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There are many common mistakes made with air conditioning.  From pre-purchase decision making and installation, through to usage, maintenance, and even assisting the air conditioner, there are many pitfalls to be aware of and avoid where possible.

The mistakes vary from minor to major, and can result in a range of different air conditioning outcomes.  The stakes are high as they affect air conditioner performance, efficiency, and safety.  They also affect your hip-pocket as heating and cooling can account for half of all home energy usage.

Furthermore, poorly installed, used, and/or maintained air conditioners can result in the growth of microorganisms and other nasties that can be harmful to your health if inhaled.

In this article we’ll outline some simple tips, checks, and adjustments you should be aware of to help the health of you, your family, the air conditioner, and hip pocket.

AC Unit Selection & Purchase

1. Not considering air conditioner installation

Before even purchasing and installing an air conditioner, you may make the common mistake of not considering the value of aircon beyond the basic financial sense.  It is truly worth taking into account the many health, wellness, lifestyle, and even economic benefits air conditioning can provide when making your initial decision.

If you already have air conditioning then it may be reaching end of life, but you resist the need to purchase a new air conditioner.  Don’t make the mistake of patching or pushing your old aircon past its reasonable lifespan.  While the initial cost of AC replacement is relatively high, it may be the most financially viable option as repairs start becoming more frequent and costly.

The new system will also be more efficient compared to older models as technology evolves every year.  This will help decrease your power bill and save you money over time.  If your home air conditioner is over 10-12 years old and requires substantial repairs or is energy-hungry, it is worth considering investing in aircon replacement.

2. Installing the wrong AC unit type

When selecting an air conditioner type for your home or business, you must consider the bigger picture.  It can pay to look long term from the very beginning.

For example, if you want to heat or cool a single room, sure, you can arrange for an aircon unit to be installed that suits that room.  Maybe a wall split system, window/box unit, or a ceiling cassette system.  Then the following year, you decide to cool another room, and repeat the process.

If this continues over a number of years, you may surpass the cost of something like a ducted system.  A ducted system may in fact be a more suitable residential or commercial air conditioning system, but now it’s too late as you’ve forked out a fortune in individual units throughout the home or office.

Alternatively, you may decide to renovate.  Now the individual DX systems are no longer suitable for the areas they serve.  This is why you really must consider your heating and cooling requirements now and into the future before spending a cent on any AC unit.

Different type of air conditioners

3. Replacing like for like without question

If you are replacing an existing aircon system, you may the mistake of automatically replacing it with the same style of system.  Just because you have floor-mounted split system or box/room air conditioner, doesn’t mean you need to replace it with the same unit type.

A wall-mounted split air conditioner may actually be a more suitable option compared to other styles you already have in your home.  It is worth speaking to a reputable air conditioner installer who could quote like for like and other suitable options for you.

Similarly, many people make the mistake of replacing their existing system with the same capacity (kW rating) system without a moments thought.  It pays to ask yourself 3 main questions when replacing your air conditioning system:

  1. Did my system adequately heat or cool the room when it was working as designed?  E.g. it took too long to warm up, or never really cooled down the space that well.
  2. Has the function of the room changed since the aircon was installed?  E.g. was a bedroom, but is now a study with computers, screens, printers, scanners, modem, and other heat-generating equipment.
  3. Will the function of the room change over time?  E.g. dining room may become a media room.

4. Installing the incorrect size air conditioning system.

Like Goldilocks and the Three Bears, there will be an aircon size that is just right for a room or whole building.  As mentioned previously, if you are replacing an existing system, you may the mistake of automatically replacing it with the same sized system without question.  With capacity, further to the 3 key questions, you can’t always assume that the correctly sized air conditioner was installed originally.

If a system is undersized, it will continue to run non-stop when on.  This will cause the system to be overworked, causing it to wear out faster and breakdown more often.  An undersized air considering will struggle or even fail to bring the indoor temperature up/down to the desired level, causing great discomfort and frustration.

An oversized air conditioner will continue to cycle on and off, causing premature damage to the compressor and other internal components.  This will also cause the system to breakdown quicker and shorten the expected lifespan.  It will also blast hot/cold air, then stop, then blast, and so on, creating an inconsistent and uncomfortable indoor environment.

If the new or existing AC unit didn’t seem sufficient, or you have any doubts, ask an expert air conditioning contractor what size air conditioner you need.  They can offer some advice after considering all factors in determining suitable kW rating; room size, ceiling height, building orientation, building materials, insulation, window size/number, heat load, and room usage, just to name a few.

Air Conditioner Section

5. Selecting the wrong aircon brand

There are a lot of different air conditioning brands on the market, creating overwhelming choice.  The range is also expanding annually as existing manufacturers diversify and new players enter the market.  Many people make the mistake of selecting a brand of air conditioner based on limited factors or even just one reason.  However, there are many factors to consider when deciding what air conditioner to buy.

AC brand may be selected on price alone – the cheapest aircon brand available may be selected.  However, this may cost you more in the long run as some brands have shorter lifespans, some cheap units have horrendously expensive replacement parts, and some don’t even have spare parts readily available.

AC brand may be selected on name alone – the most well-known brand may be selected without a second thought.  However, popularity doesn’t always mean it’s the best aircon brand.  Some popular home air conditioner brands, with frequent promos like cash back, can have a range of painful post-install issues such as long delays in spare parts and even lack of parts before the system even gets close to the end of its reasonable lifespan.

This is a tricky one, as there is not one AC brand that fits all; they all have their own merits and drawbacks.  The best thing to do is chat to a reputable air conditioning company about who they recommend and why.  Alternatively, you can do your own research online looking at balanced and unbiased sources.

6. Not considering refrigerant type

There are 2 reasons why choosing the right gas or freon is important when planning an air conditioning installation.

  1. Certain refrigerant can be poisonous with long or even short-term exposure. E.g. R410A.
  2. Certain refrigerants are being phased out and now heavily taxed and restricted by the government as a result.  E.g. R22.

It’s also important to make sure there is nothing in a new air conditioning system except the refrigerant designed for the AC units.  The wrong refrigerant can cause premature failure of internal components, costly repairs, and even complete system failure.

Another major issue with incorrect refrigerant in a system is reduced power efficiency.  Non-condensables in an AC system do not flow normally through the pipework and build up in the outdoor condenser coil.  This causes higher pressures, higher compressor electrical usage, and lower heat transfer.  The result?  Short-term: reduced efficiency.  Long term: premature system failure.

7. Not considering style or design

Air conditioners have become more attractive in recent years.  This is primarily in response to consumer demand and changing style trends.

With smaller head units, gentle curves, and cleaner lines, today’s aircon units do a better job of blending in with modern and landscape design.  The range of colours has also expanded, with blacks, blues, reds, metallics, and wooden finishes.

Designed living room with air conditioner

In some homes and businesses you can hardly even notice that air conditioning is there, with quiet bulkhead units placed flush into the ceiling so that only the suction and discharge grilles are visible indoors.  This is a great option for those wanting minimal impact to internal aesthetics and acoustics of a room.

