Extreme heat impacts your AC unit's ability to keep your home cool, technicians say

Lileana Pearson Image
Thursday, July 20, 2023
Extreme heat impacts your AC's ability to cool your home, experts say
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Houston's extreme heat can impact your air conditioner unit's ability to keep your home cool, according to a technician at AirTech.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- As southeast Texas battles extreme heat, many are trying to stay cool by drinking a lot of water and staying inside where it's air-conditioned. AC technicians say it's a busy time of year, with many units struggling to keep up.

ABC13 spoke with Johnny Flannigan at Discovery Green, where he and the kids splashed in fountains and enjoyed icy treats to cool off.

"Hot and miserable. It gets more hot every year," Flannigan said.

Hot doesn't even feel like a strong enough word in the last weeks.

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"It's been a lot of calls. We've been going hard," Rick Smith, with AirTech of Houston, said.

Smith said AC units are built to handle temps up to 95 degrees outside, and Houston has topped that week after week. He suggests following a short checklist to make sure your system can keep up.

First: don't wait for something to go wrong.

"It's a big deal to make sure you have your system checked out at least once a year," Smith said.

If you are having problems, call a technician. They are the best people to tell what filters are correct, if a drain line is problematic, or if a larger issue is a play. But with multiple days in a row in the hundreds, if a unit can keep your home in the low 70s, it's doing its job.

"During this time of year, it's best to keep it maintained, run some ceiling fans and just bear with it," Smith said.

If you're in a home without central AC, instead of relying on window units, Smith said to focus on keeping one or two rooms cool to save on your energy bill and make sure the unit isn't overworked.

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"They burn up just as much energy as central air conditioning does. But now you have, one two three four, and if they break down now you have that expense, so if you can keep one area cooler, that's the best thing to do," Smith said.

Smith also said it's not uncommon for people to adjust their thermostats when they are away to keep their energy bill down. At the right times, that can help, but the key this time of year is never to adjust it more than a few degrees.

"Once the heat is gained in the house, now you have to pull the heat from the furniture, the walls, everything has gained the heat, and that's what takes it so long to bring it down to the temperature you like," Smith said.

And finally, be realistic. With multiple triple-digit days in a row and lots of direct sunlight, it's a tall order to expect a unit to be able to keep a home as cool as you may prefer it.

"If your house gets down to 72, 73 degrees on a 100-degree day, your system is doing great. You've got a good size system, and you're not going to struggle. But some homes, the way they designed them, you're not going to get down past 75 on a 100-degree day," Smith said.

Larger AC units aren't the answer to beating the heat. Experts told ABC13 that a unit too big for your home could create moister problems. For now, keep windows and doors closed, draw your blinds, and stay ready for a long, hot Texas summer.

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