6 DIY Air Conditioner Tips you need to do before Summer. Plus what to do when your air conditioner isn’t working.
Here on the east coast of South Carolina we go from 20 to 90 degrees and completely skip Spring. If you blink you’ll miss the one day without pollen so you can open your windows. Before we really get into the dog days of summer and start wishing winter will come (yes- you will all do it even though you swore you would never complain about the heat if winter would just end) there are some things you can do to help maintain the life of your air unit and keep yourself a little cooler.
Tip # 1 Air Conditioner Maintenance that you don’t need to call a professional for
- Remove any debris from around your air unit. Leaves, twigs, tall grass, etc. all restrict the airflow to your air unit
- Check the drain and make sure it isn’t blocked. If you have been running your air and you do not see any water or condensation from your drain, you may have a blockage that needs to be cleaned out
- Clean your coil and condenser (step by step instructions here; http://home.howstuffworks.com/how-to-maintain-an-air-conditioner.htm)
- Keep your air unit shaded. The hotter your air unit get’s the harder it works. If your air unit is in direct sun, offer some shade like the one we own, see it here
- Or you can plant some vegetation that offers shade by your unit.
Tip #2 Inside Air Conditioner Maintenance
- Clean out your air ducts and vents. This tip is good for your unit as well as your health. Build up of debris and dust can create allergens and odors as well as restrict air flow. Remove your vents then clean your ducts with a spray cleaner. Let it dry before running the air conditioner
- Clean vents with good hot soapy water and a scrub brush, let dry and replace.
- Make sure your thermostat is in good working order. To do this, get a digital thermometer and place it beside your thermostat. Take readings for 24 hours to make sure both the thermometer and the thermostat are reading the same. If the numbers vary you may need to replace your thermostat.
- Buy a programmable thermostat and set your temperature a little higher when you are sleeping.
- Keep Your Filters Clean. I can’t stress this enough. Filters are cheap and easy to replace so do this often. If you can see dust on your filter it’s time to change it, otherwise change your filter once a month regardless.
Tip #3 Your air unit can’t keep up
During the dog days of summer your unit is doing all it can to keep you nice and cool but everything has it’s limit. To help prevent from calling a professional to the tune of $100+ an hour here are some tips to try.
- Use a fan to circulate the air. Our thermostat is located in a hot spot in our house,the rest of the house will be freezing, but the hallway where our thermostat is located, is always hot. Many homes have hot spots ( spots where air circulation is poor). Use floor fans directing the cool air towards the hot spot areas.
- Use ceiling fans. Use ceiling fans to circulate air during the summer. Make sure you reverse the direction on your fan to pull air up in a counterclockwise motion (button located on side of ceiling fan base) and clean your blades.
- If your unit isn’t keeping up to the temperature you have it set at- DON’T keep lowering the temp. This will cause your coils to freeze and your unit to stop working. Instead, raise the temperature on the thermostat to the current temperature in the house and allow your air unit to catch up. Once your air unit has gone through a couple of cycles (on and off) go ahead and lower the temperature one degree at a time until the air conditioner can keep up with the desired temperature.
Tip #4 If your air conditioner quits producing cold air:
1) Check your coils on the air handler to see if you can notice ice on the outside of the coils- if so, turn air unit off and allow the coils to defrost completely before turning your air back on. This may take a couple of hours.
2) Check your filter. If your filter is clogged, the air flow has been restricted and chances are your coils are frozen- follow above steps
3) Check to see if there is any debris blocking the air flow from around your air conditioner
4) Do you see water or condensation coming out of the drain? If not, it’s likely your coils have frozen. Follow above steps
5) If the above steps do not work- call a professional
Tip #5 Does your air conditioner freeze often? Yes? It may be time to bite the bullet and buy a new one. If that is not an option you can; learn to live with higher temperature, use floor fans to add circulation or install window air conditioners to help with the work load
We purchased a new packaged air unit less that 10 years ago and since added on to the square footage of our home exceeding the capacity of our air conditioner. A rule of thumb is one ton per 500-600 sq ft of house depending on what zone you live in. So if you own a 1000 sq ft home you would need a 1.5 ton unit. To compensate for the extra square footage we installed an energy-efficient window air conditioner.
- Keep shades closed on the sunny side of the house during the heat of the day.
- Buy black out shades for windows in full sun locations
- Close vents in rooms not being used and keep door closed
- Raise thermostat temp during heat of day
- Install window air conditioners on shady side of house
- Keep the filter on your air conditioner cleaned
- Go outside. If you spend most of the day outside in 90+ degree weather (keeping hydrated of course), when you walk into a house that’s 80 degrees it will feel refreshing and comfortable
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