Get Ready for the Long, Hot Summer: Maintenance Tips for Your Air Conditioner
Summer is here, and along with it the hot temperatures that make our air conditioning systems blow at full blast.
Regular maintenance can help extend the life of your central air conditioning system. “An air conditioner is like any other machine, it requires some basic maintenance to keep it functioning properly,” says Nicole Ritchie, a spokeswoman for American Home Shield, a provider of home warranties. “Unfortunately, many people don’t think about their air conditioner until that first hot day.”
Here are some tips for maintaining your system:
- Check your air filter monthly, and clean or replace it as necessary. Changing your filter regularly helps keep dust from collecting on the evaporator coil and can also cut energy usage by 5 to 15 percent, according to the Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute.
- Trim shrubs and plants near the condensing unit so it has adequate air circulation. Clear grass clippings and other debris from the area.
- Clean the condenser periodically by spraying it with water.
- Consider planting trees to provide shade to the condenser. A unit operating in the shade uses as much as 10% less electricity than the same one operating in the sun, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
- Keep the vents in your home clear and unobstructed furniture to allow for maximum air flow.
- Have your system “tuned up” annually, at least a month before the cooling season starts.