Air Conditioner Maintenance and Tips

Murphy's Law states that if something can go wrong it probably will.  What most of us have learned however is that if left unchecked it will probably go wrong at the worst possible time.  When this comes to an air conditioning system it means that the hottest day of the year will be a Friday of a long weekend with a house full of people and the AC will suddenly quit without notice.  These breakdowns can often be detected and avoided with a little care and attention.  See the following tips to get the most out of your air conditioning and avoid some big headaches and bills in the future.

Change your air filter

Even more so than in heating system air flow is very important to continued operation of your cooling system.  Change it regularly, even monthly if you have pets or other air borne concerns in your home.  A dirty air filter will reduce the amount of cool air flowing through your home and can even cause an otherwise functioning unit to freeze up and fail.

Open your vents

Your ventilation system was designed and sized to move air throughout the entire home, not just the upstairs and areas we use the most.  While closing off or blocking supply air vents may appear to move more air into the areas you want it, this is a slippery slope.  By closing off some of the paths the air can take out of the ducts we increase the pressure in the ductwork.  This causes several issues:

  1. Reduced air flow can cause inneficient operation and leads to freeze ups
  2. Newer fans do not handle high static pressure well and will move even less air in this condition
  3. Open vents are only capable of moving a certain quantity of air.  While it may get louder there is likely very little actual improvements in the areas we frequent more.

Keeping all supply and return air vents open and free of debris your system will work better and longer

Have your system checked by a professional on an annual basis

There are parts of your system that should be checked by a professional including electrical components and connections, capacitors and fan motors as well as chemical cleaning of the condenser coil.  Just because it doesn't look dirty doesn't mean it is clean.  These coils' job is to transfer the heat from your home to the hot outside air.  Kamloops summers routinely hit over 40 degrees C, meaning that your AC unit is running over 50 in good clean condition.  Even a fine layer of dirt will increase this by 10-20 degrees.  This corresponds to a pressure increase of over 100 PSI in the system.  The unit will continue to run for quite a while, but higher than optimal temperatures and pressures will prematurely wear out piping, fittings, coils and compressor valves.  You wouldn't run your sports car all year without having it serviced, you shouldn't run your Air Conditioner without getting it checked out first.

Check your thermostat

Use your programmable thermostat to get the most comfort for the least money.  Are you out of the house from 7 am until 5 pm every weekday?  If so let the setpoint come up a bit to save you money while you are away, then cool it down before you get home.  There are many options for thermostats including new WiFi capable stats that can be operated from anywhere, ask about help with programming tips and thermostat upgrades during your preventative service for some good free advice.