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Air Conditioning 101 | How To Care For Your Unit, When To Replace It, and More!

The season for cooling our homes is upon us, at least for the lower regions of Arizona.

Best practices for maintaining your air conditioning range from simple DIY tasks to regular maintenance checkups. Father-daughter team Carisa and Chuck Knight of Rosie on the House Certified Knight Air Conditioning tell us some best practices to help your air conditioning unit run more efficiently and stay healthy longer.

DIY-able Air Conditioning Care

Carisa says there are tasks that homeowners can do to maintain their air conditioning units themselves. She has coined these tasks “DIYable”.

These maintenance chores you should do regularly:

Change Your Filters!

Change your air filters monthly
Change your air filters monthly

It is recommended that you change your filters every month. Carisa explains that filters are not there to make your air healthier. Their primary goal is to protect your air conditioning unit and its moving parts. Grime, dust, and dirt can build up on the coil, negatively affecting its efficiency.

Rosie Tip: Consult your service tech for the best air filter solution for your unit. It is best to get the highest merv rating you can buy that will not restrict the airflow of your system. Learn more about Which Is The Best Air Conditioning Filter For My Home

Extra Tip: Create a reminder to change your filters. Methods of tracking this task include putting calendar reminders on your phone, signing up for regular monthly filter delivery services, or automatically replacing them when you pay your utility bill.

Keep Equipment Clean:

  • Clean the filter grilles by wiping them with a soft damp cloth each time you change your air filter.
  • If you have a ground-mounted condensing unit, keep the area around it unobstructed from dirt and plants. Use a broom or leaf blower around the unit.
  • You can also use a garden hose to rinse the unit gently but never use any pressure. You can do this weather the unit is on the ground or on your roof, but be extra careful when up on your roof to do maintenance.

Schedule Regular Maintenance

Remember, your air conditioning unit is a machine; like all machines, it needs to be serviced.

Air conditioning technician maintenancing a unit
Air conditioning technician maintenancing a unit

Scheduling your air conditioning company to service the unit in the spring and fall is a great way to catch minor issues before they become major repairs. Your service provider should check for wear points caused by constant vibration, check the motor and other components, and lubricate the machine to operate smoothly. Carisa tells us that Knight Air Conditioning checks all the electrical connections, component ratings, and makes adjustments as needed. Their goal is to return the system as close to OEM (Original Equipment Specifications) as possible.

Changes with Coolant Laws

You may have heard that the EPA passed the AIM Act which has outlawed some types of refrigerants. Although there are changes coming, it is a phase down and currently operating systems do not have to be changed.

Important notes regarding coolant laws:

  • There are some air conditioning scams associated with this ruling. The scare tactic uses the EPA ruling to convince homeowners into buying a new system unnecessarily. The scammer leads the homeowner to falsely believe that their unit will not be able to operate due to the ruling.
  • If you have an older system that is functioning and may need the refrigerant recharged, Chuck assures us it is available and entirely legal. You won’t go to jail for using it! However, the availability of the coolant is limited, and it is quite expensive. This should factor into your decision whether to repair or replace.
  • The new rules apply to new systems. Whether building a new home or completely replacing your air conditioning system, you must follow the current rules.

The coming changes may seem burdensome, but they are designed to allow our air conditioning units to operate with greater efficiency.

Advances in Efficiency

The air conditioning industry has made remarkable moves regarding how efficiently we can cool our homes.

Exterior unit of a ductless air conditioning/mini spolit
Exterior unit of a ductless air conditioning/mini split. View the interior unit

Variable Speed Compressors

  • Variable speed compressors are the wave of the future. This type of compressor operates to maintain cooler temperatures throughout the cooling cycle. By “ramping up or down” in smaller increments, this type of compressor only provides the amount of cooling needed. With the older compressor, the unit was either on or off, and most homes experienced temperature swings. The new units can maintain the temperature more evenly and efficiently.

Ductless Air Conditioner (aka Mini Split)

  • Ductless air conditioning units have a unique ability to cool a single room. Chuck says clients who express a desire to keep the bedroom significantly cooler than the rest of the house can achieve that specific result with a ductless system. Other good places for ductless units are man caves, she sheds, garages, home offices, and covered patios.

Programmable Thermostats

  • Programmable thermostats offer a new level of efficiency. They allow the air conditioning unit to control the temperature of the home at all times of the day and night. The thermostat can be controlled from the wall or from a smartphone, making for an efficient utilization of energy and dollars.

System Replacement

Chuck says that when a system breaks down, it can often be repaired instead of replaced especially in the case of a mechanical breakdown. A good technician will weigh the cost of repair vs replacement before recommending a system replacement.

Create zones in your home with a programmable thermostat for enhanced energy efficiency
Create zones in your home with a programmable thermostat for enhanced energy efficiency

There are several reasons for replacing any system:

Energy costs.

If your older system has a low SEER number and you have made a choice to lower your electric bill, consider upgrading to a newer, higher SEER of a more efficient model. You should have an evaluation done that will provide you with information needed to determine that such a move will in fact save you dollars. Learn more about SEER here.

Energy usage.

Even if energy cost is not driving a change, your choice to lower your energy footprint would be another reason to make the change.

Equipment failure.

An air conditioning unit that experiences a catastrophic failure is the most common reason to replace a unit. In other words: it doesn’t make financial sense to repair. You should be a part of this decision making process with your technician.

Economics and personal comfort are the basic criteria for determining if your system should or could be a candidate for replacement.

Air conditioning is what makes living in the desert bearable. The Knights remind us to take care of your air conditioning unit with the regular DIYable tasks of:

  • Changing the filters.
  • Keeping the unit clean.
  • Scheduling spring and fall maintenance.

When it is time to replace your equipment, consult a qualified air conditioning contractor!


CONTENT PARTNER | Knight Air Conditioning

Knight Air Conditioning Logo
(602) 440-4000

Knight Air Conditioning specializes in air conditioning service, tune ups, maintenance, and repair on all types of indoor cooling. They are committed to perform the correct repair at a fair price, provide quality service and workmanship, and continue their education in their industry.



Chuck & Carisa Knight of Knight Air Conditioning have the answers to a longer lasting air conditioning. Using basic physics moving heat out and using it as energy to cool your space. Get the lowdown on what you can do to extend the life of your unit. Plus plenty of homeowner questions to learn more about keeping cool in the summer. Its Air Conditioning 101!

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