6 Air Conditioner Maintenance Tips to Keep Your Home Cool
As a homeowner, you rely on your HVAC unit to keep you comfortable all year round. Routine maintenance and care are an essential part of taking care of your air conditioning system.
Servicing your unit regularly has numerous benefits, including enhancing its performance, extending its lifespan, improving your indoor air quality, and increasing energy efficiency. Below are six actionable air conditioner maintenance tips to help you keep your home cool.
1. Inspect and Replace Your Filters
Cleaning your HVAC air filters is one of the most important aspects of your air conditioner maintenance checklist. A clean filter is crucial for your indoor air quality, especially if you have a ducted system. Considering the airflow cycle, a dirty filter impacts the quality of the air that is recycled indoors.
Blocked filters also reduce airflow and cause your system to work harder, thus reducing its efficiency and lifespan. You can consult an HVAC technician or check the filter label to determine how often you need to clean or change (if you have disposable filters) your filter. Below are the DIY steps to clean or replace your air conditioner filters:
- Turn off your HVAC unit
- Locate and open the service panel to find and remove the filter
- If your unit has permanent filters, clean the filter using running water, such as a garden hose or your sink
- Allow the filter to air completely, then reinsert.
- If you have a disposable filter, you can discard the old filter and replace it with a new one.
2. Check and Clean the Condensate Drain
A clogged HVAC drain is a sign that your unit needs servicing. The condensate drain allows condensation resulting from the refrigeration cycle to be expelled. It’s connected to a drain tray or pan in the indoor unit and runs into a collection point outdoors. Blockages can happen when matter such as slime, mold, and algae accumulates in the HVAC drain line.
Indoor unit components like insulation may also break off and clog the condensate drain. Inspect the condensate tray situated under the indoor evaporator coil to check for drain blockage. If the water collects in the tray, it may indicate a clog somewhere in the line. You may also see water pooling when you remove air filters.
Access the end of the condensate drain (they run into a gutter, drain, downpipe, or garden) and use a vacuum cleaner to suck out the drain. This technique can clear blockages, allowing the HVAC drain to function normally. If the water leakage persists, there may be an underlying problem that requires professional investigation.
3. Clean Your Indoor Unit
The indoor HVAC unit can develop layers of dirt, grime, dust, and even mold, especially on the coil and fan barrel. This buildup can lead to a musky or moldy smell and poor system performance from reduced airflow. Routinely wipe down the indoor unit using a cloth, feather duster, or slightly dampened washer. You may use an antibacterial solution to clean and sanitize the air conditioner.
The best way to do this is to spray the cloth first and then use it on the unit’s casing. Don’t spray liquid directly on the unit.
The indoor HVAC unit can be chemically cleaned with specialized equipment after disassembly. However, this task is best left to qualified and experienced HVAC technicians due to technical and safety considerations. One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning can complete this maintenance task during your scheduled annual check-up.
4. Clear and Clean the Outdoor Unit
Structures, items, objects, and organic matter around your outdoor AC unit (condenser/compressor) can restrict air flow and impact the system’s efficiency. Ensure that you remove any items such as storage boxes, home/garden equipment, bins, etc., around the outdoor unit.
If any dirt, plant matter, dust, or grime has built up on the unit, you can wipe down the casing using a damp cloth. You may also clean your condenser coils, although this job is best left to professionals. DIY cleaning may damage coil fins resulting in reduced heat exchange and efficiency. Incorrect cleaning can also affect internal electrical components.
5. Check Insulation
It’s important to routinely check the insulation around the HVAC copper piping. The piping transports refrigerant between the indoor (evaporator) and outdoor (condenser) units. Insulation maintains thermal efficiency within your HVAC system. The insulation is the black or white foam rubber material wrapped around the pipework.
Visually check the condition and completeness of the insulation around the evaporator and suction lines. You can check for damage signs from harsh weather, pests, rodents, or insects. Contact an HVAC specialist if you find any insulated AC pipework sections exposed.
6. Schedule Annual Tune-Ups
An AC tune-up refers to annual servicing and maintenance performed by a licensed HVAC professional. This service helps keep your HVAC system operating at optimal performance, improves its efficiency (saving you utility bills), prevents system breakdowns, and increases its longevity.
During an AC tune-up, an HVAC technician can detect minor issues that may become big problems later. HVAC specialists from One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning perform various maintenance tasks, including:
- Conducting a multi-port test
- Troubleshooting common maintenance issues (clogged air filter, dirty coils, and blocked condensate drains)
- Lubricating mechanical parts
- Refrigerant recharging
- Detecting repair needs
Keep Your Home Cool This Summer with One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning
Overall, implementing a preventive maintenance plan for your air conditioner will increase the comfort and safety in your home, ensure you breathe cleaner air, extend the lifespan of your system, save you money, and give you peace of mind.
There are other AC maintenance DIY tasks that you can perform to enjoy these benefits. It also pays to enlist the services of a professional air conditioner service for regular AC service checks, tune-ups, tests, and repairs.