If you have ever experienced an issue with your air conditioner during a summer heatwave, you already know the discomfort this could cause for you and your family. There’s nothing worse than waiting days or even weeks for a repair or new installation. However, you might not be aware of all the regular maintenance you could do yourself to make your cooling systems last longer.
We recently posted a blog about the phaseout of R-22 refrigerant (freon) and what you should know to prepare for the 2020 phaseout. Aside from that, the below maintenance tips will help keep your home running cool and safe this summer.
1. Change or Clean Your AC Filters Regularly
This one is important to keep you cool and safe through the summer. According to a 2018 report from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), air conditioners are a leading cause of fires in bedrooms and living rooms. These fires are often caused by dirty or old filters. The frequency for which you should maintain your filter depends on the type of unit. For window air conditioners, consider taking the filter out and cleaning it once per month.
For central air conditioning, manufacturers will typically direct you to change them every 30-60 days. However, if this is a vacation home, you may be fine simply changing them once or twice per year. For the average suburban home, you could probably get away with changing them once every 90 days. However, the presence of pets or someone with allergies in the home could increase this frequency. Consult your manufacturer for specifics on how often you should be changing the filter.
2. Clean the AC Drain Line
It’s important to clean out the drain line for your air conditioner regularly to prevent water from backing up in the home. Running bleach through the access pipe will usually do the trick. However, if the drain has a clog, you might need a wet/dry shop vac to help remove the clog first. Once you’ve removed the bulk of the clog, pour some bleach down the access pipe to help clean out the remainder. This is also helpful to kill any mold that might have started growing in there.
3. Prune Any Shrubs Near the AC
To keep your air conditioning and heating running smoothly, the pumps will need air circulation. Depending on your property, you might find your plants starting to encroach on the outside part of your system. Grab your trimmers and start snipping. You’ll want to leave at least 18” of space around the sides, and at least three feet on top of the unit.
4. Ceiling Fans
This is an easy one to forget, but it could be a simple way to keep your cooling bills down during the summer. You may not be aware of this, but many ceiling fans have the option to change the direction that the blades spin. For the hot days of summer, you’ll want the blades spinning in a counter-clockwise direction. This will push the air downwards to create an optimal cooling effect on the room. Every fan is different, but many will have a visible switch that you could use to change the direction.
While you’re tending to the fan, take the opportunity to clean off the blades. Dust has a tendency to collect in bulk on the blades of ceiling fans, and cleaning this off will help to reduce allergens in your home. Turn off the fan, grab a cloth or rag, and wipe them off to keep the dust from circulating.
For maintenance guides specific to your air conditioning unit, consult the manufacturer or an HVAC specialist. Otherwise, stay cool this summer by keeping your air conditioning running at peak efficiency!