8. Failing to consider the AC model

Most AC brands have a range of models available.  Some have valuable features, while some added extras that may not be necessary.  Many people make the mistake of going with whatever model is on sale or presented to them at the time without being aware of other, potentially more suitable, models from a given manufacturer.

Many people assess the full product range for a given brand before purchasing, whether it be as major as a car or as minor as sliced bread.  So why not for something as significant as an air conditioner?

For a Daikin aircon, its worth having a read about the differences between Daikin wall split systems currently available.  A little research and reading can help you work out which model or series is the best for you, your budget, and specific needs.

9. Buying units from the wrong supplier

When it comes to purchasing an air conditioner, there are a variety of suppliers to choose from.  You can buy your air con unit from a general retailer, wholesaler, online, or from an air conditioning company as part of a package deal (i.e. supply and install).

Most of the time, purchasing the system through a reasonable air conditioning company will be cheaper than purchasing it through a general retailer.  Even if you do find an air conditioner cheaper elsewhere, you will likely pay more for the install only portion when not part of a package.  This means you end up paying more overall when sourcing the new aircon separately to the install.

You can save money buying through an AC company because they usually buy in bulk and/or have trade accounts with wholesalers.  This means the company receive greater discounts on air conditioner units, which should then be passed onto customers.

Air Conditioning Installation

10. Using the wrong installer

It’s true what they say, especially in the world of air conditioning; you get what you pay for.  Installation costs can vary dramatically, but buyer beware.  People can make the mistake of just looking at initial cost when choosing an installer.  This can result in greater expense, pain, and frustration.

Good aircon installers use the correct materials for every installation.  This ensures optimal running conditions for the AC system.  This also affects efficiency and reduces running costs.  Professional air conditioner installers also take the time to ensure that units are level.  This helps prevent system components from wearing unevenly and/or failing prematurely.

Good AC installers also ensure all connections are secure to prevent water or gas leaks.  Not only does this prevent avoidable repair costs, it also helps the environment.  For example, 1kg of R410A refrigerant has the same greenhouse effect as 2 tonnes of carbon dioxide.  This is equivalent to running a standard car for six months!

If you can look at the bigger picture, you may end up saving more in the long run by choosing a better air conditioning installer.  This includes more money, more life from the AC, and more peace of mind.

Handyman and AC in the background

11. Poor wall split indoor unit location

Many mistakes can be made when it comes to indoor AC unit placement during installation.  As a general rule of thumb, the best place to install a wall split unit is:

  1. On an external wall,
  2. High up and close to the ceiling, and
  3. Near the middle of the room.

The location of aircon units can have a significant impact on the installation complexity and therefore price.  It costs far more for an up and over installation, where pipework and cables run up through the ceiling, compared to a standard back-to-back installation.

For a back-to-back installation, the indoor unit is installed on an exterior wall with the outdoor unit installed on the other side of that wall.  Less materials, less complication, and less labour means a cheaper, faster air conditioner installation.

A high wall location close to the ceiling helps to counteract the well-known phenomenon; hot air rises.  This way, cool air is pushed closer to the ground where people reside.  It’s often recommended to install a wall mounted indoor unit at least 2.4-3.0m off the ground, while ensuring still reasonably accessible for routine maintenance and cleaning.

Similarly, a central location ensures the conditioned air is spread evenly around the room.  The indoor unit should be located where the air can be distributed throughout a room with minimal to no obstacles.  This helps ensure temperature and airflow consistency, as well as supporting maximum system performance.

12. Poor ducted indoor unit location

Wall splits are not the only units that suffer from poor location selection; split ducted indoor units can be installed in the wrong location also.  Due to ignorance or laziness, the indoor unit can be installed in the most convenient location at the time, rather than the most convenience location for future access, maintenance, and repairs.

A ducted indoor unit it typically installed in the roof, behind a solid ceiling in a home or false ceiling in an office.  The indoor unit often goes up into the ceiling through the return air grille hole.  It may then be installed there, or preferably closer to the manhole for future ease of access.

The unit may also be installed hard up against or very close to the ceiling or structural beams in the ceiling because easier at the time.  However, this type of installation may prevent panels being removed in future when needed for servicing, indoor coil cleaning, and/or repairs.  As a result, ceilings may need to be cut open and/or major building works undertaken, just to attend to a poorly installed indoor ducted unit.

13. Poor outdoor unit location

The outdoor unit for any air conditioning system be installed in a variety of places, some suitable and some not so great.  There are a number of points to consider to avoid the mistake of installing the condensing unit in the wrong location.

Firstly, the air conditioner condenser is a major component affecting overall air conditioning system operation.  The less work the condenser has to do, the more efficient the whole system is.  Sunlight and heat increase the workload for an already-hardworking unit, therefore it is recommended to install it in a shady, cool location wherever possible.

Installing a condenser down on the ground in a shady ventilated location, as opposed to up on a roof top, also assists with ongoing service and maintenance.  A technician’s work on a condenser is limited if it is too hot, too high, or too exposed during the day due to modern-day workplace health and safety regulations.

14. Wrong outdoor unit attachment/support

Once an outdoor unit location is correctly established, it’s then important to ensure it is secured to a building or placed on the ground correctly.  Unfortunately, many people still get this install aspect wrong, with great consequence.

Most outdoor units are either installed down on the ground, raised up off the ground onto a wall, or placed up on a roof.  For units installed on the ground, these are sometimes incorrectly just placed on the bare earth or an old pathway/surface.  These surfaces may not be level, firm enough, or stable over time.  A better option is to install the condensing unit on a pre-made, stable poly slab.  This avoids stressing the pipework, looks a lot neater and tidier, and stops any grass or weeds growing through to the unit.

For wall-mounted outdoor units, these are still occasionally bolted directly to the building.  You’ll certainly know about it if this is the case, as condensers generate a lot of vibration and noise that can travel through a wall.  The correct method involves attachment to wall brackets with special mounts, padding, leaving a gap, or a combination of these.

For condensing units installed on the roof, these are not always secured correctly.  A reputable installer will use suitable methods of attachment, including a strap over the top when required.

15. Failing to correctly install isolation switch

As per Australian Standards AS/NZS 3000 (aka the Wiring Rules), since December 2012, all new air conditioner installations require their own lockable isolation switch be installed and a Certificate of Compliance (COC) issued.  A COC can only be issued by a licensed electrical contractor (this is an additional license to an electrician).  Incorrect isolation switch installation at your property is unsafe and a serious liability.

The isolation switch should also be directly adjacent to, but not on, the outdoor condenser unit.  For roof-top unit installations, a separate isolator stand may be required to achieve the correct isolator position.  Unfortunately, poor AC installers can still make the mistake of installing isolators on the condensing unit, which is not only illegal but can also damage internal components such as printed circuit (PC) boards or even refrigerant pipework.

Furthermore, the isolation switch should be as accessible as possible.  It is designed to protect the air conditioner, but also serves as a point of isolating power to the unit prior to undertaking certain service or repair tasks.  It is also useful for resetting an air conditioner after a surge or other event that causes the system to trip out and/or stop working.

Aircon isolator

16. Poor or unlicenced electrics

Isolation switch aside, there are a wide range of electrical mistakes made when it comes to air conditioning installations.  Incorrect power run, overloaded switchboard, exposed wires, lose connections, and incorrectly installed components can wreak havoc in so many ways.

