Atlas AC Repair, LLC

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DIY Maintenance: 6 Things Every Homeowner Should Be Doing For Their AC

Add 5 years of life to your home Air Conditioner with the following DIY practices

As a homeowner, there are a few things you can do to best maintain your HVAC system, saving hundreds of dollars in repairs while increasing the useful life of the central AC and furnace by another five years. 

If your AC is over ten years old…then number 6 on the list could really save you some money.

1. Clean your outdoor AC unit

  •  Clean your outdoor AC unit
    • Remove all plants & debris
    • Wash with a water hose, spraying at a 45° angle

Your AC unit cools your home and keeps you comfortable by converting the outdoor temperature into cold air.  It does this by blowing air through the outdoor coils.  If these coils are dirty, they can no longer efficiently exchange the outdoor temperature for cool air, forcing your AC unit to run harder and longer to cool your home. If your outdoor AC unit is dirty or covered with vegetation, it will need to be cleaned off to allow it to run as efficiently as possible. We recommend cleaning your outdoor AC unit a few times a year, clearing away any vegetation, and spraying off any dirt you see on the AC unit.

2. Clear your drain line

The condensate drain line runs from the indoor HVAC unit to outside of the home.
  • Pour 1/2 cup vinegar into your AC drain line a few times a year to clear it.
Your AC drain line should be kept clear for two reasons: to prevent water damage or to avoid tripping a safety switch.  Your air conditioner generates water during the process of cooling your home.  As the drain pan collects the water, the drain line beneath carries the water outside the home.  When that drain line clogs with debris or microbial growth, the water produced by your AC suddenly has nowhere to go.  With the drain backed up, the drain pan will eventually overflow, allowing the excess water to damage drywall and other items nearby.  We see this happen more than a dozen times a year, and it can be prevented by adding vinegar to the drain line a few times a year.

We get a lot of calls every year about an air conditioner not turning on.  In many cases, we find that a safety switch has been tripped.  City code requires that safety switches be installed on a new air conditioner system.  When the drain line gets backed up, the safety switch is triggered to turn off the AC system before any water damage occurs.  Most people, at this point, think their air conditioner needs repair, but it’s just a clogged drain.  Clearing it out allows the air conditioner to start working again.

Also called a condensate overflow switch or AC safety switch, the AC float switch detects clogged AC condensate drain lines and shuts off the system to prevent water damage to floors, walls, and ceilings.

3. Change your Filters

  • Change your filters 1x a month.
  • If you have furry pets, change your filters 2x a month.

Most people understand that AC filters should be changed on a routine basis.  However, most people don’t realize just how much damage clogged filters cause to our air conditioning and heating systems.  When filters routinely get too dirty and clogged, the unnecessary stress added to your system causes things to break over time.  Not only does this result in more repairs to keep your system running, but it can also reduce the useful life of your AC by 5 to 10 years.

It’s easy to forget filter changes. Out of sight, out of mind.  We recommend setting a reminder on your phone or smart thermostat or setting up a monthly filter subscription and having new filters delivered right to your home.

4. Preset your Thermostat

  • Preset thermostat to adjust when you’re away from home.
    • 80° in Summer
    • 70° in Winter

Many working homeowners are away from their homes during the hottest part of the day.  If no one is home, why put the extra demand on your air conditioner?  When no one is home, set your AC at 80 degrees in the summer and 70 degrees in the winter.  Preset your thermostat to adjust the temperature back to where you like it one hour before you get home.  This will help increase the life of your AC, and lower your electric bill, and the best part is you won’t notice a difference.

5. Use your window shades

  •  Close your window shades and blinds during the hottest part of the day. 
Windows uncovered by blinds or shades can let in a considerable amount of heat during the summer, putting a significant demand on your AC.  This will eventually lead to your air conditioner wearing out sooner than it should.  We understand few people want to sit in a dark and gloomy home.  Keep the blinds closed in the unoccupied rooms, and open the window blinds in the rooms you are using.

6. Schedule Annual Maintenance

  • If your AC is over ten years old, have a trusted HVAC company, like Atlas AC Repair, perform an annual tune-up.

Once your system gets over ten years old, you’ll want to start considering routine maintenance from a trusted HVAC company.  Everyday use puts unforeseen wear and tear on your AC and heater.  An inexpensive component working incorrectly can cause more expensive parts to fail.  When your AC and furnace start to age, you need a technician to look through all the electrical components, freon, and temperature splits to help prevent any major unnecessary problems.