Category Archives: Maintenance

How to Avoid Air Conditioning-Related Fire Hazards

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Memorial Day weekend marks the unofficial start of the summer season. In Arizona, that means temperatures will soon soar. As the valley heats up, Phoenix residents count on their air conditioners to provide trouble-free cooling all summer long. Most air conditioners are manufactured to extremely high standards and are reliable year in and year out. However, there is one fact that most homeowners remain unaware of – air conditioners can pose a risk of fire and need to be inspected on a regular basis to ensure the safety of your home.

There is nothing more heartbreaking than suffering the misfortune of a house fire. It is one of the most traumatic experiences a homeowner will ever go through. The National Fire Protection Association reports that HVAC-related fires cause close to $100 million in property damage in the United States each year. Fires caused by HVAC related issues are particularly frustrating because many, if not most HVAC fires, are utterly preventable. It’s ironic that the very appliance responsible for cooling your home can also, if neglected, be responsible for torching it.

Most fires would never happen if homeowners took the time to inspect potentially hazardous areas of their home and practice preventive maintenance measures.

Home Air Conditioning Fire Hazards and Danger Zones

In the aftermath of a fire, inspectors often note that the cause of the blaze was avoidable. Here are some of the most common HVAC-related fire hazards:

  • Electrical Issues – Over 80 percent of AC repairs are due to electrical issues which are the number one reason for air conditioner-related fires. As appliances get older, normal wear and tear can cause serious problems with electrical wiring or circuits. Air conditioners use a lot of power and can overheat when they are continuously running full blast for months. Understanding the condition of your HVAC unit and all its component parts, inside and out, is essential to preventing dangerous situations. Our experienced professionals know what to look for whether it’s a frayed wire or a potentially faulty circuit which may flame out.
  • Combustible Materials – HVAC units in the garage or basement are sometimes incorrectly used as shelves or “temporary” storage areas, which is especially dangerous in cramped quarters. Setting cans of paint, solvents, chemicals, cleaning solutions or any other combustible materials on or near your HVAC unit is a very bad idea. Outside, it’s important to inspect the area surrounding your condenser and check for leaves or debris which can cause problems. The areas surrounding your HVAC unit should always be completely clear.
  • What Can Possibly Go Wrong? – Over the years, we have seen bare wires chewed by rodents, units damaged by storms or lightening, and faulty electrical parts that have simply worn down over time. There are many potentially dangerous situations which homeowner have no way of knowing about unless they are a trained electrician. It’s important for your AC unit to be checked by a professional at least once a year.

Schedule an Air Conditioning Home Inspection Today!

As summer draws near, remember what Ben Franklin advised, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Don’t wait for small problems to turn into major headaches or costly fires. Give us a call today and schedule your pre-summer air conditioning inspection.

If It Looks Like A Duct, Acts Like A Duct and Leaks Like A Duct – It Might Be A Leaky Duct

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Modern air conditioning is a clever invention that combines technology, electric motors, fans, compressors, coils, refrigerant and more to produce cold air on demand. In addition to that, as you know from paying your monthly utility bill, a lot of electricity is used to power your AC unit. All this effort and energy goes into creating cold air which is then dispersed by the blower throughout your home through your ductwork system. Unsung and unseen, your ducts are the final piece of the puzzle that delivers precious cold air which keeps you comfortable all summer long.

How Much Cold Air Are You Losing Through Leaky Ducts?

Ducts are not only the most overlooked components in your HVAC system but quite possibly the biggest offenders when it comes to lowering the overall efficiency of your air conditioning system. Did you know that faulty ductwork can allow 20, 30 or even 40 percent of your valuable cold air to escape through leaks and openings? In our many years providing AC service in Phoenix, we have seen all kinds of unfortunate duct-tales. Here are the most common duct related problems which are all very fixable:

  • Expansion and Contraction – Ductwork, especially in an attic is subject to extreme heat in the summertime. The temperature on your roof can exceed 140 degrees. Over time, your ducts expand in the intense heat and contract with the cold air. This punishing process of constant expansion and contraction can loosen joints, connectors and seals and cause leaks.
  • Foundation and Settling – As gravity works its magic on your house and the foundation settles, parts of your home may move slightly or get out of alignment. Foundation issues are very common in Arizona homes. Crossover areas where ducts connect from one part of the house to another are particularly susceptible to getting off kilter which can cause leaks.
  • Problems with Original Installation – Depending on the contractor who did the original HVAC installation when your house was built, you may have problems that have never been detected. It pains us to perform a duct system inspection only to find out work was left undone or unfinished years ago and the homeowner has been paying the price ever since.
  • Remodeling and Clumsy Repairs – We’ve seen a lot of damage done to ductwork (especially ceiling ducts) during remodeling projects by clumsy repairmen who weren’t paying attention to what they were doing or where they were stepping. Knocking a duct out of alignment to get at something else is unfortunately a very common occurrence.

