Air Conditioning as an Investment in Your Health

Triple digit heat is plaguing the heartland of the nation this summer. Residents as far north as South Dakota are struggling to stay cool in an area where air conditioning rarely exists because it is rarely needed. Heat related deaths are a concern. Those in southern states like Texas are familiar with such heat waves and its affects and there are still heat related deaths every summer. Most of those deaths occur among the poor, the elderly and the very young. Among the poor and the elderly, their homes may not have air conditioning, or if they do, the air conditioning is broken and they cannot afford to get it fixed. In triple digit heat, air conditioning saves lives.

One Canadian joked that the coldest places in the world are Saskatchewan and inside a Dallas building in the summer. While the joke is slightly exaggerated, there is some truth to the drastic temperature difference between inside and outside during a Texas summer. With heat indices above 110 degrees Fahrenheit and indoor thermostats set around 72 in public buildings, individuals expect their bodies to adjust to the almost 40 degree difference each time they transition from inside to outside and vice versa. This can cause sinus problems or fatigue even among the healthiest of people.

So how can air conditioning service in Austin, TX contribute to your wellness?

In addition to preventing heat related deaths, it can also help to filter out pollens, dust and dander within the home. Central air conditioners have an intake vent inside the home. That is where air is pulled into the unit to be cooled. If the filter in that vent becomes dirty or clogged, the air conditioner does not function as efficiently as it should. Changing that filter every three to six months keeps the air conditioner running well. Using HEPA filters or other hypo-allergenic filters helps to clean the air as the air conditioning runs. This is most beneficial for those with allergies, asthma or other respiratory illnesses.

When buying a home or after a few years in a new home, get the air ducts cleaned. This eliminates dust, fur and dander that has accumulated over time in the duct work and keeps the air in your home cleaner. Additionally, be sure to keep the coils on the air conditioning unit clean. Most hardware stores supply an aerosol spray to help you clean them.

These basic maintenance tips are good for your air conditioner and for your health. An air conditioner cannot protect you from triple digit heat if it doesn’t work. Maintenance keeps it running longer and more efficiently. Adjusting the thermostat to 80 degrees while you are out of the house reduces the amount of work the unit has to do as well. And truth be told, when it’s over 100 degrees outside, walking into 80 degrees feels great.

Tiffany Marshall spent two summers in Colorado without real air conditioning before moving back to her home state of Texas. She prefers triple digits with AC to double digits without. Tiffany is a freelancer writing on behalf of BlueAir Heating and Air Conditioning, your source for any Austin heating and air conditioning need.

Do It Yourself A/C Maintenance Tips

If you have an air conditioner helping you stay cool during Florida’s sweltering hot summer months, you can significantly reduce your energy and repair bills by doing a few regular maintenance tasks. Florida’s high heat and humidity levels can easily result in skyrocketing electric bills, even in late fall!

broken air conditioner Taking a minute to check your A/C system and doing some basic maintenance can help shave off quite a bit of money off an otherwise costly energy bill. Keeping up with maintenance can also increase the life and efficiency of your air conditioning system, saving you more money over the years.

Many people choose to save money on expensive air conditioning service costs by doing their own basic maintenance on their window units and central air conditioning systems. This is a common practice to which entire Do It Yourself forum communities have dedicated tips and instructions for the motivated home owner.

Getting Started

Taking care of your A/C is not hard and does not take a lot of time. But it will be time well spent, especially if your air conditioner is running a lot during the summer. You don’t need any tools to do the job, just a little common sense and a few minutes of time.

First, if you are unsure about how to do these tasks, talk to a professional A/C technician and have him show you what needs to be done. Then, you can do it yourself the next time. If you have a manual, that can be a useful resource, too.

Whenever you do any maintenance on your A/C, start by turning off the power at the thermostat and also the breaker switch (pictured below). Note: While examining your A/C system and opening the unit, be careful not to injure yourself on any sharp metal edges that might be inside your air conditioner when you take the cover off.

air conditioning breaker switch

Changing Your A/C Filter

One of the easiest and perhaps most important maintenance jobs is to check the filter and see if it needs replacing. The filter should lift out without the need for any tools. Once you have it out, hold it up to the light and see if there is dirt, dust, or pet hair clogging it. You should be able to see light through it. If not, it is time to change it, or wash it if it is reusable.

Changing the filter in your A/C should be done at least every three months when it is in service. For pet owners – especially those with long-haired cats or dogs – changing the A/C filter every month or other month is a must. Dirt particles from the air are trapped in the filter and will cause the machine to work harder, requiring more energy and raising your electric bills. In Florida, a clean A/C filter is the key to reducing indoor air humidity, which is hampered by dirt and debris. By keeping the filter clean, you can save as much as 25 percent on energy bills during months when the A/C is in operation.

Its a good idea to have a spare filter on hand before you need one. Publix and other major grocery and convenience stores typically carry disposable filters of all sizes, as well as pet-dander and allergen specific models. If you are running your air conditioning system everyday, check the filter more frequently, especially during the summer months. In areas with heavy particulate matter in the air, a filter can clog up in as little as two weeks.

How to Clean A/C Coils

The next maintenance task is to look at the coils and fins on the unit. The A/C coils are typically protected by a grill that has been screwed in, so keep a screwdriver handy for easy removal. Once you have exposed the coils on your air conditioner, softly brush them from side to side to remove any built-up dirt or leaves. Tip: use a hand clipper and cut away any bushes or plants that are touching the unit. Also, be careful not to apply too much pressure to the coils, or bend them in any way, which could damage your air conditioning system. Also check to see that water is coming out of the drain when the A/C is operating. If it is not, call your repair person for help.

ac coil cleaning tips

Checking the Freon Levels

Freon is the stuff that’s responsible for keeping the air that is blowing from your system nice and cold. Too little of it and the air in your house will remain stagnant and warm, regardless of what temperature you set your thermostat to. When it comes to A/C maintenance, taking care of the freon is an advanced task that is better left to the professionals. Under no circumstances should you consider recharge or flush your refrigerant lines without the proper tools and expertise.

However, a quick check up to make sure everything is working the way it should be is a simple enough task. A/C coolant line insulation can become worn or damaged from prolonged outdoor exposure, and is easy to see.

air conditioner coolant lines

Schedule Maintenance for Your Air Conditioner

Regardless of whether you hire an A/C company or choose to do the maintenance yourself, regularly checking the condition of your A/C system can greatly extend the lifetime of your system, in addition to maximizing efficiency and reducing energy costs.

Having a professional air conditioning technician service your A/C each year, along with these fast and easy maintenance tasks, will keep your cooling system running efficiently for a lot longer. You will stay cooler yourself, too, in more ways than one.

Need help with your air conditioner? Located in Palm Beach county? Give us a ring at (561) 404-0340 or click here to schedule your service call with us. We offer quick, professional same-day service and can help with maintenance, repairs and even new installations.