Dog sticking its head out a car window.

Air Conditioner Maintenance Guide For Homeowners in 2020

Air conditioning is one of the most important modern inventions. It has had a profound effect on where and how we live.

An air conditioning system works hard to condition and circulate air throughout the house. To get the most out of your air conditioner, you need to take care of the system proactively. Giving your AC a little TLC is one of the best ways of ensuring it works when you need it the most.

Follow these AC maintenance tips to extend the life of your system, and improve air conditioning efficiency.

Replace Filters Regularly

AC filters are designed to trap different contaminants, including dust, dirt, dander, and pollen. An AC filter is not supposed to last more than a few months, and starts accumulating dust over time.

Clogged filters negatively affect air conditioning efficiency. An AC with clogged filters draws more energy than usual to cool the house. Unclean filters can cause your system to overheat. Other common problems associated with dirty filters are – short cycling, freezing up, allergen build-up, and uneven cooling.

To steer clear of these issues, change your filters regularly.Air conditioning repair companies in Sonoma County and elsewhere recommend replacing filters once every three months. If you have pets, kids and/or senior citizens at home, you may want to replace your filters more frequently. If your pet sheds a lot, check and clean your filters once a week.

Take Care of the Outside Unit

Maintaining the outside unit of an AC is as important as the indoor unit. Do not let leaves and debris accumulate around the outside unit. Cut back plants and shrubs by at least three feet.

Wipe down the inside and outside of the unit with a clean cloth. If needed, use a garden hose to wash off the debris gently. Straighten bent AC compressor fins.

Check fan blades. When inspecting them, look for signs of damage such as cracks or chips. Before buying fan blades, make sure they are compatible with your unit. If you have an older unit, oil the fan motor bearings regularly.

TakeInspect Wiring and Components Regularly

Make it a priority to check your outdoor unit/compressor unit’s wiring at least once every year.

Turn off the condenser unit and remove the access panel. Look for signs of overheating such as damaged wires and melted insulation on wires. Use an electrical test meter to check the capacitor. Tighten loose electrical connections. If you are not confident in performing these tasks, contact an AC technician.

Make Sure Your Thermostat is Working Properly

Thermostat issues can cause subtle or sudden changes in the performance of your air conditioning system. A malfunctioning thermostat can cause air conditioning short cycling, stressing out the compressor and the motors. It can also cause the fan of the AC to run without stopping.

You know you have a thermostat issue if the thermostat setting and the temperature of your room don’t match. Here are some tips to get the most out of your thermostat:

  • Clean it regularly

  • Make sure the thermostat box is level

  • Avoid placing thermostats in areas that receive direct sunlight or in front of drafty windows and doors

  • Make sure the anticipator is set correctly.

If you have an old, manual thermostat, consider upgrading to a smart, programmable model. With a programmable thermostat, you will always have a comfortable home waiting for you, and will also reduce cooling costs. To save energy, set the temperature 7 or 8 degrees higher than normal when no one is home. Your thermostat can cool down your house 30 minutes before people arrive.

Check the Drain Line

The drain line of your AC is responsible for removing excess moisture from the condenser. It can clog over time with mold, dust, or algae.

A clogged AC drain is a recipe for disaster. ACs with clogged drain lines can circulate impure air. A clogged drain can cause your AC to shut down. In a worse-case scenario, a clogged AC drain can cause extensive water damage to your home.

To prevent clogs, flush the line with a small amount (not more than a cup) of bleach regularly. If the line is blocked by algae or mold, use a basic wet/dry vacuum cleaner to get rid of the obstruction.

Clean the Vents

Vacuuming vents regularly prevents dirt from building up and obstructing airflow. Remember to check the airflow periodically. If you notice signs of weak airflow, ask an air conditioning repair expert near you to look into the matter.

When placing your vents, consider important factors such as your lifestyle, the rooms you use the most, and the layout of your home.

Stay On Top of Maintenance

Your AC, just like other home appliances, needs regular maintenance. Have your AC inspected and maintained by a certified and experienced technician every year. Do not skip maintenance, even if you do not notice any issues.

Just because you do not notice a problem, does not mean it is not there. Remember, some AC issues can go undetected for weeks, even months.

AC technicians are trained to diagnose and address cooling issues before they snowball into major concerns. Your AC technician will leverage their expertise and experience to identify and nip AC issues in the bud. During a maintenance session, your technician will:

  • Check electrical connections

  • Check and replace filters

  • Examine and clean evaporator and condenser coils and the condensate drain

  • Check refrigerant level and top up refrigerant, if required

  • Lubricate moving parts

John Owens Services, Inc. is a full-service HVAC contractor. We have a sustainable and cost-effective solution to every heating and cooling problem. Whether you use a split system or have a hybrid system, our team has you covered. To talk to one of our HVAC experts, call 707-452-3464.