A/C has changed a lot

When I was a kid, my family was the only house in the neighborhood with air conditioning.  All of my friends were very envious of my wonderfully cool house.  I hated having air conditioning.  The air conditioning units from forty years ago were very different than the modern options that are now available.  To cool our house, we had two portable air conditioners that needed to be installed every spring.  I’m not sure why these units were considered portable, because they were each about the size of our refrigerator.  It took four people to get them installed.  One of the air conditioners was installed in the living room, and the other was fitted into my bedroom window.  Because the air conditioners were so noisy, we had to turn the television up to maximum volume in order to hear it.  We had to shout to have a conversation with one another.  The air conditioners also leaked a tremendous amount of water, so we always set a pail beneath them to catch the drips.  It was my job to empty the stupid pail every day.  Those ancient air conditioners only offered two options for speed.  They were either running at maximum capacity, or they were completely shut off.  My father insisted that we run the air conditioners at all times, day and night, and my house was always freezing cold.  I used to wear long pants and sweatshirts, even in the middle of July.  Because one of the air conditioners was located in my bedroom, I was never allowed to close my door.  I also nearly froze to death every night when I went to bed.

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A leaking air duct

To have trust in this world, you need to earn it and give it. My last HVAC technician did not seem to be too trustworthy to me. I felt like he was telling me wrong information and like he was never sure of himself. Sometimes I think he told me what was wrong but it was only because he didn’t know what was actually wrong. He just wanted my money and wanted to keep his job. Eventually I caught onto that and changed my HVAC companies. The problem I had been having was that my house seemed to be getting dusty. I noticed it would be extra dusty when the HVAC system was being used. I thought it was the typical problem of the air ducts behind the wall. I thought that they had not been cleaned in a very long time. I thought that maybe they just needed to be cleaned and the problem would be solved. I had my old HVAC technician look into it and clean it. He told me there would not be an issue. The only problem is that I kept having that issue. I decided to get a different opinion. That is when I switched companies. The new HVAC professional came to my house and noticed that it could be taking in air from the attic or the basement due to just having leaky ductwork. Even though the last HVAC technician cleaned my ducts, he could not tell me or indicate that there was a possible leaky duct in my house. I am definitely sticking with my new HVAC company.

HVAC system 

Furnace noises

Last winter we were having some problems with keeping our house warm and after struggling to find the problem, we finally called for help. When the HVAC tech arrived and we began describing the issue I remember thinking, this guy probably has to listen to some pretty interesting explanations from people like us. As we were trying to convey some of the noises we’d been hearing from the furnace, I had to laugh out loud. As we mimicked the grinding and pounding, the HVAC tech calmly and knowingly nodded his head, obliging our commentary. After a minute or two of our description, he headed to the basement to take a look. I asked my husband if our impressions of furnace noises were specific enough to help the HVAC tech in find the issue, and we both chuckled. As it turned out, the noise was coming from the fan that blows the warm air out from the furnace, and the grinding noise was from the damage that had occurred. He replaced the fan pretty quickly and we noticed the difference immediately when the heat was turned on. The house hadn’t been warm enough for several days though the heat had been running constantly. When we finally had the heat coming through the house from a newly repaired unit, we realized what we’d been missing. He also did some maintenance for us without charge, and even put in new filters for us. He said he should come back again for service once the cold weather season was over to prevent this type of repair again. Before leaving, he mentioned that our mimic of the furnace noise was spot on.

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Summer is here, but my AC is not

The internet has allowed us to do really amazing things. We can communicate with whoever we wish at any time. Heck, I still talk to my third grade pen pal who still lives overseas. That is pretty darn amazing if you ask me. We can also access information quicker than we ever have before. It gives us the ability to become smarter without having a teacher explicitly telling us new information. The explosion of the internet has also allowed us to go shopping in our pajamas. I like to do that. In fact, I ordered a portable HVAC unit on the internet a few weeks ago. However, my air conditioner has still not arrived in the mail. The summer temperatures are here to stay for a long while, but the darn company has yet to ship my cooling equipment. I ordered this darn thing a long time ago but it still is not here. I have no idea when it will arrive but all I know is that I am sweating every night as I try to fall asleep. I need to get this HVAC equipment in this house as soon as possible but the supplier will not even return my phone calls. I may just go ahead and phone a local HVAC provider instead because they are the real experts. They know what they are doing. If I have to wait until the fall to receive my cooling equipment, I will be the angriest person in this town. Hopefully it will arrive in the mail in the next few days.

