In Calgary, a lot of people start using their air conditioners as early as April, or when daytime temperatures begin to regularly exceed 15 degrees. Now’s the time to make sure yours is ready to go. On that first really hot day of the year, you don’t want to hit the AC switch only to find it’s not working.
How Air Conditioning Works
Any time a liquid is converted to a gas, heat is absorbed. Your air conditioner uses this principle with chemical compounds (refrigerant) that transition from liquid to gas at relatively low temperatures.
Using a compressor, an air conditioner forces its refrigerant to evaporate and condense over and over again in a closed system of metal coils. One side of this system, the evaporator, is inside your house. The other side, the condenser, is outdoors. Fans blow the warm air inside your house over the evaporator coil, and the heat from that air is absorbed by the coil, carried outside, and dissipated by the condenser.
The takeaway here is that the refrigerant must stay inside the system, the compressor must be in good order, and air must be able to flow freely through the coils on both sides.
Keep It Clean
Most air conditioner troubles come down to tidiness. The exterior condenser unit should have at least two feet of space free of obstacles and debris; this permits the free flow of air to dissipate heat. Plants, storage items or firewood too close by can adversely affect air flow, reducing the condenser’s efficiency. If the material is dusty or dirty, that debris will accumulate inside the unit. We can help you with inspection to make sure the coils are clean outside and inside.
You should be checking your furnace filter regularly anyway. The filter’s condition has a big impact on efficiency for both your furnace and air conditioner. A dirty, clogged filter makes the fan run longer to cool your house. If the filter is absent, all that dirt just accumulates on the evaporator coils, with the same result.
The gas pressure also should be checked yearly to ensure there are no leaks; if the system is not adequately charged with refrigerant, it will have to run longer to cool the house and thereby waste a lot of electricity. Running the unit with too high a pressure also negatively impacts efficiency and will shorten the life of the unit. Definitely leave this to the professionals!
If your air conditioner is making unfamiliar noises, don’t operate it; get it inspected to make sure there’s not a mechanical problem with a pump or compressor that could be exacerbated with continued use.
If you have your air conditioning system professionally evaluated on a regular basis, it will stay in service longer and run more efficiently, saving you a lot of money. Give us a call any time, and we’ll make sure you stay cool this summer!