7 Tips on How to Maintain Your Air Conditioner
Today’s newer air conditioners are very efficient, but there are still some things you can do to maximize that efficiency over the life of your system. Even if your air conditioner has some years on it, these tips will help you keep cool all summer long.
Let’s begin from the outside and work our way in.
1. Keep your coils clean.
Leaves and other debris accumulate around your unit over the winter as well as throughout the cooling season. Dirty coils make your unit work harder and can take years off its useful life. Cleaning the AC coils and fins and regularly making sure the surrounding area is clean and clear of obstructions should be part of your normal maintenance. You can clean your unit with a regular garden hose and a broom. Do not use a pressure washer, as the strong spray could damage your system. Be sure turn off the power to the unit before you start and keep it off until the coils have had a chance to dry thoroughly.
2. Keep surrounding shrubbery trimmed.
Many people use shrubbery and plants to hide the unit, but they can be a source of debris that can clog your system. Keep shrubs and plants trimmed and make sure there is adequate clear space (about two feet) around the unit.
3. Angle your dryer vent away from your AC unit.
Your dryer exhaust can be another source of dirt and debris. Lint from the dryer can get inside the vents of your air conditioner and cause problems by clogging the coils. You can prevent this by simply angling your dryer vent away from your unit.
4. Check your ductwork and seal open spaces.
Leaks and gaps in your ductwork make your A/C work harder and provide less benefit. The cool air escapes through the leaks instead of making it into your home. Do a visual inspection of your ductwork to make sure it is in good shape and not allowing air to escape. Similarly, cool air escapes through poorly sealed doors and windows. Make sure those seals are adequate as well. Having enough insulation also improves your air conditioner’s performance.
5. Change your filter.
Dirty or clogged filters put an unnecessary strain on your A/C, making it work harder and shortening its life. Regularly changing the filter is an easy, economical way to keep your A/C functioning properly for many years. This simple step will help keep your utility bills low as well.
6. Adjust your thermostat.
Use your programmable thermostat to raise the temperature for the long periods of the day that you are normally away. If you don’t have a programmable thermostat, make the adjustments manually. This offers the short-term benefit of a lower utility bill each month, and the long-term benefit of extending the useful life of your A/C.
7. Last but definitely not least: Schedule an annual tune-up with an HVAC professional.
Routine maintenance is cost effective, saving you both money and headaches. A trained HVAC technician can detect many small problems before they turn into costly repairs that leave you with out A/C when you really need it. Your HVAC professional will thoroughly inspect your system to make sure everything is functioning correctly, check the filter and refrigerant, clear the drain, and clean the unit inside and out.