An air conditioner is a capricious appliance. It can turn from an irreplaceable assistant into your enemy in just a couple of weeks unless you don’t provide proper maintenance.

It’s important to pay special attention to the manufacturer’s recommendations in the manual and advice from the experts. The lifespan of an average air conditioner is about 15 – 20 years. However, you can help it last longer by dedicating a few minutes of your time a month.

Let’s take a look at what you can do to keep your AC working longer and keeping your air clean.

1. Change Filters Regularly:

ac filter

The worst thing you can do to your AC is to forget to change its filters. A dirty filter can put your health in danger by providing an excellent environment for the growth of bacteria. As mold and bacteria start growing inside the unit, the AC begins to send them into the air in your room.

As a result, people with respiratory problems, such as asthma and emphysema can experience worsening of their conditions. Meanwhile, healthy people could start coughing, sneezing, and catching viruses easier.

How often should you change filters? It depends on four factors:

  • How often do you use the AC? – Change the filter once a month during the season if it’s used heavily and once every three to four months when it’s not.
  • The number of people and pets – pet hair can clog the filter before dirty air does. That’s why in households with pets, filters should be replaced every two months.
  • Filter type – different filter types have different lifespans. Read the manufacturer’s recommendations about the filter replacement frequency.
  • Allergies – if you or your household members suffer from allergies or other respiratory conditions, you may want to replace the filter more often.

Timely filter replacement doesn’t just keep the air clean, it reduces energy consumption and prevents AC breakdowns.

2. Inspect for Damages:

When you are replacing filters, take the time to inspect your AC unit for damages. Remember to turn the appliance off and unplug it before doing so. Usually, it can be done from the main breaker panel of your house.

Remove the access panel to see if there are any signs of improper AC work. It could be melted insulation on wires, blackened wires, signs of wire burnout, and the like. If you see any obvious damage to the wires, don’t turn the AC on before you get professional assistance.

Check for electrical connections as well to ensure their tightness. Inspect the contractor switch. It may need replacement if you notice excessive pitting.

While it’s possible to deal with the majority of such problems on your own, it’s always better to opt for professional assistance.

Any work related to electricity could be dangerous unless you have experience and the right tools available.

While inspecting the unit, check the fan, which is located on the top of the outdoor condenser. A damaged fan could lead to serious breakdowns. You may need to replace some of the fan blades if they are cracked or chipped. For older AC units, you may need to oil fan motor bearings.

3. Install a Programmable Thermostat or Timer:

Running the air conditioner while you are at work or away is useless. However, coming back to a heated house in the middle of the summer can be uncomfortable, to say the least. To extend the lifespan of your AC while saving money on energy bills, consider installing a programmable thermostat.

You can adjust it to change temperatures according to a certain schedule for the central AC system. For a window AC, you can purchase a timer. Just make sure it suits the voltage in your home.

4. Schedule Regular Maintenance:

AC Maintenance

Each AC unit must be inspected and cleaned by a professional technician before the hot season starts. For areas when AC is required all year round, such inspections must be done more often. The manufacturer should give recommendations about professional maintenance in the manual.

According to experts at, the technician will:

  • Clean and inspect AC coils
  • Check filters and replace them if needed
  • Adjust and replace fan belts
  • Lubricate bearings
  • Insect and clean fans
  • Check controls and safeties
  • Check refrigerant and top it off if necessary
  • Check if the AC cools the air properly
  • Test the thermostat

5. Check Window Seals:

Before the hot season starts, do a visual inspection of windows. The window seal located between the AC and the window frame shouldn’t be cracked or damaged. It must contact the unit closely to make sure the cool air stays inside.

During the cold season, moisture and temperature fluctuations could damage the seal. Replacing it is much cheaper than paying excessive energy bills when the cool air escapes the house.

6. Protect the AC During Winter:

When the cold seasons come, you have to protect the outdoor part of your AC. Consider covering it with a waterproof case. This way your AC won’t be damaged by moisture and debris.

You can also consider removing the entire window unit and storing it carefully until the summer arrives. This could extend the lifespan of your unit by several years.

7. Clean the Drain:

Your AC unit has a condensate drain. Check the manual to find out where it’s located. The drain collects condensation and becomes an excellent place for mold and bacteria to grow. As it clogs, the entire system could suffer leading to the unit’s breakdown.

If the drain is clogged, you can either clean it with special tools and a vacuum cleaner or hire professional technicians to do it.


When you first install the new AC unit, consider searching for an appliance repair service near you. In case a problem with your air conditioner occurs, you’ll know whom to contact. Otherwise, when an emergency comes, you may be stuck without your AC for days.