Why Do Air Conditioners Freeze? 5 Possible Causes of a Frozen Air Conditioner

A frozen air conditioner? Strange as it sounds, it happens. We answer hundreds of calls for air conditioner repair in Toronto and the GTA each year, and there are always a few homeowners asking how to fix a frozen air conditioner. So, why do air conditioners freeze in the first place, and what can you do about it?

Why Do Air Conditioners Freeze?

In most cases, the cause of a frozen air conditioner has to do with an interruption in the heat transfer process.

The most common type of central air conditioning in Toronto is the split system. Split central air conditioners work by drawing warm air out of the home with the help of a blower fan; the warm air moves through the air ducts until it reaches the evaporator coil. There, a heat transfer takes place. The air is cooled by refrigerant as it passes over the coil, and the refrigerant disperses the heat outside through the outdoor condenser unit.

What does this have to do with air conditioners freezing up? When something prevents this heat transfer from happening, the ice-cold refrigerant can freeze condensation that builds on the evaporator coil.

Left untouched, ice can encase the entire indoor unit and even spread to the outdoor components.

An air conditioner that continues to freeze up or is frozen for an extended time can be severely damaged. If your air conditioner is frozen, we recommend calling for air conditioner repair in Toronto or the GTA as soon as possible.

Possible Causes of a Frozen Air Conditioner

The following are common causes of ice build-up on a split central air conditioner:

  1. Leak in the refrigerant line causing low pressure
  2. Poor airflow to the evaporator coil
  3. Dirt build-up on the evaporator coil
  4. Low outdoor temperature (16°C/62°F)
  5. Malfunctioning blower fan

1. Refrigerant Leak

Putting refrigerant under pressure causes its temperature to rise; the opposite occurs when it expands. Air conditioners use this effect to cool the evaporator coil and transfer heat from the warm indoor air to the air outside.

A leak in the refrigerant line (even a very small one) causes pressure to drop. As a result, the refrigerant is forced to expand more, causing the evaporator coils to become colder. This temperature shift may not be evident at first, but if the system continues to lose refrigerant, more and more ice will accumulate on the coils.

If the air conditioner is in good condition overall and has years of useful life left, a qualified heating and cooling technician can fix the problem by repairing the leak and ‘recharge’ the refrigerant. For older units, a refrigerant leak is often caused for replacement.

2. Poor Airflow

A split central air conditioner lowers the home’s temperature by drawing warm air into the ductwork and through the evaporator coils to transfer the heat outside. In the process, moisture from the air builds up on the coils as condensation. The heat absorbed by the refrigerant prevents this moisture from freezing.

But what if warm air can’t get through to the coils? The heat transfer cannot take place if something is obstructing the flow of air. In that case, there is nothing to keep the condensate from turning to ice.

There are many possible reasons for poor airflow to an air conditioner:

  1. Filters have not been cleaned or replaced in more than three months
  2. Supply registers blocked by furniture or other objects
  3. Closed or blocked gates or dampers
  4. Air ducts clogged with dust or debris
  5. Air duct leak

The first three are potential causes are things homeowners can investigate themselves. Inspecting air ducts for leaks or obstructions is messier and more difficult.

If you suspect a problem with your air ducts, contact a qualified HVAC technician you trust (not a door-to-door duct cleaning salesperson.)

3. Dirty Evaporator Coils

Few people realize how much dust and debris build up in their central heating and cooling system. Most of it is caught in the air filter or ductwork before it reaches the air conditioner, but dirt can accumulate on the evaporator coils over time.

A layer of dirt between the air and the coils makes it harder for the refrigerant to absorb heat. The result? Condensate begins to freeze on the coils, further limiting heat transfer.

Most homeowners do not have the expertise to inspect or clean the evaporator coils without risking damage to the air conditioner. Call a qualified technician if your central air conditioner requires maintenance.

4. Low Outdoor Temperature

Central air conditioners require a warm ambient temperature to transfer heat outside the home. If the outdoor temperature drops below a certain threshold (usually 16°C or 62°F), the system cannot operate properly, and ice can form on the coils.

