Air Con Maintenance for a Comfortable, Cool Summer

The sweltering summer heat has settled into Waterloo Region after a seemingly endless, chilly Spring.  Covers are coming off air conditioners and they’re being fired up for the first time this year.

Can you depend on your air conditioner this summer? With high temperatures and humidity levels, a breakdown could be disastrous. And, no, it’s not your imagination that it always happens when you need it most. Times of heavy use result in air conditioner failures. You can reduce your need for the AC by keeping windows shut and certain doors closed within your house, and closing the drapes on windows. This reduces the strain of heavy use on the AC.  

Air conditioners can fail for many reasons. Old age will certainly contribute to AC failure. Sometimes, faulty installation is to blame. It’s essential that an air conditioner be installed on firm, dry, level ground. Old contactors or small refrigerant leaks could eventually spell the end. How about rodents?!?  It happens! They tend to burrow into units, attracted by insulation and ideal nesting spots. Those gnawing teeth can wreak havoc on the electronic components in your air conditioner. We’ve also seen raccoons, rats, squirrels, snakes, bugs and spiders.

Afterglow - dead rat pic

Of all these causes, the number one reason your air conditioner will fail is inadequate maintenance. As dirty filters and condenser coils deteriorate, the end result is inevitable: your cool air will stop flowing.

Here are 10 diagnostic checks every air conditioner needs.

With a simple maintenance schedule, you can guarantee the longest possible lifespan of your air conditioner and prevent breakdown before it happens. When the Afterglow team checks an AC we look at several component: from the indoor thermostat to outdoor compressor. We check temperatures in several different areas.

  1. Clean the outside air conditioning unit: fins and electrical cabinet
  2. Check furnace filter to make sure the airflow is good
  3. Check and clean (if possible) the indoor coil
  4. Check condensate
  5. Check thermostat
  6. Check electrical connections
  7. Test electrical components
  8. Check fan blower speed setting
  9. Check and seal wall connections, don’t want any critters or bugs getting into the house.
  10. Test refrigerant levels

If any of these checks indicate a concern, further action will optimize the condition of your unit.

There’s no question – a little maintenance is worth guaranteeing your comfortable indoor escape from the sweltering humidity that fouls moods and robs us of sleep. Contact Afterglow and arrange to have your air conditioner checked today!

Does your AC have “Dirty Sock Syndrome”?

Summer is right around the corner and temperatures are definitely warming up in Waterloo Region! That means it’s time for air conditioning (AC) season! Before the sweltering heat comes and you’re running your unit constantly, don’t forget to call Afterglow to complete your annual AC maintenance — especially if you turn your system on and it emits a foul smell.

The Afterglow team has had quite a few clients share their stinky stories, so we’ve put together some information to help explain those awful AC’s smells and how to combat them.

What causes AC’s to smell?

Mold and mildew on the indoor AC coil 

stinky ACIn most situations, bad AC smells are caused by mold and mildew growing on a dirty indoor coil — gross, right? The smell is caused by the moisture/humidity being removed from the house with the indoor coil — that’s what an AC does! This moisture mixes with the dust and dirt on the coil to create the smell and then that smell is circulated throughout your home. The dirt and dust have had plenty of time to accumulate and settle in your system over the winter, which is why the smell is so pungent when you first turn on your AC.

Dirty air filter

Stinky AC smells can also be caused by a dirty air filter. Your system’s filter works hard to pull odor-causing contaminants out of your home’s air, and if you haven’t been changing your air filter regularly, these captured smells could be recirculating back into your home when the AC is turned on. Nobody wants that!

Air filters are a vital part of your home’s air quality, which means that they require regular tender loving care. Keep in mind that if you avoid replacing your AC’s filters, it can not only lead to unwanted smells but unwanted mechanical issues and repair costs too! Learn more here.

How do you combat a smelly AC unit?

Annual AC maintenance

An AC requires regular maintenance for the unit to function effectively and efficiently throughout its lifetime. Neglecting necessary maintenance ensures a steady decline in AC performance — bad smells will be the least of your worries.

Contact Afterglow and book your summer 2016 AC maintenance appointment.

Change your air filter

It’s time for a new routine! If you haven’t been changing your air filter, it’s time to step up. Regular filter changes will remove fungi and contaminants from your system so they cannot be recirculated back into the home. The frequency that you should change your air filter depends on the type of filter you have, as well as other factors like if you have pets in the home.

