It is recommended to keep the heating and cooling system at the temperature you are most comfortable with. For many people, this is between 76 and 78 degrees.

A professional can check for internal issues to make sure your unit isn’t working harder than it needs to.

Homeowners should have an HVAC professional check their central unit twice annually, once for heating and once for cooling, before the season where it needs to work its hardest.

It is recommended to keep the heating and cooling system at the temperature you are most comfortable with. For many people, this is between 76 and 78 degrees.

A professional can check for internal issues to make sure your unit isn’t working harder than it needs to.

Homeowners should have an HVAC professional check their central unit twice annually, once for heating and once for cooling, before the season where it needs to work its hardest.

As you prepare to pack away your summer clothes and close up the pool for the season, don’t overlook one other household task you should take care of before the cooler fall air settles in: Maintaining your air conditioning system.



It has served you well all summer long, but if you turn the air conditioning off in September and then don’t think about it again until next June, you may face an unpleasant surprise.

Regular maintenance is essential to keeping your system humming along. Todd Washam, vice president, Public Policy & Industry Relations for the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA), recommends changing the air filter regularly based on the manufacturer’s instructions. This is typically about every three months. However, he added that if you have pets or have had work done on your home that is sending dust into the air, the air filter should be changed more frequently. Changing the air filter keeps the system running efficiently.

Another maintenance chore is checking your outdoor unit. Check for debris, like leaves or weeds that may impact the unit’s ability to pull in air. If you see any, simply brush the leaves away or remove debris, he said.

HVAC professionals can help with these tasks and many others. The ACCA has strict quality standards for its HVAC members, said Washam, adding that because air conditioning units have electrical components and use chemicals, only a trained technician should service and maintain the system.

A professional can check for internal issues to make sure your unit isn’t working harder than it needs to. They can catch these easy fixes before they become major problems and shorten the lifespan of your air conditioner.

Washam recommends having an HVAC professional check the central unit twice annually, once for heating and once for cooling, before the season where it needs to work its hardest.

The best time to hire an HVAC professional to inspect your air conditioning system is during the shoulder seasons in March or October, he said. Not only are professionals not as busy during these times of the year, but it is much easier for contractors to take care of duct work in the attic when it is not as hot.

Trained professionals are equipped to handle the dangerous mechanical components and can spot any potential issues that can cause problems down the road. After all, said Washam, 90-95 percent of air conditioning units will work up to the point of breakdown.

A good way to make sure your unit gets the attention it needs is by signing up for a maintenance plan. Plan members often receive priority service and scheduling as well as other benefits.

Year round, Washam recommends keeping the heating and cooling system at the temperature you are most comfortable with. For many people, this is between 76 and 78 degrees.

Many professionals advise homeowners against the common practice of turning off the cooling system when they are away from home. While some think this a money-saving move, instead it can cause the system to work harder to re-cool the entire house, costing more money in the long run.

When it begins to heat up outside, you want relief fast. The last thing you want is your air conditioning unit spitting out hot air or even worse, not kicking on at all.

To avoid any surprises, don’t make the common mistake of covering up the outside unit with a tarp or other covering, said Todd Washam, vice president, Public Policy & Industry Relations for the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA). That’s because if leaves become trapped inside, they turn into compost. It also provides a nice warm area for rodents in the winter months.

Instead, he said, put a small piece of plywood on top secured with a brick if you want to protect it from the elements.

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