9 Things You Need to Know to Keep Your Air Conditioner in Top Shape

Keeping your air conditioner in top shape is a regular chore for any homeowner. An air conditioner keeps your home cool and comfortable, no matter how hot New Jersey summers get. When the Garden State really starts heating up around August, air conditioning is practically a necessity to combat the hot summer weather. However, your air conditioner is also a machine. Not unlike your car or lawnmower, your air conditioner requires regular maintenance and an occasional all-points inspection to run at its best and to prevent any problems.

If you’ve stepped outside at all in the past week or two, you know that your air conditioner is all that is standing between your home and some stifling heat. The season looks to be a long one this year and you’re going to need your system performing at its best. From Millville to Wildwood, McAllister can perform all your air conditioner maintenance services. But there are some things you can do in the meantime to keep your AC in top shape.

1. You Should Clean or Change Filters Regularly

Air conditioning filters need to be cleaned or changed at least once a month. In addition, you should replace reusable filters periodically to make sure that the air filtration system in your air conditioning system is not compromised in any way. The reason for this cleaning and replacement is airflow. When filters become dirty or clogged, air flow traveling throughout the air conditioning system becomes restricted. In turn, your air conditioner has to work harder to cool the air. Otherwise, the system will simply stop working altogether.

As air passes through the air conditioner’s condenser, the refrigerant in the coil converts from a vapor back to a liquid, re-enters your home, and releases the hot air outside. Air cannot be released effectively through clogged filters. If the filters are dirty inside, the system cannot pull a sufficient amount of air to run properly.

Absolutely nothing you do with your cooling system is more time or cost-effective than changing your air filter. The air filter protects your system, promotes healthy air flow, and improves the quality of its cooling. In areas like Somers Point and Stone Harbor, we need to be changing our filters every other month at minimum—more often than that in larger homes, or when pollen counts are high. And while we’re on the topic, you should consider upgrading to a better filter. MERV ratings indicate the efficacy of air filters, and opting for a higher-rated filter can help you boost air quality while also adding a layer of protection for your AC. Constant attention to your filter is a staple of good air conditioner maintenance.

2. Air Leaks Happen

Aside from filters, airflow also needs to be protected within the ducts. Ducts can lose as much as 30 percent of the air they hold through leaks. Getting a proper seal can be difficult, and air leaks can happen, even once the ducts are sealed properly. Keep your air conditioning system in top shape by hiring a professional to regularly clean and inspect your duct work. When the leaks are small, these areas may be able to be taped, but if you let the problem go unchecked, the leaks get worse, and the efficiency of your air conditioning system decreases.

Even if it was installed a few years ago it may have settled or taken on some damage. Each and every crack or pinhole represents a loss of cooling (or heating, if we’re talking winter) and needs to be addressed. Duct checks are a common part of an energy audit, which is a service you should totally be taking advantage of.

If you’re in South Jersey and suspect your ducts may be leaking, contact our HVAC experts now! We provide air conditioner maintenance services to Sea Isle City, Stone Harbor, Cape May, and the surrounding areas!

3. Evaporator Coils Need to be Cleaned

Like air purifiers, your air conditioner’s filters are designed to catch most dust, dirt, and other offending particles, but what they don’t catch goes into your system’s evaporator coils. These coils have refrigerant running through them. As your air conditioner draws in warm air from inside your home, the air passes through these evaporator coils, and the temperature of the air itself drops. However, if the coils are dirty, the air may not have enough contact with the coils to become cooled.

Ultimately, this lack of contact can cause the system to shut down, so make sure to have a professional perform regular air conditioner maintenance and clean your evaporator coils regularly. These coils need to be cleaned at least once a year, but you may opt to have them cleaned more often if your home is especially dusty. Cleaning the coils more frequently may also be necessary if you have allergies or if you have significant indoor pollution, such as smoking, woodworking, or using your range or oven without operating the exhaust fan.

The outdoor unit of a central cooling system or South Jersey heat pump is where the thermal exchange occurs. If the unit is dirt-laden or clogged up with grass, the transfer is weaker. This means less cooling power, and can even lead to breakdowns, so be sure to break out a broom and hose once in a while.

4. Condenser Coils Need to be Cleared

From your air conditioner’s evaporator, the refrigerant turns to vapor. This vapor flows to the compressor outside. At the compressor, the vapor heats and gets pushed to the condenser coils and ultimately into the air outside. However, if the cage covering the outside part of your air conditioner exterior unit is clogged with lawn clippings, leaves, pine needles, and other debris, the condenser can’t work properly.

Keep your air conditioner’s condenser working efficiently by having a professional regularly brush the dirt off the cooling fins and clean them. You should also clear an area of two feet around the outdoor portion of the air conditioner. This seemingly trivial task is actually an important part of air conditioner maintenance.

