KEEP IT CLEAN!
A new AC will run you anywhere from $4,500 for a small basic unit all the way up to $15,000 for a large unit with all the luxury features that pamper you and save the environment. You know the day is coming when you have to replace that old faithful system, but that day doesn’t have to be today. These are expensive pieces of equipment, and you want to make your system last as long as possible. The easiest and most effective thing to do is-
Keep it clean!
There’s a big cube with a fan on the top and some other stuff inside. It’s probably loud. This is your condenser.
1. Hose it off. To do this absolutely safely, kill the power first. Find the “disconnect box” which should be on the wall very close to the condenser. Here is a handy little Youtube video that explains a little bit about the disconnect box and hosing off the unit in general:
Open the little door on the disconnect box and pull the plug out (or flip the switch). That kills all power to the condenser, and now you can hose away to your heart’s content.
Be sure to shoot a strong jet of water through all four walls!
When you’re done, put the plug back in (or flip the switch back up).
Remember this: the plugs are made to only go one way, so if you put it in upside down, it won’t hurt anything, but your condenser will still get no power. So if you plug it in upside down and it doesn’t turn on; don’t panic, just go back outside and plug it in the other way.
2. Remove anything blocking the air flowing across the condenser. That’s the whole point of hosing it off, to remove the dirt and junk that clogs it up. Keep in mind that grass & other plants, stored items, or anything near the condenser can block airflow. Try to keep it clear of anything for 2 feet in any direction. (Don’t store your kiddie pool on it.)
Depending on your setup, your inside unit will either be in a closet in the living space of your house, or it will be in your attic. Find it (if it’s in a closet, open the door, if it’s in your attic, bust out the ladder.)
1. CHANGE YOUR FILTER. This is probably the single biggest thing you can do to prolong the life of your system!! If your filter never got clogged and nothing ever got past it, your system might very well last forever. The filters do their best, but they need to be changed regularly to keep your AC system running. Let's face it- there's a ton of crap in the air that nobody can do anything about, regardless of how pristine your indoor habits are. If your filter is super dirty, it can't filter anything out of the air anymore. So that stuff just keeps circulating through your ducts and back into the air you breathe. This is gross, but it can also seriously compromise your system's ability to function, up to and including breaking it.
Four filters a year is a safe bet, but at the very least you need to start the summer and winter with new filters.
We are not kidding about changing your filters! Think about it like flossing your teeth. Yeah, it’s a pain, but your teeth might fall out if you don’t. Changing the filters in your AC makes a HUGE difference in the lifespan of your AC!- Your AC WILL FAIL if you don’t change the filter. And you really should floss, too.
2. Clean out your condensate drain line.
Somewhere on your inside unit, there is some white PVC pipe coming out… or some black plastic tubing. Somewhere in that there is an open or capped end.
MAKE SURE YOUR AC IS TURNED OFF. YOU CAN DO THIS THROUGH YOUR THERMOSTAT. DO NOT CLEAN YOUR CONDENSATE LINE WHILE YOUR AC IS RUNNING!
Pour a cup of bleach or vinegar in that hole. This won’t necessarily make your expensive AC equipment last any longer, but *industry insider note* a clogged drain is one of the most common service calls we perform. This is because your AC removes moisture from the air, which can provide a wonderful habitat for a multitude of slimy grow-in-the-dark things. Slimy growth clogs the drain and can even stop your system from turning on. It can also cause your drain line to overflow inside your house, potentially causing water damage and even mold growth. Again, EWW!
Here is another YouTube video of the simple process of bleaching your condensate line:
Doing these simple things can add years to the life of your system. You can do it. It’s easy. But if you really don’t want to, your friendly local AC pro will most definitely have some kind of program where they come out and do it for you. Plus, they take a look around and tell you if they see anything else you can proactively fix to keep things running smoothly.
We are happy to do this is you don't want to do it yourself.
Check out our Preventative Maintenance page for details.