Since heating and cooling accounts for 45 percent of total energy used in the average home, keeping your AC system in good shape can save you money on utility bills. Taking good care of your system can also lower repair costs and extend the life of your AC equipment. Knowing a little about AC system troubleshooting and maintenance can make that job much easier.
Your AC system needs seasonal service done by a HVAC professional every year before cooling season begins to maintain optimum efficiency levels. However, there are a number of simple things you can do between those annual service calls to help keep your system in top form.
Perhaps, one of the most important elements is keeping your system’s air filter clean. Air filters need attention once a month during the cooling season. If your system uses disposable filters, it is a matter of simply replacing a dirty filter with a new one, while permanent filters will need to be removed, washed and then put back in place.
Keeping your condenser, which is the outdoor component of your AC system, clear of debris, is essential to efficient system operation. Weeds or shrubbery around the unit restrict airflow, so make sure they are removed or trimmed back to allow at least 24 inches of clearance around the unit. Grass clippings, dead leaves or other debris need to be cleared away regularly as well.
Dust and dirt on the condenser coils can also restrict airflow and reduce a system’s efficiency. This problem is easily taken care of with a garden hose. First, turn off all power to the system, then simply hose down the coils to wash away dust and dirt. While you’re at it, spray off the unit’s casing as well to reduce risk of corrosion.
Recognizing Early Signs of AC System Trouble
Small problems with your AC system can, if let go, become large and expensive ones. Knowing the signs of common AC problems can help you catch them early, which can prevent damage to your cooling equipment and your budget.
Things to watch out for as you look over your AC system include icing on the system’s copper tubing or warmer than usual air coming from the vents. Both of these issues can be caused by low coolant levels, coolant leaks or a serious airflow obstruction. This will require the attention of an HVAC technician.
Unusual noises from your AC system are often a sign of trouble, such as screeching, rattling or grinding sounds. Such noises can be caused by a range of equipment problems, such as loose or damaged belts, a faulty fan motor or compressor trouble. These should be checked out by an HVAC professional as soon as possible to prevent expensive equipment damage.
Other signs that can indicate that there’s trouble brewing in your AC system include unpleasant odors coming from your vents, a spike in your energy bills or frequent tripping of circuit breakers or fuses associated with the cooling system.
While these tips won’t make you a heating and cooling expert, they will help you keep your AC system clean and efficient throughout the summer. With simple DIY maintenance, you can help yourself to lower energy bills, and knowing the early signs of AC trouble can help you avoid the hassle and expense of major AC system problems.
Jillian Johnson is a professional content marketing writer and blogger with a particular interest in writing about home improvement. To read more writing by Jillian, follow her @MissWritey.