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Refrigerant Levels and Home Comfort

If you take a look at your air conditioning unit, you’ll first notice fans and motors. But, the reason your air conditioner can cool the air is something that isn’t seen, it’s the refrigerant inside of it that enables the unit to exchange heat and move the hot air out of your home to the outside. If the refrigerant levels aren’t correct, cooling efficiency will drop, and you’ll be in need of repairs. Don’t attempt this project yourself!

Early Refrigerant

In the pioneering days of air conditioning, refrigerant was made from toxic, flammable gases, like ammonia, propane or ethyl chloride. Fortunately, refrigerant safety has improved tremendously. And, today’s air conditioners use a refrigerant called R-401A which was designed to minimize any impact on the environment.

How It Works

Refrigerant circulates in a closed system around your air conditioner, changing from a gas to a liquid and back to a gas as it cycles heat. With the compressor, the refrigerant is squeezed into a high-pressure gas, which moves to the condenser unit, where heat is released outside.
Your air conditioner’s refrigerant level, known as its “charge” needs to remain consistent throughout the life of the unit. Contrary to popular belief, refrigerant doesn’t get used up. A lower charge is due to a leak that has led to refrigerant escaping.

Don’t Fix a Refrigerant Problem

Unlike certain do-it-yourself air conditioner maintenance tasks, like changing filters, replacing refrigerant is not something you should try. Professional service is necessary to recharge the refrigerant to the optimal level and to seal up leaks.

Do you suspect that your air conditioner may have a refrigerant leak? Don’t be tempted to buy refrigerant and tackle the job yourself. Call Bruce’s Air Conditioning & Heating. We’re your full-service residential and commercial HVAC service provider in Chandler, AZ. For more than four decades, we’ve been helping Arizonans stay comfortable all year long. Call us today at 480-968-5652.

Watt’s Up: Understanding Air Conditioner Electrical Problems

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Seventy-five years ago, Phoenix was a sleepy agricultural town of 65,000 residents. The phenomenal growth of Phoenix (current population 1.6 million) is often attributed to three factors; perfect winter weather, accessible electrical power and two magic words – air conditioning. As home air conditioning units became more affordable in the 1960’s, home sales took off. Powered by multiple electric motors, air conditioning units make scorching Arizona summers bearable. Did you know that almost 80 percent of all air conditioning service calls are related to electrical issues?

Common Air Conditioner Electrical Problems

Air conditioners have many electrical circuits, wires and parts as well as two fans (powered by electrical) and the compressor motor. Over time, all these components are subject to normal wear and tear and may eventually break down. However, a word to the wise – if you’re not an electrical expert (and let’s face it, most of us aren’t), please do not do attempt to fix your own electrical problems. The advice we give our customers is don’t do anything more complicated than resetting the breaker switch. Electrical issues can cause serious damage to your air conditioning unit and more importantly, to you. Please be safe and call us immediately when you notice air conditioner electrical problems

Air Conditioning Breaker Switch

Air conditioning systems draw a fair amount of power, especially during the summer months when your AC unit is running full tilt for weeks at a time. There are many reasons your breaker switch might be tripped such as power grid failure, power surges or electrical issues due to storms. If your air conditioner stops working, always check the breaker switch first. If your breaker switch is constantly going off, that is an indication of a problem. You may have an undersized breaker, a faulty breaker switch or a loose breaker, all of which will require replacement.

What Are Capacitors?

Capacitors are essential to the electrical motors in your air conditioner. Capacitors regulate the “start-up” and “run” energy for the electric motors. Capacitors are found in virtually all electric motors and come in many shapes and sizes. Used mainly to store and release electric charges (similar to a short-term battery) capacitors regulate the motors in the compressor, blower and fan. If you have a faulty capacitor, you may notice a clicking sound upon start up or a loud hum if the motor can’t get going. Both sounds mean you should call for service immediately.

Electrical Wiring and Your Air Conditioner

Depending on when your home was built, the electrical wiring may not have been replaced or even inspected for decades. Years of intense heat, constant vibration and overall use can take quite a toll. In our years of providing great AC service to countless Phoenix homes, we have seen it all, including wires chewed raw by critters, wires damaged by power surges or lightening, and sadly, faulty wiring improperly installed when the home was originally constructed.

Electrical Problems Are Best Left to Professionals

Electrical problems are serious and require trained professionals. These are not do-it-yourself issues. At Bruce’s Air Conditioning & Heating, we have the experienced technicians who can recognize small electrical problems before they become big issues. If you’re AC unit and wiring has not been checked in the last calendar year, why not give us a call?

