Summer is in full swing here in Minnesota and you know what that means – high temperatures and even higher humidity. A properly functioning air conditioner is essential for keeping you cool during those hot, sticky summer days and nights. But it’s important to understand how your home’s cooling system works and the value of maintenance to ensure you stay comfortable all season long. Read on for air conditioner tips to help you stay cool.
The ABCs of ACs
To understand how your air conditioner works, you need to understand the basic laws of chemistry. When a liquid is converted to a gas, it absorbs heat – a process called phase transition. Air conditioners chill indoor air using refrigerants – special chemical compounds that evaporate and condense at lower temperatures using a system of evaporator coils. The air conditioner also contains a fan that moves warmer indoor air over these cold, refrigerants-filled coils which absorb the heat as it changes to a gaseous state. A compressor puts the gas under high pressure, then evacuates it with a second set of condenser coils and a second fan. It’s an endless cycle designed to keep the interior of your home consistently cool during those warm summer months.
AC Maintenance and Repair
Now that you understand the intricacies of your central air conditioning system, it’s important to properly maintain it for optimal performance. ACs should be inspected on an annual basis by an HVAC professional. It’s wise to schedule service before the heat and humidity arrive. For central air, a typical inspection should include checking the voltage and the condition of the belt, checking the drain line for proper airflow, and washing the condensing unit coils. Proper maintenance will ensure safety and prolong the life of the system, as well as reduce energy costs.
DIY AC Tips
There are several things you can do in between annual check-ups to ensure your system operates at peak performance. The easiest and most important task is to change your HVAC filter on a regular basis. A dirty or clogged filter can reduce efficiency by blocking airflow, cause unnecessary wear and tear, and shorten the lifespan of the unit. Other at-home maintenance tips include:
- Clean the area around the AC unit to keep it clear from debris, leaves, or branches.
- Clear the coils on the outside unit to ensure there is no dust, leaves, or dirt. Use a garden hose to spray water on the coils if they are dirty or blocked.
- Check the location of your thermostat for proper positioning on the wall. A thermostat placed in direct sunlight can start up the unit prematurely and cause short cycling. If you’re unsure of where to place the thermostat, ask your HVAC technician.
Proper maintenance and care for your air conditioning system is essential to keep you and your loved ones cool and comfortable in the summer, as well as save energy and money on utility bills.