The first true summer heat arrived last weekend in Southern
California, with temperatures in places like Downtown L.A. reaching 100°F. It’s
cooled off a bit, but we all know more is coming.
So it’s time to talk about air conditioning emergencies that may occur in the future. Right now is a stressful time for people, and we know they want to avoid any type of emergency. A broken air conditioning system on a 90°F day definitely counts as an emergency! You can trust that our technicians are ready with emergency air conditioning repair in Van Nuys, CA, and throughout Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley. But we also want to help you avoid having the make the call in the first place. Here are some tips that will make it easier for your AC to handle the heat.
We are enjoying a beautiful spring season this year, with clear
sunny days and temperatures right in the sweet spot for comfort. True, most of
us are enjoying it through the windows of our homes, but it’s still great
weather, even for sunny Southern California.
This idyll is also the time to schedule an HVAC tune-up to prepare
for the hot weather that’s not far off. California never gets summer breaks
from summer weather. Regular spring maintenance is an essential job to make
summer as trouble-free as possible for your home cooling, and also as
inexpensive as possible.
But right now during the fall, we have an emergency situation in Southern California, which is the outbreak of major wildfires. These fast-spreading fires are an unfortunately regular occurrence at this time of year, but the fires of 2019 are more numerous than usual. We’re hoping you are reading this email from your own house and that you and your family have been safe during the fires. We also recommend you take steps to protect your comfort and valuable HVAC equipment with maintenance. Not the regular maintenance that’s done in spring, but a specific maintenance job—cleaning your air conditioner’s coils.
If you live in Los Angeles or the San Fernando Valley the answer to this frequently asked question is likely to be a resounding YES! Heat pump heating and air conditioning technology is safe, effective and an excellent way to reduce the carbon footprint of your home.
HOW DOES A HEAT PUMP WORK?
Think of a heat pump as a heat courier constantly moving hot air from one place to another. From where it’s not needed to where it is needed.
“But what if it’s cold outside?” You may ask, “How does a heat pump work in the winter?” Even when air seems uncomfortably cold, heat energy is still present. When it’s cold outside a heat pump is able to extract outside heat and transfer it inside. In the San Fernando Valley and Los Angeles there is enough heat hanging around outside of your house to heat your whole home! A heat pump is the perfect energy efficient technology to heat indoor air in our climate.
Conversely, when it’s hot outside, a heat pump reverses direction and acts as an air conditioner, removing heat from your home and dumping it outside.
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A HEAT PUMP AND A FURNACE?
The main difference between the two is how they create heat. A heat pump uses electricity to move heat from one place to another. A furnace burns fuel to create heat.
Los Angeles is moving away from natural gas appliances including furnaces. Not only will you feel good knowing that you are using the most environmentally friendly HVAC option, but a heat pump will put you ahead as gas prices ramp up in expectation of the phase out.
One of the reasons window air conditioning units are only
useful for apartments or for a single office is because of their limited reach.
The only way to cool a whole house with window units is to place them in windows
in every room—which isn’t always possible and blocks up so many windows
you’ll end up with a perpetual twilight in the house! And even with all the
window ACs, you’ll still end up with hot spots.
With a central air conditioning system, you don’t have to worry about having rooms all around the house cool. Or you shouldn’t. Unfortunately, uneven cooling still happens, and the most common case we run into is an upper story of a house that’s hotter than the lower one. Heat rises, and in the San Fernando Valley the AC may not be equipped to deal with it.
September is often the hottest month in Southern California. We can expect days in the 90s all the way through to October. So no, your home’s AC is not going to get any long vacation from work in the immediate future. In fact, because of the heat, the air conditioner is going to deal with, we want to share with you important information on an air conditioner’s limits. The same way you cannot force your car to drive 200 mph, you can’t force your air conditioner to cool past certain barriers. Think of it this way: if you wanted your house to be cold enough to turn ice into water, you couldn’t make the AC do it! (Not that you would want to…)
If you’ve read other of our blog entries or articles about air conditioning systems, you may have seen compressors called the “heart” of air conditioners. You may also know that when a compressor dies, it often spells the end of the whole air conditioner. (Whether you need to replace the compressor, the whole condenser, or the entire AC system depends on several factors we addressed earlier this year.)
