Maximize your A/C to beat the record heat.
In the heat of summer (especially the record heat of summer), you’re probably using your A/C more than in the past. We’ll let you in on a little secret: A/C maintenance can make a big difference. A tuned-up A/C runs more efficiently and lasts longer. Which means you get better performance (read: more comfortable temperatures), lower energy bills, longer equipment life, and a lower carbon footprint. The opposite is true, too. An unmaintained A/C costs more to operate and is also prone to breakdowns and a shorter life span.
Why does maintenance make such a big difference in A/C performance?
It comes down to condensers and coils. We’re going to nerd out a little here….
An air conditioning system moves the hot air from inside your house, to the outside. There are two main pieces to the system: OUTSIDE your house, the big metal box with a fan in it, is the CONDENSER. INSIDE your house, sitting on top of your furnace, is the COIL. The coil is usually hidden by sheet metal. REFRIGERANT runs in a loop between the coil and the condenser. When the refrigerant is moving outside to the condenser, it’s in a gas form and is carrying the humidity and heat it has pulled from your house. When the gas reaches the condenser, the condenser removes the heat and compresses the gas into a cool liquid. The cool liquid goes back inside your house into the coil. A fan (“blower”) blows across the chilly coil and pushes the cool air through the ducts into the rooms of your house. It’s an intricate process, and while modern air conditioning is pretty fantastic, these devices aren’t designed to last forever. Over time, coils and condensers can fail, air filters get clogged, and the electronics and motors wear out.
What can you do to keep your air conditioner running efficiently?
The good news: There are things you can do to help keep your air conditioner running reliably and efficiently. Here are some simple ideas:
- Change your filter regularly.
It’s usually called a furnace filter, but the reality is the filter serves your whole system – furnace and A/C combined. The same blower fan that circulates warm air from your furnace, also circulates the cool air from your air conditioning. Both the warm air and the cool air pass through the filter. So it’s very important to change your filter all year long, every few months. A dirty filter restricts air flow, which means less cool air circulating in your home when your A/C is running. A dirty filter also causes the blower fan motor to work harder, which can cause it to prematurely fail.
- Get a tune-up from a professional.
Air conditioners are meant to undergo routine maintenance for optimal function. Tune-ups don’t have to be complicated—at least not on your end! A professional will check the electrical systems, motor, refrigerant lines, key components, condenser, and coil to make sure things are running according to manufacturer specifications. If something bigger is in play, such as mice building nests and/or chewing through wires, a tune-up will find this, too.
- Evaluate your blower wheel.
Dust and grime build up over time, and even a thin layer can put a strain on the motor. Debris can mean less air moving through the system, which makes your system less efficient and more prone to breakdown. Unless you’re qualified to do so, it’s best to have a professional check your blower wheel and clean it if needed.
- Keep your condenser clean.
Debris, cottonwood seeds, and other elements from your yard can gunk up your condenser. You may be able to make a difference with your garden hose, spraying it down a few times each summer. Do NOT use pressure washers or higher hose settings as these can damage the fins.
- Use ceiling fans.
Ceiling fans are an A/C’s best buddies. They move cool air from the floor to the ceiling, making your room feel cooler without having to lower the temperature on your A/C.
- Only cool the areas you spend the most time in.
If you’re not having regular guests, turn off the vent in the guest room and close the door. You can cool down the room before folks arrive. Let your A/C focus on the rooms in your house where you’re most likely to spend time. If you have any heat-sensitive belongings, be sure to keep those in the temperature-controlled areas!
Intimidated by A/C maintenance? Don’t worry. A trained professional can get the job done quickly. At Bonfe, we’re here to help.