7 Tips on How to Maintain Your Air Conditioner

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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.

Contact a Rheem Pro Partner today to schedule your A/C maintenance or to get answers to your maintenance questions. We’re here to help!

5 Ways to Increase the Energy Efficiency of Your Air Conditioner and Save Money

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Summer can be a challenging balance between keeping your home cool and keeping your utility bills low. Here are 5 simple ways to do both:

1. Change the Filter

This is perhaps the simplest and most economical way to improve the efficiency of your A/C. With just a little effort, you’ll see big rewards. If you haven’t changed the filter since last summer, now is definitely the time to do so. Filters should be changed or cleaned every month or two during cooling season to keep your system running efficiently. The frequency is higher if you have furry pets or excessive dust. Clean filters can lower your system’s energy consumption by 5-15%. And that’s not all. Clean filters also prolong the life of your air conditioner by keeping dirt out of the evaporator coil (which can impair the coil’s capacity for heat absorption), and improve air quality by removing allergens and other irritants.

2. Check Your Ducts for Leaks

If your air conditioner works, but doesn’t produce as much cool air as it should, your ducts could be the problem. Duct leaks can result in as much as 40% of energy being lost with a functioning air conditioner. That is a lot of wasted energy costing you money without providing the comfort you are paying for. Inspect your ducts to make sure they are well insulated, with no gaps or holes. Also check that there is no air loss where the ducts connect to the system.

3. Clean the Coils

Even if you regularly change or clean your filter, your air conditioner’s evaporator coil collects dirt over the winter and during use. The dirt reduces airflow and compromises your A/C’s performance. Before the start of the summer season, check the coil and clean it if necessary. The aluminum fins on the coils can be damaged so clean them carefully. Consider using a “fin comb” (available at air conditioner wholesalers) to restore the fins to there original condition.

4. Check the Outdoor Condenser Unit

The same goes for the outdoor condenser. Dirt, leaves and other debris can collect around the unit and should be cleared away. Trim any nearby foliage so that it is at least two feet from the condenser.

5. Hire a Professional to Perform Air Conditioner Maintenance

For worry-free service, schedule routine maintenance with an HVAC professional before the summer heat arrives, and again at the end of the season. Professional maintenance ensures that your A/C is operating efficiently. Qualified technicians can spot and correct small problems before they become big, costly problems, and reduce the chance that you will be without air conditioning when you need it.

A Rheem Pro Partner technician is ready to serve you. Call today for your maintenance check, or with any air conditioning concerns or questions.

Is Now a Good Time to Replace Your Air Conditioner?

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If your A/C has been malfunctioning, or is not working as efficiently or effectively as it should, you may be thinking about purchasing a new one. There are several factors to consider when contemplating this major investment.

  • Age of the Air Conditioner

    Age alone is not a reason to replace your air conditioner. If it works, and your utility bills are low, you’re probably fine not making a change. It is worth noting, however, that many improvements have been made to newer air conditioners. Improvements such as programmable thermostats and better overall design make them much more energy efficient. The savings on utility bills could be significant if you have an older unit, and those savings can greatly offset the cost of a new air conditioner. Energy Star recommends upgrading to an energy-efficient unit if your current A/C is 10 or more years old. Many HVAC technicians typically recommend replacing units if they are 15 years or older. Your HVAC professional can help you evaluate the savings you are likely to achieve with a new system and determine whether a replacement makes sense for you.

  • Frequency and Cost of Repairs

    If you’re constantly replacing parts or repeatedly having the same repair issues you should consider replacement. Even if this is your first significant repair, a good guideline is the $5,000 rule. Multiply the age of your air conditioner by the cost of the repair. If the number is greater than $5,000, replacing it makes sense.

  • Nature of Repairs

    If your A/C requires additional refrigerant (Freon) that can indicate there is leak. This type of repair can get pricey pretty quickly. The coolant itself costs $40-$175 per pound. While that may include the cost of the service call, repairing the leak plus topping off the coolant can run between $550 and $1,000. This type of leak can also signal that the compressor is about to fail. All together, replacing the compressor, repairing the leak, and adding coolant can cost as much as a new low-end unit.

  • Energy Efficiency

    The industry measures efficiency of new air conditioners with the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER). The higher the SEER rating, the more efficient the product. In January 2006, the standard for residential air conditioners was increased to a SEER of 13 or higher. Efficient A/C systems keep your utility bills low and also reduce your environmental impact.

Additional Factors

Some other things to consider include:

Is the repair covered by a warranty?

Are replacement parts available?

How long do you plan to stay in your home? Will you reap enough benefit from a new air condition, either through your own comfort or through the sale of your home?

What is the life expectancy of the unit? Is it serviceable for a few more years?

New refrigerants. R22 was the standard for many years and is now being phased out and the price is getting very expensive. Manufacturers are no longer allowed to make AC units with R22. All newly manufactured air conditioning units are now using R410A – an earth friendly refrigerant.

To gauge the condition of your existing air conditioner, schedule an inspection today with the most qualified HVAC technicians – a Rheem Pro Partner.

What’s the Difference Between an Air Conditioner and an Air Handler?

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