HVAC tune-up 

Ductwork sealing

If you are like me, you completely ignore the existence of your duct system.  While I make sure to take good care of my furnace and air conditioner, I neglect the most essential part of the system.  The air conditioner works throughout the summer to keep my home cool.  The furnace is necessary throughout the winter to maintain a warm and comfortable indoor temperature.  The duct system is vital to both heating and cooling, impacting comfort and cost of operation.  The duct system is made up of a branching network of pipes that are often hidden in crawlspaces, basements, and walls.  Conditioned air flows through the duct system and is delivered directly to the rooms of the home.  The stale air is extracted from these rooms and drawn back into the ductwork.  If the duct system is clogged with a buildup of dust, pollen, and other debris, airflow is restricted.  Not only will less heated or cooled air be supplied to the home, the air conditioner and furnace will be required to work harder and longer to achieve desired temperatures.  This puts more wear and tear on equipment, resulting in more frequent malfunctions, expensive repairs, and even premature failure.  There is also the concern of decomposing rodents and mold in the ductwork.  Every time the furnace or air conditioner is activated, harmful spores and contaminants can be introduced into the home.  This could lead to severe health problems.  As part of the furnace and air conditioner, the ductwork should be cleaned approximately every five years.  Call on your local HVAC technician for duct work cleaning, and the benefits will more than pay for the service.  

air duct sealing 

Climates and their impact on your HVAC equipment

With friends and family scattered across the country,  I travel quite a bit. Luckily enough, I don’t mind long car rides! My road trips take me from one end of my home state to the other, and across the state border to far away northern regions, travelling down to the southern regions as well. Having grown up in an area defined by only brief respite from long periods of cold, I have always looked forward to visiting my sister in the south. There, instead of investing in furnaces for the home and free-standing heaters for the garage, the homes I visit have central air conditioning, multiple vents pumping cool air throughout the house. I didn’t even know that this was possible! At home, we have only window units, lugged from the basement and installed briefly, for three months of warm weather. A different climate makes for a completely different lifestyle. My sister has no need for a furnace, and has trouble remembering how frustrating it was for our parents to call the local HVAC provider for a furnace repair. Instead,  she has air conditioning maintenance, though with my immersion in cold weather, I initially had trouble understanding how being too warm could be considered a problem! Still, I have to admit that after spending a few days bathed in hot, muggy air, my body was craving the dry coolness of air conditioning. It actually began to feel difficult to breathe outside the air conditioning: it was as if the excessive moisture in the air was clogging up my lungs. Very quickly,  I began to understand why my sister would insist on having a home with central air conditioning–for comfort and for health, it is a must-have for anyone living in a southern climate!

HVAC business 

A really hot tanning bed

I didn’t really ever intend on using a tanning bed until my girlfriend brought me with her and forced me to get a membership. It was really nice that we got to tan together and it made me look a lot better, but it made me uncomfortable. I always felt like people were looking at me, and I hated that we went to the place in my hometown because I didn’t know how people would feel. Because I know tanning isn’t necessarily good for you. Besides the looks, the temperature of the beds was probably the most uncomfortable thing. I could play baseball for hours and feel like I was inside of a gas furnace, but the tanning beds were worse in a way. After I started moving my times up because my skin could tolerate it, the beds would feel more like being in a gas furnace, but I’d feel obligated to stay in. My skin wasn’t burning; it was just too hot to stay in for 8 minutes or so. The owner kept the store air conditioned, which helped a lot. It was in the back of a salon, and they usually kept the place nice and cool. Immediately walking into the salon was nice, even though we were tanning in the spring. I think the beds had little air conditioning fans near my feet so that it would never overheat. I could feel the air moving around a little. It didn’t seem to get cooler though, the air conditioned air just moved the hot air from one side of the bed to another.

