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How to extend the life of your air conditioning unit

Joanie Segall is the Food Editor for SheKnows Food, ChefMom, Fabulous Foods, and the blog MisoVegan.

Enjoy your HVAC's golden years

If you’ve come to the end of the 12- to 15-year life span of your HVAC unit, you may be wondering if it's time to send it into retirement. But with proper care and maintenance, you can make the most of your air conditioning before spending thousands for a new system.
HVAC unit

Give it a rest

It may sound easier said than done in the summer months, but the more timeouts you can give your air conditioning, the longer it will last whether it's a decade old or brand new. Take advantage of cooler days by opening windows and doors. When the temps heat up, turn on ceiling fans and hang heavy drapes to block out the sun. But don't go overboard — using an oven to heat up a kitchen in the winter may seem like it's saving your HVAC unit, but the safety hazards are a big no-no.

Give it some love

In some regions, weather conditions are waging a constant battle with your outdoor air conditioning. Protect it from sun damage or erosion by shielding the unit from the elements. An outdoor awning or strategically planted shrubs help keep the unit cool and prevents it from working double time to keep your home cool. But don't just shade and walk away — always check your outdoor unit for dust and debris (especially after a storm), as foreign objects can lodge themselves in the coils and be cause for immediate repair.

Get it checked out

Even a top-of-the-line HVAC unit won't make it the full life span without a checkup or two. As the old adage goes, "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." Keep your air conditioning repair company's phone number in a safe place and make a service call every six months. Most companies won't charge for an estimate and if you call before there's a major problem, you can give yourself the luxury of doing the research and finding the best deal. Unfortunately a desperate repair in the middle of summer is a common occurrence, and you may find yourself on the wrong end of a waiting list. Do your family and your air conditioning a favor and get the unit looked at regularly, even if it appears to be in tip-top shape.

When to throw in the towel

Eventually your air conditioning will have reached the end of its game and will need a replacement. As with all appliances, if you've keep it in good working condition, you will have extended its life and you'll be aware of when the end is near before an emergency strikes.

More air conditioner tips

How to choose a portable air conditioner
Energy-efficient appliances
Keep your energy bill in check

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