Having a functional air conditioning (AC) unit at home or the office is essential to keeping cool – especially during the summer. Reduce the risk of breakdowns and costly repairs by ensuring that your AC is problem-free and properly maintained. By maintaining your air conditioning unit, you optimize its performance, extend its shelf life and keep your energy bill in check. Below are the best ways to maintain your AC unit and ensure its overall efficiency and longevity.
1. Clean or Replace Air Filters
Air filters, typically known as the furnace filter, are critical to the function of an AC unit. They block dust and debris from accumulating on the inner components and purify the air circulating through the cooling system. Dirty, congested air filters put undue pressure on AC units and are a primary cause of breakage.
Furnace filters should be replaced regularly. Some filters (usually 1” thick) need to be replaced every 1-2 months while others (usually 4” thick or greater) can last up to 4-6 months. Check them regularly to remove dust, dirt or other residues and make sure to replace them when they are full of dust, debris, or when the filter has turned to a dark, grey colour.
2. Don’t Ignore Strange Sounds or Odours
Strange noises or offensive odours coming from your air conditioner are warning signs that something is wrong. Instead of ignoring them, immediately contact your HVAC professional to assess the unit and complete repairs if necessary.
3. Periodically Have the Compressor Inspected
The compressor is central to the AC unit’s cooling system. It enables the cooling process by moving refrigerant between the evaporator and condenser coils. Have an HVAC professional periodically check the compressor for signs of excessive wear or potential electrical issues.
4. Ensure Coils are Free of Dust and Dirt
Evaporator and condenser coils allow the AC to absorb heat and cool a space. An evaporator coil in the indoor unit absorbs heat from the air, while a condenser coil in the outdoor unit releases the heat outside. Over time the coils accumulate dust and grime, causing them to become insulated. This insulation limits their ability to function correctly, which can lead to eventual malfunction. Homeowners can easily clean the condenser coil in the outdoor unit with a hose by spraying it down. Be careful though, because you don’t want the spray from the hose to bend/damage the fragile aluminium fins. It is always best to have an HVAC professional perform this service for you during a tune up or maintenance visit.
5. Professionally Service AC Annually
Even if there are no noticeable issues, it is good to service your AC routinely. Experts recommend general servicing at least once per year. Ideally, this should be completed before warm weather is expected. An HVAC specialist can inspect all the parts to ensure they are in good working condition and correct any issues that may turn into more significant problems later on.
6. Properly Seal Windows and Doors
Be sure to properly seal windows and doors to maintain a cool environment and reduce stress on your air conditioner. Gaps in windows and doors let cool air escape and warm air enter. The more warm air enters, the harder your unit will have to work to adequately cool your space, increasing wear and tear on the unit and boosting your energy bill.
7. Consider a Programmable Thermostat
If you have a traditional thermostat, consider switching to a programmable version. Modern programmable thermostats have smart features to adjust your home or office temperature to suit your preferences and routine. This can greatly improve the AC’s efficiency. Smart thermostats are easy to program, and you can control them from anywhere using your smartphone.
8. Inspect Ductwork for Leaks and Damage
Leaks in ductwork reduce the amount of conditioned air that a room receives. The AC must then work harder, increasing energy use and resulting in a higher energy bill. Inspect ductwork periodically to ensure there is no damage or leaks. A common area for leaks is the duct joints. Ensure leaks are correctly sealed and use the opportunity to clean ducts of any dirt or grime.
9. Clear Area Surrounding Outdoor Unit
The AC’s outdoor unit may not be the most pleasant sight, but it is essential to the functioning of the unit as a whole. Keep the outdoor unit clear of debris and foliage by cutting away trees, grass and shrubbery. The outdoor unit requires maximum airflow on all sides to perform at optimal efficiency.