Low temperature is not normally a concern in the summer months in Ontario, but the temperature can drop suddenly at night on rare occasions. This is one reason why it’s wise to program the thermostat to shut off the air conditioning at night.

Barring an unseasonably warm September, homeowners should take steps to close the air conditioner come fall.

5. Damaged Blower Fan

The blower fan pulls warm air into the air ducts then re-distributes cool air throughout the home. If the fan or its motor malfunctions, the heat transfer process comes to a standstill, and ice will begin to accumulate on the evaporator coils if the air conditioner continues to run.

My Air Conditioner Is Frozen – What Should I Do?

The most common causes of a frozen air conditioner are heat transfer issues: low pressure due to a refrigerant leak, a lack of warm air reaching the evaporator coil, or low ambient temperature.

If the problem stems from a dirty air filter, blocked vents, or closed dampers, the homeowner can usually resolve it. Other issues, such as a refrigerant leak, dirty evaporator coils, or blower fan malfunction, should be addressed by a professional qualified in air conditioner repair.

Our team is on-call 24 hours a day for air conditioner repair in Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area. View our service area here or click here for a free estimate.

Central Air Conditioner Buying Guide: What to Consider When Installing an Air Conditioner in Toronto

A central air conditioner is a significant and long-lasting investment in your home. Knowing what to consider when choosing a central air conditioner is important to ensure you choose a reliable system that fits your home and budget.

Keep these facts in mind as you prepare for a central air conditioner installation in Toronto.

Types of Central Air Conditioner

There are two main types of central air conditioning systems in use in Ontario:

  • Split-system central air conditioners consist of an indoor evaporator coil unit inside the ducting and an outdoor compressor unit. The compressor unit sends refrigerant to the evaporator coil, which cools and removes moisture from indoor air as it passes through the ducts.
  • Ductless air conditioners distribute cool air through narrow piping instead of large air ducts, which means it can be installed in a house that does not have existing ducting. Some have an outdoor compressor while others are single-package units.

If a home already has a furnace, it is possible to modify the existing air ducts to accommodate central air conditioning. However, the scope of this project will vary depending on the size and location of the current ducting. It may be necessary to resize, reseal, or replace all or part of the ducts.

Ductless air conditioners are an alternative for homeowners who do not wish to undertake the often-extensive renovations necessary to add air ducts to an existing home. For heritage homes with small attics, ductless air conditioners are the most discrete way to add central air conditioning.

When shopping for air conditioning installation in Toronto, be sure the installer inspects the home to ensure the existing air ducts are properly sized and have sufficient supply registers for central air conditioning.

Sizing a Central Air Conditioner

When choosing what size air conditioner to buy, there are two terms you should know: cooling capacity and cooling load.

  • Cooling capacity is what people mean when discussing an air conditioner’s ‘size’. Cooling capacity is an air conditioner’s ability to remove heat. It is measured either in British thermal units per hour (Btu/hr) or in tons (one ton is equal to 12,000 Btu/hr).
  • Cooling load is the amount of heat that builds up in a space when there is no cooling system.

An air conditioner should have sufficient cooling capacity to meet a home’s cooling load. If the unit is too large, it will short-cycle, meaning it will cool the air too quickly and shut off before it has had a chance to de-humidify. The result is a damp, uncomfortable home.

There is no rule of thumb for choosing the right size air conditioner to buy. Whoever you hire for air conditioner installation in Toronto should calculate the home’s cooling load using reliable methods like that developed by the CSA.

You should also know that a house’s cooling load can change. If the home has had more insulation or energy-efficient windows installed since the air conditioner was last replaced, its cooling load may be smaller. On the other hand, if the house has a new addition, the cooling load will have increased.

Noise Level

Does your city or town have by-laws limiting the noise level allowable for outdoor compressor units? Some municipalities in Ontario do. Most energy-efficient air conditioners have low sound ratings, but the noise level varies between different models.


For central air conditioners, efficiency means the amount of cooling a system can provide per watt of electricity it consumes. The seasonal energy-efficiency rating or SEER expresses an air conditioner’s efficiency over a typical cooling season (where the average outdoor temperature is 28°C). The higher the SEER, the less it costs to run the air conditioner.

