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Fall in Love with Your House Again – Autumn Exterior Paint Makeovers

This entry was posted in Home Painting on by .

From the breathtaking Arizona sunsets to the changing leaves of fall, autumn colors offer inspiration for Phoenix residents considering an exterior home makeover. Whether your current paint has faded, or you desire an entirely new look for your house, autumn is a great time to fall in love with color. Painting in the months of October and November generally presents weather challenges for many regions of the US, but in Phoenix, autumn is the perfect time to schedule an exterior paint job.

Has Summer’s Unrelenting Sun Kept You and Your Family Indoors?

The intensity of Arizona’s summer sun does more than just drive Phoenix residents indoors. The ultraviolet rays affect your home’s exterior paint much in the same way it affects your skin – it ages it much faster. That’s why Phoenix homes generally require new paint every five to seven years versus the national average of 10 to 12 years. Unfortunately, for your home’s exterior paint, there’s no place to hide. In fact, a fresh coat of paint is one of the best things you can do to protect your home’s exterior surfaces, be they wood, brick, stone or stucco.

  • Fall Temperatures Are Ideal – As summer gives way to autumn, so too, the temperatures fall. As any painter will tell you, the triple digit temperatures of June, July and August heat up surfaces and make it less than ideal for painting. October and November have more days in the 80s, which are ideal for exterior paint jobs.
  • Monsoon Season Is Officially Over – Arizona’s monsoon season officially ends September 15th. That means, the threat of major storms and the constant high humidity are no longer major factors for putting your exterior paint job on hold. Heavy downpours and dust storms associated with the monsoon season are gone until next summer.
  • Are You Preparing Your Home for Sale? – New paint changes everything and can increase your home’s curb appeal. Nothing can spruce up a tired finish like a new color – especially if you choose your colors wisely. Whether staying with classic beige or choosing from our extensive exterior color palette, Ellsworth’s experts will review color choices with you and present you with a complete estimate and plan, including timelines, so you know when the job will be finished and how much it will cost.
  • Home for the Holiday – Most Phoenix residents agree, summers can be tough but the autumn and winter seasons in Arizona are as near perfect as can be. Have your house painted in time for the best season of the year. Don’t forget, the holidays are not far off.

Schedule Now – Your House Will Look Like New for the Holidays

Painting the exterior of your home is not something you do every day. The process of performing a home inspection, choosing a color scheme, providing an estimate and scheduling the job is not going to happen overnight. If you call today, one of our experienced experts will schedule a time to meet with you and discuss options for making your house look outstanding in time for the holidays. Call Ellsworth Home Services today at (602) 244-1480.

Do It Yourself Air Conditioner Repair Disasters (Kids, Don’t Try This at Home!)

A Phoenix father was recently overheard sharing some advice on life with his teenage son. “Treat others as you would want to be treated, find something you love to do and do it, and always choose your friends wisely. Most importantly, in Arizona, take care of your air conditioner, and it will take care of you! Find yourself a great air conditioner repair service and stick with them. Don’t mess around with an inexperienced alternative. In the desert, air conditioning is an essential fact of life. Trying to save money on air conditioning service will end up costing you more in the long run, son!”

Do It Yourself Repairs – The Pride of Home Ownership

For most homeowners, do-it-yourself projects can be both challenging and fun. Minor plumbing repair, such as fixing a leaky faucet or replacing the flapper valve in the toilet can be very satisfying. Painting the kitchen a wild new color can add pizazz to your home décor. However, there’s one area of do-it-yourself projects that should be (for the most part) left to professionals – air conditioning repair. It’s OK to replace air conditioning filters. In fact, that’s a home repair people should do more often. But beyond the basics, it’s best to know one’s limitations when it comes to air conditioners.

Why Are Air Conditioning Repairs Best Handled by Professionals?

If you are painting your living room, and you drip some paint on the floor, you simply wipe it up and move on. No harm done. However, if you are attempting to repair your air conditioner and you take it apart without fully understanding the ramifications of what you’re doing, you may get yourself into a situation you regret. In the hot weather months, you do not want to accidentally remove the wrong part, touch the wrong wire or forget a crucial step in reassembly. We’ve had many calls from customers who have gotten in over their heads with their do-it-yourself air conditioner repairs. Here are just a few reasons why do-it-yourself jobs should be limited to changing air filters and sweeping debris from the area around your HVAC unit.

