Air conditioners work overtime during the summer months to keep homes and buildings cool. If you neglect your cooling system, you could face insufficient cooling, repair charges, higher energy bills or may even have to replace the unit. 
You don’t want to be stuck in the heat with a unit that’s not working properly. Regular maintenance is a great habit to get into, resulting in a well-functioning system, a healthier home environment and lower electricity bills.

Clean filters
At a minimum, experts recommend you change or clean the filter on your central AC unit once every three months and as often as once a month if your system is running all the time. Most central AC units come with permanent filters, which are not required to be changed but they need to be cleaned frequently.

Name of image Niranjan Gidwani, CEO, Eros Group...

“This cleaning depends on your location,” says Niranjan Gidwani, CEO, Eros Group. “If you are in a high-dust area, then cleaning once in two to three months is recommended and surely before the season and after a sandstorm. Or else once in six months is a must.

“Remember that cleaning the filter alone is not enough. Evaporator coils, drainage tray and pipes, duct system and air vents need to be cleaned too. 

“If the central AC unit is connected to a duct, then it is recommended to clean the duct every two years.”
Neglect this chore and a dirty filter can lead to poor air flow or could add 5-15 per cent to your AC bill and will shorten the lifespan of your system. 

Name of image Kyungrin An, GM, RAC Sales Division, LG Electronics Gulf

“In general, it is best practice to clean the filter with a vacuum cleaner or handwash them once every two weeks after which it is imperative to dry the filter before putting it back into the indoor unit,” says Kyungrin An, General Manager, RAC Sales Division, LG Electronics Gulf. 

Maintenance tips

Regular maintenance is one of the best things you can do to help your AC run more efficiently. Upon servicing, your AC unit will undergo a thorough inspection to make sure all parts are working properly.
“Regular maintenance is always required to maintain optimal performance and prevent possible breakdown for both indoor and outdoor units,” says An. 
“For the indoor unit, we encourage people to clean the indoor unit surface with a soft dry cloth regularly and replace the remote-control batteries at least once a year.”
Both indoor and outdoor units require professional maintenance and it is best to hire a skilled technician to ensure that the necessary steps are carried out properly.
“Most facilities management companies offer to do three periodical checks a year, which is ideal,” says Gidwani. “This can be done once pre-summer (March–April) to ensure it is ready for the upcoming season, once during peak summer (July–August) to ensure it is running at top performance and once just after summer (November-December) to maintain it during the silent period.”
For indoor units, An suggests that it is a good practice to have a professional clean the condensate drain pan at least once a year, condensate drain pipe at least twice a year, and the heat exchange coil if it is dirty and depending upon the surrounding environment.
For outdoor units, get an expert to clean the heat exchange coils, panel vents, fan and condensate drain pan at least once a year. Also clean the electric components with air at least once a year. 
Don’t forget to ensure the fan assembly is firmly tightened at least once a year, he adds.

Do your bit
If AC vents are open in every room of your house, you’re chilling a lot of real estate that may not be in use. Walk around and shut down AC in unoccupied rooms. Bright sunlight is your AC’s nemesis. By closing blinds and sliding curtains to block the sun’s rays, you’ll also shield your space from the sun’s heat, experts say.