8 Tips To Keep Your AC System Running Optimally

You turn to your air conditioner to provide comfort on the hot and humid summer days in Charlotte. The last thing you want to deal with is a malfunctioning or inefficient cooling system. At Integrity Heating & Cooling, we offer these eight tips to keep your Charlotte AC system running smoothly throughout the summertime.

1. Change the Air Filter

Your air conditioning system has a filter. This filter is located within the air handling unit, which is inside your home. Air filters trap particles from the air before the cooled air is blown through the ducts and into your living spaces. Over time, the pores in the air filter fill up with dust and debris. Once they are full, the air cannot easily pass through the filter. The dirty air filter hinders airflow. This results in low airflow and a less comfortable indoor environment. It also causes your cooling system to overwork itself trying to cool and dehumidify your home’s air. Check the filter every month and replace it every one to three months. If your home includes one or more dogs or cats, it is a good idea to replace the filter monthly. Choose a filter with a high minimum efficiency reported value (MERV) rating. A filter with a MERV rating of at least 13 captures most dust, pollen, mold spores, and pet dander. A filter with a MERV rating of at least 16 captures bacteria and viruses, too. At Integrity Heating & Cooling, our technicians can show you where the air filter is located, which size you need, and how to change it between AC tune-ups.

2. Clean the Condensate Drain

Cooling your home’s air is just one of the functions performed by your AC system. Another one of its functions is to dehumidify your home environment. As the warm air in your home is cooled by the air conditioner’s chemical refrigerant, the moisture in the air condenses. This moisture drains into the air conditioner’s drain pan and condensate line. After a while, algae, mold, and muck build up in the condensate drain. This muck could clog the pipe, causing water to back up into the indoor portion of your air conditioning system. Water damage is costly to repair, and it could cause a total AC failure. Once each month, remove the PVC condensate line and pour a 10 percent bleach solution into it. Use a thin, soft-bristled brush to loosen the muck. Rinse the pipe with water, then reattach it. Our technicians at Integrity Heating & Cooling also do this as part of your Charlotte home’s annual AC maintenance.

3. Remove Debris Around Equipment

Your cooling system needs a minimum 3-foot perimeter around the indoor and outdoor equipment to operate optimally. This perimeter facilitates airflow and heat dissipation. Throughout the growing season, keep shrubs, tree branches, flowers, weeds, and grass trimmed and away from the outdoor unit. In your home, keep boxes, bins, and furniture at least three feet away from the indoor unit. Avoid placing furniture or other items in front of your home’s intake or distribution vents. Blocked vents slow airflow and decrease your air conditioning system’s efficiency.

4. Check Your Thermostat Settings

It is a good idea to regularly check your thermostat settings. If you do not yet have a programmable thermostat, now is a good time to install one. At Integrity Heating & Cooling, we install programmable and smart thermostats for Charlotte homeowners. Losing a Wi-Fi connection could cause your smart thermostat to revert back to factory settings. A power outage for a programmable or smart thermostat could also cause your settings to be lost. If your school, work, or errand schedule has changed, check the settings to make sure that your thermostat increases your home’s temperature while you are away. Doing this saves you money, lowers electricity use, and decreases the workload on your cooling system.

5. Wash Exterior Housing

The outdoor unit of your air conditioning system has a large metal housing. Because it is outdoors, it is exposed to the elements. Pollen, dust, and dirt accumulate on the housing. Bird and animal droppings, feathers, and other debris can also get stuck to it. Dirty housing reduces the ability of your air conditioner to release heat to the outdoors. To clean the housing, use your garden hose and its jet sprayer. If there is some sticky debris, such as sap from nearby pine trees, turn off the unit and clean it with a specially-made fin brush. If you are not sure of how to do this, our technicians at Integrity Heating & Cooling can show you during a tune-up at your Charlotte home.

6. Open and Clean All Vents

The cooled and dehumidified air produced by your air conditioning system ultimately reaches the air vents in your home. The air vents may accumulate dust, pet, and human hair and dirt. About once per month, remove the vent covers. Wash them with a microfiber cloth and biodegradable dish soap. Use your vacuum cleaner’s hose to suction dust and dirt out of the vent opening. If your household includes furry pets, you may need to do this more frequently. Make sure the vents are open after you reattach the covers. Closed air vents will cause your home to have spots that are too hot.

7. Get the Air Ducts Cleaned

Vacuuming the opening of your air vents will help your air conditioning system operate more effectively, but your vacuum cannot reach all the way through the ducts. Getting your home’s air ducts professionally cleaned removes the dust and debris through the entire length of the ducts. Professional air duct cleaning could improve your home’s indoor air quality, making it easier for you to breathe. After removing the layers of dust from the air ducts, your air conditioning system will not have to work as hard to keep your home cool and comfortable. Schedule duct cleaning about every two years. If your home includes a dog or cat, annual duct cleaning is a good choice.

8. Schedule Preventive Maintenance

An annual AC tune-up is important for smooth operation. At Integrity Heating & Cooling, our technicians can thoroughly inspect every part of your Charlotte home’s cooling system. We identify small issues that could turn into bigger and costlier problems. We also clean the system and lubricate the moving parts. This reduces unnecessary wear and tear, extending the system’s lifespan and reducing the risk of breakdowns. Preventive maintenance also boosts the air conditioner’s energy efficiency by up to 30 percent, which could save you a lot of money during the summer months of the year.

These eight tips will keep you comfortable all summer long. Using these AC maintenance tips could also help you save money on your summertime cooling costs. Well-maintained AC systems last longer, too. At Integrity Heating & Cooling, we are proud to provide you with affordable AC and heating repairs, installation, replacement, and maintenance services in Charlotte. You can also trust us for services related to backup generators, duct cleaning, and indoor air quality. To learn more about keeping your AC system running smoothly, call us at Integrity Heating & Cooling today. We have offices in Charlotte and Denver.

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