Even if you’re fairly handy around the house, there are certain tasks that most homeowners like to leave to the professionals, and air conditioner maintenance is one of them. For one thing, it is relatively inexpensive to hire someone to inspect, clean, and service your system for you, and professionals have the tools to get the job done in a snap. That said, your unit may need maintenance more than once a year, especially if you live in a hot, humid climate that requires you to run your system frequently or for extensive periods of time. Luckily, there are a few things you can do between service appointments to keep your unit running smoothly. Here are a few tasks to add to your own maintenance checklist for your air conditioner.
- General inspection. If your system is getting a lot of use, you may want to give it a once-over every month or so just to make sure everything is in ship shape. All you have to do is look for dirt and debris on or around the unit that could be clogging up the works, then open it up to take a look inside. Of course, you should turn off the thermostat and unplug the unit first. Once you become familiar with your unit you’ll have a good idea of whether or not everything is in order. If not, you may have to call in your service provider for an off-schedule appointment. Otherwise you could find yourself without AC during a heat wave.
- Cleaning. Although your service provider will perform an annual cleaning of your unit, you might want to clean it more frequently, especially if it is outdoors, where dirt and other debris can cause problems. You can easily sweep away cobwebs, dust, and any leaves, sticks, and other debris, both inside and out, with a soft brush, but it might be easier to use a vacuum hose attachment. You can use a garden hose to spray the casing if it is particularly fouled, once you have removed it. This is also a good time to adjust or repair any fins on the condenser that may have become bent.
- Lubricate parts. Once your unit has been thoroughly cleaned, check moving parts like the fan and motor bearings (if your unit has them). If they’re sticking, catching, or otherwise working improperly, they may need some lubrication.
- Replace filters. The final step is to clean or replace your filters, and this will depend on the age of the filter, how dirty it is, and how much trouble you want to go to. If you don’t feel comfortable doing any other maintenance on your unit,changing air conditioner filters is something that pretty much anyone can accomplish without undo hassle.
- Test your unit. Now it’s time to put everything back together, plug the unit back in, and make sure your system is working by turning it on. Following cleaning and repair, your energy efficiency and the output of cool air should increase. If not, there may be more complex issues at play, in which case you should probably call in the pros.