Maintaining your air conditioning unit is essential for keeping it running efficiently and avoiding costly repairs. To ensure your AC unit is in optimal condition, it's important to follow a few simple steps. The first step is to change the air filters. Look for the minimum filter efficiency value (MERV), which ranges from 1 to 12 for domestic air conditioning units; the higher the number, the better filtration it will provide.
It's important to note that the more efficient the filter, the more energy it will take to pass air through it. Therefore, you must balance concerns about air quality with energy costs. Additionally, ducts can lose up to 30 percent of airflow due to leaks, and window air conditioning units are notoriously difficult to seal properly. To detect any leaks, you can use the old “smoke” trick.
The compressor and air condenser in a central air conditioning system are usually located outside the house, near the foundation. It works best when there is approximately 24 inches of free space in all directions, so make sure to get rid of nearby shrubs, tall grass, leaves, and hanging branches. Federal laws require air conditioning units to be much more efficient than they were just 10 years ago. In the case of central air conditioning, look for the seasonal energy efficiency index (SEER); in the case of window units, the measure is simply called the energy efficiency index (EER).
Standards require an SEER of 13 and an EER of 8, but devices with higher numbers will cost less to operate. While these steps will help keep your air conditioning system in optimal condition, keep in mind that there are maintenance items that only a trained HVAC technician will be able to perform. For example, a slow refrigerant leak in the air conditioning system can cause an expensive compressor failure, but the owner doesn't have the tools or skills to check refrigerant levels. You can also improve your AC unit's efficiency by running it in conjunction with floor or ceiling fans to circulate cold air more effectively. Closing too many interior doors causes central air conditioning systems to lose balance, meaning there is less airflow throughout the house. However, you can improve the efficiency of the unit by replacing damaged or rotten insulation around outdoor air conditioning lines. To ensure your AC unit is running at its best and most efficient level, it's important to follow these steps regularly.
Changing your filters regularly and keeping an eye on your compressor and condenser will help keep your AC unit running optimally and avoid costly repairs. Additionally, having a trained HVAC technician check your refrigerant levels and inspect your insulation can help you save money in the long run.