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posted: 5/13/2017 6:00 AM

Winters can be damaging to air conditioners

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  • Routine maintenance of air conditioners is important to keep the system operating efficiently and to extend the length of time needed until replacement.

    Routine maintenance of air conditioners is important to keep the system operating efficiently and to extend the length of time needed until replacement.
    Courtesy of ABC

  • As an extra layer of security, ABC will email customers a photograph and the name of their technician before arrival so homeowners are more comfortable allowing them into the home.

    As an extra layer of security, ABC will email customers a photograph and the name of their technician before arrival so homeowners are more comfortable allowing them into the home.
    Courtesy of ABC

 
By Jean Murphy
Daily Herald Correspondent

It may not always feel like it, but summer is around the corner. In fact, Memorial Day is only two weeks away.

So it is time get your air conditioners serviced and prepared for the hard work we all hope they will do in June, July and August. The last thing anyone wants is an air conditioning failure on a sweltering day.

There are a number of parts in your cooling system that can go bad over the winter even though they are not in use, so it is important to get it checked and serviced once a year, even if it seems to be working just fine. For example, a slow leak in the refrigerant could develop, and without a proper maintenance visit, larger problems could occur, said Dave Burgin, a service manager of the heating, ventilation and cooling division of ABC Plumbing, Heating, Cooling and Electric.

If we have a hot day before you have a chance to get someone to service your air conditioning system, it is probably fine to turn it on, Burgin said. However, because items such as motors and other electrical components can deteriorate and lose their potency over time, it is always best to have an air conditioner checked to make sure everything is in good working order.

Changing your filters regularly, even during the cooling season, is important because air still runs through a home's ductwork and the furnace filter still traps dirt. Clean and properly sized filters are one of the best ways to ensure your heating and cooling system is running at peak efficiency, Burgin said.

You should also be careful about the type of filters you select for your system. Do not buy filters that are so dense that they restrict air flow too much, as this could decrease performance and life expectancy of your unit. A careful balance between good filtration and good air flow is necessary. So it is better to change your filters more often than to buy filters that are too thick.

In fact, he suggests you buy filters in bulk so you always have spares, writing on the edge of the filter the date you replaced it. Depending on how many children and pets you have in the house, they should probably be changed every month or two.

If allergies are a problem in your household, you can also consider an upgrade of your entire filter system, which involves sheet metal work, but greatly enhances the indoor air quality of your home.

During the summer it is important to turn your humidifiers to the off position and if there is a bypass damper in the system, it should be closed to allow the air conditioning to work at full efficiency, Burgin advises. This should be done by the service technician who is out to perform the seasonal maintenance of your system.

When you are away at work, you might consider raising your thermostat a few degrees -- but only for four or five hours, Burgin said. He said when you raise the temperature for a longer period of time, the cost of recovering the cool in your home could more than outweigh what you will save.

Also, there is so much humidity in the air during the summer that if you turn off your air conditioning for long periods of time, that humidity will get absorbed into your carpeting, furniture and drapes and shorten their life. The heat and humidity that can build up in a home is also very hard on your refrigerator, computers and other devices. And don't forget about your pets. They can also be adversely affected if you leave them in a too-warm house.

Burgin said homeowners can buy programmable thermostats that allow you to adjust when and how long your cooling system operates at a higher or lower temperature. There are also thermostats that are Wi-Fi ready, which can be programmed from your phone so you can adjust the temperature while on vacation or before you come home.

Keep in mind that older air conditioners use ozone-depleting R-22 refrigerant, commonly known as Freon. These units may still be recharged, but the cost of that refrigerant is rising as the EPA seeks to eliminate its use. Any new air conditioner that is installed uses a new refrigerant, R-410a, that is more environmentally friendly, he added.

ABC Plumbing, Heating, Cooling and Electric has been serving the Chicago area for more than 65 years and is owned and operated by the Schroll family. What started originally as a commercial sewer business by Don Schroll, has continually grown over the years by adding a plumbing division, then HVAC and electrical divisions, allowing it to help customers in all aspects of residential service.

Today, Gordon Schroll, one of Don's sons, is the president and CEO, while grandsons Matt, Erik and Peter run the firm's three divisions -- plumbing (Matt), heating, ventilation, air conditioning (Erik) and electrical (Peter).

"Our focus is and always has been on customer service and attention to detail," said ABC's marketing manager Mike Then. "Every decision is made based on how it will impact our customers. For example, we have live people who answer our phones 24/7 and our technicians are also available 24/7, because we know a breakdown can happen at any time.

"Another great feature we offer is emailing a photo and profile of the technician to the customer before he arrives, so you know ahead of time who will be in your home," he said.

ABC can be reached at (888) 903-4070 or www.4abc.com.

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