As with most of our air conditioning in Austin tips, this one is ultimately about how you can save money and get a better air conditioning experience. This tip is all about preventative maintenance. Now, at first it might seem counter-intuitive or hard to justify paying a professional to check out your HVAC system more often than necessary. It may seem hard to rationalize having someone look at your air conditioner when it seems to be working just fine. After all, the old say goes “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.” But the long-term benefits of regular checkups are far-reaching.
Air conditioners and heaters are complicated machines. They do a lot of work and they do it often. Like any other machine, they experience wear and tear. I’m not talking about system-wide failures or catastrophic faults, just small little reductions in efficiency and quality. Throughout the rest of this article, I’ll go over what exactly preventative maintenance is, why it’s beneficial, what it involves and how much of it you can do yourself.
What is Preventative Maintenance?
Imagine there’s a bucket of water. It’s slowly filling as a steady stream of water pours into it. It’s going to continue to fill whether you empty it or let it go. If you wait and do nothing, eventually it will overflow and cause a mess. You’ll have to empty the bucket and clean up the mess it made. It may even ruin some of the things left around it. You can take care of the water that way or you can routinely empty the bucket of water. You’ll have to put some effort forth more often but it’s much less effort and costs you less time. This is what preventative maintenance is. It’s taking care of problems while they’re small, or before they even exist, so you save a lot of time, money, and headaches in the future.
Air conditioners go through a lot of use. Just by their nature, they get damaged and faulty over time. Not only that, they become less efficient over time. They lose their cooling power and their ability to use minimal energy. What this means is that, over time, you’ll be paying more monthly in energy bills as your air conditioning unit gets less and less efficient and you’ll eventually have to shell out for potentially costly repairs as your air conditioner gets worn past the breaking point in one of its many parts.
But there is another way. Instead of going through all that, you can get preventative maintenance. This will keep your air conditioner in tip-top shape year-round, so you get the most out of it, the most efficiency, the most comfort, the most peace of mind. So, what exactly does it mean to get preventative maintenance? Well, the first step is to make a plan.
The Case for a Preventative Maintenance Plan
In a lot of ways, your air conditioner can be compared to a car. They’re hard-working, complicated machines that we consider essential parts of our life and that we use all year round. They also both can end up costing us a lot of money if they’re not taken care of. You wouldn’t neglect to give your car regular oil changes and belt replacements and tire rotations and then be surprised when your car eventually broke down. It’s the exact same thing with air conditioning. So, you’re convinced, preventative maintenance for your air conditioning unit is a good idea. Where do you start?
A preventative maintenance plan is a list of things that need to be done regularly in order to keep your air conditioner in top shape. It will include a catalog of the parts of your air conditioning system, what maintenance routines they need and how often. The thing about preventative maintenance plans is, they’re not going to be the same for everyone. The two main factors that will determine what kind of preventative maintenance plan you need are the recommended maintenance tasks for each of the pieces of equipment in your specific model of air conditioner and the environment in which the air conditioner is working. By environment, I mean things like how hot the area is, how cool you keep your home in relation to the outdoor temperature, and how big your house is.
There are two resources you have at your disposal in order to craft a preventative maintenance plan that will work for you. The first is the operational manual of your air conditioning unit. This manual that came with your air conditioner will contain within it all the recommended maintenance tasks for each piece of equipment, and how often they should be performed. So really, you don’t have to draft up a preventative maintenance plan out of thin air, not at all. It’s all right there in manual.
Now, you may be thinking, great, but I have no idea where that operational manual might be. Maybe your air conditioner is a little older and you weren’t the one who originally purchased it. Maybe you inherited it with the house. In that case, the best thing to do is get a replacement manual. To get a replacement, find the model and serial number on your air conditioning unit. Then, either call up the manufacturer with that information handy or search online. They should be happy to provide you with the necessary information.
