What to do When Your Air Conditioner Breaks in the Summer

When the Arizona summers are in full swing, the last thing you want is to end up without air conditioning. Weather, power outages, component failures, and other occurrences can happen at any time, leaving you without the cool air your home needs. But, when an emergency strikes, there’s no need to panic. Here are tips you can use to stay calm, cool, and collected if your air conditioner breaks down this summer.

First things first: Contact a professional

The first thing you should do after your air conditioner breaks is to pick up the phone and call a professional. Time is of the essence when it comes to air conditioning emergencies, and you don’t want to delay scheduling a repair. At Chas Roberts, our emergency services include support on weekends and holidays at no additional cost—so whenever an emergency strikes, you can rest assured that you can call us for help.

Ways to stay cool with a broken air conditioner

While you’re waiting for the professionals to arrive, or for a repair to be completed, there are several short-term solutions you can use to keep your home as cool as possible. With one or more of the following solutions in place, your home should feel more comfortable, no matter the temperature outside.

Turn on the fans

Ceiling fans, desk fans, and oscillating floor fans are great tools for keeping your home cool without air conditioning. While fans don’t actually reduce the temperature in a room, the increased movement of air is able to trick your body into thinking the temperature is lower. Make sure your ceiling fans are set to rotate counterclockwise. This will push air downward and create a cool breeze.

Make a DIY air conditioner

In a pinch, you can make your own personal air conditioner with only ice, a bowl, and a table fan. Start by grabbing a large mixing bowl and filling it with ice. Then, place the bowl of ice in front of the table fan. As warm air oscillates from the fan, the ice will act as a natural refrigerant and cool the air while it passes over the bowl. You can feel the cooling effect by sitting close to the fan and breathing in the chilled air.

Stay low

The simple truth of physics is that heat rises. Without any air conditioning, the second story of your home will likely feel much warmer than the lower floor. Try and spend as much time as you can downstairs while you wait for your air conditioner to be fixed.

Close the blinds

It’s estimated that up to 30% of unwanted heat in your home comes from your windows. Shades, curtains, and blinds can lower indoor temperatures by up to 20 degrees. Blackout shades, which are specifically designed to keep out sunlight, will work most effectively. Blocking out the sun as much as possible is a crucial step in keeping cool without air conditioning. To keep the sweltering UV rays at bay, close the blinds, shades, or curtains on every window in your home. If any of your windows lack blinds or other coverings, you can use bedsheets or blankets secured with duct tape or thumbtacks as a temporary DIY solution. It may not look nice, but it’s effective.

Turn off and unplug

All lightbulbs give off heat, which can contribute to the overall temperature of your home. Keeping all but the most necessary lights turned off can reduce the impact of this heat source. Large electronics such as desktop computers or gaming consoles can also make your home feel warmer when they’re turned on. It’s best to turn off and unplug these devices when you need to keep your home cool during an air conditioning emergency. Unplugging is important because, even if the device is off, it will still consume so-called “phantom loads” of electricity, and still generate heat.

Additionally, you should limit the use of your large appliances, such as your stove, oven, dishwasher, and washing machine. These appliances all generate heat when they operate, which can make your home feel warmer. It may be best to limit yourself to preparing and serving cold foods while your air conditioning is out, or limit cooking to the evenings when it isn’t quite as hot outside.

Stay hydrated

Water is the fuel your body needs to avoid dehydration and maintain a cool and comfortable temperature. Drinking cold water will help you feel cooler and make you less vulnerable to the negative effects of the heat, including heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Keep a water bottle with you at all times and drink from it throughout the day, as opposed to drinking liquids like soda and juice that won’t do much to hydrate you.

Use cold compresses

Applying cold compresses to pulse points can help you cool down fast. Pulse points include your wrists, neck, elbows, ankles, and the area behind your knees. You can make your own cold compresses by freezing an ice pack or water bottle, or soaking a washcloth in cold water. Another option is to fill a sock with rice and freeze it for about an hour. Because grains such as rice do not hold a lot of heat, the compress will remain cool for at least 30 minutes.

Prevent emergencies with regular maintenance

An air conditioner that is approaching the decade mark, or one that hasn’t been properly maintained, is somewhat of a ticking time bomb when it comes to sudden breakdowns. While things may be going well now, there’s no guarantee that your air conditioner will work tomorrow. Rather than take the chance of getting caught off guard on a sweltering summer day, take control of the situation by getting in the habit of having your air conditioning maintained at least once a year. At Chas Roberts, our exclusive 26-point maintenance plan examines your air conditioner from top to bottom, with a thorough focus on ensuring that all parts and components are in good working order.

If you’re holding on to an older unit that’s starting to show signs of wear, replacing the unit altogether is a smart decision. Not only will you save in the long run by avoiding costly repairs, you’ll also greatly lower your chances of a sudden breakdown.

How Chas Roberts can help

From routine repairs to sudden emergencies, the expert technicians at Chas Roberts have seen it all in the 75 years that we’ve been serving the Valley. For all your air conditioning needs, we’re here to help. Contact us today.