5 tips to keep your home cool and the air conditioner happy

When the summer gets really hot, even the toughest central air systems can fail without proper maintenance.

Maintenance and careful upgrades reduce the chances of your air conditioning system failing in your hour of need. Keeping an eye on your home’s HVAC health will also lower monthly energy bills. Plus, you can save a bundle by extending the life of your entire ventilation unit.

But first, a primer for HVAC

HVAC devices, short for “heating, ventilation and air conditioning”, are true marvels of technology. These machines are commonly referred to as “central air” and are made up of multiple components, even separate devices, all of which work together. They also share a single ventilation network, the collection of metal vents that snake through modern homes.

Your home’s HVAC unit is a complex machine that requires DC.

Brian Bennett / CNET

In winter, a stove, which usually runs on natural gas (although propane or electricity are also common sources of energy), helps keep the rooms warm. When indoor humidity drops, usually in cold weather, an attached humidifier will add moisture to the airflow in your home. During the dog days of summer, an air conditioning module is turned on to both cool the air and remove excess moisture.

The show is run by a wall-mounted thermostat (and possibly a humidistat) that constantly senses indoor conditions and commands the HVAC accordingly. With so many parts working together both mechanically and electronically, you’ll be sweating in a greenhouse in no time if a component slips.

Smart thermostats like the Echobee 3 keep the house cool and power consumption low.

Chris Monroe / CNET

1. Install a smart thermostat

The easiest way to save money and make your HVAC unit more efficient is to upgrade to a smart thermostat. Devices like that nest and Ecobee Intelligently control the activity of your air conditioning system. One way to do this is to use motion sensors to detect your presence and adjust the AC run time accordingly. Smart thermostats even take local weather into account. Optimizing this activity will make your HVAC unit less taxed and more efficient. According to the US Department of Energy, you could save up to 10 percent per year on heating and cooling costs with an efficiently controlled thermostat.

2. Change the air filter (and save money)

The easiest way to keep your air conditioner happy is to change the air filter frequently. clean filter Save money and increase HVAC safety, also. Most home HVAC systems use only one: a paper filter that is located between the primary return air opening and the main inlet of the system. Clean filters are designed to trap dirt, dust, and other particles in the air. They pollute the air and ensure a smooth flow. At the beginning of spring and autumn, you should replace a fresh filter at least twice a year.

Unmodified filters are often clogged with debris, which slows the flow of air into a trickle. This causes your home to slowly cool down and your air conditioner to run longer and harder than usual. The additional load puts a strain on internal HVAC components as well as fans and cooling coils (evaporators). Ultimately, if pressed too hard for too long, these parts will not work properly or fail completely.

A common symptom in summer, often caused by poor airflow, is frozen evaporator coils. When less air hits the coils of your AC power to draw heat away from hot houses, they get cold enough to condense the surrounding water vapor into solid ice.

3. Let the air flow freely

Your path to a cooler home may be as simple as opening doors and registers (vents on the floor or ceiling) in each room.

With correct design and construction, a central air system should be “balanced”. A balanced system is one where the negative pressure or airflow in one direction should equal the positive air pressure pushing the air in the opposite direction.

HVAC professionals usually achieve this state of freely circulating air without clogging such as closed doors or closed room registers. If you still notice large differences in temperature, e.g. B. Between floors, even after you open everything wide, another culprit could be to blame.

4. Check for closed flaps

Some homes have HVAC plumbing that is equipped with louvers. These flaps (also called valves) control the flow of air through specific rooms or even entire floors. In contrast to registers, which are visible through grids on the floor or ceiling, flaps are usually hidden in pipes. Pay attention to what you can see, handles or knobs on the outside of channels that you can turn from the outside. They should allow you to articulate their valves open, closed, or to some extent in between.

5. Call the pros

When all else fails and your home’s central ventilation system cannot keep the environment cool enough for comfort, it is a wise decision to seek professional help. An HVAC professional can complete important tasks that you cannot or should not attempt on your own.

  • Check your entire system for leaks from top to bottom.
  • Notice abnormally low air pressure or movement.
  • Clean hard-to-reach components like your AC evaporator coils.
  • Measure and analyze the strange power consumption.
  • If necessary, top up the low refrigerant level.

You should also definitely consider signing up for a seasonal maintenance plan. A $ 100 annual fee sounds like good business compared to the thousands you would set back from replacing the entire system.

Regardless, avoid an outfit forcing you to pay for sewer cleaning or similar service. The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) warns that the health benefits of cleaning HVAC ducts have not been proven. Even the National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA), whose members deal with rare cases of mold or chemical contamination, are warning of the flood of scammers falsely working under their name.

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