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Boston Cooler or cooler Boston? Either is better than global warming!

Wondering about what global warming really means to you? Wonder no more, but you might want to brush up on your conflict resolution skills, fix yourself a Boston Cooler and keep your air conditioner in good working order. Researchers at the University of California Berkeley and Princeton University have released a research report that shows that even relatively small increases in temperature have a profound effect on human behavior.

The researchers examined the effect of temperature increases and drought on violence around the world and found that even small increases in temperature produced measurable increases in violence directed toward individuals, violence within a culture (such as wars, riots, and other societal conflicts), and civic collapse.

The study examined 27 regions around the globe, and researchers found that their conclusions held true in all 27 locations. According to the scientists, there is a direct correlation between increased violence and increases in air temperature. There is also a predictable increase in violence during drought conditions.

According to the study, as the global average temperature rises, we can expect more conflicts, wars and an increased incidence of violence against individuals. A global rise in temperature of about 5°F increases the rate of large-scale conflicts and wars by 50%.

For August, forecasters are predicting a respite from last month’s record-breaking heat in Boston, but the effect of rising temperatures on people is clear: cooler heads prevail when cooler temperatures do. Over time, keeping your air conditioner in good repair will become more important for personal comfort.

Boston Standard Plumbing & Heating provides comprehensive air conditioner services, from installation to maintenance and repair. We can help you maintain your current air conditioning system, or recommend high efficiency replacements, and ductless air conditioning solutions for structures that aren’t set up for ducted central air conditioning.

If you would like a consultation on air conditioning, ductless air conditioner solutions or air conditioner maintenance, please give us a call at Boston Standard Plumbing & Heating at (617) 288-2911. We also provide 24-hour emergency service for all of your heating, air conditioning and plumbing emergencies.

How Does An Air Conditioner Work?

With the temperatures nearing record heights this summer in Boston, air conditioning is on a lot of minds these days. I thought it would be valuable to take some time to explain how an air conditioner works. Knowing what your air conditioner is doing can help you take better care of it, and spot potential problems when they arise.

An air conditioner (whether it’s portable or stationary) has three major subsystems: the compressor, the condenser and the evaporator. All three systems need to be working well in order to provide cool relief from the summer heat. In addition to the major subsystems, an air conditioner has a refrigerant (also called a coolant) chemical that assists with the transfer of heat from the air inside your home to the air outside your home.

For the purpose of this blog, I’ll assume that we’re talking about a central air conditioner unit. Window units work in much the same way, except that window units have all of the subsystems in one package, so they must also handle the cool air distribution.
In a central air setup, the compressor and condenser usually remain outside the home, while the evaporator is located in or near the furnace, assuming that you have a gas/forced-air furnace. If you have a heat pump, your evaporator may be tied into or located near the air handler instead. In either case, the furnace or the air handler will perform the same function – distributing cooled air around the house.

The refrigerant flows around the air conditioning system and transfers heat to itself or to the outside air. Refrigerant is special because it can either be in gaseous form or liquid form, depending upon where it is in the cooling cycle.

The whole cooling process depends upon the unit’s ability to remove moisture from air. Hot air can carry a lot of moisture, but cool air can’t. If you remove the moisture from hot air, you get the side benefit of reducing the air’s temperature. Air conditioners (and refrigerators) remove moisture from the air by using a cold refrigerant to force the moisture in heated air to condense, and then evaporating the condensate.

At the beginning of the cycle, the refrigerant is gaseous. It is cool and under low pressure. The compressor compacts the gaseous molecules of the refrigerant together, placing them under higher pressure, which also raises the refrigerant’s temperature. The system then sends the refrigerant – which is now hot and under a lot of pressure – off to the condenser.

At this point, you have two things you don’t want: heat and gas. You really want the refrigerant to be cool and liquid. The condenser’s job is to get rid of the heat in the refrigerant while converting it to a liquid state. Because you’re working with twho things you don’t want, the condenser does it’s job outside!

The condenser is covered with many thin, metal fins, which help the heat dissipate from the refrigerant. A fan blows the heated air across the condenser coils. The fins increase the surface area of the condenser and give the heat more opportunity to get rid of heat. The refrigerant lets go of its heat and converts to a cool, high-pressure liquid. This cooled liquid refrigerant is sent to the evaporator through a very small-diameter hole, which helps it retain its liquid state.

The high-pressure liquid travels through the narrow channel to the evaporator. An expansion valve regulates the refrigerant’s trip to the evaporator. Once the refrigerant arrives, the pressure drops and it converts back to a gas. When a liquid converts to a gas, it absorbs heat. Some compounds are better at doing this than others, and refrigerants happen to be very good at absorbing heat while they convert back to their gaseous states. They also readily enter their gaseous states at relatively low temperatures.

As the hot air from the house hits the evaporator, the refrigerant inside begins to absorb heat and collect moisture out of the air. Like the condenser, the evaporator is also covered with thin metal fins, and uses a fan to help with the transfer of freshly cooled air from the system to the living space.

The refrigerant – once again in its gaseous, low-pressure state – is sent back to the compressor to start the process over again.

If you’re having trouble with your air conditioner, give us a call at Boston Standard Plumbing & Heating at (617) 288-2911. We work with all major brands of central air conditioners and can help you keep your system operating efficiently!
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Keeping Your Cool This Summer In Boston

Spring seems to have made an early appearance, so there’s no better time to get your annual air conditioner maintenance done. In the next few posts, I’ll be concentrating on air conditioning, and what you’ll want to do to be sure you can avoid an expensive air conditioner repair in Boston this summer.

As far as operation goes, one of the best, easiest and nicest things you can do for your air conditioner is change the filter regularly. Use pleated filters and change them no less often than 90 days. If you have pets in your home, change the filter more frequently. This will help protect the unit’s secondary heat exchanger and the evaporator coil, and it will keep dirt and other debris out of the blower wheel, which can cause your unit to malfunction.

Can’t find your AC filter? Check your furnace! (It’s usually the same filter you change during the heating season.) Some units have a filter located in a ceiling return air grille, but if you have central air conditioning that uses your furnace ductwork, your filter’s most likely in your furnace.

Changing the filter regularly has some other benefits, as well. Pushing air through a dirty, or clogged filter can decrease the efficiency of your air conditioner. It can also introduce dirt into other moving parts of the air conditioner, reducing their effectiveness and increasing the amount of electricity your air conditioner consumes.

Dirty air filters can also be a source of odor and airborne allergens in your home. Filters will collect contaminants like mold, mold spores, pollen and other irritants. If you inspect your air conditioner filter and notice that it has mold growth or has a funny smell, change it immediately.

Keep some clean filters on hand so you can perform a quick change whenever you need to. If you’re not certain how often to change the filter, inspect the filter periodically to note its condition. When you see a lot of dirt or debris collecting on the filter, change it.
If you’re thinking about skipping the filter altogether, don’t. Running your system without a filter will cause the evaporator coil the air handler to clog. This will lead to icing on the air conditioner – something you definitely don’t want.

If you have questions about your air conditioner, or would like to schedule pre-season maintenance, give us a call at Boston Standard Plumbing & Heating at (617) 288-2911 anytime. We’ll be happy to schedule a seasonal maintenance check and show you how to maintain your system during the summer.

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