AC Tune-up Made Easy

By Lyle Weischwill | Nov. 10, 2016 4:52 pm PST

Tuning up your air conditioner is easy--tips for how to learn how

With warm weather on the way, these simple tips will help make sure your air conditioner is in working order.

Summer is coming, which means it’ll soon be time to crank up the air conditioner. But is your AC ready to work hard keeping you cool for the next few months?

Like most complex equipment, air conditioners need regular tune-ups. Whether you have a state-of-the-art cooling system or 20-year-old model, simple annual AC maintenance steps will help ensure that your equipment runs efficiently. This can, in turn, lower your energy bills and help you avoid costly maintenance.

Follow these four simple steps for air conditioner maintenance:

1. Dirty filters use more energy.

Filters get dirty quickly, which slows down airflow and makes your air conditioning system work harder than it needs to. That translates into wasted energy, higher energy bills and avoidable maintenance issues down the line.

If you notice that your energy bills are higher than they should be, or that there is less air coming through your vents, this is likely a sign of dirty filters. Dirty filters can actually cause slugged refrigerant, a major problem that can ruin your compressor — and lead to a costly repair. To stay ahead of the issue, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Energy Star program recommends checking your air filters every month, especially during heavy-use times, and changing them every three months at a minimum, to keep your system running smoothly.

2. Breakdowns cost more than tune-ups.

Central air conditioning systems require maintenance to perform cleanly and efficiently. The Energy Star team suggests having a technician perform an annual AC check-up to adjust thermostat settings, clean the coils, ducts and blower components and check refrigerant levels. This simple step, which should cost you less than $100, will improve your air conditioner’s performance and could prevent far more expensive system failures.

3. Clanking equipment is a bad sign.

If you turn on your AC and no air comes out, it bangs and clanks, or there is moisture buildup around the indoor equipment, call an air conditioning technician immediately. These are signs that your system isn’t working properly and is in desperate need of an AC repair or tune-up.

4. Out with the old.

Today’s best air conditioners use 30% to 50% less energy than those made in the mid-’70s, according to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Even if your AC is only 10 years old, you could save 20% to 40% of your cooling costs by replacing it with a newer, more efficient model, the DOE reports.

When choosing a replacement, look for models that have a seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) rating of 13 or more. Higher SEER ratings equal greater efficiency and lower energy costs. Learn more about how much an AC replacement can save you.

In addition, choose a system that’s the right size for your home. If it’s too big, it won’t adequately remove humidity. And if it’s too small, it won’t be able to achieve comfortable temperatures on the hottest days — which is what an AC unit is all about, right?

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