Summer is Coming: 5 Tips for Troubleshooting Your A/C
Everyone loves summer in California — but only if they have a cool, refreshing place to recover from the blazing sun. So the pressure’s on building managers to provide that chilled sanctuary via a sleek, reliable HVAC system. And since the heart of the cooling system is your A/C unit, keeping it in tip-top shape is crucial to building management in California.
With that in mind, we’ve come up with 5 simple, no-frills tips to maintaining a high-performance, low-hassle A/C system:
Check Your A/C System Twice a Year
Just like your dentist cleans & checks your teeth every 6 months, an HVAC technician should check & clean your A/C system twice a year. (And there’s no reason not to — your HVAC technician will NEVER ask if you’ve flossed!)
Ideally, these check-ins will be at the beginning and end of summer. This will ensure that your A/C is prepared for its busiest time of year.
Make sure your technician tests and (if necessary) cleans:
- Compression coils
- Evaporator coils
- Blower assembly
- Refrigerator coolant level
- Safety controls & electric connections
- Ignition system
Your technician should also lubricate all moving parts, especially motors, and do everything else on energy.gov’s A/C maintenance checklist.
SAFETY NOTE: Never try to clean any of the above on your own. The parts are either extremely delicate (such as the fans & coils) or extremely hazardous (such as the coolant chemicals and anything related to electricity — your A/C carries enough voltage to kill an adult.) Call in a trusted HVAC technician instead.
Change Your Air Filters Every 6-8 Weeks
It’s so tempting to just forget about your A/C’s air filters…let’s be honest, they’re not the first thing on anyone’s mind! But if you don’t replace those filters every two months (at the most), dirt and dust will build up, clogging your source of cool air. Let them go for longer, and your A/C unit will have to work twice as hard (and use up twice as much energy) to circulate just half as much cool air. In fact, just changing your filter regularly can save up to 16% of your energy bill.
Keeping your air filters fresh and unplugged will keep your budget and your building inhabitants happy.
(Not sure how to change an air filter? Here’s a helpful tutorial.)
Check and Empty Drain Pans
Even in the dry desert heat, your A/C’s performance can still be compromised by too much water. As temperatures rise and the A/C unit works harder, it produces more condensation. That condensation is collected in drain pans. If these pans fill up and leak or overflow, the water can damage your A/C and reduce its performance.
So during summer, check and empty your drain pans every few weeks.
Is there that much of a difference between 72 and 78 degrees? Not really, especially when the outside temperature is 85+. Most people will be perfectly happy in a 78-degree room. But that six-degree change does make a difference to your energy savings.
In fact, keeping buildings at a steady 78 in summer uses up almost 40% less energy than a steady 72. Even bumping it up to 75 will save you nearly 20% of your energy (and your A/C won’t have to work so hard either).
You can also save money by considering when and where you truly need cool rooms, and what times and places might not need A/C as much. For example, stock rooms and other rarely occupied areas often don’t need as much A/C as heavily used areas. If much of the building remains unoccupied after closing, you could set your thermostat higher at night too. Every little bit of energy-saving counts!
Check A/C Ducts Every Year
At or before the start of summer, have your air ducts checked for leaks, holes, and loose connections. Those weak points will lose cold air before your residents can ever enjoy it, which will force your A/C to spend more energy than ever. Your HVAC team can fix these
In addition, you can insulate your walls, windows, pipes, ducts and outlets to keep your valuable conditioned air inside where it belongs.
Also, make sure that the vents in each room are free of furniture, curtains, and anything else that could get in the way of that fresh cool air. Blocked air vents can force your A/C to expend 25% more energy to distribute the same amount of air.
Unlike your A/C, air ducts don’t need to be cleaned twice a year — or even every year. But they should be cleaned every 2-5 years; signs that you should call your HVAC team ASAP include:
- – excessive dust
- – strange musty smells
- – high humidity
- – mold, especially on ceilings and walls
Fortunately, cleanings every 2 years should prevent these issues from ever occurring.
As long as we’re on the subject of A/C maintenance, remember that units which use R-22 refrigerator coolant are being phased out. After Jan. 1, 2020, R-22 coolant won’t be available any more in the U.S. If your A/C unit is pre-2010, this might require you to repair or replace it. We’ve tracked down a thorough guide to making the right decision for your buildings based on this phase-out.
Now that your A/C system is prepped for summer, get out and enjoy the warm sunny weather!
P.S. Not sure which HVAC company to use, or not thrilled with your current HVAC service? Just ask us for a few recommendations; after 30 years of servicing Californian generators, we’re familiar with many reliable, trustworthy HVAC servicers across the state.
Also, just a reminder that we’re here to take stellar care of your generators, so you can keep your A/C running no matter what!