Estimated reading time: 3 minutes, 10 seconds

Indoor Air Cooling Season

By May 28, 2011 HVAC, Understanding your home

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes, 10 seconds

cool breeze

Here are a few things that will help make sense of your home’s cooling system. At Levco, when remodeling, we always evaluate the HVAC systems. We usually find something that could be done better or tuned up. Let’s face it HVAC is a system at the house that usually requires little maintenance and either works or it doesn’t.

Whether you have an evaporative cooling device (Swamp Cooler), heat pump, ceiling fans, or air conditioning units all of these principals apply.

Circulating air feels cooler to us. Just like when our own bodies sweat and water evaporates, we feel cooler.

Heat rises, the higher you are up in a home the hotter it will be. The Stack Effect is at play here. Even if you have one or all of these systems and choose not to use them, opening your home during the night and closing it in the day will help.

Our attics trap heat and provide a hot cap. Black roofs absorb more heat than white or lighter colored roofs which reflect more heat. Insulated or not that hot cap does not help the “hot home” situation because insulation helps to slow the transfer of heat in both directions.

Swamp Coolers:

Swamp coolers work by having water run down media and then having air sucked passed it and essentially evaporating and forcefully blowing it on you. If any of the components fail it is worse than having no device because it is blowing hot air in your home. Replace filter media. Make sure it goes to the edges of the louvered panels (air that sneaks around will defeat the purpose.) Clean it out and ensure the float level and the pump are working properly. A clogged line will allow a pad to stay dry and defeat the purpose. Once operational ensure all the pads are wet. You must have an open window to allow the device to exhaust as much air as it is pumping in so it work properly. These devices work in dry climates like Boise, Idaho which is usually dry (except for this year) and take a little experience and tinkering to work well.

Air Conditioners / Heat Pumps:

They work by the principals of fluids being switched back and forth into gas. Air must be moving to allow the heat generated by this process to get out. Clogged outdoor compressors are a big deal and simple to fix. Washing out the fins with a gentle stream of water will take care of it. ( ask for help with this one, water and electricity do not go well together). Not allowing bushes or debris from gathering on the fins is the key. Internally there is also a finned system in your duct work that can become clogged, especially if air filters are allowed to clog or are left out for any length of time. I recall a visual I had of inside my own duct work at the internal air conditioning fins. They were caked with a layer of lint that were preventing the system from working correctly. This is when a duct cleaning is in order.

Ceiling Fans:

During the summer it feels better to have the air flow directly down on you. This is usually a counter clockwise direction. There is often a switch on the side of the fan that you can flip to have it turn in the clockwise direction ( for winter operation)

The bottom line is that there is no unit that can cool your home enough to compete with negligence and constant leaving doors and windows open during the heat of the day. Another problem is “dueling appliances” Oven at 450 degrees and Air Conditioning trying to reach 70. That’s why it’s barbecue season at our place on hot days.


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