5. Insulation Pairs with Efficiency

Insulation will also help your air conditioner run with greater efficiency. Ductwork should be wrapped with insulation to keep the air inside the ducts cool, especially if the ducts run along an exterior wall. Insulting crawl spaces will also help. Try spray foam or batting. When the heat rises, cool air falls. If your floor is the lowest area the air can go, the air won’t be able to seep through the floor, and all that cool air can stay right where you need it—in the living areas.

Similarly, you can also insulate your home from the sunshine. Anything you can do to keep the sun from entering your house, such as closing curtains, lowering shades, or drawing the blinds, will help prevent the air from being warmed unnecessarily. In turn, your air conditioner doesn’t have to work as hard, and you can enjoy greater efficiency and a potentially longer lifespan from your air conditioning system.

6. Don’t Forget Ventilation

Ventilation is part of an air conditioning system’s foundation. Improving air movement through your house will help keep your air conditioner in top shape. Remember, you want to offer a way for hot air to escape from your home. Installing roof ventilation or gable vents will give hot air places to escape and be replaced by the cooled air from your air conditioning unit. Soffit vents may also be necessary, but the proper installation of these vents will depend on your home and its design.

Also keep an eye on your vents throughout the summer months. Dust means not only poorer air quality, but worse air flow as well, which neuters your AC’s ability to cool properly. Nothing much is needed here—just some dusting on occasion, but the results are noticeable.

7. Other Devices Help Your Air Conditioner’s Performance

Sometimes, keeping your air conditioner in top shape is a matter of adding other devices. For instance, ceiling fans help tremendously. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, turning on a ceiling fan can make a room feel four degrees cooler. Using a dehumidifier will also help.

When the air is humid, the air holds more water molecules. As the temperature rises, these molecules expand. The water holds the heat and makes the air heavy and difficult to cool. Dehumidifiers remove some of the water from the air, leaving your home more comfortable, often at a higher temperature than you would have otherwise enjoyed. Depending on your home’s humidity, you could add a stand-alone unit or have one incorporated into your HVAC system.

To learn more about having a humidifier installed in your South Jersey home, contact McAllister today!

8. Don’t Ignore Regular Air Conditioner Maintenance Services

Regular air conditioner maintenance services are important too. More than simply cleaning filters and coils, you need to maintain an annual air conditioner cleaning schedule. Not only will this schedule keep your air conditioner in good working order, but regular maintenance may help you keep your warranty.

McAllister offers regular maintenance plans, or you can schedule an appointment as needed. The tasks an annual professional maintenance includes cover the following areas: adjusting and replacing fan belts, checking blowers and fans, checking refrigerant levels, checking system pressure, lubricating motors and bearings, inspecting controls and safeties, and checking thermostats for accuracy. We will also tighten connections, oil other moving parts, and make sure your air conditioning system is operating properly, preventing the need for air conditioner repair later.

Yearly cooling maintenance lowers energy costs. It also boosts cooling power, improves efficiency, prolongs the lifespan of your system, and reduces the risks of a breakdown. Sound good? We think so, too! That’s why a professional service plan is your ideal solution for total comfort and confidence.

9. Know When to Upgrade

Keeping your air conditioner in top shape will work, but only for so long. After about 10 years, you may need to get an upgrade. Federal laws now require air conditioning units to be more efficient than they were 10 years ago—and the difference in operating efficiency is considerable.

Cooling systems are going to eventually wear out. They were built to last, sure, but built to last 10 or 15 years. This doesn’t have to be bad news though! Upgrading can bring you better efficiency and reliability. In order to know when the time has come, keep up with your trusted cooling experts. It’s our job to help you decide when the time is right!

The seasonal energy efficiency ratio, or SEER, for central air conditioning units is now 13, but the rating was a five not long ago. The higher the SEER value, the less the system costs to run. The upgrade would pay for itself in operating costs over time.

Call McAllister for South Jersey Air Conditioner Services

Now that you know these nine points to keeping your air conditioner in top shape, it’s time to give the McCallister experts a call. McAllister’s professionals can not only help you stay comfortable, but also save you money in your home cooling costs. Keep your family comfortable all summer long with air conditioning services from McAllister. We’ve been providing top-notch AC installation, maintenance, and repair to homeowners throughout South Jersey since 1876. You can trust our team to get your system up and running efficiently so it’s ready to maintain your home’s comfort levels all summer long. For dependable air conditioning services in South Jersey, choose McAllister.

We offer air conditioner maintenance services to the following areas:

  • Millville
  • Ocean City
  • Somers Point
  • Mount Laurel
  • Stone Harbor
  • Avalon
  • Cape May
  • Cape May Point
  • Longport
  • Margate City
  • North Wildwood
  • Sea Isle City
  • Wildwood

To get a checkup for your HVAC system, or to learn more about how to keep your air conditioning system in top shape, check out McAllister’s home HVAC evaluation services or call us today at 609-927-4122.

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