Understanding HVAC Issues

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How Much Maintenance Does an AC System Need?

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It's easy to understand AC maintenance is an important job. When looking at your system, though, you may be wondering how much maintenance can it possibly need? It's a good idea to learn when and how often it should be checked out, what you can do yourself and what calls for the attention of an AC maintenance technician.

How Often Should You Check Your AC?

One of the biggest problems folks encounter with AC units is that they don't seem like they need attention right up until the moment they do. A lot of little problems can accumulate unnoticed over several years. For example, an outdoor unit's condenser system might build up dirt, sand and decaying leaves from the surrounding environment. This mess ultimately reduces airflow, causing the system to become less efficient. Left in this condition, it will ultimately struggle to work and fail.

Try to have a pro check out your system at least once a year. If possible, arrange a regular annual visit during downtimes in the industry, such as early spring or late fall. The technician can test the system's performance and clean out common spots where grime accumulates.

What Can You Do By Yourself?

There are plenty of AC maintenance tasks you can handle on a DIY basis. Regularly cleaning intake and air return vents in the interior of the house is a simple job. You also can replace filters, although you should have a professional show you at least one time what models of filters to use and how they're replaced.

It's also a good idea to identify any animals in your area that might create problems. For example, squirrels are happy to take up residence in closed warm spots around the AC system condensers. Dogs also may chew or urinate on components. Putting up animal fencing near the unit will deter them from setting up shop.

What Should You Watch For?

While regular maintenance can extend the life of an AC system by years or even decades, you still need to keep an eye out for signs of immediate trouble. You should always keep year-to-year copies of your utility bills on hand to compare electrical consumption. If your system is beginning to struggle, it will run more often and for longer periods. Remember, however, that you should also track year-to-year weather changes to account for unusually hot or cool summers that trigger fluctuations.