We all know how uncomfortable the added humidity in the air feels during monsoon season. The extra humidity also presents a challenge for air conditioners because the more humidity in the air, the more your AC must work to cool it.
Air conditioners are meant to both cool and dehumidify your home’s air. However, when your AC has to absorb more moisture from the air, it will need to run longer in order to maintain your desired temperature. From July to September, your energy bills will most likely spike during peak monsoon season due to the increased energy consumption of longer run times.
To lessen the strain on your AC (and wallet!), you can prepare for monsoon season with 5 easy steps:
These tips combined will help prepare your AC to strip humidity and heat from your home during storm season and help keep your energy bills low as well.
Task #1: Keep your AC thermostat on AUTO setting
Keeping your thermostat setting to AUTO (not ON) ensures that your AC is actually dehumidifying your home’s air.
How? Well, as mentioned above, ACs absorb humidity. They do so with evaporator coils located in the indoor unit. A super cold chemical agent called refrigerant fills the coils. Over time, condensation builds on the coils because of hot air touching cold coils. Typically, the condensation drips off the coils and gets dumped outside for the air to be “dehumidified.”
So, how does that process affect your thermostat setting? Well, when your thermostat is set to ON, the fan constantly runs even when the AC is not on a cooling cycle. All the moisture on the evaporator coils gets blown back into your home before it can get dumped outside.
When your thermostat is set to AUTO, the fan stops blowing in between cooling cycles, giving the moisture on the coils time to drip off and drain away outside slowly.
Learn more in our article: ON vs. AUTO: One of These Thermostat Settings Cost You Big Time
Task #2: Keep all the vents open (yes, even in unused rooms)
Keeping all the vents in your home open prevents your home from getting too humid during monsoon season.
When you close the supply vents (the vents that push out cold air into your home), your AC is taking in more hot air than it’s able to cool and push out. This imbalance results in humid outside air entering your home with no way out, raising your indoor humidity levels.
However, increased humidity is just one downfall of keeping your vents closed. To learn more about why closing vents is overall a bad idea, check out our article, Why Closing Air Vents in Unused Rooms Damages Your Cooling/Heating System
Task #3: Clean up the space around your outdoor AC unit
It’s important to keep the area around your AC’s outdoor unit clean and free of trees, shrubs or anything else that could fall into it. Our recommendation is to clear a 3-foot radius around it.
When monsoons come, they bring a lot of wind, which can easily break off branches, leaves, and blow around dirt and debris. If things like sticks make their way into your unit, they can damage or completely break vital parts of your AC, such as the fan. Not having an AC during monsoon season during an Arizona summer is brutal.
You can’t completely protect your AC from the debris that gets kicked up by a monsoon, but you can protect your AC from near dangers and give it additional “breathing” space by:
Trimming any shrubbery within 3 feet of the unit
Getting rid of any objects within 3 feet of the unit
Clearing away any brush near your unit
Taking off any decorative lids
Allowing your outdoor AC unit to have this space helps it to dump moisture and heat outside, cooling and dehumidifying your home, which will keep your home comfortable and cool throughout the monsoon season.
Task #4: Check your air filter every 2 weeks
Monsoon season brings with it intense storms with a lot of dust. Since the air filter is responsible for catching dust and other particles before they make their way into your AC system, it clogs up faster with more dust in the air.
A clogged filter limits the amount of warm air coming into your AC, meaning your AC can’t remove as much moisture or heat from your home. After all, your AC can only cool as much air as what’s coming into the system. Why is this a problem?
Your AC has to work harder and longer to compensate for the clogged air filter. The reduced airflow into the AC system forces it to work harder to produce the same amount of cool air, which is not something you want to deal with during the heat of a monsoon.
Your indoor air quality decreases. An air filter can only catch so much debris. So, at a certain point, your air filter won’t be as effective at catching contaminants, meaning the quality of your air could deteriorate.
The solution? Check your air filter every 2 weeks during monsoon season and change it as needed, so it’s ready to catch the increase of dust in the air, typically before and after a monsoon hits. Normally, we’d suggest changing the filter every 1-3 months, but the extra dust may warrant more frequent filter changes during monsoon season.
Read more about air filter changes in our article, Has Your Air Conditioner’s Filter Betrayed You?
Task #5: Schedule an AC maintenance visit
One of the best ways to prepare your AC for the monsoon season is to invest in professional maintenance. The service technician will take the time to inspect vital parts of your AC system so that you can rest assured that your AC is safely and efficiently working before monsoon season peak hits.
During maintenance, any parts that need to be cleaned, repaired or replaced will be completed instead of potentially having to deal with a more extensive and expensive repair during a monsoon.
For example, the technician will clean your outdoor unit’s coils during the tune-up. Since the outdoor unit collects heat and dumps it outside, it can’t effectively push that heat outside if it’s clogged with dirt and debris. When the AC can’t dump heat, it has to work harder and longer to cool down your home. After a storm, check your outside unit’s coils to see if they’re dirty. If they are, contact a professional as the coils are delicate to avoid risking damage during cleaning.
Want to prepare your AC for the monsoon season? Reach out to Phoenix’s most trusted pros: George Brazil
If you want assurance that your AC is as healthy as it can be before storm season, we’d be happy to take a look at it for you. We have decades of experience serving Phoenix homeowners, so you can always trust us to do a thorough job.