The Good News Is Fixing Your Ducts Produces Immediate Results

Inspecting your ductwork, sealing leaks and closing holes in your duct system will pay significant dividends in terms of delivering more cold air where it belongs – in your home. There’s been a tremendous amount of construction over the last 50 years in Phoenix. Many homes that were built decades ago have never had their ducts checked. It’s something most homeowners simply haven’t considered having done.

Leaky Ducts Are Costing You Bucks!

An Arizona home air conditioning system represents a sizeable investment on your part. The actual cost of electricity can amount to 60 percent of your monthly utility bill in the summer. It’s a shame to allow your cold air to vanish into thin air due to leaky ducts. Give us a call so we can schedule a duct inspection today.

How Regular Service Extends the Working Life of Your Air Conditioner

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In the Valley of the Sun, air conditioners put in a lot of overtime. For many months out of the year, Arizona AC systems operate almost nonstop, providing homeowners with cool relief from the intense heat. In fact, it’s affordable air conditioning that makes it possible for people to live and thrive in the desert and is a fundamental reason for Phoenix’s phenomenal growth over the last 40 years. In 1980, the population was just under 800,000 people. Today, Phoenix is the fifth most populous city in the U.S. with 1.6 million residents, and they nearly all have air conditioners.

Replacing an air conditioning system is a major expense for homeowners. In fact, other than adding an addition or doing a major remodeling job, it’s one of the largest expenses a homeowner will incur. In the desert, it’s not a question of if, but rather when you will need to replace your AC system. Getting the most out of your AC system, both in terms of performance and longevity, is truly important. The secret to extending the life of your air conditioner is expert, regular maintenance performed by a top AC service provider. We recommend two service checkups per year – one in spring and another in fall. Here are a few service keys to keep your air conditioner running smoothly for years to come:

  • Keep Your Air Conditioner Clean – The desert can be a windy, dusty place and dust is the enemy of your air conditioner. Regular cleaning, removing dust and dirt and lubricating moving parts is essential. Even though you may not notice it, wind-blown dust is a problem for your AC system.
  • Replace Air Filters – Replacing air filters on a regular basis helps eliminate dirt and dust from getting into your air conditioning system. Performing this simple task six times per year will lengthen the life of your air conditioner and improve the indoor air quality of your home.
  • Check Electrical Components – Over 80 percent of all air conditioning repairs are related to electrical issues. Extreme desert conditions (wind, dust, high temperatures, exposure to UV rays) are hard on electrical motors, parts and wiring. Many AC units are located on the roof, which means in the summer months, your air conditioner is toiling in temperatures above 140 degrees. Electrical issues can be dangerous and are best handled by professionals with proper equipment.
  • Check Refrigerant – It is crucial that refrigerant is monitored regularly and that your system has no leaks. When you have too much or too little refrigerant, it makes your air conditioner work harder to achieve the desired indoor temperature. Special tools are required to check your system for leaks.

Time to Schedule a Spring Tune Up

Spring is the best time of year to schedule a system checkup. Our friendly service technicians will be happy to perform a full inspection and provide you with an assessment of your air conditioner. Don’t head into summer unprepared. Why not call us today?

How to Avoid A Costly Air Conditioning Compressor Breakdown

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If you ask a random group of five phoenix air conditioning repair technicians, “What’s the most important part of an air conditioning system?” It’s quite possible you’ll get five different answers. There are so many critical components working together to deliver cool air through your home’s AC system, it’s almost impossible to label a single part as the most critical. However, if you ask those same service specialists, “What’s the most expensive repair on a home AC system?” They’ll all give you the same answer – replacing a faulty air conditioning compressor.

Summer Will Be Here Soon

Phoenix is known as the hottest city in America and with good reason. The summers are long, and the desert sun is unrelenting. There are more 100+ degree days in Phoenix than just about any other major metropolitan area in the U.S. All that heat for much of the year puts a tremendous strain on your air conditioning system.

What Does an Air Conditioning Compressor Do and What Causes It to Breakdown?

