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Don't Sweat These 3 Common Air Conditioning Maintenance Mistakes

Maintaining your home's HVAC system is not an optional task. Ignoring parts of your system for years can lead to increased wear, decreased efficiency, and the potential for early and catastrophic failures. Unfortunately, many homeowners may not even realize that their air conditioner requires routine maintenance. Even worse, it's easy to make some common maintenance mistakes.

Keeping your air conditioning system running for as long as possible means keeping up with the correct routine maintenance procedures. The best way to start is by avoiding these three common air conditioning maintenance mistakes that might leave you sweating.

1. Incorrect Condenser Coil Cleaning

Condenser coil cleaning is a straightforward maintenance task you can handle independently. However, that doesn't mean there aren't some costly mistakes you can make. When cleaning your condenser coils, use only low-pressure water from a garden hose. Higher-pressure nozzles will damage the coils. Likewise, use only plain water or gentle cleansers. Avoid harsh or professional-grade cleaners.

Cleaning your condenser coils once or twice per year will keep your system running efficiently, but they may still require professional cleaning at least once yearly. Your technician will usually handle this during annual maintenance visits. Professionals may use more intense cleaners to remove stuck-on debris, but it's important to leave this task to an expert since improper usage may damage your coils.

2. One-Size-Fits-All Filter Changes

There's a lot of advice out there telling you how often you should change your filter, but the truth is that it's not a one-size-fits-all question. Filters vary substantially in thickness, with thicker filters offering more surface area and requiring less frequent changes. Following advice for the wrong filter can mean wasting money or, even worse, starving your system of adequate airflow.

For a good starting point, determine your filter's thickness and find a rough replacement interval range. This range provides a good starting point, but you may need to modify it based on your home. For example, you'll need to change it more often with pets or smokers but less often if you only rarely use your air conditioning system.

3. A Purely DIY Approach

Filter changes and coil cleaning are both excellent do-it-yourself maintenance tasks. Not only are these jobs easy for homeowners to perform, but they're some of the most critical maintenance items for any air conditioner. Keeping up with maintenance on these two items will go a long way toward maximizing your system's efficiency and lifespan.

However, many other maintenance and inspection items are much harder for the average do-it-yourself to handle. Even if you're meticulous about filter changes and cleaning, you'll still want to hire an expert at least once yearly for an annual air conditioning service visit. This quick visit will ensure your system is functioning correctly and help you catch problems before they lead to catastrophic failures. 

For more information about air conditioning maintenance.