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Louisville Home Inspector Shares AC Maintenance and Choices

Helpful tips to help keep your air conditioning units working effectively and properly.

We can’t complain. ?Our summer in Louisville has been relatively comfortable – until now. ?July is shaping up to its tradition of hot, hot, hot. So, whether your existing AC is in need of upkeep or you’re in the market for a new one, here are some helpful tips from HomeMD Inspection Servicesto help keep you and your family cool during the hot days ahead.


First,?Maintaining Window, Portable, and Wall AC Units

If you have window units, the most important maintenance step is tochange the air filter regularly. Most window units have a simple filter in the front grill area. Clean it once a month during cooling season and be sure to replace it when it has any holes or just appears worn. Also, be sure to clean the air conditioner properly by vacuuming around itto remove any dust and dirt that will clog up the unit and cause it to not work properly.

How to Maintain Central AC Units

For central air conditioning units, the single best way to keep yours working properly year after year is to have it serviced annually by a trained HVAC professional. They will take care of the many items related to maintaining the unit and be able to perform any necessary repairs or ?tune-ups?.
Beyond that, be sure to keep the unit outside free from leaves and debris by raking around it and spraying off the unit with water. And make sure, above all, to change the air filter inside the house every few months or more.

If you currently have an air conditioning unit – window units or central air unit – make sure you areperforming regular maintenance on your air conditioner. ?You will not only extend the life of the unit, but your home will remain at a comfortable temperature while avoiding a high energy bill.

But, what if you have to purchase a New Air Conditioner Unit

If your air conditioner is older than 12-15 years, it may be time to purchase a new unit. When it comes time to purchase a new air conditioner, a little homework will ensure you will get the best unit for your needs and keep energy costs to a minimum.

There are various types of air conditioner units to choose from including:

  • window
  • portable
  • through the wall
  • central

With each type there are many brands to choose from, size and energy ratings to consider, and additional useful features.

wall mounted air conditioner-Louisville-HomeMD

The rating used to choose an energy efficient central air unit is called SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating). The higher the SEER the number, the better. The current national efficiency standard for SEER is 13, but that is the absolute minimum. Look for anything over 13, and keep in mind that the higher the SEER rating the more efficient your unit will be.

Terms you might hear when buying an air conditioner unit include:

  • Seasonal Energy-Efficiency Ratio (SEER):?This rates how many BTUs an air-conditioning unit will remove for each watt of electricity consumed. The higher the SEER, the less you spend on operating costs. Federal law mandates a minimum SEER of 10 for all new air-conditioning units.
  • AC Tonnage:?A cooling ton in an air conditioner equals 12,000 BTUs per hour. That means a three-ton air conditioner can remove about 36,000 BTUs of heat per hour from your home.
  • Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE):?This estimates how much heat a unit delivers for every dollar spent on fuel. The higher the AFUE, the lower your heating bills.

Window Units

The size of the room you wish to cool and the cooling power – commonly known as BTUs – are the two primary considerations when purchasing a window unit.

As a general guide, you can use the following BTUs for the room size you are trying to cool:

  • 12? x 12? room: 5,000 BTU unit
  • 16? x 16? room: 7,000 BTU unit
  • 20? x 20? room: 10,000 BTU unit
  • 24? x 24? room: 14,000 BTU unit

For a more accurate measurement, use the?Air Conditioner Sizing Calculator?at Energy

In addition to size, make sure the AC unit you buy:

  • Has an EER (Energy Efficiency Ratio) of 11 or higher
  • Carries the EnergyStar label
  • Has a low noise rating
  • Provides good air flow
  • Uses a permanent or reusable air filter
  • Has various speed settings

portable air conditioners-air conditioner calculator-Louisville-HomeMDPortable AC Units

Basically a window unit on wheels, a?portable air conditioner?uses an exhaust tube, which must be vented outside, to remove hot air from the room. They are portable in the sense that they don’t require permanent installation. Most units come with a window venting kit that allows you to prepare a window for the exhaust tube.

When choosing a portable air conditioner, consider many of the same factors you would with a window unit. These units are ideal for an area in your home that needs either additional cooling or is not usually occupied.

Through the Wall Units

These type of AC units are similiar to what you often find in a hotel room; and are excellent for large open rooms, one-room apartments, or a remodeled garage. They can offer the benefit of both heating and cooling, functioning primarily as an extremely large window unit. In addition to the considerations above, keep in mind the size required for the wall opening.

through the wall air conditioners-Louisville-HomeMD

When it comes to choosing a central air conditioner, there are many factors involved, such as the size of your home and the amount of windows and insulation contained in your home. The single best choice you can make is to choose a reputable air conditioning contractor who will determine the correct system for your home. As with any contractor, check references, ask questions about warranties (limited vs. extended), and get several comparable bids.
Once you’ve selected a contractor, they will determine the correct size and type of unit for your home to ensure the air conditioner isn’t too large or too small for your home.

For a list of certified HVAC contractors, be sure to check out the Better Business Bureau as a starting point and reference point for credible and reliable contractors in your area.

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Another great source for expert home improvement advice and contributor to this article, is Today’s Homeowner with Danny Lipford.

If you need help with ?any of your home inspection questions or a list of qualified partners we recommend, visit our website at