Category Archives: Air Conditioning

Air Conditioning A-B-Cs – A Simple System for Home Comfort


Let’s face it. Managing a household is more easily said than done. Between landscaping, pool maintenance, HVAC, normal home repairs, odd jobs and honey-dos, it’s more than a full-time job. As appliances and home systems become more complex (such as wi-fi networks, cable or satellite television and home alarm systems with cameras) keeping track with what needs to get done on a weekly, monthly and yearly basis becomes more challenging. Homeowners are faced with so many demands on their time, it helps to have some simple systems in place to lighten the workload.

Air Conditioning ABCs

During the summer months in Arizona, air conditioners are arguably the most important appliance you own. Homeowners often forget about their AC systems because they generally provide good, reliable service quietly, coolly and effectively. For many people, setting the thermostat is the extent of their AC involvement. That is, until it breaks down. Here are a few ABCs of air conditioning service that will aid you in keeping your system in top form.

  • A is for Air Filters – Changing your air filters on a monthly basis, especially in Arizona, is a great habit to get into. Living in Phoenix means dealing with tons of ultra-fine desert dirt swirling through the air during monsoon season dust storms. The extremely hot, dry climate and excess of particulate matter and dust floating in the air necessitates paying attention to your filters. Homeowners with cats or dogs know that dander can accumulate at an alarming rate. Clean air filters are your best defense against a home full of pet generated dander.
  • B is for Breaker Switch – If your air conditioning unit stops working, the first thing you should always do is check your breaker switch. Power outages, power surges, lightening, storms and brown outs can trip your breaker. Many times, power will go out for a brief moment then back on without you realizing what has happened. Yet, 30 minutes later, you notice your house is getting warm. Over the years, we’ve made numerous service calls for worn down, faulty or easily tripped breaker switches.
  • C is for Capacitors – Actually, your air conditioner has a lot of Cs in it. Capacitor, compressor, condenser, coils, contactor – of these, one of the most common air conditioner repairs is replacing burned-out capacitors. In fact, more than two-thirds of all air conditioning repairs are related to electrical problems, which leads us to our final ABC bullet point.
  • ABC – Always Be Careful – Your air conditioner is powered by high voltage electricity. Electric motors, fans, wires and parts are not for amateurs. Know your limitations when dealing with your air conditioner. Capacitors contain hazardous materials. You may be tempted to make what looks like an easy repair, but electrical jobs can be tricky. Leave electrical repairs to the pros.

The Best Advice for Keeping Your Air Conditioner in Top Form

Scheduling regular maintenance on your AC system twice a year, in spring and in fall, is the best advice we can offer to keep your AC system running smoothly. Why not call Bruce’s Air Conditioning & Heating today at 480-968-5652.

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.

Do You Love Everything About Your House Except for Your Air Conditioner?

If you’ve gone through the process of buying or selling a home recently, or if you watch HGTV, you’re familiar with priorities of home purchasers. These days, the most important features homebuyers want to see include completely updated, spacious luxury kitchens, open concept floorplans, fully functional family or great rooms, newly remodeled bathrooms and roomy master suites. It is rare that a prospective buyer walks into an open house and says to the realtor, “I’d like to check out the air conditioner and ducts, paperwork, invoices and service records for the HVAC system.”

In fact, for many homeowners, air conditioning is often an afterthought. This is unfortunate, because once you move into a new home, the temperature and indoor air quality are crucial to creating the environment you live in and the “feel” of your home – especially in Arizona. So, if you love everything about your home except for your air conditioner (and those soaring energy bills), it may be time to consider a new HVAC system. To help with the decision-making process, consider these questions:

  • How old is your current HVAC system?
  • How expensive is your monthly electrical bill?
  • How efficient is your air conditioner?
  • How often does your system require service?
  • How long has it been since your HVAC system has been inspected and evaluated?

Age

Most HVAC systems are built to last anywhere from 10 to 15 years.  However, the extreme heat and dusty, desert climate in Phoenix pushes air conditioners to the limit. Less than 10 years of operation is common in Arizona. It is important to establish the age of your air conditioner, so you can make an informed decision as to how many more years of service you can expect out of your current unit. Obviously, it is better to retire an old AC unit a year early instead of year too late as the repair expenses can add up on older units.

Energy Expense and SEER Ratings

They say heat rises. In Arizona, so do energy bills. Has your utility bill been increasing? Air conditioning accounts for approximately half of your monthly electrical usage. A more efficient AC unit can significantly lower your utility charges, especially during the summer season. SEER ratings were established by the U.S. Department of Energy to give consumers a basis for comparison between HVAC systems. SEER is the acronym for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio which expresses the effectiveness (efficiency) of a given air conditioner in producing cooling. If an air conditioner produces more cooling using less electricity that means higher efficiency. The greater an air conditioner’s efficiency, the higher the SEER rating. Did you know it’s possible to reduce the amount of AC energy use by 20 to 40 percent with a new, higher-SEER rated, energy efficient air conditioner? Your old unit may have a very low SEER rating which translates into wasted energy.

Cost of Repairs

As your air conditioner gets older, the service calls and repairs usually increase. In the unrelenting Arizona heat, AC units run full tilt for months at a time. And as the years go by, parts wear down. Based on the age of your air conditioning unit and the service history, an experienced HVAC technician can often give you a pretty good idea of how much longer a given compressor, motor, fan or other part might last. The trick is to avoid costly major repairs in the last year or two of service.

