With back-to-back days of temperatures forecasted at 105 degrees or higher, now is a good time to run the air conditioner.
But will it keep up as the scorching Central Valley summer arrives earlier this year?
As Northern California experiences it’s second heat wave in the last week, technicians responsible for maintaining cooling systems – those in the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning trade – have been busy making service calls to residences who discovered at the worst possible time that things aren’t functioning the way that they’re supposed to.
Just a simple service twice a year, those in the industry say, can prevent those unexpected service calls and the need for costly repairs.
“The biggest thing that I run into, and the thing that people don’t understand, is how bad a clogged filter is and how much damage it can do,” said Mark Souza of Souza Heating and Air Conditioning. “A lot of service calls that I respond to are directly related to that – it makes the system run longer, it restricts airflow throughout the entire house, it’ll overwork the motors and it’ll cause the coils to freeze up – all of which will lead to more costly repairs.
“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone there and people have said ‘that can’t be it’ and simply replacing it fixed everything.”
According to Souza, who has been working in the trade for the last two decades, routine seasonal maintenance can be a life saver when the mercury soars in the summer or drops in the winter. While it’s not too late to get a system serviced now, Souza said that it’s best to plan on having routine service scheduled twice every year – once in the spring before summer hits and once in the fall before winter arrives – before technicians start to become overwhelmed.
It’s not out of the realm of possibility that when multiple triple-digit start to stack up, so does the work for local HVAC repair firms – sometimes leading to delays of weeks of even longer.
“A lot of times people think that things are working fine until we get a day when it’s 105 and then they find out the hard way,” Souza said. “When that happens sometimes it’s too late and there is a two or three week turnaround – which has already happened once this year.
“It’s been getting hotter earlier, and that means that you’re going to want to make sure you get your service done before that happens.”
Some of the things that can help keep a system running smoothly, Souza said, don’t require a service call. Because Manteca is the heart of an agricultural area, it’s not uncommon for the coils inside of the outside unit to become covered in dust – something that can be cleaned up with a hose.
Making sure that filters are routinely changed also helps, he said.
And when it comes to the argument about whether it uses more energy and taxes the system more to keep the house cool all day or let it heat up and turn the AC on when you arrive home on a hot day, Souza says that the verdict is in and not what most people think.
“It’s actually cheaper to set the thermostat at a comfortable temperature early in the morning and let it go from there – if you’re going to be gone, set it 83 and don’t ever let it get above 83 degrees inside the house.
“When it gets to 85 or hotter inside the house, it takes a lot more for the system to remove the heat inside of the house and it’s easier to do that throughout the day than overload the system – which isn’t designed to remove 90 degree air. It’s a common question, but it’ll save time and money in the long run.”
To schedule a routine service, or for any other HVAC questions, you can contact Souza at 209.566.8448.
To contact reporter Jason Campbell email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 209.249.3544.