Do You Want Your AC to Run Right? Avoid These Six Things

A central air conditioner needs proper care or else it won’t deliver optimum cooling in your home in an efficient manner. To a large extent, this means learning the things you shouldn’t do. Here are six things you should NOT do to your home’s central AC.

1. Forgetting to schedule annual professional maintenance. Your reliable HVAC contractor will dispatch a technician to clean your cooling system, both inside and outside units, check electrical connections and other conduits, measure refrigerant, test airflow, check the thermostat, and other tasks. If your AC’s evaporator or condenser coils are dirty, for instance, the system can’t efficiently remove heat from your home or expel it into the outdoors. This will force it to work harder and longer to cool your home the way you’d like it to. That translates into higher energy costs, sub-par cooling and more breakdowns.

2. Neglecting to check the air filter every month. This is another situation where forgetting an essential task will result in your AC working too hard. An air filter that’s clogged with dirt or dust impedes airflow, making the blower motor work harder to force air through the filter. The consequences of that are mentioned in the previous bullet point. But this also will lead to more dirt getting into sensitive machinery, eroding efficiency and performance.

3. Making your air conditioner work harder than it’s meant to. You can give your AC a break by reducing its workload. One way, of course, is learning to live with a higher temperature in the house during the hot months. However, if you’d rather not surrender any comfort, take steps to reduce the cooling load in your house by sealing air leaks, adding insulation, using a programmable thermostat to avoid running the AC at full blast when nobody’s at home, and closing curtains and shades against the sun during the day.

4. Not scheduling an energy assessment. You can hire a professional energy auditor to go through your home and undertake a series of diagnostic tests to determine where energy is escaping. This will result in a detailed report explaining what steps need to be taken in order to lessen the cooling load in your home. The great thing about this is that most of these steps also will result in reduction of the heating load. You’ll reap energy savings year round.

5. Letting ice accumulate on your air conditioner. This can happen if you have an AC that’s too small for your home; if you expect it to achieve an unreasonably low temperature on an extremely hot day; or if some mechanical malfunction occurs. Ice on the AC can result in serious damage to the machinery.

6. You don’t take advantage of ceiling fans during the summer. Using a ceiling fan in a room can make the air feel several degrees cooler, and as a result allow you to turn up the thermostat by the same amount. You save money on energy and lighten the workload on the air conditioner.