Are you singing the hot and humid blues this month? Me, too! Here in University City, we usually have a long dreary winter followed by a cool rainy May, before plunging into hot, humid misery. This year, not only is it dreadfully hot and humid, but we’re getting so much rain that the humidity has no chance to dissipate.
Last week, I provided some tips to keep things cooler inside your home. Even though you can’t affect weather change, there’s a lot you can do outside your home to help your air conditioning operate at peak efficiency. Your air conditioner does more than just cool the air, it also lowers humidity and removes dust and dirt by moving the air through filters. So next time you head outside to trim the grass, check your exterior air conditioning unit to make sure it is operating at top efficiency.
Here’s what to look for:
- Trim overhanging shrubs to keep the unit from overheating. Make sure there is at least 4” of space between your air conditioner and the plantings around it.
- Feel the hot air coming from the unit? Hot air rises, so be sure there is at least 12” of free air space above your exterior unit, too. Let that heated air go – as far away from your home as possible.
- We’ve had a lot of rain, and many of us have had to cut the grass when it wasn’t quite dry. Your garden hose is a good tool to use to rinse the unit off, spraying any seeds, grass clippings or dirt off from inside the fan. It’s best to wait until the fan unit cycles off to do this.
- Listen for any obvious changes from the prior year, such as squeaks, a laboring fan, or anything that sounds like metal hitting metal.
- Look for damage to the exterior air conditioning housing such as dents, rust, corrosion, leaking oil, an unstable unit mount, or any broken parts. Give the electric cable a visual check as well – but don’t touch the cable if it looks frayed or appears damaged. If you notice anything that looks damaged, call your Ricotta Heating & Air service technician right away.
- Use your nose. Do you smell oil? You shouldn’t. Leaking oil can signal bigger trouble. Call your Ricotta Heating & Air service technician right away.
Of course, the easiest, and often most effective maintenance is having a service agreement in place. That way, you’ll know your air filter, which is located inside the system’s furnace, air handler or attached ductwork, will be regularly changed or cleaned. When filters become clogged, your air conditioner has to work much harder. This wastes energy and raise your utility bills. Depending on the amount of dust in the air, filters can become clogged in just a month or two of operation, so check these every two months (once a month during peak use) and replace them when necessary.
Stay cool, stay dry, and safely enjoy your summer!
-LEW of the Ricotta Blog Team