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Air Conditioner Maintenance Tips for Each Type of AC System


Ensuring the longevity and efficiency of your air conditioner requires regular maintenance tailored to the specific type of cooling system you have.

Central Air Conditioners

A central air conditioner unit is popular for cooling entire homes through ducts. Regular maintenance can improve efficiency, save money on energy costs, and extend the lifespan of your system.

Clean or Replace the Air Conditioner’s Filters

The air conditioner’s filters should be checked monthly and cleaned or replaced as needed. Dirty filters reduce airflow and efficiency, leading to higher energy costs. A vacuum cleaner can easily remove dust and debris from reusable AC filters, while disposable ones should be replaced with new air conditioner filters.

Inspect and Clean Condenser Coils

The outdoor system’s condenser unit coils can become dirty over time, affecting its efficiency. Use a garden hose to gently wash off dirt and debris. If the condenser coil is particularly dirty, use a mild detergent and a soft bristle brush. Be cautious to avoid bending the coil fins. 

Over time, an evaporator coil can accumulate dust and dirt, reducing its efficiency. Do the same cleaning. You can use an air compressor in a low setting if it’s too dusty. 

Check Refrigerant Levels

Low levels can cause the system to malfunction. A technician can check and refill refrigerants as necessary to maintain optimal performance.

Clear Condensate Drains

Blocked condensate drains can cause water damage and affect the quality of indoor air. Regularly check and clear these drains to ensure proper water flow.

Inspect the Exterior Unit

Ensure the outdoor unit is free from debris, such as leaves and grass, which can obstruct airflow. Maintain a clear area for at least two feet.

Room Air Conditioners

A room air conditioner is ideal for cooling individual rooms or small spaces. These units require specific maintenance to function efficiently.

Clean the Air Filters

Room air conditioners have filters that need regular cleaning. Wash them with lukewarm water and detergent, then let them dry completely before reinstalling. This simple step can significantly improve the cool air output and air quality. If you have an old filter, consider replacing it. 

Inspect the Window Frame

Ensure the window frame is secure and sealed to prevent cool air from escaping and heat from entering. Use duct tape to seal any gaps if needed.

Verify the Air Conditioner Unit’s Level

Use a level tool to ensure the AC is sitting correctly in the window. An uneven unit, especially on the outside portion, can cause inefficient operation and potential water leaks.

Clean the Exterior

Wipe down the unit’s exterior with a damp cloth to remove dust and dirt. This helps maintain the unit’s appearance and efficiency.

Ductless Mini-Split Systems

Ductless mini-split systems are versatile and efficient, providing both heating and cooling without the need for ductwork. Here are maintenance tips for these systems:

Clean or Replace the Filter

Like other air conditioning systems, ductless mini-splits have filters that require regular cleaning or replacement. Most of the time, a worn-out air filter can affect how your air conditioning unit functions. 

Inspect and Clean the Exterior Unit

Ensure the outdoor AC unit is free from obstructions. Clean the coils with a garden hose, and trim any vegetation around the unit to maintain proper airflow.

Check the Refrigerant Lines

Inspect the refrigerant lines for any signs of leaks or damage. Contact a licensed professional if you suspect any issues with your HVAC system. Have routine maintenance performed by an HVAC technician at least once a year. This ensures that all components are functioning properly and efficiently.

Clean the Indoor Unit

The indoor unit’s air handler should be dusted and wiped down regularly. This helps keep the air conditioner running smoothly and maintains good air quality.

Portable AC Unit

Portable air conditioners are convenient and versatile, providing cooling solutions for various spaces. Proper maintenance ensures they run efficiently and have a longer lifespan. Here are some essential tips to keep your portable AC in top shape.

Clean or Replace Air Filters

Regular filter cleaning or replacement is crucial for maintaining efficient airflow and indoor air quality. Depending on usage, check the filters every two weeks and clean them with a vacuum cleaner or wash them with lukewarm water and mild detergent. Ensure they are completely dry before reinstalling. A clean filter helps the unit function properly and improves cooling efficiency.

Inspect and Clean Evaporator and Condenser Coils

The condenser and evaporator coils can accumulate dust and debris over time. Clean these coils at least once a month using a soft brush or a vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment. This helps maintain the cooling efficiency and prevents the coils from freezing or overheating. Dirty coils can reduce the unit’s ability to cool effectively, so keeping them clean is essential.

Clean the Condensate Drain

Portable AC units often have a drain that can get clogged with dirt or mold. Check the drain pan and clear any blockages to prevent water leakage and ensure proper drainage. Some models may have a built-in pump to remove the condensate, which should also be inspected regularly.

Maintain the Exhaust Hose

The exhaust hose directs hot air out of the room, so keep it in good condition. Inspect the hose for any signs of wear or damage, and ensure it is securely connected to both the AC unit and the window kit. Make sure the hose is not kinked or twisted, as this can reduce efficiency.

Wipe off the Exterior

Wipe down the exterior of the portable AC unit with a damp cloth to remove dust and dirt. Keeping the exterior clean helps maintain the unit’s appearance and can prevent dust from entering the internal components.

Inspect and Clean the Fan Motor

Inspect the motor for signs of wear or dust buildup and clean it as needed. Ensuring that it is in good condition will help the unit function properly and improve overall efficiency.

Check the Fins

The bent fins on the evaporator and condenser coils can obstruct airflow and reduce efficiency. During your inspections, use a fin comb to gently straighten them. Proper airflow is crucial for the unit to function correctly and efficiently.

Store Properly During Off-Season

Properly store your portable unit when not in use to protect it from damage. Clean the unit thoroughly, dry all components, and store it in a cool, dry place. Ensure the exhaust hose and window kit are stored alongside the unit to avoid losing parts.

Schedule Regular Tune-Ups

Scheduling regular tune-ups with an HVAC technician can help identify and address any potential issues before they become major problems. Professional maintenance ensures that all components, from the coil to the filter, work. This is especially important to ensure your AC is ready to handle the heat before the cooling season begins.

Check Refrigerant Levels

While most portable AC units are sealed systems that should not require refrigerant recharging, a significant drop in cooling efficiency could indicate a refrigerant leak. In such cases, contact a licensed HVAC professional to inspect and refill the refrigerant.

What Kind of Maintenance Does an Air Conditioner Need?

Regardless of the type of air conditioning system you have, here are some universal tips to keep your AC running efficiently:

  • Use a Programmable Thermostat: A programmable thermostat can help regulate the temperature and reduce energy usage when the home is unoccupied.
  • Keep the Area Around the Outdoor Unit Clear: Ensure that the outdoor unit is free from debris and has adequate space for airflow. This can improve the system’s efficiency and longevity.
  • Regularly Inspect the System: Perform regular inspections of your cooling system, looking for any signs of wear and tear or potential issues. Addressing problems early can prevent costly repairs.
  • Schedule Professional Maintenance: Having a licensed HVAC professional perform regular maintenance can catch potential issues early and ensure your AC is operating at peak efficiency.

Following these air conditioner maintenance tips ensures that your AC unit runs efficiently throughout the cooling season, providing cool air when you need it most. Regular maintenance extends your system’s life and improves energy efficiency, saving you money on utility bills.


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JP Reyes

JP has been in the aircon industry for almost as long as he has been alive. As a child JP would help his tatay fix aircon units at their junk shop in Cavite. After graduating UP in the early 2000's, JP then started his own Aircon servicing business and within 5 years had 10 shops in 8 different cities. Fast forward to today and JP brings all his experience and expertise online to give readers trustworthy advice and reviews about Air-conditioning buying, servicing, cleaning and repair in the Philippines.

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