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dj1
Get ready for A/C fail
dj1

Summer started with a bang. In my area, temperatures are breaking old records on a daily basis.
And the A/C units? some are giving up and quit.
If you haven't done your annual check up and service maintenance, don't panic when your A/C fails, and they do fail at the worst moment: when the temp is high and when you can't find an A/C tech.

There is something most homeowners can do:
- If your compressor quits, check the fuses. Replace if needed and buy an extra set of fuses. Many stores will run out in a few days. Only buy fused designed for your unit. Not sure how to do that, get help, call A/C techs and electricians.

- The same applies to your circuit breaker feeding the A/C.

- If your problem is not solved, your unit may need an inspection from a professional.

Fencepost
Re: Get ready for A/C fail
Fencepost

Another thing to do is NOT try to cool a house by 20 or 30 degrees in one step. To do so, your A/C will be running continuously for hours -- that's gotta be hard on it.

Instead, cool the house by no more than 5 degrees at a time. Once it reaches the set temperature, let it sit there for an hour or so to give the compressor a chance to cool down before bumping the thermostat down more.

At least that's my theory. Someone will probably put forth a valid argument why it's bunk.

If you see any signs of icing -- either on the outside compressor or on the inside coils -- shut off your A/C and call for service. That's a sign that it's low on refrigerant, and running it that way can damage things. If the airflow seems to be lower than normal, that's a sign that the inside coils have iced up (ice blocks airflow, which prevents cooling, which prevents the compressor from shutting off, which causes even more ice to build up).

Some light frost might be normal on the inside coils, but ice buildup is not.

ordjen
Re: Get ready for A/C fail
ordjen

I believe in not waiting til the house is already hot. I will turn it on well before the heat of the day so that the unit is not trying to play catch up. Most units are sized slightly undersized so that they will dehumidify as they cool. A too large unit will cool down fast, but leave you cool and clammy. Of course, this is more important in humid areas of the country than in arid areas.

I am in the Portland area and really hot days are not all that common, but I have seen 108 here! On these days particularly, it is important to not fall behind, because a unit designed for the "normal" will not catch up if turned on too late. Fortunately, Portland is also bone dry when it gets really hot. I know that Portland is thought of as cool and rainy, and it is 2/3rds of the year, but the summers are glorious with cool nights and warm , sunny days.

A. Spruce
Re: Get ready for A/C fail
A. Spruce
ordjen wrote:

I believe in not waiting til the house is already hot. I will turn it on well before the heat of the day so that the unit is not trying to play catch up.

This is also more economical because the unit isn't running as long or hard, it consumes less energy. In fact, we'll be seeing triple digits today, it isn't there yet, but we've already closed up the house because it's cooler in here than outside, AC will soon follow.

Mastercarpentry
Re: Get ready for A/C fail
Mastercarpentry

People are going to go with what feels best- nobody likes being uncomfortable- no matter what advice you give them regards best use of their A/C. But the real best approach is to get used to your environment so that you're comfortable with it and then you'll need less cooling and heating through the year. A/c is a relatively new gadget, people survived without it for thousands of years because they had no choice but to become acclimated to their local conditions whatever that took. Few people came to harm from the temperatures. But nowadays if there was a massive long-term power outage hundreds or thousands would die from the heat simply because they're not used to it- they stay refrigerated almost constantly, they don't stay well-hydrated, and they know nothing of the old ways folks used to cool off or stay cool in the past without electricity. And the huge demand on the power system from all the A/C's running makes it likely that we're going to see such a catastrophe happen when it never needed to.

Yes, it's nice to be totally comfortable all of the time, but if it kills you then will it have been worth it? And something that everybody seems to have overlooked is the possibility that A/C is the root cause of our global warming trends. Look at the temperature stats and consider how closely the rise in A/C use so closely correlates to it. All the heat A/C exhausts outdoors has to have some effect on this as does the heat generated to make the electricity needed to run them along with the mechanical and electrical losses (heat) each A/C device creates. You can't win a fight with nature so it's best to learn how to live with it instead then do that. It won't kill you but the alternative could very well do that. Use your A/C minimally and it might save you something worth more than money.

Phil

dj1
Re: Get ready for A/C fail
dj1

Phil, I understand where you are coming from on this one, but in my area, A/C is not a luxury or a privilege, it's a necessity. Young, old and in between - we all need it.

We have heat waves, one after the other, where temps soar to the 110 plus in the shade, and nobody around here will dispute that keeping cool is a way to survive.

The greatest think, when October rolls around, is that most folks already forgot about those heat waves, and are just worried about summer unpaid electric bills.

ordjen
Re: Get ready for A/C fail
ordjen

It is not mere coincidence that the explosive post WW2 growth of the American South and South-West paralleld the advent of air-conditioning.

Mastercarpentry
Re: Get ready for A/C fail
Mastercarpentry

Here in the South-East US most median-level and lower new homes were built without AC till the 60's and even later in the rural areas, but it's de-riguer for everything now. You usually find whole-house fans in those non-A/C homes and if they're also plaster and left open to cool overnight you hardly need A/C. People lived and worked everywhere except in the desert before there was A/C, just fewer of them and they were a tougher breed of folks. Plus they worked with nature- the sun was your clock and it told you when to start and stop. You get acclimated to it in time and you learn to work with it, not against it. Many outside contractors here still work this way.

Being used to the heat, many folks here heat in winter to 75-80 degrees, then cool in the summer to 70-75 degrees. In my visits up north I've found the opposite- winter heating was about 5-10 degrees lower as was summer cooling because that matched their local climate more closely and was more comfortable to them. If you can afford it you can have what you want- but that goes out the window when something fails. I work outside enough so that my comfort range is from 40-75 degrees according to the season but I still like warmth in the winter so my norm then inside is 70+ since I can afford that in this small house.

I've worked many a day exposed to the weather from 2-digit minus temps with wind chill factored in to triple-digits all day long in the sun, but I've gotten to old to handle that like I used to. What don't kill you makes you tougher till you get old and "tough" becomes tying your shoes while standing :p

Phil

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