Having your air conditioning break down in the middle of the summer isn't just inconvenient and uncomfortable, it can also be a major health issue for the elderly or for small children. Avoiding these potential catastrophes only requires that you plan ahead for the inevitable repair, and catch it before it causes a break down in the first place. Doing this means knowing the state of your HVAC system, and keeping up with basic service and maintenance.
If your HVAC system or your AC components are older it's a good idea to have a pre-emptive inspection done before summer is in full swing. Mid to late March is a good time, because the temperatures outside will be mild enough that you won't be terribly inconvenienced if you system is shut down for a few hours. Further, catching issues in the spring will give you plenty of time to resolve them before you'll need your AC in earnest.
The areas of greatest concern for inspection should be the exterior heat exchange system, the HVAC system's freon levels, and the fan motor itself. Any one of these parts failing will result in reduced performance or a loss of cooling throughout your home. In addition, checking the condenser tray for built up debris and any drain lines for clogs will help you avoid problems further on down the line.
Improve Cooling By Improving Efficiency
One factor that will cause your AC unit to wear out faster is forcing it to work harder to compensate for a loss in air flow or system efficiency. Annual inspections of the moving parts and work horse components will go a long way toward preserving the functional life of the system, but small fixes and minor maintenance can make a big difference too. One of the most important is your filter, which needs to be replaced every thirty days to allow for continuous, consistent air flow.
Your duct lines are a static part of your HVAC system, which just means they have no moving parts, but that doesn't mean they don't change over time. If you haven't had your duct work inspected since you moved in you could be losing a considerable volume of air to gaps, holes or debris in your ventilation. Seams in your ductwork should be sealed, the interior should be swept, and the air vents in each room should be cleaned regularly.
Keeping your air conditioner in good working order isn't a matter of fixing things as they break, but instead should be about identifying future problems early, and getting the most out of your system. An HVAC contractor, like United Heating Cooling and Plumbing Inc, will do just that for you, and will give you an idea of the costs you should expect on any repairs they deem necessary before beginning the work.