Five Easy Air Conditioner Maintenance Tips

Air conditioner units outside home.

There are few routine household maintenance chores that pay off more than keeping a maintenance schedule for your air conditioning unit. Not only will you give yourself the best chance at staying cool all summer and avoiding emergency breakdowns, but you’ll also save money on your energy bills.

A well maintained AC unit will run more efficiently, use less energy, and cost less money to run. A properly maintained system will also last longer before needing to be replaced.

Importance of Air Conditioner Maintenance

It should be noted that there are some tasks that can be done by the average homeowner, but others should not be performed by anyone who doesn’t have the proper training and a license.

If at any time you are uncomfortable with performing maintenance tasks yourself, never hesitate to call on a professional to do it for you. Always observe safety precautions; and before you perform any work on your outdoor unit, ALWAYS shut down the power to the unit at your electrical box first.

AC Tip #1: Clean and/or Replace Air Filter

Replacing your air conditioner air filter (or cleaning it, if you have a reusable filter) is one of the most important regular AC maintenance chores. It should be done every month during high-use seasons (like summer and winter) and once during the fall and spring.

Changing AC air filter in attic.

The air filter will be located either:

  • Behind the return air grille on a wall or ceiling in a central room of the house.
  • Inside the blower compartment of the air handler or furnace.
  • In a slot on the side, bottom, or top of your furnace.

When the filter becomes full of dust, dirt and allergen particles, the air flow will decrease, making your system work harder than it should have to. The air flowing through your system may also become dirtier, dustier, and prone to triggering allergy and asthma symptoms for those residing in the home.

AC Tip #2: Check Wiring and Components

Before working on an air conditioner, ALWAYS start by turning off the power to the unit, which can be done at the service disconnect on your outdoor unit or at the main breaker panel of your home.

Old wiring inside AC unit.Next, remove the access panel on your condensing unit and see if you see any signs of overheating – melted insulation on wires, blackened or burned-looking wires, and the like.

You can also check any electrical connections to make sure they are tight. If you own an electrical test meter, you can check the capacitors in the unit.

Take a look at the contactor switch, and replace it if you see excessive pitting.

If you see any of the above problems and do not feel comfortable replacing the parts yourself, always call a local heating and air conditioning expert to do the work for you.

AC Tip #3: Examine Thermostat

Check your thermostat to make sure it’s working properly and keeps your home at the right temperature. If you have an older, mechanical type thermostat, you may want to consider upgrading to a programmable model.

Adjusting programmable thermostat.

A programmable thermostat allows you to set the temperature higher when no one is home (do not turn the AC off, just up), and cool the house down about 30 minutes before people arrive home for the evening.

That way you’ll always have a comfortable home waiting for you, and you’ll save energy and money by not having your AC running all day when no one is at home.

AC Tip #4: Check Condenser Unit Fan

Condenser fanTurn the power off to your air conditioner unit, and check the fan mounted on the top of the outside condenser unit to make sure it’s still in good condition. Replace the fan blades if there are any cracks or chips visible in one or more of the blades.

If you have an older air conditioner unit, the fan motor bearings may need to be oiled regularly as well.

AC Tip #5: Clean Outside Unit

Over time leaves, dirt, grass clippings and the like will build up on the outside of the air conditioner unit, decreasing system capacity and reducing air flow.

After shutting off the power to the unit, use a garden hose to gently wash out the debris, starting at the top with the hose at about a 45° angle. Do NOT use a power washer, and take care not to bend or damage the delicate fins on the coil.

Man trimming shrubs around AC unit.

You should also trim any shrubs or other plants back from around your air conditioner to keep from impeding air flow to and from the unit.

Call for Professional AC Maintenance

Properly maintaining your air conditioning unit will be of great benefit in terms of saving money, saving energy, and keeping you comfortable during the hottest days of the summer.

HVAC professional working on air conditioner unit outdoors.Your local heating and air conditioning company will always be more than happy to help you with any and all of your air conditioning needs.

They can also check your air conditioner and perform additional maintenance tasks on an annual basis that will ensure your AC unit performs as efficiently as possible for as many years as possible.

