How To Avoid Getting Stuck With a Malfunctioning AC This Summer
Spring is drawing to a close, and summer is on its way, which can only mean one thing - time to crank up the AC! Summers in Cedar Rapids may not be as hot as in some parts of the country, but they’re certainly nothing to scoff at. So when the AC breaks down in the middle of a hot and muggy afternoon, help can’t come soon enough.
But in most cases, homeowners can avoid the dreaded AC breakdown this summer with a little routine maintenance. Air conditioner maintenance is vital for preventing serious malfunctions and minimizing wear and tear on the unit. This article will provide some pro tips for properly maintaining an AC system so homeowners can stay cool all summer long!
Be Diligent About Changing the Air Filters
The first air conditioning maintenance tip may be the easiest, but it’s also one of the most important - replacing the air filters on time. A dirty air filter will hinder airflow, making the air handler unit work harder to distribute cool air throughout the home. This puts undue stress on the blower motor and causes the system to run more consistently and at a higher capacity than it should, leading to breakdowns (and higher utility bills).
Homeowners who replace air filters on time can enjoy a more comfortable home, better energy efficiency, and fewer AC issues. So what exactly does “on time” mean? For the average home, replacing the filters every three months should do the trick. However, homeowners with multiple pets, allergy-sensitive family members, or particularly dust-prone homes may want to replace filters more frequently, such as every 1-2 months. One helpful trick is to hold the filter up to a light. If it’s dirty enough that hardly any light shines through, it’s time to replace it.
Keep the Area Around the AC Unit Free of Debris and Vegetation
Most air conditioners feature two units: the indoor air handler, responsible for removing heat from the indoor air and distributing the cooled air throughout the home, and the outdoor condenser unit, responsible for releasing the captured heat into the outdoor air. They both perform their respective jobs by blowing air over copper coils filled with refrigerant, which circulates between the two units to absorb or release heat.
But unlike the air handler unit, the outdoor condenser unit doesn’t have the benefit of an air filter to keep dust and debris from getting into the unit and on the coils. Instead, the fan pulls outdoor air directly through the unit's walls and blows it straight up (in most cases).
When the coils get dirty, they can’t transfer heat efficiently, and system performance suffers. Suppose vegetation, yard waste, blowing trash, or other obstructions are too close to the unit. In that case, they can hinder airflow and make it harder for the coils to expel heat, which can cause overheating and undue strain on the unit. Branches and debris can also get into the unit and jam or damage the fan.
For these reasons, it’s vital to ensure that the outdoor unit has at least 1-2 feet of open space on every side. This is true every season, particularly in the summer, since the unit will be working hardest, and vegetation and weed growth can quickly get out of hand.
Get the AC Serviced By a Professional
DIY maintenance protects an air conditioner and ensures it runs smoothly, but it can only go so far. That’s where professional AC maintenance comes in. Air conditioning technicians have the training and tools to identify potential problems and perform the more in-depth and complicated maintenance tasks every AC needs.
Cleaning the coils, lubricating mechanical parts, replacing worn-out components, checking electrical systems, and recharging refrigerant levels require special tools and skills. A well-meaning but untrained individual can damage the unit or themselves in attempting to perform some of these tasks, so it’s best to let the pros handle them. Professionals can also thoroughly inspect and test the system for irregularities or potential issues, which is vital for catching problems early on before they can do serious damage.
Professional maintenance can help extend the unit's lifespan and prevent the need for costly repairs and replacement parts. Having the unit serviced by only a qualified technician is even required by many manufacturer warranties!
About Master Plumbing, Heating, & Cooling
Master Plumbing, Heating, & Cooling is an award-winning business that has pridefully served the community of Cedar Rapids and the surrounding areas since 1986. They provide same-day service, upfront pricing, and 24/7 emergency response. Call them today for air conditioning services in Cedar Rapids, IA.