Preparing Your A/C for Flooding and Storms

Even when you’re not in the direct path of a hurricane or large tropical storm, it can still bring flooding to your area. Water and electrical appliances, including your A/C unit, don’t mix. While most outdoor A/C units are designed to handle inclement weather, they aren’t designed to be immersed in water. Also, the metal components might inherently resist water, but the electrical components do not. Flood water can also carry small particles into previously sealed motor bearings and/or clog coils, which may not cause an immediate problem, but could cause total system failure in the near future. High winds and heavy rain can spell disaster for your air conditioner or HVAC unit, so take these steps to protect it before a storm or flood to avoid costly replacement.

Before the Storm Hits

Pay attention to the weather so you have plenty of warning before a major storm hits. Anytime flooding is imminent or excessive wind speeds are predicted, make vital preparations to ensure your A/C unit receives the least amount of damage.

Step 1: Turn off the electricity to your unit.

This is the most critical step to protecting your A/C unit. Leaving your unit on during a storm can cause serious damage from power surges, lightning strikes or constant power interruptions. You could also burn out the motor should it become clogged with debris. Unplug the unit, if applicable, and shut off the breaker. Never turn the unit back on during the storm, even if your home is becoming unbearably hot, it could damage your unit and endanger your family.

Step 2: Remove debris and other items that could cause damage.

Wind can be just as damaging as water. Clear the area around your A/C unit to eliminate anything that could blow into or fall on top of your unit and damage it. Trim trees with large branches that could fall on the unit. Put away objects like bicycles, outdoor furniture, gardening tools, planters or anything that could be caught by the wind and crash into your unit. High-speed winds can cause debris that normally wouldn’t harm your unit to crash into it with enough force to cause damage.

Step 3: Anchor and cover your unit for further protection.

Storms with extremely strong winds can actually blow your outside unit over or move it out of place. Properly anchor your system to the ground for extra stability. Secure your unit with condenser straps or bolt the system to a concrete pad. Cover your unit with a heavy-duty tarp or plywood to keep out as much rain as possible and further protect it from flying debris. You can also opt to install a metal cage around the unit or build a small shed out of 2x4s to further protect it from damage during a storm.

If you live in an area prone to flooding, even lighter rain showers could cause flooding. Watch for rising storm water and consider elevating your unit, instead of leaving it on ground level. Flooding not only exposes your A/C unit to water, but also debris that gets washed inside the unit. Either could cause problems when you turn the unit back on. A thorough inspection and cleaning is necessary, especially if your unit was under water.

Flooded Air Conditioners and AC Units in The Woodlands

Houston Flood
Credit for this photo to Woodlands Online

After the so recent flooding in the Houston, Spring, The Woodlands, and so many other areas we are now in the process restoring our lives. The many neighbors and friends we have in The Woodlands are now in the process of rebuilding. Where do we all start?

Is it safe to turn my AC unit on after being flooded? DO NOT OPERATE IF WATER IS IN THE UNIT!!!!!

The answer depends on the amount of water that went into the AC unit. GET THE UNIT LOOKED AT BY A LICENSED CONTRACTOR. Most electrical components are up high in the outdoor unit, also called condensing unit. There are three major components in the unit: The compressor that sits low, the fan motor that is usually high in the unit, condenser coil which the louvered panel protects, and then miscellaneous electrical components.

THE COMPRESSOR: Do not run the unit if water is still present. There is a potential to short circuit the unit. Give the unit time to dry. There will always be the potential of the electrical connections rusting which will lead to poor connection.

OUTDOOR FAN MOTOR: Again do not operate if water present. This motor needs to dry before using. Operation of a wet motor will burn it up. The motor has sealed bearings which could have gotten wet. Chances are, if the outdoor fan motor was in water it will eventually fail.

