Here's something not many homeowners know: their heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system is not only costly, it also requires careful installation and maintenance to operate at peak efficiency. Without regular AC maintenance, you can't expect your AC to work effectively or last a long time. It’ll break down frequently, run inefficiently, and drain a lot more money out of your pocket in both the short and long term.
To ensure you don't cripple your HVAC system, shorten its lifespan, and waste money, it’s important to commit to avoiding mistakes when operating your HVAC system. However, what are these mistakes? This blog will help you identify several of the most common ones and make changes to your operating habits if you find you are guilty of one or more of them.
Incorrect Air Conditioner Size
Getting an air conditioner that's too small or large for your home is one of the mistakes too many homeowners are guilty of. What’s more frustrating is that their system may not be properly sized and they won’t even know it. This is typically the fault of an inexperienced installer, who gives poor advice as to what system will best suit the application it is being used for.
An AC unit that's too small for your home may not be able to keep up with your demands, forcing it to work harder and longer and use more energy. An oversized AC unit will cycle on and off in short bursts, known as “short-cycling,” which causes a lack of humidity and accurate temperature control. The constant on/off cycling also stresses your HVAC system, causing it to wear out prematurely.
Air Filter is Too Restrictive
With the world around us being increasingly concerned about air pollution and airborne contaminants like bacteria and viruses, it’s easy to get talked into an overly-aggressive air filter that is far too restrictive. These ultra-effective filters can collect particles that are smaller than a fraction of the width of a human hair, but that level of air filtration is hard on your blower fan. By impeding airflow, you’re robbing your HVAC system of efficiency and running the risk of your air conditioner freezing over.
Believe it or not, your home doesn’t need the air filtration capacity of a hospital operating room. There are ways to improve air quality without causing permanent damage to your air conditioner, so talk to an expert to learn more and continue using a filter that your HVAC system is built to utilize.
Not Replacing Filters Regularly
The importance of replacing or cleaning air conditioning filters cannot be overstated. Dirty filters can cause cooling coils to become dirty, and a dirty cooling coil increases energy costs, reduces cooling efficiency, and interferes with heat exchange. A dirty coil can also shorten the lifespan of your air conditioning system, giving you less value out of your investment and a more frequent need for major service.
We recommend changing your air filter based on the recommendation of your HVAC professional or product manufacturer. Changing filters regularly can also increase energy efficiency, reduce cost, and add years of life to your system. If you’re looking for ways to decrease how often you have to change your filter, consider investing in an electrostatic filter that can often be quickly and easily cleaned in a sink or simply wiped down with a damp cloth.
Installing Outdoor Coils Near Obstructions
In order for your air conditioner to do its job, it needs to be able to pull an abundance of clean, ambient-temperature air through your cooling fins and over the compressor coil in order to extract heat. This means your air filter needs strong, unrestricted airflow from all sides. However, many people place their air filter in an area that doesn’t offer this unrestricted airflow. This causes air recirculation and can increased the temperature pulled through your air conditioner by as much as 20 degrees.
When this happens, your air conditioner won’t be able to produce nearly as much cold air as it would otherwise be capable of. This means longer cycle times, harder wear and tear on important components, and power consumption increasing by as much as 20 percent.
Running the Blower Continuously in Hot Climates
For those who live in multi-story homes or larger homes with distinct areas of drastic temperature differences, one common myth is that continuously running your HVAC fan helps even out the distribution of cool air throughout the entire house. This is almost universally false—running your fan when your air conditioner isn’t operating generally leads to more wear and tear on the fan and your air filter filling up far quicker.
This might not be common knowledge but using the blower non-stop can actually raise the relative humidity level within the home by as much as six to ten percent, and that can make your home go from comfortable to sticky and gross in a matter of minutes. Instead, use a ceiling fan to create moving air that helps balance temperatures and even helps your home feel cooler.
Using Cleaners on the Coils
Keeping your HVAC system clean is one of the most effective ways to ensure optimal performance. However, using cleaners that introduce alkaline or acidic substances is yet another common mistake. If anything, cleaning the coils using a stream of low-pressure water would suffice.
If you live in an area where there are lots of cottonwood trees, spray through the fins of your HVAC system from the inside out. This can help wash away any accumulated fibers. Also, ensure you turn the power off before you open the top cover and start cleaning.
Apart from observing proper maintenance, avoiding the most common mistakes laid out above can help ensure your system stays in peak shape, works efficiently, and lasts for a very long time.
About the author
Sara Olsen is the Content Marketing Manager of Emergency Air, Arizona’s premier HVAC repair and service company with NATE-certified technicians and the best HVAC service in the quickest time. When not writing articles, she makes the most of her time with her family and gives back to the community.