Everything You Need to Know About Your Home's AC

Staying cool in the summer is a lot easier with a properly functioning air conditioning system in your home. But that requires selecting the right system in the first place and then maintaining it, and if necessary, repairing it too.

Air conditioning systems come in a variety of styles and energy efficiency measured in SEER. Current regulations require at least a 13 SEER system with SEER ratings going as high as 21.

Some systems work as an add-on to a forced-air furnace (central air) which relies upon an existing heating duct for cool air distribution. Other systems are designed for use where air distribution by a duct is difficult (PTAC systems or unitary window units). As a result of these options, there is also a wide variation in cost for an air conditioning system. But you can find a solution to fit your budget.

This article provides you a list of the top 7 tutorials to get you on the road to a cool home this summer and covers everything from selecting the right air conditioning system to maintenance and repair issues. So take some time and get familiar with how to be "chill" this summer.

  • 01 of 07

    Types of Air Conditioning Systems

    Split system air conditioner
    Mita Stock Images

    It would be so easy if all you had to do to buy an air conditioner​ was to well, buy an air conditioner!

    However, today you have many different options. And that's really a good thing. You now have choices available to you that cover a wide range of budget and physical construction considerations.

    When considering an air conditioning system you will find there are options available including unitary, PTAC (packaged terminal air conditioner), window style, portable units, central air systems, split/ductless systems and so on.

    Even though there are several styles and price points for air conditioning systems, they all use the same basic components of refrigerant, condenser, compressor, expansion valve and an evaporator coil.

    In this tutorial we will review the most commonly used air conditioning and cooling systems in the home, including these systems:

    • Window air conditioner
    • Portable air conditioner
    • Split or ductless air conditioner (technically called a packaged terminal air conditioner)
    • Central air conditioning system
  • 02 of 07

    How an Air Conditioning System Works

    How ac works

    One of the most amazing machines made is the air conditioner. It takes heat from your house and dumps it outside. And does it using 5 bizarre things including:

    • Refrigerant
    • Compressor
    • Condenser
    • Expansion valve
    • Evaporator coil

    This tutorial explains how all of these pieces work to create that marvelous cool Bahama breeze inside your house.

  • 03 of 07

    Central AC Unit and Heat Pump Maintenance

    Air conditioner
    Christian Delbert

    The air conditioner takes hot air and makes it cold. The heat pump does the same thing except it can also "run in reverse" and pump heat out of cold air. So cool!

    These two devices share the same components of refrigerant, compressor, condenser, expansion valve and evaporator coil.

    With their location outside, a good annual maintenance program should include:

    • Cleaning the condensing coils of dirt, leaves and other debris
    • Checking the condensing coil fins for damage
    • Lubricating fan bearings
    • Inspecting the fan for damage

    This tutorial will also describe shutting off the power to the unit, removing the protective grills and lubricating the motor, cleaning condenser coils, straightening the coil fins and leveling the condenser.

  • 04 of 07

    Window AC Maintenance

    Window air conditioner

    Window air conditioners are a great solution for limited cooling applications, or when you want to add removable cooling to a home you don't own, like a rental.

    But to do an effective job at cooling they need to be sized properly and periodically maintained. A room that is 150 square feet to 250 square feet require an average of 6,000 BTU of cooling per hour, a 450 to 550 square foot room requires about 12,000 BTU then the ratio decreases above that point in terms of BTU required per square foot.

    Sizing and seasonal maintenance tips are all found in this tutorial.

    Continue to 5 of 7 below.
  • 05 of 07

    Window AC Repair

    Window air conditioner


    Window-mounted air conditioners pack a lot of equipment in a small space. The same basic components as found in a central air system are found in these little units that set on your windowsill, it's just that the condenser discharge is out the window instead of a remote ground-mounted unit.

    This tutorial will cover some of the problems more common to the window air conditioner such as:

    • Water drips from the front panel
    • Air conditioner cycles on and off too frequently
    • Unit will not turn on
    • Unit blows fuses or pops a circuit breaker
  • 06 of 07

    How to Cool Down a Room

    FRIGIDAIRE 25000btu air conditioning system


    This tutorial is about doing more with less. So what do you do if you have a window air conditioner with good cooling capacity but want to cool more than one room?

    Well, aside from using multiple window air conditioners there are some tricks you can use employing a box fan or even your home's furnace and ductwork.

    You'll learn how to strategically place box fans for maximum effect and how to use the return air duct in your home's furnace to deliver cool air to remote rooms. Cool solutions!

  • 07 of 07

    How to Use Fin Combs for Your AC

    Fin comb


    The condensing unit in your air conditioner relies on air moving through its cooling fins to cool the refrigerant in the system. Occasionally the fins, made of thin metal can get damaged from impact by tree limbs or sticks, hail, high-pressure power washing or other external factors.

    Bent fins can restrict the flow of air through the condensing unit and can cause problems. So when the fins get bent it's a good idea to fix the fins and straighten them with a small tool called a fin comb. The fin comb comes in different head styles and sizes to best match the condensing coil fin counts.