A heat wave doesn't just make you uncomfortable, it also makes your AC system work overtime to keep your home cool. The following can ensure it is able to handle the workload without breaking down.
1. Schedule a Tuneup
Make sure to have the AC fully serviced before hot weather arrives. An air conditioner unit that has been thoroughly cleaned, lubricated, and tuned up is less likely to suffer a break down when under the stress of high temperatures and constant cooling. Then, throughout the cooling season, take the time to change out the filter every one to two months so the AC unit can continue to work well and with as little stress as possible.
2. Shade the Unit
The sun can beat down on the external unit, causing it to heat up and work harder than it needs to keep your home cool. Erecting a simple shade structure, such as a shade tarp, over the unit can help minimize this stress. Just make sure that the shade structure doesn't block air flow to the unit or it may overheat more easily. Place the tarp or other structure several feet above the AC unit, and ensure air can flow in through the sides easily.
3. Minimize System Stress
How you manage your home during a heat wave can also reduce stress on the AC. Don't make it work harder to cool your home. Keep blinds and drapes closed, particularly on the side of the home exposed to the sun. Make sure windows are kept shut and doors are promptly closed so that the cool air in your home isn't replaced by hot outside air. It's also a good idea to avoid using hot appliances, such as the oven, in the midst of a heat wave.
4. Keep the Temp Constant
It's much easier for your AC to maintain a constant temperature than to try to drastically cool a hot house. You can also reduce stress by turning the thermostat up by a few degrees and then leaving it there. For example, if you normally set the thermostat to 72 F, adjust it to 74 F during a heat wave. Also, avoid adjusting to a higher temperature when you aren't home and then turning it way down once you get back. Although this can save during normal times, it can cause stress on the system during a heat wave.
5. Use Ceiling Fans
Your ceiling fans help distribute the cooled air evenly through your home, which results in better overall cooling and less stress on your air conditioner. Make sure ceiling fans are clean and switched over to summer mode. Most fans have a switch on the side of the motor. Set this switch to the counterclockwise direction.
Contact an air conditioning service in your area for more help.