Articles for June 2014

Air Conditioner Refrigerants and the Clean Air Act

US EPAA 1987 international environmental agreement called the Montreal Protocol established requirements that began the worldwide phaseout of ozone-depleting CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons). It was modified in 1992 to establish a phaseout schedule for HCFCs (hydrochlorofluorocarbons). While HCFCs are less damaging to the ozone layer than CFCs, they still contain chlorine that destroys the ozone. The United States EPA implements the amended Montreal Protocol via the Clean Air Act.

By January 1, 2015, the USA is required to reduce its HCFC consumption by 90% below its baseline. By January 1, 2020, the USA will need to reduce its HCFC consumption by 95% below baseline.

While chemical manufacturers will not be allowed to produce new R-22; recovered, recycled and reclaimed refrigerant will be allowed past 2020 to service existing systems. This should allow enough R-22 to supply existing air conditioning systems.

HCFC-22, which is also known as R-22, has been the main refrigerant used for residential heat pump and air-conditioning systems for more than four decades. Leakage of a greenhouse gas such as R-22 contributes to ozone depletion. As the current R-22 manufacturing is phased out, manufacturers of residential air conditioning systems are now offering equipment that uses ozone-friendly refrigerants. With these significant changes in refrigerant and new systems, the testing and training of technicians becomes a high priority. The consumer should make sure he uses a company that uses EPA-certified technicians.

Save Money by Knowing Your Air Conditioner’s 3 Basic Needs

checking ac refrigerantThey say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. By being aware of your home air conditioning system needs, you can provide the proper conditions to help it work correctly and efficiently. Recognizing the following needs will also help you trouble-shoot issues that come up. Otherwise, you’ll  keep turning the thermostat down without getting cool.

Air conditioning systems are complex machines. When any of the following things change, the system will not be able to cool your home correctly.

  • The system is sized to meet a specific “load” on the house. The load is changed when more heat is created indoors either from more people or appliances or because of changes in the house. Having a party or did some family move back in? Did you do some remodeling? Maybe you added another refrigerator?
  • A certain amount of refrigerant is required. No leaks allowed! Have a professional check the refrigerant level every two years.
  • There has to be a particular amount of airflow across the coils in the outside condenser. Keep things like foliage, toys, fences and furniture from blocking the condenser. Make sure children don’t stuff foreign objects like sticks or grass into the condenser that might bend fins and block airflow.

Things to do BEFORE a Hurricane is even close

make a planIf you live in a hurricane-prone area like Houston, there are certain activities you need to have done BEFORE the weather forecast declares we’re under a Hurricane Watch.


  • If someone in your home has a need for life-sustaining medical equipment, have other arrangements in place for electricity sources and evacuation needs.
  • Have a list of medicines, medical assistance devices and doctors that everybody in the home uses.
  • Talk with your family members to figure out who will be your out-of-state contact in case you can’t reach each other locally.
  • Keep a list of important phone numbers in your emergency kit.
  • Agree on two meeting places for family members to come together. Choose a place near your home and another one outside your region in case you need to evacuate separately.


  • Should include 5 to 7 days of food and water for each person and pet.
  • Hand-crank or battery radio with batteries
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • FIrst aid kit
  • Rain gear
  • Plastic sheeting and duck tape
  • Moist towelettes, plastic bags and ties
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
  • Disposable eating dishes (plates, cups, plastic-ware) and paper towels
  • Cash
  • Matches in a waterproof container


  • Use several sources of information.
  • Radio stations 740 AM or 88.7 FM
  • Find out how to get text or email notifications for your jurisdiction


  • Get to know them BEFORE a crisis hits.
  • If you are young, strong and healthy, find out if any of your neighbors might need help when the hurricane comes. Know who your elderly, medically fragile, and single parent neighbors are.

The Dehumidification Part of Air Conditioning

humidityThe first definition and main goal of air conditioning has to do with humidity control. The indoor recommended humidity conditions are roughly 60% relative humidity maximum at 78 degrees F. When the moisture level in the home becomes more than that, problems with mold growth begin. Health and comfort concerns also become issues that need to be addressed.

Even though you can see the collection of the humid air by the water that drains away, the current day air conditioning system is only able to cool the air. The dehumidification of the air is purely a side-effect. And while we may think most of the dehumidification process happens at the hot times of the year when the air conditioner is running a lot, it actually is at its peak during the mild times of the year when the air conditioner seldom runs.

What can the homeowner do to help dehumidify their home?

  • Purchase a stand-alone dehumidifier.
  • Do not keep the thermostat at the “fan on” position. At this setting, the fan constantly blows air even if the cooling system is not running. The moisture the system just took out of the air will then be circulated right back into the house before it can be drained.
  • Use exhaust fans during activities related to increased humidity. Cooking, bathing, and washing produce quite a bit of moisture inside the home. A fan that directs the moisture outside will help.
  • Don’t line dry clothes indoors. Use a clothes dryer that is exhausted directly outdoors.
  • Keep the windows closed when the humidity levels outside are high.