The Unofficial Handbook on Central Air Conditioners
One of the best investments any homeowner can make is having a central air conditioner installed in their home. While the device is relatively straightforward to operate, you need to keep a close eye on it to make sure that it's running correctly and efficiently.
Now, whether you’ve been on the fence about purchasing one or you currently own one (but are looking for a simple review session), here are some important tips and facts to always keep in mind.
What are the Benefits of a Central Air Conditioner?
One Unit Will Cool an Entire House
Unlike using a string of bulky window-based air conditioners, you'll be able to cool down your entire humble abode with the push of a single button — where ductwork permits, of course. Additionally, when it comes to having a central air conditioner, you'll have full range of your window sills. The central unit will be almost invisible to the human eye since it relies on air vents that are carefully tucked away into your ceiling.
The Cold Air it Produces is Fresh and Clean
Now, more than ever, it's essential to make sure that the air in your home is as clean as can be. And with the help of an air filter, your unit will keep your home cool without spreading other contaminants that may be lingering in your air.
Knowing this, it's essential to make sure to replace your central air conditioner's air filter regularly to not only keep your air supply fresh but to help your unit stay afloat.
Here are some more reasons why you should consider replacing it often:
Why Do I Need to Replace My Central Air Conditioner’s Air Filter?
Helps Cut Back on Indoor Allergens
If you're the owner of a cat or dog, you'll know that there's no greater joy than being the parent of a "fur baby." However, with excess joy comes more responsibility — cue shedding fur, which always happens to make its way to your ductwork. When this happens, those strands of fur and hair can bog down your central cooling system — that's why a filter is intact.
As it's known, the filter will help ward away any fur, hair, dust, and other airborne particles from mixing with your central air and being distributed around your home. However, once an air filter becomes caked in debris, it is much harder for your unit to function.
Can Make Your Unit Work Efficiently
When it comes to central air filters, think of it as a filter for the "lungs" of your central comfort system. The less debris that is caked onto the filter, the easier it will be for the unit to work and provide you and your loved ones with cool, fresh air. However, if there is an excessive amount of debris caked onto it, it will make it harder for your unit to "breathe" and operate in the most efficient way possible.
For starters, you should consider replacing your unit's air filter about every 90 days for optimal results. However, if you have a "fur baby" present in your home, think about changing the filter every 30 days to keep the cold air breathing as clean as can be. Of course, the higher the filter's quality, the less often you'll have to change it — something to always keep in mind.
Additionally, replacing your central air conditioner's air filter improves your indoor air quality. It can even improve your unit's efficiency — along with these other "to-do" list items of importance.
How Can I Help Improve My Central Air Conditioner’s Performance?
Clean Around the Condenser
The giant metal hub that is the "brain" of your central air conditioner requires some TLC. Now, if you notice that there are some branches, twigs, or other forms of foliage that are interfering with the compressor, it's time to get rid of them.
To play it safe, make sure your central comfort system is off. Next, go over to the condenser and begin to clean any foliage or debris out from the metal fins — this will help your unit "breathe" much easier. After that, if there are any branches or bushes that seem to be blocking the unit's airflow, make sure to trim them or cut them back altogether.
Have Repairs Made in a Timely Manner
Do you hear a strange sound every time your central air conditioner kicks on? If so, that can indicate that you have a problem on your hands. Whenever you believe there's something awry with your air conditioner, it's crucial to call your trusted HVAC technician right away.
Doing this can help catch the problem in the nick of time, but it can also help prolong your central air conditioner's lifespan — which brings us to our next point: how can you tell if your central AC is breaking?
What are Common Signs of a Central Air Conditioner Breaking?
Very Vocal When in Use
When your central air conditioner kicks on, it usually makes a very faint sound — which is entirely reasonable. However, the minute you hear anything out of the ordinary — such as clanking, banging, and grinding — it’s time to call in your HVAC technician right away.
Unfortunately, these sounds can indicate that either a piece is broken, needs to be replaced, or another part is interfering with a vital piece's performance. If not caught in time (or ignored), these little sounds can turn into a rather significant problem down the road — which can ultimately ruin your central air conditioner.
Doesn’t Cool Down Your Home
Of course, one of the most common signs of a central air conditioner that is in need of repair is if it isn't cooling down your home — no matter how long it has been running. Sometimes, this can be due to a loose or broken part within the unit's compressor. Other times, this can indicate that there's a leak in your home's ductwork, and the air is escaping through it.
Indeed, there does come a time when a repair won't do your unit any justice, and it will need to be replaced altogether.
When Should I Replace My Home’s Central Air Conditioner?
Relies on R-22 Freon
If you have an older unit, there's a chance that it relies on R-22 freon to help produce cool air. However, according to the EPA, R-22 is a refrigerant and contributes to the depletion of the ozone layer.
Therefore, as of this year, it's no longer in production and will not be imported — ultimately meaning that if your unit is running low on it, you'll have a tough time getting your hands on the R-22 that remains.
Celebrated a Birthday in the Double-Digits
As human beings, the day a little one turns 10 is a huge milestone and is typically celebrated. However, when your central air conditioner turns this milestone age (or anything after it), you should consider getting a new unit installed.
In addition to relying on R-22, an older central air conditioner may have a rather tricky time performing up to par. That can increase your energy bills and lead to more repairs down the road, something no homeowner wants to encounter.
Therefore, opting for a newer, more efficient unit can help out tremendously. It will keep your home cool and even make for a big selling point if you were ever to consider putting your humble abode on the market in the near future.