Updated November 2019
Keeping your home’s temperature under control is more than a luxury, and sometimes it is even a necessity—especially if you have young children or pets. We’ve spent the past year researching the best maintenance practices for keeping an A/C unit functioning strongly for both the near and long term. If you’re A/C system breaks down, it can quickly make your home borderline unlivable.
No matter what region you’re in, from the Northeast to the Southwest, you’ll inevitably get hit with some serious heat. Whether your someone who is comfortable doing it yourself or prefers to call in a professional technician, take a look and review these simple steps to help mitigate the chances of you’re A/C breaking down and better understand what A/C maintenance is all about.
- Clean the unit, especially the fan regularly—this goes double if you know ahead of time you’ll be working you’re A/C unit extra. Check the grates, base, top, and fins for any blockages, most likely it’ll be leaves or other brush at least partially blocking the airflow. Keep an eye out for any small rodents that may have called your unit home during the winter. Check the electrical connections and wiring for any issues as well.
- Schedule a service visit. If you’re aware of some tune-ups or work that only a professional can do, we advise scheduling an appointment in the spring. Often service providers can get inundated during summer when the weather heats up. Don’t wait for an emergency—it’s always better to plan ahead.
- Assessing Ductwork: Think of the ductwork as you’re A/C’s circulatory system (because that’s exactly what it is.) This is how air gets routed through your house. If there’s a leak due to a tear or a seam is loose then you’re A/C needs to work extra in order to pump the same amount of air into your house. On average, a leaky duct can cause you’re A/C to spend 40% more energy. This is a double whammy as it costs you more money and increases the risk of you’re A/C breaking down. On another note, if the ducts are exposed and not insulated, that also can hurt the efficiency of your system as that cool air would be heated up en route to your home.
- Checking Filters: A/C systems have at least one filter and many times more. When these become dirty it forces your system to work harder to force the air through and more microscopic particles are being forced out with that cooled air. You should buy filters ahead of time (again to avoid busy season) and schedule a reminder in your calendar to change them.
- Ceiling Fans can help compliment the efforts of you’re A/C unit. Effective climate control really involves to processes operating together, cooling air and circulating the air. Of course the airflow ceiling fans generate can cool us directly but in addition, those ceiling fans help circulate the newly cooled air you’re A/C unit is pumping out, throughout the home. A neat tip is to reverse the direction of your ceiling fans when it is Summer or Winter. During summer, of course you want the air blowing downward, but during winter you can retain the same circulation benefit (for the hot air) without creating a draft by having the fan blow the air upward and out.
- Thermostat behavior is a huge driver of A/C expenditure. Today with the proliferation of so many smart devices, the process is as easy as ever. Of course, the quality devices such as our favorite Honeywell Smart Thermostat don’t come cheap ($179) but you’ll see significant savings on your utility bill—it pays for itself in just two seasons.
- Clogged Clothes Dryer Vent: While a dryer is not part of your HVAC system, a clogged vent can force hot air back into your home causing it to heat up, effectively working against you’re A/C’s efforts. And in the worst case, the dryer vent is notorious for starting fires (all that lint is basically tinder.) You should clean the dryer vent, attachments, and hose no less than once a year, probably even more. The frequency is dependent on how often you do laundry. This can be done by you or if your uncomfortable removing parts from your dryer for cleaning, by a trained technician.
- Plugging the gaps: Keep an eye out for vulnerable points in your home where hot air from the outside can leak in. Upon discovery of such a leak, you should use caulk or sealant to seal your home from the outside, hot air entering it.
- Check your attic: The attic, being the highest room in the house is usually a hot area. The more you can cool it during warm weather the more support you will be providing your A/C system. Some relatively easy ways to cool the attic space are using ceiling fans or creating vents for increased circulation. Don’t worry, since cool air is denser it falls and will only reach your attic last (effectively only placing the warmest of the climate controlled airflow in the attic space).
If something feels off about your system or you have questions or concerns you should call for a professional technician to come in and check it out. If you do have someone come in, make sure they are vetted and of high quality. We’ve heard too many stories of low-quality technicians operating independently ‘finding’ problems where there were none. This is one of the main reasons why a home warranty provides such peace of mind and simplifies owning a home. In fact, simplifying home ownership is our mission here at Liberty Home Guard, we only work with licensed, certified technicians of the highest caliber and if you have a policy with us, many of the most frequent issues that occur with A/C are covered under our Systems Guard policy. We stringently vet every contractor and cross check diagnoses with our in house experts to make sure you that get the best care and your home gets the best treatment possible. If you’d like to learn more about our Home Warranty options, please call us at (833)544-8273 or check out our plans page.