Category Archives: Air Conditioning

In the Zone – Is Zone Air Conditioning Right for Your House?

Take a moment to imagine July, August and September in Arizona without air conditioning. That’s a scary thought, right? Air conditioning is so universal and essential, we often take it for granted – until it breaks down. The engineering principles of modern air conditioning, invented by Willis Carrier in the early 1900s, haven’t changed significantly in the last century. Yes, there have been improvements and technological advancements. However, the basics of home cooling have largely remained the same. Most Phoenix homeowners love their air conditioner and as long as it’s working properly, rarely give it a thought.

Air Conditioning – It’s on Full Blast or Completely Off

You come home from work late one night to a dark house. You walk in the front door and flip on the light switch. Suddenly, every light in your house turns on and stays on. Because that’s the way your lights have always worked, you don’t really notice. You simply go about your business unfazed. Later, when you go to bed, you turn off the lamp on the nightstand and every light turns off. That type of arrangement would account for a lot of wasted energy.

Essentially, most home air conditioning systems work this way. You set the thermostat, your AC unit turns on full blast, blowing cold air to every room in your home until the desired temperature is achieved. Then your unit shuts off. The temperature of the entire house is controlled by a single thermostat – usually located in a central area in the main part of the house. Homeowners often complain the temperature is nice and cool in the main living areas, however the master suite or further reaches of the house are too warm.

What Are the Principles Behind Zone Air Conditioning?

Zone air conditioning, as indicated in the name, divides your house into multiple zones and allows you to control temperature settings separately from one part of the house to the next. This is an advantage for many homes where the layout is divided into different wings, or for example, a house where the upstairs rooms are not being used. Many homes experience dramatic increases in temperatures in the rooms facing south and west. If your office is located on the southwest corner of your house and you work at home, you’ve certainly noticed the extra AC required to keep your workplace comfortable. Zone air conditioning allows you to increase delivering cold air where you need it most and to not cool the areas of your home which are not being used, which will help you save money on energy.

  • How Does Zone Air Conditioning Work?

    Electronically controlled dampers placed strategically throughout your system of ducts form the basis of zone air conditioning. Dampers are like large valves that you can turn on or off and control the flow of cooled air throughout your home. The zone dampers also control the heat in wintertime. Multiple thermostats placed throughout the various zones in your home are controlled by a central controlling thermostat.

  • How Many Zones Are in a House?

    There is not set answer to this question. Depending on the design and layout of your home and your current AC system including the ductwork, zones can vary from house to house. Typically, one of our service technicians will come out to inspect your entire HVAC system, come up with a plan and then discuss options and recommendations with you.

  • What the Advantages to Zone AC?

    One of the main advantages of zone AC is it allows you to control the temperature settings more accurately throughout your home. There’s no point in cooling an entire wing of your house if there’s no one using it. Conversely, if you have a family member who wants or needs the temperature to be cooler than the rest of the house, zone AC will make that adjustment. Another compelling reason for installing a zone system is energy savings. Stop wasting energy to cool the areas of your home you’re not using.

Our Service Professionals Can Help You Decide If Zone AC Is Right for Your Home

If you’re considering splitting your home into zones, let one of our friendly service professionals do an assessment of your current HVAC system and present you with options for you to consider. Many Phoenix area residents are enjoying the advantages of zone air conditioning. We can help you decide if it’s right for you. Call us today.

Air Conditioning Tips: Work a Little Less This Labor Day and Still Stay Cool

With Labor Day weekend upon us, Arizona homeowners begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel. This means summer is coming to an end, along with the triple digit temperatures. Yet, we all know that we’re likely to experience several more weeks with still having to crank the air conditioning to keep cool and comfortable.

We get it. With high temperatures come high utility bills. And we all want relief from those. While the temperatures are still hot, there are some strategies you can take to lower costs by reducing the load on your air conditioner.

Become a Fan of Fans

You probably have at least a couple of ceiling fans. Nearly every Arizona home does. Make it a habit of turning them on when you’re in a room. While they don’t actually lower the temperature, they can circulate air and help to cool you down.

Throw Some Shade

No, don’t start launching insults on your HVAC system or your HVAC technician. We mean keep it cool by closing blinds, curtains, shades and other window coverings during the peak sunny hours of the day.

Buy Filters in Bulk

Yes, it’s easy to forget to change those air filters, but they really can make a difference when it comes to the efficiency of your air conditioner. If you haven’t recently, replace that clogged filter. You’ll not only save on air conditioning costs, you’ll be breathing in cleaner air, too.

Fire Up the Grill

Summer is the season for barbecues and salads. By not using the stove and oven, you’ll help keep your home cooler. Even better – minimize the use of other heat-producing appliances, like dryers and dishwashers.

