Connecting you with the Knowledge You Need for Summer!
Texas has experienced some record setting cool temperatures this spring and while it has been nice, stay on top of your HVAC maintenance and care so you can still be cool when the triple digits arrive in August. Living in Texas, most of us know what we need to do. Some folks are very diligent in the care of, and maintenance of their unit, others, not so much. Still others, who have recently moved here, are unaware of the issues they can face if they don't know how to manage and maintain their unit.
I wanted to put together a little quick of just a few things you can do to possibly prevent problems as the summer heat begins to increase.
#1 - Change your Filter
According to my friend, Mark Ary, owner of Ary A/C & Heat, LLC, in Decatur, the filter is the biggest problem they see with AC units in the summer. While many think it is like the oil in your car, you should change it when the light comes on, the AC unit won't always 'tell' you there is a problem. Then one day, you begin to realize it is warmer in your home than it should be.
Remember, your ac is running every day and the filter is working hard to help protect the unit. The filters are designed to protect the unit from dirt, dust, pollen, dander, and other foreign air-born particles. A clogged filter will cause your ac to work harder, increasing your energy cost, and is the most common culprit for ac service requests. Changing your ac filter regularly is a quick and simple way to help your air conditioner run more smoothly and efficiently. Check your filter monthly to determine if it needs changing can make a huge difference.
Keep in mind, not all filters are created equal. Make sure you are using the proper size and a good filter (not cheaply made) to ensure you are protecting your unit. HVAC units are expensive and need to be maintained properly to give you good service and a comfortable home.
My ac company (Ary A/C) changes the filters for me. They use filters that are designed for my unit and by changing it, they can keep an eye out for any impending problems. It costs a bit more than just buying the filters and doing it ourselves, but it gives us peace of mind, knowing our unit is in good hands. Besides, the techs can get to the unit in our attic a little easier than I can.
#2 - Keep it Clean
Last summer, literally during one of the worst heat waves we had seen, our house began to get a bit warm. After a while, on a Saturday afternoon, I walked over to the thermostat to see that it was just over 80 degrees in the house. Our home usually stayed between 73 - 74 degrees constantly, so I knew we had a problem.
Luckily because we do have a good service company, we were able to get someone out early Sunday morning to fix it. A quick fix and a service fee, and we were cool once again. While it was a part that had gone out, I was afraid it was ants. Yes, ants.
In Texas, ants are brutal. Ants, including red ants, love electrical utilities. In Texas alone, costs associated with fire ant damages to electrical and communications equipment total around $146 million per year. A chart showing the breakdown of their faves, seems to indicate that 42.9% of the issues associated with damage from ants is to Air Conditioners. (see Ants and Electrical Equipment – Ant Pests (extension.org)).
So keeping an eye out for ants around your outside unit or even around any entrances or trails to the inside unit could save you big bucks. However to 'see' the ants, you need to keep your unit clear of bushes, weeds, grass and other debris.
I know many people like to hide their outside unit by planting bushes or building fences, however you may be inviting problems. Keeping it out in the open so you can treat for pests, and so your technician can easily access the unit for repairs is crucial. If your unit is shaded by trees or collects wind-blown grasses, wash it off regularly to prevent build up around the unit. Ants and other critters just love to gather round and cause other damage.
#3 - Program your Thermostat
Take time to program your thermostat and you won't have to think about it anymore. I know, I know, it can be a pain and can be a little difficult to navigate, but it can really save you money. Taking advantage of the schedules, making it a little warmer during the day when no one is at home and only cooling when you are home, can save you money in the long run.
If you don't have a programmable thermostat, get one. Constantly adjusting the temperature can be hard on the system and on your pocketbook. Keep in mind the system isn't just cooling the air, it has to cool down all of the soft surfaces in your home as well. So allowing the system to work the way it was designed, will keep you comfortable.
Keep the temp up a bit and run your fans. You may find that if you kick your thermostat up a couple of degrees and run ceiling fans in all of the rooms, it will keep the air moving and it will feel cooler than you expect. If you like polar bear temps, try to keep curtains and blinds closed. Also, this is a good time to check your windows and doors to make sure they are closing well to prevent cool air from seeping out.
During the winter, I kept feeling a 'breeze' by my favorite spot. Finally my husband found a window that had not been closed tightly from weeks before. Double checking your windows and doors is an easy fix with a big payoff.
#4 - Regular Maintenance
We learned the value of regular maintenance years ago. If you have ever thought "I can't afford to have a maintenance agreement, I'll just call if I have a problem" then you are asking for trouble.
We bought a home and the inspector told us the unit was very old, but had been well maintained and if we took care of it, we could still get a few years life out of it. We reached out, got a maintenance agreement with a local AC company and they came out regularly to take care of it. That unit lasted several more years.
Today, a maintenance agreement or service contract is just part of our annual budget, just like any other utility bill. They come out regularly to check it and ensure it has everything it needs to run properly and keeping an eye on that filter for me.
As I mentioned before HVAC units are expensive, good maintenance will give you many, many years of comfort with little problems. Plus, the service company is always very quick to respond if you have problems. Without a service agreement, you call around hoping to find someone to come fix your unit when you do have a problem and when you have no heat or ac during severe weather, that can be brutal. Bite the bullet and set it up, it may not be as expensive as you might think, and it is well worth it.
Shout out to Ary A/C & Heat,LLC and my friend Mark for taking good care of us for so many years. His technician even gave me a 'class' on my fancy thermostat. So they truly are a full-service company. If you need a good HVAC company, go to http://aryhvac.com/ and connect with them. You will be glad you did!
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