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Cooling Systems: A Mid-Summer Checkup

Key Points
  • Continuous maintenance is necessary to keep cooling systems operating efficiently all summer.
  • Adjust temperature control settings to match changing needs and occupancy schedules.
  • Make sure filters are changed regularly and inspect the cooling system for leaks.

Have you been neglecting your air conditioning system? An annual cleaning and inspection is important, but failure to continually maintain your system throughout the cooling season can cost you in higher energy bills and equipment failure.

Consult with a qualified professional who can provide regular maintenance. Here's a checklist of items to look for that will keep your system operating at peak efficiency all summer long:

  • Check settings on programmable thermostats or energy management controls and adjust to current space conditioning needs and occupancy schedules.
  • Adjust dampers and vents to make sure the system is balanced properly.
  • Determine if window treatments are being used correctly to block out solar heat gain, especially in areas with varying occupancy.
  • Listen to the system operate for a few minutes and determine the cause of any unusual sounds.
  • Check air filters monthly and replace if necessary.
  • Examine instrumentation to ensure that the oil pressure and temperature match the manufacturer's specifications.
  • Check for unusual compressor operation, including continuous running or frequent stopping and starting.
  • Inspect the tension and alignment of all belts and adjust as needed.
  • Determine if the air conditioning economizer is working as designed, and repair faulty dampers.
  • Check for and repair refrigerant and oil leaks around equipment seals, pipe joints, valves and other instrumentation. Examine refrigerant levels and adjust if necessary.
  • Check the fan belt drive and motor to make sure they're aligned properly and lubricated.
  • Look for evidence of mold and mildew. Indoor humidity levels of 70 percent and higher, combined with temperatures above 70°F provide an ideal environment for the growth of mold.

Looking for a qualified contractor in your area? See Find a Contractor, a searchable directory from the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA).