Most central air conditioner units only last about 12 to 15 years before they need to be replaced, but at an average cost of $2,500 to $5,000 or more to pay for a replacement central AC you might want to try taking a few steps to keep your AC running for as long as possible. Regular maintenance all year around will help you stay cool for longer and with less AC breakdowns on those days when the temperature reaches the triple digits!
Here are some things you can do to keep your central AC unit in god running condition:
Keep It Clear: The big fan housing part of your AC unit that is on the outside your house is called the condenser and it's what actually cools a Freon liquid in the coils of your air conditioner. These cooler the coils the cooler the air in your house should be. It's important to keep the condenser clear of grass, bushes, leaves, kid's toys and just about everything else so that the fan can run as efficiently as it can.. A good rule of thumb is to make sure there is nothing blocking the vents or around the unit for one or two feet in every direction. And be careful to make sure that cut grass isn't blowing into the unit each time you mow your lawn.
Clean your AC Regularly: Different air conditioning units can be cleaned different ways, but you generally want to make sure that the interior is free of debris on the outside and inside. To clean your air conditioning unit you should always check your service manual first, but there are some general steps. Make sure you turn off the power to the unit before cleaning. Most units can be cleaned with a hose sprayed from the top down, washing any dirt or debris from the inside. Simply take a broom or rake and brush out any left over debris or leaves around the condenser unit. Some sites recommend cleaning the coils with soft brushes or wet rags, but you can damage the coils easily. You can spray then down with a hose.
Keep your AC Cool: The U.S. Department of Energy recommends putting trees or some sort of shade structure around your older central AC unit so that it doesn't have to work as hard to cool the coils inside it. Putting your AC unit in the shade will reduce how hard is has to work and some estimates place the energy savings at nearly 10% for just this simply trick! Some newer high-end and commercial air conditioner units actually have regulators in them that can adjust to hotter temperatures.
Check your AC Often: Giving your AC a regular "check up" will really help keep it running. First, you'll need to change your home air filter every three to six months. These filters can get blocked with dust and limit the amount of air you're getting in your home. You'll also want to look around for any leaks in the hoses or air ducts of your home heating and cooling system. Even little pinhole leaks and gaps in your ducts should be repaired with a foil insulating tape. Believe it or not duct tape probably isn't the best choice for this!
Charge it and Service it Regularly: Let's face it, you're sometimes better off having a professional come in and look things over, especially if you suspect any problems. Check with your local electrical or gas utility company because they may have low-cost service plans which include a free maintenance visit once a season. A professional heating and cooling person can also charge your older air conditioner with Freon if needed.
I hope this helps you save some money and helps air conditioner unit keep cool this summer!
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