Your air conditioning compressor is one of the largest components in your HVAC system and is installed either on the ground outside your home or up on the roof. At the very center of the cooling cycle, the compressor (you guessed it) compresses and pumps refrigerant through highly pressurized pipes throughout your entire system, to achieve cooling inside and to transfer (remove) unwanted heat outside. There are many factors that can cause your compressor to break down, including:

  • Clogged or Dirty Coils – The coils in your compressor facilitate the transfer of heat out of your house into the outside air. Unfortunately, coils are a magnet for dirt, debris and grime. If your coils become covered with dirt, it inhibits proper functioning and your compressor ends up working harder to achieve the same level of cooling. Over time, clogged coils will damage your compressor.
  • Leaks or Punctures in the Coils – If you have ever heard a slight hissing sound coming from your compressor, it could be refrigerant escaping from a tiny leak. Small holes and punctures occur, often due to corrosion. Depending on the age of your air conditioner, corrosion may be affecting the refrigerant level in your compressor.
  • Improper Refrigerant Levels – Your pressurized refrigerant lines are a closed system and require an exact amount of gas to run properly. Too much or too little refrigerant will cause problems within your system. Our trained service technicians will check for correct refrigerant levels in your compressor and system during a spring tune up.
  • Electrical Power Issues/Normal Wear and Tear – Electrical power and the correct voltage (not over, not under) is crucial to the normal operation of your compressor. Over time, depending on how old your AC system is, wires can degrade, and other electrical issues may arise simply due to normal wear and tear. Power surges, not uncommon during the summer in Phoenix, can cause electrical issues with your AC system.

We’ll Check Your Compressor and Your Entire System During a Spring Tune-up

Spring has sprung and summer will be here before you know it. Don’t wait until the hot weather hits to call for an HVAC check-up. The friendly, professional and highly trained service technicians at Bruce’s Air Conditioning will be happy to perform a full inspection of your compressor and entire air conditioning system so you’ll be ready for the long summer ahead. Call us today to schedule an appointment.

Is a Noisy Air Conditioner Ruining the Peace and Quiet of Your Home?

According to the National Weather Service, the summer of 2018 featured no less than 128 days of 100 degrees or more. That’s over four months of serious Arizona heat! The long-range forecast in 2019 is for more record-setting triple digit temperatures. As modern inventions go, it’s hard to imagine a more useful, life-saving appliance in your home. Air conditioners make summer in Arizona livable. However, for all their ingenious heat transferring qualities, air conditioners are not always the quietest appliance in your home.

What Is That Noise?

Do you experience an ear-splitting high-pitched whine every time your air conditioner starts up? Are there serious thumps and ka-chunks when the compressor kicks in? This might be your air conditioner’s way of telling you, “I’m not going to be ignored. It’s time for my spring AC service call.”

Here’s a list of common AC noises and what they might be indicating as far as your air conditioner is concerned:

That Annoying, High-Pitched Squeal

A high-pitched whine or squeal is a sound often associated with slipping belts or an issue with the bearings. Either way the noise is most unpleasant and indicates service is needed.

Thump, Ka-chunk or Loud Rattling During Start-up

There is some argument as to whether the sound is more of a Ka-chunk or a thump. We’ll let the sound effects experts debate that point. Unfortunately, these noises are frequently caused by loose mounts, but more often than not, can indicate a problem with the compressor. This is not a sound you want to ignore.

Tick-tick or Clicking Sounds

A rhythmic tick-tick or clicking sound is often caused by faulty fan blades. Sometimes, it can be as simple as a branch or a twig lodged in the fan. An obvious question is, “How can something hit the fan blade when it’s in an enclosed area?” Occasionally, high winds from thunderstorms blow branches and debris into your air conditioner. Clicking sounds can also be caused by defective relay switches.

A Loud Buzz

Air conditioners rely on electric motors to make the fans go, power the compressor, move liquids through the pumps and more. As with any electrical device or motor, if you hear a loud buzz or notice an incessant humming coming from your air conditioning unit, you’ll want to turn it off right away. If you hear crackling or detect a burning smell, you’ll want to act immediately. Turn off the AC unit at the circuit breaker and call for service. Electrical problems are responsible for over 80 percent of AC issues.

Wind Whistling Sound Near Vents Inside the House

If you hear wind whistling, whooshing or the faint sound of a distant train coming from your vents, you can rest assured, it is not an errant Amtrak whistle or a ghost train calling to you from the other side, but rather a pretty decent hint that there’s a loss of pressure or an opening somewhere in your duct work.

The Only Sounds You Want to Hear – The Sounds of Silence

“And the people bowed and prayed, to the “freon” God they made…” so wrote Paul Simon in his famous 60’s hit, The Sounds of Silence. When your air conditioner is working properly, you’ll hear a little whoosh from the fans or no noise at all. Silence is the sound of a healthy air conditioner. For most people, out of sight – and out of earshot – is most ideal. Give us a call and we’ll be happy to help your air conditioner pass the ear test. Call us today.