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A tour bus with no air conditioning

My grandmother used to be part of a traveling singing group. She has been part of singing groups all of her life, but she traveled more often with this particular one. One summer when I was ten years old, I went to stay with her for a whole month. Since I would be staying with her, I would be required to go along on any various number of trips this singing group took. The first trip wasn’t so bad. Even though I was the only kid on the bus, I was used to entertaining myself because I am an only child. I brought a book bag filled with many different kinds of books. I also brought a cd player and my favorite cds to pass the time. When it was time to take the second trip on the tour bus, we were told the air conditioning had broken. We would need to bring any portable fans with us and prepare to be slightly uncomfortable. I thought they should have cancelled the tour since being without the convenient comfort of AC was unthinkable to me at such a young age. Despite my complaints to my grandmother, I had no choice but to get on the bus. The drive was miserable. We opened all the windows, but the breeze was only hot air moving through the bus. I really thought they should have had an air conditioning repair technician look at the bus, but perhaps the group was low on funds. It was such a relief to get back to my grandmother’s house after that bus ride. As soon as we arrived, I sat down in front of the air conditioning vent and basked in the refreshing cool air.


Dealing with the lack of an air conditioner on a hot weekend

July Fourth weekend was extremely hot and humid this year.  The outside temperature climbed up to one hundred degrees, and the humidity was brutal.  There wasn’t even a whisper of a breeze, and the temperature failed to cool off at night.  The entire week before, the weather forecasters were warning about the severe conditions and telling everyone to stay inside and hydrate.  I wasn’t worried because I have central air conditioning in my house.  It doesn’t matter what the weather brings my way, I just set the thermostat to the ideal temperature.  My air conditioner is fairly new, and I figured there was no chance of a malfunction.  On the Friday night of the holiday weekend, my air conditioner started making a strange, screeching noise.  By that time, it was outside of regular business hours, and I was unwilling to pay overtime charges for repair service.  The air conditioner was still functioning, so my house remained cool and comfortable.  Early Saturday morning, my air conditioner quite completely.  Within an hour, my house was unbelievably hot and humid.  It felt like my whole family was crammed into an oven and getting baked.  My kids started complaining and begging me to call for air conditioner repair. I handed them popsicles and set up the sprinkler in the lawn.  That kept them happy until bedtime.  No one could sleep because it was so unbearably hot in the house.  On Sunday morning, I gave in and called the HVAC contractor for emergency repair service. I could not get by without the air conditioner for another day.

heating and cooling 

How to tune-up a HVAC system

Ice storms can be very dangerous, especially since the power goes out sometimes for several days. If the temperature remains very cold, then it’s important to find ways to keep warm. Though some homes are equipped with fireplaces or wood stoves for such an event, my home is not. Last winter, we had an ice storm that interrupted power for 4 days and it was a very long 4 days. Me and my family had prepared with warm clothes and a small walk in closet to stay together, but each day seemed longer than the last. We had our outdoor grill to warm up food and make coffee or hot chocolate, but you can’t bring the grill inside. On day 3, we all got in the car and went in search of a warm place to hang out for awhile. We ended up at a local mall, once we heard on the radio that it was equipped with generators and not only were the theater and restaurants open, but some of the shops as well. I talked with a mall employee who was in charge of the HVAC and engineering department about the generators used for the mall. He told me the generators were installed with the electrical system and the HVAC units for commercial use, but the same system is available for homes as well. In fact, he had one installed in his own home. He was able to heat his home and enjoy all the comforts even though most of his neighbors could not during the ice storm. He gave me the name of an HVAC contractor who he trusted and suggested I call for estimates. Once we were past the ice storm trauma, it was one of the first calls I made.