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Blog > Swamp Cooler or Central Air: Which Is Right for You?

Swamp Cooler or Central Air: Which Is Right for You?

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In Utah, having air conditioning to make it through the hottest months of the year is a necessity for many homeowners. However, older homes were not designed with central AC in mind, and installing a new system (especially when you don't have forced air heating) can be expensive and difficult. 

Fortunately, because Utah has a dry climate, central air is not your only option. Many people opt to install evaporative coolers, otherwise known as "swamp" coolers, instead of central AC. Swamp coolers use a fan that pushes warm air through a pad soaked with cool water. When the air passes through the pad, the water cools the air, which then enters your home.

There are pros and cons to either cooling option. Here's what you need to know about each system when you're faced with the choice.

Installation

It's much simpler to install a swamp cooler than an entire home AC system. However, if you already have central heating, central air becomes less challenging to install. Your AC can use the same ducting that your heating does, so the process becomes as easy as installing the compressor and hooking up the electrical lines and fans to distribute the air through the home. 

Swamp coolers are normally installed on the roof. The unit can look slightly out of place on a rooftop, but it does not require ducting anywhere else in the house. 

Cost to Run

The cost of installation and running the swamp cooler makes it the winner in the savings category. Central air conditioning compressors require a lot of electricity to run. A swamp cooler only needs electricity to power a simple fan and water pump. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, they use only a quarter of the energy that a central AC compressor uses. 

For budget savvy consumers, the swamp cooler is the more economical choice for summer cooling. 

Maintenance

Central AC does require some maintenance, but this is mostly clearing away debris from the compressor and making sure that the air filters are changed.

Evaporative coolers require much more maintenance. They must be winterized and sealed off before each winter. The pads that hold the water should be changed frequently to prevent mildew growth. The pump can wear out and will need replacing every few years. For people who like to turn on the AC and forget about it, swamp coolers are not the right fit. 

Even Cooling

Another difference between central cooling and swamp coolers is how the cool air circulates through the home. Swamp coolers usually do not connect with any ducting. Instead, they move through the home by changes in pressure. When you keep the windows cracked in each room, the cool air flows into the home and forces warmer air out, pulling cool air into each room.

However, this motion is hurt by home layouts and closed doors. The disadvantages include:

  • Reduced cooling capacity for larger homes. For homes with larger square footage, one cooling unit may not provide enough cool air to make a difference.
  • Reduced cooling in upstairs or downstairs areas. For two story homes, you might need two swamp coolers to handle each floor separately or one area won’t be as cool as the other. 
  • Reduced effectiveness in closed-room designs. For homes that don't have open floor plans, evenly cooling the house can be a challenge. 
  • Reduced freedom to close doors. For people who like to keep bedroom doors shut at night, the cool air can't flow into the room as easily.

People with larger homes or with historic homes that have many separate rooms may not find that a swamp cooler is as effective as it might be for those in small ranch-style houses or apartments. 

Temperature Control

One particular benefit of central air conditioning is that you can set your thermostat to any temperature you would like. For those who like it very cold, 65 degrees might be the temperature of choice. For those who just like to take the edge off the summer heat, 78 degrees may feel comfortable. 

With a swamp cooler, you do not have this advantage. You will find that your cooler may struggle to provide very cold air when temps soar into triple digits. The cooling capacity of the water in the pads remains the same, so when temperatures soar into triple digits, the air blowing from your cooler will still be less hot than outside, but it won't be as cold as you might like.

Weather

Finally, swamp coolers are affected more by the weather than central air conditioners. In order for the evaporative cooling effect to work, the air going through the cooler must be very dry and warm. So, if there is a warm rain storm or if humidity increases, the cooler will not work as well. 

For more information about air conditioning installation costs and maintenance, contact us at Dick Kearsley Service Center.

