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Tips to prepare your A/C for the dog days of summer

Prepare your A/C now for the long hot summer
Prepare your A/C now for the long hot summer 03:11

MIAMI - South Florida is setting records again, the dubious kind.

May was the hottest 'May' on record with 25 days above normal and six record high temperature days.

We are now in a sizzling stretch of months when residents and businesses rely on air conditioning. If it goes out, no one has time for that.

"It went out a couple of weeks ago," said Lucuasta McCain of Cooper City. "It was just hot, like we turned the heater on, just blowing hot air."

It turned out the McCain's had a freon leak which was repaired for a little more than $200. Lucuasta and her husband Barry consider themselves lucky. If the air conditioning unit was beyond repair, the retired couple and grandparents of four said they don't have $4,000 to $5,000 lying around to install a new unit.

The next best thing the McCain's can do is employ some basic, inexpensive maintenance items that any homeowner can do.

Mike Lang, owner of Air Round the Clock, said changing the air filter is one of the best things you can do.

"We keep the filters clean. We offer a program where we sell filters and change them once a month. We send them to you every six months, that's the best way to take care of the air conditioner," he said.

Lang took Barry McCain outside the garage to look at the compressor or outside unit. He found McCain has done a pretty good job keeping the unit free of hedge branches and debris. The compressor pulls in the air around it and the fan shoots it out of the top.

"You want to keep it clean," Lang said. "You can hit it with a hose and clean down the condenser coils".

The air handler is the inside unit. You usually find it in the garage, closet, or laundry room. The air handler pushes the cool air throughout the house.

"Inside is a coil and it pulls the air through and that's what makes it cold. It is significant that the coil is clean. That's a big thing. If it's not clean, it's like trying to breathe with your hand over your mouth," said Lang.

He also likes to use an air scrubber which forces all the particulates in the house and everything we breathe to drop to the floor. Then you can vacuum it up so the particulates can't clog up the filters and coils in the air handler.

Another way to keep the coils clean is to use an ultraviolet light that kills dust, dirt, and bacteria before it clogs the coils.

Lang said the drain pipe from the air handler needs to be flushed twice a year. A good way to keep it clean is to pour white vinegar down the line once a month. You can also pick up an A/C drain line solution that works really well to keep the line clean. A clogged line can cause a flood in the house.

Lang also recommends the use of WiFi-connected thermostats, he calls them game changers. He said to turn the thermostat up to 78-80 degrees before you leave for the office.

"So you're going in the morning, you turn it up in the house. You know you're going be home in an hour, you go back on your phone and you turn it down so when you get to the house, it's cool and you're saving on your energy bill all day," he said.

In the end, it's simple maintenance that saves your A/C unit from laboring and ultimately saves you money. 

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