  • Electrical Issues Can Be Dangerous – Air conditioners are complex, multifaceted appliances and loaded with electronic parts, motors and wiring using high voltage electricity. Trouble shooting circuit boards, capacitors and electrical issues can present unique challenges requiring professional training and years of experience. Unless you are an experienced electrician, you should not attempt to fix electrical problems on your own. Touching the wrong (exposed) wire can be a shocking experience. Don’t learn this lesson the hard way.
  • Overfilling Refrigerant – Air conditioners require highly specific tools and gauges in order to be repaired properly. A common DIY error has to do with replacing refrigerant. Many times, individuals without the proper equipment, will end up overfilling the refrigerant which then causes further problems for your AC unit. Refrigerant is a dangerous substance that requires special handling.
  • Motors, Fans and Capacitors – Many air conditioners are located on the roof. Managing large, heavy motors or electrical parts up on the roof can be tricky to say the least. Just carrying them up the ladder can be a challenge. Faulty capacitors are another common AC repair. When capacitors burn out they can contain hazardous materials. Mishandling broken and exposed capacitors can put you at risk of injury.
  • Safety First – Our message to our employees and to all our customers is always SAFETY FIRST. There are so many different elements and moving parts within your HVAC system, it is truly too complicated for most do-it-yourselfers. Please take our advice and let experienced professionals work on your air conditioner. We’ve had decades of training and experience. Let us put our know-how to work for you. Call us today.

Air Conditioner Challenges: Hidden Sources of Heat Inside Your Home

Summers in Phoenix are like a marathon race where they keep extending the finish line. Long time Arizona residents will tell you that sizzling summer temperatures used to subside in mid-to-late September. However, the National Weather Service confirms more 100 degree plus days in October than ever before. This means keeping your air conditioner in top shape and running smoothly through September and October. At this point in late summer, your air conditioner has been toiling for five long months. Here are handy tips on hidden sources of heat and problem areas in your home that may be impacting the efficiency of your air conditioner.

Appliances – The Heat Is on in Your Kitchen

Your oven, stove, toaster and dishwasher all generate heat while in use. Even your refrigerator, which cools by utilizing the same principles as your air conditioner, blows warm air into your kitchen. The more you cook, the more you need a good kitchen exhaust fan. However, the best approach to lowering the heat index in the kitchen is to crank up the outdoor grill and do some late summer barbecuing. Love to bake? Make cookies and cakes at night, not in the afternoon. Running the dishwasher? Why not set the timer to do those dishes after midnight? These might sound like insignificant work arounds, but over the course of a long summer, these little adjustments will add up to big savings.

An Hour in the Shower?

Some people love long, hot showers. The heat produced by taking a 20-minute hot shower is substantial and raises the temperature and humidity in your bathroom significantly. Once again, an efficient bathroom exhaust fan will help expel the heat and humidity, making it easier on your air conditioner to return the temperature in your bathroom to the correct setting. Bathing at night, when the overall outdoor temperature is much lower will mean less energy consumed, and you’ll be a cleaner sleeper, too.

Is Your Attic a Serious Heat Zone?

In Arizona, it is common for air conditioning units to be installed on the roof. During the summer, temperatures can approach 140 degrees up top, and your attic can be a stifling heat zone affecting your air conditioner in more ways than one. If your attic has not been adequately insulated, then the heat from the roof will penetrate into your home. As well, with AC roof units, the vents run through the attic and if the vents are not insulated, the cool air will be heated by the hot air in the attic. Also, if the vents have leaks, cool air will escape, and efficiency will be lowered at the source.

It All Adds Up

Over the course of the summer, utility bills really add up. Adjusting your lifestyle and eliminating the hidden sources of heat in your home will lower your monthly electric bill. The professionals at Ellsworth Home Services have the solutions you need to make your home as energy efficient as possible.

Frozen Air Conditioner? What You Should Do

This entry was posted in Air Conditioning on by .

