The last thing that you want to happen on one of those hot, summer days — and this being Los Angeles, those days can extend well into November — is to lose the air conditioning in your home. But it happens a lot more than you might think. And it can make for a really miserable day.
HVAC systems overheat for a few reasons. But they’re not supposed to, and they won’t if you take a few simple precautions. There are a few simple things that you can do on your own. And there are some things that you’ll want to trust a professional with.
A little diligence on your part, some routine maintenance, and having it inspected by a reputable service company on a yearly basis is the best way to keep your air conditioner from overheating.
Your air conditioner needs a certain amount of airflow to operate effectively. There should be at least two to three feet of space around the condensing unit outside to allow air to circulate. Restricted airflow is a common reason for overheating.
You’d want to check around the outside of the unit, making sure that there isn’t anything blocking airflow. Early in the spring, you might see weeds growing near it, or there could be leaves piled up around it. And after storms, there could be debris blown up against it. Periodically maintaining the area around your condensing unit will help it to run more efficiently.
Program Your Thermostat
Your thermostat controls how hard your air conditioner is working. Don’t keep it set at a lower temperature than you need. There are some times of the day when you don’t need it to be as cool. You could give your air conditioner a break by installing a programmable thermostat, allowing it to run less often, reducing wear and tear.
Change Your Air Filter
As basic as it sounds, it’s one of the easiest ways to keep your HVAC system running the way it’s supposed to. Dirty air filters will block airflow, and you know what that causes. Filters should be changed about once a month.
Schedule an Annual Inspection
To keep your HVAC system running in tip-top condition, have it inspected twice a year, early spring and in the fall. That way, you’re making sure that both the air conditioner and the furnace will be ready when you need them.
During a routine air conditioner inspection, a certified technician will be checking all of the individual components, making sure that everything is running as it should. Here are three of the main areas that they are looking at.
- Condenser Coils: They will need to be cleaned on a regular basis. Their purpose is to maintain a cool temperature inside of your air conditioner, and they’ll attract the dirt and other particles that are floating in the air outside. Dirty condenser coils will make your system work harder, causing it to overheat.
- Fan Blades: They will also collect a lot of dirt and need to be cleaned and lubricated to keep them turning smoothly.
- Refrigerant: It’s rare that refrigerant will need to be added. But over time, the internal components can become compromised, causing refrigerant leaks. And a lack of refrigerant will kill your air conditioner.
How Old is Your AC?
It would be nice if they ran forever. Unfortunately, even with the best maintenance, you can only expect to get 10 to 15 years of use out of your HVAC system before it’s due for a replacement. If you have an older unit and are noticing more and more repair bills, it might make more sense to invest in a new, energy-efficient air conditioner to avoid the possibility of it failing when you need it the most.