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Like any appliance, your air conditioner needs regular care to continue functioning at peak capacity. Over time, dirt and wear can affect air conditioner performance, raising your utility bills and reducing the appliance’s cooling capacity. As a homeowner, there are several maintenance tasks you can complete yourself to keep your air conditioner in good shape; additionally, it’s important to schedule professional tune-ups with your HVAC service twice a year for the best long-term results.

Condenser Cleaning

Although you should hire a professional to clean your air conditioner’s interior, there are a few exterior components you can easily keep clean on your own. Your central air conditioner’s condenser is the outdoor component of the system—check and clean the area around the unit regularly to prevent dirt and debris from becoming caught in the fins. It’s best to keep any landscaping or foliage near your condenser unit neat and trimmed to cut down on the amount of debris in the area as well. You can clean the fins using your hose to flush out any dirt and debris that may be trapped between them. If the fins are bent, use a fin comb to straighten them or ask your HVAC service expert to address them during his next visit.

Drip Pan and Drain Line Cleaning

The indoor portion of your air conditioner, called the evaporator, drains moisture to the outdoors using a drain line, which is typically located at the bottom of the unit. Check the drain periodically to ensure it is not clogged; you can pour a solution of bleach and warm water down the drain to prevent mold and algae growth in the line. If the drain is clogged, you can often clear the clog by attaching a wet/dry vacuum to the exterior drain port outside your home and running the vacuum for a few seconds to break up the clog. Most air conditioners also have a drip pan located beneath the evaporator to catch moisture overflow—empty any standing water and scrub the pan out with water and soap to prevent mold and algae growth here as well.

Furnace Filter Replacement

Your air conditioner draws air from your home into the evaporator for cooling. During this process, the air is brought through your furnace filter to screen out particles such as pollen, dust, and animal dander. This filter not only cleans the air you breathe, but helps to reduce dirt and dust buildup inside your air conditioner as well. Check and change your furnace filter every one to three months to maintain HVAC efficiency—a dirty filter will restrict airflow, putting increased strain on your air conditioner’s fan and affecting overall airflow and cooling in your home. If you’re considering upgrading your filter to one with a higher rating, talk to your HVAC service technician before doing so to ensure the type of filter you want to use won’t affect overall system performance.

Regular maintenance will prevent your air conditioner from losing efficiency so you can enjoy a comfortable home at a lower cost throughout the lifetime of the appliance. If you’d like to schedule air conditioning repair or service in the Boston area, visit our website to contact a cooling professional. You’ll also find more helpful HVAC information about heating and cooling maintenance, repair, and replacement on our FAQ page.

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