Air Conditioner Maintenance

Air Conditioner Maintenance: How to Ensure Your Home Stays Cool This Summer

There’s nothing like sitting in front of your air conditioner on a hot summer day. The cold breeze blows in your face, providing relief that makes it feel like you’re temporarily at the North Pole.

But what you don’t want to experience is turning on the AC and feeling no cold air. In fact, it seems like your system isn’t working at all, and that’s troubling if you’re in dire need.

So before it gets to that point, we’ll share some air conditioner maintenance advice to keep your appliance working throughout the summer. Read on for more insight.

1. Keep the Filter Clean

One of the simplest tasks that keep your unit functional is cleaning the filter regularly. Air conditioner filters trap dust, debris, and other particles to help keep your home’s air quality healthy.

When you have unclean air in your home, it leads to irritation in your eyes, nose, and throat. Long-term exposure to polluted air can lead to cancer or heart disease.

Furthermore, an unchanged filter can put unnecessary strain on your system, causing it to work harder. As a result, you’ll see increased energy bills and shorten the lifespan of your unit.

To clean your air filter:

  1. Turn the unit off
  2. Carefully remove the filter from your HVAC unit
  3. Vacuum the filter
  4. Wash it with a garden hose or soak it in the sink with a mixture of water and vinegar
  5. Dry thoroughly before placing it back into the unit

Your air filter should look brand new after that. But if it’s too dirty, you would be better off replacing it.

2. Check Your AC Fins

Some jobs need the help of a professional. But fixing your AC fins isn’t one of them. 

Sometimes your fins get bent during other maintenance tasks like fixing your coils. Or they may get bent from outdoor elements. It may not seem like a pressing issue, but bent fins can block airflow and cause your unit to overheat.

Here’s how you fix them:

  1. Make sure your unit is completely off
  2. Remove the panel for the indoor unit and the wire grille of the outdoor unit
  3. Insert the fin comb into the fins and see if it fits correctly
  4. If it does, gently start at the top and pull the fins down until they straighten out

You can find a fin tool in any home improvement store. But you’ll need to ensure it matches the heads per inch in your system.

Dented fins aren’t the only issue when it comes to problems with this part of your HVAC unit. They can also get filthy from consistent use. While the outer covers are removed, use a vacuum to remove dirt and debris to prevent blockages.

3. Watch Your Coils

When it comes to AC preventative maintenance, your coils are integral to your unit’s functionality. The condenser and evaporator coils get dirty throughout the years because they work hard to maintain your heating and cooling needs.

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However, they often get neglected during AC maintenance, and like your air filter, any blockages will cause utility bills to rise exponentially. You can use a soft brush to clean the coils if the debris is light or a coil cleaner for heavier buildups.

4. Check the Thermostat

When you have home air conditioner troubleshooting issues, you instantly think something is mechanically wrong with your system. But sometimes, the problem lies within your thermostat.

If you have a battery-operated device, it’s best to check it now and then to ensure it doesn’t die when you need your AC. But if you want a more efficient cooling system, think about installing a smart thermostat.

Unlike standard thermostats, you can set temperatures for specific times. There are also other models that you can control from your smartphone. So you can select your comfort level before you’re home and avoid a lengthy wait. 

5. Inspect Your Home’s Ductwork

Some homeowners tend to forget that ductwork is another part of home AC unit maintenance. Air ducts are responsible for transferring heated or cooled air throughout your home.

However, dirt builds up over time, and your filters might miss some of the pollutants in the air. Furthermore, vermin can enter your ducts and leave little presents, and you don’t want to breathe those in.

Significant mold and mildew problems or a vermin infestation require immediate ductwork cleaning. However, the Environmental Protection Agency doesn’t recommend routine cleaning. Instead, it would help to have them cleaned every two to three years.

6. Clear Clogs from Condensate Drain Tube

Have you noticed water pooling around your outdoor unit? If so, you might have a drain tube clog on your hands.

Since the drain removes condensed water from your home, it’s a prime spot for mold, mildew, and sludge to build up. If it isn’t checked routinely, clogs form, causing issues with your air conditioner.

When you don’t remove the clog immediately, your drip pan—which holds the condensed water—will overflow. Furthermore, it can affect your indoor unit and damage your home. 

Clearing the clog from your drain line doesn’t require professional assistance. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Make sure your AC is off
  2. Locate the pipe
    • In single-family homes, it will be outside near your condenser unit
    • For apartments, the PVC pipe is in the same area as your furnace
  3. Remove the cap
  4. Use your hand to remove visible debris
  5. Slowly pour a cup of distilled vinegar down the drain
  6. Wait for a half-hour, cover the pipe with the cap, and turn your system on

Vinegar should get the job done. But if it’s been some years since the last cleaning, use the above methods, with additional support from a wet/dry vacuum. The strong suction power will help clear the clog more easily.

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7. Check if Your Unit is the Right Size

For some reason, no matter how well you’ve taken care of your system, your home isn’t cooling efficiently. One issue might be that the unit is too small for your home.

AC units are sized according to the cubic feet they need to cool. So if the unit is too small, it will overwork itself, cool inefficiently, and raise your utility bills in the process.

When purchasing a new AC, ask a professional about the unit’s cooling power. That way, you won’t have to worry about inefficient cooling or spending money on unnecessary repairs.

8. Inspect Your Home’s Insulation

You’ve noticed a steady increase in your utility bills, but you’ve had your AC serviced recently. So what could be the problem?

Have you ever thought about your home’s insulation? If there are cracks in your windows, walls, or doors, the cool air in your house will slowly seep outdoors.

As a result, you’ll run your AC for longer and strain your system. Use caulk to seal open areas in your walls and windows. For the doors, you can use weatherstrips to help improve insulation.

9. Windows Can Affect Cooling Ability

As we previously mentioned, cracks near your window insulation can let the cool air out. But the windows themselves can allow the heat to enter your home.

Keep your windows closed if you don’t want to rely on your air conditioner too much. For windows facing the sun, keep the blinds and drapes closed to prevent the sun’s heat from entering the room. 

10. Create an Annual Maintenance Schedule

The best way to limit home AC repair is to create an annual maintenance schedule. The longer you wait to solve any issues with your system, the more costly repairs will be.

During the summer months, HVAC contractors tend to be the busiest. So if you happen to notice dysfunctionality in your system, try to have a maintenance checkup done before summer hits. 

As you search for the right HVAC contractor, look out for deals that might be too good to be true. Some services might try and pull a fast one on you and provide inadequate maintenance.

Instead, contact a trusted service like Armstrong Air & Heating. You can find out more at Armstrongairinc.com.

Keep Your System Efficient With Air Conditioner Maintenance 

Air conditioner maintenance is essential for keeping your home cool throughout the summer. But the unit isn’t the only source of issues; different parts of your home can also contribute to a lack of efficiency.

Keep an eye out for specific problems throughout the year. Have them fixed as soon as possible so you can enjoy cooling relief from your unit during the summer.

We hope you’ve gained insight from our air conditioner maintenance tips. For more HVAC content, check out our blog.