How Can I Maintain My AC to Minimize the Need for Repairs?

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Any homeowner who has experienced their AC breaking on a hot day knows the discomfort that goes along with it. While you’ll be relieved once it’s back up and running, you may wonder what you can do to minimize your need for repairs.

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While air conditioners do have a lifespan of about 10 years, the better care you provide for this essential appliance, the more likely it is to last rather than die out on you before that time. You can help keep your HVAC system thriving throughout its years by following these tips.

Person's Hands in Gloves cleaning the Air Conditioner Filter

Check and Change Your Air Filters

The first step any homeowner should take when maintaining their AC is to change the air filter at regular intervals. How often this filter needs to be changed will depend on how often the system is running as well as if you smoke, have pets, or have allergies.

Ideally, you should check these filters once a month. If you can see light shine through the other side, you don’t need to change it just yet. The kind of air filter you use can make a difference too. Quality filters will improve your indoor air quality and help the system thrive. You will want to use a filter with the right MERV rating for your HVAC system. Certain systems may experience airflow problems with a thicker filter, which may wind up costing you through extra repairs.

Clean Your Vents

Take a look at your air vents as well as the registers which draw the air into the system. If they are covered in dirt and dust, you’re setting your HVAC system up for failure. A cleaning brush can help you remove this buildup, though you may additionally need a vacuum attachment to remove the rest of it and clear the air.

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Clear Debris Away from the Outdoor Unit

Your central air conditioner has an indoor handler and an outdoor unit. Most homeowners don’t realize that they should also check up on this exterior portion from time to time.

Since these outdoor units aren’t exactly beautiful, you may have planted bushes, flowers, or other foliage to hide it away. However, putting things too close to the unit can cause dirt, lawn clippings, twigs, leaves, and other items to congest this portion of your HVAC system.

Check on this outdoor unit and trim away any plants growing too close to it. Move any other obstructions you can find. You can also hose down the unit, though many homeowners will leave this task for HVAC professionals during maintenance service.

Have Your Ducts Cleaned

Another task you may want to have your HVAC company perform is cleaning your ducts. Blocked ducts can allow harmful chemicals and allergens into your home. You’ll want to have them cleared as soon as possible to keep your system thriving and blowing cool, refreshing air.

man Cleaning Air Ducts at home

Get All Pets Groomed Often

One thing that can affect your air conditioning system is pet hair. The more pets you have, the more often you will need to change your air filters. You can help clear the air by staying on top of their grooming needs.

Pet hair and dander can really clog things up, especially in the spring and fall when the temperatures shift. Brush your dogs and cats often, or send them to the groomer to help minimize having pet hair and dander wafting through your home. 

Seal Air Leaks

When was the last time you had your doors, windows, and air ducts inspected? If you can’t remember, then it has been far too long, and you should find out if you have any leaks that are letting cool air escape.

It may seem crazy, but even the tiniest cracks around doors and windows can let out lots of air. Sealing them with caulk may be the perfect solution, especially if you’re handy. As for the air ducts, you should have professionals inspect them for cracks and leaks. In this way, you can keep your cool air inside your home while keeping your unit functioning efficiently. You’ll be happy when you see the energy bill is no longer astronomical when you seal these leaks.

Clean the Condensate Drain Line

When an air conditioner stops running, the most common culprit is a clogged condensate drain line. Cleaning it out here and there can prevent the mineral deposits from blocking the normal flow. You’ll find this with your air handler, and if you’re not sure what to do, have your HVAC professional show you.

Additionally, cleaning the evaporator coil can help ensure your AC unit stays free of buildup and continues to cool the air. However, this part can be easily damaged if you aren’t sure what you’re doing. It may be best to leave this task up to a professional during your maintenance service to have full peace of mind.

someone cleaning a Ceiling Air Conditioning Unit

Consider Swapping Your Thermostat to a Programmable or Smart Option

Having the ability to program your thermostat or control it remotely allows you to take full control of your cooling and heating needs. This wastes less energy by setting it to run at your favorite temperature when you’re home and turning it off when you’re not. You can also set it for certain rooms or portions of your home to truly meet your needs.

This will save you energy and put less wear and tear on your HVAC system. It can also alert you of any issues, saving you from having an unwelcome surprise to discover when you walk through the door. 

Use Fans and Window Treatments to Your Advantage

On the hottest days, you can do a few things to keep your air conditioner from picking up all the slack. Using your ceiling fans or even setting up portable fans can help quickly lower the temperature in any room. This helps your air conditioner run less while still keeping your home cool and comfortable.

Another great way to help your air conditioner catch a break is by using window treatments to keep the harsh rays of the sun from beating into your home. You can use window blinds or curtains that will help reflect the heat away, allowing your home’s interior to stay cooler and more comfortable without pushing your HVAC system to the limit. 

a man cleaning the Ceiling Air Conditioning Unit with text: "Maintain My AC to Minimize the Need for Repairs"

Set Up Air Conditioning Maintenance Each Year

The things you do to help keep your air conditioner in good condition will minimize your need for repairs. However, there are certain things that only a licensed HVAC technician can do to keep your air conditioning unit running smoothly each year.

At minimum, you should schedule your air conditioning service in Houston at least once per year. Some homeowners find it best to set up maintenance service twice per year, usually doing it once before it gets cold and again before the summer heat takes over.

As long as you are having your HVAC system serviced by professionals, you’ll be reducing the likelihood of repairs. They will check and inspect all parts, and they’ll make sure it’s performing as it should. If they notice any small issues, you can get it fixed easily without a full system breakdown. By following these tips, you’ll be less likely to experience the unpleasantness of having a hot and humid interior thanks to a broken AC.

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