You’ve spent money on a central air conditioning system, so how long will it last? Honestly, there is no clear-cut answer. On average, they last 15 to 20 years, but some people can get 25 or 30 years from their system. It all comes down to how much use it gets and how well you take care of it. Regular maintenance is important if you want your AC unit to last.
There are tasks you should be completing each week, each month, and each year. When you follow our guide to AC maintenance, you can extend the life of your equipment.
Weekly Maintenance Tasks
Are there any tasks you should be doing each week? Much of your AC system’s weekly maintenance involves keeping your floors clean.
- Floors and Furniture
At least each week, vacuum the carpets and sweep hardwood, tile, or plank floors. If you keep up with control of hair, dirt, and crumbs, you’ll keep them from reaching the vents.
- Vent Covers
The more pet hair and dust that build up and travel into the vents, the more problems you’ll run into. Sweep floors often and make sure you take a vacuum to the vent/air covers to remove any hair from pets and people.
Monthly Maintenance Tasks
Once a month, there are a few things you should check.
The filters in your air conditioning system need to be replaced. In peak cooling season, you may need to replace the filters every couple of months. You should check them each month as a dusty home or a home with pets may require monthly filter changes.
When you don’t replace your filters often enough. It can increase energy consumption and make your system work harder. Extend the life of your air conditioning system by making sure the filter is changed when it’s dirty.
- Pay Attention to Energy Consumption
You may not need a professional cleaning every year, but you should pay close attention to your energy bills and how well your home is cooling. If anything seems off, call in a professional for a free AC evaluation. A professional AC technician can make sure there are no leaks in the ducts or refrigerant lines, check the electric terminals for loose connections, ensure the thermostat is working properly, and check the motors.
Yearly Maintenance Tasks
That’s the monthly and weekly tasks taken care of. What should you be doing each year? Start with the outside system. Cut off the power to it before you do anything else.
- Air Conditioner Coils
Air conditioner coils on both the evaporator and condenser units need to be cleaned every year. The evaporator coil is in the inside unit and won’t get as dirty if you’re regularly changing filters. But, the condenser coil is outside and can get dirty if you have a dry, dusty yard, a dryer vent nearby, lots of trees and shrubs in the yard, or have high pollen counts due to your location’s flowers, trees, and grasses.
You can clean the condenser coils yourself with a hose and soft brush, but you have to be very careful that you don’t damage the equipment, especially any aluminum fins. Lift the fan cage out of the way first. Use a wet vac to remove leaves and debris from the interior casing. It’s often better to hire a professional AC cleaner for peace of mind. Professionals have fin combs in their tools that can restore bent fins.
- Condensate Drains
Each year, run a stiff wire brush through the condensate drains to remove any clogs. Again, you may want to call in a professional air conditioning technician who is equipped with the right tools. If you’re finding your home is more humid, you should look at the condensate drains to make sure they’re not clogged and prevent the excess moisture from draining properly.
- Check That It’s Level
As the ground settles or shifts, make sure the pad your condenser is on remains level. If it’s not level, it can cause damage. If you find that it is not level, plastic shims can help get it level again, or you can call a professional to have it checked.
- Look at the Insulation Around the AC Lines
For the AC lines that come out of the home, check the insulation around them. If the insulation has become damaged or is deteriorating, you should replace it to ensure you’re not losing any heat in the winter or cool air in the spring, summer, and fall.
- Clear the Area
Look at the pad that the unit sits on and then look at the area surrounding it. Are there any shrubs that have grown too close? If they’re within a two or three-foot radius, trim them back. If there are trees nearby that are dropping leaves on the unit, take out some of the branches. Look for tall weeds and plants that are too close. This may mean moving or thinning out some plants from nearby flower beds. It’s going to improve your AC’s lifespan, so it’s an important step to take.
Tasks for Every Few Years
You should also have your ducts professionally cleaned every few years. Even if you’re changing filters as often as needed, some pet hair and dust will get into the ducts. It’s a good idea to have the ducts cleaned every few years to keep them in prime working order and help lower the risk of mildew and odors.
Does your home have an attic? Have the insulation checked for problems. While fiberglass insulation is unlikely to be damaged by rodents, it’s not foolproof. If a mouse has tunneled into your insulation, it can cause problems with air leaking out. Plus, mice carry diseases that you don’t want your family to get.
It’s a good idea to check the attic for signs of rodents. If you spot them, have the insulation replaced and call in an exterminator to take care of the rodents and figure out how they’re getting in.
Make Sure Your System Is the Right Size
It’s also very important that your system isn’t oversized or undersized. Bigger than you need isn’t going to help cool your home better. An undersized system isn’t going to save you money. That’s why it’s important to have a professional AC installation company design your system.
If your system is too big for your home, it is going to cool the home quickly and then shut back off just as quickly. A system that’s undersized is going to need longer to warm up the home and it’s going to keep running to try to maintain that temperature. This strains the system and increases your utility bills. With all of the excessive use, parts wear out quickly, and the AC system will need frequent repairs or need replacing before you expect it.
All Year Cooling has helped more than 350,000 customers stay cool in Florida’s sweltering climate. With close to 50 years of experience repairing and installing AC units, we’re here to help you get your AC system in great shape. Whether you need a new system or want to get your current system cleaned and inspected, we’re here for you. Reach us online or by phone.