Will your AC make it through Florida’s hot season? When the rest of the nation sees leaves turning, Floridians still swelter. Middle to late summer is a good time to get your air conditioner unit checked, as it has had time to run for a few months. While you’ll need a professional AC technician to solve the most common problems, knowing what to look for can save you money.
Common AC maintenance issues
Air conditioning is essential in Florida, even well into October. While some people can do DIY air conditioner maintenance, most will need the help of a pro. Here’s what you, and they, can do to keep your indoor environment cool and dry.
Clean your AC filters – It’s easy to forget to change filters. If you do, it can cause dust and airborne debris to get stuck on the evaporator coils and make them to freeze. How can they freeze in the summer? Warm air exits your home past these coils. Make sure your air condition tech cleans the coils.
Check thermostat – AC problems caused by thermostat failure are more common than you think. If you have a programmable thermostat and your home air is blowing hot, try changing the battery. If you have a standard wired model, have your AC tech check for faulty wires.
Keep your outside unit tidy – Condenser coils can get clogged by leaf debris, pollen and dirt. This can make the unit run less efficiently and allow built-up allergens and dust into your home. Ask your technician to clean the condenser coils. It will save money on cooling bills.
Beware of coolant levels – Your air conditioner cools using either R-22 Freon or R-410A, which is sold under various names such as Puron, Genetron AZ-20, SUVA and Forane. Freon is no longer manufactured in the United States, but there are plenty of older units that use it. If your air is not blowing cool enough in the house, your technician should automatically check coolant pressure. Constant low pressure can signal a leak in the system.
Test safety controls – There are a series of triggers throughout your system that detect electrical problems. These triggers shut off the system if they detect a malfunction. Your technician should test each point of the system to make sure everything is in sync.
Check air handler drainage – Make sure the line that drains condensation from the air handler, the part inside your house, is free of debris. In some homes the drain line can back up, filling the drip pan that surrounds your handler. The rising water level normally activates a float switch that shuts the unit off and prevents an overflow. If the switch fails, the drip pan will overflow. Make sure all points of the system are working properly.
Should you replace an AC unit?
The life cycle of the average central air conditioner is 15 to 20 years. AC replacement is not cheap but could be a smart investment, especially if you can buy it with an interest-free payment plan. Newer models use less energy to do the same job as older models. In fact, those with the Energy Star label can shave 10 to 40 percent off your heating and cooling bills each year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
Look for a high seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) rating. Older units are typically a 6; systems made after 2006 must be at least a 13. A qualified air conditioner technician will help you choose the proper size for your house square footage, window locations and insulation value.
The key is not to get a unit that is too big. A more powerful machine may cycle on and off endlessly, keeping you cool but not removing enough moisture from the air. In humid Florida, this could lead to mold problems if left unchecked.
Take care of your AC unit
Be sure to get your AC checked once a year during the hotter months. Consider a home appliance warranty if your unit is older and you can’t afford to replace it. Not only can the right maintenance plan prevent costly repair bills, it can also help your unit to run more efficiently.