Thanks to technological improvements like efficient compressors, more effective heat exchangers, and better refrigerant flow, today’s top-performance air conditioners are more than twice as efficient as those from just a decade ago. A 10-year-old air conditioner has a typical SEER of 7.0 to 8.0, while high-efficiency air conditioners can now reach a SEER as high as 17.0.

In Canada, an ENERGY STAR® qualified split central air conditioner must have a SEER rating of at least 13.0.

Electrical Load

An often-forgotten consideration when choosing a central air conditioner is electricity. Depending on the home’s current capacity, it may be necessary to upgrade the electrical service to accommodate the increased electrical load of a central air conditioner. This is another consideration an installer should be aware of and check before advising on which central air conditioner to buy.

Cost of Air Conditioner Installation Toronto

The cost of air conditioner installation will change depending on several factors, including:

  • Cooling load
    Large or inefficient homes require a more powerful central air conditioner to meet the larger demand for cooling. Typically, the cost of installing an air conditioner increases with cooling load.
  • Air ducts
    If the home already has ducts, it may be necessary to modify them for central air conditioning. Adding new ductwork to a home that does not have ducts is often a costly and time-consuming renovation.
  • Electrical load
    Upgrading the electrical service to deal with the electrical load of central air conditioning will add additional costs to installation.

A reliable installer will always provide a free quote for air conditioner installation.

6 Ways to Reduce Summer Energy Bills (Without Touching the Thermostat)

One of the easiest ways to reduce summer energy bills? Turn down the air conditioner and allow the temperature to rise a few degrees in your home. But in this weather, that’s a sacrifice few of us can make.

Here are six other sure-fire ways to reduce your summer energy bills without laying a finger on your thermostat:

  1. Shut summer heat outside
  2. Reduce the amount of heat generated inside the house
  3. Use an energy-efficient air conditioner
  4. Move certain activities outside
  5. Make your swimming pool more energy-wise
  6. Keep your air conditioner running efficiently

1. Shut Out Summer Heat

Blocking heat from entering through doors and windows saves energy by making it easier for the central air conditioner to keep the house cold. With a few quick changes and touch-ups, you can significantly reduce the amount of heat that comes in.

  • Use caulking and weather stripping to seal air leaks around windows and exterior doors.
  • Tightly shut windows and exterior doors from morning until evening. Don’t leave the front or back door hanging open when coming and going!
  • Close curtains, blinds, or window shades during the day to block direct sunlight. Window coverings also reduce the amount of heat that enters the home through conduction.

2. Reduce Heat Generated Inside the House

Much of the heat generated inside a home comes from appliance use. The more heat you generate, the more energy it takes to maintain a cool temperature in the house. Changing your usage habits will contribute to a reduction in summer energy bills.

  • If you still use incandescent light bulbs, consider switching to LED or CFL bulbs that use less electricity and produce less heat. Between 10 and 15% of the electricity incandescent bulbs consume is turned into heat.
  • Use the washing machine and dishwasher sparingly, washing only full loads when possible.
  • Unplug or switch off electronic devices with a power strip. Electronics continue to consume power and produce heat while in Sleep or Standby mode.
  • Use kitchen or bathroom fans to ventilate while cooking or taking a shower.

3. Upgrade to an Energy-Efficient Air Conditioner

The average cost of running a 2.5-ton central air conditioner in Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) is $112.95 per summer month. You can reduce this cost by replacing an old unit with a newer, more energy-efficient air conditioner.

ENERGY STAR-certified air conditioners use 8% less energy than standard models. By replacing an air conditioner that was installed 10 years ago or longer, you can easily save upwards of 20% on cooling and significantly reduce summer energy bills.

4. Spend More Time Outside

Summers are short here in Canada, so get outside and enjoy it! Moving a few of your routine activities outdoors will keep the house cooler, easing the load on your central air conditioner and reducing energy consumption.

