6 Mistakes to Avoid Making with Your Air Conditioner

R Mechanical wants to help you avoid common mistakes that many homeowners make with their air conditioning units during hot Omaha summer. We have compiled a list of the six most frequent mistakes that we have seen.


  1. Ignore Routine Maintenance.

Routine maintenance is essential for an air conditioning system. Although air conditioners can run for an extended period of time without regular maintenance, you would be risking the inevitable. An air conditioner cannot run forever, so by disregarding routine maintenance you are asking for your air conditioner to break down. Seasonal maintenance helps avoid future fatal issues, which can potentially cost a great deal of money, from occurring. At least once a year, a trained service technician should come to check your unit for any oddities or alarming signs.

Usually a routine maintenance check consists of cleaning the unit, performing minor calibrations to keep your air conditioner running at its full potential, and of course making sure there are no additional emergency issues that need to be attended to. A few serious issues that could emerge from lack of maintenance could be carbon monoxide poisoning, mold formation, and fires due to faulty wire.

During routine maintenance the service technicians check your units for any cracks in the heat exchanger or other areas of the unit. If this is ignored these cracks can cause carbon monoxide to leak out, threatening our health. This odor and colorless gas is just about impossible to detect without a specific carbon monoxide detector. If not detected the outcome could be deadly. Your air conditioner can produce moisture in the interior and if it is not routinely checked and cleaned then there is a chance that, with oxygen, the moisture could transform into deadly mold that could spread throughout your home. Mold can cause serious health impairments that could also be potentially fatal. Another aspect of routine air conditioner maintenance is for the service technicians to check the units wiring and make sure they are safely covered and there are no bare wires. If your unit contains faulty wiring and it is not discovered and dealt with accordingly then this could cause a fire that could severely damage your house and endanger lives.


  1. Let Outside Air in.

On days when the weather is just right, it is always nice to open the windows to let the cool air flow into your home. Although if the air conditioner is not shut off, the cool air can counteract the air conditioners principle operations. Having the windows open and air conditioner on is a perfect was to decrease the unit’s effectiveness and challenge your unit’s ability to bring your home to a comfortable temperature.

Similarly, using your kitchen and bathroom exhaust fans can condition the air, forcing your air conditioner to work harder than need be. Midst cooling season, exhaust fans should be used only when absolutely necessary.

Alternatively, during the seasons where the temperature drops at nighttime, the outdoor air can be a major money saver. On cool nights it can be a smart idea to take advantage of natures natural cooling and shut off the air conditioners to open the windows. This can provide you with a free night of cooling. Turning on a fan at night with the windows open can suck in more outside air, providing as much cooling as your air conditioning unit. Although if you do decide to open your windows at night, don’t forget to shut off the air conditioner or your unit will be working hard to cool a home that doesn’t need cooling.


  1. Neglect to Change the Filter.

One thing many homeowners forget to do is replace their dirty air filters. A dirty air filter can negatively affect your homes air quality and air conditioners effectiveness. Your air conditioning system can be seriously damaged when a dirty filter is not regularly changed. A clean filter can secure the longevity of your systems life, which in the long run can save you thousands in possible repairs and replacement costs.

Also, a clean air filter equals clean, healthy, breathable air. This can remove possible risks of increased allergies, asthma attacks, and breathing problems. Whether this is an air filter for a business or your home a clean filter is always the way to go. This simply three to five minute task can save money and improve airflow and quality.

A clogged filter can counteract the air conditioners main purpose, consequently making your air conditioner work twice as hard, which will cost you more money than necessary. You can save up to 15% in operating costs by just regularly cleaning your air filter. This is not only a 15 % waste of your hard earned money, but of a waste of energy that can harm the environment.

When an air conditioner works harder than it is intended to there is an overflow of carbon monoxide which is terrible for our environment. The filters catch air particles and dust so that they are not blown out through the air conditioner. Overtime this can cause the filter to become extremely filthy. This dirt can eventually block the air from flowing through all together. By changing your filter frequently, this airflow obstruction can be prevented.