OUTDOOR COIL: This coil is normally hidden from view and can get restricted with debris. Leaves, dirt or anything else can get into it. It will need cleaning to obtain performance. PLEASE, IF YOU AS A HOMEOWNER WANT TO CLEAN IT BE CAREFUL OF SNAKES THAT COULD BE INSIDE IT. ELECTRICITY IS DEADLY SO IT’S RECOMMENDED THAT AN AC CONTRACTOR PERFORM THE TASK.

ELECTRICAL COMPONENTS:  There are several parts such as contactors, capacitors, and relays that can also burn out or short circuit. All electrical connection can possibly oxidize or rust. All these components should be dried before operation. Capacitors will sometimes hold water causing them to short out. Contactors will get debris in them causing them to short out or stick. This will cause AC not to work or possibly cause the compressor to stay permanently on, causing indoor coil to ice over or damage the compressor.  

Water removal and the drying process: AS SOON AS POSSIBLE

The first and most important thing is to get the water out of the home by any means. Anything that got wet remove it from the home. Sheetrock acts as a giant sponge retaining water and spreading it. What ever the amount of water, you need to cut sheetrock to that point so what remains is dry. Remove and dispose of all old sheetrock and wet insulation. Wet furniture, clothes, and furniture all need to be removed to aid in drying. Fans will help dry the home, dehumidifiers work but are usually too small, operating the AC helps, and even running the furnace will help. THE MAIN THING IS GET THE HOUSE DRIED BEFORE MORE SERIOUS DAMAGE IS DONE.

Here are some links that we thought may be helpful if your house was flooded:

This has tips from the Houston Chron including a link to a FEMA inventory sheet:

This one has what to do in the first 24 hours to get the most out of your insurance:

3 Things You Can Do to Prepare Your Home HVAC System for the Hurricane Season

 

Many of us Atlantic and Gulf Coast dwellers may be beefing up our first-aid kits, stocking up on gallons of water and checking our battery-powered radios in preparation for this year’s hurricane season. The basics are important. They’re vital, in fact. But an often-overlooked item on the preparedness checklist is maintaining and protecting your home HVAC system.

Here are 3 things you can do to keep your home HVAC system safe and operational when that next potential “Mother of all Storms” comes sweeping in.

BUYING YOUR HVAC

When purchasing an HVAC system, there are a few things that you can keep in mind, not only its general functionality and cost-efficiency, but also how well you can protect it in a fierce storm situation. In this case, bigger is not always better. Smaller units tend to run more efficiently but — more importantly — they are smaller. The smaller the system you have, the more you have the opportunity to work with it.

A small, single-stage unit is easier to shield, protect and maintain. So when you are buying or installing your own HVAC system, keep this in mind. You should, in most cases, be able to use a smaller, single-stage unit to heat and cool the average-sized house. Proper sizing and simplicity will take you a long way.

HVAC MAINTENANCE AND PREP

It’s important to maintain your HVAC system. If you can afford it, have an experienced HVAC technician come by about a month before the hurricane season starts. That way, you have an idea of what kind of shape the unit is in. Making sure all the wiring and connections are secure could be the difference between some basic repairs or having to purchase a whole new unit after the storm passes. If an electrical surge hits, one loose wire could fry your entire HVAC system. 

If money is tight, just do your best to check your system. Make sure it is fully secured to the ground. Get an idea of what kind of shape it’s in externally and do your best to make sure the system is clean and free of debris.

Before the storm fully arrives, it’s a good idea to turn off your HVAC system and keep it off for the duration of the storm. And that brings us to …

PROTECTING YOUR HVAC

Turning off your system before the storm hits is the best thing you can do to ensure that an electrical surge doesn’t have the chance to permanently damage your system. That’s why having a backup generator is a really good investment. Not only can it provide you with some power, it will also help give your HVAC system the extra kick-start it may need after the storm passes.

