5 tips for Air Conditioner Upkeep

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Everyday single parent household advice on SingleDad.com. Learn 5 great tips on keeping your air conditioning system working properly.

Home Rehab Online: Green Home

5 Tips for A/C Upkeep

By Katie Kretschmer for Home Rehab Online

Welcome
to steamy August, when the last thing you want is for your air
conditioner to conk out on you — especially with this summer’s record
temps across t he country. Whether you rely on a window unit or central
air, easy A/C maintenance tips will keep the cool air flowing when you
need it. We asked the pros for easy ways to ensure your system is
running through Labor Day and beyond.

1. Change your filter.
It’s
the easiest thing you can do to ensure your system keeps you cool, says
Bobby DiFulgenitz, director of product management at Lennox. “A clogged
filter forces your system to work harder, using more energy,” he says.
He suggests changing the filter on central air systems every other month
— or more if you have pets that shed. Not only will you save money on
your energy bill, you’ll be breathing cleaner air.

"Just
make sure it’s the right filter for your model, but also the correct
type of filter,” adds Terry Frisenda, regional account manager for LG
Electronics USA Commercial Air Conditioning. He cautions that too fine a
filter will make it harder for the unit to push air through. If you
have a window unit, Frisenda says, “Simply wash and replace the filter
— but be sure it’s completely dry before you put it back.”

2. Clean the coils.
Like
a clogged filter, blocked fins and coils on the outside unit can cause
your system to work harder and subsequently break down, according to
Frisenda. Use a nylon brush or broom and your garden hose — never a
pressure washer — to rinse leaves, grass and other debris from the
fins, he says. If you have a window unit, do this in the spring, before
you install the unit for the season, and again in the fall, before you
put it away.

3. Remove obstructions.
Make
sure there is nothing blocking the flow of air around your outdoor
unit: Any plantings, hedges or fencing you might have to hide your
outdoor unit need to be at least 12 to 15 inches away, according to
Frisenda. Inside, don’t cover your window unit with drapes or curtains
when it’s on.

4. Program your thermostat.
For
a central system, set your thermostat to a slightly higher temperature
during the day, when you leave the house, and a lower temperature when
you get home from work, says DiFulgenitz. The newest thermostats are
designed to be more user-friendly, and some even work via WiFi or your
smartphone, so you can raise the setting when you leave to run errands,
and then remotely turn it back down when you are on your way home. This
lowers energy bills as well as reduces strain on the system.

Shut
window units off when you are gone. “Window units are designed to cool a
room quickly, and they also use a lot more energy, so it’s more
efficient to turn it off,” says Frisenda.

5. Get a tune-up.
The
best way to keep your whole-house cooling system trouble free is to
have an HVAC pro give it a tune-up once a year — in the spring, before
you need your A/C is best. “It’s like changing your oil in your car,”
says DiFulgenitz, “and it helps everything run better and last longer.”
As part of the tune-up, the contractor will check and clean filters,
test the internal mechanisms and charge the unit with refrigerant.
Howeverer, window units don’t need this. “And if anyone tells you they
want to top off the coolant in your window unit, they are ripping you
off,” says Frisenda.

More easy checks and fixes:

• Examine the cord on your window unit for frayed or worn spots. It may need to be replaced.

• Use drapes and blinds to block the sun from warming rooms so your A/C doesn’t need to work as hard.


Protect outdoor units from corrosion — especially if you live near
salt water — with paste wax. Just apply and buff it in, says Frisenda.


Look for and seal air leaks around windows and doors with a caulk gun.
“When cool air escapes, or hot air can find its way into your home, your
air conditioner has to work harder to keep the temperature where you
like it,” says DiFulgenitz.

Photo: Corbis Images

Katie Kretschmer is a writer and editor whose
work touches all areas of style — from fashion, art and design to crafts,
decorating and DIY.

Richard JaramilloRichard “RJ” Jaramillo, is the Founder of SingleDad.com,
a website and social media resource dedicated to single parenting and specifically for the newly divorced, re-married, widowed and single Father with children.
RJ is self employed, entrepreneur living in San Diego and a father of three children. The mission of SingleDad is to help the community of Single Parents
“Make Life Happen…Again!”

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Richard “RJ” Jaramillo, is the Founder of SingleDad.com, a website and social media resource dedicated to single parenting and specifically for the newly divorced, re-married, widowed and single Father with children. RJ is self employed, entrepreneur living in San Diego and a father of three children. The mission of SingleDad is to help the community of Single Parents “Make Life Happen…Again!”