Get Techy

Is your thermostat past its prime? It could be costing you serious bucks. A smart thermostat enables you to gain better control of your home’s temperature – reducing wasted energy and lowering your monthly utility costs. And you will probably be surprised by the inexpensive price of these cost-cutting devices.

Want to learn more ways to save on air conditioning? Call Bruce’s Air Conditioning today.

5 Reasons Why Your Air Conditioner Keeps Tripping the Circuit Breaker

Has your air conditioner tripped your circuit breaker more than once? It’s a common problem that can be a real hassle – especially during the summer months. The good news is that often simple fixes can solve the problem. Here are the five most common causes for AC-related circuit breaker tripping.

Clogged Air Filter

When your air filter is blocked with dust, dirt and debris, it makes your air conditioner work harder to circulate air. This causes the blower to draw more electricity and potentially trip the breaker. The quick fix is to replace the air filter. In fact, you should be replacing the filter at least once a month.

Dirty Air Conditioner Unit

Monsoon storms can blow a lot of debris into your unit, making it difficult for it to disperse heat and cool indoor air. If you haven’t done so recently, call the pros at Bruce’s Air Conditioning to have your unit professionally cleaned by a technician who has the right equipment to clean it effectively.

Shorted Motor

The motor in an air conditioner can run for many years, but eventually it can result in the wire insulation to break down – causing a “short.” When this happens, more electricity can be passed through than the wires can handle, causing overheating and sometimes a fire. If you suspect a shorted motor, don’t hesitate in calling for service.

Aging Compressor

As a compressor starts to age out, it can have difficulty in starting, pulling more power than normal. This can trip the breaker. Often, a capacitor can be installed to give the compressor motor extra electricity to get it moving.

Undersized Breaker

Defective or undersized breakers for the size of the HVAC system can result in a circuit breaker tripping. An experienced technician can quickly diagnosis this problem and replace the breaker if necessary.

Tired of circuit breaker-related, air conditioning problems? Don’t keep fighting the battle of the breaker and call Bruce’s today. We’ll be able to troubleshoot the problem and fix it to ensure you have a steady stream of cooling throughout the summer and beyond.

Extreme Heat – 31 Days of 100+ Degrees – Surviving the Dog Days of Summer in Arizona

So far, Phoenix temperatures have been well above 100 degrees for all of August. “The dog days of summer,” calls to mind panting canines with their tongues hanging out in search of a shady spot to rest. In fact, the phrase goes back to ancient Greek and Roman astrologists who relied on the stars to set their calendars. In late July/early August, Sirius (the Dog Star, so named for its canine resemblance on astrological charts) appeared on the horizon just before the sun at dawn. Greek and Roman mythology associated the “dog days” with feverish heat, crippling drought, unpredictable thunderstorms, mad dogs and ill fortune. Of course, ancient Romans and Greeks never had air conditioning to help them beat the heat.

Extreme Heat Weather Warning Reminders

At this point in the summer, with weeks on end of scorching triple digit temperatures, we’d like to take a moment to remind Phoenix area residents of the danger extreme heat poses. Yes, you’re in an air-conditioned environment throughout most of the day and night. However, when the temperatures are this high and you find yourself outside, situations can go from serious to life-threatening very quickly. Treat the heat with the respect it deserves and, especially with children or the elderly, never let your guard down.

A few reminders; always keep extra water in your vehicle in case of emergencies. Drink water even when you’re not thirsty. Walk your dog early in the morning, limit your time (and your kids time) in the sun even if they’re splashing in a pool. Avoid outdoor activity in the afternoon. Wear light clothing. Monitor infants and your elderly relatives, especially if they suffer from asthma or respiratory distress. Please Note: Never leave children or pets in cars – not even for a minute. The consequences of children being left in parked cars are too heartbreaking to imagine.

Air Conditioning Tips During Extreme Heat

At this point in the summer, your air conditioner has been working hard for months. If you did not have a spring inspection this year, you might want to consider scheduling an AC check-up now. Thirty-one days in a row of 100+ degree heat is bound to take a toll on your air conditioner. You may make it through the summer without any trouble. However, we can tell you how upsetting it is for the homeowners who do experience AC breakdowns in August. Houses heat up in a hurry when it’s 110 degrees. Here are a few tips to consider:

  • Set the Thermostat a Few Degrees Higher

    Scientific studies have shown that our bodies adjust to temperatures over time. In other words, you may be able to set your thermostat a little higher and not really notice the change. This will lessen the load on your AC unit and save you money on your utility bill.

