Tips to get the most out of your Central Air Conditioning

Buying a central air conditioner is just the first step in keeping your home cool. To get the most out of your central air there are a few tricks for maintaining your air conditioner and keeping your cool. Air conditioning maintenance isn’t the sexiest of subjects, but fainting from the heat isn’t sexy either.


I’m not at all impressed by  how it looks but it makes up for its homeliness with its practicality.   The house is cool.  Not ice cold where you walk in and get brain freeze, but nice.  It’s relief from the 100 degree, 100% humidity outside.

But it took a bit of work to get it to this point.  The guy who installed the air conditioning spent about an hour fiddling around with the ducts and the registers, balancing the system so the entire house would be the same temperature.  If he noticed that it was really BLASTING out of the dining room, he closed the duct running to the dining room a bit, which in turn forced cold air into the living room, where it was needed.

After a few days I noticed that the bedroom was not what you’d call cold.  It was what you’d call not cold.  So I called my handy, dandy air conditioning installer and he came back once more to do a readjustment of some of my ducts and cold air returns.  The bedroom is now the same temperature as the rest of the house, which … in a story and a half house, is quite an accomplishment.

Just two weeks ago I was using my upstairs to incubate dinosaur eggs and fire the odd piece of pottery.

Just  having air conditioning installed isn’t enough to guarantee success.  Here are a few tips I got out of my installer.

Get the Most Out of Your Central Air Conditioner.


  • Wash your outdoor unit with high pressure hose water working from the top down.  It’s like cleaning out the lint trap on your dryer.  If the air conditioning unit is clogged it can’t work properly.


  • Make sure none of your vents are blocked.  Not blocked by a couch, dresser, sleeping goat.  Nothin’.


  • If you don’t use your basement or it’s getting too cold, close your basement vents.  Since cold air drops, basements always get cold.  Closing the vents will  force cold air to other areas of the house where the cool is needed more.


  • In the spring or fall when you don’t need air conditioning but still want to cool the house a little, turn your furnace fan on.  This will circulate the air throughout the house making it feel cooler.


  • If one vent is blowing really strongly it’s taking power away from vents elsewhere.  Close the offending vent a little to allow airflow elsewhere.  In older houses this can be done with the dampers in the basement.


  • Don’t ever turn your air conditioner off in the summer.  Once it’s cool enough outside, turn the temperature that your air is supposed to come on  up a few degrees and open your windows.   When your air comes on you know it’s time to close your windows again.  If you let your house overheat in the summer getting full of hot air and humidity before you turn the air on, it’s harder on the air conditioner, more expensive and takes wayyyyy longer to cool the house down.


  • Finally, if you can’t seem to get your house consistently cold or your upstairs is still too hot, call in a professional.  Having your system professionally balanced makes a huge difference and could mean the difference between a good night’s sleep and punching your partner in the head because you woke up drowning in their puddle of sweat.


  1. Laura worsham says:

    where were you a month ago when my 6-yr-old compressor blew out ($2,000 us dollarss ((5-yr-warranty0). I asked the repair guy why my compressors kept blowing and he finally mentioned that, 1. vent pipe from the dryer to the outside was blowing lint into the unit, and 2. make sure nothing gets weed whatcked or blown into it. Gee thanks for that belated info. He did say to hose it out occasionally but not with too much pressure as that would bend the blades.

  2. Jenn Davies says:

    I’m glad you mentioned the need to clean the ducts. Even the nicest air conditioner will only blow dust if that’s all you leave in the ducts. It’s better for your health and your system to have it looked at regularly.

  3. RS says:

    You may also want to mention to keep the area around the condenser clear of plants. The condenser (outdoor unit) is simply a heat exchanger that rejects heat to the air outside. It is important to keep the space above the unit clear to prevent discharging air from recirculating back around into the unit. Keep the sides clear of bushes as well to allow airflow into the unit. These steps increase the condenser’s ability to reject heat and improve the efficiency of the system.

  4. Mom says:

    Please read.

  5. Jen H says:

    You can totally balance the ducts yourself. Depending on the type (in central FL, they are ceiling), you may need a step stool or long pokey thing. I find a broom or mop handle is perfect for adjusting vent angle. Usually there are two different variables – the angle of the fins, and the amount of air being let out of the vent. Wait until the sun is well set, and the temp is fairly stabilized, then go about and tweak the vents and fin angles until they are the way you need. Perfectly balanced for one person may not be for another. I know I like my bedroom to be the coldest room, so I set it up that way. The kitchen is always over-warm (because of the gas stove pilot light), so I have to cool that more than the other rooms. Each home is unique. Find your balance, and enjoy?

  6. Kristin says:

    Is it possible, I wonder to “balance” the ducts yourself? My AC is brand new and balanced, but is that always best? For instance, I have giant windows with western exposure (in Oklahoma where it’s been in the 100s for weeks) in my office. I would love for that room to get a little more air while the seldom used guest room gets less. Without having to pay a professional. Because I’m cheap. Hot and cheap.

  7. Tequilla says:

    Dont’ forget to use cieling fans and regular fans to help circulate the air and cool down your house or a room.

  8. Gayla T says:

    Since I grew up much later in life than you, I’ve learned a lot here about the adjusting. One huge reason I was able to get by w/o it so long was that I lived on the northern shore of a huge federal lake so had the breeze across the water to cool us. I’ve really enjoyed it this summer as so far it’s breaking all records as the hottest ever. Although there’s been summers since I moved to town that I never turned it on, I’d be in misery this year. I’m scared to see the next electric bill though. All I saved by the warmest winter on record is being eaten by the heat. Dang!

  9. Kelli says:

    Sorry Algore, damn the global warming consequences, i WILL NOT live without air conditioning! There’s nothing worse than being hot and sweaty all night long, taking a shower in the morning but not being able to dry off, and trying to get yourself presentable for work without your head, face and pits dripping. Bleah. Until i was about college age, my fam in Wisc. didn’t have AC…i remember nights i thought i’d suffocate from the heat & humidity. Now, it’s 65-70F AC and i sleep blissfully cool and dry…ahhhh…

  10. Winegirl says:

    We have an OLD house that still has window units and a boiler! I’ve moved past glistening and into sweating! The only saving grace is that we’re on the water.
    Congrats. Really…

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