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How To Baby Your Old AC Unit And Help It Last The Summer

by Feride Halma

In a perfect world, you would be able to replace your air conditioner every 10 years as recommended by your HVAC company. But sadly, this is the real world, where air conditioners are not cheap, and you can't always afford to replace your unit at the first sign of old age. If you're left dealing with an aging AC unit this summer, you may worry that it will give up the ghost and leave you roasting in a hot home mid-August. There's no guarantee this won't happen, but there are a few ways you can baby your older air conditioner and help it last the summer.

Turn the thermostat up.

The warmer you keep your house, the less work your air conditioner will have to do. If you can deal with having your home cool but not cold this summer, your air conditioner will be better for it. Few people really need to keep their homes cooler than 78 degrees. This might sound warm, but as soon as you step inside after being out in the 90-degree heat, it will feel cool and refreshing. Are you currently used to keeping your home a lot cooler? Try turning the temperature up one degree every three or four days until you reach 78 degrees. Your body will have time to slowly adapt, so you won't suddenly feel warm and toasty.

Move any outdoor obstructions.

As air conditioners grow older and start getting rusty and ugly, you may have more of an urge to hide the unit behind a fence or a bush. But while this might be good for aesthetics, it's not good for your air conditioner. Your air conditioner needs a lot of space to suck in air. An older unit may not have such powerful suction anymore, and forcing it to suck harder will put more wear and tear on it. Trim your bushes back, or consider relocating them if they are still less than three feet from the air conditioner when trimmed. Remove fencing that is less than two feet from the AC unit, too. 

Move any indoor obstructions.

The other space that needs to be clear is the space in front of your indoor AC vents. If there are items in front of the vents, that will cause pressure to rise in the ducts. Your AC unit's fan has to use more power to push air through higher-pressure ducts. This will increase your risk of issues as summer goes on. Common items placed in front of vents include dressers, beds, drapes, and laundry baskets. Create a "clear zone" two feet on all sides of the AC vents.

Use a more penetrable air filter.

HEPA air filters are excellent for keeping your home clean, but since they are so fine, they are harder for an air conditioner to push air through. A HEPA filter may be too much for an older air conditioner, causing the motor to heat up as the unit struggles to push air through the fine filter. If you're currently using a HEPA filter, consider downgrading to a normal, pleated cotton filter until you're able to replace your AC unit. You might have a few more allergens in your home, but you can use an air cleaner to remove them. Still, change the filter every one to three months to keep things running smoothly.

Old air conditioners can sometimes keep pumping out cold air for years to come, as long as you baby them and take good care of them. Follow the tips above, and contact anair conditioning service company if you notice any issues with your AC.