Unfortunately, your AC unit wasn’t made to last forever – only about 10-15 years. Whether you replace your air conditioner after 10 years or 15 years depends on how well you take care of it throughout its lifetime. While we here at Air Tech Air Conditioning & Plumbing can’t make your AC last forever, we can tell you exactly what you need to do to keep your AC unit running better for longer. Here are a few ways you can extend the life of your air conditioner.
Keep Your AC Unit Clean
Even with regular maintenance, your AC unit will need to be cleaned between visits from your HVAC company. The outdoor condenser unit needs the most attention – it will get dirty just from being outside. Regularly check the unit, and remove any dirt, leaves, twigs or other debris that has built up since you last cleaned it. To prevent debris from getting into the system in the first place, make sure there are at least two feet of space between the AC unit and any shrubs, trees or other plants.
Change the Air Filter
Part of cleaning your AC unit is checking and replacing the air filter, or cleaning it if you have a reusable one. This incredibly important – and often forgotten – step is the best way to keep dust and other debris out of the indoor portion of your AC system.
If you don’t change your filter every 1-2 months, buildup on the filter will restrict system airflow and cause undue stress to the AC unit. The debris that will make it past the filter will gather on the coils and in the ductwork, further restricting airflow and reducing indoor air quality. Set yourself a reminder to check your air filter every month, and change it when it’s dirty.
Get Regular AC Tune-Ups
Seasonal AC tune-ups are a crucial part of maintaining your air conditioner’s efficiency and helping it last as long as possible. You should get two tune-ups per year: one in the spring for your AC and one in the fall for your heater. During a tune-up, the technician will clean, inspect and test all of the components of your AC system to make sure it’s as efficient as possible. Benefits of regular tune-ups include:
- Increased AC efficiency
- Lower energy bills
- Reduced risk of breakdowns
- Catching repairs before they cause bigger problems
- Prolonging the life of the unit
Give the Unit a Rest
If your boss asked you to work 60-hour weeks every week, you’d get burned out pretty quickly. Your air conditioner is the same. AC units are only made to maintain up to a 20-degree temperature differential, or the difference between the temperature inside your home and outside your home. That means that running your AC at 68 degrees on a triple-digit summer day puts it under more stress than it’s meant to handle, prematurely aging it and making it less efficient.
That’s why the U.S. Department of Energy has recommendations for the most efficient temperature to keep your home at during the cooling and heating seasons. Your thermostat should be set to 78 degrees during the summer and 68 degrees during the winter to allow your HVAC system to work at its highest efficiency and prevent undue stress. In addition, you should give the system an extra break of about two degrees if you’re leaving your home for more than a few hours, especially for long periods of time. Your AC will thank you!
Take Care of the Air Ducts
While your AC unit may seem like a singular piece of equipment to maintain, your entire HVAC system is connected. If one part isn’t working at its best, the other parts won’t either, which is why taking care of your air ducts is essential. Dirty or damaged ductwork is one of the leading causes of inefficiency in an HVAC system, which makes the air conditioning unit work much harder than it should to meet your cooling demands. You can take care of your air ducts by cleaning your air filter, choosing a seasonal tune-up that includes ductwork inspection and having them cleaned every 3-5 years.