The feeling of walking into a cool house on a hot day is one of the unique sensory joys that we get to experience by living in this age of air conditioning. It is why we can live in unforgiving climates without jeopardizing our health and comfort. Air conditioning makes life better for so many people, including our elderly loved ones and people with allergies or other health conditions.
Most of us, though, never think about all the little pieces, components, and processes that must be in working order for us to stay cool. What we know is that when we raise or lower the thermostat setting, the thermostat does its job, and we get the benefit of comfort, no matter the weather outside.
Unfortunately, never giving a second thought to your air conditioner’s maintenance and upkeep is a way to make trouble for yourself in the future. One of these days, you might walk into your house after a day at work and find that it’s sweltering, rather than cool and pleasant. That is often the first time that many homeowners contact a professional HVAC company for help, and that can lead to costly repairs.
At Air Tech, we don’t think you need to know everything there is to know about air conditioners in order to keep yours running. After all, it is our years of experience and thousands of hours working on HVAC units that makes us the experts in this field.
However, we know that it would benefit home and business owners to have a better understanding of air conditioner maintenance so that they can keep their units running smoothly and know when there is a problem on the horizon.
Why do you need to regularly service your air conditioner?
- Maintaining your air conditioner slows down the normal wear-and-tear of the system by keeping all the pieces clean and in good working order.
- A clean, well-maintained air conditioner will work more efficiently and keep your utility bills lower.
- Servicing your air conditioner keeps you aware of problems that are coming down the line. Specifically, you can replace parts before they break and cause more expensive damage.
What air conditioner maintenance tasks can you do on your own?
While some AC-related tasks will require you to call the professionals, there are plenty of things you can do on your own to extend the life of your air conditioning system. Whether you want to do it yourself because you like DIY projects or because you are hoping to save some money, here are the best things you can do for yourself to maintain your AC unit.
Replace your filters on a regular basis. We recommend putting a reminder on your calendar to replace your filters based on the specific needs of your home. For example, if you live alone or with just one other person, and you have no pets or allergies, you can probably change your filter every 90 days. However, the more people and pets you have in the home, the more frequently you should complete this task. If you or anyone in your home has allergies, we recommend changing or cleaning the filter every month.
Why do you need to replace your filters? There are several reasons. Energy.gov explains that replacing dirty filters improves their efficiency by ensuring the evaporator coils are free of dirt and dust. A clean filter also ensures that the air being pushed into your room is free from allergens and debris.
Clean your unit’s evaporator coil and coil fins annually. When these coils get covered in dirty build-up from years of use, the dirt serves as an insulation around the coil, which reduces its ability to run efficiently. The good news is that you can usually see the evaporator coil and fins without too much effort, and a visual inspection will let you know if they are dirty. How Stuff Works offers a useful tutorial on how to clean the evaporator coil in your AC. As for the coil fins, you can purchase a fin comb that will allow you to comb out any debris that could cause problems.
Winterize your home and AC unit. This involves covering any outdoor components from the winter elements and inspecting all of the window seals in your home.
When should you hire a professional?
There are a lot of good reasons to hire a professional to help with your air conditioner maintenance. Energy.gov lists the following tasks that a good professional HVAC technician should cover:
- Check for the correct amount of refrigerant
- Test for refrigerant leaks using a leak detector
- Capture any refrigerant that must be evacuated from the system, instead of illegally releasing it to the atmosphere
- Check for and seal duct leakage in central systems
- Measure airflow through the evaporator coil
- Verify the correct electric control sequence and make sure that the heating system and cooling system cannot operate simultaneously
- Inspect electric terminals, clean and tighten connections, and apply a non-conductive coating if necessary
- Oil motors and check belts for tightness and wear
- Check the accuracy of the thermostat.
At Air Tech, we offer affordable service plans that ensure your AC unit works efficiently and for years to come. We conduct service check-ups twice a year for residential AC units: in the fall to make sure that you’re ready for winter, and in the spring to get you on track to a cool home during the hot Virginia summer.
For commercial business owners, we can maintain your complex system on a quarterly basis so that your operations are not slowed down by a broken or sluggish air conditioning system.
The best way to prevent a breakdown is good air conditioner maintenance. That means being aware of the regular maintenance tasks you should take care of on your own, as well as bringing in professional help to service and repair any problems your unit experiences. When it comes to keeping cool during the warm months of the year, prevention of a problem is always better than trying to solve one.
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