There are only a few items that you can maintain yourself on your air conditioning system. But they are important enough that if you check them regularly, you'll add life to the system. Here is how to keep your air conditioning unit running well for years.

Check and Replace the Air Filter Periodically

The air filter does a lot to maintain the health of the air conditioning system. The air that passes through the system first goes through the filter where dirt, pollen and pet hair are captured. A dirty filter makes the motor work harder to pull air into the system. This can cause a motor to overheat and eventually fail. Change the air filter every one to three months, depending on the level of contaminates in the air.

Make sure that the filter fits correctly in the opening made for it. If you buy the wrong sized filter, or improperly seat the filter in the frame, dirty air can make its way around the filter into the system. The dirt will coat the motor and also cause it to overheat. An AC motor replacement is an expensive repair that you can prevent by keeping a clean filter in the system and installing it properly.

Check and Clean the Condenser Fins Regularly

The part of the air conditioning unit that sits outside of your house contains the condenser. This device compresses the air conditioning coolant that draws heat from your house. The condenser becomes quite hot and uses metal fins to keep it cool. The fins surround the condenser and allow air to circulate and draw heat from the motor. Check that these fins have not been damaged and make sure they aren't coated with dirt and other yard debris that will reduce their effectiveness:

  1. Turn the power off to the air conditioner.
  2. Remove the screws holding the top on the fan and condenser unit.
  3. Remove the top of the unit and place it aside.
  4. Use a vacuum cleaner with a long wand and a soft brush to clean off the cooling fins. Reach as far in between the fins as you can without bending them.
  5. Carefully straighten out any bent fins.
  6. If any large section of fins has been pushed in, you'll need an air conditioning repair service to come out with a special tool that straightens and realigns the fins.
  7. Secure the cover back in place and turn the power back on to the unit when done.

By keeping a clean air filter in your system and cleaning the cooling fins periodically, you'll add life to your air conditioner. An annual inspection by a home air conditioning repair service will also catch and fix minor issues that could become major problems that shut down your system during the part of the year when you need it most.