In the summer when things heat up, we rely upon our air conditioner to keep our homes cool and comfortable. However, the AC unit is part of a mechanical system of moving parts and components that can and do wear out and break down without any preventative measures. Without any prevention, it can lead to emergency AC repair service calls on the hottest summer days.
To help prevent emergency AC service calls, here are eight great tips provided by our AC repair service technicians:
- Have the outdoor unit cleaned and inspected once a year by a qualified AC technician.
Dust, dirt, and other debris can get inside the outdoor AC unit. When air vent fins, cooling coils, and other parts and components inside the unit are dirty, they work less efficiently. With reduced air flow, some of these things can also overheat and cause the system to shut down.
The air vent fins, coils, and other parts and components all work better when they are cleaned and get plenty of air flow. Inspections by your air conditioning service technician also include verifying all wiring, pipes, and other connections are secure and not damaged, as well as checking the level of coolant in the system. It is highly recommended to schedule this service before the start of the summer season.
- Clean and remove debris from around the outdoor unit.
To keep dust, dirt, and debris from getting inside the outdoor unit to a minimum, you want to make sure to inspect around the unit every two to three months. If you notice grass, weeds, or other vegetation growing around the unit, remove it. Rake up any leaves or pine needles so they do not get sucked into air vents and clog them. Trim back shrubs and trees so they do not overhang or touch the unit.
- Change your heating and air conditioner air filter on a regular basis.
Somewhere within the heating and AC system will be at least one air filter, normally in front of the return air vent. Some systems will also have a second filter near the blower motor and furnace. You want to make sure to inspect air filters on a monthly basis and change them if they are dirty.
Dirty filters prevent air from moving through the system correctly. The AC system will have to work much harder to cool the air since it is not getting sufficient return air flow. This can lead to problems with the system overheating and breaking down, and even in a complete failure when you have to get a new air conditioner installed.
- Have your ductwork inspected and cleaned if necessary.
One way to tell if your ducts are dirty is if you have a dust problem inside your home. If dust levels accumulate quickly and are thick, then the ducts need cleaning. Another way to tell if your ducts need cleaning is if there is excessive dust on the air vent covers.
There are several ways in which dust can get inside air ducts, such as:
- The air filter is the wrong size and does not fit correctly.
- The air filter is dirty and clogged to the point the system is sucking in dust and dirt.
- There are gaps, cracks, or holes in the ductwork that are sucking in dust.
If dust is getting inside the air conditioning system, it will affect how well parts and components work and last. For instance, dust that builds up on the blower motor can absorb lubrication. As the lubrication is absorbed, the blower motor will get hotter and can overheat, and it will eventually break down.
- Reduce any potential strains on the air conditioning system.
During the day, you will want to keep curtains, shades, or blinds closed on the windows that get direct sunlight. If you open them, the sunlight can heat up the room. This can cause your AC system to run more often and places added strain on it.
Another thing you can do is to ensure your home has plenty of insulation in the right places. The attic is one area that is often lacking. Without sufficient insulation, heat transfer occurs when the hot summer air gets into the home and heats it up. This, too, will cause your AC system to run more frequently.
You will also want to make sure there are no air leaks around the windows in your home. If you notice warm air drafts in different areas of the home, your windows most likely need to be resealed.
By doing these things, not only are you reducing potential strains on your AC system, but you also can reduce your energy bills and save a little on cooling your home.
- Use the program features on your programmable thermostat.
If you have a programmable thermostat, you will want to use this feature to set specific temperature settings at different times of the day. For instance, you should set the thermostat higher during the day when no one is at home. Then enable a second setting with a lower temperature that the thermostat switches to prior to coming home from work, so you arrive home to a cool home.
If you do not have a programmable thermostat, you can get one installed for your current heating and air conditioning system from your local air conditioning service company. There are several different models available, including ones that can be configured as part of your other “smart home” devices. There are even programmable thermostats that have their own mobile apps so you can control settings right from your smartphone.
By using the programmable features, your air conditioner does not have to work as hard during the day to try to maintain a cooler temperature. Not only does this help reduce your energy usage, but it also places less strain on the system, reducing the likelihood of you coming home to a broken-down AC system.
- Gradually lower the temperature to your desired level when you first turn on the air conditioning.
It is a cool morning, and you decide to not turn on the AC, believing it won’t get that hot. However, as soon as the midday arrives, temperatures quickly heat up. When you get home from work, you walk into a very warm home. You may be tempted to cool down your home as quickly as possible.
However, doing so could overstrain the AC system. It is better to gradually lower the indoor temperature a few degrees at a time and give the AC system a break in between cycles.
For instance, the indoor air temperature is 82 degrees Fahrenheit when you get home from work. You may be tempted to turn it all the way down to your desired setting of 74 degrees Fahrenheit. Yet, doing so will cause the air conditioner to run constantly for a very long period. During this time, several things could wrong:
- The coolant in the cooling coils could freeze because the temperature is being dropped too quickly.
- The air conditioner could break down as multiple parts and components start to overheat.
- The system could be overloaded and cause the breaker to blow.
Instead of jumping right to 74 degrees Fahrenheit, it is better to set the thermostat to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Let the AC system run the complete cycle and shut off. Wait about ten to fifteen minutes, then drop it another degree or two. While it might take about an hour to get the home cooled down to your desired temperature, you will not be putting as much of a strain on your air conditioning system.
- Don’t wait for little issues to become major problems.
If you hear strange noises, notice the air conditioner is not able to easily maintain the desired indoor temperature, or do not think the air conditioning system is working correctly, don’t wait to call and schedule air conditioning repair service.
Minor issues like this tend to be less expensive to fix and resolve. If you ignore them and wait, it can lead to much bigger and more costly repair bills. For example, the reason the air conditioner cannot maintain indoor temperature is that the system needs a coolant recharge.
To schedule air conditioning maintenance or air conditioning repair, or to have a new programmable thermostat installed, please feel free to contact A+ Services at 360-491-2900 today!
In the event your air conditioner breaks down unexpectedly, we do offer emergency air conditioning repair 24/7. We also offer plumbing, septic, electric, heating repairs, maintenance, and installation services.