Aside from these points about a compressor, many people don’t know what it is the compressor does that allows for an air conditioner to work. We’ll put the compressor under a microscope in this post to help you understand more about how your air conditioning in Van Nuys, CA works from day-to-day.
So, your service technician recommended a coil cleaning and I wanted to explain it’s value.
Not many people even know what an air conditioning coil is! This is what an indoor coil looks like:
…and an outdoor coil:
Coils have lots of delicate metal fins that create surface area where temperature transfer can occur. Warm air becomes cold as it passes over the coil. Sometimes your coil looks clean but we can tell by the rust in your drain pan that things are not functioning properly.
To give you some idea about how important clean coils are: 1/100th of an inch of dirt on your air conditioner’s coil hampers efficiency by 5%.
Now I understand that you may think, “So what. Five percent? I can live with that!”
But what’s worse is what it does to the condensation!
You know how water condensates on your cold drink in hot weather? Well, the same condensation forms on your cold air conditioning coil in hot weather. Sometimes so much condensation forms that it cannot easily be dispersed through your air conditioning system back into the air in your home. That’s why you have a condensate drain line.
Dirt on your coil is TERRIBLE when it mixes with condensation because the dirt grabs onto the water and keeps it pressed against the cold coil. That water then FREEZES and sets off a chain reaction of freezing and grabbing more condensation and freezing and grabbing until your WHOLE COIL becomes frozen.
Like this frozen coil:
Shocking, isn’t it? When the coil freezes like that ^^^ your whole system shuts down. You can see that the coil in this photo doesn’t even look that dirty!
Now, here is the important part: Before your coil becomes a block of ice it has probably had many days where it partially freezes. It may produce just enough frozen condensation to cause your system to be less effective and efficient during the day. Then at night the ice melts and sits in your drain pan causing rust – that little telltale sign that something is wrong.
So, yes, it seems like your system is working. You may even ask yourself, “Why is Kilowatt telling me that I need a coil cleaning, my system is fine!”
Then a particularly hot day comes along, your system is producing and freezing more and more condensation and suddenly the system shuts down.
Dust on the coil is like high cholesterol in the blood stream – a silent killer. The symptoms are not dramatic but a dirty coil can cause serious damage.
That is why we are recommending a coil cleaning.
Obviously, investing in a coil cleaning is your decision. No hard feelings if you choose to wait. But I wanted to make sure that you understand why we are recommending one so that you can keep an eye on your system. Here is a list of things that can exacerbate the situation… Watch out for:
• Pet fur • Loose fiber glass insulation • Ashes and soot from wildfires • Street grinding and repaving • Construction dust • Tree trimming • Pollen and other plant matter • Dusty wind • Smoking indoors – tar build-up on the coil
As always the best thing you can do for your system is regularly scheduled professional maintenance twice a year and changing the filter yourself as needed in between visits. Other than that we are a phone call away and at your service.
As older home specialists, our Kilowatt team often works with
ductless mini split systems. Going ductless is an excellent choice for these
homes because they allow for cooling and heating around the house, much like a
central HVAC system, but without needing to add an inch of ductwork.
But ductless mini splits offer other benefits for
homeowners, such as improved energy efficiency. How much of a difference can a
ductless mini split make in home comfort? We can’t give you specific dollar savings
amounts because every home is different, but we can show you how ductless
systems improve efficiency.
Air conditioning systems are often called refrigerant-based
systems because they use the circulation of refrigerant to move heat from inside
a building to the outside. But air conditioners don’t actually run off the
refrigerant: they’re electrical devices that take the power to run their
components from the electrical system in a building. They’re complex electrical
devices as well, and the majority of malfunctions an air conditioner can
encounter happen because of electrical problems.
We’d like to focus on two electrical components in your AC that are essential for it to work: the capacitors and the contactors. These parts work together to allow the motors in the air conditioner to run—and they will both eventually wear out, fail, and need replacement. It’s best to think of them as temporary parts. Regular AC maintenance will help technicians catch dying capacitors and contactors early, but you may find yourself caught off-guard and need AC repair in West Hollywood, CA.