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Home Survival Guide for Making It Through Summer

Will your air conditioner make it through the hot, steamy summer?

It's true you can't do much about the weather, but today's high-quality air conditioning makes it possible to always live in climate-controlled comfort. Unless something goes wrong with your AC unit — then, you're really left taking the heat! That's why preventive care is key.

"Professional maintenance can increase your air-conditioning's life expectancy, improve performance and reduce the severity and frequency of breakdowns," says Dave Borowski, spokesperson for Direct Energy Protection Plans. Here are some tips to help ensure your AC stays up and running this summer:

  • Get a pre-season checkup. "Think of it the way you think of getting yourself a regular physical; your doctor will order a blood test, say, to get a good picture of your overall health," notes Borowski. Same with your AC: checking certain components will tell a professional a lot about the working "health" of the unit.
  • Find a qualified technician. Someone with NATE credentials (National Alliance for Technical Education) has been certified to do the job right. Since air-conditioning units have many parts — and a novice homeowner can't be expected to know if problems lie in the ductwork, motor, coils or elsewhere — you have to take extra care to avoid unscrupulous service providers.
  • Beware of leaks. Leaky ductwork can waste energy and allow lots of air full of pollutants into your home (one clue: do you see a lot of dirt around your AC grill work? That's a sign unsavory air is coming in from outside). A qualified professional will use tools known as a duct blaster and blower door to see if your house is indeed leaking air. If so, the problem can often be remedied with the right air-duct sealant.
  • Make sure you have the right amount of refrigerant. "The Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) estimates that up to 90% of air conditioners are running inefficiently because they're either overcharged or undercharged with refrigerant," notes Borowski. The right balance is key; your AC unit depends on a very precise, strategic refrigerant charge to operate correctly.
  • See what's going on outside. The motor in your AC unit is located outdoors, where it's exposed to inevitable wear-and-tear from the elements. So your technician should check it make sure everything is in good running order. "To discharge air efficiently, the motor needs to be unrestricted — don't surround it with high flowers or plants," advises Borowski.
  • Plan to set the right temperature. Common problem: most homes have only one AC thermostat &mdash often in a downstairs hallway, where it's likely to be dark and cool. "If you're upstairs with the door closed and sunlight streaming in, the thermostat doesn't know that: it sets the temperature based on what's happening in the immediate vicinity," explains Borowski. Result? You're uncomfortably warm upstairs. But Comfort Sentry Products™ now have a simple hand-held remote thermostat you can take anywhere in the house. "You simply touch the screen to activate the device, and set the temperature you want for the room you're in," says Borowski. If you're entertaining a crowd in the living room, or want good sleeping temperatures in bedrooms, just push a button — you can also set it so things go back to the main thermostat. So wherever you are, you stay cool, calm and comfortable.
  • Learn more about how keeping your home's air conditioning system in good working order — and protecting yourself from sudden, unexpected repair expenses — by clicking here or calling 855.235.1457.