Maintaining Your HVAC System Because It’s Too Darn Hot

This summer has been truly a record-setter in the West for heat, drought and smoky wild fires. If you’re not all that bothered about the heat at home because you work in a cool office all day and then jump in the pool after 5 o’clock,count yourself lucky.  Also, don’t forget your home’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system also filters pollutants day and night to reduce the effects of allergies and other respiratory issues that affect quality sleep.

So, yes it’s now August, then September and your home HVAC is working overtime often 24 hours a day in the peak season summer months and could use some tender-loving care (TLC). In the words of Cole Porter, “It’s Too Darn Hot,” which were first sung in the 1948 classic musical, “Kiss Me Kate,” and then immortalized by tap-dancing Ann Miller in the 1953 MGM film of the same name.  

HVAC systems really are the work-horse appliance in every home.  They also need regular maintenance or you’re asking for big trouble.  When, not if, your neglected HVAC system goes down, the wait for a service call also can take days especially since the COVID pandemic. The solution is to add an HVAC annual maintenance contract, which includes two regular services calls to take care of the little stuff before it becomes a big deal.

HVAC-Related Structural and Energy Efficiency Issues

Deferred or delayed HVAC maintenance can lead to significant home issues beyond the repair or replacement of an aging air conditioning unit.  For example, neglected condenser fluid leaks in attic units can lead to expensive structural, insulation, pest and ceiling damage. When you look “up top” in the attic, damage is often far more serious than a cosmetic ceiling brown water stain visible in the living room.

There are three common types of attic insulation, fiberglass, cellulose and foam spray or panels.  They all have their advantages depending on the R-Value of insulation (heat protection), the installation process and the total installed cost.  The one thing they all have in common is that none of them mix well with water from leaking HVAC condensers, fire sprinklers or other sources (roof leaks).  

Get Professional Help First

When disaster strikes or if you’re updating a classic mid-century or historical home’s attic, insulation or re-roofing, you can count on the expert, licensed  engineers at Helfrich Associates to guide you in the right direction. When there’s big trouble, we can perform an in-depth forensic review to identify causes (water leaks, wood rot, fires, pests, earthquake) and recommend the most cost-effective repair plan for you and your contractors of choice.

If the damage is covered by your insurance company, your claims adjuster will want to know the causes, etc. With over 30-years of experience, we’ve helped thousands of homeowners throughout the West recover successfully from almost every kind of home disaster, including wateror fluid leaks from HVAC units, automated fire sprinkler piping and old shake roofing.  

We can work with you every step of the way from determining the cause of the problems, estimating the fair cost of repairs, acting as expert witnesses in court and helping you evaluate proposals from different contractors.  When required, we’ll even inspect post construction to make sure the repair job has been done right the first time to give you years of trouble-free living and peace-of-mind.

Preventing HVAC Problems

The old saying, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” is certainly applicable to HVAC maintenance.  Your HVAC contractor of choice should at least once a year do three things: (1) inspect the attic for signs of condenser unit water leaks and blocked water exit piping, (2) inspect the compressor unit to determine that refrigerant levels are adequate (no leaks) and (3) replace the air filters throughout your home.  The second visit in the winter should cover inspecting your home furnace for natural gas leaks.

With the concerns about global warming, Freon refrigerants and equipment electrical energy efficiency, there are at least two new wrinkles to consider about older units. Freon refrigerants are being phased out and not all older units work well with the replacement refrigerants. Newer units also require less electricity to run. The green-friendly refrigerant and the energy-saving cost benefits of a new unit could well be worth the expense in the long run.

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