How To Keep Your 10-Year-Old Air Conditioner Working Well Through The Summer

Your air conditioner just turned 10 years old! This is not nearly as exciting as a 10th birthday for a child, since many air conditioner start showing signs of age and need to be replaced at about 10 years of age. However, if your air conditioner is still working pretty well, you can push it through another summer. Here are some things you can do to ease the burden on your older air conditioner and help reduce your risk of a breakdown as summer goes on.

1. Make sure all of your vents are open.

At some point, you may have closed a few of the vents in your HVAC system. You may have done this is an effort to keep certain rooms from getting too cool or to keep air from blowing on you in certain rooms. However, opening all of the vents wide is what's really best for your older air conditioner. Doing so reduces the pressure inside the ducts so your air conditioner does not have to work as hard to push air through the system. This will especially help prevent issues with the blower motor, such as worn bearings or loose belts.

2. Clean your vents.

The dust on your vents may not seem like such a big deal. But as your air conditioning runs, some of this dust can end up getting sucked into the system. If it lands on your air conditioner's coils, it will impede the coils' ability to give off heat. As a result, your home may not cool as effectively, and your air conditioner will have to turn on more often. The more often it needs to run, the more wear and tear it will accumulate. Use a vacuum to clear dust off your vents. Also, vacuum as far down into the ducts as you can reach from the vent covers.

3. Switch to a more permeable filter.

Your instinct might be to choose a filter that traps as many small particles as possible. This is especially true of allergy sufferers. But while those super-effective filters will keep your indoor air cleaner, they are also harder for your air conditioner to push air through. Switching to a more permeable filter with a lower MERV value will make things easier on your air conditioner. For instance, if you currently use a MERV 11 filter, switch to a MERV 8 one. Remember to change your filter every one to two months during AC season.

If you're worried about the air in your home becoming too dirty when you switch filters, invest in a simple air purifier. This will remove the impurities that your new filter misses. 

4. Wash your outdoor unit.

The outdoor unit of your air conditioning system is likely to accumulate dirt and debris over time. Like dirt accumulation on the indoor oil, this accumulation can interfere with heat exchange and make your air conditioner increasingly prone to failure.

Luckily, cleaning your outdoor AC unit is pretty easy. The exterior cage portion generally is removable after you remove a few screws. Then, you can just hose the unit off, perhaps scrubbing the really dirty areas with a brush. (Make sure you turn the power off before you do this; you don't want to be spraying water on a connected electronic item.)

Just because your air conditioner is 10 years old does not automatically mean its life is over. If you take good care of it and follow the advice above, you can squeeze another year out of it -- and maybe even a few more years. Contact a company that offers air conditioning maintenance services in your area to learn more.