Did you know that Florida, on average, currently experiences 25 dangerous heat days a year? Those are the days wherein the heat index reaches at least 105° Fahrenheit. Twenty-five days are plenty enough, but scientists believe that can go up to 130 come 2050.
Moreover, experts say that Southwest Florida, including Lee County, is becoming drier. That and rising temperatures can put you at risk of heat-related illnesses.
Fortunately, your air conditioning system can help protect you from such hazards. That’s enough reason to ensure it’s in top condition, lest you want to feel like you’re roasting in the summer heat.
If you’re not sure how to maintain your A/C, don’t worry. We’ve rounded up the top ways to make your unit last longer and keep you cool at all times, so read on.
Keep the A/C Filter Clean
Before your air conditioner cools the air inside your home, it first pushes the air through a filter. That keeps its sensitive interior components, like the evaporator coils, clean. As a bonus, the filter also helps reduce the contaminants in your indoor air.
Because of its job, you can expect the air filter to get clogged with dust and debris after a few months. So unless you clean or replace it, your air conditioning system’s cooling power will drop. Severe build-up can even cause your A/C to overheat as it works harder to reach your desired temperature.
Thus, an integral A/C unit maintenance task is to wash or change the filter every three months.
Show Your Outdoor Unit Some TLC
Whether you have a window, central, or split air conditioner, it has a component that sits outside. For instance, all window A/C units have a side facing the outdoors. By contrast, central and split systems have a separate box, often referred to as the outdoor unit.
Since it’s outside, the outdoor unit tends to collect dirt, grime, leaves, twigs, and even small bits of trash. All that debris can choke the outdoor unit, rendering it unable to expel hot air outside. That can cause the system to overheat and even shut down automatically.
So, as part of your air conditioning unit maintenance, ensure you clear away all that debris. Mind the clearance, too; there should be at least two feet of clear space around the outdoor unit. Trim plants and remove weeds that grow too near the metal box.
Clean the Air Vents
Air vents are openings that allow air to pass in and out of your air conditioning system. Air registers are the ones that bring conditioned (AKA cooled) air into your space. On the other hand, return vents carry warm, stale air back into the A/C for cooling.
Because the vents always have air flowing in and out, dust can also form on their slats or covers. Unless you clean them once a month, thick layers of fine particles can clog them up. That can impair your system’s airflow, forcing it to work harder and, in doing so, make your energy bills go up.
In addition, the air that flows through them can disturb the dust and make the particles airborne. That can lower your home’s indoor air quality.
So, if you haven’t cleaned your air vents for a while, now’s a good time to do it.
Turn off your unit first, and if the vents are particularly filthy, cover the furniture below. Wear a face mask, goggles, and a cap to protect yourself from falling debris.
Next, clean the vents using an extendable microfiber duster. Better yet, vacuum them using your machine’s dusting brush attachment. If you don’t have either, you can wipe them with a microfiber cloth.
Clear the Drain Pan and Tube
Your air conditioning system has a drain pan that collects dripping condensation. A tube, usually a PVC pipe, connects to that tray, channeling the collected water out of your home.
Over time, the drain pan and tube can become clogged with dust, dirt, and even molds and mildew. That can result in the water being unable to leave your home. Without nowhere else to go, the water can overflow out of the pan and cause water damage to your home.
Remember: mold spores only need 24 to 48 hours to grow and spread in damp places.
Therefore, it’s imperative to inspect and clean the A/C drain pan and tube at least once a month. You can use a solution of equal parts of vinegar and water to clear away fungal growths.
Next, monitor the vinegar-water mixture to see if it drains right away. If not, you likely have a clogged drainpipe, which may require a shop vacuum.
Invest in Regular Professional Maintenance
Many parts of your A/C, including the coils, motors, fans, and electronics, sit deep inside the unit. Unfortunately, that makes them difficult to access without the proper tools and equipment.
Therefore, calling the pros is the best way to ensure those components are in top condition. Have the experts inspect and service your air conditioning system once every year.
Also, keep in mind that Lee County, FL, is home to more than 787,000 people living in almost 300,000 households. Like you, many rely on air conditioners, so you have loads of competition for A/C services.
That’s why it’s much wiser to schedule the tune-up in spring before the peak cooling season.
With pre-season A/C maintenance, you have more dates to choose from that fit your schedule. Moreover, the earlier you get your system serviced, the sooner the pros can determine if you also need A/C repair. If so, you can have them fix your unit on the spot before it can even break down.
Make Your Air Conditioning System Last Longer
And there you have it; your guide on extending the life of your air conditioning system. As you can see, something as easy as cleaning the filter, outdoor unit, air vents, and drain pan can already help. However, it’s still best to get professionals to tune up your A/C at least once every spring.