Your air conditioning unit saves you during the summer, especially if you live in a hot climate, and you should return the favor by making sure it runs properly for as long as possible. An air conditioner breaking down during a heatwave is a disaster, and HVAC systems aren’t exactly cheap to maintain nor replace either. Window units are fairly easy to maintain, but if you’re using central air, you’ll need to put some more effort in.
Central AC systems are comprised of three main parts. These are the condenser, evaporator, and compressor. These components may be combined into a single outdoor unit, or they may be split with the condenser and compressor outside and the evaporator inside as part of the air handling unit. A refrigerant liquid runs through tubes between the evaporator coil and condenser unit, and it changes from liquid to gas in a process called a phase change. This results in heat being absorbed, and the vapor is then pushed to the outdoor compressor.
If something goes wrong with any of these major components, you’ll have little choice but to call in the experts. Here are some tips to keep your AC unit running as long as possible before that happens.
Change your filters regularly.
Your unit’s furnace will have an air filter, which catches dust and other pollutants before the air is circulated back into your house. It also keeps the pollutants from traveling through your system repeatedly. These filters are crucial for indoor air quality and breathability. You’ll need to change this filter on a regular basis as recommended.
On average, filters should be changed once every 30 days, but you may need to do it more often depending on the type of cooling system you have. If you have pets or allergies, you may want to check your filter more often to see if it’s becoming clogged.
Keep vents clear of debris.
You should never keep furniture, boxes, or any type of clutter in front of your air vents. This restricts the airflow and causes your system to work harder than it needs to. It’s also a good idea to vacuum your vents on a regular basis to clear them of dust, pet hair, and other debris. This is especially true of the furnace vent. If possible, give it two feet of clearance on either side to ensure proper airflow.
Run the system less often.
This probably won’t be a popular suggestion, but if your air conditioner is constantly running, and you never notice it cycling off, then you really do need to give it a break now and then. The night hours should give you an opportunity to do this in reasonable comfort, though it may involve you hanging around the house in your underwear more often. Finding the most comfortable underwear for your body is important for this reason. Look for undies with a snug fit for your body type, so you’ll be comfortable while your air conditioner gets some much-needed rest.
Sign up for a maintenance plan.
Generally speaking, the professionals that install your system can provide you with an annual maintenance plan. You can try everything you want on your own, but regular AC maintenance contributes to a longer operating life. It’s typically best to get a tune-up in the late spring, just before those sweltering months roll in, but you may even be able to find an AC maintenance plan that’s good for multiple times per year.
The best course of action is a combination of professional preventive maintenance and your own efforts to keep your system running for as long as you can.