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Your AC works hard throughout the summer months to keep you cool. Did you know the common air conditioner, which is now a staple in many households, was not introduced until the 1950s? Now, two thirds of all U.S. homes have an air conditioning unit of some kind to keep them cool during the summer months, according to the Department of Energy,
Many innovations in HVAC have been made since the early air conditioner, making them fit easily into home design and more sustainable for the environment. Air conditioners that are not serviced properly contribute to high energy costs and less efficient home cooling. To stay cool indoors this summer, maintain your air conditioner with these tips.
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1. Call A Pro
Neglecting routine air conditioner maintenance can cause up to 5% in original efficacy loss. Just like we need annual check-ups with our doctor, your HVAC system should have a yearly check-up too! Any issues that are caught early will likely need minimal repairs. The pro should inspect and tune up your air conditioner to make sure it’s working in the best shape.
A great tip to save money is to do this early in the year, before the demand is high for HVAC pros and to prepare your AC unit for the summer, if any repairs are needed. The average cost to repair an AC unit is $302, depending on the specific problem.
2. Clean In & Around Your Air Conditioner Condenser
It's best to clean your air conditioner at least once a year, especially at the beginning of the season. Your central air conditioner has a condenser unit that is likely located outdoors. Always make sure that there is nothing leaning against the unit, such as lawn chairs or backyard toys. This can cause damage to the unit. Clear any overgrown plants that get in the way of its function. Be careful to not damage any attachments when clearing the area around it. Shut off the power before beginning to deep clean the condenser, then remove the fan. If you can’t remember the last time you cleaned your fan and fan grill, expect plenty of dirt and build up to be present. Clean this thoroughly.
Next, clean the fins of the condenser with a garden hose, directing the spray from the inside of the unit to remove any dirt. Fins are delicate so take care when cleaning and drying. When this is complete, replace the fan grill. You now have a clean and improved air conditioner condenser that is ready to help you through the summer!
3. Change the Filter
One task that needs frequent maintenance is the HVAC filter. A dirty filter can reduce the efficiency of the AC and it is recommended that these are changed once a month. This is true for both window and central air conditioning units. Some window unit filters are reusable and only require to be wiped down thoroughly to clean. Locations can vary by product. Here are two ways to remember to change your air conditioner filter:
- Set a reminder on your phone for the first or last day of each month. If you have an iPhone, use the reminder feature to set the alarm for when you arrive home. This way, it’s the first thing you do and you can get it out of the way.
- Buy filters for the year in advance and label them per month. If you have what you need ready for you and organized, this task will be easy work that you don’t forget. There are HVAC systems that use the same filter for both functions, so extra filters likely will not go to waste.
4. Inspect Your AC System
Throughout the season, inspect your air conditioner to ensure it continues working properly and to catch any issues before it becomes a major problem. First, you will want to turn on your system and check for any strange noises and how quick the unit starts. If it’s slow to start, leaks or begins to make any abnormal noise, consider an inspection. Your investigation should end here as you contact a pro to diagnose the issue.
Turn off your air conditioning once you have checked to see how well the system is working. Here are a few other things you should inspect:
- Ductwork: Free of any dirt or build-up
- Thermostat: Working properly and free of dust
- Condensing Coils: Free of dirt and debris
- Condensing Unit: Clear of any overgrown plants and lawn items
5. End of Season Care
When the weather begins to cool, you’ll need to protect your air conditioner properly from the upcoming harsh winter weather, so it’s ready to function at its best next summer. Go through a final inspection and any maintenance steps from above. If you have a window unit, remove from the window and store when you’re sure you won’t need it again. Constant movement of the window unit can cause damage. Note any areas that need repairs and get proper AC maintainance.
For a window unit, a great investment to make is in an air conditioner cover. This helps shelf the unit outdoors from the winter elements and any animals that could call it “home” while it is not in use. Prices vary from $30 to $90 depending on size and style.
Always remember, before starting any HVAC maintenance, turn off your system. This protects both your safety and any damage to the unit. Air conditioning units are investments in time and money. Inspecting and cleaning regularly, you can eliminate high costs of repairs or replacements, ensuring a cool and comfortable summer for many seasons to come.
Interested in learning more about your HVAC system? Read Fun Facts About Heating & Cooling to understand more about your unit!