Air conditioners are expensive investments. Not only that, but they have the power to significantly affect your energy bills, your home’s air quality, and that the entire structure of your household remains as strong as possible (e.g. by avoiding mold growth or humidity-caused damage).
To get more bang for your buck, it’s essential to schedule regular AC maintenance checks. This ensures that everything works as efficiently as possible, helps you foresee potential issues before they occur, and extends the lifespan of your unit. No matter how you look at it, it’s a win-win situation.
The Homeowner’s Guide to Preventive AC Maintenance
There are things you can do on your own, while there are others that will require assistance from an HVAC professional.
Things you can do on your own
1. Changing your air filters. Depending on your circumstances, you’ll have to change your air filters regularly (every 1 to 3 months). This will depend on what type of airs filter you’ve installed, how many people live in your home, whether you have any pets, allergy sufferers, or smokers in your home, or whether you like to burn scented candles frequently. All of these pollutants cause filters to be caked with dust and debris, which blocks air flow. As a result, your air conditioner won’t cool as well, will work less efficiently, drive up your energy costs, cause leaks, and shorten the lifespan of your air conditioner.
If you have washable filters, wait a full 24 hours before reinstalling them. This gives them enough time to become fully dry. Installing them while there’s still moisture present only fosters mold growth inside your home.
2. Flushing the condensate line. Air conditioners work by absorbing the warm air from inside your home and taking away moisture caused by humidity. This water then drains into a drip pan and is filtered out of your home through the condensate line. Since the condensate line is wet and enclosed, it’s a prime location for mold and mildew to grow. Prevent this from happening by cleaning it once a month. To do so, shut off the power source to your air conditioner. Locate the opening to the condensate line (If you live in a home, it’s on an exterior wall, next to the condenser unit. If you live in an apartment, it’s in the furnace closet). Take off the cap and slowly pour one cup of distilled white vinegar. Wait half an hour, then turn the AC back on.
For step by step directions, check out our article: How to Clean Your AC Drain Line With Vinegar
3. Washing the condenser unit. The condenser unit is the big box that sits outside your home (or if you live in a condo, in the furnace closet). Its side panels can also get covered in dust; and if it’s outside, they can also get grass, fallen leaves, and branches stuck between the fins. Keep trees and bushes around it trimmed and hose off the side panels (make sure to turn off the air conditioner first!) You can then use a condenser fin comb to straighten bent fins.
Things that require a technician
4. Inspect the air ducts and return vents. Running an AC year-round means your home’s air ducts will contain a substantial amount of dust particles. A humid environment can also cause mildew, and whether you like it or not, sometimes rodents find a way inside, so there may be droppings and maybe even a carcass or two (in which case, you’d be able to smell it inside your house). Therefore, having them professionally inspected will do wonders for the air quality inside your home. It’ll also improve your air conditioner’s efficiency.
5. Check that AC parts are all working. Drip pans, motors, capacitors, wiring, thermostat. All of these items wear down with the passage of time. An HVAC professional will be able to tell if they’ll need to be replaced soon, which gives you advance notice to budget for it and the opportunity to bypass any downtime if it were to break down suddenly.
6. Deal with refrigerant leaks. Unlike motor vehicles, you only need to add refrigerant to an air conditioner if it has a leak. The problems with leaks are many: exposure to fumes is poisonous, energy bills will increase, and federal regulations only allow certified HVAC technicians to purchase refrigerant.
To ensure that everything in your air conditioner’s system is running smoothly, we recommend scheduling HVAC maintenance once a year.
Call Colman Heating & Air for a New Air Conditioner Today
At Colman Heating & Air, we want to help you create the most comfortable environment in your home.
If you are in need of a new AC or an AC repair, call us! (321) 269-4565.