A Home Summer Survival Guide for Your HVAC System
Will your air conditioner make it through the hot, steamy summer?
While you can't control the weather,today's high-quality air conditioners makes it possible to always live in climate-controlled comfort. But if something goes wrong, you're really facing the heat! This is why preventive care is key!
"Professional maintenance can increase the life of your air-conditioner, 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 like your regular physical when Your doctor orders a blood test to get a good picture of your overall health," notes Borowski. It's the same with your AC. Checking certain components will tell a professional a lot about the health of the unit.
- Find a qualified technician. You want someone with NATE credentials (North America Technical Excellence), as this person has been certified to do the job right. Since air-conditioning units have many parts - and your average homeowner usually can't determine if a problems lies 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," states Borowski. The right balance is key, as your air conditioner 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, so don't surround it with high flowers or plants," advises Borowski.
- Set the right temperature. Common problem: most homes have only one AC thermostat, and it's 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 its immediate vicinity," explains Borowski. The common result? You're uncomfortably warm upstairs and your home uses energy inefficiently. Invest in a programmable thermostat that allows you greater control over your temperature settings, including setting temperatures for when you're asleep or away from the house.
Learn more about how keeping your home's air conditioning system in good working order - which protects you from sudden, unexpected repair expenses - by viewing our cooling protection plans or calling 1-888-733-1683.
Protection from the Unexpected
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