Besides internal protection, you’re also going to want to fortify your system as much as possible. Hurricanes are violent storms with winds that can reach up to 120 mph. Here are a few easy and quick ways you can further protect your HVAC unit:

  • Clear the area as much as possible. Make sure to trim any trees or large branches that could potentially fall on the unit.
  • Get a tarp. A lot of people like to use a vinyl tarp to wrap the system, keeping out as much rain and debris as possible. Some heavy-duty twine and bungee cords should do the trick.
  • Make sure the system is secured to the ground. I’ve known people who have laid cement and bolted the system to the ground for extra stability. 

And finally — this is where that smaller, single-stage system will benefit you — build some kind of outer protection. The smaller the system, the less work you have to do to protect it. You can install a metal cage around the unit or simply use 2×4’s to build a small shed around it. Anything to help the unit withstand any extra damage.

 A quick recap:

  1. Proper sizing and unit size consideration
  2. Maintaining and preparing your HVAC
  3. Protecting your HVAC system internally and externally

There you have it — 3 things you can do to prepare and keep your home HVAC system safe, protected and operational during the hurricane season. If you need to schedule a maintenance call on your HVAC system contact us today or visit our website for more information. 

How to Improve your A/C’s Performance During the Summertime

The hot days of summer put your air conditioner to the test, straining its capabilities and making it work its hardest. However, improving your A/C unit’s performance is possible while saving energy and reducing your utility bills at the same time. The following four tips can help you achieve efficient climate control with your air conditioner this summer. 

Change Your A/C Unit’s Air Filter

Over time, your air conditioner’s filter collects dirt, dust and grime; this layer of debris lowers airflow, worsens your home’s air quality and generally makes your A/C unit work harder. Besides reducing its cooling capabilities, this extra strain on your air conditioner can shorten its lifespan. How often you’ll need to change your filter will depend on your specific unit. ac blowing warm air

Take Advantage of Shade

Protecting your air conditioner’s outdoor unit from direct sunlight can help boost its efficiency by as much as 10 percent. If your unit is currently exposed to the sun’s rays, you can create your own shade by building a wall or ventilated enclosure.

Patch Any Leaks Around Your Home

Holes and cracks throughout your home that let cool air escape make your air conditioner work harder and reduce its ability to cool effectively. Take a look around your windows and examine your exterior walls for leaks; sealing with caulk or insulation can make a big difference.

Clean Your Air Conditioner’s Condenser

Your air conditioner’s condenser will collect dirt, lawn clippings, twigs and other debris over time, reducing the unit’s efficiency. Make sure to clean your A/C condenser at least twice a year, including at the beginning of summer.

Unsure that you’ve done all that you can to maximize your air conditioner’s efficiency and performance during the hottest months of the year? The professionals at Efficient Climate Control can help. Contact us today to schedule service.

The Benefits of Buying an American Standard Air Conditioner

American Standard air conditioners may be one of the lesser known brands out there, but they also rate in the best of the best category. Although you might want to call this a best bang for the buck system, that term is a bit misleading. American Standard air conditioning offers superior quality components with industry leading warranties at a highly competitive price. Efficient Climate Control, your local American Standard air conditioner provider, will be the first to attest to this, but it gets better than that.

AccuLink from American Standard

An air conditioner gets its efficiency from the components used during manufacturing, but it can also become more efficient if it only has to cool places that need to be cooled. That’s what the AccuLink Zoning System is all about. Coupled with your air conditioner, the AccuLink controller allows precise cooling at every space in your house or home.

Traditional air conditioners send air through vents or registers without any zone controls. For example, when you turn your thermostat to a certain temperature, the air conditioning system will run until the area around the thermostat has cooled to the temperature set. Other areas in the home may be hotter or cooler, making cooling very uneven, and even the best electronic thermostats won’t solve that problem. But AccuLink will.

With zoning sensors in every room, when you set the temperature on an AccuLink thermostat, you are essentially setting the temperature for every bedroom, hallway, kitchen, living room and every space in your home. As each zoning sensor reaches the set temperature, it will begin to inhibit air conditioned air into the room where it resides. Or, if the room is in direct sunlight and is warmer than the others, the zoning sensor will allow more air-conditioned air into the room to compensate for the sun rays. AccuLink is a revolution in zone control and air conditioner efficiency, and only American Standard gives you that option.