  1. Plant within Two to Three Feet of Your Air Conditioner.

Air Conditioners need at least a two-foot clear circumference around the unit to ensure effective airflow. By allowing plants and vegetation close to the unit weeds can grow into the unit, which can disrupt the function of the air conditioner. Your air conditioners outdoor unit needs to have complete access to airflow so that it can draw air into the coils and discharge it. When the coils are blocked then your air conditioner cannot cool properly. If you do find yourself wanting to landscape around your air conditioning unit be sure to leave that two to three foot gap. Make sure it easily accessible, so your service technicians can easily get to your unit for future maintenance and repairs.

If you find that you cannot control the weeds and vegetation from over growing around and into your condenser, investing in an outdoor screen can prevent weeds from invading your unit. Not only can the screen prevent vegetation from invading your system, but it can disguise the unit creating a more discrete look. When getting a screen you want to make sure to leave that two to three foot gap between the screen and the unit, in case of future replacements and service work. You want service technicians and additional units to be able to fit behind the screen, so that the screen won’t have to be removed for service to be done.

If the outdoor screen is not solving your problem, then it is also possible to create a natural wall built from bricks, clay, stone, or any other material that you prefer. By choosing to build a wall, it can provide your yard with unique look that can add to your landscaping. An air conditioner can be a bulky, unattractive addition to your yard and creating a wall around it can help camouflage the air conditioner. Also, this boarder around your unit can create additional, which can increase the unit’s effectiveness.


  1. Postponing Air Conditioner Repairs.

When your air conditioner breaks down you know it is time to call a HVAC professional, but when the problem is only minor it can be easier to put it off and ignore the issue. Putting off air conditioning repairs can result in higher cost and greater discomfort.

Ignoring necessary repairs can cost you additional money in many different ways. By not contacting a service professional your problem can and most likely will worsen over time making a 50 dollar repair a 500 dollar repair. The unnecessary price increase is completely avoidable, by giving your heating and air company a call right when the problem is noticed. Letting the problem persist puts a needless strain on your unit’s everyday functions. That causes your system to work harder and use more energy, which will increase your monthly air conditioning bill.

In the summer, living without an air conditioner can be brutal. The sheer discomfort alone should be enough to call a heating and air company to repair your system. Although, sometimes the problem with your air conditioner doesn’t completely affect your unit’s ability to cool, but testing your luck and allowing a problem to persist will more than likely result in a broken air conditioner. It is safer and smarter to get your unit fixed right away, rather than waiting to see if it will cause your air conditioner to break down.


  1. Leaving the Thermostat on the Same Temperature.

It may seem like the consistency of letting your air conditioner run on the same temperature all day every day is a smart idea, but that actually is wasting an immense amount of energy. By leaving your thermostat on the same temperatures, you could be throwing away almost 180 dollars a year on your monthly energy bill. When your thermostat is set to the same temperature all the time your air conditioner has to work extremely hard to maintain a temperature lower or higher than the temperature outside. By giving your air conditioner a break during the day and altering the temperature, will allow your air conditioner to not work as hard and prolong your unit’s life.  In the summer it is more economical to raise your thermostat during the day and lower it at night.

If you have a hectic schedule and are out of your home for over eight hours a day you should change your thermostat settings when leaving your home. There are no advantages to heating or cooling an empty home. In the summer it is appropriate to set your thermostat 5 to 8 degrees higher than your average temperature settings and adversely in the winter it can be beneficial to set it 10 to 15 degrees lower. This can save you a great deal of money, saving you 5% to 15% in energy costs.

Many homeowners may forget to adjust their thermostat each time they leave or come back to their home, but that is where a programmable thermostat can come in handy. With a programmable thermostat you can have it on a specific schedule and have it automatically make these adjustments each time you leave the house.

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