Going on Vacation: AC ON or OFF?

When you leave your home, it is easy to switch your AC unit off and lock the door behind you without a second glance. Unfortunately, this carefree approach has the potential to backfire, as it is almost always better to run the AC while you are gone, rather than turn it off completely.

Dangers of Leaving the AC Off

Your air conditioner continually removes moisture from the air in your home. Therefore, with your AC unit switched off, your windows and other interior surfaces will often develop a layer of condensation. The trapped moisture quickly results in mold and mildew growth.

Without the cooling system running, temperatures inside your home will match or exceed the high temps for each day. Constant high temperatures make building materials, such as doors and flooring, to expand and contract, causing them to warp.

Preparing Your AC for Your Absence

To avoid part failures that could cause a system shutdown while you are gone, perform upcoming preventative maintenance tasks for your air conditioner before you leave. In general, you will need to change the filter, clear the drain lines and check the vent flaps to prepare the cooling system. If you notice any problems with your system, schedule an appointment with your AC repair professional for a quick fix before you go.

While On Vacation, use these Settings

Right before you leave for vacation, set the thermostat to a temperature that is between 5 to 10 degrees higher than your normal setting. By turning up the temperature, you can save money on energy costs while continuing to reap the benefits of leaving your AC running. Professionals state that 85 degrees is the best temperature because it resembles outdoor weather. In turn, your AC does not work as hard and your electricity bill won’t skyrocket. You will just have to deal with a warm house when you get back.

If you want to come home to comfortable temperatures, consider having a digital thermostat installed. With this device, you can control the temperature settings from a distance using your Smartphone. Otherwise, you will need to set the thermostat back down to a comfortable temperature and wait several hours for your home to cool off again after coming back from vacation.

Netting The Benefits

By properly preparing and setting your air conditioning unit before your vacation, you can avoid having to worry about your home while you are away. Upon returning from your trip, you will just be able sit back, relax and recuperate from your fun vacation without worry about the state of your home or AC unit.

Although you should not turn your AC off when you go on vacation. This will prevent you from paying too much in air conditioning costs while still protecting your home from the extreme heat.


Ask Your AC Technician…

With Spring already here, you’re probably preparing to schedule your next AC tune-up. When the technician comes over to perform preventative maintenance, you should take this time to get answers to your most pressing questions. Here are a few concerns you might have.

How frequently should I change the AC filter?

The basic rule of thumb is to check the filter once a month and replace it after no longer than three months. If you have allergies, you may want to change the filter more frequently than this, especially if pets or smokers live in your home.

Which MERV rating is right for my AC unit?

The Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value, or MERV rating, indicates how well the filter does its job. The higher the MERV rating, the smaller particles the filter can remove from the air. Follow these guidelines:

  • MERV 6 filters are sufficient if you have no pets and no allergy problems. The capture large debris and particles.
  • MERV 8 filters provide better air-filtering power, making them the best option for the average home. These filters capture dust mites’ debris and mold spores.
  • MERV 11 filters offer superior air filtration for exceptionally clean indoor air. Best option for pet owners or smokers.
  • MERV 13 filters are some of the highest efficiency versions you can install in a residential HVAC system. More efficient filters that can capture even the bacteria and virus carriers in the air.

How often should I service my air conditioner?

Most technicians recommend scheduling preventative maintenance once a year. Spring is the best time for a service call because it gets your cooling equipment tuned-up and ready for summer.

How do I troubleshoot problems with my AC unit?

Air conditioners are robust and designed to work even in less-than-ideal circumstances. However, if yours starts acting up, follow these troubleshooting tips before calling a cooling technician for help.

  • If the air conditioner won’t turn on, check the thermostat setting. Then, make sure the unit has power by checking that it’s plugged in and no circuit breakers have tripped. Replace the filter in case bad airflow is causing overheating and look for problems with the condensate drain line. If you can’t solve the problem, you may need to call a professional.
  • If the AC starts blowing hot air, this means the air handler is running, but the condenser isn’t. Make sure the outdoor unit has power and clear away any debris that could be blocking airflow to the condenser.
  • If strange noises or smells are coming from the AC, don’t ignore them. Shut off the unit immediately and call a professional for help diagnosing and repairing the problem.

Stock Up on Replacement Air Filters

If you go to change the AC filter at the recommended interval only to discover that you’re all out of replacement filters, take this time to restock your supply. Spring is a good time for that, so you have the replacement air filters you need for the next few months.


When should I replace my HVAC unit?

As you get ready to turn on your furnace, you may assume it’s best to rely on the equipment until it breaks down for good. However, there are plenty of signs you should replace your HVAC unit other than a total breakdown. If you time it right, an HVAC replacement could start paying you back from day one. Here’s how to know when to replace your HVAC unit.

Age & Fuel Utilization Efficiency

A well-maintained furnace can serve you for nearly two decades. However, furnaces manufactured before 2000 are typically rated 80 Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) or less, meaning that only 80 percent of the fuel that goes into the system is converted into usable heat for your home.

Today, furnaces can achieve near-total efficiency with ratings of 96 AFUE or higher. If you replace your 80 AFUE furnace with a 96 AFUE model, you can expect about 20 percent lower heating bills effective immediately. These energy savings help the furnace pay for itself over the coming years.

