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If you’ve realized that you require heating and AC repair, you may have several immediate questions surrounding the continued use of your systems. In terms of AC repair specifically, you may be wondering if you can still run your AC if it’s leaked some of its refrigerants, for example. Here, we’ll address some of the more common questions and best practices surrounding if/when and how you can continue to heat or cool your home in an emergency.
Running air conditioning after a refrigerant loss? Is it possible?
While yes, technically, it is possible, it is in no way recommended. One of the most common malfunctions that lead to heating and AC repair during the spring and summer months is caused by a loss of refrigerants. Allowing a refrigerant to escape is exceptionally detrimental to AC systems, as it’s the fluid used to enable air conditioners to absorb the heat from inside your home, cool it, and then return it.
Often, the refrigerant level is referred to as the ‘charge.’ Charge will never lower over the lifetime of the AC unit unless a leak has developed. If maintenance checks reveal your refrigerant level is low, not only does the liquid need replacing, but the leak also needs to be sealed up. If you suspect your AC has a low charge, the best practice is to turn off the AC and wait for a professional to repair the leak and replace the coolant so that it’s back at the factory-set level.
Why shouldn’t you run AC with a low charge?
Although AC can still function at reduced efficiency, using it without enough refrigerant can lead to further damages. It may even result in a full system-wide breakdown. All air conditioners are designed to operate with specific refrigerant levels for a reason; not running at this level will upset the operation and limit how much heat the AC unit can absorb. Using an AC with a low charge means the evaporator coil will eventually freeze over, losing all heat absorption ability. If left untreated, more ice will develop and eventually cause the unit to stop functioning altogether. Low refrigerant levels can also damage other components such as the compressor, which will experience the opposite issue. The compressor will overheat and burn out, leading to more extensive heating and AC repairs.
Are there alternatives to heating when a boiler breaks down?
Unfortunately, the most common time for a boiler breakdown is during the colder months when you need heating most. Many Mansfield, TX, homes experience boiler breakdowns at the start of the cold season, when the heating is first turned back on after seeing little to no use during the summer. Luckily, if this happens, there are alternative heating methods that you can use to heat your home while waiting for repairs, so you don’t have to suffer in the cold for long. However, if you use alternative heating sources, try to limit them to areas of the home that require it the most. Concentrating all alternative heating to specific areas will help to heat your home faster and lock warmth in when you need it.
A working wood burner or fireplace can be used instead of your centralized heating system, for example. Fan and halogen heaters can also be used in short bursts as a short-term solution. However, they do become costly to run for long periods. If possible, invest in an oil heater which can keep a room warmer for longer after it’s been switched off. Convection heaters with built-in thermostats can also create more consistent heating while your centralized system is out of commission.
Things to Consider During a Heating Emergency
Your heating system may be inoperative for anything between a few hours and a few days while waiting for heating and AC repairs. While you can’t physically operate your system, it’s best to make sure it’s switched off to prevent unexpected restarts. In the case of a power failure causing the shutdown, for example, you don’t want heating and AC starting up when the power returns while you’re not at home.
Deciding how to handle emergencies at home is critical and something that should be discussed with other household members, if there are any. You can choose to utilize alternative heat sources, as previously mentioned. Still, you can also choose to seek an alternative residence while awaiting heating and AC repairs if that would make you more comfortable.
Define the problem:
The first step towards making a suitable emergency plan for what to do when faced with heating and AC repair is determining the issue’s scale. How cold will your home get? How many people do you have in your household? How affected by changes in temperature are they?
If your home is heated electrically, a lack of power will be the obvious cause of failure and that can cause widespread issues. There are other systems in your home that may depend on electricity, such as lighting. Oil burners, too, usually have electronic ignitions and fuel injectors, so they will also be affected by large-scale power outages. Hot-air systems, thermostats, and AC systems all require electricity to function too. When preparing for this scenario, imagine that you could be without power for several days, and discuss alternative sources of fuel, how to get and store them, and how any additional obstacles, such as freezing pipes, may be overcome. In some cases, some heating systems can be modified to still provide heat, through manual operation, for example, to provide heat to some elements of your home. Discuss with a heating and AC repair engineer if it’s possible to utilize your current system in this way.
Call our friendly service professionals at Minuteman Heating & Air for real-time advice about your situation if you need personalized advice on whether it’s safe to continue using your heating or AC while waiting for heating and AC repair in Mansfield, TX. We’ll walk you through exactly what to do if you’ve experienced heating and AC repair emergencies and will be on-site ASAP to help you get your heating and AC back to normal.