The annual spring cleaning ritual has homeowners washing out gutters, pruning plants and turning over soil, but one item that often gets overlooked is servicing the air conditioning unit. eieihome.com spoke with Sunny Dwarika of City Air Conditioning & Heating, who have been installing and servicing air conditioning units in the Toronto area for the past 25 years, for his tips on getting optimal performance from central air conditioning units.
Turn on your AC
Don’t wait until the first heat wave to turn on your AC. Dwarika recommends testing the AC once the weather reaches 15 degrees to make sure it’s in optimal condition before it’s needed. An inspection can tell you at what capacity your AC is running. If it isn’t in optimal condition, finding out early gives you enough time to do your research and get quotes for repairs or replacement units.
Clean your AC
“Preventative maintenance can save you a lot of money in the long run,” says Dwarika. Air conditioners remove the heat from the house and flow it into the backyard through a fan. In the process of operating over the summer months, the outside unit also sucks in pollen and dust that are flying around. These particles can clog up the fins, causing the AC to perform at below maximum capacity. An overworked AC unit can overheat, use up more electricity (padding your hydro bill), and ruin the compressor – reducing your AC’s lifespan. Dwarika recommends a yearly cleaning, which can cost between $60 to $140 depending on the service provider.
Protect your AC from plants
You can prolong the life of your air conditioning unit by keeping the area around it clean of plants. “If you have a plant that has broad leaves on it, the machine will suck that leaf up like a piece of paper against the side of it and it will restrict the amount of air passing through it,” says City Air. Covering up your AC in the wintertime will protect it from the elements and can help expand its life.
Replace furnace filters
Most central air conditioning systems are tied to furnace heating systems. While there are many types of filters, some of the best on the market not only help to improve indoor air quality by reducing or eliminating dust particles, pollen and pet dander, but protects heating equipment by preventing dirt and dust from entering and clogging it up. Dwarika recommends replacing furnace filters two to three times a year.