13 Best DIY AC Maintenance Tips (By AC Technician)

ac maintenance

AC repair can cost a lot if not maintained properly. Well honestly speaking AC Unit is quite big and it has a lot of different parts which require monthly or quarterly maintenance. So you’re probably wondering what should you do to keep your ac maintained.

So In this article, I have listed the 13 most important AC maintenance tips. That you can follow to keep your ac in perfect condition.

I have been repairing ac units for quite a long now and I’m telling you from my experience. If you follow these tips then your ac will be in top-notch condition throughout the year.

AC Maintenance Tip No #1: Wrapped AC Unit

The first maintenance tip is if you cover your air conditioner unit (Outside Unit) for the winter. Either you put a piece of plywood on top of it or you have that wrap where you wrap it all up.

Make sure you take that off before the AC season starts. Sometimes if you start your ac without unwrapping it the chances are your ac might not start or work properly. So should you really wrap your AC for the winter? 

Let me tell you something so the outside ac unit is meant to be outdoors. It’s in the rain all the time so some snow is not gonna hurt it cosmetically and also it’s not gonna rust as fast.

Personally, I don’t cover my unit for the winter but keep in mind that if you have icicles that form on top of your air conditioner. Then you really should put some kind of a cover over your air conditioner or at least a piece of plywood.

Because I have seen air conditioners where a big icicle fell down and just knocked the whole center of the air conditioner right out.

Another thing is when you wrap the outside condenser unit that makes it a really good home for mice and other critters. You know it shields them from all the snow and the wind so when you wrap it completely you are inviting critters to come in that’s just another reason why I don’t wrap mine.

Tip No #2: Cleaning Your Condenser Coil

Maintenance tip number two is cleaning your AC condenser coil. So what the condenser unit does is it sucks air in from the sides and then rejects it out through the top.

Because it’s sucking air in through the sides eventually the condenser coils will get plugged up with dust, debris leaves whatever else is flying around.

So at the beginning of the summer season just look over your coil and throughout the summer season as well. So look over your unit if it’s dirty then hose it down. Some people say to brush the coil but that doesn’t work very well I mean you can get some of the stuff off.

But if you have a grill around the coil then your brush isn’t gonna do you much good. And I also get asked about chemical cleaners to clean the coil.

I personally don’t really like using that because some of that stuff has some really corrosive chemicals in it and it can corrode the coil on your condenser unit especially if your fins are made out of aluminum.

Frankly speaking, all it takes is just some water to clean out your condenser coil. The best-preferred method is to take the top off of your unit and spray from the inside out. I usually spray it just from the outside in and that tends to be sufficient. Most of the time it’ll be sufficient to just spray with the water from outside in.

Tip No #3: Check Your Wires And Animal Nest In The AC Unit

Maintenance tip number three is to check if you actually have a mouse nest that was built during the winter and also check your unit for any broken or bare wires or any broken connectors.

So to do that first you have to disconnect the power to the outside unit i.e the disconnect switch. It’ll look like a metal box or a plastic box if you open it up most of them will have push-pull style plugs.

Some of them will actually be a breaker there are different styles. But most of them are gonna be push and pull-type. You just have to pull the lever out and then there is no power going to your condenser unit. Just to be safe you should also turn off the circuit breaker for your air conditioner.

After turning your power off just follow the electrical whip that starts from your disconnect box to the condenser unit. All the electrical stuff of the ac will be there.

Next, you need to is open the side panel of the condenser unit to access all the electrical things. After opening, you’ll find a capacitor, hard start kit, and a contactor there with wires. Then you need to check all the wires carefully.

If any wire is broken or disconnected then just simply replace it with the new one. If you haven’t used your ac in a long time then you’ll definitely find a mouse or some insect nest in there. You should inspect all the wires if you have a nest in the condenser unit.

Tip No #4: Check Your Condenser Unit’s Capacitor 

Maintenance tip number four is to check your dual run capacitor which is usually gonna be a silver cylinder thing inside your condenser unit. So the most common air-conditioning problem is a bad capacitor or a weak capacitor.

If you have a multimeter check your capacitor at the beginning of the year because they are not eternal parts they are pretty cheap components and they do fail often. I have a full tutorial about checking and replacing capacitors do check it out.

