It’s sweltering outside. You’re drenched in sweat. At this point, you’re ready for a cool breeze. It’s times like these that we truly appreciate the modern conveniences of air conditioning.
It’s also why we celebrate National Air Conditioning Appreciation Days from July 3 through August 15 – to pay tribute to the system that keeps us comfortable despite the rising temperatures outside.
With so much attention paid to keeping cool, we thought it was a great opportunity for the Mission: HVAC students to show these systems a little love.
So, we asked them to provide some tips to keeping an AC system well-maintained and ready for the next heat wave. See what cool clues Daniel, Josue and Matt have for keeping everything in working order.
Daniel: The History of Air Conditioning
Since the beginning of time, people have looked for comfort in their dwellings. Archeologists have discovered evidence of mankind making ice more than 3,000 years ago. People living in India and Pakistan used clay plates filled with water to make ice using evaporation under the right temperature and humidity conditions. Romans packed ice and snow in double walls of emperors’ palaces to cool the temperatures.
Fast forward to 1844, when John Gorrie patterned the first mechanic air conditioning system. It was used to cool hospital rooms in Florida.
Then, Doctor Willis Carrier invented modern air conditioning in 1906, calling it “Apparatus For Treating Air.” In the 40s and 50s, businesses proudly displayed signs reading “Air Conditioned” and in the mid-60s, the popularity of the systems grew once more…residentially.
Air conditioning has come a long way to improve people’s quality of life. But, whether the use of ice to cool things down or today’s modern systems that boast high efficiency and environmental friendliness, one thing hasn’t changed: the need for proper maintanence. Without, the ability to stay cool is destined for failure.
I recently spoke with Ana Whitfield about best practices to keep a well-maintained air conditioning system. Top of the list ideas include cleaning the outside condenser coil, keeping the system charged against manufacturer’s specs and changing the air filters on a regular basis.
I also learned that mowing the grass around the outside condensing unit could impact its functionality. It’s important to use a grass bag to collect clippings or at least blow any clippings and debris away from the unit to prevent clogging of the coils. Plucking surrounding weeds will also prevent them from growing inside the unit and causing any damage or malfunctions.
Josue: AC Appreciation
This mission challenged us to take a deeper look at the upkeep of air conditioning systems. I talked with Claudia Mina, who has a split system installed in her home – just like many of us have in our homes. A split system consists of: an air handler, which contains an evaporator and blower motor, and is installed inside the home; and a condenser unit, which contains the compressor, a fan motor and the condenser coil, and is installed outside the home.
To keep an air conditioner working at peak performance, it must be maintained. Changing the air filter as needed ensures proper air flow throughout the system and is an easy way to keep it performing at its best. Another recommendation is to have the condenser coil cleaned regularly to allow for air flow in the condensing unit. Finally, performing preventative care routinely will provide peace of mind and ensure the system is working on the hottest – and coldest – of days.
Claudia changes her filters monthly since her home is very dusty and also has a local contractor perform preventive care once a year to keep her system functioning well. And, when she cuts the grass near the condensing unit, she is sure to turn off the air conditioner. This helps to keep any grass clippings and dirt from being sucked into the condenser coil and affecting the efficiency and life span of her system.
Matt: Keeping Things Cool
According to the website for The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (www.asme.org), “Willis Carrier was the father of the air conditioner.” He invented what was considered to be the modern air conditioner in 1902 – a system that sent air through coils filled with cold water and then cooled the air while removing moisture to control humidity.
Although there have been many improvements since its invention, today’s air conditioners still operate using the same science. Today’s air conditioning units also require regular maintenance to keep them working properly.
Many HVAC companies recommend changing the air filter regularly to help keep the system running efficiently. Some even suggest minimizing the use of AC by circulating conditioned air with ceiling fans and blocking unwanted heat by installing blinds and shades on windows.
To see how much homeowners may know about taking care of their AC units, I asked my wife Melanie, a registered nurse, about some things she thinks we should do to keep things running smoothly. She suggested changing the filter and not constantly changing the inside temperature settings.