Residential home air conditioners are built to last a long time, at least ten years plus. However, that doesn't mean they should be ignored during that time and should receive ongoing inspections. Regular maintenance checks and tune-ups can make a standard AC unit last well past its expected life period, saving a homeowner money and frustration from an early failure.
A number of steps can be taken by a homeowner to easily upkeep an AC unit without much effort or technical knowledge. Changing the air filter in the HVAC system should be done at least every two to three months if not sooner. A clean filter allows the system to run with the right pressure, and contaminants are cleaned out of the air flow at the same time. Additionally, the homeowner should wash down the outside AC unit with a light spray of water from a hose. Do not just a direct jet method. It should be just enough to wash off the dirt and dust. Finally, any plants near the AC should be cleared and removed. Cleaning and clearance allow the AC unit to function without having to handle extra heat.
However, there are maintenance steps a trained technician needs to address as well. A good tune-up visit will review the following components in an AC system:
• Testing of the pressure and coolant levels to ensure proper cooling capability and presence of any leaks.
• Testing of the thermostat sensor to ensure it operates and triggers correctly.
• Examine all critical wiring and connections to make sure there are no loose contacts or shorts.
• Clean the evaporator coil if needed.
• Test and check that the condenser drain pipes are clear and running.
• Check and clean the condenser.
• Confirm the outdoor disconnect is working correctly.
• Review and clean the condenser fan motor and fan system, adding lubrication if showing signs of drying out.
• Confirm the compressor amps are working right.
• Check any other safety features to spot problems early before they get worse.
This comprehensive approach allows technicians to examine all the critical parts of a home AC system and confirm it's working properly. Performed annually, before the hot season arrives, and a homeowner can be generally assured your AC is not going to fail during the hottest days of the year. Even more important, serious problems such as shorts or electrical malfunctions can be found quickly before they cause larger damage to the house, which usually results in costlier repair bills.
“It’s important for homeowners to understand that regular maintenance is a necessity when it comes to a AC system.” says Jeff Detschman with Complete Mechanical, Inc., an HVAC company that specializes in air conditioning service in Seattle, Washington area. “Ignoring regular maintenance intervals can cause long term and more expensive damage as well as homeowner inconvenience.”
A clean running AC will save a homeowner on his energy bill as well. The AC unit won't have to work as hard to produce the desired level of cooling. That means less of a draw on the power source which in turn lowers your bill every month. When living in some cities in which the local utility company charges a surcharge on exceeding a specified level of energy use per month, a better running AC system can certainly be an advantage.