Summer 2022 Tests All Air Conditioning Systems
Mid Summer 2022 brings with it extraordinary climate conditions for some cities, states and countries.
Somewhere right now in Australia, US, Canada, Spain, France, Germany or the UK, air conditioning systems are breaking down, leaving renters exposed to dangerous, sweltering conditions.
A vicious heatwave in Europe in 2003 caused an estimated 72,000 deaths, and this summer’s sweltering conditions have already killed thousands. And summer is far from over. Estimates are that this heatwave in Europe alone will last 7 weeks total and kill up to 2,000 people.
UK Hit With Record 42C Temperatures
In the UK, few homes have air conditioning (estimated at just .5% of homes), which is why sales of fans, swimming pools, garden hoses and smart home features are soaring right now. Of course, there is no replacing an AC unit during a heat dome event.
Residents in London and Paris don’t have the experience in dealing with persistent 40+ C heat as do those in Dubai, Arizona or Australia. As temps rise to record levels, residents in the UK and France have minimal home air conditioning. The elderly are in particular danger. Those lucky renters in houses or apartment buildings with well maintained and powerful A/C systems will fair better.
Not to be outdone, the US and Canada are seeing a heat dome cover the continent to create dangerous conditions, which are moving toward New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Atlanta and the Florida region. 84% of Americans enjoy air conditioning at home.
Heat Waves Seem to be on the Rise
Like the summer of 2021, this summer of 2022 is seeing intense heat waves plague cities across the globe. Last year’s heat dome in western US and Canada was a climate event. This year the scene of intense heat is in Europe (UK, Germany, Spain, and France where water is being sprayed on roadway to stop them from melting. And of forest fire threat is on high alert.
From rental tenants, the heat is a major concern, often life and death. And government’s are draw into the condition to protect lives. In Toronto, Canada, tenants are demanding a maximum heat range in apartment living spaces (proposed at a scorching 42 degrees Celsius). In some cases, the building systems can’t cool rental apartments, and tenants are buying their own air conditioners, which is not permitted in many buildings. That means lawyers, court costs and time wasted.
Maintenance Never Used to be A Life or Death Matter
To control the threat of heat waves and protect tenant’s comfort, HVAC systems and maintenance work become a life and death matter. It’s too late to buy a new HVAC system or air conditioner, so maintenance and repair are number one on property manager’s to do list.
You can see why maintenance is increasingly about preventative maintenance. The topic is rising in popularity because labor and parts are simply too costly and flattened operations budgets can’t accommodate them, let alone buying a brand new HVAC system. And if climate change is real, then landlords must respond to the threat.
We’ll look at other areas of maintenance management here on the ManageCasa property management blog, however in this post we want to dig deeper into HVAC systems and maintenance. HVAC systems are a big attraction for tenants in most southern US states and cities, particularly California, Florida, Texas, Arizona, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia and New Mexico urban locations.
Some tenants get cooked in their own rental apartments. And cooling a whole rental house represents a big expense if the house isn’t energy efficient. Choosing the right HVAC system is a key business decision.
Big Performance Demands on A/Cs and Heat Pumps
HVAC or heat pump systems were designed to handle high, humid conditions but they must be maintained well, or performance fails. Death, fires, and system replacement are the end result of poor maintenance practices. And if A/C units run all day and night, you can see how poorly maintained ones will break down, especially when tenants don’t take care of them.
Unfortunately, according to an HVAC technician I spoke with, systems aren’t well maintained due to costs, neglect, and they often have to be replaced. Some systems are old and getting parts is difficult.
Common problems include burnt out or coated condenser or evaporator coils, refrigerant leaks, belt, bearings and fan wear and vibration, thermostat malfunctions, plugged air filters, blown fuses, tripped breakers, and more.
Often renters are not taught simple instructions such as how to use the home thermostat nor to replace air filters. This causes unneeded calls to support and field visits by technicians. With a property management business with thousands of properties, it’s just another threat to profitability and service quality.
HVAC Maintenance Checklist
AC or heat pump systems should be inspected spring and fall by a certified HVAC technician to meet the demands of the season ahead. Here’s some key items to attend to:
- measure the cooling efficiency of the system to find leaks or uninsulated areas (Cooling efficiency is indicated by the seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) and ideally there should be about 400 to 500 cubic feet per minute (cfm) airflow for each ton of a heat pump’s air-conditioning capacity.
- ensure tenant changes air filters as per set schedule (send reminders via property management software)
- technician will clean evaporator coils and condensers
- technician will inspect drain lines and ensure water flow
- technician will lubricate motors, movable parts, and inspect belts for tightness and wear and replace if necessary
- inspect the A/C refrigerant charge and look for leaks
- test and verify correct thermostat operation, check batteries, and controls to ensure the work as expected
- check the electrical power system and ensure the furnace blower and fan is in working order
- remove weeds and vegetation from around the HVAC housing
Your Software Automates Maintenance Management
Your contractor or in house technician should have a maintenance management software app to manage systems and parts as assets, schedule needed maintenance, allocate costs as per lease agreements, and arrange for later repairs and parts replacement. Never before has efficiency been so important. ManageCasa helps you do it like a pro.
Service work is complicated by the fact the technician must diagnose the problem, then arrange to obtain parts and schedule another visit to finish the job.
Preventative Maintenance is Smart Management
That’s why preventative maintenance routines are important. Perhaps the two keys to this is regular inspection and condition reports, and purchasing a high performance system that will handle these big heat waves.
We’re not recommending HVAC systems but you’ll discover them by searching for brand names such as Lennox, Trane, Carrier, Bryant, Rheem, American Standard, York, Frigidaire, Amana, Coleman and more. See the Consumer Reports Guide on buying central air conditioning systems.
Choosing a sufficiently capable HVAC and managing your maintenance professionally will keep your tenants safe and comfortable, ensuring they keep leasing their rental. Given all cost and business factors, it’s worth it. Go the other way, and your liabilities are extensive.
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See more on hiring a property maintenance company, and selecting an excellent property maintenance software solution.
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