Prevent air conditioning problems this summer

  • As a safety precaution, ABC Plumbing, Heating, Cooling, Electric emails a photo and profile of its technician to the customer before his arrival.

    As a safety precaution, ABC Plumbing, Heating, Cooling, Electric emails a photo and profile of its technician to the customer before his arrival. Courtesy of ABC

  • Customers receive a written price from ABC Plumbing, Heating, Cooling, Electric before work begins.

    Customers receive a written price from ABC Plumbing, Heating, Cooling, Electric before work begins. Courtesy of ABC

 
By Jean Murphy
Daily Herald Correspondent
Posted5/14/2016 4:00 AM

Air conditioners are about to be switched on for the warm summer months so it is time to get them serviced and prepared for the hard work they will do. The last thing anyone wants to experience is a an air conditioning failure on a sweltering day.

Eric Noack, service manager of the heating, ventilation and cooling division of ABC Plumbing, Heating, Cooling, Electric, has some tips to keep your system functioning well during the heat of the summer.

 

"Regular maintenance is key," Noack said. "Small changes can happen in an air conditioning system as they age. So, you have to maintain them regularly in order to preserve their performance and their ability to cool your home."

Second, he said, you should be careful about changing your filters regularly, even during the cooling season, because the air is still running through the furnace and the filters are still trapping dirt.

"Make sure you buy filters in bulk so you always have spares and check them every month or two (depending on how many children and pets you have in the house), holding them up to the light to see how dirty they are. I suggest that people write on the edge of the filter that they can see, the date when they replaced that filter. And for those who are tech savvy, they can also set an alarm on their Smartphone to go off every 60 to 90 days to remind them to change their furnace filters," Noack said.

Another trick, he said, is to check the filters every time you pay an electric bill.

"When choosing a filter, it is all about finding a balance between good filtration and good air flow. If you restrict the air flow through a ventilation system too much, it can really cause problems. It is like putting your hand over your mouth and trying to breathe," he said.

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"If you or someone in your family has specific and serious problems with allergies, you might want to consider an upgrade of your entire filter system, which involves sheet metal work that gets much more expensive if your filters are installed underneath your furnace instead of next to it," Noack said.

During the summer you also want to remember to turn off your humidifier.

"In the summer most people want to get rid of the humidity in their air, not add to it. So remember to turn the humidifier to zero once you are running the air conditioner," he said.

And unlike the winter when you are advised to set back your thermostat by seven to ten degrees when no one is home, Noack said you only want to raise the thermostat by one or two degrees when no one is home and only if the duration of absence is more than four or five hours.

"The cost of recovering the cool in your home if you do more than that will 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," Noack said.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Keep in mind that older air conditioners that use the ozone-depleting R-22 refrigerant (commonly known as Freon) may still be recharged, but the cost of that refrigerant is rising as the EPA seeks to eliminate its use. In fact, no more than 15 percent of a system's refrigerant may be replaced during a 12-month period, Noack said.

Any new air conditioner that is installed uses a new refrigerant that is more environmentally friendly, he added.

ABC Plumbing, Heating, Cooling, Electric has been in business since 1948. It started in the Hyde Park area of Chicago as a company doing public sewer work. Don Schroll purchased the one-truck sewer operation in 1968. In 1972, he added the plumbing division and over the years ABC has continually added to the growing operation -- first HVAC and then electrical, and also moved it to its current location in Arlington Heights. Schroll's sons, Gordon and Bryan, joined the business in 1975 and daughter, Cindy Bruggenwirth, came onboard in 1980.

Today, Gordon Schroll is president and CEO of ABC while Bryan Schroll runs the ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning operation in Englewood, Florida. Grandsons Matt, Erik and Peter run the ABC's three divisions -- plumbing (Matt), heating, ventilation and air conditioning (Erik) and electrical (Peter).

Three generations of the family are actively involved since Don still visits the office on a regular basis, said Mike Then, ABC's marketing manager.

"ABC serves the greater Chicagoland area, from the Northwest suburbs to the heart of downtown, and everything in between. We have three separate divisions so that our highly skilled technicians can keep their focus and stay up with training in their specialty. This helps ensure the technician we send to your home is the perfect fit for the job," Then said.

"Our focus is on customer service and attention to detail," he added. "Every decision is made based on how it will impact our customers. We have live people who answer our phones 24/7. Our technicians are also available 24/7. All of our technicians are background-checked and drug-tested. They arrive at customers' homes in uniform and in a lettered and marked truck so there is no question they represent us. And we email a photo and profile of the technician to the customer before he arrives."

In addition, ABC trucks are always stocked with the equipment and tools the technician should need to handle your problem without returning to headquarters and wasting time.

Customers also receive a written price before work begins since the company charges by the job, not by the hour.

When it comes to an HVAC system that needs to be replaced, ABC also has comfort consultants who perform free, no obligation, in-home consultations. During a visit, a consultant will work with the homeowner to find the best solution specifically for their home, including doing "load calculations" to accurately size equipment, Then said. All work can usually be completed within 24 to 48 hours.

"We are involved in fields in which homeowners often call us during a crisis or when they are under stress. We work to remove the worry and make them experience as little discomfort as possible," Then said.

He said ABC is also very active in the communities it serves. It regularly holds job fairs, food drives and even a "Touch a Truck" event for families. ABC also accepts requests for donations to charities within its service area.

"We've also hosted Ladies Nights where over 40 women came to our corporate headquarters for an evening of food and drinks and the opportunity to ask questions to and learn from our technicians, and we hosted several movies in the park over the summer, partnered with a local sports team and more," Then said.

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