Air conditioners aren’t cheap, for most of us they are a major investment in our home that we expect to keep us cool and comfortable for many years. With regular maintenance and cleaning by a knowledgeable HVAC professional, a properly installed system will run trouble free for many years.
This post is for anyone who wants to get the absolute most from their systems, and these are some practical tips for any system, new or old, to help reduce wear and tear and improve its efficiency.
1.) Keep the condenser clean and free of debris.
The condenser is the part of the air conditioning unit that sits outside the home, and it relies on unobstructed air flow to work properly. Assuming your system is getting properly maintained, this should not be an issue, however it doesn’t hurt to check every once in a while, especially after storms or the spring thaw.
Keep bushes and brush trimmed back, as well as grass clipping and leaves cleared away. Refer to your owner’s manual for instructions on cleaning your particular unit. In most cases you can use a shop-vac with a soft brush attachment or a broom and hose to wash out the leaves and dirt, but you need to use care around coils as they can be easily damaged. Be sure to turn off the power to the AC unit before cleaning. Check out this great tutorial on cleaning your condenser
2.) Help your air conditioner to stay cool.
By shading and keeping the direct sun off of the air conditioner, you’ll cut down on the amount of work it has to do. This could be accomplished by placing the condenser unit in a shady spot or planting shrubs or small trees between the sun and the AC unit. Just don’t plant so close to the unit that leaves and debris will be a problem.
3.) Change your filters.
Dirty air filters force your AC system to work harder and over time, that can really take a toll on you HVAC system. How often you need to change the filters will depend on how often you use the air conditioner, the air quality, and the filter type, but usually it should be every 30 to 60 days.
4.) Keep your vents clear.
Make sure that no furniture or obstacles are blocking your vents (I see this all the time) and have your air ducts professionally cleaned at least once every two years. Allowing a clear pathway for the cool air to enter the room ensures better air circulation throughout your home, which means your air conditioner doesn’t have to work as hard.
5.) Only run the AC as much and hard as needed
Most of these tips involve simply decreasing the amount of work your AC has to do to cool your home, and the best way to do this is optimize your homes energy efficiency. Good insulation, quality windows, the use of fans and having good circulation, thermal blinds and drapes, as well as a well designed air duct system can all work together to boost you systems efficiency as and lifespan.
Installing a programmable thermostat can save money and make less work for your system. Set the thermostat to keep you cool when you are home and higher when you are gone. Alternatively, you could just do it manually.
6.) Have your air conditioner serviced regularly.
An HVAC professional can spot potential problems before they become serious. Having a annual tune-up and inspection could add years of life and optimal operation to your system. An skilled professional will keep your system clean, maintain the correct refrigerant levels, as well as inspect your system for any issues that may be impacting your systems performance. Small problems that go unnoticed will just get worse over time, which will ultimately result in more extensive and costly issues, as well as a decrease in your unit’s lifespan.