Air conditioners are not cheap. You definitely do not want to be buying a new one every year or so. A bit of preventive work can make them last.
One of the biggest problems with most air conditioning units made today is that they are tough, and well built. This may not seem like much of a problem, but what happens is that most home owners become very complacent about their air conditioners. They continue to run and run year after year, and many people tend to worry little about them as long as the air is cool and comfortable. The truth is that without routine maintenance, a normal air conditioning unit loses about 5% of its efficiency each year. This means that within a short time your powerful SEER 13 unit is working more like an older SEER 8.
A good air conditioner can last 15 years, or even longer, with just routine maintenance. It will also operate at its rated capacity for most of that period. Much of the maintenance that is required to keep your unit up to snuff is inexpensive and easy to perform. The first step is to make routine inspections of your unit to discover any potential problems. The best time to perform any air conditioner maintenance is a little bit before it is needed. Check all hoses for leaks and make sure the condensate tube is draining freely.
Filters are critical to the proper and economical operation of the air conditioning unit. They should be inspected often and changed or cleaned monthly. This is even more important during the summer months when there is a higher level of dust and pollutants in the air, and, of course, the units are running more frequently. Other methods of insuring maximum air flow through the system include cleaning and vacuuming of the registers and air vents. You should also insure that furniture and drapes are not blocking registers.
The outside compressor should be cleaned with a hose. Plantings should be kept at least a foot away, and grass and weeds should be trimmed to insure adequate air flow around the unit. Remove any debris from the fan area. During the winter months, the compressor should be covered. It is also a good idea to remove any window air conditioners during the winter, and store them until they are again needed. A yearly tune up of your air conditioner by a certified technician can cost between $50 and $100, but can result in as much as a 5% reduction in yearly operating cost.
You can also increase the life of your air conditioner by finding ways to not have to use it. Programmable thermostats can regulate temperature to decrease use at night or when the house is vacant. Simple things like ceiling fans or attic ventilation fans can reduce the demand on the air conditioner. Even planting trees to increase shade or using drapes over windows facing the sun can help. Reduction of use combined with proper maintenance can increase the life span of any air conditioner. One important safety consideration is to make sure that all power is turned off to the air conditioner before performing any maintenance.
If you are interested in more, please check out our Annual Preventative Maintenance Program and you won’t have to worry about at thing.