Comfort problems can be corrected, often for far less expense than most people imagine. Plus, comfort problems may be a sign of inefficient air conditioner operation. Correcting comfort problems not only makes homes more livable, it often makes air conditioning more affordable.
When The Whole House Is Miserable
Clean The Outside Coil — An air conditioning coil is a heat transfer device. Even a small amount of dust, dirt, and particulate build up can reduce its ability to transfer heat effectively and efficiently. Hose off the outside coil after mowing the lawn and have an air conditioning company professionally clean it annually.
Clean The Inside Coil — The coil inside your home is hampered by the same efficiency reductions from dust and dirt build-up as the outside coil, particularly if you use low-cost disposable filters. Because this coil is difficult to access, have it cleaned annually by an air conditioning company.
Fix Refrigerant Leaks — Refrigerant leaks reduce cooling capacity, hurt the environment, and can lead to compressor failure. Get leaks fixed immediately.
Fix Duct System Leaks — Duct system leaks, particularly return air leaks, can dramatically reduce the ability of an air conditioner to cool a home. If comfort is a problem, have an air conditioning company test for duct leakage. Make sure the company measures air flow.
Add Insulation — Sometimes comfort problems are unrelated to the air conditioning system. If the air conditioner is functioning properly, you may need additional insulation.
Fix Outside Air Infiltration — Air enters and escapes your home through leaks around windows, doors, light switches, and electric outlets. Homeowners can seal points of infiltration or hire an air conditioning company to track them down and correct them.
Improve Windows — Some comfort problems can be fixed with more efficient windows, glazing, or the installation of solar screens.
Upgrade Equipment — Air conditioners are mechanical systems. As they age, their capacity is reduced. Consider replacing old systems with modern energy efficient equipment.
When One Room Is Miserable
Replace Filters — Often the first step is to replace your filters, especially if it’s been awhile. Old, dirty filters reduce fan airflow, starving rooms at the ends of long duct runs.
Replace High Pressure Drop Filters — High pressure drop filters, even when clean, have the same impact as dirty filters. Replace them with low pressure drop filters or an electronic air cleaner.
Rebalance The Duct System — Some rooms may receive too much air, while others receive too little. Room should be in “balance” without the need to adjust registers. An air conditioning company can determine the proper amount of air needed for each room and adjust the airflow in the duct system to provide it.
Replace Inadequate Ducts — If the ducts supplying a room are too small to allow sufficient air, they should be replaced.
Add Return Air Ducts — If one room is uncomfortable, it may be over pressurized, making it difficult to deliver sufficient air into the room. Adding a return air duct will often correct the problem.
Add Zoning — If comfort problems are related to thermostat wars (i.e., two people with different ideas of comfort, who fight over the thermostat setting), a home zoning system may present the ideal solution. Zoning systems allow individual room temperature control within a single air conditioning system. If the lights are turned off when no one’s in a room to save energy, consider a zoning system for the same reason.