How Often Should I Have Maintenance Performed on My Air Conditioner, and What Can I Do on My Own?
Keeping your air conditioner in excellent running order requires more than a passing thought — there’s real work involved, including scheduled professional maintenance, to ensure your unit is performing at its best. Beyond calling your favorite air conditioner technician out once or twice a year to inspect your system, there are several things you can do on your own.
Regular Maintenance Tasks
In the spring and fall, while the weather’s nice, pick some nice days to spend with your air conditioner. With a few basic tools, you can do a lot of the maintenance necessary to get the most efficiency out of your unit. Take time to complete these basic tasks:
- Remove Vegetation and Debris. Leaves and vegetation can block airflow to your condenser coil, so make sure all the debris is out of the way so your unit can properly rid itself of excess heat. Keep an eye out for growing plants and cut back anything growing within two feet of the air conditioner.
- Clean Your Condenser Coil. With all debris removed, it’s time to bathe the air conditioner with a garden hose. Along with garbage getting caught in the condenser, dirt can clog the tiny openings between the fins, making it harder for the condenser to pull in environmental air. Wash the unit with plain water from your hose to loosen sand and dirt, then again to rinse it away.
- Straighten the Condenser Fins. You can purchase a special comb designed to straighten the tiny condenser fins when they’ve become damaged. Keeping these fins straight allows your condenser to do its job more efficiently and squeezes the most cold air out of your air conditioner for your energy dollar.
- Change Your Filter. It seems like a little thing, but changing your filter monthly makes a huge difference in the health of your air conditioning system. By keeping your filter clean, the airflow in your system will remain at optimal levels.
- Flush Your Condensation Line. When your evaporator coil forces moisture out of the air, the moisture drops into a pan below and out through a tube or pipe and away from your home. This line, called the condensation line, can get clogged with algae or bacterial colonies over time and back up into the evaporator pan, resulting in an overflow. Remove the line once a month and flush it with bleach or vinegar water to keep the water flowing. When chronic backups are a problem, you can install a clean-out to simplify line care.
- Check the Accessible Ductwork. During regular maintenance, take a look at your ductwork. Reconnect anything that’s loose and tie up any parts that are sagging. A well-sealed duct system delivers cool air evenly across your home and prevents dust from accumulating inside.
Running through these maintenance items once a month is the best thing you can do for your air conditioner. Sure, you can wait for your professional service call, but the better you maintain your system, the easier it will be to catch little problems before they become larger.
A Professional Check-Up
At least once yearly, invite your friendly neighborhood air conditioning professional out to take a look at your air conditioner. The tech examine all the moving parts, check the refrigerant level and electrical connections, and give your unit a clean bill of health. If there’s trouble somewhere in the system, your hired help can point you to it, fix it, or help you decide it’s time for a new system.
Doing most of your own maintenance on a regular basis means that your air conditioner will be in the best shape possible before your professional inspection — and that means a longer life for your air conditioner.
September 6, 2017