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Four Common Air Conditioning Questions... Answered Concisely

Air conditioning is complicated. That should be no secret, being that HVAC technicians need to spend several years learning and training before becoming fully licensed to install and repair systems. As a homeowner, it is not uncommon for you to have questions about air conditioning. But the answers you find in guides written for HVAC experts may be tough to understand, leaving your head spinning. You're not an HVAC expert, and you don't strive to be -- but you do deserve answers that you understand. So, here's a look at some common questions homeowners have about air conditioning, answered concisely and in an easy-to-understand manner.

Why isn't a bigger air conditioner always better?

It's common for homeowners to request that their HVAC technician install a larger AC unit because they want their home to cool faster. However, this is not a good strategy because the larger unit will actually cool the home off so fast that it cycles on and off constantly. This drives your energy bills towards the ceiling, and it also puts a lot of strain on the air conditioner, which may cause it to break down prematurely. A properly sized AC unit is simply the better choice for your wallet and will save you from having to make so many emergency repair calls.

Are air conditioning filters really that important?

Yes! Even if you do not care about clean indoor air, there's another reason to change your air conditioner's filter every 30 - 90 days. Doing so protects your air conditioner. Once the filter gets old and clogged, your air conditioner really has to fight to blow air through it. Imagine trying to blow air though a thick blanket versus a thin cotton sheet. Homeowners who don't change their filters end up dealing with more than just dusty furniture -- they end up with burnt-out blower motors and shorts in their AC's electrical systems.

If the air conditioner removes humidity, why do you also need a dehumidifier?

If your HVAC technician recommends installing a dehumidifier, you may assume he or she is "taking you for a ride." After all, you have an air conditioner and that already removes your humidity, right? Well... not always. Air conditioners do remove humidity, but only to a certain extent. If the air is excessively humid, your air conditioner will have to work very hard to remove all of that humidity. Install a dehumidifier, and this simpler, less energy-demanding appliance will do some of the work for the air conditioner. This will reduce your energy bills and also reduce the burden on your air conditioner so you don't have to worry as much about it quitting prematurely. Your home will also feel cooler since the humidity levels will be kept below what your AC could achieve on its own.

What does it mean when your HVAC tech recommends OEM parts?

OEM stands for "Original Equipment Manufacturer." These parts are made by the maker of your air conditioner. For example, if your air conditioner is made by Brand XXZ, then the OEM parts will also be made by Brand XXZ. These parts cost a little more than generic parts made by off brands, but they are almost always the better choice for your air conditioner because they are guaranteed to fit and to function with the other parts in your unit. Also, some warranties are only upheld if the repairs are made with OEM parts.

If you have any other questions about your air conditioner or the repairs it needs, don't hesitate to ask your HVAC technician. They may have a very in-depth understanding of this field, but they can generally explain things clearly to homeowners who may be less knowledgeable about AC.