Central Air Conditioning You Can Count On

Contractor Tim Mosher says it's important to take good care of a central air conditioning system.

Tim advises, "The preventative maintenance in the beginning of the season is better than having to have a serviceman come out during a heat wave."

And Consumer Reports says carefully choosing an air conditioning system can help you avoid service calls, too. Its latest product-reliability survey shows some central air systems have been significantly more repair-prone - Amana, Goodman, and York.

Dan DiClerico with Consumer Reports says, "In the past six years, close to one in five of these systems needed repairs. That's a lot."

Consumer Reports' survey also shows how inconvenient repairs can be.

Ten percent of those polled said they needed repeated repairs in the first year.

Eighteen percent reported their system broke down completely. And 39 percent lost A-C for at least a day.

Dan goes on to say, "About 30% who had problems had to pay $150 or more for the repair."

To prevent having to call a repairman, Consumer Reports says invest in a more reliable brand, including ones from American Standard, Rheem, or Trane.

And don't do this! Plants and hedges should be at least two feet away from the air conditioning unit.

Also, clean filters and grills monthly. And be sure to seal and insulate every duct.

Dan says, "Up to 30 to 40% of energy can escape through leaks when ducts aren't insulated."

Another energy saver - use a programmable thermostat and set the temperature higher when you're out of the house.

Consumer Reports' survey turned up more interesting information - homeowners who hired the installer themselves versus those who let a home builder do the hiring had significantly fewer repairs.

And once your system is installed, Consumer Reports says it's important to get it inspected by a professional at the beginning of every cooling season to avoid repair problems.

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