2S0A0255 372x451 - TSTC instructor gives tips on how to maintain AC units during summer months

(RED OAK, Texas) – May 26 is recognized as National Heat Awareness Day. Douglas McCuen, lead instructor for Texas State Technical College’s HVAC Technology program at the North Texas campus, recently gave some tips for how best to handle air conditioning systems during summer months and rising temperatures. 

What are some of your tips for keeping the house cool during the summer heat?

Change the filter and have a service tech come out and do a PM (preventive maintenance) on your equipment, especially the outside equipment. Make sure it is running as optimally as possible, especially for the age of it. A lot of the older equipment, the seasonal energy efficiency rating is a lot lower than what they are selling on newer equipment now.

What are your tips for maintaining air conditioning during the hot season? 

For the average homeowner, probably the No. 1 key thing is to change the AC filter. Change your filter every 30 days. 

Make sure the vents are not shut down in any rooms. A lot of people love to say, ‘OK, this room is not being used, so I’m going to shut the AC off.’ That affects the balance of the system. It affects the return air of the system, which is the air that is going back through the grate and coming back cool again. You have to have proper air return, which a lot of people don’t realize. You want to keep your system as optimal as possible. 

What should people be aware of as temperatures begin to rise? 

Your system will not be able to keep up with heat demand, especially around three to six in the afternoon during the summer. That’s probably when the biggest load is on your system. If you’re finding that you have your thermostat set at 72 and it seems fine during the day, or up till three o’clock and then all of a sudden it starts warming up to 76, 77 degrees, you either have an efficiency issue or you need a service technician to come out and troubleshoot it for you.

Any other tips for how homeowners can care for their AC units?

Make sure the outside unit doesn’t have any shrubbery growing around it. That outside unit needs to breathe too, because that’s how it is expelling the heat that is taken from the inside of the house. A lot of homeowners don’t like the aesthetics of seeing that outside unit so say, ‘We’re going to plant shrubs around it.’ That’s fine, but you need to leave at least three feet from the unit to the shrub. That unit needs to have enough air so that it can properly do its job to expel the heat that is collected from the house.

I don’t recommend that a homeowner go out and clean the condensers. There’s 240 volts out of that condenser, so they could be very seriously hurt. A technician will not only clean the condenser coil but will check all of the components and take proper electrical readings across the different components.


In addition to his advice for homeowners, McCuen encouraged technicians to stay hydrated and take breaks. He said with the rising temperatures it is easy to get heat exhaustion, so stay aware of the signs and stay safe.

According to onetonline.org, heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers in Texas make $48,720 a year on average. The number of job openings for such technicians in the state was projected to increase 21% from 2020 to 2030, according to the website.

TSTC’s North Texas campus offers an Associate of Applied science degree as well as multiple certificates of completion in HVAC Technology.

Registration for TSTC’s fall semester is underway. For more information, go to tstc.edu

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