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DIY A/C Checkup

Your heating system has been pumping out the heat all winter, keeping you and yours snug as a bug. Now, your air conditioning will have a lot of work to do keeping you all cool in summer. Here are some tune-up tips that will get your system purring again so that you can enjoy its benefits all summer long.

Clean or change the air filter
We’ve gone over the benefits of a clean air filter before, but it is important that you make sure yours is fit for use. Dirty filters disrupt airflow, make your HVAC system inefficient, and cost you money. Not only that, they can promote mold growth, aggravate allergies, and lower the air quality in your home. A clean air filter can also improve your HVAC system’s efficiency by as much as 15%!1

Check the filter to see if it is clean. If it is not, wash it if it is reusable or replace it if it is disposable. If you need to head out to the hardware store to buy a new one, why not pick up two or three? You won't have to make the drive next time.

Clear the area near your outdoor unit
To make sure the outdoor unit has enough space, trim away any vegetation that may have grown too close to the unit. Debris in the form of cut grass, leaves and insects may have found their way into the outdoor coil, so carefully remove this as well.2

Take it for a spin
If everything looks good so far, open up any vents and switch on your air conditioning. Things to look (and listen) for include inconsistent air flow, burning or smoky odors, water dripping or leaking, and any sounds to indicate that the system isn't running smoothly. If you encounter anything alarming, shut off the system immediately and give your A/C tech a call.

Check for drafty areas
Drafty houses aren't just a concern in the winter months! To give your A/C the best chance of running efficiently, make sure you check your house for areas that are poorly insulated.

Leaks tend to be found around windows and doors where the seals have worn out over the years. You can fix these easily with new weather-stripping materials, which are available from any hardware store. Attics, fireplaces, and chimneys are also trouble spots, so consider investing in some draft-proofing materials for these areas as well.3

Invest in a programmable thermostat
A programmable thermostat is a worthy investment, because it lets you set your home’s temperature at a different level when you’re not around. You can save substantial amounts of money with every degree you raise your thermostat in the summer, so it’s definitely something worth thinking about. You can even get “smart” thermostats that you can control through an app on your smartphone—perfect for if you don’t have a set daily routine.

Have the system checked every year
The spring is a great time to have your annual A/C tune-up. A technician will come out to check belts and filters, replacing them as and when it is required. The technician should also oil the system’s moving parts inspect the wiring, and check refridgerant levels.

Before the technician arrives, check if the unit is cooling correctly. If not, make a note of the issues to help out the technician.2



[1] http://www.ase.org/resources/summer-hvac-maintenance-tips-save-energy-and-money
[2] http://www.airflowhtgair.com/care-maintenance/summer.php
 [3] http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/article/0,,218945,00.html

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