4 Ways to Extend the Lifespan of Your AC System
Considering that installing a new air conditioning unit in your home could set you back several thousand dollars, you’re likely not too keen to take on the expense until you absolutely have no other choice. And if you’ve recently installed a new system, you have every opportunity to practice preventive care in order to ensure that your equipment lasts as long as possible. But if you happen to have an older system, you might be looking for ways to help it limp along a little longer while you save up the money to replace it with a more energy-efficient and all-around modern model. Here are just a few ideas to help you get the longevity you need from your sputtering AC unit.
- DIY inspections. Although you likely have a professional come out annually to perform an inspection, your system may benefit from more regular check-ups, especially as it gets older. The only problem is that you probably don’t want to shell out $50-100 for each inspection. Luckily, you can learn to do a lot on your own. For one thing you can follow along with your service provider as he does his annual inspection. There may be certain tasks you cannot safely perform on your own, but he can show you what to look for, in general, and how to keep your unit clean and clear of debris that can cause damage or prove detrimental to performance. During times of heavy usage it’s probably a good idea to inspect your system at least every couple of months, if not monthly. And if you’ve never had a full HVAC inspection (including the ductwork) this might be a good time to spring for one, especially if you’re trying to get the most out of your system.
- Maintenance and repairs. As with inspecting your system, there are certain maintenance tasks you can do on your own, such as cleaning and potentially even repairing minor damage from debris getting sucked into your coils (provided you know what you’re doing). But for standard annual maintenance and major repairs you’ll probably want to call in the pros, and you should do so as soon as you notice a problem so that it doesn’t lead to further damage.
- Use equipment accordingly. Some AC units have special features that help you to prolong the life of the system. For example, certain models feature a 2-step cycle that allows you to use only a portion of the potential energy the system could output by changing the temperature in your home only 1-2 degrees at a time (rather than kicking into high gear to cool the home by several degrees more quickly). When paired with a programmable thermostat, this can help to ensure that you don’t overtax your machinery by running it full force during the worst heat.
- Shield your unit. Even with regular AC and duct cleaning, maintenance and repairs, and proper usage, your unit could be damaged by the elements if you fail to properly shield it. For this reason you might want to consider adding hardy shrubbery for screening from the wind and sun or an awning of some kind to provide shade. These small, protective measures could significantly increase the longevity of your AC system.