You budgeted, saved, researched and took the leap to invest in a new AC system for your home. Now you can sit back and enjoy escaping the heat and humidity of the season. But how long can you expect this AC unit to last? Can you do anything to lengthen the life of your system?
Experts say the average life of an air conditioning system is around 15 years; some brands claim to keep you cool up to 20 summer seasons. Two key ingredients will help your AC unit stand the test of time – proper installation and routine maintenance.
To ensure that your AC unit is set up and installed correctly, remember the following:
- Provide enough space around the unit for an HVAC professional to perform maintenance and repair
- Install an access door in a duct or furnace to allow someone to easily clean the evaporator coil
- Size ducts properly for your home and provide a sufficient number of supply and return air registers
- Properly seal ducts and avoid locating ducts in the attic
- Place the condensing unit where airflow is unhindered
- Ensure the newly installed unit has the refrigerant charge and airflow rate as recommended by the manufacturer
- Install the thermostat away from windows, supply registers or other sources of heat
As with all appliances, routine maintenance lengthens the life of your AC unit. Consider the following list when servicing your air conditioning system:
- Replace one-inch thick AC filters every month during the cooling season, and thicker filters twice a year
- Clean the outdoor condenser coils and around the AC unit, cutting back foliage at least two feet from outdoor condensers
- Straighten evaporator and condenser coil fins using a “fin comb” (tool available through an AC wholesaler)
- Repair the seal around window units, ensuring it makes contact with the metal case
- (Winter preparation) Remove and store window units; cover outdoor units to protect them from winter weather damage
When to Call a Professional
It’s important to hire an HVAC professional for bigger maintenance and inspection tasks like:
- Checking for leaks and ensuring the system has the correct amount of refrigerant
- Sealing duct leakage
- Measuring airflow through the system
- Lubricating motors, and checking belts for wear
- Checking the thermostat’s accuracy
You can enjoy the wonderful service of your newly installed AC unit for many years by paying attention to two important things – proper installation and routine maintenance.