The artists baking in the sun at Roseville’s Third Saturday Art Walk, as well as the golfers playing a sweaty round of 18 holes at Diamond Oaks, can both probably agree on one thing—summers around here are hot. If it wasn’t for our air conditioners, a lot of us might have a tough time making it through the sweltering heat of long summer days. But with fall creeping in, it’s time to give your AC a break—and a big thank you.
Do something extra nice for your air conditioner this fall—from its ducts and its vents, to the condenser in your backyard that’s taken the brunt of the summer sun. These simple maintenance tips will be a treat for your AC, and ensure that it will be there for you again next season when the thermostat makes its return to triple digits.
Tip #1: Stop Using Your Air Conditioner So Much
With temperatures at their hottest from June to August, it’s easy to get in the habit of running your air conditioner all the time—day and night. But, with the weather cooling off now, you might not need to keep the thermostat quite so low. Here are some ways to reduce the use of your AC and still keep cool:
- Turn your air conditioner down. Less use will give your HVAC system a necessary break after being overworked the last few months.
- Keep your blinds closed. Windows don’t just let in light, they also let in heat. Closing your blinds can reduce the temperature of a room significantly, and save you as much as 10-15% on your energy bill.
- Use a ceiling fan. Maybe the room isn’t even all that hot—maybe it’s just stuffy. If that’s the case, a ceiling fan can take over for your air conditioner.
- Invest in a thermostat you can program. The newest thermostat technology is simple and easy to use. And, some programmable thermostats even let you use your smartphone to adjust them. With the push of a button, you can turn the air conditioner off if you get stuck at work or out running errands longer than you expected.
Tip #2: Go Outside and Clear the Area Around the Unit
Despite the heat, chances are you spent a lot of time this summer in the backyard. This could have led to debris piling up near your AC’s condenser unit, like trimmings from when you mowed the lawn, toys the kids left laying around, or plants that have sprouted up since the last time you did some weeding—there may even be dirt and leaves from the early days of fall beginning to gather.
It’s a great time to get in the habit of clearing up all the debris that naturally collects around your condenser on a regular basis. Too much of it can eventually restrict airflow and cause major problems when you go to cool your home next season, like:
- Contaminants introduced into the system, and possibly your home
- Bent fan blades from debris pulled into the unit
- Clogged or dirty air filters
Tip #3: Know When It’s Time to Say Goodbye
No matter how good your air conditioner was to you this summer, it still might be time to have it replaced. The typical life of an air conditioner is about 12 years, but with the Roseville heat, you may want to consider looking into a replacement sooner than that.
Most people use their air conditioners an average of three hours a day, but if you’re anything like me, you probably run it much longer than that, starting in May or June. Using your AC for long stretches over the course of a hot summer may shorten its lifespan to 10 years or less. To avoid the surprise of an AC unit that’s past its prime next spring, fall may be the perfect time to consider replacing your aging air conditioner.
Bonus Tip: Get Your AC Unit a Professional Check-Up Before Fall
Preventative maintenance is the single most important factor when it comes to keeping your AC unit happy and healthy. I’ve talked about getting this sort of maintenance done on your AC during the summer, but fall is also a great time to have a regular tune-up. The stakes are lower, because if you need to shut your HVAC system down for a bit, it won’t feel so miserable. And, it’s easier to get an appointment in the fall.
To make sure the summer didn’t overstrain your AC, have a local HVAC professional take the time to go through your system and check all the most important facets of your cooling system, including:
- Condenser and evaporator
- Condensate line
- Air filters
- Refrigerant levels
- Air ducts
Once you’re done with all that, it’s time to enjoy these wonderful months of moderate temperatures and cool breezes, knowing full well that when it gets hot outside again, your AC will once again be up for the job of cooling your home.