As summer heats up your air conditioning unit starts working overtime. It often seems like AC troubles start beginning once the real dog days arrive and the temperatures soar. Taking steps now to lessen the strain on your AC can help ensure that it will continue to keep you cool, no matter how hot it is outside.
Remove All Obstructions
Airflow is the most important aspect of a well-functioning AC system. Begin your search for airflow obstructions inside. Verify that vents are open and that no furniture or drapery is blocking any vents or air returns. Once you are sure that there are no obstructions to airflow inside, go outside and check the main AC unit. Cut back any plants that are growing within two feet of the unit, as these can be restricting airflow. Remove leaves and debris around the unit. It's also a good idea to remove the unit housing and remove any debris that has collected inside — just make sure to cut the power to the AC first.
Install Ceiling Fans
Your AC must work harder to maintain a cool temperature as the mercury rises. You can reduce some of the workload by keeping the air moving throughout your home. Moving air also feels cooler on the skin. Installing a ceiling fan in bedrooms and the living room keeps the air moving and can minimize the strain on your AC system. Make sure the fan is switched onto summer mode, which means it will rotate counterclockwise. This pushes cool air downward so it can recirculate.
Raise the Thermostat
Don't set your thermostat too low. Experiment with your temperature settings, slowly moving it up degree by degree, until you are uncomfortable. Keep in mind that using ceiling fans will also help you feel cooler even when the AC is set to a higher temperature. The higher you can comfortably set the thermostat, the less stress you will place on your AC. Use tactics like shutting drapes to block out sunlight or avoiding hot oven cooking to further help keep your home comfortable at a higher temperature setting.
Schedule a Tune-Up
Never skip your annual AC maintenance tune-up. An AC that is inspected, lubricated, and cleaned out annually at the beginning of the cooling season is less likely to suffer a break down when you depend on it most. An early-season tune-up also means potential issues can be found and repaired before the height of summer when it can be more difficult to schedule a repair visit due to demand.
Contact an air conditioning service in your area for more help.