BBB on Homes: Air conditioning maintenance hot topic this time of year

BBB on Homes: Air conditioning maintenance hot topic this time of year

Summer is here, and everyone is feeling the heat. During these hot summer months, it’s essential to make sure your air conditioning system is up and running smoothly. The best way to deal with air conditioning issues is to prevent them from occurring.

With proper maintenance and care for your A/C unit, you may be able to avoid a broken system this summer. Before calling for service, troubleshoot a few basic things. Is your thermostat operating properly? Has the electrical breaker powering the unit tripped? Are the air intake screens or filters on your outside unit dirty, or are they blocked and need to be cleaned? Sometimes, there are minor, inexpensive things you can do yourself to alleviate a problem and avoid paying for a service call or repair; however, for extensive repair work, you will need to hire a professional.

The Better Business Bureau of Greater Houston and South Texas offers the following maintenance and energy saving tips for your HVAC system:

Hire a professional. If you need repairs for your current system or an installation for an entirely new system, an air conditioning contractor can help you with the job. Research air conditioning contractors by visiting BBBHouston.org, where you can read complaints and customer reviews and check if the business is BBB Accredited. Also, ensure that the contractor is licensed by checking with the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation at www.tdlr.texas.gov or call 800-803-9202.

Keep your system well maintained. Replace filters monthly, get a tune up yearly and do not block registers or return vents. Make sure the access panels are secure. The better shape your system is in, the more efficiently it will run.

Keep a clean system. Use air conditioner cleaner to clean the coils on your unit; make sure the power is off when you do this. Clear the area around the air conditioning unit of debris to make sure the unit can pull enough air in. Have a technician clear the air conditioning drain yearly to avoid backup.

Get a programmable thermostat. With this kind of thermostat, you can save energy when you are away from home by setting the thermostat to increase or decrease temperatures as you please.

Seal your heating and cooling ducts. Remember, the less air that escapes your home, the better.

Optimize efficiency. Make sure doors and windows are shut and properly sealed and use fans to supplement your air conditioning in occupied rooms.

Update old equipment. Use newer, more energy efficient models to lower energy costs. Look for Energy Star-qualified products as they meet strict energy efficiency guidelines set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and offer significant long-term energy savings.

The Better Business Bureau is an unbiased nonprofit organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Visit www.bbbhouston.org or call 713-868-9500. Leah Napoliello is senior director of Investigative Services with the BBB of Greater Houston and South Texas. Send questions to Leah Napoliello, Better Business Bureau, 1333 West Loop South, Suite 1200, Houston, TX 77027, or e-mail lnapoliello@bbbhou.org. Include your mailing address and phone number.

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Marcia Mosley