A dangerous mistake is DIY or unlicenced electrics.  This can come with heavy fines and penalties.  A fully qualified air conditioning technician and/or electrical contractor should be the only people working on your air conditioner electrics.

If an air conditioning installation is not done correctly, the system can obviously fail to work properly.  Furthermore, it can cause faults with the air conditioner unit and/or electrical circuit in the building.  Finally, and most importantly, poor electrics can start a fire or cause physical harm to humans and animals.  It’s certainly not worth the risk!

17. Poor drainage system

An inadequate drainage system is an all-too-common mistake made during many air conditioner installations.  Standard aircon units generate a significant amount of moisture (condensate) during operation, and that moisture must be suitably drained away.  If not, damage will likely occur to the AC unit and surrounds.

The surrounds can include rooves, walls, floors, as well as property underneath such as TV, furniture, carpet, and more.  Water build-up in the roof can lead to whole ceiling collapse, which happens more commonly than you may think.  Water in the walls and other areas of your home can lead to damp, rot, mould growth, and drywall deterioration.

To avoid such issues, ensure you use a reputable aircon contractor to carry out your air conditioner installation.  Ask them about the drainage system – where will the water run to?  It’s also vital for routine AC maintenance to be carried out to pick up any issues and clear any blockages before they become disastrous.  Don’t hesitate to call for help if your air conditioning system is leaking water.

18. Lack of drip tray and/or safety tray

Further to condensate drainage from the AC unit, safe-guards should also be installed to prevent more serious damage in the event of primary drain failure.  Unfortunately, these can be mistakenly forgotten or blatantly left out.

A blockage or primary drain failure can lead to an overflow of water where it shouldn’t be.  For split and ducted AC units, a drip tray should be installed (under the indoor evaporator coil/unit) to catch any such water and prevent it falling further.  A safety tray can also be installed under a ducted unit to further protect from water falling onto the ceiling and anything below it.

To protect yourself, your property, and your belongings, it pays to ask your aircon installer about this.  What safe-guards are in place in case of a drain blockage?  How can you check these safe-guards in your system?  A few questions now could save a lot of damage, pain, and expense down the track.

19. Poor ductwork design/layout

There are a wide range of different companies offering new ducted air conditioning installation.  Unfortunately, there are many mistakes made in the design process by inexperienced and underqualified ducted aircon installers.

The process typically starts with designing the complete system, including ductwork for the ceiling.  Too many zones and/or outlets for a given AC capacity (kW rating), inadequate flex size and/or number, and too many or not enough supply air outlets are just some of the mistakes made.

The design of ducted system is best left for companies specialising in ducted air conditioning.  Otherwise you may lose the money you saved on a cheaper installation, and much more, through inefficiencies and inadequacies.

Furthermore, the system may never work properly.  What a waste!  At the end of the day, if you are going to spend thousands of dollars on a ducted install, it’s well worth paying that little bit extra for a reputable company to design and install.

House plan for Brisbane air conditioning zone controller – izone system designed and installed

20. Incorrect flex type/sealing

Another common ducted aircon mistake is using the wrong type of flex or duct, and failing to seal it properly.  Only fire retardant ducting should be used in ducted air conditioner installation.

Furthermore, the correct rating should be used; At least R1 for home air conditioners, and typically R1.5 or higher for commercial heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems.  Unfortunately, these requirements are not always followed by sub-parr ducted installers.

Another common ducted AC install mistake is inadequate sealing the flex on ceiling.  This mistake reduces the efficiency of the ducted system, as air escapes through the gaps and is wasted into the ceiling space.  It will also push up your power bill as energy is wasted heating or cooling your roof void.

21. Incorrect refrigeration pipe type

In a bid to undercut the market, too many installers cut corners and/or make the mistake of using the incorrect refrigeration pipework for unit installations.  Pipework used should be pre-insulated, annealed, UV-rated, copper pair coil, specifically designed for air conditioning and refrigeration installations.

Pipe insulation improves system efficiency.  It also helps prevent sweating that occurs without it, and the resulting water damage and associated issues in any area adjacent to or under the pipe run.  A little water can quickly build up to become a major issue, including ceiling collapse, dry rot, damp, mould, and sick building syndrome.

UV-rated pair coil is proven to last longer under the sun’s harsh UV rays and slower to degrade in general.  Unrated, inappropriate pipework can start to breakdown and cause issues in as little as 12 months, so it pays to ensure the correct pair coil is used for your aircon install.

Another common mistake is incorrect refrigeration pipe size selection.  There are 4-5 common pair coil sizes used for modern day home and commercial air conditioner installation, and they are more expensive per roll as the sizing increases.  Some cowboys try and get away with using a smaller pipe size to save a few dollars, to the detriment of the air con system installed that will never work to its full potential.  On the flip size, oversized pipe can also cause problems including compressor damage.

22. Excessive or inadequate refrigeration pipe length

When it comes to refrigerant pipework, efficiency decreases as length increases.  Therefore, you want to keep the refrigeration pipe run as short as possible.

However, a certain length of pipe run is still required as a minimum.  Smaller split systems generally require a minimum pipe run of ~1.5m, while larger wall split systems may require ~3.0m as a minimum.

Installing an aircon system with less pipe work than the minimum requirement specified can create a range of issues.  The system will not perform at its maximum operating level, and issues with noise or vibration can occur.  Furthermore, failure to adhere to manufacturer specifications voids the manufacturer’s warranty.

Each AC model will come with specific technical specifications, often outlined in the installation manual.  The best air conditioner installers will take note of the manufacturer instructions when installing your air conditioning system in order to avoid these issues.

23. Failing to keep out vermin

During the installation of a wall split or split ducted system, there is typically a need to make some entry/exit holes for pipework, electrical, drainage, etc.  This site can become like a pet door for unwanted pests such as insects, spiders, geckos, mice, rats, snakes, and many more.

It’s important that any holes made during air conditioner system installation are sealed properly as soon as possible during the process.  It is a mistake to leave holes long-term or even short-term, as they can quickly allow unwanted vermin enter.

A reputable installer will restrict hole-making to the bare minimum.  They will also most certainly seal new holes when carrying out new installations, and during changeovers unless otherwise specified for suitable reasons.

24. Incorrect wall controller location

A wall controller should be installed at a suitable height, often ~1.6m off the ground, to ensure the average user can comfortably reach it and see the display screen clearly.  While it can be moved up or down slightly, unfortunately the height of the users is not always considered.

Woman with wall-mounted AC control

Furthermore, wall controllers should be installed in a logical area in the room being served by the air conditioner.  If they can not be for whatever reason, then they should be clearly labelled.

Another failure with wall controller installation can be 2-fold; failure to provide or read the instruction manual, and failure to set ground rules around adjustment of the controller.  Staff incorrectly or sneakily adjusting the wall controller can cause endless temperature wars in an office environment!

As a result, an AC technician can frequently be called out and often blamed for the system not working properly.  Solution?  Install a lockable box around the wall controller, with key access by 1 suitably trained and reasonable staff member onsite only.

