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The following information is for educational purposes only. Tampering with your system may void your warranty. If you have any questions about your system, call a Trane Comfort Specialist™.

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AIR CONDITIONER MAINTENANCE TIPS

PREVENTATIVE MEASURES TO KEEP YOUR AC IN GREAT SHAPE

You don’t have to be an HVAC expert to take care of your air conditioner. Follow these tips to keep your system running well and catch problems before they escalate.
DISCLAIMER

The following information is for educational purposes only. Tampering with your system may void your warranty. If you have any questions about your system, call a Trane Comfort Specialist™.

AC Maintenance: Routine Tasks and Tips for Homeowners

If you want to save money on air conditioner repairs and replacements, the best thing you can do is regularly maintain your unit. Small AC maintenance tasks like changing the filter and keeping debris away from your unit will help keep your air conditioner running smoothly and your home at your ideal temperature.

For the tasks you can’t do on your own, make sure you schedule regular HVAC maintenance with a professional to save yourself time, money, and overall headaches later on.

What does air conditioner maintenance require?

While most AC maintenance, and other HVAC maintenance tasks, require you to call in an HVAC professional, there are a few things you can do regularly to make sure your unit keeps your home cool during those hot, summer days.

What AC maintenance should a homeowner do?

  • Change your AC filters: Your air conditioner’s filter helps improve air quality by trapping dust, dander, lint, and other harmful particles in the air circulating your home. Filters are a crucial component in AC maintenance and something you can feel comfortable taking charge of yourself. It’s best practice to try and change your filters once every 3 months. When it’s time to change your AC filters, follow these five easy steps:
  1. Before you find your air filter, make sure your unit is off completely, so you can prevent dirty air from circulating while no filter is installed.
  2. Once your unit is off, locate your air filter, typically behind the return vent, which can be on the ceiling or floor in a central part of your home.
  3. After locating the return vent, unhook the latch on the cover. If there is dust buildup on the cover, be sure to wipe it down with warm water and a cloth.
  4. From there, you should be able to slide out your old filter and replace it with a new one, then simply secure the cover back on. If you have a ductless or window unit, the return vent and air filter will be found directly on the air conditioner, but you can follow these same steps once you locate the filter.
  5. Don’t forget, if you have multiple AC units, you’ll have multiple filters to change!
  • Keep the outside portion of your unit clear: If you have a central or packaged air conditioner, the unit will be located outside. It’s important to keep the area surrounding your outdoor AC clean and debris-free. A good rule of thumb is to not let any plants or other wildlife grow within a 2-foot radius of your air conditioner. If plants, trees, or weeds grow too close to your AC, it could interfere with its functionality. Additionally, if you see things like leaf buildup or animal nests around your unit, it’s safe to remove them so they don’t get caught in your air conditioner.
  • Level your unit: Over time, the pad where the outdoor portion of your air conditioner sits can begin to droop or sink due to soil erosion or settlement. If your unit isn’t level, it can cause the parts inside to become misaligned and fail early. Use a level tool to make sure your unit is aligned correctly. If you find your unit to be lopsided, you can place rot-resistant shims under the base to bring it back to the right place.

What AC maintenance should a professional do?

  • AC coil maintenance: In HVAC systems there are two types of coils: the evaporator coil and the condenser coil. The evaporator coil is found inside the home and is responsible for absorbing heat, while the condenser coil is located outside the home and is responsible for releasing heat outdoors. Without these two essential coils your system wouldn’t be able to function properly, which is why it’s so important that they are maintained!

    Coil maintenance should be handled by a licensed HVAC professional once a year. When your technician comes for coil maintenance, you can expect them to turn off your AC unit completely, open it up, remove any visible dirt and debris with a broom, then spray the coils with cleaner and let them soak for at least 15 minutes to get rid of any excess grease. The technician will also inspect the coils for damage or leaks, to make sure they’re functioning properly.
  • Check and refill refrigerant levels: Refrigerant is another essential component for an air conditioner to function. Refrigerant is a chemical cooling compound that absorbs and releases heat to ultimately cool your home. While it plays a crucial role in cooling, refrigerant is a very dangerous chemical that should only be handled by HVAC professionals with an EPA Section 608 certification. Before the cooling season begins, ask an HVAC professional to take a look at the levels of refrigerant in your unit, to ensure that it has enough refrigerant to effectively cool your home for the entire season. If it doesn’t, your technician will refill it and dispose of any excess chemicals in the correct way.
  • Clean the blower: The blower is the part of the air conditioner that sends newly cooled air back into your home. Any accumulation of dust or other particles on the blower means that it might get blown back into your home and compromise air quality. An HVAC professional will inspect and clean the blower motor, fan and belt connecting it to the rest of the unit to ensure it’s functioning properly. If needed, the professional will lubricate the fan motor and pulleys to make the process run smoothly.

How often should you have your air conditioner serviced?

It’s important to have your air conditioner serviced regularly by an HVAC professional to help avoid your air conditioner breaking (although you can do some AC troubleshooting) and all the headache that comes along with a nonfunctioning air conditioner. Generally speaking, it’s best practice to get your air conditioner serviced by a professional twice a year, once in the spring and once in the fall, and to have them diagnose and handle repairs.

During routine AC maintenance and tune-ups, an HVAC technician will inspect and clean all parts of your air conditioner. They will also perform a test run of your AC to make sure it’s running properly. In the spring, maintenance will help you prepare your unit to provide you cool air throughout the summer months. In the fall, an HVAC technician can assess the wear and tear on your unit. If you need to repair or replace something, you’ll have sufficient time to do so before the next cooling season. Plus, regular HVAC maintenance allows professionals to catch small problems before they become large, costly issues.

AC maintenance cost

The cost of AC maintenance can fluctuate depending on where you live and the cost of labor in your area. The national average price range for routine AC maintenance is between $100 and $150, according to a cost study done by Fixr, published on May 20, 2021.

Keep in mind that while routine maintenance typically falls in this range, if your HVAC professional finds an issue with your air conditioner, the price can increase. If your unit needs a refrigerant replacement or refill, it can cost anywhere from an additional $100 to $600, depending on the type of refrigerant needed, according to Home Guide’s collaboration with 5 expert AC Repair Services in November 2020. Costs for other repairs or part replacements also vary.

3 air conditioner maintenance tips for homeowners

Along with everything we’ve already mentioned, regularly practicing these three tips will help your air conditioner live a long and happy life.

1. Properly close doors and windows

The less cool air that escapes your home, the faster your unit will cool your home and the less it will have to work overall. When your air conditioner is on, make sure you seal your doors and windows, so all of the cool air stays in your home. If the cool air is entering your home, then just leaving through an open window, your home will never reach your desired temperature!

2. Install a programmable or smart thermostat

Installing a programmable or smart thermostat will ensure your air conditioner is only working when it needs to be. Smart thermostats allow you to program the temperature you want your home to be in advance. That way, if you’re not home enjoying the cool air, your thermostat can raise the temperature. Plus smart thermostats can be integrated with an app, so if you forget to turn off your AC before leaving your home, you can switch your system off from anywhere in the world. The less time your air conditioner is working overall, the longer it will stay functioning.

3. Consider covering your AC unit for the winter

If you have an AC unit that sits outside your home, consider using a cover in the winter. Before you cover your unit, check with your manufacturer that it’s a safe option for your air conditioner. While air conditioners are designed to withstand most environmental conditions, if you live in a place with a lot of snowfall or rain, consider covering your unit in the winter to further protect it.

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