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There are elements of a modern home that largely take care of themselves   a self-cleaning oven is fairly hands-off and some newer refrigerators will tell you when you are out of milk   but most areas of your home need some attention, at least some of the time. Just as your flower beds will not weed themselves, your central air conditioner needs your help, too, to be at its best. Modern central air units make it as easy as possible to do the parts of maintenance that you can do as a homeowner, but it is best to call in the professionals at least once a year for the more involved maintenance tasks.

Do It Yourself

In most homes, air conditioning units use the same ductwork and other distribution equipment to circulate cooled air as they do to circulate warm air, so many of the tasks you do to maintain your heating system should also be done on a regular basis to ensure your comfort during the summer months.

Replace
There are many different types of air conditioning filters your home may have. All of them need to be changed on a regular basis. Many manufacturers recommend changing them as often as once a month but with almost all of them you want to at least inspect them every 90 days at least.

Clean
At least once a season, it is worth cleaning the physical structure of the outdoor portion of your air conditioning system. Taking a dry paintbrush and dusting off the coils and clearing debris from around the unit can increase its efficiency.

Inspect
At least once a season, make sure your air conditioning unit is on relatively level ground and that all lines leading to it are intact, especially the refrigerant line. Make sure no mice or ants or anything else made homes inside your air conditioner during the spring. Any of those factors can impact efficiency.

Also look at the inside portion of your system, which is usually located above your furnace   just follow the insulated refrigerant line to find it. Pay special attention to the drain   where the condensation line empties   because it can become clogged.

Call in the Pros

Even if you feel confident about the maintenance work you know how to do yourself, it is worth calling in a professional at least once a year to ensure your system is operating as efficiently as possible.

Leakage
The right company will not only refill refrigerant but look for leaks if they find your levels low. They can also look for water drainage problems, including algae forming on plastic pipes, which can cause blockages.

Lubrication
Professionals will put oil on all moving parts of your air conditioning system so you can feel confident that everything is running at its most efficient.

Electrical
Once a year, it is worth having a professional examine all electrical wiring   fan relays and all other connections   to make sure nothing has come loose.

Summary
Proper maintenance can extend the life of your air conditioning system and keep it running at full capacity so you don't waste money on unnecessary power bills. Whether you opt to perform all tasks yourself, hire a professional or go with some combination of the two, make sure you do not ignore your air conditioning system. It will not maintain itself.

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