Does Regular Air Conditioner Maintenance Really Save Money?

HVACIf just spending a little time, and maybe getting your hands a little dirty, were the key to saving money, would it be worth it to you?  You can make your air conditioner last longer and work better by taking a few regular steps of maintenance.  You may have to spend a little money on filters for your appliance, but your home should be more comfortable with these maintenance steps, and it will save you larger sums of money down the road.

Easy things to maintain on an air conditioner include the filters, coils, and fins.  Evaluating and maintaining these things can help ensure that your air conditioner will work effectively and efficiently, and may even keep it from breaking down ensuring a longer ‘life’ of the appliance.  Not maintaining these things can make it more expensive to operate, along with operating less efficiently, thus not keeping you and your family as comfortable as you could be.

Although it is recommended that a professional HVAC technician evaluate your air conditioner each year before it is used, there are things a homeowner can do relatively easily.

Air Conditioner Filters

When filters are not replaced periodically, they become clogged with dirt and other debris.  It is estimated that replacing your air conditioner’s filter on a regular basis can reduce the energy consumption of the appliance from 5% to 15%.

Air Conditioner Coils      

An air conditioner has an evaporator coil and condenser coil, both of which can collect dirt over their months and years of service.  Even with regular replacement of the filter, the evaporator coil will collect dirt, dust, and mold.  Just like filters, a dirty evaporator coil keeps the air conditioner from working efficiently. If your air conditioner isn’t producing cold air, or seems to be running weak, its evaporator coil may need a good cleaning.  A rag can sometimes be sufficient to clean a dirty evaporator coil, but many cases will require an evaporator coil cleaning product, which come in an assortment of varieties and can be purchased easily, for not much money.  There is some handy work that comes in accessing an AC unit’s evaporator coil, but the benefits to cleaning it are numerous and you can easily find instructions and tutorials online.

The outdoor condenser coil can also collect dirt from the environment.  If there are trees, or if cut grass lands on it, this coil can also become clogged, restricting airflow.  Even a dryer vent can send debris to the outdoor condenser coil, making it work less efficiently.  It is recommended that you move potential suppliers of debris at least two feet from the coil, and to inspect and wash it each fall or spring.  If your unit is fairly new or cleaned regularly, you may be able to just rinse it off with a high power water hose.  In most cases though, it will require using a special condenser coil cleaner.  These chemicals can be dangerous to work with, so it is important to read all of the manufacturer’s directions and warnings before hand.

Coil fins are made of aluminum and damage fairly easily. Bent fins act just like clogged filters and can significantly limit the unit’s air flow.  Fortunately, most damaged coil fins can be straightened out using a fin comb, and these can be purchased easily and at a moderate cost.

Condensate drains are the tubes that help take waste water away from the air conditioner.  Sometimes these drains, which are usually just plastic pipe, can become clogged with dirt, small insect nests, or other things.  Make certain the drain pipe is aimed at a downward angle, and ensure water can flow.  If not, replace the pipe, or force wire or something similar through it to ensure the pipe is not blocked.

These are not difficult steps to keep your air conditioner running efficiently.  A few hours a couple of times a year, and you keep cool and make your appliance run better, and maybe last longer.  If you don’t feel comfortable with the handy work or strong chemicals involved in maintaining your AC unit, Service First Air Conditioning & Heating offers custom maintenance plans for residential and commercial air conditioner units.  Contact us today for a free estimate and let us help our skilled technicians help you get your AC unit in its best working order.