A common problem during the humid monsoon season in Arizona is frost or ice on your air conditioner. Some homeowners assume that since their air conditioner unit is doing a really good job of cranking out cool air, it must get cold and might occasionally freeze over. However, this is not the case. A frozen air conditioner is an indication that your air conditioner is not working properly, and you should turn it off immediately and turn your fan from AUTO to ON.

What Are the Reasons for a Frozen Air Conditioner?

There are generally two reasons for frost or ice on an air conditioner unit – restricted airflow and/or low refrigerant. Probably the most common cause for ice on your air conditioner is low refrigerant due to a leak within the system. Constant wear and tear and relentless vibration can cause fittings to loosen and result in refrigerant leaks. If you notice the air coming from your vents is not as cold as it should be, or you have warm air blowing as well as frost or ice on your unit, very likely your refrigerant is low and needs to be replenished. A second cause for a frozen air conditioner has to do with restricted airflow due to dirty coils. These issues are best handled by an experienced technician with the proper tools to solve the issue.

How Does Refrigerant Affect My AC Unit?

Refrigerant is an essential ingredient to the cooling process. Often referred to as freon, R134, R22 or R410A, refrigerant converts from a gas to a liquid and back again in an endless cycle working with the other components of your AC unit to:

  • Transfer heat from inside your home, which is then blown outside as exhaust
  • Lowers the temperature of the cooling coils
  • Forcing cooled air into your home

If you AC system is low on refrigerant, the temperature will drop on the coils containing the refrigerant. The humidity in the air will freeze. This leads to frost or ice on the coils. As the ice builds up, the unit will need to work harder to maintain the proper temperature in your home. That’s why you should turn off your air conditioner as soon as you notice ice or frost. If this condition goes undetected, it can eventually lead to serious problems for your air conditioning system.

The 3 D’s – Dirt, Dust and Debris

Desert dust storms cause dirt, dust and debris to clog up the filters and coils in your AC system. Inefficient air flow can cause many problems for air conditioners. Dirty air filters can result in increased dust in the air inside your home. If your air conditioning unit has not been professionally cleaned recently, it might be a good idea to have it checked.

Ice Is Nice in Your Iced Tea, Not in Your AC

If you’ve noticed ice on your AC unit, it may be time for a fall service call. We will check your refrigerant for leaks, clean your coils, replace your filters and bring your entire unit up to snuff. We can also check your furnace so you’re ready for the coming winter season. Why not give us a call today?

This Autumn Don’t Fall for a Labor Day Air Conditioning Letup

This entry was posted in Air Conditioning on by .

In Arizona, winters are ideal, spring is a breeze and summer is… tough. Summer can be a brutal marathon. As August rolls into September, most of the country says goodbye to the heat and hello to cooler temperatures. In the Valley of the Sun, residents know that Labor Day means there’s still two more months of triple digit days ahead. This autumn don’t fall for a Labor Day letup. Celebrate the hardest working appliance you own – your air conditioner – by scheduling a fall checkup.

How Tough Are Summers in Arizona?

Phoenix is considered the hottest city in America. There’s been no shortage of record setting temperatures this summer. On average, according to the National Weather Service, 100 degree plus days normally start in May. However, this year, Phoenix hit 100 plus on April 10th, which was the earliest ever. Summer is getting longer and hotter. At this point in the year, most Phoenix AC units have been running full tilt since the beginning of May. That’s four months of constant use. Imagine driving your car through the desert at high speeds for weeks at a time without a break. It’s going to require service. The intense heat, dust storms, monsoons and general wear and tear may have already taken a toll on your air conditioner. Here are four reasons for a fall service call:

