One thing most of us don’t plan for in the dog days of summer is the failure of our home air conditioner. With recent temperatures in the 90s and humidity so thick you could slice it with a knife, the sweet relief of cold air in the home is a luxury we often take for granted. But there are proactive steps you can take to avoid an AC breakdown in the middle of a heatwave. And you don’t have to be any kind of DIY guru to get them done. Maintenance and preventive steps are the key to staying cool all summer long.
1. Be Smart with the Thermostat
Turning the air down to a super cold temperature for prolonged periods of time can overwork your AC. Try out temperatures at higher degrees to find a comfort level that suits you. Installing a smart thermostat can also help reduce energy costs as you can automate your AC to work less when you’re out of the house or when you know you don’t need as much cold air. Reducing costs while reducing the stress on your AC is a win-win.
2. Keep Blinds and Curtains Closed During Strong Sunlight Hours
While it’s great for our mood to get some sunshine in the house, we can keep much of the light out during peak sunlight hours to keep the house cool. With all of the curtain and blinds open, you’re working against your AC by bringing more heat into the house, thereby making the cooling system work harder to keep temps down.
3. Schedule Annual AC Maintenance
We’re not going the DIY route here with a complicated system that your whole home depends on. Schedule an HVAC professional once a year for your AC. The service fee (usually around $100 for a check up) is well-worth the price when you consider that replacing a neglected unit can cost around $5,000. A professional will clean out coils, unclog condensate drains, remove debris, and test that system controls work properly.
4. Change the Filter Regularly
The AC and furnace filter are one and the same. There are filters that require changing once a month or every three months, depending on what you buy. Pair the task of changing the filter with something else on your calendar and make it a priority. If you forget, the filter will get clogged with dirt, pet hair, dust, and other particles. This will reduce airflow to your system, causing it to work harder. Not only does this wear out your AC components faster, it drives up your energy costs.
5. Keep Your Thermostat Away from These Areas and Items
Because the thermostat is regulating temperature for your entire home from the spot where it’s installed, it should not be exposed to frequent drafts or heat sources. It also should not be in a kitchen because heat from appliances will make the thermostat think the whole house is much hotter than it is. Ensure your thermostat is ideally located: on an interior wall; away from windows, doors, and skylights; and a comfortable distance from air vents. Of course, keep space heaters and fans away from the thermostat. If you think your thermostat should be moved from its current location to regulate temperature more smoothly, an HVAC professional can move it to a more practical location.
Real Estate Term of the Week
Condensate Draining System: The AC’s exit route for moisture as air passes through the evaporator coil. The coil removes humidity from the air, converting it to water. It is deposited into the pan, passes through the draining line, all the way down to the exit pipe. The drippings from the exit pipe are a good sign that your AC system is working well.