FORT BENNING, Ga. – With temperatures in the steamy 90s these days, keeping your air conditioner in good order becomes all the more key, and housing officials here have some tips to help you through the heat.
"Summers at Fort Benning are always long and always hot," said Keith R. Lovejoy, Housing Division chief with U.S. Army Garrison Fort Benning's Directorate of Public Works (DPW).
"It's very important to keep things in good order with your AC," he said.
Keeping your thermostat at the right setting is one of the important steps.
It plays a big role in the working of your HVAC system, according to officials at The Villages of Benning, a private company that manages Fort Benning's 4,000-plus homes, in partnership with the Army.
"Summers at Fort Benning are always long and always hot. It's very important to keep things in good order with your AC." – Keith R. Lovejoy, Housing Division chief with U.S. Army Garrison Fort Benning's Directorate of Public Works (DPW)
The Villages suggests that in summer you set your thermostat between 72 as a low and 75 as a high.
That helps prevent the air conditioner from freezing up or developing moisture problems.
Also, the fan setting on your thermostat should be kept on "Auto," not "On," even if you're away from home, The Villages staff suggests.
But there are other steps too for helping your AC unit help you.
"The big tip that I have," said Lovejoy, "is twofold. One, making sure that filters are changed on a regular basis. And two, if you see a problem or you think you have a problem, you need to identify it quickly so it can be rectified before it gets worse."
Your air conditioner's filter should be changed monthly, and, if you have pets, maybe even every two or three weeks during summer, said Mike Snyder, facilities director with The Villages.
If it's not changed monthly it can strain your HVAC system, restrict its airflow, or even cause it to freeze.
But beyond that, a big part of keeping your system in shape is to make sure all HVAC vents are clean and nothing blocks airflow.
That includes return vents and those located on the ceiling or near the floors, all of which have important roles in your system working right.
That's why, when you're vacuuming your home, take a moment and vacuum those same vents, to keep dust from accumulating, The Villages recommends.
Also make sure no furniture or other objects are blocking the air vents anywhere in your home.
"You could block it with a headboard or a large piece of furniture," said Snyder. "You wouldn't want to block any of the vents."
And, always, watch out for moisture that builds up on the AC vents. It's a good idea to wipe them down rather than letting them stay wet.
Moisture can play a big role in mold getting started, and there are several steps you can take against that.
"The idea is that anywhere where there's cold air and warm air mixing, it creates condensation, which is moisture, and anytime you have moisture you have an opportunity for mold to grow," said Snyder.
"If mold is not identified and treated when it's first identified," said Lovejoy, "it could rapidly grow into a bigger problem. It develops very, very quickly and the sooner that you identify it, take care of it, the better."
Run your bathroom fan for about 15 minutes after showering. Venting bathrooms, dryers, and other sources that generate heat can reduce indoor humidity.
Keep doors and windows closed if you're running the AC. That can avoid burning energy needlessly. But it also works against mixing hot air from outdoors with the cold air of the house, and thus helps avert mold.
If your home is one where you can easily get at the HVAC closet, it's recommended you check it each week for any sign of leaks, mold or mildew.
Taking all these measures can save you lots of headaches.
"If you don't follow these tips and steps," said Snyder "so that the system operates as efficiently as it can, it can cause other issues where it would break down and leave you without AC for a short period of time until we can respond, or could create an increase in moisture issues or water leaks from the AC system."
Should any problems develop with your HVAC or, for other maintenance help, you can contact The Villages maintenance hotline at: 706-685-3929.
"In the summertime the systems have to work harder because the outside air temperatures are significantly higher," Snyder said. So, he said, "You gotta follow these same things every year, in order for the system to operate at 100 percent capacity and as efficiently as possible."