Your central air conditioner plays the most important role in keeping your home comfortable year-round. However, if you do not properly maintain your air conditioner, it will lose efficiency over time. Here are three tips that can help you keep your air conditioner running smoothly and help you avoid costly repairs.
Keep the Condenser Free of Obstructions
Your outdoor condenser unit works by drawing in outside air and delivering it to the chilled evaporator coils above your indoor furnace. The blower motor in your furnace blows the air across the evaporator coils, through your ductwork, and into your home. This process will not work if obstructions are preventing the condenser from getting enough air.
Weeds and tall grass are the most common culprits behind poor condenser air flow. To correct this problem, simply use a string trimmer to trim away weeds near your condenser. In other cases, the obstruction is in the aluminum fins on the condenser. Over time, dirt and leaves can clog up the fins, or the fins can become bent.
It is not a good idea to clean air conditioner fins with a garden hose or pressure washer, as this will simply lead to additional bending. Instead, you will need to manually clean and straighten the fins using a soft-brush vacuum attachment and a fin comb tool.
Replace the Fuses Regularly
Your air conditioner fuses are usually located in the disconnect box on the outside of your home near your condenser. The fuses protect the more important components of your air conditioner in the event of a high electrical load. Because there is little circulation inside the fuse box, the fuses are more likely to blow on very hot days during the cooling season.
To determine if a fuse needs to be replaced, you can test it with a voltmeter. If you are not comfortable with this step, it is safe to replace your fuses at the beginning of each season. Be sure to turn off the breaker to your air conditioner before removing a fuse. To find the right replacement fuse, look for the amperage rating of your current fuses on the fuse labels or the rating plate on your air conditioner. If you are unsure, just take one of the removed fuses to a local appliance store to find a replacement.
Have Your AC Inspected Yearly
While attentive home maintenance will do a lot to improve the lifespan of your air conditioner and reduce your monthly cooling bill, there is only so much a homeowner can do on their own. Having your air conditioner inspected at least once a year by a professional HVAC technician is one of the most important things you can do to prevent unexpected breakdowns.
Refrigerant recharging is a common service that an HVAC technician will perform during an inspection. Recharging your air conditioner's refrigerant to the recommended level will reduce the amount of time it takes for the system to cool your home, reducing your energy bill. Recharging also eliminates issues such as freezing copper lines and condensation pooling in the floor around your furnace.
HVAC technicians have specialized testing methods that allow them to detect the accumulation of particulate and microbial contaminants in your system. Contaminants such as mold can significantly reduce the air quality in your home and can even lead to respiratory problems. A professional HVAC inspection can give you peace of mind that your air conditioner is not contaminating your indoor air.
Central air conditioner maintenance is one of the best ways to keep your energy bills low while also keeping your home comfortable. Use these tips so your air conditioner will run smoothly for the lifetime of the system. For more tips, contact a 24 hour air conditioning repair professional.