25. Misplacing thermostat and/or sensors

The location chosen for installation of an air conditioner thermostat and/or temperature sensors can often be messed up.  This can prevent an entire air conditioning system from working correctly and waste power due to excessive heating or cooling being called for.

Thermostats and sensors are designed to detect the temperature where they are located, and communicate with air conditioner units to call for more or less heating or cooling.  If the temperature detectors are installed too close to a heat source, they will inadvertently call for extra cooling and the AC will ramp up to provide this.  Direct sunlight can also cause excessive heat adjustment from an aircon.

This error may not be detected until someone questions the excessive power bill.  Alternatively, an air conditioning professional may be called in to see why the system doesn’t seem to be working as designed; excessive cooling in some areas, detracting from cooling in other areas.

26. Poor clean up

Unfortunately not all AC contractors leave a property in the same state, or better, than they find it in.  Some make the mistake of not cleaning up to an acceptable level.  Leaving behind significant dust, debris, scrap, and rubbish is not only unacceptable and damaging to property, it can be dangerous to the occupants (humans and animals).

Following any work onsite, the premises should be left as clean as it was found, if not more so.  Vacuum cleaners, spray and wipe, rags, rubbish bags, and other cleaning items should be standard in any AC technician’s work vehicle.

Furthermore, a good technician should leave your air conditioner in a clean state wherever practical, both inside and out.  Failing to do this can cause damage to air filters and other internal components.  If you’re not happy with the state of your aircon on completion of a site visit, don’t hesitate to speak up to the air conditioner contractor or their company.

Air Conditioner Usage

27. Incorrect set point

An incorrect set point is one of the most common air conditioning mistakes made.  This mistake goes back to the days where most people had no idea how a reverse cycle air conditioner works.  Occupants would often just turn their thermostat right down, assuming that this would cool an area quicker, with the reverse for heating.  However, this is not the case.

An average home air conditioner unit runs at full power or turns off.  Therefore, when the set point is low, the system continues to work at the same level but just works for longer.  This is true whether it has to lower the indoor temperature by 2 degrees or 20 degrees.

It is recommended to enter the set point to where you want the room temperature to be, not lower.  Amazingly, there is a 3% saving on AC running costs for every degree you adjust your thermostat or sensor set point.

Furthermore, humans have the inbuilt ability to adapt to hot or cold conditions relatively quickly (i.e. within 1-2 weeks).  So to save a little more on your power bill, maybe try and adjust the set point up/down a little to reduce the demand on the air conditioner and reassess after a few weeks.

28. Incorrect fan speed

Many people make the mistake of ignoring air conditioner fan speed.  However, it can make a big difference in terms of comfort levels and energy efficiency.

To get the indoor temperature down quickly, it is recommended to use high fan speed.  This is the most efficient way to cool down an area and reach the desired set point.  However, if humidity is the main focus such as on very humid days, then it is recommended to use low fan speed.

Fan speed impacts the time air spends travelling over the indoor evaporator/heat exchange coil.  When fan speed is high, air is simply cooled and blown out indoors.  When fan speed is low, the air is still cooled but there is also time for moisture removal from the air before it is blown out into the room.  At night, fan speed may be lowered to just maintain temperature overnight.

Spinning fan closeup

29. Using auto mode

Using Auto mode on an air conditioner is a common mistake that can easily be avoided.  The ideal setting on your home air conditioner is Heat or Cool, rather than Auto.  If you want to heat up the indoor space, select heating.  If you want to cool it down, select cooling.

When Auto mode is selected, and the temperature reaches set point, the system may switch between heating and cooling as the temperature fluctuates above/below the chosen set point.  This is not an efficiency way to use the device and can wear out certain internal components quicker than normal.  You will also experience blasts of hot and cold air intermittently.

To dehumidify, select the Dry mode (if available).  This will cool but also allow some air to just past through the indoor unit and remove moisture from it, reducing humidity in the indoor environment.

To circulate air, select the Fan mode.  This is suitable for cooler period at night and other times where air movement is required, without the need for heating, cooling, or dehumidifying.

30. Blocking supply air registers

Ducted air conditioning systems can be surprisingly sensitive to air flow changes made to any one of its multiple supply air outlets.  It’s quite easy to mistakenly close off too many outlets, or too much of any one outlet, and negatively impact the rest of the system.

Closing/blocking any outlet will change the flow of air around the system, positively to some areas but negatively to others.  To change the way air flows through a ducted aircon system, a full air balance is recommended to balance the air in one hit using a TSI Air Flow Hood.

AC vents blocked by furniture or curtains can also limit air circulation and impact system performance.  Unless you spend a lot of time huddled under your sofa, you surely wouldn’t want any of your AC vents to be obstructed.

31. Conditioning empty rooms

Rather than closing off unused supply air outlets, it is recommended to close off rooms that are not being conditioned.  This will avoid hot air entering the conditioned spaces or heat being wasted into unoccupied rooms.

Further improvements can be made by closing cupboards in conditioned rooms (or all rooms to be safe).  This means that even less space needs to conditioned overall, reducing demand and improving system efficiency.  Just remember to leave a small gap/opening to those rooms receiving the conditioned air to allow air circulation.  The average space under a door isn’t typically enough for optimal air recirculation.

Also ensure the unconditioned areas are switched off on the controller in the case of zoned air conditioning.  This is also important to help ensure the ducted aircon system is not being used excessively.

Air Filters

32. Incorrect air filter type

There are a wide range of filters types on the market; manufacturer, panel, pocket, pleated, v-bank, carbon, and HEPA, just to name a few.  The range is typically greater for commercial heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems compared to home air conditioners.

Filters can also be categorised by media type; washable or disposable.  It can be a mistake to use disposable where washable are suitable, as you may literally be throwing away money whenever the filters are replaced.

Washable filters are the most common these days, at least where water is plentiful.  Disposable filters may be more suitable wherever water restrictions are in place, or where you cannot remove, clean, and reinstall the air filter/s as required in the case of washables.

33. Inadequate return air filter size/quality

Another common mistake with filters is incorrect thickness or patching them up haphazardly.  Despite the fact that there are clear Australian Standards relating to air filters in Australia, you would be surprised at the variation in filters use.

Suitable return air filter thickness depends on the AC type and application.  It must be thick enough to filter the air sufficiently before it reaches indoor unit, but thin enough to let enough air through.  Standard thickness range is from 9 to 90mm.

Patching a filter incorrectly is not acceptable by any means.  Air flow can be affected, and this is a major determinant of correct system operation and performance.  For the sake of a few dollars, an incorrect filter can cost you hundreds or even thousands in equipment damage.

Grille

34. Unsuitable return air grille location

Mistakes are often made in regards to return air grille and filter location (i.e. location where air is entering the indoor unit/AC system)Back in the day, return air vents were placed out of sight and even hidden in closets.  This is the opposite of there they should be installed.

There are many issues with having the return air grille hidden away.  Firstly, the air being sucked in may not be representative of the air temperature throughout the rest of the house.  The air may also be dusty/musky, causing the return air filter to block up faster without you realising it, decreasing air flow into the aircon system.

Furthermore, the grille may end up being covered by boxes and other items stored in the same location, as well as potentially being in an enclosed area, restricting air intake and decreasing system performance.  This puts strain on many AC components, causing premature equipment failure and reducing overall system lifespan.

