You know those moments when someone’s face reveals everything without uttering a word? For me, it’s my wife’s expression, that particular look she gets, usually heralding something I’d rather not address. And as I was sitting on the couch at 10:30 PM on a recent Thursday, I saw ‘the look” as she walked into the living room and said “The house feels hot…”
And at that moment, I realized she was right, and my stomach dropped. With a sense of dread, I walked over to the thermostat and saw a reading that was 4 degrees above what the air conditioning temperature was set to. The AC never has a problem keeping the house cool so that meant just one thing, my AC was broken. And to make matters worse, a quick check of the weather showed we were in for a string of +90-degree days ahead. Panic started to creep in and my mind started racing with questions:
- What if I couldn’t get someone to come out the next day and I had to wait until next week?
- What if I could get someone to come out but fixing my AC required a part that was on backorder?
- What if this was the worst-case scenario of a complete failure requiring a new unit that had to be ordered?
- How hot could the house get over the several days of sunny, 90-degree temps?
- Could the house get so hot that it would be dangerous for our dogs? If so, what would be our contingency plan?
Luckily for me, my stress was short-lived. A great local company, Valentino Contracting, was able to get someone out first thing the next morning. The service technician, Jake, quickly identified that the issue was a bad AC capacitor and cold air was blowing before I even had a chance to grab some breakfast. After replacing the blown capacitor, he inspected my entire Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) system to make sure there were no other issues.
So, as noted above, luck was on my side for what could have been a potentially disastrous situation. If someone hadn’t been able to come out quickly or the fix was a bigger issue, we could have been in a situation where the house was too hot to stay in.
As Jake was working through his inspection, he explained what he was testing and what other possible issues could have caused my outage if it hadn’t been the capacitor. It was during this conversation that I learned something very surprising. I assumed that a blown capacitor was sort of like having a light bulb burn out. It works until one day it just doesn’t work.
However, capacitors can be tested and technicians can actually measure for degradation. This is one of the standard tasks they perform during a maintenance inspection. As someone who likes to DIY as much as I can, I hadn’t even considered any sort of yearly HVAC maintenance program. I would change the air filter, turn on/off the humidifier, adjust the vents, and occasionally check the caulk where the lines entered the house. I assumed that was enough. I was wrong.
First, a well-maintained HVAC system will last longer and regular maintenance can identify problems early, preventing more expensive repairs down the road. Second, regular maintenance can help your HVAC system operate at its highest efficiency, which can save you money on your energy bills.
I had viewed a maintenance program merely as an expense. In reality, it can save you money, especially if it prevents situations like facing an emergency service call on a holiday weekend.
Thank you Valentino Contracting for the great AC repair service and knowledge!