Every American Standard air conditioner that is installed is done by a certified contractor. That assures you that the quality doesn’t stop with the components. The company states that, “American Standard, and its Customer Care Dealers have proven a commitment to excellence, product knowledge and customer service.” Even with installation, you know you are getting the best in the business. 

American Standard Offers Several Warranty Options

American Standard Air Conditioner Efficient Climate Control, The Woodlands, TX

You would expect a company like American Standard to have a top-notch warranty, and you are right. Their warranties are second to none in the business, with 5, 10, and 20 year warranties available. Better yet, you’ll also find limited lifetime warranties on some of the components, and optional extended warranties are also available. This is the best in the business, but truly, would you expect anything less from the leader in air conditioning?

Serving The Woodlands, Texas, area for over 30 years, Efficient Climate Control is The Woodlands, Texas, American Standard Air Conditioner Provider. We feature the best in A/C repair/service, with specials and financing available. You owe it to yourself to get the best and most efficient air conditioning system for those hot Texas summer days. Let us set you up with an American Standard air conditioning system that will be more efficient and more effective than your old model, and you’ll save money on your cooling bill every month.

Trusted for years, contact ECC for all your air conditioning needs.

Prepare Your Home Before You Go On Vacation

Summer is almost here, and that means vacation time for most people. Before you get lost in thoughts of tropical paradises and days off of work, let’s take a minute to make sure you know how to prepare your home before you go on vacation.

Just because no one will be home doesn’t mean you will automatically be using less energy. Here are a few energy-saving tips to help prepare your home and save on energy while you’re on vacation.

Raise the Thermostat

In the peak of Houston summer, your house can reach triple digits and extreme humidity levels if you turn your AC off. Too much humidity in your home can spur the growth of mold and mildew. Setting your thermostat around 85 degrees will allow you to save energy without your house getting too hot.

Preventative Maintenance

Check your air filters before you head out and make sure to change them if they need it. If your HVAC system is due for a seasonal maintenance check, make sure to get that taken care of before you leave home in order to avoid coming home to any problems. 

Make it Look Like You’re Home

When you are gone on vacation, you still want it to appear to onlookers that you’re home. Most people will just leave a light on the whole time they’re gone but, to save energy, you should set up a light or two on automatic timers. This will allow certain lights to turn on/off at whatever times you set them to do so, which gives the illusion that you are home but also saves on energy by not having lights on 24/7.

Electronics and Appliances

What many people don’t realize is that appliances that are plugged in still consume energy even if the appliance is not on. Televisions, cellphone chargers, coffee pots, lamps, computers, etc. — they can all be unplugged while you are out of town to lower energy consumption. Not only will unplugging them save energy, but it can also prevent possible fires in the case of an electrical surge while you are gone.

Blinds and Curtains

Keeping the blinds down and the curtains drawn will prevent anyone from seeing that your home is unoccupied. It will also keep the sun from further heating your house.

You’ll be spending enough money on your vacation — you don’t want to come home to a high electricity bill as well. Follow these tips to save money and prevent post-vacation stress!

If you’re going out of town and need to schedule maintenance before you leave, visit our website to contact us today, or you can schedule a service call.

How to Save Energy in the Summer Heat

ac blowing warm airI’m pretty sure Houston decided to skip winter this year and launch into spring instead. I will never complain about a beautiful, mild spring day here in Houston, but I know it’s just an opening act for the suffering heat and humidity that is summer in Texas.

As the heat index rises, it becomes more and more difficult to stay cool in the heat. Our air conditioning units have to work harder and harder to keep our homes cool as well, which causes our electricity bills to rise in the warmer months.

