Business Feature: Maintenance key to staying cool

By Helena Rodriguez: CNj staff writer

Whether you’re at home or in your vehicle, local experts say preventative maintenance is the key to keeping air conditioners running properly.

“Now that it is getting warmer outside, we are getting a lot of phone calls for air conditioners which have already quit working,” said John Kuchta, a co-owner of No Hassle Muffler and Auto Service. “One thing people can do, so they don’t find themselves without air conditioning, is to check the drive belt or fan belt. Fluids also need to be checked and hoses should be checked for wear and tear and cracks.”

High Plains residents use air conditioning about eight months out of the year, but especially in the summer months, according to Ken Chancey, a sales manager and design consultant at Claiborne Refrigeration. He recommends that people check and change air conditioner filters once a month.

“Today’s air conditioning units can be up to 60 percent cheaper to operate than systems of eight or 10 years ago,” Chancey said. But even so, he said that it is important to keep thermometers set at a constant temperature.

“It costs more money to bring a hotter house down to the right temperature than to maintain that temperature,” he said.

David Bryant, sales manager at Ace Hardware, said there are two types of air conditioners, swamp coolers and refrigerated air/heating-cooling pumps. He mostly carries swamp coolers.

“They make the small refrigerator units that you can put in a window that will cool a small bedroom or even a whole house without having to buy an expensive unit,” Bryant said. These coolers start at about $89 and go up in price into the $600s.

Bryant said changing filters is key to keeping swamp coolers running properly. Also, before the swamp coolers have been stored, they need to be drained and cleaned out so the pans do not rust. He also recommends using fresh water at the bottom of the pans.

“Keeping fresh water extends the life of the air conditioners and the pads last longer,” Bryant said.

There’s also ways to keep cooler outdoors.

Michael Padilla, the department manger of Lowe’s Home Improvement Warehouse, said misters are the best option.

“Misters can definitely cool things down. People put them around their patio areas and they spray out mists of water,” Padilla said.

Keeping your cool

The following tips have been offered by area businesses to keep your homes and vehicles cool this summer:
With swamp coolers, be sure to change filters
Drain and clean out bottoms of pans of swamp coolers so they don’t rust
Put fresh water in pan of swamp cooler; this helps pads last longer
Create cool zones outdoors by using portable fans or misters
Air conditioner filters should be checked monthly
Purchase quality air conditioner filters
Check your thermostat; keep a set temperature even when you’re not home; this saves money from constantly heating up and cooling down your house
With car air conditioner, cycle the system during the winter, meaning run it once in awhile to keep all seals lubricated. This helps prevent leaks.
Check driving and fan belts in your automobile
Check air conditioner hoses for cracks or wear and tear