There are few routine household maintenance chores that pay off more than keeping a maintenance schedule for your air conditioning unit. Not only will you give yourself the best chance at staying cool all summer and avoiding emergency breakdowns, but you’ll also save money on your energy bills.

A well maintained AC unit will run more efficiently, use less energy, and cost less money to run. A properly maintained system will also last longer before needing to be replaced.

Replacing your air conditioner air filter (or cleaning it, if you have a reusable filter) is one of the most important regular AC maintenance chores. It should be done every month during high-use seasons (like summer and winter) and once during the fall and spring.

Before working on an air conditioner, ALWAYS start by turning off the power to the unit, which can be done at the service disconnect on your outdoor unit or at the main breaker panel of your home.

Next, remove the access panel on your condensing unit and see if you see any signs of overheating – melted insulation on wires, blackened or burned-looking wires, and the like.

You can also check any electrical connections to make sure they are tight. If you own an electrical test meter, you can check the capacitors in the unit.

Check your thermostat to make sure it’s working properly and keeps your home at the right temperature. If you have an older, mechanical type thermostat, you may want to consider upgrading to a programmable model.

A programmable thermostat allows you to set the temperature higher when no one is home (do not turn the AC off, just up), and cool the house down about 30 minutes before people arrive home for the evening.

Turn the power off to your air conditioner unit, and check the fan mounted on the top of the outside condenser unit to make sure it’s still in good condition. Replace the fan blades if there are any cracks or chips visible in one or more of the blades.

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