Here in Texas, we’re no strangers to the ongoing threat of a severe heat wave. Parts of the state have already experienced record-setting temperatures of over 110 degrees this past July, making many of us retreat to the cool sanctuary of our homes.
Of course, this retreat isn’t quite as relaxing when our home sanctuaries aren’t as cool as we’d like. Dealing with a struggling HVAC system can be a challenge at the best of times, but it’s always worse on a hot summer day!
That’s where the right air conditioner maintenance tips come in. While you can’t prevent AC issues from happening, you can do a lot to lessen the risk and keep small problems from developing into larger nightmares.
Want to keep your AC up and running when you need it most? Here are our best HVAC maintenance tips for every homeowner.
Change Your Filter
Your AC’s filter may seem like a pretty minor part of your system, but it plays a huge role in how well your AC performs. A clogged or dirty filter can make your AC work much harder to cool your home, and that resulting strain can decrease your system’s efficiency over time.
Experts recommend that you change your filter around once a month on average, though you can stretch that timeline if you don’t use your AC often. If you have pets in your household, or if anyone in your family has allergies or respiratory conditions, opt to check your filter every three weeks.
Check Your Thermostat
Like your filter, your thermostat might be something you don’t pay attention to during your home air conditioner maintenance. However, if there’s a problem with your thermostat, your entire system may be working harder than it should.
Make sure that cool air is coming from your unit when your thermostat is set to cool. If you have a laser thermometer for cooking, you can use it to see if the temperature of your vents is close to your thermostat reading.
We often recommend replacing older mechanical thermostats, which aren’t as efficient as their modern relatives.
Keep Your System Clean
Cleaning your AC unit is about much more than tidying your home. Cleanliness is what keeps your system efficient, as a little dirt and debris can cause your AC to work harder to cool your home. Though you may not be able to tackle all of the finer points of a total cleaning on your own, here are a few things every homeowner should do:
Clean Your Outdoor Unit
This may be one of the most crucial AC maintenance tips to follow: keep your outdoor unit clean! Dirt, twigs, leaves, and other debris can impact your entire system’s performance, and the only thing protecting your outdoor unit is its metal grate.
You’ll want to check your owner’s manual for the best way to remove this debris, but you can often use a broom or hose for the bulk of it. Don’t forget to clean the condenser coils as well. While you’re here, make sure your outdoor unit is still level, and cut back any nearby shrubs or trees.
Dust and Clean Your Indoor Unit
As a general best practice, make sure to keep your indoor unit free of dust and debris as well. This includes things like dusting your access panel and vacuuming dust from your vents and registers.
Check the Wiring
While you shouldn’t change up your air conditioner’s wiring on your own, a quick visual check for debris or corrosion is always a good idea. While you’re here, be on the lookout for blackened or melted wiring, which can be a sign that your system is overheating.
Clean Your Drain Line and Drain Pans
A clogged drain line can back up and overflow, which can cause some serious damage.
To prevent this, clean the drain line by passing a wire through the drain channel. From there, make a cup of 50/50 bleach to water solution and pour it down the drain. If needed, you can also drop a drain pan tablet—which you can find at a home improvement store—to prevent algae growth.
You can also use a little soap and water to clean your drain pan.
Weatherize Your Home
One key tip worth trying isn’t related to your air conditioner at all. Weatherizing your home can help keep all of your cool, conditioned air inside where it belongs instead of allowing it to escape outside. This can help keep your system from struggling to keep up with the constant need for cooler air.
To do this, caulk any cracks and gaps around the frames of your windows and doors. You can also use weatherstripping adhesive, which you can find at any home improvement store. Add insulation to areas like your attic or basement, and be sure to use your window coverings whenever your AC is in use.
In general, sticking to a regular temperature of 78 degrees is a good idea, as the US Department of Energy recommends. Not only is this wallet-friendly, but it also means your AC isn’t struggling to keep your home at a cool 60 when the temperatures are skyrocketing outdoors!
Schedule Regular Servicing
Though there’s plenty you can do for your air conditioner on your own, only a professional can offer the expert AC maintenance solutions you need for the long term.
An HVAC technician will run through all of the steps we’ve mentioned above, in addition to doing a more thorough check of your system. This can be a great way to ensure optimal capacity and to find AC problems before they have a chance to wreak havoc on your system.
Let Us Help With These Air Conditioner Maintenance Tips
Following these air conditioner maintenance tips is a great way to keep your system up and running for longer—but you don’t have to do it alone!
Partnering with our expert team is a great way to make sure that your unit experiences fewer breakdowns during peak season. Our 25-point multi-check on all indoor and outdoor components will leave your AC running smoother than ever! Contact us to schedule service or to learn more.