You want your home to be comfortable all summer long. You also want to save money. What you don't want to do is accidentally commit any of these air conditioning mistakes. Avoid these common problems, and you'll get both comfort and affordability from your home system.
Please Don't Make These Air Conditioning Mistakes
Nobody likes to screw up. Nobody wants to look back on a big problem and realize they could've prevented it with some really basic steps. Don't be that person. Avoid these all too common air conditioning mistakes, and you'll be well on your way to stay cool, comfortable, and fiscally sound!
Wait Until the Last Minute for Repair or Replacement
Your air conditioner isn't cooling like it used to. You know it probably needs to be fixed or at least given a tune-up. Then when it makes that weird knocking sound that terrifies the cat, you wonder if it needs to be replaced. Still, it won't do any harm to wait until summer to get it fixed, right?
Wrong! This is a classic air conditioning mistake. The moment you think there is something wrong with your central air, it pays to get it taken care of. First, a lot of simple, inexpensive problems will become complicated, costly problems when they're left to grow. Second, professional HVAC techs are busier in the summer. That means their time is worth more, so you pay more, and it will take them longer to get to you.
Suffocate the Condenser
The condenser is that square or rectangular machine located outside your house. Yes, it might not be the most attractive lawn ornament in the world. That doesn't mean you should cover it up. Lots of people think surrounding a condenser with a wooden lattice, painted fence, or thick vegetation is a good idea. It might look more visually appealing, but this is one of the worst air conditioning mistakes you can make.
Why is that? A condenser needs to be able to breath to do its job. The larger the obstructions around it, the less air flow that a condenser will get. This means it will have to work harder and harder to cool your house to your desired temperature. Which, is bad. All that harder work also means the condenser is more likely to fail prematurely rather than run effectively for years.
Do you want a functioning air conditioner condenser to keep you cool long past the warranty expiration date? Then don't choke it!
Blocking or Sealing Air Vents
The air from your central unit flows out of vents in the ceiling, floor, or walls. Most homes have vents that can be closed. This might seem counter-intuitive, but you really shouldn't close those. Some people do it for temporary temperature control in specific rooms. Which is fine. The bad thing is when folks close them for long periods of time to avoid cooling or heating unused portions of a building. That is bad.
Why is closing an air vent for a long time bad? Your central air conditioner is properly sized to cool your entire home. Or at least it should be. In any case, a properly sized system works at its designed capacity regardless of what vents are open or not. The air conditioner doesn't know those vents are closed, so you won't save anything by closing them. In fact, you could be hurting your overall system. The air pressure doesn't change, but now it can't escape through where it should. Which leads to pressure in other parts of the ventilation that could cause leaks or breaks. Keep the vents open, except for short periods.
Cranking the Temperature Way Up (or Down)
You get home from a long, hot day at work, and your house is stifling and uncomfortable. You push the setpoint temperature way down below where you usually keep it. After all, if you put it lower, the air conditioner will work faster to get your house cool, right?
No. Not even close. Most air conditioners work at the same operational capacity regardless of where the temperature is set. Even variable rate units won't work harder just because the temperature is set lower than usual. That's just not how these things work.
When you set the temperature far lower, or higher, than normal, you aren't doing any good. All that will happen is that you'll likely forget you set the thermostat low, and your house will eventually be cooled to a much lower temp than usual. Which means you're paying electricity to have your system work harder and longer to get a temperature you don't really want. This is terribly wasteful in terms of both money and wear.
Putting the Thermostat in the Wrong Place
A thermostat is the way you communicate your comfort needs to your air conditioner. Cranking the temperature too far one way is bad. Not much else that you need to keep in mind. After all, it's not like something so mundane as where in the home your thermostat is located could make a difference.
Except the opposite of that. Thermostat location can make a big difference. You should place a thermostat on an interior wall out of direct sunlight and away from appliances that put off heat. Why? Because those things can throw off temperature measurements! Likewise, keep it away from major drafts. In short, put the thermostat in a location that will maintain as stable a temperature as can be expected. That way your comfort stays stable too.
Oversizing the System
The idea that bigger is always better is one of the classic air conditioning mistakes. You want to stay as cool as possible, so investing in the biggest unit possible makes sense, right? Except, no, that is one of the worst things you could do for your home air comfort.
Why is this obviously good idea such a bad idea? Because, just like Goldilocks and her porridge, you want the air conditioning system that is just right for your home. Too small and you won't get cool. Too big and you won't properly dehumidify your home. That can lead to discomfort that, while perhaps not as bad as sweating profusely, is still not great.
The way you make sure you get the right size is by having a Manual J load calculation performed on your home. If you've never had one of these done, it's time to arrange for it. Contact local pros in your area to conduct a Manual J. That will let you know that size you need. Which means that you'll get the comfort you actually want.
You have your new air conditioning unit installed, and you made sure to avoid all the obvious air conditioning mistakes. You even read the entire Owner's Manual and warranty sheet! Except you probably didn't. Virtually no one reads the manual or the warranty or any of the other paperwork for one of the most expensive appliances in their home. And that's why they miss that they need to register their warranty.
Yes, you need to register your warranty (probably). Most HVAC manufacturers require the homeowner to register their warranty within a certain period of time after installation, usually 60 days. Registration provides the homeowners with full warranty coverage. Failing to register sticks the homeowner with substandard, truncated warranty coverage.
Depending on the state, of course. Some state laws mean you get maximum coverage whether you register or not. However, don't get too confident. Most states don't do that. It's much better to err on the side of caution. Take 5 minutes, go online, and register your product warranty.
Missing Routine Maintenance
You probably drive a car. Which means you are probably used to doing things like getting the car's oil changed, having the tires checked, realignment, and so forth. These sorts of regular maintenance are just a normal part of owning a car. One of the biggest air conditioning mistakes is forgetting or not even knowing you need to do these sorts of things for your home central air system.
Seriously? Seriously! Obviously, you're not going to be changing any tires, but regular maintenance is recommended. How often? You should have a professional conduct an inspection of your home air conditioner once per year, ideally before summer heat hits in earnest. Most local companies will have a regular maintenance program in which you can participate for a nominal fee. It's a low amount of money to ensure your system gets the TLC it needs to stay effective and efficient for the long term.
Plus, routine maintenance can be required as part of your warranty. When you don't have it being performed regularly, you have basically voided your product warranty. So not only does this minor service keep your system running well, but it could make a future big repair bill a lot smaller.
Forgetting the Air Filter
As you can see, there are a lot of air conditioning mistakes that a homeowner might or might not make. But the number one biggest mistake people regularly make has to do with the air filter. The air filter on a central air unit is a key component. It prevents dirt, debris, and all sorts of other contaminants from caking up the coils. It is critically important, and a trivial task in terms of workload. Pop open the access grille, take out the dirty filter, and put in the new one. It takes all of five minutes.
Which is why we wonder why so many people routinely neglect the most important thing they can do to keep their air conditioning running well. Dirty air filters are the number one reason why your expensive air conditioner might fail. A clogged filter will choke your system and make it work harder. Left unchecked, a dirty filter will completely kill even the best unit.
Don't let that happen! You almost certainly carry around a smartphone. Program a reminder to check the filter on your calendar. Set an alarm. When it goes off, check the filter. If it's dirty, replace it. It's simple and easy and it can save you a small fortune.
Do You Have More Questions or Comments?
At Ingram's Water & Air Equipment, we want you to avoid as many air conditioning mistakes as possible especially when it comes to getting the right system for your home. Do you have questions we didn't answer in this article? Let us know in the comments, call us at 270-575-9595, or reach out online here