May 5, 2021


Air Conditioning 101: Staying Comfortably Cool This Summer

Learn the difference between Central Air or Split Unit air conditioning and how to maintain your unit.

Picture it: You step inside on a hot summer day and feel the refreshing rush of a cool breeze… is there a better feeling? Albertans face all kinds of weather, often in the same day! Our air conditioners keep our homes cool and comfortable when temperatures rise. Here’s how to choose which system will work best for your space and keep it in tip-top, energy-saving shape.  

To central air or split unit? That is the question...

When you’re choosing an air conditioning system for your home or business, you have two excellent options: Central Air or Split Unit. The main differences between the two are the price, amount of maintenance, and the overall look of each system. Both should be installed by a professional.  

Central systems respond to changing temperatures by treating the air in a central location then distribute it throughout the home via fans and a series of ducts, turning on and off throughout the day as needed. They’re the most common because they’re less expensive to install and virtually invisible, but they do require annual maintenance and full cleanings are recommended every 3-5 years. Bonus: the addition of an A/C unit does add value to a home.  

Ductless mini-split systems have two components: an outdoor compressor and an indoor air-handling unit, linked together and operated by a remote control. Because this system doesn’t require ductwork, it’s a convenient option for older buildings or condos. They maintain a steady temperature that you set and can turn on and off yourself. They’re also often quieter, very low maintenance, and easy for professionals to install. On the downside, the wall units can be visually unappealing to some, and the initial install cost is typically higher.  

Save energy, save money!

As you’re comparing your options, you’ll want to see the SEER ratings; SEER stands for ‘Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio’ (the ratio of the cooling output of an air conditioner over a typical cooling season, divided by the energy it uses in Watt-Hours). The current minimum SEER is 14 for air conditioners. The higher the SEER, the more energy efficient the unit and the more money you’ll save over time!  

Maintaining your investment

Just like your furnace (or car!), your central air conditioning system requires regular maintenance to help it keep its cool. We recommend a yearly inspection from a service expert to evaluate the components of your system (and fix/replace what needs attention), ensure proper refrigerant levels, check coils, thoroughly clean your outdoor unit and more. A 25-point inspection covers all the bases.

Warning signs

Sometimes, even before your annual service visit, you may want to call in an expert to check on your A/C system. If your unit is more than 10 years old, you’re noticing higher energy bills, or if your unit is having to run all the time to keep up, you may want to call in an expert.  

Other things to watch for:  

  • Strange sounds from the unit
  • Odour coming from the unit
  • Water leaking from the unit
  • Higher utility bills
  • Low humidity control


Before you panic: It’s perfectly natural for air conditioners to produce condensation. Your A/C unit will pull the moisture out of your home by design. A central air A/C unit will be connected to your furnace and will drain the condensate (water) down the drain. So, a little dripping or leaking is normal. If you notice big changes, ask an expert to take a look.  

Sniffing out trouble

Your air conditioner should never smell… like anything. If you are smelling chemicals, you could have a leak in the refrigerant lines or if it smells like burning or gunpowder, you could be having an electrical problem. If you notice any smells from your A/C unit, switch it off immediately and call a professional to help sort it out.  


Teach someone to tune up, and they’ll live in cool comfort forever, right? You can care for your A/C unit by ensuring it stays clean and free of debris like dirt, leaves, and kid’s or pet’s toys. Albertans will also want to use a cover (similar to a BBQ cover) to protect units over the winter when not in use. Finally, help your unit do its very best by keeping keeping the fins straight, since they can bend over time. If your unit doesn’t come with a fin comb, you can usually find them at your local hardware store.  

With the help of a few professionals, you can keep your A/C unit happy year-round, so that it can keep you cool when you need it to. So, pack up that sunscreen and a few snacks – the warm weather is calling! Cool, comfortable air will be waiting to welcome you home.

Have you heard about Rümi's Home Protection Plans?

A home protection plan combines home warranty coverage, Ask a Home Inspector Subscription and special Rümi perks! Coverage options include core home systems, appliances or both. Explore our plans to find the right fit for your home.