Many homeowners overlook the importance of proper air conditioning maintenance, especially during the months it is not being used as much or at all. In Arizona, dust, insects, wildlife, rust, etc. can all impact your Phoenix central air system. Summers in the valley are intense and it’s very important that those in charge of a property’s central air system continue maintenance during the winter and cooler months.
Proper maintenance of your AC unit during the off season will ensure that during the months it needs to run the most efficiently, it won’t fail. It will also ensure that you don’t experience any unnecessary expenses until years from now (i.e. a full replacement).
Many homeowners in the metro Phoenix area are seasonal; seasonal residents, also known as snowbirds, come to the state in the winter and then leave once the summer months begin. However, many people use their air conditioning starting as early as February; in the Arizona desert, you never know when the first heat wave will arrive.
A vacant home and unused air conditioning unit can cause issues, from broken units to skyrocketing energy expenses. It is essential to do air conditioning maintenance during the fall and winter months to ensure a dependable central air system – and affordable energy bills – come next spring and summer.
Ways to Protect Your Air Conditioner in Winter
In the winter, you should have an air conditioning professional do routine maintenance to ensure any problems are taken care of and issues prevented. Certain issues that can occur when a unit is left unused include stagnant ducts, which can lead to safety concerns and malfunctions; mold and mildew, which can easily occur in your unit and around your home if the air is left off and the house vacant; and other issues that happen naturally and have not been caught, such as broken mechanisms.
If you are a seasonal resident who only lives in Phoenix in the fall and winter and leaves the air conditioning running during the time you’re away, it’s important to make sure that you put in a clean air filter and then have someone install a new one on a month-by-month basis during your absence. A dirty air filter can lead to all sorts of issues down the road, such as system inefficiency and freezing.
A Phoenix air conditioning professional will inspect, check, oil, tighten and clean every part of the unit and ensure everything is in proper working order during the time you are not using the unit. Your professional can also educate you on what you should do during the off season, such as changing air filters, checking window seals to ensure air doesn’t escape, checking the refrigerant gauge to make sure all is running properly and cleaning debris from around the unit.
Leaving Your Home Vacant
If you do not leave your air conditioning on while you are away for months at a time, and you leave all shades down and doors locked, perhaps you should think again. It is unwise, in the hot months, to turn off your air conditioning unit completely. Running your AC will help remove humidity in the house and keep carpets, fabrics and wood materials supple and clean.
Leaving the AC off during the hottest months of the year allows humidity to creep in, which subsequently allows mold to form in parts of your house and your unit. If you are concerned about paying for the energy usage while your home in unoccupied, it’s ok to leave your AC set at a higher temperature, such as 85º (setting your thermostat higher than 90º is when heat damage can start to occur in your home). Also, remember that turning off the air can cause problems in the future that are potentially very expensive.
A programmable thermostat will help keep the temperature in the right place, and some also have vacation settings you can customize. A thermostat connected to WiFi will also help you control it remotely.
Additional Things to Look At
Take a look at the size of your unit, as well. You want to ensure that when your air conditioning is running, it is running efficiently so you pay the least amount of money for energy. A unit that’s too big will not remove humidity enough. A unit that’s too small will not reach a comfortable temperature throughout the house on hot days.
Unit location is important, too. Units should not be near bedrooms, where noise becomes an issue. Condensing units should be free of objects blocking airflow. Thermostats should be away from heat sources.
Take a look at these things in the off season and have your local Phoenix air conditioning company do the same. They can help you ensure your air conditioning is in full working order for the months when you truly need it to be.