Here are a few easy ways to minimize the amount of energy your HVAC unit is using this summer:

Control Your Thermostat – Setting your thermostat 7-10 degrees warmer when you aren’t at home can help you conserve energy and lower your electricity bill. If you have a programmable thermostat, you can schedule the temperature to automatically change during the hours that you typically aren’t home.

Use Your Windows – In Houston, we don’t have too many cool summer nights, so opening the windows at night probably won’t help you too much. Your house will be the coolest upon waking in the morning, having had time to cool off with the sun gone and the AC on. Make sure all the windows are shut and sealed tight, and close the blinds or window fixtures to trap the cool air inside. Sunlight streaming through the windows will heat your home even more.

Use Your Fans – According to Energy.gov, you can lower the temperature setting on your thermometer up to 4 degrees when using your ceiling fans without feeling a difference in the comfort level of your home.

HVAC Maintenance – We always stress this and we will continue to stress this, because it is IMPORTANT! If you take care of your HVAC system, your HVAC system will take care of you. Think of it like maintenance on your car: how long will your car last you if you never get the oil changed or the tires rotated? Not very long. Maintenance is important to stay ahead of any potential disasters and to keep your HVAC unit in good working order.

HVAC systems are a major investment and should be properly maintained in order to maximize their performance and lifespan. For questions regarding your HVAC system or to schedule an AC tuneup, contact Efficient Climate Control today.

Start Your Spring Cleaning with HVAC Maintenance

spring cleaning houseSpring has almost sprung, which means spring cleaning is right behind it. To jump-start your spring cleaning routine this year, you should schedule a routine maintenance check on your HVAC unit. Many people have their units checked in the fall, before they have to turn their heater on for the first time in the winter, but a lot of people don’t realize that they should get their AC units checked in the spring before the summer weather kicks into full gear.

Duct cleaning is another valuable form of maintenance to perform in the spring. But why?

Here are three good reasons to schedule spring cleaning maintenance on your HVAC unit and duct work:

Hidden Allergens – Mold, dust spores and all kinds of other airborne materials are circulated through your HVAC system year-in and year-out. Your air filter’s job is to trap these particles to keep the circulating air clean, but there will always be particles that get through. Over time, these particles can build up within your system, lessening the air quality of your home. For people with allergies or sensitivities to mold and dust, this could create a problem.

Along with dust and mold buildup, your ducts can also get bugs and rodents in them; and along with them comes bacteria, dander, fur and excrement. All of these things could be tainting your air supply. Scheduling a duct cleaning will purify the air supply in your house, keeping everyone who breathes healthier.

Heat Wave – Be prepared for the approaching summer heat! When summer comes, your AC unit will be kicked into high gear. The last thing you need is for it to stop working for one reason or another. Scheduling routine spring maintenance on your AC unit will ensure everything is clean and in working order. If there are any issues, you will have time to fix them before the dead heat of summer arrives.

Save Money – Some people refuse to schedule regular maintenance on their HVAC units because they do not want to pay when they feel their AC unit is working fine. However, what they fail to realize is that keeping up with HVAC maintenance will help it run more efficiently – which will save you money on your monthly electric bills. Regular maintenance will also lengthen the life span of your HVAC unit, amounting in a lot of savings when you’re not replacing a broken HVAC unit sooner than necessary.

So when it comes to regular maintenance on your HVAC unit, you need to remember that all of the little things add up to a lot of savings and save you from a lot of heartache in the long run. Simply put, if you take care of the things that you have, they will take care of you.

For questions regarding your HVAC system, or to schedule a service call, contact Efficient Climate Control today.

Benefits of a Central Dehumidifier 

If you live in the greater Houston area, you’re certainly familiar with humidity. Somehow, the moisture in the air makes it feel much hotter than what the thermometer says. There’s an ever-present stickiness that often makes you feel like you need to take a shower, even though you just did 10 minutes ago!

