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Confessions from an air conditioning repairman
Heat and humidity can make for some cranky customers. Take it from longtime air conditioning repairman Ken Nielsen, president of North Reading’s AccuAire.
Joanne Rathe/Globe Staff
If [customers] call in the middle of winter, they ask you to come out and fix their heat, and they say thank you for coming out to fix their heat. In the summertime, they scream at you to come and fix the air conditioning and wonder why you can’t be there now.
Air conditioning is probably 75 percent of the business. A lot of people are putting in new systems, but just as many people are repairing old ones. Most of the stuff we do is central air. We don’t do window units. I personally do a lot of chiller work; that’s all big commercial stuff. I go all over New England doing startups and service. We’re at one of the utilities right now, putting in air conditioning for their server room, in Somerville.
We’ve had a few people try to fix ’em themselves before they call, but usually the office — Alice, my wife — will walk them through it, make sure they have changed their filters and checked their circuit breaker, and, believe it or not, make sure it’s actually on “cool.”
There’s all kinds of dumb stuff people can do. They put furniture over the grills, so the air can’t get out. They don’t change the filters. They don’t know they’re supposed to change the filters. I ask if they have changed the filter, and they go “Where’s the filter?” “How long have you lived there?” “Oh, five years.” “You’re supposed to change the filter every three months.”
Do the maintenance. Make sure everything is clear. I’ve walked up on a house and had bushes growing out of the unit, so I’ve had to do landscaping. But if it’s clean, it will run more efficiently, and it won’t cost you an arm and a leg to run.
THICK OF THINGS The average high temperature for Boston in August is 80 degrees.
(Interview has been edited and condensed.)
Well, it’s the dog-days-of-summer. Mid-August already. Where did the time go? We hope that you have enjoyed this beautiful summer weather along with us. Especially after that really rough winter last year.
As Autumn approaches, it’s a good time to think about heating season (yes, already!) so we thought we’d share some tips to help you prepare your home for the cooler days ahead.
If your heating system is 15 years-old or more, consider a new one. Things have become much more energy efficient in that time, so conserve resources and money by upgrading. If your system is new enough, it’s very important to remember to have it professionally serviced. You don’t want any surprises when it’s finally time to put the heat on. Also, heating systems produce carbon monoxide as a byproduct of combustion, so getting your system checked is a safety as well. Accuaire Inc. serves many different brands of residential and business heating systems.
- Is your thermostat efficient and in working order? Check that too.
- Clean around your ducts, registers and radiators. Dust and pet hair can inhibit airflow.
- Are you insulated? Do you need more?
- Are your windows well sealed? We’re sure you’ve still got them open now, but when the time comes, you want those tightly sealed to hold your heat in and and keep the cold air out.
We know you don’t want to be thinking about these things when you are probably getting ready to head to the beach, but plan ahead and you;ll be much better off later. Schedule those appointments and make your to-do list!
In the HVAC business, there is always a need! Here’s a photo of a recent job on a snowy day in Lowell MA. Let’s hope there is a nice Spring coming and a summer full of air conditioning!