Nothing ruins a summer day quite like a sweltering hot house. Of course, those of us with air conditioning rarely need to worry. Our air conditioners happily plug along and we hardly give them a second thought. Then, suddenly, the unthinkable happens — they stop working. Could it be a cooling emergency?
It seems inexplicable at the time. Surely there’s a logical explanation for the pause. Yes, there’s always an answer, but there’s only one way to get there: the process of elimination.
In this guide to cooling emergencies, we’ll go over the steps involved in dealing with a stalled AC unit. Here at Leggett, Inc., we sympathize with anyone caught in the dreaded scenario of a cooling emergency. We also take it seriously.
We’ll focus on providing self-assessment for when to call for 24-hour cooling repair in the Camp Hill, PA region, but fret not: we also happily serve Harrisburg, Mechanicsburg, Hershey and Middletown communities, as well. Turn to the experts for our emergency air conditioning services in the region, because there’s no reason for you to suffer in a hot house.
We’ll go over how to perform a proper check on your own system. In the event of a cooling emergency, you can simply perform these basic assessments before you call us. We’re happy to help! But frequently, there’s an assortment of simple explanations for a malfunctioning unit.
After discussing how to properly diagnose a cooling emergency, we’ll tell you what to do in that situation. For those of you hoping to prevent a cooling emergency, we’ll point out some common signs that you need a new AC unit. We’ll then mention why new AC units are vastly superior to old ones, and for our customers hoping to maintain their ACs, we’ll go over our service agreement program for annual AC maintenance.
So, let’s get into it. Let’s learn what you need to know when your AC is broken in Camp Hill, Harrisburg, Mechanicsburg, Hershey or Middletown, PA.
Is It Really a Cooling Emergency?
Let’s set the scene: it’s a blistering summer day. Hazy mirages dance on the pavement. You look out at those wavy lines reflecting the cloudless blue sky. You see kids ride their bikes through the puddle of sky misplaced on the black asphalt. It’s a moment of delirious illusions, both real and imagined.
Thankfully, your AC pumps away behind the scenes, guiding cool air over your neck as you smile at the unyielding heat outside. You take a slurp of ice tea, now all ice. Something’s wrong. You’re hot. You’re sweating inside. Where’s the cold air?
You walk over to the AC console on your wall. Everything seems okay. You reach over to the vent to feel for cool air, but there’s no air coming out. You look back at the thermostat. Were your eyes playing tricks on you before? You start doubting the dial, your HVAC and your sanity.
A wave of panic fills your veins. The AC isn’t working! Your line of defense has failed. Your trusted HVAC has never pulled a stunt like this before.
With nothing to stop the lingering summer heat from seeping in through every pore of your home, you powerlessly stare at the thermostat. Shifting your glance back to the vent, you know there’s a problem. But where? And with what?
Before you declare this a “cooling emergency,” take a breath. There are several basic checks you can perform on your HVAC system. Let’s go through the checklist of common problems that might prevent your AC from functioning.
Take a moment to examine the two numerical readouts. One reads the current room temperature and the other indicates the ideal temperature to which you set the thermostat. Ensure that you set the temperature control selector below the present climate in your room.
Oftentimes, the temperature you set before can’t handle the heat. You thought one temperature setting was fine, but as the day wore on, it just wasn’t cool enough. Easy fix: simply readjust the setting to a degree number much lower than your current hotbox room temperature.
Other Thermostat Setting Considerations
Besides the numerical temperature settings, you also need to consider some other settings. Make sure your thermostat clearly reads “cool” or “auto.” It occasionally happens that a thermostat accidentally gets set to warm or heat, or even off. Yes — the most common malfunction centers on a thermostat displaying that obvious little word called “off.”
Other possibilities include the fan setting features. You want the fan to read “on” or “auto.” These settings indicate that the fan blower is operating in tandem with the air conditioner.
