How to Stay Cool at Home This Summer
Regular maintenance of your air-conditioner will save you from feeling the heat on a hot day.
Adobe Stock / Kwangmoo
There’s nothing like the rush of cool air-conditioning on a blisteringly hot day. Tommy Webber, owner of T. Webber Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning in Cold Spring, recommends an annual inspection and tune-up of your air-conditioning system by a licensed professional before the cooling season really kicks into gear. That way, you can be sure you won’t be sweating when it’s sweltering.
“Like everything else, breakdowns happen at the worst time, usually on the hottest day of the year,” Webber explains. “But keeping on top of maintenance will keep your system running efficiently and reliably.”
An annual tune-up focuses on three things: clearing the condensate line, where water is drained; checking the capacitor and other electrical components (fixing rodent damage if needed); and checking the refrigerant charge (and repairing the source of refrigerant leaks, if found). Webber notes that companies are moving away from the old R22 refrigerant and toward the more environmentally friendly R410A. He advises checking with your air-conditioning repair company on what to do if your system uses R22.
Replace the air filter either monthly or quarterly, depending upon the manufacturer’s recommendations, especially if a family member suffers from allergies or asthma. Homeowners can easily replace a filter themselves. “Air filters catch the dust, hair, and particulates that fly around in the air. Those filters get clogged and dirty — because they’re made to get clogged and dirty — and they’re meant to get replaced on a regular basis,” Webber notes.
At the same time, homeowners should make sure the vents inside the home are kept free of dust, and aren’t blocked with rugs, furniture, or that pile of laundry in your bedroom you keep meaning to fold and put away. Equally important, keep the outdoor unit/condenser clean and free of obstructions. Feel free to wash it down with a garden hose occasionally, Webber says. The point is to maintain proper airflow, which serves two purposes: It keeps the system running efficiently (saving you money) and prevents system breakdown (something a homeowner doesn’t want to face on a 90-degree day).
Webber doesn’t advise shutting down vents in rooms that aren’t used often. “The system is sized for the entire home, and works most efficiently when it’s used for its full purpose.” If your home has several zones, you can adjust the temperature per zone, but don’t let a room get too hot, he says.
For the couples who argue over what defines the ideal temperature setting, we have news for you. There is no ideal. “It’s subjective,” Webber says, “although the typical temperature setting is between 68 and 75 degrees.”
T. Webber Plumbing, Heating, and Air Conditioning, 845.208.4846