  • Hang clothes on the clothesline instead of using the dryer. Dryers use more energy than washing machines and produce a great deal more heat.
  • Cook on the BBQ instead of the oven on hot nights.
  • Unplug electronic devices or switch them off using a power strip. As mentioned, many electronics continue to use power and produce heat while in Standby mode. Besides, it’s too nice to spend all day with your devices!

5. Have a Pool? Make it More Efficient

Swimming pools are a blessing on sweltering summer days, but it’s shocking how much energy it takes to keep them up and running.

How much? On average, running a swimming pool in the GTA costs:

  • $58.09 per month for a 1/2 HP pool pump
  • $77.45-$135.54 per month for a pool filter motor, depending on HP
  • $322.71 per month for a pool heater

Fortunately, there are ways to make swimming pools more energy-efficient so you can keep cool without spending a fortune on electricity.

  • Use a swimming pool cover to reduce water evaporation, which helps to lower heating costs.
  • Clean the pool filter regularly so the system can run as efficiently as possible.
  • Replace an inefficient pool pump with an energy-efficient, multispeed pump. This improvement can reduce the associated energy cost up to 70%.
  • Replace an electric pool heater with an energy-efficient gas or solar heater.

6. Service Your Air Conditioner to Maintain Efficiency

Like your vehicle, central air conditioners require regular maintenance to perform at peak efficiency. Having your system serviced once a year will help reduce the cost of running your air conditioner in Toronto and the GTA.

Request a free quote to find out the cost of air conditioner service in your area.


Image: Anna Bizoń

Reasons Why Your Air Conditioner Isn’t Working As Well As it Used To

Air conditioners typically have a lifespan of between 10 and 12 years. At that point, it’s not surprising for the unit to falter. But when a newer air conditioner is not working as well as it used to, it means something’s going on behind the scenes.

Below, we’ll point out some of the possible reasons why an air conditioner is not working as well as it used to.

Common Air Conditioner Problems

These are among the most common complaints people have when we get a call for air conditioner repair in Toronto. Often, it’s a combination of issues that seem to have gotten worse over time.

  1. Air conditioner not cooling effectively (or not at all)
  2. Some rooms are colder than others
  3. Air conditioner turning on and off frequently
  4. Air conditioner running all the time
  5. Air conditioner frozen

1. Air Conditioner Not Cooling Well or Not Cooling at All

Does the central AC that kept you comfortable last summer seem to be on vacation this year? Numerous problems can result in subpar performance.

  • Restricted airflow
    There should be a clear passage for air to travel from the supply vents to the evaporator coil and back into the home through the air registers. The air conditioner won’t do its job as well if there’s something in the way, be it a clogged air filter, weeds and debris in the outside condenser unit, furniture blocking the supply vents, or unclean air ducts.
  • Thermostat issues
    Check to confirm that the thermostat is in working order. It may simply require fresh batteries, or it could need replacement.
  • Frozen evaporator coils
    The evaporator coil cools and removes moisture from the air to manage the temperature and humidity inside the home. When the coil freezes over, warm air cannot pass through it to cool down. We cover what to do if your air conditioner is frozen in the section below.
  • Low refrigerant
    When an air conditioner is low on refrigerant, it can cause a whole host of problems, including poor performance. If the problem persists after replenishing the refrigerant, it could indicate a leak — which is a problem that necessitates an air conditioner repair call.

2. Some Rooms Colder than Others

Central air conditioning should maintain an even temperature throughout the home. It’s fair to expect small differences (rooms furthest from the AC unit will be slightly warmer, for example), but a significant temperature difference indicates a problem.

  • Air duct leak
    Small leaks in the air ducts can hinder airflow to the entire house, and larger leaks can result in distant rooms being cut off from central air.
  • Thermostat location
    The thermostat acts as a temperature gauge for the entire house. If the environment surrounding the thermostat differs drastically from other parts of the home, it can result in a temperature imbalance.

One solution to temperature differences is a zoning system, which lets you fine-tune the temperature in different parts of the home individually.

