4 maintenance tips for your home air conditioner

Published by Parisa Ostovari

Imagine it’s the middle of August. There’s a streak of 90-degree days. Out of nowhere (or so it would appear), your air conditioning stops working. Not good. You’re left physically sweating while worrying about what’s wrong with your system.

Most likely, a professional will be able to fix your unit. There’s also a good chance routine maintenance could have prevented the breakdown. Ninety percent of calls we receive for breakdowns are due to lack of maintenance. Here are four things you can do to keep your system up and running.

 1. Replace the furnace filter

The furnace and air conditioner work together to keep your home comfortable. The air conditioner coil sits on top of your furnace. In order to keep it clean, you need to replace your furnace filter regularly. Standard 1-inch disposable filters should be changed monthly while high efficiency filters can be changed less often.

2. Clear debris from outside AC unit

An air conditioner includes an inside and outside unit. The outside unit needs proper airflow in order to work correctly. A standard rule you can follow is providing three feet of space around the unit and five feet above the unit for necessary airflow. It’s also important to keep debris such as leaves and branches away from the outside unit. The unit can suck in dirt, pollen, etc., which can plug the coil. A plugged coil is the No. 1 reason for loss of air conditioning. Do not hose down or brush off the coils. This could actually damage the unit or push the dirt and debris farther into the unit — making matters worse. Leave this for the professionals.

3. Schedule professional maintenance

We recommend an annual tune-up to ensure your air conditioner is working safely and efficiently. A technician will clean and inspect the components to make sure there are no damages or safety hazards. If not properly cleaned every year, your system could be losing up to 40 percent efficiency. You could actually save the cost of maintenance —or more — in energy savings. Having annual maintenance performed on your HVAC system also helps extend the life of your air conditioner and furnace.

4. Set at 74 to 76 degrees

The higher you can set the thermostat, the better. Many of us are guilty of overworking our air conditioner by setting it at 72 degrees or colder. The main job of your air conditioning system is actually to dehumidify your home — not cool the air inside it. During periods of high humidity or extreme temperatures, we recommend you do not set the thermostat back while you are not home, because the system will lose control over the humidity and temperature. It then has to work harder when you return to reduce the humidity. Keeping your unit from overworking will reduce wear and tear and prolong its life.