Lower the Thermostat
This handy trick can help kick-start certain HVAC units. Simply locate the up and down temperature arrow buttons on your thermostat console and press the down arrow to lower the temperature setting. Keep going all the way down — way colder than you even want. Right down to the absolute lowest degree possible.
Some HVACs get jolted back on by this challenge. This technique often gets a stagnant, or strangely sluggish, AC unit pumping out cold air again. Try this and see if it works. If not, on to the next HVAC hack.
Check the Air Filter
Occasionally, air filters get clogged. You can’t blame them — after all, their job description is to collect all the dust particles and debris floating in the air. Most air filters require a routine check, cleaning or replacement.
Both HVAC and central system air conditioners circulate the air in your home through a filter. This represents another bonus to owning such a system: cleaner air. In any case, these filters get mighty dirty. So filthy, in fact, that they can significantly restrict air flow. Check your filters regularly and plan on replacing them once every three months, or as needed.
Open the Registers
Registers are the air vents throughout your home. Specifically, the floor or wall vents which you can open and close to restrict or redirect airflow.
Go around your home and perform a check. Occasionally, these grill vents and registers can get accidentally closed. Hopefully, this easy fix solves any possible air conditioner emergency.
Inspect the Power Disconnect
Central air conditioning systems include indoor and outdoor power disconnect devices. For the outdoor component, the disconnect is frequently located on your home’s exterior wall siding. Depending on the type of outdoor disconnect you own, your disconnect might have a circuit breaker or not. Others might require you to open a fuse cover to access.
The fuses in the disconnect occasionally get blown. For those with circuit breaker options, try resetting the breaker. Otherwise, try replacing the fuses. If your system jumps back to life, you’re back in business!
Your indoor unit operates using similar switches, breakers or fuses. Take a peek into your indoor disconnect panel and examine the state of the breakers. Just like you did outside, ensure everything appears to be in working order and then try to replace or reset any errant breakers or fuses.
Before you go tinkering around in the interior circuitry hidden within the paneling of your outdoor or indoor units, stop for a moment. We said before that you likely don’t have an air conditioning emergency, but at this point, you actually might. Your suspicions were right all along.
After you perform these basic checks and rule out all the common culprits, you’ll need to progress to the next step: calling us! But before you pick up the phone, at least finish reading this diagnosis guide.
Next, we’ll discuss the dos and don’ts of handling an AC emergency. After that, we’ll discuss replacement scenarios, the perks of new units and, finally, service plans.
For now, don’t worry — there are still other reasons for a unit malfunction. You’ll get your system inspected ASAP, but there’s some things to know for now about handing the heat.
What You Should and Shouldn’t Do to Cool Your Home in an Emergency
When faced with a real-life air conditioner emergency, there’s some simple tips to know. Acting smartly in this situation will greatly reduce your cold air loss and prevent further heat transference into your home. Before we can properly assist your needs, consider these basic guidelines.
Don’t Open the Windows
This likely goes without saying, but don’t so much as even crack a window open. Keep the cool air inside for as long as possible and the hot air outside, where it belongs. When entering and exiting your home, do it quickly. Don’t leave the door open any longer than necessary.
Close the Blinds
Prevent your home from becoming a greenhouse. The sun’s rays radiate heat energy onto anything they touch in your home. This turns even your carpet or sofa into a source of heat. Prevent those unwanted photons from stirring up molecular energy. In the science of heat, know your foe: unwanted sunlight.
Fight It with Fans
Quick! Bust out the fans in your basement. Or, better yet, head down to your cool basement. In any case, fans work wonders in a pinch for reducing the overall temperature in a room. They increase air circulation and cool a room by stopping stagnant air from collecting unwanted heat.
Spend Time Out of the House
And last, but certainly not least, beat the heat and spend some time out of the house. You’ll likely have some time to kill either waiting for the cold air to recirculate or for the technician to show up, so spend that time outdoors, at a movie, at a restaurant, or at the mall, for example.
Finally, Call Leggett, Inc.!