3. Air Conditioner Turning On and Off Frequently

Short cycling is one of the most prevalent air conditioner problems. The usual cause is an oversized air conditioner that cools the home too quickly, resulting in a constant on-off cycle. But if your air conditioner used to work fine, it could be a different issue entirely.

  • Thermostat location
    Heat sources near the thermostat can cause the air conditioner to cycle more often than it should. Make sure the thermostat is not in direct sunlight or close to a supply vent. Avoid placing heat-emitting electronics, like TVs, near it.
  • Thermostat settings
    If you use a smart or programmable thermostat, check to see that it’s set to adjust on a schedule you desire.
  • Low refrigerant
    Low refrigerant causes pressure in the system to drop. The compressor unit, which supplies refrigerant to the evaporator coil, will usually shut off automatically if the pressure drops too low. Afterwards, the pressure will rise again, creating a rapid On/Off cycle.

4. Air Conditioner Running All the Time

A central air conditioning unit is designed to shut off once the home reaches the desired temperature set on the thermostat. There are several possible reasons why this isn’t happening.

  • Broken contact
    The contactor is a switch in the outdoor compressor unit that tells the air conditioner when to shut off. If the contactor is broken or obstructed by debris, the unit will run non-stop.
  • Not cooling effectively
    Another reason why the air conditioning might constantly be running is that it cannot meet the home’s cooling demand. See the section above on why an air conditioner might not be cooling as well as it used to.

5. Air Conditioner Frozen

You know something’s not right when you find a sheath of ice on your air conditioner in the middle of summer. Turn off the unit to let it thaw, then consider the following possible culprits.

  • Restricted air flow
    Ice forms when warm air can’t reach the evaporator. This could be because the air filter is clogged, the blower fan is malfunctioning, or something is blocking the supply vents.
  • Low refrigerant
    When pressure drops due to the low refrigerant, the remaining refrigerant expands, causing cooler-than-normal temperatures inside the system.
  • Low outdoor temperature
    This isn’t a likely concern in the summer, but it’s something to keep in mind when fall comes around: running the air conditioner when the temperature drops below 18°C can turn your AC into an icebox.


Image: thamkc

Can You Install Central Air Conditioning in a Heritage Home?

They don’t build homes like they used to. Heritage homes come with decades of charm and a warm, architectural design you can’t find in modern-day homes. But that architecture also creates challenges when it comes to installing modern amenities like air conditioning.  

Most homeowners who have invested in a century home aren’t eager to tarnish its appearance with boxy window air conditioners. But is it possible to install central air conditioning in a heritage home?  

What You Need to Install Central Air Conditioning 

There are two things you need to install central air conditioning:

  1. Space to install both the indoor and outdoor units
  2. Ductwork to distribute air to different parts of the house

The most common type of central air conditioner is the split system. A split air conditioning system consists of an indoor air handler housing the fan and evaporator coil, and an outdoor unit containing the compressor and fan motor.  

The fan draws warm, indoor air into the return ducts, where it travels to the evaporator coil. The outdoor unit delivers pressurized refrigerant to the evaporator to cool the air. Then, the cool air is distributed back into the home through the supply ducts.

This cycle repeats as needed to maintain the temperature set at the thermostat.  

Today, most houses come with the ductwork already installed and ready to move air on day one. But ducts aren’t a given when it comes to older construction, and that complicates the task of installing central air conditioning in a century home.  

When a house already has a forced-air central heating system, it is possible to modify the existing ductwork to accommodate central air conditioning.

Some century-old houses, however, do not have any form of ductwork in the attic, basement or crawlspace. This limits the options of homeowners who don’t want to undertake major renovations just to have central air conditioning. 

Fortunately, there are other options. 

Installing Central Air Conditioning in a Home Without Ducts 

For older buildings and homes without ductwork, there are ways to install central air conditioning without compromising the unique architecture.  

One option is a ductless air conditioner, which uses compact indoor units and space-saving tubing instead of traditional ductwork.  Fujitsu-brand ductless units are popular choices for heritage homeowners who are installing central air conditioning in Toronto and the GTA.   

