A Beginner's Guide to Central Air Conditioning: Simple Dos and Don'ts | Controlled Comfort

If you’ve never lived in a home with central air conditioning, chances are you’re very excited about the prospect of spending hot summer days inside your cool, comfortable house. Unfortunately, many A/C novices make simple mistakes that can cause energy bills to skyrocket, or worse, cause damage to the unit that will lead to pricey repairs.

Caring for your central air conditioning unit properly will help ensure the unit runs smoothly all summer long. Here are a few basic central air conditioning dos and don’ts.

Do Learn What to Do Before You Turn Your Air Conditioner On

Before you set your thermostat to “cool,” it is critical to take a few steps to ensure your central air conditioning unit is both running properly and continues to work without any issues. Here are a few steps you need to take to prepare your central air conditioner for the summer:

  • Check the air filter. Locate the air filter and replace it. Depending on the model and brand of air conditioner, the filter might be found on the air handler, which is typically found either in the basement or in the duct system. If you’re having trouble locating your air filter, refer to your owner’s manual or contact a professional for assistance.
  • Find the registers. Walk through your home and locate all the registers. Clear any obstructions to ensure even air flow throughout your house.
  • Examine the condenser. The condenser is the large metal unit that is found outside. Remove any vegetation, grass or other obstructions from around the unit.

Now that you’re ready, turn on the air conditioner. Step outside and check the condenser to ensure the fan blade is spinning. Head back inside your home, and listen for any strange noises, such as a banging. If you notice any strange noises, don’t hesitate to contact a technician.

Do Learn How to Maintain Your Unit

Luckily, it doesn’t take much effort to maintain your central air conditioning unit. Taking a few simple steps throughout the year can help prevent unnecessary damage and repair bills. For example, periodically examining the condenser for any damage before wiping it down with a damp rag will remove any debris, dander or pollen that has built up on the condenser’s fan blades.

Switching out the filter every few months and getting your ducts cleaned at least every three to five years are two other ways you can prevent damage and keep your energy bills in check.

Do Get to Know Your Thermostat

Learn about your thermostat and the different settings available. An older thermostat will typically feature three settings: cool, off and heat. Additionally, you will also find a fan setting that features two settings: auto and on. Setting the fan to “auto” will save money because the fan will only turn on when the A/C kicks in.

Consider upgrading your older thermostat to a programmable model. A programmable model will allow you to adjust the temperature in your home to fit your lifestyle and needs. For example, you can program the thermostat to a cooler temperature during the day when you’re at home, and warmer for during the evening and when you are at work.

Don’t Let Your Central Air Do All the Work

Now that you have a central air conditioning unit, you might be considering tossing out your old window unit and all those box and window fans you relied on in the past. However, relying exclusively on your central air to keep your family comfortable can be expensive and can place unnecessary stress on the unit.

Instead, your A/C should be supplemented with a variety of simple cooling techniques. For example, take advantage of your ceiling fans, or, if you don’t have any, invest in at least one for your lower floor. Turning the ceiling fan’s setting to counter clockwise can help circulate the cool air, which will prevent your central air conditioner from working overtime.

Installing a window unit on your second floor can also help relieve some of the strain on your central air conditioner.

Don’t Skip the Yearly Inspection

Finally, there is one critical step that you should never overlook: the yearly inspection. Hiring a professional technician to inspect your entire HVAC unit every year will help ensure the unit continues to run smoothly, and can help prevent future problems.

A professional has the tools and experience necessary to pinpoint and repair any minor problems before they become a major issue. Remember, the average central air conditioning unit will last around 15 years, but only if it is maintained properly.

From remembering to schedule that yearly inspection to investing in a programmable thermostat and learning how to maintain your unit, when it comes to your central air conditioning, there are several dos and don’ts to keep in mind. If you have any additional questions about your central air conditioning, don’t hesitate to contact the professionals at Controlled Comfort.