The sun has been beating down this summer, and that means most of us have had the A/C running nonstop. That can put serious strain on any machine, so it’s important to keep an eye out for warning signs.
“When the heat is at its max, your air conditioner and your electrical system are working hard. That’s when breakdowns happen, especially in machines that haven’t been properly maintained,” says Ted Fox of Fox & Sons Plumbing, Heating, Cooling and Electrical.
Just like an old car that’s great around town but dies on a long hot road trip over the mountains, your air conditioner can only handle so much. A weaker unit may have been strong enough in previous years, but the sustained effort in these extreme conditions could be too much.
“If you notice your A/C is struggling, get it checked, and start budgeting for an upgrade,” Fox says.
4 things to know about your air conditioner
- It’s normal for the A/C to run 24/7: “In this kind of heat, even a healthy A/C unit may run all day and into the night. And don’t panic if the temperature in the house climbs by a couple degrees — it should catch up overnight,” Fox says. Ease your unit’s workload by keeping windows and doors closed, drawing curtains and keeping the thermostat constant — they’re built to maintain cooling, not blast cold air.
- Ice build-up is a sign of trouble: If you notice ice on the surface or inside your A/C unit, it’s time to call Fox. “It’s a sign you might have a problem, or the unit is undersized for the space you’re trying to cool.”
- Plug window A/C units into a separate circuit: Window units draw a lot of power, so they should always be plugged into their own outlet. If your unit is repeatedly tripping your breaker, a Fox electrician can add a new electrical outlet connected to a separate circuit.
- Bigger isn’t necessarily better: “Two window units can be the same size and look identical, but you may find drastically different effectiveness depending on their cooling capacity, brand and price,” Ted says. Assess the square-footage of the space you’d like to cool before you go shopping, and read the fine print!
A Fox technician can also help improve your indoor air quality by assessing your home and suggesting filters and duct cleaning to clear the air. The right filter can protect your family from dust, bacteria, mould and yes, wildfire smoke.
FURTHER READING: 5 summer strategies to save money and maintenance at home