The long heating season is still with us, but it’s not too early to plan for the cooling season. Proper maintenance of your air conditioning (AC) system will improve its safety and performance, reduce energy use and electric costs, and prolong the life of your system.
AC systems should be inspected once a year. Contractors will be very busy in the summer months, so it’s best to book a tune-up in the spring before you actually need air conditioning. A typical central AC system tune-up will cover a list of tasks such as: check voltage and belt condition, wash condensing unit coils, check drain line, confirm proper airflow, check thermostat operation and control sequence, check oil blower, check/adjust oil motors and bearings, and provide tips about operating and maintaining the system.
Between annual checkups, there are a few things homeowners can do. The most important maintenance task is to routinely replace or clean AC filters. Clogged, dirty filters block normal airflow and reduce a system’s efficiency significantly, according to the U.S. Department of Energy webpage on “Maintaining Your Air Conditioner.” Central air conditioner filters are usually located along the return duct’s length, while room air conditioners have a filter mounted in the grill that faces into the room. Filters should be cleaned or replaced every month; some may require more frequent attention if the air conditioner is in constant use, is subjected to dusty conditions, or you have fur-bearing pets in the house.
Homeowners also can keep the outside condenser unit clear of foliage and debris and clean the area around the condenser coils to ensure efficient AC systems. Dirty coils reduce the system’s ability to cool your home and cause the system to run longer.
Ask your AC contractor to review what types of maintenance you can perform safely on your system, and have him or her walk you through those. AC system tune-ups can be arranged through local heating, ventilation and air conditioning contractors in your area.