Air Conditioner Maintenance: The Pro’s Guide
Written By Roy Faust
Conserve Energy, Save Money and Maximize the Life of Your Air Conditioner
This quick read will show you how knowing the basics of air conditioner maintenance can not only extend the life of this coveted appliance but could also save you a fortune and help you avoid a dreaded A/C failure!
- Protect Your Investment
- Avoid Costly Repairs
- Lower Your Monthly Bills
- Conserve Energy & Resources
Down here in Austin, Texas, it’s easy to appreciate the modern comfort that comes along with centralized A/C. Most folks would find it unbearable if not torturous to suffer through the summer heat without it.
But what can be even more painful is the energy expenses caused by a poorly maintained A/C unit or the mountain of money you’ll fork over when that neglected unit fails!
Did you know that according to the U.S. Department of Energy Air Conditioning accounts for 6% of all the electricity produced in the United States, at an annual cost of about $29 billion to homeowners?
As for the environment, roughly 117 million metric tons of carbon dioxide are released into the air each year as a result. To discover more about air conditioning, you can explore this cool Energy Saver 101 infographic on home cooling.
Maintain Your A/C Unit Like A Pro!
Anyone living in Austin, Texas, that has experience A/C failure during the middle of one of our brutal summer times understands that it is an absolute nightmare! I’ve been spoiled by modern luxuries like air conditioning. I have no idea how people used to make it through countless days of 100-degree weather without it!
The point is that you rely on your air conditioning system to keep your home cool and to make your life more comfortable. But to maximize the efficiency and the lifespan our your A/C system, it requires regular maintenance to sustain optimal performance.
Like all home appliances, it’s normal for your air conditioning unit to develop mechanical problems at some point due to normal wear and tear that comes from regular use.
That is why it’s important to keep a maintenance calendar to make sure you routinely service your system so that it keeps performing optimally and lasts longer. Simply maintaining your system will not only save you money but may also help prevent an unexpected summertime breakdown that could make you miserable and hot under the collar!
No homeowner wants to wake up to that nightmare, so keeping your precious A/C unit up and running should be your goal.
This 10-point guide will help you identify what maintenance is you should perform yourself, and when you need to call in a pro air conditioner maintenance professional.
1. How Does an Air Conditioner Work?
If you are a new homeowner or you are accustomed to using fans or window-mounted air conditioning units and are considering investing in a central air unit, you may not know how to deal with your central A/C system.
Fret not! After reading this quick series, you’ll at least understand the basics.
Basically, your air conditioning system pulls hot air out of your house with refrigerant that circulates between the condenser and the air handler. The supply ducts running through your walls then distribute the cool air from the air handler back to the rooms in the house. Return ducts carry the warm air back to the air handler where it is filtered and cooled.
When properly sized and installed, your supply ducts distribute conditioned air evenly and quietly throughout the house.
For a deeper exploration of how your A/C unit works, check out this quick read.
2. Why Does My A/C Unit Need Maintenance?
Just like your car requires regular maintenance to extend its life and run optimally, your air conditioner needs routine service. Keep a maintenance journal and consistently servicing your A/C unit not only extends its life, but can also save you a fortune on avoidable, but potentially expensive, repair and replacement costs. Something as easy as changing your air filter regularly can prolong its efficiency and improve your home’s air quality.
Do you want to learn more about how to keep your A/C unit running like new? Check out this energy.gov guide to maintaining your air conditioner.
3. Do I Shut Off My A/C Power Supply During Repairs?
YES! When installing or servicing your A/C unit, it is imperative to turn off the power that supplies your unit. Shutting off your air conditioner’s power protects your equipment and the unit from damage, but more importantly, it protects you from being shocked by electricity.
A safe way to check to see if you have successfully turned off your A/C unit is to try and turn your heating and cooling on from your thermostat.
Learn more about shutting off your A/C’s power supply here.
4. How Do I Clean My Outdoor A/C Condenser Unit?
Another easy step you can take to increase the efficiency of your air conditioner and protect your investment is by cleaning your outside condenser unit yearly. Most homeowners can perform this relatively easy DIY cleaning project, but you’re not sure or don’t have the time, you should hire a professional to clean your unit for you.
It’s important to keep an eye on the area around your unit, and you might have to clean your condenser more often when leaves and grass clipping accumulate around the condenser faster than normal.
5. Do I need to Level My Outdoor A/C Condenser Unit?
Nobody gets excited about moving your air conditioning unit, but if your unit is not properly leveled, it could trigger refrigerant leaks or fail to function properly. Invest in a level and inspect your unit at least once a year. Condensers can potentially become unlevel due to the settling of the earth under the unit.
6. Do I Need to Clean My Evaporator Coils?
YES! Dirty coils prevent your air conditioner from functioning efficiently. The evaporator coils in your A/C unit are a critical component involved in cooling your home off, but they also function to remove moisture from the air to prevent humidity. Since these coils are prone to moisture from condensation, they often collect dust and dirt.
The good news is cleaning your coils is an easy job to perform.
7. What if My Condensate Drain Line is Clogged?
Okay, so we just discussed how your evaporator coils collect condensation. To prevent all the moisture in that coil from flooding your A/C unit, the condensate drain line removes that moisture preventing it from building up. The constant build-up of moisture in your drain line makes it susceptible to mold and mildew. The resulting build-up can clog your drain or cause your unit to freeze.
This is one of the most common reasons homeowners have to call an A/C expert, which can cost you a bundle.
Luckily, you can avoid damage and repair expenses with a manageable once- or twice-a-year maintenance plan.
Here’s a quick read if you want to learn more about cleaning your condensate drain line.
8. When Should I Changing the Blower Filter?
As you can imagine with all the air blowing around throughout your A/C unit, dust can rapidly accumulate. Well, that’s exactly why you should never forget to replace your blower filter and do it regularly.
You’d be surprised how much dust and debris can collect in your unit in a relatively short time. Fortunately, routinely replacing your air filter is a simple job almost any homeowner can do to keep your unit running optimally and to improve your air quality.
Here’s a quick guide to teach you anything you might want to know about air filters.
9. Should I Use a Programmable Thermostat?
A properly configured programmable thermostat will help you maintain the perfect temperature in your home automatically throughout the day when installed correctly. Cooling your home efficiently is easier with a programmable thermostat that is sure to help save you money.
Here a quick read uncovering more about the benefits of a programmable Thermostat.
10. When Should I Call a Pro?
To keep your air conditioning system running smoothly and efficiently, proper routine maintenance and service needs must be performed.
Most of the tasks we’ve mentioned here can be handled by most homeowners, but some problems require the attention of a certified technician.
When in doubt, you can call upon the knowledge and experience the experts have to diagnose a problem quickly and get your system up and running safely and efficiently.
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