12 Air Conditioning Mistakes You Didn't Know You Were Making

A trend that hits home, literally and figuratively, when you receive your monthly air conditioning bill. Unfortunately, mistakes you’re making with your home AC may be undercutting its efficiency, effectiveness, and safety, experts say.

“If you have a badly maintained system, it can become contaminated with microorganisms that may be harmful if inhaled,” says Mark Mendel. A staff scientist with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s Indoor Environment Group. Mendel mentions asthma problems and allergies as some of those possible harms.



Mistakes You’re Making With Your Air Conditioner

Letting Vegetation Grow Around Outdoor Unit

You diligently mow your lawn every weekend, but how often do you inspect the landscaping around the outdoor AC unit? This unit is typically tucked out of sight, so it’s easy to neglect. You should make it a point to maintain the area around it with a pair of trimming shears and a trimmer or weed whacker.

Your outdoor condensing unit needs a certain amount of breathing room, so to speak. Weeds, shrubs, and yard debris around the appliance obstruct airflow, forcing the condenser coil to work harder. All that extra effort will be reflected in your energy bill. Additionally, vegetation can attract insects and rodents. These pests may make a nest near the unit. Creeping into your home or gnawing on wires and causing damage to your system.

To prevent these issues, maintain at least three feet of clearance between your condensing unit and any surrounding vegetation.

Using Old Filters for Air Conditioner

How to Clean Your Heat Pump

When was the last time you changed the filter in your HVAC system? If you’re drawing a blank, it’s likely that your filter is long overdue for replacement. Dirty filters restrict airflow, which in turn causes your system to demand more electricity. Besides the spike in your energy costs, a dirty filter can also result in a frozen evaporator coil.

As a good rule of thumb, you should replace your filter at least every 90 days (sometimes sooner, depending on your filter size). During the high heat of summer, when your AC will be working overtime, we recommend replacing it every 30 days. Your team at Bob’s Heating & Air Conditioning offers a range of different filters and air filter replacement programs to fit your needs.

You Aren’t Changing or Cleaning Your AC Filters

At a minimum, you should be changing the filter on your central AC unit once every three months—and as often as once a month if your system is running all the time.

Neglect this chore, and a dirty filter can lead to poor air flow or freezing up of your unit’s evaporator coil, says James Braun, a professor of engineering and director of the Center for High Performance Buildings at Purdue University. A filthy filter could add 5% to 15% to your AC bill, and will shorten the lifespan of your whole system. Fortunately, replacement filters are pretty cheap—usually less than $10.

If you have ductless “split” AC units, there should be a removable panel on your unit that will allow you to wipe off the filter with a rag—no replacement necessary.


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