Tips For Making An Old Air Conditioner Last One More Summer

Air conditioners have a lifespan that can be extended through diligent maintenance. But even maintenance can only keep a unit going for so many years. If your unit seems at the end of its life, but you can't afford a new unit yet, there are a few tips for making the unit last for one more season.  

Call an AC repair person in for a seasonal cleaning if you can afford it right now. If that's not within your budget, there are a few tricks you can use to extend your unit until you can call out a repair technician.

Clean Coils and Straighten Blades

The condensing unit outside your home contains two parts that can become dirty or damaged and thwart the efficiency or efficacy of your unit. Those parts are the condensing coils and the fan.

Turn off all of the power to your unit and then lift off the cover. Look inside and you should see an upwards pointing fan near the middle. Do the fan blades look a bit bent and battered? You can gently use hand pressure to unbend the blades as much as possible to improve the airflow that can pass over and through the fan when it is running.

Now look at the interior wall of the condensing unit. You should see a system of coils running along one of those walls. These condensing coils convert refrigerant gas to liquid so it can travel inside your home to trigger the cooling mechanisms. Dirty coils can affect how much refrigerant travels inside.

You can carefully clean the coils using a garden hose pointed at a downward but out angle. That means you should essentially be pointing the water out the grate and onto your yard or patio rather than letting the water fall into the bottom of the unit. If the coils still look dirty, you can use a scrub brush and very gently try to clean off the excess dirt.

If the coils or fan are significantly damaged, you will need to call a repair technician (such as one from Allied Air Conditioning & Heating Corp).  

Turn Off Unit When You Can

Don't run the unit on days where you could open the windows or turn on a ceiling fan. Turn off the air conditioner when mowing near the condensing unit, during any dust storms, or times of heavy tree pollen. All of these activities can cause debris to be sucked in by the fan. The debris can then damage or clog the fan and dirty or damage the condenser coils.

You can also set up a water mister far enough away from the condenser unit that the water will fall on, rather than flooding inside, the unit. This can help keep surface debris washed away and help cool the unit better during days of extremely high heats.