  • Summer Takes Its Toll – One common problem for air conditioners is losing refrigerant due to leaks. It is a silent, invisible issue that most homeowners will never know has occurred. As your air conditioner runs, the constant cycle of starting up and shutting down and operating nonstop for days at a time during heatwaves, causes vibrations that can lead to small fissures or tiny leaks. As refrigerant escapes, your air conditioner needs to work harder to maintain the same temperature. Left unchecked, refrigerant will run low, and the cooling efficiency of your air conditioner will be reduced to the point you will notice warm air coming from your vents. If you haven’t had an AC inspection in the last 10 to 12 months, it’s a good idea to have your system checked by one of our experienced professionals.
  • Monsoons and Heatwaves Can Cause Electrical Issues – Phoenix homeowners know a thing or two about severe thunderstorms in summer. Lightning, high winds, toppled trees, downed power lines and power outages are common during monsoons. The metro power grid experiences power surges and shutdowns during storms and intense heatwaves. Electrical issues can arise from these power fluctuations. Air conditioners and other electrical appliances are particularly vulnerable when the power surges back on. High winds and driving rains can also cause issues for HVAC units. It is not uncommon for tree branches, debris and dust to be blown into HVAC units.
  • Unwelcome Guests and Furry Friends – Until you see it with your own eyes, it’s hard to believe – animals can cause a host of issues for your air conditioning system. Over the years, we’ve found furry friends nesting in units, squirrels chewing on wires ruining electrical connections, and rodents making their way into AC vents. Hornets and wasps often build nests in rooftop AC units, and many other problems can be caused by unwanted visitors. If you are noticing unpleasant odors coming from your AC vents, it is possible you’ve had a furry friend home AC invasion.
  • Slightly Slower Pace in Autumn – Prepare for Winter – Due to population growth and the extensive use of air conditioners, Phoenix is one of the busiest cities for HVAC service companies in the United States. Companies are booked solid from May through October, (including nights and weekends), handling urgent AC related emergency repairs. Autumn moves at a slightly slower pace and permits more time for non-emergency, regular maintenance calls. During a fall service call, our service tech will check your furnace to make sure you are ready for winter. It pays to be prepared for the colder months ahead.

Fall Service – Make the Call

At Ellsworth Home Services, we have highly qualified and experienced professionals who are trained to spot the big problems before they occur. Regular maintenance is the key to maintaining a smooth-running HVAC system. Remember, an efficient air conditioner will help save on your monthly electric bill. Don’t wait for breakdowns to occur. Call us today for a fall checkup.

Happy Labor Day to you and your loved ones!

Painting Slump Block: What You Need to Know

This entry was posted in Home Painting on by .

Slump block is a construction material found widely in Phoenix home construction. Used for outdoor walls, fireplaces, and even interior walls, these concrete blocks can often be dressed up with a coat of paint. Because concrete has a porous surface that both collects and expels moisture, slump block takes some know-how to ensure an even paint application that will not peel or flake.

Along with the normal preparation that must be done before any exterior or interior painting project, which includes cleaning, scraping and patching cracks, painting slump block has some extra steps. First, efflorescence, that powdery white substance that is often found on blocks, needs to be removed either with a wire brush or pressure washing prior to painting.

It’s essential to use a specialized concrete and masonry primer. This product seals and adheres to slump block and other types of masonry. It’s efflorescence resistant and should be painted over with a high-quality acrylic paint.

Interior Walls and Fireplaces

When it comes to slump block inside a home, paint can go a long way toward making it look less unsightly. Consider painting it to match the rest of the room to make the block blend in. Alternatively, you can make it a unique architectural feature by painting it a contrasting color. For example, painting a slump block fireplace charcoal grey amidst a white wall. You’ll want to choose flat paint unless the room is prone to high humidity, such as an unventilated bathroom. The sheen in high-gloss, satin and eggshell paint will make the texture and mortar stand out.

Exterior Walls

For exterior slump block walls, use a power washer for cleaning and to remove any existing paint. Fill cracks with acrylic caulk and a putty knife. Apply primer and let it dry before applying latex exterior masonry paint.

Choose Painting Professionals

For the best results, choose a professional contractor for painting slump block. It’s well worth the investment. With Ellsworth Home Services, we can help you determine the best options for your home’s slump block and provide quality work that will last for many years. Call us today for a free quote.

Getting Your HVAC Preventive Maintenance Schedule on Track

This entry was posted in Heating on by .

