It’s springtime again! Everyone’s excited at the prospect of warmer weather while also being anxious about getting in shape for the beach, pool or other favorite outdoor places. For homeowners, this is also a good time of year to think about air conditioning maintenance. You know you’re going to be running your air conditioner a lot over the summer months, so it’s best to give this some thought now. Are you sure your unit is up to the task of keeping your home and family cool through the dog days of summer? Follow these simple maintenance tips and suggestions, and you should be able to get through the most scorching summer that comes your way.
Consider Upgrading Your Thermostat
Do you have a fairly simple or old thermostat hooked up to your central air conditioner? These get the job done but not as economically as a more modern, programmable unit. They allow you to automatically set the temperature a couple of degrees higher during those times when you are regularly not home. This way, you’re not burdening the unit with overuse when you don’t really need it and saving some money on your electric bill at the same time.
Make Sure the Area Around the Unit Is Clear
According to Affordable Comfort HVAC Contractor, central air conditioning units will be around the back of a home. It is important to make sure the area immediately surrounding it is kept clear of vines, bushes, branches, shrubs or other obstacles that may block or clog vents or grills in the unit. Whenever you are out back cutting the grass anyway, make sure your air conditioner has room to breathe, so it won’t develop problems and require a service call.
Examine All Vent Covers
You should periodically go through your home and look over all the vent covers for your air conditioning system. This includes any intake vent or vents in the home, as well as all of the vents that are blowing out the cool air. Are they clear of any dirt, dust or other obstructions that may be hampering the airflow? Put your hand up against the vent. You should notice if the force of the air coming out seems less than usual.
This is not just an A/C maintenance issue. If you have family members with asthma or allergies, the buildup of dust in these vents can trigger them in a very unpleasant way. Keep your air conditioner and family happy by keeping your vents clean and unobstructed. There are fairly simple instructions online about how to do this.
Clean or Replace Air Filter as Needed
The most basic maintenance task one can do regarding any HVAC system is making sure the air filter is changed regularly. If it’s a fairly high-quality filter, it may simply need to be cleaned and then put back in a couple of times before it gets bad enough to warrant replacement. Cheaper filters should be replaced about every month, and better ones may go a few months between changes. This maintenance tip is so simple and inexpensive to do, yet neglecting this simple task can cause problems of varying severity up to and including the failure of your air conditioner.
Examine the Wiring
Every once in a while, you should take the cover off your air conditioner and check the wiring. Look to see if there’s any melted insulation that covers any of the wires or for any burned-looking wires. While you’re in there, make sure any connections are tight. If you see anything you’re unsure of, call a professional. This is especially true if you smell anything like burnt wiring. Don’t mess around with something as important as this.
Get It Serviced Regularly
Unless you’re an HVAC professional, you’ll probably want to have your air conditioner, as well as your furnace, checked out on a regular basis. It may be smart to do this at the beginning of the season when you know you’re going to be using the unit a lot. Therefore, have your air conditioner checked in the early spring and your furnace in early fall. This is a small price to pay to ensure these systems are functioning optimally during their times of heaviest use.
Call a Professional if You Notice Problems
Central air conditioning units are not cheap. If you notice a problem with it not cooling as well as it used to, don’t wait for it to break down completely. Is the airflow not as strong as you remember it being? Perhaps it’s still pushing out air good, but it doesn’t feel as cool as it once did. You can check some of the above things first if you like, but if this doesn’t resolve the issue, get it checked out immediately. Doing so could be the difference between a relatively low repair bill versus an entirely new unit installation.
The above tips will extend the life of your air conditioner and put off the day of having to pay for a replacement. They should also help with maximizing the efficient operation of your current unit, which will save you money on your energy bill each month.