How to Keep Your Air Conditioner Running at Its Peak Performance

The most essential maintenance task to guarantee the effectiveness of your air conditioner is to clean or replace your filters regularly. Clogged, dirty filters can significantly reduce air flow and system efficiency. The condensation from air conditioner coils contains bacteria that can form sludge and block the drain pipe of the condensate tray. When it's time to store your home air conditioner condenser after summer, cover it with heavy plywood.

The air compressor and condenser in a central air conditioning system are usually located outside the house, close to the foundation. If it keeps sinking and squeezing the pipes, or if water accumulates around the unit, you'll need to fix the sinking air conditioner pad. For central air conditioning, look for the seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER); for window units, the measure is simply called the energy efficiency ratio or EER. Consider running the air conditioner along with floor or ceiling fans to circulate the cooled air more efficiently. Cleaning the air conditioner in spring, before putting it into operation, will help it work better during hot summer days.

When the central air conditioning service fails during a heat wave, you may have to wait several days for a heating, ventilation, and air conditioning repair technician to arrive, and you'll probably have to pay at least several hundred dollars for the repair. Look for the minimum filter efficiency reporting value, or MERV, which ranges from 1 to 12 for domestic air conditioning units; the higher the number, the better the filtration (and the more energy it will take to extract air through it, so balance air quality concerns with energy costs). Use this handy checklist to evaluate your HVAC system, then schedule an appointment for any air conditioner maintenance or repair you need before summer begins. We asked Richard Trethewey, plumbing and heating expert at This Old House, to share his tips on air conditioning maintenance for central air units and windows. In the case of window units, light an incense bar and hold it where the unit and window frame meet; in the case of a central air conditioner, hold the rod close to the duct connections.

For ducts, use aluminum tape to seal small gaps and duct putty in larger ones; for window air conditioning units, place foam between the device and the window frame, taping it with adhesive tape as needed. Unless you're going on vacation, don't turn off the system; otherwise, the air compressor will have to work harder to cool down your house later on. To keep your air conditioner running at its best and ensure maximum efficiency throughout its lifespan, it's important to perform regular maintenance tasks. This includes replacing or cleaning filters regularly; checking for sinking pads; looking for SEER or EER ratings; running fans alongside your AC unit; cleaning your AC unit before use; sealing ducts; and avoiding turning off your system when not in use. By following these simple steps you can make sure that your AC unit is running optimally all year round.

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