A/C systems require professional maintenance. However, Florida homeowners can follow DIY tips to keep their A/C systems cool and efficient throughout the summer.
Air conditioning systems are complex machines filled with wires, coils, fans and electrical components. That’s why Pro-Tec Plumbing & Air discourages even the most experienced DIYers from making A/C repairs. Pro-Tec’s HVAC Division offers diagnostics and system repairs, as well as complete installations of condensers, air handling units, thermostats and ductwork.
There are some maintenance tasks, however, that the average homeowner with minimal DIY skills can perform to improve the efficiency of their cooling system. None of these require screwdrivers, pliers, gauges, multimeters or other tools – just bare hands and a little time.
DIY Tips: A/C Maintenance
These eight DIY tips can help improve the performance of A/C systems in a Florida home:
- Change the air filter. Air filters are easy to access and easy to replace. A/C manufacturers often recommend changing the air filter every 30 days. Those without pets or a lot of household activity typically can wait a little longer, perhaps two to three months.
- Install a programmable thermostat. Older thermostats required someone to physically move a lever to lower or raise the temperature. Today, homeowners can set designated nighttime, daytime, weekday and weekend temperatures. Smart thermostats allow homeowners to control the temperature remotely through an app on their cell phones.
- Change the temperature. Experts recommend keeping a home a few degrees warmer during the day if no one is home. That is the hottest part of the day, and it’s when your system will work the hardest to keep up… and you’re not even home to enjoy the cool air! The U.S. Department of Energy notes that changing the temperature from its regular setting by 7-10 degrees for eight hours can save 10% annually on cooling costs. In Florida, it’s important to keep A/C systems running because they act as a dehumidifier, which makes interiors feel comfortable while reducing the likelihood of mold and mildew growth.
- Move appliances and lamps away from the thermostat. The thermostat measures the temperature and kicks the A/C system on or off based on that reading. Any device that emits warm air will inflate the temperature in that area.
- Close window blinds during the day. When sunlight hits windows, it acts as a heater for a room. The energy department notes 76% of sunlight that hits windows becomes heat. Keep the blinds or window shades closed during the day, especially on sides of the home that receive direct sunlight.
- Shade the outdoor unit. The outdoor compressor and condenser should be shaded, if possible. However, branches and bushes can restrict air flow, so the unit must have a little space to breathe. Check for debris like fallen leaves and twigs that can reduce air flow.
- Vaccuum air vents. Vents should be kept clean to remove dust buildup. Debris can restrict air flow while potentially reducing indoor air quality.
- Seal openings. The front door and door leading from the garage into the home might not have a tight seal. Hot air from the outside can flow through any openings or gaps. Weatherstripping fills in the gaps and is inexpensive and simple to install.
Pro-Tec’s A/C Services
A/C systems in Florida require preventative maintenance. In fact, manufacturer’s warranties often require proof of regular maintenance before covering the cost of parts and labor.
Pro-Tec recommends a semi-annual maintenance program to keep systems working efficiently. An efficient A/C system saves on monthly energy costs and extends the life of a unit. Pro-Tec technicians have a maintenance checklist containing dozens of tasks, including:
- Confirm proper cooling and temperature split
- Clean and/or replace air filters
- Flush and clean condensation drain
- Clean primary drain pan
- Clean outdoor coil
- Test all safety sensors and/or switches
- Electrical testing of all unit connections and components
- Monitor refrigerant pressures
- Inspect and clean indoor coil and blower wheel
- Adjust thermostat calibration
- Lubricate all moving parts
- Check for proper air flow and inspect duct system
- Clean condensation pump
- Replace batteries in all thermostats