4 Ways to Prevent an AC Breakdown This Summer

April 22, 2019

The last thing anybody wants is a busted AC on a hot summer day.

Luckily, you can take some precautions so you don’t find yourself in that predicament.

In this blog, we’ll share 4 things you can do to prevent a breakdown this summer:

  1. Check and change your AC filter

  2. Open all of your supply vents

  3. Clean the outdoor unit

  4. Hire a professional to maintain your AC

Tip #1: Check and change your AC filter

One of the easiest ways to prevent AC issues is to regularly change your air filter.

The reason? A dirty filter essentially suffocates your AC, preventing it from pulling in enough air to cool your home.

This lack of airflow can cause your AC to overheat, which leads to problems such as:

  • Increased utility bills

  • Reduced cooling capacity

  • Wear and tear on important AC components (which leads to breakdowns)

A good rule-of-thumb is to check your air filter every month during the summer. If the filter is dirty (like the image below) then you should change it.

Replace your air filter if it is dirty like this one

Tip #2: Open all of your supply vents

Some homeowners think closing air vents in unused rooms saves them money.

In fact, the opposite is true. You see, your AC system was designed to provide a specific amount of air throughout your home. Shutting vents increases the pressure inside the ducts, which causes 3 major problems:

  • Increased energy bills

  • Discomfort

  • Damage to the evaporator coil (the part that cools your home’s warm air), which could lead to a breakdown and an expensive repair

We go into more depth about each of these problems in our blog, 3 Nasty Consequences of Closing Air Vents in Unused Rooms.

To avoid those issues, make sure you leave all your vents open and unobstructed so that air can flow freely into and out of your system.

Tip #3: Clean the outdoor unit

Think of your AC system like a heat sponge: It absorbs heat from your home’s warm air and then transports it outside, where it’s dumped into the outdoor air.

Your outdoor unit is the part that actually dumps the air outside. However, if it’s dirty, it can’t disperse the heat very well, which means your AC has to run much longer to cool your home.

(Think of trying to breathe with a cloth over your mouth: it’s more difficult, right? The same idea applies to an outside unit that’s clogged with dirt or debris—it will struggle to dump that heat into the outdoor air.)

The longer your AC has to run, the higher your energy bills will be and the more wear and tear you’ll put on your system. Eventually, that wear and tear could lead to a breakdown in the middle of the summer.

To avoid that risk, you should do the following:

  1. Make sure there are no leaves, sticks or debris stuck in the outside unit

  2. Wash the outside unit with a garden sprayer on a low setting (if the water blast is too high, it could damage the coils on the outside unit)

  3. Trim back any shrubbery or move any objects that are within 3 feet of the outside unit

Trim back any bushes or trees that are too close to your outdoor unit.

Tip #4: Hire a professional to maintain your AC

The first 3 tips we’ve mentioned are things you can do yourself. But your AC also needs some TLC from a trained professional.

The best way to avoid a busted AC in the middle of summer is to have a professional perform a tune-up (also called “check-up” or “maintenance visit”).

During a tune-up, a professional will inspect parts like:

  • The evaporator coil

  • The blower

  • The refrigerant lines

  • The condensate drain

  • All electrical connections

  • And more

The technician you hire will check and clean each of these components to make sure they are in good condition and running efficiently—which will greatly reduce your chances of a breakdown in the middle of summer.

The best time to get an AC tune-up is in spring, before summer hits in full swing, so your AC will be ready to meet the heavy cooling demands of summer.

Related reading: Why Smart Homeowners Get AC Maintenance Now

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