A/C Maintenance 101: How to Take Care of Your Air Conditioner

A/C Maintenance 101: How to Take Care of Your Air Conditioner

Taking care of your air conditioner is extremely important if you want it to last. Think of your air conditioner sort of like your car: if you don’t change your oil, rotate your tires, and change out your brakes, your car won’t last long and could be prone to some even more serious problems (let alone the safety implications). Your air conditioner is the same: if you don’t maintain it properly, you’ll be far more likely to experience a costly breakdown that will leave you struggling in the heat and in need of an expensive repair.

However, many people believe that their air conditioner is complex, and that maintenance is too difficult for the average person to do themselves. While in-depth maintenance is something that should only be done by an experienced professional, there are plenty of important maintenance tasks that you can easily do yourself! These tasks often require no additional tools, minimal out-of-pocket expense, and yet can make a tremendous difference in the long-term life and functionality of your air conditioner.

Change Your Air Filter

The importance of changing your air filter in your HVAC system simply can’t be understated. Most people are shocked when they learn just how many serious HVAC problems can have their root cause traced to a dirty air filter. Everything from a frozen A/C to a broken compressor can all trace their possible cause to a dirty air filter, so replacing it when needed is absolutely crucial.

Replacing your air filter is incredibly easy as well, and requires a replacement filter that can be purchased from your local home improvement warehouse for just a few dollars. Just make sure you get a replacement one that’s the right size for your system. Not sure what size you need? The answer is likely printed right on the side of your current air filter.

Simply turn off your HVAC system and open the front panel on your indoor unit. You should find the filter covering the air intake vent. Remove the hook or clamp holding it in place and carefully pull the filter out of the guide it’s in. Avoid pulling too quickly or bashing the filter into anything—you don’t want to accidentally release any of the dust or dirt which may be trapped in the filter. The size of your air filter is printed on the side and should have three numbers. For example, a filter that reads “24x16x1” means 24 inches long by 16 inches wide by one inch deep.

Check the side of your air filter which faces into your HVAC return vent. After a while, it should become an unpleasant shade of gray with the dust and dirt that has become trapped in it. If it appears dirty, replace your filter with a new one, making sure to install your new filter exactly the same way your previous one came out.

You should check your air filter every month to make sure it’s in good condition. Generally, an air filter will need to be replaced every three months or so, but heavier use or busier houses will all need more frequent replacements.

Clear a Radius Around Your Outdoor Unit

Another bit of important HVAC maintenance may involve a little bit of yardwork. That’s because your outdoor unit needs to have a radius of at least three feet all the way around it for optimal airflow and functionality. Your outdoor unit has an important job: dispel the heat that it has absorbed from inside your house into the atmosphere outside, and it can only do that as long as the greatest amount of air can be pulled over your condenser coil.

Be sure any and all grass around your outdoor unit is regularly mowed and trimmed to stay short and clear of the high amount of airflow around your outdoor unit. Likewise, trim away all hedges or bushes, prune flowers, and sweep away any dust or dirt off any concrete that may be around it. This will help keep debris from getting into the cooling fans, causing damage, or from getting stuck to your cooling fins.

You should also have your HVAC system professionally maintained once a year by a Portland heating and cooling maintenance expert. Call Roth Heating & Cooling, Plumbing & Electrical at (503) 994-9924 today to request a service estimate.

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