What are Floridians most afraid of? No, it’s not hurricanes, snakes, gators, or sharks—It’s their air conditioner going out! And for good reason. It can be brutal to lose that refreshing coolness in a state where temps and humidity are often in the 90s. But ACs do go out, and when they do, you need to be prepared.
Two Kinds of AC Outages
There are two kinds of AC outages: your AC isn’t working because you’ve lost electricity or your AC dies due to age or mechanical issue.
What to Do When Your AC Goes Out (and you don’t have electricity)
Assuming your home was cool when the AC went out, you should:
- Darken your home by closing all the curtains or blinds. Ideally, you have blackout curtains on your windows to help block the sun’s heat. If not, cover your windows as best you can.
- Leave windows closed as long as possible. If you already have cool air in your home, you can bet it’s less humid than it is outside. For as long as you can, keep your blinds drawn and your windows shut. Depending on how long your electricity is out, you may have to open them eventually. However, keep the drier air inside your home as long as possible.
- Rinse a towel or sheet out in cold water and place it over yourself while you sleep.
- Wear cotton. Change into the coolest, loosest cotton clothes you have.
- Cool down as quickly as possible. If you’re feeling extremely hot, cool down your pulse points with cold water or ice. These points include the inside of your wrists, neck, groin, elbows, ankles, and behind the knees. Just make sure you don’t leave the freezer open very long. After all, you want your frozen foods to last as long as possible.
- Stay away from everyone. This sounds extremely antisocial, but you’ll be much cooler if you’re not sitting or sleeping next to someone. There’s a reason, besides need, that people slept in the same bed together before central heating—to generate body heat. If you want to stay cool, keep your distance.
- Stay hydrated. This means you should drink water. Other liquids and adult beverages are not hydrating. When you’re hot, you lose a lot of hydration through sweat. You need to replenish it.
- Sleep on the floor. Many Floridians have tile in their homes. While it’s not comfy, it is cool and it doesn’t retain heat like your mattress. Remember, hot air rises. If you have a second floor, stay on the first. If it’s time for bed, consider sleeping on the floor rather than the top bunk. This is one time you won’t hear your kids arguing over who gets to sleep up there.
- Remove shoes and socks. Keep your pulse points free of tight and warm garments.
- Eat cold foods. They’re melting in your freezer anyway. Take out those popsicles and ice cream and enjoy them while you can.
- Open the windows. If the outage lasts long enough, you will eventually need to open the windows. When you do, you want as much cross ventilation as possible. However, if it’s the middle of the afternoon and your home faces south or west, unless there’s a refreshing breeze blowing, you’re better off leaving your front windows covered. The sun will warm your home much more efficiently than that breeze will cool it.
- Go swimming or somewhere that has electricity. Often outages are localized. Just because your neighborhood doesn’t have power, the AC at the International Plaza Mall or library across town may very well be working. During the hottest hours of the day, find somewhere to cool off, even if it’s the local pool or Tampa Bay.
From unexpected lightning storms to blown transformers on Bay Shore, car crashes to hurricanes, those of us living in the Tampa Bay area seem to lose electricity at least several times a year. That’s why it’s important to have these items on hand. (This is not a hurricane prep list.)
- Bottled water, preferably stored in a cool, dark place (64 ounces for every member of the household. This will get you through a day. Don’t forget water for pets.)
- Clean towels.
- Battery-operated fans.
- Battery-operated weather radio so you can stay up-to-date on weather conditions.
A final note about bad weather in the Tampa Bay area. Some outages are unexpected, but when there’s a storm, you know the power could go out at any time. Keep your phone charged as often as you can. Letting the battery get down to 10% means that when the electricity goes out your phone will soon follow.
Yes, you’ll eventually lose your phone power, but if it’s fully charged it will last a lot longer. This is important because you can keep track of when the electricity will be restored.
What to Do When Your AC Dies or Needs to Be Replaced
If your AC unit dies due to a mechanical or age issue, Easy A/C has 24-hour on-call AC technicians ready to assist you. But how do you know if your AC unit is on its last legs? Well, there are typically signs that will tip you off.
The Temperature Varies from Room to Room
When you can detect noticeable differences in temperature just by walking into another room, your air conditioner is losing its capacity to distribute cool air throughout your house evenly. Yes, your air filters could be dirty or clogged, but it could also signal that the AC unit’s motor is becoming less efficient and it’s about to die.
Your Air Conditioner Is Noisy
If your AC unit is making a lot of noise, it’s probably working harder than it should to keep cool air circulating throughout your home. Air conditioners that are on their last leg often make clanging or squealing sounds when they are on. This could mean that the compressor is dying, the fan blades are worn out, and/or that there are loose parts within the unit. Regardless of why your air conditioner is making so much noise, there’s a good chance it could die sooner rather than later.
Your Air Conditioner Won’t Turn Off
If your AC unit is constantly running, yet the house isn’t getting very cool, the motor could become overworked and break down. This could signal a problem with the compressor or a refrigerant leak. In addition, the system could become clogged with dirt that’s blowing in, which can also cause the unit to be less efficient. If the temperature in your home isn’t getting down to the temperature set on the thermostat, your air conditioner may need to be replaced.
The Air in Your House Is Dry and Dusty
Another sign of a dying air conditioner is its inability to filter impurities such as dust, mold, and carbon monoxide from the air. This may not only signal that your AC unit is dying, but it could also affect your health. If you notice abnormal amounts of dust on your furniture or you’re experiencing a dry throat, you definitely want to have an AC technician look at your air conditioner as soon as possible.
Your AC Unit Requires Frequent Repairs
If you frequently have to have your air conditioner repaired, it’s probably a good idea to invest in a new one. At some point, the return on investment is not going to be worth the money you’re putting into repairs, and an AC technician should be able to let you know if you need a new AC unit.
Your AC Unit Is Simply Old
If your air conditioner is more than 12 years old, it may be time to replace it. That said, run time is much more important than the unit’s age. This is particularly the case in Florida, where most people’s air conditioners are running throughout the year. The bottom line is that you should monitor the condition of your AC unit so that you’re not surprised when it breaks down.
Need a New AC Unit?
There comes a time when your AC unit dies a natural death, so you want to be prepared if you have to have it replaced, particularly during the dog days of a Florida summer. Our highly experienced technicians can give you the lowdown on your options. And if you need a new air conditioner, Easy A/C offers affordable financing options. Give us a call today at 813-COLDAIR or use our convenient online form to schedule an appointment!