Tips from Toby: Air conditioners suffer after drought

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Every year we go through the same thing with our air conditioners -- clean it, change the filters -- but the Drought in the Heartland changed everything, including your air conditioner.

Air Conditioners are firing up all over the city and so are service calls. But it might not be the usual culprits of clogged air filters or low freon that is causing the problems.

The drought has caused a lot of the concrete pads under our AC units to shift and even pull away from the house and that can lead to some serious problems.

Steve Burbridge with Anthony Plumbing, Heating and Cooling says, "There are air conditioners that are out of plumb we call it or out of level. Usually it's going towards the house because it was excavated at one point so it's just shrinking and pulling down so it's angled down. It's not normally a homeowner thing as far as leveling them back up. Normally a technician would do that, but it is very important that they are level. If they get too far out of plumb it puts stress on the refrigerant piping that is coming through the foundation wall that can cause a leak there or even break it. The other thing is that there is a level of oil in the compressor which is inside the air conditioner. So if it's really out of plumb then that oil level will be out of plumb as well and that could damage the compressor inside."

Since our Winter lasted longer than usual Burbridge says that he's seeing unusually dirty air filters because they've been running so much so it is a good idea to change them out right away. Another tip is adding a simple ceiling fan to rooms that are tough to cool. They can make the area feel up to eight degrees cooler just by circulating the air. And speaking of air circulation, those return air vents and floor registers are there for a reason.

Don't cover them up!

We want to move those couches away so the air has a chance to get up in the room before it naturally falls down.

We see a lot of furniture in the way of floor registers, drapes can be impeding the flow and throw rugs or area rugs end up kind of creeping their way over the register.

Finally a big mistake that all of us make is not turning off our whole home humidifiers or adjusting dampers on the duct work from Winter to Summer mode. Do a little bit of homework and you won't be sweating a huge repair bill!

Many of us wait until we have a problem with an air conditioner before we have it fixed. It is more important than ever that you have an annual service contract with a great professional. It's going to save you a lot of money in the long run.

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