35. Not enough filter cleaning

Without a doubt, one of the biggest mistakes with air conditioning is not enough filter cleaning.  Without cleaning, a filter can not do its job which is to literally filter the air entering an air conditioning system.

This mistake also decreases air flow into an AC unit, decreasing efficiency of the air conditioner significantly.  In fact, a dirty filter can increase the aircon energy consumption by up to 15%.

Dirty filters allow dust, dirt, hair, allergens, and other matter pass through to the indoor unit, causing build up in the indoor unit.  This further reduces system efficiency, promotes growth of mould and other microorganisms, and causes dirty air to circulate throughout your home or business.

It’s recommended to check filters at least monthly, clean seasonally or after any dusty activity (e.g. moving, renovating, major cleaning), and replace them when wearing thin or can see light through.  More tailored, system-specific recommendations may be made by a technician during a professional aircon service visit.

36. Too much filter cleaning

This may be a surprise to many, but cleaning filters too often can actually be a mistake.  Business owners in particular can get a bit concerned when AC contractors don’t clean every filter every month, but they may be doing this for good reason.  In the case of disposable filters, these should never be washed.

Washable filter media/material wear out over time.  Every time you clean the filter, the media wears away a little.  Washable filters are designed to handle routine cleaning, but they start falling apart at a certain point.

With excessive washing, and even with suitable cleaning, filters may not last as long as the air conditioning units themselves.  This is especially true in the case of ducted aircons and most commercial HVAC systems.

Cleaning air conditioning filter

37. Incorrect replacement frequency

Some people may suggest that filters need to be replaced every year, every season change, or even every month!  While it does depend on the filter type (washable or disposable), air conditioner application (residential, commercial, or industrial), and frequency of use (24/7, 50% of the time, or occasional), this is still highly unlikely.  99% of the time, filters just need routine checking and subsequent cleaning when required.

On the flip side, some filters are used well past their serviceable lifespan.  This allows dirt and dust to pass by the filter media, affecting system efficiency, cleanliness of internal components, and the health of the AC system and humans.

It’s a fine line between premature and overdue replacement of filters.  An experienced air conditioning contractor would be able to tell you if/when your aircon filters need replacement.

DIY Aircon Service

38. Failing to perform general AC maintenance

Firstly the biggest mistake when it comes to DIY air-conditioning servicing is simply not doing it.  Air filters aside, general AC maintenance should be carried out on a home air conditioner at least once a year, if not two or three times.

In a commercial setting in Australia, HVAC servicing is recommended monthly.  This is over and above routine filter checking and cleaning.

There are plenty of checks, tests, and tasks that you can do yourself to help maintain your air conditioning system.  This allows your aircon to perform at an optimal level, allows minor issues to be detected before they become major, and helps extend the lifespan of the air conditioner.

39. Failing to clean indoor components

Just like filters, other indoor components of your air conditioning system require routine checking and cleaning when they become dirty.  These include the fascia, drain, fan scroll, barrel, coil, and supply air outlets.  Once big mistake is not cleaning these with water/damp cloth when needed.

Some of these components can be cleaned by yourself, provided you fully understand where and how electrical components can be of harm.  You also need to ensure there is safe access for cleaning, and you are not at risk of falling.  The safety of you and those around you should be the number one consideration!

Furthermore, it pays to understand where it is safe for water to come in contact with an indoor air conditioner unit.  The last thing you want to do is cause damage to the very air conditioner unit you’re trying to clean and maintain.  The safety option is to enlist the help and service of a professional aircon technician when it comes to AC cleaning.  It’s better to be safe than sorry in regards to the health of yourself, your family, and the air conditioner itself.

40. Inadequate drain clearance

Another common mistake is failure to maintain, clean, treat, or fully clear air conditioner drains.  As a result, condensation produced as a normal part of the refrigeration cycle can back up and/or overflow out of the designed drainage system.

AC drain blockages can occur when an array of matter builds up in the drain line.  Such matter includes slime, sludge, mould, insects, and even pieces of insulation.  Special drain condensate tablets can help slow the growth of algae which is a common contributor to drain sludge and blockages.

Once a blockage occurs, it needs to be vacuum out with a wet/dry vac and flushed with water.  This will clear most blockages and restore a normal drain to full function again.  However, if water continues to leak where it isn’t supposed to, or you see any ice building up, it’s time to call in an expert as a more serious issue may be present.  Your need to act quickly with this, to prevent or at least minimise damage to the area surrounding the drain.

41. Incorrectly applying liquids

Liquid, either the wrong type or incorrectly applied, can cause great damage to any electrically-based appliance.  This is especially true for modern day air conditioner units that are electrically based.

Any type of moisture, particularly in excess, can easily damage aircon parts such as PC boards, capacitors, soft starters, transformers, and motors.  Like getting water on your non-waterproof phone, computer, or TV, the device could not be expected to work property after such damage.

Even the condenser coil and compressor can be damaged by incorrect or excessive liquid.  The refrigeration cycle is designed to be a closed system.  If any moisture enters the system, it is considered a non-condensable.  As this moisture can not be condensed by the condensing unit, it builds up and cause issues.  Impacts include metal corrosion, damage to the copper plated condenser coil, chemical damage, and compressor failure.

42. Not cleaning/correcting/clearing for outdoor unit

Similar to an indoor unit, certain work can be done to an outdoor condensing unit that people fail to consider.  Coils can be cleaned, fins can be combed/straightened, and the area around the unit can be cleared.  Cleaning or combing of the condenser coil is best left to the professionals, but clearing is fine to do yourself.

The condenser coil outside absorbs and releases heat.  This heat transfer is affected if coils are covered in dirt, grime, leaves, pet hair, or any other matter.  Hail-damaged coils also have reduced area for heat transfer, impacting system performance and efficiency.

Suitable clear area around the outdoor unit ensures adequate air flow into/out of the unit and also helps prevent build up of matter on the coil.  Organic and inorganic matter must be cleared; trees, bushes, weeds, pet beds/blankets, boxes, screens, bins, equipment, tools, bikes, etc.  Generally, you want to always ensure at least 300mm clear around an outdoor unit.  At the front you need about a metre, while at the back may be a little less than the general rule of thumb.  However, the more the better.

43. Inserting foreign objects

Heating and cooling contractors can find all sorts of foreign objects mistakenly entered into air conditioning units.  Screw drivers, sticks, rulers, brushes, and all sorts of other items (including fingers) are inserted into aircon units and associated components.  This rarely ends well (especially for fingers…).

Foreign objects can easily damage AC components such as fan blades, motors, scrolls, coils, drains, flexible duct, supply air registers, and return air filters.  This damage can be anything from minor scratches through to complete system failure as subsequent repairs may not be financially viable.

Apart from the air conditioner, harm can also occur to the person inserting the foreign object and those around them.  For example, fan shards can fly out and hit family members, refrigerant gas can leak out and poison pets, and the list goes on.  Best not to insert anything into an AC unit unless you know 100% what you are doing – leave this for the trained professionals.

