Chicago’s North Shore A/C Maintenance Expert, David Ariano dispels the myths and misconceptions of maintaining your air conditioner so your A/C keeps running cool all summer long for Chicago’s North Shore residents.
I had the opportunity to sit down with David Ariano, the President of Ravinia Plumbing, Heating & Electric in Highland Park, Illinois, a family-owned business operating on Chicago’s North Shore since 1928. David is a third-generation owner.
Since David joined the company in 1994, it has grown from 16 employees to 76. The company has also acquired several plumbing and HVAC companies as well as other integral trades that coincide, creating a seamless experience for its customers.
Not only is his company a six-time winner of the Carrier President’s Award, received the Angie’s List Super Service Award numerous times and is A+ rated by Better Business Bureau, David is a true champion of small business and shares his experience and knowledge with younger contractors as three-time past President of the Plumbing Contractors Association of Northern Illinois as well as current President of the Plumbing Council.
Markus: Hi David, thanks for spending some time with me today.
David: Thanks for having me.
Markus: Excellent. So, let’s just jump right into it right now. Tell us about Ravinia Plumbing, Heating, and Electric and how you’re helping Chicago’s North Shore customers stay cool this summer.
David: Well, probably the most important thing that any homeowner can do is to make sure that they have their system checked annually, really biannually – once in the spring for the cooling half of their heating and cooling system, and obviously again in the fall for the heating portion.
Markus: You’re referring to air conditioning maintenance. Why is that important?
David: Well, for a couple of reasons. The number one reason is because your systems are running all the time. They’re moving a lot of air through the house and your heating and cooling systems contain one or more filters. Those filters are there to collect dust and dirt and keep them from clogging up the air conditioning system and the furnace, and if that dirt is allowed to get into those systems, it can greatly reduce the efficiency. It can slowly but permanently damage the system, greatly reducing the overall life of the air conditioner.
Markus: Would you describe at least one problem that homeowners in the Chicagoland area have with their air conditioning system that you specialize in solving?
David: Sure. Aside from just replacing air filters – and the rule of thumb is if it’s a one-inch thick filter, it should be changed monthly. If it’s a four-inch thick filter or greater, it should be changed twice a year. After that, there are other things that we look for, primarily in the one-inch thick filters. Those one-inch thick filters are really there just to kind of protect equipment. They don’t really remove a whole lot of dust. They’re just removing the larger particles and what that allows is for the finer dust to accumulate on the wheels of the blower system that moves the air through the house and on the evaporator coil which actually performs the cooling in the house. That heat exchange is what absorbs the heat in the home, reducing the temperature and cooling your home. And if those two components foul up with dust. it will greatly reduce the performance, efficiency, and could permanently damage your A/C system, reducing its overall life.
Markus: So, really, the outcome you’re helping your clients achieve is not only keeping their air conditioners running in tip-top shape and cool all summer, but really prolonging the life of their air conditioner unit.
David: Absolutely. Dirty filters are probably the number one reason for equipment breakdown and failure and premature failure.
Markus: Which obviously would be very costly to the homeowners. So you’re making a difference in the lives of the North Shore homeowners, here in Illinois with your air conditioner maintenance. That’s fantastic! What are some of the advantages of regular air conditioner maintenance and repair for the Chicago North Shore homeowners?
David: Obviously the filter changing component, anybody can do that. You don’t need to pay a professional to change the filters and keep the filters clean, but there are other components that need maintenance – as I said before, making sure that the blower wheels are clean and the evaporator coil is clean. That’s quite a bit more difficult to do, especially considering the evaporator coil is encased in sheet metal and you have to have the right kind of tools to get at it and then to know how to clean it properly without damaging it. And then again for the other half of your air conditioner, which is the outdoor condensing unit, making sure that that’s clean and you have to be pretty careful when you’re trying to clean the outdoor condensing unit because there’s a lot of electricity that’s flowing through that system, and if you’re not careful, it’s not too difficult to accidentally electrocute yourself.
Markus: If I’m not mistaken, it’s like a double circuit, so it’s 220 versus 110, so double the electricity is going to any outlet in your house. Is that correct?
David: That’s correct. So, all the outdoor condensing units operate at 220 volts and at quite a higher amperage. Most outlets in your home are going to be wired for 10 to 15 amps maximum and your air conditioner is going to run, depending upon the size of the unit and the age of the unit, anywhere between 30 amps to 60 amps, and the reason that becomes a lot more dangerous is the voltage pushes the current through your body and of course the higher the current, the more damage it’s going to do to you.
So, really, it only takes less than an amp to kill a person and when you’ve got 30 to 60 amps at twice the voltage it becomes even easier, so you have to be very careful about what you’re doing and knowing how to service the unit and knowing how to shut off the power and discharge the capacitors that are inside of it that hold electricity.