By Anita Ginsburg
Summer is the time to kick back, relax and enjoy the cool air from your air conditioning. Unfortunately, things don't always go according to plan, and your AC could easily stop working on the hottest day of the year.
To prevent this from happening, you'll need to know what you can do to keep your AC working all summer long. Here are the most common reasons your AC might break down this summer:
Dirty Air Filters
The air filter is one of the most important components of your air conditioning unit. The purpose of the filter is simple: to remove any lingering particles and pollutants from the air. Over time, the air filter can become clogged with dirt, pet dander and other particles, making your AC work at reduced capacity.
In fact, if left to fester, dirty air filters can actually make your air conditioning malfunction completely. To keep this from happening, HVAC professionals suggest that homeowners clean or replace the filter every three months, at the very least.
Leak in the Refrigerant Tank
Refrigerant is the substance which cools the air that passes through the air conditioning unit. However, it's possible for a leak to occur in the system. Should this happen, it would cause the entire unit to malfunction and break down. Sometimes, it can be difficult to figure out that a leak is coming from the refrigerant tank. You'll need to contact a professional for AC maintenance to know for sure.
Before you notice problems with your AC, you should be doing regular, basic maintenance. Cleaning or replacing your air filters is one of the most important tasks, but there are other types of preventative maintenance that you can do to keep your AC unit running smoothly.
Check the unit outside and make sure bushes, shrubs and other tall plants aren't growing too close to it. Debris from these can get stuck in the unit, decreasing its effectiveness. You should also make sure to clean any debris you notice from the fins of the machine. While you're at it, check the fins of the unit for any dents. If you notice damage, talk to an HVAC professional.
Lastly, you should have a professional perform routine services about once a year. Routine air conditioning maintenance will find and fix any issues before they become problems big enough to permanently damage your AC unit.
Some people think they can run their AC incessantly without giving it a break. Sadly, that can lead to system malfunction. Even when it's hot outside, you need to set your thermostat at a comfortable temperature and leave it alone. AC units need to cycle and have downtime from use.
When the thermostat is constantly set lower and lower, it can reduce the efficiency of your unit. It may run longer, but not cool your home as much as it used to. You may also notice a difference in temperatures when you go from room to room. You can offset this by again leaving the thermostat a comfortable temperature. Don't try to bump it down once it's reached that temperature. Also, you can turn off your AC when it's cooler and open your windows and doors to get some fresh air. Set your ceiling fans to spin counter-clockwise and use external fans to cool your home.
During the dog days of summer, a functioning AC is a must. In addition to regular maintenance, make sure to follow the above tips and if it seems like your air conditioning just isn't working right, contact a HVAC specialist.
Anita Ginsburg is a freelance writer from Denver, Colo. She studied at Colorado State University and now enjoys writing about health, business, and family. A mother of two wonderful children, she loves traveling with her family whenever she isn’t writing. She recommends regular air conditioning maintenance to keep your AC in top condition. You can find her on Twitter @anitaginsburg.