Home Improvement

Preparing Your Air Conditioner for an Extreme Summer

We’re coming up on that time of year again when it can get really difficult to live without air conditioning, regardless of where you live in Ontario or the GTA, which means that now’s the time to figure out if you need air conditioner service before it’s too late.

Below is a guide for getting you’re A/C system ready to work overtime.

Regular Maintenance is Key

Start by having your HVAC system (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) serviced around once a year. By doing this, you can keep your system running longer and more effectively. The good news is that you can perform part of the maintenance on your air conditioner by yourself by taking the following actions to extend the life and effectiveness of your air conditioner:

  • Replace your air filter. You should find instructions on how to do this in the manual for your air conditioner, but if not, you can probably find the information online. Just make sure the filter is installed correctly and that it faces the proper direction.
  • Ensure there are at least two feet of clearance around the outside unit, check the insulation around the cooling hoses for cracks, clear any leaves, twigs, or pollen from the unit, and ensure the outside unit is on a level surface.
  • Pour a water/mild bleach solution down the drainage pipe to stop the growth of mould and algae.

Warning Signs Your Air Conditioner May Need to be Repaired or Replaced

A professional inspection of your air conditioner is generally a good idea if you detect any of these warning signs:

  • When your air conditioner is on, you notice warm air coming through your vents.
  • Uneven cold air circulation throughout your home.
  • Incorrect thermostat readings.
  • A persistent odour coming from the vents.
  • Water or freon leaks; rising energy costs; loud noises coming from your unit, and humidity in your home when the air conditioner is on.

The lifespan of a central air conditioner is between 15 and 20 years. Therefore, the time has likely come to stop investing money in your old AC and invest in a new one if your unit is around that age, cleaning and repairs aren’t working any longer, and your electricity bill is still higher than it should be.

You can also consider the following factors to determine whether your air conditioner can be fixed rather than replaced:

  • Your air conditioner is ten years old or less, and you’ve noticed the aforementioned red flags.
  • This is the first time you’ve ever needed to fix your air conditioner, or it’s been a while. It goes without saying that you need to exercise caution with this one because, again, depending on how old your air conditioner is, this repair may indicate that it’s time to replace it and that it’s only the first of many to come.
  • The cost of repairs is still less than half the cost of installing a new unit.
  • Your power bills are around the same/are not consistently too high.

Some contractors may also multiply the repair cost by the age of the appliance, and if the result is less than the cost of a replacement, they will suggest repairing the appliance.