Did you have spring HVAC preventive maintenance this year? Although it’s easy to procrastinate on this task, it’s an important part of maintaining your home. Once you learn the basics of maintenance on your air conditioning and heating system, you’re likely to never miss another seasonal tune-up and inspection again

The Importance of HVAC Preventative Maintenance

Preventive maintenance is designed to keep your HVAC system running as long as possible, without any unexpected breakdowns or declines in operational efficiency. Like with other household systems, it’s easy to forget until something goes wrong. Yet, similar to cars, air conditioning and heating systems require regular maintenance. Imagine what would happen if you never took your trusted vehicle in for an oil change or tune-up? Yes, it would eventually stop running, and this is exactly what could happen to your HVAC system.

All HVAC systems require tune-ups and have the potential of needing repairs occasionally. They consist of complicated mechanical equipment. But, the chance of a system failure or a costly repair is greatly reduced when you are diligent about regular HVAC preventive maintenance.

What Can You Expect from a Tuned-Up HVAC System?

Are you asking yourself if the cost of maintenance is really worth it? You be the judge! Here are the primary benefits you’ll gain by scheduling a quick, convenient, and yes, affordable maintenance appointment with Ellsworth Home Services:

Less Expensive Energy Bills

A neglected HVAC system loses its efficiency and ability to keep your home comfortable. Thus, it requires more energy on a daily basis. This extra energy consumption adds up big time over the course of a year. By keeping your system tuned up, you’ll be confident that you’re getting the optimal energy efficiency.

Longer System Life

Air conditioners, furnaces and other aspects of your HVAC equipment will last longer if they’re regularly cleaned and serviced. It only takes one malfunctioning component to produce a domino effect that can result in an entire system breakdown. In other words, HVAC preventive maintenance can literally add years to your system’s life.

Reduced Chance of a Total Breakdown

If you’ve ever experienced a system failure during an Arizona summer day, you know just how disruptive a loss of air conditioning can be. Don’t take chances with such an important part of your home that you rely on each and every day. Gain the peace and mind of breakdown-free seasons by scheduling regular inspections twice a year.

Schedule your HVAC Preventive Maintenance Check Today!

Fall is just around the corner. Don’t procrastinate and schedule your appointment today with Ellsworth Home Services. You’ll be glad that you did!

Midsummer Air Conditioning Checklist – Is Your AC Unit Prepared for the Hottest Days to Come?

This entry was posted in Air Conditioning on by .

Summer in Phoenix, America’s hottest city seems to last longer each year. That’s not urban myth or exaggeration. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reports that Phoenix has more 90+ degree days (170+ per year) than any other city in the United States. The average temperatures in August and September will exceed 106 degrees with expected heat waves and record-setting temperatures. As we hit the halfway point through another blistering Arizona summer, it might be a good idea to check on your air conditioner and make sure it is in top working order.

Air Conditioning Warning Signals and Possible Trouble Indicators

Your air conditioning unit may be installed on the roof or located on the side of the house, so it’s easy to overlook. Out of sight, out of mind. But there are many ways your air conditioner communicates with you. You might want to pay attention to these top five warning signs:

  • Dirty air filters and ducts – Do you notice sinus troubles or congestion due to increased dust or allergens in your home? Dirty air filters and ducts can cause serious problems with the air quality inside your home and disrupt the proper operation of your air conditioning unit. Replacing air filters and duct cleaning is easy to forget, but the consequences of not having clean air in your home can be significant.
  • Reduced airflow – Are you experiencing warm air blowing from the vents, or is your air conditioner working harder to maintain the same temperature setting? Sometimes an air conditioner unit’s performance will diminish slowly over time until one day you notice there is no cool air at all.
  • Strange noises – Screeching, thumping, knocking, whirring – your air conditioner can be a regular sound effects machine. However, the sound of a good working AC unit is the sound of silence.
  • Funny smells from your air conditioner vents – This includes musty odors, electrical burning smell (do not ignore – please call to have that checked immediately), and chemical or odd industrial smells which could indicate a leak of some kind.
  • Sharp increase in monthly electrical bills over the same period last year – Homeowners often notice the summer increase in electrical usage in the June-July utility bill. If your electric charges are higher than usual, that could be an indicator that your air conditioner unit is not cooling efficiently.

