Your air conditioning system gives you and your family comfort on those hot days and nights, keeping you relaxed and helping you to sleep better at night. Your air conditioner doesn't last forever, though, so it's important to maintain it properly in order to keep it running efficiently and to lengthen the life of your unit.
An air conditioning unit typically lasts between 15 and 20 years, but if not properly maintained, those years can include a lot of time spent making repairs. See below for some helpful tips on how to maintain your air conditioning system.
Change the Air Filter
The air filter in your system helps provide your home with cleaner air by trapping pollutants, dust, and dander. If this filter is full, air cannot travel through the filter, which can "choke" your HVAC system. This filter should be changed every three months, or more often if you have pets (which can cause more dander and dust in your home) or if anyone in your home has allergies or breathing problems.
You can tell if the filter is dirty if you hold it up to the light and cannot see any light coming through the filter. Replace the filter with a new one the exact same size and insert it the same way you removed the old one.
Clean Around the Condensing Unit
The unit outside your home should be kept clean both inside and out. Keep weeds, grass, and plants away from the unit (at least a couple of feet clearance). Pull any overgrown foliage that can block airflow to your unit.
Clean up the unit by giving it a good hose-down to help remove grass clippings (never clip grass so it blows directly at the unit), dirt, and other debris that may be blocking airflow to the unit. Be sure not to use a pressure washer, as it can damage the fins on the unit.
Clean Inside the Condensing Unit
The inside of the unit can also accumulate debris. Leaves, twigs, and other types of debris can fall inside the unit from season to season. Clean up the inside of the unit by shutting off the power to the unit. Take the housing off the unit, then carefully pull out the fan, which will still be attached by wires, so you can reach inside the unit itself.
Clean up the debris inside, and then use a garden hose to give it a nice spray-down (being careful not to spray the fan motor). Spray the fins from the inside out to get more debris rinsed from the fins.
Inspect the Condensate Drain
The condensate drain that runs from the evaporator coil can become clogged with algae or mold over time. Inspect this drain to be sure there is water running out of it. Look inside this drainpipe, which usually runs to a utility sink or to a floor drain, and see if you notice any mold or algae inside.
To clean this drain, first turn off the power to the unit, then use a shop vacuum with extension hose and a rag around the hose and the drainpipe to suck out the clog. Run the vacuum for only about two or three minutes to remove the clog. Failing to clean out a clogged condensate drain can result in flooding the surrounding area or a system breakdown.
Check the Thermostat
Be sure to check the thermostat to make sure it is working properly and that the air conditioner is cooling your home to the temperature at which you've set it. If you notice your air conditioner is running more often than normal, or cycling too often, it may be time for a professional inspection.
If your air conditioner is on the older side (over 20 years old), running too often or having other issues, contact ACA Appliance to have your system inspected.