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7 Tips for Homeowners on Air Conditioner Maintenance

Did you know that air conditioners use about 6 percent of the electricity in the U.S. and cost homeowners about $29 billion? 

Is your air conditioner ready for the heat? No one wants to find out their air conditioner is not working when it gets hot, so it's time to do some regular maintenance to get your outdoor AC unit ready for the summer's head.

Not sure what to do? We've got you covered. Check out these tips for AC maintenance.

1. Clean or Replace Air Filters

One of the most important chores you can do is to replace your filter. You should do it every month during your high-use seasons, like June, July, and August for outdoor AC maintenance.

To find the air filter:

  • Behind the return air grille 
  • Inside the blower of your furnace or air handler
  • The bottom or top slot of your furnace

If you let the dirt, dust, and allergens buildup, the airflow decreases. This causes your unit to work even harder. And, the air flowing through your home is dirty and dusty, which impacts your air quality.

When looking at filters, look for high-quality filters that will capture bacteria, viruses, pollen, and other smaller particles. The inexpensive fiberglass air filters will not catch these items. 

Be sure to change them regularly if you get a higher quality because it will pick up more and get dirtier more quickly.

When you purchase a pleated filter, look at its MERV rating. This stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. The higher the MERV rating means that it will pick up more airborne particles.

You can find residential filters ranging anywhere from 1 MERV to 12 MERV. If any of your family members have allergies or asthma, you may want to consider a filtration system along with a higher MERV-rated filter.

2. Clean Your Coils

As you inspect your AC unit, you will need to clean its parts. The AC coils and fins are on the outside of your unit and need to be clean and free from any obstructions. Leaves can sometimes accumulate near your unit, so make sure it is clear.

Cleaning AC units is essential to optimal performance. You can clean it with a garden hose and broom, but never use a pressure washer because the spray can damage your unit.

3. Check Wiring and Components

Before you do any maintenance "under the hood" of your AC unit, make sure you turn the power source off. You will want to check all the internal connections of your unit to make sure they are working properly along with the unit's wiring. You should inspect these areas at least once a year.

After turning the condenser's power off, remove the access panel. Look for any signs of overheating such as melted insulation wires or burned-looking or black wires.

Check that all electrical connections are tight. If you have an electrical test meter, you can also check the capacitors. 

If you notice some issues, you may need an expert. 

4.  Check the Condenser Unit’s Fan

Now, it's time to check the fan because if the fan blades aren't in good shape, your AC will not be able to cool your home. This is why it's important to stay on top of and check their condition.

The power should still be off on your air conditioner when you check the fan which is mounted on the top of your outside condenser unit. You will need to remove the cage or grill with either a wrench or screwdriver. If you see any chips or cracks on the blades, you will need to purchase new blades.

Double-check that they fit your condenser unit by looking for your system and model number. 

For older units, you should oil the fan motor bearings at least once a year. 

5. Remove Debris

When you have the fan cage off, check for any debris just like you did on the outside of the unit. Use your hands to grab items (again, make sure power is off), or you can use a wet/dry vacuum to suction out leaves and other debris from the interior. 

6. Check the Fins

Another area you need to check on your unit is the fins. Check for any bent fins and straighten them with a butter knife or a commercial fin-straightening tool. Be gentle so you don't damage any tubing.

Check for dirt and debris on the fins. You should also spray off the fins with a garden hose because dirt and debris will also reduce airflow.

7. Examine Your Thermostat

One of the easiest tasks for all types of AC units is to check your thermostat. You need to make sure your thermostat is working properly by making sure your unit turns on when you bump it down a few degrees.

If your unit doesn't turn on, check your connection to the unit. Make sure that no wires are loose. You should also check the batteries and consider changing the batteries when you perform maintenance.

You may also want to consider upgrading to a smart thermostat, which will automatically adjust your home's temperature when you are not home. Set the thermostat to the away mode when you aren't home to save some money. You can also control from your phone if you need to make an adjustment.

Get Your Outdoor AC Unit Ready for Summer

Follow these outdoor maintenance tips to get your outdoor AC unit ready for summer. With regular AC maintenance, you can keep your air running smoothly—and beat the summer's heat!

If you need some air conditioner parts, check out our selection today. We carry most brands to help you find the right parts for your unit. We also have experts on hand to answer your questions.

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