Now that summer is here, fans of hot weather across the country are shedding clothes and taking trips to their favorite watering holes. But even the most devout sunbather has to get out of the heat every now and again. This is especially true in humid regions, where the temperatures rising towards triple digits are nothing compared to the thick air that leaves you constantly sweating through your clothes. The solution has always been escaping into your air conditioned home for a little cooling off period. But if your A/C unit isn’t running at peak efficiency you won’t get that brisk output you crave, and may see increased utility bills as well. In most cases there isn’t anything really wrong with your unit that a good cleaning can’t fix. So here are five tips for keeping your A/C clean and running like new.
Maintenance is the key, so make sure you change out the air filters in your units four times a year. Think of this like changing out the oil in your automobile. It’s a necessity, and the longer you put it off the greater the chance you’ll see major issues. If you haven’t changed out the filter yet, switch it out now before the real heat of summer hits. In fact, you might end up needing to change the filter even more frequently than that. If you live in a windy area, if you suffer from allergies or if there is a lot of construction in your neighborhood you should probably increase the schedule.
The filters you purchase also make a big difference. Not all filters are made the same, and being cheap in this department won’t serve you well. Look for synthetic filters that come pleated, which will give you the maximum cleaning standards while keeping your air conditioner running like new. Avoid fiberglass filters, which are far less expensive but don’t do the job. At the same time, you don’t need to buy the most expensive filter on the market. The high end of the spectrum has to be cleaned and replaced even more frequently, yet won’t make that much of a difference when it comes to filtration.
If you still notice issues after handling the filters, check to insure that there isn’t a mechanical problem that needs addressing. Set the air conditioner to a comfortable temperature, and then hold a thermometer in front of one of your active vents. You can expect a difference in temperature of something like eighteen degrees. If the temperature is higher than that there may be a clog in the system. If the difference is on the lower end of the spectrum your air conditioning unit might need a replacement charge of Freon. In either case, chances are you are wasting energy and probably should have a professional air conditioning maintenance company come in and take a look.
When you come home from a particularly hot and sweaty day you might be inclined to set your thermostat as low as it can possibly go. But you actually aren’t doing your A/C system or yourself any good with this approach. You can’t force the unit to cool your home any quicker. The air comes out cold until the thermostat setting matches the temperature of the air. Setting the thermostat incredibly low doesn’t make the air any colder. All it does is make your air conditioner work longer than is necessary, which could lead to mechanical problems.
Finally, visually inspect all the ductwork in your house for improper seals. This is crucial if you have a central air unit, as issues often come down to leaks in the ductwork. Head up into the attic and check for wasted air. Problems aren’t hard to solve, as you can usually repair leaks with a simple application of duct tape. But don’t put off air conditioner replacement if you find the issue has nothing to do with leaky ducts. The longer you run a faulty system, the greater the chance of an electrical fire.