Know the basics before starting your air conditioning

When the weather is hot and steamy, the last thing you want is for your air conditioning to go on the blink. Here are a few tips that you can do 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 lifespan. A plain water hose works just fine for this.

• Change or clean the 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 one to two 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 central air that is tilted 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 turning on your a/c. The unit will work three times as hard and in many cases run for four hours straight and more just to try and 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 amounting to costly repairs.

Now that we’ve hit the 80-degree mark a couple of times already this year, it won’t be long at all before the heat is here to stay, so be prepared and you’ll stay much more comfortable the whole summer long.

Joel Wensley is a licensed mechanical contractor in the state of Michigan, a WJBK-TV Fox2 Detroit news contributor and president of Mechanical Heating & Cooling in Dearborn Heights.