Increasing Utility Costs

In addition to being lower-efficiency to begin with, your aging furnace experiences a significant drop in performance as it nears 15 or 20 years old. If you compare utility bills from the past few years, you’re bound to notice an increase in recent years. The rising cost of natural gas may not be the only thing to blame.

Increasing heating bills are also undoubtedly caused by your aging failing to perform even close to its AFUE rating. This means you’re paying more to heat your home than necessary.

Safety Concerns

Gas furnaces and other fuel-burning appliances produce carbon monoxide as a byproduct of incomplete combustion. When operating normally, your furnace vents a deadly gas outside and disperses into the air. If your house has an outdated HVAC unit with questionable venting safety, an upgrade could improve your peace of mind and ensure your family’s safety.

Home Comfort Problems

Older HVAC systems have a harder time circulating air properly, which could cause some rooms to become too warm while others never get warm enough. Installing a new furnace with more advanced features – and modifying the ductwork if needed – will improve these comfort problems so you can stop adjusting the thermostat constantly.

High Repair Costs

More frequent and expensive repairs indicate that your equipment could be on its last leg. Instead of pouring more money into repairing an aging unit, take recurrent breakdowns as a warning sign and put your money toward a replacement HVAC unit.

Odd Smells or Noises

These problems could mean something is very wrong with your furnace. A repair might get the unit up and running again, but if the cost is too high, these issues could signal the beginning of the end for your furnace.




Can Air Filters Ease Asthma and Allergies?

According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, over 25 million people in the United States suffer from asthma. When asthma attacks occur, the chest tightens and the sufferer has a shortness of breath or wheeze. It can happen unexpectedly, and may be triggered by specific things in your everyday environment, or even allergies.

Pollutants and allergens such as pollen, ragweed, mold, pet dander and cigarette smoke are common triggers of both asthma and allergies. Therefore, it is essential to clear the home of as many impurities in the air as possible. While there are many methods of doing this, most people already have a tool to help—their furnace. Discover how your heating and cooling system can relieve your asthma symptoms.

  • Air Filters Make the Difference
    The purpose of a filter in the HVAC unit is to maintain your indoor quality by capturing dust and other pollutants. Furnace filters are essential for asthma and allergies, because the filter captures the pollen, mold, pet dander and common airborne allergens—keeping it out of the air. Cleaner indoor air can make a big difference in how easy it is to breathe indoors for those with respiratory conditions. This is why it is important to change your air filters frequently.
  • What Filter Should You Use?
    Choosing an air filter to help prevent asthma symptoms requires research because each filter has a rating called a MERV. First, you want to use a filter that fits your system. Getting a precise measurement and MERV rating is important, so the filter can function efficiently. The higher the rating, the more efficient the filter is at capturing allergens and airborne pollutants. Consider a filter with a MERV rating of 11 or 13 for the best results.

As you can see, it is vital that you choose the right furnace filter and change them regularly. Not only will doing this keep the air that flows through your home cleaner and healthier for you and your family, but it may also reduce heating and cooling costs too.


HELP! It’s Hot and My AC is not Working

AC Troubleshooting

The hot weather sneaking up faster than you expected in some parts of the America, your air conditioning unit might not be ready to go quite yet. In a desperate attempt to escape the heat, you may have powered on your air conditioner anyway only to notice one of many frustrating problems. Air conditioning units in need of service will not cool or filter air properly. Luckily, many AC unit issues are easily repaired by simple maintenance tasks, such as replacing the air filter, cleaning the lines or an annual checkup.

Why does my AC smell?

Does the air coming out of your AC unit smell musty or moldy? If so, the air filter may be filled with dust, pollen and other debris. If the filter is not changed soon enough, these contaminants cause mold to grow on the surface of the air filter. You can easily restore the air quality flowing through your home by replacing your dirty air filter with a brand new one. Since pollen counts vary in each region, check your AC filter monthly to find the best replacement interval.

My AC is not blowing cold air

Are you not feeling cold air from your air conditioning? If you notice that your air conditioning ducts are not producing the normal blast of cold air, you must find a fix fast to prevent damage to your AC unit. Your air conditioner operates best when the blower can constantly push cooled air through the ducts. Otherwise, the chilled air remains in the system, causing the internal components to freeze and stop working. The most common causes of weak airflow are a clogged air filter or faulty fan switch. If a filter change does not instantly fix the problem, you may need additional diagnostic tests performed by a licensed HVAC professional.

I think my AC has a leak

Does your air conditioner unit constantly leak water while it is running? If so, the AC drain lines could be clogged. With regular AC use, dirt and debris fill up these lines, eventually causing a total blockage. When this happens, the water flows back through the lines and overflows the drain pan. Fixing this problem involves a thorough cleaning of the drain lines to remove the debris causing the blockage. You will also need to dry the drain pan to prevent mildew growth inside the AC unit.

Obtaining HVAC Services

As you start preparing your air conditioner for the summer, reflect on your repair abilities to determine if the services would be best handled by a professional. Although changing an AC filter is usually a fairly straightforward task, additional diagnostic tests can help you avoid overlooking problems before the heat of the summer arrives. Otherwise, you could end up waiting in the summer heat for your service professional to repair your AC unit.