6 AC Mistakes You're Making Right Now

An air conditioner unit against a brick background with the words "how to keep your AC unit happy."

Your air conditioner keeps you cool in the heat of the summer, so be sure to show it some respect in return for all of its hard work. Common mistakes and misconceptions about how your air conditioner works can lead to issues down the road, and a much shorter lifetime for the unit. Check out the following mistakes that you could be making right now, in order to keep your AC happy and running smoothly.

1. You're Not Replacing the Air Filter

replacing ceiling air filter

Every air conditioning unit comes with an air filter that needs to be replaced every few months. Many people skip this step, thinking that their A/C will continue to operate just fine without the added cost of new air filters. While this may be true for a time, your AC unit will last much longer if you replace the filter on a regular basis. A filter is designed to keep the dust and dirt floating around from not only going through the air conditioning system itself, but into your home. Routine replacement of the filter will keep your home much more dust-free and your air conditioner will last much longer if you change it frequently.

2. You Have a Unit That’s the Wrong Size

Folks purchasing a new air conditioning unit may think that a larger, more industrial AC will cool their home more quickly and efficiently. While a larger unit is more powerful, it's important that you purchase a unit designed for the size of your house. If the AC unit is too large, it will kick on, cool the house, and then turn off very quickly on a constant basis, which will burn it out in no time. A unit too small, in the same manner, will work too hard and burn out fast as well. Be sure to check the specified home size for the unit you have installed.

3. You're Using the Thermostat Incorrectly

adjusting a thermostat

Now, you might be wondering, how can I use the thermostat incorrectly? Don’t I just set it to the temperature I want and let the AC run? The fact of the matter is that the thermostat is a tool for helping your air conditioner conserve energy and last longer. Be sure that you set your thermostat to the temperature you would like your house to be, such as 77 degrees. Do not set it to 70 degrees, thinking that the AC will cool your home to 77 degrees much faster that way, as that is not the case. Instead, you will be running your unit much harder and your unit will speed right on past 77 degrees, which wastes power and puts unnecessary pressure on your AC unit.

4. You Run the Unit Too Much

An A/C unit is designed to run all the time to keep the home cool, isn’t it? Wrong. It’s designed to keep your home cool, yes—but not all the time. No piece of machinery is designed to run 24/7. To keep your air conditioning unit in its best shape, be sure to give it a break from time to time. Turn off your unit late in the evening if the air is cool outside and open the windows. On a regular basis, however, be sure to set your thermostat at higher temperatures for times when you’re out of the house or at night. Don’t let your AC run at full blast all day, every day, because it will burn out quickly. Use the thermostat to your advantage.

On the opposite end, it's also not a good idea to leave your AC off for extended periods of time, as moisture can build up inside the unit and cause damage as well.

5. The Unit Is in a Bad Spot

outdoor air conditioning unit

Air conditioning units are large and they aren’t pretty to look at. Yet the placement of your air conditioner is essential for its lifespan—and AC units aren’t cheap. Most installers suggest that the unit be installed on the north or south side of your home to avoid direct sunlight in the morning and evening. Also make sure that your unit is not surrounded by bushes and trees that could block the ventilation of the unit or damage it with debris.

6. You Don't Give it Regular Maintenance

While it does cost money to have someone come out and service your air conditioner on a regular basis, it’s a bright idea. A technician can make sure that filters are in place, the AC is in proper working order, and that nothing needs replacing. Make sure that if you hear any clicking or rattling sounds coming from your AC or vents that you call a technician right away to avoid further damage.