Get Your Air Conditioner Ready for Summer Heat

Summer is right around the corner, and you do not want to wait for a heat wave to make sure your air conditioner is performing at its best. Knowing the basics of how central heating and cooling works can help keep your cool going into the warmer months. Most systems have three major parts: Blower…

Summer is right around the corner, and you do not want to wait for a heat wave to make sure your air conditioner is performing at its best. Knowing the basics of how central heating and cooling works can help keep your cool going into the warmer months. Most systems have three major parts: Blower unit, ductwork and condenser. If one of them goes haywire, you might get stuck sticking your head in the freezer for a heat reprieve.

Most condensers are so big that they're hidden outside, usually behind the garage. Its job is to exceed the refrigerant, also known as Freon, which goes from the house to the condenser. The Freon is pressurized, which transforms it into a high-temp liquid form. In this new incarnation, the Freon can quickly go to the house and into the blower unit. All of this back and forth can cause wear and tear, and this is a common area in need of maintenance and repair.

Cool, Calm and Collected

Once inside the blower unit, the Freon is converted into a gas and turns much colder. The cold gas is then piped into the ductwork via a coil. Air is blown through this coil, causing it to cool before moving into the home. Constantly, the blower unit is sucking in air from the home and through the ducts to force it through the coil-then it travels back into the house via the air ducts. In other words, that blower unit has a tough job and if something goes wrong, suddenly your house becomes a heat box.

When the Freon's job is complete, it goes back to the condenser to be pressurized again. The process starts all over from here. For the most part, AC systems are delicate and should only be maintained by a professional. Refrigerant lines are not just sensitive, but can also be dangerous to maintain yourself. However, there are some things you can do.

Taking Care of Basics

It's pretty easy to change a filter, which can be found in the blower unit where the unit meets the duct. Check these every month-a clogged filter stops air flow and can even make the coil collect ice. This can completely shut down your system. You might also want to consider a filter upgrade, particularly if someone in the home sufferers from allergies.

However, keep in mind that some filters collect more dust than others (such as those designed to address allergies) and and more than a monthly check might be in order.