Depending on where you live, the summer heat can be pretty brutal. You and your family rely on your air conditioning system to stay comfortable throughout the summer. For family members with health issues, it may also be more than simply a matter of comfort.
Your air conditioning system represents a sizable financial investment. It makes sense to do what inexpensive and simple things you can to keep it maintained and running efficiently. Below you will find some useful tips that any homeowner should be able to do that will get the maximum return from your home’s air conditioners before it eventually needs to be replaced someday.
Keep The Outdoor Condenser Free of Obstructions
If you have a central air conditioning unit in your home, it will have two main parts. These are the indoor evaporator and the outdoor condenser. The condenser will be housed inside a metal casing with removable panels that have slats that enable the hot air to flow out. You want to make sure that these slats don’t get obstructed by bushes or any overgrowth or debris clogging them. Simply check to see that they are free of obstructions, and prune back any bushes that are too close for comfort.
Clean the Condenser Coil
Your next maintenance step will be to clean the condenser coil within the metal cabinet it’s housed in. Dust and dirt will inevitably build up over time, which reduces the efficiency of the air handling unit. Before you start cleaning it, turn off the power to your air conditioner.
You need to remove any panels covering the condenser. This includes the top panel since the main cleaning step will be to lower a hose down from the top into the condenser unit, and then spray from the middle out toward the exterior of the unit’s casing. This will cause the water, and any dirt and dust it flushes out, to exit through the compressor fins.
Straighten Any Bent Compressor Fins
It’s important that heat moves away from the condenser coil within the outdoor condenser. Dust and dirt can impede this, which is why giving the condenser coil a good cleaning is essential. There is another culprit when it comes to impeded airflow, and that’s bent compressor fins. These are narrow metallic strips that run across the condenser coil. Because they are so thin, they can get bent easily. This is also what makes it easy to fix any bent fins.
There is a special tool called a fin comb that you may want to buy and use. You apply the comb at the bottom of the fins, and then you move the comb up all the way to the top in a steady motion. This may benefit from getting rid of any additional dirt that was missed when running a hose to clean it. If they are not bent too badly, you may even be able to straighten them out with a wire brush.
Change the Air Filter Regularly
This is something that you’ll do inside your home. The air filter will be somewhere between the air intake vent and your air handling unit since its job is to remove as much dust and debris as possible to keep it from getting into your air conditioner.
The interval at which to change the filter can vary depending on a number of factors. If you have a larger home, your system will be circulating larger amounts of air and can, therefore, get clogged more quickly. Also, if you have pets, they can shed as well as bring dirt in the house, which can clog a filter more quickly. You’ll especially want to stay on top of changing it regularly if you have any asthma or allergy sufferers in your home. The type of filter also affects the frequency with which to change it. Fiberglass filters are cheaper and should be changed roughly every 30 days. Pleated filters are typically better quality, so they may be able to go three to six months between changes.
Get a Programmable Thermostat
While technically not a maintenance tip, this step can still help your air conditioning system last longer. It makes sense that the less often your air handling unit has to switch on, the longer it should last. A programmable thermostat automatically allows you to automatically set it to a higher temperature when you know you won’t be at home. This also has the benefit of saving you money on your energy bill each month.
Keeping Your AC Going Strong
Your air conditioning system is critical for your family’s comfort and safety. Especially if you have central air conditioning in your home, it isn’t cheap. Since it represents a substantial financial investment, you want to keep it going as long as possible.
Following the above maintenance tips should help you get as much time as possible out of your current system. It would help if you also had an HVAC company come in periodically and check out your AC system, furnace, and all parts of your HVAC system. When the day comes for a replacement, you’ll know you did everything you could to put it off as long as possible.