44. Relying on self-diagnosis

People often make the mistake of self-diagnosing a commercial or home air conditioner without a complete understanding of how the system works and/or what an error code (if applicable) truly means.  It’s a bit like googling your health symptoms and making a self-diagnosis without the knowledge and experience of a medical professional.

Some issues may be suspected based on personal experience or anecdotal evidence.  In some cases, the diagnosis could be correct.  But in most cases, it is either not correct or does not tell the complete story about what is going on with the air conditioning system.

It really pays to calling in an expert when it comes to diagnosing issues with your aircon.  Furthermore, the professional can actually assist with complete repairs or proceed with the most suitable course of action in relation to your AC system.

Professional HVAC Service

45. Infrequent professional service

Even if your AC is working well, regular heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) maintenance appointments are a must and all-too-often neglected.  A professional air conditioner service can help to increase efficiency, lower your energy bill, increase the lifespan of your system, and prevent or address issues before they become more costly.

It’s often recommended to have your home aircon checked over by a professional at least once, if not 2-3 times per year.  This type of preventative maintenance is often over-looked.  However, it could actually save you more in the long run, as discussed previously.

For businesses, is a requirement of Australian Standards (including 3666.2.2011, 1851.6.1997, 2467.13.1997, HB32:1995) and state-based Work Place Health and Safety Acts that commercial air conditioning equipment/plant be inspected on a monthly basis in order to maintain an acceptable commercial environment.  However, the decision to follow these guidelines ultimately lies with the business/owner.  A good commercial company would be happy to offer an HVAC maintenance proposal upon request.

Male air conditioner technician

46. Poor timing

Is highly recommended to plan ahead and book your professional air conditioning service outside of peak times.  This is for many different reasons that help you and the AC company.

Outside of peak season, most aircon companies will have better availability and may offer lower off-peak pricing.  Furthermore, the attending technician may have more time and headspace to focus on your air conditioner as their days may not be as busy.  Suppliers are also quicker to respond with part details and dispatch parts, if needed, as demand is lower.

Furthermore, if any further work is needed then it can occur in a more timely, price competitive, and relaxed manner.  There will also be time for the system to be brought up to scratch, if needed, before the peak of summer or winter.  All-in-all, many reasons to plan ahead and booked your AC service nice and early!

47. Incorrect service type

There are many different types of air conditioning service that can be booked.  They may be referred to in many different ways by air conditioning companies; major/standard/minor, gold/silver/bronze, etc.  All-too-often people make the mistake of booking a minor service when in fact a major aircon service is needed.

It’s important to discuss your service needs upfront and ensure the service you book the the most appropriate for your air conditioner, as far as reasonably practical.  You don’t want to waste your time or money by having to re-book another service visit and/or receive a quote for further work.

A good air conditioner service company will have some flexibility in their service structure.  For example, certain technicians will have the additional training and carry the specialised chemical cleaning equipment, in case needed.  Alternatively, there may be an acceptance of halting work onsite until the most suitable AC service can be arranged.

48. Not considering chemical cleaning

Over and above routine cleaning and servicing, certain components of your air conditioning system can be chemically cleaned.  A common mistake is discounting this option before even considering it.

Internal components that can often require chemical cleaning include the fan scroll, barrel, coil, and drain in a wall split unit, and indoor coil and drain pan in a ducted aircon.  Specialized equipment, training, and food-grade safe AC cleaning chemicals are required to carry out this work.  There is also an option for full ductwork cleaning, which takes many hours for a highly experienced duct cleaning team to complete.

There are a lot of people advertising air conditioner cleaning, however consumer beware!  Currently no specific licencing is required to be able to promote and carry out aircon unit cleaning.  If any issues are found with your air conditioner, you may have to call in an actual HVAC technician if your cleaner is not suitably qualified.

Before:

Dirty AC Filter

After:

Clean AC Filter

49. Wrong company/technician

Many companies promote the fact that they service air conditioners.  However, in reality there is a wide range of qualifications and backgrounds that so-called “air conditioning service technicians” have.  Don’t make the mistake of booking the wrong man or woman for the job.

Firstly, you want to book a technician that has an ARCTICK licence to look at your air conditioner.  This is a Refrigerant Handling Licence (RHL) that must be held by anyone carrying out work on refrigeration and air conditioning equipment.  Handling common AC refrigerants without an RHL is an offence.  National regulations are in place to regulate this requirement.

You also want to book someone who can complete all aspects of your air conditioning service and repairs, in case needed, rather than someone with an electrical background only.  If the attending air conditioner contractor is not fully qualified (aka a Refrigeration Mechanic/HVAC Technician), their ability to check and truly service the aircon, let alone complete any additional repairs, is severely limited.

Air Conditioner Features

50. Not having/using a programmable thermostat

Not having or using a programmable thermostat on your air conditioner is a big mistake.  Auto-adjusting the temperature up or down a few degrees, just to take the edge off any extreme ambient temperature, can save you hundreds or even thousands in annual electricity costs.  If fact, there is up to 3% in savings for every degree you adjust the thermostat.

With today’s technology, you may disregard a programmable thermostat as a boring, old-fashioned feature.  However, while common, they are still not standard with every air conditioner.  It’s well worth checking, so that you have the power to program temperatures for certain times of the day.  They allow you to manage indoor climate control without constant attention.

Thermostats are also not created equally.  Advanced thermostats, such as Google’s Nest thermostat, actually learns your home’s rhythms and shifts to accommodate repeated schedules.   Smart thermostats also allow control, including temperature adjustment, via an App using Wi-Fi.  If you don’t have a programmable thermostat, now is the time to upgrade and enjoy the many benefits.

51. Not setting timers

Similar to programmable thermostats, timers come standard with certain air conditioners but people still make the mistake of not utilising them.  They are worth having and using to manage indoor environment, not only when out of the house but also overnight when climate requirements change.

Using timers to manage the running of your air conditioning system/s can save you decent money, as heating and cooling your home uses significant energy.  The same goes for businesses, where the savings may be even more significant depending on the size of the commercial premises and type of aircon in place.

Set and forget timers can really help those of us who have enough to think about when racing out the door without also having to try and remember to adjust the AC!  Heating and cooling timers can be pre-set, so you can relax and know your aircon is under control.  This assists with the climate control of your home so you can focus on the many other things going on in life these days.

Zone controller wifi app on phone with man controlling cooling

52. Not utilising Wi-Fi

If you haven’t programmed a thermostat or set up a timer on your air conditioner, then a Wi-Fi-enabled air conditioning set up can save the day.  This is often an added extra that many make the mistake of disregarding before truly considering it for their work or home aircon.

Wi-Fi set up with your air conditioner allows you to make adjustments from the comfort of your couch, bed, or when out and about.  It’s worth stopping to think about how this would work for you; laying in bed, one cold winter morning, and being able to take the edge off the air with some remote heating control before even having to remove the doona.

Smart phone applications make adjusting your home air conditioner simpler and easier.  Imagine heading home from work on a hot day, and being able to pre-cool the house to avoid walking into what feels like an oven.  It also allows you to monitor and adjust the climate for precious pets or the children when home on school holidays, all while you are at work.

