Tips to keep your AC running cool

HOUSTON AC repairmen are working long hours, but you can do a few things to keep them at bay and stay cool at the same time.

The hot weather has Tom Johnston working over time. This AC repairman say the service calls started coming in fast and furious last week as soon as the temperatures started rising and they haven't stopped.

"I have two air conditioners here and both of them are out," Johnston said. "One is low on Freon and the other had a bad capacitor."

This service call is going run a couple of hundred dollars. While there is little you can do about low Freon or a capacitor, Johnston says there are steps you can take to keep your AC trouble-free, like washing the coils.

Johnston explained, "It takes probably 15 minutes to wash these out, so you kind of got to be patient with it. Some coils you got to be gentle with. You don't want to mess the gins up."

Johnston says washing coils once a year keeps them clear of debris and your AC running smoothly. Your air filter is another item that needs care. While most people know to replace them periodically, Johnston says in the summer filters get dirty faster than you think.

"In the summer like July or right now, it could be every six weeks that you would get a dirty filter," Johnston explained.

Something you want to avoid is turning your AC on and off quickly. Most thermostats have built in timers that prevent you from making a fast adjustment, but older thermostats still allow it.

Johnston said, "If you don't have a time delay and you do that it could trip a breaker. It can even blow up a compressor."

At Beverly Parnell's house the problem is not something she could have prevented and it's a common AC ailment in overheated Houston.

"I think I need Freon or something like that," Parnell said. "I have two grandkids living here and they have two friends and we need a little more air."

One thing to remember, if your AC goes out and the repairman says you need a new unit, get a second or third opinion. Air conditioning units can be very expensive, and it's always a good idea to get a few estimates before spending thousands of dollars on a new unit.

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