Air Conditioning Maintenance: 3 Simple Things to Do Today!

For most homeowners, air conditioners are complex, multi-component systems that sit outside (or up on the roof) humming along, providing a cool interior environment through sweltering Arizona summer heat. It’s not unusual for people to go an entire summer without giving air conditioning maintenance a thought – until something goes wrong. It is an unproven scientific fact that air conditioners tend to breakdown at exactly the worst times. What can a homeowner do to decrease the number of AC related emergencies and increase the indoor air quality enjoyment index?

There are how-to books and endless articles about the care and maintenance of your air conditioning system. There are YouTube videos explaining AC parts and how they work. But let’s face facts – most homeowners have neither the time nor inclination to attempt a do-it-yourself approach for something as crucial as air conditioning. The extensive electronics and intricate systems are simply too complex, require special tools and monitoring gauges, and are too important to be handled by untrained novices. The most important decision you can make when it comes to your air conditioning system is to choose a team of specialists to keep your air conditioner in top shape.

#1 – Change Your Air Filters Once a Month

During monsoon season, dust storms generate tons of wind-whipped dirt and dust in the Phoenix air. Mile high dust storms blotting out the sun are a sight to behold. However, all that dust can affect healthy breathing, especially for people with asthma or respiratory conditions. Living in the desert means indoor air quality is of tremendous importance to you and your family. During the summer months in Phoenix, most families spend over ninety percent of their time inside. When you get in the habit of changing your air conditioning air filters once a month, you’ll notice a dramatic improvement in the indoor air quality in your home.

#2 – Embrace the New Wi-fi Enabled Programmable Thermostats

Many homeowners are reluctant to upgrade their thermostats. Two axioms come to mind: If something isn’t broken, don’t fix it, and human beings are, by nature, resistant to change. You may be happy with your current thermostat, but did you know you can save a lot of money with a new programmable thermostat? The fact is, changing your thermostat will probably take some getting used to. However, the benefits will far outweigh the inconvenience of learning a new system. Many of the new programmable thermostats are equipped with smart technology that tracks your schedule and learns your temperature preferences. With many models, you can tie your thermostat into an app on your phone which will enable you to adjust your home system from anywhere via your smart phone.

#3 – Schedule Regular Service Calls in the Spring and Fall

There’s no doubt that Phoenix is the hottest city in America. The desert climate is extremely demanding on your AC unit. Your air conditioner sits in the hot sun, exposed to the elements, cranking out the cold air for months at a time. Even though air conditioners are built to last, the best way to take care of them is with a preventive maintenance program. Scheduling two service calls per year ensures that your HVAC unit is ready for summer and winter. Why not call the pros at Bruce’s Air Conditioning & Heating and see how simple and easy air conditioning maintenance can be.

Air Conditioning Oversights That Can Cost You A Lot of Money

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So far, you’ve managed the summer swelter as well as anyone can in Arizona. With Labor Day approaching, you check your Phoenix Area National Weather Service Temperature Guide and realize that there are still two more months of 100-degree plus days. Ouch! Summer just won’t quit, and National Weather Service statistics confirm, summer in Arizona is getting hotter and lasting longer.

Because air conditioning is critical to comfortable living in the desert, it’s often a good idea to do a late summer air conditioning essentials recap. Let’s take a moment to review your household’s unwritten AC rules and habits. Have your electric bills been sky high? Is everyone on the same page temperature-wise? Sometimes, one family member will crank up the AC and forget to reset the thermostat for days, which can really add up. Air conditioners tend to work quietly in the background, providing a cool environment for you and your family, so they are easy to forget. Here are three common air conditioning oversights that may be affecting your overall air conditioning bottom line.

Are You Guilty of Filthy Filters?

This may be the most common oversight of all air conditioning-related issues. In Arizona’s dusty desert climate, clean air filters are absolutely essential. Running your AC unit 24/7 throughout the entire summer means you are moving a tremendous volume of air through your home each and every day. Replacing your air conditioning filters on a monthly basis is advised, especially if you have someone with a respiratory condition living in your home. In some parts of the country, replacing air filters once every three months is common. However, the level of dust, pollens, particulates and pollution in Phoenix demands more. Did you know that dirty filters can add up to 15 percent to your electric bill? In summertime, for the sake of your health, get in the habit of changing your filters on the first of every month.

Is It Time to Upgrade Your Thermostat?

