Markus: So the lesson here is hire a professional. Don’t get yourself electrocuted. That’s great.
David: Yeah, exactly. So, if you know what you’re doing, that’s great. If you don’t, learn from professionals or hire a professional.
Markus: Exactly. Thank you for sharing that. What do you feel are the biggest myths out there when it comes to keeping your house cool in the summer?
David: Probably one of the biggest myths is if you have a room that seems like it’s a little too cold or maybe you’re an empty nester, so there are several rooms that they’re not using, a lot of customers will close the vents in rooms that they’re not using or that might be a little bit too cool thinking that they’ll push more cold air into other parts of the house. It’s actually the opposite effect. When you start closing down vents, you’re reducing the amount of air that can flow through the system, and when you do that, if you reduce the amount of air that’s flowing through the system, you’re not delivering enough warm air to that evaporator heat exchanger that’s sitting above the furnace to help cool the house. And when you’re not delivering enough air, the face of that air conditioner gets too cold and it can freeze up, and then instead of getting cold air, you get no air.
Markus: Wow. That’s not good.
David: Nope. Not if you want to stay cool.
Markus: Absolutely. That’s funny. I used to believe that, too, so thank you for clearing that up. I will make sure all our vents are open. So, are there any other common misconceptions that Chicago’s north shore homeowners have about keeping their houses cool in the summer or about the air conditioning industry in general?
David: Well, there are a couple of other things that you can do to help keep the house cool that don’t really have much to do with your air conditioner. It’s really more to do with blocking some of the sunlight from coming in the house. So, during the heat of the day, if you’re not going to be at home, close the shades because when the sunlight is allowed to come in through the windows, you’re going to heat up the structure and you’re going to need more cooling and it’s going to cost you more money to keep your house cool. So, if you’re not at home, keep your shades and blinds closed. It helps to lower the cooling costs and reduce the solar load on the house.
Markus: That makes sense. Having good solar-blocking shades in the rooms, especially ones that are facing – would that be the southern exposure where the sun is the hottest?
David; Correct. The southeast exposure here in the Chicagoland area.
Markus: Are there any common fears that you find that people have about getting on a regular maintenance schedule for their A/C units?
David: Well, there’s the belief that if it’s not broke, don’t fix it. There have been a couple of university studies done in the past where they’ve looked at what happens when you don’t properly keep your air conditioning clean and some of this had to do specifically with just dirt that builds up on the outside condensing unit. That outside unit is mostly a big heat exchanger. That’s the A/C unit you see on the outside. And air is being drawn in from the sides and out the top and you can feel it. The air coming out of the top is warmer. Well, it only takes a very, very fine, thin film of dirt and debris over the coils of that heat exchange or the fins of that heat exchanger before you drop in efficiency. And if you drop in efficiency 5 or 6%, it’s enough to increase the operating cost greater than what you would normally pay to have a system cleaned and checked. So, it doesn’t take very much, maybe a year or two years’ worth of build-up of dirt and dust before you’re spending more in electricity than you would to clean the unit.
Markus: Wow, that’s good to know. So, it really does make a lot of sense to get on a regular maintenance schedule because you really will be saving money almost right from the get-go. That’s fantastic. Not to mention I’m sure if you find some things early on, those small repairs probably would be more cost-effective to be fixed then than once they become larger issues.
David: And that’s one of the other things that a professional is looking for. Aside from keeping the unit clean and operating at peak efficiency, we’re trying to find problems that are going to become an emergency. So, there are – inside the outdoor condensing unit, there are relays called contactors that turn the system on and off and those contactors get pitted just through normal use. It’s just the way they work and eventually they’re going to burn up and they have to be replaced. So, if you can see that those units are getting pitted, you can replace them preemptively rather than waiting for them to fail because Murphy’s Law dictates that it’s not going to fail on a nice, beautiful, cool day. It’s going to fail when it’s 98 degrees outside. And then when you try to call a professional when it’s 98 degrees outside, you’re going to have to wait several days to get somebody.
Markus: Exactly, because they’re slammed because everyone else is calling as well. That makes perfect sense. So, are there any other perceived obstacles that you see that might be preventing Chicago’s North Shore homeowners from seeking help from an HVAC service leader?
David: So, the final recommendation is – like in any business, there are good companies out there and there are companies out there that are not as reputable. And it’s pretty easy to figure out who’s who. If you have a problem and you start calling around, the reputable companies are usually busy. The un-reputable companies sometimes aren’t as busy and there’s a reason for that. There’s a lot of complicated components and systems inside of your heating and cooling system and you want to make sure that the information you’re getting from the service professional is correct, they’re telling you the truth, and they’re being honest with you so that you’re paying only for those repairs that are needed.