We take air conditioners for granted until they break down in the middle of a heat wave. Unfortunately, the middle of a heat wave is when most air conditioners stop functioning because they’re working harder than usual. Air conditioning repair companies get backed up during the summer, and it may take weeks for a repair technician to visit your home.
However, a little maintenance can help prevent this worst case scenario. By following these helpful tips, you’ll extend the useful life of your air conditioner while keeping it at peak efficiency.
DIY Tips for Any Homeowner
These steps only take a few minutes to complete, and they require no technical knowledge. Keep your outside condenser unit cleaned off by picking out dead leaves and grass clippings. Remove any plants growing within 18 inches of the condenser since they can reduce air circulation and grow up into the vents.
Inside, clean out all of the air filters at least twice a year. Filters are typically located near the blower and air returns, and most filters can be hosed down to remove accumulated dust. Replacement filters can be purchased from your local home improvement store.
Schedule Annual Maintenance
Preemptive air conditioning repair can keep your system running smoothly before it breaks down, so you should schedule tuneups twice a year. Air conditioning technicians will check your ducts to ensure that there aren’t any holes or obstructions, which can vent cold air into your attic. Duct holes can also allow cockroaches, rodents, and other pests into your home.
You can check your air conditioner’s coolant levels yourself, but it’s faster and safer to have professionals take care of it for you. They’ll check for any leaks and flush your coils to ensure smooth operation. While you could save some money by completing this task yourself, it’s pretty easy to damage your coils or coolant lines, which can cost you hundreds of dollars to repair.
Repair technicians will also clean your evaporator and condenser coils with a brush to remove any grime that’s accumulated over the past few months. Once again, you can complete this task yourself, but you can damage the coils. It can also be difficult for newcomers to take their systems apart and reassemble them later.
You’ll want to replace your HVAC system every 10 to 15 years to upgrade to the latest cooling technologies. For example, CFC refrigerants were banned about 20 years ago because they harm the ozone layer. Newer systems use HCFCs or HFCs, which are better for the environment.
All air conditioners become less efficient over time. While regular maintenance will extend their useful lifespans, 10 year old air conditioners will always use more energy than newer models. Newer models also feature enhancements like multiple fan speeds to use less electricity.
If a new system is out of your budget, you may want to invest in a programmable thermostat. Your air conditioning repair technician can replace your old thermostat in about 10 minutes. By turning up the temperature while you’re at work, you can easily save $5 to $10 a month.