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Beat the Heat: How to Stay Cool When Your A/C Fails

Outdoor air conditioner unit

Have you ever found yourself in the sweltering heat of a hot day, only to discover your air conditioning has given out? This scenario leads to discomfort, frustration, and dehydration the longer it lasts for you and your entire family. Nobody wants that.

While you’re waiting for A/C repairs, Mainstream Home Services will walk you through understanding your AC system, identifying common issues, and most importantly, how to stay cool during the repair process.

Understanding the Basics of A/C Systems

Air conditioners are more than just luxury appliances. They are vital for maintaining a comfortable environment, especially during heatwaves. They use the physical properties of gas and pressure to remove heat from your home, effectively lowering your body temperature. This heat exchange is achieved through a refrigeration cycle involving a refrigerant gas and various components like coils and compressors.

These systems break down for various reasons, including worn-out components, clogged filters, or electrical issues. Regular maintenance, like cleaning or replacing filters, checking for leaks, and ensuring all electrical connections are secure, significantly extends the life of your AC system and prevents sudden breakdowns during the height of summer.

Recognizing the Signs of a Failing AC System

Identifying the signs of a failing AC early will save you from facing rising temperatures without the comfort of your home’s air conditioning. These signs are subtle, like a slight decrease in the cooling efficiency or the AC taking longer to cool the room. They can also be more noticeable, like unusual noises, frequent cycling, or a sudden increase in your electricity bills.

If your home starts to feel humid or you notice a musty smell, this could also be a sign that your AC system is not working correctly. In such cases, contacting a professional AC repair service like Mainstream Home Services is essential. Early detection of issues can prevent more severe damage and ensure your system is back up and running as quickly as possible.

Steps to Take When Your A/C System Fails

When your A/C system fails, first, don’t panic.

Check if it’s a minor issue, like a tripped circuit breaker or a dirty filter. If it’s beyond your expertise, it’s time to call Mainstream. While your AC is on the fritz, consider the following tips to stay cool.

Tips to Stay Cool During A/C Repairs

While your AC is busted and waiting on repairs, here are some ways to beat the heat.

DIY Cooling Strategies

  • Create a cross breeze: Open windows on opposite sides of your room to create a cross breeze. Box fans can enhance this effect. If you have ceiling fans, set them to rotate counter-clockwise to push cool air downwards. Stationary fans also help evaporate sweat and create a cooling effect, even though they don’t make the air colder. Position a bowl of ice before a fan to create a cool breeze.
  • Hydrate: Stay hydrated by drinking cool water. Keep yourself and your pets well-hydrated to compensate for the moisture lost through sweat. Applying cold water to your pulse points will also lower your body temperature. You can also apply ice packs to your body’s pulse points, such as the neck, inner elbow, wrist, and back of your knees.
  • Close up windows, doors, and blinds: When it’s hotter outside than inside, prevent hot air from flowing in by keeping your windows and doors closed. During the day, close blinds and curtains, particularly on the west- and south-facing windows, to block out sunlight and keep your rooms cooler.
  • Wear light clothing: Opt for lightweight, loose-fitting clothing made of natural fabrics like cotton to stay cooler.
  • Limit the use of heat-producing appliances: Try to avoid using the oven, stove, or other appliances that generate heat. Instead, consider grilling, eating cold foods, or ordering takeout to prevent your oven and stove from adding heat to your home.
  • Use a cooling pillow and bedding: There are pillows available with cooling gel or are designed to be breathable, which helps keep you cool while sleeping. Replace heavy blankets with cotton or silk sheets to allow more body heat to escape during sleep.
  • Take a cool shower or bath: Not only does this lower your core temperature, but it can also be refreshing and make you feel more comfortable.

