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Summers in Cleveland, TN bring hot temperatures. It isn’t unusual to see temperatures inching up to 100º F. Excessively hot weather can be very hard on people, pets and your home’s heating and AC systems. It may feel like the air conditioning just isn’t cooling your home, and indoor temperatures remain uncomfortably hot.
It may be disappointing to learn that many heating and cooling systems are designed to function long term according to average temperatures. Cooling is geared towards a maximum of 20º below outdoor temperatures. That works very well when outdoor temps are around 80º F. Unfortunately, 100º F outdoor temperatures leave indoor climates at 80º F, which is uncomfortably hot for many people.
Air conditioners function as heat transfer systems. They have two heat exchangers. One pulls heat and energy from warm indoor air and sends it to the opposite heat exchanger in the outdoor condensing unit. This system forces AC units to work very hard on days with 90ºF to 100ºF weather. It is very hard for outdoor units to dispel heat when the surrounding environment is so hot.
Humidity adds to the strain as well. Sometimes AC units simply can not remove enough moisture from the air to keep indoor environments comfortable. Most people are uncomfortable in high humidity and feel clammy or ‘sticky.’ The situation is more serious for people with respiratory health issues such as asthma or COPD. They may experience difficulty breathing.
Identifying a Problem
Keeping indoor temperatures down can be complicated by a number of factors. Homes with high vaulted ceilings and lots of windows are more difficult to cool. These factors combined with heating and AC systems developed to work within average temperature ranges can often lead to a mistaken conclusion that the air conditioning isn’t working when it is actually working just as it should.
There are several things to look for to determine if your home’s air conditioning is functioning correctly or not. The temperature inside should stay around 20º below outdoor temperatures if you have the air conditioning set to maximum cooling. Pay attention to temperatures throughout the day and night.
Air conditioning should be able to bring temperatures down during the middle of the night and early morning when outdoor temperatures fall. Look for water leaking around indoor units and check indoor or outdoor coils for ice. Water puddles and ice build-up on the unit indicate a problem that may require professional repair services.
Maximize Cooling Efficiency
You can help your AC unit keep your home cool with a few changes. Use any available ceiling fans and keep blinds closed, especially during the afternoon when the sun is beating down on the house. Use dishwashers, washing machines and dryers at night to avoid pulling power to other large appliances during the day when air conditioners are working hard.
The thermostat ultimately determines the efficiency of heating and AC function. Do not install thermostats next to windows that receive direct sunlight. Keep lamps, windows and appliances away from your thermostat. Heating and AC systems can not maintain consistent temperatures if the area around the thermostat is warmer or cooler than the rest of the home.
Even relatively minor changes such as cooking outdoors on a grill
instead of heating up the oven can make a big difference. Close doors and windows and make a house rule not to go in and out constantly. Cool air
escapes and hot air enters the home every time a door opens.
Maintaining Your AC Unit
Try setting the thermostat higher than normal to give cooling units a brief respite during heat waves in Cleveland, TN. Continuous use during multiple days of extreme heat, especially combined with high humidity, puts immense levels of stress on motors, capacitors and other parts of your air conditioner.
Routine maintenance is always vital for your home’s heating and AC system. Keep filters clean to prevent restricted airflow. Trim or remove shrubs and other vegetation around outdoor units to keep at least a foot of clear space all around. Dirt and debris on coils and other parts of AC units impede cooling efficiency. Keeping units clean can significantly improve cooling efficiency. Cleaning condensers and coils must be done carefully. Homeowners with no experience should contact a heating and AC technician for assistance.
Vents throughout the home are important, especially for heating and AC through central air systems. Keep all vents free of obstructions. Make sure that no furniture, rugs or decorative items are covering or interfering with circulation around vents. Dust and vacuum regularly and specifically clean vents during these chores.
Try to avoid placing AC units under porches and decks. Enclosed areas underneath these structures trap hot air around the unit. This causes high internal refrigerant pressure and overheats compressors. Restricted airflow can also heat the lubricating oil inside the compressor and destroy protective properties of the oil itself. This oil is designed to last throughout the 15 to 20 year average functional lifetime of AC units. Overheated oil becomes acidic as well, and acidity accelerates damage to the compressor.
Check the airflow around your AC on a calm day without wind. Measure air temperature about two inches from the condenser and take another reading approximately 20 feet away. The two temperatures should be the same, or very close. A higher temperature around the unit indicates an airflow problem. Schedule seasonal heating and AC professional service to make sure maintenance tasks are completed and catch worn out or stressed parts before they stop working.
Call the professionals at Metro Plumbing, Heating and Air if you need help keeping your home cool. Experienced technicians can inspect your home’s heating and AC system and offer suggestions to maximize cooling efficiency.