HVAC System Evaluation

The purchase of a new HVAC system presents a complex set of questions for any homeowner. The most important first step is to call and schedule an inspection of your current system, so you’ll know where you stand. The professionals at Bruce’s Air Conditioning & Heating are ready to provide you with a complete evaluation and set of recommendations for the comfort of you and your family.

Rooftop or Ground Level – Where’s the Best Place to Install Your New Air Conditioning Unit?


The month of July is often do-or-die for many Arizona air conditioning systems. If a breakdown occurs halfway through summer, with months of triple digit temperatures still ahead, it’s difficult to squeeze one more year out of an old unit. Rather than spend thousands on yet another repair, it may be wise to replace. If you are considering a new HVAC system for your home, placement of your air conditioning unit is a key decision you’ll need to make. Whether you opt for a rooftop unit or a ground level system, there’s advantages and disadvantages to both.

What’s the Difference Between Rooftop and Ground Systems?

The main differences between rooftop package units and ground level systems are:

  • All-in-one rooftop packages are self-contained units with all components located in one place.
  • Rooftop systems occupy otherwise unused space on your roof.
  • Rooftop units require no square footage in your home, no footprint on the ground surrounding your house.
  • In split ground HVAC systems, components are installed indoors and outdoors and are connected by refrigerant tubing.
  • The indoor section (often located in a service closet) contains the fan, heating apparatus, evaporator coil and air filters.
  • The outdoor section of a split system is comprised of the condenser and compressor.
  • Split systems offer somewhat more flexibility.

What Are the Pros and Cons of Rooftop Air Conditioners and Ground Level Split Systems?

 

Rooftop

Pros: Being self-contained, rooftop units have fewer connections and a slightly less chance for breakdowns. Rooftop units tend to be more energy efficient. The fact that the unit is off the ground means you don’t have to sacrifice significant square footage in the area surrounding your home. Many homeowners feel noise is less noticeable with a rooftop system. Security is also a factor. Rooftop units are less likely to be vandalized or pilfered for copper parts. As well, rooftop units are not as susceptible to falling branches or debris during storms.

Cons: New rooftop units can be slightly more expensive to buy, and the cost of installation is higher because rooftop units require a crane. Maintenance is undoubtedly easier on ground units. Rooftop units are unprotected and exposed to the elements. For many homeowners, rooftop units are literally easier to forget because they are out of sight. This can present problems in terms of regular maintenance.

Ground Level Split System

Pros: Split systems offer more options for homeowners and can be customized for special needs. In some cases, HOAs have rules preventing rooftop installations. Ground level units provide easier access (no ladder required), in terms of maintenance. Because the parts are separate and accessible, swapping out individual components can be less expensive than replacing an entire package unit.

Cons: Some homeowners consider ground level systems unsightly, and they require a fair amount of open space for air circulation around the unit. Noise from the compressor can be a distraction if it’s located near the pool, patio or bedroom window. Ground level systems are unfortunately susceptible to hooligans and thieves. Split systems can be more expensive to maintain.
In terms of overall expense, there is no clear choice favorite. The advantages and disadvantages, costs and savings tend to even out over the long run for both systems. Your best bet is to consult a professional who will guide you in the choice and placement of your new unit.

Expert Installation by Experienced Professionals Is the Key

If you are considering purchasing a new air conditioning system for your home, the most important decision you’ll make is choosing the right company for the job. There are no substitutes for experience, and there are no shortcuts when it comes to first-rate installation. Call Bruce’s today for a professional assessment of your air conditioning needs.

Is That Summer Cold Caused by Your Air Conditioner?


Have you heard coughs and sneezing lately? Are you struggling with a bug that you can’t seem to shake? While it’s not cold and flu season, there are still plenty of viruses to go around, and this summer seems to be especially bad when it comes to upper respiratory infections. But, could those unpleasant symptoms be caused by your air conditioner? It’s a question that many Arizona homeowners often ask, and the answer is actually multi-faceted.

Cold Air Isn’t the Cause

Many people believe that cold temperatures produce colds. Yet, this theory never has been proven true. However, that’s not the end of the story. Cold, dry indoor air can aggravate eyes and the mucous membranes in your nose, which can make catching a virus more likely.

The Stress Factor

It has been proven that viruses are more likely to hit individuals with weakened immune systems. One cause of lagging immunity is stress on the body caused by moving between chilly, air-conditioned indoor spaces and fiery hot outdoor heat.

Allergies Can Mimic Colds

The common symptoms of colds, like sneezing, stuffy noses, coughing and sore throat, can also be caused by allergies. Airborne, allergy-inducing contaminants, such as pollen, animal dander and mold, are commonly found in HVAC systems with dirty air filters. When they are blown into your home, the result can be cold-like symptoms that never seem to get better.

Combating the Summer Cold

Although there is no way to completely eliminate the chance of getting the dreaded summer cold, there are some strategies that can greatly reduce your risk. These include:

  • Maintaining an indoor temperature between 72 and 78 degrees
  • Allowing some air circulation in your home by opening windows and doors in the early morning and evening hours
  • Cleaning or replacing air filters on a regular basis

Learn more about how to care for your air conditioner to ensure the comfort and health of you and your family. Call us at 480-968-5652.