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Florida is famous for its hot and humid climate. With average temperatures ranging from the 60s in north Florida to the 80s across much of the state, air conditioning is a necessity to remain comfortable indoors during the long summer months. However, this demanding weather can truly test your home’s HVAC system.
In this article, we’ll explore how Florida’s climate impacts air conditioner performance and lifespan. We’ll discuss key maintenance tips you can employ to keep your system running efficiently for years to come. With proper care and attention, your AC can handle whatever Mother Nature throws its way!
The Intense Heat & Humidity
Summers in Florida can be downright brutal thanks to elevated temperatures and sky-high humidity. In fact, cities like Miami and Tampa average highs above 90°F from June through September. When combined with humidity levels in the 70-80% range, this creates a heat index over 100° most days. These conditions force your AC unit to run almost nonstop to maintain a comfortable indoor environment.
This excessive runtime puts a lot of wear and tear on critical components like compressors and evaporator coils. It’s not uncommon to see AC units fail prematurely after 5-7 years of use in Florida because they simply get overworked during the long summers. Compressor failure is one of the most expensive issues to repair, often requiring full system replacement.
To ease the burden on your AC, be diligent about replacing filters monthly during peak season. Dirty filters make the system work much harder to push air. Also avoid setting your thermostat too low, as this forces longer runtimes which lead to strain and inefficiency over time. Keeping your home at 78°F rather than 72°F can make a surprising difference.
The Rainy Season
While Florida’s humidity stems from the surrounding warm ocean waters much of the year, summertime humidity intensifies even further during the rainy season. From June through September, Florida sees frequent storms and downpours. Tampa alone averages over 8 inches of rain monthly during its wet season.
All this rainfall generates moisture-laden air, with humidity levels sometimes nearing 90 percent after major storms. This “soupy” air is very difficult for air conditioners to remove moisture from. You may even see water dripping from your indoor AC units on particularly humid days – a sign they are working overtime.
Over time, constantly cycling moisture can lead to mold, mildew, and drainage issues in your HVAC system. The evaporator coil is especially prone to moisture buildup. You may notice musty smells blowing from your vents, indicating it’s time to have the system professionally cleaned and disinfected. Condensate pans and drains should also be flushed annually before rainy season kicks in.
Let’s not forget – rainy season also ushers in hurricane season. Major storms often impact Florida between August and October, bringing intense wind and rain plus storm surge and flooding along the coasts. These extreme weather events can truly hamper AC performance in their aftermath.
First and foremost, major hurricanes often cause power outages lasting days for large parts of the population. Lacking electricity, your AC system will be rendered inactive until utility crews restore power lines. During outages you’ll need to take backup measures to stay cool, like heading to a shelter or using battery or generator power to run fans.
For homes in evacuation zones, turning off the AC through your circuit breaker is vital before departing. This protects the compressor from damage if floodwaters infiltrate the home. Upon returning after the storm passes, be wary of restarting water-damaged systems yourself – the electronics and wiring may be hazardous. Instead contact professionals like Attic Man to inspect for safety hazards and functionality before switching your AC back on.
Beyond power loss, hurricanes bring intense winds which can physically damage exterior AC components like fan coils and condenser units. Storm debris can also dent and puncture metal casing. After major weather events, thoroughly inspect your outdoor AC equipment for damage before running the system. Any compromised components should be repaired by a licensed technician to avoid operational problems or safety issues down the line.
Maintenance Is Key
While Florida weather can accelerate wear and tear on AC systems, taking proactive maintenance steps is key to maximize performance and lifespan. Be diligent about replacing filters monthly during summer and inspecting condenser and evaporator coils yearly for dirt buildup that impairs airflow and efficiency. Also clear debris and vegetation away from outdoor condenser units, allow 10-15 feet clearance on all sides.
Have an HVAC technician deep clean your complete ductwork every 3-5 years to remove accumulated dust, dirt and debris. Often overlooked, dirty ducts greatly reduce system airflow and lead to rapid contamination of brand new filters. Professional duct cleaning makes a huge impact for relatively low cost over time.
Finally, have a tune-up service call before summer kicks in fully each year. Technicians will methodically inspect all system components, diagnose any underlying issues, plus perform essential maintenance like:
- Checking refrigerant charge
- Testing capacitors
- Checking contactors and relays
- Examining control circuit boards
- Verifying drain pan functionality
- And much more
Tune-ups allow technicians to catch minor problems before they cascade into major repair headaches down the road. Think of it as preventative care for your HVAC system. Best of all, comprehensive tune-ups often pay for themselves over time by restoring peak performance and efficiency.
While Florida weather can challenge AC equipment, taking proactive maintenance measures goes a long way toward ensuring your system stays ready for those demanding summer months year after year. With proper care and attention from homeowners and licensed HVAC experts, your air conditioner can keep going strong regardless of the climate throwing its worst at you. Stay cool out there Florida!