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Tips to make your air conditioner work better

Updated on September 28, 2013

My house was built in the 1970’s. A couple of years ago, despite having a new unit, the air conditioner worked miserably. We live in North Carolina and see upper 90’s in the dead of summer. By noon or so, the air conditioner stayed on all day, and temperature inside the house did not get below 82 degrees. I consulted with a friend who owns a home maintenance business. He took a look around the house and felt the situation could be significantly improved. After he completed the work, it was indeed. The air conditioner, under the same conditions, is on a smaller percentage of time. Temperature inside the house is kept at thermostat target of 73 degrees until 4 PM or so on a 95 degree day, and stays below 78 after that. In addition, 73 degrees is once again attained earlier in the evening as compared to before. Referring to the diagram, let’s go through the numbered fixes that were put in place:

1. A fan was placed in the upper space, just inside one of the large vents. It is connected to a thermostat which prompts turn on when temperature reaches 100 deg (F). The intended purpose, to draw in lower temperature air from the outside, and in turn force out hot air.

2. An insulating blanket was placed just above the ceiling door to the upper space. A large amount of heat was being introduced into the living space prior to that, through cracks around the door.

3. Small vents, feeding directly from the outdoor exterior to the upper space, were put in around the perimeter of the house. This for increased ventilation.

4. I found that using a cheaper filter increased air flow by allowing the A/C fan to push a greater volume of air. In turn, improving the system’s ability to cool.

5. Finally, ducting in the crawl space had some small cracks. The cracks were repaired (sealed), and new insulation was put around the ducts.

Every home, of course, is different. The measures above may or not be applicable in your case. But, the steps outlined above were very helpful in mine.

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