How to keep your A/C running smoothly during Arizona’s brutal summer
Date: June 16, 2021
Originally published on azfamily.com.
A couple of days into an intense weeklong heat wave and days away from the official start of summer, chances are your air conditioner is working overtime. The last thing you want is for it to give out on you. Service calls can be expensive. Before you make that call, though, there are some things you should check. It might be an easy DIY fix.
First, check your thermostat. Are all of the switches in the correct positions? If you set your thermostat to run the fan and the blower comes on, you know the unit is getting power. If it’s not getting power, head to your circuit box and check the breaker for the A/C. If it’s set to on, flip it off and then back on. If you’re lucky, it could be just that easy. The last thing to check is the fuses outside by the unit. “These sometimes go bad, especially in the high heat,” explained Mike Donley of Donley Service Center. A hardware store can test them for you. Replacing them might solve your problem for a fraction of the price of a service call.
Another thing to know is that some units and thermostats have time-delay circuits. That means there could be a delay of up to five minutes before your A/C turns on. Finally, if you have a load controller, make sure it has not automatically turned off your air conditioner.
What not to do
Donley says you should not stop and start your A/C. Turning it up and on for short intervals can cause compressor problems. “Set the temperature where you like it and leave it there, even if you’re not there during the day,” Donley said. But know that setting the temperature a degree or two higher will save you money.
Maintenance is key
If your air conditioner is mounted on the ground, make sure bushes and plants are not blocking the air access. It’s a good idea to check again after a windy storm.
Also, check to make sure you have a clean filter. You should change your filter every month, but as the monsoon ramps up and dust storms start rolling through, you might want to change your filter a little more often than usual.
In general, an air conditioner will last between 15 and 20 years. That lifespan is shorter here in Arizona – more like 12 to 15 years, according to Donley. “Properly maintained units that are checked annually by qualified technicians last the longest and run the most efficiently during our triple digits,” Donley said. He also says lack of routine maintenance is the No. 1 cause of equipment failure.
If you don’t know how old your air-conditioner is and the unit is on the ground, you can look for a nameplate on the back. That should have the manufacturer’s name, a model and serial number, and the date it was made.
Still using R-22 Freon?
If your A/C is an older model, it might use R-22 Freon. That’s no longer made or imported into the U.S., but there is limited availability thanks to stockpiles and recycled R-22. You’ll need to replace the unit eventually, but unless you have a massive leak or need a repair, Donley says you don’t have to do it right away.
Waiting for parts and equipment
If it turns out that you do need extensive repairs – or even a new air conditioner – you might find yourself waiting. The COVID-19 pandemic has slowed production and transportation of materials and parts, and it’s affecting many industries.
“So far, we’ve been able to meet every demand that we’ve had,” Donley said. “But we are working way harder. We’re looking at multiple sources to find equipment and parts. … Things are just a little bit harder to find these days.”