Rosie on the House: Battling those summer heat problems

If your bills seem to be getting too high, you might need a whole house energy audit.

It’s the season for facing up to problems with your air conditioning system. As summer moves on and temperatures rise, some issues may make you more and more frustrated. In fact, some of these problems often lead homeowners to call us at Rosie on the House in a search for answers.

So, we talked recently to air conditioning experts, including David Byrnes of Green ID in Tempe, to find out what those issues are:

• Maybe you have an air conditioner system that’s still working, but it has gotten loud and noisy.

Homeowners often complain that their AC wakes them up at night or there’s a loud banging sound when the AC comes on and the compressor starts running. “Some people even say that they have to turn up the volume on their TV when the air is on and then turn it down again when it goes off,” Byrnes said.

What could be the problem? Possibly, the air filter that they are using is too restrictive and the AC is starved for air. The ductwork might be undersized, an issue that may mean you need an investigation of your entire duct system. Possibly the blower motor on the air conditioner is undersized.

• You have rooms that are too hot even when the AC is running or you have rooms that are too cold.

Frequently it’s more noticeable at night when residents are trying to sleep. One bedroom is always hot and another is very cold. Sometimes homeowners try to fix the problem by closing the air registers down in the colder part of the house.

The problem could be due to HVAC duct system often because there are too many Y-shaped branches. That can cut down the amount of conditioned air that gets delivered to some rooms. A more effective way of dealing with the problem is installing a duct damper, a movable plate inside the ductwork that can regulate air flow and send it to another part of the house, Byrnes said.

• You recently moved into a new home that had been remodeled by a “flipper” or real estate investor and the HVAC system doesn’t seem to be working properly.

The duct system in any remodeled home should be checked carefully, according to Byrnes. If you’re doing your own remodel, you should ask the remodeler about the duct design, duct sealing and insulation.

• You’re amazed at how big your utility bill has been in the summer months; the cost rises despite your best efforts not to run the AC in the house except when electricity rates are lower.

You might consider having your insulation inspected throughout your house including the attic. Homes with lots of dropped soffits and architectural features may have problems with faulty insulation or no insulation at all in certain areas. Even if you have enough insulation, it may have become misaligned in your attic and need to be rearranged.

Many issues discussed above could be considered during a whole house energy audit, which is where homeowners should start if they have problems.

For more do-it-yourself tips, go to rosieonthehouse.com. An Arizona home building and remodeling industry expert for 35 years, Rosie Romero is the host of the syndicated Saturday morning Rosie on the House radio program, heard locally from 8 to 11 a.m. on KNST-AM (790) in Tucson and from 7 to 10 a.m. on KGVY-AM (1080) and -FM (100.7) in Green Valley. Call 888-767-4348.

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