There are few incidents that are more frustrating than having a home’s central air conditioning system stop running on a hot, humid August day. What makes the situation even more frustrating is that it can be avoided by having the system checked every spring.
There are several causes for poor or no cooling from a central air conditioner. One of the first places to check is the filter. A clogged filter will reduce air flow and make the unit work harder. Filters should bee replaced every 30 days.
The unit’s thermostat is sometimes the culprit. A dirty thermostat will not properly sense temperature changes. Checking thermostat should involve a carefully cleaning. The thermostat should then be set to around 85 degrees for 30 minutes and then reset to around 60 degrees. This action resets the system. Another way to reset the unit is to turn the circuit breaker off and back on (http://show.com).
A common problem in older central air conditioners is low Freon. As a rule, Freon coolant should last for the life of the unit (http://show.com). However, the Freon may be leaking or the coil may be malfunctioning. In that case, the central air conditioner needs charged. Cleaning the outside unit should include gently removing dirt from the fins and straightening the fins with a “fin comb.” Any repairs beyond cleaning the exterior of the outside unit and inspecting the insulation on the lines running into the house should be done by a qualified central air conditioning maintenance professional. It is especially important to have the Freon charged by a professional.
The best insurance against central air conditioner breakdowns during the summer is to have a complete inspection of the system performed at least every spring (www.home.howstuffworks.com). The work should be done by a trained and certified air conditioning professional and should include:
Complete cleaning of the exterior and interior of the unit(s)
Lubrication of all moving parts.
Inspection and adjustment of the thermostat.
Checking freon to ensure the proper amount and adding coolant if needed.
Inspection of coolant lines and replacement of worn insulation where required.
Check to ensure that the unit is level.
Replacing air filter(s).
Many air conditioning service firms have programs set up for customers that schedule servicing air conditioning systems in the spring and heating systems in the fall for a fee that can be paid when the service is performed or by the month. These programs often include discounts for parts and/or repairs.
There are other steps that homeowners can take to prolong the life of central air conditioning systems. As noted, changing the air filters every month is a simple and effective must do task that improves the efficiency of the unit. Another way to preserve the outside part of a central air conditioner is to purchase a protective cover to fit over the unit during the winter.
By taking early season steps to service the central air conditioner, the unit will provide plenty of cool air during the hot summer months. It also means that homeowners can rest easy knowing that the system will continue to quietly hum on efficiently through September without any unexpected surprises.