If you find that your AC is emitting a foul smell, give us a call for our maintenance team to identify and amend the odour-causing problem.

Afterglow. Water, warmth, well-being.

Start Spring with a Ceiling Fan and Save Money

Who else has been enjoying the gorgeous spring weather this week? Waterloo Region residents can finally go outside, enjoy fun outdoor activities and soak up some vitamin D! Aside from this, spring opens up many opportunities for reducing your home energy bill.

The drastic improvement in weather means you’ll be using the furnace less and might even consider turning on the air conditioning soon. Yipee! But before you blast your cooling system, you may want to consider opting for ceiling fans first.

Why? Let us explain.

Are Ceiling Fans Effective?

Did you know that ceiling fans are considered one of the most effective forms of indoor circulation? That’s because they can effectively circulate the air in a room to create a nice, cool draft. If you use air conditioning, a ceiling fan will allow you to raise the thermostat setting about 4°F with no reduction in comfort. In temperate climates, similar to Waterloo Region’s spring season, ceiling fans may allow you to avoid using your AC altogether.

Just remember to turn fans off when you’re not in the room — the cooling effect created by the breeze only works for people, not the room itself. It’s a good idea to use fans in the bathroom to dissipate heat and humidity as well.

How Can I Use Ceiling Fans To Save Money?

Ceiling Fans Save MoneyFact: Ceiling fans use far less energy per hour than AC units. That means ceiling fans may be able to make you more comfortable on their own, helping you avoid turning on the AC and save money on your energy bills!

For example, running your AC unit for three hours a day for a year uses 3,832.500 kWh, while a ceiling fan only uses 19.71-109.5 kWh. With the average price of energy at 12.1 cents/kWh, that means using your fans instead of your AC could save you more than $400 per year (or close to 41 cents per hour) (HVAC.com).

Consider how a combination of ceiling fans and AC can save you more than just turning on the AC alone. If you feel cooler when you have your ceiling fans on, you can keep the AC turned up to a higher temperature, meaning it will run less often. The less your AC unit runs, the less money it will cost you! Put simply, ceiling fans save money.

When buying ceiling fans, look for the ENERGY STAR label. Fans that earn the label move air 20% more efficiently, on average, than standard models.

Take advantage of spring! Let the nice weather do its work to lower your home energy use.

Afterglow. Water, warmth, well-being.

So, What Does a New Air Conditioner Actually Cost?

An air conditioner can improve your health and quality of life!

In Waterloo Region, air conditioners (ACs) aren’t a luxury anymore — they are a necessity during the sweltering summer months. In today’s market, new units are more powerful, energy efficient and quieter than ever before. But at what cost?

air conditioner gif

A new AC system’s cost depends on the size of the system, who you hire to install it, and your unit’s overall efficiency. Let’s break this down.

Why Size Matters – Smaller is Sometimes Better!

The first step in getting a new AC is determining what size you need. Sizing an AC requires a consultation with an HVAC professional, such as Afterglow. We will look at multiple factors that will affect your unit’s measurements:

  • Total size of your home’s living space,
  • The amount of sunshine in your home,
  • Existing ventilation and ductwork, and more.  

Why do we have to do this? AC units are measured in tons, which refers to the amount of heat they can remove from a home in an hour. ACs that are sized correctly, are able to remove the humidity in the home before reaching the desired cooling point. Over-sized ACs never get a chance to have a long run cycle to remove the humidity.

Larger homes often run into problems because the AC is oversized for a light load, and that is where two-stage ACs come in.

Two-Stage Air Conditioners

Two-Stage ACs are popular in the Southern United States where living with AC is a must, and controlling humidity is essential. This technology has found its way to Ontario now that AC is commonplace. If your home requires three tons of cooling or more, consider a two-stage AC or multiple ACs!

SEER Rating

The seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) is also a critical factor. This ratio is a measure of an AC unit’s total cooling output during a season, divided by its total electric energy input. The higher the resulting number, the better! All units sold are over 13 SEER, and some can even perform at up to 27 SEER. If your old AC was 8 SEER, by going to 16 SEER you will cut your energy consumption in half!

Thermostats and Ducting

When purchasing an AC, also consider upgrading the thermostat. Or it may be time to address some duct-work issues or duct sealing.

