The summer weather came especially early and with no warning this past year. One day, the temperature was in the low sixties, and the next, the heat and humidity cranked right up. I went from enjoying fresh, cool air from open windows, to blocking out the heat and sun by shutting and blinding them. I set about preparing everything for the summer. I needed to pick up chemicals to open the pool and have the lawn mower cleaned and serviced. I arranged the patio furniture, cleaned the barbecue grill, and put together the fire pit. Although I acknowledged the need of the air conditioner, I never considered scheduling professional maintenance. The cooling system started well enough, so it seemed to be in good working order, and there was a myriad of other things on my mind. I was working on weatherproofing the deck, painting the garage, and clearing out the gutters. As it turned out, the summer weather was record breaking last year. The temperature was in the nineties, and the humidity was near one hundred percent. The air conditioner had to labor hard, running at maximum capacity for five months. By the end of July, I noticed the a/c was acting up. The equipment made a new grinding sound every time it cycled on, and was running for too long. No matter how low I set the thermostat, the cool air was not dispersing everywhere. The house was stuffy and the air felt a bit clammy. My monthly electric bills shot up and I called a local HVAC professional for assistance. The technician discovered a concentration of pollutants which was causing problems with the system. The accumulation of dust, mold, and other irritants was blocking airflow and wearing on components. The technician warned that putting off essential maintenance was causing polluted air quality in my home.