With summer drawing near, few things are more enjoyable than coming home to a crisp, cool house. It’s easy to take this modern amenity for granted until you have to go without it. But just like owning a car requires more than filling up the gas tank, an air conditioning unit is a complex machine that requires monthly and yearly maintenance to achieve maximum efficiency. These five tips will help you beat the summer heat, get longer life out of your unit, and cut your monthly energy bill. Note: Before cleaning or maintaining your air conditioner, ensure all power flowing to the condenser and evaporator is halted.
- Replace or clean the filter every month. This is the cheapest and easiest way to aid efficiency. When the filter is full of dirt and grime, it can cause the air to flow to the evaporator coil, which can result in more problems. Pay attention to what kind of filter you purchase, as some are reusable. These require regular cleaning and do not need replacement as often as disposable filters.
- Clear the drainage system. Locate your drainage outlet by walking around the foundation of your house. It will be a small pipe that drains out into your lawn. Mold and other bacteria can build in your drain and impede your unit’s efficiency and contaminate the air. At the beginning and end of summer, use a wet/dry vacuum to suction anything that could be obstructing the drain. In most cases, 30 seconds is plenty of time to clean the area.
- Clean the evaporator. If your evaporator is not sealed, clean it at least once a year. Carefully remove the foil and access plate from the inside unit and clean beneath with a bristly or thick brush. When finished, clean the drain pan that carries the moisture away from the unit. Pour vinegar or bleach into the small, vertical pipe. You may have to unscrew the cap on top. One tablespoon should do the trick.
- Clean the condenser. At least once a year, clear any leaves or twigs that are accumulated around the outside unit. Saturate the coils with industrial air conditioner cleaner. Let the substance soak for 5-10 minutes and then use a garden hose to rinse the cleaner off of the unit. After it dries, gently straighten any bent or curved fins. Use a kitchen knife to fit in between the grooves, but do not go any deeper than an inch. Use your brush to remove any grime, dirt, or mud.
If you implement these easy do-it-yourself tips, you will breathe cleaner air, increase the life of your air conditioning unit, and marvel at the money you will save monthly on your electric bill.