8 Ways to Avoid a Costly AC Repair

Air conditioning repairs in Northern California can be expensive, but you can avoid a costly AC repair by being proactive with at-home and professional maintenance. Like any machine, an air conditioner has parts that wear out. However, equipment malfunctions and breakdowns are not inevitable. You can avoid calling for AC repair near you, and potentially save hundreds or even thousands of dollars (leaving more money in your budget), by following these tips:

1. Don’t Forget Routine Maintenance

Your air conditioner should be tuned up at least once a year. Annual maintenance is the most effective way to avoid costly AC repairs. The system should be inspected, cleaned, and, if necessary, repaired before the cooling season starts. During maintenance, a technician should:

  • Clean the evaporator and condenser coils
  • Check refrigerant levels
  • Lubricate moving parts
  • Tighten electrical connections
  • Address any electrical issues
  • Look for and seal any duct leaks
  • Check the thermostat and system controls
  • Clear the condensate drain (if necessary)

2. Change the Air Filter as Recommended

A dirty or clogged air filter can reduce or block airflow. The air conditioner’s manufacturer will recommend the best interval for changing the filter. In general, an AC filter should be changed every one to three months, depending on the system and your home’s indoor air quality. Neglecting to replace the filter can reduce cooling performance, force the system to work harder, and lead to higher energy bills. Low airflow can also cause strain that damages the unit, requiring costly repairs.

3. Avoid Overusing Your Air Conditioner

The more you use your AC, the more wear and tear it will experience. Using an air conditioner less may not seem like an option during a hot summer. However, raising the thermostat by a few degrees not only saves energy but can also reduce the unit’s demand. 

How can you do this without sacrificing comfort? Running a ceiling fan can make the temperature feel 3℉ or 4℉ cooler, offsetting a slight increase in the thermostat setting. Also, turn the AC off when you go to work, leave for a vacation, or are otherwise away from home.

4. Clean Around the Outdoor Unit

Debris can restrict airflow and potentially contaminate the system, especially if it builds up around the outdoor unit. Regularly check for leaves, branches, grass, dirt, and other items around the condenser unit. Also, trim foliage back. There should be at least two feet of clearance on all sides.

When cleaning the unit, make sure it is shaded. Direct sunlight can strain the system and overheat the compressor. Additionally, make sure there’s a barrier that prevents small animals from getting into the unit.

5. Look For Dirt Inside the Unit

Your AC’s coils and fins are prone to getting dirty. If they become coated, this can interfere with heat transfer and may also damage the coils, especially if they freeze. Combined with restricted airflow, dirt can cause the system to work harder and less efficiently. The unit can even overheat and break down. 

If you have some experience, you can turn off the system, open the unit, and vacuum out excess dirt. The coils and fins can be cleaned with a soft brush. But this may require removing the fan and other components. Call a professional if you notice the unit is dirty and you haven’t cleaned it before.

6. Check the Thermostat Regularly

The thermostat is a small part of your HVAC system but can malfunction and cause numerous issues. A faulty thermostat can cause your AC to run constantly or short cycle. Avoiding these issues can prevent wear and tear that can damage your air conditioner. 

Look for changes in accuracy to determine if your thermostat needs to be checked by a professional. This can indicate an issue with placement or a low battery. A wiring problem can also affect how the thermostat works and trigger an electric shock or a fire.

7. Keep the Vents Open

Don’t close vents in unused rooms. People often do this thinking they can save energy. However, closed vents can disrupt airflow and create pressure variances that can damage your AC system. Also, make a visual note of where the vents are and avoid blocking them with storage units, furniture, or drapes.

8. Inspect the Condensate Drain for Blockages

The condensate drain is another important part of your AC system. An air conditioner collects moisture from the air, which is removed via the condensate drain. If this drain gets clogged, mold and algae can grow inside it. Water damage can occur if the drain overflows. Since unclogging the line can be a tricky process, it’s best to hire a professional for AC repair

Call Trio Heating & Air for AC Repair Near San Jose

Properly maintaining your air conditioner can avoid major repairs. Call a professional as soon as you notice any signs of trouble, such as reduced cooling performance, strange noises, weak airflow, foul odors, or higher energy bills. Our licensed technicians can diagnose and fix any problem. They’re also familiar with every type of air conditioner and AC component. If you’re dealing with any cooling issues, schedule an AC repair by calling (415) 223-5096 today.

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