Depending on where you live, air conditioning is something between a luxury item and an absolute necessity. Buying and running an AC unit may seem simple, but there are many mistakes that can lead to wasted time, wasted money, and faulty units.
Fortunately, with a bit of knowledge and proactive effort, you can prevent these mistakes altogether.
The Biggest AC Mistakes Made by Homeowners
These are some of the biggest AC-related mistakes made by homeowners:
- Installing the AC yourself (with no experience). While you might consider yourself something of a handyman, the DIY approach is often a mistake. If you don’t have any experience installing a central AC unit properly, you’ll run an increased risk of installing it incorrectly, leading to inefficient operation or, in extreme cases, total unit failure.
When it comes to simple window units, even an amateur can handle the installation with relative ease – but if you’re installing anything bigger, you’ll want to hire a professional HVAC company.
2. Failing to improve the efficiency of the house. Your AC unit will be responsible for keeping your house cool, but even the best AC unit will fail if the house itself is inefficient. If you have too many air leaks, or if air isn’t distributed properly, even powerful units will be helpless. If you want to get the most value out of your AC unit, you’ll need to upgrade your insulation, replace your old, leaky windows, clean out your ductwork, and make use of ceiling fans to redistribute air within the home.
3. Buying a unit that’s too small. In an effort to save money, some homebuyers buy a smaller AC unit. Unfortunately, if you get a unit that’s too small for the size of your home, it won’t be able to generate enough cooling potential to make your entire home comfortable. It may end up constantly running, with your home never achieving your target temperature, or you may end up with hot and cold patches throughout the home.
4. Buying a unit that’s too big. However, it’s also a mistake to buy a unit that’s too big for your home. An ideal AC unit will start up, run for a few minutes, and turn off; one that’s oversized will start up and almost immediately shut down when it achieves the target temperature. The near-constant starting and stopping will cause it to break down more quickly – and increase your energy bills.
5. Never conducting maintenance. Routine maintenance is important for ensuring your AC unit runs cleanly and efficiently, as well as for catching potential problems early. At least once per year, you should be inspecting your unit and ductwork for potential issues and making repairs as needed. Even more frequently, you should be changing or cleaning your air filters to ensure a smooth flow of clean air.
6. Running the AC constantly. In hot months, it’s tempting to keep your AC running constantly. However, this can put too much strain on your equipment. Additionally, sometimes AC units run constantly (instead of starting and stopping periodically) because they aren’t working properly. If you let the AC unit continue to run uninterrupted, you could be setting yourself up for even more problems in the future.7. Using the AC only. Running your AC unit excessively can increase your energy bills, put additional strain on the grid, and cause your unit to wear out prematurely. Be sure to use other strategies to cool your house, such as utilizing shade and indoor blinds, and using ceiling fans.
Preventing Big Mistakes
There are effectively three things you can do to prevent nearly all these mistakes:
· Do your research. Before making any major decisions related to air conditioning, do your research. Figure out what the appropriate size AC unit for your home is, troubleshoot basic problems, and learn the right way to use your equipment.
· Hire professionals. When possible, hire professionals to do the work – including installation, routine maintenance, and emergency repairs. There’s simply too much that can go wrong if you do the work yourself.
· Be consistent. Once you’ve learned best practices for your AC unit, it’s important to be consistent. For example, you’ll want to practice routine maintenance at least 1-2 times per year.
If you can do this, you’ll avoid some of the biggest mistakes in the AC world. As a result, you’ll spend less money, your home will be cooler, and your whole family will be happier.