While not quite the same as a complete central air conditioning system, ductless air conditioners are perfect for cooling a select number of rooms in older homes built without central ventilation. Ductless air conditioners are much more quiet and discreet than window air conditioners. Most importantly, they’re unobtrusive, so they don’t take away from the beauty of a well-loved heritage home. 

Fujitsu Ductless Air Conditioner Installation for Heritage Homes 

Ductless air conditioners are ideal for homeowners who have a desire to install multi-room air conditioning without installing ductwork.

Rather than using ducts, Fujitsu’s ductless air conditioner distributes air through a thin, copper tubing connected to discreet grilles. It is available either as packaged or split system, making it possible to install one even if there is no room for an outdoor unit. 

Spacepak Air Conditioner Installation for Heritage Homes 

Spacepak gets its name from its space-saving design that makes it a great fit for older buildings and heritage homes. Spacepak air conditioners are installed with 2’’ thin flexible tubing that can be threaded between closets, wall studs, or ceiling joists.

The manufacturer offers discreet grilles and registers in many colours and textures to blend in.  

Our technicians have installed Spacepak air conditioners in a variety of homes and buildings throughout the GTA, including the Campbell House Museum in the heart of downtown Toronto. Thanks to central air conditioning, this historic site stays cool and comfortable throughout the sweltering summer months. But good luck spotting the system when you visit — it’s tailor-made to blend seamlessly in with the building’s incredible architecture and interior design.  

Looking for ductless or Spacepak air conditioner installation in the Greater Toronto Area? Call us 24/7 or fill out the contact form here. 


Image: Michael Karbe

5 Ways to Keep the Kids Cool When the Air Conditioner Dies

Another school year is said and done. For many of us, that means the kids and grandkids will soon be spending a lot more time at home, taking over our refrigerators and living room TVs for a few months. Hopefully, your AC has had its yearly a check-up in preparation for what’s forecasted to be a very hot summer — otherwise, you could find yourself scrambling to keep your kids cool when the air conditioner dies. 

 Mother serving watermelon while her daughter watches. Frozen fruit is a great way to keep the kids cool when the air conditioner dies.


If your air conditioner calls it quits, these tips can help you keep everyone safe and comfortable while you’re waiting for emergency air conditioner repair. 

Stay Hydrated 

Just as your air conditioner uses more ‘juice’ in warmer temperatures, kids need to drink more water to fuel their body’s effort to keep cool when the air conditioner dies. Children aren’t as in-tune with their hydration as adults, so it’s up to you to make sure they’re drinking plenty of fluids (and not diuretics like caffeinated pop and sugary juice). Cold drinks also help to cool your internal temperature. 

Try offering frozen watermelon slices or ice pops as a fun alternative to plain water. 

Sleep Downstairs 

One of the major downsides to life without air conditioning? Trying to fall asleep in a hot, sweaty room. The higher the temperature, the harder it is to get a good night’s rest, leading to some seriously crabby kids the next morning. 

However, if you’re lucky enough to live in a multi-story house, there’s an escape: the basement. Heat rises, so the basement will likely be more comfortable sleeping quarters than your family’s second-floor bedrooms. Why not let the kids sleep in the basement for a night while the AC is out? You could even grab your flashlights and sleeping bags, put on a movie, and turn it into a summer sleepover. 

Create a Cool Breeze 

Fans don’t actually make the air colder, but you can set them up to create a refreshing indoor breeze. Try wetting a sheet or a towel in cold water (wring it out, so it doesn’t drip), then drape it in front of a fan so the air passes through it. This trick can help make your kids’ rooms feel much more comfortable when there’s no air conditioning. 


It’s hard to keep the kids cool with your electronic appliances working against you. Any home devices and appliances that have a standby or “sleep mode” consume phantom power — meaning they generate heat even when not in use. Some of the biggest culprits are your PVR, computer and computer speakers, satellite or cable box, stereo system, and video game consoles. 

It helps to unplug any devices that run on standby mode when you’re trying to keep cool without air conditioning. Your kids might protest at first, but you can seize the opportunity to spend some much-needed screen-free time together. After all, it’s only until the AC is fixed! 

