When it’s hot, and humid outside, you want to head home and enjoy the comfort of the cool indoors. Properly maintaining your AC unit is the best way to prevent breakdowns during the summer heat. Here are a few simple steps to keep it running well:
Change the Filters Monthly: This may seem like a no-brainer, but this is the most neglected AC maintenance item, and also causes the most problems! Many people don’t keep AC filters around and thus, forget to replace them. Consider buying a case of filters so you always have them on hand and are less likely to neglect replacement. Don’t use the store bought air filters you can see through. They stop less than 20% of the dust and particles. The best option is a permanent washable air filter. Take it out once a month, wash with the hose, and put it back. We recommend the BoAir. It keeps out up to 97% of the particles and dust, and it has a lifetime warranty. It would be the last air filter you would ever have to buy.
Clean the Outside Condensing Unit Monthly: Keep the unit clear of debris and junk. Try to rinse the condensing unit after dust storms or cutting your grass. Many people try to landscape around the outdoor condenser for a nicer look, however manufacturers of HVAC equipment have specific clearance guidelines to make sure the unit functions properly. They typically recommend at least 12 to 18 inches of clearance on all four sides of the central condensing unit, and at least 3 to 6 feet of clearance on the top or fan-side.
Install Ceiling Fans: Closing off rooms and shutting their vents is not an effective way to save on energy costs, it actually creates a pocket of WARM air in the central duct system, increasing the risk for moisture inside your attic, crawlspace, or wall, whichever is nearest to the closed vent. Install ceiling fans to move the air inside your home. Add a fan to each room to help your AC system operate more efficiently!
Use Heat Producing Appliances After Hours: A simple trick to keep heat out of your home, is to not bring it in. Cooking outdoors instead of using the stove top or oven in the peak early evening hours, as well as doing your laundry after sunset will prevent bringing additional heat into your home during the hottest time of the day.
Service the Unit Once a Year: Some companies suggest servicing the unit twice a year will keep it running at its peak and extend the life of your equipment. Once a year is all you need and ideally before the summer heat is the best time to maintain your AC unit. It can be difficult to justify the expense, but for about $150-$200 a year you can maintain your AC system. An AC tune-up is generally a full system checkup where the technician will perform a diagnostic, inspect and clean the entire air conditioning system and alert you to any potential issues. Be wary of the cheap $79 tune ups. Those are generally just inspections. Make sure your tune up provides for physical work on your system and includes a condenser coil cleaning.
When your AC unit fails: Most often, the technician who found the problem is willing to fix it, but at what cost? Most people think that they get a faster AC unit replacement by the company that is already on site. Any new AC unit installation still generally takes 2-3 days for completion as the contractor needs to order the unit, fabricate the installation parts, and clear the scheduled time for the unit installation.
The most common time for breakdowns is the peak of summer when HVAC contractors are at their busiest and many times not available for even same day service to make diagnosis. If your unit is old and has had a history of repairs, do you homework now, research online and gather estimates. You will be better prepared to get what you want at the best price when that dreaded unit fail time happens.