There’s Plenty of Summer Left

Many homeowners schedule two HVAC service calls per year. A springtime inspection for air conditioning and again in late fall to prepare for the upcoming winter. If you missed your spring opportunity, a midsummer checkup will ensure a cool ride through August and September. Call the pros at Ellsworth Home Services today at 480-593-2265.

The Perils of Exterior Painting (or Not Painting) Under HOA Oversight

This entry was posted in Home Painting on by .

Homeowners are often shocked when they’re politely put on notice by their homeowners’ association (HOA) because their exterior paint requires a new coat. However, it’s simply a reality of our region. The desert sun is intense, colors can fade, and paint jobs take a beating. If you’ve been told it’s time to paint, it’s important to know how to navigate the rules and guidelines of your HOA.

At Ellsworth Home Services, we understand the ins and outs of working with Arizona HOAs. Many people purchase homes in Arizona without fully realizing the advantages and limitations of living within the rules and regulations of an HOA. Though it can occasionally be exasperating, compliance with the HOA is always the best course of action. Resistance is futile, or as the old saying goes, why not ride the horse in the direction it’s going?

Steps for the Exterior Painting of Your Home

After scheduling a consultation with one of our expert representatives, a full inspection will be performed, an estimate provided, color samples chosen, and a timeline established. The HOA generally provides guidelines for homeowners and online forms to fill out. Often the HOA will request a color swatch be provided. Submitting the forms may take a while, so it’s important to plan ahead and leave plenty of time for the process. In many cases, HOA decisions are made by committees comprised of community members which means approvals won’t happen overnight.

Appeals, Revisions and Special Requests

Over the years, we’ve worked with countless homeowners, thousands of color combinations and finishing requests and various HOAs – some strict and some relaxed. The fact is, not every color request is going to be approved, and some HOAs are tougher than others. Submitting correct forms in a timely manner and acting within the HOA guidelines is always the best policy. If at first, a color is rejected, there are generally guidelines for making an appeal to the HOA committee. Patience is the number one quality generally required in these situations.

Choose Ellsworth for Experience and Expertise

Choosing a new color scheme (or repainting your present faded color) is one of the most visually rewarding home improvements you can make. Repainting breathes new life into your home. In fact, new colors can add a whole new dimension to the look of your house.

At Ellsworth Home Services, we are with you every step of the way. If you are planning to repaint your home, it’s never too early to get the process started.

The Benefits of Attic Ventilation During Arizona’s Summer Months

This entry was posted in Insulation on by .

When was the last time you thought about your attic? Unless you use this high-reaching space as an extra room or for storage, it’s unlikely that you give it much attention. Yet, attic ventilation is an important consideration in Arizona, especially during the scorching hot summer months.

The Reasons for Attic Ventilation

Sitting just below your home’s roof, your attic gets hot. In fact, temperatures can well-exceed 100 degrees during the warmest days. Dark roof tiles and shingles absorb sunlight and convert this energy into heat, resulting in quickly skyrocketing temperatures during hours of sunlight. This heats up your entire home and makes your air conditioner work harder to cool living spaces, like bedrooms and common areas.

Attic ventilation works by helping to shift this heat out of the attic, saving you energy, protecting your roof and helping to keep your home cooler. The air flow that is produced by a properly vented attic also helps remove moisture which can lead to the growth of unhealthy mold and mildew.

Unlike some home improvement projects which are easily tackled by watching a YouTube video or reading an instruction manual, attic ventilation is a job that is best handled by the professionals. It requires professional expertise to determine the right products and placement of vents to maximize the benefits of attic ventilation.

Ventilation and Insulation – A Powerful Combination

Combining ventilation with insulation offers the greatest energy savings. Insulation is a barrier between your home and the outside heat. This helps keep your attic cooler and minimizes the load on your air conditioner. At Ellsworth Home Services, we specialize in both attic insulation and professional insulation installation. Together, you will enjoy lower monthly energy bills, along with a more consistently comfortable home.

Why continue to struggle with an attic that is not properly insulated and vented? Contact the experts at Ellsworth Home Services. Serving you throughout the Valley of the Sun, you don’t need to struggle with summer’s powerful heat any longer. Call us at 480-593-2265.