In the Chicagoland area, we have to get used to extreme heat in the summer months. And one of the most enduring questions in all of HVAC contracting is: How do I keep my air conditioner running in tip-top shape for years to come?
Advancements in technology have extended the life cycle of virtually every product in the HVAC industry while at the same time have created a need to replace equipment more frequently in order to take advantage of the most efficient offerings in the marketplace.
As efficiencies increase, operational costs decrease, and the general population becomes more aware of the importance of HVAC equipment, the question arises…
How Long Should A System Last?
According to Lincolnshire Air Conditioning Leader David Ariano, President of Ravinia Plumbing, Sewer, Heating & Electric in Lincolnshire, Illinois, there are a great many factors that go into projecting how long a system should last. “It varies based on run-time hours per day, proximity to corrosive contaminants and harsh conditions, how well the equipment has been maintained, whether any major repairs or retrofits have been made, and whether the equipment services mission-critical spaces and can’t afford to break,” says Ariano. “Based on these variables, we see a lifetime range of 10-15 years with some brands claiming to keep you cool for 20 summer seasons.”
“If you’re installing a new AC unit,” Ariano explains, “you want to make sure it’s set up and installed correctly. Make sure you provide enough space around the unit for an HVAC professional to perform maintenance and repairs. In addition, install an access door in a duct or furnace to allow someone to easily clean the evaporator coil.”
“To ensure there is proper airflow for the size of your home, make sure the ducts are sized correctly, and that there are a sufficient number of supply and return air registers,” Ariano continues. “Also make sure ducts are properly sealed and avoid locating ducts in the attic.”
Additionally, says Ariano, “place the condensing unit where airflow is unhindered and confirm the newly installed unit has the refrigerant charge and airflow rate as recommended by the manufacturer. Lastly, install the thermostat away from windows, supply registers, or other sources of heat, which could affect the proper cooling of your home.”
“Routine maintenance is probably the most important step you can take,” advises Ariano. “As with all appliances, routine maintenance lengthens the life of your AC unit.” Ariano recommends considering the following list when servicing your air conditioning system:
- Confirm the thermostat is operational
- Ensure the condensation drains properly from the AC unit
- Check that the AC unit turns on and off safely
- Replace one-inch thick AC filters every month during the cooling season, and thicker filters every three to five months
- Clean the outdoor condenser coils and around the AC unit, cutting back foliage at least two feet from outdoor condensers
- Straighten evaporator and condenser coil fins using a “fin comb” (a tool available through an AC wholesaler) /p>
- Repair the seal around window units, ensuring it makes contact with the metal case
- When preparing for winter, remove and store window units and cover outdoor units to protect them from winter weather damage
When to Call a Professional
It’s essential to hire an HVAC professional for more significant maintenance and inspection tasks like:
- Checking for leaks and ensuring the system has the correct amount of refrigerant
- Sealing duct leakage
- Measuring airflow through the system
- Lubricating motors, and checking belts for wear
- Checking amp draw of compressor, fan and blower motors
- Checking the thermostat’s accuracy
- Performing an annual A/C tune-up
Ariano emphasizes, “It’s often easier and less expensive to ‘keep up’ rather than ‘catch up.’ While you should leave adjustments to refrigerant levels, lubrication of moving parts, and inspections to the professionals, you can keep the AC unit components in better working order by removing dirt that coats the evaporator, condenser coils, and blower through the simple activity of changing the AC filter.”
A build-up of dust on evaporators and condensers reduces the AC unit’s ability to operate efficiently, raising your energy costs and lowering the life of your system. Grime building upon the blower components reduces the airflow in the AC system, severely degrading its efficiency.
So whether you’ve just installed a new high-efficiency AC system or your air conditioner has been running for years, if you follow these simple tips, you’ll stay cool in these brutally hot Chicago summers for years to come!
About Ravinia Plumbing, Sewer, Heating & Electric:
Ravinia Plumbing, Sewer, Heating & Electric is located in Lincolnshire, Illinois, and serves the North Shore and Northwest suburbs of the Chicagoland area. It provides services such as plumbing, heating and cooling, sewer and drain maintenance and repair, electrical work, retrofitting and remodeling, and a variety of commercial services. Ravinia Plumbing delivers a 100% money-back guarantee as well as transparent warranties on repairs and new installations. The company has been in operation and family-owned since 1928.
Ravinia Plumbing, Sewer, Heating & Electric
575 Bond St Suite A, Lincolnshire, IL 60069