Nothing tests the limits of your AC unit like a heatwave, and when a heatwave hits, it spares no one! That is when heating and cooling companies like Anthony Plumbing, Heating, Cooling & Electric are the busiest serving suffering homeowners.
The following tips are good to know, especially when you are waiting for your cooling technician to arrive and, they may help prevent your AC from breaking down altogether.
Technicians Cannot Fix a Frozen AC Unit! Let it Thaw Before they Arrive
We hear this a lot: “My AC unit is running but no cool air is coming out of the vents!” The most typical cause of AC troubles is a frozen coil, and the coil must thaw before your technician can repair it. If warm air is coming out of your vents, turn the AC off and turn the fan on. This will let the unit thaw out, hopefully before your technician arrives, so it can be repaired quickly.
There are many reasons why your AC unit may be freezing up. Air conditioners need proper airflow to keep the cold coil warm. Warm air from the home is needed for the coil to stay cold and keep the temperature above freezing. Without it, coils freeze before the condensed water can be drained away from the unit. Since dirty air filters and closed air registers can impede airflow, it’s a good idea to check the air filter and make sure the registers are both clear and open. A freeze-up can also be caused by low refrigerant and improper fan operation. Low refrigerant levels make the coils too cold, and a faulty fan prevents air from moving.
Faulty thermostats and drainage problems are often the cause of a freeze-up. In the cooling process, an AC unit condenses water vapor into a liquid that drains outside. If the coils are frozen, the ice will cause a blockage for the drain hole. The AC still runs but doesn’t properly cool the home and uses a lot more electricity. Keep in mind that running an air conditioner with frozen coils can lead to extensive damage to the compressor. This is the most expensive part of an AC unit, and it’s not a repair or replacement that you want to face.
AC Units Can Only Cool up to 20 Degrees Cooler than the Outside Air
If your AC is working, but you wish it was working better, it just might not be possible. Generally speaking, an air conditioning system is designed to accommodate up to a 20-degree difference between the outside air and inside air while still keeping your home at a comfortable 55% humidity level. This means that if it is 100 degrees outside, it will be nearly impossible to reach 70 degrees inside without the AC unit working completely overtime and causing problems such as excess humidity.
A good rule of thumb is during the hottest days when the dial reaches 100 degrees is to set your AC to somewhere between 75 and 80 degrees. You can also supplement that slight temperature difference with closed curtains on the sunny side of the building, running ceiling fans, and portable fans in rooms in which people are present.
Check Your Furnace and Furnace Filter
The fan in your furnace is what circulates the cool air from your central AC unit throughout your home. Check your furnace – if the fan isn’t running, make sure your furnace is turned on, or check your breaker to the furnace and ensure that it has not been tripped. If the fan is running, check your filter. You will have to turn the fan off to do this. For a step-by-step guide, watch our YouTube video.
At a minimum, you should be changing the filter once every 3 months, and as often as once a month if your system is running all the time. Neglect this chore, and a dirty filter can lead to poor air flow or freezing up of your unit’s evaporator coil.
Take Full Advantage of Fans and Blinds
Any type of fan, but especially ceiling fans, can help keep cool air circulating throughout your home. That removes some of the burden from your AC system. Just be sure your ceiling fans are turning counterclockwise during the summer, which promotes greater airflow.
Bright sunlight is your AC system’s nemesis. By closing blinds and sliding curtains to block the sun’s rays, especially in the south and west-facing windows, you’ll also shield your space from the sun’s heat.
Keep Doors Closed, Especially the Garage Door
Your garage door is the biggest door in your house, so if your garage is attached to your home, keep your garage door closed. Many attached garages are being cooled by your AC unit, and you don’t want that conditioned air to escape. Even non-cooled garages should be kept shut, so heated air cannot enter your home and cause your AC unit to have to work harder.
If you keep your car in your attached garage, limiting trips during a heatwave can help preserve the cool air in your home. Driving a car with a hot engine into your cooled garage puts an extra load on your AC unit.
Dehumidify to Help your AC Keep you Cooler
The more humidity that is present inside your home, the harder your air conditioning system will have to work, and the less effective it will be. Adding a whole home or a stand-along dehumidifier can go a long way to keeping you cooler and protecting your home from the damaging effects of too much humidity. Signs that your home may be too humid are:
- The air in your home feels moist.
- There is a damp or musty smell in parts of your home.
- Your windows are foggy.
For the summer months, a humidity level below 60% is recommended by most experts for indoor comfort. The most efficient and reliable way to manage the moisture in your home is to have an Anthony technician install a dehumidifier directly on your HVAC system. The dehumidifier will work with your AC system to pull excess water from the air before it is sent through the air ducts in your home. Alternatively, you can purchase a stand-alone dehumidifier and manage the humidity level using a manual humidity level indicator. But unless you place your unit directly over a drain, you will have to empty the reservoir every time it fills up and activates the shutoff switch.
Did you remember to turn your whole-home humidifier off for the summer? If you have a humidifier installed in the ductwork by your furnace, make sure it is in summer-mode, and that the humidifier knob is turned completely off.
Like a nice hot shower? Not during a heatwave, please. Any kind of shower adds moisture to your home, causing your AC to struggle more, so avoid them on the hottest days. If you must take a shower, use cool water and make it quick, and turn on your exhaust fan.
Have Your System Serviced Annually
Well duh, now you tell us! But really, rather than wait until a heatwave, please get your AC unit checked and serviced NOW. We are here night and day to schedule your AC tune-up. Call A-N-T-H-O-N-Y 268-4669 (913) or (816), or click here to schedule online.