Spring is in the air. Before the temperatures transition to
the summer heat, now is a great time to make sure your Air
Conditioning System is ready for another season of dependable
service. The proper maintenance of your air conditioning system
will help ensure a long and efficient life for your air conditioning
The average lifespan of air conditioning systems is approximately
10-15 years. Ensuring a long efficient life of your homes
air conditioning system starts with two angles of preventive
maintenance, the frequent changing or cleaning of the systems
air filter and a preventive maintenance "tune-up"
before the cooling season..
Changing your air filter monthly is your first line of defense.
A clean air filter collects dust and dirt before they come
in contact with the vital components within the air conditioning
system. A dirty filter can collapse and allow the trapped
contaminants to reach the components. Further, a dirty filter
creates excessive pressure on the blower system and restricts
the proper amount of air flow to pass through the evaporator
coil potentially creating damage to your air conditioning
system. There are two types of air filters to choose from,
disposable and permanent washable/reusable air filters. Here's
some information to consider when choosing an air filter for
Disposable air filters are very popular and offer a low upfront
cost and minimal maintenance. Disposable air filters range
from the spun fiberglass to electrostatically charged pleated
filters. The performance of the air filters range with their
costs. Typical filters range from $2.00 to $15.00 each.
The varying performance characteristics are as follows:
Filter Efficiency – the type, size and number
of particles the filter is able to trap
Pleated – A pleated filter provides additional
surface area for particles to be trapped
Electrostatically charged - Filters with
electrostatic charging can attract and capture particles that
other filters can miss.
Frame Strength - It is important that a filter
frame be able to withstand pressure created by air movement
through the filter without bending or collapsing. If a frame
bends, it can allow unfiltered air to bypass the filter. And
if the filter frame collapses, it can be drawn into the furnace
fan - often resulting in considerable damage. While the true
test of a filter's frame strength would be in your furnace,
a simple inspection at the store should give you an idea of
a filter's sturdiness.
Permanent Washable/Reusable air filters are less popular
but offer lower overall filter costs over the life of the
air conditioning systems. Prices for permanent air filters
often exceed $100 each.
Permanent Mesh Filters - These come in 1"
and 2" versions and are made from different types of
materials and consequently have a wide variety of effectiveness.
Some of the older types such as aluminum mesh are no more
effective than good fiberglass filters. These require the
application of a filter adhesive spray after cleaning (washing)
and drying. The filter adhesive should be available where
you buy the filter.
Electrostatic Filters - These cleanable filters
also come in 1" and 2" versions. Most filters advertised
as allergy free are of this type. There are many different
designs, and performance can vary. Some manufacturers claim
very high efficiencies. Electrostatic filter makers claim
that the air movement through the filter creates a static
charge that collects very tiny particles of dust. Electrostatic
filters require frequent and thorough cleaning and may consume
more blower power.
Regular maintenance by a qualified technician is very important
in ensuring a long efficient life of your air conditioning
system. It is recommended that you have your system serviced
before each heating and cooling season to avoid service failure
when you need the conditioned air most. The components of
an AC system tune up will vary among the many service companies.
In general, the service will include:
1. Check for proper refrigerant (freon) levels. A low level
indicates a leak, to be found and repaired before adding more
2. Check all electrical components and controls.
3. Clean evaporator and condenser coils, as needed.
4. Oil motors as needed.
5. Calibrate thermostat.
6. Check Condenser.
7. Check filters.
With a regular maintenance program and routine changing of
the system's air filter your air conditioning system will
provide you with years of service and operate at an efficient