What Maintenance Does an Air Conditioner Need?
1. Change Your Filters
To maintain the efficiency of your AC, it is necessary to replace the filters every month during the cooling season for both central and window units. In case of washable filters, cleaning them would be sufficient. Neglecting this would result in dirty filters which can greatly reduce the AC’s efficiency.
When searching for an air filter for your home AC unit, consider the MERV (minimum efficiency reporting value) rating. The MERV scale ranges from 1 to 12, with higher numbers indicating more effective filtration. However, be aware that higher MERV ratings require more energy to circulate air, so it’s important to balance air quality with energy costs.
2. Fix AC Leaks
It is possible for ducts to experience a loss of airflow of about 30% due to leaks, and it is particularly difficult to perfectly seal window AC units. The traditional “smoke trick” can be used to detect leaks.
To check for leakage in window units, ignite an incense stick and place it at the point where the unit and the window frame come together. When it comes to central air conditioning, place the incense stick close to duct connections. If the smoke moves around, this signifies leakage. To seal small gaps in ductwork, use foil tape, and for larger ones, use duct mastic. To secure window AC units, insert foam between the unit and the window frame and apply tape as necessary.
3. Use a Timer
You don’t have to crank up the air conditioning while you’re at work. Consider setting a programmable thermostat for your central unit to increase the temperature when you’re away and lower it when you’re present.
You can either purchase a newer window unit that already has adjustable thermostats and built-in timers or separately buy a timer from a home store for $10 to $20, ensuring it matches your device’s voltage. It is advised not to turn off the system unless you are going on vacation as it will cause the air compressor to work harder to cool your house later.
4. Insulate to Keep Air Cool
To prevent hot air from entering ducts located in crawl spaces or attics, it is recommended to wrap them with insulation. Spray foam, batt insulation, or rigid-foam insulation can be utilized for this purpose. Foil tape should be used to seal both batt and rigid insulation instead of duct tape. For compact areas, an insulation wrap like Reflectix can provide some level of insulation.
5. Service Your Compressor or Condenser
For optimal functionality, it is recommended to clear an area of about 24 inches in all directions surrounding the air compressor and condenser of a central AC system which are typically situated outside the house near the foundation. Eliminate any nearby shrubs, tall grass, leaves, and hanging branches.
6. Keep Your AC Unit Cool
You can increase the lifespan of your AC system by closing blinds or shades during the daytime. Adding awnings to block the strong sun from the windows facing south is also an option. To enhance the circulation of cooled air, you may want to run the AC along with floor or ceiling fans.
7. Perform Annual AC Maintenance
You should ask the central AC dealer who installed your unit, or look for a local one, to establish a yearly cleaning schedule that includes more than just filter cleaning.
Make sure to schedule a checkup prior to the commencement of the cooling season (or if you haven’t had one earlier this year, do so now). Ensure that the checkup encompasses the following tasks:
- Cleaning and inspecting coils
- Cleaning or replacing filters
- Adjusting and replacing fan belts
- Lubricating motors and bearings
- Cleaning and checking blowers and fans
- Inspecting controls and safeties
- Checking refrigerant and pressures
- Verifying operating temperatures.
8. Get Airflow
When you close too many interior doors, it creates an imbalance in the central AC systems, resulting in reduced airflow throughout the entire house. In order to maintain privacy, it is advisable to leave the doors slightly open.
9. Upgrade for Efficiency
AC units are now subject to stricter federal efficiency requirements compared to a decade ago. To assess efficiency, SEER is used for central AC while EER is used for window units. The regulation specifies that a SEER of 13 and EER of 8 must be met, however, units with higher ratings will result in lower operating costs.
6 HVAC Tips for Homeowners
Maintain a regular schedule for maintenance.