Whether you realize it or not, your home’s heating and cooling system has a profound impact on your overall comfort and day-to-day activities. During the winter months, your heating system ensures that you are immune from the harsh cold and bitter temperatures, and throughout the summer, nothing feels quite as nice as walking into a house kept cool after a day of sweating outside.

With a system so meaningful, shouldn’t you be doing all that you can to prolong its life? If properly maintained, central air conditioners have the potential to last anywhere for 10 to 15 years, but neglecting your unit can result in a shortened lifespan, decreased reliability, costly repairs, and higher energy costs.

Ensuring that your heating and cooling system works efficiently during the summer months is extremely important, and requires some cooperation between you and your HVAC technician.

Consult a professional …

A certified HVAC technician will be your most valuable source of information regarding your home’s central air conditioner. Find a company that you trust, and use them for all of your HVAC needs; this way, the technician will have a complete service history, and will know just how to keep your system running optimally.

There are certain elements of central air conditioner maintenance that you simply cannot perform yourself. In fact, according to Environment Canada, “only a certified person may perform maintenance, leak testing or any other work on a refrigeration or air-conditioning system that may result in the release of halocarbon”; they also recommend that this maintenance be performed at least once every 12 months.

Your HVAC specialist will be able to tell you exactly how often you should schedule maintenance, but you shouldn’t wait until your system is working improperly, you should invest in a regular HVAC maintenance plan. An HVAC technician will be able to inspect the mechanical components of your central air conditioner according to Environment Canada’s regulations, to ensure proper operation and safety. They can also perform any required maintenance or repairs.

… But do your part

While there are many things that you cannot do yourself when it comes to heating and cooling maintenance, as a homeowner, you do have some important responsibilities.

When it comes to maintenance of the central air conditioning system itself, the most important thing you can do is inspect and replace your filter monthly. While you’re there, inspect the condenser (the outside portion of your central air conditioner) and the area surrounding it. Ensure that it is sitting level, and that there is no debris, grass or weeds preventing it from efficiently drawing air into the system. You can also use a garden hose (after disconnecting the power) to gently clear any dirt, debris, or residue.

As for the inside of your home, you should consistently ensure that no objects, including furniture, rugs and clothing, are blocking the return and supply grilles. If at all possible, inspect your ductwork to ensure that there are no holes or disconnected sections. If you notice any, repair or seal the areas to prevent air leakage.

Overall, proper maintenance of your heating and cooling system will extend its lifetime and reduce overall stress for you and your family; not to mention, it will keep you cool on those hot summer days.