Blog > Do You Need a New Furnace? | Dick Kearsley Service Center

Do You Need a New Furnace? | Dick Kearsley Service Center

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Worker at work — Dick kearsley Service in Northern Utah


For many homeowners, buying and installing a new furnace is a major undertaking. After all, it's likely to be one of the most expensive investments you'll make in your home. You want to be certain that your home actually needs a new furnace before spending thousands of dollars on your home's heating and cooling needs.


Fortunately, it doesn't take much to find out whether or not your home needs a new furnace. The following are five signs to look out for when it comes to replacing your heating system.


Unreliable Heat

Imagine turning on your furnace during a chilly morning only to get nothing but cold air in return. Now imagine that this happens sporadically, with many a cold moment spent in waiting until your furnace finally swings into action. Poor reliability can make it exceptionally difficult to keep your home warm throughout the fall and winter months.


There are plenty of reasons why your furnace may suddenly become unreliable, including poor or nonexistent maintenance and premature component failures caused by defects or excessive use. Buying an oversized or undersized furnace can also lead to reliability problems later on.


If your furnace is no longer able to deliver consistent, reliable heat throughout your entire home, then it should be replaced with a newer and more reliable unit.


Strange Noises

Despite being designed to operate as silently as possible, furnaces can become quite the outspoken machinery when they fall under distress. In fact, one of the best ways to find out what's wrong with a typical furnace is to listen for the noises it will inevitably make.


For instance, a faulty drive belt or a blower fan motor in need of repair or lubrication may produce squealing sounds of varying pitches, depending on the severity of the problem. Loud, rhythmic thumping noises often suggest fan blades coming into contact with their housing, while constant clicking noises point towards faulty relays or a faulty igniter.


These and a variety of other noises usually indicate that your furnace has seen better days. Although routine maintenance is important, it may be time to have your heating system replaced.


Higher Energy Bills

It's no secret that nearly half of a typical home's annual energy consumption is geared towards heating and cooling. This makes heating your home one of the largest expenses you can expect during the cold weather months. A furnace that's in good shape will produce affordable heat, but an aging or ailing furnace may have trouble keeping its energy consumption and energy costs in check.


Ordinary HVAC components can wear out over time, increasing the amount of energy required for these components to operate properly. Chronic repair issues, defects and outdated efficiency standards can also result in significant increases in energy consumption. Not only will you use more energy, but you'll also end up paying more for the energy your furnace consumes.


If you're looking forward to lowering your energy bills this year, you should consider having your furnace replaced with a modern unit. The latest high-efficiency furnaces offer a range of features that help reduce overall energy consumption without sacrificing heating comfort.


Advanced Age

You expect to get the most out of your heating and cooling equipment, but you shouldn't expect your furnace to last forever. Most furnaces are capable of delivering up to 20 years of reliable service before being replaced with a newer unit. Some can even operate for 30 years or more with the right amount of care and maintenance.


Holding on to an old furnace might seem like the economical way to go, but it could actually cost you money in the long run. Not only do older furnaces use more energy than their newer counterparts, but constant repairs could cause the cost of owning one of these relics to skyrocket.


If it's been 15 years since you've replaced your furnace, you should get ready to replace your current unit with one that offers better efficiency, more features and improved performance.  


Health Hazards

A furnace that's in dire need of replacement can also pose a safety risk for you and anyone else in your home. For instance, a cracked heat exchanger or a rusted flue pipe can let exhaust gases seep back into your home's living spaces. With carbon monoxide a common byproduct of the combustion process, it's easy to see the danger an ailing furnace can pose to your family.


In addition to keeping your home's carbon monoxide detectors in good condition year-round, it's also important to have your furnace inspected by a seasoned professional. You should also be prepared to replace your furnace if your technician recommends it.


If your furnace is showing one or more of the above signs, then it's time to find a suitable replacement. Fortunately, the professionals at Dick Kearsley Service Center  can help you find what you're looking for. Contact them today to get your furnace replaced.