How to make sure your air-conditioning unit keeps you cool all weekend

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

YORK, Pa.-- With high temperatures over the next few days, now is not the time to have your air conditioning unit fail you.

"The biggest thing that people can do right now to help their air conditioning system is [to] check the air filters," F.W. Behler Inc. President Dave Yates said.

F.W. Behler is an air conditioning company in York.

Yates said dirty filters are one of the biggest problems he sees each year. He also recommends to wash the outdoor coils of your unit. Simply take a garden hose and wash them from the top to bottom.

"That dirt that's out on those outdoor coils can rob that system by as much as 10 percent or more efficiency and reduce the cooling capacity," he said.

Then there is using your air conditioner efficiently. You can close up to 15 percent of the registers in your home to make it easier on you air-conditioning unit.

"So the idea is to find one area where you can totally comfortable and those unused rooms, it doesn't matter if they get comfortable," Yates said.

Yates recommends setting your thermostat to one temperature and leaving it there. He said to turn off any set-backs your system may have.

"To make it back from 82 to 78, or 76, or 74 degrees is not going to be a quick result," Yates said. "It can take a day or more for that to happen."

Even with these tips, Yates is expecting numerous calls for problems, and he said his crew are ready to tackle the challenge.

"We'll ask everybody who works here to be available for the on-call guy so that when we do hit a peak of emergency calls, we can respond and get those done in a timely fashion," Yates said.

Yates posted a full list of tips on his Facebook page.

1: Install new air filter(s). Insufficient air-flow reduces the delivery of cooling and can shorten the life of your equipment!

2: Clean the condenser (outdoor unit) coils. Turn off the power first to the outdoor unit. Set your garden hose to spray, not full-force nozzle, and wet the coils working from top to bottom. If you have a hand-pump sprayer, fill it with water and dish detergent & spray that into the coils – again working from top to bottom. Rinse away with the hose spray. Restore power. Dirty outdoor coils that “look” clean can rob you of 10%, or more, efficiency and reduce cooling capacity.

3: Let the condenser breathe! Trim back shrubs or bushes at least 24”. FYI: your condenser coil should be a minimum of 18” away from the wall. Mini-splits 2” min. This allows for proper air-flow across the condenser coils to strip away heat from the Freon inside the coils.

4: Shade the condenser. If your condenser is baking in the hot sun, provide it with shade by setting up a beach umbrella, but do not place the umbrella directly over the top of the condenser because that’s the discharge for hot air from the condenser fan. There should be no air-flow obstructions within 5’ overhead of the condenser.

5: Make sure your windows and doors are closed securely. Replace worn weather stripping.

6: Grill outdoors – no indoor cooking.

7: Turn off incandescent lighting. A 100-watt light bulb produces as much heat as one human body at rest (341-Btuh). Turn off TVs when not actively watching.

8: If you have unused rooms, close off the supply registers and close the doors. No more than 15% of the total number of registers should be closed off or your total system air flow may become too restricted for proper energy exchange across the evaporator (indoor coil).

9: If you are using an automatic or programmed reset thermostat, take it out of reset mode. Set the temperature you want and let it stay at that setting.

10: Schedule annual service by professionals!