14 Ways You Can Prevent Central AC Failure This Summer
Summer is almost here and if you’re anything like us, you want to get through the hot months of summer without having any breakdowns on your central air conditioner. The AC maintenance tips below are often told by heating and air technicians to help homeowners do a bit of self-maintenance and upkeep on their central ac systems.
In this DIY Home Maintenance guide, we’ll share some of the easiest ways you can take care of your central ac to prevent costly breakdowns this summer. As always, we love hearing from you as well, share your own tips for maintaining your system at the end of the article.
14 Tips to Keep your Central AC Happy!
Follow these simple maintenance tips blow to keep your central air conditioner happy all summer long!
1 – Keep the Filter Changed or Cleaned Regularly
The easiest of all tasks, make sure you clean or replace your return air filters every 30-45 days during the summer. Airflow is the most important part of your system that’s needed to work properly, and a dirty filter is one of the most common reasons air conditioners blow warm air during the summer!
2 – Install a Programmable Thermostat
While it won’t do much for maintaining the system, a programmable thermostat can easily help reduce the load on the system and save you a bunch of money on energy costs! Setting the programmable thermostat to vary the temps just 1-2 degrees during the times you don’t need it, can save hundreds of hours of running time during a long summer.
3 – Have the Central Air Serviced by a Professional
Annual maintenance is key to your system running at its peak efficiency! Costing around $129, it’s a small price to pay to have a professional inspect and tune up your central ac unit once a year.
4 – Clean the Condensate Drain Regularly
The line that drains the water off your central ac unit is called a condensate drain line. When it gets plugged, you might expect a large repair to follow, since the water has nowhere to go and can flood a room (or ruin a ceiling) in a matter of a few hours. Most central ac systems have a drain prevention switch for attic systems to shut the unit off when it gets plugged, but keeping the line clean and free of dust and sludge buildup is key to a good flowing drain. Check out the Danny Lipford video on cleaning the drain to stay ahead of it.
5 – Partially Close Dampers in Rooms Rarely Used
Another easy way to reduce the load on your central air conditioner is by partially closing the vents in rooms that are not in use, or rarely used like bathrooms, closets, utility rooms, etc. This will dump more of the cool air into areas of the home where it’s needed the most. You should not close the vents 100% of the way since it will result in a pocket of air and may form condensation. Leaving it slightly open will allow the air to flow at a lower rate and allow the system to continue working efficiently.
6 – Inspect the Duct and Seal Seams as Needed
Take a look at the duct system throughout your home. Whether it’s the insulated flex duct or hard metal duct, there should be no open seams, cracks or tears in the insulation, or any leakage of air from the duct. This is especially important in areas that aren’t treated like attics and crawl spaces, since the introduction of cold air into the warm moist area will turn into condensation buildup, and possibly mold.
7 – Have an Attic Vent Fan Installed to Vent the Heat from Your Attic Space
The attic space in your home can reach 140-150 degrees on any given summer day. Installing an attic vent fan will vent that hot air from your home and eliminate the warm blanket resting over your ceiling. Solar attic vent fans offer a high-efficiency solution for those who want to save money at the same time! If you already have a vent fan installed, you should make sure to inspect it every year as well, to avoid roof leaks and repairs, that could add up quickly!
8 – Never Blow Your Mower clippings Toward the Outdoor Condensing Unit
Have you ever run over a stick or small rock with your lawnmower? Imagine the damage that can happen to your outside condensing unit if it were to hit it within a few feet away. In fact, holes in the outside coil are usually related to the lawn mower or weed trimmer.
9 – Rinse off the Outside Condenser Every Month
Keeping your outside condensing unit clean is just as important as a clean indoor filter! Hose out the coils every month to rinse away grass clippings, spider webs, and any other build-up that may attach itself to the outer surface. Unobstructed airflow through the coil will help the unit work better all summer!
10 – Keep Bushes, Weeds and Shrubs, Trimmed Away from the Outdoor AC Unit
You should keep tall grass, weeds, bushes and any other kind of growth to a minimum within 18-24 inches on all sides of your outdoor air conditioner. otherwise, they can be sucked onto the face of the coil and prevent the air from flowing through the cooling fins on the unit. This will prevent the air conditioner from working properly and result in you getting warm in the house!
11 – Plant a Shade Bush on the Southwest Side of the Outdoor Condenser
The sun is at its peak heat from 11am-6pm, on the Southwest side of your home. If you have the room, planting a small shade tree or bush 3-5 feet away from the air conditioner will provide shade during the hottest part of the day and allow the system to work more efficiently. Make sure you don’t plant too close and obstruct airflow.
12 – Don’t Allow Pets to Hike a Leg and Pee on the Outdoor Unit
Pet urine is full of ammonia and over time, will eat away the thin aluminum fins that are used to dissipate the heat from the refrigerant on the coil. Keep your dogs and cats away from your unit to be sure they don’t pee on it, and corrode the system out of commission!
13 – Keep the Windows and Doors Closed and Sealed Tightly
Another way to reduce the load and running time of your central ac system is to make sure you keep the doors and windows closed when they aren’t being used! Even storm windows and full glass doors can let the cool conditioned air escape from your home and make the system work harder to keep up with demand.
14 – Always Close the Window Shades on the Sunny Side of the Home
Just like planting a tree to shade the outside condenser helps it work more efficiently, keeping the shades or curtains closed on the sunny side of your home during the way will reduce the amount of heat inside the house. Anything you can do to allow your central air conditioner to work less, means extra hours it can run in the future!
User Provided Tips for Preventing AC Failure!
We know you have some tips of your own, please share them below!