Fortunately, there is something you can do about it – at least inside your home. A dehumidifier reduces the level of humidity in the air, which not only makes you more comfortable, but it can keep you and your family healthier too.

In fact, there are many benefits to installing a dehumidifier in your home, such as:

Keeps You Comfortable – Air conditioners are designed to control temperature, not humidity, so a dehumidifier provides much needed relief.

Decreases Mold – Mold and mildew love a humid client, and can wreak havoc on wood flooring, cabinets and furniture as well as walls and ceilings. If you’ve noticed black mold spots around your home, you should take action to eliminate the mold and prevent it from growing.   

Reduces Allergies – Humidity increases the effects of dust, mold and other allergens. If you suffer from allergies, asthma or other respiratory infections a dehumidifier can help minimize the symptoms tremendously.

Preserve Your Home – In addition to your furniture and wood finishes throughout your home, reducing the moisture in the area has other benefits including clothes (they dry faster), food (keep fresh longer), and even electronics (less chance of corrosion).

Eliminates Musty Odor – A dehumidifier can help get rid of the musty smell that often accompanies humidity. If you’ve lived with it for a long time you may be used to it, but guests will certainly notice the unpleasant odor.

Reduce Energy Costs – With a dehumidifier, your AC unit won’t have to work as hard, which can mean lower energy bills and a longer life span.

If you’re interested in learning more about the benefits, types or costs of dehumidifiers contacts us today for a free consultation and estimate. 

Do You Need a New Year’s Resolution for Your HVAC System?

air conditioner Efficient Climate ControlHappy New Year! It’s officially 2017 – which means it’s time to start making those New Year’s resolutions happen. Along with all the promises to make a healthier and better you, why don’t you go ahead and resolve to take better care of your home starting with the HVAC system?

Here are 4 important things to remember when it comes to caring for your HVAC system: 

Know the Importance of Air Filters: The air filters in your home should be checked once a month and replaced whenever they appear dirty. Different factors can affect how long your air filters last: things like nearby construction, presence of pets, the number of people living in the house, allergens in the air, etc., so monthly checks will help you determine when they are ready to be replaced. Dirty air filters cause your units to be less efficient at heating and cooling, and they can also lead to costly repairs – not to mention overheating, which is a possible safety hazard!

Schedule Routine Maintenance: Professional preventative maintenance is the key to keeping your HVAC system in good shape. There are certain aspects of HVAC maintenance that anyone is capable of performing, like cleaning around the outside unit and making sure the air ducts are clean. However, there are other extremely important preventative maintenance tasks that you will not know how to perform unless you are an experienced HVAC professional: things like checking the vent system for proper operations, monitoring for correct line and load volts/amps, inspecting the ignition system and safety controls, etc. HVAC systems are a major investment and should be properly maintained. Nothing is more critical than professional maintenance to ensure you get optimal lifetime and performance out of your HVAC system.

Learn Warning Signs: Know your HVAC system. Watch for anything out of the ordinary, like higher-than-normal utility bills, uneven heating and/or cooling of rooms, airflow or air quality getting worse, etc. If you notice anything unusual, you should have your HVAC system checked out by a professional before it escalates to a more serious issue. It’s always better to be safe than sorry!

Upgrade Your Thermostat: Upgrading to a new, programmable thermostat can help your home be more energy-efficient, which will save you money in the long run. Programming it to reset once you are asleep or out of the house can save you up to 10% a year. In addition to the savings, programmable thermostats do all the work for you, making your family and home comfortable – no work from you required!

Your HVAC system is a big investment. It keeps your family comfortable year-round. It’s important to take care of your HVAC system in order to gain optimal performance and maximum lifespan out of it.

Efficient Climate Control has been trusted for years to provide service to thousands of homes in The Woodlands and surrounding areas, offering satisfaction-guaranteed service. If you have questions or need help with your air conditioning, heating or indoor air quality, please give us a call at 281-367-5267 or visit our website at www.EfficientClimateControl.com to schedule a service call today.