  • Install a Wi-fi Enabled Smart Thermostat

    Smart thermostats allow you to control more aspects of the temperature in your home. They also make your life easier by allowing you to make adjustments to your AC settings from your smart phone. If you have an old analog thermostat, you will notice a significant difference in your electric bill once you install a smart thermostat.

  • Crank Up the Ceiling and Portable Fans

    During the dog days of summer, your ceiling and portable fans can be your best friends. Take the time to make sure all your fans are working properly and consider purchasing a few extra portable fans to create cross flow in warmer rooms.

The Best Way to Beat the Heat – Make Sure Your AC Unit Is in Tip Top Shape

We like to remind our customers; August is the worst time of the year to experience an air conditioning breakdown. If you’re air conditioner is faltering, making weird noises or not delivering the proper amount of cool air to your home, please give us a call. Our service technicians will make sure your air conditioner is in top shape.

Air Conditioning 101 – Pop Quiz; What Is a MERV? (and How Big Is a Micron?)

Please remember to use a sharpened, #2 pencil. Only one answer is correct.

Merv Griffin – Born in San Mateo, California, Merv Griffin was a singer, talk show host, creator and executive producer of Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy and all around media mogul with a net worth of 1 billion dollars.

Merv Bronte – Fictitious character played by Ray Romano on the hit TV show, The Office. Merv Bronte applied for the regional manager position at Dunder Mifflin-Sabre but was tricked into doing poorly on his own job interview.

Merv Ratings – Generally referred to as “MERV”, the Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value is a rating system that informs consumers how efficient an air filter is at blocking debris and tiny particles from entering your HVAC system. Created by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) to rate the effectiveness of air filters, MERV ratings set the industry standard for home and commercial air filters.

What Are Particulates and Microns?

As relates to home air conditioning and indoor air quality, particulate matter is a fancy way of saying dust, which can be measured in microns. An abbreviated term for “micrometer”, a micron is a unit of measurement. The length of one micron is equal to one millionth of a meter. Generally used in medical, technological and scientific applications, microns allow scientist to measure the tiniest particles floating in the air. The width of a human hair is 50-75 microns. The human eye cannot see anything smaller than 40 microns. A single red blood cell is 5 microns. Dust mite debris, pet dander, mold spores and hair spray residue can be between 3 – 10 microns, and so on.

What’s an Acceptable MERV Rating for Air Filters in a Home Air Conditioning System?

MERV ratings range from 1 to 20. A higher MERV rating indicates increased filtering ability, with denser material able to screen out smaller particles from passing through air filters. The idea with MERV ratings is to purchase filters with a high enough MERV rating to acceptably filter the air in your home. However, not so high as to create problems for your air conditioning system’s motors. In other words, air filters with extremely high MERV ratings are so dense they can cause your air conditioner to work harder and wear down faster. Hard drive manufacturing “clean” rooms or medical surgery units may require a MERV rating of 20 and accordingly, they will have special heavy-duty AC units installed for that purpose. Most residential air conditioning filters contain a MERV rating between 8-14. Here’s a breakdown of typical MERV ratings:

  • MERV Rating of 1 – 4

    To put it in perspective, lower quality air filters with a 1 to 4 MERV ratings are generally less expensive and, correspondingly, not as effective. These air filters will capture particles in the range of 10 microns or larger.

  • MERV Rating of 4 – 8

    Medium quality air filters with a MERV ratings between 4 to 8 can be made of coarse material such as folded cloth (more folds are better at gathering and holding tiny particles) and will screen out particulate matter 3 microns or larger.

  • MERV Rating of 9 – 12

    Higher quality air filters with a 9 to 12 MERV ratings are most common in residential applications and will filter out particles 1 to 3 microns or larger. Air filters in this range do a good job of keeping your indoor air quality clean without pushing your AC unit beyond its capabilities.

  • MERV Rating of 13 – 16

    These high quality MERV rated air filters can remove particles .03 microns or larger and might be found, for instance, in laboratories or hospital surgical units. Some homeowners with respiratory issues may want to consider using these denser, higher rated air filters.

  • MERV Rating of 17 – 20

    The highest rated MERV air filters are used in electronics, scientific and pharmaceutical manufacturing cleanrooms and generally require special AC units to handle the load. Air filters with this rating may also be referenced as HEPA or High Efficiency Particulate Air filters.

Which Air Filters Are Right for You and Your Family

Haboobs, swirling desert dust storms, fine particles of dirt and air pollution make indoor air quality a challenge for Phoenix area homeowners. MERV ratings, microns and particulate matters can and should be discussed with our friendly and knowledgeable service techs. If you notice yourself wheezing and sneezing more, if you have a child who suffers from asthma or a relative under respiratory distress, please give us a call. We’ll be happy to check your air filters and your entire AC system to ensure the cleanest air possible in your home.