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Your AC in a Heat Wave: A Few Things to Know

sunshine-imageThe heat here in the Central Valley these last few weeks has been … well, there’s been a lot of it. Recording breaking heat. In July, Fresno broke the record of consecutive days with triple digit heat—22 days, starting on July 6, according to the Fresno Bee. The newspaper also predicted the heat might subside in late August. But the heat waves sweeps on and on. We’re still experiencing days peaking in the triple-digits, with other days hovering in the 90s.

We hope you haven’t had to deal with any serious heat-related emergencies (we did a post on recognizing these emergencies) and that your air conditioner is still managing to keep your home cool. In fact, let’s talk about your AC and the heat. There are a few important things to know about running your air conditioner during these extremes.

Your Air Conditioner Is Pumping Out Immense Amounts of Heat

You’ve probably heard of heat pumps before. They aren’t common installations here in the Central Valley, although many homes in other areas use them. But an air conditioner is a type of “heat pump,” because it pumps heat out of your home. This is how it keeps you cool—it takes the excess heat in your home and moves it outdoors. When the temperatures are extremely high, the AC must do more work. Not only is there more heat to move, but it’s more difficult to expel the heat to the outside.

However, you can help make the AC’s job easier in a heat wave:

  • Keep the thermostat temperature as high as you find comfortable. 78°F is a good target.
  • Close the shades over the windows during the day, since the radiant heat energy from the sun is just an extra load of heat you don’t need.
  • Avoid running large appliances during the middle of the day. The clothes dryer and the washing machine are big no-nos.
  • Turn on as few lights as possible.
  • If you have a zone control system, now is the time to put it to good use. Don’t cool more rooms than you need to.

Failed Capacitors Can Be a Big Problem

The capacitors are the components in an air conditioner in the most danger of failing during extreme heat. The capacitors send voltage to the motors to start them and keep them running. If you hear a clicking from the AC cabinets, this can mean capacitors on the verge of failing. Call for repairs right away before you have a non-working air conditioning system.

AC Air Filters Clog Quickly

In our previous post about heating emergencies, we made special mention of changing the HVAC air filter because of the recent fires. But changing the filter is also essential if you’ve had to keep your air conditioner running regularly to combat the high heat. A dirty filter reduces air conditioning system efficiency by around 15%, but the real danger at this point is overloading the blower fan motor and tripping a circuit breaker. With all the heat we’ve had, we recommend changing the filter each month. Have you done it for September yet?

If you do have an air conditioning problem, we’re here for your AC repairs in Fresno, CA and elsewhere in the Central Valley!

Look to Purl’s Sheet Metal & Air Conditioning for great AC service: Quality is the Cornerstone of Our Success!

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