Hiring a Contractor

For homes that have never had an AC, an installation requires new breakers in the electrical panel, wires run through your home’s foundation, and new duct work linking to your existing HVAC system. To ensure these crucial tasks are done correctly, ask an AC professional for a quote on your system — and if you’re happy with them, book them!

For a basic model, expect to pay $2,000, a mid-range unit will cost around $3,000, and top-of-the-line AC systems can be over $5,000.

Government Rebates

There are government rebates that cover some cooling systems, such as the Ontario Heating and Cooling Incentive, but they change periodically — it’s good to revisit these websites every few months.

Keep in mind that to qualify for these incentives, your AC needs to be purchased from and installed by a participating contractor. Afterglow is part of the saveONenergy program for residential customers, so ask us about what rebates are available for AC’s in the KW Region!

Afterglow. Water, warmth, well-being.

Afterglow’s Unexpected Top YouTube Videos

With over a billion users, almost one-third of all people on the Internet, it’s safe to say that YouTube is a digital media powerhouse. That’s why it’s not surprising that most businesses have video content included into their marketing strategies — like us!

Did you know that Afterglow has a YouTube channel? For over three years we have been sharing fun workplace and HVAC tip videos on afterglowkw. Recently, the Afterglow staff had fun re-watching these videos and seeing which ones our audience watched the most.  

Rather than have you search our channel, we’ve decided to share our top videos here. These were all determined by your views — enjoy!

CO2 Pipe Freezing 

Viessmann Cast Iron Boiler Fail


Afterglow – Eastview Apartment Heating System

We also have a soft spot for the first video we ever published. On February 21, 2013, our General Manager, Stephen McDonald, explained what a 15 point furnace inspection looks like. Watch it and learn how your furnace works, plus how you can keep it safe while saving money!

Forgot to get a 15 point furnace inspection? Schedule an appointment by giving us a call (519-747-7732) or sending us an email our Office Administrator, Brigitte Toutant. With winter’s recent return, it’s far better to be safe than sorry.

Afterglow. Water, warmth, well-being.

How to Remove The Three Most Common Allergens In Your Home

Approximately 50 million North Americans suffer from indoor allergies.

Let’s face it, indoor allergens are the worst! They cause runny noses, sneezing, itchy eyes and make it difficult to breathe. Here at Afterglow, we want your home’s air to be as clean as possible, and for homeowners, that means understanding what indoor allergens you’re dealing with.

Here are the three main allergens Waterloo Region families will experience this spring and how to fight them:

1. Dust mites

Dust mites are microscopic organisms that feed on things like dust and hair. Gross, right? They thrive in warmer environments like rugs, upholstery, and bedding and are the most common trigger for indoor allergy sufferers — making them a major annoyance.

How to get rid of them: It’s impossible to completely remove dust mites from your home, but there are a few things you can do to reduce them in your home:

  • Wash blankets and bedding at least once a week in hot water.
  • When dusting, use a wet or damp cloth.
  • Vacuum carpets and upholstered furniture once a week.
  • Purchase a dehumidifier to reduce the humidity in your home — this will keep dust mites from multiplying.

2. Mold

Mold is an indoor allergen that thrives in damp, humid areas like bathrooms and basements. Mold releases dangerous spores that can cause breathing issues and, in cases of poisonous molds, brain damage or death.

How to get rid of it: Combatting mold growth is a matter of reducing dampness in your home. If mold’s an indoor allergen you’re having issues with, here are a few ways to remove/reduce it:

  • Fix leaky pipes and check your HVAC system for standing water.
  • Use a mix of bleach and water to clean mold from surfaces.
  • Use a dehumidifier in particularly humid or damp areas, like your basement.
  • Consider HEPA air cleaner to reduce spores. 

3. Pet Dander

Pet dander is the flakes of dead skin produced when a pet with fur sheds. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not your pet’s fur that causes allergies to worsen, but an allergen in the dander.

How to get rid of it: Like dust mites, pet dander cannot completely be removed from your home. Here’s some ways to reduce indoor allergens caused by pets:

  • Minimize pet contact on rugs, upholstered furniture, and bedding.
  • Vacuum once a week.
  • If your pet has to be on the furniture, use slip covers, towels, or blankets to trap pet dander and hair.
  • Brush your pet daily and bathe them regularly.
  • HEPA air cleaner will remove pet dander.

Did you know regular springtime HVAC maintenance can reduce indoor allergens in your home? Call Afterglow today (519-747-7732) and schedule an appointment!

Afterglow. Water, warmth, well-being.

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