53. Not having/using sleep mode

Sleep Mode or Night Mode is an under-rated, under-utilised, energy saving feature on many modern-day air conditioners.  It’s worth having and using this economic heat/cool setting to automatically adjust temperature overnight, as the name suggests, to help promote a better night’s sleep.  The relationship between air conditioning and sleep is well-established

To commence and maintain restful sleep, the human body needs to drop its core temperature by a few degrees.  Sleep is hard or even impossible to start without this temperature drop.  Meanwhile, excessive cooling can cause discomfort and contribute to a range of negative health outcomes.  This mode can help achieve a happy medium, especially useful for sensitive sleepers.

Air conditioner Sleep or Night Mode will automatically increase temperature gradually (i.e. 0.5 – 1 degree per hour), up to a maximum of 3 degrees.  This change isn’t noticed while sleeping but does significantly reduce the aircon workload.  This can contribute to significant savings over time, in terms of both your hip pocket and air conditioner lifespan.

54. Not utilising self/auto clean functions

It is becoming increasingly common for air conditioners to have a Self Clean or Auto Clean function.  However, this isn’t much good if consumers don’t bother to use this rather handy feature.  If you do have this feature, it’s recommended to use it every 1-2 weeks depending on where you live.

A self/auto cleaning function typically cleans and dries the inside of an indoor AC unit.  This is useful because the indoor aircon unit becomes quite moist due to moisture production during normal operation.  This moisture creates the perfect environment for micro-organisms, mould, mildew, and the like to grow.  It can also causes corrosion and rust of internal components such as the evaporator coil.

The self cleaning function helps keep the growth of nasties at bay while improving the indoor air quality.  It also improves the operation of the air conditioner and supports it working as designed.  It’s important to note that this supports but does not replace regular aircon filter washing, routine maintenance, and professional servicing and cleaning where required.

55. Failing to set/action/reset reminders

Another useful feature that is a mistake to ignore is service/action reminders.  Many air conditioners, particularly ducted aircons, have a service or filter cleaning indicator that will show up after certain number of hours run time (e.g. 200-250 hour).  This is a generic reminder that the filters need cleaning.  In a business environment, this may signify time for commercial aircon servicing.

Once the cleaning or servicing has been carried out, the reminder needs to be reset on the panel.  It’s important for this to happen straight away to ensure accurate timing between maintenance intervals.

Resetting the reminder also prevents it coming back before cleaning is actually required.  This can occurs if it wasn’t showing up at time of attention.  Remember, like any reminder, this feature is pointless if it is reset/cleared without the required action actually taking place.

Associated Paperwork

56. Not checking with Body Corporate/Council

When looking to install an air conditioner, or undertake any significant AC modifications, its not uncommon for people to make the mistake of going ahead without the required approval.  This can result in costly removal/adjustments being required, and often a waste of the original install or modification investment.

For Body Corporate approval, you will need to check specific requirements for your property and complex.  There is a wide range of requirements for obtaining approval.  Most require a copy of the quote, many require a diagram showing the layout, while some even require meeting attendance and more detailed explanations.

For Council approval, most applications can commence or even be completed online.  The degree of difficulty in approval will depend on what zone you are in and the specific approval you are seeking.  While is can be painful, it is worthwhile undertaking the required process of approval ahead of time.

Overexcited couple because of air conditioning service

57. Not having formal agreement/fixed quote

While we like to be able to trust people, please don’t make the mistake of relying solely on a hand shake or verbal agreement when it comes to air conditioning.  Unless it is a well-trusted family-member or friend, not having a formal agreement in place can cause headache if things go pair-shaped.

Firstly, you should be able to obtain a free quote for air conditioner installation.  This way everything can be set out and negotiated before the aircon is installed.  This should also outline all inclusions, exclusions, terms and conditions.  This allows a truly informed decision to be made.

For repairs, any reputable AC company and/or technician will outline costs involved and not proceed without approval.  This may be via confirmation text, email, or customer signature.  This agreement is designed to protect the customer, the technician, and the company.  No one likes nasty surprises, so it pays to be upfront with costs and ensure complete agreement before work is carried out.

58. Not checking installer qualifications

A lot of businesses advertise air conditioning installation, but not all businesses are necessarily fully licensed.  If your air conditioner is not installed by a licensed contractor, apart from causing issues down the track, it can void the manufacturer’s warranty.

It really does pay to check that your air conditioner is being installed by a suitable tradesman and/or company.  Firstly, you can check for the relevant Refrigerant Handling Licence (RHL) at https://www.lookforthetick.com.au/.  You can also ask to see the relevant Electrical Licences for piece of mind.

Furthermore, for any ducted aircon install, large-scale split install, or significant repair work, it pays to check relevant Building Commission licensing.  For example, in Queensland, any work over $3,300 requires the appropriate class of Queensland Building and Construction Commission (QBCC) contractor licence.

59. Not reading user manual

Many of us don’t like reading instruction manuals.  The same is true of air conditioner user manuals, that many of us make the mistake of never referring to.  Men are even less likely to read or refer to manuals than women (no surprises there!).

When you purchase a new aircon, it comes with a manual of some sort; Operations Guide, Owner Instructions, or User Manual.  This outlines operating instructions for your particular model of AC unit as well as key features and ways to care for it.  These instructions help ensure correct usage, help optimise performance, assist with maintenance, and promote longer life of the equipment.

If you don’t have a copy of the manual, contact your air conditioner installer for this.  Alternatively, you can usually obtain a copy online.  Just jump online, type in the model number, and there should be a copy of the guide towards the top of the search results for you to review/download/save/print for easy reference.

60. Not retaining receipt/s

Some people are naturally better than others at organising their paperwork.  Like any major purchase, you want to keep the receipt and any associated paperwork somewhere safe or easily accessible in case required during the warranty period.  This includes for the installation and the air conditioner itself (if purchased separately).

In the case of air conditioning, home air conditioner units typically come with a five year manufacturer’s warranty.  This is a long time to keep paperwork.  Electronic copies are handy in a long-standing email account, or paper copies in a well-organised filing cabinet.

If not retained yourself, all may not be lost in the unfortunate event that warranty repairs are required.  A reputable supplier or AC install company should be able to provide a copy of the receipt at least within the five-year period.

61. Not registering products

A lot of products these days ask for you to register them online.  In the case of air conditioner products, it can be a mistake not to do this if the option is presented to you. 

Registering your air conditioning system may prevent you needing to find paperwork in the unlikely/infrequent event that warranty repairs are required.  Even if you forget your password, your email, name or even street address may be all the manufacturer requires to recognise your aircon.  If/when recognised, repairs may happen without you having to do anything else.

Some products also offer extended warranty if you take the time to register your air conditioner.  For example iZone offer a 10 year parts warranty on their registered ducted zoning equipment.  LG also offer extended warranty on certain compressors for up to 10 years if the equipment is registered.

62. Not checking home insurance

It pays to know what you’re covered for under your home and contents policy or business insurance.  This is even more true when it comes to causes of damage that can impact your air conditioning system.  Don’t make the mistake of being in the dark about your specific coverage.

Insurance policies come in all shapes and sizes.  Items and causes of damage covered vary dramatically.  It’s worth being aware of causes of damage relevant to your air conditioner.  Common types of damage include motor fusion/motor burn out, storm damage, flood, electrical surge (non-storm based), fire, animal damage, and even accidental damage.

