Select a Location
LoginOpens in new window
Most car owners understand how regular maintenance like oil changes, tire rotations and filter changes can go a long way towards maximizing performance. It’s a small price to pay to extend the life of the vehicle. The same goes with your air conditioner. And, understanding the value of air conditioner maintenance means understanding a little more about how your air conditioning unit works.
In most cases, your central air conditioner is actually a system that includes an indoor unit and an outdoor unit connected by copper tubing and electrical wiring. The complete system often both heats and cools your home, depending on the types of equipment installed. Keeping all parts of the system in good operating condition can be vital to your comfort, your system’s efficiency and helping keep utility bills in check.
Here's how it works
During normal air conditioner operation, dust, dirt, moisture from humidity or condensation, and microbial growths can build up on internal components. Left unchecked, these issues can corrode components like the evaporator coil and condenser coil. Over time, those components can become less effective and lead to a loss of efficiency or worse, a shorter air conditioner lifespan.
Regular AC maintenance and tune-ups can minimize many of the issues caused by build-up of dirt and debris. If they are performed by an HVAC technician, these inspections allow your contractor to check for longer-term issues and in some cases take proactive steps to prevent premature failure or inconvenient breakdowns during the cooling season.
Annual air conditioner preventative maintenance may also be a requirement to keep your warranty valid as well. Many manufacturers state on warranty documentation that installation and maintenance by a licensed HVAC service provider are a part of the warranty conditions.
Figure 1: Sample Diagram of Air Conditioner
One simple way to potentially save money and prolong the life of an AC system is to make sure the outdoor unit stays clean. During normal operation, a fan in the outdoor unit pulls air through the condenser coil. Airborne dust and dirt particles and debris from nearby foliage can get lodged in the coil fins, restricting airflow and affecting performance. Four air conditioner preventative maintenance tasks that can keep the outdoor unit clean:
One of the easiest air conditioner preventative maintenance tasks you can perform yourself is to clean or replace your system’s air filter. The air filter for your AC system will be located in or near your indoor unit. Whether it is a basic 1-inch filter, a larger, 4-inch media filter or a more sophisticated electronic air cleaner or purifier, the filter should be cleaned or replaced periodically. These filters can help with indoor air quality by removing airborne particles and pollutants from your home. They can also help keep your system operating at its peak performance by reducing the buildup of dust, dirt and other particles from accumulating on internal components like the blower motor.
How often you need to clean or replace the filter depends on a number of factors:
It’s a good idea to check and inspect your filter at least once every 2-3 months. Some filters, such as the wider 4-inch media filters can last up to 1 year before replacing. Whenever possible, follow your manufacturer’s recommendations for filter maintenance. In general, to clean or replace your AC system filter, follow these steps:
For a more complete description, go to our how to change air conditioners filters page.
While it’s true that regular air conditioner maintenance can help prolong the life expectancy of your air conditioning system... and there a handful of DIY maintenance tasks that can be performed by an average homeowner... there are times when it’s just best to call a certified HVAC technician. Some signs that it’s time to make the call might include:
If you are experiencing any of the above issues, a trained technician can further evaluate your cooling system during their air conditioner maintenance visit. If you don’t have trusted contractor in mind, follow the link to our dealer locator to find a Carrier HVAC dealer in your area.