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Easy Ways to Save Money with Air Conditioner Maintenance

Spring is the perfect time to get your air conditioning ready for the hot, sticky summer days. Giving your air conditioning unit a spring tune-up will save you a lot of energy and lower your cooling bills. It will also save you significantly from expensive repairs which result from months of neglect.

Leaving the repair work to professionals is the best way to go when it comes to air conditioner maintenance. However, calling in a repair company will put a slight dent in your pocket. Even so, the option is less frustrating and cheaper than having to call an emergency repair team in the middle of summer. If you want to learn how to save money on air conditioning costs, you need to know the things you can do yourself and what has to be done by a professional.

Things You Can Do

A lot of air conditioning maintenance involves clean-ups. In most cases, you don’t have to spend money or hire a professional to help with cleaning. You just need to remember to clean your air conditioner when the temperatures outside are at least 15 degrees Celsius. This temperature is warm enough to test the AC and determine if it is working properly.

1. Clean the Condenser

The outside unit is exposed to a lot of debris. It is more susceptible to clogs. As a result, you need to spend a little more time making sure it is clean. When cleaning the condenser in the outside unit, you should do the following:

  • Turn the air conditioner off.
  • Remove any covering that is over the condenser. You then need to trim the landscaping back at least 2 to 3 feet around the outdoor unit. This will ensure that the air conditioner has unobstructed airflow.
  • Remove dead grass, leaves and other debris from the fins of the condenser. This will ensure that air flows freely.
  • Use a paintbrush or any brush with soft bristles to clean the condenser fins. Take care not to crush or bend the fins. A cleaner can be used to loosen up dried-in dirt.
  • Use a fin comb or a blunt knife to straighten any bent fins.

While inspecting the outside unit, don’t be surprised to find rodents or pests in the unit. It is common for pests to nest in the outdoor unit during winter. Remove them before switching on the AC for summer.

2. Inspect the Insulation on the Refrigerant Line

Still on the outdoor unit, you have to make sure the insulation on the refrigerant line isn’t damaged. Constant exposure to sunlight will cause this insulation to get damaged. If insulation is damaged, the air will not cool down as much. The refrigerant line is the only part that is insulated, so it is hard to miss. This line is large and made of copper. Now is also a good time to make sure all the pipes heading into your home are not rusted or damaged.

3. Ensure the Condenser is Level

The outdoor unit sits on a concrete platform. You need to make sure that the platform is level. If the unit is not level, it might cause vibrations that run through the refrigerant line. Over time, these vibrations will cause holes to form, and the refrigerant will eventually start leaking. Moreover, when the unit is not level, the refrigerant levels will not be even, and the air conditioner will not run as effectively as it should. Always prop the condenser up to ensure it is level.

4. Check Furnace Filters

Now it is time to move inside and start by turning off the furnace’s power. You then need to remove the furnace filter and check if it is clogged or damaged. If you are using a disposable filter and it is dirty, it is time to replace it. The case is the same if the filter is damaged.

The work of the air filter is to ensure dust and debris don’t get into the cooling system. With air conditioner maintenance, it is recommended to replace the air filter at least once every three months. If you live in a more or less dusty place  or someone in your home smokes, you may have to replace the filter sooner.

5. Dust up the Evaporate Fins

The evaporator is located in a metal duct away from the blower. If you can access it, you need to clean its fins using a soft brush. It is okay to use a cleaner to loosen debris. Keeping these fins clean will enable your AC to absorb heat better and cool the air efficiently. If you spot frost on the fins, there is a chance you have a refrigerant leak.

You should also clean the coils using warm water and a mild detergent. Mix the two in a spray bottle and spray the solution on the coils. Leave it on for a few minutes before wiping it off using a soft brush or cloth. Reapply the solution if the fins are still dirty.

6. Make Sure the Drain is Clear

Your air conditioner has a drain that carries condensation away from the AC. Over time, algae may grow on this drain and clog it. If it is blocked, you will notice water leaking, which requires furnace repair.

7. Make Sure the Thermostat is Working

If you are asking is it more efficient to leave air conditioning on, the answer is no.  The thermostat itself has to turn off the AC when the desired temperatures have been achieved.

While they are usually very reliable, you need to be certain that these devices are set correctly and working properly. To check if the thermostat is working properly, set it a few degrees cooler than normal and check if the air conditioner turns on. If the air conditioner does not turn on, make sure there is no other problem causing the issue. Ensure the thermostat is set to ‘cool’ and that the circuit breaker to the AC is ‘ON’. If the air conditioner doesn’t work, it is time to contact a professional.

8. Avoid Over Using Your AC

Last but not least, if you want to avoid frequent breakdowns and high maintenance costs, you should avoid overusing your air conditioner. Keep in mind it’s not good to set the thermostat too low or keep the AC running for no reason. If no one is in the house, you should turn off the AC. The best way to ensure your AC is running when necessary is to install a smart self-programmable thermostat. This type of thermostat will adjust itself based on the temperature in the room. Moreover, you can set it to turn off the AC at certain hours of the day when no one is around.

Using blinds and curtains to keep the sun out and using ceiling fans will further reduce the work on the AC. Less work means the AC will not overwork. Not overworking means it will not break down.

Things Only a Professional Should Do

As for the aforementioned tasks, you will be able to complete them without any problem. There are, however, certain issues you will not be able to fix on your own. When it comes to the following issues, you should always turn to a professional.

1. Lubrication

When it comes to the lubrication of fan motors, you should leave that work to the professional. You don’t want to break something when you open up the unit using the wrong tool or the wrong oil, do you?

2. Bent fins

Are there several bent fins on the condenser unit? If yes, you should let a professional take a look. The professional will be able to determine the cause of the problem and help you understand  if you should get them repaired or replaced.

3. Leaking air conditioning unit

Is your air conditioning unit leaking? Leaks are mainly a sign of algae or ice buildup. They indicate that your refrigerant levels are low. Needless to say, any leak needs to be fixed by a professional.

4. Checking refrigerant levels

The refrigerant is what determines how efficiently the AC works. One of the key things you have to do in air conditioner maintenance is to ensure the refrigerant levels are at the right levels. Considering the refrigerant is dangerous, this is work that should be left to a professional. The professional will clean the pipes, check for leaks and refill the refrigerant if needed.

5. Blocked indoor drain

The drain is what leads condensate away from your home. If it is blocked, you should leave the unblocking work to the professionals.

6. Oiling the blower port

Just like oiling the fan motors, oiling the blower port is something that should be left to a professional. This is mainly because most furnaces have blower compartments located in a hard-to-reach area, and they need to be removed carefully.

7. Cleaning the housing unit

Cleaning the furnace fan and the housing unit is work that should be left to a professional. The fan has moving parts that can easily cut or pinch you if not handled properly. There is also the risk of damaging wires if you are not sure of what you are doing.

8. Issues with the thermostat

If you tested the thermostat and have no idea what is wrong with it, it is time to leverage expert help. The professional will ensure all the wires are connected and snug properly. They also have special equipment and knowledge to troubleshoot the thermostat.

The more efficient your air conditioner is, the more money you will save. That is why you should arrange for annual AC maintenance. An annual tune-up of your AC can help reduce your bills by up to 15%. Timely AC maintenance will further help you avoid additional repairs and replacement costs. Needless to say, tune-up costs are lower than surprise repairs or having to buy a whole new AC unit.

Would you like to find out about how to save money on air conditioning costs?  Contact Air Makers; we have years of experience installing, maintaining and repairing all manner of air conditioning units, and are willing to answer any question you have and ensure your AC is in tiptop shape. Give us a call now for a free consultation.

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