The extreme Florida heat and humidity put a huge amount of extra strain on your air conditioning system compared to what it would experience in a milder, drier climate. This is one of the main reasons why air conditioners and heat pumps usually don’t last nearly as long in Florida as they do in other places. Making sure that your AC system works effectively is essential for helping you to beat the heat. If you want to make sure your home stays cool and comfortable this summer, this article will explain what steps you should take.

Have an AC Maintenance Performed

The majority of homes in Southwest Florida have central air conditioning and either a standard AC condenser or an electric heat pump. Either type of system requires regular preventative maintenance to avoid issues and ensure it continues operating efficiently and cooling effectively. If you neglect to have an AC technician service your air conditioning every year, it simply won’t ever be able to work as well as it should. Not only will this lead to you paying much more in energy costs to cool your home, but it can also drastically shorten the lifespan of your AC or heat pump. Neglecting to get your system serviced annually also puts it at greater risk of requiring costly repairs or suddenly breaking down and leaving you to deal with the extreme heat.

All of these reasons are why HVAC experts recommend scheduling a maintenance service every year. Ideally, you should have this service performed early before the weather gets hot enough that you need to rely on your air conditioning almost constantly. One reason is just to ensure that your AC is ready to cool effectively. Another is to limit the amount of wear and tear the system undergoes once it starts having to work much harder to combat the high heat and humidity.

Our maintenance visit involves many different steps, from inspecting the indoor and outdoor parts of the system to testing and cleaning various components. One of the most important tasks is cleaning the evaporator coil inside your home and the condenser coil in the outdoor unit. Dirty coils will greatly decrease an AC system’s performance since they prevent the system from effectively removing heat from inside the house or releasing the heat back outside. A dirty evaporator coil also greatly increases the chances of the system freezing up, while a dirty condenser coil can easily lead to the outdoor unit overheating.

Make Sure You’re Using the Right Air Filter

Replacing the air filter in your air conditioning system is also essential for enabling it to work as efficiently and effectively as possible. It’s recommended to always replace your system’s air filter every 90 days at the very least. That said, there are many times when the air filter will get dirty more quickly and need to be replaced after only a month or two. This is common in older homes since they tend to be dustier. Having indoor pets will also typically cause the filter to clog more quickly and result in you needing to replace it more often.

While replacing the air filter is important, you also need to make sure that you are using the right type of filter for your system. Specifically, you want to make sure that the filter isn’t so efficient that it restricts airflow and prevents your AC from working effectively. The efficiency of most air filters is rated in terms of MERV or minimum efficiency reporting value. Air filters designed for use in residential AC systems typically range from MERV 6 to MERV 12 or 13.

Using a more efficient filter with a higher MERV rating is great if you have allergies since it will help to improve indoor air quality. The issue is that the blower in some residential systems isn’t powerful enough to draw sufficient air through a higher MERV filter. As such, you should always consult with an AC technician to make sure that the filter you use isn’t too efficient for your system to work properly.

Ensure Attic Ducts Are Fully Insulated

The vast majority of homes in Florida are constructed with a concrete slab foundation. The reason for this is that we have quite a high groundwater table, which could easily lead to a basement or crawlspace frequently flooding. With a slab foundation, most of the ductwork is located in the attic and needs to be properly insulated for an AC system to have any chance of working effectively. Even if an attic is sufficiently insulated and ventilated, the temperature inside it will often rise to at least 120-140 degrees on hot summer days.

If attic ductwork isn’t fully insulated, the hot air will penetrate through the ducts and cause them to heat up. This then leads to the AC system cooling much more slowly since the cool air it produces becomes much hotter as it gets circulated around the home. Uninsulated attic ductwork is also highly prone to condensation, which can easily lead to issues with mold growth in your attic or inside the ducts.

Clean and Trim Around Outdoor HVAC Unit

There always has to be sufficient clearance around the front and sides of a condenser or heat pump for the AC system to work effectively. The reason is to ensure that the compressor fan can effectively draw sufficient air through the unit. The air that flows through the unit and over the condenser coil is what allows the system to release the heat it pulled out of the house. This process works because the refrigerant gets “superheated” to around 120 degrees before flowing into the condenser coil. Since the refrigerant is much hotter than the air flowing over the coil it enables all of the heat it contains to naturally flow out and be released into the air.

If you make sure that the unit has at least 2 or 3 feet of clearance, the amount of air the fan can circulate through it will be greatly reduced. As such, the system will have a much harder time releasing heat and not work nearly as effectively. There will also be a much higher chance that the unit will have issues with overheating. This is why you need to make sure you clear away any debris and trim back any nearby vegetation before turning your AC on. You also need to continue checking the unit throughout the summer and cleaning and trimming around it as necessary.

Tackle High Indoor Humidity Issues

High indoor humidity is an extremely common issue in Florida since our summers tend to be extremely humid. Humid indoor conditions always reduce the effectiveness of an AC system, resulting in it taking longer to cool the home and using lots more energy. This is why it’s important that you take steps to try and control your home’s humidity level if the air often feels moist or muggy. The best option in this regard is to install a whole-home dehumidifier. Not only will a dehumidifier help make your AC more effective and lessen how much it costs to operate, but it will also help you avoid any potential issues with mold growth in your home.

Plumbing & Cooling Nerds is the company to turn to for all of your air conditioning needs in Southwest Florida. Whether you need any AC repairs, maintenance or to replace your condenser or heat pump, we’re ready to help. We also offer a full range of heating, indoor air quality, and plumbing services. To schedule any HVAC service or learn more about the ways to improve the effectiveness of your AC system, contact our expert team today.

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