Baton Rouge, Louisiana
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AC expert breaks down the dos and don'ts of unit maintenance

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BATON ROUGE - People are doing whatever it takes to stay cool in this heat, but not all shortcuts are worth it.

A home in Brookstown is a total loss after a fire early Wednesday morning. Fire investigators say the cause was an AC unit plugged into an an overloaded extension cord.

Alex Darden with Accutemp says he's seen it all this summer, particularly when it comes to people trying to keep their homes cool.

For instance, residents are floating the idea of putting a tent or umbrella over the outdoor unit.

"So shade's not a bad thing, blocking airflow is. If you're putting up a pop-up tent over your AC and it's preventing it from breathing out the top? That's not good. You're going to end up re-circulating hot air and that's worse than just providing that shade," Darden said.

Another mistake he sees are people hosing down their units too often.

"Keeping those coils wet all the time is going to shorten the life of those coils. They'll rust sooner, fall apart sooner. It's the reason ACs in Florida don't last as long as in Baton Rouge."

Darden also advises never to use a pressure washer as it can damage the unit.

The most important thing you can do to keep your AC running smoothly and your house cool is to keep it clean.

"Years of grass clippings, dust, and whatever else is floating around in the air, all that gets trapped inside the condenser. If it can't breathe right, it's definitely not going to be working as efficiently as it could."

Darden says the easiest way to do this is with professional maintenance.


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