Summer is here and that means increased outside temperatures and consistently high humidity. However, if your A/C unit isn’t working properly, it can lead to more than mere discomfort. Ignoring regular maintenance can turn into costly repairs and replacement. Avoid that scenario by keeping your air conditioner in top shape. Here’s three reasons why we urge you to have your A/C inspected and maintained and make it a priority this summer:

Protects Important Equipment

It can be expensive to replace an air conditioner, especially if you’re having to do so every few years. Keeping on top of maintenance extends the life of your equipment. In fact, HVAC professionals say many A/C replacements could have been prevented with regular maintenance.

Energy Savings Add Up

Preventative maintenance keeps air conditioners working at optimum capacity. It helps this important equipment conserve energy. Regular A/C “checkups” include thorough cleaning of blades, cooling coils, and other components. This maximizes energy efficiency, which saves you money on utility bills.

Offers Comfort and Peace of Mind

Outside of work and school, home is where families spend most of their time. That’s why air quality should be a top concern.

When air conditioners fall into disrepair, dirt and debris can collect in an around the unit. Over time, this has a negative impact on the indoor air quality. Also, clogged filters allow air contaminants to pass through, creating allergy and breathing quality complications. Why risk the safety of your guests and loved ones?

Follow the following air conditioner efficiency tips to save money and get the most from your appliance.

Schedule Your Annual Tune-Up in the Spring

It’s vital that you invest in an annual tune-up before the hot weather arrives. Most HVAC companies offer tune-up services to keep your system running at optimum energy efficiency. A tune-up will include tightening all electrical connections, lubricating fans and cleaning the system. The technician will check the coolant levels and be able to diagnose more serious issues that sometimes arise after years of use, like refrigerant leaks, and then fix the damage to restore your high-functioning air conditioner. Just as tuning up your car improves gas mileage levels, tuning up your air conditioner will make it more energy efficient and help preemptively avoid major breakdowns.

Change the Air Filter

Your air conditioner moves air through your home in a regular cycle. After it sends the cool air into living areas, it then collects old air and moves it back through the system. Before the air returns to your air handler near the furnace, it goes through an air filter, which captures particulates and airborne pollutants that could damage your system. As the air filter fills with allergens and dust, it gets clogged up, which limits the airflow moving to the handler and causes your system to strain and run inefficiently. Extend the life of your air conditioner and keep its energy efficiency at peak performance levels by changing the air filter regularly. Make sure you’re also choosing the right air filter for your home. 

Clean the Return Air Ducts

In addition to changing the filter, you should also take the time to clean your return air ducts. Duct covers that are clogged with lint, dust and dirt block airflow and force your system to work harder, shortening its lifespan while harming its efficiency. Vacuum these ducts every time you clean the room to ensure that there is adequate airflow reaching your HVAC unit.

Check the Pipe Insulation of Your Air Conditioner

Torn or disintegrated insulation can impact the air conditioner’s cooling power. Inspect the insulation covering the coolant pipes each summer, and replace them if necessary to keep the air conditioner running efficiently. You can easily remove the old insulation and replace it with new materials yourself.

Pay Attention to the Ductwork

Even the ductwork in new homes can be dirty, as construction debris and dust naturally collect inside them. If rodents or other pests have visited your home, then your ducts may also have a coating of droppings and nesting materials inside them. When the air turns on, fine particulates drift into the home and lower your indoor air quality. They also drift back through your air conditioner system on the return air side and start to hamper airflow. Have the ducts professionally cleaned as needed to improve indoor air quality and make your system more energy efficient.

In addition to being dirty, ductwork can also be leaky. Loose joints or damaged sections of ductwork can allow your treated air to escape into unoccupied areas of your home, which can seriously harm your energy efficiency. You can patch accessible leaks with aluminum foil tape, but for leaks deeper in the system, you may need to have your ductwork professionally sealed with special equipment. For further ductwork efficiency, you can wrap your accessible ducts with insulation.

Give Your Wiring an Inspection

Another way to improve your air conditioning efficiency is to check the wiring in the condensing unit for any signs of overheating or wear. Remember to turn off the air conditioner before you begin. If you see scorched, frayed or damaged wires, call a professional to repair the damage.

Clean the Outside Compressor

One of the most important central air efficiency tips is to keep your compressor and condenser coils clean. This is part of a tune-up, so you won’t have to open the system if you invest in professional services. However, the coils can get dirty, which means they will struggle to absorb heat effectively. You can clean the evaporator and condenser coils with a garden hose, but be careful to not get any electrical connections wet. When cleaning coils, inspect the fins, as they are delicate and bend easily. If you notice any bent fins, simply straighten them out using a fin comb. In addition, you should remove any grass, weeds or old leaves from the winter that accumulate near your air conditioner, and avoid landscaping within two feet of the unit. Items should not be stored near the exterior compressor, because anything blocking airflow makes the system less energy efficient.

Give Your System a Break

Even with proper maintenance, a system that is constantly running will lose efficiency faster and need to be replaced earlier than a system that is used moderately. Going easy on your air conditioner will keep your monthly energy bills low, too. To make sure you’re not relying too much on your air conditioner to keep your home comfortable, try these tips:

  • Upgrade to a smart thermostat. You’ll be able to control your thermostat from anywhere with a smartphone, and you can easily create custom cooling schedules so that you’re not wasting AC when nobody is home. 
  • Seal air leaks around your home with caulk and spray foam.
  • Replace weather stripping around doors and windows if it’s cracked or brittle.
  • Block out solar heat from sun-facing windows with heavy drapes or blackout curtains.
  • Make sure your ceiling fans are turning counterclockwise and use them often in occupied rooms so that you can set the thermostat higher without sacrificing comfort.
  • Avoid using heat-producing appliances during the heat of the day. Run the dryer, dishwasher and oven after dark, when the temperature is lower.

Your central air conditioner is the modern luxury that cools your family and your home when you need it most. However, air conditioners become less energy efficient over time, especially if you don’t care for them as you should. While some of these problems are the unavoidable result of age, don’t wait to provide the proper maintenance for your air conditioner and skip the headache this summer. 

Watch these tips on how to clean your air conditioner from Lowe’s.

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