types of refrigerant, and combining different kinds can cause further damage to the system. 

That said, if an experienced HVAC technician examines your system closely and determines that a significant amount of refrigerant has been lost via a leak, they may determine that a replacement is in store. This will include fully repairing the leak and replacing (or “recharging”) the refrigerant compound in the system. The solution is not, and never should be, simply “topping off” the refrigerant in the system. 

Signs of Refrigerant Problems

Your refrigerant is meant to last the lifetime of the A/C system, but that doesn’t mean that problems can’t come up from time to time. It’s time to call in a professional if you notice any of the following signs:

  • Hissing, bubbling or other unpleasant noises coming from the walls or vents (or the unit itself)
  • Ice or frozen spots forming along the unit’s evaporator coil.
  • Uneven cooling / warm spots in areas of your home that used to be cool while the A/C was running.
  • Problems with your home not cooling or getting cold in general (constantly trying to set your A/C to cooler or more powerful settings is also a sign). 

In many areas, you may actually face legal repercussions if a refrigerant problem is known about and not handled correctly. For example, intentionally venting refrigerant into the environment is prohibited, as is disposing of old or leaked refrigerant improperly. In fact, you could face some hefty fines if your A/C is found to be leaking refrigerant into the surrounding community for some time without being fixed. The good news is that a professional HVAC tech will be able to address these issues and dispose of any refrigerant (if necessary) properly, as well as make sure the entire system is up to code. 

Give us a call today, and we’ll help with all your A/C refrigerant questions and needs.