It is easy to appreciate the coolness and comfort that an air conditioner provides on a hot summer day, but many of us don’t spend much time thinking about the machinery that helps to make that possible. We just turn it on, feel the cool air coming out, and we go about the day because everything is as it should be.

Eventually, you might notice that the air isn’t quite as cool as it used to be or that the air conditioner is not working at all. For some people, this is the first time that they put any serious thought to the operation of their home’s cooling system. For many homes, these problems could have been avoided, and the life of the air conditioner could have been extended. All it takes is a little bit of maintenance to ensure that your air conditioner is working well and to prevent many of the problems that can cause the unit to fail.


It might seem like common sense, but airflow is important for the effective use of an air conditioner. In many homes, people will have pieces of furniture or other items blocking the registers and the cold air returns. This will inhibit the flow of cold air through the home and it will limit the flow of air into the system.

As an additional point, the airflow can be affected by dirty filters. When the filters are clogged, it makes the system work harder to cool the home, and this puts an unnecessary level of stress on the system. The filter should be checked and possibly cleaned or replaced every month when the system is in regular use.

Check for leaks

Before the system goes into heavy usage each year, you should hire a professional to come out to test for leaks. When the air conditioner has a refrigerant leak, the reduced pressure can affect the operation of the system. This will cause the system to run longer in order to provide the same amount of cooling. Over time, these leaks will also cause the system to run low on refrigerant, and this can reduce the air conditioners ability to provide cool air.

Maintain the ducts

The ducts move the air around the home, and from years of air flowing through the ducts, they can get dirty and dusty. In some cases, this dirt and dust can obstruct the flow of air, and this will force the air conditioner to work harder.

Once a year, you want to remove all of the registers and have them cleaned. In addition to this, you may also want to have your ducts checked for leaks. If the ducts are leaking, then some of the air is not going where it is supposed to. When you have your yearly maintenance performed, you can also schedule an inspection and cleaning for the ducts.

Clean the outdoor unit

The outdoor unit of the air conditioner is where the fan and coils are housed. Since they are outside, it is very common for things like leaves and debris to accumulate on and around the unit. This can inhibit the operation of the unit, and you want to check to make sure that it is free from a build-up of any type of debris. In addition to that, you can also hose down the exposed parts to remove things like dirt and dust.

Beyond doing your own occasional cleaning, it is recommended that you have the entire unit cleaned by a professional once a year. While you may be able to clean some of the exposed parts, most of the components will be inaccessible. A professional will be able to get in the unit and provide it with a thorough cleaning, and this will ensure better operation and a longer operating life.

Let the unit rest

It may be tempting to keep the air conditioner running on a high setting all day, but this will wear the unit out quicker. If you are not at home, turn the air conditioner off or at least turn the thermostat to a higher temperature. If it is not that hot, open some windows and give the unit some time to rest. Giving the system regular breaks can go a long way toward extending the operating life.

It really does not take much to maintain your air conditioner and increase the operating life. With a little bit of work in your free time and a yearly visit from an HVAC professional, you can literally add years to the life of your air conditioner.