You should call us immediately after you determine with certainty that you’re in the middle of an AC emergency. We’ll be right over if you see signs you need emergency air conditioning service in Camp Hill, Harrisburg, Mechanicsburg, Hershey or Middletown, PA.
Signs You Need a New AC
To repair or replace?
Ultimately, the decision to replace falls on your shoulders. A necessary assessment of the seriousness of your AC problems can help to determine the best course of action. Most minor problems don’t require a complete replacement. However, temporary solutions don’t pay off in the long run, and by choosing to endlessly repair your AC unit, you might simply be prolonging the inevitable.
When You Know It’s Time to Call a Professional
In this section, we’ll go over the common indications that you need a new AC unit. These often incurable disorders will creep up over the years and plague your conditioner. Before making the choice to replace your unit, it’s always wise to call a professional to diagnose the problem. Expert consultation will help you understand the true cost and benefit analysis of repairing vs replacing your unit.
With that said, now let’s look at some common culprits which point to permanently malfunctioning units.
Bad Air Flow
It might seem obvious, but poor air flow is the most obvious symptom of an old, worn-out unit. Over time, the parts in older AC units wear down and begin functioning poorly. Fans might spin slower, or it just requires a level of “oomph” to chuck out the air that your elderly AC simply lacks. Simply putting your hand over an air vent and not feeling a breeze indicates something isn’t right.
Lousy air flow results from a number of possible factors — some fixable and some less so. We mentioned how to clean your air filter, but there are many unfixable causes of low airflow. Electrical problems or internal issues within the machine itself don’t lend themselves to easy solutions. Buildup in the ducts or pipes, although not a death sentence for your unit, require professional attention and cleaning.
You can stand around scratching your head in a hot house for hours. Overwhelmed by the puzzle your AC has handed you, one solution cuts through the mystery with undeniable clarity: you’d better call a professional.
There’s no better way to phrase the problem. If your AC seems happy pumping out smelly air, you need service or even a new unit. If you’ve properly cleaned every accessible part and there’s still a lingering stench, you’re in trouble. Call a professional — especially if you smell smoke or the acrid stink of something burning.
Don’t hesitate on this one! Turn to the Experts, Leggett Inc. immediately and, just as importantly, shut off your air conditioner.
A healthy air conditioner runs smoothly and noiselessly. If you hear an undue amount of whirring or other noise, call a professional. A clanging, banging, loud AC unit not only drives you nuts, but it also won’t work properly down the road. Don’t put up with a AC unit that sounds like a plane taking off.
If your utility bills are higher, it’s a tell-tale sign something may be wrong. Call in the professionals to determine if a new unit is necessary or if there are options with repairing your existing unit.
What Do New Cooling Systems Have That Older Ones Don’t?
What’s so great about all the new AC units? You’re not alone if you’re wondering about that. The answer is: lots, actually! In this section, we’ll go over the many advantages of purchasing a new unit.
Greater Energy Saving Capacity
That’s right: new AC units use a fraction of the power wasted by old units. Nowadays, AC units expend 30% to 50% less energy than older models. Depending on the age of your current AC unit, you stand to save as much as half off your monthly power bill! Even units that seem new, like those bought in the early 2000s, use 20% to 40% more power.
Most of our customers choose to upgrade to systems that dehumidify better, so you feel more comfortable at higher temperatures, saving you on your energy bills for the life of the system.
Most Carrier systems come with a 10 year parts warranty, offering you peace of mind and great reliability of your system for years to come.
See the SEER (Miles Per Gallon of Your Unit)
SEER (seasonal energy efficiency ratio) helps predict the efficiency of your model. The SEER number applies to how effectively your unit can cool the surrounding air. To give you an idea, older AC units contain a SEER number of 6 or lower. Currently, the lowest allowable SEER number for new units is 13. That’s a big difference!
For SEER considerations, look for the Energy Star label. Compare your SEER rating with the average acceptable rate of 13. Also, keep in mind that many modern models come with a SEER rating much higher than 13.