Banish the Sun 

A lot of summer heat gets into your home via the windows. If the sun’s bearing down, make sure to cover any south or west-facing windows with curtains or blinds (car shades from the dollar store can also work on small windows in a pinch).  

Need Emergency Air Conditioner Repair? 

Our service team is on-call 24 hours a day for emergency air conditioner repair in the Greater Toronto Area. Contact us to get your AC back in working order as soon as possible. 

Image: Iopolo

Wait! 5 Steps to Take Before Switching on the Air Conditioner

Signs of spring abound in the city. The temperature’s rising, the days are growing longer, and the snow has finally melted away.

Know what that means? Soon, it will be time again to fire up the air conditioner! But before you do that, you should ensure the unit is ready to operate efficiently.

Take these steps before switching on the air conditioner for the first time this spring.

Before You Begin

As a safety precaution, you should always shut the power to the air conditioner off before you inspect it. Turn off the condenser at the main panel or pull the outdoor disconnect for the unit on the outside wall.

Step 1: Inspect the Air Vents

The system must be able to draw and expel air unobstructed to run at peak efficiency. Anything blocking the air vents inside or outside the home will force the air conditioner to work harder and consume more energy.

Before switching on the air conditioner, give the air vents around your home a once-over inspection. Make sure all are opened.  Remove any blockages, open any dampers that are closed or move any furniture over grilles to make way for air to flow freely.

Step 2: Change or Clean the Air Filter

Once you’ve dealt with obstructions for the unit, it’s time to inspect the air conditioner’s filter.

Like a furnace, your air conditioner uses the same air filter to keep dust, debris, and airborne allergens (like pollen) from entering the unit. The air conditioner filter gets dirty fast, especially if you share your home with a few furry friends!

Most manufacturers recommend replacing the filter (or cleaning it, in the case of a reusable filter) at least once every three months. The top of the season is a great time to do this. Starting the year with a clean filter will help ensure the air conditioner performs at its best from the beginning.

Step 3: Check the Condenser

Next stop: the condenser unit. Pull on your rubber boots and head outside to assess the situation.

Located along one of the exterior walls is the air conditioner condenser unit, which resembles a fan in a large, metal box. Leaves and branches often accumulate in the condenser over the winter. Some unlucky homeowners have even found squirrels or rodents taking up residence there!

In any case, this debris will have to come out before you turn on the air conditioner. Debris around or inside the condenser can clog the coils, and anything that obstructs the flow of air will cut down on efficiency.

Once you’re sure the unit is off, you may detach the grilles to carefully remove debris and clean the coils. Be careful not to bend the delicate fins and coils. You can also wash the condenser with a hose and nozzle but do not use a pressure sprayer. Any stubborn debris that remains after a gentle cleaning is best left to a professional.

If there are trees and shrubs around the condenser unit, it’s worth investing in a protective cover that will keep it clean and tidy over the winter.

Step 4: Spot Wear on Pipes or Wiring

While you’re outside, take a moment to inspect the lines that run from the house to the air conditioner condenser. Are there any areas where insulation appears to be worn or missing? Are any frayed or damaged wires?

If it’s just the coolant line missing insulation, you may be able to repair it yourself with insulation tape or insulated pipe sleeves. However, any issues beyond that are worth a service call. Leave the air conditioner off until you’ve had it inspected.

Step 5: Test It Out!

Vents? Check. Filter? Check. Condenser? Check. If you don’t spot any issues, it’s time to turn on the breaker and set the thermostat to cool.

To test whether your air conditioner is working, go outside to check the condenser again. You should see the fan spinning and hear the compressor humming, and there should be warm air coming out of the unit.

Within 10 to 15 minutes, you should begin to feel the air inside your home drop to a comfortable temperature.

The Easier Route: Book a Tune-Up

It’s never too soon to book an air conditioner tune-up ahead of the cooling season. We’ll check each component of your cooling system to ensure it’s ready to perform when the weather gets hot.


Image: geographica

Are Air Conditioners Bad For You? Essential Facts on the Health Effects of Air Conditioning

We all know the link between indoor air quality and our health. But does it make a difference if the air circulates through an air conditioner? Is air conditioning bad for you?

