Articles for January 2014

Summertime and The Livin’ is…HOT!

ac unitIs your A/C ready for the upcoming Houston summer? This little break of gorgeous, Spring-like weather is a great time to get out and look at your unit and make sure it is clear of all debris and leaves. It spends all summer sucking up leaves, pollen, grass and sticks. Preserve the life of your unit by making sure there is a good two feet of clear space around it at all times.

Can you imagine Houston with NO A/C?

Anyone who has been in Houston in the summer knows the way to survive is moving from the air conditioned vehicle to the air conditioned building – without too much stopping in between.  It’s only been a little over a century that humans have used “manufactured weather” to control the temperature of office buildings and homes.

In 1980, Houston was described as the Most Air Conditioned Place on Earth.  It was in 1922 that the Rice Hotel Cafeteria became the first air conditioned room in Houston and in 1922 the Second National Bank became the first building to have “man-made weather”.  It took almost another 10 years before air conditioning started to become available and accessible private homes.  And the  first consumers wouldn’t really be considered the general public.  Only the very wealthy could afford this luxury.  One of the first Houstonians to take advantage of this new commodity was Glenn McCarthy – otherwise known as Diamond Glenn.  He was the oil tycoon that James Dean’s character was based on in the epic movie Giant.  It wasn’t until after World War II that the blessing of air conditioning began to spread to the masses, making life in Houston much cooler!!

The Polar Vortex Reaches Houston

Photo Courtesy of HPD

Photo Courtesy of HPD

Most of our weather battles in Houston deal with battling the heat and the humidity.  Although we may never have the great Houston blizzard – this past week of near record low temperatures reminded us that we do need to know how to protect our homes from the cold weather as well.  Here are a few tips to help make the cold weather and the occasional snowfall a worry-free experience in Houston.

  • Checking your furnace BEFORE you need to crank it up is an must. Do not wait until it is 19 degrees!
  • Keep gutters clean and clear to avoid ice dams and damage.
  • If it’s forecast to freeze protect your pipes.  Wrap those pipes that are exposed, keep cabinets open to allow air to circulate and leave a trickle of water running through the faucets.

Stay warm!  It’ll be 105 again before you know it!

How often should I change my air filter?

dirtyairfilterChanging out your air filter is the MOST important thing you can do as a homeowner to protect and get the best use of your cooling system. The number one question we get is, “How often should my air filter be changed?”

The best answer seems to be –  WHEN IT IS DIRTY.  Well, duh! 🙂  But how do you know when it is dirty? Visual inspection is the key.

There are lots of factors that determine when the filter should be changed.   How many people live in the house, how many pets and what kinds of pets, anyone have allergies?  Are you doing home improvement projects or anything that might stir up more dust and particles?  The best bet is to check it at least once a month.

It may not need to be changed – but get into the regular habit of checking.  Add a reminder to your calendar – be it digital or analog – that will pop up to draw it to your attention.  Also – make a note of when it was last changed and, as long as the factors in your home remain fairly constant (ie not embarking on a complete kitchen remodel or deciding to foster 12 puppies), you will soon learn the timeline for your particular home and family.