Prepare Your Air Conditioner for Summer
Your air conditioner worked last summer. This spring, you flipped the thermostat to cool, and it came on again. You put your hand over the duct outlet and the air was pretty cool, so you’re good to go, right?
Not so fast. Unless your hand is somehow a naturally precise thermometer, you have no idea how not good to go you are. An air conditioner will lose about 5 percent of the unit’s original efficiency for each year of operation.
That means a central air conditioning unit with a Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating (SEER) of 12 should last an average for 18 years, but without annual maintenance, it loses a quarter of its efficiency within five years, dropping to an SEER rating 9.. That means ever increasing energy costs for you. Yet there are steps you can take to keep your air conditioner running efficiently and trouble free.
Order a Service Check in Spring
Ordering a service tune-up will cost you money up front, but you will quickly recover the cost in savings on your monthly electric bill and reduced repair bills. The tune-up will include cleaning the condensing unit coils, checking the compressor’s amp draw, oiling fan motors, adjusting belts as needed, and checking operating pressures and temperatures to be certain they meet manufacturer specifications.
Part of the service call includes checking the air conditioner’s coolant. The Air Conditioning Contractors of America explain that a system that is 10 percent low on coolant will cost approximately 20 percent more to operate.
Maintenance between Annual Tune-Ups
There are steps you can take to keep your air conditioning running efficiently between service calls. Air filters are essential to assuring your air conditioner maintains its efficiency. It’s worth it to buy good filters and change them regularly, at a minimum once a year, more often if you have pets whose hair can clog the filter.
Trim bushes and keep other materials away from the outside unit of the air conditioner. Leaves can clog the system and fallen branches can jam the fan motor to the compressor coils.
Make sure all air supply outlets in your house are open and not blocked by boxes or furniture. Closing the supply outlets can be harmful to the air conditioning system.