The Preventative Maintenance Checklist
Depending on what kind of air conditioner you have, its model, how old it is, what manufacturer it comes from, your preventative maintenance plan is going to vary from others. So listing an exhaustive collection of all the things that should be done to keep your air conditioner in its best shape is impossible. But there are a number of things that pretty much everyone’s air conditioners need done regularly. This can be thought of as a preventative maintenance checklist.
By checklist, I mean a list of things which should be included in just about everyone’s preventative maintenance plan. These are things which should be regular and routine and which will undoubtedly extend the life and health of your air conditioner if performed regularly.
Energy Star provides, on their website, a preventative maintenance checklist of their own. This is a good place to start, a sort of introductory guide into the kinds of things that you should expect when you get preventative maintenance done. The checklist includes:
- Parts lubrication: For moving parts in your AC unit that require lubrication, a lack of lubrication will cause friction that will cause the machine to use more electricity.
- Checking the refrigerant level: Too much or too little refrigerant will cause your air conditioner to run less efficiently.
- Checking electrical connections: This involves measuring voltages and currants on the motors in the system.
- Cleaning the evaporator and condenser coils: Dirty coils can cause your machine to run less efficiently and eventually a buildup of material can cause a breakdown.
- Checking the condensate drain: This drain can clog up and cause water damage in the home, as well as increased humidity levels.
This is a shortlist of some of things to expect in a routine maintenance checkup. It’s simple things like the stuff on this list that can save you from grand repair costs and electricity bills in the future.
Maintenance You Can Do Yourself
Not everything that will be involved in your preventative maintenance plan is something you need a professional for. That’s not to say that you should try to do the whole thing DIY style. Austin AC repair companies exist for a reason. A lot of these procedures require skill and knowledge not widely available, and making mistakes can be costly. Still, there are some things that need to be done regularly in order to keep a healthy air conditioner that you can do yourself with no issues.
Checking the thermostat setting is one of those things. One thing you can do right now, and on a regular basis, is just peer at the settings of your thermostat. Make sure the temperature is set at as high a temperature as you can comfortably live in while you’re home. If you have a programmable thermostat, you can take it a step further and also make sure that when you’re away from home, at work, your AC isn’t running at full blast, or perhaps is off completely. This will ensure you’re putting the least amount of pressure on your system and saving the most in electricity costs.
Another basic task that everyone should be doing when it comes to preventative maintenance on your AC is regularly changing your air filters. Most air filters should be changed every two months or so but it depends on a number of factors such as the kind of filters you use. A dirty air filter will cause problems for your air conditioning unit in the long run in addition to causing it to run less efficiently. A trusted air conditioning repair service company can show you how to check and change your air filters, or you can check out our previous tip on the subject!
As far as do-it-yourself maintenance tasks you can get started on right now, another is clearing room around your outdoor AC unit. Leaves and other debris can get into the guts of your outdoor air conditioning unit with enough wind. Prevent this from happening by making sure there is about two feet of clear space around the air conditioning unit.
Austin Air Conditioning Repair and Professional Preventative Maintenance
AC repair in Austin can get costly. Our air conditioners work hard to keep out the hot Austin heat, and in doing so, they take a toll. This can often end in malfunctions that can cost you thousands in repair or replacement costs. But it doesn’t have to be that way. With a solid preventative maintenance plan you can keep your air conditioner running smoothly and effectively year-round. You’ll cut off issues before they become issues.
If you want to take advantage of a preventative maintenance plan all you need to do is contact a well-regarded Austin AC repair company such as AC Express. At AC Express, we can get you great deals on regular maintenance visits. These involve one of our experienced technicians coming by and performing all the routine maintenance tasks that your specific air conditioning model needs in order to perform at its best. We’ve been performing routine preventative maintenance for people in the Austin area, from way up in Georgetown and Liberty Hill, to way down in Kyle and Buda, for many years, with many satisfied and regular customers. To get top-quality same-day AC repair or preventative maintenance, call us today!