We all make mistakes. That’s life, as they say.
But sometimes a mistake is something we can laugh off, and sometimes a mistake costs us thousands of dollars, weeks of headache, and turns half of our hair gray.
Mistakes like the ones we call “AC Repair Killers” fall into that second category.
Two things not every homeowner thinks about:
• Your HVAC equipment is almost certainly the single largest capital investment in your home, outranking all other appliances, and often even pricing your roof into second place.
• Your air conditioning probably accounts for more than half of your electric bill every month.
How much more than half?
Something like 70%, according to researchers. With that being the case, shouldn’t you do everything you can to avoid spending too much?
Because you probably are spending too much.
Worse yet, you might be dealing damage to your system, making AC Killer Mistakes that will come back to haunt you in a big way. If you are, you’re probably headed for some very upsetting conversations with a company like ours – and we want to help you avoid that!
HVAC companies like My AC Repair Orlando try really hard to give you the best advice we can. Manufacturers give you that big owner’s manual, and some of you even read them.
Is that enough?
We’re publishing this article because we think the answer is no. We think it is emphatically not enough.
So here’s our list of things you might not know you’re doing wrong.
If you like saving money, keep reading …
1. Choosing the wrong unit for your home.
We’re going to start with the biggest mistake, and hope most of you have already dodged this one. Unfortunately, if you’ve chosen a poorly matched system for your needs (or allowed one to be chosen for you), you’re probably not in a position to fix it.
But what makes a unit “wrong” for a home?
With central air units, it’s all too common for people to buy the most powerful AC unit they can afford, or the cheapest unit they can find. It’s also common to meet homeowners who’ve allowed a subpar contractor to choose their system for them, and been swindled by someone more interesting in making a large commission on a sale than on actually meeting your needs.
Here’s why too powerful is bad. We call this an “oversized” central air conditioning unit. When it’s too large, it’s not going to uniformly cool your home. Worse yet, it’s going to do the job too fast, which means the system won’t have time to properly dehumidify your air before it circulates.
Worst of all, it’s going to create what’s called “short cycling,” a dangerous issue where your air conditioning system turns on and off too frequently, which can damage the compressor over time.
(Side note: your compressor is the single most expensive component of your HVAC system, and you really don’t want it to get damaged.)
Here’s why too weak is also bad. A cheap unit will often be undersized for your home. When an AC is trying to cool a space bigger than it should be matched with, it will run constantly, at its highest level, trying hard to get the job done.
Instead, it will burn out, probably years before it should.
Here’s how you fix it. As soon as you’re financially able, replace the system with one that will do the job properly. It will hurt, but over the years of your new system’s life, you’ll more than recoup that investment with monthly savings.
And your home will be more comfortable (and quiet, and free of AC repair technicians like us) than before, too.
2. Overusing the AC system.
A good Ac repair contractor will tell you that you shouldn’t turn your system off and on all the time. A great one will tell you that you also shouldn’t leave it running hard all the time.
So what can you do? It sounds like we’ve contradicted ourselves, right?
We haven’t. Here’s why:
Your air conditioner is a big machine, and it’s meant to live a long while, but it’s not designed to never take a break. Most homeowners leave their AC running because they don’t want to walk into a hot home.
There’s a smarter solution – literally.
Most modern HVAC systems already come with a programmable thermostat, so we’d be surprised if you didn’t have one. If you don’t, invest in one. Invest in the smartest thermostat you can afford. They’re great, they’re wi-fi capable, they pair to your mobile phone, and the really good ones are intelligent and learn your schedule so they can maximize energy efficiency.
They allow zoning of your home with many systems, as well, cooling off only rooms that are in use.
If you do have a thermostat, we also wouldn’t be surprised if you’re more or less ignoring it. Most of our customers have learned the basic functionality of their thermostat and gone no deeper.
You are missing out on some real savings. Dive in and learn what a smart ‘stat can do.
3. Blocking vents and registers can lead to unneeded AC repair issues.
We just talked about zoning. That’s where you don’t cool rooms you aren’t using. That’s a great way to save a little energy, but there is a right and wrong way to do it.
The right way is with a zone-capable system.
The wrong way is by blocking or stuffing vents in unused rooms. There are situations where blocking off parts of your home could save you a few bucks, but there are a lot more where it could do the opposite.
Realistically, you’re more likely reducing the efficiency of your system when you do this.
Because your air handler (the indoor section) is part of a designed system. It knows how much cool air it has to produce and circulate, and it does exactly that. When you close off certain vents, the air doesn’t magically know to avoid going into the ducts that lead to those vents. Instead, you increase air pressure within the system. The cold air isn’t in the room, but it is right behind the vent you blocked, doing nobody any good.
When that happens your blower motor may try to compensate for the blocked ducts by forcing more air and working harder. If you don’t have well-sealed ducts, that pressure will lead to leakage, which will increase over time.
If you’re thinking of zoning your home, talk to us. We can tell you whether your system can handle a few closed vents. Better still, we can do a home energy audit and help you find other ways to increase efficiency and save money.
4. Cranking the thermostat really low to “cool down faster.”
This is perhaps the most widespread issue we see. It seems like everybody assumes that whatever number is on the thermostat is the temperature of the air the AC will blow out. By that logic, they assume, the house will cool down faster if I set it to 61 degrees – and I’ll just stop when it’s 68 degrees, which I like.
Do you do this? We bet most of you do.
Except that isn’t how air conditioners work at all. Instead, your system will work to get to the set temperature, and it will take exactly the same amount of time to get to 68. Except you’re probably going to forget to fix it, and your AC is going to work too hard to make it colder than you want, and you’ll have to set the thermostat again.
This is a really easy fix, though. Just set your thermostat to the temperature you actually like, and be patient.
Setting it lower will not makes things cool down faster.
It will damage your system.
5. Not changing your air filters – enough, or ever.
If there is a contender for the “Most Common Mistake” title over thermostat abuse, it’s filter neglect. It’s the simplest piece of owner maintenance, and somehow, 95% of our customers keep forgetting to do it.
Set an alarm on your phone’s calendar, people. It’s important.
Your air filters do the very important job of making sure the cool, comfortable air in your home is also free of particulates and pollen. When you ignore them, they fill up with dust and mold and gunk. Then, you’re suddenly dealing with:
• Escalating monthly expenses.
• Airflow issues.
• Freezing evaporator coils.
• Your system icing over, or overheating, or both.
• Poor air quality.
• Temperature issues.
• Permanent system damage.
It’s no joke. Change them monthly, or according to manufacturer instructions. If you aren’t sure how, call us. We’ll show you on our next maintenance visit, so you’ll never feel stumped again.
Speaking of preventive maintenance to prevent AC repair in Ortlando …
These mistakes can be scary, and the consequences can be expensive. Let us help you. The team here at My AC Repair Orlando is Florida’s premier HVAC repair and installation team. Our phones are always on, and we’re always ready to give you the answers you need.
Call or drop us a message today, and thanks for reading.
Michael Haines is a veteran A/C contractor and founder of the largest and oldest e-commerce site in the heating and air conditioning industry. His HVAC websites have served 10's of thousands of customers.