Trouble-shooting your AC unit: The time is now

WASHINGTON — Homeowners should prepare their air conditioners for the hot summer months before the temperatures really start to rise.

The spring and summer months are a busy time for contractors.

“Our phones are ringing off the hook,” says Jamie Edwards, of Edwards Air in Manassas, Virginia.

He is telling all of his customers to briefly run their air conditioners to see whether they’re working properly.

“What I recommend to everyone is turn the unit on early in the season,” Edwards says.

“Go outside; make sure your outdoor unit is running; make sure your filter is clean. Let it run for 15 to 20 minutes. Make sure the air that is coming out is nice and cool.”

Over the winter, AC units are under constant pressure, and homeowners may not know whether something’s wrong until a heat wave strikes.

“If you have a pinhole leak and you turn it on, the unit will not cool,” Edwards says.

He suggests hiring a professional to check the entire system every couple of years.

Replacing a dirty, clogged filter with a clean one can reduce your energy use by up to 15 percent, the Department of Energy says.

To cut your cooling costs in half, replace old air conditioners with energy-efficient models.

Using a ceiling fan will save money — the thermostat can be raised by about 4 degrees without compromising comfort. Air conditioning units benefit from shade, so to boost your unit’s efficiency, plant trees or shrubs nearby.  During a heat wave, set the AC fan speed on high — except during humid weather.

Follow @WTOP on Twitter and WTOP on Facebook.

© 2015 WTOP. All Rights Reserved.

Federal News Network Logo

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up