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Air Conditioner Tips For The Summer
Air conditioners have become the norm in almost every household and we tend to take them for granted until they fail. Just like anything else, without proper care and maintenance, they will leave you frustrated and maybe even broke!
Homeowners can get confused by trying to Google their issues, asking neighbors or worse yet, looking for help on Facebook. Although there are several things you can and should do on your own, don't always trust the opinions you find online. That being said, here are a few of the things to do on a regular basis to ensure that you are getting the most out of your units.
The easiest thing you can do is keep a clean filter in place. They tend to clog very fast during summer months and when your unit is running more often it will be less efficient, leading to a breakdown. The clogging can lead to the coils freezing and the system may shut down. If the filter is clogged and you try to make the system work harder by turning the temp. down, the results could get worse. If your system is already freezing over, do not think that simply changing the filter will solve the issue, it must thaw out first. Contact a licensed contractor to help you before it gets worse and causes discomfort for your family, higher bills or further damage to your unit. TIP: don't get the cheapest filter as the dust/debris will travel right through and cause problems, get one too dense and the air may not flow thru well enough and cause the system to work harder to pass the air into your home.
Another fairly easy job to tackle yourself is cleaning the coils on the condenser unit (the big fan unit, outside). Always follow safety standards before attempting any work by ensuring all power to the unit has been turned off. Use a refrigerator coil brush or a soft brush on a vacuum, the coils are very delicate, damaging them could lead to other complications. You also may find it necessary to clean the coils from the inside out using a trigger-style hose tip. Cover the motor and other electrical components and do not use too much pressure that you damage the fins, but be thorough.
Clean the area around the condenser unit as well. Keeping debris, weeds, and hedges away from the unit as to not restrict air flow. Make sure the drain pipe is also free of obstructions and, when running, should produce a steady drip. If it is not dripping while the unit is operating, clean it out. ( you can do this with a vacuum and creating a tight seal with tape to get better suction). If your unit is not dripping, check the 'float' next to your air handler to make sure it is not backed up and causing your unit to shut off.
Make sure the refrigerant line running from the air handler (inside) to the condenser (outside) is covered in a foam insulation...looks like a 'noodle' you use at the pool. If there sections missing or frayed, replace them to maximize efficiency.
A couple tips from a local A/C pro that I have used suggests that even little things can help prolong the life and efficiency of your system. Think of the weather report he says..."it is 92 degrees, but feels like 98". Your home is the same, moisture in your home can act as humidity, control it and you just may fell cooler indoors. Put your toilet seats down, don't leave a sink full of water soaking dishes etc. Run a dehumidifier and run your bathroom fan for 15-30 minutes after your finished. Another tip, he says, is not to constantly adjust your thermostat, especially if you have a two-story home. This goes back to the whole 'hot air rises' we've always been taught, don't make it work harder than it needs to. Remember that all your furniture, walls, carpet etc., traps heat, so if you set your thermostat higher when you leave the house and demand it cool down quickly when you get home, all that heat trapped in your furniture also needs to be cooled. And of course don't forget your ceiling fans, most fans have a reverse feature, make sure that yours is set to 'summer', or counter clockwise while you look up at it.