Community Resources

During heat waves or prolonged periods of extreme heat, it’s crucial to know the community resources available to you. These resources can provide relief when your AC system fails and while it’s being repaired. Here are some options to consider:

  • Public places with AC: Consider spending time in public places with air conditioning. This can include libraries, shopping malls, cafes, and cinemas. 
  • Local cooling centers: Many cities set up designated cooling centers during heat waves. These are air-conditioned public spaces where people can go to escape the heat. They are often located in community centers, libraries, and schools. Some communities have outreach programs that offer assistance to those struggling in extreme heat conditions. This could include providing portable fans, ice packs, or temporary shelter.
  • Community pools: If your town or city has a public swimming pool, this can be a great way to beat the heat. Swimming can help lower your body temperature, and the water can feel incredibly refreshing on a hot day.
  • Friends and family: If you have friends or family nearby with functioning air conditioning, consider asking if you can spend some time at their place while your AC is being repaired.
  • Public transportation: If you’re in a city with air-conditioned public transportation, consider taking a long bus or train ride to stay cool.
  • Workplace: If your workplace has a functioning AC system, consider spending extra time there.

The goal is to stay safe and cool during extreme heat. Always follow local health and safety guidelines when utilizing these community resources.

Product Recommendations

While you’re waiting for your AC to be repaired, several products can help you stay cool:

  • Portable air conditioners: These units cool a single room and are often on wheels for easy transport. They can be a bit pricey but are a great investment if you frequently deal with AC issues or live in a hot climate.
  • Evaporative coolers: Also known as swamp coolers, these are a great alternative to air conditioners, especially in dry climates.
  • Personal cooling devices: These include handheld fans, neck fans, and wearable devices that blow cool air onto your face or neck. Air circulators move air throughout the entire room, creating a steady, even flow of air and can also be an option.
  • Cooling towels and bandanas: These products are designed to be soaked in water, wrung out, and then worn around the neck or head.
  • Cooling mattress pads: These products can be filled with water or gel and provide a cool surface to sleep on. Similar to mattress pads, cooling gel pads can cool down your bed, couch, chair, or your pet’s favorite spot.
  • Cooling body and pillow sprays: These sprays, often infused with soothing essential oils, can provide quick, cooling relief when spritzed on your body or pillows.
  • Blackout curtains: These curtains help block out heat from the sun and can help reduce the temperature in a room. Smart blinds can be programmed to close during the hottest part of the day, helping to keep your home cool.

While these products can help, they may not replace the cooling power of a functioning air conditioner. Always follow product instructions for use and safety.

Preventative Measures to Avoid Future AC Failures

Annual A/C maintenance is key to preventing future breakdowns. This includes regular check-ups, cleaning or replacing filters, checking for leaks, and ensuring all electrical connections are secure. Using energy-saving settings will help reduce the workload on your cooling system and prolong its lifespan.

HVAC technician repairing an outdoor AC unit

If your AC system is old and frequently requires repairs, replacing it with a newer, more efficient model might be more cost-effective in the long run. Modern AC systems are more energy-efficient and can cool your home more effectively, which can help to reduce your electricity bills.

Using your AC system effectively helps prevent future failures. This includes not setting the temperature too low, not leaving the AC on when no one is home, and using fans to help distribute the cool air more effectively.

Mainstream is here to help with preventative maintenance, A/C repairs, and more. We want to ensure you don’t have to face the summer heat without your air conditioning working properly. Don’t wait until you need emergency A/C repairs to take care of your A/C needs – you’ll be spending more money than you need to. By investing in yearly maintenance and being aware of any issues your A/C is facing, you’ll save time, money, and frustration by catching problems before your A/C needs repairs or replacement.

Stay Cool This Season: Schedule Your AC Maintenance with Mainstream Today

Facing a broken AC during a hot day can be daunting but knowing what to do when your AC breaks down is essential to fixing it quickly. Annual maintenance from Mainstream, energy-saving settings, and considering replacement when necessary are all part of keeping your AC system at its best.

Stay proactive about your AC maintenance, and be prepared for any AC failures. Contact us today for maintenance, AC repair, replacement, and more.

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