Tucson is one of the hottest cities in the United States. Surrounded by mountain ranges, the city isn’t just hot, but regularly reaches temperatures over 100° Fahrenheit. Indeed, climate scientists estimate that by 2050, the city will feel as though it’s over 105° F as much as one-third of the year after accounting for humidity. It’s hard to live with, and unsurprisingly, air conditioning is one of the most important tools Arizonans have at their disposal. And those air conditioners need maintenance.

To ensure that residents are safe and comfortable, HVAC professionals start early in an attempt to beat the heat, but they don’t work alone. Homeowners can keep their own HVAC systems running smoothly by ensuring that they are properly maintained, keeping problems to a minimum.

These 3 maintenance tasks should be at the top of every homeowner’s list.

Monitor Filters

Your air conditioner’s filter is its first line of defense against damage, removing particulates from your home’s air and keeping them out of more sensitive parts of the system, but that filter needs attention. Clean or replace filters regularly to minimize energy waste, maximize cooling, and prevent system clogs. Fail to clean it regularly, and you won’t just be breathing dirty air – you’ll be putting your whole system at risk.

When HVAC filters systems get clogged, the entire system can lock up and the ice inside may melt, causing water damage. It may also damage the compressor system. These are serious problems, which is why it’s important to have an emergency HVAC repair service on call, just in case. HVAC professionals see these cases all the time and can repair your system quickly, bringing home temperatures back down.

System Slime

Checking your HVAC’s filters is relatively easy, but other maintenance tasks can be a little more cumbersome. Take slime, as an example. HVAC systems often clog, not with dust, but with slimy bacterial overgrowth. They thrive on the moisture in the system, and feed on dust. Once such bacterial colonies form, it can take a lot of time and money to eliminate, which is why preventative maintenance is so important.

To prevent bacterial slime, as well as various molds, one of the most important things you can do is blow out the drain lines each year, ensuring that they’re dry. There are also treatments – typically bacteria killing tablets – that you can use in your HVAC system’s drain pans to prevent additional bacteria growth. Before using slime prevention treatments, ask your technician where to place these tablets to prevent additional clogs.

Cold Causing Mold

Considering the temperatures, it’s no surprise that many Tucson residents, as well as those in similarly hot environments, over cool their homes. The problem is especially serious in Southern states with cheap energy, yet Arizonans, who pay a premium for energy, are also prone to this practice. Still, in especially hot environments, it’s hard to imagine how extra cooling could be a bad thing. From a maintenance perspective, though, it can be quite serious.

If you set your HVAC temperature too low or your system is too large for your space, you may experience mold growth, typically in and around the vents. In the case of large system, this happens because they cool the space too much before running a dehumidifying setting, while in the case of over-cooling, the mold grows where the warm air in the room and the cold air of the vents collide. Simply reducing the temperature setting can go a long way towards improving your home environment.

If you do notice mold or signs of mold like an unpleasant smell, it’s also possible that your ducts are leaking. If that’s the case, then they’ll need to be professionally repaired. Mold can have deleterious health effects, so it’s important to get to the bottom of such problems quickly.

Extreme heat can cause dehydration, heat stroke, and other serious complications, which is why it’s so important to have functioning air conditioning in a city like Tucson. By keeping a close eye on your HVAC system, you can prevent major problems and spot looming malfunctions before they escalate, keeping costs down and your home cool.