Summer weather alert: preparing to stay cool despite blistering hot temperatures

Joel the weather gets hot and steamy again, the last thing you want is for your air conditioning to go on the blink. Here are a few tips that you can use to ensure the least amount of trouble from your air-conditioning unit.

• Inspect and clean the exterior fins of the unit. Make sure they are debris free. Air-conditioning units draw in air through these fins to assisting in removing the heat extracted from the house. The dirtier they are, the harder the unit has to work. This can mean higher bills and a shorter life span. A plain water hose works just fine for this and will not damage the unit.

• Change or clean filter every month of use. Central air units use the same filtration system that the furnace uses in the winter. Window units have their own filter, usually found right in the front of the unit. A plugged filter means decreased airflow and potential problems for your entire system.

• Keep plants, shrubs and trees at least 1 to 2 feet away from the unit. They can get sucked into the fins and coils, restricting the airflow.

• Make sure your air-conditioning unit is level. A tilted central air unit can cause problems with the fan blades and motor becoming unbalanced. For window units, a slight tilt downward at the back is great for draining the humidity removed from the home.

• Turn your air conditioning on before it gets too hot in your home. You won’t be saving any money by letting your house get 85 degrees before finally tuning on the a/c. The unit will work three times as hard and in many cases can run for eight hours straight or more just to try to get the house to the right temperature. This is a BIG money waster.

• Watch for freezing or frosted pipes within or attached to the a/c unit. This can be a sign of low refrigerant or improper airflow. Call a professional to prevent damage to your unit that adds up to costly repairs.

By following these suggestions, you not only can help prevent unnecessary repair bills, you also can save money on operating costs and stay a whole lot cooler all summer long.

Joel Wensley is a licensed mechanical contractor in Michigan, a member of the Comfort Institute and is also the president of Mechanical Heating & Cooling in Dearborn Heights.