Thanks to American HVAC for contributing to this article.
Summer’s here! A time of jubilation for the beach-bodied, the overworked school teacher and the enthusiastic summer camper, but the sunny season cuts both ways: The same heat that invites swimsuits, vacations and campouts is also well hot.
We’re talking triple-digit temps that turn your pits into the Bellagio fountains before you’ve even left your driveway. We’re talking weeks at a time without a single cloud casting a shadow on the desert. Now imagine having to deal with that nonsense in your own home because your AC is busted. What a hot mess that would be.
Luckily for you, we’ve got four tips to keep your air conditioning system in good shape so you can make like a yearbook signature and stay cool this summer.
#nofilter doesn’t show your AC’s natural beauty
Proper HVAC filter maintenance is essential for indoor air quality and overall system performance. First, double-check that you have the right filter size and design for your unit. Once that’s done, remember to change it frequently — every 3–6 months depending on the type and size of your home, or even more often if you have allergies/pets/small human pets. Also, make sure your registers and grilles are not obscured or restricted to maximize airflow.
Manage drainage or envisage carnage
Cracked, broken or clogged condensation drain lines can cause water to leak on the furnace/air handler components, which will ruin your system faster than a toddler will ruin white carpet. The condensation drain line removes the water that forms when your AC dehumidifies the air in your home. That water needs to go somewhere, such as a floor drain, laundry tub or a small PVC pipe right outside your house. A clogged drain line means the water’s got nowhere to run but back into your home, which can cause costly damage, breed mold and bacteria, or even potentially cause a fire if the water comes in contact with any electrical components.
Fortunately, most homes have a secondary drain line, usually located in the attic or roofline. Keep an eye on it: If it’s dripping, this means your main drain line is clogged or damaged and you need to take action.
Looks are everything
Appearance should always come second to personality, but frankly, AC units don’t have much of the latter. They tend to be boring. Rude even. (Just try to make small talk with your condenser and see if you can get a word in edgewise.)
Looking it up and down, then, is the best way to judge your air conditioner. Are there any (even slight) imperfections in the piping? Can you see any loose wires or cables? If so, it will take more than a little cover-up to fix this blemish. Call a professional and get a little work done. (“We’ll take ‘Things you should never tell your wife’ for $800, Alex”).
Oh, give your AC a look and a listen. If there’s a problem with the fan or motor, it won’t suffer in silence; it’ll screech and whine and bark at you until you get it fixed. Kind of like— uh never mind. (“‘Things you should never tell your wife’ for $1000, Alex.”) Harsh sounds and/or excessive noises can indicate problems such as worn out components, poor equipment installation or improperly sized ducting, and require immediate attention.
Make sure to contact a pro immediately if any of your senses — sight, smell, hearing,
taste, common, etc. — alert you that something might be wrong with your unit!
Check your AC before you wreck your AC
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. That’s why we have vaccines. And seven-second TV delays — though those are not foolproof (See Jackson & Timberlake, 2004). Scheduling a yearly inspection with an HVAC professional can help you find and address small problems before they turn big and expensive.
Here’s what you can expect during an inspection, according to Steve from American HVAC in Orem:
- Inspect and clean outdoor unit
- Check refrigerant levels
- Inspect ductwork and flue pipe for leaks
- Inspect indoor coil, motor and blower
- Inspect unit wiring and electrical disconnect
- Inspect condensate drain pans and drains for proper operation
- Clean condensate lines and check condensate pump operation (if equipped)
- Lubricate blower or air handler (if applicable)
- Inspect thermostat (with calibration as required)