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How to Maintain an Old A/C Unit, According to the Experts

 |  Air Conditioning, Blog

Arizona’s daily summer temperatures of 100 degrees and higher are very demanding on older home air conditioners. Some homeowners try to limit their 24-7 use of air conditioners to avoid too much stress on their units, but when it’s that hot, it’s hard to limit use. And with money being poured into energy bills in hot summer months, some homeowners might be tempted to save money by ignoring A/C maintenance.

But this can be a costly mistake. Even older A/C units perform far better with a professional maintenance routine – they thrive on the attention. Taking advantage of regular air conditioner maintenance plans can keep your A/C unit in top shape. Here are an HVAC expert’s top tips to help maintain an older air conditioner unit.

5 Key Steps to Top A/C Performance

Change filters: Most homeowners do this themselves. In the summer when the air conditioner is most frequently used, experts recommend changing the filter once a month, especially in Arizona’s dusty air. Clogged, dirty filters impact air conditioning units in various ways. First, they block airflow to the system, reducing its efficiency. Dirty air then bypasses the filter and flows into the evaporator coil, reducing its heat-absorbing ability. So, please remember these tips:

  • Installing a clean filter can help reduce your air conditioner’s energy consumption by 5%-15%
  • Reusable filters should be cleaned monthly during the high-use cooling season
  • Filters may need more frequent attention if the unit is prone to dust and wind.

Act at the right time: Air conditioners over 10 years old are not uncommon. Have a technician look at the unit if you need to keep lowering the temperature to stay comfortable, or your energy bills seem higher than they should be.

Keep it clean: Nature can do a number on outdoor A/C equipment. Growing plants, fallen branches, and other debris can block air flow. Keep an 18- to 24-inch clearance around all outside HVAC components. Dirt and dust often cause inefficiencies in heating and cooling systems, so have a contractor vacuum out air vents and registers, as well.

Check window unit sealing: The seal between the A/C and window frame should touch the unit’s casing. Wear and tear, pressure washing, and moisture can damage the seal. If there’s a break, cool air escapes. These cracks can be filled with rope caulk or, for a short-term, temporary solution, weather stripping.

Sign up for an A/C maintenance program: Many A/C companies offer an air conditioner maintenance program. Regularly scheduled maintenance from the likes of Isley’s Home Service provides a detailed, ongoing assessment of your A/C unit prior to the cooling season. A technician can give you an overview of the unit’s condition and recommend necessary upgrades or replacements. What you do with that information is up to you.

A Technician’s Expertise

Hiring an Arizona air conditioning service ensures you will have a technician’s experienced in both new and old air conditioners. The service plan will include a tune-up checklist, a refrigerant level check, test for leaks, and include refrigerant capture if it must be drained.

Technician’s also perform more advanced work in a maintenance checklist, such as coil maintenance. Outdoor compressor coils are notoriously prone to attracting dirt. In units where you can’t see the evaporator coil or condenser coil, dirt may collect and restrict airflow. This also creates an insulation that prevents heat absorption. Evaporator coils should be cleaned yearly by a qualified professional.

Optimizing A/C Performance

A simple tune-up can restore a great deal of an older air conditioner’s original performance. Our technician’s diagnose and fix small problems to help the system function at top efficiency. Regular checks on A/C performance can also avoid expensive part replacements later on.

If there are inefficiencies, try to do the following:

  • Replace leaky duct work with sealed systems. Newer, ENERGY STAR-rated duct systems have R-8 insulation, which use less energy.
  • Have a technician assess your home and how much cooling should be needed for all the rooms. This will help determine if your A/C system is the right size. If it’s the wrong size, it may need to be upgraded or replaced.
  • Adjust thermostat settings for optimal comfort and energy savings.
  • Check for faulty electrical connections.
  • Lubricate moving parts to reduce friction and electricity use.
  • Check that all controls are working properly.

Periodic checks are essential for optimizing performance. However, if the repairs are getting more frequent, a replacement air conditioner may make more sense. Issues such as excess noise, inconsistent room temperatures, or more dust in the air can signal a problem. Rising energy bills don’t always mean your utility company is greedy; your aging air conditioner might be contributing to your skyrocketing bills.

Proper A/C maintenance costs a small amount, and it saves you money in the long run. Consider Isley’s Home Service, Inc. as your go-to air conditioning service contractor and maintenance specialist. Follow the tips in this article, and you’ll stay comfortable indoors all summer.

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