Let’s be honest: air conditioners are one of our biggest summer blessings. And we use them every second we can. Air conditioners use about 5 percent of all the electricity produced in the U.S. We rely heavily on these systems to keep our families comfortable and safe in the hot summer months. Peak summer months are not ideal times to run into untimely AC issues. The solution? Regular air conditioner maintenance before you run into problems.
Spring is a better time than ever to plan and budget for air conditioner maintenance. The parts in a unit require maintenance to function effectively and efficiently through years of service. Neglecting your AC unit will ensure a steady decline in performance and an unwanted increase in energy use (and dollars spent).
A little regular upkeep can go along way. Keep reading for five (totally doable) ways to perform air conditioner maintenance this season.
Clean your air conditioner's air ducts
Central AC systems are whole-home air conditioning systems that rely on ducts to deliver cooled air throughout the home in order to provide even cooling, ventilation and humidity control. If your air ducts are clogged or obstructed, your AC unit isn’t going to work at peak capacity.
One of the best ways to ensure your AC unit is working is to regularly clean your ducts. The air ducts in your house could contain millions of different particles of dust, dirt, hair, pollen, spider webs and other allergens.
If you choose to clean your air ducts yourself, it’s important to note that you should never perform any maintenance without first turning off your entire HVAC system. Once it’s off, you can unscrew the air duct covers from your walls and use a brush to thoroughly clean the grates. If you’re dealing with a lot of dust and gunk, you may want to give them a wash using soap and water. Then, you should use a powerful vacuum with a long hose to clean deep into the crevices of the ducts.
If you want the most thorough clean, you should hire a professional.
Change the air filters
The role of the air filter is to keep dust and debris out of your AC unit. A clogged air filter restricts airflow, decreasing its efficiency and reducing its ability to cool the air effectively. When your home’s air gets dirty, it causes wear and tear on parts and makes your AC unit work harder.
According to the Department of Energy, replacing a dirty, clogged air filter with a clean one can lower your air conditioner’s energy consumption by 5-15 percent. An added bonus? A new air filter can make a huge difference for your family if anyone suffers from allergies. Replacing your filter as part of your air conditioner maintenance removes dust, decreases pollen particles and ensure higher air quality.
The experts at Energy Star recommend your air filter be cleaned, inspected and changed once a month in peak seasons. The important part is making sure you use the right type and size of filter meant for your unit. If your owner's manual doesn't list it, an experienced technician can help you determine the right type.
Check your outdoor air conditioning unit
Over time, seasonal dirt and debris can accumulate on or get inside your system. That’s why it’s crucial to have your outdoor HVAC unit checked for debris and damage before (yes, before) you start to begin to use it. When you remove the unnecessary buildup, you can ensure proper airflow and system functionality.
If you’re going to clean your unit, please make sure to turn off the power first. If you think there may be an issue with your outdoor AC unit, please don't try to fix it yourself. Faulty electric appliances can do serious damage to the unit, your home and, most importantly, your family. Spare the DIY and contact a licensed expert.
Install a programmable thermostat
Routine air conditioner maintenance is the perfect time to consider installing a programmable thermostat. With a programmable thermostat, you don’t have to worry about coming home to an uncomfortable house. By setting the temperature based on your family’s personal schedules, your home’s environment will automatically return to the preferred settings by the time you come home.
Why waste the energy and dollars cooling down a home if no one is in it? With more control over your home’s temperature comes increased savings. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, you could save around 10 percent a year on your heating and cooling bills by lowering your thermostat back 10 to 15 degrees for eight hours a day.
What’s even better? Aside from saving money, a programmable thermostat can actually extend the longevity of your AC unit. Since you’re not making it run as hard when you’re not home, it lasts longer.
Schedule a full tune-up
After months of hibernation, it’s important to call a licensed pro for a routing professional evaluation of your AC equipment prior to using it.
The experts recommend getting a maintenance check twice a year or annually at minimum. In general, these visits should include checking proper refrigerant levels, electrical components and controls and condensers. A pro should also clean your evaporator and condenser coils and clean or replace your filters, among other things.
If you follow regular tune-ups and maintenance checks (in addition to following proper insulation, air sealing and thermostat techniques), you can cut your heating and cooling energy use by 20 to 50 percent. When a professional performs a tune-up, he or she can identify issues before they get out of hand -- keeping you from needing an air conditioner replacement and saving you even more time and money in the long run.
Schedule an air conditioner maintenance check today
Performing regular HVAC maintenance will extend the longevity of your systems and keep your home comfortable and efficient all year. To schedule your seasonal HVAC maintenance visit or to order an air conditioner replacement, call the Arlington HVAC professionals at John C. Flood at (703) 783-0247 or schedule service online.