Yellow wattle blossom heralds the beginning of spring. It’s also a reminder to householders that the time’s come to open evaporative cooling units.
The Metropolitan Fire Service urges all electrical cooling equipment to be professionally serviced before summer use.
After attending an Adelaide house fire in January sparked by a faulty air-conditioning unit it revealed SA’s urban and rural firefighters had attended 112 flare-ups involving all types of cooling systems since 2012.
Adelaide’s low-humidity climate has made evaporative air coolers a popular choice.
These pump-and-fan systems require regular lubrication, adjustment and checking for electrical safety. As well filters and pads need to be cleaned or replaced and the water reservoir flushed and refilled.
Another important consideration is ensuring water and air flow rates are within the manufacturer’s specification.
While the householder can do basic checks, a full service by a qualified technician is cheap insurance against possible problems.
Sharpe’s AirCare technicians will come to your house to open up and test that your evaporative cooler is safe and running at best efficiency.
[They also provide a shut-down service at the end of summer].
The MFS puts it quite simply: “If electrical cooling equipment, such as air conditioners, evaporative coolers and fans, is poorly maintained and used continuously for long periods during heatwave events there is a danger of the equipment overheating and causing a fire.
“All electrical cooling equipment should be regularly serviced by a licensed tradesperson according to the manufacturer’s specifications.”
The attraction of evaporative cooling is that it gives the feeling of a sea breeze. A pump draws air through a damp pad, which evaporates the moisture, and a fan disperses it as cool air. Having fresh air rather than recirculated air adds to the non-irritating benefits for those suffering from asthma, or the very young and old.
A few key windows only need to be opened a maximum of 300mm to maintain the air flow. Another option is to install ducts or fans. Sharpe technicians can advise on this.
With a typical evaporative system expected to last 20 years or more it is critical to make sure it’s running at peak efficiency. Here are some options if you have doubts.
- Systems can be recommissioned or reset to the correct levels
- Controls can often be upgraded by replacing simple on/off switches with thermostatic and/or programmable regulators
- Householders can reduce their system’s cooling load by adding internal and external shades and/or wall-ceiling insulation to reduce the time the air cooler operates to reach the desired temperature. This saves energy and water
- Get a Sharpe technician to make sure the existing ductwork is sealed to prevent leakage. Shut-off dampers could possibly be installed to seal the system when it is not in use. In potential bush fire areas it is recommended that ember protection screens are installed.
Repair or replace – Weigh up the costs.
- Replace if the unit is over 15 years old and struggling to cool
- The most expensive part of an evaporative air conditioner is the motor. So if the unit is over 10 years old and at least one expensive part needs replacement consider replacing
- On newer units replacing pumps and controllers is relatively affordable
- If replacing an old evaporative air cooler remember that the dropper box, ducting and grilles may not need replacing, saving a considerable amount on the replacement cost.
For more information contact Sharpe on 131 750.