On a blisteringly hot summer day, what better feeling is there than walking into your cool air-conditioned house? The crisp temperature inside is refreshing and relaxing, perfectly comfortable, and consistent. Until the worst-case scenario happens—your air conditioner breaks and you end up with a muggy, warm house. You ask yourself what happened, how much it will be to fix, and you look up a repair person. Then there’s the hassle of waiting in the uncomfortable heat and the added pain of paying for an emergency visit, not to mention how much it costs to actually repair your AC unit. But that can all be avoided. It turns out there are some things you might not be doing that could be impacting your AC unit. See which of these ten things you’re not doing. 1. Not Changing the Air Filter As far as AC maintenance goes, this is one of the easiest and most inexpensive things you should be doing. The air filter’s job is to keep outside dust and debris from getting into your home through the AC unit. But over time, the air filter will eventually get clogged up and will need to be changed. While it seems like a small thing, not changing your air filter can lead to some significant energy costs over time and even lead to freezing within your AC unit. Plus, there are some repairs that can be directly linked to an old air filter. By changing it regularly, you can prevent these costly repairs. There are a few things to consider when it comes to knowing when to change your air filter. Most AC units will need a new air filter about every two to three months. However, if you have a pet, run your unit for more than six months during the year, have someone in your home that smokes inside, or have a construction area near or inside your house, then you should be changing your air filter every month. 2. Not Running Your AC System at All If you don’t need to run the AC system, it’s fine to leave it off, right? Yes—unless that leads to you never running the system. After a long period of not being used, your AC unit might end up not working properly when you do need it or not working at all. Along with that, mold can start to grow inside the unit, leading the system to break down. So, to make sure your AC is always in working order and to make sure that when you run it the air in your home remains of the highest quality, you should make sure to run the unit at least a few minutes every day or every couple of days. In addition, not running your AC unit for a long time can damage the interior of your home. During the warmer months, your home can turn into an oven and the higher temperature can negatively affect the wood of your doors, floors, and cabinets. If you plan to go away for a long period of time, simply turn the thermostat up but leave the unit on. If your unit has a timer, you can set that so the house is cooled during the day but turns off at night to save power. 3. Not Paying Attention to Warning and Diagnostic Lights Chances are your furnace and AC systems have blinking lights that will tell you the systems are running properly. Newer systems also have diagnostic lights or displays that can tell you when something is going wrong. If you notice the AC unit’s diagnostic display or any of its warning lights alerting you to something, then it’s time to call in the professionals. These could be alerting you to an issue that, if addressed quickly, can save you tons of money in the cost of repairs. 4. Not Getting the Recommended Maintenance When you have a new AC system installed, the manufacturer includes an owner’s manual and they do that for a reason. The manual contains key maintenance guidelines and safe operating instructions that will keep the unit in the best working condition and lengthen its lifespan. By following the maintenance guidelines, you can keep your heating and AC systems running smoothly and efficiently. Keeping up with the required maintenance will also save you money on electricity bills and repair costs. Most manufacturers recommend an AC system be serviced twice every year. It’s best to have this done by a company that specializes in AC maintenance services. This way, you can make sure the job is done right. 5. Not Paying Attention to the Charge and Refrigerant When your AC system is running, it uses a refrigerant to keep your house cool. If the refrigerant levels become too low or run out completely, you can expect unreliable cooling and reduced efficiency. Ultimately, this will also lead to costly repairs. One way to keep an eye on the refrigerant levels is to have your system recharged when the refrigerant is refilled in the system. If you neglect the charge of the refrigerant levels, you will be left high and dry – or rather hot and dry – when you need your system most. Excited about that big house party you’re throwing? Be sure to think about your refrigerant levels to handle the extra people in your house. 6. Not Watching the Needle When it’s the middle of summer, you want your home to be as cool as you can handle. When your system has been turned off, a common impulse is to throw the needle of the thermostat down as low as possible. Most people think this can cool your house better and faster, but that’s not actually the case. In fact, a sudden switch like that can prolong your cool relief. Aside from not accomplishing what you hope it will, cranking the thermostat all the way down can also do serious damage to your AC system. You run the risk of ruining the compressor that’s responsible for the transfer of heat, leading to you needing to spend a ton of money on a brand new one. To avoid this expensive repair, simply make small adjustments on your thermostat. 7. Not Picking the Right Size AC Unit for Your Home Just like not every house is the same size, not every AC unit is the same size either and picking the right size can make a big impact on the efficiency and operation of your system. If your unit is too big, it will cycle on and off, leading to big swings in temperature and far more energy being used. If the AC unit is too small, it won’t be able to cool your home adequately and will continue to struggle under the pressure. This will eventually wear out your system much more quickly. In short, the wrong size AC system means spending more money in repairs and replacements. As you look for an AC system, make sure you pick the right size for your home. You can get the square footage of your home from the contractor, as well as the layout. This can give you a much more accurate calculation for how big of a space your AC unit will need to cool. You should also take the type of insulation in your home into consideration before installing your AC unit. 8. Not Giving Your AC Unit a Break Aside from wasting a great deal of energy, running your air conditioning all day every day, can actually lower the efficiency of your unit. When you’re not home, you should be turning your AC system off. Another option is to turn the thermostat up when you aren’t home. This is a great option for homeowners who want to keep their pets cool, but don’t want to overwork their AC system. It only takes most AC systems a few minutes to cool a house down, if they are the right size for the space, so there’s no point in keeping your unit on when you’re away. 9. Not Paying Attention to the Season During the winter months, temperatures can vary depending on where you’re located. If you’re someone who lives in an area that regularly gets very low winter temperatures, it’s important to stop running your AC system as soon as those temperatures drop. By running your AC unit during the cold winter months, you run the risk of damaging the compressor and several other components of your AC unit. 10. Not Having Your AC System Checked by a Qualified Person It takes a certain level of education, skill, and experience to become qualified to maintain, service, and repair AC systems, so it’s best to leave this to the professionals. Take your time when finding AC maintenance near you. You should also consider asking your trusted friends and family members for their recommendations, then do your own research into the company. Always check the reviews, licensing, and insurance information of the companies you are considering. Your AC system is arguably the most expensive system of your home aside from your roof, and replacing it can put you in a financial hole. Making sure you have a qualified person to work on it is crucial. Finding qualified AC maintenance services near you is possible and you can start by calling Sinclaire Home Services.