Air conditioners are among the most beloved home appliances--and rightly so. But you may find yourself sorely disappointed in your air conditioner if you don't give it some basic maintenance at least once a year. This article provides two helpful tips to keep your AC running like it should.
Keep your condenser coils clean.
For those who don't know, the condenser unit is that large cube that commonly resides along the outside of a house. As a result of this location, which increases its exposure to the elements, the condenser requires a bit of cleaning at least once a year. Always be sure to start by cutting off the condenser's power; this will protect you against electrocution.
Begin by inspecting the metallic fins that surround the condenser. You will probably notice that a good deal of debris and dirt has built up between them. This can be removed using a vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment. Be careful, though, as the thin fins can easily be bent or damaged. Luckily, bent fins can be fixed using the tool known as a condenser fin comb.
If you can't find the fins on your air conditioner, you will need to remove the protective metal box around the condenser. In order to do this, consult your unit's manual to learn which screws should be loosened. Remove loose debris with a vacuum cleaner as above, and then carefully replace and attach the box.
Replace your air filter.
The air filter is one of the most important parts of an air conditioner. It is responsible for trapping dirt and dust, thereby keeping them from penetrating into the delicate mechanisms at the heart of the machine. However, when a filter becomes excessively choked with this debris, it can begin to cause problems. Not only can it reduce airflow, but it may also increase your unit's energy consumption by as much as 15%.
For these reasons, it is important to check your air filter on a regular basis, and change it if necessary. Central air conditioners generally share an air filter with the furnace. Thus you should be able to locate it in the basement of your house, somewhere along the main return duct.
If the filter appears excessively dirty or clogged up with dust, don't hesitate to replace it with a new filter. Those who would like to reduce the amount of waste they generate should consider investing in a reusable filter. These can be cleaned with a hose or a vacuum cleaner. Just make sure that the filter has dried completely before reinstalling it. You can also contact an air conditioner repair professional for help.