Further Information

29 COMMENTS

  1. Does your AC Unit make slight humming noises? Your condenser unit has a run relay in it that may be causing your slight hum noise. The low voltage control transformer in the furnace also powers the Run relay in the condenser. Try turning off the furnace power either by a local switch by the furnace or the breaker. Then check the hum. If it is gone you may have a bad thermostat. It could be causing some AC voltage leaking thru it causing it to hum but not enough voltage to pull in the relay turning on the condenser. You can also try disconnecting the yellow wire in the thermostat which is the wire going to the condenser and see if it goes away. If not turn the breaker off or pull the disconnect to the condenser and see if it goes away. If it does you will probably need a service tech to investigate further. But my guess is its probably on the thermostat side.

  2. Great post! These are some really easy things to check. At this point in the year, you should be able to look back on the summer’s cooling bill. As an AC unit wears and ages, it begins to run less efficiently. When it runs less efficiently, your bill goes up. Any of these tips may fix a minor problem, or help maximize the life of your unit.

  3. I absolutely agree that it is very important to clean or replace your air conditioner’s filter regularly, as the article explains. An air conditioner’s filter is a very large factor in its performance, so it needs to be in good condition. Fortunately, making sure the filter is in good condition is one of the easiest things that you can do when it comes to maintaining your air conditioner.

  4. I really liked that you mentioned how important it is to regularly clean and replace your air filter. My husband cleans our air filter every few months to make sure that the air coming into our house is clean. Like you said, air filters get dirty quickly, and can cause your air conditioning unit to work harder than it needs to. Just keeping it clean can save a lot of trouble in the future! Great post, thank you for your tips!

  5. With winter almost over I have been looking into my AC and getting ready for summer. I will check the air filter and wiring. I never thought about checking the wiring after winter. Thanks for the advice!

  6. Change the filter on the inside unit at least every 30 days. The air will move a lot easier through your system, increase efficiency, and decrease the risk of freeze up.

  7. Lately my AC hasn’t been doing so hot. I didn’t know that there were steps you could take to make it last longer! I’ll make sure that I get the filter cleaned out more often. Thanks for the information!

  8. Checking the wiring is one of the best things that you can do when it comes to your air conditioning unit. Wired can get frayed or severed for a variety of reasons so making sure that they are intact and functioning can save you money and time. Getting your unit serviced at least once a year before you need will ensure that your system is ready for the hot summer months.

  9. I agree with AC Tip #5. Many people taking this for granted. If the outside unit is untidy and full of grass or leaves this also causes problem with your AC unit. For a good ac maintenance you have to clean the outside unit and maintain the free open air surrounding.

  10. Thanks for the tips. I have an older home, and have had some issues keeping it cool this summer. I cleaned out the coils and replaced the filters, but it still is not working well. I think it could be my thermostat. It is old, and I had never thought it could be malfunctioning. I think I will look into getting a new one.

  11. Great tips you have here! I always advise my customers to do a bit of servicing and maintenance on their own. It will be better in the long run in terms of prolonging the longevity of their air conditioning systems.

  12. Wired can get frayed or severed for a variety of reasons so making sure that they are intact and functioning can save you money and time. Getting your unit serviced at least once a year before you need will ensure that your system is ready for the hot summer month

  13. In my years of experience in the field of hvac repair, I have encountered numerous cases where the ac unit doesn’t cool properly due to overgrown leaves and grass on the outside unit. I suggest everyone to keep a check on the unit and keep it clean.

  14. Yes, it is important to maintain your Air conditioner so that they can last long for years.The Tips you have mentioned in the article are incredible and helpful for the users.Thanks for sharing this informative post.

  15. Always hire a professional for repairing and maintaining the ac as they have experience in this field and they know how to tackle the situation and also they knows what is the point that needs to change or repair.

  16. I wanted to thank you for these maintenance tips for an air conditioner. I actually didn’t know that a contactor switch should be replaced if you see excessive pitting. it seems important to know what this pitting looks like so you can replace it as soon as you realize there is a problem.

  17. This is some really good information about AC repair. I liked what you said about how you should think about clean out the outdoor unit. I didn’t realize that could create problems if the outdoor unit gets dirty.

  18. I liked that you pointed out that I should give my AC a good clean if I am having issues with it. Personally, I can’t sleep unless my room is cold. So, I should probably get a professional to repair my AC if I am having major issues with it this spring and summer.

  19. Excellent information, homeowners forget that the air conditioner goes through the HVAC air filter. Thanks for sharing!

  20. Its an excellent guide on how to do a proper maintenance for your air conditioning unit. I would suggest for using your ac with care and cleaning it on monthly basis. You can clean their filters, outer unit, dirt, mud or leaves to enhance its performance and life. You can also use modern technology enabled Ac units for auto cooling and energy efficient features.

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