You don't want your AC to go out when you need it most, so proper maintenance is a must. The outdoor unit is the most exposed and prone to problems. By knowing the most common reasons for an AC problem, you can work to prevent it.
1. Keep the Area Debris-Free
Debris around the unit can block the vents and reduce airflow, or coat the evaporator coils with dirt and reduce cooling. Make sure that all plants, including grass, are kept trimmed low in the area surrounding the unit. In autumn, rake often so leaves don't build up around the unit. It's also a good idea to rinse the unit off with the hose periodically so dust doesn't collect on the coils.
2. Reroute Your Gutters
One overlooked issue with the outdoor unit is problems from above. If the gutters aren't kept clean, water and debris can overflow onto your unit and cause issues. In the event you don't have gutters, check that the unit is set far enough away from the home so that water doesn't flow off the roof and onto the unit. If it does, you may need to have gutters installed.
3. Protect From Pets and Children
Not only can pets and kids inadvertently damage the AC they can also be injured if they play near or on the unit. There are many ways the unit can be damaged. Pets, for example, may be drawn to sleep in the shade of the unit. Their fur can then coat the coils or get into the motor. Children can damage the AC by playing nearby and denting the coils or putting debris through the vent openings. Install a fence or similar around the unit to keep them away.
4. Provide Sufficient Air Flow
Poor airflow leads to overheating and premature motor failure. If you install a fence or screen around the AC for safety or aesthetics, make sure it is placed at least 2 feet away on all sides so that air can easily flow to the unit. Further, trim back bushes and other plants so there is plenty of clearance and airflow around your AC.
5. Schedule Annual Maintenance
The best way to solve an AC problem is to prevent it from happening in the first place. Annual maintenance provides the prevention you need. Your tech will make sure the unit is clean, that the moving parts are properly lubricated, and that the compressor is operating properly. If issues are found, they can repair them before the unit suffers a breakdown.
Contact an air conditioning service if you have questions about your air conditioning unit.