With summertime temperatures rising as high as 115 degrees Fahrenheit, Gilbert is no stranger to the intensity of the blazing hot sun. In fact, the state of Arizona boasts some of the hottest temperatures ever recorded in the United States. Along with disturbing your comfort levels, these excessive heat episodes can wreak havoc on your air conditioning system. Here are a few of the many issues you may encounter.
Overburdened Condenser Unit
The condenser unit is an essential outdoor AC component. During warm or hot days, the condenser is responsible for collecting and expelling heat. Due to its metal makeup and its location on the outside of your HVAC system, it is particularly susceptible to the effects of direct and constant sunlight. Not only can it break down at a faster rate, but the heat can make it more difficult for the condenser to perform its duties. By being forced to overwork, the condenser may become less efficient and less effective.
Increased Energy Bills
An overworked and less efficient HVAC condenser affects more than just your indoor comfort and the longevity of your unit. It can also lead to increased energy bills. According to the United States Department of Energy, a few hours a day of direct sunlight can cause monthly energy bills to rise by an average of 10% or more. Places that boast above-average summer temperatures may experience an even greater increase.
Excessive Wear and Tear on Fragile Parts
Ultraviolet (UV) radiation can be especially harsh on rubber and plastic parts, such as brackets, hoses, gaskets, washers, and clips. Although these parts are made to last a considerable amount of time, harsh sun rays can quickly deteriorate them, negatively affecting the overall performance of air conditioners and leading to more frequent repairs.
Decreases the Overall Lifespan of Your AC System
The average modern HVAC system is made to last anywhere from 12 to upwards of 15 years. Unfortunately, consistent direct sunlight can significantly decrease this intended lifespan. In places with three-digit temperatures and extended summers, an air conditioning system is required to work much harder than usual. This extra workload can shave years off of your AC unit.
Inaccurate Thermostat Readings
The sun can also affect your HVAC system through direct contact with your thermostat. If your device is located in an area that gets lots of sunlight, this can result in false readings. Thermostats are made to sense the temperature based on their location in your home. Therefore, if the sun is beaming down in that particular area, the thermostat will act as if your home is much warmer than it actually is. This prompts your air conditioner to run longer than necessary and exert unnecessary energy.
Clogged Air Filters
As previously stated, outdoor heat and prolonged sunlight exposure cause your AC system to run more often and for longer periods of time. The more you run your air conditioning unit, the faster your air filters will become clogged. Clogged filters lead to poor airflow. When airflow is restricted, you can experience everything from indoor stuffiness, hot and cold spots, and strange whistling noises to random air drafts and compressor failures.
Dirty air filters can also cause your indoor air quality to diminish. When a filter is overloaded with dust, dander, debris, and dirt, many of those particles make their way back into your home. This is especially hard on those with allergies, asthma, and respiratory problems. These dust particles and contaminants can easily trigger these illnesses.
Frayed HVAC Wiring
Similar to the rubber and plastic parts of your air conditioning unit, electrical wires are extremely susceptible to sunlight. Because electrical wiring is not usually equipped to endure extended exposure to sunlight, it can easily become frayed and damaged. Over time, the damage can get so substantial that the copper becomes exposed. When this occurs, shorts and connection breaks are not too far behind.
Possible Fire Hazards
Unfortunately, increased energy bills and extra wear and tear aren’t the only issues caused by extreme heat. Constant sunlight is known to increase the chances of fire hazards. This is especially true for unmaintained HVAC systems.
Accumulated dust around the motors and fans is one of the main fire hazard culprits. Due to its dry nature, dust tends to be quite flammable, making it particularly dangerous when exposed to direct heat. The longer the dust sits and the more direct sunlight it receives, the greater the likelihood for a potential fire.
Total System Failures
One of the only things worse than premature HVAC wear and tear is a premature system failure. A system that has to consistently overcompensate due to sun exposure is likely to break down without notice. After an unexpected malfunction, you will be forced to either purchase a new unit or endure a period of extremely uncomfortable indoor conditions.
Are There Any Solutions?
It may be difficult to contend with the reality of how much the sun can harm your air conditioner. However, there are several solutions that can help safeguard your HVAC system against harsh sun:
- Use electrical tape to protect exposed wires
- Keep the thermostat away from direct sunlight
- Stay on a routine maintenance schedule
- Stay on top of repair issues
- Install your AC in a shady area
Because most electrical tapes are weather-proof and UV protected, they are a great option for covering spliced and broken wires. Even if your wiring is not currently damaged, electrical tape is an effective way to prevent issues at the onset. Being thoughtful about thermostat placement is another helpful protection method. First, choose a room that you use often. Then, pick an installation spot that is not near or in the immediate vicinity of a window. This can help to stop sunlight from interfering with the device’s readings.
Out of all of the aforementioned suggestions, yearly maintenance checks are probably one of the best solutions. By clearing away debris, cleaning off dust, inspecting faulty wires, and replacing defective parts, we can help prepare your unit to better withstand the harsh elements of summer. In addition to routine tune-ups, staying on top of repair issues can be quite beneficial. When HVAC problems are addressed early on, it can help to curb some of the sun’s undesirable effects.
A few common repair issues that you may want to be on the lookout for include tripped circuit breakers, water leaks, defective blowers, and malfunctioning thermostats. Lastly, installing your AC unit in a shady area is a simple yet effective way to block out sunlight. If you can’t relocate your air conditioner, you could opt for planting some of your own trees and shrubbery.
Ways We Can Help
A/C Doctors is a family-owned business with decades of experience in the HVAC industry. We are dedicated to providing our customers in Gilbert and the surrounding areas with quality services and top-notch customer care. We offer a wide range of HVAC services, including air conditioning repairs, heating replacements, duct sealing, and indoor air quality solutions. Contact us today and learn how we can help prepare your air conditioner for the relentless Arizona heat.