Category Archives: Air Conditioning

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.

Why Is There Ice on My Air Conditioner?

Have you ever noticed frost or ice on your air conditioner? Air conditioner units are designed to lower temperatures. So, it might seem logical that if your air conditioner is working extra hard to do a great job of cooling, there might be some occasional ice on the unit. Especially in Arizona during the summer, with temperatures soaring into triple digits and AC units running full tilt, a little ice might appear to be a good thing. Unfortunately, ice on your air conditioner is an indication of a problem.

Two Main Reasons for Ice on Your Air Conditioner

There are two main reasons for your air conditioner icing up. The most common cause is low refrigerant due to a leak within the system. Arizona summers push air conditioners to the limit. The constant wear and tear and relentless vibration coupled with high winds, dust storms and other factors can cause fittings to loosen and result in refrigerant leaks. A second cause for ice on your AC unit has to do with dusty, dirty coils. Both of these issues are best handled by an experienced technician with the proper tools to solve the issue.

What Is Refrigerant and How Does It Affect My AC Unit?

In creating a comfortable environment for your home, refrigerant is essential to the cooling process. Refrigerant, sometimes referred to as freon, R22, R410A or R134, transforms from a gas to a liquid and back again in an endless cycle, working with the other components of your unit to:

  • Lower the temperature of the cooling coils
  • Transfer heat from inside your home, which is blown outside as exhaust
  • Force cooled air into your home through your AC vents

If there is a leak or you are low on refrigerant, the temperature will drop significantly on the coils containing the refrigerant. Condensation from the humidity in the air will form ice on the coils. As the ice increases on your coils it makes the unit work harder and harder to maintain the cool temperature in your home. If not detected, you will notice your air conditioner working harder and longer to maintain cool in the home. Eventually, this condition can lead to serious problems for your air conditioning system.

Dust and Debris in Your AC Unit

With monsoon season in full swing, desert dust storms kick up dirt, dust and debris which can clog up the filters and coils in your air conditioner. Dirty, dusty coils are also a cause of inefficient air flow which can, in turn, cause ice on your air conditioner.

The Best Solution Is to Call in the Professionals

Many homeowners do their best to maintain their AC units by replacing air filters on a timely basis. However, this is only one part of an overall maintenance program. If you’ve detected frost or ice on your air conditioner, or if you noticed your AC unit working harder to maintain the same temperature in your home, call Bruce’s Air Conditioning and Heating today. We proudly serve the greater Phoenix area providing prompt service and expert advice for keeping your HVAC running smoothly year-round.

Setting Your Thermostat for a Good Night’s Sleep


During the hot summer months in the greater Phoenix area, it’s easy for bedrooms to become too warm for restful sleep. You may even be trying to save a few dollars by setting your thermostat as high as possible. Yet, your thermostat can make or break your slumber. For many, an optimal temperature is necessary for sound sleeping.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, the suggested bedroom temperature should be between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit. When you’re in bed and trying to sleep, your body temperature naturally decreases. A lower room temperature helps induce sleep faster. Temperatures within the recommended range also can improve the quality of REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, the restorative stage of sleep in which you dream.

The Effects of Sleep Deprivation

If you’ve ever spent a night tossing and turning, unable to sleep, you know that the next day can be tough. Along with feeling groggy and grumpy, it can impact your mental abilities and even impact your physical health. Over time, the effects of sleep deprivation include weight gain, cardiovascular disease and weakened immune system. A lack of sleep also puts you at greater risk for accidents and injury.

Keeping Cooling Costs in Check

Consider your bedroom a cave. It should be quiet, cool and dark – particularly if you have sleep difficulties. Yet, it’s important to balance your need for cool temperatures with the monthly cost of air conditioning. It may be cost-prohibitive to keep your thermostat continuously set at the cool temperature needed for a good night sleep. This is when a programmable thermostat can be very beneficial. By setting your thermostat for a lower temperature at night and a higher temperature when you’re away from home, you can significantly cut energy usage.

Other Ways to Save

It’s also important to ensure your air conditioner is tuned up and functioning as it should be. Call us to schedule a tune up if you haven’t had one recently. It can really make a difference in terms of the efficiency of your unit. As well, don’t forget to change your HVAC system air filter on a monthly basis. Dirty clogged filters hinder air flow, causing your air conditioner to work harder to cool your indoor air.

What’s the cost of a good night sleep? When a lack of sleep impacts your health, happiness and productivity, it’s vital to optimize your sleep space for restful nights, and your air conditioner plays an important role. Want to learn more? Call the experts at Bruce’s Air Conditioning & Heating today.