Before you switch on the A/C this summer, learn the essential facts about the health effects of air conditioning.

Health Effects of Air Conditioning

Air conditioning is in many ways beneficial to your health, especially in a smog-heavy city like Toronto. Researchers have found that central air conditioning causes fewer outdoor pollution particles to enter the home than an open window, thus lowering the health risks of air pollution.

But there’s a catch: if the unit is not properly maintained, an air conditioner can contribute to health problems from other sources.

Below, we’ll look at some of the indirect health effects of air conditioning and how you can avoid them.

Mould Growth

The process of cooling hot air creates moisture. Central air conditioners expel this excess moisture through an exhaust vent. So there is no concern this is being circulated indoors. However, portable window air conditioners may either vent the moisture through a window attachment or collect it in a pan.

If the ventilation system is not working properly, or the homeowner neglects to empty the water pan, this moisture can become a magnet for mould growth. Mould in a portable air conditioner can be a health hazard because the unit causes the spores to circulate in the air.

In the case of central air conditioning, it is also important to have the air ducts cleaned every few years, since mould feeds  on the organic matter found in dust.

Low Humidity

Air conditioners pull moisture from the air to cool it, reducing the humidity inside your home. For some, this comes as a welcome relief, especially in muggy depths of summer.

However, low humidity can also contribute to some less-than-desirable health effects. Dry air can irritate your nasal passages, increasing the chance of sinus congestion and inflammation.

You can counteract this effect with a humidifier.

Temperature fluctuation

The human body is great at adapting to changes in temperature. Think of how single-digit temperatures can feel warm in the spring, and downright chilly come fall!

For the most part, moving from hot air outdoors to a cool, air-conditioned building does not pose any risk to your health. However, some health conditions, like diabetes, can make temperature fluctuations more difficult to manage. People with those conditions may prefer to minimize the difference between indoor and outdoor temperatures so their bodies can adjust more easily.

Airborne Illness

In certain high-rise apartments and office buildings, the central air conditioning system uses water to cool the air.

With proper maintenance, this system poses no greater risk than any other air conditioner. But if the water becomes stagnant, it can harbour harmful bacteria. In rare cases, this can lead to the spread of airborne illnesses.

Fortunately, this is not a risk in home air conditioning systems.


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Should You Rent a Furnace or Air Conditioner in Ontario?

The option to rent your furnace or air conditioner (in addition to water heaters, which have long been a rental option) is now a reality in our marketplace. They allow for monthly payments and predictable repair costs that are more attainable for some than an initial cash outlay.

When I ask someone why they might rent rather than buy, the answers are usually for peace of mind and cost certainty. I agree these are essential considerations for any family making such an important investment in their home.

Though it seems affordable at first glance, when you look at the big picture, renting a furnace or air conditioner could cost homeowners thousands more than they expect.

So, Should You Rent a Furnace or Air Conditioner?

I have written in the past about the pitfalls of renting, and it bears repeating. The biggest one is that a rental is amortized like a mortgage: you pay off the interest first and then the principal.

This can become a big issue when you sell your home before the contract has expired – what is the buyout, or will future buyers want to inherit a lease on their HVAC equipment? To presume you won’t move during a 10 or 12-year lease may not be in your best interest – change happens in life.

Another issue is that you are locked in with your rental company for service. If it is a particularly busy time – which happens more often than most people think – and your rental company is backed-up a couple of weeks to get to your home, you’re stuck. Another contractor can’t touch that equipment without consequences to you, the homeowner.

One of the challenges with HVAC rentals is that so much of this business has been done by travelling sales reps who knock on your door and pressure you into taking their rental. This has become so problematic the Ontario government recently passed a bill to regulate this activity. The question that comes to my mind is that if this is such a good thing for consumers, why does it require rental companies to resort to such sales tactics?

At AtlasCare we have excellent financing options that, when coupled with an annual protection plan, give you peace of mind along with cost certainty with a contractor you can trust who has been in business for over 85 years. As always, we’re happy to sit down and help you explore your options.


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