9 Things Everyone Should Know about Central Air Conditioners

changing a filter on an hvac unit

As a homeowner, you can save a lot of money and time by understanding the components of your central air conditioner system and the things you can do to keep it running more efficiently. Listed here are eight things that everyone needs to know about air conditioning.

1 – Changing the Filter

A clogged or dirty air filter can cause your unit to run less efficiently, thereby impacting your overall level of comfort and driving up energy costs. Change the filter once per month during the hot season and every two or three when your unit is only used some of the time.

2 – Fix Leaky Ducts

The best way to find leaks in your ducts is with smoke. You can light a stick of incense for this, then hold it at the connections where the pieces of ductwork meet one another. If the smoke blows around, you have a problem. These can be sealed with foil or duct tape in most situations.

3 – Use a Programmable Thermostat With Your Central Air Conditioner

You can use this piece of technology to raise the temperature while you’re away from home, but make sure you don’t allow it to climb too high. When you do, your unit will just have to work harder to remove the residual heat from your home and this defeats the purpose.

4 – Insulate the Ducts

Ducts should always be insulated, and this is even more the case if they are located in crawlspaces or in attics. Spray foam, batting, or even rigid foam will generally do the trick and they can be sealed with foil tape. Reflectix wrap can be used in tight spaces, too.

5 – Keep the Compressor Clean

The compressor is the part of the unit that is located outside, and you’ll want to head out there once a week and after windy storms to ensure that there is no debris lodged in the fins and that there is at least 24 inches (two feet) of space cleared around all sides.

6 – Prevent Heat in the First Place

So your unit isn’t forced to work so hard, you can keep the blinds drawn during the day and install awnings to block the strong rays from coming in. You can also use ceiling fans or floor fans to keep the air circulating throughout your home, thereby reducing the energy your air conditioner needs to consume.

7 – Maintenance is Important

No matter how much you know about prevention and home maintenance, there’s no substitute for hiring a qualified professional to inspect your unit annually. These individuals are trained to catch small problems before they turn into major issues, and they also know how to work with the electronic components that are dangerous for the average layperson.

8 – Avoid Closing Off Rooms

Closing off rooms can cause issues because air cannot freely flow throughout your home. Keep the doors open and if you need a bit of privacy, be sure to leave the door open a bit. Even a few inches is enough to allow the air to flow freely and improve your air conditioner’s efficiency.

9 – When All Else Fails, Upgrade

Old, inefficient systems are often beyond help. Up until about the last 10 years, even the units that were labeled as energy efficient used more electricity than those in production today. If your unit is more than 10 years old and is always in need of repair – or even if you and your family are uncomfortable – consider replacing the system. There are plenty of affordable options out there.

All in all, knowing a bit about your central air conditioner unit can help you extend its life and keep it running efficiently. However, remember to call a professional if these home fixes don’t do the job.