When reviewing or renewing your policy, consider your property location and likelihood of all possible events.  Do you often see geckos running around and think animal damage is likely?  Do you have an AC unit in a certain location at risk of accidental or intentional damage?  Taking out the most suitable coverage and knowing the inclusions could save you thousands in out-of-pocket expenses down the track.

Businessman insurance

Air Conditioning Assistance

63. Excess heat load inside

Many people make the mistake of unnecessarily straining their air conditioner.  Increasing the heat or cool load indoors when the ambient temperature is high is one key example.  Heat/cool load typically refers to the amount of heating/cooling a room or building needs to maintain the temperature set indoors.

Heat/cool load depends on many different factors, but there are ways to decrease this demand.  Cooking outside in summer is a great example.  Also running appliances in the early morning/evening helps to decrease load.  Turning off non-LED lights and bathing with extraction fan on are more simple examples that can reduce the demand on your AC system.

Increased heat/cool load makes your air conditioner work even harder at a time when it may already be stretched to the limit.  If the system is getting on in years, then efficiency will typically have decreased.  Any added strain could then push the aircon over the edge, resulting in individual component or complete system failure.

64. Not having/using ceiling fans

Don’t make the mistake of thinking you don’t need fans with aircon in place.  Fans assist and enhance the air conditioning effect in your home or business.  They are one of the cheapest and effective ways to assist your air conditioner.

Any type of fan, especially ceiling fans, helps circulate cool air throughout your home.  This results in lower temperature throughout.  Air movement enhances the cooling effect felt by people indoors and decreases demand on the aircon system.

Many ceiling fans spin both ways; one way for summer to increase air flow, and another way for winter.  The direction can typically be changed by a reverse switch on the base of the fan, near the motor.  Blade design impacts which direction is which, so check out the manual for your fan, or just stand underneath it while on high for each setting to discover which is which for your fan.

65. Not considering roof/attic fans and whirlybirds

Over and above ceiling fans, you don’t want to make the mistake of ignoring the benefits of attic exhaust fans (power or solar) or whirlybirds (mechanical or wind-driven).  These can assist in lowering in-roof and in-room temperatures, reducing aircon demand.

These devices are designed to suck out heat in the roof space.  This lowers not only ceiling but whole property temperature.  This is how it reduces demand on the air conditioner and facilitates a cooler indoor environment.

Roof exhaust fans and whirlybird are particularly useful in warmer climates.  The sun can easily heat up a roof space to 60-70+ degrees celsius in summer, which has a significant impact on temperature throughout a building.  This is one of the reasons why sensible air conditioning companies limit ducted servicing/repairs in summer to the early morning; no technician wants to or should be crawling around in such temperatures.

Roof ventilator

66. Failing to consider windows and treatments

It is easy to make the mistake of failing to consider window number and location when looking at air conditioning in a home or business.  Investing in suitable window treatments that can assist an air conditioning system is also not considered as often as it should be.

Firstly, large windows can significantly impact heat/cool load indoors.  South-facing window in particular can soak up the sun.  Remember to consider window location and sizing when calculating heat/cool load for an air conditioner initially.

Secondly, keep windows covered during the heat of the day wherever possible.  For natural light, consider the array of window treatments available.  This includes tinting, sheer curtains, shutters, and tilting horizonal blinds, just to name a few.

67. Not considering/installing insulation

It is recommended to consider the insulation in your home when investing in air conditioning.  Don’t make the mistake of investing in a new air conditioner, only to have it’s effects diminished by lack of insulation.  If the impact is significant enough, the new aircon may no longer be suitable for the area that it is designed to heat or cool.

Ceiling, wall, and floor insulation all have a significance impact on temperature control in a building.  For example, a properly insulated attic space can save up 50% on home heating expenses.  So, not only is the impact of insulation felt indoors, but it is also felt in your wallet.

Insulation is often straight forward and cost-effective to install, if not already present.  As mentioned, it has subsequent impact on your power bill.  Insulation should simply not be ignored.

68. Neglecting pest management

People rarely stop to consider pest management in relation to air conditioners.  There are two main factors when it comes to animals and aircons; We need to consider pest management to protect the AC units, but also air conditioning can help protect us against unwanted animals.

If an air conditioner is too close to animals’ natural habitat, the risk of animal damage to the AC unit is high.  Such damage is common when animals such ants, roaches, geckos, lizards, frogs, snakes, mice, rats and even possums interact with the aircon unit.  Domestic pets can also cause damage, but few people would consider these pests.

On the flip-side, air conditioning can help keep out unwanted animals.  By having an operational air conditioning system in place, windows and doors can be closed.  This prevents unwanted visitors such as flies, mosquitos, and all other animals mentioned above, from sneaking in through openings.  Furthermore, a routinely maintained air conditioner can control dust mites which otherwise thrive in warm, damp, dark conditions.

69. Neglecting the garden

Letting the garden go a little is not uncommon with our busy lives, but this neglect is a big mistake around air conditioner units.  Don’t let this routine maintenance task lapse and result in damage to your aircon.

Strategically planted landscaping can help shade your outdoor unit, windows, and parts of the home, which reduces demand on the air conditioning system.  However, if too close to the home or overgrown, greenery can provide a home or invite animals around that can damage your AC.

An overgrown garden can also start to grow into the AC unit, wrapping around internal components and/or causing electrical issues.  Having items so close to the condenser also reduces airflow, causing reduced efficacy, performance, and potentially permanent damage.  To avoid such issues, assess and maintain all trees, bushes, grass, weeds, garden beds, vegie patches, and any other living matter near your air conditioner units.

70. Storing items around AC units

Gardens are not the only issue when it comes to mistakes made around the condensing unit or air conditioner as a whole.  It’s relatively common for people to make the mistake of storing items around an air conditioner with negative impact.

The outdoor condensing unit needs space all around it to work properly.  Any items placed too close can reduce air flow and system efficiency.  In general, there needs to be at least 1 metre clear in front of the unit and 300mm clear around a unit.  The area behind the unit is may be slightly less, depending on manufacturer specifications.  However, the more space the better.

Any items placed too close to an indoor or outdoor unit can reduce air flow and system efficiency.  Such items include furniture, plants, screens, covers, boxes, fences, bins, gardening equipment/tools, bikes, pumps, and pool chemicals/equipment.  Basically, anything within the recommended clearance zone around the unit should be removed to protect your air conditioner and ensure maximum performance.

There are so many different mistakes that can be made with air conditioners.  Errors can be made at all stages of an aircon lifecycle; selection, purchase, installation, usage, maintenance, assisting, and replacement at end of life.

Air conditioning technicians are trained to avoid and help advise on these issues, which is why their skills and experience can not be underestimated.  Failure to appreciate a decent heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) technician may be mistake number 71!

This article has outlined just some of the most common aircon mistakes.  Hopefully you have picked up some tips and now know what to look out for with your own air conditioning journey.

If you require any assistance, please don’t hesitate to contact the team at Ice Blast.  They would be happy to help save you time, money, and get the most out of your air conditioning system.