There’s no doubt, the first wave of wi-fi programmable thermostats were a bit complicated and not for everyone, especially the technically challenged. However, over the last five years, programmable thermostats have grown incredibly more useful and much easier to use. Consider these benefits:

  • Smart thermostats get to know your schedule and habits and will adjust the temperature accordingly.
  • Raising the temperature when you are at work or away from the house saves money.
  • Programmable thermostats save you time – you won’t be forgetting to constantly reset the temperature.
  • Some models include a phone app that allows you to control your thermostat from anywhere.

Are You “Saving” Money by Putting Off Service?

One of the most serious oversights when it comes to air conditioning is saving money by foregoing regular service calls. It’s easy enough to forget. Especially if your AC unit seems to be working just fine. Yet, it’s important to remember that the desert is an unforgiving place. Many AC units are located on the roof where temperatures can exceed 140 degrees. Running flat out for months at a time, HVAC systems are put under tremendous stress. The extreme heat, the constant vibration, the exposure to the sun and storms, dust and monsoons – it all adds up over time. Regular service calls with our expert technicians will keep your air conditioner running in top form and prevent big breakdowns which always seem to happen at the worst times. The simple fact is regular maintenance is the best insurance against expensive major repairs.

Let Us Oversee Your HVAC

At Bruce’s Air Conditioning & Heating, we believe in preventive maintenance and making sure little problems don’t turn into big ones. Our friendly and experienced technicians will assess your HVAC system and provide you with excellent service to keep your AC running cold and strong all summer long.

Autumn – The Perfect Season for an HVAC Checkup

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In Arizona, air conditioning is so central to the enjoyment of life through the summertime, it’s easy to forget that cooler temperatures are only a few months away. Though there are many 100 degree plus days yet to come in September and October, the colder nights will be here before you know it. If you haven’t already done so, establishing twice yearly HVAC checkups is a great way to keep your system in top working order. The best approach is to schedule a springtime inspection for air conditioning and a second, autumn service call to check the furnace and prepare for winter. The autumn inspection verifies that no damage occurred to your HVAC system over the grueling summer. Falling behind in maintenance can often lead to bigger problems down the road.

Why Worry About My Furnace in the Middle of a Heat Wave?

Of course, it might seem counter-intuitive to focus on your furnace when it’s 108 in the shade. However, there are many good reasons to get out in front of all your HVAC service needs, including:

  • Preventive Maintenance Is the Key – HVAC units work harder in Arizona than just about anywhere else in the U.S. The desert climate, with its intense heat, high winds, dust storms and monsoons, is very tough on all the moving parts of your HVAC system. Often situated on the roof, HVAC units are utterly exposed to the harsh elements and relentless sun. By the time September rolls around, your unit has been operating at full tilt for four months. Just like pushing an automobile at high speeds for months on end, the opportunity for failure is increased as the constant heat and vibration works on all the moving parts, motors and fans. The key to avoiding costly overhauls is preventive maintenance. The experts at Bruce’s Air Conditioning can spot problem areas before they turn into major breakdowns.
  • HVAC Companies Are Often Booked Solid During Summer – Summers are extremely busy for Phoenix area HVAC service companies because the extreme heat can wreak havoc on AC units. Often booked solid from May through October, (including nights and weekends), most service technicians are dealing with urgent AC-related emergency repairs. Autumn presents an opportunity for a slightly slower pace and non-emergency regular maintenance calls. As always, it’s best to schedule service calls well in advance.
  • Check for Damage from Electrical Issues, Monsoons and Critters – During extreme heat and monsoons, the Phoenix metro power grid experiences power surges and power outages. Electrical issues can arise from these power fluctuations. High winds and driving rains can also cause issues for HVAC units. It is not uncommon for branches, leaves and debris to be blown into HVAC units or suffer wind related damage during monsoons. Animals and critters can find their way into places they don’t belong, sometimes gnawing on wires or creating problems.
  • Have You Thought About a Service Contract? – It is a fact that most HVAC units are well built and quietly do their job throughout the year. We only think about our HVAC systems when they start making unusual noises or stop working properly. It’s human nature to forget to schedule maintenance for something you rarely think about. If you sign up for a yearly service contract, you won’t need to remember to call. You will be automatically scheduled for spring and fall.

Prepare for Winter Well in Advance

At Bruce’s Air Conditioning, we understand that the best way to keep HVAC repair costs in line is to stay on top of regular maintenance. There is a big difference between getting out in front of potential problems verses waiting for breakdowns to occur. Why not call us today and schedule a fall checkup so you can sail through the winter months trouble free? Call us at 480-968-5652.