Check Out Our Full tutorial on How to check and replace your capacitor at home

Tip No #5: Suction Line Insulation

Maintenance tip number five is the suction line insulation. The suction line is going to be the thicker line going to your condenser unit.

You’ll have two lines going to your condenser unit one is going to be thin (that’s the discharge line) and then the thick one is the suction line.

So the suction line will always have insulation over it. And with time this insulation will start to fall apart. If you have pets and some of them love to chew on this stuff and it’ll gradually disappear.

The insulation is there so that the refrigerant or the freon does not turn into a liquid too fast and I know I might be getting a little bit technical.

But basically long story short to extend the life of your compressor on your AC unit they put that insulation on the suction line. So if your insulation is completely gone make sure you put some new one in there.

Tip No #6: Level The Condenser Unit 

Maintenance tip number six is to make sure that your AC condenser unit is leveled. And if it’s just slanted a little bit that’s no big deal but I see some air conditioners that are really slanting to one side.

And actually, it’s pretty easy to level them do keep in mind that you have some copper pipes coming out of your air conditioner unit. So don’t move your unit too much because if for some reason you break a joint or a kink align.

Then you’ll have a freon leak and that opens a whole new can of worms. But you can move the ac a little bit if your unit is really slanted to one side.

Tip No #7: Testing Your Ac Unit Before Blazing Summers

Maintenance tip number seven is pretty simple and all it is is don’t wait for it to be 90 degrees outside before you turn on your air conditioner.

So turn on your air conditioner early when it’s like 60-65 degrees outside just to check and see if it actually turns on and runs everything’s cooling good.

And the reason for that is pretty simple if there is something wrong and it’s not working then you actually have some time to get the thing fixed.

Whereas if you turn it on when it’s 90 degrees outside and it’s not working then you’re kind of in a panic situation and you’re probably gonna end up paying a lot more than you could have.

Tip No #8: Check Your Condenser Fan 

ac condenser fan motor

Maintenance number tip number eight is that over the winter sometimes as the unit sits the whole winter the fan will kind of seize up just a little bit.

So the first time when the unit turns on the compressor will turn on but the fan either it’ll spin really slowly barely moving at all. So all you need to do is just take a stick or a screwdriver and give that fan a little spin.

And after that initial time, the fan will start with no problems. If the fan keeps stalling repeatedly then you do have a problem either the capacitors weak or dead or there’s something wrong with the motor. 

Tip No #9: Clean Clogged Condensate Drain Line

Maintenance tip number 9 is to check your condensate drain line. The condensate drain fitting is another pretty common problem. So you’ll see a hose at the drain line and after repetitive usage, it gets clogged up.

So what you could do is either blow the hose out with compressed air or pour some bleach and water solution down the hose just to clear it out.

A plugged-up hose will cause water to overflow and it can go over all your furnace and you’re gonna see a puddle underneath of your furnace. And that can damage the control board and other furnace components.

Tip No #10: Replace Your Furnace Filter

dirty furnace filter

Maintenance tip number 10 is to change your furnace filter. Even though that sounds like common sense it actually is one of the most neglected things. If the filter gets really dirty it’ll have the same effect as the coil being dirty.

So that’ll affect refrigerant pressures and your coil can start to freeze up and it’s not gonna cool your house enough. Furnace filters should be replaced every month or two if the unit is running continuously.

Tip No #11: Clean Plugged Up Blower Motor

Maintenance tip number 11 is to clean your blower motor. Blower motor fins eventually with time get plugged up with dust and other debris. If the blower motor is plugged up it can restrict the airflow and can cause many problems. All you need to do is clean your blower motor at regular intervals.

Tip No #12: Turn Off Your Humidifier

Maintenance tip number 12 is to turn off your humidifier if your furnace has one. Most of us will not want our humidifier to run during the summer because we have enough humidity. Sometimes it can cause problems like not cooling enough. Because your ac will try to eliminate humidity and humidifier is countering it. So it’s better to shut it down during summers.

Tip No #13: Keep Your Vents Open

return grills

Maintenance tip number 13 involves your vents or your registers and your returns. You should not close your all vents. Because if you close too many vents that’ll start to impede the airflow and it can cause various problems with the AC, the refrigeration system, and then the furnace.

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