For instance, Leggett, Inc. offer the new Carrier models. These units boast a hefty SEER rating of 21.
New AC units take it easier on the environment. First, they use less energy. Using less power helps ease the pressure of our communal energy demands. Second, new units don’t contain any illegal chemicals, such as Freon, which have been found to harm the natural environment. Freon (R-22) is being phased out and will no longer be produced. Instead, modern AC units employ an eco-friendly alternative called Puron.
The True Cost of Putting Off Cooling System Maintenance
It’s easy to ignore AC maintenance. Some people think that just because they only use their AC for a few months a year, their AC doesn’t age, deteriorate or require a tune-up.
It’s important to note that AC units require maintenance just like anything else. Moreover, AC units endure a lot more stress than your average appliance. The outdoor component sits next to your house, year ‘round, exposed to all the fury of a year’s variable weather. We’re talking rain, snow, the blazing sun and even dirt, debris, mold and even pests.
These factors highlight the need for regular maintenance. Your system doesn’t exist in a vacuum — lots of extenuating circumstances affect your unit in various negative ways. Besides ensuring the basic functionality of your unit, there are many other advantages to yearly maintenance. For instance:
- Health: AC units make water when they dehumidify. AC coils are inside a dark, wet cabinet. We clean and disinfect the coils, killing fungi, bacteria, and removing dirt and grime. We flush and drain to ensure it will not back up.
- Longevity: By having a trained specialist inspect your system and make repairs, small problems get stopped in their tracks. Otherwise, if left alone, they develop into much larger issues later on.
- Save on future repairs: We just mentioned that catching minor problems early prevents them from becoming disasters. In short, it’s expensive to solve these large issues. Such repairs often require replacing major components and extensive labor costs. Having a service professional perform an annual check eliminates the possibility of expensive repairs in the future.
- Protect your investment: Similar to reducing repair costs, you will reduce the risk of a costly cooling emergency.
- Increase your home’s value: Nothing helps boost the asking price for a home on the market than a solid asset like a new AC unit. AC units will kick the price of your home up much further than without such useful perks.
Why You Need a Service Plan
Now that you understand the importance of regular system maintenance, what’s the best way to achieve this goal? To all our customers at Leggett, we recommend our service plan contract.
This service contract covers all of your annual AC maintenance needs. What’s included? Only everything you’ll need to ensure your system’s optimal functionality. Here are a few of the more common (and costly) expense you can avoid with regularly scheduled preventive maintenance:
- Blower motor repair/replacement
- Thermostat relocation/replacement
- Condensate pump replacement
- Refrigerant recharge
- Burnt-out compressor
By enlisting in our service contract, you guarantee your system’s longevity, functionality and value. Don’t neglect your system! Give it the full, professional, annual maintenance it deserves. By opting for even a single check per year, your AC will live long into the future, bestowing glorious cool air year after year.
Prevent Cooling Emergencies
Cooling emergencies happen for several reasons, but the main ones concern routine maintenance. Don’t ignore your AC unit until it’s too late. Instead, opt for our annual service contract. We’ll stop a problem from developing into an emergency.
Of course, don’t blame yourself if you let things get out of hand. Just don’t make the same mistake twice! Think of it as a blessing — you’ll get a brand-new AC unit, which will save you money in the long run by functioning more efficiently than your old unit. This time, just make sure you take care of your AC unit and book an annual check.
By now you’ve learned how to handle yourself in an air conditioning emergency. First you check to make sure it’s not an easy fix, then you prevent any cold-loss from occurring and, finally, Turn to the Experts at Leggett.
Of course, you don’t need a cooling emergency to contact us! Visit our website to learn more about HVAC units and central air conditioning systems. We also release an educational and entertaining newsletter, which we hope you’ll benefit from and enjoy. Feel free to check out our Spring 2017 issue here to keep cool and emergency-free!