The average air conditioner will only last homeowners about 10 to 15 years. And when it goes? It often costs more than $5,000 to replace.
With that in mind, you should do everything in your power to perform the proper air conditioning maintenance so that you don’t have to worry about your AC dying on you sooner than it should. By taking some simple maintenance steps, you can ensure that your AC unit will keep your home cool for the foreseeable future without needing to be replaced.
Take a look at 10 air conditioning maintenance tips that will stretch your AC’s life and help you to beat the heat on hot summer days.
1. Clear Debris Away From Your AC
Your home’s AC unit is usually positioned somewhere in your backyard right next to the house. As a result, it’s not uncommon for an AC unit to get bombarded with leaves, sticks, dirt, and other debris throughout the year.
Every so often, you should go out to your AC unit with a rake and a broom and clear away any debris that’s sitting around it. This will prevent the debris from working its way into your AC unit and causing issues.
You should also open up your unit every now and then to clean debris out from the inside of it. Lift the cage that sits on top of your unit and clear out any debris with a heavy-duty shop vacuum. Use a garden hose to clean the fins in your AC unit as well.
2. Inspect Your AC Pad
Air conditioners should not be installed on top of dirt or grass when they’re first put in. Instead, AC units should be positioned on top of a concrete AC pad to prevent them from sinking down into the ground.
The problem with using concrete AC pads, though, is that they’ll usually settle at least a little bit and sink down. This won’t be a problem if your concrete pad only sinks an inch or two, but it will be an issue if it sinks a lot more than that.
As your AC pad moves down, it can cause your AC unit to put a strain on the copper coolant tubes that run from outside your home to the inside. It can also put a strain on the electrical lines.
If you notice this happening, you’ll need to have your AC pad repaired right away to avoid those tubes and lines breaking.
3. Replace Missing Insulation on Outdoor Lines
Speaking of the outdoor lines connected to your AC unit, they will usually have insulation wrapped around them. This insulation is designed to keep the lines cold when your AC unit is on.
But unfortunately, the insulation can start to break down and get very brittle after just a few years. This can cause the lines to get too warm when your AC is turned on, and it can prevent your AC unit from cooling down your home as much as it should.
Check out your insulation when you’re clearing debris away from your AC to see if it might need to be replaced. It’s best to err on the side of caution since insulation is inexpensive and can be installed within a few minutes in most cases.
4. Change Your Air Filter
The first three tips here have all dealt with outdoor air conditioning maintenance. It’s obviously very important to tend to the portion of your AC system located outside since it’s exposed to the elements.
But it’s also important to take certain maintenance steps inside, too. This will keep your entire AC unit running properly at all times.
One of the easiest maintenance steps involves the air filter that’s used to clean the air that passes through your HVAC system. This air filter gets dirty over time and can drag down the efficiency of your AC unit if you’re not careful.
About once every three months, you should take out your old air filter and replace it with a new one. This will keep the air in your home cleaner and make your home as cool as it can be.
5. Look for Signs of Water Leaks
Have you noticed that there’s water leaking inside of your home when your AC unit is running? This is not good news since even just a small amount of water in your home could lead to mold growth.
An AC leak can be caused by all kinds of different things. But more often than not, AC leaks are the result of a clog in your condensate drain line. This line can get clogged with everything from dirt to the aforementioned mold and lead to water leaking in your home.
By unclogging this line, you can usually eliminate the leak in your AC system and prevent mold from growing. You might need to call in a professional from the best AC repair company in your area if that doesn’t do the trick, as there could something else causing the leak to occur.
6. Clean Your AC’s Evaporator Coil
There are some people who don’t feel comfortable opening up their AC unit and poking around in it. If you fall into this category, you should feel free to hire a pro to help with this particular tip.
But if you’re up for it, it’s simple enough to clean your AC’s evaporator coil when it gets clogged up with gunk. Simply open up the furnace unit inside your home and locate the door for the evaporator coil.
You can begin by brushing the evaporator coil with a soft brush before using a special coil cleaner on it to get rid of any residue that’s left behind. This will go a long way towards stretching the life of your AC.
7. Install a Programmable Thermostat
While most of the air conditioning maintenance that you do will need to be done on your actual AC unit, there are also a few steps you can take throughout other areas of your home to maintain your AC.
One simple thing you can do is install a programmable thermostat or, better yet, a smart thermostat. These types of thermostats will allow you to set your home to the ideal temperature and reduce the strain you put on your AC.
When your thermostat is set to the right temperature, your AC won’t just stay on all day long blowing cold air. It’ll shut off every now and then and give all the parts in your AC a rest.
8. Use Window Treatments to Your Advantage
Another thing you can do to preserve the life of your AC is use the window treatments in your home to their full potential. Whether you have curtains, blinds, shades, shutters, or something else, you can use them to prevent your home from getting too hot.
Get into the habit of closing your window treatments during the day when it’s hot outside. This will stop the sun from shining into your home and wreaking havoc on your AC.
Conversely, you can also keep your window treatments open in the winter to allow some sunlight to shine in. This will help heat your home up and preserve the life of your furnace so that you won’t have to worry about replacing that anytime soon, either.
9. Check for Air Leaks Throughout Your Home
Do you have air leaking out of your home in any areas? It can be difficult to find these spots, but it’ll be well worth the effort on your part. By preventing air leaks, you can stop cool air from escaping your home and forcing your AC unit to stay on longer.
Air often leaks out of homes around the edges of windows and doors. It can also find a way out through electrical outlets and light switches. Feel these spots for signs of air leaks and plug them up to trap air inside your home.
10. Take Care of AC Repairs Right Away
No matter how diligent you are about conducting air conditioning maintenance, there will come a time when your AC unit will need to be repaired. Do not put off making the necessary repairs.
Whether your AC unit is leaking or making a strange sound, you should shut it down as soon as you can and have a pro come out to help. You could make a small problem with your AC so much worse by not tending to it right away.
Make Air Conditioning Maintenance a Priority
Replacing an air conditioner is no fun for homeowners. It can set them back quite a bit of money and force them to live in uncomfortable conditions for a few days.
To avoid finding yourself in this scenario, you should make air conditioning maintenance a part of your regular home maintenance. Use the tips listed here to keep your AC up and running for many years to come.
And if you do end up having to replace your AC at some point, choose the right one for your home. Read our blog to learn about the features you should look for when shopping for air conditioners.