HVAC experts say seasonal care key to outlasting heat wave

Routine care for air-conditioning systems is the best way to keep things cool during a heat wave, according to experts. 

STILWELL – Routine care for air-conditioning systems is the best way to keep things cool during a heat wave the likes of which has settled in across the country, according to experts.

“Regular maintenance is the main thing – servicing your system in the fall and in the spring and making sure to change those filters often,” said Cherokee Nation citizen Heath Holmes, owner of Holmes Heating & Cooling based in Stilwell. “If that coil gets dirty or anything, it will run all the time and it’s really rough on it.”

CN citizen Alex Girdner, an HVAC instructor at Indian Capital Technology Center’s Stilwell campus, also recommends having air-conditioning units serviced on a regular basis.

“The main thing, No. 1, is spring maintenance,” he said. “Get that condenser clean and clean it properly. Have a professional use coil cleaner, or if the manufacturer recommends just water, make sure they wash that coil out on the outside.”

Girdner also suggests changing filters at least every three months.

“Check it on the first of the month and if it’s dirty, change it,” he said. “If not, don’t wait more than three months to change that filter no matter if it’s dirty or not. Go ahead and change it. That will keep your unit running efficiently. If a unit can’t breathe and that filter’s plugged up, it’d be like me running down the road with my nose plugged and I couldn’t breathe and pass out.”

In extreme heat when temperatures rise above the 100-degree mark, some HVAC systems never stop running, Girdner said.

“That’s pretty normal because we don’t typically size the equipment for 100-plus degree days,” he added. “It’s typically for 95. It should keep the temperature in the house 20 degrees below that temperature. So something people can do to kind of help is they can walk out there in mid-day and spray it off. Take a garden hose and kind of spray it off. It will relieve that high pressure and kind of bring it down a little bit.”

It’s also a good idea to ensure the unit’s drain plug is clean.

“That air conditioner produces anywhere from 5 to 10 gallons of water a day,” Girdner said. “So, if that thing clogs up, that has nowhere to go.”

Other reasons an AC may underperform can include refrigerant leaks and undersized or even oversized units. 

Some experts recommend setting the thermostat temperature to 75-78 degrees when it’s 100 outside to prevent pressure and decreased efficiency on the AC system. Other tips include setting the AC fan to the “on” position, closing vents to unoccupied rooms and limiting usage of appliances that produce heat.

All say there is no alternative to regular air-conditioner maintenance.

“If you can keep your air conditioner clean, it stays healthy realistically,” Girdner said.